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(a poem mostly cribbed from the writing of Hogan, at Redstate, as a followup to Epistemic Closure)

I frankly don’t know,
Don’t know,
Conscience, conservative, statistic, number.

Correct or not:
Goldwater, Reagan,

The facts were in the ballpark,
The principles were
Timeless and correct.

The facts were in the ballpark.
I have read.
Good book,
Good citations,
Good facts.

In the ballpark.


Milk! 5 left at $69.99!

The reviews are priceless.

Saving the cheerleader is neither necessary nor sufficient for saving the world.

(Yes, I know I’m three  years behind on television, but it needs to be said.)

I do not know whether Fronto should be known as the first nitpicker of language, but as tutor to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, he has a good case for the most tenacious (p.129):

To my lord.

Have pity on me, and remove one word from your speech;  I entreat you never to use the word dictio (utterance) when you mean oration.

Farewell, my lord, my immortal glory.  Please give my greetings to your lady mother.

The moral of the story:  one can never escape one’s teachers.  I’m sure Fronto had a red pen.  Stylus.  Thingy.

Unless, perhaps one is Emperor.

To my master.

I shall tomorrow offer my defence of that word, if you remind me.

What’s the Latin for “pwned”?

Laughing at the “Young Con Anthem” because neither “Serious C” nor “Stiltz” have skillz is all well and good, but there’s more to their awfulness than the sort of schadenfreude you get watching the first two weeks of American Idol. For the uninitiated:

This breed of rap is all about establishing and maintaining identity, which you do by asserting your authenticity and questioning that of other rappers—either by attacking it whole cloth (coastal feuds) or its legitimacy (street credibility). The Young Cons talk up their own game like some white Wu-Tang. Ideally, these assertions of identity should be such that when they “manufacture poems to microphones, bones fracture.” (Let that play while you work and your dull life will turn into a Jim Jarmusch film.) What makes the Young Cons so tellingly awful is that they sat down to forge a statement of identity, produced something entirely incoherent, then looked upon their words and declared themselves ready for battle. Their awkward juxtapositions and clumsier delivery foreground conservative schizophrenia:

Bail out a business, but can’t protect an infant.

My conservative view is, drill baby drill,
You can say you hate me, but I’m praying for you still.

The Bible says, we’re a people under God,
AIG was hooked up by Chris Dodd.
A classy gift ain’t an Ipod.

Then there’s the lyric people have held up to the most mockery:

Three things taught me conservative love:
Jesus, Ronald Reagan, plus Atlas Shrugged.
Saving our nation from inflation devastation,
On my hands and my knees praying for salvation.

They’re not talking about coalitional politics here—the necessity of compromising with constiuency X despite their outlandish positions on Y in order to get disappointed by someone new—they’re claiming as their authentic identity the ideological incoherence of political coalitions. They haven’t put the cart before the horse so much as glued the horse to its side and demanded it be pulled down the mountain; then later, as they sift through the gore and gristle that had been their horse and cart, they turn to us and say, “We meant to do that.”

One last thing: is Scott Johnson “almost certain that this is the first time the word ‘inherently’ has made its appearance in hip-hop” because he can’t understand a word black people say or because he’s never even tried to?


Our loyal readers who also surf political blogs have probably noticed the flap over Dijongate, wherein reality descends madly into satire as the blogsphere ponders the political meaning of Obama’s decision to order Dijon mustard on a hamburger (and whether the media hushed it up to make him seem like a regular Joe!)  Anxious to do our part, we at EoTAW have discovered the real reason Obama ordered spicy Dijon rather than regular yellow mustard:

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Via Sadly, No! I learn that the mayor of Los Alamitos—a city whose proximity to Los Angeles disqualifies its citizens from claiming they live behind the Orange Curtain—recently sent the city council an email entitled “No Easter egg hunt this year.”  It contained this picture:


When questioned as to the propriety of sending poorly-executed racist photo-shops to government employees, the mayor claimed to be “unaware of the stereotype that black people like watermelon.”  Putting the issue of what exactly is “funny” about the picture in the absence of said stereotype aside, there are some conservatives who claim that the real problem here is hypersensitive blacks and their “rat-fink” instincts:

The fink who ratted him out was a black woman who sacrificed friendship to the motto, “Never Fail to Be Offended.”

