Saturday, June 27, 2009

It doesn't really happen. Ever.

The Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO) has an article about Iroquois park building a phallus-shaped hill in the park and putting in new bathrooms with larger stalls to attract gays back who are moving into the Highlands. It's all a joke, of course, meant to lampoon the stereotype about the gay penchant for conducting intimate relations in public parks and bathrooms.

We know this never happens in real life. And if you want to confirm that it doesn't happen, then, don't go to the public restrooms at Millenium Park in Boyle County in the middle of the day during the week.

You won't notice anything unusual. Promise.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Biking to Utopia

We are going to begin cataloging the evidence for original sin. Here is more evidence that it exists and that Utopia, indeed, doesn't exist: Florida Atlantic University's bike program.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Friendly advice for the slots lobby

Napoleon is reputed to have once said of something that was "worse than a sin; it was a mistake." I thought of that line as I was trying to fathom the political calculations of Kentucky's slots lobby.

Despite all the money this seemingly hard hit industry has to throw around, they are all but tone deaf on the politics of their situation. The errors they have made in pursuing their agenda are simply breathtaking.

First of all, there is the matter of the Governor. As has been pointed out in several news stories, had he been serious about this he would have stumped the state to ensure the passage of the slots bill. Instead, he did virtually nothing for it other than tag along for the ride. Okay, he put it on the call, but only hesitatingly, as an amendment the next day. What kind of signal does that send?

If I'm in the horse industry, I'm not looking to do anything to David Williams, I'm going after the Governor. David Williams has always been against expanded gambling. For him to fight it as he has is a no-brainer. That's what he's supposed to do. But to have the guy who's supposed be the leader of the slots effort hedging and hesitating is a far worse problem for slots than David Williams.

With friends like the Governor, the slots lobby doesn't need any enemies.

Second, let's talk about David Williams. The horse industry has blundered their way into an impossible situation with the Senate. From the start, KEEP has done nothing but alienate the one person would could have helped them. When they should have been trying to endear themselves to Williams so he at least wouldn't dislike them, they instead dumped money into Senate races to defeat Republican members. What is that?

When they added sleazy tactics to the mix and now ugly rhetoric, they really did themselves in. If I'm Williams (and I'm not), I'm now not only opposed to slots, I'm their mortal enemy. It's one thing to have an opponent who disagrees with you in principle, which Williams does with the slots lobby, but to do everything but spit in his face and poke him in the eye is just simply an inept political strategy. Why in the world would you do that? What is it going to get you?

The old Klingon proverb is appropriate here: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Instead, the slots lobby fumbles along, keeping friends it can afford to do without, and making enemies it can't afford to make.

I don't know who the commanding general is over there, but if I were running the slots effort, I'd send the guy to the Eastern front.

Wait, what am I saying? I hope they just keep on making the same mistakes.


The perks of a "signature industry"

No sooner had the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee voted down a bill that would have allowed horse tracks to install video slot machines than disappointed supporters in the horse industry and their allies in the media began charging that the Senate had done them wrong.

The committee vote, said angry supporters of the bill, was the unfair result of "deception," "unfairness," and "sleazy politics."

And how can you blame them for being angry?

Imagine being part of the state's "signature industry" and having to endure the indignity of sitting through a meeting in which your opponents are given the same amount of time to present their case as you are.

Imagine having to listen to someone point out that people did not intend to vote for slot machines when they approved the Lottery in 1988, and that slots supporters like KEEP and Gov. Steve Beshear promised that they were going to "Let the People Decide," but were now saying something completely different.

Imagine having to sit there and watching as your detractors point out that your source for your claims that there are 100,000 horse jobs actually says there are only half that many, or that your bill will saddle the state with over a billion dollars in debt from school building earmarks that you won't be able to pay off, even after four years.

And how can any legislative body, in good conscience, allow people to say that Churchill Downs, which would have gotten the lion's share of the bailout money, reported an increase in net profits last year of 81 percent?

Or that Churchill Downs (which is owned mostly by out-of-state investors) pays its CEO more than $6,000,000?

After all, part of being the "signature" industry of a state is the right not to be disagreed with. Everyone knows that.

And not only that, but the Senate adamantly refused to give the bill special treatment. Unlike the House, where the committee that approved the bill only heard testimony from bill supporters during the session, and where votes were bought using school building money, the Senate instead left the bill vulnerable by forcing it to stand on its own merits.

The House at least understands how the state's "signature industry" ought to be treated.

Yes, some legislators, like Johnny Bell of Glasgow, were angry about being threatened in the House Democratic caucus meeting on June 16 with the denial of school building money if they didn't vote for the slots bill. But that's because they don't understand that it's not vote buying if the votes being purchased are for the state's "signature industry."

And even if it were vote buying, it would be vote buying "for the children."

It's hard enough to have to say with a straight face that you want a "level playing field" without the Senate letting people point out that you oppose the consideration of an alternative Senate proposal that would have given tens of millions of dollars for horse purses without expanding gambling.

And what about that voice vote in the House on the Senate's proposal, huh? It was a great maneuver to not only avoid possible approval of it, but to hide member's votes. What prevented Senate A&R Chairman from pushing it through using the same tactic? What, does the guy have scruples or something?

If the Senate weren't so unfair, it would have done what House leadership did last year when the same issue was being debated in committee and it took State Rep. Dottie Sims, who refused to commit to vote for the bill, off of the committee right before the final meeting so its passage would be assured.

See, that's the thing. Being the state's "signature industry" involves being able to do things that to some people seem underhanded, sleazy, and deceptive, but which you can get away with by just holding up your "signature industry" card and everyone just says, "Oh, okay."

But the chief benefit of being the "signature industry" is that you get to do these things yourself, and then accuse your opponents of doing them when they never actually did.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where are Sanford's advisors, anyway?

If South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford were smart and really wanted everyone to cut him some slack, he would tell everyone he was a "gay man."

Francene on the (completely uninformed) rampage

There are certain radio talk shows that I really should know better than to tune into. In fact, I don't even like to listen to shows that I like. If I don't get the opportunity to actually respond, I just get aggravated, and turn to another station.

That's the chief reason I don't listen to it much. In fact, I think I am on more radio shows now that I actually listen to.

But there I was, driving along yesterday morning, and, flipping around the AM dial, I landed at "The Francene Show" on WHAS Radio in Louisville. I had no more than hit the button than I started regretting my carelessness.

The particular morning I stumbled on the show was the morning after the defeat of the video slots bill. David Edmunds and I were two of the three opposing speakers in the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee the previous evening, and we sat there at the table watching the bill go down in flames on a 10-5-1 vote. And Francene was miffed.

No. Not miffed. Outraged.

Now you have to understand that outrage is the customary pose of a radio talk show host these days. The measure a talk show host uses for his success is the number of calls he gets. And the number of calls he gets is directly proportional to the amount of anger and outrage he can elicit in his listeners. And the amount of outrage in his listeners is directly proportional to the amount of outrage he can generate in himself and broadcast on the show. So this particular morning, Francene had worked herself into quite a lather.

"I just don't understand," she wailed. That is, indeed, an understatement.

She began by criticizing the Senate committee's action because they voted "as a block" against the bill. A clear sign, she concluded, of a plot. Of course, there a lots of votes on lots of issues that are party line votes, and no one thinks of them as the result of some kind of conspiracy. One wonders, for example, if "voting as a block" is some sort of political sin, why she didn't go after the Democrats on the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee, which had earlier approved the bill by "voting as a block."

She also apparently forgot to take into account the fact that the senators on the A & R Committee did not, in fact, vote "as a block," since one of their members, Tom Buford (R-Nicholasville) voted in favor of the bill. And if that wasn't enough to highlight the silliness of her criticism, it was actually the Democrats who voted as a block (that is, if you don't count R. J. Palmer, who would have voted for it if it weren't for the fact that he couldn't because of a conflict of interest).

But these inconvenient facts are hard to see when you are experiencing an outrage-induced temper tantrum.

Senate leaders put the bill in A & R in order, she claimed, "to kill it." Ooookay. There are two committees that traditionally deal with this kind of legislation: Licensing and Occupations and Appropriations and Revenue. In the House, the bill first went to Licensing and Occupations, and then to Appropriations and Revenue, where it was approved. It is customary for the receiving chamber to put the bill in the same committee it went through in the originating chamber. Not only is this not unusual, it is the norm.

Would Francene and her allies on the slots bill have preferred it go to Senate Licensing and Occupations? The chairman in that committee, Sen. Gary Tapp, had pledged to kill it if it went there. If anything, sending it instead to A&R was an act of mercy on the part of Senate leadership. Had Francene actually had an intelligent discussion that included guests from the other side of the issue, she would have known this.

