Thursday, 5 June 2008

“A Reflection of a Reflection”

I leave you this fine evening with a column by George Will.

Twenty Years Ago

6-5-88 Sunday. I rose early (six o’clock) to watch the men’s finals of the French Open tennis tournament. Mats Wilander, a Swede, beat Henri Leconte, a Frenchman, in three sets for the title. Yesterday, Steffi Graf of West Germany beat an unheralded Russian player to win the women’s title. Although I rarely play tennis (the last time was with Rob McLean in the spring of 1987), I enjoy watching it. I especially enjoy the major tournaments, because this is where the most is at stake for the players. Wilander has now won both the Australian Open and the French Open, the first two of the four Grand Slam events. Next on his agenda is Wimbledon, which, in my mind, is the biggest and most prestigious tennis tournament of all. But Ivan Lendl will be ready for that one, and John McEnroe will be back for the first time since 1985. He dropped out of tennis for a couple of years and is trying to regain his championship form. Martina Navratilova, who was upset by the Russian whom Steffi Graf beat, will be trying for her ninth Wimbledon singles title.

I set out on my bike this afternoon not knowing the route I’d take. I decided to ride over the Tucson Mountains on Picture Rocks Road. From there, I could either turn north and head for Frontage Road, turn south and ride to Ajo Highway, or turn south and come back through Gates Pass. I ended up doing the latter, in part because I was tired and in part because I wanted to experience Gates Pass from the west again. The wind was strong, as usual, though this time it came from the southwest rather than the northwest. To show you how strong the wind was, I saw an empty beverage can rolling uphill on a steep grade. I just shook my head in wonder. Gates Pass was as difficult this time as it was before. I put my bike in its lowest gear and chugged away. It’s intense near the top, but I refused to stop and rest. Vehicles passed me on the steep, winding road. Coming down, however, was a different story. I didn’t have to pedal for several miles. All told, I rode 60.1 miles in 101-degree [Fahrenheit] heat. My average speed was a disappointing 13.74 miles per hour, but I achieved a top speed of thirty-nine miles per hour (my highest since 31 May 1987, over a year ago). I’ve now pedalled [sic; should be “pedaled”] 8109.9 miles in the past three years, for an average of 2703.3 miles per year. I’ve ridden 3115.9 miles in the past year.

There was a movie a few years back entitled “Mr Mom”. I didn’t see it, but I understand that it was about a man who stayed home while his wife pursued a career. He kept the house clean, prepared meals, and watched the children. I was wondering the other day why the producers didn’t call it “Dad”. If there were no distinction in roles for mothers and fathers, the phrase “Mr Mom” would be equivalent to “Dad”. This shows that the concept of a mother has more built into it than being the female parent of offspring. Mothers are those who stay home, cook, clean, and in general take care of others. Fathers are those who go out, earn money, and wield authority. It is only in this context that the title “Mr Mom” could make sense. It connotes a male parent (that is, a father) who plays the role of a female parent (that is, a mother).

“Painfully Inadequate Candidates”

Here is Thomas Sowell’s latest column. It’s shocking that in this country of 304 million people, we must choose between Barack Obama and John McCain.

Baseball, Part 2

Chipper Jones is out of his frickin’ mind.

Homosexual “Marriage”

Theology professor R. R. Reno is always worth your time.


Memo to men: This is how your mother dressed you when you were a tyke. Grow up.

A Year Ago



The most dishonest newspaper of modern times calls President Bush’s presidency “the most disastrous . . . of modern times.” Don’t you love it?

Addendum: This paragraph takes the cake for disingenuousness:

Mr. McCain has used the time since he clinched the Republican nomination to set the table for the fall campaign and to pin false labels on Mr. Obama: wild-eyed liberal, appeaser of terrorists. After seven years of divisiveness and failure, the country doesn’t need more name-calling. It needs a higher-toned and far more substantive campaign.

Has the editorial board ever criticized those who call President Bush a liar, liken him to Adolf Hitler, or hope for his assassination? And what’s wrong with calling someone a liberal? If calling someone a liberal is name-calling, then nothing is not name-calling. As for appeasement of terrorists, the following is from Barack Obama’s website:


The Problem: Iran has sought nuclear weapons, supports militias inside Iraq and terror across the region, and its leaders threaten Israel and deny the Holocaust. But Obama believes that we have not exhausted our non-military options in confronting this threat; in many ways, we have yet to try them. That’s why Obama stood up to the Bush administration’s warnings of war, just like he stood up to the war in Iraq.

Opposed Bush-Cheney Saber Rattling: Obama opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which says we should use our military presence in Iraq to counter the threat from Iran. Obama believes that it was reckless for Congress to give George Bush any justification to extend the Iraq War or to attack Iran. Obama also introduced a resolution in the Senate declaring that no act of Congress—including Kyl-Lieberman—gives the Bush administration authorization to attack Iran.

