Sunday, April 30, 2006

John Kenneth Galbraith, RIP

The author of The Affluent Society has passed away. I'll leave it to Jeremy to say a bit more.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Which Character Was Not On "Seinfeld"?

a) Soup Nazi
b) Ned Flanders
c) Puddy
d) Jackie Chiles
e) Mr. Peterman

This was a question on Greed, just now. The contestant answered, (c).

Sunday Sermonette II

[T]he ontological arguer who says that his world is special because his world alone is the actual world is as foolish as a man who boasts that he has the special fortune to be alive at a unique moment in history: the present...

It is true of any world, at that world but not elsewhere, that that world alone is actual. The world an ontological arguer calls actual is special only in that the ontological arguer resides there --- and it is no great distinction for a world to harbor an ontological arguer. Think of an ontological arguer in some dismally mediocre world --- there are such ontological arguers --- arguing that his world alone is actual, hence special, hence a fitting place of greatest greatness, hence a world wherein something exists than which no greater can be conceived to exist. He is wrong to argue thus. So are we.

---David Lewis, "Anselm and Actuality"

Sunday Sermonette

In The American Religion, Bloom says that as a religious critic he has tried to follow something uttered by his secular deity, William Blake, that "Everything Possible to be Believed is an Image of Truth." One would need such an aphorism to avoid breaking out into derision at the Mormons, the Christian Scientists, and the fundamentalists. It looks like one of Blake's sillier lines, itself an image of untruth; unless, of course, Blake actually meant that everything possible to be doubted is an image of truth--that every doubtful thought contains a truth. Harold Bloom, aloft on his sublime religion of art, has never been much enamored of doubt. The hint of it at the end of his book gives his writing a new, and decidedly belated, energy.

---James Wood, "The Misreader"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

War, Economy, History; or, the radical evil of American "Conservatism"

Here's a very interesting book review by Jacob Heilbrunn of Darthmouth prof Jeffrey Hart's new book on "The Making of the Conservative Mind." Hart is a longtime contributor to National Review, the newest anti-bush con, and has written a sort of intellectual history of 1950'sff. conservatism, from the non-neo-con, non-evangelical-perspective. Nevertheless, the best graph in the article, which has already been tagged by wash monthly's kevin drum is Heilbrunn's response to a lot of the aristocratic handwringing:
In reality, though, conservatism hasn't really changed all that much. The Christian right has certainly infused it with moralism and anti-Darwin mumbo-jumbo, but what's more striking about the GOP over the past 100 years or so is its continuity. The party's main, almost sole, purpose has been to ensure that as much money as possible goes to those who need it least and that as little as possible goes to those who need it most. In a party of moneybags, Theodore Roosevelt was the exception, not the rule. Whether Bush manages to extricate the United States from Iraq or not, his avalanche of tax cuts has already justified the main reason that Republican pooh-bahs selected him to become their candidate for president.
The failure of Iraq, our status of non-declared semi-illegal war, and the looming threat of our response to Iran are the crucial issues of the moment. Nevertheless, that these issues are crucial is still somewhat of a successful by-product of a militarist agenda that cannot be sustained but by a governing economic ideology. And contra the bandwagon jumping foreign policy critique that has now become de rigeur among the somewhat brighter lights of a dim intellectual candelabra, the economic critique is the one that has always been most obvious and most needing to be made.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wake Up Peter Johnston (And Leon Wieseltier), I'm Calling You Out

Okay Peter, just because I let you off easy once doesn't mean that this aggression will stand. What aggression? After about 500 words of throat-clearing, in two and a half newspaper-sized paragraphs, Johnston proves substance dualism to be true, that we have free will, and that God exists. Problems solved, time for philosophy departments to pack up and go home. Take a gander:
I have not given my mom a phone call for a month and have no legitimate excuse. Such an excuse would be nice for me; if it were impossible that I call my mom, I would not have to take responsibility for my actions. Determinism is so useful! Unfortunately, when I explain to my mom the mass of forces of this fatalistic universe conspired to coerce me into not calling her for a month, she is generally unlikely to buy it. I am responsible for my inappropriate action because I was free to do otherwise. I have the capacity of free will.

