I tend to take a dim view of tattoos, seeing them as the graffiti of the human body, and as yet another, perhaps minor, ingredient in the Decline of the West. Christians believe that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; they ought to consider whether tattoos deface the temple. But I do not dogmatize on this topic. You can reasonably attack my graffiti analogy, and if you insist that tattoos are beautiful, not ugly, I won't be able to refute you. If you argue that there is no, or needn't be, a connection between tattoos and cultural decline, you may have a case. You might even be able reasonably to maintain that the bodily temple is beautified by judicious inking. Leviticus 19:28, see article below, cuts no ice with me.
I only advise caution: permanent or semi-permanent modifications of the mortal coil are to be made only after due deliberation. You might want to consider such things as: the signal you're sending, your future employability, and, for the distaff contingent, how ugly that tattoo will look on your calf when you are 45 as opposed to 20 and the ink is cheek-by-jowl with varicose veins and cellulite. Cute baristas in hip huggers with tattoos on their lower backs invite impertinent questions as to how far down the patterns extend. If you are thinking of a career in public relations, a bone through the nose is definitely out, as are facial hardware and a Charley Manson-style swastika tattooed onto the forehead.
So while I am pleased that one of my readers was sufficiently impressed with one of my sayings to tattoo it onto his forearm, my pleasure is alloyed by my slight aversion to tattoos. In the second shot below, the same person sports the Logical Square of Opposition on his leg. Perhaps he should follow it up with E. J. Lowe's Ontological Square of Opposition on the other leg.
Banned on the Left Coast in the People's Republic of Californication! It figures. It's sad to see what has become of my native state. But I am fortunate to flourish in Arizona where bright sun and hard rock and self-reliant liberty-lovers have a suppressive effect on the miasma of leftists. So with a firm resolve to stick it to the nanny-staters I headed out this afternoon in my Jeep Liberty to Costco where not a single incandescent was to be had. So I went to Lowe's and cleaned 'em out. I bought four 24-packs. Three packs were Sylvania 60W 130V A19's @ $10.03 per pack and one pack was Sylvania 100W 130V A19's @12.02 per pack. Total: $42.11 for 96 bulbs. That comes to less than 44 cents per bulb.
The 130 volt rating means that I will get plenty of life out of these bulbs at the expense of a negligible reduction in illumination. A voltage check at a wall socket revealed that I'm running just a tad below 120 V.
And now I am reminded of what were supposed to have been Goethe's last words: Licht, Licht, mehr Licht! Light, light, more light!
Today I went to Home Despot Depot to bag the last of their stock. I bought 24 4-packs of Phillips 60W A19 1000 hour soft white bulbs @ $1.47 per 4-pack. So I paid $35.28 for 96 bulbs. That comes to less than 37 cents per bulb. Nice warm cheap light.
I reckon I'll burn out before they all do.
So that's my politically incorrect act for the day. Or at least one of them.
To make it right is a royal PITA. First I make a killer sauce from scratch, a Bolognese or something pork-based. That's plenty of work right there. Then I cut an eggplant lengthwise, run the slices through egg wash, bread 'em and fry 'em in olive oil. Extra virgin, of course. Why monkey with anything else? Then I make a casserole with the cooked eggplant slices, intercalating plenty of sauce and mozarella and other cheeses between the slices. Then into the oven, covered, at 350 for 35-40 minutes until bubbly hot.
To make the one-pan quick version, crosscut the eggplant (so that it fits better in a large skillet) and fry with olive oil at moderate-high to high heat. Eggplant sucks up oil something fierce, so keep adding the stuff. Don't worry, it's a good fat. After all the pieces are cooked to the point of tenderness, set them aside to 'rest.' Now, in the same pan, add more oil and saute a blend of chopped onion, garlic, green peppers, and sliced mushrooms. When that mixture is tender, layer on the eggplant slices with mozarella and a store-bought sauce. There is no need to grate the mozarella, just slice it with a sharp knife. It melts readily. Dump in the usual spices: fresh-ground pepper, oregano, basil. Cover, and let simmer at low heat until you have a nice molten mess of vegetarian chow:
Serve with pasta, but you must absolutely avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of Pasta. Otherwise, I kill you. I prefer capellini, but it's all good. The true aficionado avoids oversaucing his pasta, and he doesn't mix pasta and sauce together a priori as it were. Do that, and I kick you, a posteriori. A trencherman true throws some sauce on top of the pasta and adds a little more or a lot more extra virgin olive oil. Freshly grate some Romano or Parmesan cheese on top of that. No crap out of a cardboard cylinder. Then add a green garnish to set it off such as Italian or American parsley, or, as I did last night, cilantro for a Southwestern accent. Fresh from the garden. Yes, you can actually grow stuff in Arizona in late December, which is another reason why Arizona is a terminus ad quem of Continental migration as oppose to a terminus a quo such as Minnesota. Some places are for leavin' as some are for arrivin.' You should get something that looks like this. Serve on a big white plate. Enjoy with a glass of Dago red. Not as good as the real thing, but good enough, especially on the second day, reheated.
