Monday, April 30, 2007
(6:59 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
MetaI'm pretty sure that I just saw a commercial with a product placement in it.
(12:31 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Useful Principle for Work-AvoidanceIt's intrinsically better to begin a task at a time that's an even number. TV schedules reveal this fundamental truth: life is most effective if lived in units that are evenly divisible into thirty-minute chunks. Thus, when thinking about "getting started" on something, waiting until the next even half-hour is crucial (i.e., don't start working at 12:20 -- wait until 12:30!).
This also makes it easier to quantify the amount of time you've worked -- no hassle with "carrying" and "borrowing" to calculate it -- thus increasing the overall sense of accomplishment in the end. Starting immediately instead of waiting for the next half-hour increment would be cheating yourself, basically on every level.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
(9:13 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Her Noble SacrificeSecretary of State Condoleeza Rice is attending a regional conference which will include Iran, ostensibly to discuss the situation in Iraq. But we here at The Weblog have just received word that Secretary Rice has agreed to what amounts to a suicide mission -- in the middle of the conference, US agents posing as Iranians will kill Ms. Rice. Then our crack team of computer hackers will gain control of Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s blog and plant a post taking credit for the assassination. With this perfect pretext for war in hand, President Bush will drive forward to Tehran, leading a full international coalition and commanding domestic approval ratings in the mid-40's.
After the invasion, we will get a new plot twist: not only is Condi miraculously alive, but she's running for president... of Iran!
(4:36 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Deep Theological InsightBlogfights are evidence not only for the doctrine of original sin, but for the idea that pride (superbia) is at the root of sin. It also give us some idea of systemic or self-perpetuating sin, given that the same blogfights come back every couple months. ("Anthony posted the ponytail picture!" "I'm totally totally only talking about the religious right!" "Theory is romanticism!" "I can post creepy quasi-anonymous comments if I feel like it and everyone at Long Sunday is always right!")
I'll admit it: sometimes I want to delete everything. Not just my blog -- all of them.
(9:12 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Permission Sunday: UpdatedThis week I'm going to ask permission for a few things:
- May I please block Larval Subjects from An und für sich?
- May I have permission to eat fast food for dinner tonight?
- May I have permission to collapse Permission Sunday into the Friday Confessional, so that people can be absolved for the work week and prepare for the weekend simultaneously?
Saturday, April 28, 2007
(12:19 AM) | Brad:
Friday Night Jazz: New Time Zone EditionFirst off, apologies for how late this is. I am still on the road, and only very slowly getting used to life outside the Eastern Time Zone. At present, the wife, the husky and I are holed up in a tidy, and thankfully cheap, hotel in Monterey. We are no longer westward bound ... we have arrived. The matronly arms of Vegas met us on Wednesday night, the stinky armpit of Trona scared us to death late Thursday, and tonight the circuitously rambling Route 1 made me vomit on Carmel. Good times.
Which brings us to tonight's jazz. Fittingly, from Sonny Rollins' classic Way Out West. I hope some of you are still awake to enjoy it in all its Friday night glory.
"I'm An Old Cowhand"
"Way Out West"
Friday, April 27, 2007
(12:12 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: LatenessI confess to Almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in sleeping late and in not posting the confession sooner,
and I ask Blessed Bitch PhD Ever Virgin,
all the bloggers and commenters,
and you my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord Our God.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
(12:10 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
David Brooks: Some ThoughtsDavid Brooks' columns for the New York Times were really bad when he first started there. But during the time between the introduction of the "Times Select" paywall and their decision to allow people with university e-mail addresses to get behind the paywall for free, he seems to have improved.
This may simply be a matter of getting better at the column form, which seems like it would be pretty constraining. It seems, however, that it is at least partly indicative of a shift among American conservatives in the past year or so. Conservative pundits have always identified more closely with the Republican party than liberal pundits do with the Democrats, and in the past six years, that has required a profound degree of hackery. Now with Bush and the war being so unpopular, it seems like there's at least some minimal breathing room for conservatives to question strict orthodoxy -- so David Brooks is able, for example, to say that the battle of evolution vs. creationism is very much a rearguard effort (evolution now provides the "metanarrative" of our intellectual classes), and that it's obvious that abortion should be legal in at least the first four or five months. Whether he's right about those things is of course a separate question, but at least he's no longer doing the little trick of "I'm very open-minded and balanced, but doesn't it seem clear that Bush is right about absolutely everything?" He's still a conservative and still has some really dumb views, but at least he's not completely predictable anymore.
I assume that a new party line and infallible leader will be introduced sooner or later, and things will go back to normal. But it seems possible that historians will look back on late 2006 through 2008 as the Golden Age of Conservative Punditry. So let's enjoy the minimal indications of independent thought while they last.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
(8:45 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
(12:11 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
A World-Shattering IdeaYou know how a lot of people stopped keeping up with new episodes of the Simpsons, but they still enjoy watching it in syndication? I think there should be a similar system for blogs, where you can read syndicated reruns.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
(1:38 AM) | Ben W:
Tuesday Hatred: Back among the heteronomousAh… It's good to back. The place has changed since I left—blogger two-point-oh, Adam's become something of a fancy lad, I guess, and here in Hate Central Command it's hard to escape the curious funk of sea otter—but fundamentally things are much as they were when my contract was, for reasons that have never been made clear, not renewed. But I know that if I were to allow myself to slip into a nostalgic mood I'd never muster the spirit necessary to mount a really effective hatred, one that can inspire you, O Weblogians, to hate with all your beings. So I must stop! Cut short my introductory ramblings and get straight to the heart of the matter—because it's the heart that matters most.
