Archive for January, 2008

Huckabee on the Flag

Saturday, January 19th, 2008


flag.gifI thought that for sure this issue had died in American politics. Clearly, the reports of its demise were exaggerated. Yeah, it’s the “flag” issue. Not the “burning the flag” issue, the confederate flag issue. As has been reported in the news, (here, as well as criticism from the left here, and from the right here), Huckabee came out and asserted that he felt there was nothing wrong with flying the Confederate flag in front of government buildings, or displaying them inside such buildings, and so on. In taking this stand, he ‘called out’ the other Republican candidates to make a stand of their own. One so far, McCain, has come out against the displaying the flag. What should we make of all of this?

(more…)

A Little Too Much Borrowing Going On

Saturday, January 19th, 2008


Austin Ramzy from Time is discussing an interesting intellectual property theft case here, where an American business claimed that a Hunan-based buisness stole their product, identity, the whole shebang. The case made me think of SPR Coffee, which is a coffee franchise based in Beijing. (more…)

Cracking the Code: Student Recommendation Letters

Friday, January 18th, 2008


I’ve been filling out student recommendations for graduate school lately. Nowadays, most of the recommendations are online (thankfully), so it’s pretty easy to do. One thing stuck out at me, however. When you get to the part at the end where it asks you just how much you really are recommending this person, it asks you to check off the appropriate box to signal your intention. I noticed that two online recommendations had the following boxes:

(more…)

Is Our Children Learning?

Thursday, January 17th, 2008


readdum.jpgOver at In Socrates Wake there’s a discussion going on about ways to get students to actually read the material that is assigned in a course. If any students are out there reading (heh…) — yeah, we know that many of you never read. In fact, some studies have shown that students (on the whole) tend to read about 20% of what is required in a course. Obviously this is pretty horrendous as a description of the “state of affairs” that goes for education today. But…I’m not writing this post to complain about it, but rather to inquire about it. Namely — why is it that students don’t read and what can be done about it?

(more…)

So How Exactly is the PRC Confucian, Again?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008


It’s hard to believe, when you read stories like this, that the Hu Jintao-led government in the PRC can, with a straight face, consider itself “Confucian.” How exactly can this show of mob-oriented murder be considered in any way an expression of benevolence? Firstly, it hardly seems Confucian for a government to dump trash in front of the homes of the less fortunate. In what way does this express shu or the rule of reciprocity? Since when do Confucians in high positions of power take advantage of that power to mistreat those beneath them?

(more…)

Space, the Final Frontier

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008


Is space in us, or are we in space? A weird question, for sure.

Let me see if I can make sense of it. It’s pretty easy for us to think of ourselves as in space. When you look around your room, you see iPod there, chair here, two feet from the iPod. And you think of yourself as a certain distance away from both of them, so that one can turn up as closer than the other. You can think of this kind of space as “Newtonian” — it’s an “objective” kind of space (for want of a better term), as it turns up in scientific theories and explanations, and so on. But is that it? Is Newtonian space the only kind of space that we experience?

(more…)

Raising Children, the Confucian Way

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008


139356235_3c72702fcd.jpgI was recently interviewed by a Beijing-based paper, China Daily, about the subject of early (0 – 2) child rearing in a Confucian context. It’s a pretty interesting question. Although Western and Confucian ideals about childhood are similar in some ways (strong family bonds are created and nourished), the Confucian goes much further with this and might, in fact, look in disbelief and practices that we have in the West (practices that might seem very innocuous to us). One comes to mind quickly: the fact that many Americans are eager to have a baby sleep in a crib as soon as possible.

(more…)

What Was Britney Thinking?

Monday, January 14th, 2008


top1235.jpgKierkegaard (19th century Danish philosopher) wrote a great criticism of what he called “the present age” — in it, he essentially argued that it had no passion, that the people living in it were existing like zombies. His specific criticism is complicated, but the basic nuts and bolts of it are easy to state. He thought that our age (we are the present age) was too detached from life. We like, he said, to be spectators in life instead of participators. We like to dabble in meaningless topics that have little to do with our lives, and that we generally seek out anything that allows us to participate anonymously in conversations dominated by “them” (the crowd, the public).

(more…)

Primaries: What If I Don’t Want Clams?

Sunday, January 13th, 2008


From Dave Barry’s column in the Miami Herald:

The Iowa/New Hampshire system is insane. It’s like a 50-table restaurant with a big, varied menu, except that only two tables are allowed to order. If these two tables order clams, for example, or Michael Dukakis, that’s what gets served to all the other tables.

I have to agree. Why is it so important what two states think? The primary system has always made me shake my head, because it really is a great (and depressing) example of the kind of bandwagon politics so rampant in this country.

(more…)

Hillary Clinton: The Naughty Desirer

Saturday, January 12th, 2008


Kevin Drum at the Atlantic Monthly has a post up discussing Meghan Daum’s article in the LA Times regarding public perception problems that Hillary Clinton may have and which may be working decidedly against her. Daum has a point, I think. She suggests that:

(more…)

To Attend or Not To Attend, That is the Question

Saturday, January 12th, 2008


(cross posted at Socrates’ Wake)

We’re inching closer and closer to the start of the new semester. That means that it’s time to crank out those syllabi again. One question that I struggle with every time I put together a syllabus is: should attendance be required? Obviously, there are different ways to deal with this.

(more…)

Lynching Tiger: The Ethics of Racism

Friday, January 11th, 2008


You’ve got to admit, Kelly Tilghman’s comment about how the young golfers, in order to move up in the world of the sport, should take Tiger Woods into a back alley and “lynch him” was monumentally stupid. At times like this it really makes you think — although people can always “slip up” and say something they really didn’t intend on saying, in such highly charged contexts such as race you would think that people would be extra careful to think before they speak. Especially before using “lynching” in the context of talking about a black person.

(more…)

Alleviating Job Misery

Thursday, January 10th, 2008


I noticed today on Yahoo! that there was a short piece on coping with having a miserable job. Of course, it contains the standard stuff in response. But what people really need to do is be proactive. Don’t pursue a career in an area that is meaningless to you. Too many people run into fields because that’s what “one does” or that’s what “people with sense do.” Maybe, but they’re also the ones who wind up reading how to be less miserable on Yahoo!.

(more…)