But we know material forces act according to natural laws and the velocity of every atom is an effect with a proportionate cause. The human body and brain are made of atoms. If the human body constitutes the human being, it is materially determined.

I have established that I have the capacity of uncoerced action. All of us experience freedom. The human body, then, must not constitute the entirety of the human being. In addition to this facet, the human being must also have a non-material facet. I will call this the soul. I know this soul is non-material and enables the capacity of uncoerced action. But I know I, as a human, have an origin. Thus, my soul must have had an origin. My soul must have been created by something. No material thing could have created my soul, for the effect would have been greater than the cause.

There must be a non-material thing that created my soul. I will call this God. I will explore the consequences of this and define my position in a column next week.
Got that? There's going to be more. Actually, this abortion of a column is only leg two of a triathlon which began with this philistine piece on "ideological evolution" [sic] and will culminate with---I shudder to think what with. As a colleague of mine put it, Johnston deserves a commemorative plate or something for the three-fer.

Now, why is this worth writing about at all, you ask? Answer: Because Johnston is at least as sophisticated a philosopher as any bigtime pundit; his conclusions may look out of the mainstream, but the bullshit coming out of his mouth bears a close formal resemblance to the philosophastering of respected news and opinion journals.

What's bullshit about it, you ask? It may be a position you disagree with, but it's still a position? Answer: Utterly wrong. It is not a position. It is a compilation of lecture notes (second- and third-hand ideas play this role for professional pundits) with massive confusion, equivocation, and unexamined bias grafted onto it. The sad thing is that the philosophical concepts in play are not of a nature that requires any exceedingly technical analysis, and they are crucially important in the moral decisions about how to order one's life that every person, philosopher or not, aware of the fact or not, inevitably engages with.

The best advice in philosophy is to take things slowly, so let's do that. I said at the outset that Johnston proves (well, "proves") substance dualism, the existence of free will, and the existence of God in sound-bite sized chunks of language. Those are three separate conclusions. Johnston evidently believes them to be one, or thinks them all intimately connected, or fails utterly to appreciate where the conceptual dividing lines are. And in that error, he is joined by some significant proportion of people who would consider themselves literate and cultured, even liberal. The idea is: physicalism is incompatible with free will, there is free will, therefore some non-physicalism is true, therefore---and here the paths diverge: Thomism and the Francoism into which it has evolved, i.e., what's left of the philosophical substance of the religious right, after making a series of unwarranted theoretical leaps, now leaps off a cliff from non-physicalism to dualism to theism to Christianity to trinitarianism. Not one step follows from the last. But liberals have no right to laugh it up; so much better than the blinkering dogmatism of the religious right are they, that they'll indulge in every spiritualistic, supernaturalistic mania before confronting the blatant question-begging of the presupposition of the existence of free-will, and the less blatant but still theory-killing question-begging of the assumption that non-physicalism can handle the paradox of free will any better than physicalism can.

And here is the simplest statement of the paradox of free will. If you're going to argue that free will exists, you must have an answer to this---or you just don't count. All of the following four statements jibe with intuition but at least one of them must be false on pain of contradiction:
(1) We have free will.
(2) If the universe is deterministic, we don't have free will.
(3) If the universe is indeterministic, we don't have free will.
(4) The universe is either deterministic or indeterministic.
(4) is simply an instance of the law of the excluded middle. If you're prepared to deny (4)...you're not actually prepared to deny (4), whatever your protestations. You live by assuming the law of the excluded middle.

So one of (1)-(3) has got to be false. But (2) and (3), while not truths of logic alone, look pretty sound. The denial of (2) and (3) is compatibilism, and to cut a long story short, it doesn't work. [UPDATE: This can get really complicated, and it would be a distraction to get too heavily into the technical work that's going on; suffice it to say, compatibilism gets the modalities wrong.]

