Thursday, 26 July 2007

Yankee Watch

The Boston Red Sox won today, while the New York Yankees lost. Boston’s magic number to eliminate New York is down to 54.

Twenty Years Ago

7-26-87 I read an article last night on fetal rights. [Dawn E. Johnsen, “The Creation of Fetal Rights: Conflicts with Women’s Constitutional Rights to Liberty, Privacy, and Equal Protection,” The Yale Law Journal 95 (January 1986): 599-625.] In almost every jurisdiction, if I punch a pregnant woman in the stomach and cause her to miscarry or deliver a defective child, I’m liable to the child for damages and probably also criminally liable. But what if the woman punches herself in the stomach? More realistically, what if she smokes, drinks, engages in dangerous activities, and does other things that endanger the health or life of the fetus? Recently, several states have enacted legislation attempting to deal with this problem. This legislation confers rights on fetuses. In one case, a court ordered a pregnant drug addict to stop using drugs. Other courts have ordered women to have blood transfusions (against their religiously grounded wishes) and undergo caesarean sections rather than vaginal birth (on grounds that the latter would jeopardize the child’s life). Although this article is legal rather than philosophical in nature, I found it interesting. Just what is the relationship between a pregnant female and her unborn child? What should it be? Is the fetus at her mercy until birth?

Radical feminist that I am, I have a particular perspective on these issues. If fetuses have legal rights, and if their interests diverge from those of their mothers, then some mothers can legitimately be coerced in order to protect their fetuses’ interests. That’s what it means to say that a fetus has rights. This is a haunting specter. I foresee male judges and prosecutors, for example, ordering women to refrain from certain activities (softball? bowling? running? vigorous sex?) in order to protect the interests of the fetus. Women could ultimately be captives of their reproductive capacities, mere baby-making machines. At some point we have to say “No.” We have to confer total control on the female until her child is born. And yet, we must leave open the possibility that women can abuse their fetuses and be held civilly or criminally liable for it. Given that a particular fetus is going to be born, why should its interests be accorded a second-class status? Why should a woman be civilly or criminally responsible for abusing her one-year old, but not her eight-month old fetus? As you can see, this is a complex and emotional subject. I hope to have more to say about it in future entries.

. . .

The 1987 Tour de France is over. Last [sic] year, it was won by an American, Greg LeMond. This year, it was won by an Irishman, Stephen Roche. I watched an hour-long special on the Tour this morning. According to the announcer, the course changes slightly each year. This year’s course was especially difficult, and I understand that it was hotter than usual in France, so Roche’s accomplishment is all the more significant. I’ve been following the Tour daily in the newspapers, and one of the things that I find interesting is how often the lead changes. There must have been ten different leaders this year, and from nearly as many countries. I also learned that there are climbers and sprinters. Roche is a sprinter, or flat rider, while his nearest competitor, Pedro Delgado of Spain, is a climber. Roche knew that if he could stay close to Delgado on the penultimate stage (through the mountains), he could win on the final day, which consisted of a 119-mile sprint [!] into Paris. I just can’t say enough about these riders. I admire them and think that they are the best athletes in the world. What a joy it would be to spend time with them, talking about bicycles and racing.

The Politics of Resentment

Here is a column about John Edwards, whose presidential campaign is faltering. It must kill him that his message of envy and resentment isn’t catching on. But why should it? This is the land of opportunity. Americans are hopeful, not envious. They admire those who have more money than they do and want to emulate their success. Edwards would be a hit in Europe, where envy is a way of life. He has no chance in the United States.


I have a theory about Yankee fans: They were dropped on their heads in infancy.

Addendum: The most overrated player in Major League Baseball is . . . Andruw Jones. He’s fighting to stay over the Mendoza line.

Addendum 2: Yankee fans covet Mark Teixeira. What will they do if he’s traded to Boston?

Addendum 3: It cracks me up when people such as George Jochnowitz make fun of baseball. All it shows is that they’re not wired properly. Baseball is the sport of the gods. I would not want to live in a world without baseball.

Addendum 4: My friend Hawk, who played softball with me on the Waybacks, has a marshmallow bat, steel hands, and lead feet. I think of him whenever I see a strikeout, an error, or a stumble.