When I was eight years old or so and first took note of the phrase 'Merry Xmas,' my piety was offended by what I took to be the removal of 'Christ' from 'Christmas' only to be replaced by the universally recognized symbol for an unknown quantity, 'X.' But it wasn't long before I realized that the 'X' was merely a font-challenged typesetter's attempt at rendering the Greek Chi, an ancient abbreviation for 'Christ.' There is therefore nothing at all offensive in the expression 'Xmas.' Year after year, however, certain ignorant Christians who are old enough to know better make the mistake that I made when I was eight and corrected when I was ten.
And there are some dumb atheists who think 'Merry Xmas' is an insult. These punks need to wise up on this point as on many others.
It just now occurs to me that 'Xmas' may be susceptible of a quasi-Tillichian reading. Paul Tillich is famous for his benighted definition of 'God' as 'whatever is one's ultimate concern.' Well, take the 'X' in 'Xmas' as a variable the values of which are whatever one wants to celebrate at this time of year. So for some, 'Xmas' will amount to Solsticemas, for burglars Swagmas, for materialists Lootmas, for gluttons Foodmas, for inebriates Hoochmas, and for ACLU extremists Antichristianitymas.
A reader suggests some further constructions:
For those who love the capitol of the Czech Republic: Pragmas. For Dutch Reformed theologians of Frisian extraction who think Christmas is silly: Hoekemas. For Dutch Reformed philosophy professors of Frisian extraction who like preserves on their toast: Jellemas. For fans of older British sci-fi flicks: Quatermas. For those who buy every special seasonal periodical they can get their hands on: Magmas. One could probably multiply such examples ad nauseum, so I won't.
How could an ACLU bonehead object to 'Xmas' so construed? No doubt he would find a way.
A while back I quipped that "Aporeticians qua aporeticians do not celebrate Christmas. They celebrate Enigmas." My man Hodges shot back: "But they do celebrate 'X-mas'! (Or maybe they 'cerebrate' it?)"
One morning recently I was talking with a thirtysomething woman about Obamacare. "If you like your period, you can keep your period" came out of my mouth. I was intending, "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan, period."
Thanks to Obama, the period is one punctuation mark that will never be the same. From now on, no one will be able to say 'period' without conjuring up the great man, just as words like 'inhale' and 'is' conjure up the first black president, Bill Clinton, along with images of chubby star-struck interns. "But I didn't inhale." I suppose it all depends on the meaning of 'inhale.'
Presidents need to realize that there is such a thing as videotape and that lies are easily exposed. In this clip, Bubba say that he tried marijuana a time or two, didn't like it, didn't inhale, and never tried it again. But obviously, there is no way to tell if you like it without inhaling it, and quite a bit of it, over several sessions. The man was obviously lying, and he must have known that we knew he was lying.
I tried it, and from '68-'72 smoked my fair share of it, inhaling deeply as one must to get any effect, but I did not like it. I'm an intense guy whose life is already plenty intense. My reaction was similar to Lenny Bruce's: "I've got enough shit flying through my head without smoking weed." (Quoted from memory from How to Talk Dirty and Influence People which I read around '66. My copy is long gone, my mother having confiscated it and thrown it away.)
Having just checked the quotation, I was pretty close. What Bruce actually said was this:
"I don't smoke pot, and I'm glad because then I can champion it without any special pleading. The reason I don't smoke pot is because it facilitates ideas and heightens sensations. And I got enough shit flying through my head without smoking pot."