So that leaves (1). It's not in whole or in part a truth of logic. It's not a statement with any empirical confirmation of the sort admissible in science behind it. It's an intuition, just an intuition. "It's not just an intuition," squeals the free-will dogmatist. "I actually have the experience of acting freely." Indeed. And many people do not have that experience, after reflecting on it just as thoroughly as the upholders of free-will. And what's more (and more important), given the absence of free will, the alternative theories do indeed predict the datum of the experience of free will. If the universe is deterministic, then the laws of nature and the states of fundamental particles at the time of the Big Bang determine that in 2006, Peter Johnston will have the experience of having free will. If the universe is indeterministic, then by quantum coin flip, Peter Johnston had the experience of having free will. The experience anyone has of having free will is therefore utterly irrelevant as evidence for or against it. So the intuition is just raw assertion. It might have utilitarian backing of some sort---perhaps societies flourish where belief in the existence of free will is dominant---but that tells us nothing about whether or not free will exists. Hence, of (1)-(4), (2) (3) and (4) have varying degrees of objective backing, (1) has none. And one of (1)-(4) must be false. So the only warranted conclusion is that (1) is false. QED.

But pretend Johnston wasn't dead from the get-go. Suppose that some very sophisticated instruments are actually able to detect free will indirectly through, let's say, surface spectral reflectance of medium-sized dry goods. What then? Has physicalism been disproved? Hardly. The question of free will vs. determinism vs. indeterminism is utterly separate from the question of physicalism vs. dualism (or any other contender). Whichever of physicalism and dualism is right must necessarily be consistent with whichever of free will, determinism, and indeterminism is right. And whether physicalism or dualism is right, the appearance of law-like regularities in nature is unaffected. According to physicalism, all of nature is related by physical laws. According to Berkeleyan idealism, all of nature is related by psychological laws (God's coordination, or whatever). According to dualism, there are physical things and mental things, the physical things related to each other by physical laws, the mental things related by psychological laws, and the mental and physical things related to each other by psychophysical bridge laws of some sort. Well, that's quite the conundrum. Laws don't become less restrictive when you multiply them. In fact, they have a tendency to become moreso (ask any libertarian). So if free will exists, it must be consistent with law-like regularity, whatever the nature of the relata that the regularities relate might be.

It's not just Johnston that is completely hopeless engaging with this stuff. It's paladins of intellectualism like Leon Wieseltier too. I'm working on a long-ish journal article about the old bore, so I'll confine things to a lowlight:
You cannot disprove a belief unless you disprove its content. If you believe that you can disprove it any other way, by describing its origins or by describing its consequences, then you do not believe in reason.
The context is a scorched-earth review of Daniel Dennett's new book that manages to commit errors a freshman in an introductory lecture course in philosophy wouldn't be able to get away with. Wieseltier attempts to convict Dennett of genetic fallacy, hence the quoted tangle. Now, while it's quite correct that the only way to show that ~p is to show that ~p, there is nothing fallacious about questioning the grounds for belief in p. For example, some people believe that God exists because the Bible says so and God wrote the Bible. But if you were to show them that people wrote the Bible that says that God exists, you would not have proven that God does not exist, but you would have removed one of their reasons for believing that God exists. And if they have no other reason for believing, then they have an epistemic obligation to suspend belief. It's not disproof, it's disillusion.

Things just get worse for Wieseltier. "If you believe you can disprove a belief [without disproving its content], you don't believe in reason." Hmm. I see a conditional. An if p, then q. Let's all take out our truth tables. (If p then q) is false iff. p is true and q is false. So: S believes you can disprove a belief without disproving its content; but S does also believe in reason, and is just confused about what genetic fallacy is (sound familiar?). So p is true, q is false. So (if p then q) false. So the conditional is false. Who doesn't believe in reason? Just goes to show that sipping martinis with Saul Bellow is not a form of enlightenment.

Nothing In The News, Right?

I mean, our government's not planning nuclear strikes against Iran, is it?

Despite these days being some of the most newsworthy ever, end-of-term/college work has kept me from blogging. I can't promise it'll resume with any regularity until all this shit is done---and what I'm staring at, while not quite as bad as a 90 page senior essay over the course of a week, is pretty intimidating. [N.B. A revised version of a couple of sections of the essay are forthcoming in the Yale Philosophy Review, under the thrilling title, "Objects, Worms, and Slices in 3 and 4D. It's about eminent domain--ed.]

