Friday, December 22, 2006

Rabbis without God

The Jerusalem Post is reporting:
"In an unprecedented event in Israel, seven secular Jews who view Judaism as a culture, as opposed to a religion, will be ordained as rabbis Friday in Jerusalem."
As the few and brave readers of this blog know, I am involved in a local Secular Jewish congregation--one that is a related organization to the one that is doing the ordaining in Israel: International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism--so this is good to hear.

A hat tip to Jack Silver by way of my wife for this news.

Philosophy of Ambiguity

My uncle sent these to me and I thought many of them where funny enough to pass along:

1. Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

2. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor....

3. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

4. If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?

5. The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.

6. I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

7. What if there were no hypothetical questions?

8. If a deaf person swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap?

9. If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

10. Is there another word for synonym?

11. Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all?"

12. What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?

13. If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?

14. Would a fly without wings be called a walk?

15 Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?

16. If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?

17. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?

18. If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?

19. Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?

20. How do they get deer to cross the road only at those yellow road signs?

21. What was the best thing before sliced bread?

22. One nice thing about egotists: They don`t talk about other people.

23. Does the Little Mermaid wear an algebra?

24. Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?

25. How is it possible to have a civil war?

26. If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown too?

27. If you ate both pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry?

28. If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

29. Whose cruel idea was it for the word "Lisp" to have "S" in it?

30. Why are hemorrhoids called "hemorrhoids" instead of "assteroids"?

31. Why is it called tourist season if we can't shoot at them?

32. Why is there an expiration date on sour cream?

33. If you spin an oriental man in a circle three times does he become disoriented?

34. Can an atheist get insurance against acts of God?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Deathly Hallows

Rowling has announced the title to her next and last Harry Potter book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Sounds a tad ominous, no?

The article from the BBC has some interesting quotes from Rowling about her mixed emotions on finishing the last book.

Hat tip to my beautiful wife.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Just how do you spell it???

The LeeVee's video for How do you spell Channukkah?:

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hanukkah Rocks Review

Here's my review, written for the Or Adam newsletter, of The LeeVee's Hanukkah Rocks CD.

Just how do you spell Hanukkah? And is it apple sauce or sour cream for your latkes? These are the question posed by The LeeVees in their holiday album: Hanukkah Rocks. Adam Gardner and Dave Schneider combine for this fun, contemporary, and entertaining album of new Hanukkah songs. Released in October 2005, Hanukkah Rocks seeks to fill a gap in Hanukkah music. Outside of the ubiquitous "Driedel Song", there aren't too many songs out there for Hanukkah. Gardner and Schneider, both established musicians with their respective bands (Guster and The Zambonis), successfully fill this void with sure to be classics like "Latke Clan": "We'll put the oil into the pan/So come and join our Latke Clan/'Cause we are latke fans" and the hilarious "How Do You Spell Channukkahh?": "I remember when I was/In Elementary School/A Spanish kid told me/that it starts with a silent J/But Julio was wrong". These songs capture the secular sense of Hanukkah that connects most Jews to the holiday, but they are also good enough to listen to year round. Other songs are about the love for kugel, the adventure of the Jewish Matzoh Ball, and the unofficial Jewish tradition of going for Chinese food on Christmas day. The album is often amusing and always fun; and furthermore, full of the joy of being Jewish.

Hanukkah Rocks, Reprise Records
Available online at

Monday, December 04, 2006

My American Accent

Hat tip to Philosopher Stone for this. His, he asserts, was dead on. As for me, not quite. Maybe I over thought questions...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The Inland North
The Northeast
The South
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More Updates...

Some other items of interest (to me at least):

1. Saw the new Bond movie on Saturday. Daniel Craig is fantastic as Bond. Bronson brought a lot of romantic elements back to Bond after Dalton's more naturalistic portrayal, but Craig, and the movie as a whole, really brings out the true romanticism of the character and the story. Bond is a true hero in a grand adventure; and the movie avoids the cynicism and cheesiness that often accompany such films. One gets the feeling that this must have been what it was like to have seen Dr. No with Sean Connery for the first time in the theaters. The rest of the cast is quite good as well. I am looking forward to next Bond already.

