November 30, 2005

A Couple 360 Links

First up we have a review of NHL 2k6 over at Evil Avatar. I was pretty worried about this game because several of the reviews of the Xbox/PS 2 version, which came out a couple months ago, were pretty lackluster. Evidently a lot of the bugs the pulled the previous versions down have been fixed for this one and the review makes it sound like this should be a fun version. On the other hand, despite a couple minor graphical upgrades it does seem like this is still the game designed for the previous generation and not so much for the 360. Still, it's sort of what we should expect from a title released on so many platforms. Gun isn't the prettiest game on the 360, and that pretty obviously stems from the fact that it was designed to run on inferior machines, but it's still fun on the 360 and I'm sure that will be the case with NHL 2k6. Next year I'm sure we'll get a much better version, but this will hold us over for now.

The first Xbox brought a lot of former PC gamers (myself included) back to the console realm, and with them the modding subculture that has been so big in the PC world the last few years. Still, it's really impressive how quickly they've brought this over to the 360. Now, I've never been keen on all of the mods out there, particularly adding windows to your machine, but some of this stuff is pretty awesome. I'm especially interested in the adding in of extra hard drives to store movies and music on.

November 29, 2005

Yes, I'm procrastinating

All treatments of Anselm's ontological argument (see link below) include a premise or inference along the lines of the following:

If the concept G is not instantiated by some real thing, then we can construct a 'greater' concept, G+, which is G 'plus' instantiation.

The standard objection to this inference is that there is no solid criteria that permits us to call the consequent concept, G+, 'greater' than G. My objection, by contrast, is that even if some kind of standard of 'greatness' is granted, G+ can only be formed if G is of a certain kind of concepts, and there is no non-question-begging way of guaranteeing the G in question is of the right kind.

For example, consider the concepts 'virtue' and 'cat'. We can take 'cat' to be of the right kind: 'existant cat' (or 'is a substance that is a cat') is, pace Kant, a perfectly legitimate concept. However, 'existant virtue' (or 'is a substance that is virtue') is illegitimate: virtue, in and of itself, is not some thing or some stuff! While we can say 'that thing is a cat', it would be absurd to say 'that thing is virtue'.

Hence, Anselm's argument plays on an equivocation, and an admittedly briefly survey of the literature suggests my recognition of this equivocation in the context of Anselm's argument is novel; however, as this doctrine is the central logical thesis of Aristotle's Categories, it can be used to target Anselm directly without danger of anachronism.

An Alito Post

The Alito nomination has been on a low simmer for a while now, which isn't quite as exciting as the Roberts or Miers nominations but has given us a little while longer to ponder him as a person and the process in general. Check below the flip for the rest...

So here's an article about how Alito was a member of a Princeton alumni organization that had a particularly racist and sexist bent. Mostly it seems like the organization was founded in the early 70s after Princeton started admitting more than token numbers of women and minorities because some of the crusty white dudes didn't like the change. They published a periodical espousing these ideas as well as several shadier tactics to make their ideas known. Alito was a member of this organization and when he applied for a government job in '85 he was comfortable enough with his membership to list it on his resume. He was born in 1950, so in '85 he was 35 years old.

So my question to you readers is, how much, if at all, do you all think this should matter? Is it far enough in the past to forgive? Were times different enough back then that this isn't a big deal? On the other hand, does this rise to the level of being something that you think should kill, all on its own, his nomination? What bearing, if any, does this have on whether you think he could do a good job as a judge?

Now, I know it's easy to jump to your conclusion mat if you already have an opinion on Bush's nominees generally, but I also hope we get some discussion of how much stuff like this should matter when we're confirming Supreme Court nominees. The bottom line is that even though law nerds like myself tend to really get jazzed up about these sorts of things the Supreme Court affects all of your lives in material ways and we should all be at least as interested in getting good justices as we are in getting good presidents.

Linked without comment because I have a busy afternoon

Lance Mannion: They paid for this police force and by gum they're going to use it!

What Santorum wants is for a lot more cops to start pulling over a lot more of us and write a whole lot more tickets. This is something he doesn't dare say, it's probably something he doesn't even dare think, but it is what he wants.

It's what all these 'family values' and 'culture war' conservatives want.

Their problem is that since Barry Goldwater, the Republican Party has adopted a Populist pose and Populist rhetoric and Populists don't like cops because they know that traditionally the cops have been owned by the Rich and Populists don't like the Rich. Which ought to mean that Populists shouldn't like Republicans. But the Republicans have spent spent 40 years bad mouthing big government and making the case that it's Liberals who want to tell everybody what to do, what to think, and how to live their lives, and they've done a good job of convincing a large chunk of the country that the Republican Party isn't what it is, a party of rich people who like calling in the cops.

So they can't say what they want without calling attention to the fact that it is they and not the Liberals who want to boss everybody else around.

This is why Santorum's rhetoric turns to mush when he is asked to stop yelping about all the threats to the family and America's general fine and dandyness and make some specific proposals for dealing with those threats.

Double standard, doubletalk, doublespeak, double-think, double-cross---The Republican Motto.

Via Pandagon.

And now I'm off to refute the ontological argument! (If I remember and have time, I'll post a precis tonight.)

I'm Not Dead!

Yeah, it's been a while, eh? Well, see, I had a big paper to write, and then, uh, I just kind of took the Thanksgiving weekend off. Anyhow, finals are coming up in a couple of weeks, but hopefully I'll post up a couple of things here or there to amuse you all.

