Sunday, October 23, 2005

I oppose the Miers nomination

To answer NZ Bear's query, I oppose the Miers nomination, not because I have any insane delusions about an "originalist" Associate Justice saving us from ROE V. WADE or KELO or any other statist abomination the court has thrown up, but because it is a symbol of the embrace of foul, mediocre lowering of standards which typifies the "Endarkenment" we are now going through.

Her supporters have shown themselves to be grossly delusional about Miers herself, claiming that a high-powered Dallas corporation lawyer is "just like folks" and acting as if she is some font of cracker-barrel wisdom, when in reality she is a sycophantic bureaubot with a prose style that would shame Dilbert's (TM) pointy-haired boss. They also accuse her detractors of "elitism," which I deal with in the preceding post.

Her best defender has been Beldar and his efforts smack of irrelevant post hoc justifications for Miers on grounds which might charitably be labeled as "jesuitical casuistry."

There is simply no good reason for this nomination, and no decent justification for it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Elitism of Achievement vs. the Elitism of Association

The thing that really disturbs me about the Miers nomination is the willful embrace of know-nothing populism by her defenders like Hugh Hewitt. In calling her detractors "elitist," they conflate the "elitism" of achievement, which is good, with the really negative connotation of the term, which refers to the -elitism- of association, cf. "noble" birth, nepotism, cronyism, etc.

It is the Miers defenders who are the real "elitists" in the second negative sense that they falsly impute to their opponents, since they contend that Bush by virtue of his position has the right to uncritically appoint anyone he associates with to any post he wants without criticism.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Let Slip the Hounds of Love: Kate Bush Returns

If you're a Kate Bush fan, you can hear a sample of "King of the Mountain," the first release from her upcoming double album, Aerial. The entire song is available digitally on iTunes, Walmart, Napster, et al. I nabbed it from iTunes as soon as I saw it.

It doesn't have the immediate hook of "Rubberband Girl" or "Experiment IV," but instead sounds like one of the more hypnotic songs found on the second side of Hounds of Love, e.g., "Watching You Without Me" or "Under Ice." That, by the way, is not a bad thing. Hypnotic Kate Bush is just as good, if not better, than hooky Kate Bush. The upshot is that by the third listen, I was hooked. It's got what I can only describe clumsily as Kate Bush vocal phrasing and texture; Kate's voice is not only beautiful, but she uses it to create vocal texture through complex phrasing. Put less abstractly, you can hear a variety of vocal textures just in one word sung by Kate. For example, the chorus in "King of the Mountain" runs:

The wind is whistling
The wind is whistling
Through the house

She runs through a variety of textures in "whistling" and then slows her phrasing down on "through the house." That kind of measured phrasing in Kate's songs is what got me hooked on Kate, even in the midst of my long defunct career of listening to hardcore punk in the early 80s. It's also why I find divas such as Whitney Houston and Celine Dion to be so annoying; they have beautiful voices, but they're pressed into the service of banal, histrionic pop. Kate leaves them in the dust.

Another treat in "King of the Mountain" is Kate's unabashed attempt to be the whistling wind by singing "wooooooooo ooooooh." It recalls her barking on the "Hounds of Love."

And, yes, I know that Kate leans to the left, while I lean to the right. One of my worst imagined fears involves Kate pulling a Dixie Chick and remarking that she's ashamed to have the same last name as a certain President. If that happens, I'm leaving the planet. For now, I have a strict don't-ask-don't-tell policy in regards to Kate's politics. I don't want to know what they are, and you better not tell me.

Monday, October 03, 2005

An Unsurprising and Disgusting Choice

Hugh Hewitt maunders on about Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court and wonders why "the base" is so upset by it.

"The base" is upset because they've been busting their humps defending Bush from the charge that he's a crony-loving corporate shill only to have the Bush Baby reward them by sticking his finger down his throat and projectile vomiting in their faces.

Abe Fortas had more qualifications for the Supremes than she does. She's a big-government corporatist hack whose only qualification for the job is that she has a lapdog-like devotion to W.

That's it.

I defend Bush when he gets unjust treatment from the mainstream media and the usual gang of pro-fascist leftist idiots. This does not mean that he gets any sort of pass from me on stupid behavior. Believe it or not, there are those who are consistently principled and who reject feeble affirmative-action hires for good reason. EVEN IF MIERS TOOK A BLOOD OATH PUNISHABLE BY A THUNDERBOLT FROM ZEUS THAT SHE WOULD VOTE AGAINST ROE V. WADE OR IN FAVOR OF JUDICIAL RESTRAINT, SHE WOULD STILL BE A BAD CHOICE, especially when women judges of far higher caliber than Miers are fully available to Bush Jr.

This is Bush's "To Blazes with you, I wanted Alberto Gonzales" moment.

Update: These are the kind of people Miers made her money off of. It could be argued that this would no more dispose her to defend government intervention in favor of business than a criminal defense attorney's choice of specialization augers for her to want more crimes committed. The cronyist career of Miers suggests otherwise.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Missing the point

Recently, I had the following quotations from Galt's Speech brought to my attention:

"What are the evils man acquired when he felll from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge--he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil--he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor--he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire--he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy--all the cardinal virtues of his existence" (951).

Statements like this are why I'm not an Objectivist. If they are going to criticize something, they need to get it right.

A) Human beings were engaged in rational activity BEFORE the fall. Naming and classification require -reason.- (Genesis 2:19-20)

B) The command to "be fruitful and multiply" and for human beings to be sexual beings -also- precedes the Fall. (Genesis 1:28, 2:24)

What Rand is referring to here is the notion of "Felix Culpa," or "the fortunate fall," which relies on ignoring the very real negative consequences of human alienation from God that result from that event in addition to "blanking out" the points I mention above.

Proponents of Felix Culpa believe that the moral of the story is that humans attained knowledge of good and evil, while those who disagree with this interpretation point out that human knowledge as a whole -suffers- from the fall and that the real point of the story is that the disobedience that results in alienation from the foundation of reality had ultimately tragic and destructive consequences.

For a good discussion of this in the context of C.S. Lewis's work, check out the following article:

A darker ignorance: C. S. Lewis and the nature of the fall by Mary R. Bowman

"Love is the expression of one's values, the greatest reward you can earn for he moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another. Your morality demands that you divorce your love from values and hand it down to any vagrant; not as a response to his worth, but as response to his need, not as reward, but as alms, not as a payment for virtues, but as a blank check on vices. Your morality tells you that the purpose of love is to set you free of the bonds of morality, that love is superior to moral judgment; that true love transcends, forgives, and survives every manner of evil in its object, and the greater the love the greater the depravity it permits to the loved. To love a man for his virtues is paltry and human, it tells you; to love him for his flaws is divine. To love those who are worth of it is self-interest; to love the unworthy is sacrifice. You owe your love to wthose who don't deserve it, and the less they deserve it, the more love you owe them--the more loathsome the object, the nobler your love--the more unfastidious your love, the greater the virtue--and if you can bring your soul to the state of a dump heap that welcomes anything on equal terms, if you can cease to value moral values, you have achieved the state of moral perfection" (959).

A Mystery hidden in Plain Sight:

"Greek has words for four kinds of love: agape, or spiritual love; storge, or familial love; the love between friends, or philia; and sexual love, the familiar eros."

To put it simply, this is another case where Rand has little idea of what she is talking about. Granted, there is a perverted notion of "love" that floats around our culture as being an all-excusing, blind force that overcomes all through sheer bathos, but that is not the Christian understanding of "agape."

Instead of our poverty-stricken situation in English, the Ancient Greeks could employ four different words in order to get their understanding of "love" across. "Agape," however, was something of a tag-along until the coming of Christianity.

Agape love is love for another person based on what that person CAN BECOME (despite their current state) as a result of the Grace of Christ. It is not a blank check for sin, or a failure to demand a change of life to a rational and virtuous path, quite the opposite! If someone rejects that love, it does not mean that you hate them, but you hate what they do and the way that they degrade the potential Godliness inside of themselves. Therefore, in Objectivist terms, you don't "sanction" what they do.

The Agape love, Christian love at its finest, is intended to generate a regeneration in the mind and heart of the one who accepts it, and to lift them out of despair and doubt. The actual Greek word is "metanioa," and it implies a total change of life, not malingering irrationality.

"Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man's values, it has to be earned--that of any achievements open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of your own character--that your character, your actions, your desires, your emotion are the products of the premises held by your mind--that as man must produce the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the values of character that make his life worth sustaining--that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul, that to live requires a sense of self-value, but man, who has to automatic values, has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of Man, the ration being he is born able to create, but must create by choice--that the first precondition of self-esteem is that radiant selfishness of soul which desires the best in all things, in values of matter and spirit, a soul that seeks above all else to achieve its own moral perfection, valuing nothing higher than itself" (946-7).

Unfortunately, what often transpires in Objectivism is the confusion of egoism and egotism. I.e., by placing themselves at the center of the world and assigning worthiness according to their prejudices, they (ironically) lose contact with reality and place value on things and people who often prove UNworthy of their trust. Ayn Rand's extra-marital relationship with Nathaniel Branden is a classic example of this flaw in action.

