Josh Glenn, who I interviewed last week about his book Taking Things Seriously, may have solved the puzzle of what “little nameless object” is produced by the factories that secured the family fortune of a wastrel in Henry James’s novel The Ambassadors.

Normally this would merit a short item in Notes and Queries or The Explicator. But in this case, the proposed solution to “the Woollett Question” appears as an article at Slate.

Next challenge: Figure out what the stolen “little object” was in Norman Mailer’s Barbary Shore.

How Not to Be a Hypocrite

by Harry on October 31, 2007

A long strand about the hypocrisy of parents who use school-quality considerations when buying a house opposing vouchers has annoyed Megan McArdle. (Laura replies here). I don’t entirely understand why. In the thread Megan is so incensed by, both voucher opponents and voucher supporters seemed to be arguing in good faith and with good humor. Laura is a bit mischievous, to be sure, but her readers expect that, and there’s nothing on the thread that justifies Megan’s tone.

Before elaborating, here’s a plug for my friend Adam Swift’s excellent book How Not to be a Hypocrite: School Choice for the Morally Perplexed which treats this topic in great detail and should be much more widely read (Swift is interested in the parents who use private schools while believing that private schools should be prohibited, but the structure of thinking of voucher opponent who uses school quality considerations in house buying is very much the same, I think).

Are people who buy houses on school-quality grounds necessarily hypocritical if they also oppose vouchers?

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DeLong, Scott and Hayek

by Henry on October 31, 2007

“Brad DeLong”: has a review of James Scott’s _Seeing Like a State_ which I found pretty useful in clarifying some of my disagreements with him (Brad, not Scott). What he sees as a fundamental problem in Scott (that Scott is a Hayekian in denial, and that his denial of his intellectual heritage leads him erroneously to claim that markets are harmful to human freedom) I see as pointing to an important, but underplayed set of themes in Scott’s argument. Which is to say that I would have liked Scott to develop the reasons why he disagrees with Hayek more explicitly, but I think that they are clearly present in the book, and are in some respects at least, compelling. [click to continue…]

Leopard Oddity

by Kieran Healy on October 31, 2007

So naturally I upgraded to Leopard a few days ago. Generally a smooth process, with the occasional headache (reinstalling stupid HP printer drivers, grr) balanced out with the occasional pleasant discovery not hyped beforehand (Terminal now aware of the Keychain, hurray). But here’s something that looks like a bug a slightly counterintuitive feature in OS X’s otherwise very nice PDF-handling abilities.

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