The blogroll's been updated a bit: Print Culture, a blog Jeremy has been telling me about for a while, is on the list (they picked up that Carly Simon's paradox thing in a sidebar on the right); also, a really good blog called Empire Falls.

UPDATE: Speaking of news, I see that my semi-celebrity neighbor, Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, has passed away.

Anyway, when things get back into full swing, May-ish, there may be some big changes, maybe even a switch to typepad.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Iran

Brent Scowcroft on Iran:
ARE we pursuing the right strategy to ensure that Iran (or, for that matter, any other aspirant nuclear power) does not cross the threshold to join the ranks of nuclear weapons states?

To deter Tehran, it is essential that there be a united front between the US, the European Union, Russia and China to prevent Iran from exploiting any differences or finding any sort of wiggle room that would allow it to continue with its program.

The issue, of course, is that under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Iran - as well as any other signatory to the NPT - is entitled to a fuel cycle as part of its right to peacefully use nuclear energy for civilian purposes. The problem is the process and equipment for enriching uranium and reprocessing spent fuel for peaceful purposes is identical to that for producing weapons-grade material.

What we need to do, therefore, is find a mechanism that will allow all NPT countries to enjoy the benefits of a civilian nuclear energy program while preventing the production of weapons-grade nuclear material through close supervision.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council should be prepared to make the following offer to Iran. Acknowledging that Tehran has every right to exploit nuclear energy for civilian use, Iran should be guaranteed an adequate supply of nuclear fuel for its reactors in return for abiding by all International Atomic Energy Agency regulations. This, in turn, should serve as the basis for a new international fuel-cycle regime that applies to all countries. Any approach to stemming nuclear proliferation that singles out specific countries - such as the Bush administration is doing with Iran - is not likely to succeed.

The first step should be an immediate freeze on all new capacity for the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium anywhere in the world. I am concerned about a trend that we see reflected in the US-India nuclear deal where we try to address proliferation risks by assessing the character of regimes and governments. Such an approach also opens up divisions, with each making a list of friends who can be trusted with nuclear technology and foes who are dangerous risks. Iran is certainly trying to capitalise on perceived disagreements among the US, Europe, Russia and China.

Focusing on a process eliminates such loopholes: this freeze would apply equally to Iran, Brazil, South Korea, Argentina or any other state that is contemplating developing an enrichment and reprocessing capability, regardless of whether they are democracies, dictatorships or something in between.

Once the ban is in place, the next step would be to work out the mechanism, under the guidance and supervision of the IAEA, as to how enriched fuel would be delivered, used and returned to supervised facilities. The Bush administration's proposal for Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (where member states of the nuclear supply group would provide enriched uranium to customers across the world) is a step in the right direction, but in its present form it lacks guarantees that all countries would have access to adequate supplies of nuclear fuel. This arrangement would still give individual suppliers the ability to arbitrarily cut off or suspend deliveries.

What is needed is an international guarantor so countries that lack an indigenous fuel-enrichment cycle would always have access to nuclear fuel. Indeed, it may be in the interests of the leading nuclear states (perhaps under the auspices of the G8) to subsidise such a program, so that no country would have an economic rationale to defy the ban and proceed with developing an indigenous fuel cycle, on the grounds that relying on the international system might prove too costly.

Could this proposal serve as the basis of a workable settlement with Iran? It could certainly stymie the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad approach, which has relied on using the nuclear issue - and the perception that Iran is being denied its legitimate rights - to stir up Iranian nationalism to distract the population from the pressing domestic problems of the regime.

Having the international community - and the US in particular - take at face value Iran's claims that it needs a civilian nuclear energy program to reduce reliance on diminishing hydrocarbon reserves and cut down on a growing pollution problem caused by fossil fuels places more pressure on the Iranian Government to demonstrate its good intentions.

