Tag Archives | Personal

The March of Time

I realise that I’ve never blogged here, even minimally, about my trips from last March. (I thought I had, but actually I just discussed them on facebook.)

So on March 9-10 I participated in a workshop on exploitation, run by Matt Zwolinski and Ben Ferguson, at the University of San Diego.

I flew out a couple of days early in order to spend some time hanging out with my friends Gary Chartier and Alicia Homer.

Then on March 12-14 I attended the PPE conference in New Orleans. (That’s “Philosophy, Politics, and Economics,” not “Personal Protective Equipment.”) I gave a talk on “Virtue’s Unity and the Liberal Quest for Principled Moderation.” Several of my co-panelists, alas, had to pull out in light of the impending Coronapocalypse.

After that, the Coronapocalypse fell utterly across the land and all further travel was curtailed; thus I did not attend APEE (Las Vegas), the Pacific APA (San Francisco), or Gary and Alicia’s wedding celebration (Laguna Beach) in April, nor again the AtInER Philosophy Conference (Athens) in May.


Name Game

So here’s a puzzle.

When I was a little kid I often went by “Rod.”

But from at least 5th grade on I went by “Roderick,” as was my preference, and everyone called me “Roderick” (except my mother, who was the only person who still often called me “Rod,” and indeed did so ever after).

In high school I was Roderick. In college I was Roderick. In grad school I was Roderick.

Then, in the 90s, when I got my first teaching job at Chapel Hill, nearly everyone suddenly started calling me “Rod.” (I recall several people at Chapel Hill asking me if I preferred “Rod” or “Roderick”; I told them “Roderick,” but to no avail, as they usually gravitated unhesitatingly back to “Rod” again soon thereafter.)

And it wasn’t just a Chapel Hill thing, because people that I met in the libertarian academic sphere during that period – the Institute for Humane Studies, the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, etc. – also generally called me “Rod.” So it’s hard to identify a unified cause.

And to this day, people who first met me during that period of 1990-1997 (except for those who know me well enough to know better) usually call me “Rod.”

But then I moved to Auburn in 1998, and from then on people have almost always called me “Roderick” again – and not just people I met at or through Auburn either, so again a unified cause is elusive.


Southern Comfort

Recommended quasi-lockdown viewing: an excellent pair of docudrama miniseries about early Antarctic exploration – The Last Place on Earth (about the competing Scott and Amundsen expeditions) and Shackleton (about, duh, the Shackleton expedition – though Shackleton also features briefly in the former series). They’re not just exciting dramas but also useful case studies in virtue ethics.

When The Last Place on Earth first appeared it was vigorously attacked by the right-wing press in the u.k. for casting aspersions on the great British national hero, Robert Scott, by suggesting that the failure of his expedition owed more to his defects of character than to bad luck. But from the reading I’ve done I conclude that the miniseries is pretty much accurate.

It was my mother who got me interested in the history of Antarctic exploration. Her interest dated from coming across, in her youth, the remains of Amundsen’s boat (at that time preserved, kind of, in a neglected corner of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park as a monument; it’s since been relocated to Norway). Although this was not the boat he used for his Antarctic expedition, the plaque named him as the first to reach the South Pole, leading her to wonder why she’d never heard of him and had only heard of Scott. She subsequently became a great admirer of both Amundsen and Shackleton, though not so much Scott.

The Last Place on Earth is out of print on DVD, and so is available at only astronomical prices in that format, but subscribers to Amazon Prime can stream it for free.

I couldn’t find Shackleton streaming anywhere (places advertising it turn out to have conflated it with a documentary recreating Shackleton’s voyage), but the DVD is only ten bucks.


Laugh About It, Shout About It When You’ve Got to Choose

I’m going to be one of the moderators for the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidates’ debate on Friday, February 28th, in conjunction with the Alabama state LP’s 2020 convention in Birmingham AL; details here and here.

I’ll also be tabling there for Molinari/C4SS on Saturday, February 29th.

More info to follow!


The Elusive Chameleon

To C. Chameleon, who left me a message today through this blog’s contact form: you didn’t include an email address so I don’t know how to contact you. Please drop me a note either by email or in the talkback form below. Thanks!


My Crime Family Connections

[cross-posted at POT]

I just got back from Brunswick GA for a Liberty Fund conference on Frank Knight. I’d never read much of Knight before beyond the risk vs. uncertainty stuff, but his methodological, ethical, and (though he wouldn’t have used the term) praxeological writings turn out to connect nicely with a number of my areas of concern: Plato and Aristotle, Frege and Wittgenstein, Collingwood and Winch, Mises and Hayek.

The conference was at the Jekyll Island Club on Old Plantation Road. It’s like a fusion of the sins of the Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian factions! (And given that Knight taught at Chicago, it seems appropriate that there’s a connection between Jekyll Island and Hyde Park.)

For photos of the venue, see my Facebook page.

Speaking of Jekyll Island: my grandfather Charles Roderick McKay (1873-1954), although he wasn’t at the famous Jekyll Island meeting, was one of the people involved in setting up the Federal Reserve; he worked with Paul Warburg et al.

From a poverty-stricken childhood in Prince Edward Island, he became a runner for a bank while visiting Chicago relatives with his mother, and eventually worked his way up to the position of Transit Manager for the First National Bank of Chicago, in which position he developed the numerical check-clearing ABA system which would be adopted by the Fed. Once the Fed was established he became Deputy Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, though he was really more of a co-governor; when the various Fed Governors went to DC to meet with FDR, the Chicago gov was the only one who brought his deputy with him.

By way of partial mitigation of his role in the Fed, I note that when the central Fed began artificially lowering interest rates, which on the Austrian analysis was a major cause of the Great Depression, it was in large part thanks to my grandfather that the Chicago branch resisted the policy until finally overridden by the central; and in later retirement he felt betrayed by the direction the Fed had taken. (My grandfather’s economic and political views were broadly speaking “Old Right.” I never met him; he died a decade before I was born.)

I found his photo online in this periodical. From my mother’s stories I gather he was as much fun as he looks.


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