Thursday, 12 June 2008

Blame the Media

I leave you this fine evening with a New York Times story about Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign for the Democrat nomination. What feminists mean when they say that Clinton’s sex hurt her is that it didn’t help her as much as they thought it would. They want people to be able to vote for her, but not against her, because she’s a woman. Both are sexist, not just the latter. What this story proves is that feminists are whiners. Clinton should take defeat like a man and stop scapegoating the media.


Here is a New York Times story about baseball bats. Now that I think about it, there do seem to be more broken bats than in years past. Have you noticed an increase?


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Dauphiné Libéré. Here is another. Do you see why I love cycling? It’s the most beautiful sport in the world, and also the most difficult. Here is tomorrow’s stage.


Would somebody help me with a PowerPoint file? It took me an hour to make this. Unfortunately, it’s too small to be read. How can I make it bigger, i.e., readable on the screen? If you need the actual file, I can e-mail it to you.

Addendum: Steve Walsh, whom I have teased mercilessly for his love of soccer and the Boston Red Sox, helped me. Here is my latest version. Thanks, Steve!

A Year Ago



Everyone with good musical taste says that this is the best song ever made. Who are the people with good musical taste? Why, those who say that this is the best song ever made!

A Modest Proposal

Americans and Canadians share a continent, but that’s about it. Their cultures, legal and otherwise, are very different. Let’s do this. If you like the way Canada does things, either stay there or move there. If you like the way Americans do things, either stay here or move here. Canada will be a place of multiculturalism, political correctness, welfare-state egalitarianism, feminism, and pacifism. The United States will be a place of robust self-sufficiency, personal responsibility, competition, individual liberty, and market economics. We might have to build a border between the countries afterward, but at least there would be happiness in each. What do you think?

Addendum: We get Rush, Saga, and April Wine. Canada gets hockey back and has to keep Neil Young.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

It isn’t often that I agree with David Brooks, but “The Great Seduction” (column, June 10) was at least the beginning of a conversation in which America desperately needs to engage.

His litany of responsibility for our culture’s chronic indebtedness, however, barely hints at the extent to which the commodification of everything inhabits our lives in this free-market paradise.

Our entire economy is founded on mindless and infinite consumption—the more mindless the better. It’s the American credo: I consume, therefore I am. Why else do TV and radio (and, increasingly, the Internet) exist except to sell us more of anything and everything?

What does Mr. Brooks think will happen to this economy if Americans suddenly decide to embrace Ben Franklin’s virtues of hard work, temperance and particularly frugality, and stop roaming the malls? One thing for sure, with the way the free-market purists have turned everything from political representation to health care to spiritual redemption into mere vendibles, they won’t be pleased with him for pushing this particular line of inquiry.

Mr. Brooks could be expelled from Club Neocapitalism if he doesn’t watch out, and it will cost him a pretty penny to buy his way back in.

Stephen Lehman
St. Paul, June 10, 2008

Note from KBJ: I’m a firm believer that people have a right to be stupid. If you want to go into debt to buy toys, fine; but don’t come running to me when the costs of your decisions start to hurt.

Twenty Years Ago Yesterday

6-11-88 . . . Westerners have long known that in the Soviet Union, great liberties are taken with history. Today there was a newspaper story about it. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, whose policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) promise to reshape Russian society, has announced that there will be a massive rewriting of Soviet history. Currently, there is little or no emphasis on the Stalinist purges that occurred before World War II. Soviet citizens simply don’t hear about it, either in school or in the popular press. Those who talk or write about it are sent to mental institutions or otherwise made to clam up. As an historian, I welcome this new openness. A people should be conscious of its own history, however revulsive or unattractive it may be. And I can say this without abandoning my view that history is a form of interpretation. Every age must (and should) rewrite its history in light of concepts that it finds meaningful and illuminating. But it’s one thing to interpret a set of events in light of current concepts; it’s quite another to invent or ignore events, which is apparently what the Soviets have been doing. Though I’m not interested in Soviet history myself, I expect others to join in and improve it.

J. W. N. Watkins on Moral Conservatism

Once an hypothesis has somehow got accepted into the body of science it should not be ejected without reason. By analogy, a person’s moral standards, and those standards of his society which are not at present under fire, though unjustified, should not be discarded without reason. Here, too, the onus is on the critic and the reformer to give us reasons for modifying them.

(J. W. N. Watkins, “Negative Utilitarianism,” The Aristotelian Society, supplementary volume 37 [1963]: 95-114, at 104)