Sunday, 20 May 2007


Here is a New York Times story about the conservative movement, whatever that is.

From the Mailbag


Thanks for the link in your note titled “Men and Women.” I have no comments about the content of Ally’s essay, but one sentence in it jumped out at me: “I am also a business women with multiple accounts and books that need balanced.”

I learned recently that this wording “need” instead of “need to be” is a regional usage that is characteristic of the speech of people from Pennsylvania(?).

I wanted to ask the author about this, and where she is from, with a copy to you, but there is no way to do that from her site. Indeed, I can’t even find the author’s name on her (his?) site. Am I looking in the wrong place? Even the “About” icon provides nothing informative. Peculiar.

How did you find out that the proprietor of this site is named Ally?

Feel free to e-mail her a copy of this note. I’d do it myself, but her site provides no way to send her an e-mail with a copy to someone else (= you).

Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia, won by Norwegian Kurt-Asle Arvesen. I was able to watch some of today’s stage on tape delay on Versus.


Dr William F. (Bill) Vallicella (the desert doctor, a.k.a. Maverick Philosopher) has an interesting blog post about frugality in which he mentions yours truly. Bill and I are frugal, albeit in different ways. Bill doesn’t use his electric dishwasher, for example. I would die without mine. I’ve never owned a clothes dryer. Bill swears by his. Neither of us has ever owned an electric can opener. And so on. What does this show? I think it shows two things: first, that nobody is perfectly frugal (i.e., omnifrugal); and second, that different people are frugal in different ways and for different reasons (multifrugalism). My brother Glenn and I had to wash and dry dishes when we were kids (in addition to doing many other chores). I hated washing dishes. I hate scrubbing things (in general) and I hate getting my hands wet or dirty. I vowed never to wash dishes by hand when I got out on my own, and, with the exception of a year in Pontiac (Michigan), when I was in law school, I haven’t. I thoroughly enjoy hanging clothes on the line in my back yard. It’s relaxing. And what could be better than air-dried clothing? That it saves money on electricity is an unintended (but welcome) benefit. As for owning an electric can opener, I don’t get it. It takes five seconds to open a can by hand. It would take me longer to open a can with an electric can opener than to do it by hand.

Addendum: I’m genuinely curious about something. Do you (dear reader) value frugality? If so, how do you conceive it, and why and how much do you value it? In what ways do you pursue it, and why? (That’s six questions. There will be a test in the morning.)


That does it. I will not vote for John McCain for president, even if it comes down to McCain versus Hillary Clinton.

Baseball Notes

1. My beloved Detroit Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the defending World Series champion St Louis Cardinals this afternoon. As I said the other day, revenge is sweet. The Cardinals are struggling. I’d be surprised if they make the playoffs this year. As for my Tigers, they’re 27-16 and in a virtual tie for first place with the Cleveland Indians. At their current pace, the Tigers will win 101 games. A year ago, they won 95. The Tigers are playing with a sense of urgency this season, perhaps because they know they choked during the World Series. They want to atone for their sins.

2. This is a great time to be a New York Yankee hater. The Bronx Bombers (heh) were 10½ games behind the Boston Red Sox at the start of the day, with the season a little more than a third over. Boston is leading the Atlanta Braves, 6-2, as I type this, so the lead will probably be 11 games by the time the Yankees play this evening in Shea Stadium. No owner should be able to buy his way into the playoffs every year, as George Steinbrenner does. It destroys the integrity of the sport. It will be wonderful to see the Yankees miss the playoffs this year, in spite of having the largest payroll in Major League Baseball. Not even Roger Clemens can right this sinking ship.

3. The Milwaukee Brewers are playing inspired baseball for the first time in many years. Their general manager (Doug Melvin) and four of their players—Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench, Brian Shouse, and Laynce Nix—were with my adopted Texas Rangers until recently. The Rangers have a kid (Jon Daniels) as general manager. Whatever happened to putting in your time and working your way through the ranks? The Rangers are the most inept organization in Major League Baseball, if not in sport generally. I don’t expect anything to change until the team gets new ownership.

4. Barry Bonds has 745 home runs. He is 10 home runs shy of Hank Aaron’s all-time record. Wouldn’t it be something if Bonds were indicted on the day he tied the record?

5. The Big Unit struck out 10 batters today—in five and two-thirds innings. The man is ageless. I’ll bet the Yankees regret not keeping him.

Michael Novak on Government

A long-established lesson is that, even in the best of times, government is mightily incompetent—and the bigger government gets, the more incompetent it becomes.

(Joseph Bottum and Michael Novak, “The Leadership of George W. Bush: Con & Pro,” First Things [March 2007]: 31-5, at 34)


Yesterday, while riding my bike in the Flower Mound rally (report to come), I saw a young woman with a tattoo on her ankle. It was barely visible above her shoe. This got me to wondering: What statement is being made by a woman who gets a tattoo? I assume, perhaps erroneously, that some statement is being made. Do men and women make the same statement? If not, how do the sexes differ? I’ve heard it said that when a woman gets a tattoo, she is saying that she’s a bad girl. The woman yesterday put her tattoo in a place where she can hide it. Does this mean she’s bad, but not very bad? If she were truly bad (to the bone), why wouldn’t she put the tattoo in a place where it is always visible?


It’s rare, but I occasionally agree with the editorial board of The New York Times. I agree that the immigration bill about to be voted on in the Senate should be rejected.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

New Demographic Racial Gap Emerges” (news article, May 17) and its chart, “America’s Changing Ethnic Profile,” highlight a major sociological issue that affects our view of ourselves as a nation: in public parlance, and in social science terms, there is a world of difference between race and ethnicity.

Racial divisions are considered biological, although they are, in effect, largely socially constructed. Ethnic divisions have no such connotations in contemporary American society.

Racial differences are considered basically immutable and divisive. Ethnic differences are considered “normal” pieces of the American mosaic. And people’s ethnicity is expected to be quickly played down, as immigrants learn English, acculturate and marry across ethnic lines.

By listing Hispanic next to white and black, the chart highlights the issue of how Hispanics are to be defined. About half of the Hispanics consider themselves white. These days we generally take the position that it is up to the person to decide what his social category is. For the community to come and say, in effect, “You say you are white, but we say you do not qualify” is not in line with our enlightened policy. The chart saw more divisions where fewer are called for.

Amitai Etzioni
Washington, May 18, 2007
The writer is a professor of sociology at George Washington University.

Note from KBJ: I agree with Dr Etzioni that there is a difference between race and ethnicity, but it doesn’t follow that there are no races. Note how carefully qualified are some of Dr Etzioni’s statements. He says, for example, “Racial divisions are considered biological, although they are, in effect, largely socially constructed.” The word “largely” implies that they are not wholly socially constructed, which implies that they are at least partly biological. So what’s wrong with “considering” them biological? He also says, “Racial differences are considered basically immutable and divisive.” Who says they’re immutable, and what does it mean to say that something is “basically” immutable? Either a thing is immutable or it’s not. Races evolve in the same way dog breeds evolve. If dog breeds exist, then human races exist. The key to understanding Dr Etzioni is that, although he purports to be a distinterested social scientist, he’s driven by ideology. What bothers him is racism, which he finds “divisive.” Since racism presupposes race, he thinks he can eliminate racism by eliminating race. Brilliant! Let’s not stop with racism. Let’s eliminate sexism as well. All we have to do is persuade people that sex, like race, is a social construct.

A Year Ago