A US-led international front that starts out by recognising that Iran has legitimate rights and concerns can go far in depriving the present regime of its ability to use Iranian nationalism in this crisis.

And should the Iranian Government reject an international proposal that implicitly recognises and safeguards its rights to a nuclear energy program under the NPT, it would become easier to convince other leading states of the need for sanctioning the regime.

Iran's strategy remains predicated on the assumption that no united front is possible, that even if the US, the EU, Russia and China all agree that a nuclear-capable Iran is undesirable, disagreement over the tactics will preclude any effective action.

The Bush administration needs to be prepared to find common ground with the other permanent members of the UN Security Council. This includes being prepared to talk to the Iranians and to put the question of security guarantees on the table. Indeed, something that might develop as a result of such a process would be a move towards giving all non-nuclear states firm security guarantees and territorial integrity as a way to provide further incentives for non-nuclear states not to pursue a nuclear program.

I have found the Europeans and Russians with whom I have discussed these ideas to be supportive of moving towards creating such an international regime to control the fuel cycle. But we also need to recognise that, in the case of Iran, we need to be prepared to strike deals with the other large powers to take their interests into account.

In particular, China is caught between its stated desire not to see Iran become a nuclear weapons state and its growing energy dependence on Iran. The US and other countries should be prepared to guarantee to China that if, as a result of pressure placed on Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program, oil and gas supplies to China are affected, all efforts will be undertaken to minimise the disruption to the Chinese economy and that China would suffer no more than anyone else.

Washington should be prepared to offer similar considerations to other countries (such as Russia or European countries) that may have to put significant economic interests at risk to apply pressure to Iran.

We should never take the stand that "virtue is its own reward" when dealing with a serious issue such as nuclear non-proliferation.

Nuclear weapons technology is no longer a closely guarded secret in the possession of a handful of countries. An approach that relies on determining the character of regimes to assess worthiness to use nuclear energy is full of loopholes.

Only by creating an international regime - and applying it without exception, across the board - can we hope to guarantee that all countries can enjoy the benefits of nuclear energy without risking the spread of the world's deadliest weapons.

Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser to US presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, is president and founder of the Scowcroft Group in Washington. This is adapted from the spring 2006 issue of international affairs journal The National Interest.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New At YDN...For The Last Time

This'll be my last column in the Yale Daily News, at least for the time being. I think this is a good note to sign off with (for those not around here: the backstory is, some Crazzzy Christers held an "I agree with Adam" festival last week, wherein attempts at missionary work were made and rejected. The whole thing was creepy and culty, but that hasn't ever stopped Christers in the past):
A fragment of a Lost Gospel, recovered from the banks of the Quinnipiac and translated into English from Ugaritic in the Year of Our Lord the Two Thousand and Sixth:...

"Indeed, if I may quote the Book of Ecclesiastes, 'There is nothing new beneath the sun.' The first coming of Adam at Penn State in 2000 was heralded several months earlier by a reborn John the Baptist, a sophomore (of course) at the University of Arizona named Dave Goffeney, who was the focus of his very own 'I agree with Dave' week. (Naturally is Adam descended from Dave, for was it not foretold that the Savior will be of the line of David?) The earthly ministry of Dave, in turn, was rooted in the teachings in the mythic past (1998) of the great lawgiver Tom Rickstren of the Humboldt State University Campus Crusade for Christ in California.

"Proclaiming an 'I agree with Tom' week, which he aptly described as a 'supernatural experience,' the prophet donned an 'I am Tom' shirt, no doubt in keeping with the revelation of God that he received atop Mount Shasta, California, known in all the lands as a mountain of mystery and terror. The Tablets of Tom are the Law of the Campus Crusade for Christ International, consisting in Four Commandments: '1) God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life. 2) Man is sinful and separated from God. 3) Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. 4) We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.'

