Oct 11

iPod joy

Kat’s boss gave all senior staff new iPods as a gift for the Taken Emmy. This means that Kat gets a shiny new iPod, and I get her old 10 Gig iPod. (And my 5 Gig iPod goes to Mom…)

This means that I don’t have to decide what my favorite three or four songs on every CD I own are anymore. I just dumped 1800 songs from my iTunes song library onto the iPod and I’ve still got a gig and a half left on the iPod.

Yes, I’m a geek. But yes, this makes me so damned happy.

Joy. Rapture.

Oct 11

Paul Krugman on Civility in Politics

Once more with feeling… I love Paul Krugman.

This article is the latest salvo in a tiff between David Brooks and Krugman on the NY Times editorial page. (And thanks to Cal Pundit for pointing out the context of the editorial.)

And, as often is the case, I powerfully agree with Krugman. The right has been playing dirty politics for a long, long time. What they did under Clinton was offensive at best. (And I still think at times it was illegal at worst.) And now we have a President who plays by the same smear-tactic rules as his media allies. And now people like David Brooks and even Rush Limbaugh have the audacity to suggest that the left needs to just calm down and return to a more civil discourse.

Well, for my money, the left is still reporting while the right smears… only Bush’s policies and politics don’t stand up to the bright light of reporting and analysis. They are bad for this country, and saying so may be uncivil, but as Krugman says, that doesn’t make it any less true.

Oct 09

Arnold Kling Bugs the Hell Out of Me

According to the NY Times, cities have varied wildly in the way they have complied with NCLB. In New York, the directive from the Department of Ed (and the mayor to which that body now reports) has been to obey the law to the fullest degree, schools be damned. Combined with a huge freshman class city-wide and the ever-present budget cuts, and this was a September to remember for many schools. Now, it looks like we have to prepare for a new round of transfers, and the question is — why?

If other cities, such as Chicago, are not in full compliance… if it appears that even the Secretary of Education is hedging his bets because he knows this bill is becoming political suicide… then why is New York City still lining up with policies in full support?

Even the Times can’t avoid connecting these political dots: Republican mayor… GOP convention in 2004… full compliance with bad law.

Not exactly shocking, but still really quite sad.

Oct 09

On Ethics, Belief, Empiricism and Grad School

[So this started an email to Jessie, but it quickly grew past that into a larger piece of writing... so I thought I'd post it here, too.]

hey Jessie…

You would be loving my ethics class right now. We’re having a talk about where you fall on sort of a 2×2 grid of ethics. We’re using Edmund O. Wilson (who is someone who you would, I think, really dislike, but he’s a fascinating read nonetheless) And we’ve set up a structural diagram that looks like this:

Religious Believers Secularists
Transcendentalism

(The idea that there are

truths independent of

human experience — Justice,

Equality, etc…)

A

B

Empiricism

(The idea that all ethics

are derived from human

experience OR genetics,

but not from something

external.)

C

D

Oct 09

Bizarre Even for Philly

So, as a Philadelphian originally, I am used to strange politics. This is the city that votes for dead people, elects felons, bombs whole city blocks and generally makes local politics into a full-contact sport. But I must admit that even I was taken aback when I saw that The FBI had bugged the Mayor’s Office.

Looks like there is going to be a whole lot of explaining on the part of the FBI. Street isn’t the most popular mayor Philly has ever had, and the race for reelection is going to be tight. If it turns out that this bugging is linked to anything untoward on either side, life could get interesting.

Only in Philadelphia…

Oct 07

Cool Way of Looking at the Self.

Found this story on www.deliciousdemon.com. Given much of what has been going on in the world around us these days, it seemed particularly powerful to me tonight, and I thought I’d share. I don’t know if it is apocryphal or not, but it’s a cool idea either way.

An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life.

He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me… it is a terrible fight
and it is between two wolves.

One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance,
self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority,
and ego.

The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility,
kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion,
and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather,
"Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied… "The one you feed."

Strikes me that this could go hand in hand with one of the most powerful ideas I’ve read about creation of self: Think about the person you most would like to be and then act as if you are that person. That is the first step in becoming that person. 

Oct 05

I hope Rush tuned in.

This article doesn’t do justice to the opening 15 minutes of ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown today. First, it was clear that Chris Berman was unbelievably uncomfortable talking about this. Second, Tom Jackson was angry.

Very, very angry.

The ESPN.com article gives a short piece of what Jackson said, but even that doesn’t begin to summarize what came across:

"Rush Limbaugh is known for the divisive nature of his rhetoric," Jackson said. "He creates controversy, and what he said Sunday is the same type of thing that he said on radio for years."

What was missing from that quote was Jackson’s comment that no one on that set invited Limbaugh or wanted Limbaugh on the show. Moreover, he commented that Limbaugh broke a promise by bringing politics onto the show.

I’m hoping that Rush was watching, because, honestly, he seems to have gotten a lot of pleasure out of being buddies with the ESPN studio crew. (And who wouldn’t?) And it was clear that what he had done was hurtful to these people, and that these people did not and do not consider him to be a friend. If this episode has caused personal hurt to Limbaugh, perhaps that’s good. There are times that I think these right-wing commentators manage to keep themselves immune from the pain their words cause. Perhaps this event will make Rush think twice. Even better, perhaps it will make folks at places like ESPN think twice about bringing in someone whose sole job is to stir up trouble, regardless of the pain they cause.

Update: For those folks who have a Windows machine, you can download their "Motion 2.0" plug-in and watch the video from the show on ESPN.com.

Oct 04

So Incredibly Important…

… that every now and then, I steal a day that has almost nothing to do with school. Today, I slept late, ran some errands, watched the Yankees game, finished up the blog piece on McNabb and Limbaugh, spent time with Kat, chatted with Jessie and now Kat and I are off to see Lost in Translation and then visit our friends Joann and Rob.

The knapsack stayed closed all day.

It’ll be open all day tomorrow and Monday, but since this is a three day weekend, I could fully enjoy one whole day without school work.

Rapture.

Oct 03

On Race, Sports, Rush and Ralph Wiley

It’s a shock to no one that I love sports. I also love to look at questions of sports in the context of the larger world. To that end, Ralph Wiley of ESPN.com is one of the most interesting, provocative sportswriters around, and while I don’t always agree with him, I find that his points are always well-made, always thoughtful and often force me to confront my own assumptions.

So I looked forward to reading his take on the Limbaugh-McNabb dust-up. I wasn’t disappointed. Wiley’s take on the events was insightful, controversial and tied it into the larger context that Limbaugh operates in.