Consider Neil Gaiman's story "The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories" (yes, that's the name of one story):
He nodded and grinned. "Ornamental carp. Brought here all the way from China."
Its pretty damning. The most appalling behavior, in my opinion, is the manner in which he threw the people below him under the bus to protect his fraudulent findings.
Letter HERE, containing an explanation of what they are trying to accomplish, a discussion of labor issues in the gulf region, and what the university is doing about the recent scandals. It takes a lot of guts to be this forthright, and I think overall the letter's a good advertisement for the virtues of the kind of education they are delivering.
Continuing the football-themed series I started last week, today I’m posting ‘Fio Maravilha’ by Jorge Ben(Jor). In January 1972, the iconic team Flamengo was playing a friendly game against the Portuguese team Benfica in the Maracanã, and Jorge Ben, a fanatic Flamengo supporter, was among the spectators. Less than 15 minutes before the end of the game, the score was a frustrating 0 x 0, and so the spectators started to demand that João Batista de Sales, a much beloved player who was benched for that match, be let in the game. Coach Mário Zagallo finally decided to comply, and Sales was brought in as a substitute. In no time he scored an astonishing goal, sadly not immortalized on video. The goal is however immortalized in the song ‘Fio Maravilha’, which was the nickname given to Sales after this match; it was an angel’s goal, according to Jorge Ben. The song became very popular and won a national song festival in 1972, in the voice of singer Maria Alcina.
Jorge Ben recorded 'Fio Maravilha' a number of times: I'm posting here 'Fio Maravilha' on its own, and also a hugely popular medley of this song with two other Jorge Ben classics: 'Taj Mahal' and 'País Tropical'. (And let me say for the 1000th time that Jorge Ben is an effing genius.)
...an open-access, English-language electronic journal dedicated to the philosophy of science. αnalytica is edited by a younger generation of Greek philosophers of science, with the aid and support of an international advisory board. It provides a platform for peer-reviewed original contributions in philosophy of science, and is hosted by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Dare we hope that more open access philosophy journals are on the way?
I just heard the news that Dr. Maya Angelou died today. I had the enormous privilege to take a class with her as an undergraduate at Wake Forest, and it was a singular experience. It was not just her elegant command of the classroom – though I’ve seen few others whose personal presence equaled hers – it was that she taught literature that I didn’t even know existed: Garcia Lorca, Soyinka, Baldwin and Fanon, among others. She started the course by having us write down the line from Terence: “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto” (I am a human, I consider nothing human as alien to me – yes, she made us write it in Latin, though she always added the translation), and over a series of uncomfortable texts, kept returning to the Terence as a way to stop us from distancing ourselves from them. It left as deep an impression as any course I took before or after. It was only after her class that I read her own work and learned of her extraordinary life. As discussions and tributes to her literature appear, we should pause to note that the world has also lost a great teacher.
Tennessee Students and Educators for Social Justice has launched a blog series on issues raised by mass incarceration and the death penalty. This week's post is by Kelly Oliver, W. Alton Jones Chair of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University. Oliver describes the "war of currents" between Edison and Westinhouse that led to the invention of the electric chair and the domination of the electricity market by a company backed by Edison:
Edison had invested himself in direct current electricity while Westinghouse had invested in alternating current, which could be more easily transmitted at higher voltages over cheaper wires. In a campaign to discredit alternating current, Edison tried to convince people that it wasn’t safe, first by using it to electrocute animals and eventually by endorsing it for use in executing humans. Edison reasoned that people would not want the same current flowing into their homes that was used in the electric chair.
In public demonstrations to discredit Westinghouse, Edison reportedly executed so many stray cats and dogs, often in circuslike spectacles involving first shocking the animals with direct current and then killing them instantly with alternating current, that the area near his lab in Menlo Park New Jersey was almost devoid of strays. In 1887, he held a public demonstration in West Orange New Jersey, where he used a Westinghouse generator to kill a dozen animals at once, which spurred the media to use a new term to describe death by electricity, “electrocution.”
Oliver's post, and her further work on the death penalty in The Southern Journal of Philosophy and in her book, Technologies of Life and Death: From Cloning to Capital Punishment, offers a much-needed historical context for recent legislation allowing a return to electrocution in Tennessee, and for ongoing debates about capital punishment across the US.
Read the full post here.
