Thinking about Hayek, thinking about economics

October 31, 2006

One of the law survey courses I’m teaching has had an economics unit added to the introduction to the course, which struck me as a good idea. However, I am not fanatically happy about the execution. In my search for links that accurately and dispassionately describe Marxism and modern free marketry, I came across this comment on Hayek and the application of his ideas to: Who the heck is Hayek?

There are several good places to get information on Hayek and free market stuff on the web — but where to find Marxism? Any ideas?

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to miss the joke

October 29, 2006

Surely you saw this one coming, O you student of history?

Grimm and Garfield

Grimm and Garfield

(Mother Goose & Grimm by Mike Peters; cartoon published October 29, 2006; copyright 2006, Mike Peters –

Update, October 30, 2013:  Image not licensed for use here.  See Mike Peters’ website, here.

Texas better than Paris (France)?

October 29, 2006

I think such comparisons are usually a bit on the odious side — but this blogger, Faux Parisianne, balances it with a “Why Paris is better than Texas” post.

All beside the point. The best part of this post is the photo, with the one line caption.

Go see.

Read the rest of this entry »

Condemned to repeat history

October 29, 2006

There is a moral in this story. On Thursday, October 26, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald faced a woman proposed as an expert witness in the defense of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney accused of obstruction of justice.

The woman forgot history. Literally. She could not recall exactly what she had written in the past, and in a dramatic confrontation, she appeared to have forgotten that she had been cross examined by Mr. Fitzgerald in a trial before. Details from the Washington Post. How does her credibility stack up for the judge, do you think?

There were several moments when Loftus was completely caught off guard by Fitzgerald, creating some very awkward silences in the courtroom.

One of those moments came when Loftus insisted that she had never met Fitzgerald. He then reminded her that he had cross-examined her before, when she was an expert defense witness and he was a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in New York.

Libby’s defense team declined to comment.

Santayana’s ghost isn’t exactly smiling, but did take note.

The mighty pen

October 29, 2006

2006 is the 100th anniversary of the Mont Blanc company, the company that made fountain pens a luxury item even while fountain pens were still the state of the art of pens.

Today is the 61st anniversary (according to CBS “Sunday Morning”) or 62nd anniversary (see Wikipedia) of the introduction of the ballpoint pen in the U.S., at Gimbel’s Department Store, in New York City. It was based on a design devised in 1938 by a journalist named László Bíró. Biro produced his pen in Europe, and then in Argentina. But in the U.S., a businessman named Reynolds set up the Reynolds International Pen Company and rushed to market in the U.S. a pen based on several Biros he had purchased in Buenos Aires.

On October 29, 1945 (or 1946), you could purchase a “Reynolds Rocket” at Gimbel’s for $12.50 — about $130 today, adjusted for inflation.

Today I continue my search for a ballpoint or rollerball that will write in green, reliably. I use a Waterman Phileas ballpoint, a Cross Radiance fountain pen, a Cross Radiance rollerball (Radiance was discontinued about a year ago), a full set of Cross Century writing implements, a lot of Sanford Uniballs in various colors, and a lot of Pentel Hybrid K-178 gel-rollers, and some Pilot G-2 gel pens (though the green ink versions are unreliable). I also keep several Marvy calligraphic pens for signing things with a flourish. I have a box of $0.10 ballpoints in a briefcase for students who fail to bring a writing utensil.

Jefferson probably wrote the Declaration of Independence with quills he trimmed himself. Lincoln probably used a form of fountain pen to write the Gettysburg Address, but he had no writing utensil with him when he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. President Johnson made famous the practice of using many pens to sign important documents, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964; he made gifts of the pens to people who supported the legislation and worked to get it made into law.

And who said it? (Brace yourself)

Beneath the rule of men entirely great,

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Baron Lytton, in Richelieu, act II, scene ii, a play he wrote in 1839. Yes, he is the same Bulwer-Lytton who wrote the novel Paul Clifford in 1840, whose opening line is, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

New push for history education in Ho Chi Minh City

October 28, 2006

Many of us still remember it as Saigon.

In holding on to history, people need to start somewhere. To cure ignorance of Vietnamese history, Ho Chi Minh City officials are posting banners honoring women in Vietnam history, according to that story at Viet Q.

History poster in Ho Chi Minh City

Citizens view a poster relating the role of women in Vietnam history.

Would posting history in the street work in Dallas? In Houston? In Chicago, New York, Los Angeles or Boise?

Last summer, on the way to Scout summer camp, Troop 355 from Duncanville, Texas, stopped for a night in Memphis, Tennessee. After dinner (at Hard Rock Cafe, where we discovered the waitress had an Eagle Scout boyfriend and the waiter was an ex-Scout who still loves backpacking), I noticed there on Beale Street a chunk of history required for Texas students, in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS): Across the street from Hard Rock Cafe was the historical marker for the site of Ida Tarbell’s newspaper reporting days. No, I couldn’t interest a single kid in walking across the street to read the marker, though Ida Tarbell tends to show up on tests with some regularity.

I wonder where the Ho Chi Minh City officials got the idea?

Hard Rock Cafe, Memphis

(The Ida Tarbell historic marker is just out of this picture, to the right)

Chalk it up to art in the name of science

October 26, 2006



Owl, by Chrys Rodrigue

You should read this post. It demonstrates why P. Z. Myers is one of the most-read bloggers in the world — he writes so well, on topics that are so dramatically interesting.

Myers tells an interesting vignette of a professor of gross anatomy who was a wizard of illustration in colored chalk.

Visuals, especially spectacular visuals in color, contribute to the ability of students to learn the material illustrated. Drawing is rapidly becoming a lost art, a victim of too-easy-to-use clipart and Bush’s dour view of education that excludes music, dancing, painting and drawing, anything that might distinguish us from lower animals or otherwise bring delight and insight into human existence (and other factors). How could PowerPoint seriously compare to live art in a classroom?


Presentations are always made better with specific, relevant illustrations. Most people are at least partly visual learners, with about four times as much information going through eyes on illustrations than going through ears hearing a lecture, or eyes reading text. I use a simple tree to illustrate the Constitution, its roots in the consent of the people, its three branches of government, and fruits of liberty and freedom. Students — whether budding lawyers, eager Boy Scouts, or complacent high school kids — get the point, and do well on the exams.

Myers’ tribute to Professor Snider is touching, informative, and inspiring. Where is Professor Snider today?

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