May 30, 2006

How I spent my summer vacation II

Plato, Republic, books I-V

The first half of Plato's most famous Socratic dialogue is primarily concerned with sketching the ideal, just city-state as an allegory for the ideal, just human being. This turns into a direct analysis with the four virtues -- wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice -- which are explicitly identified in both the city and the person. Justice is the most central of the four, and is defined as harmony within the polis or the governance of one's soul -- the rational aspect legislates and controls the animalistic appetites with the help of the emotions or 'spirit'. Like Hobbes will do millennia later, Plato solves the problem of guaranteeing civil order through a rather totalitarian civil order, including the infamous 'noble lie' (the ruling class have been divinely appointed) and incredibly thoroughgoing censorship.

Two other notable passages in this text are the Ring of Gyges (359d), where the power to become invisible illustrates the temptation of vice, and an amusing debate between Socrates and the Ayn Randian bully Thrasymachus in the first book. The theory of the Forms also make their first appearance in the last few pages of book V.

Interesting philosophical link: Salon interview with a historian of religion.

How I spent my summer vacation I


In about nine weeks, I have a "comprehensive history exam" for my program: a two-day, six-hour test covering virtually the entire span of Western philosophy and over 2,500 pages of primary texts. That would be, roughly, two of those three piles. The plan is to read them over the next five weeks, meaning over a hundred pages of philosophy a day. And to blog reading summaries of each day's reading as part of my notetaking process.

Doesn't that sound like fun?

Okay, I'll try to include something vaguely philosophical for you to read, too. Posted by Picasa

Ice cream


Oops -- I forgot to include the picture of the vegan ice cream booth. Posted by Picasa


That was the longest weekend I've had in a while. I went up to Chicago with two friends, fellow philosophers -- the three of us were hired judges for a high school debate tournament. The actual debates were tedious at best, and mostly just obnoxious, and the hotel thought it was perfectly acceptable not to include a complimentary breakfast with their overpriced rooms, and so on. But we did spend half of Friday and half of Sunday wandering around Chicago, including a trip to one of my favourite bookstores.

Ironically, I completely forgot that the last weekend in May is a big bicycling thing in Chicago. Rush hour on Friday was May's Critical Mass, which had a huge turnout -- easily 700 people, tying traffic up for almost an hour. But that happens every month; what's special about the last Sunday of May is Bike the Drive, where Lake Shore Drive is closed from 6-10 in the morning. Turnout is usually in the thousands, and the ride finishes up in Grant Park with a festival atmosphere -- the local NBC affiliate had three or four live bands, the biggest bike shops have clinics, and various lefty groups set up tents to pass out literature. While I didn't have my bike (not allowed on the train, even if I had remembered it), the camera goes with me just about everywhere, and there are pictures below the fold.




The vegan ice cream was quite popular, especially since it was unseasonably hot (about 80 degrees with high humidity when I took this at 9a; highs were close to 90 in the afternoon). Some vegan ice creams can be kind of sketchy, with a heavy tofu flavour, but the strawberry I had was sweet, mild, and creamy.
 Posted by Picasa

Atmosphere On Conan

Here's Atmosphere's recent performance on Conan. When I've seen them they were better than here, but this clip is interesting because it's a live band.

Now Playing: Crazy by Gnarls Barkley (that is, it's playing nonstop)

May 27, 2006

A Late Random 10

I think we know the drill now, so I'm just going to skip the instructions this week. That's right! If you really don't know what this post is about you can look back a couple weeks to the last Random 10 or just wait for next week when I might feel like writing the instructions out for the millionth time.

(Song - Artist)
1. Mortal Kombat - Theme
2. Your Mother Should Know - The Beatles
3. I'm Going To Stop Pretending That I Didn't Break Your Heart - Eels
4. The Bloody Rage Of The Titans - Rhapsody
5. Raspberry Jam Delta-V - Joe Satriani
6. Zodiac Epilogue - Eternity X
7. Across The Rainbow Bridge - Ayreon
8. Wages Of Weirdness - Dixie Dreggs
9. Night Time Eclipse - Strattovarious
10. Workshop Of The Telescopes - Blue Öyster Cult

Whoa, who decided that it was space rock week? This really is what I love about the Random 10, though I guarantee that this list is completely random, I can't help but think that my computer has come alive and if it is not planning on mounting some kind of world takeover soon, it's at least going to give itself a tye-dyed background and wonder if the universe is really just a big computer and that he's just, like, a transistor in the universe's ram buffer. Freakin' hippy computer! Put down the digital frisbee and get a job why don't ya?!

