Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Twenty Years Ago

10-31-87 Saturday. It’s Halloween. I have fond memories of this holiday, though it hasn’t meant much to me for many years. Perhaps when I have children of my own it’ll become significant again. My earliest memories of Halloween include walking around Metamora [Michigan] with Glenn and one or more of my parents. I don’t know what I wore as a mask, but I do recall getting loads of candy and being unable to figure out why. I knew that it was a special occasion, because rarely did I have that much candy; but it was all very mysterious. Later, of course, I realized that it was a festive occasion and that people enjoyed giving as well as receiving goodies. One of my more memorable Halloweens occurred in Silverwood, when I dressed as an Indian. Mom let me wear her fringed leather coat, and I guess I used lipstick as warpaint. I went with Glenn and, if I remember correctly, our babysitter. Mom may have been working that evening. Anyway, we got lots of candy and had a grand old time running from house to house. I was always active, so I got more candy than the average kid. Nobody knocked on my door tonight, which is good, because I had nothing to dispense except legal advice and philosophical wisdom (just kidding).

Curro Ergo Sum

Many race organizers are banning portable music players. Someone in the story made a good point: If being able to hear is essential, then deaf people should not be allowed to run. Oh, wait: That wouldn’t be politically correct. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t listen to music in any of my 11 marathons. I do listen to my Zune during parts of some bike rallies, when I’m out in the country and have no friend with me.


Paul Krugman* won’t like this.

* “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).


Hillary Clinton wants to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. See here. This may help her earn the Democrat nomination, but it’s going to cost her the general election. Americans are fed up with rewarding lawbreakers.


I have two dogs: a 15-year-old (Sophie) and a four-year-old (Shelbie). Until recently, Sophie ate Senior Science Diet and Shelbie Adult Science Diet. The Senior Science Diet (as the name implies) is for older dogs, who tend to be heavier. It has the same taste (supposedly) and is just as filling, but has fewer calories. Sophie has been losing weight for the past year or so (she’s declining), so it’s no longer necessary to keep her weight down. She prefers Shelbie’s food to hers. I used to have to shoo her away from Shelbie’s bowl when she went to it, but now I don’t. Here’s what’s funny. Whenever Sophie eats out of Shelbie’s bowl, Shelbie comes to me in the study. She’s tattling on Sophie. Don’t say I’m anthropomorphizing. I know dogs, and these two in particular.

Caps Lock

I hate to make fun of my sainted mother, especially since I haven’t seen her in almost 14 years, but she sent me an e-mail message today in capital letters. I told her not to do that, since it’s hard on the eyes. She wrote back and said that she doesn’t know what happened. She said she must have done something while she was cleaning the keyboard.


Don’t send your children to the University of Delaware—unless, of course, you want them indoctrinated rather than educated. See here and, for Michelle Malkin’s take, here.

Hall of Fame?

Albert Belle. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)

From the Mailbag

The inventor of the programming language LISP once proposed that the U.S. Declaration of Independence be debugged by adding a single syllable: change “equal, that” to “equal, in that.” Abraham Lincoln made the same insert-an-“in” amendment (while changing the original spelling “unalienable” to “inalienable”). Details here.

Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)

Note from KBJ: The expression “all men are created equal” is not an informative; it’s a directive. It doesn’t describe; it prescribes. It means the following: There are differences and there are differences; some differences make a moral difference and some do not; morally speaking, everyone is equal—in spite of our nonmoral differences (such as height, weight, age, sex, nationality, religion, skin color, and intelligence).

Note 2 from KBJ: Here is Peter Singer’s essay “All Animals Are Equal.” Singer is no fool, and neither was Thomas Jefferson. They knew that there are many differences among (respectively) animals and humans. What Singer is saying is that, in spite of their many and obvious differences, animals (including humans) have something morally relevant in common, namely, the capacity to suffer. (Actually, there may be some animals, such as insects, who lack this capacity.) Jefferson is saying that, in spite of their many and obvious differences, humans have something morally relevant in common, namely, possession of God-given rights.


What is the greatest rivalry in college football? Support your answer. After you novices hash it out for a while, I will supply the correct answer.

Addendum: The answer is . . . Arizona versus Arizona State. Unless you’ve gone to one of those schools, you don’t know what I’m talking about. Come to think of it, everyone thinks that his or her own in-state rivalry is greatest. I grew up in Michigan. I couldn’t imagine a greater rivalry than Michigan versus Ohio State. Then I moved to Tucson, where I saw the intensity of the UA-ASU rivalry. Then I moved to Texas, where I saw the intensity (first hand) of the UT-Texas A&M rivalry. (I taught for a year at A&M.) A colleague says Alabama versus Auburn is the greatest rivalry. An old friend says it’s Tennessee versus Alabama. Perhaps we can all agree that rivalries are what make college football great.


We’re a little more than a year away from the 2008 presidential election. Some of you may recall that I predicted, months before the 2004 election, that Andrew Sullivan (who is first and foremost a homosexual) would desert President Bush and join the John Kerry camp. I hereby predict—listen up—that Will Nehs, our dog-loving, insurance-buying, language-abusing, Ayn Rand-worshipping, onion-seeking, cigar-smoking curmudgeon from rural Wisconsin, will succumb to Hillary Clinton’s feminine blandishments.

Addendum: Here is Hillary’s comment on yesterday’s debate. Read between the lines. She’s telling Barack Obama bin Laden and Pretty Boy Edwards to ease up if they want to be her running mate.

Addendum 2: Steve Burri has some gratuitous advice for Hillary. Then again, maybe she paid him for it. (Note to Steve: The Blogger bar obscures your blog’s title. Here’s how to fix it. Go into your blog template. In about the third line from the top, you’ll see “<head>.” Immediately after it, type “<br>.” Save the template and take a look. If there’s still not enough space, add two “<br>”s.)


Regale me with Halloween stories. I don’t mean made-up stuff; I mean adventures you had.

Best of the Web Today


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Peter Steinfels’s list of the American Catholic bishops’ moral “nonnegotiables” seems incomplete (Beliefs column, Oct. 27). The bishops’ list omits the church’s traditional opposition to artificial means of contraception, once a hot topic of American Catholic moral discussion, but now seldom mentioned (except in connection with foreign aid).

Pulpit oratory that once attacked artificial birth control as nonnegotiable now focuses on abortion, delivered with a certitude identical with what older American Catholics will recall was once used to denounce artificial contraception. I have heard no mention of the subject during any Sunday Mass homily in decades.

Catholic practices have apparently led the bishops to become more reticent in denouncing artificial birth control; perhaps a comparable prudence should now be exercised in the case of abortion.

In addition, before they make rigid categorical moral statements that once again help elect presidents who are all too willing to plunge the nation into war, the bishops might reflect on their past history regarding pronouncements on nonnegotiable moral issues.

Jerome Donnelly
Winter Park, Fla., Oct. 27, 2007

Note from KBJ: God forbid anyone should make a rigid categorical moral statement.

John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, Paragraph 16

The Preface, among the most characteristic of my father’s writings, as well as the richest in materials of thought, gives a picture which may be entirely depended on, of the sentiments and expectations with which he wrote the History. Saturated as the book is with the opinions and modes of judgment of a democratic radicalism then regarded as extreme; and treating with a severity, at that time most unusual, the English Constitution, the English law, and all parties and classes who possessed any considerable influence in the country; he may have expected reputation, but certainly not advancement in life, from its publication; nor could he have supposed that it would raise up anything but enemies for him in powerful quarters: least of all could he have expected favour from the East India Company, to whose commercial privileges he was unqualifiedly hostile, and on the acts of whose government he had made so many severe comments: though, in various parts of his book, he bore a testimony in their favour, which he felt to be their just due, namely, that no government had on the whole given so much proof, to the extent of its lights, of good intention towards its subjects; and that if the acts of any other government had the light of publicity as completely let in upon them, they would, in all probability, still less bear scrutiny.

Note from KBJ: If you click the first link and scroll, you will find the Preface of which Mill speaks. Mill’s father, James, sounds wonderfully principled, doesn’t he? Nothing would get in the way of the truth, or rather, what he took to be the truth. You might say that he spoke truth to power.