Evil Forces in the World

Reflections on ''Evil Forces in the World,'' as well as occasional remarks concerning ''Good Forces in the World.''

Friday, April 12, 2002

I can't bloody believe this. I must say, however, it does sound intriguing, if awful and even, dare I say it, evil.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

This is truly horrifying, and not for the faint of heart.
I just wrote a very long and detailed post concerning Amanda Peet, cinema, the Red Skull, economic forecasting, the "Lensmen" series, guns, and ammo. It is now lost in the belly of Blogger.
Human cloning is evil. Fortunately, a broad consensus is emerging to this effect; as we've seen time and again, however, a broad consensus, even when it manifests itself in democratic majorities, means little in the face of determined opposition from influential minorities. I urge all of you to read this essay on human cloning by Leon Kass, a man condemned as a reactionary by the unsubtle and the ill-informed. Some claim that a ban on cloning is anti-progress, which strikes me as a trivial observation; chemotherapy, after all, retards the "progress" of various cancers, i.e., the metastases, or something to that effect. I realize that this sounds very strong, but we ought to recognize that a fundamental question is at stake: Are we permitted, as a society and as a democratic commonwealth, to determine our collective fate? There are many ways in which we can criticize democratic decision-making, and I've done it myself on more than one occasion (my unfinished and deeply-flawed essay on the classical view of democracy as surveillance and the Habermasian project is available on request), but, to my mind, any reasonable non-utilitarian account of rights has a democratic corollary: disagreements as to the content of rights ought to be resolved by majority decision among the rights-bearers themselves. (If this sounds Waldron-esque, I'm getting it about right; he is one of my heroes.) How are we respecting the dignity and the autonomy of persons by investing sovereign authority over the content of rights in an institution that isn't democratically accountable, like a hereditary monarchy or a court (the one in Karlsruhe under the Grundgesetz comes to mind, as does our own)? Or, worse yet, reckless private firms that decide unilaterally to irrevocably alter the shape of our common humanity? I am a defender of private property rights (and, influenced by Waldron and, in a roundabout and contradictory way, G.A. Cohen, particularly Chapter 3 of Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality, of a general right to property, but that is another matter) and, being a disciple of the great Jesse Shapiro, I have a presumptive bias in favor of market-oriented approaches to public policy. And so how can I take this robust a position in favor of democratic control over cloning, among other things? Property rights are artifacts of the law; on balance, I think that they produce good outcomes, and so I defend them, but I certainly wouldn't maintain that said rights are not subject to democratic revision or debate.

Now, I'm being unfair. The proponents of cloning may well accept my arguments concerning the right of a democratic majority to prevent such an abomination from coming to pass, but they'd like to convince a democratic majority to sign on to their nightmarish project by promising eternal life or, more insidiously, that they aren't really planning anything terribly dramatic at all, which is almost as unconvincing as it is evil. So yes, let's have a debate. I certainly know where I stand. I'd sooner surrender control over America's nuclear arsenal to SkyNet than support this loathsome practice.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

It's been a long time. And when I say "it's been a long time," I don't mean to suggest that it's been as long a time as the time period described a short while ago by rap legend Rakim, a time period that had lasted for several years, between Eric B. & Rakim's Don't Sweat the Technique, released in 1992, and Rakim's 1997 solo debut, The 18th Letter, which featured the "bangin'," and appropriately titled, single "It's Been A Long Time":

Follow procedures, the crowd couldn't wait to see this
Nobody been this long awaited since Jesus
Who wouldn't believe this - I heard the word on the street is
I'm still one of the deepest on the mic since Adidas

No, it hasn't been that long, but it has been long, and for that I apologize. To all of my fans -- and I mean my dedicated fans, those who've adopted shaggy haircuts not unlike mine and who've tattooed images of tattoo while wearing tutus during the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in the hopes of catching a glimpse of yours truly -- I apologize. (P.S. - You shouldn't have. No, really, I mean it. I might have to call the cops.) But duty calls, and so I'll report back soon.

A message to evil: Don't even think about it. My snout is sniffing, not Peanut Butter and jelly JIFing. Dosvedanya.

Monday, April 08, 2002

I went to visit my old college this past weekend, and it was a good, strange, and passingly, negative experience. For the first time in my life, I feel qualified to describe an experience as "bittersweet." The last time I heard someone use this expression was my senior spring at college, when my friend, within the throes of an XTC high, leaned over to me and said "graduating, man, it's so ... so ... bittersweet." But never was it that, it was only the drugs talking. Anyway, something decidedly not "bittersweet" was the fact that I carelessly lost my bottle of Zyrtec anti-allergy medicine while at Brown. My feeling is that during a party that was raging at the house I was staying at, someone pilfered my bottle from my friend's room thinking s/he was scoring a stash of designer drugs. So watch out Brown students: you have some kid wacked out on 15 pills of Zyrtec thinking s/he is rolling hard on XTC on the loose.

The changes Microsoft made from Word 97 to Word 2002 are moronic, infuriating, and evil. For the first time ever, I am anti-Microsoft.

Sunday, April 07, 2002