Friday, February 29, 2008

Amazon Milk

Check out the page for 1 Gallon of Tuscan Whole Milk.

And don't miss the 984 reviews of the product. A sample:

86 of 95 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Saved My Baby's Life, July 21, 2006
The exact minute I got my milk, my baby's new face burst into flames. I used the gallon to extinguish my baby. Next time, I'll order 2 gallons. Thank you, milk. Thank YOU!


Next week is Spring Break at my University. Most of the students are going away to fancy vacations in exotic places-- I just heard one saying to another that she's going to Spain, the other replied that she'd gone to Spain last year and is going this year to France.

The custom is for professors to cancel afternoon classes on the Friday before Spring Break. Not only have I not canceled class, I've scheduled an exam.... and denied all requests for makeups.

That's the kinds of jerk I am.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This is not a blog entry (now with content!)

I see that Sonic Youth is coming to play in my city. I lost track of them 15 years ago. Anyone care to opine on whether they're worth seeing (now that they're no longer youth)?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley has a posse!

William F. Buckley has a posse! Story here.


Dinner Conversation

I had dinner last night with some colleagues. The conversation turned to the question of what could make it wrong to sell something that it's not wrong to give away. Consider: we tend to think that organ donation is a fine thing, perhaps in some cases morally obligatory. But we wince at the thought of selling organs. So it seems OK to give organs away, but not to sell them. Why?

As you may have anticipated, the conversation quickly turned to prostitution. If someone decides to have sex with another, all's well (presuming it's consensual, not an act of adultery, not an act of pederasty, etc.) . But once someone has sex with another for money, it's criminal. Why? Arguably, performers in pornographic films are having sex for money. Why isn't performing in a pornographic a crime? And so the conversation proceeded, eventually covering a wide range of similar cases.

I live in a city where people think nothing of approaching strangers and commenting on a conversation they'd been eavesdropping on. Apparently, they also think nothing of expressing disapproval of the conversation they'd been listening in on: an older man approached the table and said, "Do you really think that this is an appropriate dinner conversation?" I quickly replied, "Yes. And what is your view? Have you ever had sex for money?" As he walked away, he said, "I pray for you."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


This morning, I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt bearing the following message:

Every morning, I wake up thinking that there's no way people could get any stupider. And every day, I am proven horribly wrong.

It seems to me that whoever wears this t-shirt is admitting that he/she gets stupider every day. Here's why: the wearer of the t-shirt is revealing that he/she is incapable of making a rudimentary inductive inference. Put otherwise, the wearer of the t-shirt admits to making the same mistake every day; despite a daily increase of inductive evidence that people can always get more stupid, the wearer every day neglects to revise his belief. So every morning, the wearer is stupider than he/she was the prior evening.

So the t-shirt, which I suppose is intended to inflate the wearer's sense of his/her own intelligence, actually provides proof that the wearer is stupider every day.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Another exhilirating fight

My fellow academics will recognize and appreciate this: I have just emerged from a departmental meeting victorious. My misguided colleagues have been vanquished, their so-called arguments dismantled, their conclusions disproved. All nonsense and falsehood fell under the weight of sober reason.

JUSTICE prevails. For now....

P.S. I'm about to be on Spring Break here. Good thing, too-- this teaching stuff was getting to be way too much work....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Forget about it, Jake...

I was involved earlier today in a panel discussion at my local cinema of the film Chinatown. If you have not seen this film, you should be ashamed of yourself. Anyway, I showed up prepared to defend at length my reading of the film, according to which it is primarily an epistemological film: it is about the gap between truth and (even very high levels of) justification.

But I didn't get the chance to develop this reading, because one of the other panelists asserted something truly absurd, namely, that the famous line at the end of the film, "forget about it Jake, it's Chinatown...," signals that unless Jake and his associates leave the scene, the police will arrest them. WTF????

