Thursday, 17 July 2008

Twenty Years Ago

7-17-88 . . . It will sound distinctly nonfeminist to say this, but many women appear to dress in such a way as to entice males. Moreover, they do it knowingly and intentionally. What else could explain such things as short shorts, miniskirts, bikinis, high heels, lingerie, push-up bras, halter tops, makeup, lipstick, jewelry, and perfume? It seems as plain as day that the whole point of wearing such things is to attract the attention of males. Women want attention, know what it takes to get it, and act accordingly. Men, on the other hand, know that women want attention, know that they know what it takes to get it, and know that they are trying to get it. So it’s a complex situation. Members of each sex know what members of the other sex want. Is it any wonder that when a woman is raped by a man, there is talk that she “deserved it”, or “was asking for it”, or “should have known better”? Sexual attraction is a big game, and like any game it involves a risk of losing.

That’s why I don’t understand why women continue to play the game. Why in the world would a woman wear a miniskirt and high heels, for example, knowing that males will be staring and whistling at her all day? She has to know that this will happen. Why would she reduce herself to an object of male gratification? The only answer is that she likes being treated that way. She can’t very well plead ignorance, for everyone knows about the game. Nor can she have it both ways; she can’t wear the conventionally attractive apparel and claim that she doesn’t want to be noticed. By dressing in a certain way, she is telling everyone to treat her as similarly dressed women are treated. I guess what I’m pointing out is that there are social conventions about how men and women dress at various times. When women want to be noticed, to be treated as sex objects, they put on the uniform, just as Dave Winfield puts on the uniform when he wants to play baseball. That’s its point; that’s what it’s for. Ideally, we would not have such conventions, but in the meantime, we should refuse to play by the conventional rules. Women should stop wearing feminine clothing and accessories.


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Tour de France. The stage was won by British cyclist Mark Cavendish, who averaged 28.44 miles per hour for 104.7 miles. Cavendish, who rides for the American team Columbia (formerly High Road) has won three stages already. Here is tomorrow’s stage.

Addendum: Here is a New York Times story about the latest cheating incident. It won’t be long before the message gets through that cheating doesn’t pay.


It’s been five years since I brought three-month-old Shelbie home from the Humane Society of North Texas. Where does the time go? Shelbie is my best friend and constant companion. We take two long walks a day, like clockwork. (Kant would be proud.) Tonight, Shelbie chased a rabbit all the way across the meadow. It was great fun to watch her fly. She’s never caught a rabbit, to my knowledge, but she loves trying. When she got back to me, she looked at me as if to say, “How did I do, Big Ape?” I told her that she done good for a monkey, and that if I had been that rabbit, I’d have been afraid for my life. Actually, before Shelbie got back to me, she ran to the copse of trees from which she flushed the rabbit. I’ve noticed this behavior many times and finally figured it out. Dogs who go back to the scene of the crime have done better, evolutionarily, because where there’s one rabbit, there are, in all likelihood, others. I’m trying to teach Shelbie to stay away from skunks, which we see quite often in the meadow. One night, in the dark, I saw Shelbie dancing in front of me. As I approached, I saw that she was playing with a skunk. Needless to say, I disrupted the game.

Addendum: Here is my post of three years ago. Shelbie and I miss Sophie, who was put to sleep in January. It’s almost time to bring another stinker into our lives.


If you read my baseball posts, you know that I use the expressions “my beloved Detroit Tigers” and “my adopted Texas Rangers.” Let me explain. I was born into the Detroit Tiger family. (Lapeer is 50 miles north of Detroit.) I no more chose the Tigers as my team than I chose my mother and father as my parents. I can no more disown the Tigers than I can disown my parents. I am bound to them, forever. Things are different with the Rangers. I wasn’t born into the Ranger family; the Rangers adopted me when I moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in August 1989. Perhaps, come to think of it, I should say “my adoptive Texas Rangers” rather than “my adopted Texas Rangers,” for the latter implies that I did the adopting. In fact, the Rangers did the adopting. I’m the adoptee. The Rangers are the adopter.

