Monday, 19 November 2007


I leave you this fine evening with an essay by Hadley Arkes.

Race and Politics

Paul Krugman* points out that in 2006, “Southern whites voted Republican by almost two to one.” He didn’t mention the ratio by which blacks voted Democrat. I wonder why that is. Oh, wait; I know: It doesn’t confirm his prejudices.

* “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).

A Year Ago



Alex Rodriguez has been named the Most Valuable Player of the American League, even though Magglio Ordonez was the most valuable player of the American League.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Economists want policy makers to legislate our happiness just as they address poverty. If our chances of success at creating happiness can be predicted by our success at reducing poverty, there will be some truly sad times ahead.

The opportunity for happiness should be a byproduct of sound policy that ensures justice and freedom for all. People whose goal is to try to make other people happy usually make themselves and everyone else miserable.

Peter Vanacore
Westborough, Mass., Nov. 13, 2007

Note from KBJ: Here is Robert M. Martin, from The Philosopher’s Dictionary, 3d ed. (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2002), 142:

happiness paradox It’s sometimes supposed that happiness is best achieved by those who do not seek it (but who go after other goals). Thus the pursuit of happiness is self-defeating.

That’s been my experience. How about you?

The Twilight Zone

I have all 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone on DVD. Yesterday, after a long, busy day, I watched episode 16, entitled “The Hitch-Hiker.” It aired originally on 22 January 1960, when I was two years old. I don’t recall seeing this one in rerun. The plot is simple. A young woman, played by Inger Stevens, is traveling across the country in her car, from east to west. She has an accident in Pennsylvania, caused by a blown tire. As soon as she gets going, she begins to see a hitchhiker at every turn. It drives her crazy. Eventually, she calls home, only to learn that her mother has had a nervous breakdown. The reason? Her daughter was killed in an automobile accident in Pennsylvania. The young woman then realizes who the hitchhiker is. According to the booklet that came with my DVDs, Rod Serling bought the rights to the story from Lucille Fletcher, who wrote it for radio. In Fletcher’s story, the driver is a man. Fletcher was not happy that Serling made the driver a female. I don’t see what difference it makes; do you?

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Addendum: My bridge-playing, bird-loving friend Peg Kaplan has been a supporter of Rudy Giuliani from the outset. I’ve been skeptical. Let me say this: If Rudy keeps talking the way he’s reported as talking in James Taranto’s first item, I’ll be happy to vote for him, should he be the Republican nominee. I want someone who will kick Hillary Clinton’s ass.