Sunday, 22 April 2007

Human Rights

Here is an interesting column by law professor Eric Posner.


Social Security and Medicare (especially the latter) are bankrupting our country. See here. I feel sorry for the people who are entering the workforce. They are going to be the slaves of the aging Baby Boomers, who have shown no inclination to forgo benefits for the greater good.

Tumaini Kids

Lara and Claire of TrippingOnWords have started a blog for Kenyan orphans. The kids do the blogging. See here.


Yesterday’s bike rally in Granbury was my third of the year and my 399th overall. Apart from the wind, which was strong, the weather was beautiful. I was chilly for about the first half hour, but after that I felt fine. The high temperature for the day was 78° Fahrenheit. The average wind speed was 14.4 miles per hour. Luckily for the riders, the course took us south of Granbury, which was into the wind. That meant we had a tailwind coming back. A week ago, in Lancaster, it was the other way around. There’s nothing worse than fighting a stiff wind while tired.

I rode the entire way with two friends: Phil Kevil and Randy Kirby. All of us are in our 50s (me just barely), so I call it the 50s Brigade. Phil and I have been riding together for about 15 years. We met each other in our club, the Texas Wheels. Randy hasn’t been riding as long as we have, but he was strong yesterday. Phil and I couldn’t stay with him on some of the climbs. Talking to friends makes the miles go faster. We joked, laughed, commiserated, talked politics, and teased each other. There’s no law against acting like a 12-year old while riding a bike.

I rode 17.4 miles the first hour, 13.7 the second (wind and hills), and 17.8 the third. I averaged 15.92 miles per hour for the final 52:23. All told, I averaged 16.21 miles per hour for 62.8 miles. A year ago, on the same course in similar conditions, I averaged 16.20 miles per hour. I felt terrific yesterday. I think fighting the wind for 40 miles in Lancaster a week earlier strengthened my legs. I hope to get stronger by the week. As I do so, the speed will increase. As the speed increases, it becomes easier to stay in fast-moving packs, which makes the speed increase even more. Speed is not my only goal, but it’s nice to be able to go fast if one wants to.

According to my Polar cycling computer, I burned 2,180 calories yesterday. That’s 562.8 calories per hour. Like most people, I enjoy eating, but I’m disciplined enough not to do so if it means putting on weight. (I weigh 155 pounds.) By burning so many calories, I get to indulge (i.e., exceed 2,200 calories) for a couple of days. My maximum heart rate yesterday was 150, and my average 121. My resting heart rate is 47. I hope all of you got some vigorous exercise this weekend, especially those of you who have sedentary jobs. As for me, I ran 3.1 miles Friday. Yesterday I rode 62.8 miles. Today I’m recovering. Tomorrow I run 3.1 miles. I find that running and bicycling go well together.

There was one sad moment during the ride. We came upon a live snake in the middle of the road. As we passed, I noticed blood on the pavement. The snake rose into an aggressive posture, perhaps thinking we were attacking. It had obviously been struck by a motor vehicle or a bicycle and was bleeding. I can’t be sure, but it was probably a fatal wound. I realize that animals die every day, just as humans do, but there was something poignant about this poor snake, which was simply minding its own business. We humans have made it a dangerous world for wild animals.

Richard Swinburne on Christian Belief

If you insist that to be a Christian, a man must believe that each of the propositions of the [Nicene] Creed is more probable than its negation, it is as though you are telling a man who needs a fortune and wishes to buy a lottery ticket in the hope of getting it, that he is only allowed to buy the ticket if he believes that the odds are in favour of the ticket winning. That seems unreasonable.

(Richard Swinburne, Faith and Reason [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], 164)

A Year Ago



Rudy Giuliani is starting to get it. See here. Some people will dismiss him as a flip-flopper. I don’t see it that way. One function of a presidential campaign is to get the candidates out among the people, where they can learn what matters to them. Campaigns shape the campaigner as much as those to whom the campaigner speaks. I think Giuliani is learning just how strongly Americans feel about illegal immigration. What could be simpler—or more commonsensical—than enforcing the law? Deport those who are here illegally and prevent others from sneaking in. I shouldn’t have to say it, but I’m not against immigration. I’m against illegal immigration. Compare: I’m not against people coming into my house; I’m against people coming into my house without my permission.

