31 December 2005 - Saturday

Happy new year

Down with 2005! To the health of 2006!

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 21:29 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

30 December 2005 - Friday

Choose one from three

Via Irregular Analyses (and before that, normblog):

1. Beatles, Stones or Beach Boys? Beatles
2. Kant, Hegel, Marx? Kant
3. Cluedo, Monopoly, Scrabble? Monopoly
4. Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford? Newman
5. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart? Beethoven
6. Australia, Canada, New Zealand? New Zealand
7. Groucho, Chico, Harpo? Groucho
8. Morning, afternoon, evening? Afternoon
9. Bridge, Canasta, Poker? I'll get back to you
10. Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou? O Brother, Where Art Thou
11. Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau? Locke
12. Cricket, football, rugby? Football ... i.e., soccer
13. Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte? Austen
14. Parker, Gillespie, Monk? Monk
15. Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham? Arsenal sounds coolest
16. Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld? Seinfeld
17. Henry Fonda, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart? Stewart
18. France, Germany, Italy? France
19. Apple, orange, banana? Orange
20. Statham, Tyson, Trueman? Right
21. Rio Bravo, El Dorado, Rio Lobo? Rio Bravo
22. Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Ingrid Bergman? Bergman
23. Chinese, Indian, Thai? Chinese
24. Handel, Scarlatti, Vivaldi? Handel
25. Oasis, Radiohead, Blur? OK
26. Fawlty Towers, The Young Ones, Yes Minister? Fawlty Towers
27. Chekhov, Ibsen, Shaw? Shaw, so far
28. American football, baseball, basketball? Baseball
29. FDR, JFK, Bill Clinton? FDR
30. Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky? Trotsky
31. Paris, Rome, New York? Rome
32. Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Steinbeck? Fitzgerald
33. Blue, green, red? Green
34. Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, West Side Story? My Fair Lady
35. J.S. Mill, John Rawls, Robert Nozick? Mill!
36. Armstrong, Ellington, Goodman? Armstrong
37. Ireland, Scotland, Wales (at rugby)? Wales sounds good
38. The Sopranos, 24, Six Feet Under? Six Feet Under
39. Friday, Saturday, Sunday? Saturday
40. Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear? Hamlet
41. Fried, boiled, scrambled (eggs)? Boiled
42. Paths of Glory, Cross of Iron, Saving Private Ryan? Saving Private Ryan
43. England, Australia, West Indies (at cricket)? England
44. Chabrol, Godard, Truffaut? Chabrol so far
45. Bringing It All Back Home, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks? Sounds scary
46. Trains, planes, automobiles? Trains, whenever possible
47. North By Northwest, Psycho, Vertigo? North By Northwest
48. Third, Fourth, Fifth (Beethoven Piano Concerto)? Fifth
49. Coffee, tea, chocolate? Tea
50. Cardiff, Edinburgh, Dublin? Edinburgh

| Your riposte is requested - 5 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 16:59 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Frivolity Desk

28 December 2005 - Wednesday

Reading list

Matt Zoller Seitz argues that Hollywood has made the American public willing to condone torture when it's done by the good guys. (Via AJ)

Brendan O'Neill says that in its reactions to the trials of Orhan Pamuk and David Irving, Europe is promulgating a double standard on free speech. (Via A&LD)

Not only is the United States an empire, argues Chris Bertram, it is an empire in more than one traditional sense.

Meanwhile, John Gray critiques Robert Kaplan's imperial vision, suggesting instead that we are returning to an era of great powers. (Via 3QD)

Die Welt's Paul Badde interviews Pedro Barrajon, a Roman Catholic exorcist.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 10:49 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk

26 December 2005 - Monday

Liberty and individuality

Isaiah Berlin:

In so far as I live in society, everything that I do inevitably affects, and is affected by, what others do. Even Mill's strenuous effort to mark the distinction between the spheres of private and social life breaks down under examination. Virtually all of Mill's critics have pointed out that everything that I do may have results which will harm other human beings. Moreover, I am a social being in a deeper sense than that of interaction with others. For am I not what I am, to some degree, in virtue of what others think and feel me to be? When I ask myself what I am, and answer: an Englishman, a Chinese, a merchant, a man of no importance, a millionaire, a convict -- I find upon analysis that to possess these attributes entails being recognised as belonging to a particular group or class by other persons in my society, and that this recognition is part of the meaning of most of the terms that denote some of my most personal and permanent characteristics. I am not disembodied reason. Nor am I Robinson Crusoe, alone upon his island. It is not only that my material life depends upon interaction with other men, or that I am what I am as a result of social forces, but that some, perhaps all, of my ideas about myself, in particular my sense of my own moral and social identity, are intelligible only in terms of the social network in which I am (the metaphor must not be pressed too far) an element.

The lack of freedom about which men or groups complain amounts, as often as not, to the lack of proper recognition. I may be seeking not for what Mill would wish me to seek, namely security from coercion, arbitrary arrest, tyranny, deprivation of certain opportunities of action, or for room within which I am legally accountable to no one for my movements. Equally, I may not be seeking for a rational plan of social life, or the self-perfection of a dispassionate sage. What I may seek to avoid is simply being ignored, or patronised, or despised, or being taken too much for granted -- in short, not being treated as an individual, having my uniqueness insufficiently recognised, being classed as a member of some featureless amalgam, a statistical unit without identifiable, specifically human features and purposes of my own. This is the degradation that I am fighting against -- I am not seeking equality of legal rights, nor liberty to do as I wish (although I may want these too), but a condition in which I can feel that I am, because I am taken to be, a responsible agent, whose will is taken into consideration because I am entitled to, even if I am attacked and persecuted for being what I am or choosing as I do.


And what is true of the individual is true of groups, social, political, economic, religious, that is, of men conscious of needs and purposes which they have as members of such groups.

-- "Two Concepts of Liberty" (1958). Liberty, ed. Henry Hardy. Oxford, 2002. 201-202.

This is why, as much as I loathe nationalism in most of its forms, I respect its power to inspire. It is one of the reasons I am skeptical of the current foreign policies of the American right. In my opinion, they often fail to respect the moral power held by alternative visions of human freedom. In other words, we sometimes should believe people (though not their governments) when they say that they want independence from us even at the price of less liberty at home. Slaves are perfectly capable of being nationalists.

| Your riposte is requested - 2 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 15:40 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Power Desk

25 December 2005 - Sunday

Happy holidays

Which is to say, merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah.

| Your riposte is requested - 5 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 10:49 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

23 December 2005 - Friday

Not an exact science

Isaiah Berlin:

History is not identical with imaginative literature, but it is certainly not free from what, in a natural science, would be rightly condemned as unwarrantably subjective and even, in an empirical sense of the term, intuitive. Except on the assumption that history must deal with human beings purely as material objects in space -- must, in short, be behaviourist -- its method can scarcely be assimilated to the standards of an exact natural science. The invocation to historians to suppress even that minimal degree of moral or psychological insight and evaluation which is necessarily involved in viewing human beings as creatures with purposes and motives (and not merely as causal factors in the procession of events) seems to me to spring from a confusion of the aims and methods of the humane studies with those of natural science. Purely descriptive, wholly depersonalised history remains, what it always has been, a figment of abstract theory, a violently exaggerated reaction to the cant and vanity of earlier generations.
-- "Historical Inevitability" (1954). Liberty, ed. Henry Hardy. Oxford, 2002. 140-141.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 20:48 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk

22 December 2005 - Thursday

Reading more list

Doug Johnson predicts that the courts eventually will promulgate a test to enforce religious neutrality, not secularism, in the public schools: "where IDers have been put in the dubious position of having to argue that ID serves a secular purpose, those opposed to ID will soon be in the awkward position of having to argue that evolution is in no way hostile to religion."

