21 December 2007
02 November 2007
"The upper South, like the lower, went to war to defend the freedom of white men to own slaves and take them into the territories as they saw fit, lest these white men be enslaved by Black Republicans who threatened to deprive them of those liberties." -- McPherson, Battle Cry Of Freedom, pg. 284
06 October 2007
Addendum: The video contains more than Reagan's response. It also includes a press conference by George Schultz (then Sec. of State) and some news coverage.
05 October 2007
Anyway, the debates touch on this matter in much the same way that the modern debate on this issue does and that makes them well worth reading IMHO.
01 October 2007
30 September 2007
24 September 2007
21 September 2007
20 September 2007
31 August 2007
BEIJING — China's Shaolin Temple, the cradle of Chinese kung fu, is demanding an apology from an Internet user who said its monks had once been beaten in unarmed combat by a Japanese ninja, Chinese media reported on Friday.Was the aforementioned internet user Urkobold?
29 August 2007
24 August 2007
21 August 2007
Independent Levee Investigation Team Final Report
The general conclusions of the report can be found here. They fault the hurricane (of course), the performance of the levees (everything from design to operation) and finally how the government functioned at all levels.
At the dinner table and such the eventual fate of New Orleans was something that would from time to time come up for discussion. There was always the inevitable comment that "If a big one comes, New Orleans is history." Of course right now that doesn't seem to be the case as NOLA has returned to roughly 2/3rds of its pre-Katrina size.
20 August 2007
18 August 2007
14 August 2007
The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are. Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel, and the Spirit of life, it fittingly has four pillars, everywhere breathing out incorruption and revivifying men. - Irenaeus, Against Heresies
10 August 2007
09 August 2007
07 August 2007
ATHENS -- Greek archaeologists plan to excavate an ancient colony founded by Alexanderthe Great in the Gulf of Kuwait in the fourth century BC, officials said Wednesday.
Alexander and the various "Greek" rulers who suceeded him founded numerous Hellenistic cities in the areas that they ruled over in Asia. Generally speaking these cities were sealed off from the local population and one had to become like the Greeks in order to become a citizen of, etc. such cities. In most places the local population did not do so. These Hellenistic cities built some fantastic architectural structures, Pergamum being perhaps the most famous. As a rule this period of Hellenistic history seems to have been treated like a bastard child by many historians, but that attitude has changed over the past several decades as the achievements (and faults) of the various post-Alexander Greek kingdoms have come under greater scholarly scrutiny.
06 August 2007
Two American news photographers say French President Nicolas Sarkozy shouted at them and jumped onto their boat during his holiday in the US.
Sarkozy is, of course, human like the rest of us. Here's hoping that the remainder of his vacation is relaxing, etc.
04 August 2007
I enjoyed Bourne's rescue Stiles' character. There was real tension there.
I thought that Bourne stealing the files, etc. was a bit too much. So were many of the crash scenes.
I also found that this movie discussed more plainly some of the concerns we have with our intelligence services post-9/11.
Perhaps I shall write more on these matters tomorrow.
03 August 2007
28 July 2007
27 July 2007
14 July 2007
13 July 2007
It is fitting also that the magistrates on entering office should offer magnificent sacrifices or erect some public edifice, and then the people who participate in the entertainments, and see the city decorated with votive offerings and buildings, will not desire an alteration in the government, and the notables will have memorials of their munificence. - Aristotle, Politics, Book 6, Part VII, trans. Benjamin Jowett
Here Aristotle was referring to the efforts of oligarchs to remain in power.
12 July 2007
10 July 2007
08 July 2007
One can learn this in many ways.
For this man of proven good sense
will go back home again
for the good of his citizens,
for the good of his own
relatives and friends,
on account of being intelligent.
So it is refined not by Socrates
to sit and chatter
casting aside the pursuits of the Muses
and neglecting what's most important
in the art of tragedy.
But to spend time idly
in pompous words
and frivolous word-scraping
is the act of a man going crazy.
-- Aristophanes, The Frogs, ed. Matthew Dillon
Keep in mind that this isn't the first time that Aristophanes has mentioned Socrates; he presents him in The Clouds as representative of the pompous nature of Fifth Century Athenian "academia."