In one of his interviews, (I believe that it is in GOD IN THE DOCK) Lewis said that the most consistently happy man that he knew was a thoroughgoing (non-Objectivist) egotist. "He is a self-made man & worships his creator." - John Bright, about Disraeli

However, although Rand was more sympathetic to Epicurianism (the philosophical position that argued for atheistic hedonism, or happiness, as the supreme goal of life) then most other philosophies, she still contends than genuine happiness is only found in correspondence to reality. (941) The important question is whether or not Objectivism itself is true. My investigation of the philosophy leads me to reason that its best aspects are found in the Aristotelian/Thomistic tradition and that Rand's own additions wind up ultimately undercutting reason by accepting the skeptical premises of atheism. Objectivists do this when it suits them to attack the universal ground of rationality itself by claiming that reason comes from the a-rational or non-rational. Can there be -reason- without a -reasoner?-

The truth is that there is a balance between our responsibility to self and to others, and God has promised us that He will not put unsupportable burdens on us when it comes to helping others, contra Rand. In point of fact, God longs for us to be productive in the Life that He has planned for us, and disdains those who would seek to scrape by. There is a reason why Jesus uses the language of commerce in describing the Kingdom of Heaven, as in the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30). He does not want us to live in a cowering fear relationship with Him, but wants to remake us in His image as the highest form of rational and productive creatures that finite beings can be.

Our own mortality is the very proof that we are not the gods of this, or any other, world. We are neither called to cringe like cowards or unwisely exault ourselves, but to objectively understand our relationship to God and the world in terms of the agape love that I describe above. Only then will we know the true happiness that has a real foundation in -fact.-

All page number citations from ATLAS SHRUGGED are from the 1985 Signet New American Library mass market paperback edition.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Welcome Pandas and Cats!

Welcome to readers of Pandagon and The Conservative Cat. Ernie and I aren't prolific posters, but there's still plenty o' stuff to read. Enjoy the show, folks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hitler's Pants: a Mini-Confirmation Hearing

Senator: It's a known, indisputable fact that in World War II Hitler wore pants. I can't help but notice that you're wearing pants. What does that say about you as a candidate for Chief Justice? And may I remind you not to interrupt me while you're trying to answer my question.

Judge Roberts: But ...

Senator: You're being evasive Judge Roberts. But let's continue. Do you sometimes have unhappy thoughts about Roe vs. Wade? I mean do you have ever have a smidgeon, an iota, a jot, a tittle of doubt that the right to terminate an embryo by sucking it out of the uterus is a sacred right found in and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution?

Judge Roberts: Senator, I ...

Senator: Judge, I warned you not to interrupt me when you answer a question. I think it's clear that you have no intention of answering these crucial questions, and I don't know that the American People can afford to have a Chief Justice like you in the Supreme Court for the next thirty years.

Judge Roberts: I don't know that the American people can afford to have a Senator like you, Senator Blowhard.

Trackposted to Conservative Cat

Friday, September 09, 2005

The "Science Marches on in My Name" Fallacy

Ernie and I aren't particularly fond of NRO writer John Derbyshire. He's supposed to be a conservative, but he's really a right-wing Social Darwinist who takes a majoritarian stance towards issues such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Of course, this label wouldn't bother him in the least, and my aim here is not to attack his views; it's to describe a particular fallacy that Derbyshire commits now and again. Let's call it the "Science Marches on in My Name" fallacy. To commit this fallacy, follow these easy steps:

  1. Find a scientific study that seems to support one of your political or philosphical beliefs.
  2. Take that study at face value and accept the truth of its conclusion as a fait accompli.
  3. Now conflate the truth of your belief and the truth of the study's conclusion.
  4. Finally, now that your belief is allied with Holy Science, sound a triumphalist note about how Holy Science will vanquish its enemies and crush the forces of ignorance and superstition. You might even sing a hymn at this point.
What am I talking about? Take a look at this proposition:
Intelligence in humans is distributed in such a way that levels of intelligence differ not only among individuals but among racial groups as well, and this difference has a genetic basis.

This proposition is obviously controversial, but it is also contingent; it might be true, or it might be false. Either way, however, it is not obviously true right at this moment. It has not been established with any degree of scientific certainty.

Nonetheless, Derbyshire and other right-wing Darwinists take the proposition for granted. Hence the mere possibility that scientific research supports it is enough for them to declare victory. For example, Derbyshire points to a recent study suggesting that among geographical populations there is a non-random distribution of two genes responsible for brain size. Despite the fact that scientists urge caution about the study and point out that there may not be a correlation between brain size and intelligence, Derbyshire blithely declares it to be a well-known fact that:

Evolution, including brain evolution, did not proceed in precisely the same direction, at precisely the same rate, in every human group, in every region and environment.

Moreover, he draws a philosophical-political conclusion: the "blank-slate" view of human nature is false, and we shouldn't base social policies on that view. Indeed, it doesn't even matter if the study passes peer review, because similar studies in the future "won't all fail on peer review."

That's where the fallacy comes in. Derbyshire holds to the above proposition, and he just knows that science is going to vindicate it some day. Now I don't care whether the proposition is true or not; my point is that it is a contingent proposition that is not obviously true given our current scientific knowledge. Maybe science will further support it, and maybe science won't. But the direction that science goes can't be dictated in advance by one's philosophical and political prejudices. To do so is to misappropriate science.

Bush Hates Black People: A Mini-Dialogue and/or Mini-Tragedy

X: Bush doesn't like black people.

Y: Really? Then why have our last two Secretaries of States been black?

X: Those aren't real black people. They're just Bush's stooges.

Y: So? Even if they are just "Bush's Stooges," that doesn't mean that they're not black.

X: No, but they're not the right kind of black people.

Y: That's what Al Sharpton said about Clarence Thomas. But I still don't see how that means that Thomas and Rice aren't black.

X: Look, they may have black skin, but their souls aren't black.

Y: Huh? Souls have color? I think that's a category fallacy: souls aren't the kind of thing that have color.

X: You know what I mean. They have black skin, but they don't support the interests of black people--and they serve a man who opposes the interests of black people.

Y: "Interests of black people"?

X: [Sighing impatiently.] You know: jobs, discrimination, affirmative action ...

Y: Oh, now I get it! You don't like the political views of Thomas and Rice.

X: Nope.

Y: But I'm still confused.

X: [Disgusted.] Man, you're one of the slowest people I've ever met.

Y: Well, we can't all be Kanye West. Anyway, here's why I'm confused. Your first claim was that Bush doesn't like black people. I offered a counterexample: he's put black people into high positions. Then you said that they aren't really black. But your only reason for this latter claim is that you disagree with their political views. So what our discussion comes down to is this: you have to make the ridiculous and patently false claim that Thomas and Rice are not black in order to support your charge of racism against Bush. Moreover, it's really Bush's political views that you take issue with, but instead of offering a rational critique of those views, you resort to baseless slander.

X: [Long pause.] You don't like black people, do you?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Anne Rice: Interview with an Idiotarian

Anne Rice gets testy with America:
Why did America ask a city cherished by millions and excoriated by some, but ignored by no one, to fight for its own life for so long? That's my question.

I don't remember asking New Orleans to do this, but it's possible that I did and then forgot. I'll ask Ernie if he did. He probably did, knowing what a bad man he is.

"They didn't have any place to go," she wrote. "They are the poor, black and white, who dwell in any city in great numbers; and they did what they felt they could do--they huddled together in the strongest houses they could find.

They roasted marshmallows over a fire and made S'mores. Then they sang campfire songs. Meanwhile, the buses that could have been used to take them to safety ... didn't. I wonder whose fault that is.

Rice, who now lives in the San Diego area ...
So by her own logic she's a part of the America that ignored New Orleans.

Anne: Anne, why did you neglect New Orleans? That is my question.

Anne: Because, Anne, I'm a bad person who hates black people and poor people.

Anne: I knew it! This country is backwards and racist. I'm so glad I live in San Diego far away from ...

Anne: Away from ... what? Other parts of the country like, say, Louisiana?

Anne: Don't confuse the issue ... I'm attacking racist America for not helping out racist America in a time of need. Wait, did I say that out loud?

Anne: Yes, you did.

Anne does some more scolding:
But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us."

It's rather galling to be lectured by a victim-by-proxy who got out of Dodge long ago and moved to one of the least gothic places on the planet. But I suppose that being from New Orleans, her moral authority, like Cindy Sheehan's, is somehow absolute. Unless you live in the real world.

"You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras ...

I do like some jazz, but I don't particularly covet goofy, pagan festivals that encourage Dionysian frenzy. I'm more of an Apollonian kind of guy.

... you want our cooking and our music," she continued.

Now food I can relate to. But really, the only cajun food I like is andouille sausage. Otherwise, I prefer Mexican and Asian cuisine.

"Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us 'Sin City,' and turned your backs."

Ok, that's it: who is she talking to? The usual leftist nonsense is that the racist Bushitler didn't care about all those black people, but Rice seems to be blaming the entire country. Yet given the response of Americans to the disaster, her blame game is just ludicrous. Volunteers were turned away from the Astrodome, because they came in droves. Americans everywhere are stepping up to the plate just like they did for 9/11 and just like they did for the tsunami. Does she expect the average American to get his helicopter out of the garage and start rescuing people? And why doesn't she place blame on the "leadership" of New Orleans and Louisiana?

