I did my first bike rally on this date in 1989, in Seagoville, Texas. A week ago yesterday, in Waco, I did my 534th rally. That's an average of 23.2 rallies per year for 23 years. My goal is to do 1,000 rallies. If I continue to do 23.2 rallies per year, I'll reach my goal in 20 years, when I'll be 75 years old.
What a weekend! Friday evening, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim defeated my adoptive team, the Texas Rangers of Arlington, 7-4. Katherine and I had tickets for the second game of the three-game series, on Saturday. The Saturday game was originally scheduled for 7:05 PM, but was moved to 3:05 for national television. We didn't mind. Despite a drizzling rain and a forecast for more rain, we drove to the ballpark at 1:15. We stopped at Chipotle for burritos (which we ate inside) and then made our way to the ballpark. No sooner had we paid the $12 parking fee and parked our car than we heard on the radio that the game was being delayed. The earliest start would be 5:00.
Neither of us was keen on sitting in the car, or in a wet ballpark, for two and a half hours (or longer), so we decided to eat the $12 and go home. We could watch the game on television later in the evening. To my surprise, the parking-lot attendant, who had seen us pull in just a few minutes earlier, refunded our money. The game never was played, however. At 7:00 or so, it was announced that the game was postponed until Sunday, when the teams would play a split doubleheader (the first in franchise history). The first game would start earlier than usual, at 12:05, and the second would start at 6:05. This meant that even though we had given up on the game, we would get to see it, after all.
After mass, we came home to watch the first game on television. The Rangers led, 4-1, in the third inning, at which time, thinking ahead to the long evening, I paused for a nap. An hour later, I rose to find that the score had closed to 4-3. To my horror, Rangers closer Joe Nathan gave up two runs in the top of the ninth. The Rangers went down meekly in the bottom of the ninth. Angels 5, Rangers 4. I was stunned, disappointed, and angry. With so much on the line—the divisional title, home-field advantage in the ALCS, and plain old pride—the Rangers faltered. I almost didn't want to attend the second game.
A couple of hours later, having done some relaxing reading, I felt better. The weather had cleared; my Detroit Tigers had increased their Central Division lead to three games over the Chicago White Sox; and I realized that all was not lost with the Rangers. If we won this evening, we'd still be in the driver's seat for both the West Division title and home-field advantage in the ALCS. I was in a good mood as we drove to the game. This time, instead of Chipotle, we stopped at Subway.
The weather this evening was gorgeous. After a long, hot summer in North Texas, it was gloriously cool: 72º. The sky cleared by game time and the northerly breeze, which might have chilled us as the evening wore on, was blocked by the ballpark structure. I put on my gray Rangers hoodie to ward off the chill. Katherine wore a sweater. (In my home state of Michigan, it would have been considered warm.) Alas, the Rangers fell behind almost instantly, 4-0. If they lost this game, they would have to win two of three in Oakland, against the upstart Athletics, to win the division.
During the next few innings, the Rangers chipped away. Mike Napoli hit two home runs (one of them with two runners on base) and a double, driving in six runs. The Rangers took an 8-4 lead. But the Angels, to their credit, came roaring back to within one. Rangers manager Ron Washington took a chance by bringing in his closer, Joe Nathan, who had blown the save in game one. This time, Nathan did the job. Rangers 8, Angels 7. When Nathan got the third out, the crowd, which had been tense for several hours, roared. At least half the roar was relief, the remainder joy. Now, all we have to do is win one of three games in Oakland to win the division. We're one game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees for best record in the American League. In short, all is well. I can sleep soundly tonight.
Addendum: There were sell-out crowds for both of today's games. The Rangers ended the season with 3.46 million fans, which is a franchise record. The fans who attended the first game thought they were going to see the final home game of the season. As it turned out, they saw the penultimate game. Those of us who attended today's second game (the make-up from yesterday) got to see the final home game. Thus, Katherine and I saw both the first home game (on 6 April) and the last (on 30 September). We decided not to buy playoff tickets this year.
It is almost universally recognized that the West shows all the world a way to successful economic development, even though in the past years it has been strongly disturbed by chaotic inflation. However, many people living in the West are dissatisfied with their own society. They despise it or accuse it of not being up to the level of maturity attained by mankind. A number of such critics turn to socialism, which is a false and dangerous current.