07 July 2007
05 July 2007
01 July 2007
29 June 2007
The plain consequence is (and it is a general maxim worthy of our attention), 'That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish; and even in that case there is a mutual destruction of arguments, and the superior only gives us an assurance suitable to that degree of force, which remains, after deducting the inferior.' When anyone tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other; and according to the superiority, which I discover, I pronounce my decision, and always reject the greater miracle If the falsehood of his testimony would be more miraculous, than the event which he relates; then, and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion. - Sir David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748)
In other words, which is more miraculous, that someone might be speaking a falsity or the miracle itself?
25 June 2007
Anyway, recently I ran across a statement by another influential 20th century philosopher (Leo Strauss) that I found useful in describing Heidegger's thinking. Namely - to paraphrase - that Heidegger was more interested in being than human beings.
24 June 2007
With 303 preliminary orders also revealed this week [on top of 425 orders at the Paris Airshow], "Airbus has more than doubled the record for previous air shows set in 2005," said Leahy, chief operating officer for customers. Airbus won a total of 280 orders and purchase commitments at the last show in Paris, two years ago.
So much for the demise of Airbus. I wonder if Airbus will now still go forward with the cuts proposed earlier this year.
23 June 2007
Back in the 1990s when the Oregon Citizens Alliance was pushing a number of anti-gay constitutional amendments* the measures that they undertook to pass were often met with literature which not only quoted Leviticus' prohibitions against homosexuality, but also its statements on shellfish, cutting facial hair, etc. Indeed, in the voter information booklets** which are published prior to an Oregon election, groups "officially" arguing "in favor" of the OCA's amendments would quote the language on shellfish, etc. as well, much to the consternation of the OCA I am sure.
* I am sure that the OCA would likely characterize them otherwise.
** I tried to find a 1992 or 1994 voter guide online but to no avail. The measures were 9 (1992) and 13 (1994) respectively. If I recall correctly, the OCA also sponsored a measure in 1996 but it failed to get enough signatures to get on the ballot.
15 June 2007
14 June 2007
As for the bathroom, the wallpaper is finally stripped (and the walls covered with primer), the toilet has been removed and the old linoleum (three layers thick) has been removed. Oh and bathroom was partly replumbed as well. Now we just have to wallpaper and put in the floor tile. Should be a cinch. ;)
Defeat in war damages societies quite out of proportion to what a rational calculation of cost would predict. The United States absorbed the loss in Vietnam quite easily on paper, for example, but the societal effects of defeat linger to this day. The Afghanistan debacle was an underrated contributor to Soviet malaise in the 1980s and a factor in perestroika, glasnost and eventually the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Defeats can have unintended, seemingly inexplicable consequences.
Or so says Prof. Fettweis of the Naval War College (he's apparently something of a "military strategy wonk" there). I've noted on a number of occassions that whetever else this war brings it will surely be one of the dominant themes of American politics for a generation. Which I think is rather unfortunate, since it is likely that its dominance will be more about fingerpointing than any actual discussion of the war itself. Which is why we need to take Prof. Fettweis' advice seriously (though I doubt that we will):
Over the years, an abundance of evidence had come to light that the North Vietnamese, while returning 591 U.S. prisoners of war after the treaty signing, had held back many others as future bargaining chips for the $4 billion or more in war reparations that the Nixon administration had pledged. Hanoi didn't trust Washington to fulfill its promise without pressure. Similarly, Washington didn't trust Hanoi to return all the prisoners and carry out all the treaty provisions. The mistrust on both sides was merited. Hanoi held back prisoners and the U.S. provided no reconstruction funds.
BTW, in the article John Kerry doesn't come out smelling too sweet. I have to say that I'm surprised that I heard nothing of this in the 2004 campaign. That it apparently wasn't bigger news during the 2004 election might be an indication that the claims made in the article are crap. Still, Schanberg seems like a fairly credible author.
13 June 2007
PARIS, June 13, 2007 (AFP) - The Paris prosecutors' office on Wednesday denied a newspaper report that former president Jacques Chirac has been summoned for questioning next week in connection with the so-called Clearstream political dirty tricks scandal.
Here is a timeline of the Clearstream affair.
A lot of folks have wondered when and/or if Chirac will be questioned about various political scandals which surfaced during his administration. Note that a sitting French President is immune from criminal investigations, charges, etc.
11 June 2007
Prior to Loving interracial marriage remained illegal in the core Southern states. In the rest of the U.S. such laws had been taken off the books or made moot by state court decisions. Barring a Supreme Court's decision it is difficult to imagine what could quickly rid the rest of the states of such laws.
