This item begins with two policy announcements, then switches back to "what the bartender saw."
Policy announcement #1: Thanks to the scores of people who continue to send in views every day about the Atlas Shrugged Guy, and his different-but-related California counterpart. There is so much of this that I will let it sit for a little while before doing another harvest.
To those who complain that there has been way too much on this theme: I am taking a time-out -- and the subject must be interesting to someone, because people keep writing. To those who complain that my selection of comments has given critics disproportionate airtime, the truth is that the incoming ratio is about 20-to-1 critical.
Policy announcement #2: A little dispute has spilled over to the site of Discover magazine, arising from my claim to Neanderthal heritage. The dispute doesn't directly concern my own lineage but rather the varying competencies of archaeologists, geneticists, etc., to address the issue. You'll see what I mean if you take a look there.
You'll also see why I think this is a good time for me to re-state some operating principles. One concerns quotes from reader mail. For the record, if you send me a note via this site, I will assume I can quote it unless you say otherwise from the start. I will, though, attribute it only to "a reader" or "a doctor from California" etc unless you specify that you would like me to use your real name.
The other concerns the extent of "vetting" readers' remarks. When I am writing a book or a magazine article, I feel an obligation to fact-check claims that people make in quotes I am using. Usually I am quoting people to explain an issue or illustrate a story, and usually there is no point in quoting something that I believe is misinformed or wrong.