Thursday, 13 December 2007


I leave you this fine evening with an essay about globalization, which, truth be told, has been a disaster for this country.

Race and Sex

Democrats are debating whether to write off white men. I’m serious! Here is my favorite comment (of the few I read):

So many white men, and men in general, are insecure and immature. The way they relate to the world is through fear, and the physical strength needed to overcome it. Fear blacks. Fear gays. Fear Muslims. Fear immigrants. Guns will protect you. The military will protect you. Jesus will protect you. That, and the idea the world’s problems can be solved with the right bumpersticker. They don’t think too hard, unless it is about football strategy.

That is why the GOP appeals to them. It is what the GOP has been geared to for the last 50 years. And it worked. The Dems will NEVER get these guys. When the Dems start talking about diplomacy, the rebuttal is, “We know who the bad guys are. Let’s just bomb them.” Forget it. It is a waste of time and energy.

Don’t go for white guys. Go for PEOPLE, preferably, PEOPLE WHO THINK.

Then act like it. That is one thing the GOP does that white guys can relate to, that the Dems don’t. Act.

Don’t you love it?


If you want to be elected to public office, you’d better get right with the American people on immigration. See here.

All Fred, All the Time

Fred Thompson, a.k.a. the prime number, apologizes to Mike Huckabee. Query: Why is anyone taking Huckabee seriously? The man isn’t competent to be dog catcher. He is the Republicans’ answer to Barack Obama bin Laden.


Remember the images of George W. Bush juxtaposed to images of chimpanzees? Fair’s fair.

Gregory S. Kavka (1947-1994) on Predominant Egoism

In [its] most general form, Predominant Egoism says that self-interested motives tend to take precedence over non-self-interested motives in determining human actions. That is, non-self-interested motives usually give way to self-interested motives when there is a conflict. As a result, we may say that human action in general is predominantly motivated by self-interest.

This idea can be spelled out more precisely as the conjunction of four propositions:

1. For most people in most situations, the “altruistic gain/personal loss” ratio needed to reliably motivate self-sacrificing action is large.

2. The number of people for whom altruism and other non-self-interested motives normally override self-interested motives is small.

3. The number of situations, for the average person, in which non-self-interested motives override personal interest is small.

4. The scope of altruistic motives that are strong enough to normally override self-interest is, for most people, small, that is, confined to concern for family, close friends, close associates, or particular groups or public projects to which the individual is devoted.

Proposition 1 recognizes that most people are sometimes willing to make genuine sacrifices to produce gains for others, but it contends that this occurs frequently only in cases in which the net sacrifices required are quite small, compared to the benefits produced. Propositions 2-4 spell out the sense in which it is “usual” for self-interest to take precedence over other motives—it does so for most all people most always, except when the well-being of close associates or relations is involved.

(Gregory S. Kavka, Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986], 64-5 [italics in original; footnotes omitted])

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Postwar Election” (column, Dec. 11):

I disagree with David Brooks that the shift in public sentiment toward 2008 presidential candidates can be likened to a “postwar mood” or attributed to a shift in priorities. I would call it battle fatigue, and a recognition that “combative” qualities—combined with an unprecedented level of cronyism and incompetence—helped create the wartime conditions in which we now find ourselves inextricably mired.

The nasty and divisive partisanship that has so defined our leadership in recent years has grown tedious and sophomoric and has a paralyzing effect. Perhaps what Mr. Brooks interprets as a shift in focus is actually a “critical mass” of citizens realizing that the challenges we face at home and abroad can be met only by electing some grown-ups possessing some measure of cooperative qualities. One can only hope.

Lisa Corcoran
Beaverton, Ore., Dec. 11, 2007

From the Mailbag

Dear Professor Burgess-Jackson,

I recently read an interview with Martha Nussbaum in which she was asked to name the trait she most deplores in others. She responded: “Vanity about reputation, and putting that ahead of work.” I found this to be striking, given that (I imagine) she was clearly involved in the decision-making process to get Leiter to come to Chicago, and his reputationism is known far and wide. Is it possible she just really doesn’t know about Leiter?


PS, you can find the interview here.

Note from KBJ: Leiter’s careerism is well known—and duly mocked.


The New York Yankees cheated their way to World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000. The team must be stripped of these titles; otherwise, the message is that cheating pays.

Addendum: Here is a list of players who have been implicated.

Addendum 2: Roger Clemens denies using performance-enhancing substances, even though a trainer testified to having given Clemens injections. Clemens says the trainer has a motive to lie. And Clemens doesn’t?

Addendum 3: Here, from the ESPN website, is a breakdown, by team, of players named in the report:

Yankees 22
Orioles 18
Angels 16
Mets 15
Dodgers 15
Rangers 15

Not only do the Yankees try to buy titles, which is disgraceful; their players cheat. Is there an honorable Yankee fan out there who will condemn this? John? Jerry? David? Tom?

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“A few” means not many, so why does “quite a few” mean many?