Monday, November 27, 2006

About This Blog

Liberty Corner (1 March 2004 - 19 July 2008) is the work of a practical libertarian, one who believes in the kind of limited, accountable state envisioned by the Framers of the Constitution, in which individuals are free to choose that locality that best suits them -- socially and economically -- under the aegis of a central government of limited powers. (The impractical alternative is an anarchistic "utopia" in which atomistic cooperation improbably averts the rise of unaccountable warlords and despots.) Liberty Corner is, therefore, predominantly about politics and economics -- as seen through the eyes of a seasoned skeptic.

But there is more to life than the political and economic framework in which it is lived. There is life itself: humanity (in all its dignity and disarray) and the enjoyment of nature, the arts (musical, dramatic, and representational), sports (especially baseball), and so on; there are science and religion, and their implications for the meaning of life. Liberty Corner gives much attention to those subjects, as well to politics and economics.

This blog is not a journal; it is a compendium of my considered views on a wide range of topics. Some of those views evolved during my blogging lifetime. In particular, my views about the nature of liberty and the conditions under which it is possible, matured from knee-jerk anti-statism to Burkean-Hayekian conservatism. (See, for example, "On Liberty in the sidebar.)

I remain anonymous because, like Ebenezer Scrooge, I wish to be left alone. I am not anonymous for the purpose of feigning unwarranted expertise; my credentials are fully on view at "About the Author." The merits of my writings can be judged by their empirical and logical validity, and have nothing to do with my identity.

I have left a blogroll in place, but have pared it to those 46 blogs and syndicators whose feeds I would read were I still reading feeds. But keeping abreast of blogdom, like blogging, is in my past.

I thank Postmodern Conservative for his contributions to this blog, especially in the months following my final substantive post. Now that he has retired from the fray, it is time for me to say adieu.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

An Immigration Roundup

Go to this very long post at Liberty Corner II for a thorough debunking of the economic and sociological fallacies upon which the case for unfettered immigration has been built. The post at Liberty Corner II consolidates and replaces several posts about immigration.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pride and Prejudice on Film

I have now seen four film versions of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Last night I had the extreme pleasure of viewing for the first time the earliest and best of the four: the 117-minute, 1940 release starring Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet and Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy. The 1940 version shows Hollywood at its finest. Great actors delivering great lines with panache and wit in a lavish, tightly orchestrated, and fast-paced production that demands -- and deserves -- your full attention.

Garson and Olivier, in particular (but not exclusively), outshine their counterparts in the other productions that I have seen. Garson may have been "too old" (36 at the time the film was released) but who cares? She is now my image of Elizabeth Bennet: witty, cunning, cutting, forthright -- and beautiful as well. Olivier (33 at the time of release) simply exudes Darcy: stubborn, prideful, haughty -- and yet vulnerable and kind behind the facade.

The other three versions that I have seen all are commendable for various reasons. They are:

1995 (300-minute mini-series), starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth -- excellent performances delivered at a more thoughtful pace than that afforded by a feature film, and in realistic settings (as opposed to the gaudy faux-rusticism of the 1940 version)

1980 (265-minute mini-series), starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul -- somewhat stiff performances in a production clearly (and successfully) aimed at recreating the time and place of which Austen wrote

2005 (127-minute feature film), starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen -- a mixed bag of performances (e.g., Knightley is good, if too juvenile; Macfadyen is a nothing) in a feature film that achieves more "realism" than the 1940 version.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Throw the Rascals In

The outcome of yesterday's elections can be summed up in the phrase "throw the rascals in." That's, of course, an ironic variation on the usual expression of voter dissatisfaction with incumbents, which is to "throw the rascals out."

A marginal minority of voters having "thrown the rascals in," all Americans now face at least two years of Democrat control of the House (and probably the Senate), from which will emanate efforts to

  • raise taxes
  • "solve" the nature-made problem of global warming
  • "solve" the non-existent "crisis" in health care by passing measures that will drive health-care providers out of business and deter drug companies from investing in research and development
  • duck the very real crisis in entitlement spending
  • otherwise try to legislate and regulate the conditions of our existence in ways that penalize hard work, law-abidingness, entrepreneurship, and the accidents of having been born white and/or male and/or straight and/or of American-born parents --
  • all while trying to surrender to our enemies by giving up the fight abroad and by granting them the same constitutional rights as the very Americans whom they are trying to kill.

