Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bad haiku of the night

internet teaching . . .
manifold system problems
cause unhappiness

I don't like that = you are discriminating against me

Now the LSE is acting just as cluelessly as the UCL. Do either of these student unions have any idea what actual discrimination looks like? The UCL apparently even believes that posting a cartoon of Muhammad with a pint automatically qualifies as racist. Sure: what other motivation could an atheist group have for promoting a critique of a religion, or defending the freedom to make such critiques, other than racism? Does the UCL have any clue how much it trivializes actual racism with this move?

Here's Jesus and Mo's own take:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quotes of the day

From Thomas Frank's Pity the Billionaire (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2012):
One reason the bogeyman of the Invasive Regulator can still mobilize the troops, I think, is that small businesses actually experience the regulatory presence, such as it is, far more acutely than do their big-business colleagues. When we talk about the age of deregulation or the era of "neoliberalism," we are referring to the gradual rollback of certain banking rules, the rise of a certain school of economic thought, and the privatizing of certain government functions. These are important developments in the grand, historical sense, but to a struggling small-business owner they might seem completely irrelevant. It's hard to convince a man sweating over a fifty-page income-tax return that the state has gone away or that markets are now in charge. (p. 101)
Small business is the face of the Right today because its pugnacious, anti-big-business message catches the bitter national mood; what the Right actually does is deliver the same favors to the same people as always.

Which is to say that behind the mask stands the hated megacorporation itself, making all its usual demands for lower taxes, sedated regulators, and free-trade deals with countries where labor unions are unknown. (p. 107) 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Huntsman will drop out of the Presidential race

Jon Huntsman, the one Republican candidate who respects science across the board and appears not to be a pandering, demagogic hypocrite, is dropping out of the Presidential race. That's a real shame. Even more of  a shame is the fact that he seems to have dropped out because he used up all of his money on NH. I realize there is scarcely any point to my saying this—everyone claims to agree, but no one lets it dictate how they vote—but a candidate's financial resources should have nothing to do with his or her ability to make a strong bid for office.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wonderful life

No, not the Stephen Jay Gould book, though that's cool, too. 

I'm working on more content for my Applied Ethics courses at Arizona State University, but had to take a quick break to express how excited I am. The first substantive unit of my ASU classes starts tomorrow, I also begin my second quarter as a student at Portland State tomorrow (with the first class at 8:15 in the morning, which means I will get to see a lot of Portland fog!), and then my Introduction to Philosophy courses at Scottsdale Community College launch on Saturday. Such tremendous fun! 

It's too bad the rest of the world is such an abyss of despair.

Incidentally, here's some amateur video I shot of Portland State yesterday, so you get to share in my joy and pride in my little campus:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Remember the lives you can save

Hume's Ghost reminds us that if we haven't yet taken the Life You Can Save pledge, the start of a new year is a good time to do so. I make my own contributions at tax time: in the meantime, I am using Charity Navigator and GiveWell to do my research. Please don't give blindly—food is critical, but only as a stop-gap and crisis-response measure. Long term reduction of suffering also requires medicine, development, education, security, and family planning: a good mixture may do more good over the long run than exclusive focus on emergency relief.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012

I would like to wish a most excellent new year to the motley band of ne'er-do-wells that for some strange reason still follows this blog. Here's hoping that each of you will find effective shelter from the imminent Mayan Apocalypse.