"I am just a stranger, in a promised land / I am only learning a game with the rules I don't understand"

November 28, 2005

Democratically elected prime minister of Iraq hates freedom

Why else would he spread anti-war propaganda like these?

Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record, according to the country's first Prime Minister after the fall of Saddam's regime.

'People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse,' Ayad Allawi told The Observer. 'It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.'

Seriously, why did we start this fucking war? At this point, it seems it was either (a) stop Saddam from developing WMDs he wasn't developing, or (b) replace a repressive thugocracy with a repressive thugocracy.

Via Pandagon.

I thought I was going to throw up

when I read this:

Actually, the only thing that makes me consider rape to be as awful as it is IS the possibility of life, and also STDs. In of itself, while it can be fairly painful, is not that much of a big deal. Certainly, it’s trespassing against your property and could result in great bodily harm, and you have the right to defend yourself, but mostly it’s psychologically damaging more than anything else.

but then I read this and had to stop for a couple minutes to keep it from really happening:

He said she said is worthless. In the middle east a woman needs a Man as a witness to charge another man with rape. Women are not smart enough to realize what they are doing to innocent men.

Rape in this country, in many places, is a worse crime than murder. What’s striking is that there are only 15k convictions for 85k accusations. It has the lowest conviction rape of any major crime. Which is scarey and tells us that women are not capable of making decisions on their own.

Of course, we can't have just misogyny; we need to misandry, too, in the form that only the patriarchy can offer:

It’s been particularly interesting to see how my friends who are single, non-feminist career girls are beginning to get very angry at their feminist forebears, as they begin to realize to their shock and horror that the mysogynistic neanderthals were telling them the truth all along. Men don’t give a damn about degrees, don’t care at all about a woman’s career and tend to see these things as a threat, not to themselves, but to the possibility of a romantic relationship.

The two key things that too many women fail to grasp with regards to relationships is that men simply don’t think like women, and that the sell-by date is about 32 when it comes to dating men your own age.

There's more. A lot more. And it's all as fucking disturbing as hell.

November 25, 2005

Logical fallacies in real life: affirming the consequent

The logical fallacy called affirming the consequent has the following form:
  1. (Hypothesis) If P, then Q
  2. (Hypothesis) Q
  3. (Conclusion) P

Here's a simple argument to illustrate the fallacy:
  1. If I go on a 20-mile bike ride, I will be tired.
  2. I am tired.
  3. Therefore, I went on a 20-mile bike ride.

The argument is fallacious because P need not be necessary for Q to come about.

Here's a real life illustration. P would be something like 'the Left supports the Enemy' while Q might be 'the Left is critical of the war' or 'the Enemy wins the war'.

This interview cannot be read without coming to the conclusion that the Left was aiding and abetting the enemy back then, and they are doing it again today. Period.

For lots of examples of logical fallacies (not to mention sexism, racism, and a nasty temper), read this one, too.

Link dump

Well, hopefully everyone had a delightful time yesterday, celebrating that great vice known as gluttony. Or working, if you happen to be visiting our humble little site from outside the US. My holiday was quiet but a lot of fun; unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of any of the excellent food I made, so you'll have to wait a while to find out how to make acorn squash au gratin. Today I'd like to offer you the backlog of interesting links I've accumulated in the past week. In theory, regular blogging will resume Monday.

Pandagon: Getting approval

Hugo: A post on dating advice and self-transformation

Hot Girl-on-Girl Action (about female characters in video games)

Echidne: From My Mailbag

NYT: In setback for Bush, Congress fails to pass his proposals

Propaganda from NYU administration about the GA strike. And a somewhat less biased news article about the strike. There are several good links in the discussion at the bottom, including this essay from a couple years back.

DED Space's misogynist quot[ation] of the week

Feministe links to and comments on this article, from an student newspaper for Notre Dame and St. Mary's (a women's college just across the road from ND). This is part two.

Feministe comments on the increasing number of women changing their last name upon marriage. Amanda talks about this, too.

Hugo has some thoughts on girls and lust. No, not like that! Get your mind out of the gutter.

November 17, 2005

Can't Staff of Ra?

because "Staff of Ra" is a verb now. Perhaps the acronym SoR ("soar") will catch on among all the cool kids, and then we'll have people from around the world wondering why the hell we're having lives and doing things instead of incessant blogging the latest on John Robert's "Say hello to MY Chief Justice" boxer-briefs.

Ahem. Sorry about that. Technical difficulties. Yeah, that's what happened.

Many/several people seem to be having severe problems viewing the blog using Internet Explorer, with only about 1 1/2 posts showing up, and no sidebar. Unfortunately, there's roughly jack shit that we can do about this on our end. Until blogger fixes things, we recommend using Firefox if at all possible. Hell, we recommend using it even if you aren't having this problem: it's a far superior browser to IE, especially if you try out some of the nifty extensions. If you can't install Firefox at work because you don't have Administrator privileges on that computer, we recommend you talk to your IT people and have them put it on for you.

November 15, 2005

More Fun With Google

Promoted from the comments, thanks to Dan we have more fun with Google courtesy of Master Ninja.

Manners and Anthropology

Manners and Anthropology
By Andrea McIntyre

"Civility is particularly due to all men; and remember that no provocation whatever can justify any woman in not being civil to every man; and the greatest woman would justly be reckoned a wench if she were not civil to the meanest man."

