Friday, 17 August 2007


Here is a brief history of musical media. I came of musical age in 1973, when I was 16. Obviously, I had heard music (such as the Beatles, the Monkees, and the Mamas and the Papas) long before then, but this is when I began thinking about bands, albums, concerts, and the like. I owned only a couple of long-playing records (one of which was Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy [1973]), which I played on my mother’s record player in the living room. My first eight-track tape was Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies (1973). In Tucson, starting in 1983, I began buying cassette tapes, which I could play on my Sony Walkman while riding my bike or walking. I started buying albums on compact disc in about 1989, when I got a tenure-track job and a decent salary. Over the years, I have replaced most of my eight-tracks and cassettes with CDs. That there are people who like long-playing records is mind-boggling. I consider them inferior even to eight-tracks.


Here is Peggy Noonan’s latest column. Here is Peg Kaplan’s latest post.

Best of the Web Today


A. P. Martinich on Hobbes’s Empiricism and Rationalism

Is Hobbes an empiricist or a rationalist? The answer depends on how those terms are defined. He is an empiricist in the sense that he maintains that all of the substantive terms of a proposition must be traceable to sensation. He is a rationalist in the sense that he maintains that all scientific knowledge is necessary. He is not an empiricist if that means maintaining that scientific propositions are statements of empirical fact. And he is not a rationalist if that means maintaining that some scientific propositions are nonanalytic.

(A. P. Martinich, Hobbes: A Biography [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999], 131-2)

Note from KBJ: According to Martinich, Hobbes believes all of the following:

1. All of the substantive terms of a proposition must be traceable to sensation.
2. All scientific knowledge is necessary.
3. No scientific propositions are statements of empirical fact.
4. All scientific propositions are analytic.

Study these propositions carefully. There will be a test in the morning.


Here is a New York Times story about Floyd Landis.


John Edwards is such a deeply flawed human being (like his running mate in 2004) that it’s a wonder anyone takes him seriously. See here for the latest hypocrisy.


All of the divisions in Major League Baseball except the American League East are up for grabs. As of this morning, the Los Angeles Angels (i.e., the Angels of the Angels) lead the Seattle Mariners by three games (in the all-important loss column).  My beloved Detroit Tigers are tied with the Cleveland Indians. In the National League, the New York Mets lead the Philadelphia Phillies by three games. The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs are tied. The Arizona Diamondbacks lead the San Diego Padres by two games. Boston is running away with the American League East, much to the chagrin of Yankee fans and much to the delight of those of us who hate the Yankees.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

While Mattel tries to remedy the breach of quality of its toys made in China, it might consider some alternatives. It might want to bring its entire operation back to the United States, hire residents of this country in its plants, and have all operations under its own control as a responsible company should do, especially when the safety of children is concerned.

The chief executive of Mattel is trying hard to show that he is reacting responsibly to the breach, but as long as the plants and suppliers are out of sight, such problems will recur.

It is time American companies made less of a profit, paid their chief executives down-to-earth salaries, hired residents of this country, drastically increased their quality control and gained the confidence of the people.

Nejat Duzgunes
Mill Valley, Calif., Aug. 15, 2007

Note from KBJ: American companies could do all that, but the price of toys would rise, perhaps to the point where few people are willing to buy them. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. This economic truth cannot be repeated often enough, especially to those who are economically illiterate.

A Year Ago


From the Mailbag


As it happens, while changing channels today I heard a preacher talk about the significance of the number 153 in the Bible chapter John 21 (I changed channels before he explained it). But then, later in the same day, I see this number on your website: You mentioned that your maximum heart rate in a bicycle rally was 153. It must be Fate!

A Google search on “153 John 21” produces, among other sites, this. So it looks like there is a whole world of Bible numerology that I never knew about. Here’s an alleged fact that begs for a proof:

Take any positive-integer multiple of 3, such as 21. Take the sum of the cubes of its digits. For 21 you get 2^3 + 1^3 = 8+1 = 9. Then subject your new number to the same procedure. There is only one digit in 9, and its cube is 9^3 = 729. Now find the sum the cubes of the digits of 729: 7^3 + 2^3 + 9^3 = 343 + 8 + 729 = 1080. Keep going in this way. The claim is that you eventually will reach the number 153. Let’s call this transformation “f.” So far we have f(21) = 9, f(9) = 729, f(729) = 1080, f(1080) = 1^3 + 0^3 + 8^3 + 0^3 = 1 + 0 + 512 + 0 = 513, f(513) = 5^3 + 1^3 + 3^3 = 125 + 1 + 9 = 153. Yes, we arrived at 153. Moreover, we stay there forever after, because f(153) = 1^3 + 5^3 + 3^3 = 1 + 125 + 27 = 153.

Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)