September 2005

2005 09 30
The Relativist

Posted by in: Philosophy, Relativism

Steven Metcalf doesn’t like Simon Blackburn’s latest:

While Blackburn generously names his allies�the philosophers Bernard Williams, Thomas Nagel, and Hilary Putnam�details about his enemies are left sketchy. In Truth, the hostility to the unnamed relativist so overflows at points as to make her sound more like a solipsist, a nihilist, or even a willful and demented child. I spent a number of years in and around English departments and certainly met plenty of nudniks and witnessed my share of bizarre seminar discussions. But never once did I meet the shameless knave that Blackburn describes.

Well, I have. Repeatedly. Undergraduates tend to be the worst offenders when it comes to spouting relativistic nonsense, but they have older, and only slightly more sophisticated, allies all over the humanities, philosophy departments for the most part excepted. So I’m as puzzled by Steven Metcalf’s claim as he is of Blackburn’s.

Howls of outrage (10)

2005 09 30
Y’see, Up is Down. In other words, Up is the same as Down. Now there are some people who think that Down is not the same as UP, and that UPPIDY people can’t read or vote. I reject that.


President Bush, 9/28/05:
At this moment, more than a dozen Iraqi battalions have completed training and are conducting anti-terrorist operations in Ramadi and Fallujah. More than 20 battalions are operating in Baghdad. And some have taken the lead in operations in major sectors of the city. In total, more than 100 battalions are operating throughout Iraq. Our commanders report that the Iraqi forces are operating with increasing effectiveness.

Associated Press, 9/29/05:

The number of Iraqi battalions capable of combat without U.S. support has dropped from three to one, the top American commander in Iraq told Congress Thursday.

Comments Off

2005 09 30
Dolphins and miniature guide horses: two follow-ups

Posted by in: Odds and ends

A while ago, I posted about miniature guide horses, an idea too silly to go untried in a world that just can’t seem to get enough silly. (Not that I hate horses, mind you.) Well, I’m happy to report that intrepid Explananda correspondent and photographer “A” may never post here, but she does occasionally call in a story. And so it was that about two weeks ago I received a breathless call with the news that she had seen one such guide horse leading a man through Times Square. This is the sort of thing that A lives for. Cause ya gotta live for somethin’, right?

More recently, Anne noted that some armed killer dolphins had escaped. Well, guess where one just turned up. Go Sean!

Comments Off

2005 09 30

Posted by in: Odds and ends

This made me laugh:

(I am large, I hate multitudes)

Comments Off

2005 09 29

Posted by in: Baseball

I’m looking for some clever way to say this, but the simple truth is: I love David Ortiz.

My love for him is pure and unconditional. Although of course, it is deepened and enriched by the fact that Ortiz has been dragging the rest of the Red Sox along behind him in a sack for a couple of months now.

Howls of outrage (6)

2005 09 27
And welcome to the Department of Homeland Security’s “No fly list”

Posted by in: Political issues

Upyernoz promised me a postcard from Syria, and today I got it!

I’m especially impressed, since I suck at writing postcards.

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2005 09 27
I will have told you so

Posted by in: Anecdotal, Predictions

When my wife and I were apartment hunting in Brooklyn in August, our decision finally came down to an apartment in Ditmas Park and one on 23rd St. between 3rd and 4th Avenues. Although the one on 23rd St. had unparalleled access to a very wide variety of porn shops – just joking, Mom! – I think we chose wisely in taking the Ditmas Park apartment. Now, I mention this because one thing I actually gave some thought to was the fact that the 23rd St. apartment was really close to the water, and so pretty vulnerable in the event of a horrific tidal wave or hurricane. These thoughts were before Katrina, of course, proving that my fretting is nothing if not thorough. (If you know where 23rd St. is in Brooklyn, this graphic from the NYT illustrates the problem well.)

Anyway, I’ve made the mistake in the past of failing to publish my fears at the time I have them, so that no one believes me afterwards. (I won’t give you examples. You wouldn’t believe me.) So I would just like to have a public record of my fears for 23rd St. so that if anything happens I can point back to this post and appear wise. And if nothing happens, no one will remember this anyway. Not even me.

Update: OK, I suppose I should confess that I never predicted this. They found the iguana about 400 metres from where we currently live. There is danger lurking everywhere.

Howls of outrage (2)

2005 09 26
Our man in Damascus

Posted by in: Political issues

Upyernoz goes to a protest.

Howls of outrage (2)

2005 09 26
Shoot to kill and you get a nice fish

Posted by in: Odds and ends

Via: Trained, armed, killer dolphins escape into Gulf of Mexico.

A dozen snarky remarks rush to the door of my mind all at once, and get wedged in the door together.

Howls of outrage (2)

2005 09 26

I dreamt that Spencer and I were invited to the White House and had a private meeting with Condi and George in a small sitting room. We weren’t really sure why we were there, and obviously George had no idea who we were, though he smiled and gladhanded us, and then conspicuously asked Condi what was going on. She knew, but made no move to explain why they’d invited us. We sat awkwardly, and tried to make polite small-talk. George grinned and said that Yale used to row against our university. His grandchildren came in and played with a cat; we said they were very cute grandchildren.

So, this is how my subconscious weighs politeness and speaking truth to power.

Howls of outrage (3)

2005 09 25
Grab bag

Posted by in: Odds and ends

Here is a a fall harvest of fun:

Cooking for engineers; great useful site. Experiments about the best way to cook bacon, what equipment works best, what ingredients to substitute for what.

This game looks neato, makes me think of Ender’s Game for some reason.

The Vinyl Killer is a little toy VW van that plays records. Put the record on a table, and put the toy van on the record with its needle in the groove — the van drives itself around and around, playing the music through a speaker in its roof. (Ok, so this is bad for the record and doesn’t produce great sound, but nevertheless, way cool.)

Ah nerds. Engadget offers an edition from its fictitious archives. If you never used a 300-baud modem, you might not find this funny.

Now that it’s fall, knit something that has its own posse.

And finally, a blog I hadn’t seen before, and which bulges with funny. The post I link to is one I think Chris might like, but there are many others to choose from.

Mangia, mangia!

Comments Off

2005 09 25
Lambert on Hitchens on the Lancet Report

Gosh, Hitchens is really annoying.

Comments Off

2005 09 25
4inObjects at the 55 Bar on Monday

Posted by in: Music

If you’re in NYC and feel like a good jazz show:

Monday, September 26th


Yoon Sun Choi – voice
Jacob Sacks – rhodes
Dave Ambrosio – bass
Jacob Garchik – trombone
Dan Weiss – drums

55 Bar (55 Christopher St)
1/9 train at Christopher St.
Free (two drink min)

Howls of outrage (2)

2005 09 24
Google Earth and Iraq

Ah, I was wondering a while ago about Google Earth‘s satellite photos of Iraq. The Google Earth site says that the photos are taken within the last three years, which means, among other things, that we’ll gradually see pre-war Iraq photos replaced by post-war ones. According to Salam Pax, they’ve now updated their Baghdad photos. I took a peek at Fallujah, which I was wondering about before, but I would guess that AOTW they’re still using pre-war photos.

Comments Off

2005 09 23
Bee dogs

Posted by in: Odds and ends

There is no idea so stupid that it won’t eventually have a web page of its own. As evidence of rapid progress towards that end, I give you this.


Howls of outrage (3)