Thursday, 27 December 2007


Here is your entertainment for the evening. How can you not love a song that goes nearly three minutes before the singing starts? The guitar playing in this song is amazing.

Addendum: This has to be the funniest scene in the history of film.


I know it’s pathetic, but I’m reliving great moments from the 1984 World Series. Click here. Near the middle of the screen, you’ll see two videos. Click the first one. It shows Kirk Gibson hitting a home run off Goose Gossage in the fifth and final game of the Series. San Diego Padres manager Dick Williams wanted Gossage to walk Gibson, but Gossage talked him out of it. Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson motioned to Gibson that Gossage didn’t want to walk him. This was Sparky’s way of motivating Gibson. It worked. What memories!

Addendum: Here is the YouTube version of the video, in case the other one disappears. The volume is extremely high, so be prepared to turn it down right away.

Best of the Web Today


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

We hear it so often it must be true: free trade is good for us all. But your editorial, as almost everyone does, presents us with theory, not facts.

How can it be good for workers to be subjected to competition from low-wage countries? How can it be good for manufacturers to be subjected to competition from countries that don’t ask employers to pay for their employees’ health care? How can it be good for any of us to eat food, wear clothes and play with toys that could never pass an American government inspection?

Is it free trade that’s made us so prosperous, or is it our ability, so far, to pay for many of our imports with IOUs?

David Raines
Lunenburg, Mass., Dec. 23, 2007

Note from KBJ: I agree with the letter writer. Free trade (globalization generally) has been a disaster for Americans. The sooner we repeal NAFTA and CAFTA, the better. If that puts me on the side of John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, so be it.

Capital Punishment

The editorial board of the New York Times says that we Texans are “addicted to executions.” We’re addicted, all right, but not to executions. We’re addicted to justice—to giving each person his or her due. Also, it’s laughable that we’re pitiless. Our pity is reserved for innocent people, not for convicted murderers. How barbaric can you get? By the way, it’s disingenuous of the board to cite the possibility of mistakes as a basis for abolishing capital punishment. The board would seek abolition even if the process were perfect. And finally, we Texans are not the least bit ashamed; nor do we have reason to be. We’re proud of our criminal-justice system. We tell people straight out that if they commit murder in this state, they die; and we keep our promise. That the rest of the country is squeamish about doing justice is of no concern to us.

A Year Ago


John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, Paragraph 30

The great advance in liberty of discussion, which is one of the most important differences between the present time and that of my childhood, has greatly altered the moralities of this question; and I think that few men of my father’s intellect and public spirit, holding with such intensity of moral conviction as he did, unpopular opinions on religion, or on any other of the great subjects of thought, would now either practise or inculcate the withholding of them from the world, unless in the cases, becoming fewer every day, in which frankness on these subjects would either risk the loss of means of subsistence, or would amount to exclusion from some sphere of usefulness peculiarly suitable to the capacities of the individual. On religion in particular the time appears to me to have come, when it is the duty of all who being qualified in point of knowledge, have on mature consideration satisfied themselves that the current opinions are not only false but hurtful, to make their dissent known; at least, if they are among those whose station or reputation, gives their opinion a chance of being attended to. Such an avowal would put an end, at once and for ever, to the vulgar prejudice, that what is called, very improperly, unbelief, is connected with any bad qualities either of mind or heart. The world would be astonished if it knew how great a proportion of its brightest ornaments—of those most distinguished even in popular estimation for wisdom and virtue—are complete sceptics in religion; many of them refraining from avowal, less from personal considerations, than from a conscientious, though now in my opinion a most mistaken apprehension, lest by speaking out what would tend to weaken existing beliefs, and by consequence (as they suppose) existing restraints, they should do harm instead of good.

Note from KBJ: This is a fascinating paragraph. I wonder why Mill thought good would come (or at least that no bad would come) of “weaken[ing] existing [religious] beliefs.” Maybe he’ll tell us. Many people of late, including Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, have described what they take to be the costs of religion; but have they considered its benefits? How does the cost-benefit analysis come out? Is religion a net benefit to humanity, a net detriment, or a wash? We need a serious study, not partisan speculations. I’m an atheist, but I believe religion has been a net benefit to humanity. Weakening it, therefore, will be costly, perhaps catastrophically so. Note that the costs and benefits of religion have nothing to do with its truth. A belief can be true and harmful, just as a belief can be false and beneficial. Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) wrote: “I think all the great religions of the world—Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and Communism—both untrue and harmful” (Why I Am Not a Christian, and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, ed. Paul Edwards [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957], v). Other thinkers, equally brilliant, think religion both true and beneficial.