Friday, December 29, 2006
So what does it tell the interviewers that I wear my one good suit? That I could at one point afford to spend $400 on an outfit? That I know how to tie a tie? That I am willing to follow academic customs, no matter how arbitrary or irrational?
In other news, I kicked ass in my interview with NY College of Technology. I think I'd be a good fit and it would be a good place for me to work.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
A wilderness is an enduring ecosystem that, for the available genotypes andBasically the definition points to the aspects of ecosystems that environmentalists find attractive as the defining characteristic of wilderness, and adds a clause relativizing it to historical conditions and available resources. This last bit is key, otherwise the Amazon would be more wild than the arctic, since it supports more life and more kinds of life. The idea is that a wilderness is a place that is doing as best as it can to create life, given where it started. It then turns out to be a historical contingency that areas less touched by humans are more likely to be wilderness.
resources, is highly optimal in terms of maximizing both the quantity of the
flourishing of the individual organisms and the quantity of kids of organisms,
relative to the historical conditions for that ecosystem.
It is worth noting how this definition deals with some potential counterexamples. A pig farm is not a wilderness because it supports few kinds of individuals, although it contains many individuals. A zoo is not a wilderness because although it supports many kinds of individuals, it doesn't large numbers of individuals. The moon is also not a wilderness on this definition. DeLancey thought this was an advantage of his account, although immediately after the talk, I bumped into someone who said "of course the moon is a wilderness!" Make of it what you will.
On this definition areas that have been stripped of life by either natural or human causes are "denuded wildernesses" which amounts to not being a wilderness at all.
Backing up a second: I am presenting my paper on Buddhist nature appreciation. Basically what I do is look at the contemporary debate in analytic philosophy over the correct way to appreciate nature, and suggest that some ideas from traditional Buddhist poetry can solve it. My original post on the idea is here. More specifically, I create a logical space of two dimensions for the debate in analytic philosophy, place the Buddhist attitude that interests me (I call it the Theregatha model) in the same corner of that space as Kant, and say that it does a better job that Kant does. (I'll post my nifty chart later on.)
The objection: That's not Buddhism! Buddhist nonattachment has nothing to do with Kantian disinterestedness! You can't call mindfulness either cognitive or noncognitive! The metaphysical background is too alien to draw any comparisons!
My first attempt at a reply: Well, obviously there are differences, that is what makes the Theregatha model better.
Objection: There isn't even a family resemblance between them, because Kantian disinterestedness is still grasping.
Hmm. Maybe. The question I have to ask myself, though, is how important is it for my argument that the Theregatha model occupy this portion of the logical space I defined for the western debate. I placed it there as a way to frame the issue, so that I could formulate arguments tightly. But my ultimate goal is simply the acceptance of the Theragatha model. I could do that if the model wound up in another quadrant of logical space, or even in a different logical space altogether. I would need different arguments if that were the case, though. I can't provide arguments for every possible translation of the Theregatha model into the western debate. So maybe I should just stick with this one.
The problem is the same for any translator. I'm serving two constituencies: the ideas I'm translating, and the people I'm translating them for. Putting the model in a specific quadrant of logical space is a way of serving my audience which might not serve the ideas.
On a different note: There were some good talks on my panel, including a nice talk by Sarah Kenehan which used van Frassen's notion of empirical adequacy, and Heather Douglas's treatment of inductive risk to show that climate models provide a stronger reason for action than economic models. The shorter version of the talk: Weather is easier to predict than people. I'll talk more about it later.
Since arriving at the APA, I have misplaced my nametag, my parking ticket, my program and my registration receipt. I managed to lose my program and registration receipt within 15 minutes of getting them. This wouldn't have been a problem, except that today I left my nametag at my parents' place in the suburbs, and needed my receipt to get a new one. I never did find my parking ticket last night, which meant that I had to pay the full amount to get out. (As it turns out, I would have had to pay that anyway.)
Oh yeah, and last night I got lost coming home from the conference.
You would think that after 10 years of job interviews at the APA, I would be able to deal with the conference. In fact, that is exactly what I believed about myself, until I noticed I was screwing up every little thing I tried.