10 June 2007
PARIS, June 8, 2007 (AFP) - Reeling from Segolene Royal's defeat in the presidential race, France's Socialist Party (PS) faces the prospect of a humiliating wipe-out in this weekend's legislative elections which look set to deliver a huge majority for President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Only the lower house (the National Assembly) is directly elected in France. The Senate faces an indirect election by polling the local elected officials.
Anyway, the upcoming election of National Assembly won't - if predictions hold true - change who controls that body. If the PS really poorly however, it will mean even greater control for the UMP and those parties allied with it.
09 June 2007
08 June 2007
07 June 2007
"All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts." - Carl Schmitt, Political Theology (trans. George Schwab), p. 36
The essential argument here is that - for example - equality before the law is based on a secularized religious notion of Christian equality. I think there is something to do be said for this idea but it is a bit reductionist for my taste. More specifically it doesn't fully illustrate the radical difference between the modern and the ancient polity.
TOKYO - Japan’s cutest cat in glittering crystal decorates NEC Corp.’s new pink laptop in the Japanese electronics maker’s latest effort to woo working women.
Wouldn't a lot of working women be turned off by this thing?
ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Anaheim Ducks were born on the silver screen and came of age by capturing the shiniest of silver cups.
This must drive many Canadians crazy.
05 June 2007
EMERGENCY media controls were signed into law by embattled President Pervez Musharraf yesterday in a desperate attempt to thwart the "revolution by television" taking place in Pakistan against his rule.
This needs as much attention as the media situation in Venezuela.
04 June 2007
03 June 2007
Of course the movie differs from Homer's epic in a number of ways. That is not say that it was a bad movie. I thought that it was pretty good in comparison to a lot of what Hollywood has created out of classical texts.
02 June 2007
31 May 2007
30 May 2007
29 May 2007
This doesn't make Strauss a "fundamentalist" in any religious sense, or an advocate of orthodoxy. Indeed, he viewed these fundamentals in some ways as impossible to answer questions (e.g., just think of the classic problems which philosophy has faced since its advent). Of course some of these "fundamentals," or the rather immutable aspects of humanity, were indeed "fundamental" in the sense of being notions which were true throughout the ages. His notions on the natural inequality of man is one of these.
Strauss wanted some of these fundamentals hidden, particularly the "fundamental" question of whether we are a special creation or not. It seems that he thought to question this openly amongst non-philosophers was to endanger human society.
While I find the notion of "fundamental questions" to be a fascinating one and one which gets at the crux of a number of issues, I find his outright rejection of historicism to be troubling.
First let us note that Strauss did not reject history as a field of study. Indeed, he found it to be a good way to discover the nature of the "fundamental questions," since history illustrates the difference between the tradition of one culture and other cultures and thus the potential difference between tradition and nature. However, the use of history to justify what one might call historical particularism bothered him.
So what troubles me about Strauss' rejection? Well, it seems to me that up to a point that historicism can be useful as a means to, hmm, "enforce" tolerance. In other words, too much emphasis on "fundamentals" can lead to as much bloodshed as too little focus on it.
28 May 2007
25 May 2007
1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis, who is now the owner and manager of Team CSC, admitted doping in a Friday press conference at CSC headquarters in Lyngby, just outside Copenhagen. The Dane, who was then riding for Team Telekom, said he took EPO in 1996, the year that he ended Miguel Indurain's five-year Tour de France winning streak.
At this point folks (if they haven't done so already) may start to wonder about anyone who does well at Le Tour.
I realize that some libertarians question the ban on performance enhancing drugs in sports, but I don't. Though I would not advocate the government enforcement of such bans.
23 May 2007
In a speech in Brazil last week, the pope sparked controversy by saying that native populations had been “silently longing” for the Christian faith brought to South America by colonizers.
“The proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture,” he said in Brazil.
I'm not quite sure what to chalk these remarks up to. I can say that claiming that you know what people long dead were "silently longing" for, at least in this context (e.g., conversion by force), is at best an arrogant remark. As for the "alienation" and "imposition" remark, well, clearly the Pope is simply ignorant of the events that took place in the Americas following Columbus' voyage. By itself suppressing the worship of the Gods of the indigenous population was an "imposition of a foreign culture."
Perhaps the Pope should read de Las Casas; clearly he needs some sort of education on this particular issue.
20 May 2007
CRAWFORD, Texas - The White House on Sunday fired back at former President Jimmy Carter, calling him ”increasingly irrelevant” a day after Carter described President Bush’s presidency as the worst in history in international relations.