2. Kristen and I have been listening with our friends Amy and Michael to the Teaching Company's: Introduction to Judaism course. We listen to the tapes and then go over the discussion questions and other issues raised by the lecture. A much more effective method than just listening as I walk the dog half a sleep in at 6am. We are almost done with the course and will then listen to Jewish Intellectual History.

3. We've started an Or Adam Book Club. We're going to start in February and then meet every two months. All the books will have Jewish theme or focus of some kind. The first book is The Song of Hannah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy. One of the other books we are doing is Betraying Spinoza by Rebecca Goldstein. It's a biography of Spinoza, but Goldstein is a philosopher and so I expect it to get into his ideas. I know little of Spinoza, and so this will be a good opportunity to pick up a little more.


To my loyal readers, if there are any, it is time for an update on what I've been up to.

I've applied for several full-time teaching jobs for Fall 2007. Mostly Northeastern schools; small liberal arts colleges with a strong emphasis on undergraduate education. I think that is the kind of school I'd be happiest at, and moreover, I think that kind of education environment is, for most students, the most beneficial and rewarding. I'll be attending the Eastern APA meeting in DC; I am hopeful that I'll have some interviews. For those outside of the philosophy world: the Eastern APA conference is both a philosophy conference with presentations and the like but it also the main stage for the first round of job interviews.

The dissertation is under way, and I am targeting finishing in May. A bit on the aggressive side, but my chair and I are confident and optimistic. We have worked out a plan that is doable.

Part of the dissertation involves using characters from Robert Parker's Spenser series. I am using the characters of Spenser and Hawk to focus the questions and problems of Practical Wisdom that the dissertation is focused on. As such, I am reading several of the novels so that they are more fresh in mind.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I guess the French aren't that bad

Good news came in the mail today. Harry Potter and Philosophy has been translated into French: Harry Potter et la Philosophie.

For those keeping track, that means I've been translated into Portuguese, Korean, and French.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Official: Jolie is Dagny

According to Variety magazine, Angelina Jolie has signed with Lionsgate to portray Dagny Taggart in the film adapation of Rand’s classic, Atlas Shrugged.

Click here to

Click here to read The Atlas Society’s announcement

Still no word on a director yet, but signing Jolie is a big step.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The best logical fallacies

By way of Philosopher Stone, GeekPress has a list of logical fallacies: each one with an argument for why it is the best logical fallacy. Here's the rub: each one of these arguments commits the fallacy that it claims is the best. Very funny.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Posting Dirth

For the few who actually read this blog, I apologize for the dirth of posting. I am working hard on preparing for my comprehensive exam in early October. All my energy and attention is being focused on this task.

A few quick hits:
1. I am excited about the start of football season, though I won't really be able to watch the first month of games. I did watch the ugly win by the Pats yesterday. A win is a win is win. Positives: running game looks awesome. Defense looks sharp, but had some troubles getting going. Negatives: um, a wide receiver would be nice.

2. Deion Branch trade to Seattle. Sad to see him go; concerned about Pats WR situation; but overall hard to argue against Team Belichick. I am hoping Gabriel will step up and be the deep threat we need.

3. Comps preps lately has been focused on Julia Annas' work. Prior to Annas, I was reading through Sarah Broadie--another top Aristotle scholar. The contrast in style and approach is striking. Annas is more of a generalist, at least in The Morality of Happiness. She is looking at the whole of ancient ethics. Broadie is super-detailed, giving an indepth and close analysis of Aristotle. Both are important scholarly tactics, and both are important for my project of looking at the development of Practical Wisdom from Aristotle to contemporary virtue ethics.

4. This afternoon, I am reading Kant's Doctrine of the Virtues. I am excited, because this is totally new material, but a bit anxious, because it's going to be a tough slog through difficult material.

