Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Yankee Watch

Both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees won today. Boston’s magic number to eliminate New York is down to 56.

All Fred, All the Time

Here is a feature story about Fred Thompson, to whom, if you care about your family, it would behoove you to be nice.

Twenty Years Ago

7-24-87 . . . For the third time in six days I rode my bike. This time I turned south on Campbell Avenue rather than Oracle Road, and sure enough it cut the ride down considerably. Instead of thirty-three miles, this route is 26.3 miles. I rode it in 102.85 minutes, for a gross-average speed of 15.36 miles per hour. Now, whenever I want to get away from the books for a couple of hours, I can jump on my bike and head for the foothills. The only trouble is with the traffic lights and stop signs. If I could ride the route without stops, I know I could average eighteen or nineteen miles per hour, but I’m probably doomed to fifteen or sixteen miles per hour instead. Oh well; that’s the cost of living and riding in an urban area. As far as the weather goes, it was brutally hot today. The official high temperature [in Tucson] was 109 degrees [Fahrenheit], and I was out during the hottest part of the day. This is the hottest riding temperature that I’ve ever recorded. When I got home, the sweat poured from me. No wonder I need so much fluid to recover from the rides!

Robert Bork is awaiting confirmation as the newest Supreme Court justice. Many liberals, including presidential aspirant Joseph Biden of Delaware, who happens to be on the Senate Judiciary Committee, have announced that they will fight Bork’s nomination every step of the way. But in thinking about Bork, his record, and the confirmation process, I’ve come to support him. Obviously, I’d rather have someone like Ronald Dworkin on the bench, but given that Ronald Reagan is the president, I can’t expect that much. What I can expect is a solid jurist, someone, like Bork, who has given much thought to jurisprudence, the theory of interpretation, and the role of a Supreme Court justice. Bork is a former law professor and has written many influential articles on the constitution. While I may not agree with him on substantive issues, I admire his work. If confirmed, as he should and likely will be, he’ll challenge liberals and radicals for years to come. Who knows? I could end up grappling with him in print. I’m looking forward to the intellectual challenge that Bork will pose for me.


This makes a Clinton-Obama ticket less likely. It’s one thing for candidates to differ on policy, but quite another to call your opponent “naive” and “irresponsible.” I have a question for my readers: Would Barack Obama be taken seriously as a candidate if he weren’t black?

Them Wacky Badgers

As a federalist, I’m delighted to see states experiment with social policy. Things that work can be emulated. Things that don’t work can be avoided. If you don’t like how things are done in your state, you can move to another state. I’ve lived in three states in my life: Michigan, Arizona, and Texas. If I didn’t like Texas, I could go elsewhere. Read this. Wisconsin is experimenting with single-payer health care. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes. Specifically, it’ll be interesting to see who moves to the state and who moves out of the state. If productive, healthy, responsible people leave and unproductive, unhealthy, and irresponsible people move in, it will be a disaster. Note to Jawbone and Will: We’d love to have you in Texas. There is no danger of socialized medicine down here. Texans are hardy, self-sufficient people. Three words: No income tax.

Addendum: There’s a big difference between single-payer health care at the state level and single-payer health care at the federal level. If it’s done at the state level, people can vote with their feet.


I make fun of people who like soccer. Why? Because it’s a pointless (in both senses) human activity. Now I know why they like soccer. See here.

Addendum: The study found a correlation between playing soccer and having reduced brain matter. The unspoken assumption is that the former causes the latter. Isn’t it just as plausible that the latter causes the former?

The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles

Six days ago, I wrote about the travails with my spectacles. You’re probably wondering how things are going with my new glasses. (Admit it; you are.) Not well. In fact, I returned them to the eye doctor yesterday. The problem is that I couldn’t see well at the computer. I do a lot of typing from sheets of paper situated at arm’s length (to my left). I could barely see the letters. The glasses were fine outdoors, and I even liked the bifocals for reading, but I spend many hours a day at the computer, so it’s essential that I be able to see at intermediate distances. When I explained all this to the eye doctor, he told me that it’s impossible to “have it all.” You can’t get glasses that give you perfect vision at all three distances. I had no idea this was the case. What it meant is that I had to decide what to give up. After some discussion, I decided to give up distance vision. The doctor will make lenses that give me good vision while reading and while working at the computer. He says I’ll be able to see fairly well outdoors, but not as well as I could be if all I cared about was distance vision.

