Saturday, May 31, 2014

Philosopher Politician King

The broadcaster, former Monthly editor and indomitable host of our Fifth Estate events series takes her distinctive brand of political and cultural savvy to the new Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka. In this superbly suitable setting, Sally talks about her edited collection, Well May We Say ...The Speeches that Made Australia, with M.A.D.E’s inaugural director Jane Smith.

Speaking of speeches we love...

 Pills to fall in love, and pills to fall out of love: it’s likely not a matter of if, but of when. “We’re trying to get ahead of the technology and ahead of the science with some ethical arguments.” Australia’s ABC Radio hosts a discussion of the ethics of the pharmacology of lovewith Brian Earp (Oxford) and others.

2014 is the 550th anniversity of the death of 15th Century German philosopher Nicholas of Cusa (aka Nicolaus Cusanus), and you are probably asking yourself what the folks at Australian public radio are doing about it. I don’t know why you are asking yourself this, as the answer is pretty obviously a radio programDermot Moran (University College Dublin) and others discuss the philosopher’s views on ignorance, truth, the infinite, religion, and other topics on this episode of the show Encounter
We all think we can teach politics, but there is some almost tragic sense in which it can only be learned… by the mistakes you make…. You can go to any number of lectures about what politics is like but it doesn’t survive contact with the enemy…. It’s not a seminar room. It’s not an exercise in persuasion…. Politics is an alternative to war, but you live it as war–that’s what you feel, you feel you’re in battle–and that, for an academic, for a philosopher, is just extremely difficult to get used to. It’s so unpleasant. But good politicians just think, ‘that’s the way it is,’ and they have that aggressive temperament, and it makes them successful….
We’re overly cynical about politicians precisely because we have unrealistic understanding of the necessity of certain forms of moral ambiguity in politics.  One of the glories of politics is what Machiavelli did understand… for the sake of the good of the republic you have to do some things which in private life would be regarded as moral errors.

Political philosopher, theorist, historian, and novelist Michael Ignatieff(Harvard) reflects on the differences between academia and politics in light of his leadership of Canada’s Liberal Party in an interview at Philosophy Bites, touching on what works in practice, how to deal with the immorality of politics, and on the enduring value of political philosophy, elaborating on some of the ideas in his Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics. It’s a good listen, especially for anyone interested in questions about the relationship between philosophy and the “real world.”

Friday, May 30, 2014

You A Writer? Prepare For A Lifetime Of Humiliation

You A Writer? Prepare For A Lifetime Of Humiliation

humiliation and obscurity
“It is much better for a writer to be underrecognized than over, in terms of keeping one’s head down, like the proverbial Japanese nail, so that one might observe the world unhammered and unimpeded. Abjure fame and avoid obscurity. But between those extremes lies the perch where a writer occasionally might do some good work.”

Dante And Kanye, Sharing One Soul (A Perfect Satire Of A College Essay)

“On ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’, Kanye raps ‘I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven’ and weirdly, that’s exactly what happened to Dante. He had a dream, kind of, and then he was in heaven.”

Imrich Nikon shutters, car alarms or Bawa's chainsaws, Australian (our Dorrigo) lyrebirds imitate almost any sound

We know that certain birds like parrots are skilled at imitating voices and sounds they hear around them. But even the colourful parrot can't hold a candle to the astonishing talent of the Bohemian Lyrebird, a ground-dwelling species native to Australia (Menura novaehollandiae). This amazing creature has been documented in faithfully reproducing a diverse number of sounds, ranging from other birdsongs, to koalas and dingos, to human-made sounds like chainsaws, car alarms, camera shutters, video games and even crying babies. Check out the lyrebird in action in this excerpt from The Life of Birds with David Attenborough:

According to Wikipedia, though both sexes are capable of imitating almost any sound they hear, it is the male lyrebird that is more skilled and persistent in showing off its vocal flair, as a way of impressing potential mates. Males will engage in behaviours worthy of a world-class tenor, such as clearing a spot on the forest floor and building up a mound of earth to stand upon before performing, almost like a concert stage. Of course, it is also the male in this case who is adorned with a set of sixteen long feathers, with the outermost two looking very much like a lyre, which he can array behind him in a canopy for courtship displays.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Book Tour – Not For Delicate Egos