In fact, "The Francene Show" had opportunities to include guests from the other side, but refused, saying, "There's only one side to this issue."

So then, the woman who proclaims that "there's only one side to this issue" criticized the opposition to the slots bill because they are "people who only hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see." Hmmm. Do they have mirrors over there at WHAS? Maybe we'll send her one, so she can take a gander at someone who really hears only what she wants to hear and sees only what she wants to see.

No sense in bothering her pretty little head with the fact that the Senate Committee she was criticizing for not giving the bill a "full and fair vote" did exactly what she has refused to do on her show for months now.

And speaking of less-than-truthful proponents of the bill, Ron Geary, the owner of Ellis Park, a man who not only owns a private jet, but owns a private jet company, made his appearance to lament that he did not receive the bailout he would have gotten under the legislation. Geary, playing as fast and loose with the facts as the host who was interviewing him, said that, had the bill gotten to the floor, his side had 20-22 votes.


Nobody close to the situation could honestly say that. In fact, I publicly called on the slots proponents the day before to produce the list of names of the twenty senators who were going to vote for the bill. They still haven't produced the names. In fact, one of their votes, R. J. Palmer, was going to have to recuse himself from the vote, as he did with both his vote on the Williams proposal and as he did in the committee because his employer (as was the case with Rep. Bob Damron (D-Nicholasville) in the House) owns Thunder Ridge.

Francene apparently doesn't realize it (and we can just add that to the long and growing list of such things), but if they really had that many votes, they could have gotten the bill out. How? With a discharge petition. If they had had twenty votes, all they needed to do is put a discharge petition out on the floor signed by the 20-22 votes they say they have and they would have been off and running.

In fact, Churchill Downs tried to do just that. They were calling senators trying to get them to sign on. But their effort never got of the ground. Why?


Anyone close to the situation knows this, but Francene doesn't because she doesn't have a clue what she is talking about and the only guests she has on her show are guests who are willing to lie to her with impunity knowing that she either doesn't care or doesn't know any better.

Then there are her charges that the Senate engaged in "deception, maneuvering, and sleazy politics." One would think that charges like these, serious as they are, would be supported by some kind of actual arguments, and, possibly, by some kind of facts. We realize these are words that, were she confronted with them, Francene would probably have to look up in the dictionary. But why do that when you can simply emote in the intellectual vacuum her show provides?

Had she applied a little critical thought to the situation (I know, it's a far-fetched idea), it might have occurred to her that virtually all her criticisms for which she has no evidence apply to the Senate, could be much more easily applied, in fact, to the supporters of her bill in the House.

Let's talk about deception.

Had she wanted to talk seriously about this, she could have brought up the fact that the supporters of the slots bill have repeatedly claimed that there are 100,000 horse jobs, when, in fact there are, at best, half that many. And when Herald-Leader reporter John Cheves devoted a whole story to the issue, showing that the source of the number, Deloitte, a consulting firm, actually had found only 51,000 horse jobs, slots advocates scratched their heads, reviewed their figures, consulted their consciences, and ... kept using the same figure.

The only prominent slots advocate who acknowledged that the figure was not accurate was Nick Nicholson of Keeneland, who throughout this debate has consistently acted with honesty and integrity. Would that many of his allies have done the same. It was also revealed (by yours truly at the House Licencing and Occupations Committee meeting) that the number given by the Kentucky Horse Authority’s 2004-2005 biennial report for the number of horse jobs was 31,800.

But that hasn't stopped the Governor from continuing to use the now thoroughly discredited number as recently as yesterday. What did the Senate do that was comparable to this?

Let's talk about maneuvering and sleazy politics.

Let's talk about sleazy politics. Did Louisville's one-woman disinformation campaign pay any attention to vote buying that went on in the House? House leadership unabashedly used school building funds to reward those who voted for the slots bill and punish those who didn't.

Democratic House leaders liberally reclassified Class 4 schools as Class 5 schools for any House members that voted their way. As Democratic House member Johnny Bell put it to the Glasgow Daily News after a Democratic caucus meeting in which members were given an ulitmatum, "I found out today we change the rules in midstream, and if a person is not able to vote for the gambling issue, then their school won’t be built,” he said.

Maybe Francene or any of the other apologists for the dirty politics that went on in the House could point to what the Senate did that was in any way comparable to this.

In fact, the very campaign that is now in progress to accuse the Senate of doing something unethical is itself sleazy. If you listen carefully to the diatribes by the Francenites, you quickly discern two things: first, that they don't even try to apply the same standard to the House that they apply to the Senate; and, second, they don't actually cite any Senate actions that are deceptive or sleazy. They just repeat the words, as if just saying them makes them true. And every time Francene does these things, she hurts her credibility.

If she had any in the first place.

Friday, June 19, 2009

"We should be saddling horses, not taxpayers," says anti-slots group

June 19, 2009

Contact: Martin Cothran
(859) 329-1919

"We should be saddling horses, not taxpayers," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for Say No To Casinos. Cothran charged that taxpayers were being saddled with over a billion in debt to bail out wealthy horse racing tracks.

"At a time when many Kentucky taxpayers are struggling to pay their mortgages, state lawmakers in the House just voted to saddle taxpayers with the biggest mortgage since 1990 to bail out wealthy horse tracks, some of which pay their top executives millions of dollars in wages and benefits. There is no guarantee that we can pay this back."

"State lawmakers just foreclosed on common sense," said Cothran. "Unless the Senate stops this, financial irresponsibility will be Kentucky's signature industry."

The comments came after the House approved slots legislation with just 1 vote over the needed 51 votes – 52 to 45.


What Stumbo said on slots


June 19, 2009

Contact: Martin Cothran
(859) 329-1919

An anti-slots group released a statement made by Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo on June 8 which the group says flies in the face of the actions of this past week, as members have been rewarded for voting for the Governor's slots bill with money for school buildings and members refusing to vote for it being refused the money. The group has called the attempt to buy votes with school money "SLOTTROT."

"The Speaker said members would be able to vote their consciences without arm twisting," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for Say No to Casinos. "Makes you wonder why there are so many sore arms around this place."

"This is one of those bills that we’re just telling our members to vote what they believe their conscience is," Speaker Stumbo told Kentuckians on KET's "Kentucky Tonight." "It’s too important a decision to really twist arms or do those sorts of things."

Cothran told the Licensing and Occupations Committee Wednesday that the history of gambling legislation is a "history of broken promises." "That sound you hear is the breaking of more promises on expanded gambling," Cothran said. "We'd all better get used to it."

The quote was released prior to what is expected to be a vote during today's House session.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

House leader denies votes buying in slots at tracks effort

State Rep. Harry Moberly denied that Kentucky House leadership was engaged in vote buying today in the effort to pass a bill to put video slot machines at horse tracks. He also questioned whether the world was round and whether there really was good evidence that the earth revolved around the sun.

State representative says he won't sell his vote for slots

In today's Glasgow Times:
Johnny Bell wants badly to help the Glasgow Independent School District replace its 44-year-old high school. So badly he was at least thinking about whether he could best serve his community by voting against expanded gambling or voting for a new Glasgow High School.

But then, he said, House Democratic leadership made it plain in a two-hour plus caucus meeting Tuesday – you either vote for slots at the tracks or you get nothing.

Bell has twice introduced bills to help districts like Glasgow raise more money for buildings – only to be told each time the state budget couldn’t handle it or now isn’t the right time.

“But I found out today we change the rules in midstream, and if a person is not able to vote for the gambling issue, then their school won’t be built,” said an obviously upset Bell after the caucus meeting.

Read more here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The greatest chapter of the greatest book by the greatest thinker of the 20th century

Yesterday was the 73rd anniversary of the death of G. K. Chesterton. Below is the chapter "The Ethics of Elfland," from Chesterton's book Orthodoxy, which is certainly the greatest book of Christian apologetics written in the 20th century, if not the greatest ever. Last year was the 100th anniversary of its publication. This chapter is my favorite from the book, and includes my subheadings. Chesterton doesn't just give arguments for Christianity, he attacks the fundamental flaws in modern thinking, and he does it nowhere better than here. This chapter was also published, along with essays by Francis Bacon, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould, T. H. Huxley, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, in Great Essays in Science, which was edited by Martin Gardner.