These glasses are now being made. In the meantime, I found someone who was able and willing to put my old lenses into a new frame. I like the old glasses, so it was well worth it to me to spend $127.50 to get them back. This afternoon, I got them back. The technician had to reduce the size of the lenses to make them fit the frame, but I don’t mind. The important thing is that I can see again. Everything is back to normal! Maybe the new glasses (the ones being made) will be even better than these; we’ll see. But if they aren’t, I’ll stick with the old ones and keep the new ones as a backup pair. The third pair of glasses, which are quite strong, and which can’t be used for reading, will be kept in my car for driving (and perhaps for bicycling). Sorry to bore you with this. I suppose I should extract a lesson from it in order to justify the time you spent reading this post. The lesson is this: Hang on to your friends.

Best of the Web Today



Terrible news. Kazakh cyclist Alexander Vinokourov, who won two of the three previous stages of the Tour de France, tested positive for blood doping. See here. He and his team (Astana) have been been expelled from the Tour. This breaks my heart. Like so many other cycling fans, I crave a clean sport, one in which natural ability and training prowess determine the winners. I honestly don’t understand cheating. There are rules. These rules structure and give point to the activity. The aim is to prevail within the confines of the rules. How can you feel good about yourself—which to me is the whole point of competing—if the only reason you prevail is because you broke the rules? I know cheating occurs, even in academia. What I don’t understand is why it occurs. I am proud to say that I have never cheated at anything in my life. I would rather lose than win by cheating.

Addendum: Here is a page of commentary on the scandal. I’m glad to see that the Tour will go on.

Addendum 2: Here is the New York Times report.

From the Mailbag

The board game checkers (draughts) has been solved. Here is a good place to start in reading about the details, including a pdf copy of the technical paper describing the proof, in which all 5×10^20 possible checkerboard positions are considered. It also seems to allow the reader to play against Chinook, the researchers’ “I can never lose” program. If you beat it, you will go down in history.

Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)

Note from KBJ: No goddamned machine is going to beat me at checkers.

I Look Forward to the Day When . . .

Those who support humanitarian military intervention are not called “warmongers.”

Politicians who are religious are not called “theocrats.”

Conservatives are not called “fascists.”

Those who oppose affirmative-action programs are not called “racists.”

Those who oppose homosexual “marriage” are not called “homophobes” or “latent homosexuals.”

Those who oppose illegal immigration are not called “xenophobes” or “nativists.”

Those who oppose permissive abortion policies are not called “sexists.”

Those who oppose adoption by homosexuals are not called “bigots.”

Those who express love for country are not called “jingoists.”

Those who believe in law and order are not called “authoritarians.”

Those who value tradition are not called “reactionaries.”

Those who believe that there are moral limits on scientific research are not called “anti-science.”

Those who defend capitalism are not called “greedy.”


I’m not the only person who (1) believes that the invasion of Iraq was justified but (2) believes that the United States should withdraw its forces. See here. What we should have done is remove Saddam and his sons from power and gotten out.


What’s with this “home invasion” stuff? What we have here is a burglary.

A Year Ago



Some time back, I asked for advice about stereos. I was thinking about buying a Bose Wave Music System and wanted to know what others thought of it. To those of you who responded, thanks. I decided to order the Bose. It should arrive in the next couple of weeks. I realize that the Wave System won’t have the best sound quality, but the system is for my study, where I work at the computer. I don’t want the hassle of separate speakers and wires. The sound quality should be good enough for this purpose. I have a serious stereo system in my living room, plus a CD player in my car and a Zune for listening to music outside or while riding my bike. In short, I want convenience and simplicity here in the study. I’ll post some thoughts on the Wave System once I’ve used it for a while. In case you’re wondering, it cost $499 plus sales tax. Shipping is free (or rather, included in the price). If you’re interested in purchasing a Bose, call 1-800-224-2673. (No, I don’t own stock in the company.)

Addendum: I had a choice of two colors. I ordered graphite gray. I decided against the Multi-CD Changer.