Said In Many Ways, You Know
For Farber, long may he grumble.
Substance is thought to belong most obviously to bodies; and so we say that not only animals and plants and their parts are substances, but also natural bodies such as fire and water and earth and everything of the sort, and all things that are either parts of these or composed of these (either of parts or of the whole bodies), e.g. the physical universe and its parts, stars and moon and sun. But whether these alone are substances, or there are also others, or only some of these, or others as well, or none of these but only some other things, are substances, must be considered. Some think the limits of body, i.e. surface, line, point, and unit, are substances, and more so than body or the solid.
Further, some do not think there is anything substantial besides sensible things, but others think there are eternal substances which are more in number and more real; e.g. Plato posited two kinds of substance-the Forms and objects of mathematics-as well as a third kind, viz. the substance of sensible bodies. And Speusippus made still more kinds of substance, beginning with the One, and assuming principles for each kind of substance, one for numbers, another for spatial magnitudes, and then another for the soul; and by going on in this way he multiplies the kinds of substance. And some say Forms and numbers have the same nature, and the other things come after them-lines and planes-until we come to the substance of the material universe and to sensible bodies.
Regarding these matters, then, we must inquire which of the common statements are right and which are not right, and what substances there are, and whether there are or are not any besides sensible substances, and how sensible substances exist, and whether there is a substance capable of separate existence (and if so why and how) or no such substance, apart from sensible substances; and we must first sketch the nature of substance.
The word 'substance' is applied, if not in more senses, still at least to four main objects; for both the essence and the universal and the genus, are thought to be the substance of each thing, and fourthly the substratum. Now the substratum is that of which everything else is predicated, while it is itself not predicated of anything else. And so we must first determine the nature of this; for that which underlies a thing primarily is thought to be in the truest sense its substance. And in one sense matter is said to be of the nature of substratum, in another, shape, and in a third, the compound of these. (By the matter I mean, for instance, the bronze, by the shape the pattern of its form, and by the compound of these the statue, the concrete whole.) Therefore if the form is prior to the matter and more real, it will be prior also to the compound of both, for the same reason.
We have now outlined the nature of substance, showing that it is that which is not predicated of a stratum, but of which all else is predicated. But we must not merely state the matter thus; for this is not enough. The statement itself is obscure, and further, on this view, matter becomes substance. For if this is not substance, it baffles us to say what else is. When all else is stripped off evidently nothing but matter remains. For while the rest are affections, products, and potencies of bodies, length, breadth, and depth are quantities and not substances (for a quantity is not a substance), but the substance is rather that to which these belong primarily. But when length and breadth and depth are taken away we see nothing left unless there is something that is bounded by these; so that to those who consider the question thus matter alone must seem to be substance. By matter I mean that which in itself is neither a particular thing nor of a certain quantity nor assigned to any other of the categories by which being is determined. For there is something of which each of these is predicated, whose being is different from that of each of the predicates (for the predicates other than substance are predicated of substance, while substance is predicated of matter). Therefore the ultimate substratum is of itself neither a particular thing nor of a particular quantity nor otherwise positively characterized; nor yet is it the negations of these, for negations also will belong to it only by accident.
If we adopt this point of view, then, it follows that matter is substance. But this is impossible; for both separability and 'thisness' are thought to belong chiefly to substance. And so form and the compound of form and matter would be thought to be substance, rather than matter. The substance compounded of both, i.e. of matter and shape, may be dismissed; for it is posterior and its nature is obvious. And matter also is in a sense manifest. But we must inquire into the third kind of substance; for this is the most perplexing.
Some of the sensible substances are generally admitted to be substances, so that we must look first among these. For it is an advantage to advance to that which is more knowable. For learning proceeds for all in this way-through that which is less knowable by nature to that which is more knowable; and just as in conduct our task is to start from what is good for each and make what is without qualification good good for each, so it is our task to start from what is more knowable to oneself and make what is knowable by nature knowable to oneself. Now what is knowable and primary for particular sets of people is often knowable to a very small extent, and has little or nothing of reality. But yet one must start from that which is barely knowable but knowable to oneself, and try to know what is knowable without qualification, passing, as has been said, by way of those very things which one does know.
Swim, Breath, Tired, Winded, Fatigue -- Googlebot, Come Find Me Now
I think I figured it out! If you're here because you searched for advice about not getting so winded when you swim, the first thing you should do is read Phred's advice here. But I'm pretty sure there's a small subset of people who are making an elementary breathing mistake that isn't being diagnosed.