WHEN the business man rebukes the idealism of his office-boy, it is commonly in some such speech as this: "Ah, yes, when one is young, one has these ideals in the abstract and these castles in the air; but in middle age they all break up like clouds, and one comes down to a belief in practical politics, to using the machinery one has and getting on with the world as it is." Thus, at least, venerable and philanthropic old men now in their honoured graves used to talk to me when I was a boy. But since then I have grown up and have discovered that these philanthropic old men were telling lies. What has really happened is exactly the opposite of what they said would happen. They said that I should lose my ideals and begin to believe in the methods of practical politicians. Now, I have not lost my ideals in the least; my faith in fundamentals is exactly what it always was. What I have lost is my old childlike faith in practical politics. I am still as much concerned as ever about the Battle of Armageddon; but I am not so much concerned about the General Election. As a babe I leapt up on my mother's knee at the mere mention of it. No; the vision is always solid and reliable. The vision is always a fact. It is the reality that is often a fraud. As much as I ever did, more than I ever did, I believe in Liberalism. But there was a rosy time of innocence when I believed in Liberals.

Democracy and Tradition
I take this instance of one of the enduring faiths because, having now to trace the roots of my personal speculation, this may be counted, I think, as the only positive bias. I was brought up a Liberal, and have always believed in democracy, in the elementary liberal doctrine of a self-governing humanity. If any one finds the phrase vague or threadbare, I can only pause for a moment to explain that the principle of democracy, as I mean it, can be stated in two propositions. The first is this: that the things common to all men are more important than the things peculiar to any men. Ordinary things are more valuable than extraordinary things; nay, they are more extraordinary. Man is something more awful than men; something more strange. The sense of the miracle of humanity itself should be always more vivid to us than any marvels of power, intellect, art, or civilization. The mere man on two legs, as such, should be felt as something more heartbreaking than any music and more startling than any caricature. Death is more tragic even than death by starvation. Having a nose is more comic even than having a Norman nose.

This is the first principle of democracy: that the essential things in men are the things they hold in common, not the things they hold separately. And the second principle is merely this: that the political instinct or desire is one of these things which they hold in common. Falling in love is more poetical than dropping into poetry. The democratic contention is that government (helping to rule the tribe) is a thing like falling in love, and not a thing like dropping into poetry. It is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum, discovering the North Pole (that insidious habit), looping the loop, being Astronomer Royal, and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one's own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly. I am not here arguing the truth of any of these conceptions; I know that some moderns are asking to have their wives chosen by scientists, and they may soon be asking, for all I know, to have their noses blown by nurses. I merely say that mankind does recognize these universal human functions, and that democracy classes government among them. In short, the democratic faith is this: that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves -- the mating of the sexes, the rearing of the young, the laws of the state. This is democracy; and in this I have always believed.

But there is one thing that I have never from my youth up been able to understand. I have never been able to understand where people got the idea that democracy was in some way opposed to tradition. It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record. The man who quotes some German historian against the tradition of the Catholic Church, for instance, is strictly appealing to aristocracy. He is appealing to the superiority of one expert against the awful authority of a mob. It is quite easy to see why a legend is treated, and ought to be treated, more respectfully than a book of history. The legend is generally made by the majority of people in the village, who are sane. The book is generally written by the one man in the village who is mad. Those who urge against tradition that men in the past were ignorant may go and urge it at the Carlton Club, along with the statement that voters in the slums are ignorant. It will not do for us. If we attach great importance to the opinion of ordinary men in great unanimity when we are dealing with daily matters, there is no reason why we should disregard it when we are dealing with history or fable. Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father. I, at any rate, cannot separate the two ideas of democracy and tradition; it seems evident to me that they are the same idea. We will have the dead at our councils. The ancient Greeks voted by stones; these shall vote by tombstones. It is all quite regular and official, for most tombstones, like most ballot papers, are marked with a cross.

I have first to say, therefore, that if I have had a bias, it was always a bias in favour of democracy, and therefore of tradition. Before we come to any theoretic or logical beginnings I am content to allow for that personal equation; I have always been more inclined to believe the ruck of hard-working people than to believe that special and troublesome literary class to which I belong. I prefer even the fancies and prejudices of the people who see life from the inside to the clearest demonstrations of the people who see life from the outside. I would always trust the old wives' fables against the old maids' facts. As long as wit is mother wit it can be as wild as it pleases.

Now, I have to put together a general position, and I pretend to no training in such things. I propose to do it, therefore, by writing down one after another the three or four fundamental ideas which I have found for myself, pretty much in the way that I found them. Then I shall roughly synthesise them, summing up my personal philosophy or natural religion; then shall describe my startling discovery that the whole thing had been discovered before. It had been discovered by Christianity. But of these profound persuasions which I have to recount in order, the earliest was concerned with this element of popular tradition. And without the foregoing explanation touching tradition and democracy I could hardly make my mental experience clear. As it is, I do not know whether I can make it clear, but I now propose to try.

The philosophy of fairy tales
My first and last philosophy, that which I believe in with unbroken certainty, I learnt in the nursery. I generally learnt it from a nurse; that is, from the solemn and star-appointed priestess at once of democracy and tradition. The things I believed most then, the things I believe most now, are the things called fairy tales. They seem to me to be the entirely reasonable things. They are not fantasies: compared with them other things are fantastic. Compared with them religion and rationalism are both abnormal, though religion is abnormally right and rationalism abnormally wrong. Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense. It is not earth that judges heaven, but heaven that judges earth; so for me at least it was not earth that criticised elfland, but elfland that criticised the earth. I knew the magic beanstalk before I had tasted beans; I was sure of the Man in the Moon before I was certain of the moon. This was at one with all popular tradition. Modern minor poets are naturalists, and talk about the bush or the brook; but the singers of the old epics and fables were supernaturalists, and talked about the gods of brook and bush. That is what the moderns mean when they say that the ancients did not "appreciate Nature," because they said that Nature was divine. Old nurses do not tell children about the grass, but about the fairies that dance on the grass; and the old Greeks could not see the trees for the dryads.

But I deal here with what ethic and philosophy come from being fed on fairy tales. If I were describing them in detail I could note many noble and healthy principles that arise from them. There is the chivalrous lesson of "Jack the Giant Killer"; that giants should be killed because they are gigantic. It is a manly mutiny against pride as such. For the rebel is older than all the kingdoms, and the Jacobin has more tradition than the Jacobite. There is the lesson of "Cinderella," which is the same as that of the Magnificat -- exaltavit humiles. There is the great lesson of "Beauty and the Beast"; that a thing must be loved before it is loveable. There is the terrible allegory of the "Sleeping Beauty," which tells how the human creature was blessed with all birthday gifts, yet cursed with death; and how death also may perhaps be softened to a sleep. But I am not concerned with any of the separate statutes of elfand, but with the whole spirit of its law, which I learnt before I could speak, and shall retain when I cannot write. I am concerned with a certain way of looking at life, which was created in me by the fairy tales, but has since been meekly ratified by the mere facts.

The superstitions of science
It might be stated this way. There are certain sequences or developments (cases of one thing following another), which are, in the true sense of the word, reasonable. They are, in the true sense of the word, necessary. Such are mathematical and merely logical sequences. We in fairyland (who are the most reasonable of all creatures) admit that reason and that necessity. For instance, if the Ugly Sisters are older than Cinderella, it is (in an iron and awful sense) necessary that Cinderella is younger than the Ugly Sisters. There is no getting out of it. Haeckel may talk as much fatalism about that fact as he pleases: it really must be. If Jack is the son of a miller, a miller is the father of Jack. Cold reason decrees it from her awful throne: and we in fairyland submit. If the three brothers all ride horses, there are six animals and eighteen legs involved: that is true rationalism, and fairyland is full of it. But as I put my head over the hedge of the elves and began to take notice of the natural world, I observed an extraordinary thing. I observed that learned men in spectacles were talking of the actual things that happened -- dawn and death and so on -- as if they were rational and inevitable. They talked as if the fact that trees bear fruit were just as necessary as the fact that two and one trees make three. But it is not. There is an enormous difference by the test of fairyland; which is the test of the imagination. You cannot imagine two and one not making three. But you can easily imagine trees not growing fruit; you can imagine them growing golden candlesticks or tigers hanging on by the tail. These men in spectacles spoke much of a man named Newton, who was hit by an apple, and who discovered a law. But they could not be got to see the distinction between a true law, a law of reason, and the mere fact of apples falling. If the apple hit Newton's nose, Newton's nose hit the apple. That is a true necessity: because we cannot conceive the one occurring without the other. But we can quite well conceive the apple not falling on his nose; we can fancy it flying ardently through the air to hit some other nose, of which it had a more definite dislike. We have always in our fairy tales kept this sharp distinction between the science of mental relations, in which there really are laws, and the science of physical facts, in which there are no laws, but only weird repetitions. We believe in bodily miracles, but not in mental impossibilities. We believe that a Bean-stalk climbed up to Heaven; but that does not at all confuse our convictions on the philosophical question of how many beans make five.

