P J O’Rourke Visits an Aircraft Carrier

…and is inspired to some thoughts about conservatism and John McCain.

I’m surprised that neither O’Rourke nor the highly literate editors of the Weekly Standard thought of including this 1851 quote from John Ruskin:

For one thing this century will in after ages be considered to have done in a superb manner and one thing I think only. . . it will always be said of us, with unabated reverence, “They built ships of the line” . . . the ship of the line is [man’s] first work. Into that he has put as much of his human patience, common sense, forethought, experimental philosophy, self control, habits of order and obedience, thoroughly wrought handwork, defiance of brute elements, careless courage, careful patriotism, and calm expectation of the judgement of God, as can well be put into a space of 300 feet long by 80 broad. And I am thankful to have lived in an age when I could see this thing so done.

Quote of the Day

One can agree or disagree with his peripheral positions, but political orthodoxy is political death. If those who are in a hissy fit about Sen. McCain would rather have Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, they will get Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton — how delightful to go to jail for building your house on land once visited by an exotic moth — and they will wake up to a great regret, as if in their drunkenness they had taken Shrek to bed.
But, guess what? Even if, as the country veers left, living conservatives gnash their teeth and dead ones spin in their graves, a small class of conservatives will benefit. And who might they be? They might be those whose influence and coffers swell on discontent, and who find attacking a president easier and more sensational than the dreary business of defending one. They rose during the Clinton years. Perhaps they are nostalgic. It isn’t worth it, however, for the rest of us.

Mark Helprin

(via Jim Miller)

Quote of the Day

I think that a better approach for convincing the judge to get tougher would be to show more clearly the parallels between the quasi-religious views that lie behind today’s progressive agenda and the thinking behind past mistakes. In my view, they are linked by faith in unproven scientific fads, faith in technocratic elites, and faith that those who share progressive ideology have superior wisdom and moral standing that justifies ruling over others. I believe that the best way to insulate oneself against romanticizing the state is to recognize these faiths and their dangers.

Arnold Kling, reviewing Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism.

It’s Hard to Become Who We Are

I started writing a response to a comment and found it getting too long. Besides, it is personal & a bit off-topic. But in essence, I think Kelly is right. My religious friends – and I am sure, Lex – will find this superficial. Nonetheless, I suspect if viewed as sociology – or perhaps, an anthropological study of the tribe of academics, it may interest.

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Who’s the Adult?

Shannon’s arguments are arresting, thoughtful and useful. Since he’s a technological wizard and I’m a pretty run-of-the-mill liberal arts type, since I have the myopic tendency to draw conclusions from my anecdotal experience and he from broader & more objective sources, we see the world from quite different angles, but, in the end, we see the same world. I’m reassured that the private is full of examples of the public, the specific of the general. And some of it boils down to – who’s the adult? I hope (whenever we get this damn conference over) to offer some meditations that discuss how I slowly learned to be (intermittently I fear) the adult. But here’s the first installment and it isn’t all that personal. It is merely an observation.

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