21 December 2007

The Wexford Carol

Linky.

Checking In

Just checking in for those who are interested. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

02 November 2007

New Acquisitions

John McCardell, The Idea of a Southern Nation - Southern Nationalists and Southern Nationalism, 1830-1860 (1979)

Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before The Civil War (1995)

The South's Main Interest

"The upper South, like the lower, went to war to defend the freedom of white men to own slaves and take them into the territories as they saw fit, lest these white men be enslaved by Black Republicans who threatened to deprive them of those liberties." -- McPherson, Battle Cry Of Freedom, pg. 284

06 October 2007

KAL 007 Shootdown

Although I was quite young, I remember the moral outrage associated with this incident. Here is Ronald Reagan's response to the shoot down. While I am not agreement with everything that Reagan did during his presidency, his eloquence and presence as a speaker makes one wish someone like him were in office.

Addendum: The video contains more than Reagan's response. It also includes a press conference by George Schultz (then Sec. of State) and some news coverage.

05 October 2007

Should The Non-Propertied Have The Vote?

As I was re-reading a portion of the Putney Debates recently I began to think of the way the issue of the nature of the electoral franchise is debate amongst libertarians. Namely that some libertarians argue that only those with a certain level of property should have the vote. I'm in favor of a very broad franchise which does not take wealth into consideration.

Anyway, the debates touch on this matter in much the same way that the modern debate on this issue does and that makes them well worth reading IMHO.

01 October 2007

What Am I Reading?

Søren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling.

30 September 2007

Leaving Iraq?

My prediction is that we will likely not be out of Iraq prior to 2020. Thirteen more years of a major U.S. presence in Iraq in other words.

24 September 2007

Domesday

This is quite neat - the complete, searchable text of the Domesday Book.

Assume The Position

Check out Slate's handy Iraq Position Locator.

20 September 2007

Trip

I should be posting some pics here of our trip to the West Coast in coming days. In mean time I will just say that we had a wonderful time with great company. I still feel like I am on an airplane though.

Todai

If you get a chance get check out Todai sometime. Good sushi and not particularly expensive either. Thanks to our friend for taking us there in PDX!

24 August 2007

What Am I Reading?

Paul Theroux's Riding The Iron Rooster. I've read it many times before. One of the best travel narratives I have ever come across.

21 August 2007

Kouchner In Iraq

PARIS: After years of shunning involvement in a war it said was wrong, France now believes it may hold the key to peace in Iraq, proposing itself as an "honest broker" between the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions.

I wonder how this will play in the world of bloggery.

Katrina

The following is fairly sobering:

Independent Levee Investigation Team Final Report

The general conclusions of the report can be found here. They fault the hurricane (of course), the performance of the levees (everything from design to operation) and finally how the government functioned at all levels.

At the dinner table and such the eventual fate of New Orleans was something that would from time to time come up for discussion. There was always the inevitable comment that "If a big one comes, New Orleans is history." Of course right now that doesn't seem to be the case as NOLA has returned to roughly 2/3rds of its pre-Katrina size.

20 August 2007

The Politics...

Of Dancing

I've always thought that the Re-Flex were better than one hit wonder status. However, it appears that they broke up before they could produce any more music. Unfortunate.

18 August 2007

Chomsky v. Foucualt

This debate demonstrates just how divergent Chomsky's and Foucault's notions regarding an appropriate human society were. Personally I throw in with Foucault. While his "histories" of the asylum, the prison, etc. may not have been the most accurate historical accounts ever written, they've provided a fertile manure from which has grown a better understanding of what were at one time considered unproblematic Enlightenment institutions.

14 August 2007

Why Four Gospels?

The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are. Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel, and the Spirit of life, it fittingly has four pillars, everywhere breathing out incorruption and revivifying men. - Irenaeus, Against Heresies

10 August 2007

South Sister




Some more stunning shots of South Sister. The mountain is surrounded by several lakes located in areas with great views of the mountain. Now that comment might seem strange, but note that peaks like Mt. Adams (in Washington state) are hard to see until you are quite close. Indeed, Adams has a notorious "false peak" which can be quite depressing to crest. Anyway, enjoy.

The Early 80s

Is anybody out there?

09 August 2007

Testing Ice Screws

Cool video comparing ice screws and ice threads.

Climbing




In the coming weeks I'll be climbing the mountain in the foreground, South Sister. As far as peaks that I've climbed are concerned, it is a very easy mountain to climb, but as it has been a while since I've done any climbing it will be a nice reintroduction to rock, ice and sweat. Finally, this won't be my first ascent of this peak. I climbed it back in ~1994.

07 August 2007

Hellenistic Colony In Kuwait

ATHENS -- Greek archaeologists plan to excavate an ancient colony founded by Alexanderthe Great in the Gulf of Kuwait in the fourth century BC, officials said Wednesday.

Alexander and the various "Greek" rulers who suceeded him founded numerous Hellenistic cities in the areas that they ruled over in Asia. Generally speaking these cities were sealed off from the local population and one had to become like the Greeks in order to become a citizen of, etc. such cities. In most places the local population did not do so. These Hellenistic cities built some fantastic architectural structures, Pergamum being perhaps the most famous. As a rule this period of Hellenistic history seems to have been treated like a bastard child by many historians, but that attitude has changed over the past several decades as the achievements (and faults) of the various post-Alexander Greek kingdoms have come under greater scholarly scrutiny.

06 August 2007

Bourne

Here's a nice collection of scenes from the first two films in the Bourne franchise. My favorite? When he quickly kicks the crap out of the embassy personnel in the Bourne Identity.

Edit: And here is the aforementioned scene.

Prepare To Be Boarded!

Two American news photographers say French President Nicolas Sarkozy shouted at them and jumped onto their boat during his holiday in the US.

Sarkozy is, of course, human like the rest of us. Here's hoping that the remainder of his vacation is relaxing, etc.

05 August 2007

X-Games

Ouch!

That he walked away is amazing.

04 August 2007

The Surge

So how effective has the surge been? Well here are some figures from the BBC to help answer that query.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Just saw it...

I enjoyed Bourne's rescue Stiles' character. There was real tension there.

I thought that Bourne stealing the files, etc. was a bit too much. So were many of the crash scenes.

I also found that this movie discussed more plainly some of the concerns we have with our intelligence services post-9/11.

Perhaps I shall write more on these matters tomorrow.

03 August 2007

Five Points

This is a link to a nice collection of material on the archaeological happenings at the former "Five Points" in Manhatten. Five Points was a notorious slum in 19th century New York prior to the creation of the unified boroughs in the 1890s.

Newton's...

Religious Views

I have seen elsewhere claims that Newton delighted in the written accounts of the torture and burning Catholic nuns.

14 July 2007

EUTube

The EU has its very own YouTube page. There is some useful stuff there as well as some rather amusing material. Indeed, the opening video is both surreal and hilarious.

Anyway, happy birthday EU!

When Urkobold Was Made Flesh

I wonder if the various fleshy incarnations of Urkobold include the great satirist Timon?