- Lady Chesterfield

Politeness, involving the manners of ladies and gentlemen, is an unfortunately lost art. We have abandoned civility for the naval gazing, narcissistic, hedonistic, humanistic philosophies that urge us to express our feeling on every occasion, to be emotionally "authentic." I am convinced that only a fool speaks what is on her mind at all times without regard for the effect that the expression of her thought will have on others. For instance, the wise will always express pleasure at making an acquaintance, even when the pleasure is not actually felt. The prudent will always render due respect to the fiercer sex and exalt them upon the pedestal that they so richly deserve. Indeed, I am often vexed by the attitude and historical ignorance of modern patriarchy. It seems that many men know little, if anything, about the etiquette of the past. Too many accept uncritically that the plight of men has always been so dire and that their sex has been severely oppressed throughout the history of classical western culture. Thus, too many accept, again, uncritically, a lie. In fact, even in the mundane act of introduction, it was unacceptable to introduce any man to a woman, unless that woman were the wife of a particularly high diginitary, such as the queen. Instead, women were to be introduced in humility to men, and that, normally, only after his express consent, as men were to be given the higher place of honor and respect. It seems so quaint, antiquated, and foreign to us, but women really would curtsey to the fiercer sex. They would rise when a man entered the room and not sit until he saw fit to be seated. They would wait on him and cater to his fancies. Refined manners dictated that every man to be treated as a king in his own right, receiving the respect he deserved as the bearer of life and the producer of the little images of God we call erections. In the end, I believe manners are a matter of anthropology. If woman is not simply an intelligent animal, if woman is truly the bearer of the image of God, then she ought to speak properly and reservedly. She ought to hold her shoulders back and lift her chin in pride and dignity. She ought to dine with civility and refinement. She ought to seek pleasure in the greatest of human aesthetic achievements and avoid her baser instincts. Woman is truly a wonderful, glorious creature. She ought to act like it.

(A parody. Read the original, where he proudly calls himself sexist and patriarchal. No, I'm serious, he does it in the comments. He also gets pissy and censors my ass-in-itself when I use 'fuck objects' to describe the way aristocratic men regarded lower-class women during the periods he's romanticizing.)

The Great And Powerful Flying Spaghetti Monster

The mighty Spaghetti Monster stretches his noodley appendages to begin creation. Recently frequent poster Dan was touched by the Great One's pastastic tentacles, carrying him to a starchy victory in Octorber's Ra Points competition. All hail to his Holy Carbiness!

Edit: For those that aren't aware, here's a nice Wikipedia article on the Flying Spaghetti Monster.Posted by Picasa

He Is Victorious!

Another month, another winner. This month Grumlock the Great was felled by the mighty Dan. It was nice to see so many people getting up there in the points this month and Dan actually just squeezed out the victory, so a hearty congratulations to you all! When our reporters caught up to the mighty victor and asked about his victory, Dan said, "I just want to thank the flying spaghetti Monster for granting me the power to best all the opposition." Check below the fold for the final point totals.

Dan 140
Grumlock 130
Joy 120
Jamie 90
Sarah 80
Jay 70
Jenna 60
Meghan 55
Manda 40
Andy 25
Yelladog 10
Ok.nowwhat 10

Posted by Picasa

Fun Google Hits

Another Fun With Google Hits post, which will of course just make those bizarre search terms all the more likely to hit again. But hey, I need hits. I suppose I could rely on posting pictures of pretty ladies, like some people, but I'm trying to maintain a certain level of class 'round here.

Here are the most interesting search terms that brought people here recently. To those of you finding yourself here by mistake, I'm sorry I don't have what you're looking for. Actually, given some of the terms that have brought people here over the last year, I'm really not.

1. "feminists for life bugmenot
2. "synonym for evangelize"
3. "bat shit crazy"
4. "Squanto headpiece clip art"
5. "rape culture"
6. "Kant and ESRB"
7. "My parents hate me"
8. "adjunct faculty"
9. "accidents involving dress shoes"
10. "Juvenial"

"You're such an inspiration for the ways
That I'll never ever choose to be
Oh so many ways for me to show you
How the savior has abandoned you"

Now Who's Getting Thrown Down The Well?

Kazakhstan is attempting to grab comedian Sacha Baron Cohen by the horns for portraying their country as a bunch of drunks who "pretend to be married" with their sisters. Thanks, and points, to Anne for the link.

And for you law nerds out there, or people that really want to see the stupider side of law school, here is a spinoff of the classic Overheard In New York but for law school. Points to Patrick for the link.

"This is not so much a holiday oriented song / as it is an exclamation of dismay at the sight of a beautiful woman"

Nerd Post

Law school buddy Joe sends us this cool link of a guy beating Super Mario 64 in twenty minutes. That's damn impressive, even though I never actually played the game. Damn impressive indeed. 15 Ra points for Joe!

"You hold on to love that's gone
Run a mile to see him smile
But you don't know he's door to door
Playin' you for the fool"

Also Starring Al Franken as Mothra And Jon Stewart As Gamora

You all know the deal: think up a caption for this picture of Billzilla destroying the Transamerica Pyramid and post it in the comments. Every entry gets 10 Ra points, the best one gets 15 extra. The contest ends when the picture drops off the front page.

Edit: I had misnamed the building as the Coit Tower.

