Thursday, March 27, 2008


I'm off in a few days to far away lands to fight with philosophers from other countries, and then drink their beer. I'll be back in a little over a week.

Should Billy Joel or Sammy Hagar or Sting or Bono drop dead while I'm gone, someone please piss on the grave for me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Popular Culture and Philosophy Books

I've mentioned previously the absurdity of the fact that two academic presses now publish books in the "popular culture and philosophy" genre. The recipe is simple:

1. Take some pop culture phenomenon, such as a band, a TV show, a movie, a sport, etc.

2. Commission several short, poorly written, and more poorly argued essays about that phenomenon from people employed as professional philosophers who can't get their work [sic] published elsewhere.

3. Stick the essays together, without bothering to proofread, edit, or even read them.

4. Add a cover page containing the name of that phenomenon followed by the words and philosophy. And a book is born.

I used to think of these books as harmless, useless, fun. But now I see them as a positive menace. The essays are almost uniformly shoddy and philosophically inept; they leave the casual reader with the impression that philosophy is just what they'd always took it to be: self-indulgent bullshit.

I just saw a call for contributions for a proposed Transformers and Philosophy book. Isn't it long past time to call a moratorium on this crap?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Proof that Christianity is a Lie, part 7490

On the evening of Good Friday, I was drinking at a hotel bar in Pasadena with some colleagues. I paid the tab and noticed that the receipt indicated that the server's name was Jesus.

That's right: Jesus sold me beers. Lots of them. On Good Friday.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


The newly-purchased books in my carry on bag set the security checkers off at LAX this morning. An older woman wearing rubber gloves picked through my bag for the books, took them out and inspected them. As they bore titles like Rational Extremism and Is there a Duty to Obey the Law?, I figured I was in for something interesting. She then asked, "May I ask what your interest is with these books?"

I replied, "I'm a political philosopher."

She said, "Oh. OK. Very interesting. Lots of possibilities there. In fact, an infinity of possibilities. Of course, one could say the same about theology. But what is anyone going to do with that? At least you have something practical to look at. Have a good day."

I'm puzzled.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke has a posse.

Story here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Until Next Week

I'm off to that thing in California. And before I go there, I need to stop somewhere else. So I'll be gone until next week. Try not to miss me too much. I'll bring back tales of adventure.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

That Thing...

Anyone else going to that thing that starts on Wednesday and ends on Sunday? You know... that thing. People reading sentences to each other while wearing tweed? Free beer one night, not free the other? Dejected and jobless young people wandering about, looking for someone to put them out of their misery? A big room of books where the useless ones are free, and the good ones are for sale at a major discount if you wait until the last day? Very few women? Even fewer people who are not in some obvious way socially retarded?

If anyone else is going to that thing, I'll be flashing the secret sign throughout. You know what I mean...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Doom or fuckedupness?

I've been thinking about the story below that was graciously forwarded by loyal contributor 729. Is this doom? Or is it just another example of fuckedupness? You be the judge.

Full story here.

WICHITA - Authorities are considering charges in the bizarre case of a woman who sat on her boyfriend's toilet for two years - so long that her body was stuck to the seat by the time the boyfriend finally called police.

Ness County Sheriff Bryan Whipple said it appeared the 35-year-old Ness City woman's skin had grown around the seat. She initially refused emergency medical services but was finally convinced by responders and her boyfriend that she needed to be checked out at a hospital.

"We pried the toilet seat off with a pry bar and the seat went with her to the hospital," Whipple said. "The hospital removed it."

Whipple said investigators planned to present their report Wednesday to the county attorney, who will determine whether any charges should be filed against the woman's 36-year-old boyfriend.

"She was not glued. She was not tied. She was just physically stuck by her body," Whipple said. "It is hard to imagine. ... I still have a hard time imagining it myself."

He told investigators he brought his girlfriend food and water, and asked her every day to come out of the bathroom.