Let's re-cap. A category 4/5 hurricane hits a city that is below sea level and surrounded by water. City and state officials knew that a disaster of biblical proportions was possible, if not probable. They had plans to bus the poor out, but didn't put those plans into action. To boot, New Orleans is one of the most corrupt cities in our country. So how is America to blame for the disaster?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Jabbar Gibson vs. Kanye West

It is hard for me to stomach what is going on in this country. A lionized punk who has become wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice in this country can't help but vomit all over it in support of murdering Morlocks at a venue designed to help victims of the Katrina tragedy.

Meanwhile, a stand-up MAN like Jabbar Gibson gets threatened with jail (!) for having the stones and common sense to use an abandoned NO schoolbus to save 100 lives. The parasitic filthpigs that have been murdering, raping and pillaging the city, bless their sociopathic little hearts, by contrast have gotten a pass for the last few days from the corrupt local politpunks.

God help any disarmed law-abiding citizens of the Big Easy who trusted the Looney Tunes administrations of Blanco and Nagin to constructively plan for anything. Hizzoner the Mayor is now screaming for "500 buses," seemingly oblivious to the FACT that he HAD 500 buses in NORTA and the school transportation system but let them get flooded out rather than have them moved to high ground and used to evacuate people.

But Jabbar Gibson is the problem...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Phone Etiquette, is it so hard?

If there is one thing that REALLY ticks me off, it's unsolicited phone calls. I've always hated phones, and the only reason I have one now is to get online. What really chaps me are the people who call and stubbornly insist on asking me who I am without providing Clue One as to who -they- are. I just had someone dial me up and blather on, "Is this Ernest Brown?," while I repeatedly said "Hello?" and waited for them to act like someone who knew how to use a phone. Finally, I gave up.

I shouldn't have to ask someone who they are. It's just another sign of what Billy Beck calls "The Endarkenment" that people can't show a little politeness and common sense these days.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Was Darwin a rank idiot?, or more ID idiotarianism

Glenn Reynolds approvingly links to an Edward J. Larson op-ed in the L.A. Times. Here's the money-quote:

Intelligent design, despite its proponents' claims to the contrary, isn't modern science. It's part of that rebellion against it. Scientists look for natural explanations for natural phenomena. Their best explanations, if they survive rigorous testing, become scientific theories.

Intelligent design, in contrast, is a critique of all that. Its proponents may challenge the sufficiency of evolutionary explanations for the origin of species but they have not — and cannot — offer testable alternative explanations. The best they can offer is the premise that, if no natural explanation suffices, then God must have done it. Maybe God did do it, but if so, it's beyond science.

This piece is well worthy of the justifiably low opinion people have of the TIMES, since, as my friend and co-blogger Bill Ramey has pointed out to me countless times, this construction of ID makes Darwin out to be either intellectually dishonest or a rank idiot.

According to the above, all Darwin had to do was put a one-line sentence on the first page of THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES:

"The belief that God created the world is non-scientific."

and he could have spent the rest of OOS simply outlining his theory.

Does he do so? No, he does not. He treats ID as a theory in need of refutation before he can establish his own. If that is true, then by the law of non-contradiction, it cannot be a non-theory that science cannot discuss. The late Stephen J. Gould was infamous for this sort of giveaway-takeback disregard for the prime law of logic and rational thinking, but I can honestly say that I am unaware of Darwin himself being intellectually dishonest on this point.

Two even more risible notions that are the logical upshot of Larson's claim are that modern science didn't exist before 1859 and that belief in the ordered rationality of the cosmos is poisonous to science. The first would make Sir Isaac Newton,* Kepler and virtually every other classical astronomer a non-scientist. The second is totally refuted by the real history of Western science, a subject which, contrary to the blurb at the bottom of his column, Larson seems to be pathetically uninformed about. "Thinking God's thoughts after him" does NOT entail simply throwing up one's hands and saying "God did it," on the contrary it spurred scientists on to understand the reasons behind the phenomena that they observed. (cf. the astronomers I mention above) You may think that ID is a bad or paltry or even outdated scientific theory, but it cannot be denied that the hero of evolutionists himself treated it AS A SCIENTIFIC THEORY. Larson mentions that Americans distrust Darwinism and appeals to the patronizing notion that evolution hurts their widdle egos. Instead, he should be more concerned about the intellectual integrity of the arguments that he employs, and their implications.

* Newton even believed in far "wilder" things than ID without it impairing his scientific ability in the least, BTW.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Yo Dawgs: It's Just "Diddy" Now

I've often been worried that the "P" in "P. Diddy" gets in between P. Diddy and his fans. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about that anymore:

Hip-hop impresario and fashion designer Sean "P. Diddy" Combs wants to make it easier for fans to shower him with adoration--so he's dropping the "P." from his stage name.

Word up.

Combs, 35, has said he wanted to "simplify" his image and felt that the P. "was getting between me and my fans."

Yeah dawg, the peeps be confused:

During concert appearances, for example, he noticed "half the crowd saying, 'P. Diddy' and half the crowd chanting, 'Diddy.' Now everybody can just chant, 'Diddy,"' Combs explained during an appearance on NBC's "Today" show.

And now there can be peace out in our time.

From now on when a narcissistic celebrity announces a gratuitous name change, we should just call him Bob. Or Herkemer.

"Yo, yo, yo--Herkemer is in the houuuuuuuuussssse."

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Benighted Hypocrisy of the Left

The disgusting Cindy Sheehan spectacle that Bill references below only highlights the gross hypocrisy of the Left. They claim than the Right are "hypocrites" for not caring about her political position on the war since she is a mother, thus projecting onto their opponents the mindless undifferentiated emotionalism that the "Left" engages in in pursuit of its own jackboot-smashing-into-a-human-face-forever collectivist agenda.

"Motherhood" is not an excuse for irrational behavior, nor does the fact that Ma Barker* and Catherine de' Medici procreated give their lives any ethical cachet. It is no surprise that an amoral swine like Maureen Dowd, who has made her very name a synonym for lying misquotation, should projectile-vomit such garbage. You can find out what the Left really thinks about "motherhood" by inspecting the medical waste containers in any abortion clinic.

*yes, I know that Arizona Barker was framed as the ringleader for her son's crimes by the FBI, but she was a first-class enabler of criminal behavior, to say the least!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Dowd on Cindy Sheehan's Moral Authority

Maureen Dowd writes:
Selectively humane, Mr. Bush justified his Iraq war by stressing the 9/11 losses. He emphasized the humanity of the Iraqis who desire freedom when his W.M.D. rationale vaporized.
Note the loaded phrases "his Iraq war" and "his W.M.D. rationale." Is Dowd completely unaware that Saddam was universally thought to be a threat? That the UN considered him a threat? That regime change was a policy of the Clinton administration? That Saddam was in constant violation of the cease-fire agreement he made with the UN after the first Persian Gulf War? It's one thing to be against the war and another to be clueless--or to not be clueless but to ignore the context of the war. Isn't Dowd supposed to a member of the tribe that values nuance and context?

But his humanitarianism will remain inhumane as long as he fails to understand that the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute.
Poppycock. Cindy Sheehan has the same moral authority that all of us do, and her loss has no bearing on whether the war was just or not. What's going on here is akin to what went on with the Million Mom March; the MSM is floating the absurd notion that motherhood grants some kind of moral authority that trumps everything else. It doesn't. Policy has to be decided on rational grounds even if a policy involves the loss of "children," who in this case volunteered for service knowing that they might be called to war.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Brian Williams Redux

Brian Williams complains that his critics have missed the point:
Today, apparently, on some radio talk shows and blogs, my friends in the media have accused me of labeling George Washington a terrorist. They apparently missed my point: That the BRITISH CROWN might have viewed American revolutionaries that way.
It's quite true that Williams never called Washington a terrorist, but he did equate the belief that Iran's current president-elect is a terrorist with the belief that American revolutionaries were terrorists:
Many Americans woke up to a curious story this morning: several of the former Iran Hostages have decided there is a strong resemblance between Iran's new president and one of their captors more than 25 years ago.... It is a story that will be at or near the top of our broadcast and certainly made for a robust debate in our afternoon editorial meeting, when several of us raised the point (I'll leave it to others to decide germaneness) that several U.S. presidents were at minimum revolutionaries, and probably were considered terrorists of their time by the Crown in England.
The only point of making such an analogy is to pooh-pooh the worry that Iran's new president-elect might be a terrorist. After all, didn't some American revolutionaries become president even though the British thought they were terrorists? Williams doesn't realize that this lame analogy isn't any better than calling George Washington a terrorist. If I have a prima facie legitimate worry that X might be a terrorist, it's ridiculous for you to respond by suggesting that some people might think that Y is a terrorist. If your point is that I have as much justification for calling X a terrorist as others do in calling Y a terrorist, then come right out and say that. Otherwise, your point is not germane.

Williams may not be happy about being accused of saying that George Washington was a terrorist, but he left himself open to that accusation. If I think that X is a terrorist and you equate that to thinking that Y is a terrorist, the implication is that X's being a terrorist and Y's being a terrorist are logically equivalent, that is, that one of the following is true:

  • X and Y are both terrorists.
  • Neither X or Y are terrorists.
Either way, there is an equivalence between X and Y. So Williams either thinks that Iran's president-elect isn't a terrorist or that George Washington was. He denies the latter, so he would seem to endorse the latter--although he probably would deny that as well. So again, his point simply seems to be the following: it's not that big of deal that Iran's president-elect might be a terrorist, because the British might have thought that George Washington was a terrorist. I've critiqued this point below, so it suffices here to say that the point is just plain dumb.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The One Man's Terrorist Argument

MSNBC's Brian Williams, in response to the story that Iran's new president might be one of the 1979 hostage takers, offers an iteration of the "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" cliche:
. . . several of us raised the point (I'll leave it to others to decide germaneness) that several U.S. presidents were at minimum revolutionaries, and probably were considered terrorists of their time by the Crown in England.
Presumably the point is that it's not that big of a deal that one of the 1979 hostage takers became president of Iran, because George Washington was considered by some to be a terrorist.