I'm reasonably aerobically fit, and my form is pretty good, but I still get horribly winded when I swim, even when I breathe every cycle and don't go very fast. I realized today that every time I turn to breathe, I inhale, but then I start to exhale before my face is back in the water. This makes for a shallower breath, and, I would guess, doesn't give the oxygen I just got in my lungs much time to be absorbed. Today, I tried taking a breath, then consciously closing my mouth and keeping the air in before I put my face back in the water. Wow. It's a little miracle. Suddenly I can swim pretty hard 100s with just a bit of huffing and puffing, as opposed to feeling like I've held my breath for the past minute. Try it out if none of the standard advice is working for you.
To the regulars: the more I thought about what I might be doing wrong, the more it had to be some mistake with the actual breathing itself, because even relaxed breaststroking, where you have to breathe every stroke, was killing me. Breaststroke is more demanding than freestyle, but not so much more demanding that 50yds should have anyone doubled over. So I concentrated on my breathing, and realized I was giving up most of my air before my face was back in the water. What a difference.
The Townes Van Zandt documentary has been released. Playing now in NY, check here for your city.
If you don't know his music, I'd recommend the amazing Abnormal.
Terror On The Roads
I came around a corner just now, and through an intersection, with my windshield fogging up and the sun at just the right angle to blind me, and missed a pedestrian going through the crosswalk by a few feet. Gah. Feel horrible and stupid when things like that happen.
What's worse is that I was late to work because I had to double back to hit him at the next crosswalk.
less of a sauce, more of a glaze
It must be possible to write a good description of sex, but gadzooks, some of this stuff is bad. via g-farb, the Bad Sex In Fiction roundup.
he looked down at his prick, silently begging it not to be distracted; his mind fought skidding into crows and woods, babies and Phyllis, and his prick stared back at him with its one eye clouded by a single drop of pure seminal yearning. He felt suspended at the top of an arc. Faye leaned back on the blanket, arranging her legs in an M of receptivity, and he knelt between them like the most abject and craven supplicant who ever exposed his bare ass to the eagle eyes of a bunch of crows.
In a moment Annie was on his side, Madame Lai was like a plant growing over him, and her little fist (holding the biggest black pearl) was up his asshole planting the pearl in the most appreciated place.
"Oh, Lord," he cried out. "I'm a-comin'!"
She could not answer. It is the one drawback of fellatio as conscientious as hers that it eliminates the chance for small talk and poetry alike.
And he came hard in her mouth and his dick jumped around and rattled on her teeth and he blacked out and she took his dick out of her mouth and lifted herself from his face and whipped the pillow away and he gasped and glugged at the air, and he came again so hard that his dick wrenched out of her hand and a shot of it hit him straight in the eye and stung like nothing he'd ever had in there, and he yelled with the pain, but the yell could have been anything, and as she grabbed at his dick, which was leaping around like a shower dropped in an empty bath, she scratched his back deeply with the nails of both hands and he shot three more times, in thick stripes on her chest. Like Zorro.
She slipped the big thick rubber sheath over him and then pulled him down to her. Kingsley soon discovered that beneath her skirt she was wearing nothing. He felt the thick, luxuriant bush of soft wet hair between her legs and in a moment he was buried inside it.
"Ooh-la-la!" she breathed as he smelt the clean aroma of her short bobbed hair and the rain-sodden grass around it. "Oooh-la-jolly well-la!"
This wasn't like the moans she had heard from thousands of others, but like someone suddenly recognizing something they had previously only heard about, like a boy who sees an airplane in the sky for the first time, not in a story-book, and he stands and cries out: Airplane, airplane!
the hot grip of her mouth, triggered his orgasm, which was not juice at all but a demon eel thrashing in his loins and swimming swiftly up his cock, one whole creature of live slime fighting the stiffness as it rose and bulged at the tip and darted into her mouth.
Everyone is linking to it, but that's because you have to read it.
I don't much like John Derbyshire, but I admit to being very glad that he's around. There are things that we all know that lots of people think, but don't say, because they're considered out of bounds in polite society. I'm a big believer in saying them; the Derb is a big believer in believing them.
Did I buy, or browse, a copy of the November 17 GQ, in order to get a look at Jennifer Aniston's bristols?** No, I didn't. While I have no doubt that Ms. Aniston is a paragon of charm, wit, and intelligence, she is also 36 years old. Even with the strenuous body-hardening exercise routines now compulsory for movie stars, at age 36 the forces of nature have won out over the view-worthiness of the unsupported female bust.
It is, in fact, a sad truth about human life that beyond our salad days, very few of us are interesting to look at in the buff. Added to that sadness is the very unfair truth that a woman's salad days are shorter than a man's — really, in this precise context, only from about 15 to 20. The Nautilus and the treadmill can add a half decade or so, but by 36 the bloom is definitely off the rose. Very few of us, however, can face up to this fact honestly, and I am sure this diary item will generate more angry e-mails of protest than everything else I have written this month.