5. On my morning Bella walks, I have been listening to Robert Greenberg's How to listen to and understand Opera (Teaching Co.). Almost half way through. Very, very good--but then it's the Teaching Co. so that goes without saying. (But I said it anyway, go figure)

6. I can't believe it's been 5 years since 9/11. I can still clearly remember Tim announcing, as we settled into work, to the office in Poughkeepsie, NY: "The World Trade Center tower has been hit by an airplane". We thought at first it was a freak accident. Then the second tower was hit: now it was clear that it was a terrorist attack.

Well, that's probably too long a break...back to work...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Consumerism in Education

As an educator, I read articles on education: its current state, where it’s going, style’s of teaching, etc. Often these articles refer, derisively, to the creep of consumerism into education. The complaint is that too many students have the view that since they are paying for the class, they should get an A or more direct control over the classroom itself. In my experience there is a lot of truth to this complaint; many students do have this view.

The complaint is, however, misplaced. The consumerism of the students, per se, doesn’t bother me or strike me as problematic. After all, education is a service that is being sold. Students are buying (and consuming) this service. Indeed, I often think of myself qua teacher as an entrepreneur. Consumerism becomes problematic in education when students (and others: parents, administrators, educators, politicians, etc.) have the wrong idea of what is being consumed.

When students view their purchase as the purchase of an A or even the purchase of an ‘education’, they are misunderstanding (with partial culpability to the institutions themselves) their purchase. Educational institutions are selling access and opportunity for education; the student has to get that education himself. An analogy to personal fitness training is apt here. If Sally purchases a year of personal fitness training at her local gym, she is not buying fitness; she is buying access to a trainer who has knowledge about fitness and can direct her efforts towards her goals. She is buying the access to facilities and equipment. She is purchasing the opportunity to get herself fit. If Sally became upset because the trainer was pushing her and challenging her during her sessions or because she failed to reach her fitness goals due to her own sloth or lack of effort then Sally is seriously misplacing her disappointment.

The same applies for education. When Tommy pays tuition at an education institution he is purchasing access to experts who can direct him towards his goals (and even help him determine these goals); he is purchasing access to facilities such as libraries and research centers. He is buying the opportunity to get an education, but he has to work to achieve these goals, much like Sally has to work to achieve her fitness goals.

If more students viewed education in this way, consumerism would be a benefit to them and to educators. Paying for one’s own education provides a powerful incentive to actually do the work that will help in achieving one’s goals. Even for the more apathetic students, I think the attitude would shift from “I paid for the credits, give me the A” to “I paid for the credits, I better do something about it”. This would be similar to the experience many have after buying a gym membership: “well, I paid for the membership; I might as well make use of it”.

So what causes students to have the wrong idea about what they are buying? The causes are many. In part, I think the institutions themselves contribute to this with the way they sell their services (either to students directly or the taxpayers that are actually paying for the education) and the way they structure their institutions. I think politicians represent a college education in this way—as some consumable that needs to be distributed to each member of society. The drive to get everyone a college education means that many students at colleges don’t want to be there (at least not for the right reasons), but are there because of incentives, parental or social pressures, and the like. They are told they need to get a college diploma to get a good job and so they want a college diploma. Many student, thus, don’t want (or care about) an education; they just want the document that says they can now get a good job. In other words, they want a union card, not an education.

I am not sure how to break this attitude. But, I think a start is for educators to do a better job of setting the right expectations for students.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Kristol: It's Our War

William Kristol, of the Weekly Standard, has a good piece on why Israel's fight with Hizbollah is part of the wider struggle against Islamo-fascism; that is, the US (and the West) against Iran.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Just call me Prez

According to this website, the celebrities I most resemble are Sean Astin, Haley Osment, Gabriel Bryne, Ronaldo, Lance Armstrong, Patrick Swayze, George W Bush, Matt Dillon, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Matt Ruffalo. I've gotten Matt Dillon before...but Oswald?? Do I look like a crazied patsy assassin?

