Wednesday, 11 June 2008


It amuses me that so many people care how the United States is viewed by foreigners. I don’t care one bit how foreigners view us. Americans always have been and always will be a special people, morally, legally, and in every other way. We have nothing to learn from anyone else, especially Europeans. As for Canadians, they’re morally retarded. See here.


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Dauphiné Libéré. Here is tomorrow’s stage.


Here is a column by Victor Davis Hanson.

Baseball Notes

1. I was telling my friend Jeff a few minutes ago (by e-mail) that baseball has been my life for more than 40 years. I have gone to sleep in disgust many times over the years on account of a baseball game, usually one involving the Detroit Tigers or the Texas Rangers. When they win, I sleep soundly. When they lose, I toss and turn. Each morning, as soon as I awaken, I think ahead to the day’s or night’s games and make mental notes about the match-ups, the times, and the channels. During the day, as I go about my business in the house, I glance at the clock and say (to Shelbie), “Three hours until the Ranger game.” When the World Series ends, there is a void in my life. I fill it with other things, obviously, but that doesn’t mean there’s no void. Each spring, life begins anew. You can see why I’m single. Who would put up with a man (a boy) who is in love with a game?

2. Josh Hamilton is in a slump. Nobody on the television crew or in the local newspapers will say it, but I will. Josh is going to break out of his slump with a vengeance this evening in Kansas City. Prediction: He will hit for the cycle and drive in six runs. The Rangers win, 12-2.

3. I see that there’s a legal squabble over the Ken Griffey 600th home-run ball. A man claims it was taken from him after he had it in his possession. Part of the blame for this sorry state of affairs belongs to vain players who want balls for their collections. Why isn’t it enough for players to keep the bats with which they hit these home runs? Forget about the balls. This change won’t destroy the value of the balls, since fans will still want them, but it might reduce their value, since at least one wealthy person (the player) won’t join the bidding.

4. What do you like and dislike about baseball? Please don’t say that it’s boring. Is chess boring? Is physics boring? Is bridge boring? Is soccer boring? (Actually, soccer is boring.) Boredom is a sign that one has not taken the time to understand the thing, and that’s a reflection on you, not on the thing.

5. Here is a tribute to the greatest player in the history of baseball.


My mother says these are good. Anyone had any?

Blogs, Blogging, and the Blogosphere

This blog has an average of over 800 visits per day. It was higher until about a year ago, when Michelle Malkin reconfigured her website to hide her blogroll. On the face of it, it’s absurd that anyone would visit this blog, much less that 800 people per day (some more than once, perhaps) would do so. In general, what reasons are there for using one’s scarce time to visit a blog? The following come to mind:

1. Entertainment. Just as (most) people enjoy hanging around with those who are funny, people gravitate to entertaining blogs. I don’t think of myself as an entertainer, and most of what I post on my blog isn’t entertaining in any straightforward sense, so I doubt that many people come here for this reason. But I may be wrong.

2. Interest. People are interested in different things. Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows what interests me: baseball, cycling, running, music, philosophy, politics, religion, animals, and science. But lots of people write about these things; so why would someone come here for it? Perhaps I bring an unusual perspective to the things I write about. It doesn’t seem to me that I do, but perhaps others think differently.

3. Craftsmanship. Some people are sloppy and some aren’t. Since a blog is a written medium, those who appreciate good writing gravitate to well-written blogs. I confess to taking pains to write well, although I don’t always succeed. I also care about such things as grammar, punctuation, and style. This reason probably supplements some other reason, because I can’t believe anyone would visit this blog just to see well-written posts about (say) politics, if he or she isn’t interested in (or entertained by) politics.

Life is short. There’s not enough time to read everything, or even a lot. Therefore, one must be selective. I know that I’m “competing” against many other blogs, not to mention news sites. That you come here more than once indicates that you find something of value here. As for me, I would probably keep this blog even if nobody read it. After all, I kept a journal for many years knowing that nobody but my children (if any) would ever read it. I write, therefore I am.


Here is your entertainment for this Wednesday evening. Have you ever heard such an angelic voice?


What’re y’all readin’? I spend every morning at my desk, immersed in philosophy, with coffee at my side and classical music filling my study. Yes, I know, you envy me. So be it.

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

I was surprised to read that scientists are panicked that groups are advocating that public schools teach and discuss the strengths and weakness behind the theory of evolution.

Quite frankly, I thought this is what scientists were supposed to do, and I thought this is what we want our youth to do during the educational process.

Our body of scientific knowledge grows because scientists continue to explore, examine and research the weaknesses and strengths of all scientific theories. This was Albert Einstein’s brilliance, questioning and probing the prevailing beliefs of theoretical physics to prove them correct or to correct their errors.