Posted by Lisa N Guenther on 28 May 2014 at 11:24 in Capital punishment, solitary confinement, and the prison-industrial complex, Lisa Guenther | Permalink | Comments (2)
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An important and somewhat neglected topic is what happens when biopolitics intersects with juridical power in courts of law. Today, we got a good example of one way it can happen. Several years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not execute the “intellectually disabled.” They also let the states decide what that meant. Today, they specified (5-4, with the usual lineup for a “liberal” Kennedy opinion) that, although using an IQ score of 70 or below as evidence of such disability is ok, it’s not ok to draw a bright line cutoff at a score of 70 because one had to take into account the 5 point margin of error in the test itself. In so doing, the SCOTUS spared the life of a Florida inmate with a measured IQ of 71.
There is a lot to say here (and for me, quibbling about where the IQ cutoff should be distracts from the larger point, which is that we shouldn’t be executing people. And, IQ testing is its own set of problems), but I do think it’s notable the extent to which the decision is expressly biopolitical, and not juridical. Recall Foucault’s claim one symptom of the emergence of biopower is a decline in the death penalty (History of Sexuality 1, p. 138). Here, we see how that decline can manifest itself even within the judicial system.
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned, both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake, and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets the trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
Last year we announced the launch of Ergo, an Open Access Journal of Philosophy. Today is the grand day of the publication of Ergo’s very first issue, with four amazing papers. To commemorate this occasion, the Ergo editors asked four distinguished philosophers each to comment on one of the four papers by means of blog posts. These are:
We hope you will enjoy the papers as well as the commentaries. Ergo remains of course open for submissions in all areas of philosophy, so do send us your best papers!
It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fulttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory with stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.
It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.
Nietzsche describes the 'birth of tragedy' twice over in The Birth of Tragedy (amongst other things this book is surely one of the most spectacular academic career suicides ever, killing off Nietzsche's position as the rising star of classical philology in German speaking universities, which earned him his precocious chair at Basel), first in the widely read treatment of Attic Tragedy, and then the rather less widely appreciated discussion of Wagner as the repetition of the great Attic Tragic moment.
Such great moments are short lived. In the first half of the book Nietzsche is concerned with three writers over two generations, and the last of those (Euripides) is an example of decline. The Euripidean decline is part of a shift to the novel (Birth of Tragedy 15) via Aesopian fables and Plato's dialogues, which should also be seen in the context of the New Comedy. The novel is not an obviously major literary form in the ancient world, so there may be a form of extreme dismissiveness in suggesting that is what is left after the death of Attic tragedy.
Back in March, I wrote a long piece about the effects of institutional debt on the current, destructive trends in U.S. Higher Education. In the same vein, there's a new article by Michelle Chen up at The Nation discussing a new report by the Debt and Society group called Borrowing Against the Future: The Hidden Costs of Financing U.S. Higher Education.
The report concerns the ways in which debt manifests itself throughout the system, and how these various forms are tied to one another—thus the titlte of Chen's piece "Colleges Are Buying Stuff They Can’t Afford and Making Students Pay For It." But Chen is right to highlight the institutional debt side of the equation, which has been overlooked despite the fact that it appears to be a structural driver for other forms of debt and institutional disinvestment in education, etc. She also emphasizes the degree to which one of the most pernicious consequenes of rising debt: the degree to which it makes even public institutions essentially subservient bond ratings agencies.
In the long run, however, these amenities often don’t pay off in terms of revenue for the schools, which grow increasingly beholden to bond investors. Those financiers, in turn, often favor not the highest-quality schools but rather “the safest prospects for investment.” Because of market pressures, the researchers warn, “bond markets can reward behaviors that generate greater revenue but are at odds with the goals of public higher education.” In other words, do you want your university’s future budget projections dictated by a Moody’s rating?
Or, as I've been arguing for awhile, rising institutional debt is what is making 'revenue at any cost' into a management imperative that trumps all others and essentially stripping institutional leaders of the freedom to make management decisions on the basis considerations like their institutions' primary missions, the best interests of their faculty, staff and students, etc. I urge folks to read the whole piece.
Of course, the rise of fascism all across Europe has many causes and origins. But is the monetary union pushing a critical mass over the edge in a dangerous way?
I’m currently teaching a summer gen-ed class on the topic of “Ethical Issues: Technology,” and when I teach this class, I always make a point to discuss Facebook early-on. Specifically, this time we’re talking about the “is Facebook making us lonely” question, using a piece from the Atlantic and a critique of it that appeared a few days later on Slate. But I always try to include time for talking about Facebook in general. And my students say more or less what the research says: almost all of them are on it, and they use it mainly to keep up with and enhance offline social networks. They gain considerable social capital from their use of it. But they also don’t like it all that much. They resent the constantly changing settings, and they’re getting fairly cynical about FB as a business. They don’t much like having to untag themselves from photos all the time. They tend to think FB either takes them for granted, or even takes advantage of them. More than one said they’d leave if they could figure out how. And they do worry about privacy. All of that is anecdotal, of course, but it’s been a pretty consistent response for a few years now.
