Conservatives and Porn: Surprise, Surprise.


From New Scientist (makes me wonder what happened to the old scientist): 

“When it comes to adult entertainment, it seems people are more the same than different,” says Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School.

However, there are some trends to be seen in the data. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds.

“Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by,” Edelman says.

[…]

The biggest consumer, Utah, averaged 5.47 adult content subscriptions per 1000 home broadband users; Montana bought the least with 1.92 per 1000. “The differences here are not so stark,” Edelman says.

Number 10 on the list was West Virginia at 2.94 subscriptions per 1000, while number 41, Michigan, averaged 2.32.

Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year’s presidential election – Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions. While six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama.

The rest of this essay is here.

Suicide Squad


“A tense and peculiar family, the Oedipuses,” a wag once observed. Well, when it comes to dysfunction, the Wittgensteins of Vienna could give the Oedipuses a run for their money. The tyrannical family patriarch was Karl Wittgenstein (1847-1913), a steel, banking and arms magnate. He and his timorous wife, Leopoldine, brought nine children into the world. Of the five boys, three certainly or probably committed suicide and two were plagued by suicidal impulses throughout their lives. Of the three daughters who survived into adulthood, two got married; both husbands ended up insane and one died by his own hand. Even by the morbid standards of late Hapsburg Vienna these are impressive numbers. But tense and peculiar as the Wittgensteins were, the family also had a strain of genius. Of the two sons who didn’t kill themselves, one, Paul (1887-1961), managed to become an internationally celebrated concert pianist despite the loss of his right arm in World War I. The other, Ludwig (1889-1951), was the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. Continue reading

Re-Branding Humanities?


An interesting article from the NY Times:

One idea that elite universities like Yale, sprawling public systems like Wisconsin and smaller private colleges like Lewis and Clark have shared for generations is that a traditional liberal arts education is, by definition, not intended to prepare students for a specific vocation. Rather, the critical thinking, civic and historical knowledge and ethical reasoning that the humanities develop have a different purpose: They are prerequisites for personal growth and participation in a free democracy, regardless of career choice. But in this new era of lengthening unemployment lines and shrinking university endowments, questions about the importance of the humanities in a complex and technologically demanding world have taken on new urgency. Previous economic downturns have often led to decreased enrollment in the disciplines loosely grouped under the term “humanities” — which generally include languages, literature, the arts, history, cultural studies, philosophy and religion. Many in the field worry that in this current crisis those areas will be hit hardest.

Already scholars point to troubling signs. A December survey of 200 higher education institutions by The Chronicle of Higher Education and Moody’s Investors Services found that 5 percent have imposed a total hiring freeze, and an additional 43 percent have imposed a partial freeze. In the last three months at least two dozen colleges have canceled or postponed faculty searches in religion and philosophy, according to a job postings page on Wikihost.org. The Modern Language Association’s end-of-the-year job listings in English, literature and foreign languages dropped 21 percent for 2008-09 from the previous year, the biggest decline in 34 years. Continue reading

Root Of All Evil II.


Following Michael’s suggestion (or my interpretation of his comment as a suggestion), I am titling this post appropriately. I have no idea what is up with Graham Harman’s late cat fight with yours truly, but it’s easy to see why I can’t stop going there again and again – it’s so easy and so effortless, because it’s clearly driven by some sort of strange logic. I’m very close to feeling guilty about it, it’s like taking candy from children. To drive Harman’s traffic (and boost his ego) even more, I’m linking to the petty brawl here (this is bjk’s comment), here, here and here (and also here). Since Harman’s blog doesn’t really make the comments very easy to find, enjoy this excellent selection! I feel so special now, finally I feel like I truly have a life.

P.S. I hope that it’s all good fun at this point and no one’s taking it too seriously….

Root Of All Evil? (Video)


Richard Dawkins scares us with a cool video (and a soft British accent saying things like “There are people out there trying to kill you and me…”) – the question mark in the title of the program is, of course, a kind of gesturing, since we all know what Dawkins thinks about religion, therefore I dedicate this post to the lost art of gesture: Continue reading

Philosophical Conversions.


I wonder if someone already wrote a book about it, but it would be nice to collect all the stories of philosophical conversions into one nice reference guide. I am thinking about examples like Rousseau’s realization that arts and sciences corrupt morals that came to him on the way to Vincennes in 1749 while he was on the way to visit jailed Diderot – since that resulted in 1751 treatise on arts and sciences, Rousseau’s first work, in a sense, Rousseau’s philosophical life begins at that conversion. Any examples for a future anthology?

“I Must Break You” (Updated)


[I promise, this is the last one on the matter, but I can’t resist, simply can’t – sorry it’s a bit long, but not as long as the original exchange.]

There’s rarely so much obvious hesistation followed by a resolution as in Alexei’s “What the hell, I’ll add my two cents here too” – but who am I to talk here? I would have probably done the same thing in view of so many “uncharitable” readings of Kant, hold on to this word, we’ll see it in a second. Since we know already why Levi hates Kant so much – I think his initial hesitation in that post was justified, it’s honest to admit it, but still unwise vis-a-vis an ongoing debate – it’s easier to process the following exchange. Before we dive into it, I’d like to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading it, even though in most cases siding with Alexei, I did agree with Levi on some points, even if he was coming very close to a really serious critique of Kant’s argument and never really quite got there.

So after an ininital back and forth following the fateful “What the hell” we get this affected remark from Levi: Continue reading