The teaser trailer is out for Apocalypto. (Via FilmChat)

Jared Wheeler is posting his senior undergraduate research project, "Exorcising the Demons of Myth and Myopia: The Southern Literary Renaissance, 1929-1965" in segments -- minus the gallons and gallons of footnotes, sadly. Parts I, II, III, and IV are up so far.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 20:47 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk

21 December 2005 - Wednesday

Reading list

For the Guardian, Kathryn Hughes reviews Evelyn Welch's book Shopping in the Renaissance. (Via A&LD)

The American Chesterton Society now has a blog. (Via Brandon)

Rob MacDougall has found connections between nineteenth-century spiritualism and both technology and feminism/misogyny. (Via Ralph)

Blogs4God and the Evangelical Outpost are calling for Christian bloggers' responses to Charles Krauthammer's "The Truth about Torture." As much as some of these people complain about the dangers of moral relativism, I see dithering going on here. Some of the bloggers listed at blogs4God are being kind of vague; Mean Dean, at least, has the courage to argue directly that torture is a legitimate instrument of total war. He also, rather more strangely, says this: "Removing the torture option from the table – or at least the threat of it – encourages opponents of Iraqi freedom to continue acting as illegal combatants now that the most significant peril of such an act has been removed." I suppose the same could be said of a threat to kill their wives and children -- or maybe crucify them.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 11:16 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk

20 December 2005 - Tuesday

Cory Maye is innocent

At Cliopatria, Ralph Luker is presenting what I consider prima facie evidence that Cory Maye's condemnation to death is a mockery of justice:

At Maye's apartment, the police officers attempted entry at the front door, before forcing their entry at the rear. Asleep in a bedroom with an infant daughter, Maye was awakened, thought someone was breaking into the apartment, and picked up his gun. In rapid succession, he fired three times. A bullet hit and killed the first officer to enter the back door, Ronald Jones. When other officers shouted "Police," Maye ceased firing and surrendered to arrest.

There is no evidence that Officer Ronald Jones even knew the identity of the person who occupied Maye's apartment. He knew so little about the occupants of the apartment he broke into that Cory Maye's name did not even appear on the warrant for the raid. Maye is an African American; Ronald Jones was white. Not only was Jones white, but he was the son of the Prentiss Police Chief, who has subsequently retired. Ronald Jones was not a regular member of the narcotics task force at Prentiss, but a member of its K-9 squad. Nonetheless, he alone conducted the investigation leading to the raid, kept no records of his investigation, and its findings died with him. At the time of Maye's arrest for murder, the arresting officers found no drugs in his apartment and he had no police record at all. Only days later, on re-examining Maye's apartment did officers find traces of marijuana in it. But in January 2004, a local jury of 10 white and 2 black people convicted Cory Maye of capital murder and sentenced him to death by lethal injection. Today, he sits on Mississippi's death row.

That op-ed is here, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution failed to publish it; so far, only bloggers seem to be covering the story. Luker says, "If we let his story die, [Maye] will."

Comment from The Agitator:

Facts in Dispute:

# Whether or not the narcotics task force sufficiently announced themselves and gave Maye time to peacefully answer the door before forcing entry.

# Where the drugs in Maye's apartment came from.

# Why the times listed on the evidence sheets for both Maye and Smith's apartments were repeatedly scribbled out. Why Maye's sheet lists no exact time the evidence was collected. Why the evidence in Smith's apartment was collected on the 26th, immediately after the raid, while the evidence in Maye's was apparently collected at 5:20am the next day (though again, that time was the last of three times entered, the first two being scribbled out to the point of being illegible).

# The legitimacy of the warrant for Maye's residence. It appears to have been issued solely on the word of a confidential informant, who says he spotted marijuana in the apartment. If the warrant was illegitimate, police should never have broken down Maye's door. If it was legitimate, they'd still have to have clearly announced themselves, and given Maye time to answer the door, for him to be guilty of capital murder.

