Sunday, 11 March 2007


Stanford University professor James D. Fearon says that there is a civil war taking place in Iraq, and that the United States can do nothing about it, militarily. The civil war will be fought until one side overwhelms the other, just as occurred in the United States in the 1860s.


I’m starting to like this munchkin.


If you want to match wits with me, the greatest basketball prognosticator of all time, here’s what to do. Save this PDF file to your computer; then print it. Choose one #1 seed, one #2 seed, and so forth. You will have 16 teams. There are six rounds of the tournament. (The first round cuts the field from 64 to 32 teams; the second round cuts the field from 32 to 16 teams; and so forth.) You get one point for a victory in the first round, two points for a victory in the second round, and so forth. Whoever has the most points at the end of the tournament on 2 April has bragging rights for the next year. I will post my picks as an addendum to this post in a day or so.

Addendum: Here are my picks:

1. Florida
2. Georgetown
3. Texas A&M
4. Texas
5. Virginia Tech
6. Duke
8. Arizona
9. Michigan State
10. Gonzaga
11. Winthrop
12. Arkansas
13. Albany
14. Oral Roberts
15. Weber State
16. Eastern Kentucky

The first game is Thursday, so get your picks in soon!

Addendum 2: It’s 5:57 P.M. on Tuesday, 13 March. I predict that Florida (seeded first in the Midwest) will beat Duke (seeded sixth in the West) in one semifinal game and that Ohio State (seeded first in the South) will beat Texas (seeded fourth in the East) in the other semifinal game. It will be a repeat of the NCAA football championship this past January. Unfortunately for fans of Ohio State, Florida wins again.

Julian H. Franklin on Animals and Plants

Animals as well as humans can suffer pain, deprivation, and unwanted death. Vegetables cannot. Hence there is a very fundamental and relevant sense in which we cannot harm a vegetable. Anything we do to a head of lettuce or the bloom of a flower can be harmful (or beneficial) to one or more sentient beings who feed on these or otherwise enjoy them. The head of lettuce and the flower, however, feel nothing and regret nothing so far as we know. An exception for vegetables is thus consistent with the categorical imperative; an exception for humans with respect to eating animals is not.

(Julian H. Franklin, Animal Rights and Moral Philosophy [New York: Columbia University Press, 2005], 45 [endnote omitted])


If this isn’t the best album ever made, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.

Addendum: Here is a video of “Dr. Music.”

Addendum 2: Here is my favorite Saturday Night Live skit of all time.

The Science of Religion

Here is a review, by a neurologist, of the most recent books by Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell).

Conservatism and Theism

There is no necessary connection between conservatism and theism. One can be a conservative and a theist, a conservative and an atheist, a progressive and a theist, or a progressive and an atheist. But conservatives, whether theistic or atheistic, are necessarily friendly (i.e., respectful) toward theism. See here for an interesting essay.

Strange Statues

Mark Spahn sent a link to this. Warning: Some of the statues are obscene.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

In “A License to Blog?” (column, Feb. 27), Ann Althouse attributes to me a desire to “enforce standards in the blogosphere” and an “impulse to control.” I fear that Ms. Althouse doth protest too much.

No one mentioned either “licensing” or “control” of bloggers, an idea I find to be anathema. But particularly when the media profess to strive toward objectivity, gatekeepers play a crucial role in helping people navigate the news to make educated political decisions.

Walter Lippmann and John Dewey called attention to this problem in their famous debate over Lippmann’s book “Public Opinion” in the 1920s, and it has only worsened with time.

If bloggers are to improve our public discourse—helping busy and usually uninformed people make sense of the world—it is necessary to use some sort of standard with which to judge their reliability.

Perhaps the answer (strictly advisory) is a body of their peers. Perhaps not. After all, I was just musing aloud. But the problem remains a real one.

Bloggers—I am one—tend to argue that this problem will sort itself out over time. Maybe, but I worry about the damage that can be done in the interim.

Eric Alterman
Los Angeles, March 5, 2007
The writer is a columnist for The Nation.

Note from KBJ: Does this man have totalitarian instincts, or what? He says he’s against licensing or control of bloggers, so what is he advocating? There is already a “body of peers” out there. It’s called the blogosphere. Why not let people say what they want? If they say something false, others will correct it. If they reason fallaciously, others will correct it. That’s how the marketplace of ideas works. It’s a self-correcting mechanism. There are, of course, laws against defamation. You have no right to say false things about others with the aim of destroying their reputations. Alterman is a typical progressive in that he wants to control others. He sees chaos where others—conservatives—see spontaneous order. This is why progressives want the government to regulate the economy. They don’t trust individuals to make their own decisions. The market—whether economic or intellectual—is inherently rational.

A Year Ago


Blogs of Note

Here are some of my favorite bloggers (in no particular order):

Dr John J. Ray (Dissecting Leftism)
Steve Rugg (JusTalkin)
Peg Kaplan (what if?)
Jeff Percifield (Beautiful Atrocities)
Ally Eskin (Who Moved My Truth?)
Dr Bill Keezer (Bill’s Comments)
Dr Bill Vallicella (Maverick Philosopher)
Michelle Malkin (Michelle Malkin)
Donald L. Luskin (The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid)
Norm Weatherby (Quantum Thought)
Kim du Toit (The Other Side)
Glenn Reynolds (InstaPundit)
Darby Shaw (The Kaos Theory)

If you think I’m missing a good blogger, let me know.

Safire on Language