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

(The idea that there are

truths independent of

human experience — Justice,

Equality, etc…)




(The idea that all ethics

are derived from human

experience OR genetics,

but not from something




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.


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.

Oct 02

The Plume Affair

Brad Delong has a fantastic break-down of the Valerie Plume scandal and why it’s a big deal.

For me, the entire deal shows that the Bush White House is willing to say, do or use anything for political gain or to punish those they don’t like. I’m hoping that, finally, they have done something that so breaks the code of conduct that Americans begin to scrutinze Bush’s actions, not the flowery words he uses.

Oct 01

Tech Learning Conference

[To quote Paul Simon, "I should be in bed, but a voice in my head says, ‘aw what the hell…’"]

Spent today at the TechForum, sponsored by Technology & Learning magazine. I saw several of the old Alternative Schools group, which is always fun, although it was sad to think of what we all had built there and what has been torn down, but more importantly, it’s always interesting for me to go to these events to see what’s new and what’s interesting… and, to be honest, to get a sense of where Beacon is in the grand scheme of things.

Oct 01

Good Karma and Geek Sports

Here’s the article I wrote for the front of the Beacon web site on this weekend’s tourrney.

But on a more personal level, I love this squad. This is the third and fourth year with so many of these boys, and they work so hard. Today was the type of games that last year we lost. We had to come back again and again, and the kids just kept battling. For me, perhaps the classic moment of the tourney came when Gonzo chased down a floating huck twenty yards and got a block on the player who was just waiting for it to come down. Or maybe it was the Iggy to Joe or Iggy to Trigger long flicks down the line… or maybe it was the "AP Study Skills" call and perfect throw… or maybe it was Ricky’s block on game point… or Pablo just stepping up all day long… or Stephen running the wrong way and still catching the game winner… or Little Nick taking all his energy and just playing beautiful Ultimate… or Arthur laying out or out-sprinting player in the second half of the finals… or Ashley just screaming her lungs out all day long… or Adam just playing the best Ultimate I’ve ever seen him play…

I love coaching. And I love this team.