** Bristols. Cockney rhyming slang. There is a well-known soccer team in England named Bristol City.
Now, there's a sense (and Derbyshire does say, "in this precise context") in which he's basically right: if we're talking about bodies as objects of to be looked at for titillation, or admired strictly for their form, they really do look best between the ages of 15 and 25. (That's basically true for men as well, with trained athletes of either gender able to push the date out somewhere into their early thirties.) It's not some trick or accident that celebrities known for their looks are all near that age range--it's what we like to look at.
But, of course, we're required to call him a perv. Garance Franke-Ruta, at Tapped, writes,
There is a word for men who fetishize the beauty of teenage and pubescent girls, and it is not a very nice one. Indeed, NRO's editors would be well-advised -- unless they think the conservative movement should promote, as Derbyshire does, the idea that 15-year-old girls are at peak sexual attractiveness -- to tone down the Derb the next time he wants to make a sweeping statement about human nature based on his own barely legal visual preferences.
Break me a fucking give. The term for people who like to ogle 15-25 year-olds is "most people." Maria Sharapova and Lindsay Lohan are both just this side of 15, and they've been in the ogle-light for a few years already. Boys bloom a little later, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger are 25 and 26, respectively.
Of course, the Derb writes to provoke, so he doesn't take any pains to point out (besides that "precise context") what he's not saying: that older people can't still be attractive, that firmness is the only measure of physical attractiveness, that we can't possibly find our long-term partners attractive. And unless we take the bait, what he's saying just isn't all that interesting or controversial. I swear, provocateur has to be the easiest job in America.
(Note: we lucky folks of Unfogged already knew that "Bristols" was Cockney rhyming slang for "titties.")
Go to the head of the reference class
Dean Dad says: don't go to grad school! Brian says: go to grad school!
Actually, Brian doesn't say that, because he's smart and that would be a dumb thing to say. But he makes several important and true points, including:
(a) the placement record of top programs in philosophy is pretty good-- and, thanks to Leiter-driven pressure, it's available to the applicant. (We bust on Leiter, sure, but this is a seriously good thing, and credit where it's due.) As he notes,
The big decision is whether to go to a particular graduate school that has offered you a (hopefully funded) place. In other words, when you have to make the crucial decision, you may well be in position of crucial information (i.e. that you're at a school with an excellent placement record) that suggests your career prospects are very good.
To estimate your chances, you have to look at the relevant group: you're not a generic graduate student, you're potentially a student in Department X at University Y. That changes the calculations.
(b) if you're the kind of person who should pursue this career, there are many parts of the graduate school experience that are really fantastic. Low stipends, yes, and some asshole faculty, but also a lot of time spent doing something you (ex hypothesi) find really valuable.
I'm a little bit less enthused about encouraging people to consider grad school, just because it seems to me that many students who kick around the idea are grossly misinformed about what it's really like. Here's one warning sign: if you go, it had better be because you love the field, not because you have some vague desire to be a professor of something. (That's a necessary, not sufficient, condition-- you also need reason to think that you'll like the job which is not the same thing as loving the idea of sitting around being tweedy.) And be very suspicious of unfunded acceptances in the humanities.
Bill Laimbeer: best ever?
A Very Strange Scam?
I just got a call at the office from someone who wanted to verify our business address. That's common enough, but then things took a strange turn:
-May I have your first name, sir?
-And your last initial?
-And to verify to my supervisor that I've spoken to you today, would you tell me the color of your eyes?
-To verify that I've spoken with you today, could I have the color of your eyes?
-No, I'm not going to tell you my eye color.
-Sir, in order to verify that I've spoken with you today, I need to enter the color of your eyes. If you don't want to tell me the color of your eyes, can I just put "brown."
-What? No, you may not put "brown." This call is now weird, I'm hanging up.
Brian Leiter is right
Seriously, folks should own their words. I think it would produce better conversation. Hence I've decided to reveal the identities of Bitch, PhD and Ogged.
The look, the sound
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS POST IS A JOKE. THANKS. I've been checking out Prussian Blue (in several senses of that term): the look, the sound-- I kind of dig it. Check out this track, with a guitar figure stolen from Uncle Tupelo.
More In Sadness Than In Anger
It's a sad, sad day in Oggedville when I'm trolling the internets and discover that Rachel Wacholder, the formerly oh-so-svelte Rachel Wacholder, has gone and become fat.
Pardon me while I go cry in my ice-cream.
Stanford pleas for cash
The philosophers among us might be interested in making a donation to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I have been grateful to the SEP on many occasions, and it really is a great resource. Worth a couple of dollars, surely.
From the Goldbarth:
"My wife's friend Jane's young son announced, / in case we didn't know it, 'Men-have-penises / Women-have-vagendas.'"