This same person also went on to claim that Chinatown tries to prove to us that "there is no good and evil," because... brace yourself... "whatever Jake does, he hurts the innocent and makes things worse." My rejoinder that it's contradictory to read the film as denying that there is good and evil while at the same time holding that it's possible for Jake to make things worse and it's possible for people to be innocent, was entirely lost on this guy.

Never bothering to do that again.

This is Madness

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reaffirmed his predecessor's line on cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday, saying free speech should respect religious sensitivities.

"The Secretary-General strongly believes that freedom of expression should be exercised responsibly and in a way that respects all religious beliefs," his spokeswoman Marie Okabe told reporters.

The cartoon issue has returned to prominence after Denmark's five major daily newspapers last week republished one of 12 drawings of the Prophet that angered Muslims around the world in 2006.

They did so as a protest against a plot to murder one of the cartoonists who originally published the drawings in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Most Muslims consider depictions of the Prophet offensive.


This is madness. If I have a basic right to x my exercise of x is rightly constrained only when such constraint is necessary to preserve another's basic rights. No one has a right not to be offended. (Offense is different from harm.) No one has a right to have their beliefs respected. No one has a right not to be angered. So my basic right to free speech is not properly constrained by such considerations.

Moreover, the injunction to speak in a way that "respects all religious beliefs" is impossible to satisfy, since many forms of religious belief deny that other forms are properly religious at all (they're falsely religious or idolatrous) and thus deny that those other forms deserve respect. That is, for some forms of religious belief, even recognizing that there are other forms of religious belief is a form of blasphemy. Indeed, the very claim that "freedom of expression should be exercised responsibly and in a way that respects all religious beliefs," will be interpreted by some religious believers (say, Plantinga-style religious exclusivists) as itself offensive. So Ban Ki-moon's position is worse than false; it is incoherent.

A newspaper published drawings that some find offensive. In response, some of the offended rioted and plotted murder. To claim that the position of the offended is one deserving respect and toleration to such an extent as to constrain our basic rights is utter madness.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I'm NOT Making This Up...

A large dive-bar / tourist trap in my city has recently taken to hosting concerts by those on the "has been" list. Recent shows include Rick Springfield, Men At Work, Warrant, etc. Upcoming shows include such has-beens-hanging-on-by-a-thread as Bret Michaels, Eddie Money, and... prepare yourself... Foreigner.

I've argued elsewhere that Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" has the absolute worst lyrics in rock music. I will not rehearse those arguments here. It is worth noting, however, that Foreigner's performance in my city is part of their "Feels Like the First Time" tour. The tour is sponsored by AARP. Repeat: Foreigner's tour is sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons. As you may know, the AARP serves people who are 50 years old and older.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Time out for a Logic lesson!

The most courageous post by someone who, courageously, prefers to remain conveniently anonymous, affords the opportunity to make some important points about logic. So here goes. The Brave Anon's post says (quoting in full):

Hey Spiros- I doubt that you would ever have the balls to spew your crap to Billy Joel if you ever met him. I would love to see Joel ( a former welter- weight boxing champion ) whack the living shit out of you in the grand old New York tradition. Who gives a fuck what music you don't like ? Blogging bullies like you are all the same - big brave blowhards in cyberspace, and limp-dicked cowards in reality. You are obviously a failure in your own miserable life.

The problems begin in the first two sentences. Anon "doubts" that I'd even "have the balls" to "spew" my "crap" to Joel if I ever met him; she says I wouldn't have the balls because Joel is a "former welter-weight boxing champion," and therefore would "whack the living shit" out of me. Thus far, the post violates a dialectical norm of relevance. That Billy Joel could "whack the living shit" out of me is irrelevant to what's in dispute, namely, whether Joel's music sucks. The irrelevance is clear from the fact that what enables one to "whack the living shit" out or another is strength and fighting skill. But what enables one to write music that doesn't suck is something else altogether. Accordingly, we would reject the view that the best fighter is therefore the best songwriter! For example, let's stipulate that Billy Joel could "whack the living shit" out of Paul McCartney; it does not follow that therefore Joel's music is better than Paul's. Nor does it follow that Joel's doesn't suck.