Whatever the merits of this claim it seems to me that this statement could be easily used to describe the Bush Presidency. Indeed that observation is so obvious one wonders why the White House would have used such language to describe Carter.
19 May 2007
JUNEAU, Alaska - Two climbers died after a 1,900-foot fall during a descent of Mount McKinley — North America’s highest mountain — Denali National Park and Reserve officials said Friday.
As an ex-climber (hoping to return to climbing this summer) I have a lot of empathy for the individuals and families involved in these sort of accidents.
Though I've never climbed McKinley I've read enough about it to know that it can be a fairly hazardous mountain to climb, particularly due to weather related issues. The fact that it has claimed a fair number of lives over the years demonstrates this.
To give folks an idea of the difficulties which this mountain presents to a climber note that ascents generally take several weeks (or as long as a month) and that well over half of the ascents are unsuccessful. There are no "dog trails" on McKinley.
Condolences and thoughts to the families, etc.
17 May 2007
I'll be the first to admit that the case as it has so far unfolded is a complex one, especially since I lack the technical knowledge that is in part at the heart of this case. However yesterday's proceedings were colored with a bit of drama. You see, Greg Lemond (who was to testify about a phone call he had with Landis shortly after the A Sample came up positive) "revealed that he [had] received a threatening phone call the night before testifying, allegedly from Landis' business manager Will Geoghegan... ." This link also provides an almost blow by blow account of Lemond's testimony.
So what was the alleged threat? Well this is how CBS describes it:
LeMond wound up disclosing he had been sexually abused as a child, and felt compelled to go public with that after receiving a call Wednesday from Landis' manager, Will Geoghegan, who knew that secret and threatened to reveal it if LeMond showed up to testify.If the allegation is true, how could Landis' manager have known about this secret? Well, one can draw some interesting conclusions from this particular piece of testimony by Lemond:
Now I have no idea if the allegation is true; indeed, all Lemond apparently has is a record of a cellphone call by Landis' manager to Lemond. Still, at the very least it adds an interesting twist to this story.
Edit: BTW, this write-up was really posted on May 18th, 2007.
16 May 2007
Apples (pick a variety that you like; I prefer golden delicious)
Fresh Rosemary (I grow my own)
How To Prepare:
Toss a few tablespoons of butter into a pan and melt it on medium heat. As the butter is melting throw in some rosemary and honey to taste. Once melted put in the apples (make sure they are cored and cut into sections first of course) and mix them into the butter, etc. Turn the heat up a bit and soften the apples. Turn off heat and serve as a side or as a dessert. If using as a dessert one might consider throwing them on top of some gourmet vanilla ice cream.
Edit: I suspect that you could do the same thing with asian pears, but I've never tried it.
15 May 2007
WASHINGTON - President Bush has chosen Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the Pentagon's director of operations, to oversee the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as a "war czar" after a long search for new leadership, administration officials said Tuesday.
And here I thought that the President was the "war czar."
May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Reverend Jerry Falwell, the Baptist minister who used television to bring his message to millions and then founded the Moral Majority to help politically mobilize the religious right, has died. He was 73.
Condolences to the family, etc.
Here's hoping that any future leaders of the religious right are as generally unsuccessful as he was.
Check out Liberty University's Biology/Chemistry Department web page and its statements about "non-Darwinian explanations for the origin of life... ."
14 May 2007
13 May 2007
11 May 2007
In his talk Morris discusses why deterrance may not be an option with Iran. To me it seems that whether one accepts his recommendations depend on just how seriously the Iranian leaders take their ideology. Morris makes important points about that ideology and its i,portance to Iran's leaders but I am not entirely convinced that they would act on it. Morris' "solution" is "serious sanctions" a term which seems to mean a total embargo.
10 May 2007
Compare the outcomes of the post-war era for both Germany and Russia. Russia, while bloodied and then some, is one of the victors of the war and Germany both crushed and dissected. Yet today Germany is a prosperous, modern nation whose economy, after something like a decade of slow growth, is doing quite well. It is also the end of an immigrant trail for not only folks from the middle east but also ethnic Germans as well as Jews from Russia. Russia, while more prosperous than it has been in recent years, is in large part dependent on the development of its oil resources. It remains a developing nation. Clearly Russia's victory did not bring it prosperity, at least not the type experienced in the West. It also did not bring the Soviet regime long-term stability.
09 May 2007
Possibly its most intriguing feature for me is how "international" it was in scope. Not only were there Americans and British involved, but sizeable elements of the Free French army, that of the Polish government in exile and many other nations. Indeed it could be argued that the two most competently lead elements of the allied forces there were that of the French and the Poles. They in my mind had something to prove and their bravery (bordering on madness at times) pulled the allied ass out of the fire on more than a few occassions.