I just wasted 30 minutes on the phone with a customer service representative straightening out a screw-up emanating from their end. The automated intro said that a "helpful customer care" rep would be available in one minutes (sic)." Don't tell me how helpful and caring you are. Just do your job and do it right.
This change from 'service' to 'care' is squishy, bien-pensant liberal feel-good bullshit and quite in keeping wth the Age of Feeling, the Age of Obama Yomama. It's humbug I tell you, humbug!
1. Mark Anderson's Halloween greeting takes the form of a quotation from Moby Dick, the relevance of which escapes me: "The subterranean miner that works in us all, how can one tell whither leads his shaft by the ever shifting, muffled sound of his pick?" Wider context here.
5. On this date in 2008, MavPhil moved to Typepad which has proven to be a satisfactory blogging platform with an extremely reliable server. It works best with Mozilla Firefox. Traffic is up: on good days 2000 pageviews and up.
On Halloween I take to class a medical-school skull with a removable skull cap.
Inside are various gloomy or semi-gloomy thoughts on slips of paper. Each
student takes one, and next time we meet students read them aloud one by one,
and when they're done we discuss them. Anyway, I was preparing the skull this
morning and thought you might enjoy Melville's thought.
10. October, sadly, ends once again. How fast she flies. But here in the Sonoran desert she is the harbinger of the loveliest time of the year. Happy Halloween, everyone.
Attached you will find two PDFs: a copyedited version of your manuscript and a version indicating changes to the original file. This is your final opportunity to make any clarifications or stylistic changes to the manuscript.
An honest mistake, no doubt, so I won't reveal the names of the editor or the journal. But it is a little ironic that a copy editor would make such a mistake. It's tough being an editor. It's a lousy job. So I want to thank all of the editors out there without whom those of us who publish would not see our words in print.
Let me end with a bit of praise for the tribe of bloggers. Most people 'massacre' my name and it "pisses me off" in the phraseology of Jeff Dunham's Walter; but bloggers almost universally get it right. No surprise, I suppose: bloggers are an elite group of highly literate natural-born scribblers.
Because of comments like these, though they are surely not the worst one can find. (I cite them only because my Referral List pointed me to the post to which they are appended.) But they are characteristic. In my experience, to discuss religion with the irreligious and the anti-religious is a sheer waste of time. You may as well discuss logic with the illogical, music with the unmusical, or poetry with the terminally prosaic.
I am regularly surprised by how much garbage Victor Reppert tolerates in his ComBox. He will even allow people to insult him in vile ways. It may be that he is a model of Christian detachment, slow to anger, quick to forgive, tolerant to a fault. It may also be that he doesn't appreciate that to tolerate bad behavior is to invite more of the same. A conservative, I take a harsher line, one more in keeping with the realities of human nature, realities liberals tend to ignore. Conservatism as I espouse and practice it subsumes the classically liberal commitment to toleration. But toleration has limits. In any case, a weblog is private property where no one has free speech rights.
A man's home is his castle, and his blog his cybercastle. Just as I do not tolerate bad behavior in the first, I do not tolerate it in the second. But bloggers are free to run their blogs any way they see fit.
You might think that disallowing comments limits my traffic. Not so. Traffic is better than ever, recently up around 2000 pageviews per diem. Readers I respect tell me that they like my Comments Policy.
To end aphoristically:
The best arguments against an open combox are the contents of one.
Edward Feser, Man is Wolff to Man. I was going to write this post, but Ed beat me to it. Ed beats down the superannuated Wolff for boarding the bandwagon of benighted bashers of Nagel. These lefties just can't stand Nagel even though he is a naturalist, an atheist, and a liberal. Why? Because he is not an extremist like they are. Because he could conceivably be interpreted by someone as giving aid and comfort to the enemy: the theists. For not toeing the party line. For thinking for himself. For being the Real Thing and not a leftist ideologue. It is sad to see professional philosophy ideologized like this.
By the way, I admire the hell out of Kirsten Powers, even though she's a Dem (why Lord, why?): she has beauty, brains, and (the female equivalent of) balls. And she puts up goodnaturedly with the sometimes obnoxious Bill O'Reilly. But I admire the hell out of him as well. That leftists despise a moderate such as him shows what contemptible extremists they are.