Addendum 5: My adopted Texas Rangers swept a four-game series from the Seattle Mariners. All four victories were by one run. That’s a sign of a maturing team. I’ve purchased my Rangers World Series tickets.

Addendum 6: The end-of-July trade deadline is fast approaching. See here for all your trade news (and rumors).

Addendum 7: Is there anything more difficult in sport than winning when everyone (I do mean everyone) expects you to win? This is why the 1984 World Series victory by my beloved Detroit Tigers was so impressive. The team began the season 35-5 and led its division every day, from 3 April to 30 September. It’s also why Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories are so impressive.

No Way, No How

See here.


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Tour de France, won by Daniele Bennati. The Italian rider averaged 27.66 miles per hour on the 117.1-mile course. Here is the story. Here is the New York Times report. Here is tomorrow’s stage.

Addendum: I just thought of something. Why not require that the winner of every race, at every level of the sport, be tested for every banned substance immediately after finishing the race? You cross the line; you throw your hands in the air; you roll to the medical van to provide a urine sample. It will be understood that no victory is official until the test comes back negative. I assume that riders cheat in order to win. Wouldn’t this be an effective deterrent? Cycling must ensure that cheating doesn’t pay.

Addendum 2: Here is every cyclist’s nightmare.

Addendum 3: The sport of cycling needs a new commissioner. I propose Fred Thompson. He will put the fear of death—literally—into cheaters.

Best of the Web Today


Working Assets

My long-distance telephone company is at it again. The following blurb appeared in the latest bill:

Stop Secret Bias: Strengthen Equal-Wage Rights

Workplace discrimination can be obvious: a slur, a sexual advance. It can also be covert. Say you’re a woman being paid less than your male counterparts. How would you know? Lilly Ledbetter worked 19 years at Goodyear before she learned the men at her level were earning far more. Eventually she sued, and went all the way to the Supreme Court—where five male justices ruled her claim invalid because she filed it after the 180-day deadline. Fortunately, there is a legislative remedy and Congress is looking to shore up equal-pay protections.

Why the mention of the sex of the justices? Is Working Assets suggesting that the justices ruled against Ledbetter because she’s a woman? May only women render decisions in cases involving women? Weren’t three of the four dissenters male? Why did their sex not determine their vote? I’m willing to bet a lot of money that the person who wrote this blurb didn’t even read the opinions in the case.

Sidney Hook (1902-1989) on Philosophy

All men are concerned with problems of human conduct, but what others do episodically the professional philosopher does systematically.

(Sidney Hook, “Philosophy and Public Policy,” chap. 3 in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, ed. Charles J. Bontempo and S. Jack Odell [New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1975], 73-87, at 77 [essay first published in 1970])


The United States Senate is finally getting serious about enforcing our immigration laws. Michelle Malkin has the latest.

Dissecting Leftism

There are two types of people in the world: (1) people who read Dissecting Leftism every day and (2) people who haven’t yet discovered Dissecting Leftism. See here for John’s latest posts.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Does Judith Warner really think that the “interesting question” to ask these days in regard to mother’s work and family decisions is why mothers aren’t getting part-time work? After decades of articles criticizing mothers on all sides of the “mommy wars,” are we not ready to ask: Why aren’t fathers getting part-time work?

Certainly, there is evidence to suggest that a growing number of fathers are now choosing to stay home or work part time to help care for their children. Perhaps when society begins to see the care of children as an issue facing all parents, we will be able to move beyond a perception that mothers are the only ones with the problems.

Katy Roche
Takoma Park, Md., July 25, 2007

Note from KBJ: Did it ever occur to the letter writer that men and women differ? Note the rhetorical sleight of hand: “a growing number of fathers are now choosing to stay home or work part time to help care for their children.” What percentage? Compared to what percentage of women? Why do I suspect that if the percentages were stated, the writer would accuse women of having a “false consciousness”?

A Year Ago


From the Mailbag


Something you might want to see: Freakonomics has an article titled “Should We Just Let the Tour de France Dopers Dope Away?” There seems to be a reference to the Becker-Posner blog at the end. (I haven’t read the article yet.)

Mark Spahn

The Rightosphere Temperature Check for July

See here. My answers were as follows:

1. No
2. Yes
3. No
4. Support
5. B
6. No
7. No

Feel free to provide your own answers, as a comment to this post.