Posts

Parables of Global Talent

Watch this: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thxSlKVz3fo&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1] I found this video at Presentation Zen. It’s one of the 34,000 60-second video applications that people all over the world submitted to the Queensland Tourism Board for the “best job in the world”, working as an island caretaker on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Here’s another video, one of 50 that has been put on the short list: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vafzo53E6vg&rel=0&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1] After watching these videos I realized something about the paradox of talent in the contemporary world.

Professionalizing Academia and Breaking Bad

Marc Bousquet rants eloquently about the crisis of the humanities and the academy.  What I really like in this recent post, When “Bad” is Right, is the righteous indignation he builds up about professionalism and the generally absurd connection management literature has implanted in our heads between profession and success. In this vein, “professionalism” is today more of an ideology than a lifeway. As an ideology useful to one’s employers, for instance, professionalism as devotion to one’s clients, the public good, and the culture of one’s field is clearly a vector for the super-exploitation of all kinds of other workers, from retail sales to schoolteachers.

Wittgenstein and the Lying Dog

In Philosophical Investigations by Wittgenstein: (281.) …It comes to this: only of a living human being and what resembles (behaves like) a living human being can one say: it has sensations; it sees; is blind; hears; is deaf; is conscious or unconscious. Where do we draw the lines between human and the rest of the world? Humans have a set of behaviors and a language that seems to differentiate them from the animal world.

Hello Fiver!

On my deck this morning.

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Bailout?

According to the OED the word bailout was first used in 1930 to describe the actions of pilot jumping out of an airplane. to bale out. [Usually so spelt, as if the action were that of letting a bundle through a trapdoor; but also (esp. U.S.) as bail, as if a use of BAIL v.4, to lade out.] intr. (Of an airman) to make an emergency descent by parachute from his machine.

The Decade that Sucked

It’s 2009 and I’m ready to declare the 2000s as a decade that sucked. It started with the 2000 election fiasco. Then 9-11, the rush to war in Iraq, the Enron scandal, the Dean scream, and now the economic crisis. The U.S. income distribution grew increasingly unfair throughout the decade. The real estate bubble grew to such extreme levels that it brought down the entire world economy. What really annoys me is that it all was so obvious.

Art, Harm, and Interpretation

A long and interesting discussion about art and interpretation at last nights Understanding Philosophy Meetup. We started with Susan Sontag’s essay “Against Interpretation” and went from there. One of the issues that came up was the potential for harm caused by art or interpretation. Since Plato philosophers and critics have acknowledged that art can be dangerous. For Plato this was a major reason to banish poets from the republic; art could only distract us from real world of truth and forms.

Private Experience and Intoxication

I’ve been reading Philosophical Investigations by Wittgenstein with some fellow philosophers over the last few weeks. We’ve reached the point where Wittgenstein argues against private languages and qualia, like pain. Wittgenstein argues against private descriptions or recognitions of these experiences, according to him we learn how to use the word “pain” in a certain context, together with certain expressions and feelings. We may act as though we have indicated some internal sensation to ourselves when we use a word like “pain” but there is no way to verify the identity of this word with any of our previous experiences of pain.

Two Academic Messes

If you read anything related to academic culture and universities then you are bound to encounter the complaints about the adjuntification of academic labor. More and more universities are relying on adjuncts to teach classes. Most people explain this as a need to save costs. Others may get more conspiratorial. The prevailing opinion among a lot of people seems to be that going to graduate school, especially in the humanities Ph.

Counterfactuals

Is there a difference between the following statements: If a kangaroo had no tail then it would fall over. If the gravitational constant were different then humans would not exist. If you were a woman then you would have a different philosophy. The Wednesday philosophy meetup was sparsely attended, only 4 of us, and a bit thick to get through, but still interesting. Our topic was counterfactuals. Harland proposed the topic because he wanted to find a logical response to (3), an argument that he wants to reject.