Jacques Derrida has died. I'm away from home, and don't have time for a full post but I will say that though I side with Heidegger against Derrida, insofar as they can be said to have a disagreement, and contrary to the snark that I'm sure will be welling up soon from people who have never read or understood Derrida, he was, most certainly, a serious philosopher, and not one given to abstract theorizing. So, rather than trying to figure out second- and third-hand what this theory of deconstruction might be, if you're really curious, find a friend who's a sympathetic reader of the man, or a class in your area, and actually read him, to see what he does. Ultimately, Derrida is a very smart, erudite, and provocative reader. The point of reading him is to read with him, to see texts opening up with meanings and avenues you wouldn't have seen otherwise. Whether you think he's got it right is beside the point, because he knows more than you, is almost certainly smarter, and asks basic questions. So, Derrida the reader is also a teacher, and, like all teachers, you're free to ignore him, but, in this case, you'll be missing out. To the brilliant and impish teacher then, adieu, and thanks.
Let me be the hundredth person to link to Paperwight's explanation of Bush's apparently bizarre Dred Scott reference in last night's debate. A must-read.
Also, to meta-blog for a moment, what a great example of someone who knows something important and is able to let hundreds of thousands of people know it too.
Another debate down. Bush helped himself tonight. Yeah, it seemed he was yelling, but only if you're predisposed to dislike him; otherwise I think you'd just call him animated. And he was direct and seemed conversant with most of the issues, which isn't stellar, but exceeds expectations, particularly after the last debate.
Kerry was fine, but not fluid, and missed some opportunities for snappy rebuttals. In fact, it would have been far worse for Kerry, but his "It's not as simple as they say" during the abortion rebuttal was excellent, and near the end, so it helped him quite a bit.
So, pretty even, but Bush is back in the game. Will anyone watch the third debate?
Every now and again, I'm about to do a post and I think, "Nah, that's just too narcissistic." Luckily, my next thought is, "You're a friggin' blogger, and pseudonymous, for crying out loud."
So, folks, what happened to my sex drive? I'm youngish, reasonably fit, not taking any medication, and I remember what it was like in years gone by: the time I spent thinking about sex or keeping thoughts about sex at bay was best measured as a percentage of my day: 20, 30%? Sound about right to the
apostropher horndogs in the audience?
Now, if I remember twice a day that humans have sex, I feel downright Brazilian. Is it because I'm not getting any? That never had this effect before. Is it because I just don't see any hotties? (Sad, but true: I work in a small, hottieless office, and while there are plenty of hotties around where I live, I'm not out and about enough to mingle among them.) What's the deal?
Now, I don't mean to sound distressed. I'm curious, sure, and just a bit concerned, but truth be told, I kind of like it this way. Before he was blogging, Fontana quoted The Republic in comments:
"I was present at one time when someone asked the poet Sophocles: 'How are you in regard to sex, Sophocles? Can you still make love to a woman?'
'Hush, man,' the poet replied, 'I am very glad to have escaped from this, like a slave who has escaped from a mad and cruel master.'
I thought then that he was right, and I still think so, for a great peace and freedom from these things comes with old age: after the tension of one's desires relaxes and ceases, then Sophocles' words certainly apply, it is an escape from many mad masters."
FBI wants small-town library records. Small-town library says no. So far, so good, but under the Patriot Act, maybe not so good.
via michael froomkin
Another blogger asks an important question; this time it's Michael Bérubé.
I think Dick Cheney is (a) running this country and (b) a psychopath. My wife thinks Dick Cheney is (a) running this country and (b) a sociopath. What do you think?
Amity Wilczek's wonderful nature/biology blog, Nature is Profligate, is active again, just in time to announce that she's a new PhD, a new wife, and that her dad won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Is that how blogging breaks are supposed to go?
Congratulations, many times.
Last year a Dutchman told me how much he prefers working in the U.S. to working back home, because of the relative lack of bureaucracy here. Filed that in my "Europe is more bureaucratic" box, and didn't think much more of it. Holy Denmark.
