Sunday, November 30, 2008

Radio note

I'm slated to be on the Gabe Wisdom Show on Monday, Dec. 1 at 7 pm ET to discuss my article on Hollywood's portrayals of financial advisors, "Brokers and Other Monsters."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dynamism in Peru

Virginia Postrel's The Future and Its Enemiesgets praise from Juan José Garrido Koechlin, a columnist in Peru, who upholds its emphasis on decentralized progress against calls for more government intervention in response to economic crisis. The original column in Spanish is here. An excerpt, translated by me with a little help from Babelfish:
The economic crisis has awakened the most passionate desires for more intervention. In the collective imagination, more regulation and supervision by the state would secure economic growth without traveling the painful route of the crisis. Those who bet on the intuitive statist remedy forget, lamentably, that we have arrived at a level of development thanks to the creativity, curiosity and perserverance of chaotic systems; that is to say, thanks to the lack of the constructivism that -- now -- they promote so much.
Whether there's a better translation of constructivismo than constructivism, I leave to a better translator.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Secular rightism

Secular Right, a site for conservatives who are either not religious or not inclined to mix religion and politics, now features contributions from Walter Olson, who was writing cogently about the right's increasing religiosity long before "oogedy boogedy" entered the political lexicon.

India views

Some links of interest related to the Mumbai attacks:

From the India Times, a report on the U.S., U.K. and Israel providing intelligence help in response.

Some interesting background about Jews in India and Chabad Lubavitch from Ron Coleman and Mike Licht.

David Frum calls for Obama to go to India and make India relations a high priority.

Gordon Chang points out that, pace Fareed Zakaria, these are not "remarkably peaceful times."

Prosecute these people

Here are photos of the crowd at Walmart that trampled an employee to death in their rush for bargains. I sincerely hope some negligent-homicide convictions will result.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Battlestar preview

It's been too long. Here's the Battlestar Galactica Season 4.5 promo:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gates to stay

Back in July, I thought the idea of a Pres. Obama keeping Robert Gates on as SecDef was a "cheap, easy and meaningless" diversion. I'm pleased to learn I was wrong.

The End of An Era

By McCleary

On, Michael Lewis pokes the corpse of Wall Street with a stick to try to figure out what happened. I have very limited knowledge of finance, and I still don't understand credit-default swaps, but Lewis is able to keep me turning the pages. Much as he did with Liar's Poker and Moneyball.

Indefensible graphing

The graph here, which Andrew Sullivan obtusely titles "How the Pentagon Bankrupts America," actually tells the story of how the Pentagon's budget has stayed fairly stable, in constant dollars, even as the economy overall has expanded dramatically over decades. A graph here, showing defense spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, makes that clear. And here's a site where Sullivan can get some of the graph-reading skills he lacks.

Tiny flying robots

I wrote about micro air vehicles over a decade ago, when they didn't exist. They still don't exist, as far as I can tell, but they're evidently getting closer to reality.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beantown banking

My Research magazine article on Boston's financial history is now online. Excerpt:

The need for a real bank in Boston had been evident for a while. Back in the 1760s, a merchant named Nathaniel Wainwright had acted in effect as banker for shopkeepers and others in the city. He accepted deposits and issued interest-bearing personal notes, which circulated like currency. Unfortunately, he went bankrupt in 1765, causing a panic.

The Bank of Massachusetts, also known simply as the Massachusetts Bank, financed the first U.S. trade mission to China , in 1786, and five years later funded the first U.S. voyage to Argentina . It was renamed the Massachusetts National Bank in 1864, and in 1903 merged with First National Bank of Boston to become the Bank of Boston, which merged with BayBank in 1996 to become BankBoston, which was acquired three years later by Fleet Bank, which in 2005 was merged into Bank of America.

And thus Bank of America can now trace part of its ancestry back to the 1780s, and the institution holds some historic documents to prove it (which have been displayed in recent years at its Charlotte headquarters). These include ledgers containing the accounts of, among others, Hancock, Sam Adams and Paul Revere, and a 1784 register of the bank’s original 105 shareholders, of whom, incidentally, 15 were women.

