Tuesday, 13 May 2008

“The Side of the Angels”

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Thomas Sowell.


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia.


I’m watching MSNBC’s coverage of the West Virginia primary, which Hillary Clinton is expected to win in a landslide. Is it just me, or is Chris Matthews getting fed up with Keith Olbermann’s adolescent cynicism? I dislike both of these clowns, but Matthews comes across as more professional than Olbermann, who seems unable to stop pandering to the moonbats.

Addendum: I just observed a remarkable display of intellectual dishonesty. Chris Matthews gave a spiel about how improbable it is for Hillary Clinton to win the Democrat nomination. A few minutes later, he interviewed Terry McAuliffe of the Clinton campaign. McAuliffe said that Hillary is disproving the pundits. Matthews interjected that he hasn’t been saying that Clinton can’t win. Au contraire! He would love it if the nomination was resolved at the convention. But Matthews had just said, as plain as day, that Clinton can’t win. Maybe Matthews isn’t dishonest so much as stupid.

Baseball Notes

1. My adopted Texas Rangers (19-21) have never played in a World Series. They’ve been to the playoffs three times. Each time, they lost to the hated New York Yankees. The Rangers are 1-9 in postseason play. As a result of this ineptitude, local sportswriters make fun of the Rangers. (By contrast, they worship the Dallas Cowboys.) For several weeks now, local sportswriters have been calling for manager Ron Washington‘s head. But Wash (as he’s known) is turning the team around. The Rangers have won five straight series (against the Minnesota Twins, the Kansas City Royals, the Oakland Athletics, the Seattle Mariners, and the Athletics again) and are 12-5 in their past 17 games. Wash deserves time to prove himself. He’s been on the job for a little over a year, which is not enough time to remake a team in one’s image. Sportswriters are selfish; all they care about is turmoil, which gives them material.

2. The Yankees (19-20) will never win anything with Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, and Robinson Cano in their lineup. I have never seen players with less passion for the game. Cano is at best a AA ballplayer. He’s hitting .188. Some players just want to make it to the Major Leagues. Others want to make it and excel. Cano is one of the former.

3. The Florida Marlins (23-15) continue to amaze. They have won two World Series (1997 and 2003) in their short time in Major League Baseball and could win again this year. (How does Florida against Boston sound?) Quick: name three Marlins. I didn’t think you could.

4. My beloved Detroit Tigers continue to disappoint. All their vaunted young pitching has amounted to nothing. Whenever I’ve seen the team play, the players seemed to be pressing. That is not good. I liked it better when nobody expected the Tigers to win. Hmm. Maybe that’s why the Marlins play so well. Nobody expects anything of them.

5. The American League Central Division is going to be a dogfight this year. There could be four teams (Minnesota, the Cleveland Indians, the Chicago White Sox, and Detroit) in contention in the final week. Kansas City may be a year or two away from contending.

6. Larry “Chipper” Jones of the Atlanta Braves is not getting older. He’s getting better. The man is hitting .406, for God’s sake! By the way, there have been 35 .400 seasons in Major League history. There have been only 17 perfect games. It’s twice as easy to hit .400 as to pitch a perfect game.

7. From the first time I saw Barry Zito (0-7, 6.58), he seemed soft. Mentally soft. He’s a surfer dude, not a baseball player. The San Francisco Giants messed up royally by signing him to a long-term contract.

8. Former pitcher Rick Ankiel of the St Louis Cardinals has a rifle arm, as befits a former pitcher. The other day, on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, I saw him throw two runners out at third base. Both throws were on a line from deep in the outfield. (Here they are.) Ankiel is hitting .286 with seven home runs and 20 runs batted in. I would pay to watch him play.

9. There goes A-Rod’s quest for the all-time home-run title. Injuries are starting.

10. What will Yankee fans do if the Boston Red Sox win their third World Series title in five years? I hope it involves hara-kiri.

Another One Bites the Dust

I finished grading examinations a few minutes ago. That completes my 19th year at the University of Texas at Arlington and my 20th year as a professor. (I taught for a year at Texas A&M University while finishing my Ph.D. dissertation.) Where did the time go? I’m off for the next 15 weeks, during which time I will read, think, and write (not to mention run, ride, and ramble with Shelbie). No lectures; no students; no committee meetings. This fall, I teach one section of Logic and one section of Social and Political Philosophy. Did I tell you that I have a great life?

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

It is so refreshing for someone to put a positive spin on the Clinton campaign for a change. I blame the negative rhetoric that has been the mainstay of the Democratic campaign on the media and the bully mentality of the Democratic leaders.

If the Clinton campaign has been thwarted by a negative gender perception, Hillary Rodham Clinton has clearly broken the mold.

After two weak presidential campaigns with two men who were not capable of standing up to the Republicans and fighting, the Democrats have finally got a fighter who is willing to go on until the last count. The Democrats have needed a candidate with that kind of fortitude for a long time.

Barack Obama is not a fighter and has winced every step of the way. Mrs. Clinton has actually forced him to be a better candidate against his will. Wait until the Republicans get ahold [sic] of him.

Hollis MacArthur
Irvine, Calif., May 9, 2008

Peter Geach on Divine Law

This means that the Divine law is in some instances promulgated to all men of sound understanding. No man can sincerely plead ignorance that lying, for example, is generally objectionable. I am not saying that a sane and honest man must see that lying is absolutely excluded; but he must have some knowledge of the general objectionableness of lying, and this is in fact a promulgation to him of the Divine law against lying. And he can advance from this knowledge to recognition of the Divine law as such, by a purely rational process.

To make this point clearer, let us consider a modern ethical philosopher who says ‘I do on the whole object to lying, but this is just a practical attitude I take up—it is quite wrong to call it “knowledge”’. I do not say of him what I should of a man who professed to have no special objection to lying: that he is just a vicious fellow, or a fool talking at random, who deserves no answer. What I do say is that his very protest shows that he does possess that sort of knowledge which is in fact God’s promulgation of a law to him. His erroneous philosophy will not allow him to call it knowledge; but that does not prevent it from being knowledge—philosophers in fact know many things that their own theories would preclude them from knowing. And since he has this knowledge, he has had God’s law against lying promulgated to him, even if he does not believe in God.

Thus, whatever a man may think, his rational knowledge that it is a bad way of life for a man to be a liar or an adulterer is in fact a promulgation to him of the Divine law; and he is able to infer that it is such a promulgation if he rightly considers the matter.

(Peter Geach, “The Moral Law and the Law of God,” chap. 5 in Absolutism and Its Consequentialist Critics, ed. Joram Graf Haber [Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1994], 63-72, at 69 [italics in original] [essay first published in 1969])