On George Will

I'm not a big fan of George Will (oh, don't act so surprised!), but I had a hard time even making it through the first sentence of his latest column. It starts, " Most improvements make matters worse..."
I think maybe he needs a dictionary; as Julie pointed out, he's no William Safire.

Will continues, "most new ideas are regrettable..." I'll concede that this is merely a fairly literal rendering of what it means to be a conservative. "Most" is a pretty big word, though. I'm tempted to make a Straw Man argument here (Straw Person for those of you who went to school after gender inclusiveness had reached the logicians), suggesting perhaps that George Will would prefer a monarchy (which may in fact be true), or that he doesn't like fire, the wheel, the internet, etc. This won't work as a tack, because all he would have to do is point out that some new ideas are in fact good, but "most" aren't. (I wouldn't put it past him to construct a Straw Man of his own, suggesting that the problem with liberals is that they uncritically accept any new idea.)

RE: the cartoon, it's yet another Enneagram reference, for those of you who aren't familiar with the arcane jargon and categorizations of the contemporary liberal seminary.
And for those of you who are, I apologize.


At the gym

"What are you still doing in town? I thought people were lined up, waiting for you to graduate from ESR."
Only the faculty.



Right now I'm just waiting to hear back from people...
For those of you who haven't been living in Quakerland: George Fox was an early leader of Quakers, and William Penn was a younger contemporary of Fox's (and also a leader among the Religious Society of Friends). One of the early marks of the Quakers was resistance to military service, as well as treating all people as equals. However, one of the marks of nobility (to which Penn belonged) was wearing a sword. According to the legend, Penn did not want to stop wearing his sword, i.e., relinquish his status. Fox's reply was, "Wear it as long as you can."
Two comments: first, I may have some of the details of the story wrong, so I welcome any comments or clarifications.
Second, the story is almost undoubtedly wrong, for a number of reasons. Paul Buckley has published an article about it, concerning what is known about Penn and his sword.
Steve Angell has given an independent reason, which I can best describe in terms of Zen Buddhism: the Rinzai School believes in sudden enlightenment, whereas the Soto school believes in gradual enlightenment. With regards to sanctification (and here I welcome correction), Fox is more like the Rinzai Buddhist, thinking it happens all at once. The story suggests a "Soto" approach, easier to deal with personally but probably historically inaccurate.
So much for beating the life out of a cartoon...



Rawls and the Veil of Ignorance

The Veil of Ignorance isn't supposed to suggest that you forget everything you once knew... it's supposed to suggest a stance towards decision making such that, if you didn't know your place in society, you could live under those rules. It's just stupid to write rules to prop up your own power, and then complain when those rules are used against you when you're no longer king of the hill. However, I'm not surprised that this is the complaint Newt Gingrich is currently making.
Julie points out that the Democrats have realized that playing nice with Republicans doesn't really get you anywhere, but when they try to use Newt's playbook, he cries foul.
On a more global level, although Newt recognizes that the American voter is interested in "real change," that change won't involve the Republicans. You had your chance, and you blew it. He compares the approval ratings of the Republicans to the depths of Watergate, and all I can think is that Americans haven't yet understood the profundity of the betrayal of the Republicans in the past eight years, far outstripping anything Nixon & company did.
Now, Newt just sounds like Kang: "The politics of failure have failed. We need to make them work again!" Not a compelling platform, dude.


Life and/or Drawing

A friend lent me "Crumb" to watch after semester was over (and it's finally over).
It's nice to know that I'm not all that odd, comparatively, even if there are a few disturbing points of comparison between R. Crumb and myself.


My hero, Saul Steinberg

Now that I'm through with my classes (although not grading), I've finally started Don Quixote.

The cartoon, an homage to Steinberg, is only coincidentally related.

It's nice and sunny here, and I'd much rather read and doodle than grade exams and essays.