Ok, I have a presentation in 12 minutes. This should be the easiest part of the conference. The most stresfull part: one of the places I'm interviewing hasn't checked in yet, and I need to confirm the interview time.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Ok, I've been really busy this week, which is why I haven't been posting, and why this is the best I can do for my annual "hate on Christmas" post.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Via Comrade O'Brien, in the comments
Thursday, December 14, 2006
More to the policy end of things, one of the main reasons for the 1679 act was the crown's policy of intentionally placing prisoners beyond the reach of the writ, so that it would not have to justify its conduct in a court of law. This was tyranny then, and it's tyranny now: there is (imo) and should be no place on earth where the American Executive is free of the constraints of the legal document that created it.
Izzat alleges that the trial was unfair because Munaf was not allowed to bring or question any witnesses at the trial. In addition, Izzat alleges that the judge was ready to dismiss the case of his client, but that shortly after two U.S. military officials privately spoke with the judge the death penalty verdict was handed down. Munaf's defense team also alleges that his confession was produced under torture and that their client was nothing more than a captured hostage during the kidnapping episode.Right now I'm just going on Wiki-information, so I won't make any firm judgments about how his trial was handled. I certainly am not making any claims about his innocence. (Something you should rarely do in civil liberties cases.) This is still another item for the torture database.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Lim's most recent broadcast ended with some serious, and probably needed editorializing: "And with homes priced out of the market for many, Shanghai's plans for its satellite towns are placing gimmicky foreign settlements above the real needs of its own people."
Monday, December 11, 2006
The nature of contingent employment is stark: an exchange of constrained teaching for minimal pay. The scholarship or collegial participation in shared governance of these faculty members is not of concern to the institution, and if fully 65 percent of the current academic workforce is employed in this way, the other 35 percent cannot be far behind.Update:
More fun stats:
Auburn University: 63.3%
University of California System: ranges from 72.4 to 83%
Number of Doctoral and Research Universities with 100% contingent faculty: 13.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
The Probe website now carries useful news and information about all major water projects in China including the story of the anti-dam protester who was recently executed in secret. Chen Tau was arrested for taking part in violent protests last year against Pubugou dam in Sichuan. Part of a wave of domestic unrest in response to the communist party's top-down approach to modernization. (See for instance here) Check out how Chen's family found out that he had been executed:
Chen Yongzhong, the father of the executed prisoner, learned of his son's fate only when police instructed him to collect the young man's ashes and pay a 50-yuan "bullet fee," the Chinese-language ObserveChina.net news website reported.On the bright side, it looks like Chen's execution was rushed in order to get it done before a new law turned control over all capital cases to Supreme People's Court, a move hailed by human rights advocates as a way to avoid just this kind of injustice.
The Three Gorges Probe also has a story up on an earthquake that recently struck the Three Gorges Dam. It is unclear right now whether the new reservoir behind the dam is actually triggering earthquakes or what effect this will have on the dam.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
The Wall Street Journal today had an article on an expedition to find any remaining Baiji (Yangtze river dolphin). The results were, as you would expect, negative. It looks like the earth has lost its first big aquatic mammal in 300 years. The expedition did find about 300 Jiangzhu (Yangtze finless porpoises). The Yangtze finless porpoise is a subspecies of finless porpoise, which are found throughout the coastal waters of Asia. Here are some clips from the WSJ article.
HUBEI PROVINCE, China The Swiss heir to a trucking fortune and a team of scientists want to save the Yangtze River's white dolphins. But nobody is sure there are any left.Here is the page for the expedition's organizers. The image above is of qi qi, the only baiji to thrive in captivity. Here is more on him from Cetacean Society International. Here's another photo where you can see two of its interesting adaptations: the weird pointy jaw and the fact that it is almost completely blind.
Last month, August Pfluger led a team of Chinese, Japanese, Swiss and American scientists in search of the *baiji,* a shy, nearly blind freshwater mammal known for centuries in Chinese legend as the Goddess of the Yangtze.
In the early 1990s, scientists estimated that there were about 200 *baiji* left, dodging the freighters and fishing boats clogging the river. By 1997, at the time of the last reliable sighting, scientists estimated that, at most, only about 17 of the 6-foot-long dolphins remained.
