Author Archive | Roderick

Long Live Secession

Inasmuch as the Left-Libertarian Yahoo Group’s chief moderator, formerly a terrific left-libertarian whose name rhymes with “Hey, Feel Cool, Man,” has apparently fallen to the Fallen to the dark side dark side (both in the no-longer-a-left-libertarian sense and in the suddenly-deciding-to-reject-dissenting-posts sense), some of its members have started an alternative discussion list called LeftLibertarian2. (I missed most of the excitement, just getting caught up on my mail now.)

Since the aforesaid moderator will not permit the existence of the new list to be mentioned on the old list, I announce it here. As far as I’m concerned the new list is the list. (There’s also the LeftyLibertarian list but I’m not sure what its status is. Also, check out the Left-Libertarian blog aggregator.)


Anscombe in Alabama

At the end of this week I’m off (if traveling a few blocks from my office counts as “off”) to the Austrian Scholars Conference, where I’ll be giving a paper on Austro-libertarian themes in the work of Elizabeth Anscombe. Here’s the first paragraph:

Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe (1919-2001) – better known as Elizabeth Anscombe, Liz Anscombe, or G. E. M. Anscombe – was one of the foremost figures of 20th-century Anglophone philosophy, making important Elizabeth Anscombecontributions to philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, and moral philosophy. Yet this monocle-wearing, cigar-smoking, multilingual Cambridge don and mother of seven, a Catholic social conservative who ate out of tuna cans while lecturing and once intimidated a mugger into leaving her alone, who shocked the right with her antiwar activism and the left with her anti-abortion, anti-contraception activism, and who coined the term “consequentialism” (she was against it), is far less well known among Austro-libertarians than among professional philosophers. The aim of this paper is to show why Anscombe deserves the attention of Austro-libertarians.

Read the rest here.


JLS 20.4: What Lies Within?

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Journal of Libertarian Studies The latest issue (20.4) of the Journal of Libertarian Studies features Marcus Verhaegh on Rothbard vs. Rousseau, Philipp Bagus on the history of private dikes and levees, my colleague Michael Watkins on Thomson’s defense of abortion, John Hamilton on pro-capitalist themes in left-wing Italian cinema, J. H. Huebert on Posner’s doomsday scenarios, Ludwig van den Hauwe on Holcombe’s critique of democracy, and Leigh Jenco on freedom and Asian values in Kirby and de Bary.

Read a fuller summary of 20.4’s contents here.

Read summaries of previous issues under my editorship here.

Read back issues online here.

Subscribe here.

In other news, my recent blog post Cleopatra on Mars has been reposted on LRC today with a slightly more prosaic title.


Hat In

Ron Paul Ron Paul is now officially in the race for the Republican nomination. (Conical hat tip to Lew Rockwell.) With Hagel still playing coy, this makes Paul the clear antiwar choice in the Republican pack – and of course Paul, unlike Hagel, was against the damn thing from the start.

I have plenty of problems with Ron Paul – most notably on immigration, abortion, and gay rights. But he is astronomically superior to any other Republican candidate out there; I wish him well, and hope he shakes up the GOP plenty.


Some Notes on Last Week’s Episode of Rome

Cicero In real life, Cicero was killed by many people after fleeing his home, not by one person in his home.

In real life, Brutus died by suicide, not in battle.

In real life, Servilia died of natural causes, not suicide.

I’m just sayin’ ….


Cleopatra on Mars; or, Our Forgetful Experts

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

I remember how, when the Viking lander first began sending photos back from Mars, scientists were amazed to discover that the Martian sky is pink. Initially the sky showed as white, but the Viking project’s scientists quickly noticed that the colour of the lettering on the lander itself was off, and when they corrected the colour, the sky blazed forth in glorious pink – a development which the scientists noted was completely unexpected.

Cleopatra's face on Mars? At the time, the scientists’ astonishment baffled me – because I had learned years before, in elementary school, long before any photos had come back from Mars, that scientists were predicting that the Martian sky would be pink or purple. So how did the scientific community manage to forget its earlier prediction? Why were they surprised by something a fifth-grader in Idaho could have told them?

Beats me. But I lately had a feeling of déja vu over the recent news story concerning the discovery of a coin with Cleopatra’s face on it, revealing a less than beautiful visage. Archaeologists and historians reported with cries of amazement that Cleopatra’s reputation as a great beauty must now be revised.

Their reaction puzzles me in much the same way that the Viking project’s scientists’ reaction to the Martian sky puzzled me.

First: it’s old news that Cleopatra’s charm lay more in her personality than in her physical appearance; I recently quoted Plutarch on my blog to just that effect. Surely all these archaeologists and historians have read Plutarch?

Second: this is not the first time that coins with Cleopatra’s image on them have been discovered. Given my longstanding interest in classical history, I’ve been seeing pictures of Cleopatra coins for years. None of the depictions was especially attractive. So what’s new here? Surely all these archaeologists and historians have seen Cleopatra coins before?

Third: this is nothing unique to Cleopatra. On the contrary, it’s a persistent feature of ancient coins generally that the images on them are less flattering than, say, statues or busts of the same persons. Take a look, for example, at these depictions of Augustus and Tiberius.

Augustus and Tiberius - coin and bust

Is it because the busts were idealised, making the coins a more accurate portrayal? Or is it because the coins were more hastily made (or because the ancients were, famously, better at 3-D representation that at 2-D – or again, better at 2-D front views than at 2-D profiles), making the busts actually more accurate? Or is it (perhaps most likely) some of each? 

Well, I don’t know. What I do know is that looking good in busts and not so good on coins is a pervasive feature of ancient portraiture. So why all the surprise about Cleopatra? And why the leap to the assumption of the coin’s accuracy in this case? Surely all these archaeologists and historians have seen ancient statuary and currency before?


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