Wednesday, 11 July 2007


I leave you this fine evening with a column by Dick Morris.

Economic Thugs

Philosophy has its share of thugs, such as Brian Leiter, who try to police the profession. Leiter abuses those to his right on the political spectrum, which, given how far left he is, means almost everyone. It’s not just that he disagrees with them; that’s to be expected. He threatens them, tries to destroy their careers, and uses his taxpayer-supported blog to embarrass and humiliate them. The message is clear: Think my way or your career will suffer. According to The New York Times, the same sort of dogmatism, intimidation, and thuggery takes place in economics. See here. Academics pretend to be veracious inquirers. That’s risible. They are as vain, arrogant, dogmatic, clubby, and thuggish as anyone else.

“Just Another Angry Atheist”

Mark Spahn brought this review essay by biologist David Sloan Wilson to my attention. Wilson is describing his fellow biologist Richard Dawkins. Thanks, Mark, and thanks to everyone else who sends things like this to me. In most cases, I would not otherwise have seen them.


Here is a New York Times story about baseball bats. I can’t wait until tomorrow, when the season resumes.

Addendum: Here is a story about yesterday’s All-Star game. I was disappointed that Michael Young of my adopted Texas Rangers didn’t get into the game. He was the game’s Most Valuable Player a year ago. I did see many ex-Rangers, however: Alex Rodriguez, Ivan Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, Chris Young, Carlos Lee, and Francisco Cordero.

Richard John Neuhaus on Religious Resurgence

Religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is a bull market because it is now evident that homo religiosus, man in search of transcendent meaning, is irrepressible. The secularization theories that held sway over our high culture for three hundred years, ever since the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, have been falsified by the very history to which they so confidently appealed. Or at least so it would seem. That form of Enlightenment rationalism confidently assumed the unstoppable progress of modernity. As people became more modern—meaning more enlightened and skeptical—religion would gradually wither away, or at least be confined to the sphere of privacy where it is hermetically sealed off and prevented from exercising cultural influence. In important respects, history is not turning out that way. I have already mentioned the explosive growth of Christianity in the Global South. When China really opens up, it may seem that we are witnessing the fulfillment of Pope John Paul II’s vision of the twenty-first century as “the springtime of world evangelization.” And then there are other forms of religious resurgence, such as the newly assertive Islam mentioned earlier.

(Richard John Neuhaus, “The Public Square,” First Things [April 2007]: 55-72, at 56)


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Tour de France, won by Thor Hushovd. The Norwegian rider averaged 25.90 miles per hour on the 119.9-mile course. Here is the story. Here is the New York Times report. Here is tomorrow’s stage.

Addendum: Warning! You can’t trust Edward Wyatt, the New York Times reporter, to get facts right. He says Hushovd’s average speed was “about 30 miles an hour.” That’s ridiculous. His average speed was 25.90 miles per hour. I could accept it if Wyatt had said “about 26 miles an hour,” but 30? Why not say “about 20 miles an hour”? That’s almost as close.

Addendum 2: For what it’s worth, the Cyclingnews reporters are just as unreliable. They say that Sébastien Chavanel was one of the five breakaway riders. No. It was Sylvain Chavanel.


The author of this column argues that, however bad things are in Iraq, they would be worse if the United States had not removed Saddam Hussein from power. The implication is that this justifies staying the course. This reasoning commits the fallacy of false dichotomy. There were not just two choices: leave Saddam in power and do what President Bush has done. The obvious third choice was what I have been recommending for over three years, namely, remove the tyrant from power and get out.


According to this news report, Pope Benedict XVI has decreed that “the only path to true salvation is through Catholicism.” Does this mean that I, an atheist, am no worse off than Protestants, as far as eternal life is concerned? What sort of god would treat Protestants no better than atheists? And where in this biblical passage does it say anything about Catholicism?

Addendum: Not to be picky, but what role does “true” play in the Pope’s decree (assuming those are the Pope’s words and not the reporter’s)? Is there such a thing as false salvation? Is the Pope engaging in persuasive definition?

Addendum 2: Something about the news report didn’t seem right to me, so I did some Internet research. I believe I found the document to which the reporter refers. See here. As I read it, the Pope is not saying that the only path to salvation is through Catholicism. Here is the second paragraph (of two) of the response to the third question:

It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church. (italics added; footnote omitted)

The Pope appears to be denying that “the only path to true salvation is through Catholicism,” in which case the reporter got things exactly backward.

Addendum 3: I’m not confident that the document I located is the one being referred to by the reporter, since the reporter says the document contains the word “wound,” and that word doesn’t appear in the document I located. But suppose the reporter is referring to some other document. The document I located seems to be saying that salvation is possible outside Catholicism. The Pope can’t very well deny this in some other document!


John Hawkins of Right Wing News has written a how-to article about blogging, designed for those who are either new to the craft or ready to try something new.

Best of the Web Today


A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Support in G.O.P. for Iraq Policy Erodes Further” (front page, July 6):

It appears that the new game in town for G.O.P. incumbents facing re-election is to publicly “break” with President Bush while offering no new plan for ending our involvement in Iraq, nor pledging to help enact Democratic plans for withdrawal. The sole purpose of this exercise seems to be to position these candidates as “antiwar” in time for the next election.

Let’s hope that the voters can see through this charade and will ask these lawmakers what they have done to end the war and bring our troops home, rather than simply what they said.

Jon Greer
Oakland, Calif., July 9, 2007

Note from KBJ: Is there a Democrat plan?

Hall of Fame?

Ichiro Suzuki. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)

Black Entertainment

I got an answer to my question.

From the Mailbag

Mr. KBJ,

I enjoyed your post on judicial activism. Progressives always talk about how they don’t win elections because they don’t “frame” the issues correctly, as George Lakoff always likes to say. I consider this “projection,” on their parts, as they are the ones who do it the best, like on judicial activism.

I don’t know if you have noticed, but this is happening with regard to the term “flip-flopping” as well, particularly in regards to Mitt Romney. The whole flip-flopping brouhaha started with John Kerry because he would espouse completely different positions on the Iraq War from speech to speech within a matter of weeks, if not days, depending on the audience. Now, progressives use the word flip-flopping to mean any change in position no matter when it happened, even if the “change” happened years and years later.

You even see baseball analysts assume this definition. Buster Olney for example refuses to change his pre-season World Series Winner pick of the Indians because to do so in his mind would be flip-flopping. So basically according to him and other people with that mindset, once you take a position on an issue or make a prediction, you can never ever change your mind, otherwise you lose your credibility and become a flip-flopper. There is apparently no such thing as re-evaluating the data and coming to a different conclusion based on such data.

The progs (a.k.a. “libs”) are really something sometimes.

Keep up the good work. Thanks for reading.