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.


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.