Tuesday, 9 January 2007


Here is Christopher Hitchens’s latest column.

Drew E. Griffin on Virtue and Poverty

Greek thought continually debated the relevance of wealth for virtue. From Hesiod to Aristotle, the sufficiency of wealth for virtue is usually in doubt, although its necessity is often accepted. In outlining the Greek praise of poverty, Desmond concentrates on associated fifth-century themes: the injustice often lurking behind wealth, its connection with hubris, a negative estimation of businessmen, the traditional attack on usury. The rich man finds no respite, continually working to make more money, constantly fearful of robbers and sycophants, conscious of burdensome societal requirements. Virtue is more clearly allied with poverty. And Socrates’ paradoxical statement in Plato’s Apology that “not out of money does virtue arise, but out of virtue money and all other goods for human beings, both private and public”—a passage that has given modern scholars fits for generations—underscores the self-sufficiency of the virtuous individual.

(Drew E. Griffin, “The Needle’s Eye,” review of The Greek Praise of Poverty: Origins of Ancient Cynicism, by William D. Desmond, First Things [December 2006]: 50-2, at 51)

Doing Our Duty

Here is Peter Wehner’s column about jihadism, which, thankfully, he doesn’t refer to as “fascism.”

Best of the Web Today


The Mobile Earth

Admit it: You’re a geology buff. You’ve never told anyone, for fear of being thought an egghead, but you get off on the scientific study of the earth. You’ll enjoy this.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Since polls have shown that most Iraqis want us to leave, I propose that we ask the Iraqi government to hold a referendum on whether or not American troops should withdraw from Iraq, giving the Iraqis choices of when and how soon.

Such a vote would allow us to leave with grace and decency, saving face, and at the same time give Iraqis a voice in their future and another chance at democracy.

We cannot bring back the 3,000 Americans already dead, but decency requires that we prevent more needless deaths.

Enough is enough! Should we instead allow this president to continuously make egregious errors in the conduct of this war until the number of dead approaches that of Vietnam?

Sadie Penzato
Highland, N.Y., Jan. 7, 2007


Five Dallas Morning News sportswriters made predictions for yesterday’s BCS title game. Here they are:

Brian Davis: Ohio State 35, Florida 28. “Ohio State’s Troy Smith will slice up the Gators. The Heisman Trophy winner goes out a national champion.”

Chuck Carlton: Ohio State 41, Florida 21. “Ohio State is so clearly the dominant team in college football that nothing else matters.”

Kevin Sherrington: Ohio State 35, Florida 32. “The BCS gets lucky and Ohio State runs the table.”

Tim Cowlishaw: Ohio State 37, Florida 27. “Gators prove a worthy opponent but Troy Smith hasn’t failed a test yet, and he won’t flunk this one.”

Jean-Jacques Taylor: Ohio State 31, Florida 26. “Troy Smith trumps Leak and Tebow.”

Florida won the game, 41-14. Not one of these “experts”—who get paid to cover sports—thought Florida would win, much less win big. If these sportswriters were in any other line of work, they’d be fired for incompetence.

Addendum: Here is the New York Times story about the game.

From the Mailbag

Liberals, full of envy to begin with, are joyful—or at least undisturbed—the rich getting their just desserts AND removing scars from the “natural” landscape. We don’t need terrorists sneaking into this country—we’ve already got natives perfectly willing to destroy the “haves” and their property right here. Our home-grown miscreants are LEARNING from foreign terrorists as a simple spark in dry, windy suburbs can wreak havoc upon their abusers. Envy needs but a crack to seep into our zeitgeist as carnage becomes more and more acceptable. The ends justify the means. You hate your rich neighbor enough? You throw matches on his dry (and expansive) lawn. Hey, he’s screwing the little guys!


A Year Ago