Tuesday, 28 August 2007


I leave you this fine evening with a column by Pat Buchanan. Is anyone besides me puzzled by the reluctance of progressives to criticize Islam? Islam should be anathema to progressives, not just because it’s a religion, but because of its views of women, animals, homosexuals, art, punishment, individual liberty, academic independence, social equality, the environment, and various other matters of concern to progressives. The only thing I can think of is that both progressives and Muslims hate Western society (albeit for different reasons). “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” If and when Muslims conquer the West (I hope I’m long gone by then), you can be sure that they will not go easy on progressives. In fact, they are likely to be especially hard on progressives—and it will be richly deserved. It’s too bad that the children and grandchildren of progressives will pay the price for their ancestors’ fecklessness.

Addendum: I highly recommend this book if you want to understand what’s happening in the world today.


Why does God intervene in the world to save only some individuals from harm? See here for an interesting blog post by Anthony Sacramone. I’m puzzled by Richard Dawkins’s argument. To whom is it addressed? He knows that the existence of God is compatible (logically) with the existence of evil, so, unless he’s stupid, he must think that some theist will be swayed by the argument that the amount and types of evil in the world make the existence of God unlikely. No self-respecting theist will accept that. If it comes down to a contest of likelihoods, God wins every time, if only because God is inscrutable. There is nothing whatsoever irrational about this, unless, of course, you define “rationality” so as to exclude belief in God. But that’s cheating.

Homosexual “Marriage”

Someone wrote to me to say that if two men or two women could marry one another, Senator Larry Craig of Idaho wouldn’t have had to resort to anonymous public sex. Really? Has the institution of heterosexual marriage extinguished prostitution? With all due respect to the writer, I have never heard anything as silly.

Addendum: Here is Michelle Malkin’s post about Larry “Crapweasel” Craig. It sickens me that he would try to use his position as a senator to escape criminal charges. I guess crimes are for the little people. For the record, public figures shouldn’t be treated worse than anyone else simply because they’re public figures. But they shouldn’t be treated better, either. There should be one standard for everyone, high and low.

Alan R. White (1922-1992) on Philosophy and Linguistics

What makes the philosopher different from the linguist is his interest in what we say rather than in how we say it, in our use of words rather than in our use of words.

(Alan R. White, “Conceptual Analysis,” chap. 5 in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, ed. Charles J. Bontempo and S. Jack Odell [New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1975], 103-17, at 110 [italics in original])

Jean Kazez

Here is a blog by one of my fellow graduate students at the University of Arizona. (I will add it to the blogroll.) Jean and I overlapped by one year: August 1987 (when she arrived in Tucson) to August 1988 (when I departed for College Station, Texas). Jean teaches philosophy just down the road from me at Southern Methodist University. Want to hear something weird? I mentioned Jean in my journal 20 years and four days ago (on 24 August 1987). I’m transcribing my journal to the computer in real time, 20 years after the fact; so four days ago I typed up the entry in which I mentioned Jean. She was new on campus at the time, so I got her name wrong. I called her “Jean Kazak.” I have had no contact with Jean all these years, and today, out of the blue, she sent me an e-mail notifying me of a blog post about animals and telling me that she likes my Animal Ethics blog. I hope I don’t embarrass her by mentioning this.


If this isn’t the best album ever made, then I’m a monkey‘s uncle.

Addendum: Here is a video of a live performance of “On the Loose.” Here is a bonus song (from a different Saga album).

Global Warmism

Everything counts in favor of global warming. Nothing counts against it. See here. I’m reminded of psychological egoism (PE), which holds (crudely put) that all human action is self-interested. Proponents of PE won’t allow anything (even Mother Teresa’s behavior!) to count against it, so it turns out to be a true but uninteresting claim (like saying that all dogs are dogs) rather than an interesting but possibly false claim (like saying that dogs bark because they’re bored). Philosophers need to put their political views aside and condemn this dogmatism. (Sorry.)

Best of the Web Today


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “State Names 17 More ‘Persistently Dangerous’ Schools” (news article, Aug. 22):

States have an incentive to set the legal threshold high for “persistently dangerous” under the federal No Child Left Behind Act to avoid mass transfers of students to safer schools. But this strategy would not be necessary in the first place if the fundamental cause of the problem were addressed and standardization in reporting were adopted.

Before the student rights revolution of the 1960s, schools effectively disciplined their charges under the doctrine of in loco parentis. But in 1965, lawyers started to sue schools, a move bankrolled by the federal government and notable philanthropic giants. The wave of victories in the courts put teachers and administrators on the defensive. They’ve never recovered.

This situation was worsened in 1975 when the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act mandated mainstreaming of students with physical or mental handicaps. Although the federal law doesn’t prohibit schools from failing these students, the threat of lawsuits for expelling or suspending misbehaving special education students has been a deterrent to discipline in the form of restraint and seclusion.

Walt Gardner
Los Angeles, Aug. 23, 2007
The writer taught for 28 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District and was a lecturer in the U.C.L.A. Graduate School of Education.

Note from KBJ: My seventh-grade math teacher, Mr Maleck, had a large wooden paddle (filled with holes to make for a faster swing) hanging on his wall. He used it on the notoriously misbehaving Gordon Bender one day and never had a disciplinary problem the rest of the year. I’m thinking of hanging a similarly daunting paddle in my Logic classroom this semester.

A Year Ago