If this dolphin is now deemed to be extinct, scientists say it would be one of the few large aquatic mammals to be wiped out in 300 years. In the 1950s, the Caribbean monk seal was hunted to extinction. Other species have been pushed to the brink but have crawled back. By most reckonings, China's *baiji* has been pushed too far.
And here is the not dead yet Yangtze river finless porpoise
Update: Wait, I just realized that an image I had put up was replaced with a spam image. Perhaps the image I imported was changed on the site where it was originally.
- What is this?
- Why would anyone watch it?
- Why do you own a copy?
Monday, December 04, 2006
“Today is May 21,” a naval official declared to a camera videotaping the event. “Right now we’re ready to do a root canal treatment on Jose Padilla, our enemy combatant.”Please remember that although the government has accused Padilla in public first of being involved with 9-11 and then with plotting to use a dirty bomb, it has pressed none of those charges in court. Originally, of course, the government didn't want to have to charge Padilla with anything, or even explain what they were doing. Once the supreme court announced that it would rule on the legality of his confinement, he was quickly transferred to the civilian prison system, and charged only with sending money and other material support abroad to Muslim groups in Chechnya and Bosnia.
Several guards in camouflage and riot gear approached cell No. 103. They unlocked a rectangular panel at the bottom of the door and Mr. Padilla’s bare feet slid through, eerily disembodied. As one guard held down a foot with his black boot, the others shackled Mr. Padilla’s legs. Next, his hands emerged through another hole to be manacled.
Wordlessly, the guards, pushing into the cell, chained Mr. Padilla’s cuffed hands to a metal belt. Briefly, his expressionless eyes met the camera before he lowered his head submissively in expectation of what came next: noise-blocking headphones over his ears and blacked-out goggles over his eyes. Then the guards, whose faces were hidden behind plastic visors, marched their masked, clanking prisoner down the hall to his root canal.
Padilla is not the only person to receive this treatment while on US soil. Less well publicized is the case of Ali al-Marrihas been declared an enemy combatant and held for four and a half years in a South Carolina prison. The conditions of al-Marri's imprisonment closely match Padilla's: the focus is on extreme isolation with periodic threats, including the threat that he would be raped, or that his wife would be raped in front of him.
Doesn't it make you proud to be an American? Oh yeah, and via Niel at Unfogged, ABC news caught army recruiters on tape telling potential enlistees that the war is over:
"Nobody is going over to Iraq anymore?" one student asks a recruiter.
"No, we're bringing people back," he replies.
Another good one:Yet ABC News found one recruiter who even claimed if you didn't like the Army, you could just quit.
"It's called a 'Failure to Adapt' discharge," the recruiter said. "It's an entry-level discharge so it won't affect anything on your record. It'll just be like it never happened."
"We're not at war. War ended a long time ago," another recruiter says.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
update: this will also save Callicott from the charge of quantum physics abuse. I hpe no one else has thought of this, because I want to develop it into at least a talk.
Update: Mom says that when I was nine months old I was hospitalized and spent time in an oxygen tent because of the croup. Joey is feeling better now: he's not barking, but he's still wheezing. I think we will take him to the drs tomorrow.
1. Ask a rhetorical question. Note immediately that it has a simple answer which does not fit your political agenda. Go on to spin a much more elaborate and completely unsupported hypothesis that answers the question, and hope that people forget the simple answer by the time you get to the end of your story. The great thing about this trick is that you can always, if asked, say that you acknowledged the simple answer. Then you can proceed to ignore the simple answer all over again.
2. Tell an anecdote and then claim it represents a social trend. For bonus points, have the anecdote be fictional.
3. Quote someone saying something very extreme in a way that makes it seem like you agree with that person, without actually coming out and agreeing with him. This lets you promote the extreme idea without having to actually defend it rationally.
I also see that PZ Myers is on the case.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
So here's the question: what colors should we use? We want to use one color for the lower part of the wall and one color for the upper part. We have yards and yards of white fabric for the ceiling that can be dyed any color that RIT manufactures. (Molly has ruled out tie dying, for reasons that remain obscure to me.)