Hat tip to Joe 'Hilary Duff' Duarte for the website.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Good News!

My review of Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl's Norms of Liberty is scheduled to be published by The Independent Review in their Winter 2007 issue (mailed in December). Yippie!

Some What I am Reading Updates

I finished the biography of Belichick. A very good read with lots of interesting information about the development of the team, and of Belichick as a coach. I would have like to have seen more in the later years where he was building and coaching the Patriots. It was much more focused on his earlier years--but given the title (The Education of a Coach) of the book that makes sense.

I started Parker's "Blue Screen", the latest Sunny Randall. So far, so good. She meets Jesse Stone, and the book starts off recalling some events from the Spenser book where Spenser meets Jesse. So these are all the same universe, so it's only a matter of time before Sunny and Spenser meet.

Bidinotto on Atlas Movie

Robert has some nice tidbits about the Atlas Movie at his blog.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Seminar Comments and Follow-up

Just got back from TOC’s Summer Seminar at Chapman University. I had a wonderful week and the seminar was excellent. The program was top-notch this year, with not a single presentation (save one) that I was disappointed in. I reconnected with old friends and made several new ones.

The big event of this year’s program was of course the ‘meet n’ greet’ with Howard and Karen Baldwin. The Baldwin’s are the principals of the Baldwin Entertainment Group (of Ray fame) which is producing the Atlas Shrugged movie. For more than an hour, the Baldwin’s graciously fielded questions from the crowd which was eager to give its suggestions (both positive and negative). I was very impressed with the Baldwins, in particular Karen Baldwin. They appear to be fully committed to making this movie--and more importantly making it right.

Now that they have signed with Lionsgate for distribution and production, the next step is to hire a director and then start to do casting. They said they are talking to directors, Vadim Perelman (House of Sand and Fog) as the one name I can remember. I have heard mostly good things about House of Sand and Fog, but I’ve never seen it. They also appear very close to casting Angelina Jolie for Dagny--they apparently have had many conversations with her about it. I know many would not be happy with this choice--but Jolie can pull it off and she’ll drive audiences to the theaters world wide.

One last tidbit about the Atlas movie: they are planning a trilogy, with the first part to beginning filming in the Spring.

The two best talks I attended: Tim Sandefur’s Eminent Domain Abuse: Its Philosophical Roots; and Susan Wake’s Overcoming Ethical Relativism in the College Classroom.

I didn’t attend Barbara Branden’s Rage and Objectivism; but I heard nothing but good things about it. Another talk I didn’t attend but which was very well received was Bidinotto’s The Anatomy of Cooperation. I’ve ordered both audios, so I hope to find out what I missed.

The one disappointing session was the joint interview of the Brandens by Duncan Scott. I wasn’t sure of the point of the session prior to going, and I am still not. The questions were for the most part uninteresting and basically softballs; there was nothing said that hadn’t already been said a hundred times before. As a philosopher, I will be glad when Objectivism can be discussed and studied without having to deal with irrelevancies from 40 years ago. Let’s get down to the business of understanding philosophy and making our lives happier and more prosperous.

All in all, a great conference and a great week.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Guster: Ganging Up on The Sun

Guster has a new album out: Ganging Up on The Sun. I've been listening to it quite a bit in the last few days (It arrived on Monday).

This album is very different than previous Guster albums: a different sound, one much more eclectic, though at times too conventional/poppy. The biggest difference in the sound is the lack of Brian's bongos. I really miss them, and I found some of the songs a bit on the plain/conventional side without them.

The first two songs are also too mellow and don't set the right tone for the rest of the album. I've found that if I start on the third track, the whole album sounds better.

I've also noticed a lot of musical influences. Some of the songs have a very Beatlesque sound; a few others were reminsicent of Asia (or more poppy Yes). One Song, Ruby Falls -- one of the songs I really like -- even has a Grateful Dead a la Terrapin Station thing going on.