13 July 2007

A Proposed Amendment To The U.S. Constitution

Perhaps we should create an amendment which allows us to ostracize dangerous politicians. Initially I'd propose that two thirds of the state legislatures would have to agree before one would be ostracized. I'm not quite sure at this point what sort of nomination process I could get behind. Perhaps a sort of "reverse" form of "election" that resembles our primaries might do.

How To Preserve Power

It is fitting also that the magistrates on entering office should offer magnificent sacrifices or erect some public edifice, and then the people who participate in the entertainments, and see the city decorated with votive offerings and buildings, will not desire an alteration in the government, and the notables will have memorials of their munificence. - Aristotle, Politics, Book 6, Part VII, trans. Benjamin Jowett


Here Aristotle was referring to the efforts of oligarchs to remain in power.

12 July 2007

Goodhart's Law

What does Goodhart's Law say about monetarism? It does lead to me lack confidence in it.

10 July 2007

Brothers

This is my favorite scene from "Band of Brothers." That is the "servile scum" portion.

07 July 2007

This Blog Is Rated...



It seems that I am a rather tame fellow.

Go here to get your blog rated.

05 July 2007

Animal Of The Day

Strix aluco

Some images and movies of this owl species can be found here.

01 July 2007

Today's Word

Periphrasis

1-800-MAGIC

The folks who brought you Red v. Blue have created a new machinima series based on Shadowrun. The first episode can be found here. It has some of the same humor as the original series, but it is a bit early in the series to say anymore.

25 June 2007

How The Matrix Revolutions...

Should Have Ended?*

Though the final installment of the series left much to be desired, I didn't think it was terrible. Still, it could have been improved.

*Fixed the link.

Heidegger

One can no longer deny Heidegger's relationship with National Socialism as a short-natured gaff. It seems to bug people because Heidegger was quite clearly a brilliant man whose thoughts were in some way a culmination of a pattern inquiry, etc. stretching back to Kant. Indeed, in many ways Heidegger remains an influential presence despite his association with the Nazis.

Anyway, recently I ran across a statement by another influential 20th century philosopher (Leo Strauss) that I found useful in describing Heidegger's thinking. Namely - to paraphrase - that Heidegger was more interested in being than human beings.

23 June 2007

Seafood & Your Eternal Soul

This is something a cheap shot at fundamentalist Christians, but it is a funny one nonetheless.

Back in the 1990s when the Oregon Citizens Alliance was pushing a number of anti-gay constitutional amendments* the measures that they undertook to pass were often met with literature which not only quoted Leviticus' prohibitions against homosexuality, but also its statements on shellfish, cutting facial hair, etc. Indeed, in the voter information booklets** which are published prior to an Oregon election, groups "officially" arguing "in favor" of the OCA's amendments would quote the language on shellfish, etc. as well, much to the consternation of the OCA I am sure.

* I am sure that the OCA would likely characterize them otherwise.

** I tried to find a 1992 or 1994 voter guide online but to no avail. The measures were 9 (1992) and 13 (1994) respectively. If I recall correctly, the OCA also sponsored a measure in 1996 but it failed to get enough signatures to get on the ballot.

Army's Top Gear For 2006

The top ten list can be found here.

Note how anti-IED related items top the list. It tells you something about the nature of the conflict in Iraq.

15 June 2007

El Chupacabra


This may be actual footage of an el chupacabra. It looks quite convincing.

Oh, and don't forget the Chupacabra Macarena.


14 June 2007

House Update

We finally have the crown moulding up in the office and we're doing the finishing touches on the trim.

As for the bathroom, the wallpaper is finally stripped (and the walls covered with primer), the toilet has been removed and the old linoleum (three layers thick) has been removed. Oh and bathroom was partly replumbed as well. Now we just have to wallpaper and put in the floor tile. Should be a cinch. ;)

"Post-Traumatic Iraq Syndrome"

Defeat in war damages societies quite out of proportion to what a rational calculation of cost would predict. The United States absorbed the loss in Vietnam quite easily on paper, for example, but the societal effects of defeat linger to this day. The Afghanistan debacle was an underrated contributor to Soviet malaise in the 1980s and a factor in perestroika, glasnost and eventually the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Defeats can have unintended, seemingly inexplicable consequences.

Or so says Prof. Fettweis of the Naval War College (he's apparently something of a "military strategy wonk" there). I've noted on a number of occassions that whetever else this war brings it will surely be one of the dominant themes of American politics for a generation. Which I think is rather unfortunate, since it is likely that its dominance will be more about fingerpointing than any actual discussion of the war itself. Which is why we need to take Prof. Fettweis' advice seriously (though I doubt that we will):

Either way, the Iraq syndrome is coming. We need to be prepared for the divisiveness, vitriol, self-doubt and recrimination that will be its symptoms. They will be the defining legacy of the Bush administration and neoconservatism's parting gift to America.

Do We Still Have Live MIAs In Viet Nam?

I ran across this article the other day looking for some information on the Khmer Rouge and thought I would share it. Note that the author - Sydney Schanberg - won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on U.S. involvement in Cambodia. The movie The Killing Fields is in the main about his life in Cambodia and that of his assistant Dith Pran.

Over the years, an abundance of evidence had come to light that the North Vietnamese, while returning 591 U.S. prisoners of war after the treaty signing, had held back many others as future bargaining chips for the $4 billion or more in war reparations that the Nixon administration had pledged. Hanoi didn't trust Washington to fulfill its promise without pressure. Similarly, Washington didn't trust Hanoi to return all the prisoners and carry out all the treaty provisions. The mistrust on both sides was merited. Hanoi held back prisoners and the U.S. provided no reconstruction funds.


BTW, in the article John Kerry doesn't come out smelling too sweet. I have to say that I'm surprised that I heard nothing of this in the 2004 campaign. That it apparently wasn't bigger news during the 2004 election might be an indication that the claims made in the article are crap. Still, Schanberg seems like a fairly credible author.

13 June 2007

Clearstream & Chirac

PARIS, June 13, 2007 (AFP) - The Paris prosecutors' office on Wednesday denied a newspaper report that former president Jacques Chirac has been summoned for questioning next week in connection with the so-called Clearstream political dirty tricks scandal.

Here is a timeline of the Clearstream affair.

A lot of folks have wondered when and/or if Chirac will be questioned about various political scandals which surfaced during his administration. Note that a sitting French President is immune from criminal investigations, charges, etc.

11 June 2007

Air...

The best "air instrument" scene in all of TV history.

Will You....

Hold This?

(Not worksafe.)

Animal Of The Day



Paradisaea minor or the Lesser Bird-of-Paradise.

Hitler

At the end of the war Hitler lost server access because he was banned. It was his ultimate humilation.

___________________

BTW, the movie that they took this from, Downfall, is quite good.

Loving

Today is the 40th Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia.

Prior to Loving interracial marriage remained illegal in the core Southern states. In the rest of the U.S. such laws had been taken off the books or made moot by state court decisions. Barring a Supreme Court's decision it is difficult to imagine what could quickly rid the rest of the states of such laws.