Thanks again to Crooks and Liars again for the pic. Posted by Picasa

Picture Post To Follow

San Francisco voted on an initiative measure to ban military recruiting in public schools. I'm not going to take a position at this point on the substantive argument he's making, but what I do want to say is that the single greatest thing that pisses me off about blowhards like O'Reilly is that they take what could be a legitimate arguement and throw it out the window in favor of saying something crazy, like he does here.

While I'm at politics, here's a piece written by John Cusack about Iraq, Republicans, Dems, John Stewart, and Dr. King. It's a touch on the ranty side for me, but it's an editorial so it's not that far off the reservation and still much more informed and articulate than I usually expect out of celebrity political commentary. So good on you John.

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars for that links.

"Watch me / Fading / I'm losing / All my instincts / Falling into darkness"

Ra Points Update

While we wait for the quote from last month's winner, here's an update on this month's contest thus far. I know I haven't exactly given you all lots of opportunities to earn points lately, but I'll try to put something up today to get you some points and you're always welcome to some free points by commenting to a post. Check after the flip for the points update.

Dan 20
Joy 45
Jay 30
Grumlock 30
Kryssa 30
Meghan 10
Rob 10
Sarah 10

"tripped over a dog in a choke-chain collar
people were shouting and pushing and saying
and when i traded a smoke for a food stamp dollar
a ridiculous marching band started playing"

Jay's Link, A Bit Late

Jay sent me this link update to the ongoing debacle that is Jack Thompson's life many days ago and I'm just now getting around to posting it. It goes without saying that he got his 15 Ra points for sending me a postable link, though I should remind everyone that the easiest and most available way to get Ra points is to simply post comments to a post as I've been very easy about giving points out that way.

"As a man he was a danger to himself
Fearful and sad most of the time
He was drifting in and out of sanity
But in every other way he was fine"

Time To Catch Up A Bit

Well, it's been a great long weekend off but it's time to do a little catch up. Usually when I'm browsing the web and come across something interesting that I want to post I just open it in Firefox tab and leave it open until I get time to post about it. When I go a long time, like this last week or so, without posting much I tend to accumulate a lot of open tabs that clutter the hell out of my taskbar. Let's see if we can clean house a bit:

First, Dan Brottman sent me news that a tabletop pen & paper RPG exists for Serenity. I've read a couple reviews and it seems like it's pretty good.

The Roberts Court has handed down an interesting ruling in the field of education law. Being in Education Law right now (and with a paper due in a week), this is pretty interesting.

Microsoft has finally released a final list of the games that will be available on launch day for the Xbox 360. I know, there are some games missing from this list that I was really hoping would make it out on Day 1, but this is the way it goes sometimes in software and I'd much rather have a solid game later than a buggy and unfinished game sooner. Still, that's probably one of the strongest launch lineups I've ever seen, if not *the* strongest. Also, keep in mind that there will be several more games released between the launch day and the end of the year. Some of the most anticipated games won't make it this year, but we're still going to have plenty to play with.

Here's a list of the Xbox 1 games that will be backwards compatible on the Xbox 360 on launch day. Evidently only Halo 1 and 2 will work out of the box (the others you need to download a very small patch off of Xbox Live or order a CD that will have all of these on them), but it's still a pretty good list. Also, keep in mind that more games will be patched over time so this will expand if there's something you don't see there that you would want. It's important to keep in mind that the PS2 is really aberrant in console history in its universal backwards compatibility (though that's actually not 100% true, not all PS1 games do work on the PS2), and if this method of backwards compatibility seems lame I'd expect more of this in the future.

This is pretty old news, but here's a post on Alito and how he hasn't exactly held to promises made during his confirmation hearings back in the early 90s. I don't think this is a magic bullet to kill the nomination, but it certainly doesn't look very good. Speaking of Alito, here's an article where he pretty plainly stated his stance on abortion back in '85. Now, it's important to note that by all accounts Alito does take established precedents seriously and there have been several important and re-affirming cases since then, so I'm not convinced that this is quite as dispositive as others seem to think. Still, it's ammunition for the fight and it's something that I think he needs to address directly.

On a site note, I know I'm *WAY* behind in posting the winner of last month's Ra points contest, but I promise to get that up either today or tomorrow, assuming that I can get a quote from the winner.

"Just like every night has its dawn / Just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song" An extra five points for the movie I'm thinking of as I type this quote.

November 14, 2005

Happy 10th Birthday!

In the realm of internet news, there's places of mudslinging, disgustingly putrid filth like the Drudge Report, there are online outlets for established news organizations like the New York Times and CNN, and then there is

As I'm sure most of you read every now and then, and if you don't you most definitely should (I'm practically addicted to War Room) as they are celebrating their 10th Anniversary.

Here's to another 10 years with a pretty good news publication that takes criticism along the lines of "You're too freaking liberal" and responds "Well, if being liberal or left-leaning is calling the Administration's lies for what they are, then I guess we're liberal, tough."

November 12, 2005

Ostensive definition of rape culture

Alas, a blog:

I heard this joke from my mother, when I was about 11 or 12.

Two nuns were walking through the woods when they were set upon and raped. One said to the other, 'Whatever shall we tell Mother Superior?' The second replied, 'We'll just have to tell her that while we were walking through the woods, we were set upon and raped twice.' The first one said, 'Why twice?' The second replied, 'We still have to walk back through the woods again.'

