Thursday, 4 January 2007


Here is your reading for this evening.  Read it carefully, because there will be a test in the morning.  Good night.


Howard Fineman tells us what sort of president the American people want.  I’m not sure he’s right about the people wanting to get past the 60s.  Everything is about the 60s, in one way or another.  It was our national adolescence.  We will get past the 60s when all those who lived through it are dead, and not before.


The Big Unit is leaving the Big Apple.  See here.  Earlier, the Big Hurt went to the Great White North.

New Deal Nostalgia

You have to be either an economic ignoramus or a moral imbecile to support a minimum wage, for it has many bad effects and almost no good effects.  George Will makes the case against it here.

Lincoln Allison on Equality

‘All men are equal’ is a rhetorical way of saying that all people should be treated equally.  The conventional conservative response to a purely moral statement of egalitarianism is to insist that the costs of equality are too high in terms of other social values.  Making people equal educationally can only be achieved by an attack on the family and on personal liberty.  Equality of material consumption could only be achieved at the cost of undermining the vast and complex system of incentives which make up the motives of production and thus of reducing, ultimately, the aggregate total of goods and services available.

(Lincoln Allison, Right Principles: A Conservative Philosophy of Politics [Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984], 78)

Still Fresh After All These Years

Shoot to Kill” (1978).  Here is Karen Lawrence’s MySpace page.

Best of the Web Today


Brain Calisthenics

Read this.  I’m surprised that the reporter didn’t mention the best way to keep one’s mind exercised: studying philosophy.  When I was a graduate student at the University of Arizona in the mid-1980s, there was an older man (Herb Skinner) who took courses for fun.  He was independently wealthy (through hard work, I might add) and had no plan to earn a degree, much less to take a teaching position.  The Department of Philosophy was, at the time, one of the best in the country, so here was Herb, a chemist and entrepreneur, taking courses from brilliant philosophers.  He loved it!  I lost touch with Herb when I left Tucson in August 1988, but I like to think he’s still alive and still taking courses.  More recently, I had a student named Jimmy Stone who audited several of my courses at UTA.  He and his wife were retired.  They spent their time building houses for Habitat for Humanity and taking college courses.  Every now and then, soft-spoken Jimmy raised his hand to comment on something I had said.  The students and I listened with rapt attention, for we knew that it was the voice of experience speaking.  Jimmy moved to Georgia a few years ago. I hope he is well.  I felt honored that he wanted to hear my lectures, whether it was on Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Biomedical Ethics, Philosophy of Law, or the Virtues and Vices of Lewis and Clark.  Don’t let your brain atrophy.  Take a philosophy course!

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

I am 84, and my hobby and pleasure for the last five years has been writing limerick poems for friends’ birthdays, anniversaries and retirements.

Keep in mind that a limerick is a five-line poem in which lines 1, 2 and 5 rhyme, as do lines 3 and 4; the last line must also be the punch line.

To those who think that writing one isn’t the best brain exercise there is, I suggest they try it.

Lee Goldsmith
Miami, Dec. 27, 2006

Note from KBJ:

There once was a man named Lee,
So old he could barely see;
     Nothin’ could slow ’im,
     While writin’ them poems,
Except for senility.

Sorry, Lee. Keep up the good work.

The 21 Most Annoying People on the Right

See here.  I wonder why I didn’t make the list.  I need to try harder.

Crocodile Tears

The editorial board of The New York Times is outraged at the manner in which Saddam Hussein was killed.  The poor man had to submit to taunting and insults.  The Times says that Saddam’s executioners used the same “depraved methods” that he used.  With one difference, of course: He deserved to die; his victims—many thousands of them—didn’t.  Have progressives lost the capacity to make even the simplest and most basic of moral distinctions, such as that between guilt and innocence?  The Times seems more concerned about the appearance and symbolism of the killing than about its justification.  It was just so darned ugly and disgusting!  What a repellent spectacle!  These are aesthetic terms, not moral terms.  Is it all about aesthetics, then—about protecting and affirming the tender sensibilities of the sophisticates?  See here and here.

Addendum: Here is my Tech Central Station column of a little over three years ago, in which I argued—shortly after Saddam Hussein was captured—that there were ample utilitarian grounds for punishing him.

A Year Ago


Attorney at Law

I was sworn in as an attorney 23 years ago today, in Mount Clemens, Michigan.  I was 26 years old.  Just think how wealthy I’d be if I had practiced law all these years.  Just think how miserable I’d be.