Richard Taylor, Zing!

I was re-reading an excerpt from Richard Taylor’s Metaphysics for class this afternoon and laughed out loud when I came across this passage, I had completely forgotten about it:

The theory of soft determinism looks good at first–so good that it has for generations been solemnly taught from numberless philosophical chairs and implanted in the minds of students as sound philosophy–but no great acumen is needed to discover that far from solving any problem, it only camouflages it (43).

Zing!   On a serious note, I do kind of worry about the various forms of liberatarianism/theories of agency, however appealing,  they often strike me as a bit er..anti-science. There is the issue of quantum physics, I suppose (if it’s an issue at all).

Via McSweeney’s: “dream jobs that you’re glad you didn’t pursue”

From McSweeney’s, this a column about “dream jobs you’re glad you didn’t pursue.” This week’s column is “So You Wanted to Be a Marine Biologist”:

Many people went through the marine biology phase. Most of them moved on. Not you though. You saw your dreams through to the bitter end. You started college and attacked your undergraduate degree in biology with fervor. Probably about the time you got to Organic Chemistry you started questioning your choices, but you powered through with more than a little help from that homely chemistry major you suddenly took an interest in and then let down not so gently when the semester was over. Now you were four years in and committed to the graduate school path, because you knew that without a doctoral degree your career in marine biology would end at one or more of the following (in relatively descending order of acceptability):

Continue reading

An Advice Post

I think that it’s high time we here at Perverse Egalitarianism offer our own advice for graduate students.  To that end, I’m posting last week’s New Yorker cover as a sort of carrot on the one hand, and as a little dose of “the Real” (I capitalized it so everyone can know that I’ve opened a book by either Zizek or Lacan!) on the other.  Keep on. Keep on.  (I do fear that this image is disturbingly true, however.)

Delightful Excuses…

A student email (I left the horrific composition in tact):

Dear Prof Shahar:

I am so sorry to tell you that I am taking off today. This morning, when I was about to go to school, i got diarrhea. It took me about an hour. So I couldn’t go to school on time. I ‘ll ask my friend about homework. And if we have a test today, could you please allow me to take it another time? Therefore, can you tell me when can I see you and do it?
Thank you so much.

File under: Too much information.  Funny, yet disturbingly inappropriate, but funny…

Inexplicable Graffiti


I stuck around to do some work in my office this afternoon. Since it’s a nice day I walked to another building to use the bathroom and was faced with this virtually inexplicable doctored sign hanging over the toilet. For some reason, this made me chuckle. I don’t know why. It’s not clever, nor is it even funny, in fact, it probably doesn’t even make any sense. I must be tired. Still it’s better than the “Mikhail was here,” and “Mikhail is an asshole,” graffiti in my bathroom at home. Sorry Mikhail, I just painted over it.

Is there a word for people who like to fuck toilets, I wonder?

Hitchens Annoys the SSNP (That makes two of us)

But I don’t want to smack him around.  At least I don’t think so.  Really.  Regardless, this is an interesting story, perhaps as a lesson on how not to pick a fight, but it raises some interesting questions. So, while shopping for shoes on Hamra Street in Beirut (Hamra is a rather cosmopolitan district in Beirut), Christopher Hitchens managed to get his ass kicked by members of the Syrian Socialist National Party last month.   Why?  For defacing a SSNP sign.  The logo of the SSNP looks eerily like a swastika.  Michael Totten (who was with Hitchens) describes it:

The Syrian Social Nationalist Party flags had been taken down, but a commemorative marker was still there. It was made of metal and plastic and had the semi-permanence of an official “No Parking” sign. SSNP member Khaled Alwan shot two Israeli soldiers with a pistol in 1982 after they settled their bill at the now-defunct Wimpy café on that corner, and the sign marked the spot…Christopher wanted to pull down their marker, but couldn’t. He stuck to his principles, though, and before I could stop him he scribbled “No, no, F*** the SSNP” in the bottom-right corner with a black felt-tipped pen. I blinked several times. Was he really insulting the Syrian Social Nationalist Party while they might be watching? Neither Christopher nor Jonathan seemed to sense what was coming, but my own danger signals went haywire.

An angry young man shot across Hamra Street as though he’d been fired out of a cannon. “Hey!” he yelled as he pointed with one hand and speed-dialed for backup on his phone with the other. Continue reading

Smoke and Mirrors (and Philosophy)

Here’s a nice line from Lucretius in his De Rerum Natura:

For fools always have a greater admiration and liking for any idea that they see obscured in a mist of paradoxical language, and adopt as true what suceeds in prettily tickling their ears and is painted with a specious sound. (Book 1: 640.2-4)

The target is Heraclitus, but it made me chuckle for a few reasons. Not least in the context of “bloggery.” Or in the context of Mikhail’s recent post about philosophy as a written or oral medium. In the comments to that post, I think there was talk to the effect that if Derrida didn’t feel the need to publish everything he wrote, we’d be better off.

Anyway, the passage made me chuckle (out loud no less) this morning.  That’s good.

Oh, yes.  And there is the bit in which Lucretius refers to Heraclitus’ “unitarianism” as nothing less than “harebrained lunacy.”  We’re far too thin-skinned to talk like this today, I would imagine.  Though I do seem to remember someone telling me that Catherine Pickstock once referred to theology in America as a “vast wasteland.”  Not that such things really concern me, but nice, indeed.