Tuesday, 1 April 2008


I leave you this fine evening with a column by Andrew O’Hagan.

A Year Ago


Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990) on the Dangers of Rationalism

Nevertheless, when he is not arrogant or sanctimonious, the Rationalist can appear a not unsympathetic character. He wants so much to be right. But unfortunately he will never quite succeed. He began too late and on the wrong foot. His knowledge will never be more than half-knowledge, and consequently he will never be more than half-right. Like a foreigner or a man out of his social class, he is bewildered by a tradition and a habit of behaviour of which he knows only the surface; a butler or an observant house-maid has the advantage of him. And he conceives a contempt for what he does not understand; habit and custom appear bad in themselves, a kind of nescience of behaviour. And by some strange self-deception, he attributes to tradition (which, of course, is pre-eminently fluid) the rigidity and fixity of character which in fact belongs to ideological politics. Consequently, the Rationalist is a dangerous and expensive character to have in control of affairs, and he does most damage, not when he fails to master the situation (his politics, of course, are always in terms of mastering situations and surmounting crises), but when he appears to be successful; for the price we pay for each of his apparent successes is a firmer hold of the intellectual fashion of Rationalism upon the whole life of society.

(Michael Oakeshott, “Rationalism in Politics,” in his Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, new and expanded ed. [Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1991], 5-42, at 36 [footnote omitted] [essay first published in 1947])

Note from KBJ: Remember: Oakeshott’s rationalism is my progressivism, which contrasts with conservatism.


Do you begrudge Major League Baseball players their salaries?

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Samuel Arbesman and Steven Strogatz think of baseball players’ performances at bat as being like coin tosses. They suggest that replaying history with baseball statistics and a computer that uses a random number generator to determine hits or outs gives a fair approximation of the probability of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. And they conclude that “streaks of 56 games or longer are not at all an unusual occurrence.”

But I have some questions concerning their experimental design. Did the computer face only “average” pitchers, or was a real ace occasionally included for “variety”? Did the computer bat in rainy weather and on hot, muggy and exhausting days?

Did the computer sometimes have to come up with a hit against an ace reliever after having already gone 0 for 3? Was the difficulty of continuing the streak after 50 games the same as after only five games, or was there an increasing psychological burden?

How about injury: was the computer subject to groin pulls or strained hamstrings? Was the computer tired after playing the field for eight innings and coming to bat in the ninth?

Computer simulations surely have their place in science, but in baseball, one has to play the games.

Robert A. Moss
Metuchen, N.J., March 30, 2008

Note from KBJ: Where does Joltin’ Joe’s 56-game hitting streak rank in the annals of sport, in your opinion? Is it the greatest feat ever, near the top, somewhere in the middle, or in the bottom half? Memo to Brad: Don’t answer this question until you start respecting the president.

Pickle Sickle

Perhaps remembering my post about Golden Pickle Juice, Mark Spahn sent a link to this. I’ve never heard of Pickle Sickles. I’d like to try them! Speaking of pickles, how many of you remember drive-in movies? Share your memories (the ones rated PG, at any rate). The reason I mention this is that there were pickles on a stick sold at the concession stand of the drive-in. They were advertised during intermission. My mother used to make enough popcorn to fill a grocery bag and mix up a gallon of Kool-Aid before we went to the drive-in. We loved it. And yes, before you crack a joke, I have drunk the Kool-Aid!


There were 28,239 visits to this blog during March, which is an average of 910.9 visits per day. There were 27,609 visits during February, which is an average of 952.0 per day. I’m still recovering from Michelle Malkin‘s decision, about a year ago, to hide her blogroll. I’m not complaining. I feel as though my earlier numbers were inflated. People saw “AnalPhilosopher” in her blogroll and clicked it out of curiosity. The current numbers seem more honest—and the trend during the past few months has been upward. Thanks for visiting. I love blogging as much today as when I began on 5 November 2003. I’ll probably blog until the day I die, whether that’s tomorrow or 30 years from now.

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Philosophical Question

Did the Big Dipper exist before there were humans? Support your answer.