Monday, 31 March 2008

Best of the Web Today



I shouldn’t say this, but no matter what happens in the Democrat Party, I’m going to be delighted. Yes, one of the two candidates must win; but one must lose. It’s going to be great fun to hear the wailing. Will supporters of the loser walk? Will Obama and Clinton have to be on the ticket together to keep everyone happy? Will there be lawsuits challenging this or that aspect of the nominating process? Stay tuned.

Baseball Notes

1. I want your World Series winner. Don’t give me the division winners or the World Series loser. Just the winner. There is a lot at stake. If you’re wrong, you will be mocked mercilessly at the end of the season. My pick is Detroit (pronounced day-TWAH).

2. Mark Spahn sent a link to this Power Line post. I guess I’m not the only person with the fever.

Curro Ergo Sum

I had a good month, athletically. I ran 15 times (either 3.1 or 4.3 miles) and rode my bike three times, for a total of 18 aerobic activities in 31 days. What did you do?


Between innings of yesterday’s baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals, I channel surfed. I happened upon a soccer match on HDNet. It put me to sleep instantly.

“Proselytising Atheism”

Here is a review essay by philosopher John Gray.

Problems of Evil

A defense of atheism has two parts. The first is to criticize arguments for the existence of God. The second is to argue for the nonexistence of God. Let me distinguish two arguments for the nonexistence of God. The first goes like this:

1. The proposition that God exists and the proposition that evil exists are inconsistent.
2. Evil exists.
3. God does not exist.

Most theists accept 2 and reject 1. The second argument goes like this:

1. The proposition that God exists and the proposition that gratuitous evil exists are inconsistent.
2. Gratuitous evil exists.
3. God does not exist.

This time, theists accept 1 and reject 2. Both atheistic arguments are valid, but the theist claims that both are unsound.


One of the most common mistakes in writing is using “alot” instead of “a lot,” as in “My car has been giving me alot of trouble.” There is no word “alot” in the English language. There is a word “allot,” but that means something quite different. Why do we see “alot,” but not “afew,” as in “Hand me afew nails”? It’s probably because there’s no word “affew” with which to confuse it.

Addendum: Oh my god. I typed “alot” (with quotation marks) into the Google search engine. I got 112,000,000 hits. That’s a lot of dumb people. (Sorry.)

Addendum 2: I found this in the search.

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Bruce Bartlett’s call to “Stop Those Checks” is a ray of hope for true American values in these troubled economic times. I would happily sacrifice my rebate if I “knew that the money would be used instead to help families in need.”

In fact, since reading Mr. Bartlett’s plea, I have decided not to spend the money on yet one more possession or even on gas but to donate it to a charity that I know will help a family that has lost its home or to an organization that helps the thousands of disabled Iraq war veterans find adequate medical support.

Janet Kehl
Arrowsic, Me., March 24, 2008

Yankee Watch

David Fryman sent a link to this. Go Yankees! (Isn’t it ironic that just days after Jerry Katz stopped reading my blog—because I’m too hard on the Yankees—I say “Go Yankees!”?)

Lino A. Graglia on Judicial Policymaking

There is no reason to expect expertise in decisionmaking on social policy issues, even if there were such a thing, from Supreme Court Justices, whose only professional qualification is that they are lawyers. Attendance at law school is less a means of studying a substantive academic discipline than a means of avoiding doing so. Law training may be particularly unsuited to training policymakers, because lawyers, having specialized in nothing, easily come to consider themselves (as “generalists”) experts in everything, substituting rhetorical skill for knowledge. Supreme Court Justices ordinarily not only know little of the issues they pass on in constitutional cases—for example, the consequences of different social policies on homosexuality—but, worse, as lawyers, typically don’t know that they don’t know.

The premise that judges are peculiarly trustworthy policymakers, more likely than other public officials to make policy decisions on an impartial or disinterested basis free of political or ideological commitments is, if anything, even more mistaken than the belief that the answer to real problems of social choice can be found in natural law. Lawyers do not cease being lawyers, trained in the manipulation of language to support pre-ordained results, when they put on a robe. There is nothing in the study or practice of law likely to inculcate habits of exceptional honesty or ethical refinement. It serves instead to accommodate the mind to the unembarrassed assertion of fiction.

(Lino A. Graglia, “Lawrence v. Texas: Our Philosopher-Kings Adopt Libertarianism as Our Official National Philosophy and Reject Traditional Morality as a Basis for Law,” Ohio State Law Journal 65 [2004]: 1139-50, at 1147 [footnote omitted])