Saturday, November 25, 2006
So if we stay in Iraq, whose side are we on in the civil war? It is silly to pretend, that there is some nonsectarian legitimate government that we are backing. The government is simply a battlefield for the sects. I mean this quite literally. Al-Sadr controls the Health Minsitry, and as a result is headquarters was attacked by Sunni militiamen today.
So whose side of the civil war are we on? Sadr wants us to leave, probably because in the Madhi army would come out on top of the ensuing chaos. In general, I think the Shia would benefit from our departure: they would almost immediately be able to establish their own state in the south, and as the majority nationwide could probably wind up dominating the Baghdad area as well. So are we in Iraq to protect the Sunni? The main Sunni faction I'm familiar with are the Baathist resistance? So we are there to protect Saddam's old guard?
Meanwhile, the Bush administration dispatch simply makes no sense. This is from the NYTimes:
"These ruthless acts of violence are deplorable. It is an outrage that these terrorists are targeting innocent civilians in a brazen effort to topple a democratically elected government. These killers will not succeed.”The killers were not primarily attempting to topple a democratically elected government. The killers are, for now, the largest bloc in that government. The killers were avenging the attacks that occurred yesterday against their people. The Bush administration is unable to acknowledge this fact, though, because for them the violence yesterday was another act by "the terrorists" against the democratically elected government. The attacks today can't be vengeance for the attacks yesterday if they were both committed by "the terrorists." Jackasses.
He also repeated the administration’s insistence that Iraq was not in a civil war. “We’re constantly asked that question, and while the situation is serious, Prime Minister Maliki and President Talabani have said they do not believe it is a civil war,” he said.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
2. Flashlights are post-it notes make the best children's toys.
3. If the youngest child you are watching is 3, you can turn your back on them long enough to write this sentence.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I also have been literally feeling sick the last couple days. We are trying to get rid of some old lead paint in our house. Half the house is sealed off with plastic wrap, but you can still smell the crazy chemicals coming from the other side. When I felt sick yesterday, I decided to blame the chemicals, rather than the fact that I had three beers but skipped dinner. This morning I felt fine, after no beers, so I was all prepared to pronounce the chemicals innocent of my previous illness. But then I get to the office, and I feel woozy again. I'm a little nauseous, and my hands are shaking. I haven't been able to figure out what is going on, largely because I've been relying on everyone's favorite fallacious rule of inference: post hoc ergo propter hoc.
In any case, I'm am now going to share with you, the internet, my to do list. I think of this as profgrrrrl blogging, since she is the first blogger I saw doing this. I don't know why I feel compelled to read others' to do list, or share my own. It makes about as much sense as the gallery of grocery lists. But here it is.
As many job applications as possible[answer, 4] 2 emails about the china course 2 emails about SOC
- 1 student email about grades--this requires actually tabulating some grades
- 1 letter of recommendation: at least set a deadline for yourself about it.
Decide what work stuff to take on vacation with you Pack it.
- Do the grading that is sitting in your email inbox, so that it looks like you have less to do than you really do.
- 1 personal phone call.
Update: is using the word "ecstatic" in a job application going too far? As in "I am ecstatic at the opportunity to work with the Alden March Bioethics Institute"
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The whole incident is was caught on camera phone, and accompanies this article.
Update: the video from youtube
Update again: the link was from Bitch, the youtube link from a commenter at Bitch. Welcome Pharyngula readers.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
As of today, Plan B emergency contraception will be available without a prescription in pharmacies across the country for women 18 and older.I didn't even know the health center offered Plan B for $20, but then again, there is no reason I suppose that I needed to know. Still, it would be nice if amongst all the announcements about flu shots and mono, they put out more information about reproductive health. The quality of reproductive health is probably more sensitive to the availability of information than health issues surrounding germ-based diseases.
Plan B emergency contraception (EC) is a safe and effective back up oral contraceptive; it can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex or sexual assault to prevent pregnancy. But EC is most effective the sooner you take it. Studies show EC can reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy by 89% if taken within the first 72 hours after unprotected sex – and by 95% if taken within 24 hours.