I hope that no one present will suspect me of offering my personal criticism of the Western system to present socialism as an alternative. Having experienced applied socialism in a country where the alternative has been realized, I certainly will not speak for it. The well-known Soviet mathematician Shafarevich, a member of the Soviet Academy of Science, has written a brilliant book under the title Socialism; it is a profound analysis showing that socialism of any type and shade leads to a total destruction of the human spirit and to a leveling of mankind into death. Shafarevich's book was published in France almost two years ago and so far no one has been found to refute it. It will shortly be published in English in the United States.
In "ROTC Returns to the Ivies" (op-ed, Sept. 25), Jonathan E. Hillman cites those deep-thinking professors at Columbia and Barnard who wrote: "The militarization of the campus represented by ROTC's uniformed presence is at odds with what we, as educators, hold sacrosanct." In 1973, although I was to graduate summa cum laude, the powers that be at my university informed me that because I was an ROTC cadet, I would not be invited to join the Phi Beta Kappa Society because "the tenets of military service are incompatible with the ideals of the society." Hmmm.
As for critical thinking, I recall doing at least as much as an Army officer as I later did as an attorney at a Wall Street firm, and the leadership challenges were far more demanding in the Army.
Edward S. Hochman
"The militarization of the campus . . . is at odds with what we, as educators, hold sacrosanct." Really? How about freedom? Thank a veteran.
ROTC classes teach cadets to lead, assume responsibility, give orders and think independently. If you are looking for free-thinking individuals, look there. They'll be the only place you find them on Ivy League campuses.
As teachers, our activities have usually been anything but pastoral. Although generalizations are risky, I think most teachers of moral philosophy have prided themselves on their success in disturbing the complacent beliefs of their students. We have set out to produce in our students a willingness to challenge old beliefs, to pursue the implications of principles further than they naturally would, and to look at alternative beliefs. We like playing devil's advocate. Does this systematic assault on inherited and conventional moral beliefs corrupt the young? I do not think we know, and some of us can give no sense to the question. How, we would ask, can initiation into rational criticism corrupt—surely that can only cure the corruption of dogmatism, not itself corrupt. But most of us do know, by casual observation or by sessions with distressed students, that it can unsettle and upset, and it can also produce moral sceptics and even cynics. Part of our own faith, it seems, is that anything, even a moral sceptic, is better than an unconscious moral dogmatist. Better for whom? For the new sceptic and his fellows? For his children? An introductory course in moral philosophy ought perhaps to include J. S[.] Mill's Autobiography, so that the critical examination of beliefs will include an examination of the faith in reason alone, and the effects of trying to live by such a faith. If Socrates is our martyr in the cause of critical rationality, the young Mill stands as counter victim, reminding us of the incompleteness of critical rationality as a human goal. The examined life may be a sustainable goal, but only if the mode of examination does not destroy the life.
(Annette C. Baier, "Some Thoughts on How We Moral Philosophers Live Now," The Monist 67 [October 1984]: 490-7, at 492 [italics in original; brackets added])
Yesterday evening, Katherine and I watched Knockaround Guys (2001), the protagonists of which are Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Seth Green, Dennis Hopper, and John Malkovich. This is another of those movies that I picked up midway through on cable television several years ago. I liked it, made a note of the title, and eventually purchased it. As it turns out, I saw only about half the movie. Now that I've seen the entire thing, it makes more sense.
What I like about the movie, besides its riveting plot, is that it is set (though not filmed) in Wibaux, Montana. I love Western landscapes, towns, and people. The acting in this movie is good. Pepper and Malkovich are particularly good. The dialogue is comprehensible and the characters adequately developed. On my mother's famous scale of "Good" and "Real Good," I give this movie a "Real Good."
Peggy Noonan misguidedly blames the recent rioting in Muslim countries on an insignificant YouTube video, rather than on the real culprit: radical Muslims' intolerance of freedom and the Western way of life ("The Age of the Would-Be Princips," Declarations, Sept. 15). The YouTube video was merely an excuse for the many people who have been shouting "death to America" for generations.
Equally ridiculous is Ms. Noonan's attempt to blame World War I on the young man who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Obviously, Europe was sitting on a powder keg 100 years ago. All that was needed was a single spark to initiate the war, and it was only a matter of time until that "YouTube" moment arose.
In both cases, the cause of the widespread violence and death was a growing hatred and intolerance for people deemed to be different from the perpetrators. Today, conflicts grow to dangerous levels because politically correct thinkers remain in denial. They try to pay off their enemies with "foreign aid" in the mistaken belief that they can buy their enemies' loyalty.