Twenty Years Ago

4-22-87 Wednesday. I may have mentioned it before in these pages, but many companies and charitable organizations are now soliciting by telephone. Today, for instance, I got a call while I was reading on the balcony. The caller asked if [sic; should be “whether”] this was “722-3422,” and when I said that it was, she launched into her sales pitch for film developing. As soon as I realized the nature of the call, I interrupted with “Sorry, I don’t have time for this” and hung up. Isn’t it rude to call someone with a sales pitch like that? I think so. It’s one thing to have advertisements in the newspaper, in the mail, and on radio and television. They’re mixed in with the things that we’re looking for and we can easily ignore them or throw them away. But a telephone call is different. It requires action on my part—namely, stopping what I’m doing, walking to the telephone, and hanging up. I don’t care how rude I am in hanging up on these people. They’re even more rude for invading my privacy and peace of mind. In fact, I’d like to see telephone solicitations prohibited by law.

I had a bifurcated day. After lecturing on legal paternalism at eight o’clock, I spent two hours talking to Jody Kraus about my upcoming preliminary exams and came home. There, I reread a couple of chapters of H. L. A. Hart’s The Concept of Law [1961], took a nap, ate, and printed out a couple of outlines. This afternoon, at four o’clock, I returned to school, where I browsed around the law-school library, talked to Bob Schopp about the Critical Legal Studies Movement, and attended Joel Feinberg’s seven o’clock [Philosophy of Law] seminar. It made for a long, interesting day. The good news is that I’m done making outlines, at least for the written portions of my preliminary exam. As of now, everything is printed out, so I won’t have to go back to the [Kaypro II] computer between now and the exams. As for the rest of my studies for the major written exam, here’s how they stand. I’ve done about ninety percent of the reading (all but one of [John] Austin’s lectures and several articles in an anthology on [Ronald] Dworkin) and outlined about sixty to seventy percent of what I’ve read.

In the remaining week, I intend to review outlines, skim the books and articles that haven’t been outlined, and perhaps read the materials by Austin and Dworkin’s critics. Actually, this latter task isn’t as crucial as it may seem. Jody tells me that he didn’t read Austin or most of the articles in the anthology on Dworkin. As I understand it, the committee will give me a choice of questions to answer. If there’s a question on one of the articles that I haven’t read, I’ll just have to skip it. I’m anxious to get these damned exams over with. I want to delve into the literature on feminism and the Critical Legal Studies Movement, not to mention get outside more often. Mica Mountain is beckoning.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

David Brooks is right to suggest that any account of Seung-Hui Cho’s actions will have to assume that he made choices and exercised some degree of self-control in making them. But choices and self-control are complex processes with many underlying contributory factors—physiological, psychological and social.

Mr. Brooks laments the loss of free will in this explanatory mix, but what would we gain by adding it, other than a false sense of closure that some one person is morally to blame? How will this help us prevent similar actions in the future?

Dave Hilditch
St. Louis, April 19, 2007

Note from KBJ: Responsibility presupposes free will. If free will is an illusion, then nobody, including the letter writer, is responsible for anything, including the writing of that letter.


Will Nehs sent a link to this news story about Al Gore, who, according to certain insiders, is considering a run for president. I think all the failed Democrats should run for president: Jimmy Carter (1980), Walter Mondale (1984), Michael Dukakis (1988), Al Gore (2000), and John Kerry (2004). Perhaps Hillary Clinton will look good by comparison, since she hasn’t lost a race.

Addendum: This makes you wonder about Hillary Clinton’s intelligence. Does she not realize, at this late date, that all Republicans and half of Democrats despise Bill Clinton? Promising to empower him—a man without self-control or shame—is a sure-fire way to lose an election.

From the Mailbag

Hi Keith,

Here are some links to some exceptionally moving and informative online audio lectures on vegetarianism & animal ethics from a Christian perspective. They are by Matt Halteman, an excellent philosopher from Calvin College. I bet all your readers—religious and secular—would learn a lot from these talks and be inspired. If you would inform them of this resource, that’d be great.

MP3: “Animal Rights & Christian Responsibility
MP3: “Living Toward the Peaceable Kingdom
Notes: “Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation
Notes: “Animal Rights and Christian Responsibility

Nathan Nobis

Safire on Language