Here is the peculiar perfection of tone and truth in the nursery tales. The man of science says, "Cut the stalk, and the apple will fall"; but he says it calmly, as if the one idea really led up to the other. The witch in the fairy tale says, "Blow the horn, and the ogre's castle will fall"; but she does not say it as if it were something in which the effect obviously arose out of the cause. Doubtless she has given the advice to many champions, and has seen many castles fall, but she does not lose either her wonder or her reason. She does not muddle her head until it imagines a necessary mental connection between a horn and a falling tower. But the scientific men do muddle their heads, until they imagine a necessary mental connection between an apple leaving the tree and an apple reaching the ground. They do really talk as if they had found not only a set of marvellous facts, but a truth connecting those facts. They do talk as if the connection of two strange things physically connected them philosophically. They feel that because one incomprehensible thing constantly follows another incomprehensible thing the two together somehow make up a comprehensible thing. Two black riddles make a white answer.

In fairyland we avoid the word "law"; but in the land of science they are singularly fond of it. Thus they will call some interesting conjecture about how forgotten folks pronounced the alphabet, Grimm's Law. But Grimm's Law is far less intellectual than Grimm's Fairy Tales. The tales are, at any rate, certainly tales; while the law is not a law. A law implies that we know the nature of the generalisation and enactment; not merely that we have noticed some of the effects. If there is a law that pick-pockets shall go to prison, it implies that there is an imaginable mental connection between the idea of prison and the idea of picking pockets. And we know what the idea is. We can say why we take liberty from a man who takes liberties. But we cannot say why an egg can turn into a chicken any more than we can say why a bear could turn into a fairy prince. As ideas, the egg and the chicken are further off from each other than the bear and the prince; for no egg in itself suggests a chicken, whereas some princes do suggest bears. Granted, then, that certain transformations do happen, it is essential that we should regard them in the philosophic manner of fairy tales, not in the unphilosophic manner of science and the "Laws of Nature." When we are asked why eggs turn to birds or fruits fall in autumn, we must answer exactly as the fairy godmother would answer if Cinderella asked her why mice turned to horses or her clothes fell from her at twelve o'clock. We must answer that it is magic. It is not a "law," for we do not understand its general formula. It is not a necessity, for though we can count on it happening practically, we have no right to say that it must always happen. It is no argument for unalterable law (as Huxley fancied) that we count on the ordinary course of things. We do not count on it; we bet on it. We risk the remote possibility of a miracle as we do that of a poisoned pancake or a world-destroying comet. We leave it out of account, not because it is a miracle, and therefore an impossibility, but because it is a miracle, and therefore an exception. All the terms used in the science books, "law," "necessity," "order," "tendency," and so on, are really unintellectual, because they assume an inner synthesis, which we do not possess. The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, "charm," "spell," "enchantment." They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched. The sun shines because it is bewitched.

I deny altogether that this is fantastic or even mystical. We may have some mysticism later on; but this fairy-tale language about things is simply rational and agnostic. It is the only way I can express in words my clear and definite perception that one thing is quite distinct from another; that there is no logical connection between flying and laying eggs. It is the man who talks about "a law" that he has never seen who is the mystic. Nay, the ordinary scientific man is strictly a sentimentalist. He is a sentimentalist in this essential sense, that he is soaked and swept away by mere associations. He has so often seen birds fly and lay eggs that he feels as if there must be some dreamy, tender connection between the two ideas, whereas there is none. A forlorn lover might be unable to dissociate the moon from lost love; so the materialist is unable to dissociate the moon from the tide. In both cases there is no connection, except that one has seen them together. A sentimentalist might shed tears at the smell of apple-blossom, because, by a dark association of his own, it reminded him of his boyhood. So the materialist professor (though he conceals his tears) is yet a sentimentalist, because, by a dark association of his own, apple-blossoms remind him of apples. But the cool rationalist from fairyland does not see why, in the abstract, the apple tree should not grow crimson tulips; it sometimes does in his country.

The Ancient Instinct of Astonishment
This elementary wonder, however, is not a mere fancy derived from the fairy tales; on the contrary, all the fire of the fairy tales is derived from this. Just as we all like love tales because there is an instinct of sex, we all like astonishing tales because they touch the nerve of the ancient instinct of astonishment. This is proved by the fact that when we are very young children we do not need fairy tales: we only need tales. Mere life is interesting enough. A child of seven is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door and saw a dragon. But a child of three is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door. Boys like romantic tales; but babies like realistic tales -- because they find them romantic. In fact, a baby is about the only person, I should think, to whom a modern realistic novel could be read without boring him. This proves that even nursery tales only echo an almost pre-natal leap of interest and amazement. These tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water. I have said that this is wholly reasonable and even agnostic. And, indeed, on this point I am all for the higher agnosticism; its better name is Ignorance. We have all read in scientific books, and, indeed, in all romances, the story of the man who has forgotten his name. This man walks about the streets and can see and appreciate everything; only he cannot remember who he is. Well, every man is that man in the story. Every man has forgotten who he is. One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self more distant than any star. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God; but thou shalt not know thyself. We are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten what we really are. All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality and positivism only means that for certain dead levels of our life we forget that we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and art and ecstacy only means that for one awful instant we remember that we forget.

But though (like the man without memory in the novel) we walk the streets with a sort of half-witted admiration, still it is admiration. It is admiration in English and not only admiration in Latin. The wonder has a positive element of praise. This is the next milestone to be definitely marked on our road through fairyland. I shall speak in the next chapter about optimists and pessimists in their intellectual aspect, so far as they have one. Here am only trying to describe the enormous emotions which cannot be described. And the strongest emotion was that life was as precious as it was puzzling. It was an ecstacy because it was an adventure; it was an adventure because it was an opportunity. The goodness of the fairy tale was not affected by the fact that there might be more dragons than princesses; it was good to be in a fairy tale. The test of all happiness is gratitude; and I felt grateful, though I hardly knew to whom. Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs? We thank people for birthday presents of cigars and slippers. Can I thank no one for the birthday present of birth?

There were, then, these two first feelings, indefensible and indisputable. The world was a shock, but it was not merely shocking; existence was a surprise, but it was a pleasant surprise. In fact, all my first views were exactly uttered in a riddle that stuck in my brain from boyhood. The question was, "What did the first frog say?" And the answer was, "Lord, how you made me jump!" That says succinctly all that I am saying. God made the frog jump; but the frog prefers jumping. But when these things are settled there enters the second great principle of the fairy philosophy.

The Doctrine of Conditional Joy
Any one can see it who will simply read "Grimm's Fairy Tales" or the fine collections of Mr. Andrew Lang. For the pleasure of pedantry I will call it the Doctrine of Conditional Joy. Touchstone talked of much virtue in an "if"; according to elfin ethics all virtue is in an "if." The note of the fairy utterance always is, "You may live in a palace of gold and sapphire, if you do not say the word `cow"'; or "You may live happily with the King's daughter, if you do not show her an onion." The vision always hangs upon a veto. All the dizzy and colossal things conceded depend upon one small thing withheld. All the wild and whirling things that are let loose depend upon one thing that is forbidden. Mr. W. B. Yeats, in his exquisite and piercing elfin poetry, describes the elves as lawless; they plunge in innocent anarchy on the unbridled horses of the air --

"Ride on the crest of the dishevelled tide, And dance upon the mountains like a flame."

It is a dreadful thing to say that Mr. W. B. Yeats does not understand fairyland. But I do say it. He is an ironical Irishman, full of intellectual reactions. He is not stupid enough to understand fairyland. Fairies prefer people of the yokel type like myself; people who gape and grin and do as they are told. Mr. Yeats reads into elfland all the righteous insurrection of his own race. But the lawlessness of Ireland is a Christian lawlessness, rounded on reason and justice. The Fenian is rebelling against something he understands only too well; but the true citizen of fairyland is obeying something that he does not understand at all. In the fairy tale an incomprehensible happiness rests upon an incomprehensible condition. A box is opened, and all evils fly out. A word is forgotten, and cities perish. A lamp is lit, and love flies away. A flower is plucked, and human lives are forfeited. An apple is eaten, and the hope of God is gone.

