Archive | October, 2008

Names and Faces

The Murphy Institute’s latest flyer has a picture of me on the cover from my 2006 visit (that’s me uncharacteristically tiny at the end of the table next to Eric Mack). Other pics include my good friend Elizabeth Brake (p. 4), my former IHS mentee Steve Wall (p. 7), and my former UNC colleagues Cheshire Calhoun (p. 10) and Tom Hill (p. 16).

In other news, my editorial collaborator Tibor Machan comments on the NY Times piece on my colleague Kelly Jolley; this may perhaps be added to the list of things one is glad to know.

Making the Grade

Sarkozy So Sarko chimes in on the financial crisis with the following economically and historically illiterate remark:

Self-regulation as a way of solving all problems is finished. Laissez-faire is finished. The all-powerful market that always knows best is finished.

I hereby give Sarko an F.

In economics? In history?

Hell no, he’s not getting off that easily. The man doesn’t know how to use the phrase laissez-faire; I’m giving him an F in French.

Notes From Three Trips

Metropolitan Museum of Art 1. On my first trip to FEE it was frustrating to fly into NYC and then be able to spend no time there, so on my second trip, two weeks ago, I made sure to stay overnight in NYC so I’d have at least a few hours. I had dinner at the Evergreen restaurant (10 E. 38th), but it seems to have declined since I was there a year ago (their Amazing Crispy Duck was truly amazing last time, but merely good this time.) I was pleased to see a copy of my book Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand on the shelf at a Barnes & Noble, especially since it’s been on back order at the Atlas Objectivist Studies Institute Center Society for, like, ever.

The next morning I checked out of my hotel and headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (after first leaving my bags at a handy luggage storage service, since the Met doesn’t store large bags). This was my first visit to the museum, and I was pressed for time and had to do an unsatisfactory mad dash through the collections, but it was still terrific. Then after a nice Turkish lunch at Akdeniz (19 W. 46th) I took the train up to FEE, where I had a good time and commented on some interesting junior faculty papers. It was nice to see, inter alia, Pete Boettke and Dan D’Amico.

Coupling 2. There isn’t too much to report from my APS trip last week that I haven’t already mentioned, but I can say that the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area finally seems to be entirely recovered from its battering four years ago. I hung out with Kelly and his family, and with two of our majors Andy and Rob (who turn out to be fellow fans of Coupling, a show much better and funnier than its Wikipedia entry might suggest).

3. As previously mentioned, this past weekend I was in Boston for a Liberty Fund conference on Lysander Spooner (in honour of his bicentenary), where I also saw my old comrades Eric Mack (with whom I visited Quincy Market for a quick lunch), Randy Barnett, Aeon Skoble, and David Hart. The seemingly endless construction down by the wharf (which was underway when I was living there in the early 80s, and was still underway, with virtually no progress visible, during my last visit a few years ago) now seems to be finally mostly over.

On Thursday we watched the Palin-Biden debate in the hospitality suite; I was somewhat disappointed that neither one embarrassed him/herself too badly. Palin even got in one good line; when the moderator mentioned that Palin had said she didn’t know what the vice-president did, while Biden had said that he would not accept the vice-presidency, Palin told Biden: “In my comment there, it was a lame attempt at a joke; and yours was a lame attempt at a joke, too, I guess, because nobody got it.” And Biden made an inadvertently funny remark when he sounded as though he were saying that a Biden presidency itself (rather than simply its resulting from Obama’s death in office) would be “a national tragedy of historic proportions.” Otherwise the debate was soul-destroyingly boring – which, given the two candidates’s reputations as loose cannons, was probably the best that their handlers could hope for.

Spooner grave On Friday I took the T up to Harvard. The last time I went by my freshman dorm there was an American flag up in my window (ack!); happily gone now. Alas, some of my favourite Harvard-area bookstores are gone too, though others remain.

Good news for Austrians: while even in better bookstores one finds, as a rule, one or two books at most by Hayek, and none by Mises, the economics section of the Harvard Coop had eight separate titles from each.

On Saturday we first drove past Spooner’s house at 109 Myrtle Street, and then headed out to Forest Hills Cemetery, where we saw not only Spooner’s gravesite (with a monument added by Randy Barnett) but also those of his fellow abolitionist/anarchists William Lloyd Garrison and Colonel William B. Greene (not, as Aeon reminds me, to be confused with that other Colonel Green).

Star Trek: Of Gods and Men Speaking whichly, at the conference I met film producer Sky Conway, with whom I’d previously communicated only by email; he gave me a copy of his low-budget, libertarian-oriented independent Star Trek film Of Gods and Men, which stars a number of characters from the show (played by the original cast members), including Uhura, Chekov, and Tuvok. I’ll report on it as soon as I get a chance to watch it; in the meantime, check out the trailer.

4. In other news, my fifth AOTP post went up on Friday: History of an Idea; or, How An Argument Against the Workability of Authoritarian Socialism Became An Argument Against the Workability of Authoritarian Capitalism.

BREAKING NEWS: Palin Linked to Unrepentant Terrorist; or, Johnny’s In the Basement Mixing Up the Medicine


Palin & McCainIn the wake of Sarah Palin’s taking Barack Obama to task for his ties to 1960s Weather Underground member and unrepentant bomber William Ayers, our investigators have uncovered evidence linking Palin herself to controversial political figure John McCain. McCain is a former member of a shadowy organisation called the “Navy of the United State” which during the 1960s planned and conducted bombing campaigns in Southeast Asia on what early reports indicate may have been an even larger scale than the Weather Underground’s; according to some of our sources, McCain himself appears to have carried out some of these bombings personally prior to his arrest in 1967. Far from expressing repentance, McCain has indicated his willingness to engage in further terrorist acts if given the opportunity, ghoulishly chanting “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.” In light of these emerging revelations, observers are speculating as to whether Palin will now distance herself from McCain.

My Name Ith Lythander Thpooner And I’m From Athol, Mathachuthetth

Lysander SpoonerTomorrow morning I’m off to Boston for a Liberty Fund conference on Lysander Spooner, organised by Randy Barnett. We’re reading extensive selections from Spooner’s The Unconstitutionality of Slavery, The Unconstitutionality of the Laws Prohibiting Private Mails, No Treason, Natural Law, and Letter to Grover Cleveland. Among the secondary sources included in the readings packet I was pleased to see both my own Spooner article and the reply from Randy to J. H. Huebert that I originally solicited for the JLS.

In other news, when McCain first chose Palin as his running mate, I described the pick as “fiendishly brilliant.”

I take it back.

Surveiller et Punir

I just learned something I hadn’t previously known about my old freshman dorm:

CanadayCanaday’s architecture can be traced back to its period of construction, which immediately followed the student takeover of University Hall in 1969. Fearing further student unrest, College administrators had the various portions of Canaday fireproofed and separated from each other to foil student organizing. Unlike other Harvard freshman dormitories … students must go outside to access any portion of the building other than their own.

I knew its design was weird, but I never knew why.

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