Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy blogger
Who could watch you under the table
David Hume could out consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel...

The Lord Mage of Good lists his Top 10 movies.

The Rat compares me to a Harper's editorialist. Ouch! A worthwhile post if you're following the "Sir Mick" controversy. This Reason take is also good.

Amy Welborn continues to be an indispensible source of sanity and news on the crisis in the Catholic Church.

And that is all. More tomorrow.
DEAD PHILOSOPHERS: A Volokh throws down the gauntlet: We don't spend too much time reading ancient, medieval, or even pre-20th-century economists, mathematicians, political scientists, or natural scientists. Why then do we read Plato, Anselm, and the like?

Well. First of all, I submit that philosophy reaches its nifty tendrils into all kinds of disciplines (biologists, of course, are practicioners of natural philosophy), and some of those disciplines are more likely to attain more-or-less-final answers than others. Does rotting meat spontaneously generate maggots? Nope. Does ethics require metaphysics? Well, Richard Rorty will fight you if you think that one's been decisively answered in a way that convinces more-or-less-everyone, the way the rotting-meat question has.

There are ancient philosophers who do get neglected; we're not really concerned about whether the world is basically made of fire, or water, or whatever. The long-dead philosophers you'll read in halfway decent philosophy courses still get read because the questions they raise have persisted. And no, often those questions have not been put better by others; as in literature so in philosophy, there is true genius. (Not that literature and philosophy are entirely distinct either. There's no hygienic separation between disciplines.) Because later critiques generally assumed familiarity with the philosophy being criticized, it's also very difficult to read later philosophy without earlier. The Old Oligarch was just complaining the other month about attempts to understand Descartes without any knowledge of the religious and philosophical context to which he was responding; it's easy to misunderstand his claims and either accept or dismiss what you think he's saying, thus missing the point of his critiques. It's like trying to read Endgame without having ever read Shakespeare.

I'd also note that there's great value to be gained from raw confrontation with an ancient, alien, yet great and compelling mindset. More on that here.

As for whether you should care about a philosopher's biography--although there are obvious dangers (prurience; dismissing a great philosopher's work because you find his life repugnant), in general, I think the answer is yes. Ideas have consequences, at least sometimes; just as we'd want to know how countries who tried to implement socialism have fared, so we might want to look at people who tried to live their lives in accordance with their philosophies. Moreover, having specific examples can lead us to feel the pressure of political or philosophical questions that we might otherwise ignore or gloss over--Mark Lilla's excellent "The Lure of Syracuse" (link requires subscription) gives us the political contexts in which Plato, Heidegger, and other thinkers made their claims; I think that context helps us to remember how important their stances were, how much courage or blindness or pride their positions required, and what their words meant in context. (Think of the recent "Jihad at Harvard" flap--context matters a lot.)

Some of the first great works of philosophy--Plato's dialogues--were also biographies, of course. I think that's in large part because there is no sharp distinction between the life of the mind and "real life." People often change their lives because of a philosophical conclusion they reached; it seems to me both appropriate and enlightening to look at how they changed and what the results were. If rhetoric is acceptable in philosophy, life should be too; for in many ways, living one's life as an exemplar of one's philosophy is an act of rhetoric.
OY VET ER KUMEN ZU GEYN, VELN ALE YIDN IN ERETZ YISROEL AYNSHTEYN: I promised a post on U.S. support for Israel, and here it is.

BACKGROUND: Let's clear one major obstacle out of the way. My father is Jewish. My sister too. I counterprotested the idiotic Jew-hate-not-free-trade! march in April. (Read about it here and here.) Although I was not raised with any particular affection for the state of Israel, and I'm neither ethnically nor religiously Jewish, I still have a lingering sense, I think, of the dream of Israel–a place for us. So I hope I can blog about my problems with the actual state of Israel without drawing accusations of anti-Semitism.

As will soon become glaringly obvious, I'm really conflicted about the question of U.S. aid to Israel. I figure I'll address a bunch of different arguments and see where I end up. I'll tackle each "side," starting with the arguments I find least persuasive.

AGAINST AID TO ISRAEL: Israel is an illegitimate state, founded on stolen land. I've read conflicting accounts of the founding of Israel; although I think it should be obvious to everyone why Israel was founded, I also think it was a very bad idea. The Jews suffered from their usual wretched luck–set your state down in the middle of what's about to become a hotbed of anti-Semitism and imported Naziphilia–and they got used by Europeans who wanted to make those pesky Hebrews somebody else's problem. My basic stance on the founding of Israel is, I know this sucks, but you should have gone to Brooklyn instead.

But that isn't really too important in the foreign-policy department, for a lot of reasons. First, the U.S. supports scads of far-less-legitimate states. Some of them we should stop supporting. But some of them are helpful to us, or at least better than the alternatives.

Second, there were Jews settling in the land that became Israel well before the founding of the modern state. Land was stolen from Palestinians (spare me the rant about how there were no "Palestinians"; there were people there, OK? They became a nation-like group partly because of the founding of Israel. That's how ethnicities form), but if Israel is pushed into the sea (which is where the illegitimate-state argument goes) those pre-Israel settler Jews will have their land stolen. Plus lots and lots of people will die. So even if you think Israel is illegitimate, getting rid of it will lead to murder and theft. And that strikes me as "illegitimate" too.

For more on why Israel is not evil, click here.

The fact that Israel has been expanding the settlements in the Occupied Territories means that Israel doesn't want peace. Whatever. Yes, the settlement expansions are wrong. I don't expect our allies to be angels, and if the worst thing you can say about Israel is that it plays dirty pool, I don't see that as enough of a reason to ditch a mostly-democratic, sorta-liberal ally. (Don't worry, you'll get more reasons later on.)

Supporting Israel endangers Americans. This is the "suicide bombers: coming soon to a theater near you!" argument. I frankly think we'll still be hated even if we yank all our cash and weaponry from Eretz Yisroel. I'm not really sure what, if anything, we can realistically do that will stop terrorist attacks on our country; do too little and you have no effect, but do too much (attempt "regime changes" in every hostile nation, say) and you end up a colonial power with some of the world's most resentful colonists. In the end, our support of Israel is not a big factor, I think. Not nonexistent–Mickey Kaus has diligently tracked Bin Laden's references to Israel–but I don't think ending our support of Israel will protect us. More on why this self-protective approach might backfire, below.

We have no reason to support Israel. This is a smaller version of the previous claim. It's a "what do you do for me?" question–why should the U.S. support any country unless our own interests are plainly involved? Here's the big cop-out of this post: I'm not sure whether there can be such a thing as "charitable foreign policy," which is what many supporters of U.S. aid to Israel are really proposing. I have not yet been convinced that such policy is at all times wrong or impossible. In almost all cases we either don't know enough about the region and its history–click here for some background on the Kosovo Liberation Army, to take only one example; or read up on our adventures in Haiti–or we can't do much good anyway. However, I don't want to rule out the possibility that there are real cases in which the USA can stop (say) genocide or invasion, through military force or military aid (since the latter is what we're sending Israel), at relatively low costs to us, and without screwing up the affected region worse than it was when we entered.

If Israel can only survive through US aid, it's a client state not a sovereign state–and the US shouldn't be in the client-state business. I don't have an argument against this. I basically agree with it.

ARGUMENTS FOR U.S. AID: You're anti-Semitic. I hope I've dealt with this already. An analogy: Lots of racists oppose affirmative action. I oppose affirmative action. I am not, however, racist. I think an excellent argument could be made–in fact, let's cut the middleman here and I'll just make the argument myself–that the existence of the modern state of Israel is bad for the Jews. Jewish grandmothers are getting blown up at bar mitzvahs, people. How is this good for the Jews? Cui bono? If the claim is that personal safety is less important than political self-determination–again, to what extent is Israel genuinely autonomous and to what extent is it a US client? Also, do Jews actually lack representation in the US? If you wanted to raise a Jewish family–wouldn't you rather do it here, and doesn't that tell you something about what's good for the Jews?

Also, if there were no Israel, the Schools of Resentment in the Middle East would have to find somebody besides the Jews to hate. They could start with their tyrant rulers, who use state-run media to pump out blood libel and Nazi-like propaganda. Again: good for the Jews, or bad for the Jews?

I know that the establishment of the state of Israel was a huge psychological boost for Jews around the world. Instead of being slaughtered, Jews were fighting back, and they were winning. They proved that Jews could win; and every people needs to know that it has a fighting chance in the world. I know that, as Glenn Reynolds eloquently put it (quoting from memory here; and close to tears), if Israel's enemies win out against her, "Many Israelis will remember Masada and die with the dream." All I can say in response is, the dream is already dead; it was stillborn. You can't build a country, in the midst of vicious enemies, on a dream. When blood runs in the streets of the "land of milk and honey," the dream is already dead.

Always support every mostly-democratic and vaguely-liberal state. I have great sympathy for this position, and in general it's right–just as, in general, "charity-war" is a bad idea. Most of the time, supporting the countries more like liberal democracies over the countries less like liberal democracies is the best plan, and very much in our long-term self-interest. (The world needs to know that liberal democracy works.) However, if there were ever an exception to this rule it would be Israel. Israel is not self-sufficient (and some of that is doubtless the fault of its socialist heritage and practice), so it's not a great example of liberal democracy "working"; and the fact that the most liberal-democratic state in the region is a pariah among its neighbors, in my opinion, does more to retard liberalization in the Middle East than to spur it on.

