January 02, 2006


In case anyone was wondering, the faces at the top of the page are pencil drawings that I did about 12 years ago on a trip to Europe. I scanned them and converted them into icons. Both, if I recall correctly, are copies of sketches by Leonardo da Vinci — the latter a self portrait, I believe.

All in all, I was pretty happy with how good these full-sized drawings looked after that much manipulation.

Posted by richard at 01:13 AM | Comments (1)

The Name

So, I've relaunched the blog with a new name. I've gotten rid of the somewhat silly Just-in-casionally and the very silly Not-so-oftenally, as well. And I've replaced it with what I hope will be a more permanent name: Quicksilver Sulfide.

Why this name? Let's just say that this particular chemical compound, mercuric sulfide, has particular resonance with me. But beyond the eponymous reasons, I also like the fact that it combines two alchemical elements: Quicksilver, or Mercury; and Brimstone, or Sulfur.

Quicksilver was believed to transcend both solid and liquid states and is one of the seven metals of alchemy. It also represents Hermes (or Mercury) — the messenger of the gods — and is called Hydrargyrum ("silver water") leading to it's modern abbreviation: Hg.

Sulfur is one of three heavenly alchemical elements, but is also associated with Athena (and, in that weird way of Greek mythology, with Hecate and Demeter too via their shared name, Brimo). And so, eventually, it is linked with Hades or Hell.

Alchemist believed that if they could "marry Hermes and Athena" — or, in other words, combine Mercury and Sulfur in the right way — that they could create gold. But no one succeeded.

And now, we know better. We know that all you are likely to get from HgS is Vermillion.

Posted by richard at 12:56 AM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2006


So I decided that it was worth trying to relauch this blog again. It's been over a year since I posted last and much has changed in my life. I certainly don't have more time for this brand of nonsense, so this experiment may be even shorter-lived than the first time around.

But, I reckon, with low expectations from us all it should at least be fun. More on the new name when I have time. Or, take it as a challenge to figure it out. I'll also continue to update the look-and-feel of the site as I have time.

Posted by richard at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2004

Puerto Rico

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I know I've been slacking off quite a bit. I've been doing a lot of traveling recently, first to San Diego for work and now in Puerto Rico for fun. The good news is that business is really heating up.

The weather here is perfect, so much better than New York right now, so I'm not going to spend too much time at the computer. Wish I could post a picture of the view out the window – but I didn't bring the little connecter for my camera.

I get back late Monday night and I'll try to post a few things before I head back out to San Diego on Tuesday night.

Posted by richard at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2004

Tear down that wall!

The Berlin Wall it's not, but having lived there, it evoked nothing more than the glory days of Eastern European avant garde architecture and the cold utility of central planning.

And now Phutatorius writes to tell me that Princeton will finally tear down the depressing quarters that are Butler college — and he wants to get together some volunteers to help.

Posted by richard at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2004

Books for January

Hey, just wanted to point out the new books in the bookshelf.

I've finished Motivation, Agency, and Public Policy and I have a review of it two-thirds of the way done — I'll post it once I get a chance to polish it up. I also had an interesting e-mail exchange with the author which I'll post about (I love this Internet thing, have I said that before?)

I'm about halfway through Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists which is pretty interesting, but not breath-taking. They're saying important stuff about the threats to capitalism of the well-to-do trying to protect their entrenched interests, and they say it well, but it doesn't exactly capture the imagination.

I've read one chapter (the one on Hayek) in The Mind and the Market but I'm looking forward to the rest. It's very well written and puts the ideas of modern economists in the historical and intellectual context in which the people lived – part biography, part history of ideas. The chapter on Hayek was a good summary of the ideas from the The Road to Serfdom and The Consitution of Liberty but it added some great details from his life in Vienna and the anti-liberal movements that made his "classical liberalism" originally untimely.

I posted below about Walter Russell Mead's article on the Jacksonian tradition in foreign policy. And now I've got his Special Providence cued up to read next.

Posted by richard at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2003

Define Pristine....

Juan Non-Volokh over at the Consipiracy has an interesting post on Natural Rainforest or "Pristine Myth"?. He points to an article in Science that debunks the myth that prior to European colonization, the forests of the Americas, both old growth in North America and rainforests in South America, were "pristine". In fact, there is significant evidence that they were highly managed by the natives.

I recently saw an article (which I've lost the link to) about the Hutcheson Memorial Forest in New Jersey, which had much the same point. The old growth forest was turned into a preserve with a "no-management" policy. Unfortunately (to some), it turns out that the old white oaks which originally dominated the forest do so at least partly due to human intervention. Some of the trees are close to 300 years old and show evidence of ground fires at 11 year intervals -- most likely controlled burns by Native Americans. Under the "no-management" policy they are being squeezed out by maples and beeches which are much less unique to old growth forests.

Anyway, the point is that the interactions in these systems are complicated, and thinking that acting a certain way will "preserve" what we think it will is often not justified by the facts. Humans have been having an impact on the natural world for thousands of years and even a policy of "do-nothing" is still a policy, and one that will cause change in ways we probably don't expect.

Posted by richard at 05:24 PM | Comments (3)

September 24, 2003

Quick Hits

Some interesting links from around the web:

Posted by richard at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)