More formally, the opening sentences are instances of a fallacy known as ad baculum ("appeal to the stick"). Ad baculum arguments instantiate the following fallacious inference:
1. If you don't agree that p, I will beat you up.
2. Therefore p.
Obviously, the truth of p does not follow from the truth of the premise.

The next sentence raises another kind of failure. The Courageous Anon writes: "Who gives a fuck what music you don't like ?" This is a kind of performative contradiction. Obviously Anon gives a fuck! Had she not given a fuck, she'd not have taken the time to write her precious note. That is, the "who gives a fuck..." claim has the pragmatic implication of saying "No one should even bother caring about what you say," but Anon, in her great wisdom, says this while obviously caring a great deal about what I say!

The next sentence is also a failure. The Brave Anon writes: "Blogging bullies like you are all the same - big brave blowhards in cyberspace, and limp-dicked cowards in reality." Leaving aside the worry about why cyberspace is not "reality," note that this is a classic instance of the ad hominem ("appeal to the person") fallacy:
1. You are a bad person (a "big brave blowhard in cyberspace, and limp-dicked coward in reality").
2. Therefore, what you say is false.
But bad people say all kinds of true things. So, to say the least, this is not a promising form of inference.

The final sentence, You are obviously a failure in your own miserable life, also instantiates a vice of reasoning: it's an assertion posing as a conclusion. Here, the "obviously" is doing the work of suggesting that something has been demonstrated (namely, that I am a "failure in [my] own miserable life") by what Anon has said in the previous sentences. But absolutely nothing about me has been demonstrated. Alas, all that has been demonstrated is that Anon is intellectually inept. No wonder she likes Billy Joel.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Doom, fucking yankees edition

Billy Joel has just added a second concert bidding farewell to Shea Stadium. That means that the first Shea concert has sold out. Nice job, Yankee fuckheads. Don't you have anything better to do in your cesspools and cages than to encourage Billy Joel to do anything other than commit suicide in a slow, painful, and humiliating way?

The two concerts are being called "The Last Play at Shea, from the Beatles to Billy." What a fucking insult. If you had any integrity whatsoever you'd be seriously considering moving out of New York right now. Better to live among rednecks and hillbillies than people who would pay to hear Billy Joel play music.

Kook Magnet

For several months, I had been avoiding my once-usual morning coffee shop. It had become too overgrown with kooks. I decided this morning to give it another try. Alas, the kooks are still there, and they still want to talk to me....

As I sat drinking my coffee, a random stranger approached and asked whether I'd seen the lunar eclipse last night. I replied that I had. He replied:

What do ya think it looks like to the people, beings... whatever, are up there? Does everything just go dark? Do they know what eclipses are?

I responded: I do not believe that there beings on the moon.

Surprised, he replied: Really? You don't believe in life on other planets?

I responded: Well, first of all, let's remember that the moon is not a planet.

He interrupted to say: Wow. That's messed up, man.... messed up.

And then he walked away.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Linguistic Accomplishments"?

From the Sunday Herald.

A PRAGUE brothel offering free sex and the chance of internet stardom is providing men with a novel style of sexual recreation. The formula of the Big Sister brothel in the Czech capital's Old Town is simplicity itself: entry is free and patrons can choose their playmates from an electronic database. [....]

To participate in the "fun and games" a punter has to show an ID card or passport and sign a contract accepting that the owners can film the intimate proceedings and use the footage as they please. After a payment of 10 (£7) for the use of a towel and slippers, he can choose a woman. The brothel's database caters for all tastes, and the choice can be made accordingly, based on facial or body image, breast size or linguistic accomplishments.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Generation X?