If the U.S. abandons Israel, Islamist terrorists everywhere will rejoice; our allies will see that we can't be trusted; we'll look weak, mutable, and beatable. This too is where I throw up my hands in defeat. I think this is just true. This, to my mind, is the best argument for supporting Israel–and it's an argument from despair. (And yes, I know that the intifada is not all that Islamist. But I still think Islamists would take a US aid cutoff as a major victory, and proof that terrorism works.)

FAINT HOPES: At this point, I see only a few very unlikely ways out of the impasses created in 1948.

The U.S. does something really awesome in the war on terror, thus allowing us to slowly withdraw from supporting Israel without looking weak. This is my least preferred option. I do not think Israel can last long without us.

That "something" also changes the balance of power in the Middle East significantly enough that Israel has a much better chance of making a lasting peace with her neighbors. When the threat of all-out war against Israel is removed, I think it may be possible to negotiate Palestinian statehood or (vastly less likely, not that any of this is likely) assimilation. This is better.

Move to Brooklyn. The least realistic of all the options; and by far the best.

I think it should be obvious that I'm open to persuasion on this–in fact, I'd love to be persuaded out of the confusion and hopelessness I'm in. So check out the email link to your left. Thanks to everyone who emailed me before I wrote this vast post; and feel free to write again.
GETTING IN TOUCH WITH MY FEMININE SIDE: Recently I mentioned two recipes that require virtually no clean-up. A reader asked me what they were. Mmm mmm good. As with all recipes, variations are encouraged and quantities are approximate.

Sandwich (this is a variant of a recipe I got from 365 Days Vegetarian--in general, a good cookbook--and I think it had some silly name like "San Francisco Sandwich," but since it's the only kind of sandwich I ever make, I feel no need to give it a foofy name):
You need: Tinfoil; a club roll or portuguese roll or similar; canned corn; plum tomato; white mushrooms; onion; canned artichoke hearts; munster cheese; cayenne pepper. That's for one sandwich; it should be fairly easy to figure out how to make more.
Preheat oven to 375. Get yourself two big sheets of tinfoil. Slice the roll in half the short way, then slice the halves in half. (Sorry if I'm explaining this badly. You should end up with two bottom-halves and two top-halves. It should look like a much shorter version of a halved sub sandwich.*) Set each bottom-half on a sheet of tinfoil. Cover the bottom-halves with a layer of canned corn (skip this if it sounds too weird, but it's really good). Slice plum tomato and layer that on top of the corn. Then add a layer of sliced mushrooms; then a layer of onion; then a layer of artichoke hearts. Top each half with a slice of munster cheese; sprinkle cayenne on the cheese; cover with the two top-halves. Wrap the half-sandwiches in the tinfoil and bake for about 15-17 minutes or until onions are as soft as you want 'em. Unwrap and enjoy. Keep napkins handy--these are very messy--but there are no pots or pans to clean. When you're done, just throw away the foil and give the plate a quick scrub.

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Whatnot
You need: Tinfoil, garlic, plum tomatoes, mushrooms (white or crimini), pasta, dried herbs/spices, and butter. You may also want an onion, artichoke hearts, and/or a package of shredded cheese.
Preheat oven to 375. Put water on to boil. Cover a pan in tinfoil. Thinly slice garlic. Set mushrooms on tinfoil. Slice tomatoes (big chunks work best) and set them also on tinfoil. Place the garlic slices on the mushrooms and tomatoes. Cover mushrooms and tomatoes with spices--I use oregano, basil, cayenne, and black pepper, but thyme works too.
When the water is about to boil, stick the pan in the oven. Cook the pasta while the vegetables roast. If you want artichoke hearts or very crisp, tangy onions (mmm), slice them up and put them on the plate you'll be using.
When the pasta is done, drain it and take the pan out of the oven. Butter the pasta. Scrape the vegetables into it. (You can slice the mushrooms if you want, but they'll squirt juice at you, and I rarely bother.) If you want cheese, put it on the pasta and vegetables. I prefer Sargento shredded Mexican-blend cheese--unusual with pasta, but good. The heat of the pasta and vegetables, plus the melting cheese, cooks the onions a little bit, but be forewarned--they don't cook fully.
Clean-up: Throw away the tinfoil. Rinse the pasta pot. Scrub the plate. Especially if you don't add cheese, this is extremely easy.

* The Rat once found a list of difficult job-interview questions that included, "Explain to me how to tie my shoes. Use only words, no gestures, and don't get a shoe and practice on it." This was startlingly tough.

Anyway, there will be real posting later today, but for the moment I thought there might be readers out there who are as obsessed with recipes as I am. In general, the tinfoil trick works wonders--you can cook steaks, for example, with equally limited clean-up.
"You know how it is early in the morning on the water, and then you come ashore, and in no time at all you're up to your ears in trouble, and you don't know how it began."
--John Garfield, "Breaking Point"

Monday, June 10, 2002

THE RAT INFORMS ME that Agatha Christie's title was Dame Commander of the British Empire. Now that is cool.
TIM DRAKE'S ARTICLE on Catholic bloggers is online, here.
BECAUSE THE KNIGHT: Why would people want Mick Jagger to be knighted? What would knighting the guy accomplish? Here's my take:
1) I'm not sure why artists get knighted in the first place, rather than reserving the honor for people who, you know, perform heroic acts or similar. But that said,
2) There's a big difference between knighting (or whatever the equivalent is for women--you can see that I don't follow this sort of thing) Agatha Christie, and knighting, say, Jean Genet. If you make your name slagging the Establishment, why should you want its favors? If your whole shtik is what a downtrodden, alienated, street-fightin' man you are--all your Satanic sympathies and so forth--doesn't it defeat the purpose if you get knighted? I mean, imagine John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) getting knighted.
And finally, 3) While obviously you can't expect everyone who gets knighted to be a moral exemplar, I think you can expect him to eschew rampant sleaziness. I like the Rolling Stones' music a lot, but why should people be rewarded for $#@!ing up in public?
THE MIRACLE OF SHANK: I know I promised lots of substantive posting today, but my weekend kind of escaped me, and I just don't have the time to do it. However, I am reading all your emails and whatnot, and there will be much blogly goodness here very soon. I apologize for the delay. Try me tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Unqualified Offerings and The Agitator both have bucketloads of good stuff, so you should go read them. Also, The Old Oligarch and I met Fr. Jim Tucker on Friday, after he celebrated (? prayed?--I haven't been Catholic long enough to know all the lingo--do you only celebrate a Mass?) a Novena to the Sacred Heart. Very very cool. He was then mobbed by little old ladies. The O.O. muttered that that was why widows had special ritual roles in the early Church--if they're gonna mob you, might as well give 'em something to do.... Anyway, it was awesome, and we will probably return for the next First Friday.
"She had dressed for the occasion too, but her idea of a sex kitten looked like something the cat had dragged in."
--The Last Good Kiss , James Crumley

Thanks to the reader who sent it in.

Friday, June 07, 2002

(GRASS)ROOTS ROCK: The Cranky Professor writes: "Along with Catholic books for public libraries (an EXCELLENT idea), let me suggest gift subscriptions to Catholic magazines for school libraries both public and parochial.

"Most public libraries aren't thrilled with gift subscriptions because they are sure that then they'll have to take it out of their limited budget once you stop giving (the solution -- call the magazine and find out how cheap a perpetual endowment would be -- I know that some of the scholarly journals will do it for as little as $500 in one payment. Think about it -- perpetual subscription to a scholarly journal for $500! Oh. You probably don't read Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies.)

"However, most schools are [happy to get gift subscriptions] -- and I've actually NOT had opposition to subscribing to religious journals for public [school] libraries. They're just grateful to get something on the shelves!"

Note how easily this idea can be modified for non-religious uses--just replace Crisis or the Register with City Journal, Reason, Commentary, etc.
"CHRISTIANITY FROM THE OUTSIDE" is available online. There are terrific responses from Jack Balkin, Emmy Chang, Christopher Hitchens, David Kelley, James Morrow, Jacob Neusner, Jonathan Rauch, Ellen Willis, and Michael Yaeger. I was honored to work with them.
COUPON CLIPPERS: I'm a creature of habit. Every time I go to the grocery, I buy the exact same nine things. I love cooking, but I hate washing dishes, so I've grown to love two yummy recipes that require virtually no cleanup. This means, among other things, that I get a lot of coupons I don't use. I get 'em in the mailbox; I get 'em on my receipt; I get 'em here, I get 'em there, etc.

There's gotta be a use for these coupons. I've been throwing them away, but it occurred to me today that I might be able to give them to a food pantry or other charity. I'll look into this and tell you what I find.

One section of the Rock'n'Roll Conservatism manifesto (coming, slowly but surely, to theaters everywhere) will deal with grassroots activities--things anyone can do to promote markets, marriage, the well-being of the poor, and similar nifty stuff. Coupon-clipping is a tiny act, but there are many, many possibilities that most people overlook. Here are some excellent ideas: ROSCAs; marriage mentoring; Threads of Love; the Heifer Project; bringing Catholic books to public libraries (I'm sure non-Catholics can think of similar projects); Magdalene Home; Deborah Darden's Right Alternatives Family Service Center (it's described toward the end of that article); and there's a lot more out there, which will be explored in the Manifesto.