Diplomacy: Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior. Obama would offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress.

You decide whether he’s an appeaser of terrorists.


I eat at Subway twice a week. What a difference there is between being served by the proprietor of the place and being served by one of his employees! The proprietor is enthusiastic; the employees are sullen. The proprietor moves quickly; the employees are lethargic. The proprietor seems delighted by your presence; the employees seem put off, as though they think of you as “more work.” What can be done to change this, for surely it’s not good for the proprietor to have such deadening employees? Perhaps paying the employees by the number of customers they serve, instead of by the hour, would do the trick. In other words, give them a stake in the success of the franchise. Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon? (Don’t get me started on the U.S. Postal Service.)


If this isn’t the best album ever made, then Canada isn’t a frozen wasteland.

Addendum: Here is a live version of “Future Tense.”

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “After Grueling Battle, Obama Claims Nomination” (front page, June 4):

The nomination of Barack Obama by the Democratic Party is truly a historic moment. For those, like me, who can remember the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, school integration battles in Little Rock, Ark., the sit-ins in Greensboro, N.C., the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington and the Voting Rights Act, it is absolutely amazing.

All Americans—black and white, men and women, Northerners and Southerners—should pause along with the candidate to reflect on the significance of this event. It marks yet another major step in the redemption of America’s soul from its dark legacy of slavery and Jim Crow bigotry, and its fulfillment of, as Mr. Obama often says, hope for a better life for all.

Paul M. Wortman
East Setauket, N.Y., June 4, 2008

Note from KBJ: Just think how stoked the letter writer will be when a black person is nominated for president.

John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, Paragraph 46

I had now also begun to converse, on general subjects, with the instructed men with whom I came in contact: and the opportunities of such contact naturally became more numerous. The two friends of my father from whom I derived most, and with whom I most associated, were Mr. Grote and Mr. John Austin. The acquaintance of both with my father was recent, but had ripened rapidly into intimacy. Mr. Grote was introduced to my father by Mr. Ricardo, I think in 1819, (being then about twenty-five years old), and sought assiduously his society and conversation. Already a highly instructed man, he was yet, by the side of my father, a tyro on the great subjects of human opinion; but he rapidly seized on my father’s best ideas; and in the department of political opinion he made himself known as early as 1820, by a pamphlet in defence of Radical Reform, in reply to a celebrated article by Sir James Mackintosh, then lately published in the Edinburgh Review. Mr. Grote’s father, the banker, was, I believe, a thorough Tory, and his mother intensely Evangelical; so that for his liberal opinions he was in no way indebted to home influences. But, unlike most persons who have the prospect of being rich by inheritance, he had, though actively engaged in the business of banking, devoted a great portion of time to philosophic studies; and his intimacy with my father did much to decide the character of the next stage in his mental progress. Him I often visited, and my conversations with him on political, moral, and philosophical subjects gave me, in addition to much valuable instruction, all the pleasure and benefit of sympathetic communion with a man of the high intellectual and moral eminence which his life and writings have since manifested to the world.

Note from KBJ: Grote was 11½ years Mill’s senior. In 1819, when Grote met Mill’s father, Grote was 25 and young John a mere 13.


I have good news and bad news, at least for fans of the Texas Rangers. The good news is that the Rangers have scored 38 runs in their past four games. That’s an average of 9½ runs per game. The bad news is that the Rangers have given up 48 runs in their past four games. That’s an average of 12 runs per game. You would think that the Rangers would have won at least two of the games. You would be wrong. They lost three of the four, by scores of 13-8, 13-9, and 15-9. They won by a score of 12-7. I was in attendance yesterday evening with my friend Hawk and his daughter Holli. We sat in our usual spot: directly behind home plate, at the very top of the ballpark. The wind was vicious all evening. The average wind speed yesterday at DFW Airport was 25.6 miles per hour. The maximum speed was 36 miles per hour. The high temperature for the day was 97º Fahrenheit. I know that’s high, but we were under an awning, so the sun never beat down on us. Once the sun set, at about 8:30, it was quite pleasant. Holli had a great time making airplanes out of All-Star ballots. I told her that it was sacrilegious to do that, but she ignored me.

Addendum: Hawk bought the tickets, since I purchased the Subway sandwiches and paid for parking. We sit in section 326 of the ballpark. Hawk requested seats in section 339, which is at the same height but in right field instead of behind home plate. As we walked through the turnstile, I asked why. He told me it was cheaper. Instead of paying $33 for three seats, he paid $15. Hawk knows that I teach Ethics, so he asked whether he done wrong. What do you think? (I might point out, in case it’s relevant, that the ballpark was less than half full. There were few people in the nosebleed section with us—which is, of course, why we sit there.)