Via The Virtua Stoa, I discover this rather charming website in which Biblical stories are illustrated with lego figures and scenes. Having been with the kids to Legoland in California last summer, I knew there was a lot you could do with legos, but this is a new one!
Although I'm sure this was not the intention of the site's creators, I am brought in mind of some passages from Nietzsche's The Antichrist. From sec. 39:
The very word "Christianity" is a misunderstanding: in truth there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross....It is false to the point of nonsense to find the mark of the Christian in "faith," for instance in faith in redemption through Christ: only Christian practice, a life such as he lived who died on the cross, is Christian.
And, relatedly, from sec. 38:
Where has the last feeling of decency and self-respect gone when even our statesmen, an otherwise quite unembarrassed type of man, anti-Christians through and through in their deeds, still call themselves Christians today and attend communion?
This is an interesting and what seems to me appropriately critical assessment of Hannah Arendt and the currently booming academic Arendt industry by political theorist Corey Robin from Brooklyn College and the City University of New York; an excerpt:
Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that the
centenary of Arendt’s birth should have devolved into a recitation of
the familiar. Once a week, it seems, some pundit will trot out her
theory of totalitarianism, dutifully extending it, as her followers did
during the Cold War, to America’s enemies: al-Qaida, Saddam, Iran.
Arendt’s academic chorus continues to swell, sounding the most elusive
notes of her least political texts while ignoring her prescient remarks
about Zionism and imperialism....
The lodestone of the Arendt industry is The Origins of Totalitarianism,
published in 1951 and...[d]ivided into three parts – ‘Anti-Semitism’,
‘Imperialism’ and ‘Totalitarianism’....
This last section is the least representative – and,
as historians of Nazism and Stalinism have pointed out, least
instructive – part of the book. But it has always attracted the most
totalitarianism as the product of mass society, which arose from the
breakdown of classes and nation-states. Neither a political grouping
nor a social stratum, the mass denoted a pathological orientation of
the self. Arendt claimed that its members had no interests, no concern
for their ‘wellbeing’ or survival, no beliefs, community or identity.
What they had was an anxiety brought on by loneliness, ‘the experience
of not belonging to the world’, and a desire to subsume themselves in
any organisation that would extinguish their ‘individual identity
permanently’. With their insistence on absolute loyalty and
unconditional obedience, totalitarian movements filled this need: they
fastened mass man with a ‘band of iron’, providing him and his fellows
with a sense of structure and belonging....
purpose of totalitarianism, in short, was not political: it did not
fulfil the requirements of rule; it served no constituency or belief;
it had no utility. Its sole function was to create a fictitious world
where anxious men could feel at home, even at the cost of their own
Arendt’s account dissolves conflicts of power, interest
and ideas in a bath of psychological analysis, allowing her readers to
evade difficult questions of politics and economics.do not exist).....We
can ignore the distribution of power: in mass society, there is only a
desert of anomie. We can disregard statements of grievance: they only
conceal a deeper vein of psychic discontent. Strangest of all, we
needn’t worry about moral responsibility: terror makes everyone – from
Hitler to the Jews, Stalin to the kulaks – an automaton, incapable of
judgment or being judged.
During the Cold War, Arendt’s text
allowed intellectuals and officials to avoid any reckoning with the
politics of Communism and its appeal. Today, it offers a similar
detour. ‘If one could pierce the cloak of mystery that shrouds
al-Qaida, Hamas or Islamic Jihad,’ Power writes in her introduction,
might well find some of the qualities Arendt associated with
totalitarian movements: ‘supreme disregard for immediate consequences
rather than ruthlessness; rootlessness and neglect of national
interests rather than nationalism; contempt for utilitarian motives
rather than unconsidered pursuit of self-interest; “idealism”, i.e.
their unwavering faith in an ideological fictitious world, rather than
lust for power’.
Power makes the occasional nod to
American policies in the Middle East and to terrorism’s local causes,
but she cannot resist the psychological thrust of Arendt’s analysis:
‘Arendt wrote of German and Soviet selfless devotion to the idealised
collective, but what greater testament to such selflessness can there
be than martyrdom of the kind that thousands of young Muslim men and
women are queuing up to undertake today?’....
[A]s virtually every
intelligence analysis has shown, Islamist radicals are driven by
hostility to the state of Israel and repressive Arab regimes, US
patronage of Israel and those regimes, and, in Europe, discrimination
against Muslims and support for US policies in the Middle East....The Islamists’ grievances
are local and specific. They are not the flotsam and jetsam of mass
society or a globalised world; they come from and return to mosques,
schools, parties and close-knit neighbourhoods. Suicide bombing is
primarily a response to foreign occupation, and terrorism is, as it
always has been, the weapon of choice for people with little power or
no mass base....
By the Cold War’s end, Arendt’s account of
totalitarianism had been so trashed by historians that Irving Howe was
forced to defend her as essentially a writer of fiction, whose gifts
for ‘metaphysical insight’ enabled her to see the truth that lay
beneath or beyond the verifiable facts. ‘To grasp the inner meaning of
totalitarianism,’ Howe wrote in 1991, ‘you must yield, yourself, a
little imaginatively.’ That fiction is again in vogue, but where once
it was passed back and forth between intellectuals and officials, today
it appeals primarily to the belligerati, who ignore the more informed
analyses of [intelligence agencies].
Arendt matters today, it is because of her writings on imperialism,
Zionism and careerism....
The rest of Professor Robin's essay discusses these contributions.
I wonder what readers better-versed with Arend't work than I think about Professor Robin's assessment?
In the last years, and in the nature of the case, we've usually been the bearers of bad news; but alongside the many problems, the world is full of cool, interesting and/or (benignly) weird stuff. Hence we invite you to occasionally visit off the record to share a bit of what we come across. Happy holidays.
Snow falling. Fallen snow.
Night windless, roadways white.
White the branches and the earth.
The special silence of a snowy night
Stopping what we ordinarily do.
We feel no need, the whiteness is enough.
Were we lonely? We are no more.
Here's a peace that's free of cloying,
This calming plainness over all.
What mystery is unfolding here?
How does the innocence of season,
Mere concurrence of the elements,
Bring hope? Because the rain has chilled?
But it also covers death, the fallen,
Guilt. Jars memory. Melts.
And it will turn to filth.
Here is winter after all, the grave
Of growing-and the poor are cold.
Still promises are stirring,
Resolution's aura swells.
While the moment's white and still,
We will survive. Though brief
The respite, whatever ails us will
Stand aside. While snowing, while quiet.
10/8-ll/24/95, 2/10-2/13/98, 12/18/06 Copyright 1995, 2006 by Maurice Leiter Posted with permission.
One issue being discussed at the philosophy job market wiki is how late in the day will schools still be scheduling interviews. (May I urge philosophers from interviewing departments to note the status of their department's interview decisions on that site as well?) It is now Friday evening, and my guess would be almost all schools have in fact contacted interviewees by now, though there may well be a handful that will try to reach candidates at the APA to schedule interviews--either because someone cancelled on them, or because they were especially tardy in making their interview decisions. My further guess is that yesterday (Thursday) or perhaps earlier today would have been the latest point at which the majority of departments would have contacted candidates. I have the anecdotal impression that the top departments some times wait the longest, but my anecdotes may be misleading on this score. (I have a dim recollection--this is 1992-93--of being contacted by UCLA for an interview in the evening just 3 or 4 days before Xmas. Needless to say, it was a nice phone call to get! And I've heard similar stories off-and-on over the years from friends from grad school and students here.)
I've opened comments for others to weigh in; non-anonymous comments will be preferred.
Best of luck to all those interviewing next week! As I have said to a number of our students, while this is undoubtedly a stressful time for job seekers, it also has one pleasant aspect for those being interviewed, namely, that other philosophers are taking your work seriously and want to talk to you about it. In between the "smokers" and the stress, try to enjoy the philosophical discussion when you can!
UPDATE: I've decided to allow more than the usual number of anonymous comments, given the understandable reasons folks would prefer not to post under their own names. As with all threads on which I have comments, the comments may take awhile to appear and comments are approved based on relevance and content. (All comments [five so far] have been approved on this thread, but that is higher than the norm.)
The acknowledged US troop fatalities in Iraq ratchet toward the mediagenic number of 3000, and the White House seems determined to time the announcement of its "new way forward" so as to divert public attention from that sad milestone. But what will that "way" be? Sidney Blumenthal writes for the Guardian(Dec. 21):
Bush's touted but unexplained "new way forward" ... may be the first order of battle, complete
with details of units, maps and timetables, ever posted on the website
of a thinktank. "I will not be rushed," said Bush. But apparently he
has already accepted the latest neoconservative programme, artfully
titled with catchphrases appealing to his desperation - "Choosing
Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq" - and available for reading on the site of the American Enterprise Institute.
Repudiated in the midterm elections, Bush has elevated himself above
politics, and repeatedly says, "I am the commander in chief." With the
crash of Rove's game plan for using his presidency as an instrument to
leverage a permanent Republican majority, Bush is abandoning the role
of political leader. He can't disengage militarily from Iraq because
that would abolish his identity as a military leader, his default
identity and now his only one.
Unlike the political leader, the commander in chief doesn't require
persuasion; he rules through orders, deference and the obedience of
those beneath him. By discarding the ISG [Iraq Study Group] report, Bush has rejected
doubt, introspection, ambivalence and responsibility. By embracing the
AEI manifesto, he asserts the warrior virtues of will, perseverance and
resolve. The contest in Iraq is a struggle between will and doubt.
Every day his defiance proves his superiority over lesser mortals. Even
the joint chiefs have betrayed the martial virtues that he presumes to
embody. He views those lacking his will with rising disdain. The more
he stands up against those who tell him to change, the more virtuous he
becomes. His ability to realise those qualities surpasses anyone else's
and passes the character test.
The mere suggestion of doubt is fatally compromising. Any admission
of doubt means complete loss, impotence and disgrace. Bush cannot
entertain doubt and still function. He cannot keep two ideas in his
head at the same time. [Former Secretary of State Colin] Powell misunderstood when he said that the
current war strategy lacks a clear mission. The war is Bush's mission.
No matter the setback it's always temporary, and the campaign can
always be started from scratch in an endless series of new beginnings
and offensives - "the new way forward" - just as in his earlier life no
failure was irredeemable through his father's intervention. Now he has
rejected his father's intervention in preference for the clean slate of
a new scenario that depends only on his willpower.
"We're not winning, we're not losing," Bush told the Washington Post
on Tuesday, a direct rebuke of Powell's formulation, saying he was
citing General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs, and adding,
"We're going to win." Winning means not ending the war while he is
president. Losing would mean coming to the end of the rope while he was
still in office. In his mind, so long as the war goes on and he
maintains his will he can win. Then only his successor can be a loser.
Bush's idea of himself as personifying martial virtues, however, is
based on a vision that would be unrecognisable to all modern theorists
of warfare. According to Carl von Clausewitz,
war is the most uncertain of human enterprises, difficult to
understand, hardest to control and demanding the highest degree of
adaptability. It was Clausewitz who first applied the metaphor of "fog"
to war. In his classic work, On War, he warned, "We only wish to
represent things as they are, and to expose the error of believing that
a mere bravo without intellect can make himself distinguished in war."
Meanwhile, back in Iraq, "clarity" of a kind may be discernible through the fog. The LA Times, in a report on the Iraq refugee crisis, notes that "The violence has been escalating for so long that it's difficult for
refugees, most of whom are Sunni Arab Muslims, to pinpoint the exact
horror that sent them rushing across borders" (emphasis mine).
That's right: the refugees are mostly minority Sunnis, fleeing the Shi'ite-dominated army and police and Shi'ite militias. So, if there really is a civil war in Iraq, the Shi'ites seem pretty close winning. Or, rather, it's all over but the mopping-up (don't let's call it "ethnic cleansing"). That might explain Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki's repeated insistence that his government does not need or want a "surge" of additional foreign troops, and is in fact ready to "stand up" to take charge of Baghdad as early as March.
But if the Shi'ites have won, why can't Bush simply say they're the "right faction for the job" and declare "victory"? That would be consistent with Acting President Cheney's reportedly favored tactical/rhetorical adjustment, and with his mentor Donald Rumsfeld's parting advice to "go minimalist" in formulating the US mission. But even Bush may know better than to try floating the "Mission Accomplished" line a second time. His bravo-ry faces its ultimate test in putting Cheney and al-Maliki in their respective places [Dec. 24: the skeptical field command is easy to get into line]. "We'll succeed, unless we quit." Or finish. As Blumenthal points out, war itself now is the mission.
Often, I am asked by graduate students for an authoritative accessible introduction to Bayesian Confirmation Theory oriented to philosophers. I just noticed that Michael Strevens has placed some lengthy almost book-length course notes on the website for his seminar on Confirmation Theory that fulfill just this need (look under 'Teaching', then under 'Confirmation Theory', then click on 'Notes on Bayesian Confirmation Theory').
Here. I can not vouch for the reliability of the information on this site, though it appears it may be run by the Chronicle of Higher Education. But like any "wiki" site, information is posted anonymously, so it is hard to know whether it is reliable or not. On the off chance that it does have some valuable information, I supply a link. (Thanks to Professor Christian Perring at Dowling College for calling it to my attention.)
UPDATE: A philosopher on the job market writes:
Don't know if I'm the first to point this out, but the APA interview wiki is not run by the Chronicle, but grew out of discussions that took place on the "Chronicle Forum" (which is basically a chat room where you can post comments and questions about anything related to higher education). About this time of the year last year, dozens (if not hundreds) of academics used to post questions on the Chronicle Forum asking "has anyone heard if school X has contacted its candidates for the MLA, APA, AHA, etc." Someone finally got the bright idea to create a wiki for all the various academic disciplines so people could self-report any schools that had contacted them for interviews (and not just for APA, but of course for all the academic disciplines). Don't know who the brave soul was who took the time to do it, but it started last year and was restarted again this year approximatley 3 or 4 weeks ago.
As you correctly note, the information is all self-reported, so it has no "official status," and according to posts on the Chronicle Forum, the wikis for some disciplines may have been hacked. But as far as I can tell from this year's ancient philosophy positions (I'm on the market and have a pretty good grape vine from other ancient people), the list is quite accurate.
When radio host Jerry Klein suggested that all Muslims in the United States should be identified with a crescent-shape tattoo or a distinctive arm band, the phone lines jammed instantly.
The first caller to the station in Washington said that Klein must be "off his rocker." The second congratulated him and added: "Not only do you tattoo them in the middle of their forehead but you ship them out of this country ... they are here to kill us."
Another said that tattoos, armbands and other identifying markers such as crescent marks on driver's licenses, passports and birth certificates did not go far enough. "What good is identifying them?" he asked. "You have to set up encampments like during World War Two with the Japanese and Germans."
At the end of the one-hour show, rich with arguments on why visual identification of "the threat in our midst" would alleviate the public's fears, Klein revealed that he had staged a hoax. It drew out reactions that are not uncommon in post-9/11 America.
"I can't believe any of you are sick enough to have agreed for one second with anything I said," he told his audience on the AM station 630 WMAL (http://www.wmal.com/), which covers Washington, Northern Virginia and Maryland
"For me to suggest to tattoo marks on people's bodies, have them wear armbands, put a crescent moon on their driver's license on their passport or birth certificate is disgusting. It's beyond disgusting.
"Because basically what you just did was show me how the German people allowed what happened to the Jews to happen ... We need to separate them, we need to tattoo their arms, we need to make them wear the yellow Star of David, we need to put them in concentration camps, we basically just need to kill them all because they are dangerous."