Anti-modern unwisdom

Creepy essay of the day: a call for "a new conservative political philosophy that is purged of modernism and that draws upon the Bible and the wisdom of the ancients." The "modernist" villains in the piece include everyone from Kant to Nietzsche to utilitarians to Ayn Rand to Muslim jihadists. Pretty vague as to who the "ancients" we should revere are; I suspect on closer inspection, we'd also have to purge Democritus, Lucretius, Aristarchus and others for being interested in atoms and astronomy and such.

GOP reinvention watch

Clive Crook in the Financial Times has some worthwhile ideas about "How to Reinvent the Republican Party." Excerpt:
In my view, the challenge for the party is not, as many argue, to decide whether it is a movement of social conservatives, of fiscal conservatives, or of soft libertarians. To win elections, the Republican party has to gather support from all of those groups. If any one faction comes to dominate the party – as social conservatives have lately threatened to – its prospects are diminished. To get along with each other, never mind with the independents and uncommitted liberals whose votes the party needs, Republicans first need to develop their capacity for tolerance.
Social conservatives are suspected, often with reason, of wishing to impose their values on everyone else. For the sake of their own electoral prospects and to build alliances with other segments of opinion, they need to quell that instinct, insisting only that others do not try to impose their values on them. “Live and let live”, together with a lively scepticism about government-imposed solutions, is the watchword that can bring the strands of Republicanism together. It is a distinctively American creed, as well. This centre-right nation still resonates to it.
Sounds good to me. If it's broken, fix it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Meanwhile up north

Found via Mike B., some dramatic footage of a meteor lighting up the night sky over Canada.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Leaf blowing

I bought an Echo PB-251 leaf blower but apparently you need a doctorate in plasma physics to get the thing to start.

UPDATE: It worked later. Flooding the engine seems to have been the problem.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Father and sons

By Dan Summer

My wife and I saw All My Sons on Wednesday night, an Arthur Miller play. It made me think about the secrets we all have in our families as well as guilt and shame (some more than others) and how it transcends to the family system. Basically, the patriarch of the family sold cracked cylinder heads resulting in the death of 21 american soldiers. This ultimately leads to the patriarchs son getting money to invest into his own company. The stages of grief, and denial are powerful in this and Katie Holmes isn't bad either. When I think about the ideas of this play, I think about men, and how power and greed can possibly lead to ones downfall. This might sound obvious, but this performance definitely transcends to modern day.

Manhattan right

The New York Observer has an interesting profile of the Manhattan Institute. The piece, by Jason Horowitz, has a bit of that anthropologist-among-the-natives tone with which non-right journalists often write about conservatives, including descriptions of what the interviewees are wearing ("pin-striped blazer...", "blouse and gray skirt...") and it blurs some ideological distinctions (is someone who posts about "Why I Am a Social Conservative" really part of the "culturally agnostic wing" of the Republican Party?). Still, it's noteworthy that people seem optimistic at the Manhattan Institute, and that Bobby Jindal is evidently listening to them.

Health care premonition

James Pethokoukis has some gloomy thoughts on "How Tom Daschle Might Kill Conservatism." The upshot is that a coming expansion of government domination of the health care system will be impossible to undo, creating a vast class of people determined to protect their new benefits. Maybe. Though it seems to me that this assumes the system is going to work reasonably adequately, which I suspect won't be true. Not that a crummy new system causing a massive backlash is the most cheerful prospect, either.

Conservatives and science

David Frum received a letter from engineering professor James Charles Wilson castigating conservatives for being anti-science, and then posted some negative replies here and here. I think the original letter was a bit overstated, but the counterargument that the left-does-it-too is not very inspiring.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Let them fly coach

It's easy to underestimate how much symbolism and theatrics affect political debates. Newt Gingrich lost much of the momentum of the 1994 "revolution" by complaining that he'd been required to use the back door of Air Force One. And now the CEOs of the cash-hemorrhaging Big Three automakers opted to fly in their luxury private jets to DC to ask for a handout.

UPDATE 6PM: "We do not have the votes."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nepal prospects

Well, this could be interesting, for those of us planning a trip to Nepal in the not-distant future:

Nepal's Maoists, Split on Ideology, Chart Path of Revolution

By Jay Shankar

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Nepal's Maoists, who won power this year after a decade-long civil war, meet today to chart the path of their revolution with leaders ideologically split over whether to maintain a free market or impose state control.