HERE'S THE LIST of people at the blogfest last night. Muchisimas gracias a Gene Healy.
ARE YOU A LAY CATHOLIC? Are you seeking saints from your own walk of life? Do you want to learn more about the history of the Church and her saints? Do you need to exercise your arm muscles and build upper-body strength? You need this tome! (I'm borrowing it from The Old Oligarch.)
My blogfest's back and you're gonna be sorry--
Hey la, hey la, my blogfest's back!

(I will never again be able to hear that song without thinking of the "Sesame Street" parody with the Squirelles singing about the boyfriend's back--and his front.)

Boy were there a lot of people at the blogfest. I didn't even meet half the people there. It was great to see folks from the first DC fest--Dave Tepper, Unqualified Offerings and Mrs. Offering, and Will Wilkinson (even though I didn't get a chance to say hi to Will). Also had much fun talking with Eugene Volokh, Jon Adler, Radley Balko, Brink Lindsey, Julian Sanchez (OK OK, you're not an anarchist!), arrrggghhh--there's no way I'm going to be able to get everyone's name in. Why don't we just call everyone "Kevin"? (You won't regret clicking that link, by the way.) Apparently there was a sign-up sheet where people wrote their names and URLs, though I missed it. Shamed and Russo were there, arguing that we should attack Iraq (Russo) and that there's nothing sketchy about chicks in halter tops dancing on a bar and squirting vodka down men's throats (Shamed of course). Here are many photos. I'm in one of them, but as usual I look like an idiot, so I won't tell you which one. But here's a hint: One of the people in this photo is Russo, who isn't looking like a dork. (My lesson: Look at the camera, you freak!) I do vote that next time we pick a QUIETER and larger place--Rendezvous was very good-looking, but way too loud and crowded. It was difficult to have a good conversation. Nonetheless, Eugene Volokh gave me some very good, sharp (=helpful, acute; not "sharp" as in "ouch, that stings!") criticism of the points I made in a judicial-philosophy post that has disappeared (uh, where are my early archives? Oh well...); I'll be mulling that over and getting back to you people on it.

Balko and I went back and forth a bit on "abstinence-only education." I made my usual point that trying to corral teens within rules and regulations, and emphasizing the riskiness of sex (whether contracepted or not), is never going to work. I suspect many abstinence-only programs fail because they're about what you shouldn't do, not what you should do; they're about abstinence and not marriage. Teens think they're invulnerable, and they like the risk inherent in sex because a) risk is sexy, c'mon, and b) taking risks "proves" one's invincibility. So if you focus solely on a "don't take risks!" approach you'll never change teens' behavior. I do think, though, that educating teens about what marriage is, why physical fidelity matters, the emotional turmoil caused by premarital sex, the difficulties it causes for marriage--in short, showing teens an achievable ideal and then pointing out that premarital sex undermines their ability to achieve that ideal--can work. It can only work if you have a believable teacher. I know a woman who does abstinence-until-marriage education, and she talked very frankly about the difficulties of convincing teens she wasn't scamming them or being a hypocrite. Once she did convince them, however, she said they were in general very enthusiastic, somewhat tripped out (nobody had ever talked to them, in a straight-up, no-bull manner, about marriage), and intrigued. (Obviously this is just going on her word; I hope to take a day off from work sometime soon so I can observe some of her classes.) My only point here is that if you do it wrong, "abstinence only" education can have many of the same flaws as "'safe' sex" education (which also emphasizes regulations and risk-avoidance, rather than ideals and goals). But the fact that some people do dumb abstinence-only ed doesn't mean that all abstinence education is dumb. Here's a big long review of marriage-ed programs: the good, the bad, and the silly.

Oh, and two people asked me if I was related to my father. I told them that if you ever meet a Tushnet, in any walk of life whatsoever, I'm very closely related to that person. I think the number of Tushnets in the world, total, is in the high teens or so.

Blogadder has some good thoughts, or beginnings of thoughts, about the whole Roman-vs.-Anglo law dispute that's been rockin' the Catholic blogosphere.

Social Theorist Trading Cards! (link sent by The Rat, who is blogging like a rat in a coffee can today.)

And you need to read this. Update on Radley Balko's excellent "Straight" story exposing an abusive "drug rehab" center.
"How extravagant you are, throwing away women like that. Someday they may be scarce."
--Claude Rains, "Casablanca"

Thursday, June 06, 2002

COME, MUSE, LET US SING OF RATS: Another one rides the bus--The Rat has a blog. Right now there's lots of St. Petersburg, SnarfQuest, and Dostoyevsky. Go, feel the bite of the Rat.
Avalanche or blogwatch
I was a snowball in hell
Avalanche or blogwatch
A jailer trapped in his cell...

Ted Barlow: How to thank those awesome Masai who sent us cows. The comments are also good.

Dappled Things: Latins vs. litigiousness; Roman exceptions; a very good post on the Curia. And the Reformation Polka (which is not as much fun as the Masochism Tango, I regret to inform you).

Brink Lindsey: Fathers and Sons; people need plants and pets (this, by the way, is one reason DC is the greatest city in the world--city-at-night streetscapes plus lots and lots of big flowering and leafy trees; there's no reason to pose a stark dichotomy between nature and city); and tariffs have consequences.

Emily Stimpson beats up on the teachers' unions; Michael Shirley defends them (as always, check the comments); Sara Russo busts out the whuppin' stick.

Dave Winer: Must-read quick essay about spineless journalists. To quote Edward G. Robinson in "Five-Star Final," "No wonder the newspaper is rotten. We need more drunkards." Hey, me and my friends are doing our part....

And I forgot to link to Daniel Connaughton's blog--he's the guy who sent in all those nifty contest entries below.

Oh man, Dee Dee Ramone died. No surprise I suppose. R.I.P.

Not back on it, Joe, still on it.
Not back on it, Joe, still on it.
Not back on it, Joe, still on it.
SO I WAS TALKING with a friend about this. She nodded. She had just one question: "Pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian?"

I wasn't sure what she thought the right answer was. "Pro-Israel, I think," I said. That was the right answer. "...I'd actually been wondering what you were thinking about that," I added.

She paused. "Despair," she said.

Yeah. I have a whole tangle of thoughts about U.S. support of Israel, but it all ends in utter confusion and the sense that there's no realistic hope of anything anyone does there working out. As I said below, I plan to blog about this on Monday, once I've sat down and sorted my thoughts out; I figure even laying out the sources of my confusion may help clarify matters for me and even perhaps for you all. But if you have helpful links, info, or thoughts, feel free to email before then.
MODERN LOVE: Something I've wondered for a couple years now: Why do different disciplines use the word "modern" to refer to such different eras? In history, as far as I can tell, modernity begins at the end of the Renaissance; but modern art starts much later. Philosophy generally uses the history definition, in my experience, or a definition in which modernity starts with the Enlightenment, or with Machiavelli; and then "postmodernity" kicks off with Nietzsche. I'd be interested in any emails about either a) the source of the divergence in these definitions of "modern," or b) if the art-definition and the history-definition actually relate to one another, how are they connected?

And this is probably not a question about mods. Probably.
NEW CONTEST!!!: Probably very light blogging today, but I will post a lot of stuff on Monday--the death penalty, Israel/Palestine, anything else I can think of. For now, why don't you all busy yourselves with a contest?

The new one springs off of this much-blogged news item: The New York State Education Department's decision to bowdlerize the literature they used on statewide exams. Your task is to "edit" famous works so as to make them acceptable to the Dept of Ed. Get out the red pen! Send entries to eve_tushnet@yahoo.com . A good entry is its own reward. Some samples to get you started:

Unpleasantness Comes for the Archbishop
Shakespeare's Queen Cordelia
To Kill A Mockingbird without reference to race (or rape...)--or with a racially diverse cast of characters, e.g. Mayella is Chippewa, the guy she accuses is Irish, Scout is Haitian, her father Atticus is Chinese...
The Bible without Jews
Portnoy's Complaint: He just can't stop watching "Friends"!

Winners will be announced in two weeks(ish).
"I'm overwhelmed. You're all such wonderful people. Everybody has my interests at heart. Everybody wants to take me to the cops."
--Pat O'Brien, "Crack-Up"

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

CONTEST RESULTS!!!: Well, I got the best results for the farm-bill contest, so we'll look at that last. First let's turn our attention to the "When life gives you lemons..." contest.

3rd PLACE: Seth J. Farber: If you had two lemons in the Reagan Administration, you would use one to add to a school lunch program, so you could count it as both a garnish and a vegetable, and you would align the other with your star chart to determine appropriate foreign policy.

2nd PLACE: Father Shawn O'Neal, lately of Onealism:
Before the IMF gives you lemons,

1) you have sell the furniture in all your buildings to the working-class pot-bangers out in the street,

2) you must dispatch of your holdings by selling them to the Spanish for 20 centavos on the peso,

and 3) you must ensure that both the public and private distribution managers living in the estancias aren't asking as much for "lemon
handling fee" as they did the last time the lemon boat arrived in the port.

When the IMF gives you the lemons, you have 15 months to give them full documentation concerning how those lemons were used -- including that ones that were "mishandled" by the distributors who live in the estancias.

You also have 18 months to pay back the IMF in lemons even if you don't have access to citrus trees, but the IMF does, so they'll cut you a deal.