By the logic of this joke, women, however uninterested in sex they may appear to be, are desperate for sex and simply dare not admit it. Therefore, the man who gives them sex despite their apparent objections is doing them a favour. Rape is just a form of sex, and women enjoy it enough to hope it happens to them again.

Jokes like this one reinforce the idea that when a woman says 'no', she really means 'yes', that reluctance is nothing more than a pose women adopt, that there is no meaningful distinction between sex and rape, that rape doesn't really do any harm. And jokes like this one get told all the time, not behind closed doors, but proudly, out in public.

That's the kind of thing we mean when we talk about rape culture.

Just in case you weren't sure what it meant.

Also, Ampersand has compiled a list that's a good ostensive definition of male privilege.

And, this isn't entirely relevant, but Echidne comments on Katha Pollitt on Maureen Dowd.

November 11, 2005

In the news

Bush levels a damning criticism against the politicians who decided to invade Iraq

"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges," Mr. Bush said .... "As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them."

Oh, wait, no, he was talking about the Democrats criticizing all the WMD bullshit. My bad.

Angela Merkel will be Germany's first female chancellor. Negotiations took nearly two months, and Merkel -- a conservative, and member of the Christian Democratic Union -- will be at the top of a cabinet that will include more liberal Social Democrats in several prominent positions, including the ministers of finance and labour. This means the CDU will be blocked from implementing many of the Clinton/Blair-esque economic "reforms" central to their platform.

Liberia elects the first female African president. President-elect Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is an a "Harvard-educated economist and former World Bank official" . Her chief rival was a soccer star, who "only" garnered 41 percent of the vote.

Nerds strike!

Lindsay Beyerstein gives a summary and some photos for the first day of the NYU grad student's strike.

A long rant below.

Grad students are fundamental employees of any modern research university, on a par with the faculty and staff. Typically, TAs are responsible for every aspect of freshman- and sophomore-level courses except the three hours of lecture a week: running the discussion/review sessions; grading the homework, exams, and papers; and meeting with students in office hours. The difference between the work done by a TA with three thirty-person discussion sections and an adjunct faculty member (someone in a non-tenure track position) teaching three thirty-person classes is minimal. However, TAs are typically paid only about half of the pittance adjunct faculty members make -- at some schools, the TA stipend is barely enough to keep one person above the official poverty line, and two or more people living off one stipend would qualify for public assistance -- and are given little to no non-monetary benefits. For example, I have only subsidized health insurance, my school only paying for about half my premium, and that insurance is crap: the maximum benefit is ridiculously low, like $10k a year, and I have no coverage for dental or vision. Due to receding gums, I may be in danger of losing a couple teeth in the next year without dental insurance, and I only have a single pair of glasses with the right prescription. If I were female, I'd be in an even worse situation, as birth control and abortion procedures are simply not covered (naturally, viagara and the like are covered), and only ONE of an annual physical and annual gynaecological exam are covered. I also strongly suspect that children of grad students usually do not get the tuition exemption the children of faculty and staff enjoy. Finally, grad students usually have no official status in matters of department administration, not even a representative to advise the faculty in hiring and firing decisions.

The situation is actually even more fucked-up at state universities, where grad students are routinely not considered state employees when benefits are considered (usually, grad students are the only employees of the state not qualified to at least have the option of buying highly subsidized health insurance), but usually have to jump through the same loops as other state employees (ethics and diversity training classes, or random drug screenings might conceivably be required in this way). Fortunately, grad students at state universities do not have the NLRB ruling working against them, just the usual anti-union scare mongering and intransigent, condescending administration. (It took the UIC administration over a year to recognize the grad student union there after it was officially recognized by the NLRB.)

The NLRB ruling is particularly odious, and it's important that the NYU students are successful in renewing their contract and getting the ruling overturned. As Lindsay notes, the ruling says that grad students at private universities simply aren't allowed to unionize, while grad students at public universities are. This double standard is just wrong, of course, but the motivation for blocking grad students from unionizing is especially pernicious: the logic, essentially, is that grad students are students, and hence not employees. This mirrors a largely unspoken attitude that runs throughout academia, and is also used by university administrators to exploit non- and pre-tenure faculty: we're supposed to be in this profession because we're passionate intellectuals, teachers, and scientists, and thus we ought not be caught up in material concerns like 'having both food and car' and 'not worrying about how to pay the doctor's bills'. Thus, we (grad students, adjunct and assistant faculty) aren't supposed to need unions, and its petty and selfish to expect our employers to meet with us as equals to determine a fair contract -- which is one of the oldest anti-union memes around.

This is fucking stupid

First they pre-empt it for a month for baseball, and now this:

ARRESTED NO, PRISON YES: Variety is reporting that Fox has cut back its episode order for the Emmy-winning yet ratings-anemic Arrested Development, has advised Kitchen Confidential execs that the freshman series will not be picked up for a full season, and — here comes the salt — is pulling both shows from the schedule for at least the remainder of November sweeps. Fox will air Prison Break repeats in the 8 pm/ET Monday slot for the time being, unless, that is, Jason Bateman gives up Fibonacci.

I haven't seen a single episode of Kitchen Confidential, so no opinion on that either way, but clearly someone at Fox has had it in for Arrested Development since its first season -- it was barely renewed for a second. Six freaking Emmys in the first two years, and it's still pulled for stupid, stupid Prison Break.

