Monday, March 31, 2008
(4:54 PM) | Brad:
Europe v. AmericaTwo questions only slightly related:
1) Have any of you come across an estimate of what the U.S. unemployment rate would be if it was calculated according to European standards? That is to say, as far as I understand it , in the U.S. you're no longer considered amongst the unemployed after a certain amount of time; whereas the unemployment rate in most Western European countries covers all able-bodied people without jobs. Or am I confused all around on the difference? If not, is America still really far ahead of the curve when it comes to unemployment?
2) Those of you who have applied for academic posts in Britain and in America, do you by and large feel as though you look like a better job candidate on the British application form (versus the standard CV expected in the U.S.)? I feel as though my CV is really thin, and never send it out with any confidence at all, and yet always feel as though I have a chance when I send off my British applications. (Though, this is not to say I've met with a ton of success in Britain either.)
Sunday, March 30, 2008
(11:33 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Avoiding Systemic FailureAnthony sent me this video:
Since getting the latest n+1, I have naturally been thinking more and more about the coming collapse of everything, to the point of recoiling from it -- realizing that at bottom, I am basically entirely invested in this system and don't want to see it fall. Something like this makes the denial harder to maintain.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
(8:42 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Television RecommendationAnyone who has not seen the Aqua Teen episode Bible Fruit is a failure.
They also appear to be streaming the entire movie.
(3:19 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
An Upgrade RevolutionPrograms that check for updates on start-up -- that is, virtually all programs nowadays -- are a pain in the ass. When you start a program, you do so generally because you want to use the program more or less immediately. The upgrade process completely frustrates this desire. Not only do you have to go through the hassle of downloading the software, but you actually have to close out the program shortly after starting -- as though your whole purpose in starting it that particular time was to upgrade it. But people start programs to use them, not to upgrade them!
In light of this disconnect, a paradigm shift is necessary. Instead of demanding that the user upgrade when she simply wants to use the program, wait until the user signals that she doesn't want to use the program for the time being: that is, when the user exits the program.
Friday, March 28, 2008
(10:09 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: The Two SourcesI confess that I continue to be disappointed in my progress on exams, even though, realistically speaking, I'm doing fine. I confess that for the first time in a while, my worry about insufficient progress is actively hurting further progress -- I thought I'd finally figured out how to prevent that vicious cycle, but apparently not. I confess that, at the very least, I finished my Greek textbook. I further confess that, disturbingly enough, I enjoy reading reference grammars.
I confess that I don't even want to know what's going on in Iraq at this point. Literally no matter what happens, for me it's going to be evidence that we need to get out. Is national reconciliation happening? Great -- let's leave. Is a civil war happening? Great -- let's get out and let them have at it. At this point, the Iraq War is like discovering that you've accidentally married your sister -- there's only one option, and it's not "trying to make the marriage work."
I confess that this dating site (via Unfogged) may be the cure for all my complaints about online dating.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
(10:52 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Decade That Was NotScott McLemee's column today is about the concept of the "decade" and the fact that this particular decade doesn't have a clear concept -- or even an agreed-upon name. If I could try my hand, I would say that this was the decade that tried to be about patriotism, national unity, and grand projects, but failed. Even the attempt at a specifically "this-decade" form of music, nu-metal, wore out its welcome pretty quickly.
I believe that this is the first decade of the postwar period when the ostensible theme didn't "take."
(7:42 AM) | John Emerson:
Will Hillary be the New Nader?Will Hillary be the new Nader?
Hillary's meeting with Richard Scaife, perhaps the slimiest of the Republican media lords (and the one who most enthusiastically promoted fact-free smears of Bill Clinton) makes one suspect that the rumors are true, and that she has decided that, while she can't win the Democratic nomination, at least she can hurt Obama badly enough that he can't win, leaving Clinton a clear shot in 2012.
You know -- "The worse, the better". (Though based on what she and her beloved husband have been saying, it's by no means certain that she is bothered by the prospect of a McCain Presidency.)
Someone has to convince that Clintons that it's now or never for her. If neither she nor Obama is elected President this year, it will be time for us to look for someone new. If a broad range of Democrats tell her that she'll cut her own throat if she sabotages Obama, maybe she'll decide to retire with a little dignity left. And one doubts that Bill Clinton wants the destruction of Barack Obama and the election of John McCain to be his legacy.
If Clinton plays scorched earth politics against Obama now, she should know that the rest of us will play it against her four years from now.
