Thursday, February 15, 2007

Victor Davis Hanson

I had the distinct pleasure of hearing one of my favorite authors speak tonight at a guest lecture sponsored by the University of Texas Liberal Arts College Western Civilization Program. Of course, that was Dr. Victor Davis Hanson.

The lecture and Q & A were taped for podcast and as soon as I find out where, I'll post a link.

The subject was "The Ancient Greeks & Western Civilization: Then and Now." Dr. Hanson was very engaging (much more so than on the radio). He certainly was unafraid of sticking his neck out in what he clearly believed could be a somewhat hostile environment. When asked about what could be done about the "clash of civilizations," he said, "I suppose I'm the only person in the room who believes the only solution is to bring transparent, representative government to the Middle East." I paraphrase but that was the gist...the Bush Doctrine or at least part of it.

I'm not sure I heard anything new in the lecture (except for his sense of humor) that I hadn't already read in his columns and books. He touched on Xerxes and Cortes and Alexander and Socrates and Phillip and Penelope. He discussed property rights and freedom of speech. Capitalism, Communism, Fascism, Democracies, Oligarchies, Theocracies all made the discussion. Heck, even female circumcision found its way in. Again, nothing he's not written about before.

In many ways the stereotypical professor. Balding and bespectacled, he was disheveled and his coat was missing a button. The tan (from his farming?) was a bit out of place.

I'm glad I didn't miss a minute.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My only Anna Nicole Smith post...ever.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I had any reaction at all the recent death of Anna Nicole Smith. Because she was originally from nearby Mexia? Maybe that had a tiny part in it. Because she married the rich, old guy in Houston with almost no perceptible phoniness...everyone involved knew what was going on and it seemed to make him happy? A bit.

But Larry Miller really seemed to capture it. As tragic and silly and sad as her life has been, there was something likable about her. Miller, from the Daily Standard (Weekly Standard’s site):

I DID the Tonight Show back in '93 or '94, and she was on it. Leno came in before and said, "She's a nice girl. See you out there." And she was. I've never had the slightest problem digging the different gifts people bring to show business and beauty is a gift as much as anything else. Anyway, it was a good show. And, frankly, sitting next to her wasn't exactly a chore.

But that's not the story. The story happened just a month or two later.

My wife and I were invited out to dinner with two friends of ours, other writers. We were newly married and they took us to one of the fanciest places in town. There were a couple of well-know folks there, but the place was so swank that no one even noticed. Then, very suddenly, the room got quiet. Hushed, in fact. My back was to the door, and my wife said, "Oh, wow . . ." and tapped me, and I turned, and, of course, you know who came in and stopped the presses.

Worth reading the whole thing. Great story about her date at the restaurant.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

More on Recycling

Hat tip to Michael for a derivative hat tip to LGF further derivative hat tip to youtube for this Penn and Teller slam on recycling. The best point is that made about aluminum cans...profit makes the whole deal work.

Best point: aluminum recycling works. Why? Because you can make a buck doing it. No, that's not really right...better to say that the fact that you can actually make a buck doing it is evidence that it consumes less resources than it costs. Better Allocation of Resources than an $8B annual subsidy. If this were going to Exxon/Mobil, the screams would deafen us.

D--n Capitalists get it right again!