A great deal of the value of a company like FB is network: like telephones, the more people who use them, the more valuable yours is. This is part of why students don’t have much of an exit option, as leaving FB would basically give them the SNS equivalent of a one-phone system. FB then rubs it in: there’s no way to export all of your material from it to another system, so a decision to leave is a decision to leave however many hours of socializing and networking behind. This sort of state of affairs led Tiziana Terranova to note – before FB – that websites extract a lot of surplus value from the users who produce them simply because of this network effect.
One of the worst things about WWE's "attitude era" was that parents had very good reasons not to let their kids watch professional wrestling. The story-lines went beyond R rated and were often morally reprehensible as well. The promotion also at times seemed to be competing with ECW to see who could injure the most wrestlers.
It's been very nice to see something of a return to the classical mode (Roland Barthes' titanic struggle between good and evil) these last few years. As a "smart fan" I'm not supposed to appreciate John Cena, but maybe being a parent has changed this. The guy's never been afraid to do gimmicky stuff to appeal to children (part of why he alienated smart fans) and as part of that he's never taken a heel turn in over a decade. His work with the Make a Wish foundation has been indefatigable (over 300 visits), going well beyond what would be required if it was just a work.* I also think he helped change things where you could have an old fashioned face like Daniel Bryan actually get over with the kids and the smart fans.
Anyhow, the most Cena-centric Froggy Fresh video after the jump (second verse is sort of sexist, only sort of because partially satirizing his own incompetence with respect to standard rap music sexist tropes):
Over at Feminist Philosophers, they've posted the CFP for a conference on Diversity in Philosophy that, I'm proud to say, is being hosted and co-sposored by my alma mater, Villanova University, along with Hypatia and the APA's Committee for the Status of Women.
The conference will be held at Villanova on May 28-30, 2015 and the deadline for submissions of 250-500 word proposals is January 1, 2015.
More info and the full CFP follows after the break.
Posted by Ed Kazarian on 25 May 2014 at 08:30 in APA, CFPs, fellowships, and other professional opportunities, Ed Kazarian, Feminism, Improving the philosophy profession, Intersectionality and "the embarrassed 'etc.' ", Philosophy profession news, Race, (anti-)racism, race theory, Teaching Philosophy, Women in philosophy | Permalink | Comments (0)
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I’ve written a few posts in the recent past questioning the whole idea of anonymous peer-review as a reliable guide to quality – in philosophy as well as elsewhere. In other disciplines, there have been numerous recent cases of ‘false positives’, i.e. papers which made it through the peer-review process but then were discovered to be fundamentally flawed after they were published (leading to a very large number of retractions).
The issue with false positives is well known, but as I’ve suggested in some of my previous posts, the issue of false negatives is equally serious, or perhaps even more serious, and yet it tends to be under-appreciated. A recent piece by JP de Ruiter, a psycholinguist at the University of Bielefeld, articulates very nicely why it is serious, and why it remains essentially invisible.
The two main goals of a review system are to minimize both the number of bad studies that are accepted for publication and the number of good studies that are rejected for publication. Borrowing terminology of signal detection theory, let’s call these false positives and false negatives respectively.
It is often implicitly assumed that minimizing the number of false positives is the primary goal of APR. However, signal detection theory tells us that reducing the number of false positives inevitably leads to an increase in the rate of false negatives. I want to draw attention here to the fact that the cost of false negatives is both invisible and potentially very high. It is invisible, obviously, because we never get to see the good work that was rejected for the wrong reasons. And the cost is high, because it removes not only good papers from our scientific discourse, but also entire scientists. […] The inherent conservatism in APR means that people with new, original approaches to old problems run the risk of being shut out, humiliated, and consequently chased away from academia. In the short term, this is to the advantage of the established scientists who do not like their work to be challenged. In the long run, this is obviously very damaging for science. This is especially true of the many journals that will only accept papers that receive unanimously positive reviews. These journals are not facilitating scientific progress, because work with even the faintest hint of controversy is almost automatically rejected.
With all this in mind, it is somewhat surprising that APR also fails to keep out many obviously bad papers.
If Derrida's Baby Boomer detractors were correct about him being a charlatan, then thinkers such as Richard Rorty, Sam Wheeler, Lee Braver, and Martin Hagglund would have to be the lowest kinds of carny marks, about as gullible as the professional wrestling connoisseur from the American South who has yet to cotton on to the fact that the match endings are predetermined. You can always pick out this type because he tells you during intermission just what he's going to do if CM Punk tries to shave his kid's head.
