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March 09, 2008

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Nato

"...at that moment there was a guy who had been a frat boy and an alcoholic, a ne'er-do-well, who had turned his life around and become a great leader..."

Yes, very inspiring that he came back from such hardscrabble origins with no powerful people giving him any second, third or fourth chances. An unknown Republican running in the deep-blue state of Texas, he and his inexperienced campaign advisor Karl Rove overcame all odds to catapult him to the governorship in the GOP-hostile 1994 midterms.

Sarcasm aside, I certainly have similar memories from my time at UC Santa Cruz, a liberal school if there ever was one. The third floor lounge in the Descartes dorm was a nearly non-stop philosophical argument for months*, on topics ranging from cognitive philosophy to the meaning of high energy physics and cosmology, the morality of libertarianism, the value and nature of aesthetics, the nature of communication, and general social morality - of the topics I recall off the top of my head. I'd be willing to bet there are analogues in pretty much every first and second tier college in the country.

*I am serious. At 2am on a Monday morning, I think you had at least a 50/50 chance of finding at least two people arguing over something at least semi-philosophical. At 8pm on a Wednesday, it was a virtual certainty. It just became known as the place where people would be arguing over something interesting. As best I remember, it started when I was attempting to defend my libertarian ethics from my friend Suzy's quasi-Rawlsian line of attack, and it engaged her even more libertarian roommate as well as others and raged for days, eventually mutating onto other topics but never dying through the whole year or afterwards. It quite literally changed my life.

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