His commenters agree:

How dare [defenders of the rat-fink] be offended at everything? So far the list is getting pretty long: fried chicken, monkeys, watermelons, poverty, any number of words in several languages referring to the color Black, any mention of Africa as anything less than the greatest cultural center in the history of mankind, any suggestion that there is some kind of bell shaped curve in the intellectual and physical attributes that all humans share and that Blacks are not clustered at the far right percentile [ . . . ] There is one thing that is certainly apparent and that is that Blacks seem to have a serious genetic deficiency in the lack of a sense of humor.

Being offended because they cannot violate decorum with impunity is bad enough.  This is worse:

What is wrong with Blacks liking watermelons? Should a Scot go crazy if somebody mentions plaid? Should a Norwegian go nuts if somebody has an axe or a spear or a horned helmet and God forbid a mention of lefsa or lutefisk? Should an Irishman go berserk and start screaming discrimination if somebody has a potato?

Scotland is a country.  Norway is a country.  All the other countries mentioned in this comment are countries.  Black is not country.  Even if it were there would be nothing wrong with liking watermelon per se.  The same cannot be said of the claim that blacks have a special affinity for watermelons.  Why?

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Thesis:  The only thing more annoying than Valentine’s Day advertisements and garish displays of red and pink* are the complaints about the holiday where people endorse the very commercial and patriarchal values promoted by commercials that they purport to reject by getting upset over the day.

Slightly more defensible thesis:  Since Valentine’s Day is, by and large, a holiday that while not fake**, unmoored from other cultural traditions, there is very little social cost to ignoring it.  Thus, do not let it make you upset!  This one is up to you, so to speak.

Most defensible thesis:  I’m being a dick.  (No wonder I’m not getting any flowers!!!) But I find it curious that one effect of the day is return everyone*** involved to the popular caricature of the 1950s; either one is the popular cheerleader getting flowers from the quarterback, or one is her plain best friend whom no one loves, or a geek who gets sand kicked in the face while being shoved into the locker who has no one to love.  Everyone adopts the attitudes appropriate to those roles, even if they would not normally endorse them.

Poem for putting up with my indefensible thesis:

MISER Catulle, desinas ineptire,
et quod vides perisse perditum ducas.
fulsere quondam candidi tibi soles,
cum ventitabas quo puella ducebat
amata nobis quantum amabitur nulla.
ibi illa multa tum iocosa fiebant,
quae tu volebas nec puella nolebat.
fulsere vere candidi tibi soles.
nunc iam illa non volt: tu quoque inpotens noli,
nec quae fugit sectare, nec miser uiue,
sed obstinata mente perfer, obdura.
vale, puella. iam Catullus obdurat,
nec te requiret nec rogabit inuitam.
at tu dolebis, cum rogaberis nulla.
scelesta, uae te, quae tibi manet uita!
quis nunc te adibit? cui videberis bella?
quem nunc amabis? cuius esse diceris?
quem basiabis? cui labella mordebis?
at tu, Catulle, destinatus obdura.

Catullus needs a hug and a box of chocolate.  Or some sex.

*These colors clash.  Badly.

**As opposed to all of the other holidays, which reflect the Platonic forms of observance.****

***Universe of Discourse: those annoying me.

****In favor of Valentine’s Day: the Platonic forms do not normally involve half-priced chocolate.

Oh, no.  Not the stimulus package.  Battlestar Galactica.  I thought Zarek’s actions were out of character, and designed to ensure that they could wrap up the coup in two episodes, ensuring the audience knew who they were supposed to back.

Key evidence:  The Quorum are wimps.   More discussion (with spoilers*) after the jump.