The Captain is a song with a lot of that Guster energy. Manifest Destiny was an early release track, so I have heard it before; it too has a lot of that Guster energy. The New Underground is a song with some early 80's Yes overtones. I'll have more comments on the songs later after I listen to them more.

Like with the last few albums, I've found that you have to listen to the album a number of times to get a feel for it before you can really judge it. The songs have a tendency to grow on you and get better. I think this is in part to their exploration of a new sound (especially as the bongos have been fading out). It's a bit like that adage about fighting the last war. When you first come to listen to the album, you are still thinking of the past album and that colors the way you react to the new album. Once you get the new album in your system on its own terms, you are able to judge it.

Overall, it's no Parachute or Lost and Gone, but I like the album and I am looking forward to listening to it more.


Andrew Sullivan -- always an interesting and entertaining read -- has an article up UK Times about Condi Rice and how her influence in the White House is apparently gaining. I don't know that much about Rice, but something about her impresses me. Though not aggressive in the public eye, she seems like a very tough cookie with brains to back it up.

I think there is a high probablity that Condi will be at least the VP candidate in 2008, especially if Hillary is on the Dems ticket.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Harry Potter e a filosofia

This is old news, but I had not yet posted it. Harry Potter and Philosophy is available in a Spanish Portuguse language edition as Harry Potter e a Filosofia. (Update 6/18: So much for my knowledge of Spanish--this is Portuguese!)

It's also now available in a Korean language edition. I couldn't find a link to this though--not that I could read it anyway!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Updates (or why I've disappeared)

PhD update: I've moved comps prep to the back burner to work on some other projects. But next up is an essay by Hilary Putnam and Christine Swanton's book: Virtue Ethics

Summer Seminar update: I am plugging away at my 3-part talk on Locke, Hume, and Rand. I'll be giving an abridged version of this talk at AO on June 24th.

Norms of Liberty review update: I've got some more revisions to do on this review before I send it to The Independent Review.

Teaching Company update: I've started watching the Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning course. So far, it's interesting. Fairly basic stuff, but that's what I expected.

I will be teaching ASU's "Principles of Sound Reasoning" course this summer--so I thought watching this course would be a nice refresher. I also hope to use it as a resource: both in terms of examples for class and for possible clips during class.

Teaching update: As I said above, I'll be teaching PHI 103: Principles of Sound Reasoning during the 2nd Summer Session. I'll be using David Kelley's Art of Reasoning as the course text. Thanks to generous support from TOC, I won't be teaching in the next academic year so that I can focus my energies on the dissertation and getting a job.

'Just for Fun' reading update: I've started reading David Halberstam's The Education of a Coach. It's a biography of Bill Belichick, the greatest coach (of the greatest team) in the NFL. So far, its excellent. A lot of attention is paid to Belichick's father, a well-respected football scout and coach in his own right. Interestingly for me as a moral philosophy is the important role of moral character in both Belichicks. Next up will be a fiction work, probably Dennis Lehane's Gone, Baby, Gone

Friday, May 12, 2006

Amusing First Line

It's not quite "Call me Ishmael" or "Howard Roark laughed", but this was an amusing first line to a newsreport in the Boston Herald:

"For much of last night’s game, Yankee Stadium took on the feel of Southie on St. Patrick’s Day due to the number of Bostonians left loaded in public."

It's amusing because the Red Sox left 15 men on base last night, and had the bases loaded at least three times during the game (without scoring).

'Course the Sox still won.

I broke down this week and got MLB.TV. There is a distinct possibility that this could push the completion of my Ph.d back by 6 months. (just kidding--I hope).

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Go Sox!

