Quick Roundup 509

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Two on Tiger Woods

The recent public apology by Tiger Woods for his marital infidelity has, like other celebrity news generated mostly banal commentary, but I stumbled across a couple of people with interesting things to say about it (or because of it) yesterday.

First, Brian Phillips, who has followed Woods since he was in high school, considers the ethical and psychological dimensions behind his behavior.

[Woods] believed that his accomplishments on the golf course, which resulted from an unparalleled devotion to his values, allowed him to [act] against his values in his personal life.

This conflict remained hidden from the public until last November, at which time Tiger's carefully honed image disintegrated. Tiger's soul was exposed as that of a second-hander, that of a man who lived one way in public and another in private. In public he was presented as a devoted husband and father; in private he was a philandering scoundrel. The reason, Tiger claimed, was because he thought of nobody but himself. But the truth is, Tiger did not think of himself--in fact he did the exact opposite.
Thomas Sowell takes the Woods apology as his point of departure, and discusses the inappropriateness of most public apologies. While I suspect that Sowell might disagree with me that Woods does owe an apology to his fans for his disappointing behavior, he eventually brings up an excellent point I'd never heard before when he moves on to recent "apologies" for slavery.
[S]lavery is not something you can apologize for, any more than you can apologize for murder.
This, of course, is on top of the absurdity -- which Sowell also mentions -- of today's non-slave-owning politicians apologizing to today's non-slaves for the instiution of slavery.

Fascist Pig ... gy Bank

Paul Hsieh has written an excellent op-ed about Barack Obama's latest fascist scheme to steal from the productive -- don't worry, el Presidente is asking for public comment us to smile and thank him for taking the trouble to rob us.
[R]egardless of the precise method employed, the basic principle would be the same: Your money would no longer be your money. Instead, the government would claim the right to redistribute your wealth to pay for others' retirement on the grounds that they needed it more. In essence, the government would be implementing the Marxist principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
"Your money would no longer be your money." Aspects of this retirement scheme remind me of a medical "Flex" account I tried a few years ago. For the ability to claim less tax income, I set aside pre-tax dollars for medical expenses. No, I couldn't keep whatever I didn't spend, so I had to budget by predicting the unpredictable -- or go on a medical spending spree at the end of the year. I had to keep track of an annoying, ATM-like card. I had to periodically send medical receipts to the company contracted to run my account in case I was really trying to defraud Uncle Sam by spending my own money. Yes, I had to waste lots of time whenever my billing got screwed up, which it predictably did. And yes, it was so much trouble, I got out of the program because I figured that more time and less hassle were worth far more than the trivial amount of money the Flex account saved me.

Guess what any "private" retirement option would be like under such a scheme.

Image Credit

The image above is from Despair, Inc. Other images, many hilarious, can be found here. I believe I've seen their take on government somewhere before.

Objectivist Roundup

According to the Blog Carnival web site, Secular Foxhole will be hosting this week's Objectivist Roundup.

Galen Institute

I haven't had time to look at it much, but through HBL, I have learned of yet another pro-freedom health policy organization, the Galen Institute.

Quote of the Day

I don't agree with all the advice here on starting a political blog, but I found this comment quite wise as a general policy:
[N]ever bother to explain yourself. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies won't believe you.
The point being addressed is a common manifestation of determinism affecting how one interacts with others. (HT: Glenn Reynolds)

The World's Most Useless Device

As seen at Unclutterer...

Insistent thing, isn't it?

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Whats happened to objectivismonline.net? Its gone blank?

Gus Van Horn said...


I'm not entirely sure, but it seems to have been moved and transmogrified into a discussion forum.

I wasn't told about this, nor have I asked, but site referrals indicate that it lives here in its new form, which is more consistent with the rest of Objectivism Online.


Steve D said...


I agreed with what Brian had to say about Tiger Woods but I don’t agree with you about the necessity of his apology to his fans. After all its his life, and people should know better than to take a complete stranger as a role model. He hasn’t stolen anything from them. Unless of course he chose the obligation of a role model which of course might be the case. If so, though I am unaware of it. Does his amazing ability at golf force this obligation on him? I think Thomas Sowell made a good point about Tiger Woods not costing him a dime or an hour of sleep. It actually seems to be a bit narcissistic for Woods to apologize (as if he assumes he is important enough to matter to everyone). I would be interested in hearing your reasons. Does it involve the fact that he is only apologizing to his fans - not the public in general? I agree with your point about the apologies for slavery, though.

Regarding the retirement scheme this is really chilling. Out and out theft to a level far beyond income tax and not much different than just raiding peoples regular bank accounts. I am wondering if I should just cancel making new contributions to my 401K and start putting money away somewhere else. If this scheme ever gets serious considerations we are in trouble.

The advice was interesting, I don’t necessarily agree with all of it either. Like this one.

“If you really want to be good, write about something you don't have a passion for first.”

Somehow I doubt this blogger ever read Ayn Rand or

“[N]ever bother to explain yourself. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies won't believe you.”

The reason I usually explain myself is to help crystallize the point in my own mind. Given that the context of this statement is arguing with fools I do understand the sentiment. However, more than 99.9% of the worlds people are neither my friends nor enemies. Other people reading the comments might benefit from the explanation.

Gus Van Horn said...


RE: Tiger Woods, who does not, to my knowledge, hold himself out as a role model, you've changed my mind on that. Thanks for weighing in.

RE: Not explaining oneself, I think the other blogger means that a reasonable reader will induce a more-or-less accurate impression of you from what you say, and that you normally will not need to say anything further.

RE: Passion and writing. That's an interesting suggestion, and certainly couldn't have been inspired by Rand. The author seems to hold that emotions cloud judgment -- which they can, if they are based on irrational value-judgments or are not frequently checked by introspection. Off the cuff, I'd say the writer wants to advocate writing objectively, but can't see how one can use passion as a motivation to do so.


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, in re the blogging advice, you write, "The author seems to hold that emotions cloud judgment..." That's part of it, but not the central problem with the paragraph. There's a couple of different threads in that paragraph. First, there's a conflation of writing about something you're passionate about and writing passionately (or to better convey his point, in an impassioned tone). Second, there's the matter of practice in writing for the medium, and many people just go all flabby and floundery when they get impassioned about something. In practice these go together often enough--after all, you need practice in writing to learn how to use tone, and most people don't get nearly enough training in that in the schools. However, if you have had that training, his advice is wrong-headed. On the other hand, every medium or genre has its own characteristics, and it takes practice to suit your voice to the requirements of a blog; in that regard, his advice could also be useful--find something that requires you to focus on the mechanical aspects of writing for a blog before going on to something you're passionate about. For many people tempted into blogging, this is a useful progression, but if you're a long-time writer in other media (say, for example, Gus Van Horn), then there's no need for baby steps.

Mike said...

It's more innocuous than that. Writing about something you don't have a passion for forces you to improve your chops, organization, grammar, phrasing, and so forth -- your technical writing skills -- because you won't be tempted in the course of a content post to fall back on your encyclopedic (fan) knowledge to name-drop or reference-drop to supplement an otherwise weakly-presented thesis.

I know I am as guilty of this as anyone. My best technical writing has come on subjects on which I am not typically focused.

Gus Van Horn said...


Now THAT I can see.


Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for looking at that more carefully than I had time to last night. I agree with your analysis.