Susan Moller Okin

by Harry on March 8, 2004

My friend Rob Reich has just told me the very sad news that Susan Moller Okin died last week. Her book, Justice Gender and the Family, had a major effect on political theory, and helped produce the turn to the intimate that has happened in the last decade or so: an agenda setting achievement. I have been meaning for some time to blog about one of her arguments, but today is obviously not the day for that. I met her only once myself, but was impressed on that meeting by how the quality of the work I have admired for so long was matched by the quality of the personality I met — something one does not always find. An obituary will appear in tomorrow’s edition of the Stanford Report. (UPDATE: the full Stanford Report obituary is now online here.) Here is the press release:

Susan Moller Okin died of unknown causes last week at the age of 57. Okin was Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society and professor of Political Science at Stanford University. At the time of her death she was on leave with a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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On Being Put Off Wagner Forever

by Kieran Healy on March 8, 2004

Chris’s post about “the ENO production of Rheingold”: reminded me of why I don’t know anything about Wagner’s music. When I was a graduate student, I invested a substantial chunk of my income in a pair of season tickets to the Met, with half-decent seating. You got a set program of opera over the course of the year. We had a great time. Then came the Wagner week. I forget which opera it was. Die Walküre I think — anyway, the one where the guy stumbles into the forest hut, falls in love with the girl, and upon discovering she’s his sister sings, delightedly, “Such wonderful news! Our children will therefore be of the purest blood!” or words to that effect.

As soon as we got to our seats we knew something was wrong.

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Which Charity?

by Brian on March 8, 2004

“Caoine”: is feeling remarkably generous. She has decided to donate her 2004 Amazon referrals income to a charity, but can’t decide which one. This seems like a good opportunity to ask blog readers who might know something about this, which charities do provide good value for your donated dollar? I’ve always thought Oxfam was good value, but my evidence for that isn’t entirely overwhelming. (I remember “Peter Unger”: did some investigations and decided they were worth supporting, so that’s some evidence, but that was one data point several years ago.) If anyone has any better suggestions, or reasons why Oxfam isn’t really as good as I’ve always thought, I’d be happy to hear them.

DC 5/11: Day of Inconvenience

by Ted on March 8, 2004

In what appears to be an attempt to defuse some of the controversy, NEWSWEEK has learned, White House officials have privately signaled to the commission that Bush will not rigidly stick to the one-hour time limit. When time is up, Bush won’t walk out if there are still more questions, an aide said.

That was his plan? After sixty minutes with two members of his own party, whom he appointed to investigate 9/11, he was planning on turning his back and walking out on them? [UPDATE: The co-chair is a Democrat appointed by Daschle. Sorry about that.]

Boy, that moment would look great on a National Review commemorative plate. Can you imagine such a scene? I can.


A play in one act

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Making Instapundit look like Indymedia

by Chris Bertram on March 8, 2004

Thanks to “Michael Brooke”: , I’ve been reading “Adam Yoshida”: ‘s surreal rantings on and off for the past few weeks. They really are marvellous, although “today’s speculation about whether John Kerry was a KGB sleeper”: may in fact be a coded message that Yoshida himself is a deep-cover satirist for the left. Sample quote:

bq. If one picture emerged of George W. Bush, in 1970, of raising his arm in what vaguely appeared to be a Nazi salute, the media would cover it for weeks. Why, then, has no one in the mainstream media probed John Kerry’s ties to an evil which, at the very least, is the equal of Nazism?

Why indeed? And why doesn’t “TechCentralStation”: hire this guy?

Grounds for impeachment

by John Q on March 8, 2004

I don’t have much to add to Brad de Long’s take on this MSNBC story asserting that Bush stopped plans to bomb the camp of terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi because

the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

This assertion is sourced to unnamed “military officials”, and may be hard to verify, but if true it would surely constitute grounds for impeachment, as well as a conclusive refutation of the case for the Iraq war.

“Juan Non-Volokh”: opens an interesting line of inquiry: which political ideology has the best music? I’m torn on this. Juan leads with his chin, describing “Rush”: as “arguably the most prominent libertarian band of all time.” _Arguably?_ Who else is in the running here? Clint Eastwood singing “I Talk to the Trees” in “Paint Your Wagon”: Was “Ayn Rand”:, like L. Ron Hubbard, a “great composer”: on the side? The irresistible image is of a phalanx of airborne Libertarians screaming up the Potomac in surplus “Hueys”: fitted with “tactical nuclear weapons sourced on Ebay”:, while Rush’s “‘Freewill'”: blares from speakers bolted to one of the choppers.

But the question seems a bit underspecified. For instance, conservatives in general might claim the whole tradition of western classical music for themselves, while quietly ignoring the fact that, throughout history, your common or garden conservative can reliably be found bemoaning the appalling quality of serious music since the year _n_ — 75, for all values of _n_. Those on the left, meanwhile, will have to work hard to distance themselves from the output of the troops of the “Folk Song Army”: Perhaps we should be asking which are the best _explicitly political_ songs. A related question is which country has the best National Anthem. France edges it, I think, over South Africa (too long) and the United States (too hard to sing). _God Save the Queen_ is clearly the worst, a judgment made compelling both by the anthem’s non-existent musical merits and the fact that English fans would rather sing a “spiritual”: written about an exhausted, enslaved people longing for the sweet release of death.

Trapped ?

by John Q on March 8, 2004

Brad de Long picks up my post on opportunities and outcomes (see also this crossposting with further discussion), in which I argued that the achievement of meaningful equality of opportunity in a society with highly unequal outcomes would require extensive government intervention to prevent the development of inherited inequality, and says that I’m falling into Irving Kristol’s trap, which he describes, accurately enough, as

an ideological police action designed to erase the distinction between Arthur Okun and Mao Zedong, and delegitimize the American left.

I agree that many people, particularly critics of social democracy like Kristol ,use the outcome/opportunity distinction in a dishonest way. This is particularly true in the American context, since anyone honestly concerned with the issue would have to begin with the observation that the United States performs just as badly on equality of opportunity (as measured by things like social mobility) as it does on equality of outcome (see the book by Goodin et al, reviewed here for one of many demonstrations of this). So if Kristol were genuinely concerned about equality of opportunity he’d be calling for at least as much intervention as the liberals and progressives he’s criticising.

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Alistair Cooke

by Tom on March 8, 2004

I’m saddened by the news that Alistair Cooke has decided that the ‘Letter from America’ he read on the 20th of February would be the last one. If Cooke had decided that, at ninety-five, he simply didn’t want the hassle of the damn thing anymore, that would be one thing, but it seems that the decision to stop was prompted by the outrageous medical advice that it’s usual and desirable for ninety-five year-olds to slow down a bit. Fair enough, but I was rooting for Cooke to be making me smile when he’d made his century.

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