Plan B will continue be available in the Diana B. Torrey '82 Health and Counseling Center upon request. If you plan to purchase Plan B at a local pharmacy, you will need to ask for it at the pharmacy counter as it is classified as a "behind the counter" medication. You may also need to show proof of age so take an ID. Unfortunately, the price of Plan B has increased at local pharmacies to approximately $38- $40 per package due to the increased pricing by Barr Laboratory. The Torrey Center price will remain $20 as long as possible.
If you have any questions or concerns please call the Health Service at 229-5392.
Monday, November 13, 2006
13. What are the basic elements of a Darwinian model of the origin of species?
Four point answer: Some reference to common descent
Five point answer: Common descent, random variation and natural selection.
Talking about finches will not help you here. Mentioning adaptation doesn’t help much either. Adaptation is only a part of the model in that it is something that is to be explained. Adaptation is observed, and then explained using random variation and selection. In philosophical terms, adaptation is the explanans, variation and selection are the explanandum.
18. Why are special creation theories marginal science?
Because they do not make any testable predictions. Three points off if you say because there is no evidence for them. The real problem is that the theories are not developed enough that there can be evidence for them.
Just days after his resignation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to face more repercussions for his involvement in the troubled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Friday, November 10, 2006
I am committed to student-centered learning, informed by current teaching scholarship, and backed by innovative techniques. In designing my courses, my focus is on what would serve my students best, rather than the best way to approach a body of knowledge. The focus of my reasoning course is, thus, to help students be more rational; the focus of my ethics course is to help them be more ethical. The result in each case is an emphasis on virtue theory and real world situations, with a constant awareness that, as Samuel Johnson said, people “more frequently require to be reminded than informed.” I use for my ethics text James Liszka’s Moral Competence, which presents a theoretical outline of what it means to be a competent moral decision maker, including discussions of moral emotions, autonomy, virtues, wisdom, and moral knowledge. I then ask them to apply this framework in their own lives by engaging in service learning (or “community based learning” as the program is known here). I have students do volunteer work with the elderly and disabled, or at a local soup kitchen. During this process, almost all the issues involved in traditional theoretical ethics arise: questions about the meaning of autonomy or distributive justice, for instance. But they now come up in a context where students are reminded of their basic ethical knowledge (such as golden rule level maxims) and sound ethical habits (door-holding level altruism) in a way that reinforces these.The letter has simply started to blossom into a teaching statement, and a teaching statement I like a lot better than my current one. In all honesty, my current teaching statement hasn't fully shaken off the ghosts of my St. John's education. As a result, it both comes off as fusty to most people and doesn't really reflect my current practice.
Something similar goes on in my reasoning class. The class uses a motley array of sources: Alec Fisher on arguments from authority, Edward Tufte on lying with quantitative graphics, along with standard textbook treatments of the informal fallacies. Mostly, though, the class is built around field projects, where students are required to go into the real world of the internet and news media, find real arguments, and analyze them using the tools they are given. I also strongly emphasize the epistemic virtues in the class. We begin by reading Clifford’s “The Ethics of Belief” and watching 12 Angry Men. The students have responded very positively. One former pupil made “All St. Lawrence students should be required to take Dr. Loftis’s reasoning class” his thesis for a final project in a speech class.
All of this is backed by an engagement with teaching scholarship and innovative teaching techniques. As you can see from my CV, I regularly attend and present at the biennial conference of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers. I already mentioned using service learning in my courses. I also use a variety of in-class exercises and games: small group work, free writes, the true-false surveys from Nils Rauhut’s Ultimate Questions, quescussion (the discussion that consists only of questions), fishbowl (the discussion where a small number of participants are in “the bowl” and others are on the outside and can tag in), and daily question card exercises. I also use travel: My course on Asian environmental attitudes next semester concludes with a two week long trip to China.
Your advertisement asks for technological experience; I am fluent with current teaching technology. I know the advantages and pitfalls of PowerPoint. I have worked with all three of the major courseware packages (WebCT, Blackboard, and Angel.) I grade papers using the comment feature in MS Word, but I am considering moving to Acrobat. I have had students keep blogs. So far this has not proven to be any improvement over the discussion forums in the standard courseware packages. However we are likely to ask students to keep videoblogs for the upcoming China trip, which should be extremely effective.