Out of Ireland have we come,
Great hatred, little room,
Maimed us at the start.
With Ireland's economic boom and encouraging news out of Northern Ireland (see below) it seems that Ireland is overcoming its maimed nature.
BELFAST, Northern Ireland, May 8 — Paying tribute to the thousands of victims in one of Europe’s bloodiest sectarian conflicts, the leaders of Northern Ireland on Tuesday drew a formal line under decades of hostility and strife, re-establishing a power-sharing local authority of once implacable foes.
08 May 2007
06 May 2007
05 May 2007
What's my prediction?
Sarkozy 54% - Royal 46%
Second, a caveat. Much of what he will be able to do will depend on the outcome of parliamentary elections in June. If his party does not control the parliament following those elections (if France has a period of political "cohabitation"), he'll have to deal will a legislative body hostile to many of his proposals.
So what's on Sarkozy's agenda? What is he ready to serve up?
Economy: Tax cuts and labor market reform will be a theme of his administration. Sarkozy likely isn't a secret libertarian at heart but he will be (IMHO) the most pro-market President France has elected during the Fifth Republic (when French Presidents really started to matter in the French political scheme).
Foreign Policy: I expect to see generally warm relations with the U.S. from his administration. I also think that he's generally in favor of the E.U. I don't expect to see him involve French forces in Iraq.
03 May 2007
02 May 2007
30 April 2007
Edit: For some reason this post has been published under the date 30/04/07. It was actually published 2/5/07.
29 April 2007
Workers have installed the last magnet for the world's new highest-energy particle smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The installation marks an important milestone; however, researchers still may not get the collider completed in time to start it up in November as planned.
Though I'm not quite sure if this is the sort of things that governments should be doing, I do hope that they discover some interesting stuff.
27 April 2007
MOSCOW, April 27 — Estonian government workers removed a Soviet-era war memorial from the center of the Estonian capital, Talinn, early this morning, after a night of protest and violence that killed one, injured dozens and left a swath of
shattered windows and overturned cars in the city center, Estonian officials said.
Basically - from the Russian POV - the statue symbolizes the defeat of the Nazis; from the Estonian POV it symbolizes the Soviet Union's brutal occupation, etc. of Estonia. If I recall correctly many Estonians (and perhaps the Estonian government?) weren't exactly hostile to the Nazis and may have aided them in exterminating Estonia's Jewish population. All of this makes for a fairly complicated and contested historical narrative.
Whoever is "right," let's hope events there don't become too volatile; after all, as the 20th century demonstrated, people are more than willing to kill each other over their preferrred, idealized, emotionally laden historical perspectives.
25 April 2007
An Earth-like planet spotted outside our solar system is the first found that could support liquid water and harbor life, scientists announced today.
I always wonder what the cultural, religious, etc. implications of discovering extraterrestrial life (intelligent or otherwise) will be. I will predict that at the very least it will take several generations for the full effects of such a discovery to play out.
Edit: Oh, and they are calling it Gliese 581 C. We need a better name than that. Not "New Earth" perhaps, but certainly something more interesting than Gliese 581 C.
24 April 2007
HONG KONG, April 24 — Toyota sold more cars and trucks around the world in the first three months of 2007 than any other manufacturer, surpassing General Motors for the first time and ending one of the longest runs of dominance in all of global
While not a big surprise (this turn of events has been in the offing for some time now), it is still a milestone. I don't think that GM has a chance of taking back its former position (at least not in the foreseeable future), but they can probably remain a profitable corporation if they can overcome the obstacles they are currently facing.
23 April 2007
*That may be the highest total ever for a socialist candidate in the first round.
Edit: Some interesting news - apparently Sarkozy won or almost won Saint-Denis - one of the primary areas of rioting in 2005.
22 April 2007
And tell me will we never hear the end
Of puir bluidy Charlie at Culloden yet again?
Though he ran like a rabbit down the glen
Leavin better folk than him to be butchered
Or are you sittin in your Council house, dreamin o your clan?
Waiting for the Jacobites to come and free the land?
Try going down the broo with your claymore in your hand
And count all the Princes in the queue!