The show aired on November 26, the Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday, and Klein said in an interview afterwards he had been surprised by the response.
"The switchboard went from empty to totally jammed within minutes," said Klein. "There were plenty of callers angry with me, but there were plenty who agreed...."
Those in agreement are not a fringe minority: A Gallup poll this summer of more than 1,000 Americans showed that 39 percent were in favor of requiring Muslims in the United States, including American citizens, to carry special identification.
Roughly a quarter of those polled said they would not want to live next door to a Muslim and a third thought that Muslims in the United States sympathized with al Qaeda, the extremist group behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington....
UN estimates that 3,000 people are leaving Iraq
every day, including a substantial number of the country’s professional
and skilled classes. Most insist they do not want to return to Iraq.
Among these refugees are 120,000 Christians, most of whom say they want
to resettle in the US.
The sheer scale of the refugee crisis has called into question the
US policy which accommodates only 500 refugees from Iraq next year. As
a historical comparison, the US
took in 823,000 refugees as ‘boat people’ in the wake of the Vietnam
War. Currently, even the Iraqi refugees who have officially requested
resettlement in the US
have been caught in a tug-of-war between the US State Department and
the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who has not yet determined their
As the Battle of Baghdad
gains momentum against the backdrop of civil war in Iraq, so will the
refugee crisis continue to escalate. In the coming months, this will no
doubt raise additional issues concerning US responsibilities associated
with the war in Iraq.
Meanwhile, George W. Bush reassuresPeople magazine: "I must tell you, I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume." Sleep, like stuff, happens.
The Bush administration persists in snubbing Syria for failing to control the 1,000,000 or so Iraqi refugees it has absorbed since the 2003 US-led invasion. Syria gets negative points for opening its borders to those who can flee the humanitarian disaster the neoCons have made and shrilly insist on aggravating (realism and popular demand to the contrary, be damned).
What of our friends in Iraq? What are we doing for those whose lives are in danger because their status as "locally engaged staff" ("LED") has been exposed? The LA Timesreports:
there are also no formal policies or mechanisms to help Iraqis such
as Y [an LED whose life depended upon remaining anonymous]. Though the USAID might have wanted to do more, the best it could
offer Y was a short-term stay within its Green Zone compound, a
non-solution that would likely exacerbate his situation.
U.S. Embassy might have granted him a visa, had it ever opened a visa
processing center. But probably not. Though Congress passed legislation
last year to grant special visas to those who serve as translators for
the military, there are no provisions made for Iraqis who have worked
with distinction on the civilian side.
So, with little more
than a "good luck" from us, Y and his wife packed what they could
carry, hugged their loved ones goodbye and fled the country.
No "graceful exit" for these two, nor for the
more than 1.6 million
people [who] have fled Iraq since the invasion...recent estimates show
their numbers increasing by about 100,000 each month. More than 1.5
million Iraqis have been displaced by violence within their country, a
number growing at the staggering rate of 50,000 per month.
Bush and Congress bear a moral responsibility to those Iraqis whose
lives are imperiled because of their willingness to help us. We need to
move swiftly to expand the special immigrant status beyond the military
translators to permit these Iraqis asylum in our country. The U.S.
Embassy should be equipped to issue such visas to Iraqis who already
have obtained security clearances to work for our government.
But, of course, were the US to accept even a trickle of the cataract of refugees its aggressive folly has generated; that might be viewed as an admission of something other than victory. You know, an admission of the other thing.
The Economics Department at Harvard actually prepared this video as a recruiting device for prospective PhD students. It is fair to say that this was not a successful effort. Students in the Department, in turn, prepared two parodies of the original: here and here. I confess I almost died laughing on the second one especially.
The claim that General Pinochet begat an economic powerhouse was one of those utterances whose truth rested entirely on its repetition.
Chile could boast some economic success. But that was the work of Salvador Allende - who saved his nation, miraculously, a decade after his death.
In 1973, the year General Pinochet brutally seized the government, Chile's unemployment rate was 4.3%. In 1983, after ten years of free-market modernization, unemployment reached 22%. Real wages declined by 40% under military rule.
In 1970, 20% of Chile's population lived in poverty. By 1990, the year 'President' Pinochet left office, the number of destitute had doubled to 40%. Quite a miracle.
Pinochet did not destroy Chile's economy all alone. It took nine years of hard work by the most brilliant minds in world academia, a gaggle of Milton Friedman's trainees, the Chicago Boys. Under the spell of their theories, the General abolished the minimum wage, outlawed trade union bargaining rights, privatized the pension system, abolished all taxes on wealth and on business profits, slashed public employment, privatized 212 state industries and 66 banks and ran a fiscal surplus.
Freed of the dead hand of bureaucracy, taxes and union rules, the country took a giant leap forward - into bankruptcy and depression. After nine years of economics Chicago style, Chile's industry keeled over and died. In 1982 and 1983, GDP dropped 19%. The free- market experiment was kaput, the test tubes shattered. Blood and glass littered the laboratory floor. Yet, with remarkable chutzpah, the mad scientists of Chicago declared success. In the US, President Ronald Reagan's State Department issued a report concluding, 'Chile is a casebook study in sound economic management.' Milton Friedman himself coined the phrase, 'The Miracle of Chile.' Friedman's sidekick, economist Art Laffer, preened that Pinochet's Chile was, 'a showcase of what supply-side economics can do.'
It certainly was. More exactly, Chile was a showcase of de-regulation gone berserk.
The Chicago Boys persuaded the junta that removing restrictions on the nation's banks would free them to attract foreign capital to fund industrial expansion.
Pinochet sold off the state banks - at a 40% discount from book value - and they quickly fell into the hands of two conglomerate empires controlled by speculators Javier Vial and Manuel Cruzat. From their captive banks, Vial and Cruzat siphoned cash to buy up manufacturers - then leveraged these assets with loans from foreign investors panting to get their piece of the state giveaways.
The bank's reserves filled with hollow securities from connected enterprises. Pinochet let the good times roll for the speculators. He was persuaded that Governments should not hinder the logic of the market.
By 1982, the pyramid finance game was up. The Vial and Cruzat 'Grupos' defaulted. Industry shut down, private pensions were worthless, the currency swooned. Riots and strikes by a population too hungry and desperate to fear bullets forced Pinochet to reverse course. He booted his beloved Chicago experimentalists. Reluctantly, the General restored the minimum wage and unions' collective bargaining rights. Pinochet, who had previously decimated government ranks, authorized a program to create 500,000 jobs. In other words, Chile was pulled from depression by dull old Keynesian remedies, all Franklin Roosevelt, zero Reagan/Thatcher. New Deal tactics rescued Chile from the Panic of 1983, but the nation's long-term recovery and growth since then is the result of - cover the children's ears - a large dose of socialism.
To save the nation's pension system, Pinochet nationalized banks and industry on a scale unimagined by Communist Allende. The General expropriated at will, offering little or no compensation. While most of these businesses were eventually re-privatized, the state retained ownership of one industry: copper.
For nearly a century, copper has meant Chile and Chile copper. University of Montana metals expert Dr. Janet Finn notes, 'Its absurd to describe a nation as a miracle of free enterprise when the engine of the economy remains in government hands.' Copper has provided 30% to 70% of the nation's export earnings. This is the hard currency which has built today's Chile, the proceeds from the mines seized from Anaconda and Kennecott in 1973 - Allende's posthumous gift to his nation.
Agribusiness is the second locomotive of Chile's economic growth. This also is a legacy of the Allende years. According to Professor Arturo Vasquez of Georgetown University, Washington DC, Allende's land reform, the break-up of feudal estates (which Pinochet could not fully reverse), created a new class of productive tiller-owners, along with corporate and cooperative operators, who now bring in a stream of export earnings to rival copper. 'In order to have an economic miracle,' says Dr. Vasquez, 'maybe you need a socialist government first to commit agrarian reform.'
So there we have it. Keynes and Marx, not Friedman, saved Chile.
But the myth of the free-market Miracle persists because it serves a quasi-religious function. Within the faith of the Reaganauts and Thatcherites, Chile provides the necessary genesis fable, the ersatz Eden from which laissez-faire dogma sprang successful and shining.
In 1998, the international finance Gang of Four - the World Bank, the IMF, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Bank for Settlements - offered a $41.5 billion line of credit to Brazil. But before the agencies handed the drowning nation a life preserver, they demanded Brazil commit to swallow the economic medicine that nearly killed Chile. You know the list: fire-sale privatizations, flexible labor markets (i.e. union demolition) and deficit reduction through savage cuts in government services and social security.
In Sao Paulo, the public was assured these cruel measures would ultimately benefit the average Brazilian. What looked like financial colonialism was sold as the cure-all tested in Chile with miraculous results.
But that miracle was in fact a hoax, a fraud, a fairy tale in which everyone did not live happily ever after.
I should be curious to hear from knowledgeable, non-anonymous readers about whether this analysis of the economic trajectory in Chile is sound. As usual, comments may take awhile to appear, so please post only once.
Out of 700,000 soldiers who served in the 1991 Gulf War, 118,000 are suffering
from chronic fatigue, headaches, muscle spasms, joint pains, anxiety, memory
loss, and balance problems, and 40% receive disability pay. Gulf vets are also
twice as likely to develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease)
and between two and three times more likely to have children with birth defects....
Modern battlefields are toxic nightmares, filled with depleted uranium ammunition,
exotic explosives, and deadly cluster bomblets. The soldiers are shot up with
experimental vaccines that can have dangerous side effects from additives like
squalene. In short, soldiers are not only under fire, they are assaulted by
their own weapons systems and medical procedures....
According to Fischer and Reiss, "A returning vet must
wait an average of 165 days for a VA decision on initial disability benefits.
An appeal can take up to three years...."
When Gulf War vets complained about the symptoms which have come to be called
"Gulf War Syndrome," the Pentagon told them it was in their heads,
in spite of studies by the British Medical Journal and the U.S. Center for Disease
Control that showed the returnees were suffering illnesses at 12 times the rate
of non-Gulf vets.
For five years after the Gulf War the Pentagon denied that any troops had been
exposed to chemical weapons. It took pressure from veterans' organizations and
Sen. Donald Riegle (D-MI) to get the Pentagon to admit finally that as many
as 130,000 troops (the vets say the number is higher) were exposed to chemical
weapons from the destruction of the Iraqi arms depot at Khamisiyah.
Veteran organizations are currently fighting the Pentagon over its refusal
to screen returning soldiers for mild brain injuries. Figures indicate that
up to 10% of the troops suffer from concussions during their tours, a figure
that rises to 20% for those in the front lines. Research shows that concussions
can cause memory loss, headaches, sleep disturbances, and behavior problems.
The Pentagon, arguing that the long-term effect of brain injuries needs more
research, is unwilling to fund a screening program.
Given the wide use of roadside bombs, "Traumatic brain injury is the
signature injury of the war on terrorism," George Zitnay, co-founder of
the Brain Injury Center, toldUSA Today. And according to researchers at Harvard
and Colombia, the cost of treating those brain injuries will be $14 billion
over the next 20 years....
Upwards of 20,000 Americans have been wounded in Iraq, some of those so grotesquely
that medicine has invented a new term to describe them - polytrauma. An
estimated 7,000 vets have severe brain and spinal injuries, and have required
amputations. For the blind, brain damaged, and paralyzed, war is indeed hell....
But the hell we bring home is only a pale reflection of the hell we leave behind.
According to a recent estimate by the British medical journal, The Lancet,
upwards of 650,000 Iraqis have been killed since the invasion. Most of the country's
infrastructure - already damaged in the first Gulf War or degraded by a
decade of sanctions - has essentially collapsed.
Iraq's experience is not unique.
The Vietnam War ended more than 30 years ago, but according to the recent book,
Vietnam: A Natural History, Laotians, Vietnamese, and Cambodians are still dying
From 1964 to 1973, the United States dropped over 14 million tons of bombs
on those three countries, including 90 million cluster munitions on tiny Laos
alone. Somewhere between 30 to 40% of those fiendish devices never exploded,
and, according to the British Mines Advisory Group, they have killed or maimed
12,000 Laotians since the end of the war. They continue to extract a yearly
toll of 100 to 200 people, many of them children.
Traces of the 20 million gallons of Agent White, Agent Blue, and Agent Orange
herbicides that the United States sprayed over Vietnam still poison the water,
soil, vegetation, animals, and people of Southeast Asia, producing cancer and
birth defect rates among the highest in the world.
So war is indeed hell - for those who fight it, those caught in the middle
of it, and those who eventually pick up the pieces.
Kenneth Westphal, who has done influential work on Kant and Hegel, has accepted a Chair in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Kent; he had previously held a Chair at East Anglia, though most recently had been teaching at Northwestern University.
The transcript is here. The hearing was organized by Rep. Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio, and Rep. Paul, a Republican from Texas. Both have been staunch opponents of the war of aggression against Iraq since the start.
Horowitz would be more help to conservatives by either learning to tell
the truth or shutting up. I have no doubts that conservatives are just
as embarrassed as are centrists and liberals by his fabrications,
misrepresentations and generally outrageous behavior. He only serves
to scare sober minds away from the conservative movement. As we have
seen in Horowitz's tirade against everyone on the Select Committee who boldly stood their ground,
and who rejected his rhetoric and falsehoods, including those
Republicans on the committee who voted to remove the Horowitz-Armstrong
manifesto (the report's Summary), all who disagree with him are
enemies--including the very conservatives he claims to represent. I
think that it's time for whoever pulls his purse-strings to give the
man a well-earned "time out."
MOVING TO FRONT from Dec. 5 in light of the continued interesting discussion in the comments section. =========================
Manyul Im, a specialist in Chinese philosophy at California State University at Los Angeles, writes:
The following events have contributed to a very serious situation--I sometimes think, a crisis--for Ph.D. study of Chinese Philosophy in the U.S. or Canada and I hope you will share this with your blog readers:
*David Nivison retires at Stanford; PJ Ivanhoe leaves Stanford for Michigan; Ivanhoe leaves Michigan and briefly visits at Boston; and now Ivanhoe is at City University of Hong Kong. There is no indication that Stanford will fill the position again, which was long held by Nivison.
*Kwong-loi Shun leaves Berkeley for Toronto; Shun leaves Toronto for Chinese University of Hong Kong. There is no indication that Berkeley is interested in filling that position again, which was long held by Shun.
*Donald Munro retires at Michigan; Ivanhoe replaces him; then ... see above. There is no indication that Michigan is interested in filling that position again, which was long held by Munro.
My pessimism about whether Stanford, Berkeley or Michigan plan to revive their Chinese Philosophy programs is based only on what I've heard through the grape-vine, so if anyone has more reliable but positive information, I would certainly be glad to hear of it.
Meanwhile here is the advice I've been giving my students for the past couple of years:
In my opinion, right now the only readily viable option for students seeking a Ph.D. that focuses on Chinese Philosophy and, when completed, have good Philosophy job prospects is the program at Univ. of Hawaii. However, students should be aware that at Hawaii, there are strong incentives and pressures to work with Roger Ames and to adopt his approach to Chinese philosophy--namely, a Whiteheadian process-philosophy reading of the major texts. That, by itself isn't a crisis; it's the current lack of scholars-in-training who have other approaches that is the cause for my concern. Of course followers of Ames might not think this is so bad but they should, since any philosophical analysis should be subject to serious criticisms in order to be tested well.
Utah and Oregon, which are listed in the Gourmet Report's Programs Rated by Advisory Board, have excellent young faculty but until they have established their reputations more widely, students who go there for Ph.D. study will need to cultivate serious external working relationships with bigger names in the field to ensure good job prospects. I would also add Oklahoma to this category.
The current situation is that students who don't want to study at Hawaii, Utah, or Oregon--or aren't admitted to those programs--have three good and genuine alternatives, keeping in mind the desideratum of having good job prospects (based on quality and name-recognition of advisors):
Study something other than Chinese Philosophy
Study Chinese Philosophy at a department where the primary advisor, though working at least partly on Chinese Philosophy, would not be someone who has had serious Sinological training, traditionally construed
Study in Hong Kong (at the University of Hong Kong) or Singapore (at the National University of Singapore)
I don't offer my students suggestion 1 completely tongue-in-cheek. Most often I have students who are interested in Chinese Philosophy because they already have serious philosophical interests in more traditional Western topics like Ethics, Metaphysics, or the Philosophy of Religion. Option 2 is possible at programs like Connecticut (with Joel Kupperman) and Duke (with David Wong).
Option 3 is getting more and more attractive as Hong Kong, which is not far from Singapore, is suddenly the hotbed of Chinese Philosophy. Three of the most recognized, active scholars are now there: Chad Hansen (Univ. of Hong Kong), Kwong-loi Shun (Chinese Univ. of Hong Kong), and now Philip Ivanhoe (City University of Hong Kong). There is also a less recognized but excellent senior scholar, Kim-Chong Chong at the Science and Technology University of Hong Kong. Chinese Univ. of Hong Kong also has one of the best young scholars, Chris Fraser.
The caveat here is that, as far as I know, only the University of Hong Kong has a Ph.D. program among the Hong Kong universities mentioned. Chad Hansen, who is at the Univ. of Hong Kong, will be retiring next year. I am told that they DO plan on replacing him. The National University of Singapore has a Ph.D. program and some excellent scholars of Chinese Philosophy, among them: Sor Hoon Tan and Alan Chan. I should note that both the University of Hong Kong and Singapore conduct their programs in English and should really be considered programs of Philosophy "in the English-speaking world."
I hope this will be useful information for you, Brian, and students who are thinking about Ph.D. programs in Chinese Philosophy. Some of this is strictly my considered opinion, but I stand by it and it is part of the advice I would give to my own students.
Comments are open for additional perspectives from scholars and students; non-anonymous comments are very strongly preferred. Please post only once; comments may take awhile to appear.
Five years ago, America and their allies attacked Afghanistan in the name of bringing "Human Rights", "Democracy", and "Freedom" to the war-torn country. The Taliban regime fell and Hamid Karzai's puppet regime, which included the world-known Northern Alliance criminals or as UN envoy Mahmoud Mestri said, "the bandit gangs", took over in the name of a fake democracy. However, today, the deceitful policies of Mr. Karzai and his Western guardians have brought Afghanistan to a very critical situation in which disaster is a ticking time bomb that can explode any minute. Treason and mockery have efficiently been used under the name of "democracy" and "freedom" in these five years and the human rights situation in Afghanistan is a product of the painful deception of the warlord-led government.
Northern Alliance criminals, backed by the US have their own local and barbaric governments. Just the increasing amount of women who commit suicides by burning themselves can be the best example of a human rights violation in Afghanistan. According to UNICEF, 65% of 50000 widows in Kabul think that committing suicide is the only option they have. Northern Alliance crooks raped an 11 year old girl, Sanuber, and traded her with a dog. In Badakhshan a young woman was gang-raped by 13 Jehadies in front of her children, and one of the rapists urinated in the mouth of her children who were continuously crying. In Paghman, a suburb of Kabul, a criminal leader Rasol Sayyaf, who was the mentor and godfather of Khalid Shikh Mohammad, the mastermind of 9/11 attacks, plunders our peoples' territory and tortures his oppositions at his private prison. Despite many protest rallies of unfortunate people of Paghman in front of the Parliament House, no one hear their painful voice and the so-called police forces headed by infamous criminal warlords like Zahir Aghbar and Amanullah Guzar attack the protester and kill 2 of them. These are all just some examples of thousands crimes that are being carried out by fundamentalists of the Northern Alliance, evil men who have high positions in executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the US-imposed government and some unprincipled intellectuals are dancing to their tune....
The US government sacrifices our people for its political and economical interests by establishing a government full of traitors, criminals and drug-lords. It does not matter who rules in Kabul, the US wants just a puppet regime. An American military presence in Afghanistan has no benefit for our people. In addition, thousands of civilians lost their lives because of radioactive and cluster bombs and "friendly fires". This fact is obviously a disgrace for those who strongly defend American military presence in Afghanistan....
The biggest factor that strengthens the Taliban is the hatred and disgust that our people have against the Jehadi mafia in the system. When people have no security, when they see lawlessness and how the criminals embezzle millions of dollars from international aids, they are indifferent about the rise of the Taliban. Haji Nek Mohammad who had lost his beloveds in a NATO's air strike in Kandahar said, "I prefer to join the Taliban forces because Taliban have so far killed only 2 people in my village while the collation forces killed 63 people in a single day."
Our people know that there is no difference between Taliban and Jehadi warlords. They both are fundamentalist medieval forces that were created by foreigners and they will join forces against our people in any possible time....
Amusingly, there are some right and leftists groups outside of Afghanistan who look at the Taliban as an "anti-imperialist" force and defend them. They satirize themselves by such funny remarks and prove that they are completely ignorant of barbaric nature of the Taliban. If they had experienced a day of humiliation under the Taliban rule, they would have never made such hurting jokes with our people.
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) strongly supports the anti-war movement which grows day by day all around the world and becomes a strong force against the US and her Allies war-mongering policies....
Without the end of the fundamentalists rule, observance of human rights is just a dream! Hold the struggle flag of freedom, democracy, and social justice! With people against fundamentalism; or with fundamentalist against people; there is not a third option!
Apologies for this belated announcement: Garry Hagberg (aesthetics, philosophy & literature, Wittgenstein), who held a chair in the Department of Philosophy at Bard College, started as Professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia this past September.
The New York Times (Dec. 7) finally takes note of the refugee crisis the occupation of Iraq has created:
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated in a report released last
month that more than 1.6 million Iraqis have left since March 2003,
nearly 7 percent of the population. Jordanian security officials say
more than 750,000 are in and around Amman, a city of 2.5 million.
Syrian officials estimate that up to one million have gone to the
suburbs of Damascus, a city of three million. An additional 150,000
have landed in Cairo. Every month, 100,000 more join them in Syria and
Jordan, the report said.
In a report released this week, Refugees
International, a Washington-based advocacy group, put the total at
close to two million and called their flight “the fastest-growing
humanitarian crisis in the world.” Its president, Kenneth Bacon, said,
“The United States and its allies sparked the current chaos in Iraq,
but they are doing little to ease the humanitarian crisis caused by the
One thing the US isn't ready to do is to acknowledge the crisis, or to talk to Syria, which Bush (in a joint press conference with Blair) admonished in the following terms: "Stop allowing
money and arms to cross your border into Iraq. Don’t provide safe haven
for terrorist groups." In other words: don't let Iraqis come in, and don't let them go back?
The journal Nature has just published the results of a study finding that phytoplankton populations in the ocean are starved by warmer surface temperatures. This means that there are fewer of them to help remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Leading, in turn, to more warming.
Last week, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology recommended
to those drafting the 2007 Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (also at
NIST) that voting systems be required to be "software independent".
Officially, that's a system such that "a previously undetected change
or error in its software [assuming it has such] cannot cause an
undetectable change or error in an election outcome". Unofficially,
that's a system with a voter-verified paper trail.
The take-home line from the report, concerning software-dependent Direct Record Electronic systems:
Potentially, a single programmer could “rig” a major election.
The problem is not just that DRE systems are presently insecure, but that there is no feasible way of making them secure:
systems in general are not developed according to rigorous models of
secure code development nor tested with the rigor of other
security-critical applications. Experts reject that even these measures
would be sufficient for reliably detecting all errors or malicious code
hidden in a voting systems.
Hence the need for a
software-independent audit trail. Of claims that software
independence isn't necessary since "there is no evidence of
intentionally-introduced malicious code or fraud in voting systems" and
"election procedures are effective at keeping voting systems free of
intentionally introduced fraud", the writers note
claims] do not hold up against the enormous evidence of computer fraud
that has occurred in other areas of IT and that has or is likely to
occur in voting systems, given the billions spent on elections as well
as the rich history of electoral fraud.
Moreover, claims that everything is A-OK are suspect, given that
there isn't any way, independent of the system being tested, to check
the results. As Barbara Samorajczyk put it,
after conceding a House of Delegates seat to her marginally-ahead
opponent, "there wasn't any meaningful way to do a recount [...] we
cannot recount the machine". (Exit polls can do some work here, of course, but their results are approximate and subject to manipulation.)
The committee in charge of drafting the VVSG 2007 guidelines rejected
a proposal adopting the recommendation that all systems be required to
be software independent; however, they later unanimously accepted
a revised proposal which required that future systems be so. Existing
systems are to be "grandfathered in"; one hopes this doesn't mean Jenna
Overall this strikes me as very good news, even though VVSG 2007 is
still at the draft stage, and even though these guidelines (hence
"requirements") are voluntary. When word gets out about the need for
software independence those forced to vote on DRE machines will
rightfully raise hell with their state election officials and
representatives, and U.S.ers will slowly but surely free themselves
from this new form of tyranny.
P.J. Ivanhoe, a leading scholar of Chinese philosophy who is currently a Visiting Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Boston University, has accepted appointment at the City University of Hong Kong, to start early in 2007.
...in this Monty Python classic. The mistake of the Germans was not to start Marx and play other philosophers who subordinate theory to praxis. (To their credit, the Monty Python folks understand that: note Marx's objection at the end to the final goal, in contrast to the others.)
For 2008 and after, look for volumes on Aquinas by Christopher Hughes, Einstein by Arthur Fine and Thomas Ryckman, Kierkegaard by Andrew Cross, Fichte and Schelling by Sebastian Gardner, Descartes by Edwin Curley, Socrates by Paul Woodruff, Plato by Constance Meinwald, Adorno by Brian O'Connor, Marx by Alan Gilbert, Nietzsche by Maudemarie Clark and David Dudrick, Berkeley by Lisa Downing, Carnap by Michael Friedman, Frege by Warren Goldfarb and Thomas Ricketts, Quine by Dagfinn Follesdal, and Habermas by Keneneth Baynes, among others.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)