May 26, 2006


Second trip to Chicago in as many weekends means I'll be offline until Monday afternoon. Enjoy your long weekends, normally employed people!

Those of you who enjoy watching les superheroes ought to see X-Men. Not great, by any means, and the storyline has some seriously disatisfying moments, but entertaining, and the fight scenes work quite well.

May 25, 2006

Does Being Gay Make Mountaineering Difficult?

Best video ever, or at least, of the week.

May 24, 2006

Apple Ads

You know, I'm glad that adding Intel processors to Apple computers hasn't impaired the company's ability to project a really pretentious image. You know, there's part of me that's interested in the machine, but the rest of me can't stomach the obnoxious people that use them.

Apocalypse now?

Bill Moyers spoke at Hamilton College's Baccalaureate this year. I got to see Moyers speak during my senior year of high school -- while the details are almost entirely lost to my pathetic memory, I still remember how inspiring it was to hear someone of his generation tell a bunch of high schoolers that we would make a difference in the world, and it was up to us what kind of difference that would be.
From the Hamilton speech:

I would want to be told that while life includes a lot of luck, life is more than luck. It is sacrifice, study, and work; appointments kept, deadlines met, promises honored. I'd like to be told that it's okay to love your country right or wrong, but it's not right to be silent when your country is wrong. And I would like to be encouraged not to give up on the American experience. To remember that the same culture which produced the Ku Klux Klan, Tom DeLay and Abu Ghraib, also brought forth the Peace Corps, Martin Luther King and Hamilton College.

In many ways, I'm reminded of another inspirational speech. Like Emerson, Moyers deserves to go down in history as a great American public intellectual.

Al Gore On You Tube

I know, at the end of the video he says he's not intending to run for President, but it's hard to look at his current rise in popularity and reformed public image and not feel like something's coming. Anyway, he's been talking about global warming for decades and at least people are listening now.

May 22, 2006

Dan Brottman Finds The Funny Again

Another recut trailer, this time for one of the grandest epics on celluloid.

And another amusing WoW video.

Clearly "Wake up little Susie" is a scathing critique of the sexual revolution

Amanda has put together a hilarious fisking of NRO's 'Top 50 conservative rock songs'. It's even funnier than the list itself, which seems to be built on a spectacular foundation of pure cognitive dissonance.

May 20, 2006

Majikthise : Fascism isn't just a buzzword

Lindsay makes the case that the Bush administration shares several non-trivial characteristics with Fascism, including
1. Perpetual war
2. The unity executive
3. The corporate state
4. Unification of church and state
5. The security apparatus
6. Xenophobia
7. The cult of anxious masculinity
8. Control over women's bodies and the family unit
9. Propaganda
10. Distrust of science, expertise, and open debate

Now, guess which seventeenth century philosopher also has almost all of these.

Lindsay begs off trying to explain why movement conservatism and Fascism look so similar, but if we turn to Hobbes, I think it's quite clear that this is deeply connected to fear of the Other and a straightforward herd mentality. Hobbes' state of nature is a 'war of all against all', where you can't let your guard down for a moment in case your neighbour's about to brain you so he can take your prized possessions: your woman, your hut, your apple tree. But, Hobbes says, if you get together a bunch of friends, then YOU can go kill HIM first. The Leviathan -- Hobbes' proto-fascistic state in which individuals sacrifice their autonomy to the nation as a whole -- is simply this on a larger scale, and its rigid hierarchy and totalitarian power structure is nominally designed to maintain order and uniformity, and thereby peace. Dissention is just as dangerous as a foreign invasion because there is no difference between the two: the harmony and purity of the nation has been violated, and must be eliminated by any means possible.

Of course, in practice, relentless warmongering and repression just lead to more dissention and more international tension, but that's part of the point: the authoritarian social order only grows more powerful as more threats appear to challenge it.

May 17, 2006

Because what's important about a name is that it ends in 'eh'


In 1999, there were only eight newborn American girls named Nevaeh. Last year, it was the 70th-most-popular name for baby girls, ahead of Sara, Vanessa and Amanda.

'Nevaeh' is 'heaven' spelled backwards.

