Thursday, 3 July 2008


I leave you this fine evening with an essay by Matthew Rothschild. Have a safe, enjoyable Independence Day!

Twenty Years Ago

7-3-88 Sunday. I learned early this morning that a United States naval vessel shot down an Iranian passenger plane in the Persian Gulf. Our navy has been in the gulf for several months, ostensibly as a peace-keeping force, but actually to protect our oil interests. Iran and Iraq are engaged in a long-running war, and Iran has vowed to destroy the United States. “Death to the Great Satan” is their rallying cry. (We’re “Satan”.) Anyway, the Iranian passenger plane had 290 civilians aboard; all were killed. The commander of the naval vessel claims that the airplane was offcourse [sic] and heading directly for his ship at over 500 miles per hour. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I don’t rule out the possibility that the Iranian government ordered this. It can benefit tremendously by making the United States look bad, and what better way to do this than to make us out as baby-killers? Iranians have demonstrated repeatedly that they are willing and able to die for the love of Allah; they are willing to become martyrs for the cause of Islam. Of course, I have no evidence for my suggestion of a suicide mission; I’m just speculating. I don’t think our navy should be in the Persian Gulf at all.

Like yesterday, I rose at six o’clock sharp to watch Wimbledon tennis. It was raining in London, however, so I went back to bed to await the start of the match. It got started later in the day, but again the rains came and it was postponed until tomorrow. It’s early in the first set. Later, I watched a CBS special on this year’s Tour de France bicycle race, which beings [sic; should be “begins”] tomorrow and ends on 24 July. The race course changes each year; this year it’s much shorter than last year, both distance-wise and in terms of the number of racing days. Last year’s individual winner, Stephen Roche of Ireland, is not participating because of a nagging knee injury. Nor is the 1986 winner, Greg LeMond of the United States. Although recovered from an accidental shooting in late 1986, LeMond has had leg problems. So this year’s race is up in the air, so to speak. The leading American rider is Andrew Hampsten, who won the Tour of Italy a few weeks ago. I wish I were in France to watch the race, if not to participate. These are the best athletes in the world, bar none, and the setting—rural, mountainous France—could not be better.


With all due respect to the editorial-board members of the New York Times, they are dolts. Read this. Almost no attention is paid to what the law is or what the Constitution says. Everything comes down to results. If the board likes a particular result, it praises the majority. If the board dislikes a particular result, it chastises the majority. To the board, the Supreme Court is composed of philosopher-kings rather than lawyers, and the Constitution is to be ignored when it stands in the way of “progress.”

Curro Ergo Sum

Running is hard enough as it is. It’s doubly or triply hard when it’s hot and humid. Here is a New York Times story about the effect of heat on athletic performance.

Academia, Part 2

Here is a New York Times story about the politicization of academia. When you politicize something, whether it’s law, art, sport, religion, science, sex, education, or the workplace, you destroy it.


Poor Barack Obama! He can’t win the general election without tacking to the center on issues such as the war in Iraq, and he can’t win the general election if he tacks to the center, for it will antagonize his moonbat supporters. Expect many of the moonbats to vote for Ralph Nader this fall.


This is the best car-chase scene in film history. Watch the whole thing. You’ll be sweating, shaking, and screaming by the time it’s over.


Here is your entertainment for this Thursday evening.

“A Hypocrite and a Fraud”

Do as I say, not as I do!

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

In “Obama’s Money Class” (column, July 1), David Brooks makes some predictions about a Barack Obama presidency. I am decidedly not frightened by them.

Mr. Brooks suggests that Mr. Obama would be beholden to special interests, but the supporters he lists include doctors, lawyers, bankers, teachers, information workers—virtually all professionals. I am not afraid of being governed by those who know how to do things.

Mr. Brooks notes that many of these wealthy donors were indoctrinated at “left-leaning universities.” But these are intelligent people voting against economic self-interest. I am not afraid of being governed by people willing to pay out of their own pockets for good government.

And he predicts that “this highly educated class will have much more to say over policy.” Good. It’s about time we were governed by the educated.

David Berman
New York, July 1, 2008

Note from KBJ: I’m confused. Who out there doesn’t “know how to do things”? Entrepreneurs? Corporate managers? Who provides the food for Mr Berman’s table? Who produces the gasoline for his automobile? Who manufactures the materials for his house? Who makes his clothing? Who provides his medical equipment and prescription drugs? As for being “governed by the educated,” I can’t think of a worse nightmare.

Note 2 from KBJ: Why are progressives puzzled when poor or working-class Americans “vote against self-interest,” but not the least bit puzzled when wealthy people do the same?

All Fred, All the Time

Here is what Fred Thompson said at this morning’s National Right to Life Conference. How many of you would like to transplant Fred’s brain into John McCain’s body?

John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, Paragraph 49

It was in the winter of 1822–3 that I formed the plan of a little society, to be composed of young men agreeing in fundamental principles—acknowledging Utility as their standard in ethics and politics, and a certain number of the principal corollaries drawn from it in the philosophy I had accepted—and meeting once a fortnight to read essays and discuss questions conformably to the premises thus agreed on. The fact would hardly be worth mentioning, but for the circumstance, that the name I gave to the society I had planned was the Utilitarian Society. It was the first time that any one had taken the title of Utilitarian; and the term made its way into the language from this humble source. I did not invent the word, but found it in one of Galt’s novels, the “Annals of the Parish,” in which the Scotch clergyman, of whom the book is a supposed autobiography, is represented as warning his parishioners not to leave the Gospel and become utilitarians. With a boy’s fondness for a name and a banner I seized on the word, and for some years called myself and others by it as a sectarian appellation; and it came to be occasionally used by some others holding the opinions which it was intended to designate. As those opinions attracted more notice, the term was repeated by strangers and opponents, and got into rather common use just about the time when those who had originally assumed it, laid down that along with other sectarian characteristics. The Society so called consisted at first of no more than three members, one of whom, being Mr. Bentham’s amanuensis, obtained for us permission to hold our meetings in his house. The number never, I think, reached ten, and the society was broken up in 1826. It had thus an existence of about three years and a half. The chief effect of it as regards myself, over and above the benefit of practice in oral discussion, was that of bringing me in contact with several young men at that time less advanced than myself, among whom, as they professed the same opinions, I was for some time a sort of leader, and had considerable influence on their mental progress. Any young man of education who fell in my way, and whose opinions were not incompatible with those of the Society, I endeavoured to press into its service; and some others I probably should never have known, had they not joined it. Those of the members who became my intimate companions—no one of whom was in any sense of the word a disciple, but all of them independent thinkers on their own basis—were William Eyton Tooke, son of the eminent political economist, a young man of singular worth both moral and intellectual, lost to the world by an early death; his friend William Ellis, an original thinker in the field of political economy, now honourably known by his apostolic exertions for the improvement of education; George Graham, afterwards an official assignee of the Bankruptcy Court, a thinker of originality and power on almost all abstract subjects; and (from the time when he came first to England to study for the bar in 1824 or 1825) a man who has made considerably more noise in the world than any of these, John Arthur Roebuck.

Note from KBJ: What were you doing when you were 16?

Independence Day

Dr John J. Ray, my polymathic friend Down Under, is an honorary American. I would trade any 100 American college professors for John in an instant.


How did university faculties become so disproportionately progressive (as opposed to conservative)? See here for an answer.