I hate the process of attempting to find housing in San Francisco. What I especially hate is the slowness with which people place ads—it's somewhat idiotic that now, barely a week before May first, people are still posting ads for roommates starting on that very day, while the number of people posting ads for a June move-in can be counted on the knuckles of one finger.
I hate that I couldn't remember the word I wanted to use in place of "slowness" above. I hate the frequency with which words escape me. I hate that I think grad school is destroying my creativity and my brain and everything good and beautiful in the world.
I hate the perceived-by-me insularity of the philosophy department (qualification attached because I don't know how insular others find it, and actually have pretty decent reason to believe that the answer is "not that insular"). Hopefully APS or someone can fulminate in the comments about how analytic philosophers keep trying to prevent him from a job or something; that'll liven things up.
I hate Ticketmaster for adding something like $15 to a ticket whose face value is 5/3 that amount, and for never mentioning this extravagant addition until the very end of the ticket-buying process, at which point one has about 30 seconds to notice that the price has increased markedly and decide whether or not still to go through with things.
I hate that I stupidly scheduled my sections and office hours so that I have to be on campus every weekday, though I suppose that, really, that's all my fault.
I hate that other people seem much more excited about my extremely tentative plans for a dissertation topic than I do.
Monday, April 23, 2007
(9:57 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The True Mole This Season of 24Somehow the creator of the website Jump the Shark has infiltrated 24's writing staff.
(4:32 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Serious Political IssuesThis blog has become too meta even by our own standards! Decadence abounds, while the world goes to shit. Only by our powerful and nuanced opining can our socio-political order be set right. I still bolt awake in the middle of the night thinking to myself, "Oh, God! If only I'd blogged more in the run-up to the Iraq War! Things might be so different."
In that spirit, I will give you my opinion on every major issue facing our nation and the world.
- John Edwards was absolutely right to get a $400 haircut. We don't ask Obama to pretend not to be black, so why ask Edwards to pretend not to be the kind of guy who can get a renowned hairstylist to make a housecall? Rich people are consistently negatively portrayed in the media -- they need to start reclaiming their cultural heritage of rich-person-hood with pride and defiance.
- The CTA's three-track system has worked so incredibly well that I think we can probably go ahead and reduce it to two.
- But in all seriousness: Dennis Kucinich has introduced articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney. I approve of the impeachment of Cheney, and preferably he should spend the rest of his life in jail. But it'll probably never come to that, because he'll just fake a heart attack and join Ken Lay in his secret bunker.
- Bitch PhD has fallen victim to a pet food recall. This is clearly an FDA plot to get back at her for her writings on Plan B.
- Claire is drawn further and further into the cult of environmentalism. I'm worried about her.
- Finally, they still have lions in front of the Art Institute. I approve, but I wonder when they're going to be restored to their original copper glory. If the Olympics come to Chicago and all the visitors see that we've allowed all our statuary to rust, we'll become an international and intergalactic laughing-stock! But where is this in Mayor Daley's budget? Nowhere. So typical.
- Finally, Atrios admits it.
(9:43 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Mourning and MelancholiaI have received devestating news: Claire is retiring from Tuesday Hatred. She will still be commenting, and of course her writings are always available on her blog.
For now, I'm not going to rush into finding a new full-time hater, but will instead be filling the spot on a week-by-week basis. And so, Ben Wolfson will be returning to the Hatred tomorrow, followed next week by The Girl.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
(9:34 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Permission Sundays: A Moved Weekly FeatureAfter my decision to start giving permission met with such an enthusiastic reception, I decided, in consultation with Jodi Dean, that Sunday was the most appropriate day to give permission. This is our first Sunday liturgy.
Since I can't make megalomaniacal claims every single week, I am unsure how to create a post to go along with the comment thread. At the very least, I will alert my readers of a general policy -- permission is considered to be granted if it is not explicitly denied within the first two hours after a comment is posted. Over time, this feature will evolve and shift, and doubtless other Weblogians will come to stand in for the big Other. One possible feature that we're particularly excited about is adding the selling of indulgences -- we're currently involved in focus groups that will help us determine a sensitive, nuanced, and highly profitable way to implement this service.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened unto you.
UNRELATED UPDATE: This is somewhat self-indulgent, but how often do theologians discuss snot?
For while in the time of Cyrus [king of Persia] sobriety and temperance still flourished, so that there was no need to wipe one's nose, and it was even thought a disgrace, among their descendants it remained a religious custom that no one should blow mucus out of his nostrils, but was permitted to suck it up and feed within (to the point of putrefaction) the noisome humors which had been contracted through gluttony. (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV.12.22)
(5:25 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Punk Rock SundayHappy 60th Birthday Iggy Pop!
The Teddy Bears "I am a punk rocker". Features vocals from Iggy.
The Murder City Devils tribute to Iggy, "Broken Glass". One of the more sober performances I've seen, meaning Spencer Moody drinks a lot.
Iggy Pop with Tom Waits from Coffee and Cigarettes.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
(12:17 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
I can't believe that last week's episode made the cut. Before long, they might have enough material to make a single episode of a normal cartoon.
Friday, April 20, 2007
(11:43 PM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
Obama at Call to Renewal
Jim Wallis is still too patriotic for me, I refuse to vote (if I make an exception, it will be for Obama - voted
against the war, pro-poor, and black), and I've said before that the very idea of last year's Call to Renewal is
the opposite side of the same problematic coin as Fallwell and Robertson in my book, but anyone read
Obama's speech there? Brilliant through and through.