You Wouldn't Like Him When He's Angry

You know, I used to think of Jack Cafferty as a slightly conservative moderate who was, far more importantly, a mean old curmudgeon that couldn't be happy with anything. Well, while a guy like that may seem tedious when things are going well, they sure seem like a breath of fresh air when things are going badly, and ever since, oh I'd guess when the Iraq war started, he's been at the top of his game. Besides Lewis Black, I don't know if there's anyone in the media that captures seething anger like Jack does.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure we still disagree on lots of issues. He seems a little more concerned about "sealing" the borders than I am, though in the context he used it in he may have meant something more related to national security than immigration, which I would agree with. More on immigration below the fold.

This immigration fluff is one of those issues that I really miss the media on. I guess I should say, I miss having a vigilant media. Before I get too into this, I guess I should say that I don't actually think that most of the people jumping on this border security bandwagon are full on racists. But just as racism can be perpetuated by people that aren't conciously racist in ideology, public policy debates can have racial undertones even if there are only a handfull of actual racists pushing the policy. This sudden interest in our borders is precisely an issue like this.

Much of the debate has been cloaked in the guise of national security. "Terrorists could cross into the country through our weak boarders" the argument goes, "and then bomb us" or something. As Orcinus points out, however, the border with Canada is significantly longer and more porous than the border with Mexico. Also, unlike the Mexican border which is composed of plenty of hard-to-cross desert, the Canadian border is fairly temperate and easy to cross. If you were a terrorist, where would you get into the country. This is ignoring the virtually non-existant port security of course, where you could simply ride in a shipping container and almost certainly be delivered uninspected.

So, why all this sudden focus on Mexico? About the only things it seems to have that the Canadian border doesn't are lots of Mexicans. Now again, I'm sure that most of the people jumping up and down about our Southern border don't actually hate Mexicans. I'm sure that some of their best friends are Mexicans, or something like that. But the racial component is the only one I can think of that makes that border the primary concern.

Public Speaking

Tony Snow used the phrase "tar baby" in his first press conference, but let's face it, with all the crap the Administration's been waist deep in this isn't going to become a thing. For those not immediately familiar with the term, my immediate connection was Disney's "Song of the South", the animated feature that Disney won't even release because of its depictions of black people. Certainly, "tar baby" can be defined as an intractable situation, and it certainly was that for Brer Rabbit, but it is also a racial slur for black people, which is certainly apparant in some of its depictions. (Note: the Brer Rabbit and Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah portions of the movie are the only ones Disney will release, presumably because they're the least racist)

This made me think of the "niggardly" episode involving an aid to the Washington DC mayor. Niggardly means, essentially, cheap or thrifty, and has no connection to the slur which it closely resembles. Still, just its use was enough to get its user fired, though he was later rehired it seems. I've heard many people, including some friends, complain about this reaction, but though firing is arguably too much, I'm not sure that people were wrong to be offended, even if the word only sounds similar.

Back to Snow, what do you guys thing? Is it worse because, unlike niggardly, tar baby actually has roots as a racial slur, or is it still fine because it has a legitimate definition? Are people like Snow and Howard racially insensitive or just stupid, about word choice at least? Should we avoid using words with a racially charged history, or are people too sensitive?

May 16, 2006

Be a man, eat shit!

A link round-up of posts on Burger King's latest train wreck of an ad campaign. In chronological order, because that's exciting or something.

Start with Shake's sis, from whom I have blatantly stolen the title of this post. Then move on to Amanda, RMAN, tekanji, and finally Amp.

May 15, 2006

Fair And Balanced?

John Gibson supports eugenics. Seriously, how do people take this network seriously?!


Chicago, shortly before barely avoiding falling on my ass a few months ago. That's a chunk of ice in the foreground; the entire cement slab was iced over.

I miss living in Chicago. When you factor in the cost of a car, it was actually less expensive than the SB.

Yes, this was yet another post on the theme of 'I don't like Indiana very much at all'. Maybe one of these days Kryssa will take the bait and start defending it. Posted by Picasa

Oh The Internet, How I Love You

There's been a lot of commotion around the net recently about net neutrality, mostly due to the fact that Congress is considering destroying it. So go read up on net neutrality, then watch this video, which is awesome. (hat tip to PVP)

Update: For you WoW nerds out there, here are two new dances for two of the new races from the coming expansion. They should be familiar, but these should help you if they're not. Funny stuff.

Another Step

Well, grades are in and barring some unforseen accident I will indeed be graduating law school come Friday. Indeed, it was my best semester, grades-wise, of law school. That's not saying a ton, but still, very nice to end on an up note.

