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.”

Worth Reading for November 2004

11/30 Brilliance! Eccentricity! Fudging the data! The saga of the discovery of Neptune. (Via Arts and Letters Daily.)

11/29 Economist Dwight Lee explains why we don’t say Take this job and shove it more often. (Via SCSUScholars.com.)

11/27 At the Institute for the Secularisation of Islam, Anwar Shaikh’s Autobiography of an Apostate. (Thanks to Karen for the link.)

11/25 The morality of Thanksgiving: Editor Roger Donway on whom we should thank. And history professor David Mayer on why we celebrate Thanksgiving.

11/24 Philosopher Tibor Machan on how and why libertarians are community-friendly.

11/23 Sculptor Sandra Shaw’s list and commentary on books on art and art history.

11/22 How to improve educational performance? Alex Tabarrok suggests that we pay students to learn. And where can we find more inspiring teachers like Sanderson of Oundle? Contrast these academic antics.

11/20 Worthy of The Onion. My alternative proposal: Extend I-69 to French Lick. (Thanks to Anja and Jules.)

11/19 Finally: Malcolm Gladwell gives us straight talk about the cost of prescription drugs. And Tyler Cowen’s thoughts on health insurance and costs.

11/18 In a dramatic break with the “Steve” theme, we shift to Vikramaditya Khanna on corporate fraud and legislation. (Via The Volokh Conspiracy.)

11/17 Our theme this week seems to be All Things Steve. (Via Dynamist.com.)

11/16 Stephen Budiansky on why we are saps when it comes to dogs.

11/15 Stephen Schwartz on John Calvin, Michael Servetus, and whether Islam needs a Reformation.

11/13 Smart thinking from Christopher Hitchens: The left apologizes for religious fanatics. The president fights them.

11/12 At the Chronicle, Literature professor Mark Bauerlein on why everybody loses from the lack of intellectual diversity on campuses. Update: Ann Althouse on The Democratic-Republican imbalance.

11/11 Daniel Ben-Ami takes on the anti-production environmentalists and argues that economic productivity and environmental health are win-win.

11/10 Fascinating: Brain scientist Norman M. Weinberger summarizes what we know about how music affects and alters the brain. (Via Arts & Letters Daily.)

11/9 Columnist Virginia Postrel reports on pharmaceutical companies’ outsourcing drug testing to India. This will (a) lower the price of drugs and (b) get them to market sooner. But somehow I suspect that the Usual Wise Commentators will denounce pharmaceutical corporations for it. And while we’re on the subject of health – let’s take on the Nanny Statists: Radley Balko takes conservative David Frum to task for proposing a fat tax. But what about those evil McCorporations that manipulate us into eating fatty foods? (Thanks to Anja for the link.)

11/8 On effective rhetoric: Eugene Volokh, whom I too nominate to fill the next vacancy on the Supreme Court, says: Be in their face, but with a breath mint. And Tom Palmer’s thorough list of pointers for effective public speaking.

11/6 Tyler Cowen’s excellent recommendations for President Bush’s second term. Professor David Mayer on the Republicans’ mandate for progressive political reform.

11/5 Economist Alex Tabarrok on solving the donor organ problem.

11/4 Roll out the pork barrel: John Stossel on his success as a welfare queen. And here is Bill Kaufmann’s classic article on how welfare for artists cultivates mediocrity. (Thanks to Virginia for the link.)

11/3 Sadik J. Al-Azm asks: Is the War on Terror almost over? (Thanks to Irfan for the link.) And the Strategy Page wonders, Does Al Qaeda still exist? Meanwhile, a filmmaker is murdered for expressing views that are critical of Islam. Update: The Dutch police have arrested a number of Islamic radicals. Update: The film that Theo van Gogh’s murderers did not like. Update: Screenwriter Bridget Johnson reports on what Hollywood stars have said about their fellow filmmaker’s murder.

11/2 Philosopher Jamie Whyte is going after Bad Thoughts.

11/1 The new issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is out. And in honor of the 100th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s birth, the International Society for Individual Liberty announces the perfect location for its 2005 conference: St. Petersburg, Russia.