- Brian McNeill, No Gods and Precious Few Heroes
Edit: Some exit poll numbers:
Sarkozy - 29.4%
Royal - 26.2%
Bayrou - 18.6%
Le Pen - 10.8%
If this holds then my predictions were, well, way off. Indeed, both top two candidates did exceedingly well if these numbers hold up. This probably means a victory for Sarkozy in the second round.
BBC 24 live coverage.
Edit III: Another exit poll has Sarkozy at 30%.
Edit IV: Oh, and this I think the first presidential election since I 1981 when Chirac was not running for president.
Edit V: Yet another exit poll. Royal's camp has got to be worried about Sarkozy's performance as the exit polls show that the majority of Bayrou's supporters perfer Sarkozy over her.
Edit VI: Apparently I may be wrong about my assertion in Edit V.
My prediction: Sarkozy 27%, Bayrou 24%, Royale 21%, Le Pen 16%
If I'm right and Bayrou comes in second the Sarkozy is going to have a hard time winning the second round.
Edit: The cool thing about the French presidential election is that they get the process of installing a new President over quickly; by May 16th there will be a new French President.
So far it looks like a higher than expected turnout. I think a lot of French voters view this as an election which will shape France for decades.
Edit II: Click here to read an interesting post on the issue of how France understands itself.
21 April 2007
20 April 2007
If this fertitility rate remains constant or increases it will (along with immigration) make France the most populous European nation (outside of I guess Russia) by 2050. At the very least I wonder what the geopolitical ramifications of a more populous French state will be. It also may mean that France will continue to be able to provide for a generous safety net for its citizenry, which may not be all that great in the long run.
TEL AVIV, 4 April 2007 (IRIN) - TEL AVIV, 4 April 2007 (IRIN) - Israeli NGOs are campaigning to have 120 Sudanese refugees who fled violence in first Sudan and then Egypt released from the Israeli prisons they are being held in.
This is the sort of news story that I "love." A look at a slice of the world that I knew nothing about. It is also interesting that these Sudanese would flee to a nation that their own culture, etc. probably has little in common with. Anyway, let's hope that these refugees are released and allowed to stay in Israel.
19 April 2007
As the article notes, Ghosn is also the chief executive of Renault and Renault already sells cars priced at ~$10,000 in Europe. As such cars presumably meet European regulatory standards they would also likely meet American regulatory standards. I would see their introduction as a major boon to those who would like a new car but can't afford one; indeed, used car lots would likely take a major hit after their introduction.
PARIS (Reuters) - France's presidential election on Sunday looks set to be a traditional contest between the main right and left parties as a bid by a centrist candidate to mount a challenge loses steam, a poll on Thursday showed.I suppose this is what everyone expected, but a race between Bayrou and Sarkozy or Royal would have shook things up a bit. Of course the only real poll that counts is that on April 22nd.
14 April 2007
12 April 2007
"Tocqueville suspected that the greatest danger to freedom was not a state which prevented men from exercising liberty, but one which encouraged them to refuse the burdens of action."
-- Bruce James Smith, Politics & Remembrance: Republican Themes in Machiavelli, Burke, and Tocqueville, n. 106, p. 240
While there is something of "two sides of the same coin" present here, this way of looking at the issue underscores the perniciousness of tyranny. It is not simply that the tyrant acts like a tyrant; the tyrant also fosters a society where political, etc. culture is so weak that it numbs any "instinct" to overthrow the tyrant's rule.
10 April 2007
You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
|Dependable and trustworthy.|
You love your significant other and
you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.
Click here to take the Serenity Personality Quiz
I'm quite pleased with the result.
For me Jonestown was the point in my then young life when the problem of evil reared its ugly head. It was also the first time that I discerned the sort of troubling things that groups of people can do given the requisite commitment. Indeed seeing the pictures of those bodies lined up as neatly as they were induced nightmares in me for days afterwards.
Note that I'm a great fan of the idea that our intellectual, etc. commitments are largely pre-political/pre-rational in nature. If I apply that idea to my reaction to Jonestown I could argue that the source my religious and political stances is in the events at Jonestown.
09 April 2007
PARIS, April 6, 2007 (AFP) - French far-right presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen told a women's forum Thursday he was against making condoms freely available in schools -- advising young people to masturbate instead.
Whatever else can be said about Le Pen at the very least he is unpredictable.
07 April 2007
06 April 2007
05 April 2007
Paris - A French auto magazine has caught the cars of leading presidential candidates breaking the speed limit, raising doubts about their credentials as good citizens in the final straight of the race for France's top job.