GRAND PRIZE: A matching set from De Feo: When Objectivism gives you lemons, check your premises.

When Catholicism gives you lemons, offer them for souls in Purgatory.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: De Feo again: When fascism gives you lemons, blame the immigrants.

When Lucrezia Borgia gives you lemons, you're in trouble. Because she's been dead for a while.

When Enron gives you lemons, give them back.

When skepticism gives you lemons, you can't be sure they're lemons.

When aristocracy gives you lemons, have them thrown at the masses.

When the Democrats give you lemons, it's probably because you're a minority.

When the Mafia gives you lemons, it's a Sicilian message.

Jacob Profitt: Before the EU gives you lemons, you have to first reassure that you won't put French or German farmers out of work, agree to the nine-volume "Organic Lemon Handling Initiative" (HILO) and visit Brussels to grease the appropriate palms.

When Bill Gates gives you lemons, you'll be able to make lemonade, but first you have to agree that you will not unbundle juices or seeds and that you will use Microsoft-approved pitchers only for Microsoft lemonade and not for Sunny orange juice, Apple-MacJuice, Lime-ux, or ICM (International Concentrated Mangos) GS/2 (Grapefruit Sauce 2).

And two good ones from a seemingly bitter Marine: When the military industrial complex gives you lemons it's because some congressman decided to write citrus subsidies into the newest iteration of the defense budget in order to appease constituents in his district...and hey, why not give the lemons no one wants to the Marines (Not that our unofficial motto is "We do more with less" or anything)

When the military industrial complex gives you lemons, assume it's a goodwill attempt to add flavor to M.R.E.'s (That's meals ready to eat for those who haven't had the experience...and Meals Rejected by Ethiopia for those who have...you know that little bottle of Tabasco only goes so far).
And now the big one--"Write a post about the farm bill in the voice of a literary character." Enjoy, folks.

3rd PLACE: Scott Helgeson: Hop on Crop Subsidies
(as told by the Washington Fat Cat in the Hat)

Every blogger
down in Who-ville
liked libertarianism a lot...

Senator Grinch
(Independent, from Whoville)
did NOT.

He looked down at Whoville and anxiously thought
For my re-election voters need to be bought.
Then he growled, his fingers nervously drumming.
"I must find a way to keep subsidies coming!"

Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!
Sen. Grinch got a wonderful,

He got in his limo
And took off with a screech
To the center of Who-town
To make a big speech.

"I'll give you a thousand, I'll give you a million!
I'll give you a doe-decal-dupple-dog-zillion!
Just send me back to the Capitol, my dear
I'll get money there, and I'll bring it back here."

He subsidized farmers and giggled with glee.
"Now the farmers," he said," will all vote for me!"

"I gave them money for dairy,
for big ketchup packets,
I even gave money
for mohair pimp jackets."

And some say the Grinch's heart grew 3 sizes that day,
Because he gave so much taxpayer money away.

2nd PLACE: Daniel Connaughton: "Angstrom held the NY Times with a gathering anger, the serrate-edged white pages garlanded with those ads of models, all svelte with their ring-appointed mid-drifts, slices of skin endlessly beguiling and
faithful to the long evolutionary line of tricks women have used to overcome a man's fear of rejection, a display to marry pistil and stamen. Amid the skin and sex and perfume his attention ratcheted upon, quite perversely, a news item concerning a farm subsidy
bill. This was the source of his inchoate anger, and to his Dell he flew, typing furiously into his forgiving, warm, blogger spot:
"'Don't have time to link this, but it was in the NY Times today (link requires registration, blah,blah) - the bastards passed a $190 billion dollar farm subsidy bill...'"

GRAND PRIZE: Mark Byron. For vast, obsessive length--and because I'm biased toward noir. Click here.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Connaughton: Thoreau (not a literary character--not in that sense, anyway--but we forgive): From his blog entitled "Blogden Pond":

I set out to live deliberately in the wilds of eastern Kentucky with only a lap-top and a lean-to, recreating a previous experiment in this "computer age". Though a computer is not absolutely necessary, I plan to use it as a "word processor" and thus save the parchment and pencil waste formerly associated with the author's trade. One may see the economy in that. I plan to blog only once a day, and not spend more than one hour per day reading other blogs, for the mass of bloggers live lives of paragraph-sized desperation. From the desperate city blogs to the desperate country blogs, few heed the call to simplify.

I chanced upon a day-old newspaper on my grounds yesterday, perhaps blown in from the nearby interstate with its thundering herd of trucks and trash-laden gravel shoulders. The story above the fold contained a humorously titled congressional bill: "the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002". One hundred fifty years later and still we seek security from a congressional bill? Oh but pity the poor agri-business conglomerates, with only a governmental stipend to keep them in the sheaves! Surely without the subsidy of the government the mass of farmers would have no sugar or dairy or grain to give us and we would, wretched in our own failure to urge our
representatives to pass a Congressional act, be forced to farm ourselves, or better yet live deliberately off the land. Hmm...

Seth J. Farber: I do not like green eggs and ham,
I do not like them Sam I am,
I do not like this new farm bill,
It smells of pork from on the Hill.

Try them, try them, you will see,
There's nothing wrong with subsidy,
Green eggs and ham are but one strand,
Of vast farm aid wide and grand,

I do not like this spending spree,
When our nation suffers calamity,
I do not like it Sam I am,
I think this farm bill is a sham.

But our land was built by the family farm,
A way of life with such great charm.
Farmers get help with the right quota--
And we might pick up South Dakota!

I do not like this, not at all.
I think this farm bill smacks of gall.
Our nation needs to stand united,
And not lament the checks it kited.

Try the farm bill you will see,
Grow a carrot, grow a pea,
Or raise some bees for honey--
Don't worry-- Congress has the money.

Say, Sam, I see what you mean.
For not just ham and eggs are green--
With MY check in hand, I must confess,
I'm now a fan of this largesse.
RIGHT-LEANING LEGAL EXPERTS: If you're in the media and looking for a list of legal experts who slant "right" (whatever that means), this link might be useful to you.
POLLUTED BY WOLVES: Those who know me well know that I love wolves. Other girls had horse phases; I had a wolf phase. Such a long and intense phase, in fact, that I will not be at all surprised if some relatives send me wolf paraphernalia this Christmas. I sold my copy of White Wolf: The Wolves of Ellesmere Island (yes, they're gorgeous, but I wanted to buy more Dostoyevsky), and I think I gave my old stuffed lupine companion Rosebriar to the pregnancy center, but I still think wolves are pretty awesome.

However. The only wolves I've seen up-close-and-personal were safely behind bars. I do not see wolves padding down 16th Street, slinking through Rock Creek Park, or dining on Bambi carpaccio out in darkest Virginia. And this suits me just fine.

I was reminded of my preference for a wolfless habitat when I read an account of a Close Encounter of the Wolfen Kind in Portland, Ore. Wolfie had his snout stuck in the trashcan behind a local eatery. Raised his head, spotted customers leaving the restaurant, and went into classic stalking-wolf mode. The customers backed away very slowly, and the wolf retreated.

I really don't deal much with nasty beasties in my daily life. ("Who's that in that nasty car? --Nasty beasts!") Rats, big weird swamp-type bugs, that's about it. I see deer in the Park quite often, and many years ago one wandered into the Capitol, smashed through a plate-glass window, and stumbled around in a daze until it was captured and removed. I don't have to back slowly away from the Tastee Diner dumpster because some carnivore is rifling through the garbage; I don't have to worry that when our cat escapes some fangtoothed coyote or Canis lupus will snuff him. This is great. This happened because humans changed the "natural world" we found around us.

The separation between humans and the rest of nature goes back to Genesis, of course--we were given dominion over the creepycrawlies and the flittering things and, importantly, the clawed and jagtoothed wild animals. But that separation between us and them was predicated on our dominance. We, not they, stood at the top of the Great Chain of Being.

Later philosophies, in which humans become just another part of nature, had a much harder time justifying that dominance. (You could read the book that seduced me into nine years of vegetarianism if you want a utilitarian take on the subject--an accurate, consistent utilitarian take, I might add... which is one of the problems with utilitarianism.) Attempts to justify humans' use of other animals too often rely on a "group rights" approach (what's really valued is rationality, and humans are the kind of critters who can be rational [as demonstrated by, say, our use of language, or our ability to make moral choices], so all humans get protection under the "umbrella" of rational-animals even if the particular humans in question have severely impaired rationality, have not yet developed rationality, or aren't exercising their rationality at a given moment).

There are some benefits to viewing ourselves as just another part of nature--for example, this viewpoint helps us see why the changes humans make to a landscape aren't necessarily any less "natural" or moral than the changes other animals make. (Virginia Postrel has a great example of this in The Future and Its Enemies, in which an environmental group tried to recreate an American forest as it would have existed before Columbus. The attempt failed, because the greenfolk refused to burn down trees that would be burnt by the American Indians who had lived there. Without this periodic culling, some tree species quickly crowded out others; some trees took over, while others vanished. In order to recreate the supposed "beautiful nature," humans would have had to intervene, since we inadvertently had created the species diversity that gave the forest its majesty. Because humans were viewed as intruders, usurpers in the Wild Kingdom, the Greens failed to see that we were actually helpful players in the biological drama.)

