Next semester Christie (my wife) and I will be teaching at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Each of us will be teaching a course called “American Culture.” The course content is entirely up to us, and we’ve been slowly engaged in the task of putting together the material we will eventually be covering (individually, the courses aren’t team-taught, but we’ll teach the same syllabus). We really need help accumulating suggestions from people regarding what to cover, and how to cover it. Click below the fold and give us a hand! All suggestions welcome — especially from students!
Archive for September, 2008
This study apparently shows that Facebook profiles can reveal narcissism. Really? Narcissism? On Facebook? Hard to believe, isn’t it? Sometimes when I see this kind of study I think that there should be a journal for these things, something like JPHO, or “Journal for the Proof of the Hopelessly Obvious” or something like that. It amazes me the money people get to run certain studies (This just in! Stop the Presses! Studies prove that breathing extends life!).
Yglesias and Wieseltier have a disagreement on how to correctly apply Kant’s understanding of the relationship between “means and ends” to the political world. It may be that Wieseltier, as he puts it, “took Kant” but after reading his account of Kant, I’m leaning towrads thinking of his undergraduate professor as a serial grade inflator. Or maybe he studied Kant at the University of Phoenix?
Folks who have read this blog for a long while can probably attest to one thing — I don’t usually get political here at A Ku Indeed. Most of my posts are about ethics, Chinese philosophy, life, and about issues regarding teaching in the classroom. A few weeks ago I did let some political posts roll out (on Palin), but this is typically uncharacteristic of this blog. After I made those Palin posts, I was forced to think and reflect a bit about the role of using a blog, as I do, as a nexus for my students’ needs (all my course material is here), for talking about my research (Chinese Philosophy) and for serving as an arena for me to express my views on other things as they come up. My question is: How should they work together? Are there restrictions on what I should post about?
For the past few days the wife and the two kids have been out of town (down to Arkansas for the birthday of her mom). You know what that means…craziness. Yeah, I got totally nuts. Threw all caution to the wind. Pushed the envelope. You know what that means…I crawled into my man cave and watched two zombie movies from Netflix that my wife would never watch with me.
I am a zombie movie addict. I have been for over 20 years. It all started with two movies — Night of the Living Dead (the 1968 original Romero) and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972). Both of these movies freaked me out when I saw them at around 7 years old on late night television. Particularly Children — man that movie scared me silly. Who knew that it would lead to a fascination with zombie movies ever since. I’ve seen them all, and I’m a serious critic of bad ones. And no, they aren’t all bad. Though many are.
I was reading a column in the Atlantic (no, not Sullivan) a bit ago and a question arose in it that made me think about something I’d never considered regarding racism. Specifically, whereas I had always associated racism (roughly) as having the kinds of attitude that seeks to block upward advancement for minorities (or explain away apparent counterexamples by upwardly mobile individuals as instances of affirmative action or something similar), another way to see racism would be to see it as the refusal to allow minority individuals to be completely mediocre, or to be screw-ups. Much as I’ve seen a lot of racism in my life, this wasn’t something I’d considered explicitly.
No matter what your side in the political debate, it’s easy to see that Andrew Sullivan is really, really, really mad about this McCain/Palin stuff. He’s livid. He seems to almost constantly be putting up scathing posts analyzing McCain/Palin — I don’t know if he ever leaves his computer. I’m not even sure if he sleeps nowadays. He can’t leave the room long for food. I visualize mountains of empty Chinese food cartons, empty pizza boxes and McDonalds wrappers from various take out joints all around his desk and floor, and empty bottles of Red Bull and Jolt littered around his office. You gotta give it to him for determination — he’s a punditry machine lately.
As readers of this blog can tell, my posts come in flurries. I post a lot, and then nothing. Feast or famine. That’s how my schedule goes. I’m either insanely busy or just regular normal busy. In any event, today I was driving Parker to her daycare preschool and I had “Badge” by Cream playing on a CD. I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw Parker (she’s 3), in her car seat, with her eyes shut, moving her head from left to right with a big smile on her face, grooving along to Clapton, Bruce and Baker. Her hands were in the air swaying back and forth and her mouth was moving, seemingly singing along, though she can’t possibly know the lyrics.
I turned it up and sang along. All I could think was “that’s my girl!”
An interesting question raised by Sam Crane at Useless Tree. As they say, go read the whole thing.
One of my students in my Being and Knowledge seminar (basic Metaphysics and Epistemology course) posted a thread on the course forum (I use electronic forums for many classes to supplement in class discussion). I thought the questions he raised in the thread were valid ones, and also very typical ones that both philosophy and non-philosophy students ask frequently about our courses. Although many issues come up, the overriding question is straightforward: “what’s philosophy for, anyway?” or “when is philosophy useful?” I am reprinting the student’s post below the fold (with his permission). I’d be very interested (he would too) to hear replies from any of the students and teachers who read this blog.
I was thinking today about the difference between the Obama and McCain VP picks (well, obvious given the last few posts!). One thing that struck me was the (at least prima facie) reason for the choices. Biden was chosen because he speaks to what is perceived as a flaw in Obama — a lack of experience. Palin was chosen because she speaks to what is perceived as a flaw in McCain — a lack of conservative values (partly, I think her being a woman plays a big role too, obviously).
If this is true, however, the logic of the choices seems strange to me, as I’ll explain below.