As it stands, this is a non sequitur; even if GW was considered to be a terrorist by the British, it doesn't follow that he was or that Iran's new president wasn't. To belabor the point, there are four possibilities:

  1. George Washington was a terrorist, and Iran's new president was a terrorist.
  2. George Washington wasn't a terrorist, and Iran's new president wasn't a terrorist.
  3. George Washington was a terrorist, and Iran's new president wasn't a terrorist.
  4. George Washington wasn't a terrorist, and Iran's new president was a terrorist.
Let's be blunt. Leftists don't like it when people endorse propositions such as (4), because they think that such an endorsement smacks of misguided patriotism at best and jingoism at worst. However, the "one man's terrorist" argument doesn't show that (4) is false. All it shows is that some people consider X to be a terrorist and some do not--but so what? Some people consider tomatoes to be vegetables and others consider them to be fruit. Nothing follows from this about what a tomato actually is (it's a fruit).

At best, the "one man's terrorist" argument implies that we shouldn't hastily judge X to be a terrorist merely because X did something politically controversial. This cautionary note is fine, but it doesn't preclude me from finally and correctly judging X to be a terrorist. Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building because of his political views on Ruby Ridge and Waco--and some people think that he was a freedom fighter--but when all is said and done, he was a terrorist.

To drive the point home, compare the following:

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
One man's neo-Nazi is another man's freedom fighter.
Those who assert the first would be loathe (and rightly so) to assert the second--but why? If we're going to play the "one man's terrorist" game, we have to play it through to the end. It's a fact that some people think that neo-Nazis are freedom fighters. If we're going to be consistent, that means we cannot be quick to label anyone a neo-Nazi. Since this is an absurd conclusion, it's best that we stop playing the game the generates the absurdity.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Cal Thomas gets "pod-snatched"

Dear Cal Thomas,

Has a liberal pod infiltrated your mind and made some sort of weird lefty substitution?

Blogs DO have a corrective mechanism, other blogs, i.e. good, old-fashioned skepticism at work. You've been complaining for years about the vile, unchecked bigotry of the MSMer's against Christians, and rightly so. Where were the "corrective mechanisms" then? Yeah, NON-EXISTENT, that's where they were.

You, OF ALL PEOPLE, should know how much credence should be given to "academic journalism," when the favorite film shown in journalism schools is the Chomskybot's MANUFACTURING CONSENT and where the REAL "dittoheadism" of leftist groupthink is spawned in your profession.

Did the great journalists of yesteryear have college degrees? Twain was a second-grade dropout. Hecht and Mencken didn't go to college. By your twisted logic, homeschooling shouldn't be permitted because the parents don't have the proper credentials.

The truth is, you're just jealous that punditry has been made available to the people, and you've chosen the side of the anti-Christian leftist vomit-merchants who hate and deride you.

How sad.

Regretfully yours,

Ernest Brown

Puffs of Huff

As far as I can tell, The Huffington Post is a blog for several hundred million celebrities, journalists, politicians, and other unsavory characters to offer opinions that rival the wit and rigor found in high school essays and letters to the editor. It also seems to lean a bit to the left, probably because the aforementioned unsavory characters tend to lean to the left. But now that I’ve said some nice things about Arianna’s uber-blog, it’s time to get testy. Here’s a cursory, selective, and entirely unfair survey of the blog.

Naomi Foner (who?) mourns for the children:

Our Children Are Trying To Tell Us Something … And we're not listening.
I’m sorry, what did you say?
So they wage guerrilla war. Shooting at each other and at us.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to open a window and shout: “Hey you kids! Get off my lawn and stop shooting at each other. Do you want Naomi Foner to write about you?”


In schools. On freeways. Copying our violence.
In incomplete sentences. With prepositional phrases. With missing subjects.
The recent Iranian movie, set on the Iraqi/Kurdistan border, Turtles Can Fly is peopled by children who are the living debris of war.
They’re the living debris of which war? The one that we mean Nazi-American imperialists started for oil and Walmart expansion? No, it turns out that “Turtles Can Fly” is set before that war and is about a Kurdish refugee camp. In other words, it’s about people who fled from Saddam’s tender mercies.
Nothing grows here except tragedy.
And bad metaphors.
Under our noses the children reach for guns and shoot, crying into cyberspace of their loneliness and fear.
No, it’s just a handful of psychotic nutjobs who shoot their fellow students and have really lame websites.
And we feed them on empty patriotism and "mine is better than yours" religion and ignore their questions.
Yes, we all know that conversations of the following sort happen daily:

SON: Dad, what is the meaning of life? I’m like all confused and stuff, and my insides hurt. What’s wrong with me?

DAD: America rocks!

SON: But Dad, why do I want to kill my classmates?

DAD: Son, did you know that Zoroastrianism is the best doggone religion on the planet? Really. Just forget about all of the others.

SON: Oh forget it, Dad, I’m gonna go update my lame website.

I’m taking a wild guess that Foner thinks any form of patriotism is empty and that any serious belief in religion—and, of course, we’re talking about Christianity—is of the “mine is better than yours” variety.

George Lakoff talks of the "strict father" the Republicans lionize. An old image from the days of our Calvinist beginnings. No place for compassion. Our destinies are predetermined. A helping hand will only hurt. A distorted philosophy that will kill our culture as it maims and destroys our children.
Theocracy upon us. Children weeping. Falwell laughing.
It is time for a different kind of parenting. It is time to look at the truth and to apologize. To validate the kids.
DAD: Son, it’s time I validated you. There, I’ve validated you.

SON: Gee, Dad, my insides still hurt and I wanna kill my classmates, but now I feel terrific! I’m gonna go blog about this on my lame website!

It's going to take a lot to turn around several generations of looking away. But we need to look at what we've done.
What have we done? I didn’t do it. I wasn’t even there. Besides, they made me.

What was Foner's point? All she knows is that she’s got Something Serious to Say and it involves a Vague Indictment of Society and an Ambiguous Solution Involving Validation. Let’s move on.

Mark Green lays the smackdown on the religious right:

The religious far (f)right, big business, and Bush & Co. have become profoundly authoritarian
Darn straight. This is precisely why I’m angry with my fellow right-wingers. I’ve told them over and over again that we should be whimsically authoritarian, not profoundly authoritarian. Profound authoritarianism has been done to death, and if we want to be the avant garde of authoritarianism, we’d better start innovating. How about mandating that the Sundance Film Festival show nothing but John Wayne movies? Why not pass a law against Michael Moore—not against his movies or his books, but Moore himself? We'll charge him with illegal possession of Michael Moore.

Next up, Joshua Zeitz has some pointed questions for us:

Would you invite a neo-Nazi over for dinner?
Look, I didn’t know what Heidi’s political views were, and when she talked about the Master Race, I thought she was talking about the scallops.
Would you attend a dinner party where a neo-Nazi was in attendance?
Depends on what’s being served. If they have corn dogs, I am so there, politics be hanged.
Would you socialize with people who openly cavort with neo-Nazis?
I have a strict don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy in regards to cavorting with neo-Nazis.

Here’s a counter-question to Zeitz: would you socialize with people who openly frolic with communists? Or with people who wear a Che Guevara or hammer-and-sickle t-shirt? Would you talk to an anarchist on a bus? Or have dinner with a communist named Gus?

Finally, David Corn also has some questions:

Is anyone else puzzled why George W. Bush's bicycle ride was not immediately interrupted?
I think some guy down the block was puzzled as well, so that’s at least one.
Conspiracy theorists, have fun with this.
I expect Michael Moore to make a movie out of it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Hollywood's First Star listens to the ants scream in FLORENCE LAWRENCE, THE BIOGRAPH GIRL

My Epinions article on the life and fate of Hollywood's first movie star is now up for your reading pleasure.

Friday, April 22, 2005

VRWC's Cover Blown

Darn! A professor at Berkeley has gotten wise to right-wing mind control:
... the word fetus has been demonized, even though it is a technical, scientific term. The right is so successfully framing this issue that a term representing a political agenda is becoming the "neutral" or "objective" word that journalists are supposed to use in their stories.

The right has been on this for the last 40 years; they understand and pay attention to the way the mind works.... the right figured out how to physically change our brains, and the left is only beginning to recognize this very basic fact of cognitive science.

He's discovered what's really happening in Area 51! We'll have to relocate to our alternate site underneath the Kennedy compound, the one where we keep our Hitler clones.

On a lighter note, if journalists find "fetus" to no longer be a neutral term, perhaps they can start using the phrase "that thing--you know, that thing." On television, they can easily use body language to supplement "that thing--you know, that thing"--such as a knowing wink or sheepish mug. Of course, it's not possible to do this in print, but perhaps this will help print journalists: an unpronounceable symbol that everyone will read as "that thing--you know, that thing formerly known as a fetus."

Billy Beck vs. P

Some quick, desultory comments:

  • Sometimes speculative examples are helpful in philosophy, and they do actual work towards knowing something about the world.

