Archive | February 3, 2010

Waterworld, Part 3

A quick rundown of my trip to San Diego:

So the first three days were devoted to the ISME conference, which tends to be about half military people and half civilian academics. Some people in the talkback of my earlier post were wondering whether my paper would freak them out, but it’s actually a fairly diverse and laidback venue.

Cabrillo Monument

Cabrillo Monument

To give an idea of the range: of the two keynote speakers, one (Brigadier General H. R. McMaster) was a jingoistic, rah-rah, “our enemies are evil and it’s a privilege to kill them” type (that’s an exact quote or pretty close), while at the opposite extreme the other (David Rodin) was arguing that the moral burdens on justifying violence are so stringent as to require us to accept either pacifism or a radical revision of military ethics in the direction of law-enforcement ethics. Both speakers were received graciously by the audience, but neither uncritically (most of the audience being sufficiently steeped in the military ethos to wince at “pacifism,” but sufficiently enlightened to wince likewise at “privilege to kill”). I’d say most of the attendees, military and civilian alike, were Obama Democrats, whatever exactly that means these days. I think their eyes glazed over at my mention of anarchy, and as for the rest of my paper they didn’t seem to find it terribly controversial. I’ll have to submit something more provocative next year!

After the conference was over I switched from my Old Town hotel to one in Little Italy (both cheaper and closer to places I wanted to visit). On Friday I took a bus out to Cabrillo Monument, which I haven’t seen since I was eight or so. Then I headed for Bali Hai Restaurant on Shelter Island to revisit a childhood favourite, but it was closed for renovations (something it might have been helpful to mention on their website before I walked all the way out to Shelter Island!). Since by that time I was jonesing for Polynesian I headed for Mr. Tiki’s Mai Tai Lounge (sounds cheesy but isn’t) on San Diego’s wonderful Fifth Avenue.



The next day I hit my beloved San Diego Zoo and learned an interesting tip from one of the zoo staff: the way to make friends with an ape is not to stare them in the face (which they interpret as hostile) but rather to turn your back on them and then occasionally peek back over your shoulder at them. I didn’t have a chance to try it, though. I did buy a zebra for my mommy.

On Sunday I walked along the waterfront a bit, and then Gary Chartier and his wife drove down and we had lunch at Pokez (check out these somewhat deranged reviews by people whose experience seems to be rather narrow; in actuality it was a fairly ordinary place and the staff were perfectly polite, if somewhat inattentive) and then hung out for a while at Mission Bay.

Chief culinary discovery of the trip: the tonno rosso appetizer at Vincenzo’s in Little Italy: “Ahi tuna coated with a combination of chopped mixed nuts, paprika, garlic, curry, and pepper; seared and served rare, topped with a spicy pepper sauce.” Definitely recommended.

Bleg for Arthur Silber

Looks like I missed this before my trip, but Arthur Silber needs help. He’s a terrific libertarian writer with devastating health problems and very little money; please help if you can. (You can donate via a PayPal button on his blog.)

The Kids Are Alright

A blast from the past: going through old papers I find the following letter, sent to the Christian Science Monitor on 16 May 1990. I have no record of whether it was published, but my guess would be no.

To the Editor:

Among the high school survey results Rushworth Kidder finds disturbing [“Children’s Moral Compass Wavers,” 5/16/90] is the fact that a high percentage (47% according to Kidder, 45% according to the chart) place their own experience above parents, religion, science, and the media as the “most believable authority in matters of truth.”

a free childI am far more disturbed by the fact that Kidder finds this statistic disturbing. Surely we want to raise a generation of independent thinkers, not of sheep who passively accept the dictates of authority; so we should find this statistic heartening. Thomas Jefferson would certainly have been pleased.

As for the willingness of high school students to cheat in an exam, it’s difficult to know whether this is a bad sign morally. After all, students are legally compelled, often against their will, to attend high school and to take exams there. In this context, it’s morally problematic to claim that students have an obligation not to cheat. (Do slaves have a moral obligation not to disobey their masters?)

As long as our nation, defying the Constitution’s ban on involuntary servitude, tolerates the institution of compulsory education, high school exams will be given in an atmosphere that is morally tainted from the start.

Roderick T. Long
Ithaca, New York

Macro Rap

The best rap song ever written about the dispute between Hayekian and Keynesian explanations of the business cycle! (Though presumably also the worst rap song ever written about the dispute between Hayekian and Keynesian explanations of the business cycle.)

(CHT Elizabeth Brake.)

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