Sox take 2 out of 3 in the Bronx. Yippie!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The New Unabomber

In today's WSJ editorial (registration required), they compare Ahmadinejad's lettter to Bush -- in terms of the psychological frame of mind of the author -- to the Unabomber's Manifesto.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Great Quote

"The president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map"
— Shimon Peres
The Israeli Vice Premier, in an interview
(from Time Magazine's Quote of the Day )

George Bush: Christian Socialist

The other morning I was listening to the Cato Institute's book forum "Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy". (Event information and download). This is a new book by Bruce Bartlett criticizing Bush's domestic policies for greatly expanding the federal government in size and power (even more than FDR!). He was joined by noted author and commentatory Andrew Sullivan. Cato asked the Bush Administration to send someone to counter--but the administration declined. It was a very interesting and educational forum. I am not sure I regret voting for Bush in the last election (given the options) but I wouldn't be able to vote for him again (if that were even an option).

Anyway, Sullivan had a great comment characterizing Bush as a Christian Socialist. This seems incredibly apt. By this, Sullivan meant that Bush has used the power of government to enact (or try to enact) his Christian cultural and social vision. Another important point made in the forum discussion is that this also explains the (welfare/egalitarian) liberal hatred of Bush even though he's enacted or adopted most of their domestic program and got more it done than Clinton. The hatred of Bush is not over what he is doing -- it is over the why.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Atlas, Pitt, and Jolie

It's being report all over that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are interested in playing Galt and Dagny in the adaption of Atlas Shrugged. (link, link) Also, in an important step making it more likely that the movie will actually be made, Lions Gate has acquired worldwide distrubtion rights for the movie. This is a fairly big deal given that Lions Gate is coming off the Crash Academy Award win and is about to hit it big again with Akeelah and the Bee. They have also had big successes with their horror films Saw and Saw II and of course Fahreneit 9/11 because Michael Moore is a scary).

I am not sure what I think about Pitt playing Galt. But that's also an impossibly hard role to cast I've always liked Densel Washington). I see Pitt more as Rearden if they want to make Rearden younger (though one blog commentator has that role going to Billy Bob if Pitt gets Galt. I guess that means Johnny Lee Miller has to play Francisco).

Jolie as Dagny could definitely work. She's sexy, beautiful, tough, and intelligent.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Firefly Season Two??!?!!

An independent group of producers is trying to buy the rights to Firefly to produce a second season. I have no idea if they'd be able to keep the same cast (essential, I think, to the project). I am hopeful!

To help the project, take the survey.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Speaking of Iran...

The Jerusalem Post today quotes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying "Open the doors (of Europe) and let the Jews go back to their own countries"

One wonders if Ahmadinejad is willing to allow the Jews that fled Iran after 1948 to return to Iran? Is he saying that the Arab countries, such as Algeria, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, etc., should open their collective doors to the half a million Jews that where forced to flee those countries after 1948?

A Deal for Iran?

I am, more or less, in agreement with libertarianism as a political viewpoint. The less part more often than not arises in regards to foreign policy and international relations. Libertarians tend towards some form of non-interventionism or isolationism. I tend to have a wider view of acceptable and appropriate foreign interventions on the part of the US military. This is why I was a bit surprised by my agreement with a recent Cato Institute commentary on Iran.

Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, and Justin Logan, a foreign policy analyst at Cato, penned a commentary calling for the US to offer a diplomatic deal to Iran. The deal essential is:
The United States should offer Iran full normalization of relations, including a public promise not to attack it, restored diplomatic relations, and normalized economic relations. In return, Iran would need to give up any prospect of building a nuclear arsenal. Iran would be required to immediately open its existing nuclear program to unfettered international inspections.

If Iran would accept such a deal and abide by it, this would be a phenomenal break through. It would peacefully resolve an extremely dangerous situation, and would show that the Iran is more reasonable than it appears.

There are problems, as noted by Carpenter and Logan, with the deal. It smacks of appeasement. Also, one has to wonder how well inspections can prevent the nuclear program from continuing. But in the end, if the deal was accepted and implemented, it would make it much more difficult for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. As for the appeasement, it certainly may lead other countries to pursue a nuclear weapons program to get such deals with the US--but is that such a bad thing? Regimes agreeing to forgo nuclear weapons for normal diplomatic and economic relations with the US seems like a good idea.