  • Analytic philosophy has its merits but can go over the top and become mind-numbingly trivial or silly. The same is true of continental philosophy.

  • P's main problem, one by no means shared by all professional philosophers, is that he conceives of philosophy in purely formalistic terms, as if philosophers were geometers.

  • Philosophical jargon can be helpful at times, although I try to do without it when I can.

  • Roger Scruton is another philosopher critical of the analytic tradition.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Kind of Tragic

Billy Beck questions "P," a philosopher:

I have questions for you.

Why is it that people in your line of work insist on using terms like “rational agents” when the plain fact is that you’re talking about human beings?

Why don’t you guys speak plain English?

I’m serious. I’m not being facetious about this.

"P" responds: There could be rational agents who are not human beings, Billy. Aliens, for example. Not all humans are rational agents and not all rational agents are humans.

Billy: You know, I had really hoped that you weren't going to answer with something like that, although I've been around enough to know what to hope against.

Science-fiction has no place in philosophy, and the fact that acanemia harbors it now only consolidates my conviction that I'm living through The Endarkenment, being conducted by straight-up fucking idiots.


There is a place for hypothetical reasoning in philosophy, but it should be informed by reality. There is also every justification for the -distinction- between the proper structure of an argument (“validity,” in philosophical terms) and the truth value of the premises of an argument, the chief one being the utility of the machines and communication methods we are using right now.* The problem is that Billy’s correspondent “P” is blindly accepting the collapse of philosophical inquiry into logical formalism, which suggests that he’d be better off as a mathematics professor. Actually, -one- philosopher in the modern analytic tradition has noticed that Billy has fired him, Jerry Fodor:

Sometimes I wonder why nobody reads philosophy. It requires, to be sure, a degree of hyperbole to wonder this. Academics like me, who eke out their sustenance by writing and teaching the stuff, still browse in the journals; it's mainly the laity that seems to have lost interest. And it's mostly Anglophone analytic philosophy that it has lost interest in. As far as I can tell, 'Continental' philosophers (Derrida, Foucault, Habermas, Heidegger, Husserl, Kierkegaard, Sartre and the rest) continue to hold their market. Even Hegel has a vogue from time to time, though he is famous for being impossible to read. All this strikes me anew whenever I visit a bookstore. The place on the shelf where my stuff would be if they had it (but they don't) is just to the left of Foucault, of which there is always yards and yards. I'm huffy about that; I wish I had his royalties.

Royalties aside, what have they got that we haven't? It's not the texture of their prose I shouldn't think, since most of us write better than most of them. (I don't include Kierkegaard. He was a master and way out of the league that the rest of us play in.) Similarly, though many of the questions that Continental philosophy discusses are recognisably continuous with ones that philosophers have always cared about, so too, by and large, are many of the questions that we work on. For example, Kripke's metaphysical essentialism (of which more presently) has striking affinities with the metaphysical Realism of Aristotle and Augustine. True, we sometimes presuppose more logic than you're likely to come across on the omnibus to Clapham. But I'm told that an intelligent reading of Heidegger requires knowing more about Kant, Hegel and the Pre-Socratics than I, for one, am eager to learn. Anyhow, our arguments are better than theirs. So sometimes I wonder why nobody (except philosophers) reads (Anglophone, analytic) philosophy these days.

But, having just worked through Christopher Hughes's Kripke: Names, Necessity and Identity, I am no longer puzzled... (snip praise for Hughes)

And yet I can't shake off the sense that something has gone awfully wrong. Not so much with Hughes's book (though I'll presently have bones to pick with some of his main theses) as with the kind of philosophy that has recently taken shelter under Kripke's wing. There seems to be, to put it bluntly, a lot of earnest discussion of questions that strike my ear as frivolous. For example: 'I have never crossed the Himalayas, though I might have done. So there is a non-actual (or, if you prefer, a non-actualised) possible world (or possible state of the world) in which someone crosses some mountains. Is that person me, and are those mountains the Himalayas? Or are they (non-actual) individuals different from me and from the Himalayas?' Or: 'Water is the stuff that is in the Thames and comes out of the taps. The stuff that is in the Thames and comes out of the taps undeniably contains impurities (bits that are neither hydrogen nor oxygen nor constituents thereof). So how can water be H2O?' But how could it not? Is it that, chemistry having discovered the nature of water, philosophy proposes to undiscover it? In any case, could that really be the sort of thing that philosophy is about? Is that a way for grown-ups to spend their time? A brief sketch of how we got into this, and of Kripke's role in getting us here, is the burden of what follows. I offer a very condensed account of changes, over the last fifty years or so, in the way that analytic philosophers have explained to one another what it is that they're up to. It is, however, less historical than mythopoetic. The details aren't awfully reliable, but maybe the moral will edify.

Stage one: conceptual analysis. A revisionist account of the philosophical enterprise came into fashion just after World War Two. Whereas it used to be said that philosophy is about, for example, Goodness or Existence or Reality or How the Mind Works, or whether there is a Cat on the Mat, it appears, in retrospect, that that was just a loose way of talking. Strictly speaking, philosophy consists (or consists largely, or ought to consist largely) of the analysis of our concepts and/or of the analysis of the 'ordinary language' locutions that we use to express them. It's not the Good, the True or the Beautiful that a philosopher tries to understand, it's the corresponding concepts of 'good' 'beautiful' and 'true'.

This way of seeing things has tactical advantages. Being good is hard; few achieve it. But practically everybody has some grasp of the concept 'good', so practically everybody knows as much as he needs to start on its analysis. Scientists, historians and the like need to muck around in libraries and laboratories to achieve their results, but concepts can be analysed in the armchair. Better still, the conceptual truths philosophy delivers are 'a priori' because grasp of a concept is all that's required for their recognition. Better still, whereas the findings of historians and scientists are always revisable in principle, it's plausible that the truths conceptual analysis reveals are necessary. If you want to know how long the reign of George V lasted, you will probably need to look it up, and you're always in jeopardy of your sources being unreliable. (I'm told he reigned from 1910-36, but I wouldn't bet the farm.) But the philosopher's proposition that a reign must last some amount of time or other would seem to be a conceptual truth; being extended in time belongs to the concept of a reign. Historians might conceivably find out that George V reigned from, say, 1910-37. That would no doubt surprise them, but evidence might turn up that can't be gainsaid. Philosophy, however, knows beyond the possibility of doubt - beyond, indeed, the possibility of coherent denial - that if George V reigned at all, then he reigned for a while. The truths that conceptual analysis arrives at are thus apodictic, rather like the truths of geometry. Such a comfort. Ever since Plato, philosophers have envied geometers their certitudes. So it's not surprising that the story about philosophy being conceptual analysis was well received all the way from Oxford to Berkeley, with many intermediate stops.

Still, there was felt to be trouble pretty early on. For one thing, no concepts ever actually did get analysed, however hard philosophers tried. (Early in the century there was detectable optimism about the prospects for analysing 'the', but it faded). Worse, the arguments that analytic philosophers produced were often inadvertently hilarious. Examples are legion and some of them are legendary. Here are just two that will, I hope, suffice to give the feel of the thing. (Truly, I didn't make up either of them. The second comes from Hughes, and I've heard the first attributed to an otherwise perfectly respectable philosopher whose name charity forbids me to disclose.) First argument: the issue is whether there is survival after death, and the argument purports to show that there can't be. 'Suppose an airplane carrying ten passengers crashes and that seven of the ten die. Then what we would say is that three passengers survived, not that ten passengers survived. QED.' Second argument: the issue is whether people are identical with their bodies. 'Suppose you live with Bob . . . who went into a coma on Wednesday . . . Suppose that a friend calls on Thursday and says: "I need to talk to Bob: is he still in England?" You might naturally answer: "Yes, but he's in a coma." Now fill in the story as before, but suppose that Bob had died. When the friend says "I need to talk to Bob: is he still in England?" would you really answer, "Yes, but he's dead," even if you knew that Bob's (dead) body still exists and is still in England?' Presumably not, so QED once again. Now, I don't myself believe that there is survival after death; nor do I believe that persons are identical with their bodies. But, either way, these arguments strike me as risible; dialectics dissolves in giggles. If, as would appear, the view that philosophy is conceptual analysis sanctions this sort of carrying on, there must surely be something wrong with the view. So much for stage one. (Fodor goes on to discuss the analytic/synthetic dichotomy and Kripke, it is an interesting analysis)


Philosophy is about what's necessary, possible, and impossible, Billy, not about what is actual. Science is about what is actual. Think of it this way: Philosophy is about the logical structure of the world. Science is about the physical structure of the world. Philosophy is form; science is content. To test philosophical theories, we have to imagine alternative worlds. The real world doesn't furnish all the examples we need. For example, to test our intuition that it's rational agency rather than humanity that makes a moral difference, we have to imagine meeting aliens who are rational like us but not human. Would their being nonhuman matter? If not, then humanity is morally irrelevant.


You could get a job in any half-assed church with an outlook like that.

I have enormous problems with The Russian Rage (Ayn Rand), and she would not have stood my company for five minutes. But she's absolutely right about this. No "philosophy" that does not take its foundations from and address human life on earth is worthy of the name. And your final line above gives it all away.

This stuff is not a parlor game, and you people are doing enormous harm.

It's no bloody wonder that this culture is in the shape it's in.

I'm not kidding. It doesn't make me happy to tell you this, but there is just no way around it.