Can we learn about social media from Dostoevsky?Do you want to guest blog on the metaphysics of love?
Michael Sandel: Public Philosopher — the BBC Podcast Series.
The head of Japan’s central bank, Haruhiko Kuroda, does a little philosophy on the side.
art of live-blogging philosophy
What kind of person who believes Marxism explains Buzzfeed are you?
What should you do with the things you value most? (via Marginal Revolution)

Capa, Gellhorn, Hemingway, Imrich, et al.: For a talented young cohort, the Spanish Civil War offered a heady rush of idealism and opportunism… Idealism of our lives

Today’s successful author will sooner or later be invited to sell his or her personal papers - archives. Sooner rather than later most likely, and not just papers, manuscripts, typescripts, notebooks, but electronic data too, emails, chat messages, the lot. Everything you have written, then, but also everything you will write. Your emails to your children, your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, your ex-wife or husband, present partner, future partner, lovers, ex-lovers, dying parents, estranged cousins, needy friends, your application for this or that grant, your fencing with would-be publishers or agents, your self-promotional lobbying for the Pulitzer or the Booker, deluded dreams of the Nobel, half-truths for the taxman, heated exchanges with magazine editors when payment is delayed.

The Book Tour – Not For Delicate Egos

“Behold the book tour, which is an ordeal for many writers. They stand alone on a stage quaking and exposed, prepared to offer the world the results of years of hard labor, perhaps only to find that their audience consists entirely of family members.”
Via Baltimore Sun 

The Ineffable Something That Keeps (Some) Writers Famous Long After They Die

Iris Murdoch
“The only reliable judge of a novel’s merits, as Martin Amis once declared, is that grim and exacting arbiter, posterity, and, set against the reckonings of the future, present applause is only a little light murmuring heard a long way off.”

 Sisson - “The Trade” What and Who (1994): 

“The language fades.  The noise is more
Than ever it has been before,
But all the words grow pale and thin
For lack of sense has done them in. 

“What wonder, when it is for pay
Millions are spoken every day?
It is the number, not the sense
That brings the speakers pounds and pence. 

“The words are stretched across the air
Vast distances from here to there,
Or there to here:  it does not matter
So long as there is media chatter. 

“Turn up the sound and let there be
No talking between you and me:
What passes now for human speech
Must come from somewhere out of reach.”

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wild Murderers of Sydney

If Roger Rogerson was directing the traffic, I wouldn't leave the kerb. – Sydney Queen's Counsel, 1986

As Roger Rogerson awaits questioning by police over the murder of Jamie Gao, we revisit this 2006 Good Weekend profile of Australia's most infamous former policeman.
Talk of the Town; Rogerson & his Monopoly on Sydney

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fostering Reality of Life

I could be wrong, but I’m not.
~ jozef imrich, a well known failed poet in corridors of power everywhere ... From unpublished manuscript "Nothin’ Matters, and What if It Did?"  Time spent looking at screens spent each day by Czechs, Ausies and eyes-people in different countries, graphically illustrated

Winter Pilhov  Czechoslovakia 1979

The science of looking smarter, richer - just smile (that taxing grin)

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this as a professor, but a significant part of what you demonstrate by earning a college degree has nothing to do with what you actually learn in college: completing college is partly about showing that you have the discipline to show up and do the work—whether you want to or not, whether you’re interested in it or not, and regardless of the distractions life presents—because whatever career you pursue, the first and most valuable qualification you can have is the discipline to show up and do the work, no matter what. That’s why many employers preferentially hire people with college degrees even when the work doesn’t require a degree — and that’s why I would be acting unethically if I let you pass this class even though you didn’t show up and do the amount and quality of work required to pass it. Finally, although I doubt you will appreciate this perspective now, I also honestly believe I would be doing you a disservice if I helped you avoid the negative consequences of your own choices and actions — because in the long run, no one can.
Platonic forms explained in an animation in the style of an old-fashioned video game. No, I don’t know why.

