Thursday, 12 July 2007

Twenty Years Ago

7-12-87 . . . The Tour de France is under way, and before I rode this afternoon I watched a two-hour recapitulation of the early stages. What remarkable athletes these riders are! They draft on each other, to be sure, and they have superb equipment and support crews, but I still find it hard to believe how fast and how far they go, not to mention how well they climb mountains and how well they work together as teams. I’m keeping my eye on Jonathan Boyer of the American team. He won the Race Across America (RAAM) in 1985 and is currently in eighty-sixth place overall on the Tour. Two Frenchmen are leading the pack. In retrospect, it was a mistake to watch this just before riding. When I hit the road, I sprinted up a hill as if I were in as good a condition as these riders. I’m obviously not. Mentally, I’m with them, but physically, I’m far behind. We’re in different worlds. [Stephen Roche of Ireland won the Tour in 1987. The Frenchmen were probably Jean-François Bernard and Charly Mottet, who finished third and fourth, respectively. Boyer finished 98th.]

Odds and ends: (1) The annual [Major League Baseball] All-Star game is two days away. At the break, the [Detroit] Tigers are 48-37, which puts them in third place, five games behind the [New York] Yankees and three games behind the [Toronto] Blue Jays. Frankly, I’m surprised. I thought that this would be a rebuilding year for the Tigers. The biggest surprise in baseball, as far as I’m concerned, is Oakland [Athletics] rookie Mark McGwire. He has hit thirty-three home runs already, and poses a real threat to the all-time record of sixty-one, set by Roger Maris in 1961. He’s almost certain to break the rookie record of thirty-eight. [McGwire hit 49 home runs in 1987. He was named the American League Rookie of the Year. McGwire did indeed break Maris’s single-season home-run record, but not until 1998, when he hit 70 home runs. Three years later (in 2001), Barry Bonds hit 73. Bonds is about to break Hank Aaron’s all-time home-run record of 755.]

Yankee Watch

Both the Boston Red Sox (54-34) and the New York Yankees (43-43) won today. The Red Sox lead the Yankees by 10 games (nine in the loss column). If the Red Sox win just 55% of their remaining games, the Yankees will have to go 52-24 (.684) to tie. I notice that Tom hasn’t taken me up on my wager proposal.

Addendum: Boston’s magic number to eliminate New York is 66.

Addendum 2: Read it and weep, Yankee fans.

Addendum 3: Number of World Series titles for the Yankees since 2000: zero. Amount spent trying to buy title: zillions.


Paul Krugman* won’t like this.

* “Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults” (Daniel Okrent, “13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did,” The New York Times, 22 May 2005).


According to this column, Barack Obama is the effeminate Democrat, while Hillary Clinton is the mannish one. Which candidate will appeal to women: the man trying to be a woman, or the woman trying to be a man? More importantly, will any man vote for either of them?

The Nanny State

Progressives will not rest until every aspect of our lives is regulated. They are totalitarians manqué. See here for the latest. (Thanks to Will Nehs for the link.)


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Tour de France, won by Filippo Pozzato. The Italian rider averaged 24.65 miles per hour on the 113.4-mile course. Here is the story. Here is the New York Times report. Here is tomorrow’s stage.


I can’t think of many things that are worse than pretending to be religious in order to gain power. Read this. I won’t presume to say whether any of the Democrat presidential candidates are pretending to be religious. Ultimately, voters will decide.

Addendum: Here’s a sincerity test for Democrats. If you’re genuinely religious, publicly denounce those, such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, who are hostile to religion and to the religious. Show that you are not beholden to the militant atheists, the overwhelming majority of whom, I suspect, are progressives.

Best of the Web Today


W. D. Ross (1877-1971) on the Sanctity of Promises

There is one direction in which a fairly serious attempt has been made to show the connexion of the attributes ‘right’ and ‘optimific’. One of the most evident facts of our moral consciousness is the sense which we have of the sanctity of promises, a sense which does not, on the face of it, involve the thought that one will be bringing more good into existence by fulfilling the promise than by breaking it. It is plain, I think, that in our normal thought we consider that the fact that we have made a promise is in itself sufficient to create a duty of keeping it, the sense of duty resting on remembrance of the past promise and not on thoughts of the future consequences of its fulfilment. Utilitarianism tries to show that this is not so, that the sanctity of promises rests on the good consequences of the fulfilment of them and the bad consequences of their non-fulfilment. It does so in this way: it points out that when you break a promise you not only fail to confer a certain advantage on your promisee but you diminish his confidence, and indirectly the confidence of others, in the fulfilment of promises. You thus strike a blow at one of the devices that have been found most useful in the relations between man and man—the device on which, for example, the whole system of commercial credit rests—and you tend to bring about a state of things wherein each man, being entirely unable to rely on the keeping of promises by others, will have to do everything for himself, to the enormous impoverishment of human well-being.

(W. D. Ross, The Right and the Good [1930; repr., Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 1988], 37)

Note from KBJ: Everyone agrees that there is a duty to keep promises, but there is disagreement about its basis. Utilitarians claim that the duty to keep promises is a special case of the generic duty to maximize the good. Ross, who is a deontologist, denies this.

Personal Communication Assistant

The rock ’n’ roll generation is getting its comeuppance.

Rudy, Some of the Time

Is Rudy Giuliani an urban legend? See here. Even if Rudy shared all of my values, I could not vote for him, since he likes the New York Yankees. That alone shows that he’s not wired properly.

A Year Ago



This, my friends, is the best thing that has ever appeared on television (except when I was on Science Quiz in seventh grade). Seriously, what could possibly be better than this? Or this?

All Fred, All the Time

It occurs to me that Fred Thompson is a shoo-in for president. Men will vote for him because he’s manly. Women will vote for him because he’s a gentleman. Try to picture Fred windsurfing or playing with his hair. I’m serious. Try it.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Contrary to what David Brooks suggests (“The End of Integration,” column, July 6), integration is alive and well.

I am one of the millions of Americans whose life has been enriched by going to school and working with people of different races, religions and backgrounds. This is something that cannot be taken away. I will pass along these experiences and beliefs.

While there is still rampant segregation, the underlying reasons for this are more economic than social. The poor live among the poor, the middle class lives among the middle class, and the rich live among the rich.

Integration was never meant to be a silver bullet for discrimination. It was just one tool to help bring about a larger goal: the freedom to choose. The civil rights movement was more about this freedom than about anything else.

People should be able to choose where they live, where they work and where their children go to school. The idea was that an intermingling of the races would make people more welcoming of one another’s differences. Unfortunately, today we are not completely there, but tremendous progress has been made.

François Lundy
Naples, Fla., July 6, 2007

Note from KBJ: This man is crazy! The social engineers would never allow things to work out on their own. They must impose a pattern on society. Anything that can be engineered, must be engineered.