In Denmark, a country that embraces rules with the same gusto that Italy defies them, choosing a first and last name for a child is a serious, multitiered affair, governed by law and subject to the approval of the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs and the Ministry of Family and Consumer Affairs.
At its heart, the Law on Personal Names is designed to protect Denmark's innocents - the children who are undeservedly, some would say cruelly, burdened by preposterous or silly names. It is the state's view that children should not suffer ridicule and abuse because of their parents' lapses in judgment or their misguided attempts to be hip.
Mightn't things get ridiculous when the government gets involved in approving names? Yes, frequently; just read the rest.
Sherry asks a question, though it needn't be gender specific.
If a woman does not wish to date you anymore, how much information do you actually wish to know about why?
Personally, I want very little information; unless I've obliviously done something egregious that should be brought to my attention, I don't want to hear reasons at all. (After a long relationship, a breakup talk is ok.)
I especially like:
Once dismasted, I prefer to solve the "getting to shore" problem before the "why was I dismasted" problem.
So, depends on how far out I am.
But, you know, everyone says they don't need reasons...
Harper's writes stories about the convention before the convention; Fox makes up Kerry quotes, and now the AP reports that Bush has won the election. Do reporters just have a lot of spare time? I really don't understand.
MORE: A possible explanation.
Mark Kleiman flags the most damning thing Paul Bremer has said lately. Nevermind whether we should have had more troops on the ground, everyone concedes we should have...but what about the disastrous decision to disband the Iraqi army?
Administration officials said today that this decision was made on the ground in Iraq, rather than in Washington. Before the war, the plan was to get rid of Iraqi Army officers but use regular troops for security and reconstruction after Saddam's ouster. But Bremer "flipped that around," said a White House official. He added that Bremer and his deputy, Walt Slocombe, made the decision by themselves.
But Bremer and Garner have previously indicated the decision was made in Washington. According to one official who attended a meeting that Bremer had with his staff upon his arrival in Baghdad in mid-May of 2003, Bremer was warned he would cause chaos by demobilizing the army. The CIA station chief told him, "That's another 350,000 Iraqis you're pissing off, and they've got guns." According to one source who was at the meeting, Garner then asked if they could discuss the matter further in a smaller meeting. Garner then said: "Before you announce this thing let's do all the pros and cons of this, because we are going to have a hell of a lot of problems with it. There are a hell of a lot more cons than there are pros. Let's line them all up then get on the phone to [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld." Bremer replied: "I don't have any choice. I have to do this." Garner then protested further, but Bremer cut him off. "The president told me that de-Baathification comes before the immediate needs of the Iraqi people."
Is Bush really responsible for what might have been the single worst decision in post-war Iraq? It doesn't matter. Either he is, which puts a razor edge on Kerry's attacks on his "judgment," or he isn't, in which case he was out of the loop and entrusted decisions to incompetents.
And, the quote itself reinforces the perception that Bush overpersonalizes: Get the Baathists! We'll deal with the people's needs later. Yeesh. I do hope Kerry brings this up tomorrow.
Everyone has an opinion about media bias, but not many of us have a clue about how the news actually works. The State Department has just released a few thousand transcripts of 1970s phone calls between Henry Kissinger and various people, including journalists. Jack Shafer gives a nice tour with commentary of approaches to journalism, from the respectable to the supine. Fascinating stuff.
A couple of late debate notes. A friend suggested in an email yesterday that Edwards's graciousness about Cheney's lesbian daugher was actually a slimy attack. Edwards said,
I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her.
That is, it was a way to tell people that Cheney has a gay daughter. I agree. I think that's what he was doing, and it was gross.
Second, Edwards's answer on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict didn't even mention Palestinians. Is Michigan entirely sown-up for the Democrats? His answer was just a plain pander and, yes, it was gross.
A woman [Yuolanda Taylor] who police say sold stones to rioters in a southwest Michigan city last year and used the money to pay her cable television bill has pleaded no contest to inciting a riot.
