Worth Reading for March 2007

Infidel 3/30 Here is an occasionally snarky interview with the gutsy Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Christopher Hitchens and David Thompson enlist themselves as allies. Ali’s Infidel was published in February.
3/28 You must watch this 30-minute video of a debate at the University of Toronto:
Christopher Hitchens on free speech.3/27 Tom Kirkendall is right to be worried about the criminalization of business: cases that should be handled in civil suits are increasingly being taken to criminal courts. Kirkendall links to a webcast of a law conference at Georgetown University on the theme of Corporate Criminality: Legal, Ethical, and Managerial Implications. The conference was organized by Professor John Hasnas, whose book, Trapped: When Acting Ethically Is Against the Law, documents the increasing frequency with which CEOs and other business professionals must choose between legal and ethical behavior.

3/26 I haven’t read Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism yet, but the discussion around it is very interesting. Here is the text of a Cato Unbound article by Doherty on his book, a response by Tyler Cowen urging that libertarianism evolve to adapt to the current state of the world, and a follow-up response by Bryan Caplan who takes Cowen to task for offering the worst advice ever to libertarians. Update: David Boaz takes The New York Times to task for publishing a clueless-on-libertarianism review of Doherty’s book.

3/24 File these items under “All cultures are equal and worthy of respect”: In Nigeria, a teacher beaten to death. In Indonesia, perpetrators jailed for beheading schoolgirls. And in Pakistan, lovers stoned to death.

3/21 First some good news: several striking photos of Africa from the air. Then the continuing bad news: Africa continues to stagnate while the rest of the world develops. For example, here’s an intriguing comment on colonialism’s legacy. But good ideas are available. Here, for example, is Enterprise Africa, a joint project of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, The Free Market Foundation of South Africa, London’s Institute for Economic Affairs, and The Templeton Foundation.

Denouement by Michael Newberry
3/20 Michael Newberry has three new tutorials posted this month—including a magnificent one on the making of Denouement.

3/19 Are cooler heads beginning to prevail? Not PC summarizes a Scientific American report on a formal scientific debate on global warming: alarmists routed. You can see some scientists’ commentary in this online documentary: “The Great Global Warming Swindle.” (Thanks to Robert for the link.) And scientist Hans von Storch raises some taboo questions about climate change

3/17 Professor Mayer reviews the new book by the author of The Fair Tax Book: Neal Boortz’s “eloquently blunt” Somebody’s Gotta Say It!

3/16 Big thinker round-up: Economist Brad Delong on how reading Foucault led him to appreciate Adam Smith’s genius. (Via Virginia Postrel.) Jason Pappas launches a good discussion of Cicero’s enduring importance and follows up with this post on Cicero on human nature and society. And here’s a The New Yorker piece on Alfred Russel Wallace.

3/15 A strong profile of Edward Harriman, the railroad magnate, by—of all people—John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club. (Thanks to Joe for the link.)

3/14 What percentage of college professors are atheists? And here is a list of famous atheists. (Thanks to Chris for the link.)

3/13 Government medicine: Reason’s Ronald Bailey has it exactly right about the sorry case of Walter Reed Hospital.
And Cato has a scary story from Britain: government-paid witch doctors. By contrast, here’s a post with links to the competitive and successful world of open heart surgery.

3/12 Will we hear calls for progressive taxation on leisure too? Steven Landsburg notes that the poor have more leisure time than the rich and wonders why. Key quotation: “If you think it’s OK to redistribute income but repellent to redistribute leisure, you might want to ask yourself what—if anything—is the fundamental difference.”

3/10 Larry Ribstein comments on how hostility to business made Rudy Guiliani’s career. And in a surprise move,
J. J. Jackson pushes Wal-Mart for President in 2008! (Thanks to Joe for the link.)

3/9 In The Boston Globe, painter Dushko Petrovich calls for a practical avant-garde. And here is a review of The Unknown Monet exhibit in London. (Both via Arts & Letters Daily.)

3/8 I propose this definition of tetzel: the amount of money one must transfer to an authorized organization to ease one’s guilt over carbon emission by one standard emotional unit. For example, if you choose to breathe for one day, that would cost you one tetzel. If you drive an SUV, 10 tetzels. If you jet to an environmentalist conference, 100 tetzels (plus a $200 hypocrisy tax). Meanwhile a cardinal in the Catholic Church argues that comparing global warming hysteria to religious zealotry is unfair and that “The science is certainly more complicated than the propaganda.” (Thanks to Joe K. for the link.)

3/7 Just how “gay” is Oxford University? Apparently the sensitivity police are angry there. The University of Wisconsin’s Lester Hunt has an open letter and updates on the Leonard Kaplan case. And FIRE’s speech code of the month: against “sexism” at Western Michigan University’s. And via InstaPundit: The French authorities have “approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images.”

3/5 Keith Windschuttle calls it “the English-speaking Century.” The opening two paragraphs: “In the past one hundred years, four successive political movements—Prussian militarism, German Nazism, Japanese imperialism, and international Communism—mounted military campaigns to conquer Europe, Asia, and the world. Had any of them prevailed, it would have been a profound loss for civilization as we know it. Yet over the course of these bids for power, a coalition headed first by Britain and then by the United States emerged not just to oppose but to destroy them utterly. “From the long perspective of human affairs, these victories must stand as among the most remarkable of the past three millennia. They were as decisive for world history as the victories of the ancient Greeks over Persia, of Rome over Carthage, and of the Franks over the Umayyad Caliphate.”

3/3 I’m on the board of advisors of EpistemeLinks, a great philosophy resource and portal run by Tom Stone. Here is one of its new features: a philosophy-on-the-web search engine.

3/2 Clive James on Moeller and Jünger, two of Hitler’s intellectual supporters.

3/1 Our extreme Earth: a Space.com collection of 101 facts about our planet. I did not know, for example that “70 percent of the Earth’s fresh-water supply is locked up in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland. The remaining fresh-water supply exists in the atmosphere, streams, lakes, or groundwater and accounts for a mere 1 percent of the Earth’s total.”

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