Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Reading the book

I read my phone, my fire, my paperwhite, and my books. The more platforms the better, right? But there really is no substitute for a good old-fashioned bound and printed book.
...while digital devices may be fine for reading that we don’t intend to muse over or reread, text that requires what’s been called "deep reading" is nearly always better done in print... Digital reading also encourages distraction and invites multitasking. Among American and Japanese subjects, 92 percent reported it was easiest to concentrate when reading in hard copy. (The figure for Germany was 98 percent.) In this country, 26 percent indicated they were likely to multitask while reading in print, compared with 85 percent when reading on-screen. Imagine wrestling with Finnegan’s Wake while simultaneously juggling Facebook and booking a vacation flight. You get the point...
But will you get and read the book?

How E-Reading Threatens Learning in the Humanities - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Monday, July 14, 2014

Roger Ebert, philosopher

“I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization.” 

“We are put on this planet only once, and to limit ourselves to the familiar is a crime against our minds.” 

“Socrates told us, "the unexamined life is not worth living." I think he's calling for curiosity, more than knowledge. In every human society at all times and at all levels, the curious are at the leading edge.” 

“What I believe is that all clear-minded people should remain two things throughout their lifetimes: Curious and teachable.” 

“An honest bookstore would post the following sign above its 'self-help' section: 'For true self-help, please visit our philosophy, literature, history and science sections, find yourself a good book, read it, and think about it.”  I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie

“Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”  Life Itself

“All I require of a religion is that it be tolerant of those who do not agree with it.” 

“Because we are human, because we are bound by gravity and the limitations of our bodies, because we live in a world where the news is often bad and the prospects disturbing, there is a need for another world somewhere, a world where Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers live.”  The Great Movies III

“Life always has an unhappy ending, but you can have a lot of fun along the way, and everything doesn't have to be dripping in deep significance.” 

“There are no guarantees. But there is also nothing to fear. We come from oblivion when we are born. We return to oblivion when we die. The astonishing thing is this period of in-between.” 


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Land of the free

To get into the 9/11 Memorial Museum, you have to pass through a world-class security arrangement—a conveyor belt for shoes, belt buckles, cell phones; a three-second hands-above-your-head body scan—overseen by a notably grim private-security corps. “Stand there!” uniformed guards shout at those in line moseying ahead. “Don’t advance.” A terrorist planning to commit an atrocity at a museum devoted to the horrors of terrorist atrocities might seem unduly biddable to his enemy’s purpose, but then perhaps the security apparatus is itself a museum installation. At the other end, as you exit, toward West Street, another uniformed man is obliged to spend his day telling kids not to stand on the benches in the memorial park. “You, there! Down.” It doesn’t occur to the kids that standing on the granite plinths could be an offense, and they wonder at first whom the guard could be addressing. They look bewildered—you mean us?—and then descend. The idea that we celebrate the renewal of our freedom by deploying uniformed guards to prevent children from playing in an outdoor park is not just bizarre in itself but participates in a culture of fear that the rest of the city, having tested, long ago discarded...
...The "last night" letter of the terrorists is posted on a wall, but without any English translation. And so the deeper truth that religious fanaticism was the whole of their horrible cause--that, in the last-night letter God is cited a hundred and twenty-one times--is elided... They did not hate us for our freedom, they hated us for our lack of [their form of] faith... Their godliness does not exhaust the meanings of religion, any more than Pol Pot's atheism exhausts the meanings of doubt. But is is a central fact of the occasion, not illuminated by being ignored.
 Adam Gopnik: Visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum : The New Yorker

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Miseducation of America

"The truth is, there are powerful forces at work in our society that are actively hostile to the college ideal. That distrust critical thinking and deny the proposition that democracy necessitates an educated citizenry. That have no use for larger social purposes. That decline to recognize the worth of that which can’t be bought or sold. Above all, that reject the view that higher education is a basic human right."

The Miseducation of America - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hope commences in heartbreak

Proving that optimism need not be pie-eyed or uninformed or stupid, a reverse mirror-image of pessimism... They're really talking about meliorism. And doing it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We must SIT, to think?!

I've found my bete noire. He's The Thinker.
The specific association of philosophy with walking, which features so prominently in Gros’s book, is itself a middle-sized thought worth looking at a little harder. We call Aristotle’s philosophical school Peripatetic because legend holds that he liked to walk about as he lectured, but the name may simply be a corruption of the school’s original nickname, derived from the peripatoi, or colonnades, of the Athenian Lyceum. Aristotle’s fondness for travel—born in Stagira, he was an outsider in Athens who ventured away on numerous occasions, most famously to tutor the truculent Alexander the Great—may also have been a factor. There is no internal evidence that his ideas are rooted in walking, except in the general sense that he believed in observation of the natural world as a prerequisite for science.
Even solitary philosophizing may prove less amenable to the stroll than we often imagine...
We must eventually cease walking, if we are truly to think." 
Challenge accepted. I'm going to go walking, to think about that.

Bright Stroll, Big City - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Philosophy of Walking

"Solitude is an important aspect of creative thought. You could make an argument that in our information overloaded world where our senses are stimulated nearly 18 hours a day, solitude and calming our minds is more important than ever. Walking allows us time to play with ideas, explore concepts, and be wrong in our thinking without worrying about others seeing the rawness of our thoughts. I’ve never been a big walker, but after reading Frederic Gros’ A Philosophy of Walking, I think I’ll start walking more..." A Philosophy of Walking: Thoreau, Nietzsche and Kant on Walki
I've long been a big walker, but after reading this notice I think I'll start walking more urgently.

Not "faster," just better. 

Walking is the best way to go more slowly than any other method that has ever been found.
Walking is the best way to go more slowly than any other method that has ever been found.

"Do not believe any idea that was not born in the open air and of free movement..." Nietzsche

Friday, May 9, 2014

Re-amateurize collegiate sports

Professionalize collegiate athletics? No. Re-amateurize it, and make the pros start their own minor leagues.
"The N.F.L. and the N.B.A., which profit indecently from the free development of talent provided by colleges, need to start their own minor leagues, and the colleges should threaten non-participation in events like the draft in order to pressure them to do so. In basketball*, a gifted few already move directly from high school to the pros, but the standard development of players enforces a route, however hypocritical and short-lived, through a college team. In football, prospective professional players have essentially no choice but to attend college, or feign to. Establish credible minor leagues in these sports, as already exist in hockey and baseball, and the young athletes who want to play sports for money would be free to do so, and the ones who want to get a college education first and then play sports for money later can do that, with the knowledge that they will be able to do something else if a sports career doesn’t work out."
Adam Gopnik: Is It Time to Rethink College Sports? : The New Yorker


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