To me what is so surprising about this story is the willingness of the French press to delve into what might have in the past be considered the "private" lives of French politicians. While that has been common enough in the U.S. over the past few decades, it is as far as I know a much newer trend in France.
I've become enamored with some aspects of the work of Leo Strauss. Not that I am a Straussian - I think a lot of what he had to offer was complete crap. However, one aspect of his thinking that I really buy into - at least for now - is his effort to differentiate between the philosopher and the partisan. Put rather crudely the philosopher is not committed to a particular political group, etc., whereas the partisan is and it seems to me that focusing on current events leads to the latter.
Why do I find any resonance in this distinction? I suppose it is because of my own blogging experiences. Being a partisan shuts out opposing viewpoints, which, even if they are not completely convincing in themselves, are likely as powerful as the views one does ascribe to. Of course I realize that there are certain weakness in the sort of thinking I'm adopting, in fact they are so easy to point out that I won't name them here. I also realize that I do not take this approach across the board - in other words I'm not going to give "equal time" to the claims of intelligent design advocates. Nevertheless, when it comes to a certain set of what one might call "big questions" partisanship seems at best inappropriate.
Out of that grows the general truth that the individual is the sole and best placed judge of his own private concerns and society has the right to control his actions only when it feels such actions cause it damage or needs to seek the cooperation of the individual.
-- Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, pg. 78, (Penguin: 2003) (trans. Gerald Bevan)
This is really a description of what Tocqueville thought that he found in the U.S. It was not something that he necessarily recommended. Indeed while Tocqueville feared what one might call a Jacobin, centralized state, he also was uncomfortable with the extreme individuation he thought that he had found in America.
04 April 2007
Put in a different way, is it better to have a reformed monarchy or should we dismantle the institutions of a society in order to create them anew? I'll put my cards on the table and state that I am fairly skeptical about the latter of these two options.
Whether a paper this old (it was published in 1973) reflects the current state of psychiatry, etc. I can't say. I do wonder whether a similar experiment produced today would bring about the same result? I think that it is likely that it would. Anyone have any evidence for a conclusion opposite this one?
(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Nicolas Sarkozy remains the most popular contender in France’s presidential race, according to a poll by Louis-Harris released by RMC. 29 per cent of respondents would support the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP)candidate in this month’s ballot.
For a while there it looked like Bayrou might upset one of the two main contenders (Sarkozy or Royal) but his support in the polls has flagged in recent weeks. Also - as one would expect - the campaigning for the April 22 first round vote has become more intense over that same time period.
Does it matter who wins the Presidential election in France? Perhaps not. Indeed it may be that it doesn't matter who ends up residing at Élysée Palace since no victor will have significant of room for manuevre. Then again no politician is ever completely completely mastered by the historical tides.
03 April 2007
STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Metallica may work as a name for a heavy metal band, but a Swedish couple is struggling to convince authorities it’s also suitable for a baby girl.Apparently the Swedish government has some authority over what one may name a child - at least with regards to their legal name. One has to ask why any population would grant a government agency this sort of authority? I can think of rationales associated with issues like identity theft and the like but they hardly seem to justify this sort of interference in the lives of citizens.
Addendum: Oh and I pulled the title of this post from Shakespeare's Othello:
O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!
That's the question one of the attorneys (Robert A. Levy) involved in Parker v. District of Columbia is asking. Note that if the Supreme Court were to uphold the Circuit's opinion in Parker it could do so on grounds which specifically recognize the individual right to bear arms.
Sounds like that was a fun ride. Still, it is much slower than the trains that have been proposed to cross the Atlantic.
More on the TGV here.
02 April 2007
One of the videos Ken Ham has produced to defend the account of creation in Genesis has been critiqued here.
Of the things I've read of Ken Ham's his "Were You There?" article is probably the piece that has provoked the most thought.
My initial reaction to the article is this. Say I wake up some morning and I look outside and there is snow on the ground. Well, I didn't actually see the snow fall, just as I have never witnessed the billions of years of stellar, biological, etc. evolution, however, I have seen snow fall in the past, just as scientists have witnessed various acts of geological, etc. change since the 19th century. So, why would I assume this particular snowfall was any different in its creation than past snowfalls I've witnessed? This prompts an allied question - why would the way that snow is created long ago be different than that it is today? And of course why would the geological, etc. processes we see today be different in the past?
So yeah, I wasn't there. But the clues that exist in current patterns of change in combination with the historical record (e.g., rock strata, the genome of a particular animal, fossils, etc.) allow us to make powerful and convincing inferences based on that data.