This is the tone of fairy tales, and it is certainly not lawlessness or even liberty, though men under a mean modern tyranny may think it liberty by comparison. People out of Portland Gaol might think Fleet Street free; but closer study will prove that both fairies and journalists are the slaves of duty. Fairy godmothers seem at least as strict as other godmothers. Cinderella received a coach out of Wonderland and a coachman out of nowhere, but she received a command -- which might have come out of Brixton -- that she should be back by twelve. Also, she had a glass slipper; and it cannot be a coincidence that glass is so common a substance in folk-lore. This princess lives in a glass castle, that princess on a glass hill; this one sees all things in a mirror; they may all live in glass houses if they will not throw stones. For this thin glitter of glass everywhere is the expression of the fact that the happiness is bright but brittle, like the substance most easily smashed by a housemaid or a cat. And this fairy-tale sentiment also sank into me and became my sentiment towards the whole world. I felt and feel that life itself is as bright as the diamond, but as brittle as the window-pane; and when the heavens were compared to the terrible crystal I can remember a shudder. I was afraid that God would drop the cosmos with a crash.

Remember, however, that to be breakable is not the same as to be perishable. Strike a glass, and it will not endure an instant; simply do not strike it, and it will endure a thousand years. Such, it seemed, was the joy of man, either in elfland or on earth; the happiness depended on not doing something which you could at any moment do and which, very often, it was not obvious why you should not do. Now, the point here is that to me this did not seem unjust. If the miller's third son said to the fairy, "Explain why I must not stand on my head in the fairy palace," the other might fairly reply, "Well, if it comes to that, explain the fairy palace." If Cinderella says, "How is it that I must leave the ball at twelve?" her godmother might answer, "How is it that you are going there till twelve?" If I leave a man in my will ten talking elephants and a hundred winged horses, he cannot complain if the conditions partake of the slight eccentricity of the gift. He must not look a winged horse in the mouth. And it seemed to me that existence was itself so very eccentric a legacy that I could not complain of not understanding the limitations of the vision when I did not understand the vision they limited. The frame was no stranger than the picture. The veto might well be as wild as the vision; it might be as startling as the sun, as elusive as the waters, as fantastic and terrible as the towering trees.

For this reason (we may call it the fairy godmother philosophy) I never could join the young men of my time in feeling what they called the general sentiment of revolt. I should have resisted, let us hope, any rules that were evil, and with these and their definition I shall deal in another chapter. But I did not feel disposed to resist any rule merely because it was mysterious. Estates are sometimes held by foolish forms, the breaking of a stick or the payment of a peppercorn: I was willing to hold the huge estate of earth and heaven by any such feudal fantasy. It could not well be wilder than the fact that I was allowed to hold it at all. At this stage I give only one ethical instance to show my meaning. I could never mix in the common murmur of that rising generation against monogamy, because no restriction on sex seemed so odd and unexpected as sex itself. To be allowed, like Endymion, to make love to the moon and then to complain that Jupiter kept his own moons in a harem seemed to me (bred on fairy tales like Endymion's) a vulgar anti-climax. Keeping to one woman is a small price for so much as seeing one woman. To complain that I could only be married once was like complaining that I had only been born once. It was incommensurate with the terrible excitement of which one was talking. It showed, not an exaggerated sensibility to sex, but a curious insensibility to it. A man is a fool who complains that he cannot enter Eden by five gates at once. Polygamy is a lack of the realization of sex; it is like a man plucking five pears in mere absence of mind. The aesthetes touched the last insane limits of language in their eulogy on lovely things. The thistledown made them weep; a burnished beetle brought them to their knees. Yet their emotion never impressed me for an instant, for this reason, that it never occurred to them to pay for their pleasure in any sort of symbolic sacrifice. Men (I felt) might fast forty days for the sake of hearing a blackbird sing. Men might go through fire to find a cowslip. Yet these lovers of beauty could not even keep sober for the blackbird. They would not go through common Christian marriage by way of recompense to the cowslip. Surely one might pay for extraordinary joy in ordinary morals. Oscar Wilde said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets. But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde.

Well, I left the fairy tales lying on the floor of the nursery, and I have not found any books so sensible since. I left the nurse guardian of tradition and democracy, and I have not found any modern type so sanely radical or so sanely conservative. But the matter for important comment was here: that when I first went out into the mental atmosphere of the modern world, I found that the modern world was positively opposed on two points to my nurse and to the nursery tales. It has taken me a long time to find out that the modern world is wrong and my nurse was right. The really curious thing was this: that modern thought contradicted this basic creed of my boyhood on its two most essential doctrines. I have explained that the fairy tales rounded in me two convictions; first, that this world is a wild and startling place, which might have been quite different, but which is quite delightful; second, that before this wildness and delight one may well be modest and submit to the queerest limitations of so queer a kindness. But I found the whole modern world running like a high tide against both my tendernesses; and the shock of that collision created two sudden and spontaneous sentiments, which I have had ever since and which, crude as they were, have since hardened into convictions.

Scientific Fatalism
First, I found the whole modern world talking scientific fatalism; saying that everything is as it must always have been, being unfolded without fault from the beginning. The leaf on the tree is green because it could never have been anything else. Now, the fairy-tale philosopher is glad that the leaf is green precisely because it might have been scarlet. He feels as if it had turned green an instant before he looked at it. He is pleased that snow is white on the strictly reasonable ground that it might have been black. Every colour has in it a bold quality as of choice; the red of garden roses is not only decisive but dramatic, like suddenly spilt blood. He feels that something has been done. But the great determinists of the nineteenth century were strongly against this native feeling that something had happened an instant before. In fact, according to them, nothing ever really had happened since the beginning of the world. Nothing ever had happened since existence had happened; and even about the date of that they were not very sure.

The modern world as I found it was solid for modern Calvinism, for the necessity of things being as they are. But when I came to ask them I found they had really no proof of this unavoidable repetition in things except the fact that the things were repeated. Now, the mere repetition made the things to me rather more weird than more rational. It was as if, having seen a curiously shaped nose in the street and dismissed it as an accident, I had then seen six other noses of the same astonishing shape. I should have fancied for a moment that it must be some local secret society. So one elephant having a trunk was odd; but all elephants having trunks looked like a plot. I speak here only of an emotion, and of an emotion at once stubborn and subtle. But the repetition in Nature seemed sometimes to be an excited repetition, like that of an angry schoolmaster saying the same thing over and over again. The grass seemed signalling to me with all its fingers at once; the crowded stars seemed bent upon being understood. The sun would make me see him if he rose a thousand times. The recurrences of the universe rose to the maddening rhythm of an incantation, and I began to see an idea.

All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstacy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg. If the human being conceives and brings forth a human child instead of bringing forth a fish, or a bat, or a griffin, the reason may not be that we are fixed in an animal fate without life or purpose. It may be that our little tragedy has touched the gods, that they admire it from their starry galleries, and that at the end of every human drama man is called again and again before the curtain. Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant it may stop. Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance.

This was my first conviction; made by the shock of my childish emotions meeting the modern creed in mid-career. I had always vaguely felt facts to be miracles in the sense that they are wonderful: now I began to think them miracles in the stricter sense that they were wilful. I mean that they were, or might be, repeated exercises of some will. In short, I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician. And this pointed a profound emotion always present and sub-conscious; that this world of ours has some purpose; and if there is a purpose, there is a person. I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller.

The prison of one idea
But modern thought also hit my second human tradition. It went against the fairy feeling about strict limits and conditions. The one thing it loved to talk about was expansion and largeness. Herbert Spencer would have been greatly annoyed if any one had called him an imperialist, and therefore it is highly regrettable that nobody did. But he was an imperialist of the lowest type. He popularized this contemptible notion that the size of the solar system ought to over-awe the spiritual dogma of man. Why should a man surrender his dignity to the solar system any more than to a whale? If mere size proves that man is not the image of God, then a whale may be the image of God; a somewhat formless image; what one might call an impressionist portrait. It is quite futile to argue that man is small compared to the cosmos; for man was always small compared to the nearest tree. But Herbert Spencer, in his headlong imperialism, would insist that we had in some way been conquered and annexed by the astronomical universe. He spoke about men and their ideals exactly as the most insolent Unionist talks about the Irish and their ideals. He turned mankind into a small nationality. And his evil influence can be seen even in the most spirited and honourable of later scientific authors; notably in the early romances of Mr. H. G. Wells. Many moralists have in an exaggerated way represented the earth as wicked. But Mr. Wells and his school made the heavens wicked. We should lift up our eyes to the stars from whence would come our ruin.

