About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Comet McNaught

One of my life's disappointments was back in 1986 - after growing up looking forward to the return of Halley's Comet that year, I was saddened (like many other people) when the comet was basically invisible to the naked eye, at least in light-polluted cities. My friends and I tried to sight it, and we may have kidded ourselves that we saw something ... but we really, couldn't make out a goddamn thing that night 20-odd years ago.

The discovery of Comet McNaught makes up a bit for that disappointment way back in the past. When we observed it from the beach a few nights ago, it was faint - but clear enough once you found it, a nice discernible smudge in the night sky. If I don't last long enough for the next return of Halley's Comet in 55 years or so, at least I've managed to see one comet with my own eyes, viewing it without any instruments so I could get the impression of it in the whole sky: a smudgy-but-glinting anomaly that would once have struck sky-watchers as a strange, unaccountable portent.

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