Archive | December, 2009

Franklin on Humility

Benjamin Franklin writes in his autobiography:

I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this virtue [= humility], but I had a good deal with regard to the appearance of it. I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbid myself, agreeably to the old laws of our Junto, the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fix’d opinion, such as certainly, undoubtedly, etc., and I Benjamin Franklinadopted, instead of them, I conceive, I apprehend, or I imagine a thing to be so or so; or it so appears to me at present. When another asserted something that I thought an error, I deny’d myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition; and in answering I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present case there appeared or seem’d to me some difference, etc. I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner; the conversations I engage’d in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I propos’d my opinions procure’d them a readier reception and less contradiction; I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevail’d with others to give up their mistakes and join with me when I happened to be in the right.

And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to natural inclination, became at length so easy, and so habitual to me, that perhaps for these fifty years past no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me. And to this habit (after my character of integrity) I think it principally owing that I had early so much weight with my fellow-citizens when I proposed new institutions, or alterations in the old, and so much influence in public councils when I became a member; for I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my points.

I’m neither endorsing nor rejecting this quote. I find that sometimes I follow Franklin’s advice and sometimes I don’t; my inner eirenist and my inner Randian are clearly somewhat divided over the policy. But I do find myself less annoyed with opponents when they follow the policy; so it’s worth thinking about.

IMHO, of course.

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Financial Saga Update

So the the latest in my financial saga is that my lawyer has gotten the Alabama Tax Mafia to agree to hold off on further action so long as I pay them $650 a month; so I should be free of them (well, except for the usual) by the spring of 2011.

Perhaps worrisomely, I don’t actually have this agreement in writing. But then, even if I did, contracts with Leviathan aren’t especially reliable anyway. So I’ll plow ahead and hope for the best.

Thanks again, so much, to everyone who helped me back when this tempête de merde first broke in July.

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Fugitive and Cloistered

detail from unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters

detail from unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters

I’m back from New York, which was fun (though, toward the end, unusually cold). Our IP session went well, and later that day Charles and I had a good time being interviewed by Darian Worden, Tennyson McCalla, and Bile of Thinking Liberty, and hanging out with them afterward. I also went with friends to see the Cloisters, which was really beautiful.

I had excellent meals at Barney Greengrass and Pastis, a pretty good meal at Evergreen, and an absolutely dreadful meal at the Heavenly Bamboo Pavilion.

Now I need to start preparing for classes and my Phoenix trip.

In other news, Robert Wicks has a great post (CHT Manuel Lora) on the lessons to be drawn from the Case of the Underpants Bomber.

In still other news, you gotta love this euphemistic description: “a fatal shooting that involved officers” (I’ll leave it to you to guess the nature of the police officers’ “involvement.”)

Best wishes to all for a happy and stateless new year!

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