Thursday, June 29, 2006

It's that bad

I am totally disgusted. Global warming, tobacco fascism, cholesterol, alcohol puritanism, ADD, Universal allergy panic, it's all wrong and no one will listen to me. Believe nothing you read in the papers. Especially about "the environment" or tobacco Michael Fumento has pretty much nailed the passive smoking nonsense on
“Secondhand smoke debate ‘over.” That’s the message from the Surgeon General’s office, delivered by a sycophantic media. The claim is that the science has now overwhelmingly proved that smoke from others’ cigarettes can kill you. Actually, “debate over” simply means: “If you have your doubts, shut up!”

But you definitely should have doubts over the new Surgeon General’s report, a massive 727-page door stop.

The comments on that column provide a perfect example of people talking right past each other, with some apparently not even having read the column, just seeing that it was about smoking and copy-and-pasting their decades-old rant for a grant about smoking. They don't even pretend any more. I definitely need to start smoking a pipe. Right in their faces.

Monday, June 26, 2006

These guys are just as bad

I blogged about how pathetic the play seemed at the US Open, but I have been equally unimpressed lately with the sorry spectacle that is the World Cup of soccer. Is it my imagination, or is the standard of play noticeably lower than four years ago? Germany is the only team that has shown me anything, and then not much. And yes, since you ask, I will pick the Deutschies to win the whole thing. I watched the English beat Ecuador yesterday, 1-0, and boy was that a snoozer! If you had been asleep for the whole match and just woke up for Beckham's free kick goal and went back to sleep, you would have missed nothing. Even the near-goal by Ecuador was pathetic. The Ecuadorian would have scored that nine times out of ten, but dubbed around just long enough to let the diving Englishman deflect the ball just enough to hit the crossbar. Snooze.

I have yet to see any team, even the Krauts, which passes accurately and can keep control of the ball all the way down the field. Pro players at this level still don't seem to realize they have to avoid being offside. And when one side gets up by two goals, it's just dum-de-dum and kick it back to our goalkeeper and dum-de-dum for five more minutes and kick it back to our goalkeeper again. Maybe now and then a shot from fifty yards that goes twenty feet over the goal will keep everyone from going to sleep. Blah. I guess there's an analogous tactic in American football where one side gets ahead by a couple of touchdowns and then calls nothing but running plays, but even that requires the team to move down the field somewhat, now and then. And the fouls! Or, to follow Popper, Kuhn and Lakatos, I should say "fouls"! How hard is it to fall down in front of someone when you've lost the ball to them? Haven't the referees had a bit of time to realize this might happen? How many players can be carried off the field on a stretcher, moaning and clutching the opposite knee to the one that was just barely touched by an opposing player, then can jump off the stretcher and run back into the game when something exciting happens before the refs, you know, catch on??

OK, so maybe this is all a setup and sooner or later I will see a good match and it will seem even better by comparison. But this World Cup will not make the fantasy of pro-soccer-in-the-US that's been touted for decades any more real or more desirable.
Birthday whisky and bacon

So why shouldn't I have a bit of single malt with my breakfast on my 58th birthday, when I'm off work? Who knows if I'll make it to my 68th? I changed the spelling of "whisky" after consulting a certain great Scotblog even though they're on a mild hiatus. My that sounds painful.

And my sister from Nigeria is coming to visit tomorrow and my older son is moving in with me next week, so things are happening. Movement clear, direction not quite so well defined.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I pity the altruist
Been reading"Beware of Pity", by Stefan Zweig, one of my favorite authors (The Buried Candelabrum, Balzac, Erasmus, etc.) So coincidentally (lot of that going around these days!) I found a discussion of pity on Noodlefood:
In the case of pity, I'm struck by the difference between his concept of pity and our modern concept thereof. In particular, notice that Aristotle holds that the object of pity must be morally good -- and thus not deserving of his fate.

So I appended a comment:
Stefan Zweig wrote an insightful novel, "Beware of Pity", wherein he differentiates two kinds (page 256, Viking Press, New York, 1939):

"One, the weak and sentimental kind, which is really no more than the heart's impatience to be rid as quickly as possible of the painful emotion aroused by the sight of another's unhappiness, that pity which is not compassion, but only an instinctive desire to fortify one's own soul against the sufferings of another; and the other, the only one that counts, the unsentimental but creative kind, which knows what it is about, and is determined to hold out, in patience and forbearance, to the very limit of its strength and even beyond. It is only when one goes on to the end, to the extreme, bitter end, only when one has an inexhaustible fund of patience, that one can help one's fellows. Only when one is prepared to sacrifice oneself in doing so - and then only!"

So Zweig neatly makes the wrong but powerful point that pity can only be purged through absolute altruism. Yet it is a natural, an understandable emotion. I imagine this "com-passion" or fellow-feeling, stems from fear that what has happened to another may happen to you, especially in the bygone (for some!) demon-haunted days. Roark's pity for Keating, therefore, is only another emotional obstacle to be overcome through reason. Rand never denied the humanity of her characters.