Henry Rollins

See Rollins' writing a thoughtful letter to Michael Chertoff here.

10 June 2007

Oradour-sur-Glane

Souviens Toi.

La mémoire est belle et terrible.

Some images of Oradour-sur-Glane from the opening scene of The World At War.

A New Legislature

PARIS, June 8, 2007 (AFP) - Reeling from Segolene Royal's defeat in the presidential race, France's Socialist Party (PS) faces the prospect of a humiliating wipe-out in this weekend's legislative elections which look set to deliver a huge majority for President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Only the lower house (the National Assembly) is directly elected in France. The Senate faces an indirect election by polling the local elected officials.

Anyway, the upcoming election of National Assembly won't - if predictions hold true - change who controls that body. If the PS really poorly however, it will mean even greater control for the UMP and those parties allied with it.

09 June 2007

Today's X-Files Quote

SCULLY: Right, but what am I looking for?

MULDER: Anything strange, unexplainable, unlikely... boyfriend?

08 June 2007

DER FÜHRERBUNKER

What is remarkable (to me) about Hitler's bunker was just how tiny it was. Clearly it wasn't designed as a long-time living area. See for yourself here.

Bonus link on the Nazi Party Rally Grounds.

07 June 2007

Political Theology

"All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts." - Carl Schmitt, Political Theology (trans. George Schwab), p. 36

The essential argument here is that - for example - equality before the law is based on a secularized religious notion of Christian equality. I think there is something to do be said for this idea but it is a bit reductionist for my taste. More specifically it doesn't fully illustrate the radical difference between the modern and the ancient polity.

Hello Kitty!

TOKYO - Japan’s cutest cat in glittering crystal decorates NEC Corp.’s new pink laptop in the Japanese electronics maker’s latest effort to woo working women.

Wouldn't a lot of working women be turned off by this thing?

Ducks Win

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Anaheim Ducks were born on the silver screen and came of age by capturing the shiniest of silver cups.

This must drive many Canadians crazy.

04 June 2007

Yet More...

Nessie footage? I post, you decide.

The Return Of...

Gary Brolsma!

Edit:

Oh, and just for comparison sake here is the original.

03 June 2007

Nessie

Amazing new Loch Ness monster footage!

Troy

I saw a short portion of the movie Troy today. If I recall correctly one of the scenes which was missing from the movie (but is in the Iliad) is Hector's concern over Andromache losing her freedom. Interesting that the notion of freedom is found so early.

Of course the movie differs from Homer's epic in a number of ways. That is not say that it was a bad movie. I thought that it was pretty good in comparison to a lot of what Hollywood has created out of classical texts.

Japanese Holdouts

So, I wonder what it is like to spend nearly many years* in the jungle waiting for your comrades to return?

*Close to thirty for a few.

02 June 2007

Batman v. Alien v. Predator?

Impressive.

Edit:

FWIW, Alien v. Predator (playing poker).

Mini-Gun

Scroll to the bottom of this page for a discussion of the mini-gun used in the movie Predator. The scene where it is fired by an individual in a standing position never did make much sense to me.

See the scene for yourself here.

31 May 2007

Bigfoot

Is this actual footage of a bigfoot attacking a human? You decide!

Edit:

Is this footage from another attack? Or just a clever hoax?

30 May 2007

Public Understanding Of Science

So, what does the public know about science? Well, if this poll (taken in 2001) is any indicator, both the European (or rather, E.U.) and American publics still have a lot to learn. Also note that at least with regard to the thirteen questions asked in the survey those answering for the E.U. performed more poorly on most of the questions than did the American respondents. For me the question that disturbs me the most is that concerning the nature of our planetary system - that is whether it is heliocentric or not. That the survey produced such large numbers of Americans and Europeans answering that the Sun revolves around the Earth (over 20% and 30% respectively) scares me somewhat.

29 May 2007

Leo Strauss & Historicism

Leo Strauss was opposed to historicism. He argued that its development since the Enlightenment was at the base of much what was wrong with modernity. In other words, Strauss argued that there are indeed certain fundamentals and that historicism's focus on the uniqueness of historical periods ignored these fundamentals to society's detriment.

This doesn't make Strauss a "fundamentalist" in any religious sense, or an advocate of orthodoxy. Indeed, he viewed these fundamentals in some ways as impossible to answer questions (e.g., just think of the classic problems which philosophy has faced since its advent). Of course some of these "fundamentals," or the rather immutable aspects of humanity, were indeed "fundamental" in the sense of being notions which were true throughout the ages. His notions on the natural inequality of man is one of these.

Strauss wanted some of these fundamentals hidden, particularly the "fundamental" question of whether we are a special creation or not. It seems that he thought to question this openly amongst non-philosophers was to endanger human society.

While I find the notion of "fundamental questions" to be a fascinating one and one which gets at the crux of a number of issues, I find his outright rejection of historicism to be troubling.

First let us note that Strauss did not reject history as a field of study. Indeed, he found it to be a good way to discover the nature of the "fundamental questions," since history illustrates the difference between the tradition of one culture and other cultures and thus the potential difference between tradition and nature. However, the use of history to justify what one might call historical particularism bothered him.

So what troubles me about Strauss' rejection? Well, it seems to me that up to a point that historicism can be useful as a means to, hmm, "enforce" tolerance. In other words, too much emphasis on "fundamentals" can lead to as much bloodshed as too little focus on it.

Germany's First 20th Century Genocide

Most folks are likely ignorant of Germany's First Genocide - namely the genocide committed in what is Namibia in the first decade of the last century. While local conditions, grievances, etc. had much to do with the violence which erupted at the time, early 20th century race theories also played their part and much of the themes found in the Third Reich's activities in WWII can also be seen in the genocide in Namibia. This includes the same sort of domestic propaganda used against the various non-European peoples in Namibia as was used against Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. Just as in WWII, Germany ran concentration camps in Namibia. Also as in WWII there was an extermination order (though in the case of Namibia it was formally rescinded). Further, as the Jews (and others) under the Third Reich had to wear special identifiers, so elements of Namibia's indigenous population had to wear a tag which was worn around their necks. Finally, individuals involved in the genocide in Namibia were directly involved in the creation of the Nazi party and individuals like Hess, Hitler, Mengele, etc. were directly connected to these people.

28 May 2007

Dictator Of The Month

I came across this neat site today which profiles and "scores" various dictators. Er, I guess, enjoy.

25 May 2007

Riis Took EPO

1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis, who is now the owner and manager of Team CSC, admitted doping in a Friday press conference at CSC headquarters in Lyngby, just outside Copenhagen. The Dane, who was then riding for Team Telekom, said he took EPO in 1996, the year that he ended Miguel Indurain's five-year Tour de France winning streak.


At this point folks (if they haven't done so already) may start to wonder about anyone who does well at Le Tour.

I realize that some libertarians question the ban on performance enhancing drugs in sports, but I don't. Though I would not advocate the government enforcement of such bans.

Today's Video From Iraq

One of the great things about the personal video recoder age is their use by soldiers in the field. Anyway, check out the reaction of these Marines to I guess a JDAM taking out a building.

