Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Worst Book Cover

The new collection of Josh Cohen's essays gets my vote for worst book cover of the year. That's right: every word in the title is hyphenated (well... they're not really hyphens) on the cover! And the tics! Someone got paid to design [sic] this cover?

Of course, it's nice to have all of these essays in one place, but surely Harvard University Press should have done a better job on the packaging.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

William Safire has a posse

William Safire has a posse.


Roman Polanski Arrested

Celebrated filmmaker and international fugitive Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland, and will likely be extradited to the US.

"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Anyone catch Michael Sandel on the TODAY show? Apparently he's doing a PBS series based on his legendary Harvard course on justice. There's a trade book out now which roughly tracks his course lectures, too. Draw your own conclusions.

The blurb on the TODAY webpage is priceless:
In this excerpt, Sandel masterfully deconstructs the debate about price gouging in the wake of a hurricane.
Deconstructs! What in the world does this term mean in the vernacular?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Trolley Problem Solved, with DOOM

A colleague just shared with me the best response to the Trolley Problem ever... from a student, of course:

"Push the fat man in the trolley's path, because he [the fat man] doesn't even care about his life."

We're doomed.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Problem of Evil: King Diamond Edition

The Problem of Evil is so intuitive that even King Diamond sees it!

The true philosopher King is here. Brilliance at 2:10.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Irving Kristol

Irving Kristol has a posse.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Keep fucking that chicken!

What to make of this? I think the phrase is awesome, though....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not P, but P!

In my view, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews is easily among the top 4 or 5 web-resources for philosophers. This is why I find it so frustrating when shabbiness turns up there. The reviewer of a book titled The Time of Our Lives writes:
However, it would be a mistake to imagine that his book is simply a catalogue of theories of temporality, presenting the reader with a convenient series of commentaries on what this or that thinker has said about temporality. Hoy's book, the first volume of a history of consciousness, is an excellent resource for the student or scholar seeking some orientation within the bewildering labyrinth of Continental thought surrounding questions of temporality.

Leaving aside the question of how it could be a mistake to imagine anything, would someone explain how this isn't a contradiction?

Monday, September 14, 2009

People Who Died

Jim Carroll has a posse.


UPDATE: Apparently William Alston has a posse as well.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pop Culture and Philosophy [sic], Again

A friend wrote me yesterday:

[Spiros], I think your silly blog might be having some (unintended?) effect. My department met on Friday for a preliminary discussion of the junior search we'll be conducting this Fall. [One of my colleagues] proposed that "any applicant who has a paper in a Pop Culture and Philosophy book should be immediately placed in the 'no thanks' pile." To my surprise, no one objected to the sentiment.

I doubt that I'm entitled to take credit for this. All one has to do is take a look at any of the volumes to find that they're a haven for the incompetent.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Conference on an Unpublished Book??

A student has called to my attention that a conference has been planned on Ronnie Dworkin's as-yet unpublished book, Justice for Hedgehogs. The conference will taker place at Boston University's Law School in two weeks.

I'm puzzled. As I mentioned, the book has not been published. It's not even available for pre-order on amazon. If memory serves, Dworkin gave the Dewey Lecture at Columbia a decade ago, and this was his title. But those lectures have not been published, either. What's the point of having a conference on a book that nobody has read?

Oh... I get it now. Some people-- certain well-chosen and very lucky folks-- have read it. The conference is for those fortunately selected to be in the inner circle. In short: If you have to ask the questions I just asked, the conference is not for you.

More puking....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"You Lie!"

Joe Wilson, the idiot Representative from South Carolina who heckled the President tonight by shouting "You lie!" from the floor, deserves to have his site crashed with traffic from complaining citizens, despite the fact that he now has apparently issued an apology.

Is it too cynical of me to think that the entire stunt was yet another (again successful) attempt to direct the national conversation away from the moral disaster of our current scheme of health care? Am I now going to have to endure the barrage of editorials and reports about the outburst, the apology, the reception of the apology, the backlash, etc., etc. etc.? Will the idiot-windbag-at-large George Lakoff be enlisted to spread his nonsense all over this?

Bloody hell, it's time to move to a civilized country.

If memory serves, Brian Eno (of all people) wrote an essay some years back about propaganda. I recall that it made well the point that modern propaganda has more to do with controlling the topics of conversations than with imposing any particular beliefs. Does anyone recall this piece? Please provide a link if you have it handy.

As for me, I'll be busy puking for the next several days....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Should We Encourage Majors to Go to Grad School?

Should Philosophy departments encourage their undergraduates to pursue graduate work in Philosophy?

I was asked recently to help evaluate a highly selective undergraduate institution's Philosophy department. The department prided itself on having "placed" many of its undergraduate majors in decent graduate programs. According to the department, this is one of the measures of its success.

But I'm not so sure. In my view, my department gets too many applications, and grants too many PhD's, and so on. Given the realities of the job market and the possible (likely?) fate of many small colleges, it seems inappropriate to encourage students to pursue graduate work. Am I wrong?