Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 12th, 2017

Roy Moore seems not to think very well.

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From a NY Times report from Alan Blinder and Jonathan Martin:

“People have waited until four weeks prior to the general election to bring their complaints,” Mr. Moore, 70, said during a Veterans Day event in Vestavia Hills, Ala., near Birmingham. “That’s not a coincidence — it’s an intentional act to stop a campaign.”

Roy doesn’t really grasp what happens when someone runs for a prominent office like US Senator: newspapers go to work to learn everything they can about the candidate, do a lot of interviews and talk to a lot of people, and in so doing they discover things, which they report. If he were not running for the US Senate, that sort of investigative reporting would not be worth doing, but as soon as he and Luther Strange were battling it out in the GOP primary, good newspapers (not just the Alabama press) went to work and spent the time and money to see what they could learn.

One thing the Washington Post learned early on was that old Roy simply lied outright that he received no salary from the charity on whose behalf he worked. In fact, he was paid $180,000 per year. No one contradicts that, and it proves Roy Moore is a liar, and a liar who lies to make himself look good.

That was not discovered before his campaign because no one really dug into it.

The same thing with his penchant for dating underage girls when he was in his 30’s. That this (and his hidden salary) came to light now is indeed no coincidence. It came to light because, in view of the high office for which he is running, investigative journalists are looking more closely at his life.

I’m surprised he doesn’t understand that, but I think old Roy is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He seems to think that this was known all along but held back until his campaign. No, the campaign itself triggered a closer inspection, an inspection that he failed.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 November 2017 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

The Noble Goethe

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In the Weekly Standard Algis Valiunas writes a pæan to Goethe:

There have been very few Renaissance men since the Renaissance—and they weren’t exactly thick on the ground even in their glory days. No modern figure is more worthy of that appellation than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), who was not only the greatest German poet, playwright, autobiographer, and novelist (beside Thomas Mann), but also a painter at a time when that required ability and expertise, a statesman who effectively took over the administration of a small dukedom in his mid-twenties, and a scientist who made suggestive discoveries in zoology and botany and mounted an audacious challenge to Newton’s theory of optics. And Goethe was also a prime virile specimen who relished the pleasures of the body as well as those of the mind. His secretary Friedrich Riemer goggled in wonder at the physical grace and power of the middle-aged Goethe, a born athlete who had gained in muscle and finesse by extensive youthful practice: “One must see him, how strong and firm he stands on his feet, with what bodily agility and sure step he moves. Early gymnastic training, dancing, fencing, skating, riding, even coursing and racing, had given him this mobility and suppleness; he could never make a false step on the worst path or be in danger of slipping or falling; easily and swiftly he passed over smooth ice, narrow foot-paths and bridges, and rocky steeps.”

Leonardo da Vinci proclaimed that it is easy to make oneself a universal man; after all, to do so required of him only to be born a singular genius and to devote all his energy to developing his preternatural mind, eye, and hand. With Goethe as well Nature was profligate in dispensing her manifold capacities and charms, but he would not indulge in swaggering bravado about how easily he accomplished what he did. Despite his reputation for insufferable serenity, late in life he said that he had never known an interval of restful ease; his entire life had been one of striving, of unrelenting effort to cultivate his various talents and to harmonize the naturally discordant aspects of his character. Not that he was unaware of the great good fortune in his endowment; he would speak of the “inborn merit” that a natural aristocrat possesses and of his winning “the big prize” in the lottery of birth. But it took a lifetime’s hard work for that inborn merit to become the superior merit of extraordinary achievement.

What did it take for Goethe to become Goethe? What do his life and works mean for the rest of us? Rüdiger Safranski, the German biographer of Schiller, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, has ably confronted if not definitively answered these questions in Goethe: Life as a Work of Art. As remarkable as Goethe’s life was, Nietzsche said it was an event without consequences: While German intellectual historians refer to die Goethezeit (the Age of Goethe), he was not a world-historical individual in the Hegelian sense, one who embodied an epoch and who directed the course of human events as a Napoleon did. But Safranski for his part discerns abundant consequence in Goethe’s being “the exemplar of a life combining intellectual riches, creative power, and worldly wisdom. .  .  . It is the individual shape of this life that is endlessly fascinating. By no means was its course a foregone conclusion.”

In our hyper-egalitarian time, when identity politics compels persons of goodwill to think the thoughts prescribed for their caste, and the rough edges of individual difference abrade those too delicate to withstand the indignities caused by other people’s freedom, the man who devotes himself to discovering his true nature and living accordingly is a rarity, and an egregious one in the eyes of the multitude. That happens to be true even though our contemporary culture is rife with exhortations simply to be yourself; indeed, that pop-culture sales pitch stands today as necessary and sufficient moral wisdom, while its exponents remain oblivious to the nearly insuperable obstacles to its serious realization that the cult of equality throws in its way.