"Behold, Adam comes not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it: He believes 'There is a God who loves us.' He believes 'that every person … thinks and behaves in a way hostile to God, and this hostility separates us from Him.' He believes that Jesus Christ 'rose back to life, defeating death and making it possible for humanity to be reconciled back to God.' And He believes that it's 'up to us whether or not we accept this gift of reconciliation through Jesus.' It is a wicked and faithless man who would attribute the almost perfect resemblance between Adam's creed and the CCCI's Old Dispensation to dumb chance. As Jesus tells us in Luke 16:17, 'It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for one little stroke to drop out of the Law.'

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Emperor Has No Clothes

You Tube got the caption wrong on this one. I fear for my country.

A Star Is Born

Congratulations to Al, who can now afford to do more Delino posts. As always, TV will answer the pressing questions, namely --- how did Mike Sexton analyze his play? and --- what nickname did Vince van Patten give him?

UPDATE: Al in a WPT-Behind-the-Scenes™ interview here. Danger Dave: Isn't this really exciting for you? Al: Yeah, yeah it is exciting. I don't really know what else to say.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rejoice Thirsty Masses

The Actual Rod's blog may be all but dead, but here he is, in the flesh, at a Ned Lamont rally at Naples yesterday (link via Atrios).

Friday, April 07, 2006

Frist Fucking

Ahem, Kaus --- how's that for a pun (scroll up slightly).

Now then. Bill Frist's political action committee sent out somewhat unusual invitations to its annual gala event. Go here to find out what a red handkerchief in a right back pocket means (hint: the title of this post is a hint).

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thought for the Day

no, let us rather choose
Arm'd with Hell flames and fury all at once
O're Heav'ns high Towrs to force resistless way,
Turning our Tortures into horrid Arms
Against the Torturer; when to meet the noise
Of his Almighty Engin he shall hear
Infernal Thunder, and for Lightning see
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
Among his Angels; and his Throne it self
Mixt with Tartarean Sulphur, and strange fire,
His own invented Torments.

-- John Milton, Paradise Lost

And for the record, pace Fish, Kerrigan, etc., Milton's God by William Empson is the only way to go re: Satan, God, and which side are you on.

More Duke

Nothing is more vital in our justice system than the idea that an accused is innocent until proven guilty, and I am not trying to violate this idea. However, the penultimate paragraph of this NYTimes piece is noteworthy:
The police affidavit says the woman was examined by a forensic sexual assault nurse and a physician shortly after the attack took place. "Medical records and interviews that were obtained by a subpoena revealed the victim had signs, symptoms and injuries consistent with being raped and sexually assaulted vaginally and anally," the affidavit said.


I guess this is brand new information due to unsealing of the affidavit, but isn't this really the biggest piece of news? I.e., usually when rape allegations are false there isn't medical evidence that the accuser was raped. No one, and correct me If I am wrong, has claimed that there was consensual sexual activity. In that case, it seems to me that the physical evidence is pretty damning.

Duke

The link is to an open letter former Yale dean and current Duke President Dick Brodhead wrote addressing the men's lacrosse rape charges. I think it's about as good a document as could have been produced at the moment, with the police investigation still ongoing. Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Another Reason To Be For Russ

Josh Eidelson sends along this press release from Senator Feingold's office:
FEINGOLD OPPOSES DISCRIMINATORY AMENDMENT; SUPPORTS MARRIAGE EQUALITY

April 4, 2006

Washington, D.C. - Responding to a question posed at his Kenosha County listening session over the weekend, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold said he strongly opposed the proposed civil unions and marriage ban facing Wisconsin voters this November. He also expressed his support for the right of gays and lesbians to marry. Feingold holds listening sessions in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties every year. Later this year, Feingold will hold his 1000th listening session as a U.S. Senator.

“The proposed ban on civil unions and marriage is a mean-spirited attempt to divide Wisconsin and I indicated that it should be defeated,” Feingold said. “It discriminates against thousands of people in our communities – our co-workers, our neighbors, our friends, and our family members. It would single out members of a particular group and forever deny them rights and protections granted to all other Wisconsin citizens. It would also outlaw civil unions and jeopardize many legal protections for all unmarried couples, whether of the same or the opposite sex. We shouldn’t enshrine this prejudice in our state’s Constitution.”