Puspa Kamal Dahal, the Maoist leader and prime minister, has pledged to remove barriers to foreign investment and wants the Himalayan nation to remain a multiparty democracy. Hardliners are pushing for single-party rule and a state-controlled economy.

Then again, for single-party rule and a state-controlled economy, I could just stay in the U.S.

Indians vs. pirates

India, recent recipient of a belated phone call from President-elect Obama, does yeoman's work of blowing up a pirate ship.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Space battles

Space enthusiasts are arguing about the hows, whys and wheres of going into space. See here, here and here. My views in a very small nutshell: make it as private-sector as possible; there are legitimate things to do out there that aren't scientific; the moon is probably more interesting than the Lagrangian points, and people to Mars, realistically, isn't happening anytime soon.

Nozick at 70

Some reminiscences about philosopher Robert Nozick, who would have turned 70 this weekend, are here and here. To me, a great merit of Nozick is that he took anarchism seriously enough to point out some of what's wrong with it. In brief, the private police forces turn into governments anyway.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Science party

In Britain, the Conservatives are making an effort to become the scientifically literate party. The Republicans here would be wise to follow suit. It isn't enough to sit back and assume the likes of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will establish the Democrats as the party of pseudoscientific gibberish.

Neediest cases

I'm old enough to remember when poverty did not mean owning a $600,000 house.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jindal and India

It seems a bit premature but a columnist at The Times of India is getting excited at the prospect of Bobby Jindal becoming president of the United States.

To return to the issue posed at the start of this column, when could an Indian American become US president? It could be as soon as four years from now. Piyush ‘Bobby’ Jindal, governor of Louisiana, is a hot tip for becoming the Republican candidate in 2012. He has the youth and charisma that McCain lacks. The Republican Party needs a fresh new face to challenge Obama. Jindal is not white, yet that seems not to matter at all, not even in a party long associated with notions of white superiority. Obama’s victory has truly sent the US over the racial threshold..
I think "party long associated with white superiority" is a pretty misleading description of the Republican Party, but I do like the name of the column: Swaminomics. And now that President-elect Obama has omitted India, by accident or design, from his early phone calls, it would be good to have a president who could hardly fail to be aware of that strategically important relationship

Friday, November 14, 2008

How much are business schools worth?

By McCleary

Or, better stated, how much is it worth to hang your name on a school?

I work at a business school, and last year I had a discussion with colleagues at Chicago GBS and Columbia Business School about how large a gift would be necessary for any of the unnamed top tier schools (Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, Columbia) to change their names. They guessed somewhere between $250m and $500m. Turns out they were right.

Meet the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Price: $300m.

Five years ago, Stephen Ross paid $100m to Michigan.

In retrospect, John Anderson (UCLA, $15m), J.B. Fuqua (Duke, $10m), and John Kellogg (Northwestern, $10m) got into the game at bargain prices.

Half-baked reasoning

I'm often impressed by the ability of Reason magazine these days to express ideas that I largely agree with--and make me think maybe I was wrong, since so much of the magazine is so facile and lame. A case in point is this piece by Anthony Randazzo on "The Third Way":
A new conservative movement that takes libertarian ideas seriously could use the inertia created by the nation's new progressivism to slingshot itself into the future on a platform of reduced government, lower taxes, and limited interventionism, while also respecting climate change (adjusting the tax code to encourage green reform without any expense to taxpayers) and reforming the immigration system (opening the borders as the market demands labor without sacrificing security).
Some problems with the article (not an exhaustive list):

1. Randazzo praises "the small government, Goldwater-style GOP of old" and also states that the GOP has never been "a party of small government based on classical liberal principles," without clarifying what if any distinction he has in mind to reconcile these divergent descriptions.
2. He writes that "If the Ron Paul movement tells us anything, it's that the Republican Party can be more than a party of old white guys with bad hair cuts," but fails to note any difference between Ron Paul's anti-immigration fear-mongering and Randazzo's pro-immigration stance.
3. Randazzo presents his ideas as an electoral winner for the GOP without showing the slightest awareness that many of these ideas are deeply unpopular; e.g. a carbon tax. To wit, point 4:
4. He suggests having a carbon tax "without any expense to taxpayers." But even a revenue-neutral carbon tax will shift burdens from some taxpayers to others, exacerbating its deep unpopularity regardless of its plausible merits on environmental and security grounds.
5. His "limited interventionism," if it's anything like Ron Paul's, would damage remaining Republican credibility on national security, and blur distinctions between Republicans and Democrats on foreign policy. Isn't his whole thrust that Republicans shouldn't be a watered-down version of Democrats, or is that OK if we're talking about foreign policy?
6. Randazzo argues against "moving toward the political center" without noting that many of his positions (a carbon tax, open the borders) are not associated with an unyielding conservatism.

I too think the Republican Party should become more libertarian. But libertarianism, like other ideologies, is not immune to wishful thinking and mediocre arguments.

Celestial resemblance

Isn't it odd that this extrasolar planetary system looks like the Eye of Sauron?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Space irony

I'm trying to watch a broadcast on NASA TV about Apollo 8, the mission that sent humans around the moon for the first time almost 40 years ago, a remarkable feat of determination and technological virtuosity. And all I'm getting is the audio.

Artistic freedom

Thanks to guest bloggers for getting started. A couple more may be on the way (and that may be it, lest the thing degenerate into massive confusion). And while we're on the subject of freedom and the arts, I agree with Ann Althouse that hounding a theater director out of his job because he voted against gay marriage is not a good way to affirm the high importance of tolerance.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Moving to Russia

By Dan Summer

I would also like to thank Ken for having me as a guest publisher.

As a creative arts therapist and artist, I have become growingly disappointed with the arts being cut in the school as well as publicly. Several of my friends have encouraged me to debate how art can heal the world. Though I am not sure it fully can, it does have its benefits. Unfortunately with right people and left people complaining, censoring, or disallowing art, the power of creativity has become more diminished, and now one has to be a private collector to view even erotic art! So I decided the best thing for artists to do, who care about artistic freedom, and lack of censorship should move to Russia, and try to get the Kandinsky award. (not sure how to do the link thing!) and you can see Putin naked on a couch with Hilary, but also express yourself any which way you want.

Libertarians getting their wish?

By Mitch Johnson

Thanks to Ken for letting me chime in.

I read Dan McCleary's entry, and he might be happy to know that at least one fancy opera house that he eschews in favor of his favorite rock venues could be in trouble for lack of government funding.

This past week, the foo-foo frenchy music director, Gerard Mortier, dumped his impending directorship of the New York City Opera because he didn't have enough government money to play with. At his current gig, the state-sponsored Paris National Opera, the operating budget is $160 million. The City Opera, facing a $15 million deficit, is struggling to come up with a promised $36 million operating budget for next year and meanwhile has cancelled most of it's current season. The entire 2008 budget for the National Endowment for the Arts was $145 million.

While some readers might think any federal funding of the fine arts is outrageous, it should be noted that the US is nowhere as extreme as Europe. As an opera lover myself, I hate to see this "people's opera" facing such hard times but acknowledge that cutting arts funding from the federal budget may be warranted, especially with government spending reaching sickening levels. Love opera, love Paris, hate European entitlements and the entitled. It's a hard time to be an opera fan and a libertarian.

Bin Laden hunt

I've criticized, and expect to continue to criticize, Barack Obama on various grounds. Therefore, it's only fair that I should point out some of the positions and policies of his with which I agree, and a major example is his statement that "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority." It may be that Obama underestimates the relevance of destroying Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as part of that objective, but annihilating the overall organization that attacked us on September 11 is as crucial a priority as there is.

Of Palin and Libertarianism

By Gil Weinreich
With gratitude to Ken for opening up his blog, I will add my thoughts on the current discussion of Palin and libertarianism. As much as a lightening rod as she has been, it bears noting that she is not the leader of the GOP or primary opposition to the Democrats for the foreseeable future. The only force that stands between responsible government and "creeping socialism" right now is Mitch McConnell, a shrewd legislative strategist and the Senate Minority Leader. Well, perhaps I should add Rahm Emanuel, whose duty as Obama's chief of staff will be to keep the Democratic extremists from derailing the Obama Administration's more "moderate" legislative agenda.

As for the future of the GOP, count me as a strong supporter of Palin. Libertarians like to attack social conservatives as threats to their liberty, but the cultural and political barriers to change are so enormous that even Ronald Reagan accomplished very little on the social/cultural front.

The true threat to liberty is not social conservatism, but rather the continuing erosion of societal values. To take one recent example, look at the civil rights ballot measures champtioned by Ward Connerly in Colorado and Nebraska. In formerly solid-red-state Colorado, the initiative narrowly lost. In Nebraska it passsed with 58% of the vote, meaning that in the one of the most conservative, wholesome corners of the Midwest and America, as many as 42% of the people supported politically correct but discrimatory affirmative action.

Not every issue goes as close to the heart of equality under the law as this one, but on a range of issues -- whether it be the freedom to own guns or affirmations of the religious values (all those "bitter" people out there) on which this country was founded -- social conservatives are the last ones holding the fort. My perception is that few do so with determination because they know how our culture of political correctness filters their beliefs as divisive, bitter, intolerant, etc.

Maybe it will take a plain-talking Alaskan with innate political talent and an appealing persona, who has not spent time in elite educational insitutions, to make American bedrock values "cool" again. To paraphrase the late William F. Buckley, I'd rather be governed by Sarah Palin than all the folks on the Harvard Law faculty, or even at Reason magazine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Palin, counter-Palin

CNN's Jack Cafferty, whose questions to his viewers seem to emanate from a bottomless chasm of cluelessness, asks "Why is there still so much interest in Gov. Palin?" I'll give him the answer: it's because the attacks on her have continued even after the election, and have maintained the same viciousness that's characterized so much of the criticism of her since she was nominated.

Sarah Palin's greatest asset is her enemies. The smug, false and idiotic attacks on her have overwhelmed the reasonable concerns about her becoming vice president. I am not a wholehearted fan of Sarah Palin; she underperformed at crucial moments, overstated some of her rhetoric, and is more socially conservative than I'd prefer. But hearing her noxious critics -- not just on the left but also anonymous has-beens in the McCain camp -- makes me hope she will stick around on the national stage as a counterpoint to such knee-jerk cultural snobbery.

Robert A. George, never a Palin fan, has an insightful post about the latest attacks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Libertarian leanings

By McCleary

Thanks to Ken for the invitation to post.

Intro: I was a teenage punk rocker in DC in the early eighties. One night after a Minor Threat show in Arlington, Va., I was driving home along Rock Creek Parkway, under the cantilevered balcony of the Kennedy Center. I had worked a summer job in DC, and I thought to myself, "why do my tax dollars support an arts center for rich people, while DC punks are watching Minor Threat at Woodlawn High School?"

Though certainly liberal with regard to social issues, I developed an overly simplistic economic philosophy that boiled down to "the government shouldn't spend my money on anything." It took me at least fifteen years to realize that I was probably a libertarian.


Guest bloggers

I've asked several individuals, of diverse viewpoints and areas of expertise, to consider doing some guest blogging for this site. Guest blogging could commence at any time. Moreover, this blog is now immunized against any possible federal action under a revival of the Fairness Doctrine.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Compulsory service watch

Advocacy of compulsory national service for students appeared and then disappeared on the president-elect's website. I'm losing my skepticism about the merits of libertarian civil disobedience.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Leftist alienation

Noah Pollak: "Leftist alienation with Obama is already setting in, and it is hilarious."

Or maybe it's a brilliant ploy to give Obama some centrist credibility....

Libertarians vs classical liberals

One more note about ideological labels and then I may give that subject a rest for a while. Here's Todd Seavey:
[Will] Wilkinson also sounded a sympathetic note about the idea of a social safety net, saying he sometimes feels ideologically "lonely" when he tells friends that he likes the positions of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman—including their sympathy for policies such as a guaranteed minimum income. Wilkinson's friends on the left denounce him as "a market fundamentalist," but the libertarians can be almost as negative: "They tell me I'm not a libertarian at all."
Brown University political science professor John Tomasi offered a plan for bringing together such feuding factions. Theatrically arranging three cups in front of himself on the podium, Tomasi encouraged libertarians (and liberals) to drink three metaphorical cups of potentially strange-tasting philosophical ideas: (1) Accept that there is a real distinction between classical liberals (who share a somewhat flexible bundle of ideas such as democracy, constitutionalism, and individual rights) and libertarians, adherents of a strict version of property rights that "not many people believe;" (2) accept that some version of "social justice" will seem intuitively appealing to most political thinkers and must be part of our agenda; and (3) recognize that once 1 and 2 are accepted, a friendly empirical conversation about economic policies can proceed.
It seems to me that "libertarian" as defined above ought to be called something like "absolutist propertarian" and ought to exclude not just Hayek and Friedman but anyone who's inadvertently breathed on someone else without a signed contract. But be that as it may, if any such "strict version" becomes the broadly accepted meaning, count me out. And while I've never much liked the term "classical liberal" (it seems a little nostalgic and musty), the "somewhat flexible bundle of ideas" described above is something I would sign onto rather readily.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Conservatarian thoughts

"Can libertarians and conservatives still be friends?" The trouble with the question is it assumes a purely binary relationship between libertarianism and conservatism. But in reality there is a great deal of overlap between the two, and there are many variants of each, and the relationship is more like a Möbius strip. (Well, maybe.) I'd choose "libertarian" over "conservative" as a label, if I had to choose (though arguably libertarianism is best understood as a form of conservatism anyway). Both self-identified groups, unfortunately, can be quick to write people out of the ranks if they don't meet some rather narrow ideological purity standards. And I agree with Ilya Somin that finding some common ground is a very good idea right about now.

Barr closing

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Bob Barr has 490,644 votes, which CNN helpfully rounds down to a big fat zero percent. So maybe he won't get a talk-radio gig after all. But he's welcome to stop by at Lolita Bar anytime.

UPDATE: This would be a good time to point out that the electorate has been growing, and therefore comparing absolute numbers of Libertarian votes now versus previous years is misleading. Over 110 million votes were cast in the 2008 presidential election, compared to 86 million in 1980. Thus, Barr having "the second-best Libertarian presidential performance of all time," albeit "well behind Ed Clark's 921,128 votes in 1980," is actually a bit pathetic.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Where things stand

A few items worth contemplating:

-- Jeff Flake charts a limited-government "way out of the wilderness." (Link thanks to Mike B.)

-- Jim Lindgren notes that the prospective chief of staff favors "universal citizen service."

-- Jason Zengerle points out that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., now being touted for EPA or Interior, is an exponent of anti-vaccine pseudoscience.

The latter two items should raise a few concerns among freedom- and science-loving liberals who voted for Obama. Right?

Conservative reinvention TK

A big political story of the next couple of years will be how conservatism reinvents itself in response to the new Democratic era. I, for one, hope conservatism moves in a decidedly more libertarian direction, without embracing the extremes of conspiracism and anarchism that have characterized (too) much libertarianism in recent years. It's a subject I plan to follow and, in some small way contribute to, on this blog. And it's the sort of thing that I expect will be under discussion at tonight's Lolita Bar event: "Yesterday Was the Election: What's Next?"

Note on headline: TK is an editor's term for "to come."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Congratulations to Barack Obama, who by all indications is about to become president-elect.

And also to Bob Barr, who's probably getting just enough votes for a talk-radio gig somewhere.

Election night

Breaking out the Lagavulin. In keeping with the earlier theme of unpredictability, I haven't decided if I'll weigh in on election returns tonight, or even if I'll be sober.

Nature of things

Happy Election Day. And in case there are any surprises tonight, here is Lucretius making an early attempt to understand the nature of human unpredictability:
Thou must admit, besides all blows and weight,
Some other cause of motion, whence derives
This power in us inborn, of some free act.-
Since naught from nothing can become, we see.
For weight prevents all things should come to pass
Through blows, as 'twere, by some external force;
But that man's mind itself in all it does
Hath not a fixed necessity within,
Nor is not, like a conquered thing, compelled
To bear and suffer,- this state comes to man
From that slight swervement of the elements
In no fixed line of space, in no fixed time.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Business International radical?

I worked at Business International starting in the late 1980s, a few years after Barack Obama worked there. As I've written, I think Obama glamorized things considerably in his description of the organization, making it sound like some lucrative fast track he turned his back on to be a community organizer, when in reality it was a rundown operation rife with ill-paying, dead-end jobs. However, I'm rather puzzled -- and unimpressed -- to see assertions now that Business International had a connection to the leftist Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s. Whatever their contacts may have been, the idea that BI was some kind of hotbed of radicalism is even more preposterous than the idea it was some high-powered corporate gravy train.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Who has the better argument?

David Frum makes a 10-point case for McCain.

Peruvian shamans express their preference for Obama.


Widespread rumors of gang initiation activities occurring on Halloween were, fortunately, false.