John Wayne Speaks!

While Wayne isn't overly specific, I would guess that these remarks by him concern 1960s student radicalism. Make of the video that has been tacked onto the speech what you will.

23 May 2007

"The Theists [sic] Nightmare"

Why do men have nipples?

WTF?

In a speech in Brazil last week, the pope sparked controversy by saying that native populations had been “silently longing” for the Christian faith brought to South America by colonizers.

“The proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture,” he said in Brazil.


I'm not quite sure what to chalk these remarks up to. I can say that claiming that you know what people long dead were "silently longing" for, at least in this context (e.g., conversion by force), is at best an arrogant remark. As for the "alienation" and "imposition" remark, well, clearly the Pope is simply ignorant of the events that took place in the Americas following Columbus' voyage. By itself suppressing the worship of the Gods of the indigenous population was an "imposition of a foreign culture."

Perhaps the Pope should read de Las Casas; clearly he needs some sort of education on this particular issue.

The Muppets

YouTube has a nice collection of snippets from various movies, TV shows, etc. made by the the The Muppets.

20 May 2007

Boomerang

CRAWFORD, Texas - The White House on Sunday fired back at former President Jimmy Carter, calling him ”increasingly irrelevant” a day after Carter described President Bush’s presidency as the worst in history in international relations.

Whatever the merits of this claim it seems to me that this statement could be easily used to describe the Bush Presidency. Indeed that observation is so obvious one wonders why the White House would have used such language to describe Carter.

Stanley Milgram's Experiment

One can watch some of the footage of the controversial experiment here.

Conformity to authority illustrates a powerful example of the lack of free will or at least the inability to exercise such (for the majority of individuals).

19 May 2007

McKinley Claims Two More

JUNEAU, Alaska - Two climbers died after a 1,900-foot fall during a descent of Mount McKinley — North America’s highest mountain — Denali National Park and Reserve officials said Friday.


As an ex-climber (hoping to return to climbing this summer) I have a lot of empathy for the individuals and families involved in these sort of accidents.

Though I've never climbed McKinley I've read enough about it to know that it can be a fairly hazardous mountain to climb, particularly due to weather related issues. The fact that it has claimed a fair number of lives over the years demonstrates this.

To give folks an idea of the difficulties which this mountain presents to a climber note that ascents generally take several weeks (or as long as a month) and that well over half of the ascents are unsuccessful. There are no "dog trails" on McKinley.

Condolences and thoughts to the families, etc.

Intelligent Design


As part of its ad campaign adoptionsf has created the poster seen above. I think that it is very clever myself.

17 May 2007

Odd Day At Landis Hearing

Since most of my readers are likely not following Landis' efforts to challenge the allegations made against him here is a timeline of the events as they have unfolded so far.

I'll be the first to admit that the case as it has so far unfolded is a complex one, especially since I lack the technical knowledge that is in part at the heart of this case. However yesterday's proceedings were colored with a bit of drama. You see, Greg Lemond (who was to testify about a phone call he had with Landis shortly after the A Sample came up positive) "revealed that he [had] received a threatening phone call the night before testifying, allegedly from Landis' business manager Will Geoghegan... ." This link also provides an almost blow by blow account of Lemond's testimony.

So what was the alleged threat? Well this is how CBS describes it:

LeMond wound up disclosing he had been sexually abused as a child, and felt compelled to go public with that after receiving a call Wednesday from Landis' manager, Will Geoghegan, who knew that secret and threatened to reveal it if LeMond showed up to testify.
If the allegation is true, how could Landis' manager have known about this secret? Well, one can draw some interesting conclusions from this particular piece of testimony by Lemond:

He [Lemond] further said he had told Mr. Landis this secret in an effort to encourage him to be truthful. "I shared it with him to show him what keeping a secret would do," LeMond said.


Now I have no idea if the allegation is true; indeed, all Lemond apparently has is a record of a cellphone call by Landis' manager to Lemond. Still, at the very least it adds an interesting twist to this story.

Edit: BTW, this write-up was really posted on May 18th, 2007.

16 May 2007

Apples & Rosemary

Ingredients:

Apples (pick a variety that you like; I prefer golden delicious)
Butter
Fresh Rosemary (I grow my own)
Honey

How To Prepare:

Toss a few tablespoons of butter into a pan and melt it on medium heat. As the butter is melting throw in some rosemary and honey to taste. Once melted put in the apples (make sure they are cored and cut into sections first of course) and mix them into the butter, etc. Turn the heat up a bit and soften the apples. Turn off heat and serve as a side or as a dessert. If using as a dessert one might consider throwing them on top of some gourmet vanilla ice cream.

Edit: I suspect that you could do the same thing with asian pears, but I've never tried it.

Today's Word

Apikoros

14 May 2007

The Surge

Why the heck is the increase in troops in Iraq still being called a "surge?" With no immediate end in sight it sends to me that this really isn't a "surge," it is something more like a general increase in troops.

13 May 2007

Extreme Ways

See here to watch a nice series of clips from the Bourne movies that I'm linking to in honor of the upcoming Bourne Ultimatum. One of the things that I appreciate about the films is the fighting. For the most part Bourne's various attackers are dropped in one or two blows. That's generally how that sort of thing works in real life.

11 May 2007

Benny Morris Talk On Iran

Benny Morris is the author of the penetrating book Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001.

In his talk Morris discusses why deterrance may not be an option with Iran. To me it seems that whether one accepts his recommendations depend on just how seriously the Iranian leaders take their ideology. Morris makes important points about that ideology and its i,portance to Iran's leaders but I am not entirely convinced that they would act on it. Morris' "solution" is "serious sanctions" a term which seems to mean a total embargo.

10 May 2007

Putin's VE-Day Remarks Prompts A Thought

You can find some commentary about said remarks here.

Compare the outcomes of the post-war era for both Germany and Russia. Russia, while bloodied and then some, is one of the victors of the war and Germany both crushed and dissected. Yet today Germany is a prosperous, modern nation whose economy, after something like a decade of slow growth, is doing quite well. It is also the end of an immigrant trail for not only folks from the middle east but also ethnic Germans as well as Jews from Russia. Russia, while more prosperous than it has been in recent years, is in large part dependent on the development of its oil resources. It remains a developing nation. Clearly Russia's victory did not bring it prosperity, at least not the type experienced in the West. It also did not bring the Soviet regime long-term stability.

09 May 2007

Globalism At War

The Italian front of WWII is in my opinion one of the least well "documented" major arenas of the war from the standpoint of popular historical memory. I'm not quite sure why, but perhaps it has to do with its perceived lack of centrality. Or perhaps it is the gritty, nasty and bloody nature of the fighting there that doesn't recommend it for glorification.

Possibly its most intriguing feature for me is how "international" it was in scope. Not only were there Americans and British involved, but sizeable elements of the Free French army, that of the Polish government in exile and many other nations. Indeed it could be argued that the two most competently lead elements of the allied forces there were that of the French and the Poles. They in my mind had something to prove and their bravery (bordering on madness at times) pulled the allied ass out of the fire on more than a few occassions.