This is completely outrageous. And, as nothing more than a consumer at the street level, I'm here to tell you that you're all fired.

Fodor is the only one who has appeared to notice this. The problem, of course, is that if you are not “moralizing” about “rational actors,” you are really doing NOTHING.


Somebody needs to do the conceptual stuff we philosophers do. It has fallen to philosophers to do it. What do you expect us to be, preachers? Moralizers? But we have no moral authority. Our expertise is in logic, not living.


My god... I don't understand why the nearly schizophrenic dissociation in this stuff isn't obvious to you. Look at that last sentence of yours. If I heard someone saying something like that in ordinary everyday life -- at the supermarket, around the bar, or wherever -- I'd be getting ready with a butterfly net. No normal human being goes around propounding that sort of dichotomy. Certainly not out loud, anyway, although about a hundred twenty-five years of Pragmatism certainly have taken their toll. It really isn't terribly uncommon to find people piously holding forth on the difference between "theory" and "real life" in, say, politics, which doesn't really surprise me a great deal. Politics is where philosophy is mostly (semi)consciously applied these days.

It's curious that you should mention "authority". Let me tell you something, man: the work that you people do sooner or later filters down to the man in the street. He might not know where a lot of his thinking comes from, or even that others are leading him. This is mostly because he just about never examines critically what goes on around him. If, in a discussion around a bar, he says something like, "Well, that might be true for you but it's not true for me," it's a one in a thousand shot that he's going to be able to reach back a hundred years and cite someone like William James as his authority. And the fact that he can't do that doesn't matter. What matters is intellectual leadership.

You're probably never again in your life going to have some ex-biker and touring stage-lighting director stand up straight and tell you that "you're fired". Nearly none of them have sufficient brains in their heads for a move like that.

Whether they know it or not, a great deal of the quality of their whole life depends on what people like you teach them, mostly by long-distance osmosis.

And strictly speaking, very little of it is "conceptual[izing]" at this point. It's bloody fantasy on stilts. If you're not about "living", then what the hell good are you? Who needs you, and for what?

"Preachers"? C'mon, man: just about everybody in the field is preaching, all day long. It's the Church of the Space-Alien Control-Variables, preaching that symbols are more important than people. "Moralizers"? Don't think that people aren't getting moral messages from professional philosophy's Adjusted-Specs Examination With Zircon-Encrusted Tweezers routine. You don't care to "moralize"? Fine, then. Look around you. The reluctance to "moralize" is in nearly full effect, and fifteen year-old kids are summarily killing each other with baseball bats and semi-automatic weapons.

Who's going stop this or even slow it down? The Church? They're in worse shape. Parents? Hell, man; they're passive carriers of the rot that philosophy has been throwing down longer than they can see.

I say the second sentence of your paragraph above is presumptively backwards: philosophy has "fallen" to doing what it's doing. What philosophy "needs" to do is attend its original program, which is to teach people how to live. And dinking around with experimental laboratories in cosmic space doesn't qualify. (snip closing remarks)

What the learned philosopher is doing is collapsing all of philosophy into linguistic/logical analysis, the old sad addiction of the logical positivists. Ironically enough, my philosophy professors, from the Aristotle scholar, to the expert on Marx AND the Kantian have all noticed the horrible results of this “trickle down” nonsense that you notice. Prof. Bondeson, our Ancients specialist, has even had his teaching assistants threaten to split heads if he get warmed-over relativist vomit in his class papers...

in his Medical Ethics class. (be very frightened!)

Billy is quite correct to call "P" on his contradictions, the claim that "humanity is morally irrelevant" is definitely a "moralizing" one with important real-world consequences, as we have been so recently reminded by the Schiavo case.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Dial "C" for "Compromise"

The whole "compromise" debate going on recently (summarized ably here) reminded me of the real compromise that put Hitler into power:

Schleicher, the mastermind behind many intrigues around the president, had always hoped to reduce Nazi influence by letting the Nazis share government responsibility. The enormous burden of political responsibility, Schleicher and many others believed, would tame the Nazis and split the party into a moderate and radical wing. Several times Schleicher tried to convince Hitler or somebody else to join the government under a non-Nazi as chancellor. Hitler always refused and insisted on being given the chancellorship himself. Papen planned for a coup d'état (dissolution of the Reichstag without setting a date for reelection; army rule), but Schleicher rejected this idea because he feared a Polish attack on Germany.

In December 1932 and January 1933 Schleicher, as the new chancellor, undertook some last efforts to split the NSDAP. He suddenly realized the danger of Hitler's chancellorship, even though he had been working for so long to get the Nazis into the government. But whatever Schleicher did, he became a powerless person in January. Behind his back a large intrigue led by Papen and some prominent German industrialists undermined Hindenburg's confidence in Schleicher. Without the president's emergency decrees, Schleicher stood no chance of success in front of an overwhelmingly hostile Reichstag. Papen had his way. On 30 January 1933 Hindenburg appointed a new cabinet with Hitler as chancellor, another Nazi as Interior Minister, and a third Nazi, Hermann Göring, as minister without portfolio. The nine other ministers all did not belong to the NSDAP, and Papen as vice-chancellor was confident that it would be possible to push Hitler to the sidelines within a few weeks. ("We will push Hitler into the corner until he squeaks.")

Papen's reasoning was profoundly wrong. To let the Nazis share power in order to tame them and to split their movement was foolhardy. First, the Nazis' electoral rise had been stopped at the Reichstag elections in November 1932. Shortly thereafter the SPD newspaper wrote with exaggerated but not unjustified pride: "It will be the everlasting merit of social democracy to have kept German fascism from power until it began to decline in popular favor. The decline will hardly be less rapid than its rise has been." Disputes within the NSDAP and between the SA and the party showed that the Nazi movement might break up if it was held in opposition for much longer. Hitler grew increasingly desperate, since neither his bid for the presidency in early 1932 nor his repeated attempts to become chancellor had succeeded. Hindenburg for a long time was unimpressed with Hitler and refused to appoint him, a mere common soldier, chancellor. There was no need for Papen and Hindenburg to make Hitler chancellor in order to break the momentum of his movement.

The author of the paragraphs above , Raffael Scheck, appears to be a typical acanemic leftie, but his expertise -is- in German right-wing politics of the period and what he says correlates with other histories of the time. The truth is that, with a little moral courage and disinclination to compromise, Germany might have been spared Naziism, a fact lost on the "compromise clan."

But, then again, most historical facts ARE lost on them.

Have we lost Bill to Lady Philosophy?

Bill Ramey just might devote more of his blogging time to this site.

Pop on over and give his posts a "look-see."

Friday, April 08, 2005

A Sadly-Needed History Lesson

"Let’s face it ... with the do-nothings in charge, we’d still be a colony of Great Britian."

(this is a more polite reiteration of what I wrote in comments at QandO)

I never thought that I would have to give Bruce McQuain AMERICAN HISTORY LESSONS...

Did the Founding Fathers VOTE King George out of office, Bruce?

No, they took up arms AGAINST the government and DESTROYED the colonial system. YOU would have been the "do-nothing, work within the system" pseudo-Loyalists in that context.

Likewise, the civil rights movement educated the PUBLIC, which is why the legislature went along with them. King was under no illusions about "working in the system" in the South, which is why he ADVOCATED BREAKING THE LAW NON-VIOLENTLY.

As for "reverse evolution," you are assuming that the starting point now and the starting point then are the same. They aren't. The statists started working on a basically healthy and free (save for the pathology of racism) society and gradually grew government to where it will grow on its own now even if Bush pulled a Harry Browne this very day. Only RADICAL change outside the system will work, period.

Secondly, the statists "evolved" us to this situation via lying parasitism. If you propose to do the same thing in pursuit of your goal, you'll wind up just like they are. John Lopez makes the point well here (the thread there also contains an excellent summation of the whole controversy, with links):

The electorate in general doesn't want truth, they want comforting lies. They want free lunches with ponies and ice cream, and they'll vote for whoever promises them the most goodies on everyone else's dime.

What do these NeoLibs propose to do when they're on camera and they get asked what their ultimate plan for Social Security is? Their opponent will be hand-waving about "fixing" and "ensuring" and "lockboxes", and the great mass of voters is (just like they always have) going to eat that shit up. The NeoLib saying "I'll abolish it" (the truth, let's assume) is suicide.

And they aren't about political suicide, their swipes at the LP are proof of that. So that means that they're going to lie. They're going to hand-wave about something too, something that the focus groups (they *will* have focus groups, right?) have said will appeal to the voters. Something like "lockbox" and "fix" and "ensure", because above all they want to get elected.

Now there may be some individuals in the NeoLib movement that would tell the truth, but no one in their right mind is going to let those types within a hundred yards of a teevee camera. "Just send in your check and we'll do the talking, m'kay?"

It's always sad when it happens to someone you know.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

"Is the b---h dead?"

For the record, if I was left totally paralyzed or dependent on machines with no way to communicate with the outside world, I would not like to live on.

However, I'd very much hope that if there were any doubts about the cause of my condition, that those around me would have an autopsy and bury me respectfully, not toss me into an incinerator and destroy any forensic evidence.

"Mr." Schiavo's question has yet to be answered, hopefully it will be answered in the negative.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sappy Mirthday to Me!

