Rally To End All Rallies


Although I’m not much for rallies and crowds, this one was enormous and really inspirational (if I can get serious for a moment or two). It’s now replaying on C-SPAN, but I can attest that the crowds were gigantic and very polite (click to enlarge):

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Thoughts For the Thoughtless: Sarah Palin Edition.


Awesome review of Sarah Palin’s “book”:

Now we are faced with the daunting task of wrapping our minds around the Palin memoir Going Rogue, appearing atop a bestseller list near you. Millions of copies will be sold of a book written by someone who can’t write, intended for an audience that doesn’t read, about the thoughts of a person who doesn’t think. God is dead.

I’m A Lover of Books


How dumb does this woman think we are? No “lover of books” would ever go on TV and try to prove to everyone that they are indeed lovers of books. Although it is a cool expression, I’m a lover of books myself:

During her interview with Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Palin explained her infamous gaffe from the 2008 campaign, when Katie Couric asked what newspapers and magazines she reads, and Palin responded that she reads “all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.” And Palin said that she was annoyed at someone asking about what people in Alaska read.

“Now obviously, you’ve read books and magazines,” said Winfrey. “Why didn’t you just name some books or magazines?”

“Well, and obviously I have of course all my life read. I’m a lover of books and magazines and newspapers,” said Palin. “By the time she asked me that question, even though it was kind of early on in the interview, I was already so annoyed, and it was very unprofessional of me to wear that annoyance on my sleeve.”

Also I would like to know how to wear my annoyance on my sleeve, I think it would really suit me.

On Expertise: Interview with Harry Collins


Current discussions – where are they? – of Palin’s inexperience and lack of knowledge of foreign policy and general national politics could be enlightened by a general question of expertise – do we require our politicians to experts or we vote simply for those we think are “like us”? While entrusting most of our daily tasks to experts – car mechanics, dentists, bus drivers, electricians, policemen, etc etc – we seems to be pretty happy, or at the very least willing to give the task of running a huge economy like US to relative amateurs without any executive experience, or so we are told:

In Rethinking Expertise (University of Chicago Press, 2007), Cardiff University sociologists Harry Collins and Robert Evans consider these questions and offer a framework for exploring their import in science and in society. “Only this way,” they write, “can the social sciences and philosophy contribute something positive to the resolution of the dilemmas that face us here and now.”

American Scientist Online managing editor Greg Ross interviewed Collins by e-mail in March 2008.

[From the interview]:

If political decisions can’t be informed by careful science, does this spell trouble for democracy as the world grows more complex?

I do not think that there has to be any trouble for democracy, but we live in dangerous times. The argument goes back at least as far as Plato’s suggestion that the Republic should be controlled by “philosopher-kings.” We now know that cannot work—experts are too fallible, and too much power corrupts. In the last resort, all decisions have to be made through the machinery of democratic politics if we want to preserve a society like ours.

Charisma, Obama and Weber: A Discussion


Two things.  Here’s an interesting conversation between Paul Price and Craig Calhoun over at Societas:

In another conversation with Paul Price, Craig Calhoun continues his analysis of supposedly irrational factors at play in electoral politics. This time they focus on charisma: to what extent is Barack Obama’s unique mix of political passion and a cool demeanor the source of his political appeal? Referring to Max Weber’s model of charismatic leadership, Calhoun notes that Obama has the gift of making us see him as someone who stands outside the traditional structures of government-and therefore someone who can help Americans break the “iron cage” of bureaucracy, politics-as-usual and dominant social roles.

Click here to listen to the discussion.  Also, here’s a CFP for the Lighthearted Philosophers Society. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton’s Inner Tracy Flick


This is a funny video via Slate. The premise: “Don’t you just hate when some upstart comes along and threatens your best-laid plans? We were struck by how well one of Reese Witherspoon’s monologues from the film Election fits the narrative of Campaign 2008.” If you liked the movie Election, this won’t disappoint.