Unfortunately, I have no doubt that Iran would soundly and quickly reject such a deal--or would accept but then renege on it. Carpenter and Logan write "If they refused the deal, there would be only one conclusion to draw: Tehran is irreversibly determined to develop nuclear weapons." Since I believe this is the actual goal of Tehran, I would fully expect them to reject such a deal.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

NYT: Defenders of the Faith

Slavoj Zizek does a nice twist on Dostoyevsky's classic dictum that without God, everything is permitted. His take, backed by the murderous activities of the Islamists and other religious terrorists, is that with God, everything is permitted.

Read the article. (Free registration required)

Must See: Dr. Wafa Sultan

The internet is full of weird and funny videos--even some that are quite disturbing. But many of them are just silly wastes of time. This video -- of Dr. Wafa Sultan -- is the kind of video that makes you remember how awesome a tool the internet is. Dr. Sultan, demonstrating courage, integrity, and intelligence, forcefully and clearly makes the case against Islamist terror--on Al Jazeera no less.

Watch the video

(Hat tip to Robert Bidinotto)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Meme of Four

Over at the Liberty & Power blog, they are playing a game of Meme tag. Roderick Long gave a generic tag to anyone who, as he paraphrases from Alexander the Great, is strong enough to seize it. So, I thought I'd seize the meme and play as well.

Four jobs I’ve had
1. Summer Camp Chef
2. Cookie Store Manager
3. Bagel Maker
4. College Adviser

Four movies I can watch over and over
1. Casablanca
2. The Godfather
3. Blazing Saddles
4. History of the World

Four places I’ve lived
1. Poughkeepsie, New York
2. Framingham, Massachusetts
3. Tel Aviv, Israel
4. Tempe, Arizona

Four TV shows I love
1. Cheers
2. Seinfeld
3. Las Vegas
4. Coupling (Original BBC)

Four highly regarded and recommended TV shows I haven’t seen (much of)
1. Sopranos
2. The O.C.
3. Lost
4. House

Four places I’ve vacationed
1. Amsterdam, Holland
2. Florence, Italy
3. St Thomas, VI
4. Sedona, AZ

Four of my favorite dishes
1. Turkey Sandwich
2. Caterpillar Roll (Sushi)
3. Grilled Swordfish
4. The Kristen Special

Four sites I visit daily
1. Sports
4. Arts & Letters Daily

Four places I’d rather be right now
1. Same place, but in a parallel universe where the job pays 20K more than it does here (Copied from Aeon Skoble)
2. Florence Italy, sipping on espresso and eating Gelato
3. Starbucks
4. San Francisco

Four new bloggers (and since I don't know too many other bloggers: friends) I’m tagging
1. Joe Duarte, A Galaxy Far, Far Away
2. Kristen Klein
3. Patrick Stephens
4. Keith Costa

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Your Friendly Neighborhood Spidey!

Your results:You are Spider-Man

You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Green Lantern65%
The Flash65%
Iron Man50%
Supergirl 45%
Wonder Woman35%

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Is Atlas Upside Down?

Here's a link to a surprising appearance of Rand's Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism. Of all places, she shows up on a sitcom (One on One) that airs on UPN. Too bad nobody watches UPN.

(Hat tip to the Yahoo Group: Rand_Discussion)
(Note: I have no more information on this than what is here.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sci-Fi Profile

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with

You scored as Serenity (Firefly). You like to live your own way and don't enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.
Serenity (Firefly)81%
Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)75%
Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)75%
Moya (Farscape)69%
Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)69%
Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)63%
Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)56%
SG-1 (Stargate)56%
Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)56%
FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)44%
Enterprise D (Star Trek)31%
Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)31%

I admit this was the answer I was hoping for!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My Sins


Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz

I can be kind of lazy, but Wrath--that's a bit odd. And I would have thought Gluttony and Pride would have been higher!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Philosophic Star Gazing

Here's a worthwhile warning issued by Tibor Machan about some bad habits in the philosophic community:

Dissertation Committee Formed

I have reached a milestone in my progress towards a PhD. I have formed my disseration committee!

