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March 2009 Recap

March 2009 blogging themes. Money, wealth, morality. Borrow and Leverage, different languages of debt among the rich, the government and individuals; Poverty is Good for You, conservative scolds telling people that struggles, including poverty or a recession, are really good for you; Parables of Global Talent, a reaction to the entries for the “best job in the world” on an Australian barrier reef. Education. Profesionalizing Academia and Breaking Bad, a television series and the revolt of the managerial class; Saving Education - the Bill Gates Way, Bill Gates is interested in education but he’s just another person essentializing talent over social structure.

Borrow and Leverage - The Language of Money

Listen to the way rich people and poor people describe the same thing and you will start to understand some of the divides in this country. The financial apocalypse has brought different ways of speaking to the forefront of our media and our attention. There are many examples of linguistic difference between rich and poor. For example consider the way we use the words “leverage” and “borrow.” Let’s go the dictionary first to read the definitions.

Clearing Out the Drafts: Miscellanea

A podcast episode of Sound Opinions asked “What great bands had only one sound that they used again and again to good effect?“ Examples from the show: AC/DC Motorhead Ramones Stereolab Rage Against the Machine Cocteau Twins Smiths Creedence Clearwater Revival Strokes Run-DMC Jesus and Mary Chain Beirut Galaxie 500 Jesus Lizard Reminds me of an old question about the difference between creativity and originality. Is it possible to be creative without being original?

March 2009 Reading List

Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Rereading after seeing previews for the upcoming movie. Movie looks good. Book is still pretty good as well. Choices, by Michael D. Resnik Primer on decision theory, probability, and game theory from a philosopher’s point of view. Good stuff as a reference. 3. Fashionable Nonsense, Bruce Wilshire Rutger’s philosopher attacks ‘analytic philosophy’ and over-professionalization of philosophy. Not quite clear on what his alternative program would be but he does give some good props to the American pragmatists and hints at a more phenomenological point of view.

Glenda Eoyang at Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum

Glenda Eoyang from the Human Systems Dynamics Institute presented at the Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum yesterday. She gave a polished presentation on complexity and human systems. She started by distinguishing two perceptions of time: linear and pragmatic. Linear time is what we usually envision time to be - a straight line from the past into the future. There are a lot of problems with this view and we spent some time talking about them as a group.

Some Philosophical Methods

A limited outline of philosophical methods and history. Being a partial summary from Philosophy’s Second Revolution by D.S. Clarke Clarke divides philosophy into three eras. Classical, Cartesian, and Linguistic. The classical Greek philosophy used rational intuition, “a direct apprehension of the basic structure of things,” to understand the world and do philosophy. Rational thought was a direct source of evidence for physics, metaphysics, ethics, etc. The goal was a rational cosmology that explained the world and everything in it.

Poverty is Good For You

I’m struggling to understand and explain a spectrum of opinions about the recession that I see exhibited by conservatives. I have three examples that seem to form a gradient around the idea of self-reliance and group action. At the extreme is Charles Murray who recently delivered a lecture at the American Enterprise Institute entitled The Europe Syndrome and the Challenge to American Exceptionalism. I found the lecture via a link at Matthew Yglesias weblog.

Saving Education, the Bill Gates Way

Bill Gates clearly has a bee in his bonnet about education. A few weeks ago he was at the TED conference to give a speech on two topics: preventing malaria and reforming education in America. About malaria I have no comment, except to praise it for inspiring such luminous headlines as Rocket Scientists Shoot Down Mosquitoes With Lasers. Last weekend he was on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS program to talk about education again.

Bias and Naive Philosophy of Mathematics

Based on another long discussion about rationality and the goals of philosophy. Claim: Everyone is biased therefore a philosophical program to achieve agreement is nonsensical because the biases will never be overcome on philosophical questions. Mathematics has achieved greater agreement than philosophy because it has answered basic questions, such as 2+2=4, while philosophy has failed to answer basic questions of any kind - witness the continued argument about philosophical questions.

Creative Fears by Twyla Tharp

People will laugh at me? Not the people I respect; they haven’t yet and they’re not going to start now. Someone has done it before? Honey, it’s all been done before. Nothing’s really original. Not Homer or Shakespeare and certainly not you. Get over yourself. I have nothing to say? An irrelevant fear. We all have something to say. Plus, you’re panicking too soon. If the dancers don’t walk out on you, chances are the audience won’t either.