James Carville should have his mouth washed out with soap.
1. Yes, I did vote for Nader in 2000. I repented in early 2002 and have been a servile Democrat ever since. After all the shit I had flicked at me for my Nader vote, it annoys me no end to see the Clintonistas relying on the same sabotage strategy that Nader did.
2. No, I'm not an Obama loyalist. There are some things about Obama I like, and some that I'm not so sure about. I supported Edwards while he was in the race, or maybe Dodd (though his campaign never really got off the ground), and only switched to Obama after it had become a two-person race. Until a couple of days ago I even tried to calm down the anti-Hillary militants, and if Hillary wins the primary, I'll support her in the general, no matter how hard she tries to convince me not to.
3. Should we really be surprised? Bill Clinton defeated the Congressional Democrats so thoroughly during his terms as President that the Republicans ended up gaining control of Congress. With the dog-in-the-manger DLC, you always have to ask whether their goal is to take office, or whether it's just to make sure that no one to the left of them ever wins. They talk as though their centrism is a response to political necessity, but they often act as though they're motivated primarily by a bitter hatred of anyone more liberal than they are.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Abject FailureI hate the sheer amount of time I wasted over the past two days. I especially hate that I skimmed back through the comments to this post, which -- hatefully enough -- is the second most-read post at An und für sich. The most-read is this one on Brian Leiter, and coming in at #3 is Anthony's "What is Milbank?" (The answer: "Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more.")
I hate the ancient Greeks and their baroque system of verb conjugation. The -μι verbs are really the straw the broke the camel's back. I hate the thought that after I'm done with my lesson book, it's still going to take probably a year or so of continual work to become comfortable with Greek grammar and then probably at least another year before I have enough vocabulary to read at anything like a usable level for anything without a facing translation -- and this is mainly just to read church fathers. If I was planning on delving into the classics, I would probably just kill myself right now.
I hate footnotes that assume you're an idiot. Oh, really, Rousseau is summarizing his argument thus far? How could I have known that otherwise? Oh, I know: by reading the text itself, which I just read before flipping back to see this endnote. Needless to say, I especially hate them when they're endnotes.
I hate the ridiculous weather we continue to have. Seven inches of snow the second day of spring was just insulting, and I am at the end of my patience with below-freezing windchills.
I hate that I'm feeling so hateful that I might not have any love left in my heart at all. All these petty annoyances -- how much can one man bear?!
Monday, March 24, 2008
(5:00 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
General Betray-UsApparently Gen. Petraeus is asserting that Iran was behind Sunday's attack on the Green Zone. I'm glad that this guy got such worshipful media attention from the very first second he was appointed -- no one could've predicted that Bush's hand-picked guy would turn out to be a total hack.
(9:41 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
ExperienceIt's becoming increasingly obvious that Hillary Clinton's supposed foreign policy experience has been greatly exaggerated. Since Clinton presumably remembers her own life, and since she is presumably not stupid, the question arises: Why exaggerate her experience if she knew that the record wouldn't support her claims?
My theory: "experience" has all along been a codeword for "hawkishness," but she couldn't come right out and claim to be hawkish in a Democratic primary campaign.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
(2:28 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
My dear readers, a surveyOn average, would you say your are happy or unhappy with your life?
(10:53 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Easter JoyTo celebrate Easter, why not look at the excerpt of Zizek and Theology now available via Amazon's "Search Inside" feature?
Saturday, March 22, 2008
(1:24 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Stuff White People HateBeing criticized at all:
(via Bitch PhD)
Friday, March 21, 2008
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Oh cruell factI confess that my productivity this week has been low. Even my Netflix watching has fallen by the wayside -- my time-wasting has focussed solely on the internet. I confess that I'm starting to see my internet habit as a "dangerous supplement" to get me through those times (thankfully less and less common) when I am lacking in social activities.
I confess that I've gotten back into the habit of reading Atrios. I confess that I have become much more emotionally invested in Barack Obama than I ever expected to be -- if he loses the nomination, I may be as angry as when Bush won in 2004. I confess that I have wasted a lot of time worrying over the New York Times election guide and searching through daily opinion polling.
I confess that though I'm completely cavalier about most intellectual property issues, I am ambivalent at best about all the "etexts" of scholarly works that are making their way through certain nearby corners of the blogosphere. I confess that I suffer from a disconnect between my knowledge of the actual situation in academia (labor exploitation, unstable and capricious publication systems, etc.) and my knee-jerk conservatism on most academic practices: reading conference papers out loud is good and should be continued, blogs shouldn't directly "count" for one's CV, etc., etc.
I confess that now that I think of it, maybe it's not a disconnect at all -- what does it matter if tenure is easier to get, for instance, if there are ever fewer tenure-track positions? Wouldn't that end up making the job search and tenure process even more arbitrary? And if we could back away from the neoliberal model of the university and return to a more traditional model, wouldn't that automatically increase the audience for what is now a "glut" of academic overproduction? (After all, a comfortably tenured professor with a reasonable course load would have more time to read journals and monographs than an overworked adjunct.) Focus on the base, not the superstructure!
I confess that taking a nap, however brief, after six o'clock is a bad idea.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
(4:38 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
OMG OMG Crazy Black Preacher!!!!This controversy about Jeremiah Wright is increasingly pissing me off. I find the overall tenor of his remarks to be completely correct, though I have been following our pathetic American public discourse enough to know that forthrightly pointing out the truth is a surefire way to be labelled a dangerous lunatic. So far, the only concrete falsehood he is supposed to have perpetrated is the notion that the government introduced HIV in an effort to exterminate African Americans. Surely we must denounce such slanderous lunacy!
Assuming this is actually false, I have to say that if I were part of a community that had been subjected to brutal medical testing in the past and that had been generally victimized by unprovoked terrorist acts by angry white mobs (including cases where the whites would go and burn down an entire black neighborhood or city, sometimes also killing every black person they could find) and that was by and large the victim of a continued program of de facto segregation, deprivation, and police brutality -- well then it might not be such a huge fucking stretch to think that a plague that is so disproportionately affecting blacks might have something purposeful about it.
The basic point I extracted from Obama's speech is simple: black resentment (including that of Jeremiah Wright) is based in reality, whereas white resentment is based in misrecognition (and even willful ignorance) of the real source of their problems. In terms of this basic rubric, I think that it's fair to say that even the conspiracy theories of the black community point to an actual historical grievance. It is absolutely impossible to line them up as equivalent to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, JFK assassination theories, 9/11 truthers, etc., etc., just as it is absolutely impossible to claim that black resentment toward whites is equivalent to white racism against blacks.
What's more, white preachers obviously believe all kinds of crazy things -- for instance, that political events in the Middle East should be manipulated so as to conform to some kind of magical heavenly code that will set off the end of the world. I don't think that Republicans are actually basing their foreign policy agenda on these idiotic theories, any more than anyone believes that Obama's first act in office will be to find and shut down the HIV Division of the Office for the Extermination of Negroes. But even here, we can see that there is no real equivalency. If someone actually were to act in line with the crazy evangelical preachers' theories, then we'd be starting World Wars III, IV, and V -- whereas if someone were to act in line with Wright's theory about HIV, we would be ... trying to halt the spread of HIV in the black community. It's the difference between pointless willful destruction and doing what we should be doing anyway.
The fact that anyone is fooled by this obvious double standard along the axis black/white (not to mention the axis left/right) is disgusting and shameful. Perhaps Clinton really is the better candidate than Obama -- but if this fucking idiocy is what makes the difference, then I don't know what else to do but to give up on any possibility of rational discourse in this country.
(7:16 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Negri Can't Come Here!Negri can't come here!
He was due to come to Tokyo this month as part of the International House of Japan's much awaited inviting-foreign-lecturers program thingy on a normal tourist visa - as often professors on lecture tours do. The House apparently got a phone call from the Foreign Office with words to the effect that due to a tightening of immigration regulations if Mr Negri were to come for his lecture tour on a tourist visa it would be highly likely that he would be refused entry to the country. Negri apparently proceeded forthwith with the Japanese Embassy in Paris to get an entry visa. However, the Embassy informed him that they could not issue him a visa without permission from the Foreign Office. The Immigration Bureau then informed him that he has been refused entry on account of a lack of an "official explanation" regarding previous alleged "political crimes."
Japanese immigration law states that any person who has broken either the law of Japan or any other sovereign state and who has spent more that 1 year in jail can freely be refused entry to the country. So-called "political crimes" are an exeption as long as there has been some form of "official explanation." As far as the Immigration Bureau is concerned as long as such "official explanation" or "proof" has not been provided there will be no entry granted. In Negri's letter to those in Japan who were waiting for his arrival he states that he had been inquiring into immigration matters at least half a year ago and that it was only 3 days ago (March 17th) that he received news that he needed a visa. Also that in 5 years going to over 22 countries this has never happened to him before.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
(12:08 PM) | Brad:
Pure GeniusI've been meaning to post this for some time, but now is as good a time as any. No commentary is necessary, but comments are welcome.
From a letter written by Mozart to a cousin, dated Feb. 28, 1778:
Mademoiselle matrés chére Cousine!
you may perhaps believe or even think that I am dead! -- that I Croaked? -- or kicked the bucket? -- not at all! Don't think it, I beg of you; for thinking and shitting are two different things! -- how could I write such a beautiful letter if I were dead? -- how would that be possible? [. . .]
But now I have the honor to query how you are and whether you are weary? -- whether your bowels are solid or thin? -- whether you have scabs on your skin? -- whether you are still a little fond of this here gawk? -- whether you sometimes write with a chalk? -- whether you now and then think of me?: -- whether at times you'd like to hang yourself from a tree? -- whether perhaps you are angry at me, fool that I'll always be; whether you won't make peace in your heart, or, by my honor, I'll crack a big fart! now you're laughing -- victoria! -- our asses shall signal the tidings of peace! -- I knew you couldn't resist me any longer; yes, yes, I am absolutely sure of this, even if today I still have to shit and piss, but in 2 weeks I'll be off to Paris; so if you want to find me hither with an answer from Augsburg thither, hurry up with your letter, send it, the sooner, the better; for if I have already left this place, instead of a letter I'll get muck in my face. muck! -- muck! -- oh muck! -- o sweet word! -- muck! -- chuck! That's good too! -- muck, chuck! -- muck! -- suck -- oh charmante! -- muck, suck! -- love this stuff! -- muck, chuck and suck! -- chuck muck and suck muck! [. . .] Now I must tell you something before I close because I have to stop soon, for I am in a hurry, as I have absolutely nothing to do right now; and then, too, because I have no more space left, as you can see, I am just about out of paper; besides I'm tired, my fingers are aching from writing so much, and, finally, I wouldn't know, even if I had more room to write, what else I could tell you? except perhaps the story that I'm going to tell. [. . .] So then, to make a long story short, it happened about 4 hours from here, I don't remember the name of the place -- it was a village or something like that; at any rate, it doesn't really matter whether it was Tribsterill, where the shit runs into the sea, or Burmesquick, where they make the crooked assholes; [. . .]
UPDATE: Just came across another example. My new task for the week is to find a copy, new or old, of these letters. [Lo and behold!]
'Dearest cozz buzz, I have received reprieved your highly esteemed writing biting, and I have noted doted that my uncle garfuncle, my aunt slant, and you too, are all well mell. We too, thank God, are in good fettle kettle. [...] Oui, by the love of my skin, I shit on your nose, so it runs down your chin. [. . .] I now wish you goodnight, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind and try to kiss your own behind. [...] Oh my ass burns like fire! What on earth is the meaning of this! ---- maybe muck wants to come out? yes, yes, muck... [etc]'
(8:01 AM) | Rob Breymaier:
ObawesomeSo, I'm already on record in the comments as praising Obama's speech. But, I'm just so impressed, or actually excited, about it that I thought I'd post on it as well.
For someone who works on civil rights every day. Who works everyday to overcome residential segregation and equalize opportunity. Who sees the need to address race and racism and racialized issues and all other things racial and privilege-oriented in America. For someone like me, I finally got to see a candidate be outspoken and get lots of coverage on the issues I care about.
Anyone mining the Weblog for past comments would find that I initially supported John Edwards for President because I thought he would best address racial inequality in America. So, I'm not an Obama maniac. When Edwards dropped out, I switched to supporting Obama. But, I still wondered if he would or could effectively address my core issue when choosing a candidate -- racial inequality.
This speech confirms to me that Obama is the single-best candidate to move America toward a less racially-charged society. It was at the same time simple and reasoned. It was both philosophical and practical. And, all the while, it was intelligent in a manner that honored and respected Americans' ability to grasp complex issues.
What's more, Obama's speech was as Presidential as any speech I've ever heard. Certainly he showed that he can handle tough situations in this case. He didn't take the easy road and throw Jeremiah Wright overboard. He didn't take the stubborn road and say that Wright is just misunderstood. He didn't take the opportunist/jingoist road and go on about how he loves America. He took the reasonable road and acknowledged that race is a complex issue while at the same time providing simple, universal examples to show how we all have inconsistencies despite our best efforts.
And, so I coin new Obama lingo by calling the speech Obawesome.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
(12:48 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The English Major in Bad DeclineAds Without Products has a great post responding to a pretty standard article on the decline of the English department and offering what I think is a very satisfying analysis of the real problem. Comments are also insightful.
(11:49 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Actually GoodThere is some of the required cringe-inducing boilerplate, but Obama's speech on race is really good -- in fact, with some parts of it (mostly the analysis of whtie racism), I'm shocked that a mainstream political candidate could say such things.
(10:09 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Walk and DriveI hate that I can't shift my internal clock to Daylight Saving Time. I hate that I appear to need an average of nine hours of sleep a night and that my body enforces this average on a weekly basis.
I hate that the weather keeps looking like it's going to get better, but it never lasts. Apparently we're expecting snow thunderstorms Thursday and Friday. I didn't know they even made those.
I hate spending money I don't have.
I'm sure you'll be able to love soon enough.
Monday, March 17, 2008
(10:52 AM) | Brad:
Not As Good As the NBA, But We'll Take ItSelection Sunday completely slipped by my radar yesterday. That is the mark of one who has completely sold his soul to the NBA. But, that said, I always enjoy the NCAA tournament. Well, the first couple of rounds anyway. By the third weekend, baseball has started and I could care less about basketball's junior league championship. It's always fun to see how badly I fill out a bracket, though.
With that in mind, I hereby announce the second annual Weballogers NCAA Challenge. Interested in going head-to-head against the greatest basketball minds the internet has to offer? If so, I suggest you check out ESPN.com. This competition is for the rest of us! I cannot remember who won last year, otherwise I'd offer congratulations and extend an invitation to defend your title. Don't take it personally, though -- I can't remember who won the tournament last year, either.
My ambivalence be damned, though! This is for Weblog supremacy. It's on! Click here to play.
(10:42 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
On Online DatingI have been using an online dating service for about a year. I've met some interesting people, some uninteresting people, and gotten a pretty decent summer relationship out of it. Still, most of the time I'm frustrated with it. The gender ratios are badly skewed, as far as I understand, and the women are inundated with messages. Plus there's the whole problem of snap judgments. Personally, I'm paranoid that my field of study has scared off some potential dates, though I've not been notably more successful when I half-lie and say I study philosophy.
The whole point of an online service, it seems to me, is to cut out the inhibitions associated with approaching strangers, allowing people to meet with at least some context -- but it takes forever to get women to actually go out! They're actually trying to screen me based solely on my e-mails. Maybe they're getting 1000 e-mails a month or something, but would it kill them to just meet me for coffee? Like virtually any human being, I come off better in person than via e-mail. I have very seldom found my expectations of a person to match what I got through e-mail -- most of the time I've been pleasantly surprised.
I'm not saying anyone should be going out with everyone who e-mails her, because I've screened out people based solely on e-mail, too. At this point, though, I feel like I would have about the same luck as if I were just approaching random women at bars -- a lot of non-responses, some casual conversations, then maybe a few of those leading to actually meeting at another time. The whole reason I did online dating is because I'm intimidated by the notion of approaching strange women -- I'd feel like I was harrassing them -- and the e-mail prearrangement gives me the confidence that this is actually a person who wants to meet me. (I suppose that some kind of confidence that I'm decent-looking, funny, and interesting and that I've achieved some impressive things at a fairly young age might serve as a substitute for the stupid little e-mail exchange -- but I still don't feel like I have any social capital to speak of, perhaps because I have so little financial capital.) It's nice that the emotional impact of rejection is lower because of the electronic format, but still, the whole experience has really been a disappointment to me overall (though obviously I'd feel differently if that summer thing had worked out the way I'd hoped).
I feel like there is some elaborate code that I am somehow excluded from, but then, that feeling is pretty pervasive for me, at least when it's been a while since I've gone out. I occasionally have the feeling that I've fallen out of the symbolic order altogether, that my actions are completely failing to meet anyone's reasonable expectations, that everything I'm saying is somehow rude or anyway just wrong, that I'm on the razor's edge of finally being excluded from the social circle in question -- the feeling is only compounded when I learn that no one found me to be particularly awkward during such periods. I'm still trying to figure out what is going on with that, but I've learned one thing for sure: it's best not to watch Curb Your Enthusiasm when I feel that way.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
(10:39 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Working FamiliesWho are these "working families"? Isn't child labor illegal? If so, why do politicians bend over backwards to support them? Is it so that they can afford to let their children stop working?
Saturday, March 15, 2008
(5:14 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
This clip was a special feature on the final disc of Mr. Show, which I finished this afternoon. I must say that the first few episodes of season 4 were far and away their best material, but it dropped off toward the end.
Here is a bonus clip:
Friday, March 14, 2008
(11:03 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Bachelor PartyI confess that my thread about Spitzer's high-class prostitute is kinda obnoxious. I confess that I feel like I've been obnoxious in social situations recently, though it's unclear to me if the other people involved feel the same way.
I confess that I continue to set unrealistic reading goals for myself with my exam prep. I hope it's not too unrealistic in aggregate, though, because I've just scheduled them for six weeks from now. I confess that the scheduling has been driven more by my desire for tidiness than by any kind of assessment of how much time I actually need to prepare -- I just want to get them done by the end of the semester.
I confess that William James's Varieties of Religious Experience is a cool book -- though I also confess that I didn't read all of his examples. I confess that I'm about to read Bergson's Creative Evolution, the first step down the path of becoming a radical Anthony-Smithian.
I confess that I'm glad that it's almost Easter, because I gave up dating for Lent and I'm really jonesing for an awkward conversation over drinks. It has been a huge money-saver, though. For instance, right now I actually have money. Plus, you know, the economic stimulus check is coming before too long.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
(9:32 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
"Taking a Cab"On Google Reader, I came across the headline "Gold Coast man falls 19 floors to his death". The snippet of the article they provided was perhaps the most enigmatic I've ever seen: "Michael Rivera wanted to pay his cab fare in cash."
This odd juxtaposition prompted the following exchange with one of my CTS colleagues, David Reese:
(9:21:59 AM) David Reese: Wow.
(9:25:19 AM) Adam: Even after reading the article, it's unclear to me what happened.
(9:25:40 AM) David Reese: well, you know, he wanted to pay his cabfare in cash, and clearly one thing just led to another.
(9:26:06 AM) Adam: I'm paying with credit next time.
(9:26:19 AM) David Reese: Or wearing a parachute.
(9:26:26 AM) Adam: In fact, it's because of stories like this that I so rarely take a cab.
(9:26:46 AM) David Reese: You never hear about this kind of shit with the cta.
(9:27:10 AM) Adam: There was one time when they found a human foot in the trash at the Morse Red Line stop.
(9:27:20 AM) Adam: But I never go to that stop.
(9:28:02 AM) David Reese: Well, that could've come from anywhere... like, say somebody fellout of a building, maybe that foot flew off and landed in the morse stop.
(9:28:17 AM) Adam: Someone taking a cab most likely.
(9:28:37 AM) David Reese: Can "taking a cab" be a new euphemism for violent death?
(9:28:49 AM) Adam: I think so.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
(6:34 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
SpitzerThe expensive prostitute isn't even that hot!
(8:55 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Pop Quiz1. How long did the Hundred Year's War last?
2. Which country makes Panama Hats?
3. From which animal do we get cat gut?
4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
5. What is a camel's hair brush made of?
6. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
7. What was King George VI's first name?
8. What color is a purple finch?
9. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
10. What is the color of the black box in a commercial aireplane?
11. Why do people not commit suicide?
Passing requires 4 correct answers.
Answers will be provided when I feel like it.
Special bonus for those who get No. 11.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Somewhat About MeI hate that I don't have much to watch on TV:
- House: no new episodes until the end of April
- The Wire: over forever
- Prison Break: season is over, and the show usually sucks anyway
- Breaking Bad: first season is over after only seven episodes; future is unclear
- Family Guy: occasional new episodes, which almost always suck
- American Dad: occasional new episodes, which surprisingly suck less than Family Guy
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force: I can't figure out when new episodes are on; episodes are only ten minutes long when I do find them
- Simpsons: new episodes, which tend to be pretty good
- Curb Your Enthusiasm: no idea when new episodes are coming, but On Demand is cycling through the old ones
- South Park: new episodes start Wednesday
I hate online dating. I hate being bored, and I hate when boredom drives me to spend more time on the Internet, fueling further boredom.
Monday, March 10, 2008
(5:14 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Good Example of an ExampleIn reading early modern philosophy especially, I have grown profoundly sick of being told that the sum of the three angles in a triangle is equal to two right angles. Apparently that's the absolute best example of a mathematically certain truth. I've read it about eight times in the first hundred pages of Hobbes's Leviathan. I don't understand why this is the go-to example. Brevity might be part of it -- but "two parallel lines will never intersect" is brief, too. (Perhaps it's that it's a mathematically certain truth that's not tautological? But there are others in that category!)
Another question: why is "2+2=4" always the example of arithmetical truth? There are literally infinite possibilities here. And why is the only possible error on this front the assertion that 2+2=5? Again, there are infinite wrong answers. Why not 2+2=7? Or 2+2=1, which is perhaps even more obviously wrong?
When exactly did these examples get locked in?
(12:15 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
A Thought on The WireSome people haven't watched the last season of The Wire because they don't have HBO. I have news for you: "not having HBO" is a fixable problem. So call the cable company and order HBO (and On Demand, if that doesn't come with your plan by default -- which, incidentally, it does with Comcast). Watch the episodes, which are available On Demand until the end of the month, then cancel the service.
It's such a simple solution, yet whenever I've mentioned it to people, they ignore the fact that I've said it and reply: "Well, I don't have HBO, so I guess I have to wait for the DVDs...." Why this aversion to paying for HBO service if you're willing to pay for DVD rental or purchase? WHY?!
Sunday, March 09, 2008
(8:56 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Wire Finale Open ThreadNo holds barred on spoilers -- those of you who will be heartbroken should avoid scrolling down to where you can see the "recent comments."
(7:42 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
On "Doing Something"This Crooked Timber post brought up a series of questions in my mind (which I posted in a comment, in less detail):
- Does any relevant international actor (the UN, NATO, the US, whoever) actually know how to stop a war through military intervention? Picking a side and then winning the war for them seems relatively straightforward, especially given that the "international community's" force is bound to be much larger than that of one side in a civil war. I suppose that I can also see how an international force could provide protection to a group threatened with genocide, which would naturally be a group without much military strength. But sending more troops into a war zone in order to bring the war to a standstill strikes me as a really bizarre idea, just on the conceptual level. (I don't know -- maybe it happens all the time.)
- Does any relevant international actor actually know how to establish a legitimate, functional state? The only straightforward means of ensuring order after an international force exits, it seems to me, is by installing and funding a dictator, which is presumably not the kind of outcome liberal internationalists are looking for. Ethnic partition might be the next easiest route, and of course that also causes massive human suffering (population transfers, ethnic cleansing, etc.). Directly establishing a multiethnic liberal democracy where politics are based on more than group identity and minority rights are respected, though -- not sure that anyone knows how to do that.
It's hard for me to see why the "international community" should become involved in situations, even taking for granted that they know how to bring a stop to the immediate problem, when their only options in the aftermath are either to occupy the territory forever (viz. Kosovo) or install a regime that is in some way or other oppressive. Almost all discussion of international relations in the US, from both parties, seems to be based on the fantasy that there is some way for foreigners to bring liberal democracy to the world's oppressed, but once you acknowledge that no one actually knows how to do that, none of those conversations make sense.
For instance, Darfur -- okay, let's assume UN forces can invade and stop the immediate problem. Everyone's conscience is much clearer, so that's good. But then what? Are all these people raising consciousness about Darfur really intending to endorse an indefinite occupation of Sudan? Or partitioning Sudan into different ethnic states? Or what? Which of the possible end products do they prefer? Stopping the genocide there seems to be similar to removing Saddam -- they're desirable goals when taken in isolation, but then you have to deal with the "morning after."
Saturday, March 08, 2008
(7:07 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The End of an EraLast night, my streak of not meeting Zizek came to an end. A colleague of mine from CTS e-mailed me to ask if I was going to his lecture at U of C, which was the first I'd heard of it. I decided to go and, a little intimidated by the prospect of approaching him in an unmediated fashion, e-mailed Eric Santner to see if he would introduce me. He did, though apparently Zizek already knew my name from "all over the Internet." We then made plans to get together this afternoon to talk, and I just got back.
Overall, it was a good thing.
Friday, March 07, 2008
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: God Hates ChicagoI confess that the memory of slightly more reasonable weather this past weekend only makes the continued deadly cold more discouraging. I confess that the newly-implemented slow zones by the Damen and Irving Park stations of the Brown Line are also discouraging, though I was able to maintain my calm as we sat just short of the Damen stop (viz., three blocks from where I had gotten on) for five minutes last time I took the train.
I confess that I need to write up my "teaching philosophy," as part of my recent effort to try to pick up some adjunct teaching next year. I confess that I have been thinking about hitting the job market next fall (with the hopes of finishing the dissertation in time to graduate next spring), but I am beginning to suspect that such a plan is neither realistic nor desirable. I confess that I found this to be the most depressing post yet on a uniformly depressing blog.
I confess that I have "somehow obtained" a file that purports to be a leaked version of the Wire finale, but I am ambivalent about watching it. (Comments on the torrent site, including one from the site moderator, indicate that it's legitimate -- thousands of seeds, no complaints.) I confess that I feel like it's poor form to link to a torrent site from a "legitimate" blog, a category that I didn't realize either existed or included my own blog until just now.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
(11:04 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
TerrorismA bomb went off in Times Square; the NY Times has an almost absurdly detailed account. Ogged points out that one of the officials quoted says that they're investigating whether this obvious terrorist act is "linked to terrorism."
I'm having a hard time feeling bad about an army recruiting office being bombed, especially since no one was hurt.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
(8:28 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Candidate Who Will Not DieAt this point, I'm bracing myself for Clinton's announcement that even if she loses the primary, she's running as an independent.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
(11:02 PM) | Amish Lovelock:
British Broadcasting Corporation
Something to worry about...
(actually having seen the clips on the bbc site parts of the series seem an incredibly malicious attempt on the part of the filmmakers at ethnicizing the people involved - others far more interesting - the pilot ad almost a joke!).
(1:35 PM) | Brad:
Beckett on FilmIt has taken a couple of months, but I've finally finished the four-discs of Beckett on Film. The task of filming all of Samuel Beckett's plays did not please everybody. For purists, it was abominable to take them off the stage, because on film the camera controls the gaze. Others objected for more aesthetic reasons. For some critics, Beckett's language use was devalued. For others, the interpretive liberties taken were excessive and/or distracting. For the most part, though, I was pleased. Many of the plays are rarely performed these days, so it is nice at least to have a record of their performance.
I was especially impressed by Jeremy Irons in Ohio Impromptu. I had neither seen nor read this play before, but have since become rather taken by it.
Anthony Minghella's version of Play is interesting. He replaces the original spotlights with a whizzing camera, and moves beyond the script in setting the three urns amongst a hellish field of similiar jabbering urns. I can see where some might have a problem with this. The panning shot that reveals this toward the end of the act is, I admit, a bit much, as is the impish emphasis on the camera itself. But I'm willing to forgive this because of the performances. The overal effect is pretty mesmerizing.
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Philosophy of ReligionI hate that I can't take a virtual sabbath because my online time is actually an escape from work. I hate going second in a two-person Risk game. I hate that the little icon in the corner says that I'm disconnected from my wireless network when I'm obviously not.
I hate that my piano skills are slowly deteriorating, as are my already-meager German skills. I continue to hate Greek verbs. I hate that after years of steady work, my dream of a casually polylingual cosmopolitanism still seems very distant.
I hate that so many things cost money -- nearly all things, it seems.
I hate being in a confessing mood when I'm supposed to be hating. Or loving.
Monday, March 03, 2008
(11:37 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Bastards!The final episode of The Wire, unlike all previous episodes this season, is not premiering On Demand the Monday before it airs (viz., today).
This is the worst Pulaski Day ever!
(9:52 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Happy Pulaski Day!For more information on the illustrious Pole, click here.
Additionally, you may read up on Tadeusz Kościuszko, another Polish fighter in the American Revolutionary War and the bearer of what was by some accounts the pre-Ellis Island version of my family name.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
(10:40 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Lies That WorkA good thing to do going into the general election might be to float the rumor that McCain would reinstate the draft.
(11:14 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Not Waiting for SpringMemories of springtime, even banal ones, keep flashing into my mind. Normally I am flooded with memories at each change of the season, but this year it has come early, by way of compensation.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
(8:48 PM) | Ben W:
Way After Friday Afternoon Confessional
I confess that I don't read The Weblog frequently enough.
(9:45 AM) | Adam Kotsko: