Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Ann Althouse has a post on the movie The Curious Life of Benjamin Button. Benjamin is a somewhat popular name now. I think it is so because falls in the category:

I Traditional (Normal)...B. Sectarian...iii antisectarian

It has these characteristics because Benjamin is Jewish as child of Abraham though not so Jewish as to be of Israel (Jacob). Paul mentions in Romans that he is of the tribe of Benjamin so the name becomes Christian but also antisectarian because it is of both sects. Related to the 'Benjamin' associations, the name also tends to want to hold it's 'shape' as the full name to more clearly keep the associations. In our family's case, it is also anitsectarian because it is not a family name. My household prefers the name 'Benners' for a grandson though his brother's mispronunciation 'Jinamen' is fun.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

In Responst to Eugene Volokh

Some people are so churlish. I bet you don't appreciate the Spanish Inquisition either. What do we have to do? I think when people say America has a JudeoChristian heritage you should take a clue. Wish your acquaintances 'Happy New Year' on Yom Kippur and suggest to your 'family' there is some public invitation to Yom Kippur or a broadcast of it and not an ersatz one. Maybe you'll then feel liberated and not unhappy when the successors to the Romans wish you Merry Christmas on the day on which it was their tradition to hope, on the darkest day of the year, that the sun would not die be born again.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Chu for Energy Secretary

Megan McArdle brings up a "bad joke that somebody meeds to make: I think our Energy secretary's a great guy and all, but he's no rocket scientist. Oh, wait . . . "

Chu is an exciting choice. One of the reasons I was for McCain was his pronuclear position without which IMHO presidential candidate speeches in 2020 will include 'and when I am elected we will achieve energy independence...' These things have become bridges to nowhere. Chu can calculate the energy returns. In regard to the 'no rocket scientist' jibe which is usually offered as an engaging self (or other) deprecatory remark, I think this comes from the time of our engaging Werner von Braun and a few other of his not so Jewish buddies to build our military rockets. It is really faint praise for the German 1940's autism which included skill in the rocket science area which pragmatism led us to take advantage of.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Kennedy Assassination

I came to Dallas at age 13 three years before the assassination. I recall an article in the paper about General Walker being fired on, was it a year or so before Kennedy’s assassination, and just missed. ‘He had leaned down to get a closer look at something in his library.’ General Walker was an odd icon of a right wing militarist who I believe ran for Governor. The route that the attempted murderer, took in leaving a vantage point near his property in the area between Oak Lawn and Highland Park was a year or two ago explained again in the paper. Apparently, Oswald attempted the ‘assassination.’ Then there were the incidents of a crowd attacking LBJ and Adlai Stevenson subsequently if I recall correctly. One of the governors of Texas in the fifties, Alan Shivers, had said that Texas needed to bring in more intellectual talent and this happened. But then there was the strange mix of Southern revanchism added in reaction to a growing liberalism. So when I turned on the radio at home midday Nov 23, 1963; we had the day off I believe for the visit, but I was doing my homework, and I heard that the president had been shot, I was not surprised and recalled that I had felt something ‘would happen.’ How strong that feeling was was probably influenced, as in my view the ‘conspirator believers’ are, by a truth that Clausewitz observed when he said ‘that the social importance of a solution did not increase the difficulty of a problem but did increase the merit of a solution.’ And so also was Oswald advanced to his repetition compulsion. Ron Rosenbaum has some other ideas.


Perhaps in response to comment #44 about the 'mob idea' for the assassination, comment #46 was launched, to which I would reply as follows:

When a person says that somebody has slipped into their apartment and changed a bookmark in a book, I don’t consider that I can prove it didn't happen but might consider that there aren't singular circumstances in their life that make that a reasonable possibility. That isn't a psychoanalysis; I’m not considering why they might be making a false assertion which would be psychoanalysis. In the first instance, people don't decide likelihood of truth on the basis of the logical consistency of a story. There is nothing logically impossible in the 'bookmark' vignette. A psychiatrist does however get used to looking for arguments that connect to an absurd assumption. I am merely offering what to me is a hypothetically ‘absurd’ assumption in the mob theory. People also decide what is worth learning about and what they might stay pragmatically ignorant about. The truth likelihood based on this initial consideration gets the ‘mob theory’ in the category of something I might preserve my present state of rational ignorance about.