Any scientist who is afraid of an honest, open discussion and exploration of the weaknesses and strengths on any scientific theory is not a good scientist and should be barred from academic research.

Unfortunately, we are living in an era where the scientific community is not open to allowing individuals to question the prevailing theories of evolution. We will all lose if this attitude prevails.

Linn Howard
Pittsburgh, June 4, 2008

Note from KBJ: It’s mind-boggling how insecure scientists are. They could and should view this as a wonderful teaching moment. They can teach students the criteria that distinguish science from other human activities, institutions, and practices. They can teach students what a theory is, both in general and within science. They can teach students the criteria that distinguish good scientific theories from bad or indifferent scientific theories. Having done all this, they can make a case for the superiority of Darwinian natural selection to Design Theory. Let the students hear all this and decide for themselves. What are the scientists afraid of?

Curro Ergo Sum

I’ve been running a lot, despite the awful heat and humidity. (It was 90.5º Fahrenheit when I got back from today’s run.) I ran 3.1 miles Friday, 3.1 Monday, 4.3 Tuesday, and 3.1 today. I rode my bike Saturday and took Sunday off. I have tricolor legs. The bottom third of each leg is dark, since it gets sun both while running and while riding. The middle third is lighter, since it gets sun only while running. The top third is white, since it gets no sun. Years ago, seconds after I finished a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) footrace in Dallas, the woman taking numbers said, “You must be a tennis player.” I was puzzled. Then I realized she was referring to my funny-looking legs. “Oh, that,” I said, laughing. “Cycling.”

Hall of Fame?

Shawon Dunston. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)

Joel Feinberg (1926-2004) on Animal Rights

So far McCloskey is on solid ground, but one can quarrel with his denial that any animals but humans have interests. I should think that the trustee of funds willed to a dog or cat is more than a mere custodian of the animal he protects. Rather his job is to look out for the interests of the animal and make sure no one denies it its due. The animal itself is the beneficiary of his dutiful services. Many of the higher animals at least have appetites, conative urges, and rudimentary purposes, the integrated satisfaction of which constitutes their welfare or good. We can, of course, with consistency treat animals as mere pests and deny that they have any rights; for most animals, especially those of the lower orders, we have no choice but to do so. But it seems to me, nevertheless, that in general, animals are among the sorts of beings of whom rights can meaningfully be predicated and denied.

Now, if a person agrees with the conclusion of the argument thus far, that animals are the sorts of beings that can have rights, and further, if he accepts the moral judgment that we ought to be kind to animals, only one further premise is needed to yield the conclusion that some animals do in fact have rights. We must now ask ourselves for whose sake ought we to treat (some) animals with consideration and humaneness? If we conceive our duty to be one of obedience to authority, or to one’s own conscience merely, or one of consideration for tender human sensibilities only, then we might still deny that animals have rights, even though we admit that they are the kinds of beings that can have rights. But if we hold not only that we ought to treat animals humanely but also that we should do so for the animals’ own sake, that such treatment is something we owe animals as their due, something that can be claimed for them, something the withholding of which would be an injustice and a wrong, and not merely a harm, then it follows that we do ascribe rights to animals. I suspect that the moral judgments most of us make about animals do pass these phenomenological tests, so that most of us do believe that animals have rights, but are reluctant to say so because of the conceptual confusions about the notion of a right that I have attempted to dispel above.

(Joel Feinberg, “The Rights of Animals and Unborn Generations,” chap. 8 in his Rights, Justice, and the Bounds of Liberty: Essays in Social Philosophy [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980], 159-84, at 166-7 [italics in original] [essay first published in 1974])

Military History

Reading this essay this morning (I have the print edition) both saddened and angered me. What could be more interesting or important than the academic study of military history? And yet, it is being marginalized by history departments and historical periodicals all over this great country. Students are given ample opportunity to study sex, race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality, from every conceivable point of view (including historical), but are left oblivious to the history of military institutions and practices. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to be an academic.

From the Mailbag

Hey, Keith, I have a question for you. Often when I run into liberals and we argue about gay marriage, they try and act like marriage is some sort of undefined entity that’s just being hammered out now, as if it simply burst forth from Zeus’ head wholly formed, without a long historical context. For instance, when pointing out that marriage is between a man and a woman, they respond that this is just one subset of marriage, and that we’re unnecessarily using a narrow definition. What do you say to that? I think they are just blinding themselves to the history of marriage on purpose so as to be able to continue the argument, but if I want to continue the conversation I have to be able to show them that they are wrong somehow. I was wondering how you would distinguish between marriage and heterosexual marriage, if at all?

Note from KBJ: Your friend is confusing marriage with friendship. The raison d’être of marriage is the production and rearing of children. It is a bundle of legal rights and responsibilities designed to promote those ends.