Yeats

Yeats once wrote the following:
Out of Ireland have we come,
Great hatred, little room,
Maimed us at the start.

With Ireland's economic boom and encouraging news out of Northern Ireland (see below) it seems that Ireland is overcoming its maimed nature.
BELFAST, Northern Ireland, May 8 — Paying tribute to the thousands of victims in one of Europe’s bloodiest sectarian conflicts, the leaders of Northern Ireland on Tuesday drew a formal line under decades of hostility and strife, re-establishing a power-sharing local authority of once implacable foes.

08 May 2007

Today's Bonus Word

Aristeia

Word of The Day

Aristotle's definition of topos.

Note that use topos was a crucial element in classical literary works. As a short hand I define it as sort of a literary meme.

The word is of course used in other contexts, such as in mathematics.

Seinfeld On...

OZ

06 May 2007

And The Winner Is?

Sarko!

Edit: Blair had this to say about Sarkozy via YouTube.

05 May 2007

Mulder?

"Have you ever searched for life on this planet?" - Scully

"I've seen life on this planet, that's why I'm looking elsewhere." - Mulder

Landslide?

One poll has Sarkozy ahead of Royal 55% to 45%. If that is how things go tomorrow that result would be - at least in terms of traditional left v. right contests in French Presidential elections (that is, throwing out 2002) - a landslide.

What's my prediction?

Sarkozy 54% - Royal 46%

What Will Sarkozy Likely Do?

First, many apologies to Royal, but I don't expect her to win tomorrow. If she does turn out to be the victorious party, well, kudos for her.

Second, a caveat. Much of what he will be able to do will depend on the outcome of parliamentary elections in June. If his party does not control the parliament following those elections (if France has a period of political "cohabitation"), he'll have to deal will a legislative body hostile to many of his proposals.

So what's on Sarkozy's agenda? What is he ready to serve up?

Economy: Tax cuts and labor market reform will be a theme of his administration. Sarkozy likely isn't a secret libertarian at heart but he will be (IMHO) the most pro-market President France has elected during the Fifth Republic (when French Presidents really started to matter in the French political scheme).

Foreign Policy: I expect to see generally warm relations with the U.S. from his administration. I also think that he's generally in favor of the E.U. I don't expect to see him involve French forces in Iraq.

03 May 2007

Paris

The Roman Emporer Julian called Paris "Cara Lutetia" - "Beloved Lutetia." Back then the Roman name for the place was Lutetia.

02 May 2007

Leo Strauss

What the heck is the deal with trying to jam Leo Strauss into some neo-conservative framework? To me that is a very problematic association at best (at least as I understand neo-conservatism). Needless to say it bugs the heck out of me.

Test Post

Testing...

30 April 2007

Debate

Tonight (in a little less than seven hours as of this positing) Sarkozy and Royal will debate the issues. It is the only debate of the second round. Here's a preview. Maybe we'll see some fireworks.

Edit: For some reason this post has been published under the date 30/04/07. It was actually published 2/5/07.

27 April 2007

Rioting In Estonia

MOSCOW, April 27 — Estonian government workers removed a Soviet-era war memorial from the center of the Estonian capital, Talinn, early this morning, after a night of protest and violence that killed one, injured dozens and left a swath of
shattered windows and overturned cars in the city center, Estonian officials said.


Basically - from the Russian POV - the statue symbolizes the defeat of the Nazis; from the Estonian POV it symbolizes the Soviet Union's brutal occupation, etc. of Estonia. If I recall correctly many Estonians (and perhaps the Estonian government?) weren't exactly hostile to the Nazis and may have aided them in exterminating Estonia's Jewish population. All of this makes for a fairly complicated and contested historical narrative.

Whoever is "right," let's hope events there don't become too volatile; after all, as the 20th century demonstrated, people are more than willing to kill each other over their preferrred, idealized, emotionally laden historical perspectives.

25 April 2007

...It Was Just Right

An Earth-like planet spotted outside our solar system is the first found that could support liquid water and harbor life, scientists announced today.


I always wonder what the cultural, religious, etc. implications of discovering extraterrestrial life (intelligent or otherwise) will be. I will predict that at the very least it will take several generations for the full effects of such a discovery to play out.

Edit: Oh, and they are calling it Gliese 581 C. We need a better name than that. Not "New Earth" perhaps, but certainly something more interesting than Gliese 581 C.

24 April 2007

Recent Acquisitions

Leo Strauss, On Tyranny

X-Files - Season Two

Angel - Season Two

Toyota #1

HONG KONG, April 24 — Toyota sold more cars and trucks around the world in the first three months of 2007 than any other manufacturer, surpassing General Motors for the first time and ending one of the longest runs of dominance in all of global
industry.


While not a big surprise (this turn of events has been in the offing for some time now), it is still a milestone. I don't think that GM has a chance of taking back its former position (at least not in the foreseeable future), but they can probably remain a profitable corporation if they can overcome the obstacles they are currently facing.

Geography




This is how the French election broke down geographically; that is who won a plurality of votes in a particular area. Red equals Royal, whereas blue equals Sarkozy. The lone yellow marker is that of Bayrou.

23 April 2007

Medieval Technology

Notre Dame in Paris was in part built with a large man-powered wheeled crane. Men would walk in a cylinder (which sat a top the overall construction area) and thus power the crane; the cyclinder looked a little bit like those which gerbils use in their cages.

David Halberstam Killed

More here.

My condolences, etc. to the family. I read his book The Fifties many years ago (borrowed from a friend or the library or some such) and remember liking it.

Semi-Official Results

So it appears that Sarkozy may have gotten around 32% of the vote while his chief rival (Royal) got approximately 26% of the vote.* Personally I'm sort of shocked by the depth of support for Sarkozy. To an American audience 32% may not seem like a lot but by recent French election standards (at least in the first round) that is a significant total. The truly 'official' results will be published I think the 25th.

*That may be the highest total ever for a socialist candidate in the first round.

Edit: Some interesting news - apparently Sarkozy won or almost won Saint-Denis - one of the primary areas of rioting in 2005.

Eragon

So, I watched Eragon last night. I couldn't tell whether I was watching Braveheart, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars Episode IV.

22 April 2007

Scotland The Brave

And tell me will we never hear the end
Of puir bluidy Charlie at Culloden yet again?
Though he ran like a rabbit down the glen
Leavin better folk than him to be butchered
Or are you sittin in your Council house, dreamin o your clan?
Waiting for the Jacobites to come and free the land?
Try going down the broo with your claymore in your hand
And count all the Princes in the queue!

- Brian McNeill, No Gods and Precious Few Heroes

French Exit Polls

At this time predicted 87% of all French voters, well, voted, in the first round. That's apparently the highest level since 84% voted in the mid-1960s in an election won by De Gaulle.

Edit: Some exit poll numbers:

Sarkozy - 29.4%

Royal - 26.2%

Bayrou - 18.6%

Le Pen - 10.8%

If this holds then my predictions were, well, way off. Indeed, both top two candidates did exceedingly well if these numbers hold up. This probably means a victory for Sarkozy in the second round.

