1. English vs. American bears. English bears are less assertive, more abused, etc. My take on this is that the English are clearly right. Bears are intrinsically (a) short-sighted, (b) cute, (c) sporadically vicious. As I once wrote, they "live on strawberries and honey except for the occasional killing spree." Winnie the Pooh with a mild psychopathic streak would be an excellent caricature of an actual bear. Care bears have nothing, really, to do with bears. They might as well be care cougars.
2. For some reason I have Andrew Sullivan's "Why I blog" open:
As you read a log, you have the curious sense of moving backward in time as you move forward in pages—the opposite of a book. As you piece together a narrative that was never intended as one, it seems—and is—more truthful. Logs, in this sense, were a form of human self-correction. They amended for hindsight, for the ways in which human beings order and tidy and construct the story of their lives as they look back on them. Logs require a letting-go of narrative because they do not allow for a knowledge of the ending. So they have plot as well as dramatic irony—the reader will know the ending before the writer did.
3. Geoffrey Hill: "I write / to astonish myself." I've always thought of "astonish" as deriving from "turn to stone" but the OED tells me this is probably wrong (the word is as likely as not to have come from Latin "extonare" which has to do with loud noises -- tones -- rather than stones).
4. Meteorite contamination is hard to avoid.
5. This paper about what should count as a "mechanism" in the philosophy of science is a excellent example of that field's decline into scholasticism.
6. I remember having a conversation a couple of days ago about the bases on which people are likely to discriminate against others in the future. My view is that they're likely to find something. Chesterton's essay "On lying in bed" captures the dynamic I had in mind quite well (I have very little sympathy with C's politics but much more with his attitude toward the future -- I share his dislike of fastidiousness about little things while also extending this dislike to fastidiousness about big things):
The tone now commonly taken toward the practice of lying in bed is hypocritical and unhealthy. Of all the marks of modernity that seem to mean a kind of decadence, there is none more menacing and dangerous that the exaltation of very small and secondary matters of conduct at the expense of very great and primary ones, at the expense of eternal ties and tragic human morality. If there is one thing worse that the modern weakening of major morals, it is the modern strengthening of minor morals. Thus it is considered more withering to accuse a man of bad taste than of bad ethics. [...] Especially this is so in matters of hygiene; notably such matters as lying in bed. Instead of being regarded, as it ought to be, as a matter of personal convenience and adjustment, it has come to be regarded by many as if it were a part of essential morals to get up early in the morning. It is upon the whole part of practical wisdom; but there is nothing good about it or bad about its opposite.
Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before.