However, if we view ourselves as only one species among others, we can have no justification for our dominance or use of other animals. (Or we end up with justifications for using beasts that also turn out to justify using other humans.) This justification of human dominance is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult problems for philosophy (especially secular philosophy); it's ignored simply because most people either don't think about the outliers (non- or not-yet-rational humans; clever pets), or simply laugh when they're asked to take Peter Singer's claims seriously. (Three cheers for common sense on this one, by the way--I'm thrilled that people reject human/beast equality, even if arguing the case from modern secular premises is tougher than we usually realize.) So people who don't have a good sense of what differentiates us from the beasties around us often retreat into a hazy romanticism about "nature." Natural good, manufactured bad!

Eugene Volokh came up with a good way of thinking about pollution that avoids this problem: Pollution is nasty stuff in the environment that causes disease. Here are the relevant paragraphs: "How can I say that the world has gotten cleaner, given all the smog, toxic waste, etc.? Well, there's certainly pollution out there, which I would define as material in the environment that can cause disease. And there's more chemical pollution, I suspect, than there was, say, 300 years ago.

"But there's vastly less biological pollution. For much of human history, the species was literally plagued with a vast range of material in the environment -- bacteria and viruses -- that can cause disease. Some of this was an artifact of people living next to each other, but it happened with population densities much lower than we see today. And biological pollution has generally proven to be much more lethal than chemical pollution.

"On aggregate, then, the world is much cleaner today than at any time in at least thousands of years, as defined in what I think is the soundest way: There is far less disease caused by the 'unclean' stuff in the environment than there ever has been."

This view seems to me to get it right: The emphasis is on what humans need (we're dominant) and what we can control (both manufactured and biological "pollution"). We're neither entirely separate from nature (in which case our actions would be inherently "unnatural," and usually "anti-nature") nor merely another cog in the Green Machine. So yes, under certain circumstances--when they threaten human life, limb, or livelihood--wolves can be classified as pollution. I say that with tongue in cheek; I think "pollution" is, in general, stuff we don't want around at all, rather than critters we like in zoos and off in the wild where they can't mess with anyone. But the way of thinking Volokh proposes strikes me as entirely sensible. The world is cleaner today than it was, and that's good. That shouldn't stop us from trying to make it cleaner still, but that's a very different argument about technology, economic development, and trade-offs (how much chemical pollution will we bear now in order to maintain a booming economy that ultimately benefits us greatly?).
POETRY WEDNESDAY: Because people end up memorizing random things. Here are all four of the poems I know by heart. All typed from memory, whence any errors. From A.E. Housman:

I to my perils
Of cheat and charmer
Came clad in armor
By stars divine.

Hope lies to mortals
And most believe her
But man's deceiver
Was never mine.

From William Blake (all the line breaks are probably wrong):
O rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm who flies through the night
In the howling storm
Has found out your bed of crimson joy
And his dark secret love
Does your life destroy.

From John Keats:
This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb
So chill thy days and haunt thy sleeping nights
That thou wouldst wish thine own heart drained of blood
That in my veins red life might flow again
And thou be conscience-calmed--see here it is--
I hold it to you.

And from Lewis Carroll:
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub Bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch."

He took his vorpal sword in hand,
Long time the manxome foe he sought.
Then rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood a while in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came.

One-two! one-two! And through and through
His vorpal sword went snickersnack.
He left it dead, and with its head,
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Calloo, callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
When you wake in the night, wipe the sweat from your forehead--
Blogwatch Most Horrid!

Ted Barlow: Excellent post on his trip to a gun show. Read the comments too.

E-Pression: Higher quicker is better; and she's cute when she's angry.

An important document ranking the dioceses according to ordinations per Catholic. (I.e. if you have 4 ordinations out of 10 Catholics you'd rank higher than a diocese with 8 ordinations and 40 Catholics.) Link via Amy Welborn, who also has good commentary on it, and a truckload of useful Scandal-stuff.

When you wake in the night, enormously torrid,
Blogwatch Most Horrid...
"Why you cheap little clip-joint canary!"
--Robert Ryan to Lizabeth Scott, "The Racket"

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

OK, THIS LETTER to Pete Vere says what I was thinking (but hadn't put into words): Most bad marriages are marriages--no annulment for you. I entirely agree with Amy Welborn's and Vere's thoughts on the ways in which our attitudes toward marriage, big costly weddings, and premarital sex have made good marriages more difficult, and that's why I linked to their posts on the subject, but I really agree that you can't have a definition of marriage in which you're not married unless your choice was made in the best possible fashion. Here are the key passages: "Amy mentions that people get married who shouldn't. I agree. However, making a bad choice, even an idiotic choice, is not the same thing as having an inability to choose.

"...What does this mean? Jerks can marry. Head-in-the-clouds 19 year-old couples can marry. Almost anyone can marry."

Civil divorce is a separate issue, though it has its own problems. Obviously I'm not making any judgments about particular annulments--I'd never pretend to know "which ones were real." And I know it can come off as arrogant talking about this subject at all, since I'm not married; I really hope I don't sound like a jerk. But I don't know what else to say--telling people, "You were never really married," when they were, is not kosher at all. I know a bad marriage is a terrible thing to go through--one of the worst--and again, separation or civil divorce are very different from annulment. And I agree with pretty much everyone that the best way to help Catholics make better marriages is to focus on marriage preparation, resisting the contraceptive culture, and in general helping people understand what they're supposed to be doing. But yeah, as far as I can tell from very limited knowledge, there are also too many annulments in this country; some marriages are being called invalid for insufficient reasons; and I do worry about what happens to the people who want to argue that their marriage was real.
THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE to win my contest(s)!!! Winners will be announced TOMORROW. You will also get a juicy new contest then; I think you will enjoy it. Here's this week's contests again:

Send all entries to eve_tushnet@yahoo.com .

1) When capitalism gives you lemons... This was inspired by this post over at The Volokh Conspiracy. You know those lists of different political systems and what they'd do with two cows? I want similar ideas--but fresh, funny, tart 'n' tangy, like a splash of lemon juice in the face...--that take off on the old adage, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." When Communism gives you lemons, what happens? When anarcho-syndicalism gives you lemons? When George W. Bush gives you lemons? Etc.

2) I joked about making the next contest, "Write a post about the farm bill as if you were Ivan Karamazov." Then I thought, It's so crazy, it just might work! So yeah. Write a post about the farm bill as if you were any major literary character--Winnie the Pooh, Raskolnikov, Madame Bovary, Molly Bloom, Romeo, Napoleon and/or Snowball, Scarlett O'Hara... the possibilities are endless. Go to town. No spoilers!

Send 'em in!
CATHOLIC STUFF: Tim Drake has a whole passel of interesting stuff over at his blog--responses to the questions he asked various Catholic bloggers. I have to say that I really don't notice the "narcissism" of blogs--if somebody bores me, I skip him--but the points about time-management are well taken. Perhaps that issue explains the departure of Mike Hardy from the blogosphere. Come back little Sheba! Personally, I doubt he will be able to resist at least firing off the occasional email or turning up in a comments box. I hope so anyway. And John Da Fiesole is right in his reasoning about the use of the atomic bomb--we can't make the utilitarian calculus of sacrificing some innocents for others. We can pursue justice--including killing the wrongdoers--but we can't target those who have not done the wrong.

Here's Dave Kopel's Marylinks page--scads and scads and scads of links about the Mother of God. Lots of art, prayers, books, apparitions, scholarship, rosaries and "alternative rosaries" (like the Chaplet of the Five Wounds of God, or the Rosary of St. Joseph), doctrine (what's up with the Immaculate Conception? why do Catholics believe Mary remained a virgin?), and much much more. (Mary in the Koran... Martin Luther's devotion to Mary... what's a scapular?...) Very very cool.
I know you're antiseptic
your deodorant smells nice
I'd like to know you but you're deep frozen like ice
he's a blogwatch adolescent...

Note: There will be very light blogging today, as I have to, like, work and stuff. But you should read the novella "Sweet Smell of Success" by Ernest Lehman. Basis of awesome movie. Very very good stuff.

Don't Be A Shamed: Great moments in Google searches. All I can say is, To the person who came here looking for "gay Straussian"--welcome! You've come to the right place, sort of! Kind of. Not really. No.

Charles Murtaugh: Two good posts about eugenics, experimental ethics, and cloning; and sad news. I'm sure there will be prayers in the blogosphere for Professor Murtaugh's family.

Matt Welch: Bush, basketball, blunders; and another good post on Afghan civilian casualties.

A NRO article says slave redeemers in Sudan aren't being scammed. Read it; click here and poke around; then read my take on it; and decide for yourself.

Notes from a Hillside Farm: Very nifty blog from an Orthodox Christian who likes both me and Wendell Berry.

And last, Engrish.com. The name is not for the ubersensitive. But the site is SO FUNNY. Like tears coming down the face funny. Click and see the wonder of one Japanese quirk: the passion for putting English words on everything. Hilarious. And I've drunk Pocari Sweat, by the way--nice, but salty.
"We go together, Laurie. I don't know why. Maybe like guns and ammunition go together."
--John Dall to Peggy Cummins, "Gun Crazy"

Monday, June 03, 2002

D.C. BLOGFEST THIS THURSDAY! Rendezvous Lounge (18th and Kalorama), 7 p.m. Me, Brink Lindsey, Radley Balko, Julian Sanchez, et fascinating alia. Will probably start upstairs. To quote the email: "Bloggers, fans and friends of bloggers, and anyone generally interested (or not interested) in blogging are invited, welcome and encouraged to attend."
"I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE LAST YEAR AND CONDEMNING THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT FOR, UH, CONDEMNING ME.": So I went to Saturday's candlelight vigil outside the Chinese Embassy. Tomorrow is the 13th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. Executive summary of the vigil: Small but hopeful. Here are some scattered thoughts and observations.