I had the pleasure of meeting Trent Dougherty at the Prague conference on Analytic Theology. He informed me that he is an executive editor of a new on-line publication, The Journal of Analytic Theology.
The Journal of Analytic Theology is an open access, international journal that twice anually publishes articles, book reviews, and book symposia that explore theological and meta-theological topics in a manner that prizes terminological clarity and argumentative rigor. This includes historical studies that seek to elucidate conceptual challenges or explore strategies for addressing them.
Trent also had a limerick for me that I don't think he'll mind if I share:
I follow this really cool blog, And I just met the author in Prague. They call him a "Maverick," and act quite barbaric: He leaves them indeed quite agog.
I am astonished at my poor ability to spot typographical errors despite my assiduous exercise of what is pleonastically referred to as 'due diligence.' I see what I bloody well want to see. I read the following a good dozen times and failed to see the mistake:
Astinence is no mark of a rounder
which I just now corrected to
Abstinence is no mark of a rounder
which is my response to Jeff Hodges'
Absinthe makes the heart go founder.
But I can't hold a candle to my old friend Monterey Tom, the undisputed master of the typo, as he demonstrates here.
You've heard of Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan, and the 'white-Hispanic' George Zimmerman whose nomen has proven to be one bad omen indeed. (Would we have heard about him at all had his name been Jorge Ramirez?)
Permit me to introduce you to Jára Cimrman whose Czech surname, if I am not badly mistaken, is pronounced like 'Zimmerman' when the latter is pronounced as it is in German.
Cimrman is quite a character with many noteworthy accomplishments to his credit. One of them is authorship of the philosophy of non-existentialism. As one reputable source has it:
Long before anyone had heard about Camus or Sartre, in 1886, Cimrman wrote pieces like 'The Essence of the Existence', which became the basis for his "Cimrmanism" philosophy, also referred to as "non-existentialism" (the main premise of this philosophy is that: "Existence cannot not exist").
But if truth be told, this Cimrman is a plagiarist. He stole the idea from me! In Does Existence Itself Exist? I defend the thesis that existence does indeed exist, and necessarily. The despicable Cimrman passed off my idea as his own and tried to hide his crime by packaging my thesis under the verbally different but logically equivalent 'Existence cannot not exist' He then falsely claimed to have developed his theory in 1886 long before my birth.
Loosely translated: No pain, no gain. Der Fleiß (Fleiss) is German for diligence. Thus 'Heidi Fleiss' is a near aptronym, diligent as she was in converting concupiscence into currency.
Another interesting German word is Sitzfleisch. It too is close in meaning to diligence, staying
power. Fleisch is meat and Sitz, seat, is from the verb sitzen, to sit. One who has Sitzfleisch, then, has sitting meat. Think of a scholarly grind who sits for long hours poring over tome after tome of arcana.
And that reminds me of a story. Max Scheler and Nicolai Hartmann were German philosophers of high repute, though Scheler was more the genius and Hartmann more the grind. As the story goes, Scheler once disparaged Hartmann thusly, "My genius and your Sitzfleisch would make a great philosopher!"
Getting back to Heidi Fleiss, she is in the news again. This time her diligence has taken a turn toward the cultivation of the noble weed, some 400 plants worth, without a license. But the long arm of the law has 'smoked' her out.
In Australia, soon, details here. Topic: Why is there something rather than nothing? Poor Krauss is going to get slaughtered, and deservedly so. Debating Craig is like getting into a gun fight with Doc Holliday. I would never debate him on anything, even if I thought debate was philosophically worthwhile. He has been honing his skills since high school.
According to the linked site, Krauss' A Universe from Nothing is being translated into 20 languages. Well, that is the way of the world. A piece of garbage becomes a best seller and is translated into 20 languages while books worth reading fall still-born from the press.
I was relieved to hear today that Spencer Case, long-time friend of MavPhil, and Middle Eastern correspondent, is once again safely Stateside after a nine month stint in Cairo as a Fulbright fellow researching Islamic philosophy. I say 'relieved' because of the Andrew Pochter case. Spencer tells me that he writes a monthly column for a conservative collegiate publication, The College Fix. His latest column is Bipartisan Efforts to Hasten Elections in Egypt Bad Policy.
