Friday, July 31, 2009

Sorry for the Delay, Please Fuck Off

I just got an email from a student who was on the job market last year. He today got a PFO from a university he'd applied to back in October.

Is that worse than getting no reply at all? Yeah, I think so.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Glenn Beck : Inarticulate Moron, OK With Censorship

Good to know that Glenn Beck would rather tolerate extreme censorship than quit is job:

"I fear that there will come a time when I cannot say things that I am currently saying. I fear that it will come to television and to radio, and I will stop saying these things. Understand me clearly. Hear me now. If I ever stop saying these things, you will know why. Because I will have made a choice that I can only say certain things, and I haven't lost all of the rights. But know that these things are true. And if you hear me stop saying these things, it's because I can no longer say them to you. But hear them between the sentences. Hear them, please. I will be screaming them to you." (7/27/2009)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All Known Metal Bands

Special thanks to the genius who had the good sense to send me a copy of All Known Metal Bands. That's right: 300 black pages, with ultra-tiny gray print, alphabetically listing the names of all known metal bands. A more awesomely pointless object could hardly be conceived. I have already spent several minutes looking through, wondering what bands with names like Satan's Almighty Penis, Fecal Christ, and Vomit Snack sound like.

As with all things metal, there is of course a controversy over authenticity. Reviewers on Amazon claim that the list is stolen from the Metal Archives website. One reviewer sums things up nicely:
There's no way I could buy this and not feel like a jerk. Coffee table books aren't metal. Paying twenty bucks for free (potentially stolen) information is definitely not metal. Even if you dislike metal, this book won't help you articulate why.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Geek Public Service Announcement

Shark Week begins on Sunday.

I have it on the good authority of a Shark Week-obsessed friend that this year will be extra special because "they're focusing on attacks rather than that conservation crap."

The Week kicks off with the awesome-looking "Blood in the Water."

Go ahead, jerks... pretend you don't watch and love Shark Week.

"Is intentionality emergent or is emergency intentional?"

I'm just back from a very pleasant trip and now find the following absolutely hilarious comment beneath my post about the proposed volume on The Philosophy of Viagra. The author of the comment claims to be the editor of the volume, but I have my doubts since the post is so fantastically stupid. Behold:

By the way, this is not from the Blackwell or Open Court Popular philosophy series. I think that Viagra and Philosophy is a serious philosophical subject. It's a more relevant and has more philosophical depth than, for example, typical analytical topics like "is intentionality emergent or is emergency intentional?" Try to think about that if your brains are not already too corroded through repetetive and formal exercises.
The editor of The Philosophy of Viagra

I could not have composed a more foolish reply if I wanted to. First, I never claimed that the volume was in either of the Pop Culture series, and as far as I can tell, no one in the comments did either. So the author of the comment should learn to read. But more importantly, the author of the comment asserts that "I think that Viagra and Philosophy is a serious philosophical subject" (we know!) and then says nothing about why it is-- all that's on offer is a comparison with "typical analytic topics" (more on that below). The purported argument is this: (1) Spiros claims that the topic of my edited volume is dumb. (2) But typical analytic topics are dumber. (3) Therefore, the topic of my volume is not dumb. QED! Save that one for the first page of 5th Grade Logic for Dummies. [Special note to comment author (read slowly, move you mouth if it helps): That you can cook up a topic that is dumber than the topic of your book does not entail that your book is not dumb. (Hint: they both may be dumb!)]

But seriously, I don't work on intentionality or any related issue, but I'd be hard pressed to name a single analytic philosopher who would characterize his or her research as being aimed at answering the question "Is intentionality emergent or is emergency intentional?" Yet the comment's author claims this is a "typical analytical topic." I confess to have never seen "emergency" used in this context (rather than "emergence"), so I strongly suspect that the comment author is simply ignorant. Could someone-- the author of the original comment, preferably-- please name an analytic philosopher who works on precisely this purportedly popular question?

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Always Already"

I've grown accustomed to seeing the term "always already" in works of shabby philosophy. I once figured that the term was employed by philosophers who could not bear to use a term like "necessarily": That which is "always already" the case is that which is necessarily the case.

Then I began to think that "always already" was a happily non-Kantian-sounding way of deploying a transcendental argument: That which we are "always already" committed to is that which supplies the conditions for (the possibility of) reflection itself, or some such. In any case, I figured that the expression was popular among a certain stripe of philosopher because it was imprecise and flaky but sounded sophisticated.

However, I'm now finding the term in the work of more respectable philosophers. Can anyone tell me in non-obscurantist language what it means to say, for example, that "we are always already under an obligation to X" (where X names some action)?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Overheard at Lunch

Overheard at lunch:

Social justice is definitely political . . . that's true . . . but it has also become ideological, and that closes doors.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Philosophy of Viagra

I post the following as a service to those employed in Philosophy who can't get their work into peer-reviewed venues and lack sufficient talent to work on real problems, but feel the need to compensate for their deficiencies by claiming that publishing incompetent philosophy in popular forums is a noble enterprise.

