Sunday, 25 May 2008


I leave you this fine evening with a column by Hillary Clinton, who explains why she has not dropped out of the race for the Democrat presidential nomination. She believes that there are several states she can win but Barack Obama cannot. Hence, she believes that she has a better chance of beating John McCain than Obama does. She’s right. If Democrats nominate Obama, they are setting themselves up for an ignominious defeat.


The browser wars are heating up. See here for a New York Times story. I use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7. What do you use?


Here is tomorrow’s stage of the Giro d’Italia. It’s a 7.98-mile individual time trial. The course is entirely uphill, with gradients of 16%, 20%, and 24%. Some of it is gravel.

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “For an All-Organic Formula, Baby, That’s Sweet” (front page, May 19):

You report that health-conscious Americans are paying a premium to feed their babies Similac Organic, a sugar-sweetened formula made from cow’s milk.

Memo to yoga moms: the healthy alternative to factory formula isn’t organic factory formula. It’s breast milk.

Mother’s milk is naturally made to meet the special needs of babies from the moment they are born. Breast-fed children have a lower risk of infection and death during infancy, and they exhibit lower rates of childhood leukemia, diabetes, asthma and obesity.

Women who breast-feed their babies have reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, as well as breast and ovarian cancer. And unlike a cleverly marketed substitute, mother’s milk is free.

Deborah Kaplan
Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health
New York City Health Department
New York, May 21, 2008

Twenty Years Ago

5-25-88 . . . The Detroit Pistons won the first game of their semifinal series with the Boston Celtics—in Boston. I’d love to see the Pistons whip the Celtics and go on to the NBA finals (probably against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers). [History repeats itself. The Pistons and the Celtics are in the NBA semifinals. The other semifinal series pits the Lakers against the San Antonio Spurs.]

John Passmore (1914-2004) on the Moral Status of Animals

One restriction on the absolutism of man’s rule over Nature is now generally accepted: moral philosophers and public opinion agree that it is morally impermissible to be cruel to animals. And by this they mean not only that it is wrong to enjoy torturing animals—which few moralists would ever have wished explicitly to deny, however little emphasis they might have placed on cruelty to animals in their moral teaching—but that it is wrong to cause them to suffer unnecessarily. “The Puritan,” Macaulay once wrote with condemnatory intent, “hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.” In other words, what they hated—and by no means perversely—was the enjoyment of animal suffering; to the mere fact that the bears suffered as a consequence of human action they were indifferent. That, on the whole, is the Christian tradition. But now the situation has changed; not only cruelty—the enjoyment of animal suffering—but callousness, indifference to animal suffering, not taking it into account in deciding how one ought to act, is morally condemned.

Controversies no doubt remain. But they now turn around the question what is to count as “making animals suffer unnecessarily,” whether, for example, vivisection or fox-hunting are, in these terms, morally justifiable. By looking in some detail at the way in which the general moral principle that it is wrong to act callously has gradually won acceptance, we can hope to see revealed, first, how reluctantly Western man has accepted any restriction whatsoever on his supposed right to deal as he pleases with Nature and, secondly, how changes in his moral outlook have nevertheless come about.

(John Passmore, “The Treatment of Animals,” Journal of the History of Ideas 36 [April-June 1975]: 195-218, at 195 [italics in original; footnotes omitted])

Safire on Language



Here is a scene from yesterday’s stage of the Giro d’Italia. Here is today’s inhuman stage. Now you know why there is pressure to take performance-enhancing drugs!