One of the most upsetting things about the torture memos was that they took the up-is-downism of the administration into places where we thought matters were more settled and solid: their tendentious readings of the law and its history in effect did away with both. And they brought home to all those happy people who hadn't spent a few or several years of their lives reading postmodern theorists, that the common meaning of texts really is held together more by a sort of gentleman's agreement than by the words on the page. I was reminded of this by Ben W-lfs-n's brilliant deliberate misreading of a Larkin poem, and also by this (via the apostropher), which claims (seriously or not, I can't tell--and that's the point) that Bob Dylan's work is in response to his abduction by aliens.
Swimming Advice, Please
Why do I get so winded?
Going at a good, but relaxed pace (light kick), I'm swimming 100 yards in between 85-95 seconds, depending on rest, soreness, etc. I breathe every other cycle. Especially if I do flip turns, 200 yards is about my limit at that pace. Then I'm sucking wind. I see older, fatter dudes who aren't going as fast, but working a lot harder, swim lap after lap. There must be some breathing issue here, right? Breathing every cycle helps, but not so much, and I really prefer to breathe every other; it's a nice rhythm. Doing open turns helps quite a bit, so clearly I'm doing something wrong when I flip. But are there other common, hard to self-diagnose breathing problems, like insufficient exhalation, partial inhalation, exhaling too fast or too slow, etc.? I feel like I'm missing a trick, because I'm clearly more efficient that the people I see, and almost certainly more fit, but I still need to stop to rest.
Unfogged World Tour
Here's what was decided:
In DC on the 11th, at the Townhouse Tavern at 17th and R., at football watching time (1-ish
when is that, exactly, folks?). Possible Probable appearance by the one and only Apostropher.
In NY on the 13th, at the Old Town Bar and Grill, at 18th and Broadway, with people arriving around 6-6:30pm. With special out-of-town guest Fontana Labs, and special in-town guest my ex.
Show up if you're around.
Hey, our very own Armsmasher, Kriston Capps, has the Smithsonian's art blog, Eye Level, officially open for business. Click through, even if you don't feel like it! Congrats, Kriston, it looks great.
More: And gets a shout-out from Kevin Drum. If Drum's site sends him more traffic than this site, we'll all be dishonored, you know that. (And, of course, the first comment at Drum's site is "I wish her well....")
The bookstore I stopped in yesterday had the newest book of Albert Goldbarth's poetry. Not only is Goldbarth so very good, but when I read phrases like "pleasureful rumpus," they remind me, as they remind us all, of Standpipe Bridgeplate. Two excellent Goldbarth poems, including the rumpus, are here.
(I do think that his previous Saving Lives is a bit better than the most recent.)
First, Paul from Poweline repeats the claim that Dick Cheney's torture-stance is heroic:
McCain is fond of asserting that you can't get reliable information through torture. In doing so, he relies on his experience in North Vietnam. However, the ineffectiveness of the crude tactics of his prison guards of 40 years ago does not demonstrate that the tactics available to us today are ineffective. In fact, it appears that our tactics worked well with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. If they didn't work, why would Vice President Cheney and our top military leaders be so insistent on not taking them off the table. [It can't possibly be that Cheney makes terrible strategic judgments, can it?-- ed.] Surely McCain does not buy into the notion that Cheney takes the position he does because he is evil. In fact, as noted above, McCain's position isn't really that different from Cheney's. It's just that Cheney is willing to take the heat for defending tactics that will save lives. In this instance, Cheney, not McCain, is the American hero.
America's torture technology: the envy of the world! I'm glad to know we've made progress. Paul to McCain: you see, you just weren't tortured right. Who was it who said Judas was the real hero of the New Testament?
Second: this post of Hilzoy's is worth a read. In it, she calls out many of our good friends who seem to reason as follows:
1. Biden's plan is confused and dangerous (self evident; it comes from Biden)
2. Bush has endorsed large parts of Biden's plan [de re]
3. Therefore Bush has endorsed a plan that is...that's....can't...complete...thought....must...put on...weird robe...
They Don't Make Teenagers Like They Used To
At the pool today, there was a pudgy, unathletic boy, around 14, laboring back and forth. Just after I arrived, his dad came to check on him, but really only to see how many laps he'd done, and to tell him how many more he had to do. The dad even asked the lifeguard if his boy had been "working hard." Thanks for the love and humiliation, pop. The boy kept going, and after a while, two of his friends--obviously cooler friends--showed up. I expected them to tell him how many more laps they can do, and how much faster, maybe even a "you suck." But they just sat at the edge of the pool and waited for him to finish, and when he was done, one of them said, "you alright?" And then, as he got out, they applauded him. Kids these days, I tell ya, almost make you want to cry.