Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'd caution against using "Clitophon"

Awesome story from Anna in Slacktivist comments:
I think my favorite obscure regional naming trend is one I discovered growing up in the deep South. There is a certain generation of rural farmers (most are in their eighties now) who were named after greek philosophers. When I was young, the farmer who lived down the road from us was Plato Socrates Smith (everyone in the community called him Bubba). Off the top of my head, I can also remember a Democritus Corley (nicknamed Scooter), Xenocrates Oswalt (pronounced 'zeno-krats', nicknamed Junebug), Diogenes Blackman (AKA Rhubarb), and my personal favorite: Thrasymachus Aristophenes Kneece (AKA Bo). I don't know what inspired that particular enclave of farm families to name their children so oddly, but I've always sort of wondered about the story behind those names.

Monday, January 21, 2008

If only thought bubbles showed up in photographs

It's a busy quarter for me, which has this blog near death. But this picture is worth at least 10 blog posts:

The BBC caption for that goes: "On Martin Luther King Day, a US national holiday, President George W Bush took part in a in a special lesson for young children on the importance of the day." But somehow I don't think that quite captures the moment.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Gay is Thunderdome

Via the BBC, some excerpts from Pope B's 2008 Message for Peace: a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace.
Well, sure, that sounds marvy. So, what's the punchline?
Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace. This point merits special reflection: everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life, everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children, constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace.
Well, there's something mighty queer about those conclusions.

Perhaps relevant is the context supplied by the BBC, that this "message followed a pro-family rally by hundreds of thousands of Spanish Catholics on Sunday, which he had addressed via a video link." A rally, that is, in response to, among other things, the legalization of gay marriage in Spain.

So. Pope B is thus claiming to take a firm stance against gay marriage on the basis of his concern for peace. If you allow for gay marriage, you weaken heterosexual marriage, and thus undermine peace. Oh, and let's not forget "openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life": this has to do with contraception, of course. So if you use condoms or the pill or have an abortion, you are likewise undermining peace.

Seriously. I'm pretty sure that's the argument.

In drawing the connection between family life and peace, Pope B notes that, "violence, if perpetrated in the family, is seen as particularly intolerable," because then children will grow up learning violence rather than peace. Well, fair enough, sir. But could you maybe explain WTF that has to do with gays and condoms?

The powers that be, that force us to live like we do

We have big important papers which are due next Monday, and thus kinda require attention RFN. This was sufficient to distract us from the passing of 2007. I'm not sure, but I think "Back on the Chain Gang" was playing on my headphones when midnight arrived.

In general, the philosophy biz is not a friend of the winter holiday season. Luckily, we're not much for celebrating holidays. But even I can recognize that it's less than ideal that pretty much everyone who wants a job in American philosophy has to try and get one right between Christmas and New Year's.

For a sample of how that works out, see here. Now there's something to look forward to.

Speaking of looking forward: as of next Monday, we start dissertating (supposedly). It turns out I'll be dissertating on Plato. Who knew? Until about a year ago (less than that, actually), I wanted as little to do with ancient philosophy as possible.