Thursday, 24 January 2008

Animal Ethics

Here is Mylan Engel’s latest post.


The other night, while channel surfing on my Dell 42-inch high-definition plasma television, I happened upon Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987), which I watched at the theater many years ago. I had forgotten how funny it is. See here for a clip.

A Year Ago



Here is another blurb from my moonbatty long-distance telephone company:

Pull U.S. Mercenaries Out of Iraq

Last September, a Blackwater convoy stopped at a Baghdad public square and spent 15 minutes spraying civilians with gunfire. Seventeen died. Witnesses described it as deliberate murder. But Blackwater likely won’t be punished, since military contractors are immune to [sic] Iraqi law. There are now thousands of such soldiers-for-hire in Iraq. They work outside Army rules. Their reckless violence incurs the hatred of Iraqis and exposes U.S. soldiers to retaliation. And they charge billions of dollars. The Stop Outsourcing Security Act would end the use of mercenaries like Blackwater by June 2009.

Deliberate murder, eh? As opposed to what, accidental murder?

Addendum: How many of you think the term “mercenary” applies to Blackwater’s employees?

Best of the Web Today


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The New ‘Old Boys’?” (Generations column, regional sections, Jan. 20):

Unfortunately, Kate Stone Lombardi’s evidence to suggest the evolution of a network where professional women help other women is more anecdotal than it is the norm.

I’ve worked in finance for 15 years and have never been able to identify a single reliable mentor or networking partner, and not for lack of trying.

To make matters worse, the majority of my thirtysomething friends and colleagues have opted to leave the work force to stay home with their children.

It seems that the generation of women who preceded my generation are either of the mind-set that nobody helped them break through the glass ceiling and so they can ignore any type of sisterhood, or they are just too exhausted trying to “have it all” that they simply have no time for mentoring.

In college I thought I could have any type of career I wanted. While I still believe that is true, I wish someone had explained to me the choices I’d be forced to make regarding work and family life, and how lonely it would feel at times.

Perhaps my mother was right, and I should have been a nurse or a teacher.

Laura Frey
Chatham, N.J., Jan. 21, 2008

Note from KBJ: Whoever told this woman that she wouldn’t have to make choices lied to her. Everyone, including men, has to make choices. Most men choose to be breadwinners rather than stay-at-home or hands-on dads. The difference between men and women is not that only women have to make choices; it’s that men don’t whine about it.

Ayn Rand

If you’re a high-school senior or a college student, you may be interested in this.


If this isn’t the best album ever made, then God exists.

Addendum: Here is a video of “More Than This,” which is mind-blowingly good. Here is “Avalon.” Here is “Dog v. Balloons.” (Remind me not to go naked around that dog.) Here, for old time’s sake, is “Rabbit v. Snake.”

Roger Kimball on Conservatism

I have recently begun keeping a folder marked “Conservative Gloominess.” It is full of articles and animadversions by various hands: dire prognostications about who the next occupant of the White House will be, harrowing descriptions of disarray among conservatives, despairing portraits of U.S. or European society. What’s odd, or at least uncharacteristic about these bulletins from the abyss is not their substance—to be candid, I have written plenty of items that could justly be filed there—but their tone and what we might call their existential orientation. From time immemorial conservatives have delighted in writing works with titles like Leviathan, The Decline of the West, The Waste Land, or, to take a more recent example from one of our participants, Slouching Towards Gomorrah. I think I am right in recollecting that when Robert Bork once delivered himself of a withering account of some aspect of our society, a member of the audience remarked on how depressing his paper was. In response he suggested that he might call his next essay “Little Mary Sunshine,” to which a fellow panelist said, “Oh yes, ‘Little Mary Sunshine Gets Skin Cancer.’”

Well, that’s all in a day’s work for a conservative. But I’ve noticed a troubling disruption of late. By habit and disposition, I submit, conservatives tend, as a species, to be less gloomy than—than what? What shall we call those who occupy a position opposite that of conservatives? Not liberals, surely, since they are so often conspicuously illiberal, i.e., opposed to freedom and all its works. Indeed, when it comes to the word “liberal,” Russell Kirk came close to the truth when he observed that he was conservative because he was a liberal. In any event, whatever the opposite of conservatives should be called—perhaps John Fonte’s marvellous coinage “transnational progressives” is best—they tend to be gloomy, partly, I suspect, because of disappointed utopian ambitions.

Conservatives also tend to enjoy a more active and enabling sense of humor. The English essayist Walter Bagehot once observed that “the essence of Toryism is enjoyment.” What he meant, I think, was summed up by the author of Genesis when that sage observed that “God made the world and saw that it was good.” Conservatives differ from progressives in many ways, but one important way is in the quota of cheerfulness and humor they deploy. Not that their assessment of their fellows is more sanguine. On the contrary. Conservatives tend to be cheerful because they do not regard imperfection as a personal moral affront. Being realistic about mankind’s susceptibility to improvement, they are as suspicious of utopian schemes as they are appreciative of present blessings. This is why the miasmic gloominess emanating from many conservative circles today is so dispiriting. It goes against the grain of what it means to be conservative. It is dampening, and I for one hope it will prove to be a quickly passing phenomenon. Among other things, this recent access of personal gloominess makes the practice of professional gloominess—the robust deployment of satire, ridicule, and so on—much more difficult and less satisfying.

(Roger Kimball, “Introduction: Saving Remnants,” The New Criterion 26 [January 2008]: 4-7, at 5-6 [italics in original])

Note from KBJ: The “Little Mary Sunshine” bit reminds me of Debbie Downer.

From the Mailbag

How do spelunkers make a three-dimensional map of a cave? How do myrmecologists do it? Like this.

Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)

P.S. Were any animals harmed in the production of this video?