Jonathan Strange

by John Quiggin on December 9, 2004

Prompted by Henry and other CTers, I’ve been reading, Susanna Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, so I was very interested in Henry’s latest Since it’s too long for a comment , I’ve posted my draft review over the fold. Looking at Jennifer Howard’s review article, I think it’s clear that a lot of people are looking for “Harry Potter for adults” and are likely to be disappointed.

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Funny money

by Chris Bertram on December 9, 2004

Der Spiegel’s new English-language site has “an intruiging article”:,1518,330728,00.html about foreigners — including a US strawberry-farmer, who have bought up German government bonds issued in the 1920s and are now trying to get the German government to pay the … billions. I have a vague memory that Piero Sraffa became fabulously rich (or his college did) because he bought up then-worthless Japanese government bonds during WW2 on the — correct — assumption that any postwar Japanese goverment would honour them. The Germans, unsurprisingly, don’t seem keen:

bq. But investors like Fulwood [the strawberry-farmer] don’t want to wait any longer: He’s the first to take on Germany’s Bundesbank, or central bankk, to force the government to pay up. On September 10, Fulwood filed suit in the 13th Judicial District, Hillsborough County, in Tampa, Florida.

bq. According to court documents, the strawberry farmer isn’t exactly asking for small change, either: Fulwood is demanding $382.5 million for 750 bonds.

bq. Other bond owners are also preparing to launch legal battles. In the United States, a group of investors has formed, seeking to turn 2,000 of the old bonds into cold, hard cash. In Italy, say insiders, the grandchild of former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie holds 20,000 of the bonds. And a U.S-based lawyer claims to represent the heir to Japan’s emperor, who allegedly owns “countless boxes filled with these bonds.”

Is this real? Or is it like those people who claim to own Manhattan?

This is one of those ‘liberal bias/groupthink in academia’ posts. (Oh goody, you say; another for the pile.) Let me launch off from Mark Bauerlein’s Chron piece, which I agree with almost entirely. And away from George Will’s op-ed,
in which he is agreeing with Bauerlein, in the wrongest way. What makes Bauerlein right and Will wrong? (George F. Will? Wrong? Stop the presses! Get that JAPS BOMB PEARL HARBOR type we save for special occasions. DOG BITES MAN should do.)

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David Lewis

by Brian on December 9, 2004

I was looking at “Peter King’s website”:, especially his book “One Hundred Philosophers”: and I thought this passage on “David Lewis”: was delightful.

bq. Lewis’ philosophical interests were broad, as evidenced by the contents of the five volumes of his collected papers published so far: ethics, politics, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophical logic, language – he wrote on a vast range of subjects, from holes to worlds, from Anselm to Mill, from the mind to time travel. In everything he wrote he was rigorous, committed, and clear, but perhaps the most distinctive thing about him was his attitude to other philosophers, and especially to criticism: _one can scarcely find a book or paper attacking Lewis’ views that doesn’t contain an acknowledgement to him for his help_. What mattered to him – what he loved – were the ideas, the arguments, the philosophy, not winning or being right. He was the ideal, the model philosopher; he’s also (and this is a very different matter) widely regarded as being the best philosopher of his generation – perhaps of the twentieth century. (Emphasis added.)

The model philosopher indeed.