So now I've got these four paragraphs, which are really too many for the letter, but too few to be a teaching statement on their own. I should probably create a new teaching statement by folding some of the old content into this new framework, and then shorten the letter by simply referring in parts to the new teaching statement.
All this makes it hard to do what I actually should be doing, though, which is getting the damn stuff in the mail. Also, I'm not sure how much of my current teaching practice really isn't just a product of being at a rich institution now that can fund all sorts of cool stuff with trips and computers and community placement programs. Hrm.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
It is folk wisdom in the faculty lounges that there is a causal interaction between age and gender on student evaluations. Roughly, being young is a plus on your evaluations for men, but a minus for women. I hypothosize a futher age by gender by hotness interaction, such that being young and hot is an extra strong negative factor on student evaluations for women, and at worst a neutral factor for men. My proposed mechanism here is the same as the mechanism that is standardly used to explain the age by gender interaction: the problem of establishing authority. The folk wisdom of the faculty lounges says that young women have trouble estabilishing authority because of the prejudices of their students (both male and female.) I would extend this mechanism further to cover young hot women.
So here is my first question: Where can I find the actual data on this--either the claim of folk wisdom or my claim about hotness.
Another point of context for the chili pepers on ratemyprofessors: ratemyprofessors is not even a valid measure of student perceptions of your performance, let alone your actual performance, because of self-selection bias and incredibly small sample sizes. This is probably obvious to the professors on ratemyprofessors, but less obvious to the students.
This leads me to my second question: can anyone recommend a general resource for contextualizing the information on student evalautions? I am interested, first of all, in their validity simply as a measure of student perceptions. I am also interested in how to bridge the gap between reports of student perceptions and actual measures of quality.
Case 1: A Canadian national kills an American national on Afghan soil. Where is the trial held?
Case 2: A Canadian national kills an American soldier on Afghan soil. The soldier is stationed lawfully in Afghanistan. Where is the trial held?
Case 3: Just like case 2, except we now remove the assumption that there is no war in Afghanistan. Instead assume there is combat, authorized by congress, but no declared war, and still no bullshit rhetoric about a war on terror. Where is the trial held?
Case 4: Just like case 3, except add that the Canadian national is believed to have been working with the enemies of the US in Afghanistan. Where is the trial? Is the Canadian now simply a prisoner of war, to be held until hostilities are over?
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Means, Ends, and the Critique of Pure Superheroes in Watchmen and Philosophy ed. Mark D. White (Oxford: Blackwell Press, 2009)
"What a Strange Little Man" in Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy ed. J. Eberl (Oxford: Blackwell Press, 2008)
“The Theragāthā Model of the Aesthetic Appreciation of Natural Environments” accepted, subject to revision, at Environmental Values. This version is a draft only, not for citation.
“The Other Value in the GMO Debate” In Ethical Issues in the Life Sciences, edited by F. Adams. (Charlottesville, VA: Philosophy Documentation Center, Forthcoming).
“Germ-Line Enhancement in Humans and Nonhumans” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal Special Issue on Justice and Genetic Enhancement 15:1 (March 2005).
“Three Problems for the Aesthetic Foundations of Environmental Ethics,” Philosophy and the Contemporary World 10:2 (Fall–Winter 2003).
My reviews at Metapsychology Online
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
This panel is taken from here. Apparently there is a tradition in Captain America comic books of having the real Captain America face off against a fake Captain America. In the comic this panel is from, the *real* CA announces that flags are nothing: only the values behind them count. Via pharyngula.
The construction worker who allegedly killed Shelly is said to have punched the slight, 5'2" director. I bet he didn't realize he could kill her like that. He then (allegedly) took her body to her office and tried to make it look like a suicide.
She had a husband and a three year old daughter.
Stories here and here.
Hat tip to Carin.
Update: NYT Story here. Apparently she was still alive when the guy tried to fake the suicide, and only died later after he hung up her unconscious body.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Here is single table summarizing of the numerical data for two key questions, Question 1: A high level of effort was demanded by this course, and Question 5: The instructor was an effective teacher. (Students are asked to agree or disagree on a seven point scale.) Molly made up these charts. Thanks.
