The little ghouls will be knock, knock, knocking at my door in a couple of hours, coercing me into giving them candy. Trick or treat! (Shouldn't it be "Treat or trick," as in "Your money or your life"?) About the only mask that would frighten me is a Barack Obama mask (though Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are right up there). He's the man who wants to take away our liberty and our property, though not—yet—our lives.
I do not share the extreme vegetarian view that food reform is the foundation of other reforms, for I think it can be shown that all cruelties to animals, whether inflicted in the interests of the dinner-table, the laboratory, the hunting-field, or any other institution, are the outcome of one and the same error—the blindness which can see no unity and kinship, but only difference and division, between the human and the non-human race. This blindness it is—this crass denial of a common origin, a common nature, a common structure, and common pleasures and pains—that has alone hardened men in all ages of the world, civilized or barbarous, to inflict such fiendish outrages on their harmless fellow-beings; and to remove this blindness we need, it seems to me, a deeper and more radical remedy than the reform of sport, or of physiological methods, or even of diet alone. The only real cure for the evil is the growing sense that the lower animals are closely akin to us, and have Rights.
(Henry S. Salt, The Logic of Vegetarianism: Essays and Dialogues [London: The Ideal Publishing Union, 1899], 109-10 [italics in original])
From now on, when I post an album cover, I will rename the image so as to provide you with information. If you roll your mouse over the image, you will see that the artist is UKZ, the album title "Radiation," and the year of release 2009. Now leave me alone while I listen to the album.
I know this will sound crazy, and maybe it is, but I wrote a scholarly essay about the Aristotelian and Boolean squares of opposition during this morning's bike rally in Ennis. I solved a problem that has been bothering me for several years, and which nobody, to my knowledge, has solved. Now that the essay is written (in my head), I just have to transcribe it, which will take a day or so. Who says bike rallies are a waste of time?
David Brooks’s column seems to presume that a military solution in Afghanistan is appropriate. This is also prevalent among those who wage war for a living—whether fighting or building and selling armaments.
The military requests what it requires to achieve military objectives, whether those objectives resolve greater problems or not. That’s tactical—and that’s the military’s job.
The president’s job is to carefully weigh our national interests and then order the tactics necessary to achieve them. It is refreshing to have a president actually invest time and intellectual effort, circumspectly formulating a plan of action and not just surrounding himself with “the smartest military experts” or “retired officers.”
If the solution truly is military, so be it. If not, we shouldn’t send our kids off to die for it. Tenacity is appropriate only when one is on a proper course—not heading toward a cliff.
David L. Wolf Waterford, Mich., Oct. 30, 2009
Note from KBJ: While I agree with the letter writer that it's the president's job to formulate strategy and the military's job to implement it, I detest the letter writer's jab at President Bush. Where is the evidence that President Bush didn't "invest time and intellectual effort" in prosecuting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Maybe that's just it: To Bush haters, no evidence is necessary. Just say whatever you want about him and your fellow progressives will accept it.
The last fallacy that I shall consider is of a very different kind. It is more trivial than those which I have noticed above; but it is so common and has such an inhibiting effect on many worthy persons that it seems desirable to mention and expose it. It is this. A citizen of country A condemns some contemporary public action or institution in another country B. Thereupon a fellow-citizen gets up and says 'We did the same', and produces in support of his assertion some public action which was taken or some institution which existed at some time in the history of their common fatherland. This is supposed by many to provide some kind of answer to the criticism on [sic] this action or institution in the foreign country. At any rate it is often felt to be relevant and embarrassing by the critic himself, and the fear that such remarks might justifiably be made often prevents scrupulous persons from condemning publicly incidents in foreign countries which they cannot but deeply disapprove in private.
It is obvious that there must be a number of suppressed premisses at the back of such an argument, and when one tries to make them explicit one sees that it is so hopelessly confused that nothing coherent can be made of it. I think we should all admit that a person ought to feel, and very often will feel, uncomfortable if it can be shown that at the same time he strongly condemns x and approves or tolerates y when the only relevant difference between x and y is that the former occurs in a foreign country and the latter in his own. Even this, however, would not show that he is mistaken in condemning x. The fact that a man is inconsistent in his judgments or his emotions does not show that a particular one judgment is false or a particular one emotion is misdirected. Sin is not less sinful when it is Satan who condemns it; and he has the advantage of expert knowledge. But suppose, as is very often the case, that a man not only condemns x in the foreign country but also quite consistently condemns similar actions and institutions in the history of his own country. Why on earth should the fact that something similar to what he condemns in another country exists or has existed in his own be thought to show that it is not worthy of condemnation? And, if he equally condemns similar acts or institutions in the history of his own country, why on earth should be feel embarrassed or diffident in publicly condemning them when they exist in a foreign country? Is bestial cruelty in contemporary Russian labour-camps any less evil because there was bestial cruelty in English slave-ships in the eighteenth century? And must an Englishman, who deplores that incident in English history and whose ancestors abolished that evil after a long and arduous Parliamentary struggle, hang his head in embarrassed silence and refrain from calling slavery and cruelty by their name when practised on a vast scale by foreign countries which claim to be the moral leaders of mankind?