Echidne has a question

Echidne asks:

"The chief challenge these days is to restore legitimate centers of authority .... A political age built around authority rather than freedom will elevate different sorts of disputes, of which the N.S.A. flap is only a precursor. Elections will revolve around the question: Who can best maintain order — in the home, neighborhood, culture and around the globe?"

Does [David] Brooks [of the Times Op-Ed page] know what his babbling means? Or is he just trying to be contrarian?

Myself, I don't think Bobo is all that smart, and is just mindlessly regurgitating movement conservatism platitudes. But, as I've argued, movement conservatism is proto-fascist.

Mother's day

On the one hand, the New York Times Magazine seems to think the only interesting things about motherhood are that some model feels it's appropriate to drag her less than enthusiastic kids in front of a camera and how much anxiety over inheritance someone else has now that her mother is dying. Truly fascinating and relevant to the lives of all Americans.

On the other hand, the Chron runs profiles of four Bay Area working mothers. The central insight of the piece seems to be the following gaspworthy series of observations:

[T]he women profiled in today's Business section, like millions of others across America, have to work to provide for their families or to reach personal goals. They also have to take care of their children. So they come up with their own systems for making it work. For some mothers, those systems run smoothly. For others -- mainly those whose households earn less -- the systems are precarious.

Elsewhere, Amanda reminds us that Mother's day was started by crazy lefty moonbat anti-war feminists, and explains why she doesn't want to have kids in the context of a discussion of heteronormativity. Naturally, Dawn Eden and her ilk use this as a chance to declare that she's flippant, is unable to appraise her own moral values, hypocritical, immature (those of you remember Colleen from last fall will recall that she absolutely loves to dismiss people who disagree with her that way), and thinks the poor should eat their children (demonstrating a spectacular inability to grasp irony, among other failures of the higher cognitive faculties).

Hope everyone did something nice for their mom. As I am poor and live 2/3 of a continent away from mine, all I did was give her a phone call. She pointed out that I could've sent a card, too, which honestly didn't even occur to me. I'm a crappy son.

Recommended reading for Mother's day: Ann Critten, The price of motherhood. This is the book that sparked the infamous Hicks brothers' "loud welfare debate in the middle of TGI Fridays" incident. Well, infamous if you're me, my brother, or my mom.

May 12, 2006

The Vegan BLT

Fantastic for picnics, and ten thousand times healthier than a real BLT. No pictures because I ate it too fast.

Toast two slices of your sandwich bread of choice; I like sourdough. On one piece, spread a healthy portion of:
Vegan mayo

The lack of eggs means this mayo won't turn into toxic waste after a few hours at room temperature.

1/2 package (~6 oz) silken tofu
1/3 cup vegetable or light olive oil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard or 1 tsp mustard powder (to taste)
1/4 tsp chili powder (to taste)
3 green onions, white parts only, thinly sliced
1 tsp lemon or lime zest

Puree the tofu, oils, citrus juice and mustard in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add onions, zest, salt and pepper to taste. Do not overprocess or the emulsion will break. Water can be added if you find the mayo too thick.
In a small bowl, smash an avocado. Spread on the other piece of bread (guacamole also works). Pile on fresh tomatoes and lettuce and top with several strips of:
Vegan bacon

Tempeh is made kind of like bleu cheese: after soybeans are cooked, they're injected with a bacterial spore. Once mature, the pad of soybeans will be spreckled with white and black spots. Tempeh is bitter raw, but develops a nutty flavour along with taking on the flavours of whatever it's marinaded in. It's high in protein and fibre and low in fat. Don't buy tempeh -- or tofu, for that matter -- at your regular megamart; it'll cost half the price at an Asian food market. This recipe makes a tempeh with sweet yet smoky and slightly hot flavours vaguely reminiscent of bacon (not that I'd know at this point) that's fantastic with the mayo and fresh veggies.

1 package tempeh, sliced into thin strips (check your local Asian food market)
2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1/4 to 1/2 cup of soy sauce
one thinly sliced chipotle chili and 1 tsp adobo sauce (check your local Mexican food market)
a pinch of powdered ginger
2 cloves
1-2 tbsp molasses or dark corn syrup
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Put all the ingredients except the tempeh in a large skillet and stir to combine with a whisk. Lay the tempeh down in a single layer in the liquid and simmer, covered, over medium to medium-low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed, 10-15 minutes. Turn the tempeh and cook until glazed and browned from the oil, about 5 more minutes.