I didn't know that in 1989, protesting students built a Statue of Liberty in Shanghai.

I had never seen the poster at Tiananmen Square, hung during the demonstrations, that read (in English), "Give me liberty or give me death!"

Photo captions detailed the ways in which the Communist government turned protesters' deaths into propaganda: Goons hung signs around the protesters' necks listing their "crimes." The protesters were forced to kneel, then shot in the head. The government recorded it all for the official files, and for public consumption--the latter is known as "killing the chicken to scare the monkey."

The gathering itself was very small, very amateurish (lots of people had trouble with the microphones), and almost entirely Asian. There was a lovely reporter with Radio Free Asia; I didn't notice any other press. Guess it's passe to have luminaries like Wei Jingsheng in town.

Wei looks like somebody's dad. He was dressed in a t-shirt and khaki shorts. (Did I mention that this was not a super-big event?) He spoke in Chinese with a translator, and displayed his well-known sense of humor by joshing the translator a bit.

Wei, like some of the other speakers, discussed the divisions that have plagued the Chinese freedom movement. He said, "The apathy and lack of support for our movement from overseas Chinese [4 1/2 years ago, when Wei was released from prison] is perhaps understandable, due to the behavior of the people within our movement, which was less than commendable." But, like the other speakers, he asserted that over the past few years the dissident community basically got its act together and stopped fighting so much. I suspect this is probably true; if it weren't true, I doubt any of the speakers would have mentioned the infighting. If it is true, this is a terrific thing.

John Kusumi, founder of the China Support Network, probably had the most detailed policy prescriptions. These were a bit sketchy. He called for the 2008 Olympics to be taken from Beijing, on the grounds that there was evidence (he said) of an "Olympic crackdown," as the Communists try to sweep all opposition under the rug as fast as possible. (I don't know if it's started yet, but I fully expect such a crackdown--other major conferences in China have provoked crackdowns in the past.) Kusumi also called for China to be treated like Cuba by the U.S. (He didn't give details, just said that Cuba policy was a model for China policy.) I don't think either of these ideas (revoking the Olympics decision and starting a China embargo) are good places to put one's energy, so Kusumi's speech was disappointing. I'd love for the Olympics to go somewhere else, but it won't happen; and a China embargo is not even a good idea, let alone a politically feasible one.

Two men who led the 1989 student demonstrations also spoke--Wang Dan, who was in Tiananmen Square, and Liu Junguo of Canton. Neither said anything particularly unusual, but it was still wonderful to see such brave people. Both now live in the U.S. (as does Wei).

Gao Zhan also spoke; she's the one I quoted in the title of this post. Here's a synopsis of what happened to her. Her most memorable quote: "I feel a sense of guilt because over the 13 years [between Tiananmen and her own arrest] I allowed my anger to die down, my conscience to die down, and my memory to die down."

If you want to help Chinese people struggling against their dictators, check out these websites: Chinese gulag; underground Catholic priests; free church for China. If anyone knows of groups who circulate samizdata (underground, suppressed literature) in China, please let me know--I know there are societies that produce tiny Bibles that are smuggled into China, but are there any groups that do the same with other books? eve_tushnet@yahoo.com

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free....
BECAUSE I KNOW YOU NEEDED MORE POSTS ABOUT CREEPY DOLLS: Avram Grumer of Pigs&Fishes writes: "Eve, I think you're wrong about why dolls are creepy. While it is true that modern society doesn't quite know what to do with children, that's got nothing to do with dolls. Dolls are creepy because they are designed to appeal to some very basic human instincts -- the desire to cherish and protect infants, and this is an impulse non-human primates also display, meaning that it's almost certainly an instinct that's older than humanity itself -- but they're also these inanimate lumps of plastic, dead things.

"I don't know where the children chanting in horror movies comes from."

I basically agree with this--I wasn't trying to list every single reason dolls are creepy--but I think the other factors I detail here also play a role. And I think they help explain the creepy chanting children, too.
I am a blogger and I don't care,
I like to make people stare!...

Joe De Feo: Blogger britcom wig-out.

E-Pression: Zorak seeks "defenses for U.S. support for Israel. E-mail them to me and I'll link them (with helpful glosses, natch)."

OxBlog: Moving story from Kenya; is Africa becoming freer but poorer?

The Poor Man: A really funny parody of The Corner. Link via Electrolite via Unqualified Offerings... I think.

Unqualified Offerings: David Broder gets spidey-smacked; if you don't trust the FBI, why do you trust HHS? I need to add my own rant to the Broder-bashing, because this passage promotes an idea that seriously gets (and annoys) my goat: David Broder writes, "In 1962, when the first Spider-Man comic appeared, the notion of making his alter ego a New York City kid was unobjectionable. We were an innocent country then, not yet familiar with assassinations, urban riots and terrorist attacks." I HATE this cliche. I hate how America didn't lose its innocence with slavery--or the removal of the Cherokee--or the Civil War--or the World Wars--or Hiroshima and Nagasaki--but a pretty president pulls a Lincoln and suddenly America's lost her virginity? What kind of blinkered, privileged, everything-everyone-hates-about-the-Boomers perspective is this? C'mon.

Matt Welch: More on Afghan civilian casualties. Comments also worth reading.

There's a lot of good stuff here--a blog by a Catholic canon lawyer. Lots of stuff about annulments; the effect of premarital sex on marriages; liturgy; and other canony stuff. And here's Yet Another Overeducated Catholic Blog--but in a good way... All But Dissertation.
"You're gonna have a hard time holding me."
"Be fun trying."

--Myrna Dell and Walter Sande, "Nocturne"

Saturday, June 01, 2002

MOREWELL!!!: (sorry) From "The Art of Donald McGill": "When one examines McGill's [comic postcards] more closely, one notices that his brand of humour only has meaning in relation to a fairly strict moral code. Whereas in papers like Esquire, for instance, or La Vie Parisienne, the imaginary background of the jokes is always promiscuity, or the utter breakdown of all standards, the background of the McGill postcard is marriage. The four leading jokes are nakedness, illegitimate babies, old maids and newly married couples, none of which would seem funny in a really dissolute or even 'sophisticated' society. The postcards dealing with honeymoon couples always have the enthusiastic indecency of those village weddings where it is still considered screamingly funny to sew bells to the bridal bed. In one, for example, a young bridegroom is shown getting out of bed the morning after his wedding night. 'The first morning in our own little home, darling!' he is saying; 'I'll go and get the milk and paper and bring you a cup of tea.' Inset is a picture of the front doorstep; on it are four newspapers and four bottles of milk. This is obscene, if you like, but it is not immoral. Its implication--and this is just the implication that Esquire or the New Yorker would avoid at all costs--is that marriage is something profoundly exciting and important, the biggest event in the average human being's life. So also with the jokes about nagging wives and tyrannous mothers-in-law. They do at least imply a stable society in which marriage is indissoluble and family loyalty taken for granted."

(Horizon, September 1941)

Points of note: 1) This is pretty much the exact stripe of humor found in "Malcolm in the Middle," much of "The Simpsons," and to a lesser extent (because it's not as joke-laden) "King of the Hill." All hail Fox!

2) The Abolition of Marriage, a book I can't recommend enough, has an excellent chapter on the idea of "romantic divorce." One facet of our society's view of divorce (a view that has been changing, for the better, for about five years now) is the idea that marriage is so serious, so enormous, that a) whenever the emotions of love fade, the marriage has become "false," "not really a marriage at all," and so divorce merely makes official what had already happened--just as marriage does not "really" change anything for the couple, but merely publicly affirms their pre-existing emotions; and b) the couple has to be everything to one another--best friend, constant companion, etc. That turns out not to work too well (ever tried to live with your best friend? I've been very lucky with roommates, but I've heard some major horror stories); a marriage is not supposed to become ingrown, turning constantly in on itself because "you're the only person who understands me!" And too many people think a marriage is all about the couple in isolation from their society. All of these viewpoints are completely alien to the comic, McGill/"Malcolm" view of marriage; and I'd rather have a view of marriage that can maintain its heroic and romantic aspects, without losing a sense of humor. Abolition is by far the best book on marriage I know of--it's inspiring, sensible, romantic, and non-self-righteous.
HORROR CHILDREN UPDATE: A friend reminded me of this quotation from Hannah Arendt (from memory and possibly misquoted): "Every generation, Western civilization is invaded by barbarians; we call them 'children.'"
Blogwatcher, blogwatcher, he rides a pitch-black steed,
Blogwatcher, blogwatcher, he's very bad indeed...

Sursum Corda: Good posts on sin and the Visitation.

Unqualified Offerings: Wolfowitz vs. Taiwan (ARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!); random mutterings about the NBA, salaries, whatnot that sports-y people might enjoy/understand; and a Netscape-hate-fest contest.