Edit II:

BBC 24 live coverage.


Edit III: Another exit poll has Sarkozy at 30%.

Edit IV: Oh, and this I think the first presidential election since I 1981 when Chirac was not running for president.

Edit V: Yet another exit poll. Royal's camp has got to be worried about Sarkozy's performance as the exit polls show that the majority of Bayrou's supporters perfer Sarkozy over her.

Edit VI: Apparently I may be wrong about my assertion in Edit V.


X-Files Mythology Explained

A ten minute synopsis from the final episode of The X-Files.

French Election - First Round Prediction

While we won't have "official" results for a few days following the election the French press can publish exit polls at 8 PM Paris time. I'll be posting them here as they come in.

My prediction: Sarkozy 27%, Bayrou 24%, Royale 21%, Le Pen 16%

If I'm right and Bayrou comes in second the Sarkozy is going to have a hard time winning the second round.

Edit: The cool thing about the French presidential election is that they get the process of installing a new President over quickly; by May 16th there will be a new French President.

So far it looks like a higher than expected turnout. I think a lot of French voters view this as an election which will shape France for decades.

Edit II: Click here to read an interesting post on the issue of how France understands itself.

Today's Word

Amour-Propre

21 April 2007

History's Long Tail

The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare upon the brain of the living. -- Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (Robert C. Tucker, ed., The Marx-Engels Reader, pg. 437).

Jerusalem Syndrome

Somewhat old article on Jerusalem Syndrome:

The malady called Jerusalem Syndrome is no joke. Afflicted tourists have been found wandering in the Judean desert wrapped in hotel bed sheets or crouched at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, waiting to birth the infant Jesus.

This prompts a question I've often asked myself: if Israel's existance is ever threatened in a significant way what sort of "end times" behavior can we expected out of certain segments of the Christian community?

20 April 2007

France's Baby Boom

According to wikipedia France's total fertility rate was 1.98 children born per woman in 2006. That is near replacement rates and represents a dramatic the highpoint (so far) of dramatic uptick starting in the 1990s.

If this fertitility rate remains constant or increases it will (along with immigration) make France the most populous European nation (outside of I guess Russia) by 2050. At the very least I wonder what the geopolitical ramifications of a more populous French state will be. It also may mean that France will continue to be able to provide for a generous safety net for its citizenry, which may not be all that great in the long run.

Sudanese Refugees In Israel

TEL AVIV, 4 April 2007 (IRIN) - TEL AVIV, 4 April 2007 (IRIN) - Israeli NGOs are campaigning to have 120 Sudanese refugees who fled violence in first Sudan and then Egypt released from the Israeli prisons they are being held in.

This is the sort of news story that I "love." A look at a slice of the world that I knew nothing about. It is also interesting that these Sudanese would flee to a nation that their own culture, etc. probably has little in common with. Anyway, let's hope that these refugees are released and allowed to stay in Israel.

19 April 2007

Do You Have A...


Photo source can be found here.

Gap

Sorry for the posting gap. We've been busy.

VA Tech

Our condolences to the families and friends of the VA Tech students who were killed Mon. I hope that despite all the media hype (and sensationalism about the killer's "motives") you are able to find some peace and closure.

A New $10,000 Car?

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Sensing an untapped market, Japanese automaker Nissan is "seriously" mulling the launch of a small car in the United States priced under 10,000 dollars, top executive Carlos Ghosn said Wednesday.

As the article notes, Ghosn is also the chief executive of Renault and Renault already sells cars priced at ~$10,000 in Europe. As such cars presumably meet European regulatory standards they would also likely meet American regulatory standards. I would see their introduction as a major boon to those who would like a new car but can't afford one; indeed, used car lots would likely take a major hit after their introduction.

Sarkozy & Royal

PARIS (Reuters) - France's presidential election on Sunday looks set to be a traditional contest between the main right and left parties as a bid by a centrist candidate to mount a challenge loses steam, a poll on Thursday showed.
I suppose this is what everyone expected, but a race between Bayrou and Sarkozy or Royal would have shook things up a bit. Of course the only real poll that counts is that on April 22nd.

14 April 2007

Mead

I had some Redstone Black Raspberry Nectar Mead last night and was it ever good.

Euler

Tomorrow is Euler's 300th Birthday. So happy birthday Euler and thank you for your brilliance!

12 April 2007

Self-Censorship

Something about self-censorship and the nature of the philosopher will be posted here sometime today.

Action

"Tocqueville suspected that the greatest danger to freedom was not a state which prevented men from exercising liberty, but one which encouraged them to refuse the burdens of action."

-- Bruce James Smith, Politics & Remembrance: Republican Themes in Machiavelli, Burke, and Tocqueville, n. 106, p. 240


While there is something of "two sides of the same coin" present here, this way of looking at the issue underscores the perniciousness of tyranny. It is not simply that the tyrant acts like a tyrant; the tyrant also fosters a society where political, etc. culture is so weak that it numbs any "instinct" to overthrow the tyrant's rule.

10 April 2007

Firefly Personality Quiz


You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
75%
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
70%
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
50%
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
45%
Wash (Ship Pilot)
40%
River (Stowaway)
40%
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
30%
Inara Serra (Companion)
20%
Alliance
15%
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
0%
A Reaver (Cannibal)
0%
Dependable and trustworthy.
You love your significant other and
you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.

Click here to take the Serenity Personality Quiz



I'm quite pleased with the result.

Jonestown

PBS' American Experience did a great piece on Jonestown last night (09/04/07).

For me Jonestown was the point in my then young life when the problem of evil reared its ugly head. It was also the first time that I discerned the sort of troubling things that groups of people can do given the requisite commitment. Indeed seeing the pictures of those bodies lined up as neatly as they were induced nightmares in me for days afterwards.

Note that I'm a great fan of the idea that our intellectual, etc. commitments are largely pre-political/pre-rational in nature. If I apply that idea to my reaction to Jonestown I could argue that the source my religious and political stances is in the events at Jonestown.

07 April 2007

Stem Cell Research

Here's a first: a British research team has grown part of a human heart from stem cells.

What do people think of stem cell research applications like this?

06 April 2007

German Propaganda Archive

This site contains a nice collection of Nazi and GDR propaganda material.

This postcard is of special interest since the lines in the background are meant to represent Speer's "Cathedral of Light."

The British Hostages II

Geoffrey Wheatcroft on Britain's position in the middle east.

05 April 2007

Speedy French Candidates

Paris - A French auto magazine has caught the cars of leading presidential candidates breaking the speed limit, raising doubts about their credentials as good citizens in the final straight of the race for France's top job.

To me what is so surprising about this story is the willingness of the French press to delve into what might have in the past be considered the "private" lives of French politicians. While that has been common enough in the U.S. over the past few decades, it is as far as I know a much newer trend in France.

Recent Purchases

David Trottier, The Screenwriter's Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script

Daniel Tanguay, Leo Strauss: An Intellectual Biography

Politics

I've been asked a couple of times why this blog isn't all that concerned with, hmm, politics, or rather what we think of as politics - that is current events. I guess that's a fair question given the title of this blog, so it of course deserves a fair answer.