"And her reply would be, 'Maybe tomorrow,"' Whipple said. "According to him, she did not want to leave the bathroom."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Doom, Part 80,423

Indians blinded looking for vision of Mary

KOTTAYAM, India, March 11 (UPI) -- Reports in India of a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary in the sky have led about 50 people to blind themselves by staring at the sun.

The visions are said to appear over the former home of a hotel owner in the Kottayam area in southeast India, The Daily Telegraph reported. One hospital in the district reported 48 patients had been admitted with burned retinas since last week, the British newspaper reported.

Churches have warned their congregations that looking at the sun will cause permanent blindness and have told them the supposed miracle is not one.

Before moving out, the hotel owner reportedly had also claimed to have statues of the Virgin Mary that cried honey and bled oils and perfumes.

Story Here.

Killing Joke

Killing Joke is one of my all time favorites, despite the fact that for the past 20 years, they've proven incapable of producing more than one good album for every three they release. Go figure.

I see that they're planning a tour. Always sketchy: on a good night, nothing beats them, on a not-good night, they are intolerable; these days, the good to not-good ratio heavily favors the latter. Given the recent death of their long-time (but not original) bassist Raven, they've reassembled the "original" lineup, including original bassist Youth and long-departed kick ass drummer Big Paul. This could be great... But behold:

The tour will see Killing Joke take up a two night residency in most venues offering a different set on each evening. On the first night, they will play their first two albums in their entirety, 1980’s self-titled album followed by the album ‘What’s This…For!’ [sic]. Their second performance in each city will treat fans to 1994’s Pandemonium and the Island Records singles of’79 to ’80.

This could suck.

If anyone is planning to go to the October 11th show, let me know.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Playmobil Security Checkpoint

Another gem from Don't miss the reviews. We're doomed.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Power of Hyphenation (philosophers only)

Dear fellow philosophers,

I was engaged in a long and excruciating conversation this afternoon with a philosopher who insisted on pronouncing key terms in her position as if they had hyphens. For example, ordinary terms like responsibility, interaction, remembering, and correspondence became "response-ability," "inter-action," "re-membering," and "co-respondence." She apparently took the hyphenization of the terms to be doing some philosophical work, but I couldn't get her to help me figure out what that work is.

I've noticed that this kind of thing is becoming more frequent. Does anyone out there understand it? In any case, shouldn't there be a word for this?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

If life is a radio....

Long time contributor Lame Gorilla (aka Randy Randall) writes in with the following bold proposition: KISS's "Crazy Nights" deserves the Sammy Hagar Award for stupidest lyrics.

I've long maintained that "Hot Blooded" could not be beaten for stupidity. But KISS give Foreigner a good run for their money, especially with the line "if life is a radio, turn up to ten." That's exceedingly fucking stupid.

KISS, "Crazy Nights"
(Whoow! Here's a little song for everybody out there)
People try to take my soul away, but I don't hear the rap that they all say
They try to tell us we don't belong, that's alright, we're millions strong
This is my music, it makes me proud, these are my people and this is my crowd

These are crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights

Sometimes days are so hard to survive, a million ways to bury you alive
The sun goes down like a bad bad dream
You're wound up tight, gotta let off steam
They say they can break you again and again, if life is a radio, turn up to ten

These are crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights

And they try to tell us that we don't belong
But that's alright, we're millions strong
You are my people, you are my crowd, this is our music, we love it loud
Yeah, and nobody's gonna change me, 'cos that's who I am

New Nick Cave

There's a new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album, titled Dig! Lazarus Dig! Though I'm a long time fan, I've been steadily losing interest in them since Nocturama. In fact, The Boatman's Call was, in my view, the high point of the band.

Anyway, I've checked out the samples of the new album online, and am skeptical. Has anyone heard the album? Views?

Friday, March 7, 2008

I guess I need to go to this...

I just saw a poster on a light post advertising a show tonight at my local dive-bar-with-bands. Tonight's headliner is described as "Japanese Comedic Metal."

