The Underground Grammarian

I was going through some old “Favorites” links and came upon this one.

It contains many of the works of the late Richard Mitchell, who was an English professor at Glassboro State College (now, Rowan University) in New Jersey. It’s a treasure-trove of thought and wit. You can click around randomly and find something fascinating from one of his books or newsletters about language, writing, education, morality, thinking, and, well, what else is there?


Volokhy Goodness

There are several good posts at the Volokh Conspiracy today.

I particularly enjoyed Jacob Levy’s post about the Pledge of Allegiance issue. There have also been some citations of good accounts of the oral arguments at the Supreme Court; the targets are here and here. I was pleased to read that Newdow seems to have done a fine job arguing his case himself before the Court.

I also liked David Bernstein’s post, and Juan Non-Volokh’s followup post, defending the libertarian position regarding antitrust laws and other laws intended to remedy market failures.

I think that the practical case against antitrust laws is strong. But I also think that the moral case against them is strong. It seems to me that voluntary activity should not be punished or restricted, in general, even if those restrictions would lead to improvements for other people. I might agree to exceptions to this rule under rare, emergency, situations; but I think it’s a mistake to institutionalize this sort of power in the hands of people who aren’t me.


I’m glad that Sheik Ahmed Yassin is now, truly, the spiritual leader of Hamas.

I’m also happy that the U.S. has refused to condemn Israel’s action, this time.

It’s no surprise that the UN and EU have condemned the action, but they have no moral authority. It’s disppointing that Britain has condemned it, and factually wrong of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to call the action “unjustified”.

I’m not sure whether the killing will prove to be a strategic mistake or not, but the guy richly deserved what he got, and worse. Hamas is at war with Israel, and he personally ordered the gruesome murders of many innocent people.

I’ve never understood the inverted morality that views assassination of murderous leaders to be foul play, while bombing civilians to be a legitimate way to conduct war.

I much prefer assassination.


My son sent me a link to this quiz.

I solved it.

Can you?

It helps if you can do a little algebra, are willing to proceed with uncertainty and backtrack as you make progress, and have some time and patience.

I like self-referential stuff, so this was intriguing enough to me to see if I could do it.

Beyond Parody!

This is unbelievable.

WHAT do you give someone who’s been proved innocent after spending the best part of their life behind bars, wrongfully convicted of a crime they didn’t commit?

An apology, maybe? Counselling? Champagne? Compensation? Well, if you’re David Blunkett, the Labour Home Secretary, the choice is simple: you give them a big, fat bill for the cost of board and lodgings for the time they spent freeloading at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in British prisons.

Hat tip: Samizdata.


When I heard that the bill increasing FCC indecency fines was passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives, and that only one Republican voted against it, I knew who must have cast that vote.

A quick google search led to an article that confirmed it.

It was Ron Paul of Texas. He was the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1988, and is the “1” in lots of n to 1 votes. And, for all their concern with indecency, he seems to be the only elected Republican with a decent, principled, respect for individual liberty and the First Amendment.

“The White House issued a statement applauding the House bill.”