Monday, March 26, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
About two years ago, fellow philosopher Jonathan Ichikawa saw me give my "Possible Girls" paper, which I'm currently submitting for publication. He has a webcomic discussing this significant issue, in a somewhat ontological-argument related context.
My friend Warren made avatars of a bunch of us. I like mine a lot -- it's the 4th from the top.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Serbian vampire hunters have acted to prevent the very remote possibility that former dictator Slobodan Milosevic might stage a come-back - by driving a three-foot stake through his heart...
Miroslav Milosevic said "he and his fellow vampire hunters acted to stop the former dictator returning from the dead to haunt the country". His team explained that the wooden stake had been "driven into the ground and through the late president's heart".
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Saturday, March 10, 2007
In 2004, New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley described Fox as "the conservative cable network", and Fox immediately called for a retraction. If you want the money, power, and influence that comes from being a network with a broad audience, you can't let yourself be regarded as the provider of a niche product, and a politically biased niche product at that.
In addition to the immediate benefits of cancelling the Fox News debate in Nevada -- we won't have to deal with conservatives immediately framing the Democratic candidates' views in a negative light -- I'm hoping that this will be the beginning of the marginalization of Fox News. If Fox keeps getting this kind of treatment from Democratic leaders like John Edwards, whose decision not to participate was instrumental to the debate's collapse, it'll be a lot easier for reporters to rightly tag Fox as conservative. I hope for a situation where even the most politically tuned-out viewers are on guard against Fox's conservative bias, and people choosing channels for a TV in a public area will see picking Fox News as a strong political statement that they probably don't want to make.
(Searching for "conservative cable network" on Google News gives some interesting results. At this writing, four almost identical stories turn up about Edwards' decision not to do the Fox News debate. In three of them, the word 'conservative' has been removed. I don't know who oversees these decisions, but thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle for printing the article as it stood.)
Anyone hoping for the marginalization of Fox News has to be happy about the Edwards campaign's statement following the collapse of the debate, which attacked "Fox's long history of spreading Republican propaganda at the expense of Democratic leaders," and specifically criticized its "blatant lies about Senator Obama's background." I'm very happy about seeing Edwards come to Obama's side -- defending a good Democrat against ridiculous right-wing smears costs you little and will win you friends.
As for whether Edwards made a smart political move in rejecting the Fox debate, I'm closer to Garance's position (Edwards made a smart call and will win bloggers' hearts) than Ezra's (Edwards took one for the team; Fox will come after him with a vengeance). Democratic primary voters aren't going to take Fox's word for it when they come out with ridiculous anti-Edwards smears. But I'm not sure, because if some of the Fox smears get play in other media outlets it could still be quite damaging. We'll have to see how this plays out, and I'm hoping for an outcome where Democrats work together to degrade Fox's position by the time the general election begins. In the meantime, I'm going be proud that my guy hit back hard against one of the most vicious forces in the media. Let's have more of that.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
we should never forget how astonishing it is that people vying for power are willing to concede even when they believe that the rules have been broken, out of respect for the rule of law and for courts they believe to be profoundly in error.
In many countries, there are no established procedures for resolving conflicts, and certainly none that command the kind of allegiance that would lead people to yield even when they believe that they deserve to have won. In those countries it will always be tempting to think: well, this election was stolen from us, and this year-old Constitution is unfair; why not fight for a better one? Wouldn't our opponents do the same?
This is especially likely in a country in which the price of losing a political struggle has always been not just being in the minority party in Congress, but death or subjugation. And it takes a long time to learn to trust that losing power will not cost you your life or your freedom, when all your experience to date has taught you the opposite.
When you use force to liberate a country, like Kuwait, that has only been occupied for a short time, you can hope that its people will accept their previous government, and that whatever made that government function in the past will have survived. But when you liberate a country like Iraq, a country whose people have been brutalized, you risk loosing Hobbes' "war of all against all" on its people. You remove the sovereign who has kept that war in check, without thereby creating any of the political virtues that allow alternate forms of government, like democracy, to function.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Although her words did not hurt us, they may have hurt some in the gay community. We are all sick and tired of anyone supporting or applauding or introducing hate words into the national dialogue, tired of people thinking that words that cause others pain are fair game. And we are sick and tired of people like Miss Coulter thinking that her use of loaded words about the homosexual community in this country is remotely humorous or appropriate.
In general, this is how people should respond to homophobic or racist language -- hit back against the speakers for being prejudiced. Enough progress has been made on the more crude variety of racial slurs that even outside polite society, they do more to damage the speaker than to humiliate the target of the language. It won't be long until antigay slurs work the same way, and every bit of scorn that we throw at people who use the slurs brings that time closer.