Addendum: In the critique of Ham's video I found the bit about the advent of nylon metabolism to be a major "wow" point. Namely that nylon did not exist prior to 1935 and yet bacteria which eat nylon have come into existance. Sounds like evolution to me.
In the grey olive-grove a small brown bird
Had built her nest and waited for the spring.
But who could tell the happy thought that came.
To lodge beneath my scarlet tunic's fold?
All day long now is the green earth renewed
With the bright sea-wind and the yellow blossoms.
From the cool shade I hear the silver plash.
Of the blown fountain at the garden's end.
Sappho, XV (trans. Bliss Carman)
This is the old fashioned way to render Sappho's work. More recent translations are far less amorphous in tone.
31 March 2007
30 March 2007
The sculpture is as far as I can tell is in a private gallery.
Here's a question - was Jesus wearing a loincloth when he was crucified?
Addendum: I suspect not, since humiliating people via the public display of genitals (or worse) has been a common practice in human societies. Anyway, being crucified by itself was a humiliating, degrading practice in the ancient world; indeed so much so that early Christians had to explain why they adopted as a savior an individual who had gone through that process.
Addendum II: If I recall correctly, there are passages in the Old Testament which state that those who are crucified are "unclean" or "cursed."
29 March 2007
Meno: I often wonder, Socrates, that Gorgias is never heard promising to teach virtue: and when he hears others promising he only laughs at them; but he thinks that men should be taught to speak.
-- Plato, Meno (trans. Benjamin Jowett)
One of the main criticisms of the Sophists was that they would teach individuals to argue without absolute reference to the "moral" nature of the argument. The problem of course is that the Sophists were partly right - choices, political or otherwise, are often difficult to make and in part this is because choices don't as often as as we would like present clear alternatives. Furthermore, the basis of these alternatives are never going to be as concrete as we would like. That doesn't mean that one should be a radical skeptic (though if that is what floats your boat, go for it - from my experience it leads to yawning nihilism, a state which has its definite costs as well as benefits), but it should make moderate skepticism seem at least attractive.
28 March 2007
27 March 2007
As for the elections results, the Liberal Party of Quebec will have to form a minority government, while the Parti Québécois (which advocates seperation) came in third. As the New York Times notes, "The outcome means Quebec will avoid another divisive referendum on whether the French-speaking province should separate from the rest of Canada."
26 March 2007
Eternity is a child at play, playing draughts: the kingdom is a child's.
-- Heraclitus, quoted in Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies
(trans. Jonathan Barnes, Early Greek Philosophy (2001), pg. 52)
Yesterday I was watching a large group of children at play. About ten or fifteen of them. They were playing tag. As the game progressed they amended the rules as various contingent "facts" arose. Though my thoughts are hardly original, I believe that this is the sort thing that Heraclitus was getting at with regards to the "kingdom" - that is with regard to the nature of human existance and perhaps metaphysics generally.
24 March 2007
Update I: Go UCLA! Two out of four. Now all I need is for Oregon and Georgetown to be tomorrow's victors.
Update II: Oregon lost to Florida. One of my championship game teams is now out. Indeed, the team I picked to win it all is out.
Update III: Well Georgetown advances. However, I have them going up against Oregon in the championship game and losing, a meeting which can't possibly happen now.
Of all the results of the "War on Terrorism" the saga following Pat Tillman's death has got to be one of the most disheartening.
Some of Kevin Tillman's (Pat's brother) thoughts on Pat, the War in Iraq, etc. Both served in the Army Rangers.
23 March 2007
If one reads through a few of the talk pages on subjects like atheism and the like one can see a pretty healthy debate.
Addendum: There are significant gaps - from my perspective at least - in what Conservapedia covers. For example, I looked up Spinoza and got zip. Anyway, I am sure that is just a function of its relatively recent genesis.
Anyway, apparently last night's game between Ohio State and Tenessee was a barn burner.
Update: Well, three of the teams that I picked to win on the second day of the "Sweet Sixteen" round have made it into the "Elite Eight." So I got six out of a possible eight right. Not bad.
Does anyone ever claim that the holocaust is a direct result of the anti-Jewish commentary found in the book of Hebrews?
22 March 2007
20 March 2007
Yet I think that it is fair say that people shouldn't be so sure of themselves, especially when it comes to complex concepts like consent or justice. Indeed, these sort of problems seem to be plagued by aporia. Of course that particular bit of unsubstantiated certitude can also be questioned. :)
*Edited for clarity.