Tuesday, 1 January 2008


A reader sent a link to this satire site.


I began posting on my WordPress blog a year ago today. Here is my first post. I use BlueHost as my hosting company. I’m happy with both services and have no hesitation in recommending them to others. By the way, my readership numbers have been down for several months. I averaged 760.4 visits per day during December 2007, compared to 1,257.6 during December 2006. Michelle Malkin used to have her blogroll prominently displayed, but now one has to click the word “Blogroll” to display it. Changing my blog’s name from “AnalPhilosopher” to “Keith Burgess-Jackson” also hurt, since many readers (evidently) were intrigued enough by the name to click it and see what an AnalPhilosopher was. This change on Michelle’s blog cost me several hundred visitors per day. I’m not complaining, since no injustice was done to me. It was just bad luck.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “A Rabbi of His Time, With a Charisma That Transcends It” (Connections column, Arts pages, Dec. 24), about Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel:

Edward Rothstein writes that theological politics “tends to eliminate distinctions and is impatient with differences, empathy and argument.” But this is only one approach to theological politics, the approach most often taken by the religious right.

The problem is that the religious right has so dominated theological discourse in our country for the last 25 years that it is easy to forget that religion is not necessarily rigid, conservative or fundamentalist.

The recent centennial of Rabbi Heschel’s birth and the celebration of the birth of the leader of the Christian community serve as important reminders that religious people can be liberal and progressive. And they can be committed, first and foremost, not to the imposition of their own religious beliefs, but to the creation and flourishing of a just society.

Donna Berman
Bloomfield, Conn., Dec. 27, 2007
The writer is a rabbi.

Note from KBJ: Who’s trying to impose religious beliefs? On whom? How? Christians catch hell from (many) progressives simply by acting on their religious beliefs, as if religious motivation is somehow suspect or improper. (They make exceptions for people such as Martin Luther King Jr, whose politics they like.) By the way, the letter writer carves things up improperly. The difference between religious conservatives and religious progressives isn’t that only the latter seek to create a just society; it’s that they have different conceptions of justice.

Curro Ergo Sum

What better way to usher in a new year than to run a footrace? This morning, in Fort Worth, I did the New Year’s Day 4-Mile Run. I’ve been doing 5K races at just under a seven-minute pace, so my goal was to do the four miles in 28 minutes. I almost accomplished it. The course was out and back along the beautiful Trinity River. I did the first mile in 7:04, the second in 7:08, and the third in 7:09. I knew it would be difficult to make up 21 seconds in the final mile, but I ran hard anyway, especially when I began creeping up on a man who looked old enough to be in my age group. I blasted past him in the final 100 yards. I did the final mile in seven minutes flat, which gave me an overall pace of 7:05.33 (elapsed time = 28:21.34). The man I passed was indeed in my age group, and it’s a good thing I passed him, because I ended up with the third-place trophy. Had he beaten me, I would have gone home empty-handed.

Since Labor Day, I’ve won eight awards in 11 races: two firsts, five seconds, and one third. I’ve won 46 awards in 125 races overall, from two miles to the marathon. I finished third of 14 men in my age group this morning. The second-place finisher was not far ahead of me; I will have to train harder to beat him. (It’s all in good fun; we know and like each other.) First place went to someone I hadn’t seen before. To show you how competitive my age group is, consider that six of the top 16 finishers overall were men between 50 and 54. I guess we’re all trying to prove that we’re not over the hill! Weatherwise, it was gorgeous this morning: sunny and cold. With nothing better to do as I ran, I counted the runners both ahead of and behind me (which can be done on an out-and-back course). There were 17 runners ahead of me at the turn and 143 behind me. (Some of those behind me were walking.) I think I finished 13th overall.

Addendum: Here are the results. I finished third of 15 in my age group (top 20%) and 13th of 154 overall (top 8.4%). The temperature during the run was 41º Fahrenheit, with an average wind speed of 12.3 miles per hour and gusts up to 24.

John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, Paragraph 31

Of unbelievers (so called) as well as of believers, there are many species, including almost every variety of moral type. But the best among them, as no one who has had opportunities of really knowing them will hesitate to affirm (believers rarely have that opportunity), are more genuinely religious, in the best sense of the word religion, than those who exclusively arrogate to themselves the title. The liberality of the age, or in other words the weakening of the obstinate prejudice which makes men unable to see what is before their eyes because it is contrary to their expectations, has caused it to be very commonly admitted that a Deist may be truly religious: but if religion stands for any graces of character and not for mere dogma, the assertion may equally be made of many whose belief is far short of Deism. Though they may think the proof incomplete that the universe is a work of design, and though they assuredly disbelieve that it can have an Author and Governor who is absolute in power as well as perfect in goodness, they have that which constitutes the principal worth of all religions whatever, an ideal conception of a Perfect Being, to which they habitually refer as the guide of their conscience; and this ideal of Good is usually far nearer to perfection than the objective Deity of those, who think themselves obliged to find absolute goodness in the author of a world so crowded with suffering and so deformed by injustice as ours.

Note from KBJ: Mill appears to be saying that there are—and therefore can be—atheistic religions. That is, there are religions that do not postulate the existence of a divine person, omnipotent or otherwise. Jainism and Buddhism are often cited as examples. Is Mill going to say (or imply) that utilitarianism is an atheistic religion? Stay tuned. By the way, did anyone catch Mill’s use/mention confusion?


Happy new year, everyone! How did this decade go by so fast? Wasn’t the millennium just yesterday? Before we know it, we’ll be in the teens. My life seems to have sped up since I turned 30. Has that been anyone else’s experience? Each day, when I type up my journal entry of 20 years earlier, I think to myself, “That seems like yesterday.” But if that’s yesterday, then tomorrow is 2028, when I’ll be 70 instead of 50. I’ve had a wonderful life. There isn’t a single thing I’d do differently, with the possible exception of taking up running earlier. If I die today, I will have had 50 blissful years. But I’m greedy. I want 20, 30, 40 more. I want as many as Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) had!

Addendum: My resolution for 2008 is to keep Hillary and Bill Clinton out of the White House. What’s yours?

A Year Ago