I've become enamored with some aspects of the work of Leo Strauss. Not that I am a Straussian - I think a lot of what he had to offer was complete crap. However, one aspect of his thinking that I really buy into - at least for now - is his effort to differentiate between the philosopher and the partisan. Put rather crudely the philosopher is not committed to a particular political group, etc., whereas the partisan is and it seems to me that focusing on current events leads to the latter.

Why do I find any resonance in this distinction? I suppose it is because of my own blogging experiences. Being a partisan shuts out opposing viewpoints, which, even if they are not completely convincing in themselves, are likely as powerful as the views one does ascribe to. Of course I realize that there are certain weakness in the sort of thinking I'm adopting, in fact they are so easy to point out that I won't name them here. I also realize that I do not take this approach across the board - in other words I'm not going to give "equal time" to the claims of intelligent design advocates. Nevertheless, when it comes to a certain set of what one might call "big questions" partisanship seems at best inappropriate.

Tocqueville's Fears

Out of that grows the general truth that the individual is the sole and best placed judge of his own private concerns and society has the right to control his actions only when it feels such actions cause it damage or needs to seek the cooperation of the individual.

-- Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, pg. 78, (Penguin: 2003) (trans. Gerald Bevan)

This is really a description of what Tocqueville thought that he found in the U.S. It was not something that he necessarily recommended. Indeed while Tocqueville feared what one might call a Jacobin, centralized state, he also was uncomfortable with the extreme individuation he thought that he had found in America.

04 April 2007

One Hundred Posts!

This blog has now reached one hundred postings! Huzzah!

A Better Monarchy

One of the constant rhetorical points in American political discourse is the praise of democracy. And of course one of the prominent arenas for this discourse is in the area of foreign affairs, especially when we invade a nation. I think that there is a problem with this though. Namely that praise of this idea as a universal salve is probably naive at best.

Put in a different way, is it better to have a reformed monarchy or should we dismantle the institutions of a society in order to create them anew? I'll put my cards on the table and state that I am fairly skeptical about the latter of these two options.

Does Insanity Exist?

This paper deals with the fate of eight pseudopatients who had themselves admitted to psychiatric institutions in the early 1970s. The psuedopatients (many of who were involved in the profession of psychiatry or psychology) were thus labelled a specific way upon entry and their behavior (which was "normal" following their admittance) was interpreted with that category in mind. For example, the pseudopatients took a lot of notes during their time at the various facilities and this was commented on by the staff as an indication of their insanity! So the question becomes can we tell the sane from the insane? Apparently the field of psychiatry couldn't in 1973.

Whether a paper this old (it was published in 1973) reflects the current state of psychiatry, etc. I can't say. I do wonder whether a similar experiment produced today would bring about the same result? I think that it is likely that it would. Anyone have any evidence for a conclusion opposite this one?

Carl Sagan...

For Rednecks (video)

Note that some people might find the video linked to above, hmm, offensive.

French Election Update

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Nicolas Sarkozy remains the most popular contender in France’s presidential race, according to a poll by Louis-Harris released by RMC. 29 per cent of respondents would support the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP)candidate in this month’s ballot.

For a while there it looked like Bayrou might upset one of the two main contenders (Sarkozy or Royal) but his support in the polls has flagged in recent weeks. Also - as one would expect - the campaigning for the April 22 first round vote has become more intense over that same time period.

Does it matter who wins the Presidential election in France? Perhaps not. Indeed it may be that it doesn't matter who ends up residing at Élysée Palace since no victor will have significant of room for manuevre. Then again no politician is ever completely completely mastered by the historical tides.

03 April 2007

...if thou hast no name to be known by...

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Metallica may work as a name for a heavy metal band, but a Swedish couple is struggling to convince authorities it’s also suitable for a baby girl.
Apparently the Swedish government has some authority over what one may name a child - at least with regards to their legal name. One has to ask why any population would grant a government agency this sort of authority? I can think of rationales associated with issues like identity theft and the like but they hardly seem to justify this sort of interference in the lives of citizens.

Addendum: Oh and I pulled the title of this post from Shakespeare's Othello:

O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!

Site Changes

So what do my readers (if there are any) think of the changes I've made to the blog in the last day or so?

The Rare Successful Revolution

I wonder if the American Revolution has taught some Americans the wrong lesson. That radical and swift change can bring about mild consequences, when in reality radical and swift change is just as or perhaps more likely to bring about horrific regimes, events, etc. Alright, I'll take my Burkean hat off now.

The NRA & Parker v. District of Columbia

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Could the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress be undermining the best pro-gun case ever likely to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court?

That's the question one of the attorneys (Robert A. Levy) involved in Parker v. District of Columbia is asking. Note that if the Supreme Court were to uphold the Circuit's opinion in Parker it could do so on grounds which specifically recognize the individual right to bear arms.

Kicking Up Some Dust


Florida Repeats

Congratulations to the Gators.

02 April 2007

Movie Scripts

So, as some of you may know we're considering writing a screenplay. Well it seemed that one good place to start that process would be to read movie scripts. So I started looking for scripts online and I came across this site; it has a large selection of scripts for free.

Creationism

Some of you may already know who Ken Ham is; if not you can read about him here.

One of the videos Ken Ham has produced to defend the account of creation in Genesis has been critiqued here.

Of the things I've read of Ken Ham's his "Were You There?" article is probably the piece that has provoked the most thought.

My initial reaction to the article is this. Say I wake up some morning and I look outside and there is snow on the ground. Well, I didn't actually see the snow fall, just as I have never witnessed the billions of years of stellar, biological, etc. evolution, however, I have seen snow fall in the past, just as scientists have witnessed various acts of geological, etc. change since the 19th century. So, why would I assume this particular snowfall was any different in its creation than past snowfalls I've witnessed? This prompts an allied question - why would the way that snow is created long ago be different than that it is today? And of course why would the geological, etc. processes we see today be different in the past?

So yeah, I wasn't there. But the clues that exist in current patterns of change in combination with the historical record (e.g., rock strata, the genome of a particular animal, fossils, etc.) allow us to make powerful and convincing inferences based on that data.

Addendum: In the critique of Ham's video I found the bit about the advent of nylon metabolism to be a major "wow" point. Namely that nylon did not exist prior to 1935 and yet bacteria which eat nylon have come into existance. Sounds like evolution to me.

Sappho

In the grey olive-grove a small brown bird
Had built her nest and waited for the spring.
But who could tell the happy thought that came.
To lodge beneath my scarlet tunic's fold?

All day long now is the green earth renewed
With the bright sea-wind and the yellow blossoms.
From the cool shade I hear the silver plash.
Of the blown fountain at the garden's end.

Sappho, XV (trans. Bliss Carman)

This is the old fashioned way to render Sappho's work. More recent translations are far less amorphous in tone.

31 March 2007

New Book

Bruce Smith, Politics and Remembrance: Republican Themes in Machiavelli, Burke, and Tocqueville

30 March 2007

Can Passersby Nibble?