At the listening session, held at the Village Hall in Paddock Lake, Wisconsin, Feingold also expressed his support for the right of gays and lesbians to marry.

“As I said at the Kenosha County listening session, gay and lesbian couples should be able to marry and have access to the same rights, privileges and benefits that straight couples currently enjoy,” Feingold added. “Denying people this basic American right is the kind of discrimination that has no place in our laws, especially in a progressive state like Wisconsin. The time has come to end this discrimination and the politics of divisiveness that has become part of this issue.”

Feingold noted that removing the prohibition against gay marriage would not impose any obligation on religious groups. He indicated that no religious faith should ever be forced to conduct or recognize any marriage, but that civil laws on marriage should reflect the principle of equal rights under the law.


UPDATE: How's that for a headline?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Carly Simon's Paradox

If the song is about you, you're not vain, just accurate. And if it's not about you, you're not the referent of 'you'.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sunday Sermonette

Has there ever been a worse poet than Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? I doubt it:
By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Bin Laden

This is a bold analysis of some of Bin Laden's rhetoric. Bin Laden's recorded speeches, as the post indicates, have been compiled in a new book put out by Verso.

Vitals
  • E-mail me: Dan Koffler
  • My YDN Column: Smashing Idols
  • The Reasonsphere
  • Hit & Run
  • Matt Welch
  • Julian Sanchez
  • Jesse Walker
  • Virginia Postrel
  • Tim Cavanaugh
  • Ringers
  • Andrew Sullivan
  • Josh Marshall
  • Crooked Timber
  • Matthew Yglesias
  • Kevin Drum
  • John Cole
  • Leiter Reports
  • Pharyngula
  • Gregory Djerjian
  • Atrios
  • Mickey Kaus
  • Jim Henley
  • Radley Balko
  • TNR's Plank
  • Balkinization
  • Glenn Greenwald
  • Thomas Knapp
  • Justin Logan
  • Laura Rozen
  • Mark Kleiman
  • Print Culture
  • Arthur Silber
  • Tom Tomorrow
  • James Wolcott
  • OxBlog
  • Eric Muller
  • Majikthise
  • Pandagon
  • The American Scene
  • Daniel Drezner
  • Will Wilkinson
  • The Volokh Conspiracy
  • Intel Dump
  • Prequels
  • Johan Ugander
  • Dan Munz
  • Josh Eidelson
  • Future Less Vivid
  • Sequels
  • (not)Delino Deshields
  • Actual God
  • Hidden Hand
  • I am justice
  • Death/Media Incarnate
  • (not)Marquis Grissom
  • Yanqui At Cambridge
  • Beneficent Allah
  • Mr. Wrongway
  • The Hippolytic
  • Discourse Decision
  • Tight Toy Night
  • Mulatto Jesus
  • Sago Boulevard
  • Immortalized Stillicide
  • Nick's Corner
  • Dead Trees
  • Reason
  • Dissent
  • The New Republic
  • The New Yorker
  • The Atlantic Monthly
  • The American Prospect
  • Arts & Letters Daily
  • The Economist
  • The Nation
  • Yale Daily News
  • Virtual Reality
  • Wikipedia
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Symbolic Logic into HTML
  • Slate
  • Salon
  • The Huffington Post
  • Crooks and Liars
  • The Smoking Gun
  • The Smoking Gun: Bill O'Reilly
  • Romenesko
  • The Christopher Hitchens Web
  • Draft Russ
  • Rotten.com's Library
  • Urban Dictionary
  • Homestar Runner
  • Planet Rugby
  • Flex Online
  • Card Player Magazine
  • Gawker & Such
  • News
  • Politics
  • Gambling
  • Gossip (NY edition)
  • Gossip (LA edition)
  • Cool Shit
  • Cars
  • Video Games
  • Photoshop Fun &c.
  • Travel
  • MacGuyver Yourself
  • Porn
  • Prepare For The Worst
  • Bull Moose Blog
  • The Corner
  • Instapundit
  • Reel Blogs
  • BathTubYoga
  • More TK
  • R.I.P.
  • Jamie Kirchick
  • That Girl