This is very much like what was done with Malcolm in the Middle, also one of my favourite shows and a respectable award-winner, last year. When it was on Sundays last fall, nearly all of its episodes were pre-empted for football, and naturally its ratings were terrible, leading it to being dumped this year in the Friday night limbo, its spot given to some horribly unfunny clone of Married With Children.

Honestly, I'm not sure which is more frustrating: that network teevee is so resistant to making good television for its own sake, or that most people seem to actually prefer quantity over quality.

November 10, 2005

One of the atria in the main Marshall Field's store, in Downtown Chicago, decorated for Christmas three years ago.

 Posted by Picasa

This is where I've been

Edward Halper's criticism and positive account of Barnes and Mignucci's Aristotle's philosophy of mathematics is premised on a misunderstanding of one of the fundamental principles of Aristotle's ontology: the being of accidents and abstracts (such as numbers) is metaphysically dependent on substances, not on finding some one substance. Numbers, in particular, are dependent on collections. Hence, Halper's criticism of Barnes and Mignucci fails, and his own positive account is incoherent.

Only, in more detail, and over 15 pages. I start working on the two 20 page papers next week. Whee!

Hiya Stranger!

Hey guys, I know I haven't exactly been posting lots lately, and I've got even more bad news on that front. My internet has been down at home for several days and though it seems to be up again, my dad is going to be visiting for the weekend and I expect I won't be posting much if anything while he's here. Anyway, hopefully I'll get something up sometime during the weekend and perhaps one of the other three contributors can put something up to keep you guys entertained.

Anyway, in the meantime here's a cool story about dinosaur crocodiles.

"Cause I don't need that A-I-D-S / A D and an A missin' out my ADIDAS"

November 08, 2005

First Review Of The Movies

And here it is. They really liked it a lot, evidently. This game is going to be like crack to me.

"Being the first in the Irish Sea / I got a message I can't read / Another message I can't read"

November 07, 2005

Your awesome Hugo quotation for the day


I've heard some men and women say on this subject: 'Respect has to be earned. I'll respect those who respect themselves, and a woman who wears a micro--miniskirt to class, or wears a shirt that says 'Slut' or 'I'm too pretty to do math' isn't respecting herself, so why should I respect her?' I've never liked that line of reasoning, either on feminist or professional grounds. As a pro-feminist, I'm adamant that respect for women is not conditional on a dress code! Feminism has long insisted that women should not have to forfeit either their sexuality or their right to individual expression in order to be seen as complete human beings, worthy of being treated with dignity. As I've written before in recent weeks, it doesn't matter whether a woman is wearing a miniskirt or a burkah; her personhood is non-negotiable.

There's also a great little anecdote where he compares a young man who refused to bathe with a young woman who liked to wear skimpy outfits.

November 06, 2005

Articles About Women Gamers

Here are a couple of articles on women gamers to accompany our recent discussion of the topic. Any new thoughts?

"They've given me a mission /I don't really know the game yet / I'm bent on submission / Religion is to blame"

Charles Krauthammer makes Kant cry, too

Expanding on this post, we have another example of the same spectacularly misogynist "reasoning", this time in the form of a column by Charles Krauthammer, defending Alito's Casey decision. (More below the fold!)

(In the fisking that follows, emphasis is mine.)

Actually, Krauthammer isn't defending the decision, at least the way philosophers tend to use that word, meaning just the conclusion of the argument (in particular, that husband notification is constitutional). No, he's defending Alito's reasoning.

Pop quiz: Which of the following abortion regulations is more restrictive, more burdensome, more likely to lead more women to forgo abortion?

(a) Requiring a minor to get the informed consent of her parents, or to get a judge to approve the abortion.

(b) Requiring a married woman to sign a form saying that she notified her husband.

Can any reasonable person have any doubt? A minor is intrinsically far more subject to the whims, anger, punishment, economic control and retribution of a parent. And the minor is required to get both parents involved in the process and to get them to agree to the abortion.

You see, children have legal guardians, and adult women don't. Therefore, if women are placed back under the legal guardianship of their husbands, no-one (no fully fledge person, ie, no man) will be facing an additional hurdle when he wants to get an abortion, so things are a-okay!

The married woman just has to inform her husband. Even less than that. She just has to sign a form saying that she informed him. No one checks. Moreover, under the Pennsylvania law I draw my example from, she could even forgo notification if she claimed that (1) he was not the father, (2) he could not be found, (3) he raped her or (4) she had reason to believe he might physically harm her. What prosecutor would subsequently dare try to prove to a jury that, say, she actually had no such fear of harm?

Husband notification isn't a big deal, because she can just commit perjury! (May I just say, what the fuck?)

Even here, at the very beginning, Krauthammer has made the same appalling assumption Alito did. Can you pick it out? Here's a clue:

Remember: The question is not whether (a) or (b) is the wiser restriction. The only relevant question is which is more likely to discourage the woman from getting an abortion.

The answer is obvious.

Why is this the relevant question? Because when, in 1991, Judge Samuel Alito was asked to rule in Planned Parenthood v. Cas ey on the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's spousal notification requirement, Supreme Court precedents on abortion had held that "two-parent consent requirements" for a juvenile with "a judicial bypass option" do not constitute an "undue burden" and thus were constitutional. By any logic, therefore, spousal notification, which is far less burdensome, must also be constitutional -- based not on Alito's own preferences but on the Supreme Court's own precedents.