My 72 year old grandmother who I am absolutely positive has voted straight ticket republican since[Excerpt]
the day she turned 18 read that speech at the behest of my brother and said that she will seriously
consider voting for him. That's why I've long thought now that Barack Hussein Obama will win unless
he's shot in somewhere as that same brother is predicting.
I am not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology - that can be dangerous. Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith. As Jim has mentioned, some politicians come and clap -- off rhythm -- to the choir. We don't need that.
In fact, because I do not believe that religious people have a monopoly on morality, I would rather have someone who is grounded in morality and ethics, and who is also secular, affirm their morality and ethics and values without pretending that they're something they're not. They don't need to do that. None of us need to do that.
But what I am suggesting is this - secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King - indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history - were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Moreover, if we progressives shed some of these biases, we might recognize some overlapping values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country. We might recognize that the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of "thou" and not just "I," resonates in religious congregations all across the country. And we might realize that we have the ability to reach out to the evangelical community and engage millions of religious Americans in the larger project of American renewal.
(9:34 PM) | Brad:
Friday Night JazzI'm on the road bound for San Francisco, but nothing can stop the Friday Night Jazz groove. Perish the thought! A sort of random collection tonight, I admit, but God knows it got me through the two-day process of moving out of my apartment. So, pour yourself a nice single malt, and join me.
First, from disc two of Dizzy Gillespie's Odyssey, 1945-52 box set, we have the fun "Smoky Hollow Blues". Listen especially for the trumpet exchanges between Dizzy and Dave Burns.
Okay, I know our second one isn't technically jazz, but it's too good not to post. From the ridiculously (and surprisingly) good compilation album Chess Club Rhythm & Blues, Etta James' "Mellow Fellow".
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: The Unkindest Cockblock of AllI confess that I totally cockblocked Claire's Tuesday Hatred with my Permission Mondays. I was excited about the idea for a new participatory feature, and I just rushed headlong into it without thinking about the consequences for other people. I confess that Jodi's idea for Permission Sundays is a sound one and will go forward, flying in the face of the electoral process.
I confess that all bloggers eventually come around to my position on academic blogging.
I confess that Jared Woodard just informed me that my blog is worth over $80,000. I confess that I don't know how to actualize this value, but if anyone knows, I'd be glad to hear it.
I confess that this week has been too heavy in meta-blogging.
I confess that I only have one more book left to read before taking the 20th Century exam. I confess that there are three books on the list that I don't plan on reading, one because it's too long, one because it seems too tangential, and one because it's written by an evangelical. I confess that my ability to leave just three unfinished when I'm so close to finishing the list speaks well to my decreased level of neurosis over time.
Now come, all you sinners, and find comfort and forgiveness in the cleansing waters of Haloscan.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
(7:59 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
WWŽS?What would (or will) Žižek say about the Virginia Tech shootings?
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
(6:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes?The initial run of Permission Mondays was a success, despite my insane introductory post. I feel confident to move forward with this as a new weekly feature, providing bookends to the work week.
Tuesday was originally chosen for the Hatred feature because it seemed to be evenly spaced out with the Friday Confessional. It seems to me that there is nothing intrinsically hateful about Tuesday, and that the addition of a new feature provides an opportunity to move the Tuesday Hatred to a traditionally more hateful day, namely Wednesday. In addition to being "hump day," Wednesday has rich overtones for all of our recovering Nazarene readers because of Wednesday night church. Plus I feel like participation in Claire's hatred yesterday was low, in large part because you were still so exhausted from asking permission -- in short, I cockblocked her.
In any case, if we moved Hatred to Wednesday, the end result would be a nice rhythm: get permission Monday, experience catharsis on Wednesday, and obtain absolution on Friday, then enjoy some jazz Friday evening. The other days of the week will be reserved for "actual content" -- even though, strictly speaking, The Weblog has so thoroughly realized the formal elements of blogging as no longer to need any content at all.
So what do you think? Move Hatred to Wednesday, or keep it on Tuesday? Make your voice heard!
[Voting has been suspended due to software errors. In any case, Jodi Dean's scheduling suggestion is carrying the day.]
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
(10:20 AM) | Claire:
Tuesday Hatred: Master and ServantDuring the past couple months, I have distracted myself with photos of Gael Garcia Bernaland Joseph Gordon Levitt. Every time my mind drifts to my kinky-maned former flame, I quickly imagine hot elevator trysts with Gael or cute images of cuddly sea otters. This refocusing strategy was successful until I discovered strange search terms used to find my blog. Readers were Googling "Claire Wolfson broke up," sometimes two or three times a day. Shortly after, my resolve began to erode. Someone in the blogosphere was thinking about our relationship, perhaps hoping to find that it had not ended, after all. I knew that if Ben and I were to give it another shot, we would have to re-invent our roles and style of interaction. On a whim, I decided to instant message him an ultimatum. I told him that I would only consider a reconciliation if he met two expectations: first, he must begin to comment on my blog on a bi-weekly basis. Second, he must fly in to Chicago to attend the Life and Times of Big Calabaza International Conference. Here is the amazing chat that took place following the ultimatum:
me: Ben, thanks for the comment.
Ben: you're welcome, Claire.
Adam warned me that you could tear my dick off over IM. So I thought I should do what you wanted.
me: hmm. I wish Adam wouldn't spread rumors about me. I only do that in person.
