Friday, 6 June 2008

From the Mailbag


I have another good question for you. [My father-in-law] just died a few weeks ago of a massive heart attack. It has been a very difficult process to get through to say the least, but one of the concerns I have is that my son is using the word god in context now. He has heard the term a lot and I think sitting in the funeral home listening to the preacher talk has filled his mind. He asks me questions about god and I am having a difficult time answering them. What do you suggest? He is only 4 years old. It is hard to tell the kid what I want, since I am not sure whether there is a god or not.


Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) on Deliberation

When in the mind of man, Appetites, and Aversions, Hopes, and Feares, concerning one and the same thing, arise alternately; and divers good and evill consequences of the doing, or omitting the thing propounded, come successively into our thoughts; so that sometimes we have an Appetite to it; sometimes an Aversion from it; sometimes Hope to be able to do it; sometimes Despaire, or Feare to attempt it; the whole summe of Desires, Aversions, Hopes and Fears, continued till the thing be either done, or thought impossible, is that we call DELIBERATION.

Therefore of things past, there is no Deliberation; because manifestly impossible to be changed: nor of things known to be impossible, or thought so; because men know, or think such Deliberation vain. But of things impossible, which we think possible, we may Deliberate; not knowing it is in vain. And it is called Deliberation; because it is a putting an end to the Liberty we had of doing, or omitting, according to our own Appetite, or Aversion.

This alternate Succession of Appetites, Aversions, Hopes and Fears, is no lesse in other living Creatures then [sic] in Man: and therefore Beasts also Deliberate.

Every Deliberation is then sayd to End, when that whereof they Deliberate, is either done, or thought impossible; because till then wee retain the liberty of doing, or omitting, according to our Appetite, or Aversion.

In Deliberation, the last Appetite, or Aversion, immediately adhaering to the action, or to the omission thereof, is that wee call the WILL; the Act, (not the faculty,) of Willing. And Beasts that have Deliberation, must necessarily also have Will. The Definition of the Will, given commonly by the Schooles, that it is a Rationall Appetite, is not good. For if it were, then could there be no Voluntary Act against Reason. For a Voluntary Act is that, which proceedeth from the Will, and no other. But if in stead of a Rationall Appetite, we shall say an Appetite resulting from a precedent Deliberation, then the Definition is the same that I have given here. Will therefore is the last Appetite in Deliberating.

(Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, rev. student ed., ed. Richard Tuck, Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, ed. Raymond Geuss and Quentin Skinner [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996], chap. 6, pp. 44-5 [italics in original] [first published in 1651])

Politics, Part 2

There is much bitterness in Hillaryland. See here. My favorite part: “Obama is not qualifed [sic] and lacks the judgment to be president.”


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

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “It’s Over. Now It Begins” (editorial, June 5):

Presidential campaigns are usually more simple than we care to admit: Conservative versus liberal. Experience versus inexperience. Character versus lack of character. And then there is the backdrop to the election. When Bill Clinton ran, it was the economy, stupid. When George W. Bush ran a second time, it was 9/11.

Now, we have lived through many years of an unpopular war brought on by half-truths and lies and then executed poorly, a seemingly uncaring and incompetent government response to the Katrina disaster, and an economy marred by home mortgage foreclosures and raging fuel prices. There will be debates over policies and plans, but what presidents really bring to the table is leadership, hope, confidence and pride and the judgment to surround themselves with first-rate advisers.

Barack Obama exhibits all of these qualities, not to mention an eloquence that we have not heard in many years.

It was a tough primary for those of us who wanted change from the present administration. Two good, intelligent and capable candidates. But even Hillary Rodham Clinton’s supporters must acknowledge that Barack Obama may be a special candidate, well suited to these times. Mrs. Clinton would do the right thing by throwing her full support behind Senator Obama. Senator Obama should try to remain himself. He is a formidable package.

Bruce Neuman
Sag Harbor, N.Y., June 5, 2008

Note from KBJ: I see that the “Bush lied” meme is alive and well. Evidence, please. First, quote President Bush, citing details of time and place. Second, provide evidence that he believed that what he was saying was false. Not that it was false, but that he believed it to be false. Third, provide evidence that he intended thereby to deceive. If you can’t do these things, then you have no business making scurrilous accusations of mendacity. For the record, I’ve been paying close attention to President Bush for 13 years (he was my governor before he was my president). I have no reason to believe that he has lied about anything, much less about something as important as the war in Iraq.

A Year Ago


Animal Ethics

Here is Mylan Engel’s latest post.


The average wind speed at DFW Airport the past five days has been 12.7, 15.8, 22.1, 25.6, and 28.3 miles per hour. The maximum speed on those days has been 21, 25, 32, 36, and 40 miles per hour. I haven’t seen it this windy in a long time, if ever. Yesterday evening, while walking Shelbie near the middle school, the entire neighborhood, including the school and the street lights, went dark. The power had gone out several times during the previous two days, but only for a few seconds each time; so I wasn’t concerned. By the time we got back to our house, the power was on. Many of my neighbors had gone outside during the outage, probably to see whether other houses besides their own had lost power. It was strange seeing nothing but blackness in the neighborhood. I felt as though I were on Mica Mountain (near Tucson), which is both dark and deathly quiet.


Now that we have two presumptive nominees for president, let’s take a look at their ages. Barack Obama was born on 4 August 1961, so he will be 47 years old on inauguration day 2009. He will be 51 on inauguration day 2013. John McCain was born on 29 August 1936, so he will be 72 years old on inauguration day 2009. He will be 76 on inauguration day 2013. I always thought Ronald Reagan was too old to be president, but he was “only” 69 when he took office in January 1981. (He was within a month of being 70.) He was 73 (almost 74) when he took office the second time. How many of you are concerned about McCain’s age? I don’t care how healthy he looks. I’m worried about his mental state.