Curmudgeonry

On the Virtue of Hemlock

In his recent Boston Review essay, philosophy professor Carlos Fraenkel manages the neat trick of advocating a sensible position — that high-school students should be taught philosophy — so ineptly that he ends up proving the opposite, namely, that while it may be the case that students should learn philosophy, this is quite independent from …

On the conservative as warmonger

The problem with political science professor Corey Robin’s claim that warmongering is woven into the DNA of conservatives is that he can’t seem to define his subject. One minute a conservative is a Burkean, the next he’s a tea-partier, then a neocon, then a Republican politico. Richer still, Robin represents these British-American country-clubbing anti-marxist quasi-literate …

Breathe easier?

I’m always leery of research by people who desperately, desperately want a certain answer. So when I hear shouts of joy over a new study running counter to previous studies in its conclusion that putting small children in daycare has no adverse effects, I develop a more skeptical eye than usual. Which I know is …

Memo to the NCAA

Perhaps it’s a new phenomenon, or perhaps I’m becoming more curmudgeonly, but it’s gotten that I cannot abide watching the aftermath of NCAA basketball games. It’s almost a certainty now that, in the event of a close game, at least one player on the losing team will wallow about on the floor, covering his face …

Walking vices

From Anthony Esolen’s “Filthy Rich: The Unnoticed Gift of Trickle-Down Decadence:” “The poor teach us what our vices mean, because we have not the self-knowledge to see through the disguises we ourselves have given them. When we see the poor doing what we would not, let us not say, ‘There but for the grace of …

The new Conservatism

Mickey Edwards explains why he didn’t go to CPAC, the annual Conservative self-lovefest, arguing that the traditional conservatism of America has been supplanted by a state-aggrandizing European-style conservatism. I’m not sure if the shift is even that intellectual, or if it’s simply that Conservatives — like members of any tribe facing an enemy tribe — …

Christian America?

Maybe instead of pouring all this energy into haggling over claims in watered-down, non-primary source, lowest-common-denominator, utterly de-contextualized, ponderous textbooks, we ought to try harder to get kids to read more, and read more of what matters. Does anyone really think that one sentence about Cesar Chavez or Samuel Gompers is going to be the clincher between …

Genuine reform?

President Obama, The Washington Post tells us, will propose a major increase in education spending tonight. At first glance, one might be tempted to roll the eyes. It’s not like we haven’t been trundling along on this up-escalator long enough, after all. In the past twenty years alone we’ve doubled education spending. Yes, you read …

Short-sighted

If this really is “…the best example of violation of the separation of church and state in this country,” then I think we’re all going to be just fine. And I have trouble seeing how a coded Christian verse on a rifle sight, while odd, is “literally pushing fundamentalist Christianity at the point of a gun.” …