Ben: I can't wait.
me: Well, this summer-- you're in for it! You will be attending the LATOBC conference.
Ben: is that a command or a question?
me: Take it as a command.
me: wow, you know, maybe this can work. OK, Ben,I'll let you get back to "studying" or whatever you were doing before. I just wanted to make sure you knew what was expected of you.
me: thanks, *ma'am*.
Ben: thanks, ma'am!
me: alright. exit the chat.
Ben: I'll do better in the future, ma'am. exiting, ma'am
me: It's been a pleasure, Ben. Until next session.
This chat proved to to be one of the most rich and meaningful interactions Ben and I have ever had. Motivated by the extraordinary results of this chat/domination, I escalated my Wolfson behavior modification tactics.
I set up a little makeshift dungeon in my apartment and began inviting Ben over for play dates. One of my favorite games is to purposely make egregious grammatical errors and incite Ben to correct me. Once he begins his pedantry-fest, I promptly turn the tables, fit him with restraints and flog him until he rescinds each and every correction. Ben has gotten so skilled at polishing my boots and caring for my fetish gear that I am going to enter him in the Mr. Bootblack competition at International Mr. Leather this Spring.
I hate that I received a "courtesy email" telling me that I did not even meet the minimum qualifications for a job I applied for and that I would not be considered.
I hate that my supervisor looks as alcoholic and exhausted as Mr. Sprinkles.
I hate that I am scared of my co-worker who has his name tattooed on his neck.
I hate that I don't have the courage to ask him if he will tattoo my name on his neck.
I hate that I don't have a fire-breathing zippity zane to burn down my workplace for me.
Well, if you're feeling hopelessly optimistic, here's the Tuesday Love.
(9:02 AM) | Dave Belcher:
The fate of my future[This was cross-posted at La Perruque]
Some of you know that I have decided to hold off on PhD plans for a bit; the plan, actually, is to enter an MDiv program here at Nazarene Theological Seminary in the fall. Just as with every program I have ever applied to, however, the problem of finances surfaced yet again here: I discovered yesterday that NTS is only willing to offer me a scholarship covering a whopping 20% of tuition. This is rather disappointing news after having completed a master's degree already, and especially one coming from Vanderbilt (I hear they're still a "top-tier" school).
So, this is where you enter. I just don't know what to do. I know exactly what I want to do, I just don't know if it's possible, and/or how to get there. Should I continue with my extra year off and apply for PhD programs in December? Or, should I simply hope that we'll have enough money when fall comes around to afford school and survival, entering the program, accepting their offer? Is there some third option I'm just missing (which must not, by the way, involve working at Guitar Center the rest of my life)? This issue is of course compounded by the fact that Jodi is finishing her MDiv program here in...I think a year...and she'll be applying for PhD programs when she's done (we have to re-work yet again how we're "taking turns" this time around). Any advice at all is warmly welcomed...it's quite obvious I'm not responsible enough to decide my own fate, so it's up to you now.
Monday, April 16, 2007
(2:00 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Permission Mondays: A New Weekly FeatureEarlier today, I had the following IM conversation with Bitch PhD:
Bitch PhD: is it reasonable to feel all washed out and tired after feeling nauseated most of yesterday?For years now, in a blog tradition that is rivalled in its longevity and its enduring human relevance only by Friday Cat Blogging, I have been offering absolution to the tortured souls of the blogosphere. Offering permission seems like a natural compliment, and as I will argue in this post, it is grounded in an authority that I have already tacitly claimed as the sole authorized voice of the symbolic order -- that is, as the big Other's representative.
me: I think so.
Bitch PhD: so it's okay if i take a nap?
me: I hereby give you permission to take a nap, in my capacity as official representative of the social order as a whole.
Bitch PhD: i really appreciate that. it's sad, but true.
Bitch PhD: that would be an awesome blog idea.
me: Just giving people permission?
Bitch PhD: yeah!
First of all, I have been granted all relevant forms of symbolic recognition. I am a native-born citizen of a recognized nation-state -- indeed, the nation-state. I am a native speaker of a recognized national language (English), which is at the same time fast approaching the level of a universal language. Beyond that, my writings have been published in peer-reviewed academic publications, in the popular press, and in the blogosphere. All of this means that my participation in the symbolic order is, at least on a formal level, fully recognized and unchallenged.
It is my belief that, in principle, any human being who is recognized by the symbolic order may function as a stand-in for the big Other. But in point of fact, it is precisely I, Adam Kotsko, who so function. On one level, that is simply a matter of "dibs," itself one of the originary functions of the symbolic order. But even though the final argument in favor of my office is simply my own claim to hold it, there are nevertheless good reasons why it should be me in particular, which I will gladly outline for you now.
First, it seems appropriate that the stand-in for the big Other would be a blogger. While the "public sphere" is a widely variegated phenomenon, a broad concensus is arising that the blogosphere is a "public sphere" in a privileged sense -- to such a point that one could argue that what we call "blogosphere" is now simply identical to the concept of "public sphere" as such. For the blogosphere touches upon all other forms of public discourse and, perhaps paradoxically, grants them their own existence. A news article, an opinion piece, even a journal article, somehow fails to "count," to register, if it does not appear in the world of the blog. Hence, at least in our historical moment, a blogger has privileged access to the symbolic authority to ratify.