Police said Taylor toted rocks through a riot-wracked neighborhood, selling small ones for $1 each and bigger ones for $5. Prosecutors said the rocks were thrown at police.
Taylor told police she collected about $70 selling rocks, but quit when she got hit by one herself.Prudent. via marginal revolution
I actually like the idea, but it's not quite my look.
Those are Oakleys, with an MP3 player built-in. For about $400, you could be fly. Phat. Bad?
The apostropher alerts us in comments that Cheney's mendacity just might be boundless.
Cheney: "Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight."
Okay, we know they met earlier than that, but that isn't the funniest part of this story. Some enterprising googlers went and found the records of who presided over Senate sessions during the past four years. During his tenure as Vice-President, Cheney has presided over the Senate exactly twice: November 12th, 2002 and January 7th, 2003. I suppose it all comes down to your definitions of the words I'm, in, Senate, most, and Tuesdays.
But wait! Guess who else has acted as presiding officer over the Senate twice in the past four years? John Edwards, on October 16, 2001 and March 5, 2002. I mean, really, you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.
But it's worse than that. There needs to be a new category of evidence that accounts for situations where you know they were trying to deceive, because they didn't lie.
Huh? Here's Mark Schmitt.
...when Cheney said, "I'm up at the Senate most Tuesdays," I knew that what he meant was that he often attends the Republican policy lunch held on Tuesdays, to which Edwards is obviously not invited.
Check Cheney again. He says he's the presiding officer of the Senate. He says he's up there most Tuesdays. But he never explicitly links the two. Now that is world-class. Yes, politicians lie, but brother, it's hard to deceive with such aplomb and precision. Just imagine what he could do if he ever decided to use his powers in the service of evil...
Well, there was the debate. About even, as these things get scored: neither man made an obvious fool of himself or of his opponent. I really don't think it much matters. One point that might be important to the next presidential debate is that there were a lot of factual assertions by both guys. How those are covered in the next few days (Cheney's "I met you for the first time tonight" has already been debunked) might set up (or take away) a possible narrative for John Kerry about the administration's habit of lying.
One thing about the bit of coverage I saw: every single commentator equated "barbed" with "effective." Cheney's "not a distinguished record" charge was deemed "effective," as was Edwards's "I don't think Americans can take another four years of this administration." I was glad the first presidential debate was free of one-liners, but if this is the media's standard of effectiveness, I expect the campaigns will learn the lesson.
Oh, not that I think it much matters, but Edwards's answer to why he was qualified to be President was horrible. What, they didn't see that one coming? Gads.
You know, I thought of a few I-hoped clever ways to link to this picture, but there's no other honest way to do it: freak show!
Seriously, I told Fontana to lose the belt, but he said something about "framing the scene..."
I've long since packed Glenn in my Rush/Drudge box, so I'm no longer shocked when he says wingnutty things, but he's still not usually so, well, dumb. Regarding the shots fired at a Bush/Cheney office in Tennessee, he writes,
Perhaps tonight someone should ask John Edwards how he feels about such violent behavior.
Because, why, exactly? Because Edwards will risk alienating the true Democratic base of gun-toting wackos if he condemns the violence? It's actually a softball: a chance to wax statesmanlike about the need to rise above our divisions, and not shoot at buildings, or stage mock riots while votes are being counted, etc.
UPDATE: Apologies to Drudge for lumping him with Insty. Drudge links to a very clear story detailing the fact that, contrary to Cheney's assertion in the debate, he had met Edwards at least three times before they got on stage together last night. Insty asks "Did Edwards meet Cheney before?" but links instead to a truly pathetic attempt to "debunk" claims that they'd met.
Maybe we can make a regular, if infrequent, feature of the differences between the way celebrities are "photographed" in the UK and the US.
The last one was here.
It's not sophisticated as commentary, or even as humor. Mostly I'm just impressed with the details: the clothes, the chin dimple, the shiny pate/helmet, the visually busy seal/control-panel.
Whoa doggy, reporting that actually tells you things you didn't already know.