This way of looking at things shows how absurd it is for my friend Hawk, who was born in Arkansas in about 1953 and never lived in New York, to call himself a Yankee fan. That’s as absurd as Hawk claiming to be a Rockefeller. He wasn’t born a Rockefeller, and, last I knew, the Rockefellers hadn’t adopted him. If Hawk went around claiming to be a Rockefeller, simply because he admires the family and wishes he shared in its wealth and power, we would laugh. That’s why I laugh when he claims to be a Yankee fan.

To repeat: There are two ways to be a fan of team T. The first is to be born in the city (or state, or region) in which T plays. Hawk was born into the Cardinal family, for that was the Major League team closest to his birthplace. The second is to move to T’s city (or state, or region). Hawk was adopted by the Texas Rangers when he moved to the Metroplex many years ago, just as I was when I moved here. Hawk is a Cardinal fan and a Ranger fan. He will always be a Cardinal fan. He can stop being a Ranger fan (if he moves). I am a Tiger fan and a Ranger fan. I will always be a Tiger fan. I can stop being a Ranger fan (if I move).

Addendum: We distinguish between birth parents and adoptive parents. The Tigers are analogous to my birth parents. They are my birth team. The Rangers are analogous to my adoptive parents. They are my adoptive team. Henceforth, I will use the expression “my adoptive Texas Rangers.”

Addendum 2: What is your birth team? What is your adoptive team, if any? Don’t fight my terminology. Now that you understand it, use it.

Addendum 3: My beloved Tigers won tonight, 6-5. As you can probably tell from some of my posts, my connection to the Tigers is powerful and emotional. I live and die with them. They have been on top of the world (1968 and 1984) and in the depths of hell. It was truly awful to see them lose the World Series in 2006. Most of the teams I hate, such as the Minnesota Twins and the Toronto Blue Jays, are hated because they deprived my Tigers of a division or playoff title. My advice to the Tigers right now would be to forget the first “half” of the season, in which they went 47-47. Start over today, and make a run at the Central Division title.


Here is your entertainment for this Thursday evening. I know what you’re thinking: “No way, no how is Keith a headbanger. He says he is, but he’s lying.” Ha! Take this.

Addendum: Remember this scene?

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “False Victory at the Border” (editorial, July 5):

You say, “The real victory will come when a repaired, well-patrolled border coincides with a repaired, well-run immigration system that requires undocumented workers to come forward and be legalized.”

No, the real victory will come when people stay in their home nations and apply for United States citizenship legally, respect then running both ways.

Tom Andres
Sonora, Calif., July 5, 2008

Note from KBJ: What Tom said!

Peter Singer on the Moral Significance of Self-Consciousness

Preference utilitarians count the killing of a being with a preference for continued life as worse than the killing of a being without any such preference. Self-conscious beings therefore are not mere receptacles for containing a certain quantity of pleasure, and are not replaceable.

To take the view that non-self-conscious beings are replaceable is not to say that their interests do not count. I have elsewhere argued that their interests do count. As long as a sentient being is conscious, it has an interest in experiencing as much pleasure and as little pain as possible. Sentience suffices to place a being within the sphere of equal consideration of interests; but it does not mean that the being has a personal interest in continuing to live. For a non-self-conscious being, death is the cessation of experiences, in much the same way that birth is the beginning of experiences. Death cannot be contrary to a preference for continued life, any more than birth could be in accordance with a preference for commencing life. To this extent, with non-self-conscious life, birth and death cancel each other out; whereas with self-conscious beings the fact that once self-conscious one may desire to continue living means that death inflicts a loss for which the birth of another is insufficient gain.

(Peter Singer, “Killing Humans and Killing Animals,” Inquiry 22 [summer 1979]: 145-56, at 152 [endnote omitted])

Note from KBJ: Singer is making a distinction within the class of sentient beings. Those that are self-conscious are not replaceable, whereas those that are non-self-conscious are replaceable. Suppose pigs are non-self-conscious. Then painlessly killing a pig while replacing it with another, equally happy pig is not wrong. Suppose humans are self-conscious. Then painlessly killing a human (specifically: one who desires to continue living) while replacing it with another, equally happy human is wrong. Note that this distinction does not make Singer a speciesist, since it is not species that makes the difference. It is self-consciousness. While self-consciousness may be correlated with species, it is not identical to it. Self-consciousness is morally significant; species, like race or sex, is not.