The city's supply of corned beef and cabbage is at risk now that this St. Pat's baby is on the loose!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Colby Cosh Blasts Pro-Lifers

Ernie and I like Colby Cosh’s writing, but I came across this angry blast in his archives:
Any of you pro-lifers out there feeling uneasy about your "It's not as though fetal tissue grafts are really medically promising" arguments yet? Just thought I'd ask--I know that, considering your crowd relies so heavily on "moral intuition", your memory doesn't seem to stretch back as far as the time when your predecessors were denouncing heart transplants. But maybe you'll get lucky, and Elisabeth Bryant will go blind again, right?
Cosh is referring to this article. After receiving grafts from fetal tissue, several blind people now have better vision. He’s also referring to those pro-lifers who have played down the promise of biotechnology involving fetal tissue and embryonic cells.

If the point is merely that such biotechnology is starting to make good on its claims, that’s all well and good. Pro-lifers have made the same point in regards to adult stem cell research. But Cosh seems to have another point, or to be more precise, he has a taunt; and the taunt is: “you pro-lifers are mean, nasty medical Luddites, and you are of the ilk who opposed heart transplants.”

I don’t know if it’s true that pro-lifers protested heart transplants, or if Cosh is just likening pro-lifers to those who did; but it’s clear that the comparison is supposed to be unflattering. Ironically, however, the comparison backfires. Why? Because I bloody well would oppose heart transplants if we had to kill x in order to secure a heart for y, and most rational, sane people would be opposed to heart transplants on such terms. That includes most pro-choicers. Indeed, we have strict procedures in place to prevent such things. The upshot, then, is that most of us take the pro-life position in regards to organ transplants: no organ transplant should involve the killing of another being. Our objection to such is not due to some free-floating moral objection to medical progress; it’s due to our observing that killing x in order to secure a heart for y falls under the rubric of murder.

Now I may be flamingly, fabulously wrong that killing a zygote, embryo, or fetus falls under the rubric of murder, but that’s a far cry from me being an opponent of medical progress who relies on some vague moral intuition. Moreover, note that abortion necessarily involves killing x, whereas heart transplants do not (and neither does adult stem cell research). So there is at least a prima facie reason to be worried about the moral status of abortion, even if abortion ultimately does not fall under the rubric of murder.

So Cosh’s ad hominem against pro-lifers is fallacious. However, let me make a non-fallacious ad hominem against pro-choicers. Lots of pro-choicers holds their views reflexively, i.e., they’re less interested in thinking the issue through and more interested in holding whatever view is the opposite of the one held by them there religious fanatics. That’s why they play up embryonic stem cell research and hardly ever say anything about adult stem cell research--they wouldn’t want to be seen as giving any support to the Dark Side of the Force. In a word, their position is driven entirely by ideological prejudice, not by principled moral reasoning. Moreover, they are guilty of doing what they charge pro-lifers of doing: using their ideology to inhibit science. If a biotechnology can cure severe diseases without the destruction of the pre-born, isn’t that the technology we should be supporting, whatever our position on abortion is? After all, pro-choicers often aver that they’re not pro-abortion and that abortion should be rare. If that’s true, then pro-choicers should prefer technologies that don’t rely on abortion.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Dean on Abortion, Take Two

Remember when Howard Dean said that abortion was about right-wing politicians telling women what to do? Apparently, it’s ok for Democrats to be pro-life :
"I want to reach out to people who are worried about values," Dean said. "We are going to embrace pro-life Democrats because pro-life Democrats care about kids after they're born, not just before they're born."
I assume Dean wants to distinguish between pro-lifers who care about kids before and after birth and those who care about them only before birth; but even if we take this distinction at face value, why doesn’t Dean think that pro-life Democrats are telling women what to do, given that he thinks right-wing pro-lifers are telling women what to do? The pro-life position simpliciter is that abortion is morally impermissible and should be legally impermissible as well. If one thinks that this position is tantamount to telling women what to do, then it makes little difference whether that position is held by a Democrat or a Republican.

As for Dean’s implied distinction, it seems to suggest that pro-life Democrats hold a higher moral ground because they support social programs aimed at child welfare. But one can care about kids after they’re born without supporting such programs. Indeed, a lot of conservative pro-lifers do put up money to help children who might otherwise be aborted. More to the point, however, the claim that abortion is an unjustified act of killing is neither true nor false based on whether or not one supports social programs for children. Whether a child lives or dies is a more basic issue.

P.S. Note that Dean refers to the unborn as “kids.”

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Peter Keating takes over the WTC project, or the print horse-whipping of the month

I usually don't read the NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, but a headline caught my eye at the bookstore and I checked it out online here at home. Martin Filler's review of 4 new books about the design competition for the WTC Memorial is a scathing indictment of government fiddling with the process.

Here's what he has to say about the current architect on the project:

"There was no such card to play in New York, where the Libeskinds encountered a nemesis whose political instincts and tenacity far outstripped even theirs—David Childs, design principal of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Childs, a cool strategist who has a history of changing styles when useful to his advancement, brings to mind the successful conformist architect Peter Keating in The Fountainhead.

Is this just a passing reference? Hardly:



"The sixty-three-year-old Childs is an opaque, paradoxical figure, and a clear portrait of him fails to emerge from any of the recent books, although he was interviewed at length by both Goldberger and Nobel, and he is extensively quoted, disparagingly, by Libeskind. Childs's contradictory craving for establishment recognition and artistic credibility most closely resembles the career path pursued by the late Philip Johnson, though the taciturn Childs lacks Johnson's mercurial charm and social acumen. As Johnson did, he wants to have things both ways, as their mutual friend Peter Eisenman told Andy Geller of the New York Post:

[Childs] is tormented about being his own signature self and being in a big corporate firm. He has aspirations to be a great architect, but they are limited by a lack of capacity to say what he wants to do. He's a Hamlet-like figure. On the one hand he says, 'I've got to get out.' On the other hand he says, 'What about all the years I've put in?' [SOM] is very powerful and very strong. He'd lose that backing.

A more obvious impediment to Childs's "aspirations to be a great architect" is the fact that he is a dreadful designer. As with Johnson, his ambivalent position has nonetheless provided him ample opportunity to build on a grand scale. Two of Childs's previous Manhattan skyscrapers—the postmodern Worldwide Plaza of 1986– 1989 on Eighth Avenue in midtown and the neo-moderne Time Warner Building of 2000–2004 on Columbus Circle—are among the worst blights on the city's skyline in recent decades. Some of us who subscribe to an auteur theory of architecture—believing there are some architects whose every building is worthy of serious consideration regardless of their occasional failures, whereas others seem incapable of creating anything of lasting distinction—are inclined to place Childs in the second category."

{end quote}


That's what I call a kick in the fundament, in black and white yet. If any of you have doubts about the "reality" of Ayn Rand's characters in the above-mentioned novel, follow the link.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Howard Dean on Abortion and Tolerance

Howard Dean explains what the abortion debate is all about:
"The issue is not abortion," Dean told the closed-door fund-raiser. "The issue is whether women can make up their own mind instead of some right-wing pastor, some right-wing politician telling them what to do."
In a nutshell, that’s what’s wrong with the mainstream pro-choice position: it turns the issue of abortion into another issue altogether, e.g., women’s rights. But these issues have nothing whatsoever to do with the moral permissibility of abortion. They’re merely red herrings that play to the prejudices of those who think that making abortion illegal is tantamount to suppressing the rights of women.

To make this clear, the argument--

Women have the right to make up their own mind about abortion.
Therefore, abortion is morally and legally permissible.

--is invalid. The truth of the premise neither guarantees the truth of its conclusion, nor lends probable support to it. In a word, it’s a non sequitur. A woman in fact does have the right to decide whether abortion is or is not morally permissible, but this has nothing to do with whether or not abortion actually is morally permissible. I have the right to decide whether or not yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is morally permissible, but I do not necessarily have the right to actually yell “fire” in a crowded theater. One doesn’t get me the other. Hence much of the pro-choice position is logically invalid.

Note well: one can be firmly pro-choice and accept the point I’ve made here. I am merely arguing that the typical pro-choice arguments are invalid; not all pro-choice arguments are invalid. For example:

If the fetus isn’t a person, then it is morally permissible to kill it.
The fetus isn’t a person.
Therefore, it is morally permissible to kill it.

This is a logically valid argument, and it addresses the main issue regarding abortion. It has two false premises, but that’s another story …

Dean had some other things to say:

And Dean told the Hiebert fund-raiser that gay marriage was a Republican diversion from discussions of ballooning deficits and lost American jobs.
It’s a diversion unless Democrats want to talk about it. Then it’s the Vitally Important Civil Rights Issue of Our Time.™
"Moderate Republicans can't stand these people (conservatives), because they're intolerant. They don't think tolerance is a virtue," Dean said, adding: "I'm not going to have these right-wingers throw away our right to be tolerant."
So moderate Republicans are intolerant of the intolerance of conservatives, and Dean is intolerant of those who threaten his right to be tolerant. Herein lies the paradox of tolerance: one either tolerates everything, in which case, one is tolerant of intolerance; or one is intolerant of at least one thing, say, intolerance, in which case, one is intolerant of one’s self. I suppose one could be opposed just to certain kinds of intolerance, but this means, as rational people know, that tolerance is a limited virtue, subordinate to other virtues, such as justice. We shouldn’t tolerate unjust acts; so it follows that tolerance is not a prime virtue. The problem is that liberals often treat virtue as the prime virtue when impugning those who putatively don’t demonstrate this virtue; yet they retreat to the rational view of tolerance as a limited virtue when their own intolerance is manifest.