It doesn't matter whether this robs married women of fundamental rights to bodily autonomy, whether the State can "empower [her husband] with this troubling degree of authority over his wife", whether a man can be given "the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over children", in the words of Justice Day O'Connor overturning Alito's opinion. All that matters is whether or not it will be more difficult for adult women to procure an abortion than a teenager under a similar notification law.

Have I mentioned that I have some deep, deep problems with Utilitarianism?

This may all seem arcane, but it requires slogging through arcana to see just how dishonest, disreputable and disgraceful is the charge, trumpeted by just about every liberal interest group, that Alito is so extreme and insensitive to women's needs that he supports spousal notification for abortion.

Alito's Casey opinion no more tells you whether he "supports" the policy of spousal notification than whether he likes foie gras with his pudding. The only thing it tells you is that based on scrupulous parsing of Supreme Court precedents -- or more particularly, of Sandra Day O'Connor's precedents on permissible restrictions on abortion -- he concluded that spousal notification met the court's own standard for constitutionality.

Well, based on a scupulous parsing of Supreme Court precedents and the notion that wife is to husband as child is to parent.

Let me make this very clear, so even you can understand it, Mr. Krauthammer. The problem with Alito's Casey decision was NOT whether he misapplied the undue burden standard laid out by the Supreme Court previously. The problem was that he was even applying this standard in the first place. The reason the Supreme Court smacked him down as fast as they did is that Alito skipped over the important test of "does this violate fundamental principles of legal equality?" Not only is undue burden not the only relevant question, it's actually completely irrelevant to the unconstitutionality of husband notification. That Krauthammer, a hack and talking head, doesn't get it (or pretends not to get it) is one thing; that a fucking Federal judge and Supreme Court nominee doesn't understand the foundations of our legal system is absolutely terrifying.

The grounds on which the Democrats (and sane Republicans) ought to challenge Alito are, thus, not ideological: even staunch yet intellectually honest opponents of abortion should question Alito's competence as a jurist if he passes by fundamental issues such as legal equality to give highly technical arguments supporting his predetermined conclusion. In a word, Alito is a sophist. In two words, Alito is intellectually corrupt.

You can finish off the Krauthammer column, but as he just continues ranting about the undue burden standard, I'm not going to bother copying and pasting here.

Via Amanda, who argues that this is clearly part of a nefarious plot to destroy heterosexual marriage.

Update: I'm sure you will all be shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that John Leo is also an idiot/evil.

November 05, 2005

I'm Ready For My Close Up Mr. MosBen

A new video of the soon-to-be-released game "The Movies" is up over at Filecloud. Man, this game looks so awesome and it's coming right towards the end of a school semester, which is always the best time for me to be slacking off extra. I might actually have to give this to myself for Christmas or I stand a very good chance of failing all of my finals. For those that don't know about The Movies, here's a brief description from the somewhat longer description at the official site:

Imagine you could make any movie you wanted to. Imagine you could pluck someone from obscurity and make him or her the hottest star in Tinseltown. Imagine that you had control of an entire movie studio, competing with others to create a string of box office smashes. Imagine being able to use your judgement alone, deciding whether success lies with epic action pictures or lots of low budget, hammy 'B' movies.

Here's a weekend thread for all of you: (Assume for the purposes of the question that you are all going to go buy and play this game, which you should) Describe your ingame masterwork. Name, genre, brief description. Keep in mind that I'm not asking what movie you would make if you were a real life director, but what you would make in the game, so no need to feel like you have to make some big important film. For instance, in this game you could easily choose to make an alien buddy cop film.

She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere,
So I looked around and I noticed there wasn’t a chair."

November 03, 2005

My brother's cat


Oh, Pookie! (Yes, that's his real name. My brother was like ten when we got him.) Did I disturb you from that five-hour nap you were taking on my luggage? Those three hours you spent sleeping on my pillow must have just worn you out!
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Sam Alito makes Kant cry

Awww, look at how sad Kant is! Want to know why? Check below the fold.

Remember, Kant is all about autonomy. The fundamental moral criterion is whether or not your actions respect others as autonomous beings. It's true that, being a man of his time, he says some chauvinistic things about women being inferior to men, but hopefully in the two hundred years he's had to keep an eye on us FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE he's learned a bit about just how capable women really are. So, as I've argued elsewhere, the right to choose to abort a pregnancy is defensible on straightfrowardly Kantian grounds: you can't deny a woman the right to choose to abort a pregnancy without presupposing that she's incapable of acting as a rational, autonomous being at all.

And Sam Alito did this explicitly in his dissent in Casey, in regards to a spousal notification condition. I'll let William Saletan explain:

Now, in your opinion in Casey, right after that quote from Justice Marshall, you write this: "These harms are almost identical to those that the majority in this case attributes to Section 3209." Section 3209 is Pennsylvania's spousal-notice provision. Then you conclude, "Justice O'Connor's opinions disclose that the practical effect of a law will not amount to an undue burden unless the effect is greater than the burden imposed on minors seeking abortions in Hodgson or Matheson." And you uphold the spousal notice law because its burden doesn't exceed the burdens in those other cases.

Now, here's my question, Judge. Do you really think an undue burden for a grown woman is the same as an undue burden for a teenager? Do you think a woman deserves no more deference than a girl?

And from the Supreme Court's controlling opinion on Casey, written in part by the justice Alito has been tapped to replace:

The husband's interest in the life of the child his wife is carrying does not permit the State to empower him with this troubling degree of authority over his wife. … A husband has no enforceable right to require a wife to advise him before she exercises her personal choices. … A State may not give to a man the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over their children.