Radio in my city is notoriously bad. But I must admit that it has been getting better. This morning, I heard on the classic rock station Cheap Trick's "Surrender." Good tune. But here's the puzzling thing: After the song was over, the D.J. said something like the following:

Cheap Trick, with "Surrender." You know, Cheap Trick is for me the definition of Generation X. If you've never seen them, and then puked your guts out in the parking lot afterwards, you're just not Generation X.

What the fuck? 70s rock is "generation x"?

Monday, February 18, 2008

More Doom

From Reuters:

A song audible only to dogs has topped New Zealand record charts. "A Very Silent Night," recorded at a frequency only dogs can hear, was so popular among owners it hit number one at Christmas.

Fools and their money....

Please Advise

I have to make a choice between visiting Athens (in June) and Copenhagen (in November). I've been to Athens twice previously, and love the place. Never been to Copenhagen, though.

Any advice?

P.S.: In keeping with the unintentional Tom Waits theme that's been running through this blog, note that "Tom Traubert's Blues" is set in Copenhagen. Is that a reason to go there?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Doom, part 4,567.302

Billboard reports that Scarlett Johansson's album of Tom Waits covers-- titled Anywhere I Lay My Head [*insert snicker here*]--- is due to hit the stores on May 20. Here's the track list:

"Town With No Cheer"
"Falling Down"
"Anywhere I Lay My Head"
"Fannin' Street"
"Song for Jo" [NOTE: not a Waits song, but a SJ "original"]
"Green Grass"
"I Wish I Was in New Orleans"
"I Don't Want To Grow Up"
"No One Knows I'm Gone"
"Who Are You?"

The thought of Johansson singing "Who Are You?" (which contains possibly the best lyric ever: "Are you still jumping out of windows in expensive clothes?") is enough to make me nauseous.

Bowie supplies backup vocals. We're doomed.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Please Explain

I live in a land of incoherent bumper stickers, but this one (seen in a parking lot this evening) takes the cake. It said:

America Bless God
It's time for all He's done

Anyone care to take a shot as what this means?

God Damn Done!

Just sent my next book off to its higher destiny.... It's in the hands of the publisher now, and I wont' see it again until it's time to proof read and index. Proof reading and indexing suck ass hard. But for now I'm enjoying drinking my booze straight from the bottle, old man style.

BTW: I just found out that a second student of mine has been offered a job at an incredibly wealthy Christian university. What the fuck's up with that? I want to be happy for the guy, and a job's a job, but at the same time think that going to a Christian university is intellectual suicide.

Fuck it. Whatever.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


It was just now called to my attention that tonight's episode of Law & Order (new cast) features a scene in which one of the cops is reading Rawls's A Theory of Justice (reissued original edition). One of the lawyers observes him reading it, and says something like, "great book-- I read it my first year in Law School."

This is at least the second time Rawls has been mentioned on a prime time TV series-- I've seen a clip of the show Girlfriends in which one of the characters is reading A Theory of Justice for a college course.

Go, Jack, Go!

P.S.: All you jerks that have not read Rawls are fucking losers. Buy A Theory of Justice, read it a few times, and join civilization.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Rolling Stone claims that Tom Waits will be touring the US this summer. Look out.

In more depressing news, Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon, and Styx will be touring together this spring. So I'll have to hold off on destroying the world....

What's THIS for....

In a Nutshell: Observations from a cranky jerk who happens to be a professional philosopher. Occasionally philosophical, most often just vulgar. Sometimes focused on sober points of logic and issues in political theory, but more frequently fixed on nonsense. Bad metal bands, crappy guitarists, stupid lyrics, celebrities, pop "culture," telemarketers, and other annoyances. Always misanthropic. Anti-religious. Not particularly amusing, either. Some might say insulting. Kook magnet. Comments from other cranky jerks.

In Case You're Wondering: I ran a blog for a while, and then stopped. That blog was updated almost daily and consisted in a running account of my ongoing battle against the entire world. I don't know yet if I'll attempt that again. Check back and see. Or leave a stupid comment, jerk.