It is not seemly for "just any" blog to take on this function. But we have long known that, as the blogosphere just is the concept of the public sphere, so also The Weblog, precisely as the particular blog it is, is immediately identical to the concept of blog. In founding The Weblog, I retroactively founded and ratified the blogosphere itself, and thereby the public sphere as a whole. ("I saw the world-spirit, posting on a blog....") Someone had to do it; that "someone" happens to have been me.
The very fact that I have been offering absolution -- based not on the authority of any church or religious institution, but implicitly in the name of the social order as such -- and that such absolution has been so manifestly effective is ample proof that, whether you accept the arguments in favor of my right to said authority or not, I do, de facto, possess it. But it should also be clear that I only claim and exercise this power for the good of humanity as a whole.
I am but a servant -- the Lord's own notary public, if you will. My power only exists if you avail yourself of it. All those troubled souls who have committed an act whose relationship to the social order is ambiguous -- blogging when they were supposed to be reading, taking a nap, etc. -- have found reaffirmation of their basic humanity in the Friday Afternoon Confessional. But why wait until after the fact? Why should anyone be deprived of the confidence of knowing, as an absolute fact, that their course of action is fully endorsed by the big Other?
This being established and duly noted, I hereby open comments for those seeking permission for their actions, which I will grant or deny as appropriate.
(8:44 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Faithfully LiberalSome of my more attentive readers may have noticed Faithfully Liberal on the blogroll. It is a project spearheaded by CTS students Aaron Krager and Mike Lee, which has also included contributions from other CTS students, such as one-time Weblog poster Chris Warfield. They have covered a wide variety of issues, including some pretty concrete discussion of economic injustice (as opposed to the normal thing on liberal blogs where every month or so you talk vaguely about "growing inequality" and blame it on the Republicans).
The blog has good support from the seminary as an institution, which has resulted in them being able to do some pretty interesting interviews. It is rumored that an interview of Barack Obama, one of our Hyde Park neighbors, is forthcoming.
Overall, if you're interested in what a progressive/mainline Christian type of political engagement would look like, take a look at Faithfully Liberal. If you want my personal narcissism, the gripings of a sea otter, pirated jazz mp3s, and Mr. Sprinkles videos, leave your browser pointed here. But to be a good liberal: why can't it be both?
Sunday, April 15, 2007
(1:56 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Pressing Issues: The WeatherToday the weather is not as ridiculous as it has been, so I decided to renew my tradition of taking a daily walk. It's strange that I've been avoiding it for so long. During the winter, I would still go out in very cold weather, but the cold felt much colder when it was a regression from genuine spring-like weather. The past several weekends, I have been very reluctant even to leave the house, for just this reason: I prefer to remain sheltered from a world that by all appearances has turned against me.
The walk was amusing because no one knows how to dress. I wore a light sweatshirt and light jacket, but I saw people in winter coats, people walking around in just sweaters, some people (mainly young children) in t-shirts, and one particularly optimistic woman in one of those low-cut spaghetti-strap things (though not Claire). For the most part, people clearly were ready to be outside, but still distrustful -- better to be too hot than to be overly confident and face yet another traumatic disappointment.
This was my first walk since moving to the other side of Lincoln (a diagonal street), and I was somehow worried about not being able to come up with a suitable route of my desired length (two miles). Then I realized that my mental block was that my route would enclose a smaller area than in the past, a mindset perhaps generated by all those hours spent playing Qix on my Gameboy during the ride to church. I assume that Alleyway, which I played even more, has had a similar impact, but perhaps it has shaped my selfhood too deeply for its influence to be detectable as such at this late date.
(9:19 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
French Elections: The Quiz
(Image courtesy of Infinite Thought)
Le Monde has a quiz to help us all determine which candidates in the upcoming French elections we're closest to. In order to simulate the experience of the average American voter, I didn't look up any words in the dictionary or search the Internet for information about any of the policies or institutions in question, resulting in an experience of voting through a fog. (Those of you who don't know any French will be able to approximate the experience of the average American voter even better.)
In the end, I was tied between Marie-George Buffet (Parti communiste) and Olivier Besancenot (Ligue communiste révolutionnaire), with Dominique Voynet (les Verts) coming close behind. I suspect that this might have something to do with my desire for "la régularisation de tous les sans-papiers" -- but again, I am relatively unencumbered by actual knowledge or information about present political debates in France.
I encourage you all to take this quiz.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
(10:10 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Bleeding Edge of Music Trends[This post has been enhanced with the latest episode of Mr. Sprinkles.]
It looks like Feist's indie cred is officially gone: the New York Times is profiling her. Describing the production process for her latest video, the author muses, "What’s a nice indie-rocker doing in a scene like this? Courting a potential mainstream audience while offering something as substantial as it is catchy."
Of course, when it comes to bizarre music coverage, few things can equal the declaration in The New Yorker that Prince is "perhaps the greatest living performer in the pop tradition." Perhaps he is -- but pop "tradition"?
I don't understand why either publication even tries to cover pop music. Their real strength is in classical, opera, ballet, etc., and very few other non-specialty publications give those areas serious coverage. I assume that when glancing at their pop coverage, the readers of both publications can muster little more than a bemused "Huh."
Friday, April 13, 2007
(9:00 PM) | Brad:
Friday Night JazzAdmittedly, it's not yet begun to feel like spring here in the Midwest. In fact, last week I was driving north-central Kentucky and found myself in nearly white-out conditions. And just today I found myself pulling my shoulder up to my neck and muttering "fuck" innumberable times during my walk to work.
