Wednesday, 13 June 2007


I leave you this fine evening with a column by George Will.


I found this site by accident. Please remember that philosophers are just as prone to bias, prejudice, ignorance, arrogance, hyperbole, incivility, and stupidity as anyone else. (We only profess to be wise.) A couple of the answers I examined are, in a word, tendentious, as if the author has an ax to grind. In one case, the author engages in constitutional interpretation, even though he has no legal credentials. I won’t mention any names. Caveat emptor.


Here is a scene from today’s stage (an individual time trial) of the Dauphiné Libéré, won by Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov, who took the overall lead by two seconds over his teammate and compatriot Andrey Kashechkin. It’s a great day for Kazakhstan.


I have always admired Tony Blair. He is intelligent, articulate, fiesty, and principled. There have been many times during the past few years when I wished that he, rather than George W. Bush, were my president. Please read the speech Blair delivered yesterday about the relation between public life and the media. Journalists used to take pride in their disinterestedness. Somewhere along the line, however, they decided that they wanted to be players as well as (or instead of) spectators. The problem is that, when you become a player, you lose whatever authority you had as a distinterested purveyor of truth. I’m not the least bit surprised that journalists are distrusted. Why should I trust someone who uses rhetoric to manipulate me? Why should I trust someone whose aim is to move me rather than to inform me? Why should I trust someone who pretends to be something he or she is not? Why should I trust someone who has ulterior motives? We need a new institution that is devoted to presenting facts. It doesn’t have to be called journalism. Let the advocates and partisans have that word. We’ll call it schmournalism. The idea is simple: Schmournalists inform us of what is going on. We—the audience—do the interpretation.

“Her Bone-Chilling Mirthless Chuckling”

You have to love Camille Paglia. Here is her column about the presidential race (and other things).

Religion and Economics

See here.

Strange Maps

Mark Spahn sent a link to this interesting site. I have spent many an hour poring over a map. When I was in law school, the walls of my study were covered with maps—of Montana; of Pennington County, South Dakota (where I intended to practice law); of the United States; of Michigan; and so forth. Whenever I traveled, I traced my route on a map, so I would never forget the roads I traversed. Right now, in my Fort Worth house, I have maps of the world, of Texas, of Montana, and of the United States on my walls. I also have maps of the Lewis and Clark trail (1804-1806) and of the Dominguez-Escalante trail (1776). I admit it: I’m a cartographic nerd.


I found this while browsing the Freakonomics blog. I will add both of them to the blogroll.

The Bovine Bill of Rights

See here.

Best of the Web Today

Here. (Still no mention of immigration.)

George Weigel on Saddam Hussein (1937-2006)

Had the coalition not invaded Iraq and deposed the Baathist regime, Saddam Hussein would have slipped out of the so-called box (a favorite trope of Madeleine Albright) and, as the authoritative Duelfer Report makes clear, would have been back in the weapons-of-mass-destruction business in relatively short order—this time politically strengthened throughout the region by his successful defiance of the United States and its allies. That, in turn, would have encouraged Jihadists everywhere to think, as they did in the 1990s, that the Great Satan was feckless: a “weak horse,” in Osama bin-Laden’s infamous phrase.

(George Weigel, “Just War and Iraq Wars,” First Things [April 2007]: 14-20, at 15-6)

Hall of Fame?

Jim Thome. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)


How many times have you heard it said that, if illegal aliens are deported or otherwise prevented from working in this country, nobody—no American, that is—will do the work? Let’s think about this. Suppose you’ve been paying illegal aliens five dollars per hour to work in your fields. They’re deported. What do you do? If you’re rational, you increase the wage to make it more attractive to citizens. How much do you increase it? Enough to get the workers you need. Yes, this will increase your costs, perhaps significantly, but a rational, self-interested entrepreneur (the only kind who survives in a competitive market) passes costs on to those who purchase his or her goods or services. Consumers end up paying the increased wages, as they should. This is Economics 101.

Many of those who hire illegal aliens appear not to understand how things work in a capitalist economy. They want something for nothing. The scenario I described applies on a smaller scale as well. Suppose I want my lawn mowed, but don’t want to do it myself. I have no right to have someone mow my lawn for three dollars. If I want someone to mow my lawn, I will have to offer enough to make it worth his or her while. Change the facts slightly. Suppose a man has been mowing my lawn for three dollars for the past two years. One day, police officers apprehend him. It turns out that he’s a criminal. I have no right to have other criminals mow my lawn for three dollars per hour. I must pay whatever it takes to get a law-abiding citizen to do it—or else do it myself.

All Fred, All the Time

Philosophers show affection for their colleagues by criticizing them. Politicians show fear of their rivals by attacking them. See here for a column about Fred Thompson, who is already being attacked, despite not having announced that he will run for president.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Paul Krugman maintains that voters should not consider the “authenticity” of a candidate when deciding whom to support. Unfortunately, his argument rests on a rather skewed definition of the term.

While I don’t expect John Edwards to sell his mansion before talking about the problems of the poor, I do expect candidates to live up to the ideals to which they subscribe.

How can a politician who lives in a 20-room home that must be heated and cooled year round ask Americans to cut down on their own energy use? How does a leader ask a 20-year-old to sacrifice his life in Iraq when he used political connections to avoid service? How does a politician call for health care reform when he made a fortune suing health care providers?

The time has come for a leader who makes the same personal sacrifices that he or she asks of the public.

Michael Sclafani
Spring Lake, N.J., June 11, 2007