Saturday, October 31, 2009


Nonstops: Commercial flights having no intermediate destinations.

Nonstop nonstops: Round-the-clock nonstops to your destination.

Nonstop nonstop nonstops: A blitz of advertisements for nonstop nonstops.

Nonstop nonstop nonstop nonstops: ? Suggestions appreciated.

Who Says Economic Planning Can't Work?

I heard Joe Biden on the radio yesterday saying, "Our economic stimulus package has created or saved 640,239 jobs. I nearly crashed my car laughing. Not 640,238, mind you, nor would Joe dare to exaggerate and claim 640,240. No siree, exactly 640,239.

To Anglicize or Not to Anglicize?

Shuttling back and forth between both academic and ‘regular’ life in the US and the UK has made me aware of a significant difference between Yanks’ and Brits’ inclination to Anglicize foreign-word imports into the English language. One of my first hints as to the existence of the difference was when I realized that the dish that Americans pronounce ‘fil-ay of sole’ is standardly pronounced in England ‘fil-et of sole’. Gradually, I realized that this divergence pervades American and British English. I especially was struck by it when it comes to the pronunciation of foreign names. I recall eating breakfast, at a conference in Wales, with two British academics, both of whom are well-respected scholars in the history of political thought. As I listened to their conversation (with little to add of my own), I grew puzzled at to just who was this Italian political theorist ‘Russo,’ whom they kept mentioning, and with whom they seemed to assume I was familiar. When one of them brought up the story of ‘Russo’ sitting on Hume’s lap and crying, it dawned on me that they were talking about Rousseau! When I asked them if this was so, they looked at me as if I was quite daft, since I was saying just the same name that they had been.
Once I had identified this tendency, I was, at first, quite bothered by the British practice, and was sure my American ways were to be preferred. Why, here was a renowned figure in the history of political thought talking about ‘Gee-an-battista Vico’, when I knew he should be saying ‘Zhan-battista Vico’!
But then, listening to a series of lectures on the Axial Age by an American scholar specializing in Indian religions, I found myself growing increasingly annoyed at his use of esoteric Sanskrit and Pali pronunciations of names and terms that are fully incorporated into English with Anglicized pronunciations, e.g., his saying ‘Buh-DA’ instead of ‘BOO-da.’ And that made me realize that the issue wasn’t as straightforward as I had initially assumed. While there are cases where it is obviously better to use the anglicized version of a foreign name (imagine listening to a lecture by an historian who kept saying ‘Kikero’ and ‘Yulius Kaiser’ instead of ‘Sisero’ and ‘Julius Siezeher’) and others where Anglicization would clearly be absurd (after all, even the English say ‘chow,’ and not ‘see-ay-o’ when employing the Italian salutation, and ‘wee,’ not ‘oo-ie,’ when saying ‘yes’ the French way), there are many other cases where the correct choice is not so clear cut. When the professor who taught me history of science (an Englishman, by the way!) would say ‘Ein-shtein’ rather than ‘Ein-stein,’ was he being overly pedantic or just faithful to the native pronunciation of that scientist’s name? If I insist on saying ‘Zha-notti’ rather than ‘Gee-a-notti’ when discussing the Florentine political theorist, am I showing off or being accurate? (And just why is it that Americans say Rudolph Giuliani’s name in (semi) Italian fashion, with the initial ‘i’ being silent, but, when confronted with the very same construct of Italian spelling, always sound the ‘i’ in ‘Giovanni’?)
It may be that there is no clear answer to these questions, other than ‘If everyone laughs when you say it one way, you’d better say it the other.’ But I seek your input: can anyone out there propose a reasonable rule as when to Anglicize and when to not do so?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Unearth Another Rothbard Hater!

Roderick Long shows that Rothbard employed a cartoon version of Plotinus -- kind of like his cartoon Rousseau, or his cartoon Smith, or his cartoon English Revolution.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pop Quiz

We all know about Hitler's infatuation with the Aryans Many people assume, therefore, that 'Aryans' means 'Germans' or 'Nordic' something of the sort.

So, today's quiz: what two modern countries take their name directly from the word 'Aryan'?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kirk on Libertarians


Closing quote:

"At the Last Judgment, libertarianism may find itself reduced to a minority of one, and its name will not be Legion, but Rothbard."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Who's Hypersensitive Now?

Over at Reason, David Harsanyi pens a very touchy article discussing recent remarks from the Obama administration about Fox News.

Let me offer some quotes from Harsanyi that illustrate how he is placing the worst possible interpretation on whatever the Obama administration says:

"Dunn also asserted that when the president 'goes on Fox, he understands he's not going on it really as a news network at this point. He's going on to debate the opposition.' Who knew debating the future of the nation is such a ghastly thought?"

Of course, Dunn doesn't say the idea is "ghastly," I guess we're just not supposed to notice that the ghastliness is entirely the invention of Harsanyi.

"So what is the underlying rationale for this hypersensitive strategy of trying to delegitimize the voice of cable opposition?"

But if Fox News is "the voice of cable opposition" then they really aren't a news station, are they, but more of an op-ed station, right? And pointing this out would not be "delegitimizing" them, but just noting what they do.

Harsanyi is ready for this objection: "Then again, does biased political coverage disqualify one from reporting legitimate and useful news stories? Fox News may not be able to unsheathe the intellectual rigor of Obama favorites David Letterman and Jay Leno, but it has covered numerous stories in the past few months that otherwise would have gone unnoticed."

That's fine. I don't think anyone doubts that Fox News at least sometimes reports news. But because USSR-era Pravda sometimes reported "There was an earthquake" when, in fact, there had been an earthquake, that did not make it a newspaper!

"the nation's most dominant government entity--an entity that allegedly represents all Americans--is using tax dollars and its considerable influence to try to squash a privately owned news organization that disagrees with it."

They are trying to squash Fox News? Isn't that a bit... well, hypersensitive? Fox News attacks the administration, and the administration responds. Has there been any administration in my lifetime that wouldn't have done the same? Could any administration possibly achieve any of its goals if it didn't fight negative media portrayals of its agenda? Now, if someone in the administration has been suggesting shutting down or fining Fox News, that might reasonably called squashing, but if they have, I haven't heard about it nor does Harsanyi give any evidence that this has occurred.

And that "allegedly represents all Americans" is just lovely, isn't it? It seems to be based on the notion that to "represent all Americans" means never to argue against any of them. So, in 2012, Obama better not campaign against the Republican candidate for president, since he allegedly represents the GOP nominee. And if an American citizen is advocating massive terrorist attacks against US cities? Well, Obama represents him, too, so he really shouldn't object.

"And if this administration can't handle one cable station's opposition, what does that tell the American people about its mettle on issues that matter?"

Um, but this administration is handling the Fox opposition. In fact, Mr. Harsanyi has just written an entire article about how they are handling it: by pointing out that Fox is an opposition outlet.

That Fox News has an anti-Obama slant is pretty obvious -- Harsanyi himself admits this several times in this very article, by calling them "the opposition" -- so that's not under dispute. Harsanyi's point seems to be that the Obama administration's job is just to sit there and take its lumps.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Day I Ran into the Economy

I tried to post this as a comment over at Marginal Revolution, but I kept getting the message, "We're sorry, we cannot accept this data." Whatever that means.

Boonton (a blog commentator): "The economy knew the new tech was great but also knew it was overdone so it looked for other things to take its place. Housing, finance, healthcare and other things were it."

Yes, I recall meeting "the economy" while it was looking around for things to take the place of high tech -- I think I bumped into it just outside of Topeka, at a rest stop along a lonely country highway. The economy was pumping some gas, the stub of a cigarette smoldering between its parched lips, the cracks in its leathery face showing beneath the three days of stubble on its cheeks. It had a sort of far-off, forlorn look in its eyes, but it assured me it was not going to create a bubble with the next "big thing." I knew then it was like a drunk coming off a bender, and it was just a matter of time before it was high as a kite on housing or some other cheap rot gut.

Hat Tip to Danny Shahar

What a funny name for a post, huh?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

And That Was Just the Human Deaths!

I was laying awake last night in my hotel room in Fairfax, Virginia, surfing late night TV. A newscaster was on screen, talking about the eight anniversary of the start of the Afghan War. She said, "During that time, almost 800 people have died."

And that's just the human deaths! Countless other, non-human deaths could be added to that score, such as Afghan flying squirrels, Afghan hedgehogs, Russian tortoises, and Afghanis.

James Buchanan Center

George Mason University

Monday, October 05, 2009

Hating the Hated Hater Haters

Yu know what I hate? The way every person and his brother throws around "haters" at anyone who mildly criticizes something they like. Post a negative restaurant review? You're a "hater." Claim that Notre Dame is not having that good a season? Hater!

Listen, folks, a "hater" is someone who beats up the restaurant owner, not someone who posts a slightly critical review.

Open Source Software and Skin In the Game

I have been tinkering in the Haskell programming language recently. Trying to up my game, I have begun reviewing and working on issues in th...