Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Twenty Years Ago

4-2-88 Saturday. Alas, the season of a lifetime is over. The Arizona Wildcats were beaten by the Oklahoma Sooners in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, 86-78. I’m a bit surprised, and not a little disappointed, by this result. We played thirty-nine games this season, including an exhibition game with the Russian national team. We won thirty-six of them, losing only to New Mexico [the Lobos], Stanford [the Cardinal], and now Oklahoma (all on the road). Had we won this game, I’m certain that we would have beaten Kansas [the Jayhawks], the other semifinal winner. Kansas relies too much on one player, Danny Manning, while the Wildcats have played well as a team all year. Today, we ran into a chainsaw Oklahoma team. The Sooners were quicker, more aggressive, and took better shots than we did. I’ve never seen the Cats miss so many layups, dunk shots, and three-pointers. Steve Kerr had an off night in the last game of his collegiate career. Anthony Cook was stifled inside. Tom Tolbert didn’t score like he can. Only Sean Elliott, with thirty-one points, had a superb game, and even he missed some easy shots.

So that’s it. I’m not devastated, as I thought I’d be. Rather than dwell on the loss, I’m looking back on all of the great moments the Cats had this season. I lived and died with them, feeling good when they won and bad when they lost (though that was rare). If I see the players on campus, I’ll tell them how happy they made me this year, my last at Arizona. They have nothing to be ashamed of. Next year, with Sean Elliott and Anthony Cook back, the Cats should have another fine year. I would be surprised if they didn’t win the Pac-10 championship for the third time in four years, and with all of this experience behind them, they should do well in the NCAA tournament. Monday’s final game now pits two Big Eight teams, Oklahoma and Kansas. Kansas stunned Duke [the Blue Devils] this afternoon, 66-59. It should be a good game. I’ll be rooting for the Sooners. They played with class, unlike North Carolina [the Tar Heels], and I like their style of play: run and gun. It’s not often that I can turn around and root for the team that just defeated my favorite team.


Dell 42-inch high-definition plasma television: $3,000.
Charter high-definition cable-television service: $150 per month.
Watching the New York Yankees lose to the Toronto Blue Jays on ESPN2HD: Priceless.

Addendum: Watching A-Rod strike out in the bottom of the ninth inning with two runners on base was beyond priceless. It was fabulous.


My beloved Shelbie was born five years ago today. I still don’t know how she got to the Humane Society of North Texas, where I found her in July 2003. She was an 11-pound ball of energy. I was worried that she would grow up to be mean. She’s the opposite of mean. She’s a sweetheart. Every day, we take two long walks, during which she gets to run, sniff, and chase small animals. Today, as I sat reading in the back yard, with my back against the house, she lay in the soft grass beside me. The other day, a dog attacked her on the school grounds. Somehow, the other dog got away from its owner. I did my best to keep the dogs apart (Shelbie was merely defending herself), and eventually succeeded (with the help of the other man), but not before Shelbie was bitten on the left hip. She has a dime-sized wound. This is the first time she’s been sick or injured, as far as I know. Both of us are still recovering from the loss of Sophie, who has been gone for nearly three months. I wish I could explain to Shelbie where she is. At any rate, life goes on. I gave Sophie a wonderful life, one that most dogs only dream of. Shelbie and I have a long way to go. Happy birthday, stinker!

A Year Ago


Best of the Web Today


Torture and Terrorism

You may be shocked when I tell you this, but the consensus among philosophers—based on my examination of the literature—is that torture is never morally permissible, but terrorism sometimes is. In other words, it’s always wrong, all things considered, to inflict great pain or suffering on a person, even a very bad one, even if it’s necessary to save many innocent lives; but it’s not always wrong, all things considered, to kill large numbers of innocent people. Can anyone explain this bizarre juxtaposition of judgments? How can the end sometimes, but not always, justify the means? I have an explanation, but I’ll await yours before disclosing it. Stay focused on the question. Rambling prose is indicative of sloppy thought.

Hall of Fame?

Alex Rodriguez. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

You say that Representative Patrick J. Kennedy “has admitted to struggling with addiction and depression.” Would you similarly say someone has “admitted” to struggling with cancer, a cold or a broken arm?

Hank Wallace
Washington, March 31, 2008

Note from KBJ: The very fact that we use “admitted” in connection with addiction, but not in connection with cancer, shows that there is a morally relevant difference between the two. That difference is choice.

Samuel Scheffler on the Advantages of Terrorism

Apologists for terror often claim that it is the weapon of the weak, who have no other tools available for fighting back against their oppressors. This may be true in some circumstances. As far as I can see, however, those who engage in terrorism rarely invest much time in exploring the availability of other tools. All too often terrorism is the tool of choice simply because the perceived advantages it offers are so great. It costs relatively little in money and manpower. It has immediate effects and generates extensive and highly sensationalized publicity for one’s cause. It affords an emotionally satisfying outlet for feelings of rage and the desire for vengeance. It induces an acute sense of vulnerability in all those who identify with its immediate victims. And insofar as those victims are chosen randomly from among some very large group, the class of people who identify with them is maximized, so that an extraordinary number of people are given a vivid sense of the potential costs of resisting one’s demands. Figuratively and often literally, terrorism offers the biggest bang for one’s buck.

(Samuel Scheffler, “Is Terrorism Morally Distinctive?The Journal of Political Philosophy 14 [March 2006]: 1-17, at 8-9)