Saturday, 10 November 2007


I leave you this fine evening with a column by William Bennett.

Facts and Values

There’s a big difference between describing how things are and prescribing how they should be. The former tries to get things right. The latter tries to set things right. Science describes how things are. Law, politics, morality, and religion prescribe how things should be. Unfortunately, many scientists believe that ordinary people (meaning nonscientists) can’t handle the truth about race. See here. Here’s what they’re saying to each other (in effect):

We need to be very careful how we present our research, because the idiots out there will surely misinterpret it and put it to bad uses. Conservatives in particular are just looking for confirmation of their racial prejudices. We must not provide aid and comfort to conservatives! Maybe we shouldn’t even be doing this research, since it could make things worse for black people.

Can you think of anything more condescending? Can you think of anything scientists could do that would undermine their authority to a greater extent? Give us the goddamned truth; we’ll decide what to do with it.

Addendum: Dr John J. Ray, a scientist, weighs in here.

Curro Ergo Sum

I waited all summer for cool fall weather, which makes running easier. A week ago, when I did the Viking Run 5K, it was cool. It felt good. Today, when I did the Squirrel Run 10K, it was warm (69º Fahrenheit) and humid (78%). Yuck. It’s a hard course to begin with, because of all the hills, but when you add bad weather to it, you get a sufferfest. Am I whining? I guess I am. I went out easy so as not to hit the wall. As the race went on, I increased my speed. The final mile is flat to downhill, so I turned on the gas. Nobody passed me after the first quarter-mile or so. I passed quite a few people during the race.

A year ago on this course, in 48º weather, my mile pace was 7:13.84. Today, by contrast, it was 7:21.75. (Elapsed time = 45:45.09. My personal record for a 10K is 40:36.54, which is a mile pace of 6:32.10.) The weather alone would make that much difference, but someone said the course was long. Evidently, the lead police car led us astray. Oh well, everyone ran the same course, so the time isn’t important. I ended up 10th overall (of 92 finishers) and ninth of 50 male finishers. I was second in my age group (of eight finishers), which means I won a medal. (Three medals are given for each age group.) A year ago, I won the third-place medal. This year, with a slower time, I won the second-place medal. Had I been in the 45-49 age group, I would have won the first-place medal. Here are the results. I’ve now won 40 awards in 117 races. I have one more bike rally this year (my 25th), after which I will concentrate on running. The weather has to cool eventually, right?


As many of you know, I was an early supporter of Mitt Romney for president, and I still think he’d make a good one, but I’ve come to the conclusion that he can’t win the general election because of his religion. It’s sad that that’s the case, but it is. Those of us who want to avoid a Democrat presidency must find another candidate, one who can defeat Hillary Clinton. See here for a story about Mitt. He’d make a terrific cabinet member, wouldn’t he?

John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, Paragraph 19

Though Ricardo’s great work was already in print, no didactic treatise embodying its doctrines, in a manner fit for learners, had yet appeared. My father, therefore, commenced instructing me in the science by a sort of lectures, which he delivered to me in our walks. He expounded each day a portion of the subject, and I gave him next day a written account of it, which he made me rewrite over and over again until it was clear, precise, and tolerably complete. In this manner I went through the whole extent of the science; and the written outline of it which resulted from my daily compte rendu, served him afterwards as notes from which to write his Elements of Political Economy. After this I read Ricardo, giving an account daily of what I read, and discussing, in the best manner I could, the collateral points which offered themselves in our progress.

Note from KBJ: I don’t know about you, but I’m as impressed by James Mill (the father) as I am by John (the son). John had a brilliant father to teach him. James, whose father was a shoemaker, didn’t.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Baseball’s Losing Formula,” by Michael Lewis (Op-Ed, Nov. 3):

I suggest looking at two other formulas that need revision:

(1) An 8:21 p.m. starting time plus a four-hour game equals a post-midnight conclusion.

(2) A two-and-a-half-hour game plus one and a half hours of commercials equals a four-hour game.

“Baseball like it oughta be” means kids sneaking radios into school to listen to daytime World Series games and being able to stay awake for the final out, and broadcasts filled with anecdotes and name recognition of October heroes like Gibson and Gibson, not tacos and beer.

Why not a winning economic formula that fills seats for the love of the game, kids and all fans: earlier starting times, significantly reduced ticket prices and faster games?

Jere Hochman
Amherst, Mass., Nov. 3, 2007

Note from KBJ: It’s about time the New York Times published a letter on an important topic.

A Year Ago