If a person or institution is essentially F, then to criticize it for being F is equivalent to criticizing it for existing. (If x is essentially F, then x cannot exist without being F. If x is F, but not essentially, then x is accidentally F: capable of existing without being F.) Let's test this thought against some examples.
1. Its core doctrines are essential to the Roman Catholic Church; to demand that it abandon one or more of them is to demand that it cease to exist.
2. The rejection of capitalism is essential to communism. Therefore, to demand that a communist embrace capitalism is to demand that he cease to be a communist.
3. The moral legitimacy of killing the other side's combatants in times of war is an essential commitment of the miltary. To demand that the military be pacifistic, that the Marine Corps become the Peace Corps, for example, is to demand that the military cease to exist.
4. If marriage is essentially between one man and one woman, then to demand same-sex marriage is to demand that marriage cease to exist.
Starts tomorrow, muchachos. Begins at 8 AM Eastern and runs until 6 AM July 5th. Schedule here.
My eyes glued to the set, my lovely wife invariably asks, "Haven't you seen that episode before?" She doesn't get it. I've seen 'em all numerous times each. Hell, I've been watching 'em since 1959 when the series first aired. But the best are inexhaustibly rich in content, delightful in execution, studded with young actors and actresses who went on to become famous alongside the now forgotten actors of yesteryear, replete with period costumes and lingo, and sprinkled with allusions to the politics of the day. Timeless and yet a nostalgia trip. A fine way to celebrate Independence Day.
Could popular art of this caliber have been produced in the Soviet Union? Of course not. So if you are an American, celebrate your freedom tomorrow while bemoaning how much of it we have lost 'thanks' to the liberal-left fascists.
To see how much philosophical juice can be squeezed out of a Twilight Zone episode, see here.
The original series ran from 1959 to 1964. In those days it was not uncommon to hear TV condemned as a vast wasteland. Rod Serling's work was a sterling counterexample.
The hard-driving Serling lived a short but intense life. Born in 1924, he was dead at age 50 in 1975. His four pack a day cigarette habit destroyed his heart. Imagine smoking 80 Lucky Strikes a day! Assuming 16 hours of smoking time per day, that averages to one cigarette every twelve minutes. He died on the operating table during an attempted bypass procedure.
But who is to say that a long, healthy life is better than a short, intense one fueled by the stimulants one enjoys? That is a question for the individual, not Hillary, to decide. To hell with you nanny-staters.
What the hell's going on in Florida? The other day an oven shot a woman, and now a dog has shot a man, with an 'unloaded' gun no less.
Tragedies like these show the need for Dog Control. Members of the Dog Lobby such as Duane LaRufus of the National Hound Association will scream in protest, but moral cretins like him and Leroy Pooch of Dog Owners of America are nothing but greedy shills for the Canine Industrial Complex. They routinely oppose all sensible Dog Control measures. Follow the money!
Reason dictates that all dogs must be kept muzzled at all times, and when transported in a vehicle containing a gun, must be kept securely locked in the trunk. Assault dogs, whose only purpose is to kill and maim, such as Doberman Ass Biters and Pit Bulls, must be banned. Such breeds are inherently evil and no one ouside of law enforcement and the military has any business owning them. Food magazines for all breeds must be kept strictly limited lest any dog become too rambunctious. Dog owners should be 'outed' and their names published in the paper. Special taxes must be levied on all things canine to offset the expenses incurred by society at large in the wake of the rising tide of dog violence.
Such reasonable measures will strike extremists as draconian, but if even one life can be saved, then they are justified. We must do something and we must do it now so that tragedies like the one in Florida never happen again.
Will liberals call for oven control? Or perhaps demand that ovens come with warning labels: Do not store ammunition in ovens! Or perhaps: Remove all ammo, fuels, cats and babies before preheating!
Is there anything so stupid that some liberal won't jump to embrace it?
That last sentence is an example of a rhetorical question, which I define as follows. A rhetorical question is an interrogative form of words utterance of which is used to make a statement or issue a command. For example, suppose you are the father of a teenage daughter. It gets back to you that she was texting while driving. You utter this grammatically interrogative sentence: 'Do you have to text while you drive?' You are not, logically, asking a question or making a statement. You are, logically, issuing a command: Do not text while driving! Depending on the proclivities of the lass you might add: And do not 'sext' while driving!