And yet, as the weatherman reminds us, spring is here, believe it or not; and as our Friday Night Jazz tunes remind us, spring is here, like it or not. We're changing things up a little bit tonight. Spring has always struck me as a very verbal season, so a bit of vocals seemed appropriate. I hope you enjoy.
First up, Carmen Lundy taking on the classic "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" (from her Self Portrait).
Followed, ever the gentleman, by Tom Waits' "You Can Never Hold Back Spring" (from disc two of his recent Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards).
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: I've got reservationsI confess that I've temporarily given up on convincing myself to like Sky Blue Sky and have gone back to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I confess that I enjoy The Shins' new album, though apparently not as much as Dave does. I confess that I listen to Feist's Let It Die practically every day, and it still hasn't managed to turn me gay. I confess that the new Andrew Bird is good, but not as remarkable in my mind as Production of Eggs.
I confess that I have a couple weird habits:
- I don't turn on artificial lights unless it's absolutely necessary. This frequently leads to conditions that most people would regard as near pitch blackness.
- I continually leave cabinets open. Mike once pointed this out to me, and despite being conscious of this very serious problem, I still very frequently walk into the bathroom to find the medicine cabinet open.
I confess that a combination of qualifying exams and various other duties have caused me to write off approximately the next year as completely lost for creative thought and writing. But man, when I come out the other side, I'll know so much about 20th Century Theology, Methodology (Deconstruction), Philosophy of Religion, Theories of Community, Major Figures (Kierkegaard, Barth, Bonhoeffer), and Patristic and Medieval Theology that I'll be completely unstoppable.
I confess that for my Butler class, I'm probably going to do one of my classic Juxtaposition Studies pieces, on Butler and Anselm. I confess that when I told Brad about this, I immediately worried I had descended into self-parody -- and at such a young age! (But the idea would really work!)
I confess that I'm proud of this (slightly edited) comment I left at The Valve:
My ideal for an online discussion would be a few incisive remarks, after which everyone retreats to their books. But never would anyone be allowed to say “thanks” or “that’s helpful”—and especially not to combine the two. It’s not like internet discussions need to be mutual grooming sessions, even if most of us do have lice.I confess that I normally try to get "academic" conversations over with as quickly as possible, with occasional exceptions if I'm talking with someone whom I regard as a peer on the topic at hand -- and then, of course, the topic can come up naturally in the course of the conversation, instead of taking the form of an imperious demand. (Example: "So, tell me about this Zizek guy.")
Thursday, April 12, 2007
(11:33 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
HospitalityWhat if the question of infinite and unconditional altruism in the name of hospitality is unbearable for the Other? Unbearable because it asks nothing of them. It requires them to remain Other, always. To be the, albeit not simply accepted (their host too, for them, is a potential threat), accepted nonetheless. The total capacity of the hospitable to accept unconditionally - to be control of the house - is never brought into question because it is a necessary condition for the unconditionality of hospitable ethics and responsibility.
But what if this isn't ethics at all, just a front that enables the hospitable to continue to be masters of the house, in the name of ethics? What if hospitality allows them to avoid taking a very real kind of responsibility, one through which it is demanded of them that they see that it is their own out-of-jointness (ironically the very dimension which becomes the driving force for their fantasies of control over the house) - that it is this incoherence and lack of completeness that is in fact the very element that opens them up to the internal alienness of the Other in the first instance?
(3:48 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
So, um....During a major "surge" designed to beef up security in Baghdad, it's not possible to prevent the fucking parliament from being bombed while it's in session?
(12:58 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Best Photo EverInfinite Thought provides a brilliant picture of Badiou:
(This is provided as a public service for the two or three Weblog readers who haven't already seen it.)
(8:30 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
So it goes.This is all over the blogosphere, but it deserves mention here. Kurt Vonnegut died late Wednesday night, New York time, at the age of 84. It appears the cause of death was complications due to brain trauma after he suffered a fall a few weeks back. So it goes.
Vonnegut holds a special place in my life. I've read nearly everything he has written, usually in a day, and credit for my own idiosyncratic reasons Cat's Cradle as my first real theological text. I understand that to real literary types expressing admiration for Vonnegut's work shows one to be a bit of a literary posuer, but I don't really care. The power of his books, which in some ways can be seen as one really large, shifting monadology constructed from aporphrisms and witticisms, is more important to me than proving I understand a word of Gravity's Rainbow.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
(7:28 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Cartoon GreatnessAfter watching the recent Easter episode of South Park, it occurred to me that South Park is still capable of putting out a "great" episode in a way that The Simpsons and even Family Guy no longer seem to be.
I watch all three pretty faithfully, even the new episodes, and I can say with confidence that The Simpsons has held pretty steady over the last three or four years -- nothing really great, only a few really dumb episodes -- and Family Guy has basically been phoning it in all season. In both cases, the new episodes are enjoyable, but forgettable. With South Park, though, one can still name off individual great episodes from the last couple seasons -- the World of Warcraft episode, for instance, which I watched two or three times the first week it aired.
The question, of course, is why this might be. That's where I turn to you, loyal readers, for your wisdom and guidance.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
(6:16 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
The Political CatHayley enjoys this website called Stuff of My Cat, which delivers pictures of stuff on cats. They recently held a contest for the 'literary cat' where people could send in pictures of their cats reading and writing. Hayley sent in our May Day Cat Blogging, which, as you can see, featured Maizie and Sid reading Lenin's What Is to Be Done?. Our photo essay presented the cat as truly political, not as a mere bourgeois pet, but as a true feline partner on the road to revolution. Whereas the pictures that Stuff of My Cat choose infantilizes the cat. At best they can only pretend to read books their masters read about how to control cats and at worst they are amateur versions of pictures we find in Kitten Calendar. This presents yet another blow on the cultural front to the Workers' Struggle.
(8:25 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Wrath of KotskoI hate that Claire is sick today.
I hate it when I set an unrealistic goal for the day and end up not doing much of anything as a result. I hate that I went two weeks or so without practicing my Latin, making a return to Latin into a horrifying ordeal. I hate that I've set up a directed reading where Latin reading is effectively a course requirement.
I hate having a chronic cough.
I hate that the rest of the season of 24 looks like it's going to absolutely suck. I hate the actor who plays President Wayne Palmer. I hate the character of Agent Doyle, who combines a deep spiritual quest for meaning with a deep sadistic love of torturing.
I hate that it's so cold -- I was walking around in just a t-shirt two weeks ago! I hate that I'm so out of shape that I was sore two days later from playing Nintendo Wii.
I hate that I didn't come up with an idea as good as the Tuesday Love.
Monday, April 09, 2007
(3:33 PM) | Claire:
Threatened Marine MammalsI realize that, except for my Tuesday Hatreds, I have been largely absent from the Weblog. With your permission and support, I would like to post more frequently. Two major problems are presently plaguing me: one is truly serious case of widespread, government-approved animal cruelty; the other is a more personal struggle.
On April 2nd, Canada began its annual, government-sanctioned seal hunt. Each year the seal industry clubs over 350,000 seals to death. Many of these seals are only a few weeks old. The seals are not "humanely" killed, if there is such a thing. Some are clubbed and then left half-conscious to hobble away and eventually die. The hunt is very competitive and goal is to kills as many seals as possible in a short amount of time. If you'd like to take action to help stop this act of mass-cruelty, please visit the site of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. I'd also like to justify this post by mentioning that my friend Marta, who sometimes posts here, is writing her master's thesis on Christianity and animal welfare.
If some of you are angry that I have displaced Adam's dissertation topic post, let me say two things: first, as Adam explained to me, you can simply scroll below this piece and find what you're looking for. Also, I have already suggested a topic for Adam's dissertation, which I believe, given the perpetual imbalance of power in our relationship, he is obligated to accept.
Finally, there has been speculation that Life and Times of Big Calabaza is dead. Actually, I just took five days to emotionally distance myself from my readers and avoid any sort of productive activity that might improve my life. I'd like to announce that I have returned, again fueled by a familiar sense of self-loathing and shame about my laziness.
(10:04 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Dissertation Open ThreadIn an unprecedented move, I am going to allow the Internet at large to determine my dissertation topic and, thereby, my career trajectory as a whole. Acceptable topics include anything in the history of theology (aside from Calvin), anything in continental philosophy (aside from Zizek), and any combination thereof.
This round, my goal is to solicit as broad a range of topics as possible. Next Monday morning, I will assemble them into a list and devise some method for narrowing it, probably step-wise over the course of the next month. Then, whatever topic comes out on top, I will absolutely and totally do my dissertation on.
So, go to it. (John Emerson, please repost your suggestion here for the sake of clarity.)
Saturday, April 07, 2007
(10:11 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Thoughts on Reading[Note: This post has been enhanced with a video of the ground-breaking third installment of "Mr. Sprinkles," from Acceptable TV.]
Lately I've been feeling drained of anything substantive to say. (Luckily Brad and Anthony have been keeping things going at An und für sich.) One can never go wrong by substituting griping for substance, and so I will share with you some thoughts on what I've been reading:
- John Calvin -- a master of the old trick of casting reasonable objections as "insane rantings." Theologians have always had a tendency to equate heresy with insanity, but Calvin takes it to whole new levels. I would be more inclined to accept his psychological judgments if his descriptions of the likely responses to his doctrines weren't always completely and totally wrong. For instance, the doctrine of double predestination is supposed to produce a tranquil humility. I can see how it might do so, but that doesn't strike me as the most likely outcome.
It doesn't help that on the topics I'm actually interested in, he tends to move pretty quickly, while on the topics I don't care about (i.e., the entire Reformation problematic of justification by faith), he goes into exquisite detail. Overall, literally no one I have ever read has so perfectly fit with the stereotypes of what he's like.
- Judith Butler -- How many rhetorical questions can one fit into one book? How many can one put in a row before the reader's eyes start to glaze over? How about an entire paragraph?
I'm also getting a little bit tired of throw-away lines that basically invert a quoted statement in a completely unsupportable way. For example, in Antigone's Choice, she quotes a soldier who says he didn't bury the brother or see it done -- and Butler inserts a little line about how this implies that seeing and doing are somehow related, that seeing the crime committed would mean being complicit (of course she prefaces this with "as if"). My natural response to this is, "Um... no?" But it's not as though she's actually putting any weight on this link between seeing and doing -- it's a total throw-away line. It's as though she specifically wants to torment me.
Also, though they have very little else in common, Butler and Calvin both share an absolute and utter lack of a sense of humor.
- Joachim of Fiore -- why the hell has no one translated this guy's works? I haven't actually read anything of his yet, mainly because it's in Latin and I know that it will therefore take for-fucking-ever for me to read it. One could postulate that reading this will make me "better" at Latin, but I don't think my reading speed will increase appreciably in the course of an 80-page treatise. At least the text I'm reading is a Bible commentary (Enchiridion super Apocalypsim) -- for some reason, Bible quotes are always basically transparent to me in any language I'm able to read, even quotes from books of the Bible I'm not very familiar with (say, Revelation). I'm not sure why this is, but others I've talked to have had the same experience. The Holy Spirit must be involved somehow.