Adapted from recipes in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian cooking for everyone, which is THE vegetarian cookbook.

This is part of the reason I don't date much

Nothing kills a good flirting session like technical jargon. Shouting excelsior doesn't help, either.


Because I Have Nothing Better To Do

In honor of E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which is the biggest video game event of the year and has been happening this week), here's a participation post about video games.

Who is your favorite non-lead character in a video game and why?

We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Random 10

After all that non-random song posting yesterday, it's nice to get back into the Random 10 groove, with no responsibilities and care-free feelings. Set those mp3 players to shuffle baby, we're going in...

(Song - Artist)
1. Tropicalia - Beck
2. Erpland - Ozric Tentacles
3. Evil Ways - Santana
4. Bittersweet Symphony - Oasis
5. Redemption's Way - Gordian Knot
6. Quiet Storm - Smokey Robinson
7. Dieu Reconnaitra Les Siens - DJ Cam
8. The Grain - Ghostface Killah
9. Time Beyond Time - Ayreon

The solution to higher education problems in France? Capitalism, of course

Reports in the US media on state-funded services in Europe almost universally pick up on the same theme: X in country Y is overused, disorganized, a inflexible relic of outmoded democratic socialism (though that last term will rarely be used). The solution is always capitalist in one way or another -- free market 'reforms' or privatization. Little evidence is given to bolster this diagnosis. This piece on the university system in France is no different.

A former French education minister talks about the problem in a fairly general way: "we simply don't invest enough. Universities are poor. They're not a priority either for the state or the private sector. If we don't reverse this trend, we will kill the new generation." By contrast, the problem identified by the writer for the Times is that "the country's university system guaranteed a free — or almost free — college education to every high school graduate who passed the baccalauréat exam. University enrollment soared. The value of a bachelor's degree plummeted." That final sentence is left completely vague, unanalyzed and unsupported.

Here's the suggested solution:

The practice in the United States of private endowments providing a large chunk of college budgets is seen as strange in France. Tuition is about $250 a year, hardly a sufficient source of income for colleges.

But asking the French to pay more of their way in college seems out of the question. When the government proposed a reform in 2003 to streamline curriculums and budgets by allowing each university more flexibility and independence, students and professors rebelled.

First, tuition isn't a sufficient source of income for American universities, either; it varies from school to school, but is usually covers less than half the budget. An endowment, funded by private and corporate donations, makes up the bulk of the revenue of most private college; public schools receive funding from the state and often have large research faculties that bring in government money.

Second, what exactly does "flexibility and independence" mean here? Prima facie, it has nothing to do with budgetary woes. The writer clearly doesn't mean them literally; she's talking about flexibility and independence in hiring and firing, charging students higher tuitition rates, being more selective about admissions, and being locations for investment by the wealthy.

Another problem is identified: "Professors lack the standing and the salaries of the private sector. A starting instructor can earn less than $20,000 a year; the most senior professor in France earns about $75,000 a year." This means university professors in France are paid about the same as public school teachers in this country, but live in a social system in which it's actually possible to live a lean but comfortable life off $20k. And let's not overlook the fact that graduate students in this country -- those of us who are starting to pursue careers in academia -- make much less than $20k a year. In no country does anyone become an academic for the prestige and financial success.

The criteria for success for college graduates are also presented in a skewed, pro-capitalist fashion:

Officials, entrepreneurs, professors and students alike agree that too many students are stuck in majors like sociology or psychology that make it difficult to move into a different career in a stratified society like France, given the country's troubled economy.

No-one is quoted.

[Prime Minister] de Villepin ... promised more money and more flexibility, saying that as in the United States, a student with a master's degree in philosophy should be able to become a financial analyst.

Because that's what getting a college degree is all about: being able to become a financial analyst. Of course.

May 11, 2006

And They Didn't Invite Me?!

Dr. Deef sends us a video from Arsenio Hall's last show where just about anybody that was anybody in hip-hop at the time get a turn at the mic. Of course, I would have shown all them suckas up.

Every child a wanted child

In the link below, Dawn Eden said this:

There's one Planned Parenthood e-card with which I agree: Every child a wanted child. Every child is wanted by God, who wishes it to have the opportunity to thrive.

