Friday, 30 March 2007

Good Night

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Charles Krauthammer. By the way, if you submitted a comment today and haven’t seen it, it’s not my fault. For some reason, only one comment came in for my approval. There must be something wrong with BlueHost, which hosts my blog. I have no idea whether there is a backlog of comments waiting to come in or whether they’ve disappeared into the void.

Carl Cohen on White Guilt

As a defense of race preference, the alleged compelling need for racial diversity is entirely without merit. That defense has been advanced and accepted only because there is no other way, under the U. S. Constitution, to rescue the drive to expiate white guilt. We are told repeatedly, by people who seem not to fear embarrassing themselves, that diversity is the very heart of educational excellence. The compensatory payments by race that cannot otherwise be defended are saved by a dreadful argument.

That the diversity defense is no more than a stratagem is made manifest by the history of this controversy. Diversity was hardly ever mentioned until the compensatory justification was thrown out by the courts. The evidence in the Michigan cases (Grutter and Gratz) exposes and highlights the ruse. If a “critical mass” of minority students (what was claimed to be a compelling need) in the black minority requires, let us say, 50 blacks among the entering law school class, how can it be that only 25 are needed for a critical mass of Hispanics? And only five for a critical mass of Native Americans! I wish not to offend, President Coleman, but candor compels the admission that all our talk about using preference to achieve a “critical mass” of students in each minority for the sake of educational excellence is—in the words of four members of our Supreme Court—a “sham.” It is a device, the only device available with which we can continue to satisfy the inner compulsions of white guilt.

(Carl Cohen, “Open Letter to the President of My University,” Academic Questions 19 [fall 2006]: 78-82, at 80-1 [italics in original])


Here are my basketball predictions from 11 March. As you can see, I predicted that Florida would beat Ohio State in the title game. That could still happen. But let me make a fresh set of predictions, based on actual matchups and in light of what has occurred thus far in the tournament. I think Georgetown will beat Ohio State handily. The Hoyas are thoroughly energized by their overtime victory over North Carolina. I also think that UCLA will beat Florida. It will be East versus West in the title game Monday night, with West winning. By the way, Monday evening is going to be insanely busy. I will have to watch both 24 (damn you, Will) and the basketball game starting at eight o’clock. At nine, when 24 ends, I will have to flip back and forth between the basketball game and the season opener for my adopted Texas Rangers. By ten o’clock, baseball will have my undivided attention. Life begins anew with each baseball season.

Twenty Years Ago

3-30-87 This morning I lectured on naturalism, including Roderick Firth’s ideal-observer theory. I confessed to the students that I’ve always been suspicious of Firth’s theory, and now I have good reason to reject it. Firth, in effect, creates a secular god, then asks: In what things would this being, this ideal observer with properties of disinterestedness, omniscience, and dispassionateness, be positively interested? Whatever the ideal observer is positively interested in, he says, is good. We’re just about done with [Fred] Feldman’s book [Introductory Ethics (1978)], so I told the students to begin reading Joel Feinberg’s Social Philosophy [1973] for Monday. After class, I met with four students to discuss their respective term papers. The papers are due Friday, and many students, apparently, have waited until the last week to get to work. That’s bad. I told them several weeks ago to start thinking about a topic and putting thoughts to paper.

The college basketball season is over. Indiana [the Hoosiers] defeated Syracuse [the Orangemen] by one point to win the crown, its third since 1976. I was disappointed, because I predicted that Syracuse would win the title and do not like Indiana’s authoritarian coach, Bobby Knight. But it was a close, exciting game, so I really can’t complain. It’s too bad that one of these teams had to lose. Indiana players and fans can relish the moment forever, while Syracuse players and fans will always have to live with the failure. As far as my wagers with Paul Baker are concerned, I lost six dollars on the entire tournament. There were sixty-three games. We agreed on the outcome of forty-two of them, which means that there were twenty-one games “up for grabs.” On six of them, both of us were wrong; on another six, I was right and Paul was wrong; and on another nine, Paul was right and I was wrong. Paul did much better at the beginning of the tournament, while I did much better at the end. In fact, I correctly predicted three of the four semifinalists and both of the finalists. But I missed the championship game. My overall percentage was .650, while Paul’s was .698. Now it’s on to baseball! [Indiana has reached the title game only once in the past 20 years, losing to the Maryland Terrapins in 2002. Syracuse has reached the title game twice in the past 20 years, losing to the Kentucky Wildcats in 1996 and beating the Kansas Jayhawks in 2003. Bobby Knight is now the coach of Texas Tech University.]

Safe Motoring

Here is a New York Times story about Honda’s emphasis on safety. I like my new Accord, although I’ve driven it only 214 miles in five weeks.

The Mind and the Soul

If there can be feminist philosophy and Marxian economics, why can’t there be Christian psychology?

Best of the Web Today



I’m with the Chamber of Commerce, the American Bar Association, and The New York Times on this one. You have no right to take a gun onto your employer’s premises. Your right to own a gun is a right against the government, not against a private entity such as your employer. If you don’t like your employer’s policy, find another job. Why is this so hard for people to grasp?

Philosophers Behaving Badly

Do philosophers ever behave badly? You be the judge. (Thanks to longtime reader Gary for the link.)

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

President Bush won’t ever agree to a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq before the end of his term. If he did, it would place sole responsibility for the war’s inevitably horrific outcome squarely on him.

President Bush would prefer to run out the clock and hand the war off to his successor, who would then share the blame for the ensuing calamity. Clearly, he would rather prolong the mayhem than take ownership of the war, his pet project.

A rather indefensible position for someone who lectures others on “personal responsibility.” But perfectly consistent.

J. G. Berinstein
Northridge, Calif., March 29, 2007

Note from KBJ: Bush Derangement Syndrome.


Mark Spahn sent a link to this.

A Year Ago