Here are the university summaries for the quantitative sections, including all five questions.
Note that there is a screw up on these forms with 202A (Reasoning) and 203A (Ethics) from the Spring of 2006. I gave the Ethics forms to the Reasoning class, so all the Reasoning responses were tabulated by the university as Ethics. When it came time to give evaluation forms to Ethics, I discovered that I only had the 202A, Reasoning, forms to give out. I tried to compensate for the mistake by having the students write 203A:Ethical Theory on the form. The university refused to tabulate any form that had the extraneous marks on it. They did however tabulate 3 forms from students who did not follow my instructions. Of course, these were ethics students, whose three forms were then tabulated as Reasoning.
All of this is corrected in the summaries that Molly made up for me, and you can check it against the raw data.
OK, here is the raw data.
- Introduction to Philosophy 100A
- Introduction to Philosophy 100D
- Philosophy of Science 301A (That year we did all philosophy of biology)
- Science: Questions, Methods, Reflections 101A
- Ethical Theory 203A
- Special Topics: History of the Concept of Mind 348b
Further Update: Let's also add a link to my page at Ratemyprofessors.com. Please note that 33.3% of the students reporting (N=3) rated me as "hot."
Saturday, November 04, 2006
The Rev. Greg Boyd, pastor of Woodland Hills Church in Maplewood: "I thirst for water, and water exists. I hunger for food, and food exists. I hunger and thirst for God, so I concluded that God must exist."from this interview with Richard Dawkins. The interviewer asks Dawkins what he thinks of this quote. Strangely, Dawkins does not say: "is this the best you could come up with? I despair for the American education system"
In any case, there's one for Reasoning class on Monday.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
I also see that I've already started missing job deadlines, some for good jobs. I keep saying to myself I'm going to send out my material, but then I think...my teaching portfolio isn't how I'd like it to be...oh but no one cares about teaching, it's only research...people think it's weird enough that you have put so much effort into your teaching portfolio...but if I could make it more succinct it would all make sense. IN any case, I’ve got to get my butt in gear for job stuff in the next couple days.
Of course, the teach in is tomorrow, and Saturday Bérubé is appearing on our campus, and Sunday I have an extra class I agreed to teach for reasons which escape me now. And I’m already blowing off the Fulbright seminar on teaching Islam, even though they were kind enough to give me all these free books, and one of them even discusses the definition of religion, which is something that I’ve always wondered about but never formally researched, and I hear that one of the other seminar participants has good things to say about the topic.
But in any case, I’m tired. And my hands hurt from typing too much.
10/31/06 (2006-10-31) Army specialist Alyssa Peterson was an Arabic speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at the Tal-afar airbase in far northwestern Iraq near the Syrian border. According to the Army's investigation into her death, obtained by a KNAU reporter through the Freedom of Information Act, Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed.Via Majikthise
Instead she was assigned to the base gate, where she monitored Iraqi guards. She was sent to suicide prevention training. But on the night of September 15th, 2003, Army investigators concluded she shot and killed herself with her service rifle.
Alyssa Peterson graduated from Flagstaff High School and earned a psychology degree from Northern Arizona University on a military scholarship. She was trained in interrogation techniques at Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona, before being deployed to the Middle East in 2003.
Update: This article leads with something that I didn't even notice in the shorter NPR piece: the death occurred three years ago, and the reasons for it are only coming out now.
Body: elizabeth was forced to give into a little falsehood here; for to acknowledge the substance of"the person of whom i speak is a gentleman, and a stranger."
The body is a mash up of a couple lines from Pride and Prejudice. The intended payload of the spam--presumably some obscene jpegs, were stripped away by the spam filter.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Our leadership seems to think that everything is different if the child is a muslim, though. Then the question is "how can we torture this child for information?"
Omar Khadr was fourteen or fifteen years old when he was picked up by US soldiers in Afghanistan. No one denies that he was a soldier for Al Quada. His father is one of bin Ladin's lieutenants. Although he mostly grew up in Canada, he also lived in the bin Ladin compound, playing with Bin Ladin's children. No one denies that he threw a hand grenade that killed an American soldier. But none of this makes him significantly different than the children kidnapped into African armies and taught to kill. The fact that the abuse came from his own blood family is irrelevant.
