Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Yankee Watch

The Boston Red Sox scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 2-1, while the New York Yankees were crushed by the lowly Baltimore Orioles, 12-0. Boston’s magic number to eliminate New York is down to 39. Wasn’t it just in the 60s? It’s time to concede, Yankee fans.


Curmudgeons will like this. Nome sane?

Baseball Notes

1. What is the probability that, despite my incessant, obnoxious taunting of Yankee fans, I’m really a Yankee fan?

2. Phil Rizzuto is dead at 89. See here. Anybody old enough to have seen him play? He retired after the 1956 season, which was 11 years before I discovered baseball (in 1967). Rizzuto was the American League Most Valuable Player in 1950, when he had 200 hits, scored 125 runs, and batted .324. That would be a superb season even today, with a 162-game schedule. Why he is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, however, is beyond me. It must have been a sympathy vote—the very opposite of the vote that kept Mark McGwire out of the Hall. I see that Rizzuto missed three seasons during World War II, but of course that should have no bearing on his Hall worthiness. Nor should the fact that he was much beloved by Yankee fans. The Hall of Fame is a joke. I don’t know why anyone takes it seriously. I’ll take it seriously the day Pete Rose—the greatest player in the history of the game—is inducted.

3. Is there a dumber nickname in Major League Baseball than “Phillies”? Perhaps there should be the Baltimore Balties, or Cleveland Clevies, or Detroit Detties, or Chicago Chicos, or New York Newies, or Boston Bossies, or Cincinnati Cinnies, or Colorado Collies, or Tampa Bay Tampies, or Houston Houies, or Pittsburgh Pitties, or Texas Texies, or San Diego Sandies, or Oakland Oakies. Ben Franklin is rolling over in his grave.


Read this Wall Street Journal editorial opinion. Now focus on these paragraphs:

On the other hand, this Presidency has not squandered its mandate trying to play “mini-ball,” as Mr. Rove puts it. Social Security and immigration reform are important for the country, and we’d argue as well for the political interests of the Republican Party. They were worth the effort. The same people complaining that Mr. Bush gave too little heed to public opinion spent the 1990s complaining that Bill Clinton did nothing without consulting a poll.

This is an especially controversial position to take now on immigration, and it’s a notable irony that some of Mr. Rove’s most vitriolic critics yesterday were on the restrictionist right. We know how he feels. Mr. Rove believes that a GOP that alienates Hispanic voters will soon be a minority party, and in this he is surely right. President Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, and a decline to Bob Dole’s percentage of below 30% in 1996 would make it hard for any Republican President candidate to win in New Mexico or Colorado, and perhaps even Arizona and Nevada. Until Tom Tancredo wins a statewide race, we’ll assume Mr. Rove is a better judge of coalition building.

Why would enforcing the law alienate Hispanic voters? Do they put ethnic identity/solidarity ahead of law and order or national security? What an insult! What’s likely to alienate Hispanic voters is assuming that they care less than nonHispanics about law and order or national security. But suppose this assumption is correct, and that Karl Rove had to choose between (1) enforcing the law (thereby alienating Hispanic voters) and (2) keeping Hispanics in the Republican fold (by not enforcing the law). Why would he choose 2? Is he a Republican first and an American second?

Addendum: Newt Gingrich gets it. So, apparently, does Rudy Giuliani, although you have to wonder whether his actions comport with his words.

Best of the Web Today



Joseph Bottum has some perceptive comments on the recent surge of atheism (or rather, on the recent spate of books defending atheism). Here’s what I don’t understand. It’s thought (by certain atheists) that providing a naturalistic explanation of religion, or of religious belief, somehow discredits these things. It doesn’t, of course, but suppose it did. Why would it not also discredit irreligion and religious disbelief? If belief in God has a naturalistic explanation (i.e., an explanation that makes no reference to its truth), then so does disbelief in God, for both are beliefs; they are simply beliefs in contradictory propositions. (The theist believes the proposition “God exists”; the atheist believes the proposition “God does not exist.”) Either all beliefs have a naturalistic explanation or none of them does; and if all of them do, then that fact can’t count against only some of them. What I have just said about religious belief is also true of the institution or practice of religion. Suppose religion, qua institution or practice, has certain social or psychological functions that explain its existence, without reference to the truth of what is believed by its adherents. Isn’t the same true of irreligion? And if it is, then irreligion is just as discredited as religion. What I’m not getting is why naturalism counts against belief in God but not against disbelief in God, or against religion but not against irreligion. It seems to me that they stand or fall together.

A. P. Martinich on Hobbes’s Materialism

Hobbes had a special reason for wanting to do away with or at least radically reinterpret psychology.  Intellect and will were essentially tied up with a commitment to an immaterial soul, and the idea of soul has little to no role to play in Hobbes’s philosophy. To the extent that he would be willing to admit to the existence of a soul, it would be some key bit of matter that is necessary for life. The soul would be material, not immaterial. Hobbes was adamant that the only substances that exist are bodies. Thus, the soul, in whatever sense it exists, is a body. Angels are bodies. Even God, according to Hobbes, is a body.

(A. P. Martinich, Hobbes: A Biography [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999], 124-5)

Perspiration and Inspiration

Here is a New York Times story about perspiration, which is the human body’s way of cooling itself. Humans sweat; dogs pant. I ran 3.1 miles yesterday in 100º heat. The official high for the day at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was 104º—the second day in a row we reached that temperature. I have never been one to let the weather affect my exercise regimen. In Tucson, I rode long distances on my bicycle in the heat of the day. Yes, it was hard, but that made it all the more worthwhile. My friends thought I was crazy. Most Tucsonans go out only in the morning or at night. Many Texans do the same. I go out when I feel like going out.

Public Philosophy

Here is a New York Times story about Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom.

A Year Ago

Here. For the record, I weighed 156 pounds this morning.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Executioner’s Hood” (editorial, Aug. 6):

Proponents of capital punishment demonstrate a peculiar inconsistency: they claim that executions punish criminals and serve as a deterrent, and yet they allow the process to become ever more secretive and antiseptic.

During the last century we have gone from shooting and hanging the condemned to gassing and electrocuting them; now the preferred method is usually strapping them to a gurney shaped like a crucifix and injecting them with lethal chemicals.

Any motion or resistance from the dying man causes controversy, and the process is hidden from the general public. It seems to me that advocates of execution should want the process to be public and obviously painful instead of covert and sanitized.

Perhaps even die-hard supporters of capital punishment don’t have the stomach for what they advocate.

David Hayden
Wilton, Conn., Aug. 6, 2007

Note from KBJ: The letter writer is correct that if the aim of punishment is to deter others from committing crimes, the punishment (capital or otherwise) should be publicized. How else are people to use it in their reasoning? But many of us who support capital punishment don’t justify it as a deterrent. We justify it as retribution. This doesn’t mean we think it doesn’t deter. It means it would be justified even if it didn’t deter.

“Winning . . . by Any Means”

David Frum is a smart man, so his analysis of the Republican Party should be taken seriously.

Addendum: Here is a second New York Times op-ed column about Karl Rove and the Republican Party. This one is fascinating because the author, Joshua Green, makes Rove out to be a progressive, i.e., someone bent on engineering society. Conservatives reject this sort of engineering. Take immigration, for example. Americans want the law enforced. They don’t want some grand compromise or vision imposed on them.

From the Mailbag


Possibly you will be interested in this long article about the economics of the music industry today.

A “covermount” is apparently a CD sold with a magazine (mounted on its cover?).

Mark Spahn