It's a sad day: the prolific and provocative Christopher Hitchens has died (here is Christopher Buckley's touching postscript). Hitchens was a fierce polemic, and a hero to atheists ("new" and "old" alike); I fear that no one will replace him with such informed brio. His canonical God is Not Great and The Portable Atheist address the volatile intersections between politics, culture, and religion with erudition and charm; but he was also a gleeful lexicomane who penned dozens of essays on an astounding number of subjects (click here to read his rigorous upbraiding of Sarah Palin for her characteristically flip and uninformed stance on drosophila research).
As the Tea Party et al proliferate increasingly worrying ideologies about science (scientific sonsensus about everything from vaccines to climate change to evolution is "up for debate" these days), the loss of a fearless writer like Hitchens is acute. I will miss being thrilled and inspired by his words.