How does one become himself—his best self—when democracy tends to make each of us more and more like everyone else? Goethe was fortunate not only in being born Goethe but also in living during the birth of the democratic era, that poignantly hopeful time when it seemed possible that ordinary men and women might be capable of genuine nobility, that freedom and equality might join forces to nurture the robust individuality of human beings at their highest reach. Those hopes have died very hard, leaking away in the lifeblood of the wounded left on the battlefield where freedom and equality, unable to be reconciled, have met in fateful collision. To speak today of personal nobility as democracy’s rightful aim would get you sneered at for unconscionable elitism or impossible dreaminess. Yet that is the very exaltation that Goethe wanted, not only for himself, but for everyone capable of overcoming his own flawed nature, an indifferent upbringing and education, and the tidal surge, already in Goethe’s day gathering all but irresistible momentum, toward universal mediocrity. Safranski does not quite reach such an understanding of Goethe’s significance, but this biography testifies to the singular glory that was Goethe’s life and suggests that with Goethe’s teaching as a guide the hope for democratic nobility might not yet be extinguished for good.

* * *

Goethe was born nearly dead, the umbilical cord a noose around his neck. He grew up in Frankfurt in commodious upper-middle-class surroundings; his maternal grandfather had been the imperial city’s mayor, and his father had come into a substantial inheritance and had purchased the lofty title of imperial councilor. The elder Goethe saw great promise in his only surviving son and provided him with a fine education; in his youth Goethe learned Italian, French, English, Latin, Greek, and some Hebrew, studied drawing and music, wrote poetry, and received personal instruction from his father in geography, history, and law—the profession in which the father intended the son to follow him. Defying the patriarchal will on this count required bold resolution on the young man’s part, and Goethe knuckled under before he overcame, studying law at university rather than classics as he wanted to and practicing law for several years until literary success freed him from the paternal grasp—although as Safranski points out, his father helped support Goethe’s writing habit while they were working together. His first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, which appeared when he was 25, remains the most famous tale since Romeo and Juliet of lovelorn suicide, and as Safranski writes it is an object lesson in the perils of Romantic taedium vitae. The book made Goethe a European celebrity.

Bookish he certainly was from the beginning, but exploring the city excited him as much as reading did, as he writes in his autobiography, Poetry and Truth. To take in as much of the world as his mind could hold was a habit formed early: Everything interested the boy as it would the man, as he developed a taste for

observing the conditions of mankind in their manifold variety and naturalness, without regard to their importance or beauty. .  .  . We saw many thousand people amid their little domestic and secluded circumstances. From the ornamental and show gardens of the rich, to the orchards of the citizen, anxious about his necessities; from thence to the factories, bleaching-grounds, and similar establishments, even to the burying-grounds .  .  . we passed a varied, strange spectacle.

The earthly spectacle never wearied Goethe. Experience became his watchword. Although Bildung (self-development) was his foremost lifelong concern, obsession with one’s interior life repelled him. Late in life, in a passage Safranski cites, he declared suspect the philosopher’s imperative “Know thyself,” which tends to “entice [one] away from activity in the external world and into a false, inner contemplativeness. Man knows himself only to the extent that he knows the world, and he becomes aware of the world only in himself and of himself in it.” Bildungdemanded that one come to know his true self by searching, probing, ransacking the vast world outside himself. For Goethe the project of self-development involved the intake on a heroic scale of other men’s works, as well as a fruitful gregariousness; the import of reading, looking at paintings and sculptures, listening to music, and encountering men quite different from himself lay principally in learning what most closely implicated his own nature and enhanced his own energy and productiveness. Goethe was the paragon of encyclopedic cultivation, the most learned of the modern masters, immersing himself in the acquired wisdom and beauty of the ages, incorporating with the intention of embodying the best in art, philosophy, religion, history, statesmanship, and science, and transforming these accumulated riches into a treasure uniquely his own.

Nor was his knowledge limited to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 November 2017 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

What the Numbers Actually Say About Gun-Related Deaths and Gun Control

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A very interesting chart from a post at The Simple Serial. The post includes an explanation of how the strength of gun laws was derived.

I feel pretty certain that gun lovers will say correlation is not causation, and I’ll be interested to know what they think is the cause, since I think everyone, gun lover or not, is interested in having a lower rate of gun deaths.

Update: From the article at the link:

The results suggest that, overall, weaker gun laws result in a greater per capita occurrence of gun-related death (Fig. 1). Of the top 19 states having the highest likelihood of gun-related death, 18 received the lowest rating from the Brady Campaign—my “5”—for the strength of their gun laws. The only state with a “1” ranking for strong gun laws is California; however, that state ranks as only the 13th lowest in terms of per capita gun-related deaths. On the other hand, five states had rankings of “2” for strong gun laws, and they, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Massachusetts, were the top five for lowest occurrence of gun-related death.

So the correlation is far from perfect.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 November 2017 at 7:57 am

Posted in Daily life, Guns, Science

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