The Optimal Tariff

A tariff is a species of tonlieu. It is a fee collected by the sovereign of a territory in exchange for the privilege of transacting business within his domains. Some markets are more rewarding to merchants than others, either because of their prosperity or their lawfulness or their just laws – or all three, for prosperity is correlated to lawfulness and just laws. The more rewarding a market, the more a merchant ought to be willing to pay to play in it, and the higher its tariffs should be.

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Contract Hits on Babies

If abortion is murder, then to procure the services of an abortionist is to hire a hit man. It is to take out a contract on another human life. Who signs such contracts, or pays for them, is then as much a murderer as the knife man who does the cutting.

This is hard, but that’s how truth is.

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An Open Letter to Pope Francis

A guest post by Mark Citadel:

Your Holiness:

I write to you as an outsider. A sincere Roman Catholic might not write such a letter out of his admirable respect for the Papacy, and a letter written by a non-Christian might mean little to you. And so it falls to me to say what must be said. I want to start by saying that we of the Eastern Orthodox tradition consider ourselves to practice our faith in the character of the earliest Christians, and though it might seem arrogant, we hold that through tired eyes Orthodoxy has witnessed many great tragedies; the Diocletian Persecutions, the fall of Constantinople, the abduction of thousands of Serb boys and Greek girls to serve as Janissaries and courtesans, and of course the scourge of Bolshevism that cloaked the entire East in poverty and despair for almost a century. Though you consider us schismatics, I would hope that you do not think us fools, and your cordial relations with His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I, as well as your historic meeting with His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Rus, leaves me with hope that you will consider this carefully.

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Students on sex

Peggy Orenstein was interviewed on NPR by Terry Gross. Orenstein said that she was worried about hook-up culture because she has a 13 year old daughter. It turned out that she was concerned whether girls were having enough orgasms, with hook-up culture being focused on male pleasure. She says to girls, “You wouldn’t find it acceptable if you got cups of water for your boyfriend but he never got one for you would you?”

The phrase ‘tone-deaf’ comes to mind.

One of my female students commented that teens start with hook-up culture and then often slowly come to decide that it’s not as fun as it seems and that they then begin to look for more long-term (i.e., longer than 20 minutes) relationships.

I commented that what she was describing was a child beginning with utter cynicism and then working her way up to sentimental engagement. I’m not sure this is actually a possible emotional trajectory. I can imagine a period of cynicism, but if things begin this way…

I said that the dynamic I was familiar with was beginning with naïve hopes and aspirations. “If only the admired person looked at me in the same way. Wow. They do! Yippee!” Then a period of infatuation and a hope and desire to be with the person forever, only to have one’s heart broken and being dumped in the space of two months. Chastened, one then tries to limit one’s hopes to a more realistic level, and so on.


GNON is an acronym popular among reactionaries. It stands for “the God of Nature Or Nature.” It is intended to function for reactionaries and their interlocutors of an agnostic or atheist persuasion as the Torah, Logos, dharma or Tao do for religious types, but without entangling them in any religious commitments, or the difficulties that ever attend them. It is the Order of Being. The general idea is  that, whether or not there be any God of Nature who is its source, Nature herself has an inherent and utterly implacable, incontrovertible order, which we contravene at our peril, and which it behooves us therefore to discover and then faithfully and meetly enact; so that, recusing ourselves for the nonce from any tiresome discussions of a religious sort, with their endless bitter controversies over obscure points of doctrine, we may get on quickly to remembering that it is a Very Bad Idea to Mess with Mother Nature, to learning about her, and to shaping our policies accordingly.

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One of my favorite quotations from I know not where – other than on the inside cover of a textbook sent to me twenty years ago – is:

“Everything is what it is and not something else.”

Today I heard excerpts from two TED talks. In one, a neuroscientist commented that primates eat raw food and consequently spend most of their day foraging and chewing. Cooking food enables us to get far more nutrients by reducing the need to chew and also to absorb the nutrients more easily. She concluded apropos of nothing much at all, cheerfully, “we’re just animals.”

Another neuroscientist laughed at philosophers who say things like “the brain is unable to understand itself.” She then cheerfully concluded with no real argument – “we are our brains and our brains are just machines.”

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