Friday, April 06, 2007
(8:00 PM) | Brad:
Friday Night Jazz[Update: The link to skippy has been fixed. I was out of town this weekend, and only just now realized there was a problem. Friday Night Jazz has thus been extended to Easter Sunday Jazz.]
I have no idea if last week's Friday Night Jazz was popular or not, but I enjoyed it enough I'm going to keep doing it for a while. At least for as long as the mood strikes. Or until we're shut down for distributing music online.
I had a hard time deciding what to use this week. I knew I wanted something from Theolonious Monk, but I wasn't quite sure what. The only way to decide was to throw all the Monk I have onto the IPod and listen. Monk over breakfast, lunch & dinner. Monk while walking the dog. Monk while reading the Weblog. Monk while writing this post for the Weblog. But it is all just so fucking good. The man is apparently unable to come up with a bad arrangement -- and his player selection is generally exquisite. As it turned out, I simply made choosing all the more difficult for myself.
As it turned out, I simply could not limit myself to one selection. So, I made a compromise: two songs from one CD. Now, I love both volumes of his Genius of Modern Music, but the second one always seems to me to stand out a little more than the first. A little more rich. A little more bold. (Although "Well You Needn't" from volume one is simply too good for words.) Case in point, our two songs for tonight. Happy listening!
"Four in One" (alternate take): Sahib Shihab's alto sax work here hits me right between the eyes.
"Skippy.mp3": Monk's piano solo here is the reason to keep breathing, just so you can listen to it again.
(10:03 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Lactose IntoleranceI confess that I am watching Spongebob Squarepants as I write this. I confess that it is strangely hypnotizing. I confess that I'm kind of creeped out by seeing souped-up versions of the same commercials they had when I was a kid. Did you realize that Barney Rubble is still trying to steal Fred Flintstone's cereal?
I confess that I am unlikely to attend any church functions this weekend.
I confess that I'm not sure whether I want to sit in on the Aquinas class. I confess that I can't find a copy of the first volume of Summa Contra Gentiles in the whole of Hyde Park.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
(3:59 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Sky Blue SkyI'm sure that I'm not the only one who has somehow obtained Wilco's new album, Sky Blue Sky. What's your opinion of it? I've listened to it several times and am still not sure what to think.
(2:29 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Thursday Prison Break BloggingMy response to this Monday's season finale -- just downloaded this morning, when our cable was finally hooked back up -- is "Seriously, what the hell?!" Kellerman redeemed himself, and Mr. Kim finally got his much-deserved bullet to the spleen (though sadly not from Mahone), but the episode was completely ridiculous overall. This "conspiracy" is becoming much too metaphysical for my tastes.
Has anyone noticed, by the way, that the actor who plays Scofield is now appearing in Gap ads? The tattoos don't show under his beige clothing. This is kind of a missed opportunity for the Gap -- they could totally use this to launch their new line of blue hoodies.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
(12:24 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Quizno's Adopts New Corporate StrategyOther restaurants artificially limit themselves to humans. Quizno's is reaching out to the coyote community.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
(12:29 PM) | Claire:
Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder Rage FestThis week I realized that, in addition to my myriad mental health problems, I am also a rage-a-holic. What incites my rage? Oh, I don't know . . . the onset of menstruation seems to be a factor. Before menstruation, I feel the distinct sensation that my head is on the verge of exploding. This will manifest itself in my behavior as my making progressively more sarcastic comments with an accompanying deadpan affect. In the days leading up to the shedding of my uterine lining, the following types of people should steer clear of me: (In case you're wondering, these are my hatreds.)
--People with no personality.
--People with no personality who have realized that a personality is an asset and are attempting to cultivate 'quirky' habits.
--People who need to share boring stories about their new habits in order to up their quirky street cred.
--People who go into too much detail about their cat's daily activities.
--Passive-aggressive, cheese-fry-fueled men whose clipped Chicago syllables are forced through what I imagine is a hardened fat and oil-lined larynx.
--Callers who speak in an exaggerated sweet, Southern drawl, who all the while demand to hold and tie up the line instead of leave a voicemail.
--Callers who say, "And how are you today?" but don't wait for me to answer.
--Spastic, mentally-unstable women who are always sprinting from one floor to another and are too important to take any calls.
--People who reminisce about the buffet at Claim Jumper and excel at office politics.
--People who take every opportunity to turn a benign comment like, "Oh, the database works," into an chance to issue a snotty comeback, like, "It's been working."
--Sweaty-browed drama queens who can't stop talking about how terribly sick or busy they are.
And this, folks, is what I hate. Oops, I was so blinded by rage that I forgot to link to the Tuesday Love. There, that feels better.
Monday, April 02, 2007
(10:23 AM) | Brad:
Sex Music ReduxIn lieu of any new audio-visual content of my own to post, I give you Aquadoodiloop's much-revered Monday Jam. Aquadoodiloop is the blog of sometimes-commenter, but always-demented, Pat Rock (real name). Monday Jam is something of an institution over there, but it has always deserved more widespread blogosphere exposure. I'm doing my small part here. The fact that today's is one of the best ever only helps. The fact that it is wall-to-wall sex music (a much-loved musical genre for me) is the money shot into the eye of the lover (from the lover, for you ladies) you'll never see again.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
(5:49 PM) | Brad: