Saturday, September 30, 2006

What the heck is this Nobel Prize winner doing in a shady Infomercial?

Anyone else who's seen this please tell me I'm not crazy...

I happened to be up watching TV early this morning and to my great surprise I saw the recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, Barry Marshall hawking the dubious "World's Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets" in an infomercial. For only $39.95, of course (cue Dr. Nick voice). Click on the link and read the reviews to get a taste of this book's credibility.

If this was the real Dr. Marhsall and not someone pretending to be him, can we declare hell officially frozen over? Oh yeah, and Hugh Downs was the interviewer.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Libertarians are always talking about how big government is inherently tyrannical. Maybe they're right - but it suddenly came to me today that a government that's too small can also be tyrannical. I was teaching a large class like a real drill seargant, because I have to in order to keep them in line, and then I had a small class where everyone was laid back and relaxed.

So from this comes my theory: A government that is too small relative to the population it wants to control must resort to harsher methods. Specifically, if a government is too small to effectively co-ordinate with and monitor the population, then it must in some way terrorize it.

I'm not sure there's too many historical examples of a "too small" government - I'm excluding states where a minority ethnic group dominates, for obvious reasons. The Spartan 10,000 comes to mind but that was a long time ago. I suppose you could do a statistical study of US states, but I doubt the results would be that convincing: The Southern states would have smaller governments and harsher laws, but it's much less likely that the former is causative of the latter than it is that the underlying culture of the South gave rise to both factors.

Anyone out there know of a political theorist who's written about this issue? I'm sure there have been some.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ok, I tried to write something about 9/11, and I tried to say something about my experience to my students (couldn't do it). It doesn't matter though, because this is what I wanted to say. Wow.

Monday, September 11, 2006

This is a great article. Here's an exerpt:

What’s So Scary About Liberalism?

Liberals tend to view themselves as live-and-let-live people. It’s the other side, we believe, that wants to start wars, keep the poor in their place, and make second-class citizens out of gays, non-Christians, non-English-speakers, and anyone else who didn’t come out of their cookie-cutter. We’re the nice guys. We believe in tolerance, diversity, and letting people be what they have to be. It’s hard for us to credit the idea that someone could be afraid of us.

Someone is. And for good reasons. Understanding that uncomfortable fact is the first step towards grasping what has been going on in this country’s politics for the last quarter century.

Our belief in negotiated commitment - that people are not obligated to relationships they did not choose - is like one of those devastating European germs that white settlers spread throughout the world three centuries ago. We are immune; our families are based on negotiated commitments and (though they are far from perfect) work quite well in that environment - as long as we can maintain the social safety net.

But Inherited Obligation families are not doing nearly so well. Blue states consistently lead red states in statistical measures of familial success - low divorce rate, low drop-out rate, low violent crime, low teen pregnancy. Divorce rates in particular seem to vary inversely to liberalism: conservative Baptist marriages fail far more often than those from more liberal Christian denominations.

We have trouble grasping how tolerance can be threatening.

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