'Is there anything so stupid that some liberal won't jump to embrace it?' is grammatically interrogative but logically declarative.
Light. It is a fire that does not burn. (Notebooks, 21)
Just as the eyes are the most spiritual of the bodily organs, light is the most spiritual of physical phenomena. And there is no light like the lambent light of the desert. The low humidity, the sparseness of vegetation that even in its arboreal forms hugs the ground, the long, long vistas that draw the eye out to shimmering buttes and mesas -- all of these contribute to the illusion that the light is alive. This light does not consume, like fire, but allows things to appear. It licks, like flames, but does not incinerate. ('Lambent' from Latin lambere, to lick.)
Light as phenomenon, as appearance, is not something merely physical. It is as much mind as matter. Without its appearance to mind it would not be what it, phenomenologically, is. But the light that allows rocks and coyotes to appear, itself appears. This seen light is seen within a clearing, eine Lichtung, which is light in a transcendental sense. But this transcendental light in whose light both illuminated objects and physical light appear, points back to the onto-theological Source of this transcendental light.
Augustine claims to have glimpsed this eternal Source Light upon entering into his "inmost being." Entering there, he saw with his soul's eye, "above that same eye of my soul, above my mind, an unchangeable light." He continues:
It was not this common light, plain to all flesh, nor a greater light of the same kind . . . Not such was that light, but different, far different from all other lights. Nor was it above my mind, as oil is above water, or sky above earth. It was above my mind, because it made me, and I was beneath it, because I was made by it. He who knows the truth, knows that light, and he who knows it knows eternity. (Confessions, Book VII, Chapter 10)
'Light,' then, has several senses. There is the light of physics, which is but a theoretical posit. There is physical light as we see it, whether in the form of illuminated things such as yonder mesa, or sources of illumination such as the sun, or the lambent space between them. There is the transcendental light of mind without which nothing at all would appear. There is, above this transcendental light, its Source.
One could characterize a materialist as one who is blind to the light, except in the first of the four senses lately mentioned.
1. Care about truth. 2. Care about grammar. 3. Care about eloquence in speaking.
4. Develop refined tastes in everything you can. 5. Develop a masterful BS detector. 6. Speak truths that no one else will, but which need to be heard. 7. Never flatter. 8. Don't sell character for success. 9. Be skeptical of whatever "the herd" likes. 10. Do not watch TV. In fact, turn them off whenever possible. 11. Lament stupidity, inanity, and insanity. They are everywhere.
See the triangle-like piece of roadway where the routes diverge? That's called the gore lane. Gore lanes are also found near on ramps and exit ramps. Driving across such a lane is a moving violation. The gore lane is not, strictly, a lane, nor is it named after Al Bore Gore.
This scintillating topic came up in conversation with Peter L. yesterday morning after we had done with Thomas Nagel's Mind and Cosmos. Peter maintained that the 'lane' was so-called because of one Officer Gore, a motorcycle cop who supposedly had been killed in a gore lane near an entry ramp to a freeway. But I learned this morning that the noun 'gore' has among it meanings, "a small usually triangular piece of land." This leads me to suspect that Peter's explanation is a bit of urban folklore.
It was my pleasure to meet science writer and long-time reader and friend of MavPhil, John Farrell, in Flagstaff Friday evening. He was in town for a conference on the origins of the expanding universe, as he reports in Forbeshere. Flag is a lovely dorf sitting at 7,000 feet amongst the pines and home to the Lowell Observatory. It is an excellent retreat from the heat of the Valle del Sol where you would never catch me this time of year in long pants, jacket, and beret.
John and I are standing in front of an excellent Mexican eatery on old Route 66. I first heard about this joint on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. As luck would have it, Farrell the Irishman is enthusiastic about Mexican chow. Our tequila-fueled conversation was so good that I failed to clean my plate, a rare occurrence as my companions (literally those with whom one breaks bread, L. panis) know.
Perhaps the best thing about maintaining a weblog is that it attracts like-minded, high-quality people some of whom one then goes on to meet in the flesh.
Despite the attempts on Hitler's life, in particular Claus von Stauffenberg's of July 1944, the Leader of the 1000 Year Reich died by his own hand.