But the expansion of which I speak was much more evil than all this. I have remarked that the materialist, like the madman, is in prison; in the prison of one thought. These people seemed to think it singularly inspiring to keep on saying that the prison was very large. The size of this scientific universe gave one no novelty, no relief. The cosmos went on for ever, but not in its wildest constellation could there be anything really interesting; anything, for instance, such as forgiveness or free will. The grandeur or infinity of the secret of its cosmos added nothing to it. It was like telling a prisoner in Reading gaol that he would be glad to hear that the gaol now covered half the county. The warder would have nothing to show the man except more and more long corridors of stone lit by ghastly lights and empty of all that is human. So these expanders of the universe had nothing to show us except more and more infinite corridors of space lit by ghastly suns and empty of all that is divine.

In fairyland there had been a real law; a law that could be broken, for the definition of a law is something that can be broken. But the machinery of this cosmic prison was something that could not be broken; for we ourselves were only a part of its machinery. We were either unable to do things or we were destined to do them. The idea of the mystical condition quite disappeared; one can neither have the firmness of keeping laws nor the fun of breaking them. The largeness of this universe had nothing of that freshness and airy outbreak which we have praised in the universe of the poet. This modern universe is literally an empire; that is, it was vast, but it is not free. One went into larger and larger windowless rooms, rooms big with Babylonian perspective; but one never found the smallest window or a whisper of outer air.

Their infernal parallels seemed to expand with distance; but for me all good things come to a point, swords for instance. So finding the boast of the big cosmos so unsatisfactory to my emotions I began to argue about it a little; and I soon found that the whole attitude was even shallower than could have been expected. According to these people the cosmos was one thing since it had one unbroken rule. Only (they would say) while it is one thing it is also the only thing there is. Why, then, should one worry particularly to call it large? There is nothing to compare it with. It would be just as sensible to call it small. A man may say, "I like this vast cosmos, with its throng of stars and its crowd of varied creatures." But if it comes to that why should not a man say, "I like this cosy little cosmos, with its decent number of stars and as neat a provision of live stock as I wish to see"? One is as good as the other; they are both mere sentiments. It is mere sentiment to rejoice that the sun is larger than the earth; it is quite as sane a sentiment to rejoice that the sun is no larger than it is. A man chooses to have an emotion about the largeness of the world; why should he not choose to have an emotion about its smallness?

It happened that I had that emotion. When one is fond of anything one addresses it by diminutives, even if it is an elephant or a life-guardsman. The reason is, that anything, however huge, that can be conceived of as complete, can be conceived of as small. If military moustaches did not suggest a sword or tusks a tail, then the object would be vast because it would be immeasurable. But the moment you can imagine a guardsman you can imagine a small guardsman. The moment you really see an elephant you can call it "Tiny." If you can make a statue of a thing you can make a statuette of it. These people professed that the universe was one coherent thing; but they were not fond of the universe. But I was frightfully fond of the universe and wanted to address it by a diminutive. I often did so; and it never seemed to mind. Actually and in truth I did feel that these dim dogmas of vitality were better expressed by calling the world small than by calling it large. For about infinity there was a sort of carelessness which was the reverse of the fierce and pious care which I felt touching the pricelessness and the peril of life. They showed only a dreary waste; but I felt a sort of sacred thrift. For economy is far more romantic than extravagance. To them stars were an unending income of halfpence; but I felt about the golden sun and the silver moon as a schoolboy feels if he has one sovereign and one shilling.

Man: The Great Might-Have-Been
These subconscious convictions are best hit off by the colour and tone of certain tales. Thus I have said that stories of magic alone can express my sense that life is not only a pleasure but a kind of eccentric privilege. I may express this other feeling of cosmic cosiness by allusion to another book always read in boyhood, "Robinson Crusoe," which I read about this time, and which owes its eternal vivacity to the fact that it celebrates the poetry of limits, nay, even the wild romance of prudence. Crusoe is a man on a small rock with a few comforts just snatched from the sea: the best thing in the book is simply the list of things saved from the wreck. The greatest of poems is an inventory. Every kitchen tool becomes ideal because Crusoe might have dropped it in the sea. It is a good exercise, in empty or ugly hours of the day, to look at anything, the coal-scuttle or the book-case, and think how happy one could be to have brought it out of the sinking ship on to the solitary island. But it is a better exercise still to remember how all things have had this hair-breadth escape: everything has been saved from a wreck. Every man has had one horrible adventure: as a hidden untimely birth he had not been, as infants that never see the light. Men spoke much in my boyhood of restricted or ruined men of genius: and it was common to say that many a man was a Great Might-Have-Been. To me it is a more solid and startling fact that any man in the street is a Great Might-Not-Have-Been.

But I really felt (the fancy may seem foolish) as if all the order and number of things were the romantic remnant of Crusoe's ship. That there are two sexes and one sun, was like the fact that there were two guns and one axe. It was poignantly urgent that none should be lost; but somehow, it was rather fun that none could be added. The trees and the planets seemed like things saved from the wreck: and when I saw the Matterhorn I was glad that it had not been overlooked in the confusion. I felt economical about the stars as if they were sapphires (they are called so in Milton's Eden): I hoarded the hills. For the universe is a single jewel, and while it is a natural cant to talk of a jewel as peerless and priceless, of this jewel it is literally true. This cosmos is indeed without peer and without price: for there cannot be another one.

Thus ends, in unavoidable inadequacy, the attempt to utter the unutterable things. These are my ultimate attitudes towards life; the soils for the seeds of doctrine. These in some dark way I thought before I could write, and felt before I could think: that we may proceed more easily afterwards, I will roughly recapitulate them now. I felt in my bones; first, that world does not explain itself. It may be miracle with a supernatural explanation; it may be a conjuring trick, with a natural explanation. But the explanation of the conjuring trick, if it is to satisfy me, will have to be better than the natural explanations I have heard. The thing is magic, true or false. Second, I came to feel as if magic must have a meaning, and meaning must have some one to mean it. There was something personal in the world, as in a work of art; whatever it meant it meant violently. Third, I thought this purpose beautiful in its old design, in spite of its defects, such as dragons. Fourth, that the proper form of thanks to it is some form of humility and restraint: we should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them. We owed, also, an obedience to whatever made us. And last, and strangest, there had come into my mind a vague and vast impression that in some way all good was a remnant to be stored and held sacred out of some primordial ruin. Man had saved his good as Crusoe saved his goods: he had saved them from a wreck. All this I felt and the age gave me no encouragement to feel it. And all this time I had not even thought of Christian theology.

Sunday's Herald-Leader" "Horse industry has problems, but it's far from dying"

It was a bad day to be a slots advocate.

Sunday's Lexington Herald-Leader was a study in contrasts. While Larry Dale Keeling in the Opinion section and Tom Eblen in the City section were preaching that the end is near for the state's horse industry, John Cheves was on the front page dispelling all their gloomy prophecies and announcing that the horse industry, far from being dead, was still quite healthy, although with a few significant aches and pains.

Cheves also completely undermines the factual basis for the main argument for video slots.

In a story titled, "Nothing sticks like gloom," after recounting Gov. Steve Beshear's alarmist predictions for the horse industry, Cheves notes:
In truth, the state's iconic horse industry is not about to breathe its last breath.
In fact, the investigative piece is a demolition job on virtually every myth about the demise of the horse industry now being used to prop up the case for the Governor's video slots bill that he is pushing in the General Assembly session that starts today. Here is a rundown of some of the story's major findings:
  • Kentucky remains the dominant producer of Thoroughbred horses, with a 31 percent market share, up from 19 percent in the 1990s. "We're hanging in there OK," says Elliot Walden, Winstar's vice president and racing manager.
  • While Kentucky does not lead in horse racing (outside the Kentucky Derby), it leads in horse breeding, with 10,500 foals being produced in the state every year, dwarfing most other states, and Kentucky-bred horses winning both in Kentucky and elsewhere. "Despite the lack of slots," says Cheves, "Kentucky remains the master of Thoroughbreds."
  • The claim that 100,000 people work in the horse industry is false. "100,000 people work in Kentucky's horse industry," says Cheves. "Except they don't." Only 51,000 people work in the horse industry.
You have to wonder about the lines of communication over at the Herald-Leader. Surely Larry Dale Keeling couldn't have known the front page was running the same day he used arguments discredited in the same edition of the newspaper. Keeling says we have "no time to spare" to bail out the horse industry apparently has some time on his hands to spout incorrect figures, citing the now discredited 100,000 figure.


Where did the horse industry get the figure? According to KEEP it got it from the American Horse Council, which in turn got it from Deloitte, an accounting and consulting firm. Only that's not where they got it, since Deloitte reported 51,000, not 100,000. But Deloitte apparently told Cheves that if you added in basically everyone who a horse worker bought something from, then you could come up with a figure close to the one slots advocates are using.

Say whut?