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All the crying and crowing over the death of Pajamas Media overshadowed the birth of the awesomeness that is Pajamas Television.  Just today I watched Glenn Reynolds, Michelle Malkin, and the Artisan Formerly Known as Joe the Plumber discuss the first weeks of the Obama administration.  They showed behind-the-scenes footage of the Daschle debacle:


They laughed ha ha while the tape ran.  Then Reynolds showed it again ha ha.  Malkin said it was distracting ha ha.  Reynolds asked how that got in there again ha ha.  Is that the Obama administration or a car full of clowns ha ha. Who can tell ha ha.

Because being on the cutting edge of political commentary entails airing footage of a clown car while the contemporary equivalent of “Bag of Rags” blares.  I couldn’t watch much more than the first five minutes—I kept waiting for Reynolds to pull a full Saget and show Obama getting beaned in the privates by a baseball.  But I saw enough to capture the new face of serious journalism in all its seriousness:


Pajamas Television: where you can watch a middle-aged man put every ounce of the fiber of his being into nailing a lick on his air guitar.  Serious journalism for serious people ha ha.

It seems that Obama did the reading for the audio version of his book, Dreams from My Father. And there are passages contained therein that are, um, colorful. Which is to say, I know that Obama usually gets compared to Lincoln and FDR, but LBJ might be more apt. It’s all enough to make Rahm Emanuel blush.

Seriously, it’s worth clicking through and listening.

Liberty League

“… Odd, this neurotic tendency in the American business man. Can you account for it? No? I can. Too much coffee.”


“That and the New Deal. Over in America, it appears, life for the business man is one long series of large cups of coffee, punctuated with shocks from the New Deal. He drinks a quart of coffee, and gets a nasty surprise from the New Deal. To pull himself together, he drinks another quart of coffee, and along comes another nasty surprise from the New Deal. He staggers off, calling feebly for more coffee, and…. Well, you see what I mean. Vicious circle. No nervous system could stand it.”

Bertie Wooster’s Uncle Percy (with a brief assist from Bertie), in P. G. Wodehouse, Joy in the Morning. Which, I arbitrarily assert, is the best of the Jeeves/Wooster novels.

Exhibit; Sentence.  I love this list.

Mark Helprin—author of my favorite novel when I was a naive fourteen—published another well-written, ur-conservative editorials in the Wall Street Journal today.  You can (and will) disagree with the sentiment, but you must admit that the man can control his clauses:

The pity is that the war could have been successful and this equilibrium sustained had we struck immediately, preserving the link with September 11th; had we disciplined our objective to forcing upon regimes that nurture terrorism the choice of routing it out with their ruthless secret services or suffering the destruction of the means to power for which they live; had we husbanded our forces in the highly developed military areas of northern Saudi Arabia after deposing Saddam Hussein, where as a fleet in being they would suffer no casualties and remain at the ready to reach Baghdad, Damascus, or Riyadh in three days; and had we taken strong and effective measures for our domestic protection while striving to stay within constitutional limits and eloquently explaining the necessity—as has always been the case in war—for sometimes exceeding them.

The children on the Corner think otherwise.  According to Peter Wehner, Helprin’s editorial is both wrong and chock-full of “very sloppy writing.”  The above soundly refutes the sloppiness argument, but you should know better than to expect sound arguments from people who think “Charles Krauthammer [is] America’s best columnist and one of our finest geopolitical thinkers.”  My favorite bits:

This is an example of very sloppy writing on the part of Helprin

I gather that Helprin is lamenting the fact that we did not attack Iraq immediately after 9/11.  But we could barely attack Afghanistan immediately after September 11, 2001, and Afghanistan required a strategic innovation that Halperin totally ignores…

Reading between the lines, his use of the word “eloquently” probably translates into “we need more speeches written by Mark Halperin.” It’s worth recalling, then, that Helprin’s most notable speechwriting achievement to date was penning Robert Dole’s 1996 acceptance speech, arguing that Dole would be our Bridge to the Past. The speech was a bust, and helped contribute to Dole’s loss to Bill Clinton…

Helprin is right that many Democrats have been feckless.  But if everyone from George W. Bush to Democrats have been feckless—and surely Helprin would throw in every other global ally on that spectrum, too—then Halperin is saying everybody, but him, has got it wrong. This is akin to the man on the highway who is going the wrong way and talks to his wife on the phone about how many morons are going the wrong way.