The upshot of this is that liberals should drop the pretense of universal tolerance. Everyone is intolerant of something. I’m not tolerant of white supremacists, and I suspect that Dean isn’t either. Why? Because white supremacy violates our basic notions of justice and equality, and we should rightly condemn any ideology that flouts these basic virtues. Hence there isn’t anything inherently wrong about intolerance. The conventional, sophomoric view that white supremacy violates the virtue of tolerance and is to be condemned for that reason is woefully misguided; it unwittingly leads to the absurd conclusion that our intolerance of white supremacy is not virtuous because it, too, violates the virtue of tolerance.

The charge of intolerance, then, is usually pointless. I may very well be intolerant of x, and you may be tolerant of x; but my intolerance of x may also be a justified form of intolerance. Just plug in “white supremacy” in place of x. To be sure, my intolerance of abortion and gay marriage is a more controversial matter, but the same point applies: merely pointing to my intolerance says nothing about the correctness of my position. To say that a man is intolerant is neither to say that he is doing something wrong or holds a false belief.

And concluding his backyard speech with a litany of Democratic values, he added: "This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good."
Many conservatives will find the above remark offensive, but I’m offended only by the double standard that runs: conservatives are bad because they’re intolerant and divisive; but it’s alright for liberals to intolerant and divisive, as Dean is here. Again, it’s not Dean’s intolerance that offends me—it’s refreshingly honest—it’s his pretense that he somehow nonetheless exemplifies the virtue of tolerance. He doesn’t, and he should stop trying to score ideological brownie points by pretending to be.

Monday, February 28, 2005

A guide to the future Carnival of Crime in America

These wiseacres (found at Billy Beck's blog) have stolen an idea that I've had rolling around in my mind for years, a Cross-Country Carnival of Crime in which the stupidest laws in America get broken.

I wish them a lot of luck.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Iowahawk strikes again

An excerpt from a very unusual Scooby-Doo episode, with a certain unexpected guest celebrity:
"Hanna and Barbera liked my story on hormone doping at the '72 Laff-a-Lympics and proposed that I cover a Harlem Globetrotters game at a haunted Aztec pyramid in Mexico. They called me to their offices in Burbank. "Jesus Christ, you're killing us here, Duke," Hanna complained when I demanded a $1500 advance for the project. "I've got expense," I said. They relented and arranged for a chirpy entourage to escort me into the belly of the beast. There was the lesbian chick, the blond Palos Verdes neck scarf Nixon boy and his frigid miniskirt girlfriend, the gawky soul patch hippie kid and his paranoid Great Dane. Lost Manson kids all, Squeakies and Leslies and a canine Tex in a puke green van hoping for some Mexican helter skelter. All the better reason to pack a few guns, I thought."

Monday, February 21, 2005

"The Simplest Thing in The World," or Pragmatics come from Principles

This is an excellent time to clear up a misunderstanding I had with Billy Beck in an old discussion on Q and O.

In the course of attacking a purely pragmatic/utilitarian defense of Wal-Mart's right to pull out of one of its Canadian stores, I wrote:

"I contend that "Homo Economus" doesn't exist. We are not ants in an ant-hill (i.e. the minimal hedonists of classical economics) merely satisfying basic desires. Freedom and genuinely human values exist on a higher plane than that, contra the classical economists and Marx."

To which Billy Beck replied:

"I could not disagree more with your final sentence, but you know that."

I think that Billy thought that I was referring to God as the source of ultimate value.* I actually was referring to the fact that human freedom and human values come from human nature and are not meant for economic exchange. You can trade ON your values, i.e. if you have a reputation for honest work, you not only can earn more money but you DESERVE to earn more money. You cannot TRADE your values, or else they cease to be values. If that were the case, prostitution would be the highest form of human love for someone like Ayn Rand.

I'll take the blame for not being clearer. "I contend that "Homo Economus" doesn't exist" is too extreme. Obviously, we employ our values in trade everyday. The point I was inexpertly trying to make is that taking the assumptions that economists use and then applying them to policy decisions on basic issues of human rights and existence is an inappropriate use of the methodology, a category mistake, since those assumptions, if they are of any value, must be based on an understanding of man as he is.

Using economic ideas as if they are disconnected from the philosophical premises to which they are connected generally cashes out to philosophical pragmatism in the long run. Pragmatism is based on a premise of ignorance about ultimates which I contend is ultimately UNpragmatic {in the conventional sense of the term} since it directs us to concepts that it attempts to deny to us under "the veil of ignorance." It leaves us teetering on the edge of either denying metaphysical propositions, and thus leaving us open to the sort of anti-scientific skepticism that undercuts empiricism and the "pragmatic project" or affirming them and denying that same skepticism, thus directly attacking the premises of Pragmatic philosophy.

How is this an "excellent time" to bring this up? Well, the death of Hunter S. Thompson moves Billy to say:

That "very little to do" part is the root of what must be my ultimate condemnation of Thompson. All day long, I've been loosely paging through a two-foot-tall stack of books and trying to recall if I ever saw him use the words "social justice". He might not have, but there is no question that he swallowed that goddamned evil bullshit, hook, line & sinker. You see, for all his vaunted "individualism", it was half-assed. He always took the government premise at face-value: the idea that some people -- a duly-processed herd at democratic poll -- could wield the force to rule others' lives by right. Everything about politics that we got from him must first be taken through that lens. Yes: all his work was filled with enraged tirades against "fixers" and all the rest of it, but serious observers know his attenuation whenever it looked like his herd had the angle. Never forget: when The Lying Bastard came along in 1992, Thompson settled: "He may be a swine, but he's our swine."

I am without any HST at the moment, but, if my memory serves me correctly, towards the end of F&L '72 he comments that one of the Democratic ops makes a "brilliant" argument for gun control and HST hopes that he doesn't find out about Thompson's "gun fetish." This symbolizes the sort of bad faith Billy refers to. When you read Thompson, you are struck at the palpable divide between his desire to "live his own life" as an "outlaw journalist" and his dumbstruck "ashamedness" at not being a bigger participant in the overall left/liberal drive for 60's style collectivism and mass action, hence his desire to "hide" his instinctive desire for the right to self-protection from the Democrat in question.

This fundamental contradiction between actions and values ultimately saw Thompson become a "mal pensant" regurgatator of the "conventional media wisdom," with only vulgarity and a fake patina of Hemingwayesque machismo to individuate him from the NY Times editorial page. The promise of his early years (yes, I am a fan of his pre-"Lono" work) was betrayed, and betrayed badly by selling out the value of individualism in favor of a "consensus" that was and is not only an illusion, but an evil one to boot.

*as a natural-rights advocate who is also a theist, I certainly do think that they ORIGINATE from intelligence [Billy doesn't, that's our real disagreement] , but one doesn't need to be a theist or religious believer to assert the truth of natural law.

An Absolutely Unsurprising Event

Hunter S. Thompson killed himself yesterday.


Lileks shows why he gets paid to write and I don't:

HST killed himself. He never would have “turned his life around” – that’s a hard thing to try when the room’s been spinning for 40 years. Depression? Wouldn’t be surprising. A bad verdict from the doc? Wouldn’t be surprising. A great writer in his prime, but the DVD of his career would have the last two decades on the disc reserved for outtakes and bloopers. It was all bile and spittle at the end, and it was hard to read the work without smelling the dank sweat of someone consumed by confusion, anger, sudden drunken certainties and the horrible fear that when he sat down to write, he could only muster a pale parody of someone else’s satirical version of his infamous middle period. I feel sorry for him, but I’ve felt sorry for him for years. File under Capote, Truman – meaning, whatever you thought of the latter-day persona, don’t forget that there was a reason he had a reputation. Read "Hell's Angels." That was a man who could hit the keys right.

I was going to fisk his unspeakable pro-Kerry pre-election garbage in ROLLING STONE, but decided against it because it would be like setting an old lame dog on fire. I'm glad I didn't, now.

Thompson was a man of harsh judgements. He just passed his harshest one yesterday.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Wild Things

When I was a kid, our neighborhood had a patch of wild growth just behind the houses across the street. It served as a little area where snakes and bushes, and even some garbage, flourished and as a piquant reminder of what is gained and lost by building a city. I was reminded of that when I came across the Forgotten NY website. It's an interesting peek into the strange and wonderful things that you can find in the most modern city on Earth, including wilderness areas, a quaint little New England fishing the Bronx!, the original, and now neglected, Hall of Fame of Great Americans, old transit stops and lore and many other fascinating things. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tears for Some, Silence for Others

Ferdinand T. Cat wryly comments on The Progressive Blog Alliance HQ’s entry, “Why we denounce George Bush.”

The PBA HQ writes:

We watched from our televisions with tears in our eyes and screams in our hearts as innocent people died by the thousands.
The Cat points out how selective these tears are because they didn’t seem to flow when Clinton bombed Serbia. We can also add that they didn’t flow for the millions of Africans—the black ones, not the Theresa Heinz Kerry ones—killed in genocidal tribal war over the past decades. They didn’t flow for the hundreds of thousands of North Koreans who have died from starvation at the hands of a mentally ill communist dictator. They didn’t flow for the people killed by Saddam, or for the Marsh Arabs, or for the Kurds, or for the victims of the Taliban.

“I’ll weep for that falling star. The other stars will have to make do without my tears.”