Amy Welborn: Ex-Archbishop Weakland's apology; a priest, a volcano, and much much more; why contemporary art sucks; pro-life investigations slammed by Associated Press (my take on this is in the comments). Plus lots of other good stuff.
"I treated her like a pair of gloves. When I was cold, I called her up."
--Cornel Wilde, "The Big Combo"

Friday, May 31, 2002

IF YOU ARE IN DC TOMORROW, please try to attend this:
Tiananmen Square Anniversary

6:30 pm - 9:00 pm, Saturday June 1, 2002
Location Facing Chinese embassy, 2300 Connecticut Ave.
Speaker Leading Chinese dissidents
Phone Contact 202-347-0017

The Chinese democracy movement will hold the 13th Annual Candlelight Vigil and demonstration, featuring Tiananmen Square dissidents and others opposed to U.S. China policy, to mark the anniversary of the June 4, 1989 massacre of Tiananmen Square.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, June 1 at 6:30 PM facing the Chinese Embassy at 2300 Connecticut Avenue, Washington DC.

Hear speeches from the top Chinese dissidents, a veritable reunion of Tiananmen Square leadership.

Wang Dan and Wuer Kaixi - Both became famous as leaders of students in Tiananmen Square. Wang Dan was captured and spent years as a political prisoner. Wuer Kaixi was famed for impassioned speeches in Tiananmen Square, and was the chief among student leaders prior to the ascension of Chai Ling.

Li Lu -- one of the leaders of the Chinese student democracy movement which culminated in the Tiananmen Square massacre. His parents were victims of the Cultural Revolution. When he was a baby they were sent to labor camps and he was fostered by a succession of families for a few years, until he ended up in a state orphanage. He was then adopted, but in 1976 his adoptive family
was wiped out in an earthquake. He was homeless for a year. During the democracy demonstrations he was married in Tiananmen Square. After the massacre he escaped first to France and then to the U.S. where he was a student at Columbia University, receiving his bachelor's, master's and doctor's degrees on the same day. Li Lu's life, based on his autobiography, was made into a film, Moving the Mountain.

Additional 1989 student leaders from the Tiananmen Generation Association will also appear.

Other special guests in addition to representatives from local Chinese communities include:
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi - represents California from her district of San Francisco. Her area includes a large population of Chinese extraction. San Francisco has been an active hub of activism for Chinese democracy. Rep. Polosi has made tireless efforts in Congress to represent this issue. She could be termed an "honorary Chinese dissident." Rep. Pelosi recently became the House Democratic Whip, a top tier leadership position among House Democrats.

Wei Jingsheng - the famed author of China's "Fifth Modernization" -- democratic political reform. In 1978, this tract was posted on
Beijing's "Democracy Wall." For his activism, Wei Jingsheng spent 1979 - 1997 in Chinese prisons. Wei Jingsheng is sometimes referred to as "the father of Chinese democracy."

Harry Wu - a famed human rights activist, Chinese dissident, and head of the Laogai Research Foundation. The Laogai are China's system of forced labor camps, a form of administrative detention without due process of law. The Laogai camps are the site of many beatings, torture, forced feedings, etc. The Laogai produce products for Western consumers, essentially with slave labor.

The Chinese democracy movement has had joint candlelight vigils every year since the Tiananmen massacre in 1989.

Yi, Danxuan ("Dan Yi"), president of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars, is the contact person for the event. He can be reached at 202-347-0017.

--China Support Network
CREEPY HORROR CHILDREN OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT: Last week, the City Paper ran a little blurb on an art show that involved creepy dolls. I forget what the deal was--why dolls? why not?--but CP's reviewer noted that dolls are inherently eerie. The reviewer added that horror movies often include a clip of children's voices singing or chanting in haunting unison. Why?

There are a lot of different elements mixing together here, a lot of different sources of creepiness. First, dolls and children's voices remind us of childhood and the passing of time. (Another article in the same CP reviewed a book about crying in front of paintings, and one of the main reasons people teared up was because the painting reminded them of the passing of time.)

Childhood was also the time when our understanding of the world began to form--and so the patterns we learned then persist. Again, it's unsettling to be reminded of that.

Movies that use the symbols of childhood also cause us to fleetingly identify with children, and to remember what childhood was like: The world was uncanny to us then. There are so many gaps in children's understanding. The use of children's voices or toys--especially when those symbols are removed from images of actual children, so they can't be fit into any narrative--recalls us to the child's perspective, which is often a very lost perspective.

And finally, children have a different form of consciousness from adults. This obviously isn't a rigid distinction; it's a blurry line. But children don't yet have the rationality that almost all adults develop. Their mindset is strange, allusive, secretive yet often lacking in self-consciousness (or what Harold Bloom calls "self-overhearing"). Children are very resonant--they pick up on unspoken messages, and they make unusual, imaginative connections between objects and emotions. They'll say things that seem irrelevant or disjointed, but that "make sense" from their perspective.

I think we're somewhat tripped out, unnerved, caught off guard, by the idea of sharing "our world" with these other consciousnesses who can seem so alien. Childhood has been around a good while (just read two reviews of Medieval Children, a very nifty-sounding book that attacks the belief that childhood as a separate stage of life was invented by moderns--and one review mentioned the awesome books of Iona and Peter Opie, which you should check out), but there are reasons contemporary society might find kids especially uncanny.

Modern, liberal society structured itself to value and accommodate rational, self-interested adults. It built itself on metaphors of the marketplace; it most often justified its freedoms by pointing out the wise use that rational self-interested adults would make of liberty. Much of that philosophy--especially as you move farther from metaphysics and closer to prudential policy judgments--does make sense. But our society has emphasized rationality to the point that we find it hard to even accept that not-yet-rational or less-rational humans are worthy of equal protection. (I should acknowledge that in one area--treatment of mental illness--contemporary society is much better than pretty much all of its predecessors.) I blogged a bit about this here: Children don't exhibit the qualities that we associate with citizens in liberal societies. They're not equal, they're not rational. And when there is no alternative reason to value someone except his rationality, his equality, or his efficiency, children will confuse us. We know we're supposed to value them, so we retreat into sugary sentimentality ("it's for the children!"), but in fact we find them uncanny and not-quite-right.
THERE IS NO FUTURE IN EINSTEIN'S DREAMING: Sorry, just wanted to sneak in a Rotten reference there. Actually, Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams is a fun little book--takes about an evening to read if you curl up in a chair with some food and go all the way through--it's got approximately the same relationship to philosophy that a bag of trail mix has to a steak dinner, but that's kind of the point. Sometimes you want a diversion, not a brain-batterer. The book offers a series of three-page meditations on the nature of time; the narrative skeleton is that Albert Einstein, while working on one of his theories of relativity (I can't be bothered to find out which), has recurring dreams of worlds in which the nature of time differs from time in our own world. For example, in one world time moves more slowly at higher elevations. Most people cluster on the peaks of mountains and build their houses on stilts, hoping to keep their youth as long as possible. In another world, everyone knows that they have only a short time left before some unexplained apocalypse destroys all life.

Two thoughts prompted by this confection:
1) The book sheds some light on the nature of promises. Promises have interested me since I read Maggie Gallagher's Abolition of Marriage (an excellent book), and they figure prominently in this thing I wrote about Nietzsche and eros. Obviously, promising requires a future, and knowledge of that future's existence. (Thus the dream in which there is a future, but no one can comprehend the concept of "future," is a dream of a world without promises.) But promising is not about stasis. It's not an attempt to pin down time like a butterfly. In one of Lightman's worlds, there's a location at which time stops. Some mothers take their children there, and essentially freeze themselves in a loving embrace of their darlings--who will never grow up, never scream, "I hate you!", never marry, never move away. Some lovers freeze themselves locked in a motionless kiss. And this too is a world without promises. Promise-making is about an ongoing and active commitment. The people who travel to the time-freezing location fear promise-making and try to substitute a kind of death for the difficult, sometimes heroic life that promises require.

2) In many of Lightman's dreams, people are sharply divided by personality: If you have personality type X, you will respond to bizarre distortion of time Y in way Z; if you have personality type Q, you will respond in way R. This is obviously how much of the world works much of the time. Lightman is generalizing and striving for a fable-like voice, and so he sounds a bit mechanistic about this--as if the world could be neatly divided into personality packages--but the basic outline is true. People with sunny personalities do make different choices, believe different things, respond startlingly differently to crises or everyday situations, from people with melancholic dispositions. But ever since I read James Joyce's comment on the Catholic Church--"Here comes everybody!"--I've been struck by the way in which Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular really does accommodate, attract, and inspire every personality type on earth. The saints are great examples of this--I find it hard to imagine St. Jerome and St. Francis even talking to one another; I can picture Mother Theresa having sharp words for St. Thomas More; there are joyful saints, sorrowful saints, weird saints, city saints, country saints, witty saints, dull saints, cautious saints and saints who careened wildly from one project to the next. Some find their natural optimism about human nature corrected by the doctrine of the Fall; some find their natural misanthropy corrected by the commandments to love our neighbor and our enemy. (Uh, I fall more in the latter camp, in case you wondered.) Some must be reminded that there is, after all, value in intellectual study; others are tempted to disregard contemplation; still others are tempted to retreat and disparage all contact with the world; and the Church rebukes and guides each one, and connects their pursuits. There is simply no personality type that is unrepresented among the converts to the Church. (So this doesn't just happen because so many people are raised Christian.) This is one reason that simplistic anti-Christian explanations of "why people become Christian" tend to fail--such explanations typically work for only a few personality types, if any.

