Wednesday, February 23, 2005

That must have been one hangover!

Tim Blair has some things to say about the passing of Hunter S. Thompson. But I like what James Lileks recalls.

It was all bile and spittle at the end, and it was hard to read the work without smelling the dank sweat of someone consumed by confusion, anger, sudden drunken certainties and the horrible fear that when he sat down to write, he could only muster a pale parody of someone else’s satirical version of his infamous middle period. I feel sorry for him, but I’ve felt sorry for him for years.
Thompson's brain was already brittle from that bile long before his latest rant about President Bush; pure bile from a brittle mind indeed. But more than 10 years ago when Richard Nixon died, Hunter Thompson shattered any sense of modesty. Thou shall not speak ill of the dead carried civilization for some time until Hunter decided to piss it away. A third rate Nixon hater, Thompson said the former president "that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character". His counter-obituary at the time is exhibit number one. But what was one to expect? He also had little good to say about Vice President Humpert Humphrey.

A mean little coward well armed but not agile, Thompson represented the incurably incoherent drug-induced stupor that helped fray a generation. He had plenty of enablers. The demise of this great republic would be imminent were this cabal of the vaunted counterculture were to ever take office. The closest is perhaps Clinton and his cohort of beautiful people. But even our "first black president" knew enough to tap into a mainstream culture that wanted no more of the extremism of the adversay cultists. For what it was worth Clinton had a thing for people who played by the rules.

No doubt Thompson could write and there were flashes of brilliance, great white noise for a troubled time. But he spent most of his career destroying himself, a man who could write through writer's block with self-indulgent prose. Serious writers grow up leaving Hunter Thompson behind. The youthful indescretions of writers are no guide to maturity.

Louis Proyect over at Counterpunch has a completely different take on Hunter, "a product of the mainstream media." Alexander Cockburn weighs in with a more kindly view.

The Libertarian Party is bad for libertarianism

Randy Barnett writes: "Whatever one thinks of the initial creation of the Libertarian Party, its continued existence seems to be a mistake for libertarians."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Mass SJC gets it right: There's enough money for schools; Unions gripe

The' mo' money for schools' crowd gets whacked by the SJC. More money doesn't mean better schools. It is largely a myth promoted by the mother of all rent-seekers, the public teachers union. Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall shows some sanity.

"No one, including the defendants, disputes that serious inadequacies in public education remain," Chief Justice Margaret Marshall wrote. But she said the state "is moving systematically to address those deficiencies and continues to make education reform a fiscal priority."

But writing in the majority but offering a different opinion, Justice Judith A. Cowin reaffirmed the separation of powers when it comes to school finance. She wrote:

"Public education is a government service, the organization and finance of which is to be determined by the executive and legislative branches." -

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Government makes libertarians of us all; terrorism breeds statism says Stephenson

Reason has an vital interview with science fiction writer Neal Stephensen. Notable and quotable:
Speaking as an observer who has many friends with libertarian instincts, I would point out that terrorism is a much more formidable opponent of political liberty than government. Government acts almost as a recruiting station for libertarians. Anyone who pays taxes or has to fill out government paperwork develops libertarian impulses almost as a knee-jerk reaction. But terrorism acts as a recruiting station for statists. So it looks to me as though we are headed for a triangular system in which libertarians and statists and terrorists interact with each other in a way that I’m afraid might turn out to be quite stable.
Thanks to Instapundit.

Shall we ever be prepared to die? Kurzweil upends the question

The Buddhists say that when we awake each day we should be prepared to die. Ray Kurzweil has other ideas.

During a recent interview in his company offices, Kurzweil sipped green tea and spoke of humanity's coming immortality as if it's as good as done. He sees human intelligence not only conquering its biological limits, including death, but completely mastering the natural world.

"In my view, we are not another animal, subject to nature's whim," he said.

Is this a fatal conceit?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005