The Future that Did Not Happen

I have just been looking at a 1943 report of population projections for the United States through the year 2000.  This was produced by the Scripps Foundation for the National Resource Planning Board, and so reflects the best estimates of the big brains of that time.  As with all such projections, this report describes several possibilities based on various assumptions with respect to fertility, mortality and immigration.   Their absolute high-end projection for 2000 was just over 198 million, which turns out to be a little under 100 million short of the actual number. Continue reading

Bystander or Busybody?

Our local newspaper reports the publication of an article by “three women leaders” in what amounts to our medical school. One is a “senior vice president and vice chancellor,” another an “associate vice president,” and the third the “chair of the Diversity Leadership Committee.” Their article, published in a major medical journal, contends that misogyny pervades American medicine, that outstanding women are daily driven from the field by a “climate” of “‘incivility’ in which women aren’t given mutual respect,” and that this disrespect for women is an unrecognized form of “sexual harassment.” Continue reading

The Handmaiden of Leviathan

I have often heard it said that the word university indicates the offering of universal knowledge.  Like a great many things I have often heard said, this is not true.  The word university means and always has meant a corporation, since a university is nothing more or less than a corporation of learned men.  The collective knowledge of these learned men may be patchy and partial, but the learned men are unified.

That is the unity indicated by the word university. Continue reading

“It Will Become All One Thing or All the Other.”

You may recall that Eris, goddess of discord, was not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, and that the old girl did not take kindly to this slight.  Her revenge was to toss a golden apple into the midst of the banqueting Olympians and declare that it would be the prize of the fairest goddess present.  This triggered a hot rivalry between Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena, and lead, at length, to the Trojan War. Continue reading

You Are the Alien Now

A culture is defined by its heroes, a hero being one who embodies the virtues and advances the idea of that culture. Most heroes have embodied the military virtues of valor and marital skill, but it is perfectly reasonable to say that there have been cultures in which the heroes were holy men, philosophers, artists, or men of science. The key is that the hero is held up as an object of emulation, and that he was, in his day, an agent of the culture’s telos. Continue reading

To Spite the World

Spite is a little word; but it represents as strange a jumble of feelings, and compound of discords, as any polysyllable in the language.”  (Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby (1839)

I sometimes wonder if I am, at heart, a spiteful man.  I do not mean that I am an insidious mischief maker who delights in doing harm.  While I am not above feeling (or even wishing for) schadenfreude, I generally leave the comeuppance of my enemies to fate.  And I do not mean that I am given to backbiting or defamation.  I abhor slander, if only because it suggests the envy of a scheming squirt. Continue reading

Professors of Despised Rival Truths Must Fight or Fold

“I used to say, when I was young, that truth was the majority vote of the nation that could lick all others.”  (Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Natural Law,” 1918)

It is from Oliver Wendell Holmes that we have the much-bandied phrase, “marketplace of ideas.”  These were not his exact words, but the phrase does encapsulate one part of his celebrated dissenting opinion in Abrams vs. United States, a Supreme Court case that upheld the conviction of six Bolshevik propagandists under the 1918 Sedition Act. Holmes was himself no Bolshevik, and no doubt felt considerable personal loathing for the pamphlets that the conspirators had thrown from the windows of their New York City apartments, but because their being thrown did not present a “clear and present danger” to the survival of the United States, he said it was protected speech. Continue reading

The Männerbund von den Toiletten

You know the feeling of fellowship that suffuses people gathered around a motel swimming pool. All the guests are bound by the shared memory of having guided the same luggage cart down the same corridor, by the shared dream of the same coffee and cinnamon roll at the morning buffet, by the shared knowledge that they understand each other’s private spaces, right down to the towels and the paintings on the walls. Continue reading

For the Education of White Girls

In 1891, the state of Texas established the Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls of the State of Texas in the Arts and Sciences.  Located in the city of Denton, north of Dallas, the Industrial Institute is today known as Texas Woman’s College.  This was the female counterpart of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, which the state legislature had established twenty years earlier, and which today goes under the name of Texas A&M University. Continue reading

A Small Addendum to “The Unconscious Girds for War”

Kristor recently told us how he had awakened—fully awakened—to the awful truth that things really are coming to a head in the West. Like most of us, he had, of course, talked about these things for a very long time, but talking about a thing is not looking that thing in the eye. We all talk about the four last things, but I know that I, at least, am very far from fully awake to the awful truth of death, judgment, heaven and hell. Continue reading