Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Mirror neurons have been offered as an explanation for empathy, but the evidence is not sufficient to infer that. [Burton] questions research into the “neural correlates of consciousness” by investigators like Christof Koch, because the behavior of individual neurons can’t explain emergent properties with a higher level of complexity.
In his Works of Love, a spiritual classic, Kierkegaard entreats us to love and respect each ‘other’ as God loves us, never assimilating that other person to self. Horrified by the advent of democracy, ‘government by the numerical’ as he quips derisively, he was nonetheless quick to take advantage of freedom of the press to attack a complacent establishment in both church and state. He writes sarcastically of the ‘distinguished corruption’ of those who flee from one distinguished circle to another, taking care lest in the poor they should meet another human being. If today in celebration of their famous son the Queen of Denmark will parade from church to university, it was not ever thus. Rather, it was a motley crew of students and the poor who accompanied his funeral cortège from that same church to grave. These things are far from simple.
But for the lesson of 1962, India’s leaders may still have mocked George Washington’s famous words: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” Even today, the leadership in ruling and opposition parties remains largely clueless on statecraft and national security affairs. A dysfunctional foreign policy is holding back India’s rise.
I dont get the point of the article. What Knox and her consorts did was brutal and illegal. Where does questioning prevalent social mores come into the picture? It is a disservice to Henry James to use his subtle and charming story to present an analogy for a senseless crime and couch it in some mindless intellectualising.
Monday, April 29, 2013
How did the main effects of poetry ever boil down to these: the genial revelation, the sweetly poignant middle-aged lament, the winsome ode to the suburban soul? The problem is that such poems lie: no one in the suburbs is that bland; no reasonable person reaches middle age with so little outrage at life’s absurdities. What an excruciating world contemporary poetry describes: one in which everyone is either ironic, on the one hand, or enlightened and kind on the other—not to mention selfless, wise, and caring. Even tragic or horrible events provoke only pre-approved feelings.
If it is anywhere near as good as The Spartacus Road, it is not be missed.
I can't see why something the Times does should be seen as the harbinger of anything other than the slow decline of the Times.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
The poem (qua poem) is so jaw-droppingly awful that further comment seems pointless.
The question assumes that society is bound to totally reject the way it did things previously, such as walking (when you have a car), phoning someone (when you have a videophone) or writing anything by hand (when you have a computer).
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Friday, April 26, 2013
On Tuesday, [HD] Moore published results on a particularly troubling segment of those vulnerable devices: ones that appear to be used for business and industrial systems. Over 114,000 of those control connections were logged as being on the Internet with known security flaws. Many could be accessed using default passwords and 13,000 offered direct access through a command prompt without a password at all.
I always envied my friends who … knew when to stop; who could stop, take breaks, repair themselves between bouts with healthy eating, exercise and non-morbid thoughts.Such people are just drunks, not alcoholics.
When Gerald "Jerry" Conti decided a month ago to go public with his reasons for deciding to retire from his teaching career after 27 years at Westhill High School in New York, he leveled blistering and impassioned criticisms against the corporate reforms that, he says, are harming our educational system. Conti's cri de coeur went viral on the Web, embraced by a massive audience of teachers and parents, who found in it a clear and moving expression of their own dissatisfactions.
"The scale of the theft is quite extraordinary," says Robert Harding, director of Maggs Bros, a London rare book dealer. "It's one of the biggest such thefts in recent decades."
Harding says that if undamaged, the copy of de Bry's America could be worth £150,000, while the Shakespeare would be worth about £50,000. He says others are also worth five-figure sums.
It is ironic, given the popular renown that the movie still has, that almost all of those involved came close to disowning it: Kubrick claimed that it was the only film he had made that he did not like (“it has everything but a good story,” he wrote—oddly, because that is one thing it does have); Fast thought the film did not live up to the radical implications of his own book; Trumbo was disappointed that the extraordinary successes of Spartacus were not given sufficient emphasis, and that the rebellion ended up seeming little more than a plucky jailbreak (he produced an eighty-page critical dissection of the first cut). Kirk Douglas alone appears to have been reasonably content with the way the finished product came close to his own vision of “Spartacus the slave, dreaming of the death of slavery, driving into the armor of Rome the wedge that would eventually destroy her.”
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Those videos defy description. They are the physical manifestation of the same kinds of reasoning errors and self-deception we see in religion--with the crucial difference that, in martial arts, it is possible to expose a person's misconceptions in real time for all to see. But what's amazing--and this should really worry people of faith--is that, even in the martial arts, a person can persist in delusion for decades, gather students, and become a famous master of his fake discipline without knowing that he has wandered completely out of contact with reality. This madman can't even begin to do what he thinks he can do--and what he is apparently renowned for doing--because the skill he is displaying and that his students are striving to emulate doesn't exist. The whole thing is a collective delusion. If religion were a sport, it would look like that first Yanagi Ryuken video. The second video, of course, is what science has been doing to religion, over and over, for the last few centuries.
I don't know. I've seen some strange sartorial combinations at the track.