It also highlights the way in which recognition of particular people as canonized saints helps knit the Christian community together. Some Protestants criticize canonization, saying, "Everyone who believes in Christ is a saint!" Well, all those in Heaven are considered saints by Catholics, including the innumerable unknowns who will never be canonized. But the fact that we have some canonized saints helps us to focus on the diversity of the men and women who have exemplified love of God throughout the centuries. Is my neighbor a jerk? I can wonder what it might have been like to live near Jerome, and I remember that the "jerk" may spend eternity in Heaven, a more glorious being than any I can imagine. Is my neighbor a thief, or a killer, or a prostitute, or a social climber? Dismas, Bernard of Corleone, Afra and Theodota and Mary of Egypt (not to mention Rahab...), Augustine--before their conversions. People I would not ordinarily notice, people I might dislike, people I might want to avoid--saints. People who might not like me much!--saints. Personality, in the Church, is never the point.

Random thoughts, occasioned by a light and savory book.
Don't turn around, oh-oh,
Oh, Der Blogwatcher's in town, oh-ho!

Mickey Kaus, The Hateful One (=no permalinks): Did you know that despite recession, welfare caseloads fell slightly in the last quarter of 2001? Neither did I. Click here and scroll, scroll, scroll like the wind! until you hit the last post from Thursday.

Brink Lindsey: Really good, basic post on (classical) liberalism and prudential judgment.

Charles Murtaugh: A basic point about reproductive cloning. Why does this point elude some people?

The Old Oligarch: Following up on his vast and awesome chick-priest post, the Oligarch gives us a big ol' scoop of blog about confession and Communion.

TAPPED has obviously never seen "Labyrinth." Or read T.S. Eliot. (Can't help 'em on "prospicience" or the others though... maybe if David Bowie'd ever done a song about it...)

Excellent article by Tim Carney (member of a freakishly smart family), shredding the Export-Import Bank.

And this site should be lots and lots of Viking fun when it gets revved up. A classicist heading into law school (I knew the haircut was a bad sign...). I know this guy. He rocks.
"How big a chump can you get to be? I was going to find out."
--Robert Mitchum, voice-over, "Out of the Past"

Thursday, May 30, 2002

SHANKFEST 2002: It is so gorgeous out that I am absolutely refusing to blog about the Horror Children of the Enlightenment. Manana, manana. So I'm going to sit in the sunshine and pretend to read Deconstruction in a Nutshell (the Oligarch lent me this book; I am intimidated but will soldier on). Meanwhile, here is a link to this week's Bleats. Thanks, Josh!

Meanwhile, why not check out this excellent, quick post on Fides et Ratio--kind of a shorter Catholic version of Ayn Rand's Philosophy: Who Needs It? Kind of.

And here are the results of Emily Stimpson's Catholic Pickup Lines contest. Don't say I didn't warn ya.
"THE WOUND HAS A TENDENCY TO GO SEPTIC": Last night I re-read an incredible essay by George Orwell. Not one of his better-known ones. It's "Notes on the Way," in My Country Right or Left, the second volume of the indispensable "Essays, Journalism and Letters" compilations. I'm going to mostly just quote at you, with minimal commentary at the end. Orwell in bold, me in plain text.

Reading Mr Malcolm Muggeridge's brilliant and depressing book, The Thirties, I thought of a rather cruel trick I once played on a wasp. He was sucking jam on my plate, and I cut him in half. He paid no attention, merely went on with his meal, while a tiny stream of jam trickled out of his severed oesophagus. Only when he tried to fly away did he grasp the dreadful thing that had happened to him. It is the same with modern man. The thing that has been cut away is his soul, and there was a period--twenty years, perhaps--during which he did not notice it.

It was absolutely necessary that the soul should be cut away. Religious belief, in the form in which we had known it, had to be abandoned. By the nineteenth century it was already in essence a lie, a semi-conscious device for keeping the rich rich and the poor poor. The poor were to be contented with their poverty, because it would all be made up to them in the world beyond the grave, usually pictured as something mid-way between Kew Gardens and a jeweller's shop. Ten thousand a year for me, two pounds a week for you, but we are all the children of God. And through the whole fabric of capitalist society there ran a similar lie, which it was absolutely necessary to rip out.

Consequently there was a long period during which nearly every thinking man was in some sense a rebel, and usually a quite irresponsible rebel. Literature was largely the literature of revolt or of disintegration. Gibbon, Voltaire, Rousseau, Shelley, Byron, Dickens, Stendhal, Samuel Butler, Ibsen, Zola, Flaubert, Shaw, Joyce--in one way or another they are all of them destroyers, wreckers, saboteurs. For two hundred years we had sawed and sawed and sawed at the branch we were sitting on. And in the end, much more suddenly than anyone had foreseen, our efforts were rewarded, and down we came. But unfortunately there had been a little mistake. The thing at the bottom was not a bed of roses after all, it was a cesspool full of barbed wire.

It is as though in the space of ten years we had slid back into the Stone Age. Human types supposedly extinct for centuries, the dancing dervish, the robber chieftain, the Grand Inquisitor, have suddenly reappeared, not as inmates of lunatic asylums, but as the masters of the world. Mechanisation and a collective economy seemingly aren't enough. By themselves they lead merely to the nightmare we are now enduring: endless war and endless underfeeding for the sake of war, slave populations toiling behind barbed wire, women dragged shrieking to the block, cork-lined cellars where the executioner blows your brains out from behind. So it appears that amputation of the soul isn't just a simple surgical job like having your appendix out. The wound has a tendency to go septic.

The gist of Mr Muggeridge's book is contained in two texts from Ecclesiastes: "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity" and "Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man". It is a viewpoint that has gained a lot of ground lately, among people who would have laughed at it only a few years ago. We are living in a nightmare precisely because we have tried to set up an earthly paradise. We have believed in "progress", trusted to human leadership, rendered unto Caesar the things that are God's--that approximately is the line of thought.

Unfortunately Mr Muggeridge shows no sign of believing in God himself. Or at least he seems to take it for granted that this belief is vanishing from the human mind. There is not much doubt that he is right there, and if one assumes that no sanction can ever be effective except the supernatural one, it is clear what follows. There is no wisdom except in the fear of God; but nobody fears God; therefore there is no wisdom. ...

...There is [little] question now of averting a collectivist society. The only question is whether it is to be founded on willing co-operation or on the machine-gun. ...Seemingly there is no alternative except the thing that Mr Muggeridge, and Mr F.A. Voigt, and the others who think like them, so earnestly warn us against: the much-derided "Kingdom of Earth", the concept of a society in which men know that they are mortal and are nevertheless willing to act as brothers.

Brotherhood implies a common father. Therefore it is often argued that men can never develop the sense of a community unless they believe in God. The answer is that in a half-conscious way most of them have developed it already. Man is not an individual, he is only a cell in an everlasting body, and he is dimly aware of it. There is no other way of explaining why it is that men will die in battle. It is nonsense to say that they ohnly do it because they are driven. If whole armies had to be coerced, no war could ever be fought. Men die in battle--not gladly, of course, but at any rate voluntarily--because of abstractions called "honour", "duty", "patriotism" and so forth.

All that this really means is that they are aware of some organism greater than themselves, stretching into the future and the past, within which they feel themselves to be immortal. "Who dies if England live?" sounds like a piece of bombast, but if you alter "England" to whatever you prefer, you can see that it expresses one of the main motives of human conduct. People sacrifice themselves for the sake of fragmentary communities--nation, race, creed, class--and only become aware that they are not individuals in the very moment when they are facing bullets. A very slight increase of consciousness, and their sense of loyalty could be transferred to humanity itself, which is not an abstraction.

...We have got to be the children of God, even though the God of the Prayer Book no longer exists.

The very people who have dynamited our civilisation have sometimes been aware of this. Marx's famous saying that "religion is the opium of the people" is habitually wrenched out of its context and given a meaning subtly but appreciably different from the one he gave it. Marx did not say, at any rate in that place, that religion is merely a dope handed out from above; he said that it is something the people create for themselves to supply a need that he recognised to be a real one. "Religion is the sigh of the soul in a soulless world. Religion is the opium of the people." What is he saying except that man does not live by bread alone, that hatred is not enough, that a world worth living in cannot be founded on "realism" and machine-guns? If he had foreseen how great his intellectual influence would be, perhaps he would have said it more often and more loudly.

("Time and Tide", 6 April 1940)

The essay mostly speaks for itself--it's distilled Orwell, the essence of the most pessimistic optimist ever to walk the earth. I do find it startling that he ignores the most obvious consequence of his struggle to ground the brotherhood of man without the Fatherhood of God: When you sacrifice your own life for the collective because there are no individuals, you have no reason not to sacrifice others' lives also. I've discussed some of the epistemological problems of trying to link morality to abstractions elsewhere (and Orwell is simply wrong that "humanity" is not an abstraction--who counts as human? How do we know what would be "best" for them?). But this essay has amazingly stark, succinct clarity reminiscent of Samuel Beckett. You should read the whole thing--it's not much longer than what I typed out. (I couldn't find it online.) Recquiescat in pace.