I have assumed so far, for the sake of argument, that there really is something in one's own country which is closely or exactly parallel to that which one condemns in another country, and I have shown that even on that assumption this method of rebutting or silencing criticism is logically worthless. But in nine cases out of ten the alleged parallel will not survive a moment's critical inspection. Often it is merely verbal, as it would be, e.g., if one said that England made use of concentration camps in the latter stages of the Boer war and therefore Englishmen have no right to criticize the use of concentration camps by Germany or Russia. Often the only parallel which can be found to a present-day practice in a foreign country is something which formerly existed in one's own and has long since been abolished there by the efforts of reformers and is now condemned by everyone. Any attempt, e.g., to regard the harsh treatment of factory workers and of paupers in England in the early nineteenth century as a relevant parallel to present-day slave-labour in Russia and its satellites would be open to this criticism. The upshot of the matter is that I should advise anyone to whom this kind of argument is addressed either to pay no attention whatever to it or to answer the fool who uses it according to his own folly.
It is time for me to bring my paper to an end. It is not a cheerful paper, for I do not find mankind in their social and political relationships a cheerful subject to contemplate. Gibbon, who knew something of history, described it as mainly a record of the crimes, the follies, and the misfortunes of mankind. I see no reason to think that it will be fundamentally different in this respect in future from what it has been in the past. I suspect that there will always be, as there have always been, relatively infrequent and not very persistent oases of prosperity and culture in a desert of penury, ignorance and unthinking brutality. And at every stage any experienced and intelligent statesman will have occasion to repeat Axel Oxenstierna's words to his son: "Behold, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed!"
(C. D. Broad, "Some Common Fallacies in Political Thinking," Philosophy 25 [April 1950]: 99-113, at 112-3)
Note from KBJ: For some reason, I thought of Noam Chomsky as I read this.
I agree with the author of thisNew York Times column: "The World Series is different from the postseason." I don't know why David Fryman can't see this. It's the biggest stage. It's the final series of the season, with everything on the line. It's what players live for. It's what fans remember. It produces heroes and goats. Some players crack under the pressure. Some, such as Mickey Lolich and Reggie Jackson, thrive in it. So far, A-Rod is cracking.
If we really have to wait, as Christopher Edley Jr. suggests, for the "reworking of our institutions of government and the political culture around issues of education'' (whatever that means), we will sentence the next dozen generations of U.S. children to progressive underperformance ("Why We're Failing Math and Science," The Journal Report on Business Insight, Oct. 26). Mr. Edley condescendingly bemoans the misguided efforts of local school districts which don't know enough about "educational policy" and "the science of learning." Please. It is effete, high-minded nonsense like that which got us into this mess.
The way out requires no new studies or pedagogical innovations, but rather a return to what worked in the past. Early math instruction should emphasize the rote memorization of certain dull (sorry) fundamentals like multiplication tables. Once the foundation has been established, success at problem solving is largely a function of time on task. It will take lots of time. With repeated exposure, generic problem types are recognized and standard solutions can be applied.
There are no short cuts. The process may not be particularly enjoyable. Self-discipline, a trait that our foreign competitors seem to have in abundance, may be required. But what is certainly not required, or even desired, is computers. Computers teach elementary-school math students how to punch buttons, not how to think logically. Try finding a newly minted high-school graduate—or, for that matter, a new employee—who can do what is disparagingly called "mental math."
Needless to add, if weapons, fights, cellphones, Twitter and general disorder are a standard part of classroom dynamics, none of the above matters.
Joel Klein, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, is right. We are failing to teach math and science because we don't have the right teachers. The best way to fix the problem is to mandate that math and science teachers come from the math and science departments of our universities instead of the education departments. This would be the most efficient and reliable way to fix the problem. It's worth noting that most of the people who teach math and science in our universities have never had a single course in an education department.
I looked for a reference to parents in your article, but didn't find one. Today's parents seem much more inclined to spend money on soccer coaches and tennis lessons than on help in math or science. They are also willing to donate their time to help coach youth activities even while they complain about too much homework for their children.
Your experts reiterated the problem, but offered boiler-plate platitudinous solutions. The solution lies in removing teacher-contract restrictions and administrative barriers. Then, just maybe, the emphasis will be on the welfare of the students, not the teachers.
Walla Walla, Wash.
Your article rubs me the wrong way. As a chemical engineer and former high-school math teacher, the biggest single problem I see is that we do not demand that kids learn the fundamentals. We accept adequacy, which is far from mastery, and then we advance the kids to the next grade. Many times this adequacy is insufficient for the student to flourish at the next level.
Baton Rouge, La.
It is all about content. The students of the past learned reading, writing and arithmetic.
They won World War II, built the interstate-highway system, created the national electric grid, and laid the foundation to land men on the moon. They weren't burdened with diversity classes, sex education, sensitivity training or federal mandates, and if they didn't know their multiplication tables to 12 they flunked the fourth grade.
Maybe it is coincidental, but it seems that there is an inverse relationship between federal involvement in our schools and declining academic success of students.
great prediction there, if arod didn't carry the yankees first two rounds of the playoffs the yankees wouldnt even be in the world series, he deserves some slack for not being superman first 2 games of the world series, go kill yourself you fucking loser
Note from KBJ: Two questions. First, why are people who write letters such as this cowards? The person identified himself or herself as "fuckyou." This person knows all about me, but doesn't want me to know anything about him or her. Why? Why the asymmetry? Oh wait; it's because I'm not a coward. Second, why are people who write letters such as this illiterate?
In the constrained [i.e., conservative] vision, each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late. Their prospects of growing up as decent, productive people depends on the whole elaborate set of largely unarticulated practices which engender moral values, self-discipline, and consideration for others. Those individuals on whom this process does not “take”—whether because its application was insufficient in quantity or quality or because the individual was especially resistant—are the sources of antisocial behavior, of which crime is only one form.