Friday, 30 May 2008

Global Warmism

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Charles Krauthammer.

Cycling, Part 2

Here is a New York Times story about bike rallies. As my late colleague Denny would say, “Kewl.”

Five Hundred Seventy-Seven Years Ago

Nineteen-year-old Joan of Arc is burned at the stake.

Twenty Years Ago

5-30-88 . . . President [Ronald] Reagan is in Moscow to meet with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, ostensibly to sign an arms-control treaty, but really to reap the glory of their respective citizens. Naturally, the media have made it into a spectacle. Each evening, on the news, there are reports about the men, the women, and the Russian people. “The women” are Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev, who have been visiting art museums and other attractions while their husbands do the work of state. It’s sickening to see them do these trivial things, for it sends a message to the children of the world that men do important things and women do frivolous things—that women are mere appendages of their husbands and exist for their pleasure and accompaniment only. Nancy Reagan has assiduously cultivated this image; she exults in her role as wife and helper. Raisa Gorbachev, on the other hand, is highly educated, but still appears to be the loyal, loving wife. That, too, sends a bad signal. It tells children that even well-educated, highly motivated women must play second fiddle to their husbands.


Joe Queenan always makes me laugh. The world needs more laughter and less slaughter.


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia. Here is tomorrow’s horrific stage. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’d want to climb something called Passo del Mortirolo.

A Year Ago



Here is Peggy Noonan’s latest column. Here is Peg Kaplan’s latest post.

Addendum: Does the Wall Street Journal have editors? This sentence is a travesty: “The right will—already has—pummel him for disloyalty.”


A person is known by the company he or she keeps. Check out the company Barack Obama keeps.


The Colorado Rockies blew an 8-0 lead today, losing to the Chicago Cubs, 10-9. The Rockies have now, officially, hit rock bottom. As for the Cubbies, break ’em up!

Animal Ethics

Here is my latest post.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Doctors Who Say They’re Sorry” (editorial, May 22):

Doctors and hospitals should be encouraged to be honest with their patients. But it is certainly not in the public interest to create laws that could be used to grant medical professionals immunity from true confessions of misconduct or gross negligence.

Your editorial correctly noted that claims, lawsuits and legal costs fell by two-thirds at the University of Michigan Health System, which has a full disclosure policy. But to be fair, it should also be reported that the State of Michigan has no law that makes apologies for medical errors inadmissible in court. Michigan doesn’t need such a law and neither does New York.

Honesty is the best policy. It is a shame that many doctors and hospitals want a legal shield as a precondition for living up to their ethical and professional responsibilities.

Jeff S. Korek
New York, May 28, 2008
The writer is president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.

Note from KBJ: If apologies are admissible in court, there won’t be any apologies, heartfelt or otherwise. So if we want heartfelt apologies, we must make apologies (heartfelt and otherwise) inadmissible in court.

Noël O’Sullivan on Michael Oakeshott’s Ideal of Liberation

The final reason I shall give for reading Oakeshott concerns an ideal of liberation which links his philosophy to his personal life. By liberation I mean here something more general than civil and political liberation: what is involved is an almost existentialist conception of life as the endless task of striving to acquire a distinctive self of one’s own, not by rejecting the cultural tradition from which one comes, but by critical self-immersion in it. In this process, the secret of making liberation a positive experience, rather than an alienating one, is always to maintain an active rather than a passive identity. I think Oakeshott would have agreed in this respect with Spinoza, who said that all joyful thoughts and passions are active ones, and all unhappy thoughts and passions are passive ones. The art of life is thus to maintain the primacy of the active over the passive.

When this ideal of liberation is borne in mind it is possible to understand the note of profound disillusion with contemporary Western life in Oakeshott’s later work. What has happened, he believed, is that modern mass democracies have forgotten that civilized life requires us to combine two different identities. One identity is the natural one which we all possess in so far as we are moved by our needs, wants and desires. This is our given or passive identity.

The other identity we possess, potentially at least, is a moral and civil one. This moral identity is an active one: it relates, not to the natural order of desire, but to our ability to construct a set of limits or, as Oakeshott called them, “compunctions,” which we freely impose on the ways in which we satisfy our desires.

What has happened, on Oakeshott’s view, is that we have increasingly tended to forget the need for this second, active identity and to think only of the first, passive identity: we have become, that is, Faustian beings who mainly want to indulge our desires, and our culture has become, accordingly, a culture of gratification. Liberation, in a word, has now become almost exclusively associated with wanting and having.

(Noël O’Sullivan, “Why Read Oakeshott?” Society 39 [March/April 2002]: 71-4, at 73-4)