Addendum. I woke up in the middle of the night and asked myself how Hitler could have known how Mussolini and his girlfriend ended up. After all, the execution of the two Italians occurred on 29 April, 1945, the day before Hitler's murder of Eva Braun and his suicide. Could Hitler in his Berlin bunker have gotten word that quickly? Apparently yes, as I discovered when I pulled Antony Beevor's The Fall of Berlin 1945 (Penguin, 2002) from the shelf of my well-stocked library:
Apart from Himmler's betrayal, Hitler's other great preoccupation remained his fear of being taken alive by the Russians. News had come through of Mussolini's execution by partisans and how the bodies of the Duce and his mistress, Clara Petacci, had been hoisted upside down in Milan. A transcript of the radio report had been prepared in the special outsized 'Fuehrer typeface' which saved Hitler from wearing spectacles. It was presumably Hitler who underlined in pencil the words 'hanged upside down.' (p. 357)
It is important to rub one's nose in the horrors of history as prophylaxis against the dangerous utopianism of progressives with their Rousseauean fantasies about man as inherently good. Man is capable of some good, but he is not inherently good. The study of the history of just the 20th century should disabuse one of that notion once and for all.
The following is from the Powerblogs archive. Originally posted 5 November 2005.
Can't get a job teaching philosophy? Perhaps you can market yourself as a talk show umpire. There is a dire need for argumentative quality control on the shout circuit.
Last night I was pleased to see my favorite gun-totin' lesbian on Hannity and Colmes, the irrepressible Tammy Bruce. (That's her above with her pal 'Snubby.' The gal needs a lesson in trigger discipline: 'Get yer booger-hooker off the bang switch!') At one point, Bruce came out against governmental wealth redistribution via the tax code. Colmes the liberal replied in effect: So you're opposed to taxation!
At this point, a competent umpire would have called a timeout and thrown Colmes into the penalty box. For he committed a truly grotesque conceptual mistake by gratuitously assuming that it is somehow built into the very concept of taxation that it should involve redistribution of wealth. Taxation is the process whereby monies are extracted from the populace to offset the costs of government. There is nothing in the nature of taxation as such to require a 'progressive' scheme of taxation. Otherwise, a flat tax would be a contradiction in terms.
Here is an analogy. Suppose I warn you not to confuse insurance with investment and advise you to buy a term life insurance policy. An insurance agent, eager to line his own pockets, objects: So you're opposed to insurance! The counterresponse is that there is nothing in the concept of life insurance to require that it have any investment features. An umpire on the scene would slap a penalty on the greedy agent.
Of course, my umpire proposal is utopian. Average viewers apparently like shouting and mindless contention. They wouldn't put up with any close analysis or careful argument assessment. Ratings would plummet. Hannity and his sidekick would be out of a job.
This begs raises the question: Are the masses inherently stupid, or have they been stupefied by the media? The answer, I suspect, is both: thinking is hard work and even people with an aptitude for it are not inclined to engage in it. But it is also the case that the media do not encourage thoughtfulness and are quite willing to pander to their audiences to turn a buck.
It is the ugly side of capitalism; but socialism and government control of the media would obviously be a disaster.
The solution? C-Span and cyberspace. (By the way, I apologize for my uses of 'masses'; I thereby violated my own rule that a conservative should not talk like a leftist. So maybe I shouldn't have used 'capitalism' either.)
Regalia, as its etymology suggests (from L. rex, regis), are the king's insignia. By a natural extension, anyone's insignia, colors, banners. We like to fly the colors to the point of identifying with them. We identify with flags and labels and logos and certain words. There is a stupid satisfaction one gets from flaunting logos like 'Trek' and 'Jeep.' See? Me ride Trek bike. Just like Lance Armstrong.
The name of my Bell bicycle helmet model is 'Paradox.' That clinched the purchase for me.
Philosophers hate a contradiction but love a paradox.
One's own genealogy, for example. What does it matter who begat whom in one's line? Most of us will discover the names and dates of insignificant people who have left nothing behind but their names and dates.
Or is it just a philosopher's prejudice to be concerned more with timeless universals than with temporal particulars? To thrill to the Thoreauvian admonition, "Read not The Times, read the eternities"?