Redundant? Self-contradictory?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Please do Something About This

I just received an email informing me that The Police have added a second show at Jones Beach... uh... I'm sorry, I meant Nikon at Jones Beach Theater for August. Hasn't this "reunion tour" nonsense gone on long enough? Shouldn't Stewart Copeland have kicked Sting's aged ass by now?

And the worst part is that Elvis Costello is the opening act. I'm still an Elvis fan, but you know that this will mean an encore "Tea in the Sahara" duet. Barf.

At least Sammy Hagar is not in sight (yet?).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Someone please explain

Would someone please explain why Bauhaus is releasing a new album?

The reviewer from NPR reports what we all already know:
The record's opening track is a pretty un-Bauhaus-sounding, almost jaunty rock tune with a Taxman bass line called "Too Much 21st Century." From there, the band settles comfortably and effectively into its familiar, spare, rock-in-a-minor-key gloom grooves. Unfortunately, in the second half, the songs start to dissolve into slow, maudlin, melodramatic self-indulgence.

Is there anything more pathetic than elderly Goths trying to relive the glory days of 1982? Nope.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gary Gygax has a Posse!

Go ahead... pretend you don't know who Gygax is.

Story here.

News of this posse occasions the telling of the tale of a classic kook encounter. While up very late one night writing my dissertation (yes, it's an old tale...), I made a trip to the local Dunkin' Donuts for a large coffee. While there, I encountered a small group of kooks who were huddled around the counter. I asked them what they were doing. One replied that they were engaged in a role-playing game. I asked, "Oh... you mean like Dungeons and Dragons?" He responded, "Well, not exactly. We used to play Dungeons and Dragons. But we don't anymore. We play our own game now." I asked why they'd quit D&D. The response: "There wasn't enough sex in D&D." then I asked the names of their new game. I was told: Other World. So telling....

General Fuckedupness Free-for-all

1. While at breakfast this morning at one of my usual kook-infested spots, I watched a grown man talk to (full volume) and gently stroke his laptop computer for over 30 minutes. He was saying things like "Oh... that's so sweet of you," and "You're full of surprises today, aren't you?" Maniacal laughter was a frequent bonus. I even checked to see if he had some kind of cam device. Nope.

2. I swear that the person down the hall uses her office as a place to have sex during spring and summer breaks.

3. Man hits woman on his way to anger management class. (Thanks to Princess BitchKitty!)

4. I received just now a request from a journal to review a paper submitted for publication. [In case you don't know, my corner of the academic world thrives on double-blind review: When you submit something for consideration for publication, it is sent out to experts on the topic of your paper for evaluation. They don't know your identity, and you don't know theirs. The process is supposed to ensure fairness. ] What's weird about this is that the paper I've been asked to review is explicit in being aimed at my own views. My name is in the damn subtitle of the piece-- it says something like: "Blah, Blah: Why Spiros is a Stupid Idiot." I of course understand the journal's interest in getting a fair assessment of the paper, so I can see the motivation for sending it to someone not opposed to the view being criticized. But still, it seems to me wrong-- a violation of the aspiration for fairness-- to send a paper criticizing Philosopher X to X herself. Fellow philosophers: Am I wrong?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Van Halen

It seems dates on the entirely uncalled for Van Halen reunion tour are dropping like flies, no doubt due to what Spinal Tap's manager (Ian Faith) once called "lack of advertising funds."

That they could get more than 50 people in the world to pay to hear them rehash their glory days of prolonged adolescence is the real tragedy.... But let's look on the bright side, one of them is bound to die soon. Might as well jump.

Story here.

Doom, part 567

The local Christian store is selling t-shirts that say Jesus for President.

We're doomed.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Philosopher King

Princeton's Philip Pettit, who is easily among the most important philosophers alive, is serving as a official philosophical adviser to Spain's PM, José Luis Zapatero. Zapatero apparently pledged in 2002 to realize Pettit's political philosophy (republicanism in the classical sense, not in the Ronald Reagan sense) in Spain. Zapatero's up for re-election and has asked Pettit to evaluate how he has done.

Story here