The second sentence makes no sense. Dawn believes a fertilized egg is a person -- this is the basis for her opposition to emergency contraception. Yet at least half of all fertilized eggs fail to implant naturally (search in-page for "fail to implant"), ie, God is the only agent responsible for the failure of these eggs to implant. Thus, God has denied over 50% of all "genetically unique [human] individuals" any "opportunity to thrive" whatsoever, over the entire million years of our species' existence.

If you include humans who were killed by natural disasters or disease before the age of 4 or so, I'd bet this number rises above 75% (and, if the 80% high estimate is accurate, it's more like 90 or 95%).

Empirically, there is good reason to say that God only wants a small fraction of humanity to have any opportunity to thrive.

This is one version of the Argument from Evil, and I have never seen a purported refutation of it that is not ridiculously ad hoc. (For example, I have heard that Al Plantinga's 'refutation' is that natural disasters and disease -- and presumably failures of fertilized eggs to implant -- are the fault of demons, whom God has given free will so they can choose whether or not to be virtuous.)

Dawn Eden makes my stomach churn

Insinuating that Planned Parenthood is racist is nasty enough, but these make me nauseous.

The sheer hatred these people have for women who control their own reproduction is disgusting.

May 10, 2006

Completely Not Random

So, out here in the South Jersey some of us have recently discoved Guitar Hero, what is easily the best music/rhythm game ever. For those that aren't familiar, the game comes bundled with a 3/4 scale guitar controller. Yes, a guitar controller that you strap around you while you're rocking out/playing the game. It has five buttons on the neck representing frets, a button where the pickups would be and which replicates strumming, and a whammy bar. To play the game you select a song, from quite a good mix of tunes I might add, and the game tells you which buttons to press at what time to "play" the song. I know, it sounds extremely lame from that description, but then, pretty much any game sounds lame if you break it down like that.

Ultimately, when you reach the top two difficulty levels it really starts to fool you into thinking that you're involved in the song. Criticize as you might, but if you play for a little while you'll be surprised to find yourself rocking along as you hit a really tough lick spot on. Anyway, the game is extremely fun. Currently it's only out for PS2, but I can't imagine a game as popular as this one is staying on one system for too long. If you get a chance to play it, I highly recommend it.

A sequel is coming out this fall, and ever since I found out my ear perks up when I hear a song that I think would be a good addition. Since I don't have school anymore, I went through my itunes library today and put together some songs I think would work in the game. Check below the fold to see...

(Song - Artist)
1. Mississippi Queen - Mountain
2. Carry On My Wayward Son - Kansas
3. Back In Black - AC/DC
4. While My Guitar Gently Weeps - The Beatles
5. '96 Quite Bitter Beings - CKY
6. Monkey Wrench - Foo Fighters
7. Aqualung - Jethro Tull
8. Sweet Child Of Mine - Guns & Roses
9. 2 Minutes To Midnight - Iron Maiden
10. Any Way You Want It – Journey
11. Feed My Frankenstein - Alice Cooper
12. How Blue Can You Get - BB King
13. Just What I Needed - The Cars
14. Have A Cigar – Pink Floyd
15. Black Magic Woman – Santana
16. Wonderboy – Tenacious D
17. Long Distance Runaround – Yes
18. Big Girls – The Trap
19. Head - OSI
20. Ramble On - Led Zepplin

Honorable Mentions:

Inside Out - Anthrax
Rebellion (Lies) - The Arcade Fire
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet - Bachman Turner Overdrive
Key To The Highway - BB King & Eric Clapton
Dark Night - The Blasters
Johnny Be Good - Chuck Berry
What Is Life - George Harrison
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
Scotty Doesn't Know - Lustra
Float On – Modest Mouse
Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
Cat Scratch Fever – Ted Nugent
Angry Cockroaches - Tito and Tarantula

May 09, 2006

Thus Ends A Really Lame Chapter In My Life

Wow, what a way to end law school. I just finished (just now! like, five minutes ago) writing a thirty page paper in just under 23 hours with something like a five or six hour nap in the middle there. Irresponsible? Maybe, but that's how I always end up cranking these things out, and this one didn't turn out half bad either. Anyhow, what a stressful but satisfying way to wrap it all up. Well, at least before the drinking starts.

May 08, 2006

Cheese, pure cheese

I bet I could get $75 apiece for 8.5x11 prints of this during football weekends. $120 in a frame. Crazy alumni. Posted by Picasa

May 07, 2006

This Is What I Do, When I Should Be Doing The Things I Should Do

I read internet forums where I find interesting links, like this one to Actions Comics #1.

This is what we do when we do the thing we do

If anyone cares about what grad students in philosophy actually do, well, you're at the right blog, because it's mostly just pointless arguing and whining about how busy and poor we are.

If anyone cares about what grad students in philosophy nominally do, you're also at the right blog, because I'm posting my first public work in progress.

Right now!

Unlike the other papers on my school website, I plan on developing this one further and, eventually, submitting it for publication. Right now, though, it's the term paper for my course in "feminist approaches to knowledge", known in the jargon as "feminist epistemology". I'm interested in seeing how accessible it is to non-philosophers and non-feminist philosophers; sadly, the answer to both is probably "not very". But this is just a draft version; it will go through many incarnations before I can manage to get it published. Incidentally, term papers are usually 15-25 pages, not 40+; that's partly why I've been so busy this semester. I shouldn't have to say that comments are greatly appreciated.

May 06, 2006

One More Leg In A Long Race

I've finished my last final of law school. Let's not talk about how I think I did. On the bright side, I still have a 30 page paper to write by Tuesday afternoon. Seriously, I feel like I'm playing the lead in, "You Really Hosed Yourself On This One Charlie Brown". Good grief.

Anyway, because I needed a break after my exam, here are a couple videos I found for you all. One is a new bit of video for the very cool looking game from Wil Wright, Spore. The next is the French version of the trailer for the next Bond film, Casio Royale. They call it a Royale because they have the metric system. Also, this new guy is blond. Weird.

May 05, 2006

I Should Have Mailed The Random 10 To The Marx Brothers!

This week's Random 10 is dedicated to all the finals I didn't study enough for. Here's to Tuesday, and the end of an experiment in higher learning.

(Song - Artist)
1. Get Smart - Theme song
2. Locomotive Breath - Jethro Tull
3. Ground Control - Sage Francis
4. Hot Rod Lincoln - Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen
5. The Spirit Carries On - Dream Theater
6. Fireworks, Fantasy for Orchestra, Op.4 - Igor Stravinsky
7. C'est La Vie - Emerson, Lake, & Palmer
8. Make Me Smile - Chicago
9. Carry On My Wayward Son - Kansas
10. Love Her Madly - The Doors

Wow, that's an awesome Random 10! If I didn't know better I'd think the old Random 10 Machine was juicing, but it submits itself to weekly screenings. No "favorites" list this week because there are too many good ones there.

I said *no* camels. That's *five* camels. Can't you count?!

May 04, 2006

Recipe for a bad day

Start with
one (1) paper that desperately needs to be written.
Now add
one (1) nasty bout of sinus congestion.
In the medicine cabinet, mix up
antihistamines (allergy medicines, which do nothing for the sinuses, but do cause drowsyness) and
generic sudafed (does not cause drowsiness, do a phenomenal job of draining the sinuses).

Take one medicine at random, spend the next four hours wondering why you still have an incredible sinus headache between being so incoherent you can't get any writing done. Decide to lay down for half an hour to clear your head. Wake up nearly three hours later, realse what happened, and desperately start pumping caffeine into your system so you get more than a single page written today.

At least I didn't confuse the generic sudafed with the drugs that, like, make your arms fall off or something. Then it'd be really hard to write.

What a shitty week.

One Final Word On Colbert

I can't imagine any more useful information coming out about Stephen Colbert's White House Press Club Dinner key note address, so I'll try not to harp on it any more after this, but this article (hat tip to Atrios) was too good to let slide.

First off, he states that Colbert was not funny, not only as a statement of fact, but as an expert opinion. I mean, let's set aside the fact that comedy can take all kinds of different forms and that a person, even an "expert" on comedy, might like, say, Andrew Dice Clay but not like Woody Allen or vice versa. His use of the rediculous story about asking the teacher to "say something funny" as proof of his own comic pedigree is almost funny in itself, except for being terribly lame. It's like "Kids Say The Darndest Things", except this kid sounds more annoying than funny.

Moving along to his "commentary", however, is even more rediculous. Look, I'm not against the idea that the comedy at the White House Press Club Dinner should be kid gloves comedy. It's a bunch of stuffy politicians, journalists, and other Washinton luminaries. At the same time, what do they expect? If Reagan had invited Richard Pryor to be a key note speaker, would he have expected there not to be jokes about drugs and involving the word "pussy"? If Bush invited Lewis Black, would it be "rude" to yell? I mean, setting aside the idea that comics, and artists generally, should clean up their act for a room full of stuffy old people that don't like their stuff anyway, what would a Colbert routine look like that would not have been considered rude? I guess he could have made some remarks about the dangers of bears, but the vast majority of his schtick revolves around criticism of the Administration and the media. I mean, there are guys, like Drew Carey, who are quite amusing working blue but can clean up nicely for a thoroughly non-offensive show. I'm just not sure if there's anything you could take out of Colbert's repertoire that would make it accetable for conservatives.

Cohen's next assertion that there's nothing bold about doing a routine like Colbert's with the audience that he had is just crazy. Under his construction of what would be bold it's essentially impossible to be a bold speaker vis a vis the President. Is there any instance where criticism of the President would result in anything resembling "smiting" or "death"? Of course not, but that does not make it any less bold to address the most powerful person in the world and criticize him. I am extremely critical of the administration here on the blog and in real life, but I would have muster quite a lot of, oh what to call it, courage to say anything resembling those thing to President Bush if I ever met him in person. It's one thing to have a humorous spoof of the cowed media and the bumbling President in front of an adoring studio audience, it's another matter entirely to do so in an increasingly hostile room.

Let's just ignore the paragraph where Cohen admits that the President's self-depricating bit with a body double was humorous to him, while Colbert's bits about the President's flaws were objectively unfunny. I'm pretty convinced that Cohen isn't the beyond question expert on humor that he presents himself to be.

Finally, there's this, "[Colbert] failed dismally in the funny person's most solemn obligation: to use absurdity or contrast or hyperbole to elucidate -- to make people see things a little bit differently." Are you kidding me? First, let's move past the part where no ammount of critique, forceful or gentle, has been able to change either the President's course of action or the media's blase method of reporting of those actions. I'm curious as to what "things" Jerry Lewis made me see differently. Maybe he's trying to show me something very deep about the stolid conventions of conversation. Or maybe it's just funny when he waves his arms around like an insane person, screaming through funny fake teeth.

The bottom line is that, as Jon Stewart pointed out on Monday, Colbert did the same types of jokes he does every night on his program. I don't know what people were expecting from him, but if they expected anything different, well they're just morons. And the vast majority of people complaining about his routine are people that, whatever stories they concoct about being humor experts, are simply conservatives that don't like the points underlying his jokes.

I didn't think all of his performance was hitting on all cylinders, but when 75% of 174,000 respondents thought that it was between "somewhat" and "very" funny, he must have been doing something right.

As to appropriate, let's not forget another (video) past performance. Yeah, I know the alterations to the video are a little heavy handed, but I swear it's impossible to find a feed of the original. If anyone can find it, by all means link in the comments.

And just because it's still funny, here's something to remind us of better times.

Man, this post took way too much time away from studying...

Calling All Nerds!

The original, theatrical releases of the Star Wars Trilogy are going to be released on DVD. The set will contain the re-released versions from the late 90s as well as the original versions as bonus features. The catch is that they will only be available for a limited time, from September through December of this year. Of course, the release is right around my birthday...

Oh, and Han shot first!

May 02, 2006

Back. Kind of. In a sense.

Somehow I managed to get out of LA. It's such a depressing place -- it ought to be one of the cleanest and most beautiful cities in the world, but instead it makes you question the visceral forcefulness of 'dystopian hellhole'. Actually, it's amazing that LA is the birthplace of suburban sprawl -- unlike, say, Chicago, the geography and water supply ought to encourage high population density.

Anyway, light posting the rest of the week, I'm afraid. In the next week, I have to finish two papers -- one that just needs the rough draft touched up (so that's not too bad), but I haven't even started writing the other (and that's very, very bad). I'm also rather spectacularly sick, with this stomach thing that's got me drinking pepto bismol like water. Hopefully MosBen can keep you all entertained until I have the energy to harangue once again.

May 01, 2006

More Colbert

Ran across this over at Eschaton. Evidently the mainstream media (MSM to you political hipsters) is largely ignoring Stephen Colbert's absolutely devastating performance the other day. Seriously, go watch that clip I linked to below. Most people that I know think The Daily Show is more amusing than The Colbert Report, but I think Colbert's doing more important work. Jon Stewart can show really absurd clips of the media saying or doing rediculous things, but Colbert is all the more effective because his persona plays it all with a straight face.

Also, today is Loyalty Day, so no criticism today. In fact, no criticism ever!