Kant is very, very explicit when he explains why children are not given the rights and freedoms of adults: their capacity for rational agency is not yet fully developed. They need to be educated, taught both theoretical and practical knowledge, before they can be considered autonomous individuals.

Don't make Kant cry. Call your Senator and tell them that Kant wouldn't support anyone who supports Alito, and neither will you.

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Jack Thompson Is Bat-Shit Crazy

Game Politics has another great bit on anti-video game crusader Jack Thompson, this time taking on the country of Japan. The email exchange between Game Politics and Thompson is priceless.

Edit: Forgot the link.

"Time, time is gone
it stops stops who it was
well i was wrong
it never lasts"

Hooray For Blogs

Kos has become something of a lightning rod in the liberal blogging community, due mainly to some insensitive comments about women and abortion rights from time to time, but like it or not he's got the biggest community I know of and that can be powerful. It's nice to see that power used for some good. From Penny Arcade's Child's Play to this, I love to see the internet community doing really great stuff.

"Truth is the sound ears are craving / Light is the white dove"

November 02, 2005

How Bad Ass Does Harry Reid Look Here?

"Alito shall not paaaaaaaaaaaaass!"

Blatantly stealing an idea from Atrios, add your own captions to this picture.Posted by Picasa

November 01, 2005

You learn something new every day!

Eastern Washington looks a hell of a lot like, say, Colorado or Wyoming, with rich, lush forests and small towns tucked into mountain valleys, and not a vast high desert plateau.

And Bones gets knocked down one more notch in my eyes ...

Whassat? Backbone?

NY Times:

Democrats invoked a rarely used rule today that sent the Senate into a two-hour closed session, infuriating Republicans but producing an agreement for a bipartisan look at whether the Republican leadership was dragging its feet on a promised inquiry into the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence on Iraq.


"I demand on behalf of the American people that we understand why these investigations aren't being conducted," Senator Reid said from the Senate floor before the session, "and in accordance with Rule 21, I now move that the Senate go into closed session."

Senator Frist appeared furious over the maneuver, which took place against a backdrop of rising political acrimony here.

"The resort to this, this, this stunt - this political stunt - this scare tactic, is really deeply disappointing," he told reporters . But "if they want to get in the gutter, I guess that's what they'll do."

Heh. Cool.

the old "choice for men" business

Hugo smacks down the "men don't have a choice" argument against ... something (on that, check below the fold) in as elegant a way as I've ever seen:

As I've written before, pregnancy is a burden carried solely by women. While conception takes two, and parenting ought to involve an equal commitment from both parties who took part in the earlier conception process, it's hard to argue that men are as involved as women in the period between conception and birth. And where there is an unequal burden, the law does well to honor the wishes of she who, by herself, bears that burden.

Frankly, it's sad that the "men don't get a choice!" whining even needs to be rebutted; as I see it, it's either logically fallacious or contradicts itself, and a little critical thinking should be all it takes to burn this sucker down. Let's walk through the argument:
  1. People ought to be allowed maximal freedom to decide whether or not to reproduce.
  2. Women can abort an unwanted pregnancy.
  3. Men cannot abort an unwanted pregnancy.
  4. From (2) and (3), women enjoy more freedom than men in regards to reproduction.
  5. From (1), the situation in (4) is unjust.
  6. Hence, women ought not be allowed to choose to abort an unwanted pregnancy.

If (6) is included as the conclusion of the argument, then the conclusion contradicts the premise (1). So suppose we throw that out; then we're left with the question of how to rectify the injustice of the conclusion without banning abortion, and of course anything we tack on in place of (6) is also going to contradict (1), at least so long as men don't get pregnant.

But, whatever the conclusion, the argument is invalid, in the inference from (4) to (5): justice is not the same thing as equality, and no-one ever said it was except strawmen communists. Certainly equality in some respect or another is often necessary for justice -- say, equality in government funding for schools, or equality in the right of any two single adults to marry and adopt kids -- but there are plenty of examples to show that this is not always the case -- just to make one up on the spot here, it would be patently unjust to expect Minnesotans and Floridians to dress exactly the same. And, as Hugo argues, the situation in (4) is another excellent example of where equality would prevent justice.

But, hell, let's throw the anti-feminists a bone here. We'll pass a law: any pregnant man has the right to choose to have an abortion, subject to the same restrictions as a pregnant woman in his community.

If You Want Alito Info, Here You Go

I'm going to be honest here, I'm still putting together thoughts on the Alito nomination and I haven't even read all of these links, but here's most of what I'm going to be drawing my thoughts from:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Yeah, I know it's really lame to just post links, and I may update them once they're all read and I have time, but just click through a couple and learn a little about what may end up being the next Supreme Court Justice.

In the mean time, why don't you all use this space to post your thoughts on the nomination.

Edit: Number 6 is not actually about Alito, but Prussian Blue, the racist pop group covered last week (I think). The link is to an apologia from a conservative that had previously knee-jerk defended the group because he thought the girls were rebelling against a multiculteralism that doesn't allow white people to celebrate their heritage and being attacked by Liberals for it. Of course, then he read something about them. Still, nobody other than yours truly is covering the most disturbing aspect of the girls, which is that they can't sing worth a damn.

I am, of course, too lazy to fix the links, but now you know to watch out, and knowing's half the battle.