Housekeeping Notes: John Derbyshire Speaking At H.L. Mencken Club, Etc.
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Just some housekeeping notes.

(1) The November issue of The American Spectator is now out.  It includes (p.54) my review of Lee Billings’ new book Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars:

In The Principles of Philosophy (1642) Descartes lamented: "We do not doubt but that many things exist, or formerly existed and have now ceased to be, which were never seen or known by man, and were never of use to him." Descartes didn't know the half of it. As our understanding of the natural world has improved across the past half-millennium there has been a clear trend of dethronement, of blows to the collective self-esteem of Homo sap.

No, our Earth is not at the center of things, only a middling planet among several, all in orbit around the Sun. The Sun itself is a humdrum star, one of billions in our galaxy, which is likewise one of billions of similar objects in the universe—"galaxies like grains of sand" (Aldiss). In recent years some serious physicists have even put forth a "multiverse" theory of creation, in which our very universe is merely one among innumerable others. Along the way there we passed Charles Darwin telling us that we are not transcendent beings, only twigs on the great tree of terrestrial life. It's been humiliating.

Once scientists became aware of this trend—Lee Billings calls it the Principle of Mediocrity—it influenced their speculations about extraterrestrial life …

Read the whole thing in The American Spectator.

(2) Thanks to that same magazine, and most especially to the gentleman who sponsored my table, for a lovely dinner and some fine speechifying last Wednesday. 

I attended partly in hopes of getting close enough to Donald Trump for some of his wealth to rub off on me, but several hundred other people had the same idea and my elbows weren’t sharp enough. 

The Donald, by the way, passed some sensible remarks about immigration, prefaced with:  “Although I know some of my friends here will disagree with me . . .”  A smart man and a funny, engaging speaker.  With some vigilant minders to keep his foot out of his mouth, he’d make a very acceptable politician.

Senator Ted Cruz also spoke, as reported by Radio Derb.

H. L. Mencken Club 2013 Conference

I was an early subscriber to TAS, way back in the 1970s when it was a broadsheet.  Astonishing to see Ben Stein still doing his diary after all these decades.  Now I feel bad—not very bad, but a little bad—about having called his dopey creationist movie “A blood libel on our civilization.”

(3) The H.L. Mencken Club annual bash, which is always royal fun, is on this coming weekend in Baltimore (which is to say, Balamer, Murlin).  I’m told there are still some seats available, so do yourself a favor and come meet some principals of the Dark Enlightenment.  If a session gets boring, you can always play Spot The $PLC Mole.

I shall be speaking at the Mencken shivaree, and so will science writer Michael Hart.  In a previous life Michael was a professional astronomer.  He has a walk-on part in Lee Billings’ book—see (1) above.  So this blog post is circular, and I have closed the circle! 

This is high-class blogging you get at, not mere disorganized reflections.  We got structure.

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