# According to Maye's first attorney, two jurors told her after trial that Maye was convicted because (1) jurors resented Maye's attorney for suggesting in her closing argument that God would remember whether or not they'd shown Maye mercy when it came time for their judgment day, and (2) the didn't like Maye's upbringing -- they found him to be spoiled and disrespectful.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 14:43 Central | Link
| Report submitted to the Power Desk

16 December 2005 - Friday

History Carnival XXII

The twenty-second History Carnival is up at Frog in a Well - Korea, with Jonathan Dresner serving as host. As usual, I present a sample:

Mark A. Rayner has unearthed the lost PowerPoint slides of the reign of Elizabeth I. >>

Natalie Bennett is recommending the work of a Victorian novelist who had some feminist leanings. >>

Eric Muller has found a memo explaining why the US refused to bomb railroad tracks leading to Nazi death camps during World War II. >>

Kristine Steenbergh has been researching British early modern swimming. >>

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 21:06 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk

15 December 2005 - Thursday

11 December 2005 - Sunday

Narnia, illustrated

I saw The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with eight friends last night. I recommend going, but I warn people to keep their hopes low to avoid disappointment. Mainly, I wish that the visual effects hadn't gotten both (both!) the LOTR and the Star Wars treatments, and that Aslan hadn't been quite so kenotic; theology aside, Lewis' lion is a lot more impressive than this one ever tries to be.

| Your riposte is requested - 12 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 19:12 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk

8 December 2005 - Thursday

The judgments of man and God

I ran across a scanned Confederate textbook today and thought I should share it. I'm quoting two portions here. Painful as the first quotation is, it's not exactly surprising; I recommend continuing through my second excerpt for the really interesting part.

The Geographical Reader, for the Dixie Children (Raleigh: Branson, Farrar & Co., Publishers, Biblical Recorder Print, 1863), by Mrs. M. B. Moore.

LESSON X: Races of Men

The men who inhabit the globe, are not all alike. Those in Europe and America are mostly white and are called the Caucasian race. This race is civilized, and is far above the others. They have schools and churches and live in fine style. They also generally have wise and good men for rulers, and a regular form of government. The women are treated with respect and tenderness, and in many cases their wish is law among their male friends.

2. There is a class of people who inhabit most of Asia which is of a yellow color. They are a quiet, plodding race, but when educated are sensible and shrewd. They have some books, and a regular form of government, but they are heathen; I mean by this that they worship images made of wood and stone. They do not know about Jesus. And yet they pray to those idols much oftener than we christians do to our Savior. This race is called the Mongolion. Missionaries have been sent to teach them about Jesus. When they every become converted, they hold fast their profession, and are not fickle like some races.

3. When the white people came to this country, they found a red or copper colored race. This people they named Indians, because they thought they had sailed west until they had come to India in Asia. They were tall, with long black hair, and high cheekbones. They went nearly naked, and were cruel, and warlike. They were good friends, but terrible enemies. They were governed by Chiefs, and had not books. The women performed most of the labor, and were called Squaws. This is called the American race. They now have books, schools and churches, and many of them learn about Jesus.

4. The African or negro race is found in Africa. They are slothful and vicious, but possess little cunning. They are very cruel to each other, and when they have want they sell their prisoners to the white people for slaves. They know nothing of Jesus, and the climate in Africa is so unhealthy that white men can scarcely go there to preach to them. The slaves who are found in America are in much better condition. They are better fed, better clothed, and better instructed than in their native country.

5. These people who are descendants of Ham the son of Noah; who was cursed because he did not treat his father with respect.--It was told him he should serve his brethren forever. That would seem a hard sentence but, it was probably done to show other children how wicked it was to treat their parents so. We can not tell how they came to be black, and have wool on their heads.

6. There is still another race called the Malay. They are black and have wool on their heads, but not like the African. They are very fierce and will die rather than be made slaves. They are also cunning and treacherous, and will have little dealings with white men. They eat the flesh of their enemies, and are called cannibals. They have killed several preachers who went away there to preach: but some of them have become christians.

7. Now, dear children, you have heard how miserable many of the human family are. If they knew about Jesus, they would be happy as you are. There are good men who are willing to go and teach them, but but they lack money to bear their expenses. Can not each of you give something to help send the gospel to the heathen.