Wheeler's Deconstruction as Analytic Philosophy probably did the most to help me get over the analytic/continental culture wars that I saw so many of my undergraduate professors wage. But Wheeler's recent NeoDavidsonian Metaphysics (the introduction is available here) looks fascinating independent of that context.
Check out this recent 3AM magazine interview, (hat tip Leiter*) where Wheeler articulates the connections between Davidson and Derrida. It's fascinating stuff, making explicit a number of issues sympathetic readers of Rorty will have already sort of suspected:
Posted by Jon Cogburn on 24 May 2014 at 09:15 in Analytic - Continental divide (and its overcoming), Jon Cogburn | Permalink | Comments (1)
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Another sad loss this week: psychologist Sandra Bem, a pioneer in the empirical study of gender roles, passed away on Tuesday, May 20th. Here is the most complete obituary I could find so far, which details nicely her scientific contributions and the practical impact they had in gender policies. For example, it was largely based on her scientific work that the infamous practice of segregating classified job listings under "Male Help Wanted" and "Female Help Wanted" columns was finally abandoned, after a 1973 decision of the US Supreme Court ruling against the practice. (The case was against a particular press, but within a year all other newspapers in the country changed how their classified ads were listed.)
There are many other aspects of Sandra Bem’s life and work worth mentioning, but let me focus on two of them. As an undergraduate in 1965, she met Daryl Bem, then a young assistant professor, and a romantic relationship between them began. (Yes, there are successful stories too, apparently…) Initially, she did not want to get married, as this course of events seemed to preclude the professional path she had in mind for herself. But Daryl was not deterred, and so together they agreed on an arrangement that would allow her to flourish professionally, and which would basically consist in what is now known as equally shared parenting – an ideal that many couples aspire to, but which remains a challenge to implement (speaking from personal experience!). The ‘experiment’ was largely successful, and Sandra narrates all the ups and downs of raising two children (a boy and a girl) on this model in her 1998 book An Unconventional Family. (I’ve been meaning to read the book for years, and now may well be the time to stop procrastinating.)
There is a story told about “Breaking Bad”* and our healthcare system, and it goes like this: “Breaking Bad” demonstrates what’s broken (less so now with the ACA perhaps, but perhaps not) about the healthcare system in the U.S. Walter had to go in the meth business in order to pay for his healthcare costs. Had Walter not stepped up, meth money in hand, Hank would never have walked again. For-profit insurance ensures that the people who need care will be denied it, in order for those insurance companies to reap ever higher profits. There is a joke, told in comic-form, and in other formats, that implies that had Walter had access to universal health insurance, as exists in most reasonably well-off countries, none of this (the meth, the show) need have happened.
OK, that’s the story, but it’s just wrong. Really.
In an earlier post, I discussed Nicholas Wade provocative new book, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, and mentioned that it had been getting a lot of reviews and attention because of its controversial claim that contemporary science supports the view that biological races really exist after all. But now, the definitive review has been written and posted to the Gentopia blog. Stephen Colbert couldn't have said it better himself. Check it out.
Yesterday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill to bring back the electric chair as the default method of execution, should lethal injection drugs become unavailable or unconstitutional. While the first version of the bill restricted its application to death sentences issued after July 2014, a last-minute amendment lifted this restriction, making it applicable to those who are currently on death row. Theoretically, this means that we could be facing an execution by electrocution in Tennessee as early as Oct. 7, when Billy Irick is scheduled to be killed.
It is tempting to decry this return to the electric chair as a “barbaric” lapse into brutal forms of violence that do not befit a democratic nation such as the United States. It is also tempting to affirm this legislation as a more “truthful” display of what is really going on when the state kills, and to hope that the unconcealment of state violence will lead to more vigorous opposition. But it’s not at all clear that more truth leads to more activism, nor that brute violence is incompatible with US democracy.
In order to understand what’s happening in Tennessee – and in other states that are currently going out of their way to kill people, such as Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Utah – we must move beyond moral discourses on the death penalty and trace the material, political connections between state violence, economic inequality, and white supremacy in the United States.
Posted by Lisa N Guenther on 23 May 2014 at 18:37 in Capital punishment, solitary confinement, and the prison-industrial complex, Lisa Guenther | Permalink | Comments (2)
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"I have a hard time understanding how ETA may account for involuntary attention. Suppose you are focused on your task—reading a book at the library, say—and you hear a ‘bang’ behind you. A natural way of describing the event is to say that one’s attention has been involuntarily captured by the sound. Now, how does ETA explain this phenomenon?"