However would he know what that feels like?

Speaking of ethnic naming practices, you might want to take a few minutes to read this uplifting tale. Or not. In which case, here’s the bestest part:

A supermarket is defending itself for refusing to a write out 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell’s name on his birthday cake…

Heath Campbell said he named his son after Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and because “no one else in the world would have that name.”

The Campbells’ two other children are named JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, who turns 2 in a few months, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, who will be 1 in April.

Campbell said he was raised not to avoid people of other races but not to mix with them socially or romantically. But he said he would try to raise his children differently.

“Say he grows up and hangs out with black people. That’s fine, I don’t really care,” he said. “That’s his choice.”

He said about 12 people attended the birthday party Sunday, including several children of mixed race.

Do you think Honszlynn Hinler is named for Himmler? I probably shouldn’t have even considered that. Because somehow it’s that detail of the story that makes the whole thing sad for me. Rats, killed the funny by over-thinking it.


… good luck to all of you on the various academic job markets this year.  This sums it up nicely, except on the academic markets, there are fewer coins.

It is not generally true that one is required to dance at the interviews, however, if that comes up, stay in unison.

Also, for those of you following the parliamentary dust-up in the True North Strong and Free, a helpful guide to Canadian politics.

(part 1 of an n-part series about meta-ethics in the 20th century)

Inspired by Dana’s series on Leibniz and Spinoza, I thought I’d write a series of posts about some philosophical issues in my vicinity. Though this series will be different from hers in many ways (viz., neither interesting or true) I hope it will serve two useful functions: first, it will help give historians and other non-philosophers an idea of what it is we do, and second, it will make them feel ok about ignoring us altogether. I should also note that this is more or less a top-of-the-head exercise, so while I’m pretty sure the broad lines of reasoning are accurate I’m not going into the bookstacks to check any of this stuff. Undergraduate plagiarists take note.

What I want to do in this series is discuss some of the metaphysical and linguistic concerns that drove a lot of the metaethical discussion of the last hundred years. In particular I want to focus on the relationship between two questions: first, do moral properties— properties like rightness or goodness– fit into our best picture of the world, in particular with the picture drawn by the natural and social sciences? Second, how do moral judgments and concepts function? That is, what’s going on when we make judgments about, for example, an act’s being right or wrong? If you think that moral properties aren’t metaphysically problematic, you can give a straightforward answer to the second question: moral judgments try to get the moral facts right. If you suspect, as many have, that the answer to the first question is no, the second question becomes more pressing, because you need to provide some alternative account of what’s going on in moral judgment. What are we doing, if not describing moral reality?
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The question, raised by dana*, is: who’s the smartest person ever? I’d offer some guidelines, but then someone would say that my guidelines are stupid, which might disqualify me from being the smartest person ever. And I can’t have that; I’m clinging to my dream. Also, Franklin’s fine, if you’re looking for the smartest American**. But Newton’s my real answer, at least until I change my mind.

* She says Leibniz, by the way. In case you’re too lazy to read her post.

** Don’t even bring that Jefferson stuff around here.

Man, and here I had thought at the time that the title of my earlier post was over the top, but apparently I was just a couple months early. I would advice these gentle folk that there is plenty in the Bible that they were not supposed to do, including:

  1. Slaughter all the first born.
  2. Harden thy heart against the widow and orphan.
  3. Commit adultery and covet thy neighbor’s ass.
  4. Slaughter thy brother and wander the land with a mark upon their forehead.
  5. Put thy God to the test by throwing thyself off the walls of the city.

Though the republic might thank them for the last.

via the godless apostropher.

Let it be noted that we of the West are evenhanded in our treatment of the candidates. Pictures and some commentary from a McCain rally below the fold.
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