Friday, 16 November 2007


I leave you this fine evening with a review by John Polkinghorne.


This is encouraging. I’m sure that Fred Thompson would be at least as good as Rudy Giuliani at picking federal judges, but it’s nice to know that Giuliani wants law-abiding judges.

Big Night (1996)

This movie is so fucking good I should kill you.


Different people care about different things, or care about the same things to different degrees. Some people don’t give a damn about animals, for example. I care as much about animals as I do about humans. (Sometimes I think I care more.) Which of the following issues will loom largest in the minds of voters a year from now?

Health care
The war in Iraq
Capital punishment
Illegal immigration
Civil liberties
Gasoline prices
Global warming
The budget deficit
Income inequality
Judicial nominations
Food safety
Affirmative action
Pay equity
The heartbreak of psoriasis

If I’m missing an issue, please add it.


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

The Sexes

Ironically, feminism has been a boon to men and a bane to women. See here.


Here is a review of a book about books.

Bush-Hatin’ Paul

Paul Krugman’s* modus operandi is as follows. First, assume that you are correct on some controversial matter. Don’t argue for it; don’t supply evidence; just assume it. Second, impute a bad motive, preferably a very bad motive, to those who disagree. The best bad motive for this is greed, which is widely reviled (though just as widely practiced, even—especially!—by progressives such as Krugman). Here is Krugman’s latest column. Note the pattern. First, he assumes that he is correct that there is no looming Social Security crisis. He doesn’t argue for this claim, even though it is disputed by experts. He assumes it. Second, he imputes greediness to those who disagree. Those rotten old conservatives (he means libertarians) want to dismantle Social Security (“the New Deal’s crown jewel”), so they frighten people into thinking it faces a looming disaster! There’s really nothing to be concerned about, Krugman says. Everything is fine. Relax! Politicians such as Barack Obama, who say or imply that the program needs modification, are playing into the hands of the enemy and must be duly chastised for it.

* “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).

Gregory S. Kavka (1947-1994) on Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

In recent years, a number of serious attempts have been made to systematize and develop the moral and political themes of great philosophers of the past. Kant, Locke, Marx, and the Classical Utilitarians all have their current defenders and are taken seriously as expositors of fundamentally sound moral and political views. It is the aim of this book to introduce Hobbes into this select group, since his insights on morals and politics are as profound, as systematic, and as close to being true as those of any philosopher.

(Gregory S. Kavka, Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986], xii)

Best of the Web Today


Twenty Years Ago

11-16-87 . . . I used heat for the first time this morning. It was chilly in the apartment. So the gap between using air conditioning and using heat was only fifteen days. I plan to wear flannel shirts around the apartment from here on out to keep my electricity bill down. [Coincidentally, I wore a flannel shirt for the first time this fall in Fort Worth, Texas.] In other news, I received the latest issue of The General Practitioner. [This is a publication of the State Bar of Michigan.] It contains my article “Should Robert Bork Be Confirmed?”. But on the front of the issue, the title appears as follows: “Should Robert Bork Be Confined?”. Isn’t that hilarious? I told Allen Buchanan about it; he thinks it’s a Freudian slip. I also told my students. They loved it, and even [Mike] Harnish laughed. My view is that the editor, Thomas Lazar, is liberal. He probably did this on purpose to take a jab at the conservatives. In any case, it doesn’t bother me. I’m just glad that my article appeared in print somewhere. That makes the effort of writing it worthwhile.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

As a kid growing up, I was probably no different from thousands of other boys (and later girls) who played sports on an almost daily basis and managed to acquire a letter or two in high school. But at no time did I ever forget what the goal was: great grades and college.

It is not very complicated, and my parents made this quite clear. Yes, you just threw a shutout and struck out 13, and we are very proud, but let’s see that report card.

College is about academics and the intellect, and if you can find the time, you complement it with athletics. I believe that was the Greek ideal. There should be no such thing as “athletic” scholarships. Can someone please explain how athletics is tied to scholarship? The whole idea is an oxymoron.

Eliminate “athletic” scholarships altogether. Athletics will be returned to the student or the scholar-athlete, and the “professional” athlete will either learn to study or simply forfeit college because he or she really is not qualified to be there. This is as it should be.

Eugene Floyd
Westhampton Beach, N.Y.
Nov. 11, 2007

A Year Ago


From the Mailbag


In an in-house high-level class on software the instructor spent some time discussing trends. Apparently ontology and epistemology are becoming important because one slide discussed them, at least in the context of computer science. I thought you’d get a kick out of it. Another of the instructors said that liberal arts students generally did well programming in the computer language Java.

I recently tried some of those Mojo bars you recommended and liked them except for one thing: too hard to unwrap. I’ll bet they’re afraid of malicious contamination of the sort that happened to Tylenol (?) some years ago. Tell them to hire better lawyers and fight, if necessary.