Axis of Evil: Laugh Riot

Axis of Evil: Laugh Riot — If the Axis of Evil held an Olympics of self-satire, North Korea would sweep the gold. At the official North Korean website, one can read side-splittingly banal anecdotes about Kim Jong Il, such as this inspiring gem:

It happened when the president gave field guidance to Kaesong area on September 14, Juche 61 (1972). He asked officials there what was the special food of the area.

None of them could give a correct answer to the questions repeatedly put by him in the course of the on-the-spot guidance.

While visiting factories in the city he met old men who had lived there for years and found out that loach soup was a special food of the city.

And he made sure that a new restaurant was built there to serve only loach soup to the customers.


And don't miss these breaking stories!

Poultry Makes Rapid Progress in DPRK

Books on Kim Jong Il's greatness off the press

“Comrade Kim Jong Il, The Great Leader Of The Juche-Oriented Revolutionary Cause” (five volumes), a library comprehensively dealing with his greatness, on the occasion of his birthday.

It's easy to laugh in the face of evil when you just can't help it!

Picturing the Blogosphere — The

Picturing the Blogosphere — The photo frenzy over at Samizdata inspired me to search my archives for a picture of myself wearing camouflage, shooting automatic weapons, releasing a falcon, or something equally manful. I came up empty handed. Instead, I offer myself at seventeen years wearing a dress and wig in the classic drag farce, Charlie's Aunt. Real men wear upholstery.

Blogger Pro — I've upgraded

Blogger Pro — I've upgraded to the new Blogger Pro, not because I really need it, but because it only seems fair to shoot a little money Ev's way for providing such a great free service for so long, and to keep this thing chugging. One new Blogger Pro function is the ability to send posts via email. Thus, I've created a YahooGroups list for those who'd like to get Fly Bottle posts in their Inbox. Send an email here to sign up.

Nozick vs. Friedman: Apocryphal? —

Nozick vs. Friedman: Apocryphal? — I just got this message from David Friedman that casts doubt on my secondhand story in the Nozick piece below:

“A philosopher friend once related a story of Nozick's one-upping David Friedman in a discussion first of philosophy, then of economics, and finally of particle physics. “

David Friedman:

It isn't impossible, but I don't remember any such conversation. The only public exchange I can remember with Nozick was at an LP convention in New York, where I gave a talk on his book, he was in the audience, and we had an exchange after the talk. Interestingly enough, he didn't try to defend the argument against anarchism that he gave in his book, but instead fell back on the (I think stronger) argument that if a-c was really workable, we would expect to see some examples.

Robert Nozick, R.I.P. — I've

Robert Nozick, R.I.P. — I've just heard that Harvard philosopher, Robert Nozick, died this morning. It's strange… I recently finished Nozick's new book Invariances, and I was blown away, once again, by the depth and suppleness of Nozick's intelligence. I was meaning to plump for Nozick as role-model, both political and epistemological, far superior to Popper. Yet, sadly, I didn't get around to it. Let me try to correct that, at least a little.

Nozick was one of the most talented philosophers of the past half-century, making significant contributions to every major area of philosophy. However, to libertarians, Nozick was a giant. His first book, Anarchy, State, and Utopia , is universally considered a classic of 20th Century philosophy, and it inserted libertarianism, to the chagrin of the establishment, into the “conversation” as a serious intellectual position demanding respect and careful consideration. (Those who'd like a bit more info about Nozick, and some links to related sites, try this page I wrote for my employer.)

Nozick is one of my heroes. Not just because he was a libertarian of incredible intelligence (several of the smartest men I know have said that Nozick was the smartest man they ever met), but because he was singular in his intellectual independence and creativity. Nozick, true to his libertarian soul, espoused a “non-coercive” philsophic method that sought to open up new vistas of the intellect rather than craft airtight, drop dead arguments — arguments that tend to be sophistical in any case. Nozick was interested in everything, but you can't accuse him of being a dilettante, because his knowledge of his varied subjects was profound. A philosopher friend once related a story of Nozick's one-upping David Friedman in a discussion first of philosophy, then of economics, and finally of particle physics. This is no mean feat, David Friedman being the son of Milton, an economics professor, and a University of Chicago physics Ph.D.

Nozick's books are odd in they way they range over subject matters, explore intriguing possibilities, raise profound questions and then leave them in the reader's lap, unanswered. He never quite fits into existing “conversations” because his questions are very often his own, and he slips in and out of the philosophy literature as it suits his interests. Thus, his work never suffers from the clubbish, insular feel of so much Anglophone philosophy. The impression is one of a man who has an intense (even “burning”) curiousity about the way the world works, almost entirely innocent of preconceptions about the way the inquiry should turn out. That is to say, Nozick was a philosopher, in the very best sense of the word. May his work, and his example, live on.

The Frigging Enlightenment — Conservatives

The Frigging Enlightenment — Conservatives take a “chinese menu” attitude toward the Enlightment, picking up threads they deem properly sanctified by heaven and history, while leaving out some of the best parts — like men's clubs that celebrated the liberating power of regular wanking, as this Guardian review reveals.

Best line:

Forward- looking proponents of commerce, members seem to have been enthusiasts for both free trade and free love. A prize possession was a snuffbox donated by honorary member George IV containing pubic hair from one of his mistresses.

Who wants to start a club? Let us now praise Enlightenment men!

Robert Altman: Idiotarian — From

Robert Altman: Idiotarian — From a piece in The Times, reprinted on FoxNews, director Robert Altman makes a major bid to join the leagues of the fluorescently stupid:

I am a political person,” Altman says, “but I don't have to put a strong debate into a film. This present government in America I just find disgusting, the idea that George Bush could run a baseball team successfully; he can't even speak! I just find him an embarrassment. I was over here when the election was on and I couldn't believe it; and I'm 76 years old. Then when the Supreme Court came in and turned out to be a totally political animal, the last shred of any naivety that was left in me has gone. When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke.”

I'm not enthusiastic about Bush, but Altman's implicit identification of intelligence with verbality is inane. Literary folk surround themselves with a like kind, and within this peculiar tribe linguistic virtuosity is the sine qua non of intellect. If you don't say things like, um… “sine qua non,” then you're a bumbling dolt, like Bush.

Growing up in Iowa, you meet lots of men who are spectacularly competent, if not rousing orators. I'm not that kind of guy, I'm all fancy talk and no competence. But I admire that kind of guy. They know how to do things that utterly mystify me, like fixing tractors and feeding the world. Although he can't fix tractors, Bush is that kind of guy. He knows how to make things work. The fact that he sometimes sounds like a small town businessman firing up the Rotary Club is both a strength and a weakness. Ordinary folk can genuinely identify with him, because he talks like ordinary folk (despite his chi chi pedigree.) But he's an embarrassment to guys like Altman. And that's a genuine weakness because the opinion makers are so often condescending assholes, like Altman. Yet I don't doubt that Bush holds the reins in his administration, or that he know what to do with them.

Now, the American flag… If it stood for the executive and judicial branches of the government, then Altman might be approaching outlying areas of intelligibility. But it doesn't. It stands for America — an idea and a people. “When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke.” Like freedom and the people who love it are a joke. Who's the embarrassment?

Then, this:

An enraged Altman suddenly checks himself, aware that he is on sensitive ground in our post-September 11 world. But, controversially, he thinks that Hollywood may have inspired the World Trade Center attacks. “We gave them the ideas: it was a movie,” he fumes. “We should be ashamed of ourselves.”

The filmmaker's wet dream: all ideas and originate in the movies, and people are puppets manipulated by those ideas. Altman's an idiot. He should be ashamed of himself.