My five minutes of fame

by John Q on March 9, 2005

I just got off the phone from an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Of course, you’ll all be agog to read my views on bankruptcy reform, social security, the trade deficit, the impending crisis of capitalism, and so on. You’ll have to wait a little while, however. The topic of the interview was bunnies vs bilbies.

Hobbit Brains

by John Holbo on March 9, 2005

Interesting discussion at the Loom (via Panda’s Thumb):

So here is a fascinating scenario to consider: a small-brained African
hominid species expands out of Africa by 2 million years ago, bringing
with it stone tools. It spreads thousands of miles across Asia,
reaching Indonesia and then getting swept to Flores. It may not have
undergone any significant dwarfing, since they were already small. This
would change the way we think about all hominids. Being big-brained and
big-bodied could no longer be considered essential requirements for
spreading out of Africa. And one would have to wonder why early
lineages of hominids became extinct in Africa when one branch managed
to get to Flores.

I figure the most scientific explanation is that one day a wizard showed up at the door. The road goes ever on and all that.

When Whigs Attack!

by John Holbo on March 9, 2005

I’m rereading Louis Hartz’ 1955 classic, The Liberal Tradition in America, one of the first academic books that fired my brain when I got to college. (David Greenstone taught me. I should read his Lincoln book out of filial piety.)

Here’s a bit on Hartz by Arthur Schlesinger: "The broad liberal objective is a balanced and flexible "mixed
economy," thus seeking to occupy that middle ground between
capitalism and socialism whose viability has so long been denied
by both capitalists and socialists." Interesting shifts in usage since that was written. For a Democrat to stump for a ‘mixed’ economy today would be ballot box poison. But all Schlesinger is saying is: the New Deal. Which folks like.

Hartz’ basic thesis is packed into his Tocqueville epigraph: "The great advantage of the Americans is, that they have arrived at a state of democracy without having to endure a democratic revolution; and that they are born equal, instead of becoming so."

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