That's right. "... if you included other jobs created by the spending on horse jobs," Deloitte told Cheves, "--for example, a horse breeder frequently dines out, which helps pay for a waiter at the local restaurant."

So the waiters at all the restaurants within the vicinity of horse farms and tracks are now to be considered "horse jobs"? And why not include all the workers at all the other retail outlets in those places as well. That is apparently how slots advocates are calculating their figures.

Now we know where all those refugee accountants from Enron landed.

So why all the dire predictions for the Kentucky's "signature" industry? The first reason is that there are some disturbing trends, although many of these trends affect all states, not just Kentucky. Horse racing has declined everywhere, not just Kentucky, since the 1940s and 50s. In addition, the Recession has affected industries everywhere. And, finally, there is the fact that other, richer states are offering bigger purses subsidized by slots.

But if purses are the real issue, which organizations like KEEP say they are, slots are not necessary to address it. Senate President David Williams' proposal takes care of that problem by subsidizing purses to the tune of $80 million. And if purses are the issue, then why is the lion's share of the money going to the hugely profitable Churchill Downs and other race tracks rather than directly to horse farmers?

And will allowing slots at tracks fix things? If so, then why hasn't it fixed the problem in Indiana and West Virginia? According to Cheves, the introduction of racinos in other states has not stopped Indiana tracks from having trouble paying their bills and West Virginia tracks from laying off employees.

One of the reasons Kentucky horses are racing in other states is not the fact that the purses are bigger, but because they can win easier. Why do they win? Because they're Kentucky-bred. Horse breeders can leave the state, but if they do, they won't be producing Kentucky-bred horses--the ones that are winning everywhere else.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Establishing reasonable standards for moral monstrosity

Josh Rosenau, our friend over at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) takes exception to my recent post, "Keep the murder of abortionists safe and legal." Of course he didn't like my title. Not one bit.

Rosenau is the proprietor of the "Thoughts from Kansas" blog who accused me several weeks ago of speaking too well of a Holocaust denier. Now he is accusing me speaking too ill of a holocaust practioner.

Wish he'd make up his mind.

In fact, his post title is "Moral Monsterism." Surely this post must be about George Tiller, the recently murdered Kansas abortion doctor who performed thousands of late-term abortions at $5,000 a pop. But, alas, it was not so. Instead, Rosenau was talking about Ann Coulter.

So a newspaper columnist who writes some pretty over-the-top polemic pieces is more morally monstrous than an a doctor who made a living by dismembering late-term babies in utero?

Now let me check something here, hang on ...

... Yes, indeed, up is still up, and down is still down--at least in my moral universe.

The thing that upset Rosenau about my title, "Keep the Murder of Abortionists Safe and Legal" was that he thought I was joking. Why he thinks I was joking is unclear. In fact, I was deadly serious. I was, of course, using the exact same logic advocates of abortion use to defend the morally monstrous behavior of abortionists (which I condemn) to defend the murder of abortionists (which I also condemn).

My whole point was the absurdity of this kind of reasoning. But Rosenau apparently missed the point altogether--either that, or he fully understands the point and wants to pretend he doesn't understand it in order to score rhetorical points.

Does he really not understand the difference between irony, which I was obviously using, and humor, which I was obviously not using?

If so, let me explain: a joke is a funny story; an irony is an incongruity between what you expect and what actually occurs. And then, sometimes, there is a funny irony, such as when someone writes a blog post titled "Moral Monsterism" in which ascerbic newspaper columnists are treated with more derision than people who kill babies for a living.

Stories on Governor's new video slots plan

We were quoted in the following news stories on the Governor's new plan to put video slots at horse tracks:

Louisville Courier-Journal
Lexington Herald-Leader
Cincinnati Enquirer
WFIE-TV, Evansville, IN

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A quote from Kevin Jennings book, Queering Elementary Education: Advancing the Dialogue about Sexualities and Schooling.
Those who teach queerly refuse to participate in the great sexual sorting machine called schooling where little GI Joes and Barbies become star quarterbacks and prom queens while the Linuses and Tinky Winkies become wallflowers or human door mats....Queering education means bracketing our simplest classroom activities in which we routinely equate sexual identities with sexual acts, privilege the heterosexual condition, and presume sexual destinies."
In other words, there is no difference between boys and girls. Not really. I have often said that liberal ideology's chief characteristic is its denial of of human nature. Case in point.

Jennings by the way, is Obama's assistant deputy secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools in the U. S. Department of Education.

HT: Cruncy Cons

KY governor breaks two promises in one day

For Immediate Release
June 9, 2009

Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: 859-329-1919

"We can just call this a political two-fer Tuesday," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for Say No to Casinos. "The governor has broken two promises in one day. The first is his campaign promise that he was going to make sure the voters would get to approve expanded gambling legislation, and the second is the original promise of the Lottery legislation: that in voting for the Lottery, voters were not approving other forms of gambling."

"Kentuckians are undoubtedly getting tired of broken Lottery promises," said Cothran, referring to the promise that Lottery money was going to go for education, which it didn't do for ten years.

Say No to Casinos has argued ever since the legislative session earlier this year that the voters did not approve video slots when they approved the Lottery. "The only thing voters approved in 1988 was the Lottery. There was nothing about video lottery slots on the ballot."

"We can't make the Governor keep his campaign promises, but he's got to abide by the Constitution."

Cothran also pointed out that the Governor's new bill is making more promises that it can't possibly keep. "The Governor is claiming that in an economy in which people have less discretionary income to gamble that they are going to gamble four times as much. I'm no mathemetician, but I know that you can't get more from less."


"Alms for the Rich" appears in Louisville Courier-Journal

My piece "Alms for the Rich," appeared yesterday in the Courier-Journal.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Force feeding corn to the economy

According to Commentary magazine, the Obama administration is attempting to raise the percentage of ethanol in mixed gasoline from 10 to 15 percent. Oh brother. Nevermind that it will further increase food prices by artificially increasing the demand on corn which is in, well, everything, it won't even accomplish the purposes it's designed to accomplish:

One of the plans being considered by the Obama administration is to raise the ethanol content of blended gasoline from 10% to 15%. Apparently, this is being done to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, decrease pollution, and stimulate the domestic economy. What’s unclear is precisely how this is supposed to work.

Read the rest here.

Lexington Herald-Leader calls for removal of slots from legislative agenda

In yesterday's Herald-Leader:

Kentuckians have debated the merits of expanding gambling for 15 years without any action or resolution.

That alone would argue that the decision on whether to expand into slot machines or other casino-like games should not be resolved in a short special session with other grave issues to address.

But there are larger, more serious issues that argue the only way to resolve this question is with a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment.

First, it's what an overwhelming majority, in the range of 80 percent, of voters have said they want in poll after poll.

Second, there's serious question whether any action short of an amendment approved by voters can stand up to a legal challenge.

Read more here.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

More Freeman Dyson on global warming alarmism

I think the difference between me and most of the experts is that I think I have a much wider view of the whole subject. I was involved in climate studies seriously about 30 years ago. That’s how I got interested. There was an outfit called the Institute for Energy Analysis at Oak Ridge. I visited Oak Ridge many times, and worked with those people, and I thought they were excellent. And the beauty of it was that it was multi-disciplinary. There were experts not just on hydrodynamics of the atmosphere, which of course is important, but also experts on vegetation, on soil, on trees, and so it was sort of half biological and half physics. And I felt that was a very good balance.

And there you got a very strong feeling for how uncertain the whole business is, that the five reservoirs of carbon all are in close contact — the atmosphere, the upper level of the ocean, the land vegetation, the topsoil, and the fossil fuels. They are all about equal in size. They all interact with each other strongly. So you can’t understand any of them unless you understand all of them. Essentially that was the conclusion. It’s a problem of very complicated ecology, and to isolate the atmosphere and the ocean just as a hydrodynamics problem makes no sense.

Read more here.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Governor's action unconstitutional

June 4, 2009

Contact: Martin Cothran
(859) 329-1919

Anti-casino groups says Governor’s action unconstitutional

LEXINGTON, KY— "You cannot amend the Constitution in a Special Session, but that's essentially what the Governor is trying to do," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for Say No To Casinos, in response to the Governor's announcement today that he is amending the call for a Special Session to include legislation to allow video slot machines at horse racing tracks. "The Constitution allows only for a lottery, not slot machines," said Cothran. "What the Governor wants to do requires a constitutional amendment, and he can only do that in a regular session."

"We think the Governor is going to have a hard time convincing legislators that they should go home to their districts and tell their constituents that they unwittingly approved slot machines in 1988. People are still mad about the Lottery proceeds not going to education as lawmakers who supported the Lottery promised. Now they're going to tell them that they were hoodwinked into approving slots? That's not going to go over well."

