Thursday, October 7, 2010


Llorca agreed to take the remaining 5 classes for the week, since it didn't matter much to her, so I had yesterday and today off, and I don't teach again until Tuesday because of the long weekend. Much like unemployment, I have to be sure to leave the house, but in general it's clear to me that I did need a break, and arranging to take one was the right thing to do. I didn't need lesson-planning time; I just needed to not be teaching. Somehow 6 weeks sounds a lot more manageable than 7 weeks, plus I should give the kids another test, which is at least a 3-week project, so I think I can go back on Tuesday more relaxed.

I'm still really jazzed to teach aikido on Saturday and Tuesday. I really enjoy it, and from the feedback and results I've gotten over time, I think I'm pretty good at it. There are definitely some things I want to help the beginners be more clear about, that Jorge doesn't touch on explicitly.

Finally, I found a way to spew the past 6 weeks of photos to Flickr. Sorry, they're not labeled yet, and who knows when I'll decide to spend the time on that. Not this weekend, certainly.


  1. Since you have some downtime, I thought I'd send you a link ( to an article written by the salutatorian of my graduating class at Hillsdale. Mr. Stolyarov and I don't share the same political views on every topic, and he often tries to sound wiser than he is, but I think you'll find he has some interesting and poignant things to say about my alma mater. Tell me what you think.

  2. Hmm. The moderate response... =)

    I don't think I understand the contradictions of Hillsdale better than I did before, except that by declaring gayness and premarital sex off-limits, it's coming more into line with the reality of where American conservatism has been for a long time. That speaks to me of a greater internal consistency, which I respect, however deluded the direction.

    I understand the *ideas* behind Hillsdale, and I think they're admirable. But I can't square it with the fact that American conservatism, under the twin banners of tradition and morality, is very much about control and limitation of the individual. Stolyarov is a good example, quoting your link and look at the summary of his views:

    "How trifling is a mandate to purchase health insurance, compared to a prohibition on what you may do with your own body on your own time?"

    And yet, he's against abortion, a position which, if we acknowledge the reality that accidental pregnancy happens, necessarily means forcing women to bear children they don't want and possibly can't support. He's also against euthanasia, calling it "incompatible with the right to live," which seems to confuse "right" with "obligation." I'd be curious to know his views on the death penalty.

    To believe that all life must continue under all circumstances is a perfectly valid view; but how does one hold those views, which pretty obviously involve severe limits on self-determination, and simultaneously claim that self-determination and individual freedom are the most important things? Guns are important to prevent "abuses of power by governments," but forcing someone, by law, to bear a child or to live out a horrible terminal illness, somehow doesn't qualify as an abuse? He's a "right-leaning libertarian with strong preferences for ethical individualism." As long as those ethics are his.

    Obviously he doesn't represent everyone at Hillsdale (you, for example), but I've found his contradictions to be extremely common among conservatives, ever since I was a kid, when flag-burning was the hot-button issue. The language is that of enhancing individual freedom, and the action is of limiting expressions of freedom they don't like.

    Hard as I've tried, I've never been able to come up with an explanation that points to people's better angels. =( I don't know. Am I missing something?

  3. I agree that his contradictions are "extremely common among conservatives." I'm proud of how Hillsdale doesn't accept government funding - the freedom from government restrictions appeals to me - but I don't understand how that fits in with the college's aversion to a LGBT group on campus (rejected during my senior year) or with some students' violent reactions to Obama's win (One girl told a Democrat friend of mine that she would be shot and so would Obama. I cannot even begin to cover how horrible and immoral that sort of talk is.).

    Four years of Hillsdale education taught me a lot about politics and about myself. I learned that smart people can believe irrational things. I also learned that I have much to learn before I can consider myself an informed citizen. I still notice contradictions within my own beliefs, and I want to reconcile or change them.

    On another note, you might find my personal interactions with Gennady amusing. The first time we met was before an evening lecture on the Crito. Coming straight from softball practice, I was still wearing my workout clothes. A mutual friend introduced me to Gennady, who took one look at me and then ignored me. The second time we met, I was wearing a dress and blazer, and we had a pleasant conversation about Cicero's take on the perfect citizen.

  4. Belated response!

    A friend of mine linked to Conversion Diary at some point, which reminded me how fundamental differences in worldview can be. Their underlying view of humanity as being (glibly) God's special project is profoundly different from mine. And to those readers--specifically I joined a comment conversation about abortion--philosophical consistency in one's thinking is important, as is the idea that law and society should match that opinion. I'm not sure how to bridge that gap; I do foist the decision-making off on individuals (including myself when it comes to me), which is either moral cowardice or an adamant push to self-determination, depending on which side of the fence you're on. I don't ask anyone to make any hard decisions I wouldn't or haven't participated in myself, so I dunno. "Moral cowardice" certainly doesn't resonate with my self-image, but that's crap anyway. =)

    While websurfing, I came across this fascinating essay on the nature and history of conservatism: Conservatism and Counterrevolution (actually a link to a PDF).
    I have a bunch of old-school conservative texts on my reading list for when I'm near the library again.