An artist has created a nude chocolate Jesus just in time for "holy week." Apparently he's all there. Anyway, this development has been met by telephone calls and e-mails from those upset with this particular depiction.

The sculpture is as far as I can tell is in a private gallery.

Here's a question - was Jesus wearing a loincloth when he was crucified?

Addendum: I suspect not, since humiliating people via the public display of genitals (or worse) has been a common practice in human societies. Anyway, being crucified by itself was a humiliating, degrading practice in the ancient world; indeed so much so that early Christians had to explain why they adopted as a savior an individual who had gone through that process.

Addendum II: If I recall correctly, there are passages in the Old Testament which state that those who are crucified are "unclean" or "cursed."

29 March 2007

The British Hostages

One of the things that Britain seemed to be doing by co-operating with the U.S. was punching above its weight. I think the Iranian hostage situation has brought Britain back to reality, at least for a while.

Sophists

Meno: I often wonder, Socrates, that Gorgias is never heard promising to teach virtue: and when he hears others promising he only laughs at them; but he thinks that men should be taught to speak.

-- Plato, Meno (trans. Benjamin Jowett)

One of the main criticisms of the Sophists was that they would teach individuals to argue without absolute reference to the "moral" nature of the argument. The problem of course is that the Sophists were partly right - choices, political or otherwise, are often difficult to make and in part this is because choices don't as often as as we would like present clear alternatives. Furthermore, the basis of these alternatives are never going to be as concrete as we would like. That doesn't mean that one should be a radical skeptic (though if that is what floats your boat, go for it - from my experience it leads to yawning nihilism, a state which has its definite costs as well as benefits), but it should make moderate skepticism seem at least attractive.

28 March 2007

Waterfire - Providence, Rhode Island (2003)




Above are some modified shots taken at WaterFire. Yes, they do look like impressionist paintings. If you are ever in Rhode Island you should definitely check WaterFire out. Indeed, the event by itself is enough reason to visit the state.

Word Up

Today's word is metempsychosis.

27 March 2007

Quebec Election

In Quebec's provinicial elections women who were wearing a veil had to remove it in order to vote. More here. This to me seems like a fairly defensible, religion-neutral requirement.

As for the elections results, the Liberal Party of Quebec will have to form a minority government, while the Parti Québécois (which advocates seperation) came in third. As the New York Times notes, "The outcome means Quebec will avoid another divisive referendum on whether the French-speaking province should separate from the rest of Canada."

26 March 2007

UNC Mascot Update

Unfortunately UNC's mascot, Jason Ray, who was hit by an SUV Friday, has died. My sincere condolences to the family. From what I can tell from the article your son was an outstanding young man.

Children At Play

Eternity is a child at play, playing draughts: the kingdom is a child's.

-- Heraclitus, quoted in Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies
(trans. Jonathan Barnes, Early Greek Philosophy (2001), pg. 52)

Yesterday I was watching a large group of children at play. About ten or fifteen of them. They were playing tag. As the game progressed they amended the rules as various contingent "facts" arose. Though my thoughts are hardly original, I believe that this is the sort thing that Heraclitus was getting at with regards to the "kingdom" - that is with regard to the nature of human existance and perhaps metaphysics generally.

24 March 2007

UNC Mascot

Here's hoping that UNC's mascot pulls through. The full story here.

Final Four

With Ohio State winning today one of my predictions has made it to the Final Four. Here is hoping for three more victories.

Update I: Go UCLA! Two out of four. Now all I need is for Oregon and Georgetown to be tomorrow's victors.

Update II: Oregon lost to Florida. One of my championship game teams is now out. Indeed, the team I picked to win it all is out.

Update III: Well Georgetown advances. However, I have them going up against Oregon in the championship game and losing, a meeting which can't possibly happen now.

Horace

The just man, tenacious in his resolve, will not be shaken from his settled purpose, by the frenzy of his fellow citizens imposing that evil be done...

-- Horace, Ode III (trans. Sindey Alexander, The Complete Odes and Satires of Horace (1999), pg. 98)

North Carolina Foliage (Fall 2005)



Panda took these.

Pat Tillman

WASHINGTON - A Pentagon investigation will recommend that nine officers, including up to four generals, be held accountable for missteps in the aftermath of the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, senior defense officials said Friday.

Of all the results of the "War on Terrorism" the saga following Pat Tillman's death has got to be one of the most disheartening.

Some of Kevin Tillman's (Pat's brother) thoughts on Pat, the War in Iraq, etc. Both served in the Army Rangers.

23 March 2007

Conservapedia

Apparently this is the conservative answer to wikipedia. The Houston Chronicle compares the two here.

If one reads through a few of the talk pages on subjects like atheism and the like one can see a pretty healthy debate.

Addendum: There are significant gaps - from my perspective at least - in what Conservapedia covers. For example, I looked up Spinoza and got zip. Anyway, I am sure that is just a function of its relatively recent genesis.

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Well, so far, I have three of eight teams in the "Elite Eight." We'll see how I do tonight in picking up another four.

Anyway, apparently last night's game between Ohio State and Tenessee was a barn burner.

Update: Well, three of the teams that I picked to win on the second day of the "Sweet Sixteen" round have made it into the "Elite Eight." So I got six out of a possible eight right. Not bad.

Oregon Teacher Fired

SISTERS, Ore. — During his eight days as a part-time high school biology teacher, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood.

Does anyone ever claim that the holocaust is a direct result of the anti-Jewish commentary found in the book of Hebrews?

22 March 2007

Honda's New Hydrogen Fuel Cell

The FCX's driving traits are attributable to Honda's new vertically oriented fuel cell. Instead of lying flat under the floor like all the other hydrogen vehicles out there, Honda's new stack stands upright where a normal car's transmission would go.

The Big Picture

Q&A on Avi Lewis' The Big Picture following a viewing of Dawkins' The Root Of All Evil?

I must say that Lewis is a very sharp moderator. He's certainly a far better moderator than any I've ever seen on American television. So, good going Canada!

Culture Wars

So I'm reading this blurb on how Cartesianism (and one's favor of or opposition to) became part of the "culture wars" of 17th century Holland, and I laugh.

20 March 2007

Aporia II*

One thing that is common in the world of bloggers is the staking out of positions, which I suppose is also true in other areas of life. All the same, bloggers seem more wedded to their positions than people in their everyday lives are. Or at least more willing to voice such. Thus, they often adopt positions with so much passion that they are certain that their answer is "the" answer.

Yet I think that it is fair say that people shouldn't be so sure of themselves, especially when it comes to complex concepts like consent or justice. Indeed, these sort of problems seem to be plagued by aporia. Of course that particular bit of unsubstantiated certitude can also be questioned. :)

*Edited for clarity.

Anniversary


Today is the four year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Wow.

The image above is of Baghdad on April 2nd, 2003 (Source - NASA); the plumes of smoke are from fires intentionally set to confuse, etc. the American forces.
Addendum: If you click on the picture it takes you to a much larger, more impressive image.