Wednesday, 19 September 2007


No contemporary social institution—including journalism—is as corrupt as the contemporary university. See here. What, if anything, can be done about it? Since money talks, I propose that alumni withhold donations. If you do this, please be sure to inform university officials not only of the fact that you’re withholding donations, but why. When the money dries up, things will change. Until it does, they won’t.

Addendum: Here is the first definition of “corrupt” given by the Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed.:

Changed from the naturally sound condition, esp. by decomposition or putrefaction developed or incipient; putrid, rotten or rotting; infected or defiled by that which causes decay. arch.

I use the word in that sense.

Philosophy Confidential

Here is another blog for your consideration. I will add it to the blogroll.


Here is a blog for your consideration.


The author of this column argues that it’s in the interest of the Republican Party to ignore illegal aliens. I hope he’s not suggesting that that’s all there is to it. Is it in the interest of the country? Is it right? What if it turned out to be in the interest of the Republican Party to rig elections? Would that make it right? A principled political party refuses to put its own interests ahead of those of the country.

Health Care

Here is a Wall Street Journal editorial opinion about Hillary Clinton’s health-care plan. I can’t believe Americans would destroy the best health-care system in the world in a fruitless attempt to ensure that everyone has adequate health care. Then again, the level of economic ignorance is pretty high. Many people think money grows on trees. What galls me about socialized medicine is its failure to distinguish between those conditions (such as lung cancer, obesity, drug addiction, and alcoholism) that are brought on by negligence or recklessness and those that are beyond the control of individuals. Only the latter should be the basis of an entitlement. Does anyone trust politicians to enforce this moral dictate? In other words, does anyone trust politicians to take personal responsibility into account? I, for one, will not pay to enable smoking, meat-eating, overeating, drug use, or drinking. I abstain from these things out of concern for my health, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to subsidize them in others.

Best of the Web Today



Take a look at this. Does it appear to be legitimate? I’ve been searching for Centennial on DVD for years. (I have it on VHS.) Every time I check, it says the miniseries has not yet been released in DVD format. Why would the miniseries be available at this website but not at I’m worried that someone has copied the VHS version onto DVDs and is selling it as the original.

From the Mailbag


I would be interested in seeing the following discussion within the pages of your blog:

It would be interesting to see a table containing a growing list of conservative and liberal positions. The table could look like that shown below [omitted—kbj]. Within the table could be two rows of reasons why instituting policies for or against the position might be beneficial/detrimental to society. Positions could include Euthanasia, stem cell research, Gun Control, Capital Punishment, etc. etc. The table could be filled in by readers of your blog.

An introduction of what constitutes a conservative and liberal position might need to be explored as well, i.e. tradition is often cited in defense of a conservative position. Given this, what criteria need to be met to constitute being a tradition? Is it time based? Under what conditions should traditions be abandoned? Gradual change is also promoted . . . how does this square on an issue such as gay marriage? How does gay marriage, women’s right to vote, etc. get gradually introduced into a society?

Why do liberals want so much government intervention when the root seems to be individual liberty? On a spectrum, the extreme individual liberty position is every man for themselves? The government would only need to be the referee . . . why do they want to take my money and give it to someone else? That’s taking away some of my liberty . . . I wanted to buy a new bike with that money. . . .

I want to understand what thinking processes are used to decide these issues . . . take gay marriage for example . . . how many benefits or detriments could there possibly be relative to societal impact . . . 5 or 6 pro’s and con’s? Let’s see what they are!

It seems like these issues get danced around a lot but not settled. . . .

What do you think?

Note from KBJ: I think you’re nuttier now than when we did Pedal the Peaks together in 1993.

The Thinker

Jeffrey Ellis has made a midcourse correction. But Jeff, don’t you know that you’re not supposed to change horses in the middle of a stream? And that leads to the following question: Why would anyone even consider changing horses in the middle of a stream? Has anyone in the history of humanity ever changed horses in the middle of a stream? If so, who, where, when, why, and how?


Here is a New York Times story about one of my favorite musical groups. I like Rush in spite of (1) its libertarianism and (2) its Canadianism.


Proving that hockey is indistinguishable from professional wrestling, the Dallas Stars are promoting the “fights” that break out during hockey games (and thereby, one supposes, encouraging such “fights,” as a form of entertainment for bored fans). I suppose it’s understandable. After all, fans can’t see the puck. At least they can see two players “fighting” one another.

Addendum: Here is my friend Grant’s reply: “Oh, give it up already! The puck is NOT difficult to see. When the fans react to a goal before the players do, how can you explain that as an inference from the movement of the players? Get your eyes checked.” Grant’s defensiveness suggests that he knows, deep down, that I’m right.

Max H. Fisch (1901-1995) on the History of Philosophy

The history of philosophy is philosophy itself taking its time, and its way of taking its time includes not merely a continual bringing forth of things new, but a continual review of the old. It continually re-sifts, re-selects, and re-orders its past creations, re-edits, re-translates, re-reads, re-interprets, and criticizes afresh. Its great classics do not diminish but grow in power. The art of teaching is itself often the art of bringing the thoughts of our students back again and again to a sentence of one or another of the great philosophers, until our students grasp the significance which only the entire history of philosophy before and since packs into that sentence, and until they bring to bear upon it all the critical resources which that history affords. Thus the institution which is eminently the critic of all others is also that which, more than any other, is critical of itself.

(Max H. Fisch, “The Critic of Institutions,” chap. 8 in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, ed. Charles J. Bontempo and S. Jack Odell [New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1975], 135-51, at 150-1 [essay first published in 1955-56])

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Wary of Past, Clinton Unveils a Health Plan” (front page, Sept. 18):

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s plan is like all the health plans other candidates have put forth. They have sold out to the marketplace.

Health care should be a social right of a civilized society, and it should not be for sale. All of our citizens should be entitled to a federally financed health care program like Medicare, which currently covers us old people.

Mary A. Agna, M.D.
James W. Agna, M.D.
Yellow Springs, Ohio, Sept. 18, 2007

Note from KBJ: Should, should, yada, yada. Replace “health care” with “food,” “fuel,” “shelter,” and “clothing” and see how silly this letter sounds. The question is, if everyone has a right to all necessities, who will be motivated to work? Do we really want to be like France, or, God forbid, Canada?

The Conscience of a Liberal

Paul Krugman* has a blog.

* “Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults” (Daniel Okrent, “13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did,” The New York Times, 22 May 2005).

Baseball Notes

1. As I said the other day, the Cleveland Indians are for real. Day after day, they fall behind early, only to prevail in the end. Two days ago, they fell behind my beloved Detroit Tigers, 4-0. They won, 6-5, in 11 innings. Yesterday, they fell behind the Tigers, 4-1. They won, 7-4. Today, they fell behind the Tigers, 2-0. They won, 4-2. It’s uncanny. You might say that it’s not a good sign that they fall behind in so many games. Who cares? They end up with more runs than their opponents, and that’s the name of the game. (It would be like going out early in a footrace, but speeding up in time to overtake the leader.) As for my Tigers, they continue to break my heart. It’s one thing to lose; it’s another thing to lose in disgraceful ways. I’m glad the Tigers won’t be in the playoffs. I’m dead serious. I was a nervous wreck a year ago. I’d just as soon let other people suffer.

2. What’s up with the New York Mets? They’ve lost five games to the Philadelphia Phillies in five days. The Phillies have almost caught them. The Mets are almost as arrogant as the New York Yankees. Is there something in the New York water? I hope the Phillies kick their arrogant asses.

3. Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers hit his 47th home run today in his team’s 151st game. His daddy, Cecil, hit 51 home runs in 1990 for my beloved Detroit Tigers. Like father, like son.