In fact, there are only two effective ways to deal with people who choose to be one's enemy. You can defeat them or you can make yourself so invincible that no enemy would dare to attack.
Richard B. Edison
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Ms. Noonan calls for a response from U.S. politicians to the Mideast embassy killings characterized by: "Timing. Dignity. Restraint." She says, "think it through, take some days" to consider what happened, then offer a "cool . . . critique."
May I remind Ms. Noonan of Franklin Roosevelt's Dec. 8, 1941, "Day of Infamy" speech to Congress and the nation one day after Pearl Harbor? It wasn't restrained. It didn't require days before it was delivered. FDR's response was immediate, direct, incensed, determined, and it was crystal clear.
Note from KBJ: I stopped reading Peggy Noonan several years ago, when she attacked Sarah Palin.
Is anyone besides me sick and tired of polling? I don't care one whit what any poll says about the November presidential election. I'm content to wait and see how it comes out. As they say, the only poll that matters is the one on election day, when people cast ballots. What's particularly disturbing about polling these days is that there appears to be an attempt to manipulate voters. It's been said, for example, that pollsters sympathetic to Barack Obama are oversampling Democrats. The point of such manipulation would be twofold: first, to buck up Democrats; and second, to discourage Republicans. The thought is that, if they believe that Mitt Romney will lose, some Republicans will stay home on election day, thus hurting his chances. Anyone who would stay home on election day for that reason shouldn't be voting in the first place, since no single vote is going to make a difference, even in the closest states. One should vote to express a preference, to participate in the political life of one's society, or to carry out one's duty as a citizen. One should not vote so as to "make a difference." You are not going to make a difference. Let me repeat: You are not going to make a difference.
"Justice is the end of government," according to The Federalist, and "the end of civil society." Liberals and conservatives can both agree on that point—if kept at a high level of abstraction. The arguments start because liberals understand justice in terms of results, and conservatives believe it's about processes. Thus, liberals, believing that growing inequality is inherently undesirable, ask conservatives how they can justify—how they can accept—the income distribution's asymmetry, or the disparity between morally dubious X's vast income and morally deserving Y's modest one. Conservatives reply that, in general, a particular set of economic results is neither more nor less just than the processes that led to them. That is, it's not unjust that Albert Pujols has a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels while a nurse making $50,000 can't afford to take her son, the Angels' biggest fan, to more than a couple games a year. If both the first baseman and the nurse developed their talents and accepted the best offers they could find for their services, there is no moral imperative to adjust the results.
By the same token, it's not unjust that Arte Moreno, the Angels' owner, was in a position to sign Pujols eight years after buying the club for $183 million. Moreno's silver-spoon beginnings in our plutocratic age included growing up in Tucson as the oldest of 11 children, serving in Vietnam, and then enrolling in the University of Arizona. The G.I. Bill helped, but Moreno worked in a shoe store to cover expenses until he received his marketing degree. After graduating he went into the billboard business, relocating several times around the country while a salesman, before joining Outdoor Systems in Phoenix. Under his leadership, annual sales grew from $500,000 to $90 million within a decade. Outdoor Systems went public in 1996, shortly before Infinity Broadcasting bought it for $8.3 billion. In 2010 Forbes estimated that Moreno had a personal net worth of $1 billion.
(William Voegeli, "Not Leveling with Us," Claremont Review of Books 12 [summer 2012]: 23-30, at 30)
Regarding Nick Schulz's "Hard Unemployment Truths About 'Soft' Skills" (op-ed, Sept. 20): I own and operate an employment service which has worked with dozens of small businesses in the past 15 years. We have jobs going begging for exactly the reasons mentioned by Mr. Schulz: the ability to write a coherent letter, use correct grammar while speaking, understand basic mathematics, interact well with clients and show up for work regularly.
The younger the applicant, the less likely he is to have these skills which older workers possess and take for granted. The less schooled young people are in the real basics of what it takes to be successful (not rich), the less likely they will be successful, and the less likely they will want to be successful—it's just "too hard." They've gone through 12 years of schooling with little homework, few hard deadlines, no points taken off a paper for spelling or grammar and a "we're all winners" attitude (I know, I have a kid in public high school), and a few more years in college taking communication courses. Add to that a generation of parents-as-friends, single-parent households, a healthy dose of short school days and some very poor teaching along the way and, voilà, you have an electorate that is incapable of understanding or caring what it takes to obtain and maintain a job, let alone the impending fiscal nightmare heading squarely at them.