The only silver lining in this very dark cloud is that President Bush can -- if he is willing -- wield the veto pen. Two years of gridlock would indeed be a blessing, for the federal government might actually do less to screw up our lives and the lives of our progeny. But I do fear for the war effort, especially because our enemies undoubtedly have been emboldened by the prospect of a Congress that is controlled by an anti-war faction. And I also fear that President Bush, facing a hostile Senate, will be unable to appoint constitutionalists to succeed Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both of whom are likely to postpone retirement in the hope that Bush is succeeded by a Democrat.

I am as worried about the future of the country as I was -- justifiably -- when Jimmy Carter won the election of 1976. My only hope is that the Leftist agenda of congressional Democrats will frighten Americans and induce an electoral backlash that brings pro-defense, small-government Republicanism to power in 2008. All we need are some small-government Republicans.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm a Sponsor

I now sponsor Jim Gosger's stats page at Jim lived a few houses down the street from me when we were young boys, though he was too much younger than I (by two years) to be a playmate. That "little kid" went on to do what I could only dream of doing -- he had a career in the major leagues. Cheers, Jim.

Monday, November 06, 2006

More Names

The Social Security Administration publishes a list of the names most commonly given to newborns. Here are last year's top ten:

Rank Male name Female name
1 Jacob Emily
2 Michael Emma
3 Joshua Madison
4 Matthew Abigail
5 Ethan Olivia
6 Andrew Isabella
7 Daniel Hannah
8 Anthony Samantha
9 Christopher Ava
10 Joseph Ashley
Note: Rank 1 is the most popular, rank 2 is the next most popular, and so forth.

You can follow the above link and see, for example, the top 1000, which includes Tyler (#16 as a boy's name, #764 as a girl's name) and Madison (#3 as a girl's name). Which leads me to think of president's last names that have been given to some famous, infamous, and semi-famous persons as first names (though often without reference to the President being honored or dishonored):

  • Washington (Irving, author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," which engendered the terrible movie starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci)
  • Jefferson (Davis, leader of "The Lost Cause")
  • Madison (Kuhn, obscure historian -- but not a girl)
  • Jackson (Pollock, artist dribbler painter)
  • Harrison (Ford, still life car dealer film actor)
  • Tyler (Mathieson, of CNBC)
  • Taylor (Booth, computer scientist and namesake of an education award)
  • Pierce (Brosnan, ex-007)
  • Lincoln (Chafee, Republican in Name Only)
  • Grant (Hull, founder of Enabled Solutions -- never heard of him or it, but I found his name here)
  • Hayes (Milam, a security guard at the think-tank at which I worked, for about as long I worked there, which was 30 years)
  • Arthur (Godfrey, entertainer/radio-TV host remembered mainly for playing the ukulele, buzzing the control tower at Leesburg, Virginia, airport, and firing singer Julius La Rosa on the air)
  • Cleveland (Amory, cat lover and writer)
  • Roosevelt (Grier, immovable object defensive lineman)
  • Wilson (Pickett, recently departed R&B and soul singer)
  • Truman (Capote, American poof writer)
  • Ford (Madox Ford, English aesthete writer)
  • Carter (Stanley, Ralph's very late brother)
  • Reagan (Dunn, member of the King County, Wash., council and son of former U.S. Representative Jennifer Dunn)
  • Clinton (Eastwood, still life film actor -- bet you didn't think of him as a "Clinton")

By my reckoning that leaves

  • Adams (not to be confused with Adam; John wasn't the first "man")
  • Monroe (cooler than Madison)
  • Van Buren (way cool)
  • Polk (might be mistaken for an invitation)
  • Fillmore (for fatties)
  • Buchanan (pronounce it properly: "buck-an-un")
  • Johnson (don't go there)
  • McKinley (very preppie)
  • Taft (ditto)
  • Harding (double ditto)
  • Coolidge (triple ditto)
  • Eisenhower (no parent should do this)
  • Kennedy (déclassé, an instant Tiffany or Brittany)
  • Nixon (the American Adolf)
  • Bush (absolutely don't go there)

Any takers?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Trans-Gendered Names

Long before girls began to acquire trendy, unisex names like McKenna, Morgan, Payton, and Taylor -- an improvement on Brandi, Brittany, and Tiffany -- they had already claimed ownership of many formerly masculine names; for example:

  • (George) Beverly (Shea), composer and singer of religious songs, long associated with Billy Graham
  • (Arthur) Evelyn (St. John Waugh), English writer
  • Merle ("Punk" O'Rourke), my father's uncle by marriage, and an outstanding semi-pro pitcher
  • Shirley (Povich) American sports writer and father of Maury
  • Vivian (Cook), an English linguist (who has more to say, here, about "Vivian")
To read more about unisex names, start with this article at Wikipedia. See also this list of popular baby names.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Small Circle of Stars

Evelyn Waugh was born in 1903; Katharine Houghton Hepburn, four years later. Of Waugh's novels that were adapted to film, Hepburn appeared in but one: Love Among the Ruins.

Hepburn's co-star in Love Among the Ruins, Laurence Olivier, starred also in a mini-series based on Waugh's Brideshead Revisited...

...which co-starred, among others, Jeremy Irons of The Merchant of Venice (2004).

featured Allan Corduner, a.k.a. Sir Arthur Sullivan of Topsy-Turvy, the co-star of which (Jim Broadbent as W.S. Gilbert) was in Widow's Peak with Natasha Richardson...

...whose mother (and co-star in The White Countess), Vanessa Redgrave, appeared in the play A Madhouse in Goa with Rupert Graves.

And Graves starred in the film adaptation of Waugh's A Handful of Dust.


There is laughter in slaughter, but there ought to be naught.

When rain is naught there is a drought, the thirst of which can be quenched by a draught.

Enough is enough, especially when it's a cough that comes with a cold caught by sitting in a draught.

When the wind soughs the boughs wave gently.

He bends before her in a deep bow before sloughing his coat and bending his bow to take aim at a bough on a tree that stands in a distant slough.

A daughter's laughter softens even a rough, tough crofter.

Friday, November 03, 2006

All That Jazz

An otherwise sensible blogger (whom I'll not name) adores Miles Davis. He (the blogger) says, "If you listen to nothing else by Miles Davis, buy and listen to Relaxin’. I absolutely guarantee you will not hate it, and you are very likely to love it."

Well, I refreshed my memory of the Davis oeuvre by listening to a few cuts from Relaxin' via I absolutely hate it; it's pablum for the ears. It reminds me of the background music for Peanuts films. Maybe it is the background music for Peanuts films.

Wherever jazz went after the late 1930s, it wasn't a good place. Davis's stuff is better than the dithering, discordant offerings of other post-war jazz "artists" whose names will not (dis)grace this blog. But that's like saying a bowlful of sugar is better for you than a bowlful of arsenic. It is, but why eat either when the jazz pantry is stocked with the nutritious, flavorful pre-war offerings of Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Bix Beiderbecke, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Jimmie Lunceford, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Kid Ory (heard here with his post-war group but in pre-war form), the Quintette of the Hot Club of France (featuring Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli), Fats Waller, and the "smooth" but always listenable Paul Whiteman. They are among the many greats to be found at The Red Hot Jazz Archive. Go there. It's a toe-tapping, foot-stomping treat.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Roofs I Have Worked Under

This is a sequel to "Roofs I Have Lived Under." The satellite photos, once again, come from Google Maps and are of varying scales.

1. The two grocery stores in my home town where I worked when I was a senior in high school and during the summer following my freshman year in college.

2. The headquarters of a division of GM, where I worked in the accounting department during the summer following my sophomore year in college.

3. The home of the economics department at my undergraduate school, where I was a research assistant as a senior.

4. The sites of the first two office buildings where I worked for the defense think-tank by which I was employed for a total of 30 years. The site on the right is occupied by a newer, larger building than the one I worked in. The site on the left is occupied by the original building.

5. The Pentagon, where I endured almost two years as a "whiz kid," between stints at the think tank. After leaving the Pentagon I returned to the building on the left in photo #4.

6. The site of the building in New York State where we had a small business for almost three years.

7. The building occupied by the defense think-tank upon my return to it following the New York sojourn. The building is on the northern edge of a park-like office campus, most of which lies across the street that cuts across the picture.

8. The next building occupied by the defense think-tank -- an inferior building in an inferior location -- into which we were forced by a political deal. I spent a lot of my time making arrangements to move us back to the office park. (See #10.)

9. Cato Institute's building in Washington, D.C., where I worked part-time -- for fun, not money -- after my retirement from the defense think-tank.

10. The current home of the defense think-tank. It is in the same office park as the building shown in photo #7, but #10 gives a better view of the grounds, most of which are dedicated to a nature preserve. I planned the building and negotiated the lease before I retired from the think-tank, where I had been director of finance and administration. The think-tank moved to its current home after I retired.