Remember: "It is clear that Viagra needs to be examined not only from a sociological but also from a philosophical point of view"! The editor says so. [By the way-- this is not a joke... well not intentionally.]

The Philosophy of Viagra

The impotency remedy Viagra is the “fastest selling drug in history” (McGinn 1998). It is no longer just a medical phenomenon, but also a cultural icon, appearing in television sitcoms as a pretext for jokes or as a murder weapon. Viagra has socio-cultural implications not limited to sexuality, but concerns various parts of our cultural landscape. Being relatively convincing in terms of bio-medical efficiency, criticism of Viagra has so far mainly been expressed in the (often feminist) “Liberal Arts” camp where Pfizer (the maker of Viagra) is reproached for its profit-oriented negation of any psychological, social, emotional, and relational components involved in impotency. Further criticism ridicules Viagra’s mechanical imagery of a “techno-fix” (Vares & Braun 2006) not only intensifying the medicalization of impotency current since the early 1980s (Tiefer 1986), but also making “sex into a medical function like digestion” (Tiefer 2003) and the fact that Viagra renders masculinity as a mere problem of chemical engineering, plumbing, and hydraulics. A further concern is that through Viagra, the traditional gender role of the “potent man and the happy woman” is restored without any critical revision (Loe 2004). In spite of, or because of, the narrow humanistic basis offered by its producers, Viagra has obtained the status of a lifestyle drug.

It is clear that Viagra needs to be examined not only from a sociological but also from a philosophical point of view.

So far, there are only relatively few serious philosophical attempts at tackling the Viagra phenomenon. Examples are “Deleuze on Viagra” by Annie Potts and Tiefer’s “Doing the Viagra Tango” published by Radical Philosophy. Lee Quinby, in his essay on “Virile Reality” (1999), observes a “Viagra Effect” producing a viagrified reality, which is “mediated violence, clean war, and computer games.”

What do philosophers have to say about the “viagrification” culture? Is there a philosophical principle behind Viagra as a cultural phenomenon?

Possible subjects are:

  • Viagra and Posthumanism (artificial life)
  • The Body as a Machine
  • Reality and Desire
  • Pursuing Hedonism. Why not?
  • Non-natural sex?
  • Ethical concerns about Viagra
  • Viagra and the Virtual. Through Viagra the desire is not created but has always been there in a virtual (that is, not actual but also not non-actual) form. Through Viagra the desire becomes (virtually) real.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Helicopter Porn

I don't know how many of you are following the story of the freaks from the San Diego Sheriff's Department who responded to a neighborhood complaint that a DNC house party (read: fundraiser attended by middle aged donors) had become too noisy with pepper-spray, police dogs, and--yes!-- a helicopter. Talking Points Memo has some good coverage.

Today, TPM put up a slide show of hilarious photos from the Sheriff's Department's webpage of their apparently beloved helicopter. Many of the pics look like they're pulled from some kind of survivalist porn mag: wannabe tough-guys in fatigues, bearing automatic weapons, erotically posing next to a helicopter. The best pic is number 5, which features, in addition to the helicopter, a young woman in a red bikini bottom. The yellow helmets are totally hot.

What a bunch of fucking losers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Overheard at Lunch

Just back from lunch with a colleague. At our neighboring table, 6 older women chatted loudly about topics ranging from Michael Jackson to David Sedaris to South Korea. Then there was a lull in the conversation. Eventually one of the ladies offered the following assertion:

Garrison Keillor is a really unattractive man.

A companion correct her:

Well, he has good features, but they're not arranged in the right way.

As if to break the tension, another chimed in,

He used to be funnier.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Time-wasting Frivolity: Best Cover Ever

Talking Heads' "Take Me to the River" gets my vote as best cover version ever.

I think The Damned's "Help," The Dickies' "Nights in White Satin," Devo's "Satisfaction," and Tom Waits' "Somewhere" round out the top five. The Clash's "Police and Thieves" figures in there somewhere too. And maybe 7 Seconds' "99 Red Balloons," is top ten.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

The End of an Experiement

I just concluded a two week experiment on one of the popular social networking sites. Yes, I discovered that many of my professional colleagues use these sites for semi-professional purposes.

But the oddest thing I found was that people I know non-professionally (old classmates, distant relatives, friends-of-friends, and such) came out of the woodwork with meaningless chatter. I'm not a hard person to find online, and my emaill address is easily available to anyone interested in it, but people who had never contacted me before sent me endless nonsense about reconnecting, hanging out, staying in touch, exchanging x-mas cards, etc. Any of these people could have contacted me via regular email (or... gasp!.. a phone call or ground mail), but hadn't. My membership on the site was what prompted them to do so. Conclusion: there's really no interest in getting back in touch or staying connected; it's networking for the sake of seeming well networked, sociality for the sake of appearing social.

So I deleted my account this morning.

One last thing: Phylo. Does anyone know about what the point of this is? I find that I have an entry that's inaccurate, and am wondering whether it's worth correcting it.