Particularly worrisome for those rooting for him in the veep debate, two of Edwards' worst primary debates—the Larry King-moderated debate in Los Angeles and the Dan Rather-moderated debate in New York City—occurred when the participants were seated at a table with the moderator...
Here's a speculative explanation of why Edwards did poorly in those debates: Edwards is a highly theatrical performer on the stump. He is, at heart, an actor. That's how one member of the media who has followed Edwards this campaign described him to me. Bill Clinton, this person said, was no different in front of a crowd than he was on the campaign plane. But for Edwards, this reporter said, "It's acting." He's a different guy backstage...
What little personal contact I've had with Edwards during the campaign has always led me to think that he's an intensely private man. His chosen sport is running, an activity that appeals to the solitary and the introspective. I was struck by how Edwards, during an interview with Fox News Sunday a few months ago, refused to discuss his consumption of copious amounts of Diet Coke, repeatedly smiling and saying, "We're not going to talk about that." An unimportant moment? Sure, but not a meaningless one...
"Edwards does not joke; despite his easy grin, he is described by close friends as 'serious,' 'solid,' 'quiet,'" wrote Julia Reed. "When I ask his best friend and former law partner David Kirby if Edwards is ever loose, he says, 'No, he is not. He runs an hour every day—that's what he considers relaxation.'"
Anyone who read Edwards's lips as he said "Pay attention! Pay attention!" to his wife at the Democratic convention got a peek behind the mask--all these guys are crazy driven, after all--but it's great work by Suellentrop to fill it out.
So, I've now been on hold with Orbitz for 101 minutes, and I'm whiling away the time by reading personals from around the country. Once again, it becomes clear that San Francisco is the place to be.
I am a premed brainy but stunningly beautiful - 27 (inner sunset / UCSF)
At this stage, I am eagerly looking for Doctor guy who can show me the rope.
My physical attraction and caring personality would be enough return.
But my companionship will be add to the items.
If you need someone beautiful and sientific then write me.
Plus, I am happy to meet you on the equal intellectual ground
everytime we meet.
She's so right for Labs.
I'm starting to feel a little bad for the Bushies. First, Donald Rumsfeld says there's no Iraq-al Qaeda connection,
To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two.
And now Paul Bremer is saying they screwed up the occupation:
The former U.S. official who governed Iraq after the invasion said yesterday that the United States made two major mistakes: not deploying enough troops in Iraq and then not containing the violence and looting immediately after the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
And my mom called me to say that one of her die-hard Republican friends would be voting for John Kerry because Bush never apologized for going to war on the basis of bad intelligence.
And this is another Poor Man classic.
Now this is funny.
I know vice-presidential debates don't determine elections, but while a lot of the people I know were really flipping about the first debate, and I wasn't too worried, nobody seems to be sweating the second debate, and I'm scared for our boy Edwards. Cheney doesn't rattle like Bush, and he's even more likely to completely make stuff up.
By the way, you can read the Lincoln-Douglas debates, if you're curious. Check out how often the crowd interjects, and gets its questions answered!
Anyone know of any good reading material on this? I have to teach a bit about it, and I can't find much that's very good. Really I just want to talk about familiy resemblance. And Adam and Steve, of course. Always Adam and Steve.
I've always wondered if the way to make money in philosophy is to write texts primarily for people who have to teach things they don't know or care about-- like "teaching applied ethics for dummies" or "the complete idiot's guide to Aristotle's moral theory." There are books and web sites like this (e.g., Hinman's) but they never help as much as I think they will. It's not that it's hard to do right; it just takes time, and that's in short supply.
I think I've found the reason for Fontana's ambiguous phrasing of his relationship status: it's a rather complicated game he and the sig-ot are playing, but we're lucky enough to have a photographic record of what might be Fontana's last date ever.
File this one under "How soon they forget," or maybe "Writing a dissertation really really fucks with your confidence": I was at the ex's this evening, and she was reading the blog comments, and got to the one about my having a birthmark on my bent willy.
"Do you?" she asked.
Then we laughed for five minutes.