The chair of my committee is Peter French. He's the director of ASU's Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics and has a great reputation in ethics and related fields. He's long been the editor of Midwest Studies in Philosophy, and he also edits the Journal of Social Philosophy. My two other committee members are Michael White and Julia Annas. Prof. White is a professor of philosophy and professor of law at ASU. His knowledge of the history of philosophy (among other fields) is encyclopedic. Prof. Annas is a Regents Professor of philosophy at Univeristy of Arizona. She is very well known for her work in ancient ethics and virtue ethics.

My topic is going to be on Phronesis or Moral Wisdom. I want to explore its role in moral theory and in our moral lives. One of the questions I want to look at is to what extent neo-Aristotelian accounts like Rosalind Hursthouse's in "On Virtue Ethics" are superior to versions of Virtue Ethics (and possibly other normative theories), like Michael Slote's in "Morals from Motives", that seem to downplay phronesis. I also want to look at the development of phronesis from Aristotle up through Aquinas and into the modern period.

So now I am working on developing a reading list for my comprehensive exam--which I hope to take in May.

NFL's integrity in doubt

The NFL's integrity as a sport is in doubt. The officiating is so bad and so incompetent. How can the leading sport in the US have some of the worst officiating at the most important time of the year?

I am not just biased here. Yes, I am huge Patriots fan and was disgusted to see the officials hand the Broncos a TD on bad calls not just once, but twice! But I hate the Steelers, and I was outraged when the Polamalu interception of Manning was overturned. In many ways this was worse than the Samuel (bullshit!) pass interference. In that Samuel situation, the officials had to find sufficient evidence (which there in fact was) to overturn the ruling on the field. Okay, I get that someone judges (incorrectly) that there is not enough evidence to overrule the field decision. But in the Polamalu interception, the ruling on the field was that it was an interception. The official now had to find enough evidence to overrule that. With more time and more views of the play, there is no reason to get this call wrong.

Both of these horrific calls handed TDs to the opposing teams. I tend not to be attracted to conspiracy theories, but I am beginning to think that the NFL had a hand in these calls. Subtle pressure on the officials: We want the Colts in the Super Bowl, and we don't want the Pats.

I am more convinced of the first point. The Pats killed themselves in their game; despite the bad calls they could have won had they not made the mistakes they did. But the Colts had a puff schedule, rule changes to favor their style of play, and extraordinary calls in their favor.

(Before you bring up the Snow ball and the tuck rule: almost every commentator, analyst, expert, agrees that the official's ruling was the correct one. In the case of the two examples discussed above, almost everyone is in disbelief at the sheer incompetence)

Something has to be done to improve officiating. Replay isn't enough. It helps, but then these idiots in stripes make mistakes even with it. One proposal that I think might help is to set up an independent committee to review the officiating in each game, each week and to fine officials when they make the wrong call. That'll make them think twice before interfering, wouldn't it?

Edit (1/16 5.45pm): NFL admited that Ref got the call wrong. What I want to know is what consequences there are for the ref for getting this call wrong.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Nuclear Iran is not (cannot be) an option

Thomas Sowell's op-ed peice: Serious or Suicidal. (Try this, if that link doesn't work). Sowell provides a very clear account of the danger of a Nuclear Iran and the need to take serious action on this front. I am aware of the concerns, issues, and problems action against Iran poses, but I see no other rational alternative.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Ellie in the Boston Marathon

My sister-in-law, Ellie, is running the Boston Marathon this year. I grew up wanting to run it, but never happened (and with my knees and laziness--never going to happen either).

Ellie is running as a member of the Mass General Hospital Fighting Kids' Cancer team. She's trying to raise money for kids with cancer. Hard to argue for a better charity to give to. Kris and I donated some. Here's the link if any out in the blogosphere are interested in supporting Ellie in raising money for kids with cancer.