That sort of thing was de rigueur, I suppose, in literature published "for the Dixie children" in 1863. But here's what took me by surprise:

Q. How do the Indians live?

A. By hunting and fishing.

Q. Where did they once live?

A. In all America.

Q. What has become of them?

A. The white people drove them away and took their lands.

Q. Are they all gone?

A. A few of them live in some places but do not seem much happy.

Q. Was it not wrong to drive them away and take their lands?

A. It was, and God will judge the white man for it.

Q. May not some of the wars we have had, have been such judgments?

A. Very likely.

| Your riposte is requested - 3 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 16:24 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk

And the weather is cold today

The paper is done. I made it most of the way down the 21st page early Wednesday morning, then -- as if it were the most natural thing in the world -- stopped. After reading through the paper later that day, I made a few repairs and expanded the ending paragraph. I printed out my final draft around four in the afternoon and stumbled through a short presentation on it an hour later.

Right now, I am finishing Philip Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew so that I can turn in a short review in class (Life and Teachings of Christ) at noon. After that, I suppose I'll have to turn my attention to Financial Management work and studying, which I have neglected for the last couple of weeks. I'll also need to see about those graduate school applications. I keep saying I want to, like, go to graduate school, so I should probably avoid missing the December deadlines a few of my choices have in place.

| Your riposte is requested - 4 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 9:50 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Education Desk

4 December 2005 - Sunday

Term paper progress

I have a very long way to go on my Tocqueville paper. It is due Wednesday everning and needs to be 20-25 pages long. I won't disclose my current length, but ... let's just say I started the actual writing sometime this afternoon.

On the positive side, I have an ironclad thesis. It falls into the disseverment school of Gordian-knot-untying; I choose between two opposing answers to a question by taking issue with the question. It looks mealy-mouthed and ridiculously complicated, but I've never been more proud of a thesis in my life.

I've just inserted my first block quotation, a bit I clawed out of the French myself (quite unnecessarily, since I also have a translation from someone who knew what he was doing):

I am not a believer (which I am far from saying in order to praise myself), but nonbeliever that I am, I have never been able to keep myself from profound emotion in reading the Gospel. Several of the most important doctrines contained there have always struck me as absolutely new, and the collection forms something entirely different from the body of philosophical ideas and moral laws that had previously governed human societies.
Right. Back to work, then.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 21:30 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Education Desk

3 December 2005 - Saturday

Massively multiplayer

Austerlitz -- reenacted by 4,000 people from 23 countries.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 22:56 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk

Student literary conference

LETU had its own little student literary conference this morning. Although the conference was the idea, I believe, of Dr. Watson, who included it as part of this year's Literary Criticism syllabus, most of the actual planning was up to undergraduates. We had a student MC, student session chairs, and student presenters. I must congratulate all of the organizers and apologize for getting some of their credit; contrary to Dr. C's impression, I did nothing at all to make this happen. The event you planned was marvelous.

I presented a paper I wrote last spring, discussing Philip Larkin's poem "High Windows." The content of the poem raises eyebrows at this conservative Christian school -- which was precisely, I explained to my audience, the point. Fortunately, my session had no siblings or parents present -- unlike that of the unlucky Jared Wheeler, who presented a paper on Lolita to an audience that included some uncomfortable-looking families.

Regrettably, I'm not in any English courses this semester, so I won't get class credit for attending or presenting. Nevertheless, I relished the event for its own sake. I saw several excellent presentations from other students, including some whose work I had never been able to see before, and I am grateful that I was allowed to make my own contribution. I wish this sort of thing were not so very rare on this campus.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 19:33 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Education Desk

Explain me this

When my roommate pulled up the weather forecast this morning, this is what he saw:

Texas weather

| Your riposte is requested - 2 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 13:56 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

1 December 2005 - Thursday

History Carnival XXI

The twenty-first History Carnival is up at CLEWS: The Historic True Crime Blog. This edition features several bloggers I haven't seen before, including the following:

Greg tells us about two saints named Gregory. >>

Brett Holman notes an interesting perspective on air power at the beginning of World War II. >>

Evan Roberts identifies today's suspicions of Wal-Mart as part of a long tradition of concerns about mass retailing -- and suggests that an opposing utopian view exists as well. >>

Jonathan Edelstein recounts the unexpected downfall of a successful thief in 18th-century London. >>

Kerim Friedman attacks the cliché of the "ancient peoples." >>

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 16:07 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk