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 August 2006

8/31 Is Wal-Mart the world’s biggest poverty eliminator? And Don Boudreaux explains to the negativists at The New York Times why we’re much, much wealthier than in 1967.

8/30 James Lileks explains how to get your postmodern 15 minutes (and a government grant): cuddle and stab a pig. (Thanks to Joe for the link.)

8/29 A mini-tutorial by artist Michael Newberry on the integration of light in painting.

8/28 Keeping up with some influential philosophers: Simon Blackburn on the appeal across 2.5 millenia of Plato’s Republic; a new book on Spinoza’s vision of reason; and 2006 being the 200th anniversary of his birth, a tribute to John Stuart Mill’s enduring liberalism.

8/26 Two interesting items from Johan Norberg: the rise of free market think tanks in Europe, and an example from Bolivia right out of the pages of Atlas Shrugged.

8/25 Shawn Klein with an excellent comment on consumerism in education. (Via Philosopher Stone.) And Glen Whitman explains why college cafeteria food is, ummm, not always the best.

8/24 Why does history matter? Peter Cresswell summarizes fourteen life-or-death lessons from modern history. And: The Dark Ages were Dark: Tyler Cowen quotes from Bryan Ward-Perkins’s new book. Update: With reference to those cultures still stuck in the Dark Ages, Rossputin posts a history test with a public policy edge to it.

8/23 Admirable: Farrah Gray, Entrepreneur.

8/22 Anastasia Krutulis has a clear, short post on the importance of integrating playing and learning. Her post reminded me of a section from the great John Locke’s 1692 Some Thoughts concerning Education: “[G]reat care is to be taken, that [learning] be never made as a business to him, nor he look on it as a task. We naturally, as I said, even from our cradles, love liberty, and have therefore an aversion to many things for no other reason but because they are enjoin’d us. I have always had a fancy that learning might be made a play and recreation to children: and that they might be brought to desire to be taught, if it were proposed to them as a thing of honour, credit, delight, and recreation, or as a reward for doing something else.”

8/21 Corporate accountability for poor performance: Cato’s David Boaz compares the private sector with government. And Andrew Chamberlain compares compensation rates in the two sectors.

8/17 Bring on the witch doctors: Four postmodernists—three nurses and an English professor—object to “fascistic” Evidence-Based Medicine. Update: Roy Poses has this response.

8/16 I’m with Robert Bidinotto on this one: Let’s ban this dangerous nuclear reactor. Via Not PC: BioNuclearBunny on three anti-life environmentalist causes that have killed and maimed hundreds of millions of humans. Finally: Near-Record Corn Yield for 2006 Expected, Global Warming Blamed. (Just trying to get into the spirit of contemporary journalism.)

8/15 Angry Astronomer Jon Voisey on four misconceptions about the Big Bang Theory.

8/14 Excellent: Now available online are the episodes from Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose PBS television series. And Johan Norberg has another datum on globalization’s benefits.

8/13 Unintended consequences and environmental law: how endangered species acts can harm the animals they’re supposed to protect. And an untoward consequence: wise government officials in a Connecticut town shut down a 13-year old’s worm-selling business for violating zoning regulations.

8/12 Professor Peter Boettke argues that Atlas Shrugged is arguably the most economically literate work by a major novelist in the history of literature.” And reservations about the concept of self-“ownership” aside—human beings are not objects to be owned—here is an interesting online graphical tutorial on Life, Liberty, and Property.

8/11 Another fine post from Rob May: How to Be an Effective Entrepreneur. And: Is European culture becoming more hospitable to entrepreneurship?

8/10 I can relate: Old Testament Parenting. (Via The Volokh Conspiracy.)

8/9 History and philosophy in practice: Victor Davis Hanson on how 2006 looks a lot like 1938. Key quotation: “It is now a cliché to rant about the spread of postmodernism, cultural relativism, utopian pacifism, and moral equivalence among the affluent and leisured societies of the West. But we are seeing the insidious wages of such pernicious theories as they filter down from our media, universities, and government — and never more so than in the general public’s nonchalance since Hezbollah attacked Israel.” (Via EclectEcon.)

8/8 Fruits of the Enlightenment: A Seattle Times review of 999 ideas that changed our lives. And CNN reports that Americans’ houses keep getting more spacious.

8/7 The Foundation for Individual Rights’ college speech code of the month: Don’t call anyone a “dumbass” at Colorado State.

8/5 Will Wilkinson reports that we may very well be the happiest zombies in the world. Here are some suggestive hypotheses about
willpower and success. And at Tech Central Station, Nathan Smith has more excellent world economic news.

8/4 Science and the individualism-versus-collectivism debate: ants are more war-like in collectives and team-sport players are less ethical.

8/3 Edited by Professor Edward W. Younkins and published by Ashgate: a strong-looking collection of essays entitled: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion.

8/2 In The Independent Review, Roy C. Smith and Ingo Walter have a close look “Four Years After Enron: Assessing the Financial-Market Regulatory Cleanup.”

8/1 Margaret Soltan with an interesting observation about what Americans at the beach teach us about American culture. And publishing tycoon Felix Dennis has no-nonsense advice about how to become rich.