Thursday, May 31, 2012

Philosophy is hell?

Don't guess I want to go there, then...

"Hell Is Other Philosophers: How could a benevolent God create a place of eternal pain and misery? That’s the “problem of hell,” a special case of the “problem of evil.” At Three Quarks Daily, Robert Talisse and Scott Aiken expound two traditional defenses of hell’s compatibility with God’s goodness. Their conclusion is that philosophers are hell’s only residents.
 Opinion - Opinionator -

Monday, May 28, 2012

Percy, Foote, & Faulkner

Connecting more dots between myself, Faulkner & Oxford, and another pair of my favorite southern authors on Walker Percy's birthday.
Percy's early life was marked by tragedy: his grandfather and father both committed suicide with shotguns, and his mother drowned when her car ran off the road into a stream. When his uncle in Greenville, Mississippi, adopted Percy and his little brothers, things took a turn for the better; it was there that he met his lifelong best friend, the neighbor boy Shelby Foote. As teenagers they took a trip to Oxford to meet their hero, William Faulkner — Percy was so overwhelmed that he stayed in the car as Foote and Faulkner talked on the porch. The Joke That Got No Laughs by Hal Sirowitz | The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor
Funny. Last week my traveling companion (my brother-in-law) stayed with the car while I wandered the grounds of Rowan Oak too. But I wandered with the memorial spirit and not the very person of Count No 'count, nearly fifty years since his passing.

This "teahouse" at Brinkwood, near the University of the South at Sewanee, TN was constructed by young Walker Percy and his pal Shelby Foote in the '30s, visited by me in 1996, mentioned in this old post...

Faulkner's niece Dean Faulkner Wells recounts Percy's & Foote's own pilgrimage to Rowan Oak in 1938:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

12 questions for Woody

He's funny without even seeming to try.
"Most annoying thing about me? Constant whining."
"The truth is, there's nobody I want to have dinner with." Etc. 

NATO Strike Kills Family

Something more to ponder while marking the sacrifices of soldiers in our perennial conflicts, this Memorial Day weekend.
"A NATO bombing strike in Afghanistan killed a family of eight, including six children, officials said Sunday. “It’s true. A house was bombed by NATO,” a senior security official in Kabul told the Agence France-Presse. “A man named Mohammad Sahfee, his wife and six of their innocent children were brutally killed.”
NATO Strike Kills Family - The Daily Beast

Friday, May 25, 2012

The descent of Edward Wilson

Dawkins hates E.O. Wilson's new book. No surprise. But what if the cooperation meme really caught on?

"To borrow from Dorothy Parker, this is not a book to be tossed lightly aside. It should be thrown with great force. And sincere regret." The descent of Edward Wilson

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The present of a Stoic

The OleMiss Museum, a half-mile walk through the woods behind Rowan Oak, includes an exhibit of Greek and Roman antiquities. One is a bust of Marcus Aurelius. Thought about him on my walk again yesterday.
For a man cannot lose either the past or the future: for what a man has not, how can any one take this from him?
...the longest liver and he who will die soonest lose just the same. For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which he has, and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Richard Ford on living

Just home from Oxford, MS, from where I tweeted this morning about the great stock Richard Ford places in living. Today's Times Magazine punctuates the point. Note Ford's reply to Andrew Goldman's impudent smartass question:
NYT: It has been six years since your last novel was published, and I gather you weren’t writing for some of that time. What were you doing? Jack Daniel’s and the “Today” show? 
RF: Living, it’s called living. You might call it wasting time, but I just call it living. Going bird hunting, reading books, watching the Red Sox, doing things with my wife that we wouldn’t have time to do if I was writing a book. There’s a whole lot to do once you can get out from under the yoke of working.
Richard Ford Is a Man Who Actually Listens -

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Can Physics and Philosophy Get Along?

"Precisely because science deals with only what can be known, direct or indirectly, by sense experience, it cannot answer the question of whether there is anything — for example, consciousness, morality, beauty or God — that is not entirely knowable by sense experience. To show that there is nothing beyond sense experience, we would need philosophical arguments, not scientific experiments." Can Physics and Philosophy Get Along? -

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sir Paul meets Lord Russell

McCartney describes his meeting with Russell.
Somehow I got his number and called him up. I figured him as a good speaker, I’d seen him on television, I’d read various bits and pieces and was very impressed by his dignity and the clarity of this thinking, so when I got a chance I went down and met him. Bertrand Russell lived in Chelsea in one of those little terrace houses, I think it was Flood Street. He had the archetypal American assistant... (continuesHow Bertrand Russell Turned The Beatles Against the Vietnam War | Open Culture

Friday, May 11, 2012

The science of memory

I keep forgetting to read Moonwalking with Einstein. Maybe I'll remember to watch its author's TED Talk.
"In 2005 science writer Joshua Foer went to cover the U.S. Memory Championship. A year later he was back -- as contestant. A year of mental training with Europe's top memorizer turned into a book, Moonwalking with Einstein, which is both a chronicle of his immersion in the memory culture and wonderfully accessible and informative introduction to the science of memory."
Joshua Foer | Profile on

Science Tales

Science Tales "looks into belief in chiropractic and homeopathy; denial of moon landings, climate change and evolution, the anti-vaccination movement, and related subjects. It concludes with a tremendous piece on the forces that give rise to anti-scientific/anti-evidence movements, which Cunningham attributes to the deadly cocktail of cynical corporate media-manipulation and humanity's built-in cognitive blind-spots." Science Tales: short comic stories about science, skepticism, evidence and woo - Boing Boing

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"We have to let things go"

"We live, then, in a dark time here on our tiny precious planet. Ecological devastation, political and economic collapse, irreconcilable ideological and religious conflict, poverty, famine: the end of the overshoot of cheap-oil-based consumer capitalist expansionism...

Humans tend to try to manage things: land, structures, even rivers. We spend enormous amounts of time, energy, and treasure in imposing our will on nature, on preexisting or inherited structures, dreaming of permanent solutions, monuments to our ambitions and dreams. But in periods of slack, decline, or collapse, our abilities no longer suffice for all this management. We have to let things go. All things "go" somewhere: they evolve, with or without us, into new forms..."

Ernest Callenbach's Last Words to America | Mother Jones 'via Blog this'

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Against Chairs

Against Chairs: "sitting for extended periods during the day dramatically increased participants’ risk of death. The result held even among participants who exercised regularly, and although there’s the usual confusion over causation and correlation, the study falls atop a growing pile of evidence that long times spent seated are a contributing cause of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, and practically innumerable orthopedic injuries. It does not matter if you are young, eat well and live an otherwise active life. Just being seated, in excess, will hurt you." 'via Blog this'

The remedy:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When an Atheist Parent Introduces Her Child to Jesus for the First Time…

When an Atheist Parent Introduces Her Child to Jesus for the First Time…: "Atheist comedian Julia Sweeney (Letting Go of God) recently watched the movie Jesus Christ Superstar with her daughter Mulan. She was so bewildered. I realized that since she hasn’t been inculcated with religious behaviors, everything just seems weird to her. Things I would have never had the naive open-mindedness to even ask. For example, at one point she asked me, “Why do those sick people want to touch Jesus?” I said, “Because they think he’s magic and can heal them.” Mulan said, “Why would anyone think that?” Me: “Because they didn’t have very much scientific information.” Mulan: “That’s crazy.” Then I had to stop the film and tell her that lots of people in the world still believe things like that.  'via Blog this' Accelerating Intelligence News