Koralus' response is binary:
"So, you might have been asking, as part of your task of reading the blog, 'What does the blog say?' Now, you are getting the incongruent and irrelevant answer 'There’s a loud noise behind you.' There are now two possibilities, similar to what happens in the equivalent case in a conversation. One possibility is that you accommodate the answer, adopting a new question (and thereby a new task) to which 'There’s a loud noise behind you' would be a congruent answer, maybe, 'what sort of thing going on behind me?...You could also refuse to be distracted and then exercise some top-down control on your focus assignment to bring it back to something that’s relevant to your task.'
When I coined "the problem of captured attention" in my 2012 Synthese paper, "The Subject of Attention" (not cited by Koralus/de Brigard), I took a similar line, but focused on the activity of the subject, rather than on questions and answers:
One of the most frustrating things about getting married in the United States is that for two days you are surrounded by all of these old friends, but then with all the preparations and whatnot you have no time to have decent conversations with any of them.
I used to think this was a significant bug, that if we were going to persist in moving our domiciles across such a huge country, then marriages should last at least a week, enough time to get a couple of meals alone with old friends. But now I'm wondering if not having enough time is a feature.
When you've lived long enough and moved enough times you start to get walloped by affective connections withering away.
It's just weird. You can maintain intensely warm regard for a person you haven't seen in years yet when you get a chance to share space again find yourselves struggling to know what to say next. What happened? Sometimes alcohol and other people being there can help. But sometimes that doesn't even work very well. The distance between what was and what remains is painful.
Since deficit limits in the Euro zone are indexed to GDP, Italy will "boost" its economy by including drugs, prostitution and smuggling in the calculation of its gross domestic product. Story here.
In a few weeks, the football World Cup will start in Brazil, so in the coming weeks I will be posting a few football-themed songs. Don’t worry: I will not be posting the monstrosity that is the official theme song (with Pitbull & co. -- I refuse to put the link up). I will focus instead on some classics about football in Brazilian music.
Some may recall that the World Cup in Brazil has been surrounded by controversy, especially with the truly astonishing amount of money that seems to have gone into the construction of the stadiums. But like it or not, it will happen, so we may as well get ready for it.
Let me start with ‘É uma partida de futebol’ (1996) by the pop/ska band Skank (I’ve posted about them before). Both the song and the video nicely convey the fanatic, euphoric approach to football among fans in Brazil, with lots of footage from actual matches and the supporters; so quite a treat for football fans!
M. Anthony Mills has a very nice reply to Neil deGrasse Tyson's dismissal of philosophy. Among the points he makes, Mills notes:
Helmholtz, Mach, Planck, Duhem, Poincaré, Bohr, and Heisenberg are a few noteworthy modern scientists “distracted” enough to engage in philosophical question-asking. Einstein himself read philosophy voraciously beginning from an early age (he read Kant when he was 13) and engaged in lively disputes with many leading philosophers of the era. Mach’s empiricism, Poincaré’s conventionalism, and Duhem’s holism all influenced Einstein’s thinking. Such cross-pollination between philosophy and science did not stall the progress of physics, but instead led to one of the greatest scientific revolutions in history.
Lest we think that only noteworthy modern physicists engaged in philosophical question-asking with actual philosophers, let me point out some noteworthy modern biologists who have done likewise -- a list off the top of my head, so no doubt missing some (and thus, please feel free to add names in the comments). And to be clear, I am citing here only some of the most famous ones -- there are many less famous ones who have nonetheless had important and influential (in both directions) exchanges with philosophers.
In other words, biologists and philosophers have had productive exchanges about important biological concepts, theories, processes, and (although I haven't emphasized it here) methods.
So this doesn't look good. All the nicotine addicts at LSU are going to walk around furiously chomping little pieces of rubber with their mouths open. Some percentage of them will do that thing where you make the gum snap, irritating even the lowly sensitive people.*** I'll be hiding out in my office blaring FIDLAR.
On this gum business, it's really weird that the ban will apply to e cigarettes, but not to nicotine gum, even though nicotine gum doesn't really help people quit. The second weird thing there's no enforcement mechanism:
The policy doesn’t exactly have teeth. Campus police won’t be able to write tickets for smoking, and leaders acknowledge that it will be more of a recommendation to campus visitors and tailgating football fans.
But Sylvester said she hopes the campus community will take on the role of self-policing to stamp out tobacco.
“We’re definitely going to use the social-norming approach,” she said. “Seventy percent of us do not use any kind of tobacco products. We are the norm, not the tobacco user.”
So at best you are going to get all these busy bodies telling people "you can't smoke here," and smokers patiently explaining that actuality implies possibility as they continue to puff away. I don't see this ending well.