This paper holds that philosophy is and has always been relevant to life. The history on this matter is against the likes of Kripke and Soames who claim otherwise, even when it comes to the recent Analytic tradition. But, even more importantly, we argue that even if this history is not quite right, that philosophers have both moral and instrumental reasons for making their work public.

So argue two graduate students in philosophy, Matt Chick (Washington University, St. Louis) and Matthew LaVine (Buffalo), in a paper entitled “The Relevance of Analytic Philosophy to Personal, Public, and Democratic Life,” in Essays in Philosophy.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Anthropology of Professors

Drunken Irishmen, crafty Jews, lazy Africans: Race has always been a convenient way to explain inequality. The genome era is no different... Sla(e)s

Anthropologist John Ziker (Boise State) applied the tools of his trade to the species homo academicus and reports the first of his findings on how professors use their time. Some excerpts:
On average, our faculty participants worked 61 hours per week. That is 50 percent more than a 40-hour workweek. It’s a good thing they love what they do. They worked just over 10 hours per day during the workweek and just under 10 hours on the two weekend days combined…

The most surprising finding of our analysis of practices was that faculty spent approximately 17 percent of their workweek days in meetings. These meetings included everything from advising meetings with students (which could be considered part of teaching or service depending on the department) to committee meetings that have a clear service function. Thirteen percent of the day was spent on email (with functions ranging from teaching to research and service). Thus, 30 percent of faculty time was spent on activities that are not traditionally thought of as part of the life of an academic. Twelve percent of the day was spent on instruction (actual lectures, labs, clinicals etc.), and an equal amount of time was spent on class preparation. Eleven percent of the day was spent on course administration (grading, updating course web pages, etc.). Thus, 35 percent of workweek days was spent on activities traditionally thought of as teaching. Only three percent of our workweek day was spent on primary research and two percent on manuscript writing… On the weekend, faculty spent 23 percent of their time on class preparation, 13 percent on course administration, 10 percent of their time on email, nine percent of their time at workshops/conferences, eight percent of their time in professional conversations, seven percent of their time on professional travel, four percent of their time on manuscript writing, and four percent of their time on what we termed housekeeping, which included cleaning up files, straightening offices and labs and updating computers, among a myriad of other more rare activities.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Everything is Illuminated: Famous writers' prose will be featured on the shop's materials

1979 is about memories, nostalgia, and the human experience... Czechoslovak army and all that jazz that few very few of us write about ;-) 
Memory is one of our greatest gifts; it gives us access to time, to identity, to dreams. Guided by the wisdom of Jackson Sonnanfeld-Arden, discoverer of the Nine Pure Tones, I created 1979 as a concept album through which I could share his brilliant theory, and my life-long infatuation with  memory
People don’t really associate fast food with literature, but that doesn’t mean there’s no way the two can go together.

Chipotle Mexican Grill has launched a new program called Cultivating Thought Author Series, which features original works written by famous writers, influential thought leaders, actors, and comedians on the restaurant’s packaging.

The new program was created in partnership with Jonathan Safran Foer, New York Times best-selling author of novels such as Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseEating Animals, and Everything is Illuminated. The author is also responsible for curating the series and selecting the stories that are meant to entertain customers and help them become more familiar with some of today’s most influential and creative personalities.
We live in a world in which there is shrinking space for literature and writing, and less time than ever for quiet reflection. The idea of expanding the space and time, of creating a small pocket of thoughtfulness right in the middle of the busy day, was inspiring to me – particularly given the size and diversity of the audience, which is America itself.

Packaging in fast food restaurants is typically sold to advertisers, or used to promote new limited-time menu items, but we have never used our packaging that way. Instead, we have used it to entertain our customers using wit, humor and design. Following in that tradition, our new packaging allows customers to connect with a great selection of entertaining and thought-provoking authors they may not otherwise have encountered.