Thursday, 17 May 2007


The Democrat presidential campaign is getting interesting. Hillary Clinton is positioning herself as the antiwar candidate, which would be plausible if she hadn’t voted to authorize the war. Barack Obama is calling her on the subterfuge. Note that Bill Clinton—Slick Willie—is actively involved in the campaign. The Clintons are not just shameful; they’re shameless.


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia, won by German Robert Förster. Tomorrow’s stage has some serious climbing, but it comes in the middle, so the sprinters should be able to get back on for the finish.


I got a chuckle out of this column by Garrison Keillor. He writes:

The French have a new president, the British will soon have a new P.M., and we envy them as we endure the endless wait for this small dim man to go back to Texas and resume his life.

That “small dim man” kicked Keillor’s ass. Twice. What does that make Keillor?

Addendum: Did you see the part at the end of the column about President Bush (“Current Occupant”) serving “angry, privileged white people”? Hmm. Keillor (“Self-Loathing Columnist”) looks white to me (indeed, quite white—and male to boot), and we know that he is privileged, in the sense of having a comfortable bourgeois lifestyle. The only question is whether he is angry. Wait. His column proves that he is. What a buffoon.

Sex Differences

It’s hard to read stories such as this without concluding that men and women are fundamentally different—and not, as feminists are wont to say, because they’ve been differently socialized. It’s innate. Males are hard-wired to compete with one another for status. Females are hard-wired to compete with one another for high-status males.

Addendum: Here is a story about women at work. One manifestation of innate sex differences is different choices. Men and women want different bundles of goods. These bundles have different costs associated with them. If you want a rich family life, for example, you cannot expect to have a high-powered job or a large salary. Men have never had it all. Why should women expect to have it all? Oh, wait. They’ve been lied to by feminists.

Addendum 2: Did it ever occur to these whiny women that instead of taking a class in something, they should get out and do it? Real men don’t take classes—in tennis or anything else. They get out and play.

Addendum 3: For the record, I don’t believe that men are better than women, whatever that might mean. They’re just different. To say that two things are different from one another (in some respect) is not to say that one of them is superior to the other. This should be obvious, but I’ve learned from experience that it’s not. There are people who hear “Men are different from women” as “Men are better than women.” Since they reject the latter, they feel compelled to reject the former. This isn’t ideology so much as stupidity. I get the same reaction when I say that chess is not a sport. Some people hear that as “Chess is not worthy.” That would be true only if the only worthy things are sports, which is manifestly false (and hence not something I believe). Saying that chess is not a sport is not to evaluate it; it’s to describe it. By the same token, saying that men are different from women is not to make a judgment of comparative worthiness or superiority; it’s merely to describe something.

Best of the Web Today


Alasdair MacIntyre on Our Fragmented Culture

Ours is a culture in which there is the sharpest of contrasts between the rigor and integrity with which issues of detail are discussed within each specialized discipline and the self-indulgent shoddiness of so much of public debate on large and general issues of great import (compare Lawrence Summers on economics with Lawrence Summers on gender issues, Cardinal Schönborn on theology with Cardinal Schönborn on evolution). One reason for this contrast is the absence of a large educated public, a public with shared standards of argument and inquiry and some shared conception of the central questions that we need to address. Such a public would be a good deal less willing to allow issues that need to be debated to be defined by those who are so wedded in advance to their own particular partisan answers that they have never found out what the questions are. And it would be unwilling to tolerate the straitjacketing of debate, so characteristic of television, within two- to five-minute periods, during which each participant interrupts and talks down the others.

(Alasdair MacIntyre, “The End of Education: The Fragmentation of the American University,” Commonweal 133 [20 October 2006]: 10-4, at 14)

Things I Wonder About

Andrew Sullivan said the following about John Edwards: “He’s pretty, he has flowing locks, he’s young-looking.” Will Sullivan vote for whichever presidential candidate gives him the biggest erection?

Addendum: While I’m on the subject of John Edwards, did anyone catch Mike Huckabee’s jab at Edwards during the debate the other night? It was hilarious. Here is a clip.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Hands on the Wheel, Not on the Blackberry Keys” (Business Day, May 12):

Good for Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington, who signed the nation’s first law to ban driving while texting with a cellphone, Blackberry or other mobile device.

Let’s hope that other states follow Washington State’s lead to promote safety on our country’s roads.

Besides texting with mobile devices, state legislatures need to focus on other examples of driver distraction that I have witnessed: people driving and reading at the same time, and sharing the driver’s seat with dogs.

In both instances, the activities may not be illegal, but they could potentially be very dangerous.

Marilyn Shaver
Fort Thomas, Ky., May 12, 2007

Note from KBJ: It’s one thing for people to risk their own lives doing stupid things. It’s quite another for them to risk the lives of others. Sometimes I’m ashamed to be a human being.

Men and Women

Are men becoming obsolete? See here. Some (many?) women view men as a burden that isn’t worth bearing. Men are messy; they’re aggressive; they’re selfish; they’re not communicative; they hide their feelings; they want sex all the damn time. Why put up with them, especially if (1) you can have babies without them and (2) there’s a social-welfare system to provide for your and your children’s needs?

A Year Ago



I don’t read The New Yorker, so I appreciate it when people direct my attention to items that appear in it. My librarian, Noel Anderson, sent a link to this review of several recent books on theism. I like the following paragraphs about David Hume (1711-1776):

In his “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion,” which was published posthumously, and reports imaginary discussions among three men, Hume prized apart the supposed analogy between the natural world and a designed artifact. Even if the analogy were apt, he pointed out, the most one could infer from it would be a superior craftsman, not an omnipotent and perfect deity. And, he argued, if it is necessary to ask who made the world it must also be necessary to ask who, or what, made that maker. In other words, God is merely the answer that you get if you do not ask enough questions. From the accounts of his friends, his letters, and some posthumous essays, it is clear that Hume had no trace of religion, did not believe in an afterlife, and was particularly disdainful of Christianity. He had a horror of zealotry. Yet his many writings on religion have a genial and even superficially pious tone. He wanted to convince his religious readers, and recognized that only gentle and reassuring persuasion would work. In a telling passage in the “Dialogues,” Hume has one of his characters remark that a person who openly proclaimed atheism, being guilty of “indiscretion and imprudence,” would not be very formidable.

Hume sprinkled his gunpowder through the pages of the “Dialogues” and left the book primed so that its arguments would, with luck, ignite in his readers’ own minds. And he always offered a way out. In “The Natural History of Religion,” he undermined the idea that there are moral reasons to be religious, but made it sound as if it were still all right to believe in proofs of God’s existence. In an essay about miracles, he undermined the idea that it is ever rational to accept an apparent revelation from God, but made it sound as if it were still all right to have faith. And in the “Dialogues” he undermined proofs of God’s existence, but made it sound as if it were all right to believe on the basis of revelation. As the Cambridge philosopher Edward Craig has put it, Hume never tried to topple all the supporting pillars of religion at once.

Hume knew that if you hope to persuade, it’s unwise to insult, antagonize, or otherwise alienate your interlocutor. Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens would do well to think about that. Then again, they may not have persuasion in mind. They seem more interested in insulting those who disagree with them.