Cothran said he doubts the plan will pass either the House or the Senate, but that if it does, it will be successfully challenged in court.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

KY abortion advocates honor late-term abortionist

Even a bad person has value because he is a being created in the image of God. For that reason, you are morally obliged to lament the passing of even a bad person. But you are not morally obliged to extol the virtue of their acts.

This distinction, however, has apparently been lost on a few so-called "pro-choice" advocates. Here is a letter to the editor in today's Louisville Courier-Journal:
We honor Dr. George Tiller's legacy of compassion and care throughout his life. Tiller devoted his life to ensuring that all women have access to comprehensive reproductive health, including safe and legal abortion. As a highly qualified health care provider, his life's work was dedicated to helping women facing problem pregnancies and difficult decisions. Those of us who support quality health care for all women admire his dedication and courage.
Tiller, of course, was the late-term abortionist recently murdered. I suppose the choice of whether to dismember, in utero, a fully developed baby who is indistinguishable from a prematurely born baby in a hospital incubator could be considered a difficult decision. But it's probably not difficult for the same reason these people are thinking.
Tiller believed women deserved kindness, courtesy, justice, love and respect. He believed in the emotional and spiritual heart of each woman.
Yeah. And the $5,000 per baby destroyed wasn't too bad either.

Keep the murder of abortionists safe and legal

Reading Ann Coulter is, for me, something of a guilty pleasure, given her gift of hyperbole. And yet sometimes she just nails it. Her last is a good example:
For years, we've had to hear about the grave threat that Americans might overreact to a terrorist attack committed by 19 Muslims shouting "Allahu akbar" as they flew commercial jets into American skyscrapers. That would be the equivalent of 19 pro-lifers shouting "Abortion kills a beating heart!" as they gunned down thousands of innocent citizens in Wichita, Kan.

Why aren't liberals rushing to assure us this time that "most pro-lifers are peaceful"? Unlike Muslims, pro-lifers actually are peaceful.

... But the killing of about one abortionist per decade leads liberals to condemn the entire pro-life movement as "domestic terrorists." At least liberals have finally found some terrorists they'd like to send to Guantanamo.
Coulter can be off putting because she engages almost exclusively in ridicule. But at the same time, there are certain things that are ridiculous toward which ridicule is perfectly appropriate. For example:
I wouldn't kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn't want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists?

Following the moral precepts of liberals, I believe the correct position is: If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot one.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

P. J. O'Roarke on Who Killed the Car

P. J. O'Roarke on the demise the American automobile:
We’ve lost our love for cars and forgotten our debt to them and meanwhile the pointy-headed busybodies have been exacting their revenge. We escaped the poke of their noses once, when we lived downtown, but we won’t be able to peel out so fast the next time. In the name of safety, emissions control and fuel economy, the simple mechanical elegance of the automobile has been rendered ponderous, cumbersome and incomprehensible. One might as well pry the back off an iPod as pop the hood on a contemporary motor vehicle. An aging shade-tree mechanic like myself stares aghast and sits back down in the shade. Or would if the car weren’t squawking at me like a rehearsal for divorce. You left the key in. You left the door open. You left the lights on. You left your dirty socks in the middle of the bedroom floor.

I don’t believe the pointy-heads give a **** about climate change or gas mileage, much less about whether I survive a head-on with one of their tax-sucking mass-transit projects. All they want to is to make me hate my car. How proud and handsome would Bucephalas look, or Traveler or Rachel Alexandra, with seat and shoulder belts, air bags, 5-mph bumpers and a maze of pollution-control equipment under the tail?

And there’s the end of the American automobile industry. When it comes to dull, practical, ugly things that bore and annoy me, Japanese things cost less and the cup holders are more conveniently located.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dr. Johnson, I presume?

It is the tercentenary of Samuel Johnson's birth this year (for you non Latinists, that's from 'tertius', meaning "third," and 'centus', meaning "a hundred." So that's the 300th anniversary). Johnson was a fascinating literary figure who dominated the 18th century English literary world. Here is a great review of two new books on Johnson from the New Criterion:

As time goes by, it generally softens asperities in the character of men and women from the past. We have quite a cuddly image of Ben Franklin, but to those who met him he could seem truculent and abrasive. Something rather different has happened in the case of Samuel Johnson. He used to be presented as a formidable figure—an overbearing literary potentate, if not a clubroom bore whose table you would avoid in the dining room. People thought him domineering and arrogant, qualities reflected in his nickname “the Great Cham.” Oldstyle British actors gave him a plummy upper-class bark, even though the evidence showed that he spoke with a strong Midlands accent, not too far from the nasal intonation you can hear on the streets of Birmingham today.

It has all changed dramatically in the last half-century. In fact, the shift has its roots even further back, in an essay by an outstanding scholar from Berkeley, first published in 1944. Bertrand Bronson’s study “Johnson Agonistes” set the agenda for much of what has come out in recent decades, together with work by other writers emphasizing the “perilous balance” that Samuel maintained in his psychic health. It is not surprising, then, that a sense of internal conflict pervades these new versions of Johnson’s life—the first two, but not the last, of a crop of biographies marking the tercentenary of his birth in this year.

Read the rest here.

Alms for the Rich

At a time when many Kentuckians are losing their jobs, being put on furlough by their employers, and can't pay their mortgages, it is hard to envision why some people would want to pass legislation that would fatten the bank accounts of the wealthy horse racing tracks and horse farms, many of which are not even owned by Kentuckians.

It's even harder to envision how they think they can do it in clear violation of the Kentucky's Constitution.

The legislation, which could be taken up in a special legislative session recently called by Gov. Steve Beshear, proposes to put video slot machines at Kentucky's horse tracks. Video slot machines are the most predatory form of gambling, and they direct their appeal toward gamblers at the low end of the economic scale. These are people who could never even think of affording the lifestyle of those who would benefit under proposed legislation from the money these low-end gamblers will lose.

The chief impetus for the bill comes from the horse industry, which has come, gold-plated cup in hand, and tried to convince state lawmakers that good public policy demands alms for the rich.

As one former legislator likes to say, when poor people beg, they do it on the street corners. But when rich people beg, they do it in the halls of power. If the horse industry is in such financial straights, how can it afford the army of high priced lobbyists it has sent to the state capitol? And where are they getting all the money they have dumped into the advertising campaign that has now hit radio across the state?

The loudest voice calling for passage of the legislation is Churchill Downs, the state's largest horse racing track, and one which is almost exclusively owned by out-of-state investors. It argues that low purses threaten to kill horse racing in the state, which cannot compete with horse tracks in other states whose purses are subsidized by the profits from video slots.

If Churchill Downs is concerned about purses, why couldn't it have used some of the $121 million it recently lavished on remodeling the clubhouse to fund them? In fact, if things are so bad, how could Churchill Downs have afforded the project in the first place?

But even if bailing out a rich industry by expanding gambling in Kentucky served some public purpose, it would run head-on into the state's Constitution. Up until the last legislative session, expanded gambling advocates were pushing for a constitutional amendment because they believed--like everyone else--that the voters in 1988 approved only a state lottery, not other forms of gambling.

KEEP, the horse industry's largest lobbying group pledged it would only support legislation that guaranteed the money would go to education, in order to avoid a replay of anger over the Lottery proceeds not going to education, as voters were promised, until ten years later. And Gov. Steve Beshear said the following in his campaign for governor, a statement that is still on his campaign's web page:

It is time to put this question on the ballot and let the people of Kentucky decide. As Governor of this state, I will make sure that the people have an opportunity to make that choice.

But now all the rhetoric about "letting the people decide" has been discarded, the victim of political expediency. Now the message is that, without knowing it, voters actually approved slot machines in 1988.

Someone's going to get hoodwinked. It might as well be you.

There is nothing in the ballot language of the Lottery Amendment even hinting that voters were voting for anything remotely resembling video slots. In fact, not only did the Legislative Research Commission only discuss instant and online games in its explanation to voters in 1988, but when the amendment was debated on the floor of the House, bill sponsor Bill Donnermeyer assured his fellow lawmakers that the Lottery amendment did "not provide for slot machines or anything like that."

After playing fast and loose with the Lottery money in the 1990s that was supposed to go to education, are lawmakers now going to tell Kentuckians that it was all part of a bait-and-switch strategy to get them to vote for something they had no intention of voting for?

The proponents of expanded gambling are again making big promises to the people of Kentucky. They would be a lot more believable if their record on keeping past promises wasn't so bad.