Somewhere in all this frenzy, an ignorant overzealous Redditor posted a photo of a 22-year old Indian American student from Brown University who went missing on 16 March. A link had been established. In the world of breaking news where speed far outweighs fact-checking, one potential marathon bombing suspect had been identified. This was a “breakthrough”. What followed, however, especially the reaction from fellow Indians, was horrifying for those of us living away from our country of origin. With each passing tweet, the chorus to establish Tripathi’s guilt grew. And with it, grew the fear of retribution that the Indian community in the US would likely face in the coming days. “Secular liberals” on Twitter approached this piece of news with glee. For them, he became an embodiment of “Hindu terror” and they finally had a face to prove their theory. They tweeted, retweeted, got into arguments, and generally felt vindicated that they had been right all along. Those on the Right side of the political divide felt attacked. They vigorously defended Tripathi and his family and relied on the lack of incriminating evidence to absolve his name. One wonders if they would’ve been as assiduous in their efforts to prove his innocence if the alleged suspect had been an Indian Muslim.
… ["THe Arnarchist"] is informed by Mamet’s politics, sure, as Redford’s movie is informed by his, but “The Anarchist” is much more deeply informed by Mamet’s Jewish faith. The verbal battle between Cathy and Ann is underscored by a bold critique of Christian forgiveness in light of the demands of Jewish justice. In this, “The Anarchist” sings a sort of counterpoint to the Merchant of Venice. Since Merchant – and much western culture — depicts Jewish justice as rigid and bloodthirsty while Christian mercy droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven, to see Mamet stage the argument from a Jewish perspective is radical and bracing.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
"In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half." — Life magazine
“Death is a solitary confinement where each of the dead has an empty theater along the spiral of hell. That is the tragedy of immortality before the spectacle of what has been lived: not ever being able to share it with anyone, as if I were the only man who has lived in vain on earth. Or just the opposite, as if I were the only dead man in the world.”
Monday, April 22, 2013
It would better be called The Delusions of Science - the principal delusion being that it is firmly founded on certain unassailable truths that no longer need to be examined.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
I think that the culture is actually more open today to art informed by faith than it was thirty years ago. This is something that many conservatives have failed to note—in part because they have invested too deeply in what I call a “narrative of decline.” When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, it was said that Karl Marx had finally died. But I think nearly all the secular “master narratives” lost credibility around that time, including the sort of aggressive secularism of a thinker like Sigmund Freud.
In some cases, new fossils have changed our understanding of dinosaurs, but as much as anything, paleontologists have learned to reinterpret old ones in exciting new ways. Close examination of skeletons, for instance, reveals that dinosaurs suffered from a variety of diseases, including cancer—evidence that cancer is an ancient affliction. Scientists have also become more adept at linking juvenile forms to adults. This has helped them grasp the caterpillar-to-butterfly-like transformation that dinosaurs like the Triceratops underwent as they matured.
One of the greatest times of my life was an afternoon I spent with Seymour Adelman looking at the treasures in his collection at Bryn Mawr College's library. What a wonderful man he was.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Writing in the Rhineland News in 1842 in his very first piece after taking over as editor, Marx launched a sharp polemic against Germany’s leading newspaper, the Augsburg General News, for publishing articles advocating communism. He did not base his assault on any arguments about communism’s impracticality: it was the very idea that he attacked. Lamenting that “our once blossoming commercial cities are no longer flourishing,” he declared that the spread of Communist ideas would “defeat our intelligence, conquer our sentiments,” an insidious process with no obvious remedy.
Friday, April 19, 2013
To some extent this is true of all of us. Look at your out-box: in the past hour you may have sent e-mails to mother, partner, boss and child, possibly even describing the same party. But each one is likely to have been written in a very different voice, and even to have treated the event quite differently — not to do so would be a form of insensitivity. “A man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him,” as William James had it. It’s the man who doesn’t change his voice according to his audience who seems scary, locked inside his own assumptions.
The problem is that not all speeches amount to genuine oratory. And length of utterance hardly guarantees quality of rhetoric.
… not every ad hominem attack -- an attack “against the man” or person -- involves a fallacious ad hominem. “Attacking the man” can be entirely legitimate and sometimes even called for, even in an argumentative context, when it is precisely the man himself who is the problem.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
I was surprised to read Robert Fay’s 2011 article here at The Millions, where he claims a “literary vacuum” of contemporary Catholic writing. While I strongly disagree with Fay’s overall thesis that postconciliar liturgical retranslation led to a decline in Catholic art, his short essay introduces important points. Fay writes elegiacally about the postconciliar shift from Latin to English, or local, Mass: “what for centuries had seemed eternal, mysterious, and rich in symbolism — the very marrow that feeds artists — was suddenly being conducted in the same language as sitcoms, TV commercials, and business meetings.” Was Fay’s observation convenient hindsight, or lived reality?
I might add that I'm not sure there are any Catholic writers. There are, rather, writers who are Catholic. Even if they no longer practice their faith or have become hostile to it, it must still inform much of their thought and feeling, whether for good or ill.
What happens when we refuse to say “no” to the bully? What happens when we follow the false light, and deny our conscience in the name of playing along? As it is with Raffy’s penchant for humiliation — or the smuggling of baby turtles — so it is with drone strikes, or torture, or polluting the ocean, or incurring harm in the name of profit.
I think drone strikes and the other issues are far too complex to equate them to school bullying. I am afraid the author is unnecessarily broadening her enterprise: inducing guilt when debate is called for.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
despite their terror concerning grades in my courses, almost all of my students completely ignore the pro-Catholic, record-straight-setting information I give them, and recite the dominant errors and mantras aimed against the Faith on tests. As far as I can determine, this is in no way due to deeply-rooted conviction on their part. Rather, it merely indicates the power of the propaganda fed them from practically every social channel since early youth. They simply cannot expel the erroneous and hostile words from their heads.