Khadr's parents have probably been telling him his whole life that Americans are devils. Everything that has happened since his capture can only have reinforced this message. He has apparently been beaten, kept in stress positions, denied medical attention, and smeared with his own urine and feces. The last story was reported by his lawyers in a press conference on January 16, 2005. Before you go blowing off this testimony, remember that we have smeared our prisoners in shit before. The guards at Gitmo also like to use the threat of rape, claiming all the time that they are going to transfer him to a foreign prison where they like little boys.
As with all detainees at Gitmo, the main goal of the imprisonment is to manipulate every aspect of the prisoner’s surroundings so that they are perpetually disoriented, lose their sense of identity and ultimately their will to live. The methods were developed by an Air Force called Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) which was originally meant to train our soldiers how to resist torture. It is silly to describe the SERE techniques as somehow torture lite. They were designed very carefully to cause the most possible harm. It is also silly to deny that people at Gitmo are being subject to these techniques. They are built in to the organization of the facility. As a writer for the Rolling Stone put it: "This is Guantanamo Bay: To be held there is, per se, to be tortured."
How can anyone condone the torture of children?
Wikipedia, Rolling Stone.
Travel to China
Environmental Ethics and Issues in China
(on campus course plus trip)
Tuesday – Thursday 10:10 – 11:40
Professors Rob Loftis (Philosophy)
and Stephen Robinson (Geology)
China has the world’s largest population, fastest growing economy, and a history of environmental catastrophe. This course will look at attitudes towards nature in China and the policy issues they generate, starting with readings on traditional nature attitudes and ending with the current dilemmas facing China. This course will be truly interdisciplinary in nature with perspectives from philosophy, public policy, environmental science, and engineering. In addition to the campus section of this course, we will travel to China following exams to learn first-hand about several of the sites and issues from the class. Students will interact extensively with local people experiencing these problems and meet with local representatives of environmental non-governmental organizations searching for solutions.
Mandatory information session:
Friday November 10, 3:00 pm in Brown Hall 143-44
Permission of instructors required
Junior or Senior standing only
Monday, October 30, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
A student submitted this as a part of a "find a logical fallacy in the media" exercise. It just struck me as especially appalling.
Update: Oh yeah, this ad is available at the tobaccodocuments site.
Sami al-Haj is a cameraman for Al-Jazeera who has been held for five years in Guantanamo without being charged. He was picked up on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan while covering the war there. The Pentagon maintains he carried money for Chechen rebels and has worked for Al Quada, but the evidence for these claims is secret. Mr. al-Haj's lawyer (who cannot attend his hearings) maintains that the US holding him to get information about Al-Jazeera, which they consider to be an enemy organization. (Remember the still-unconfirmed reports that Bush wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera?) While in custody, al-Haj has been subject to beatings, stress positions, and denial of medical care. No one can say whether the charges against al-Haj have any merit, nor will we be able to until he is given a fair, public trail. He has a wife and a son who was one year old when he wsa arrested. The son, Muhammad, is now six. Here is al-Haj's page at the Committee to Protect Journalists.
If I get the chance, I will also try to write up the case of Bilal Hussein. There is one thing I can say about Hussein right away: If an American reporter, embedded with American troops, were captured by insurgent forces, would you want her to be treated the way we are treating Hussein?
Cases like these are what led Reporters without Borders to lower the United States' rating for freedom of the press nine places, to 53rd, on a par with Croatia, Botswana, and Tonga.
The most remarkable thing about Rep. McHugh's letter is that it does not even mention the most appalling aspect of the MCA, the end of habeas corpus. He also does not talk about the President's unlimited ability to declare anyone an enemy combatant, or the incredible loss of rights American citizens suffer when they are moved to enemy combatant status. Finally, he does not talk the fact that US citizens who are accused of being alien enemy combatants have no way to challenge that finding.
Here is a little of what he does say. After thanking Bill for his concern, giving some history of the MCA he says.
The Court in Hamdan decided that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions – an article that many assumed only applied to regular armies–applies to terrorist organizations, like al Qaeda. As a result of this decision, our brave personnel in the military and other national security agencies are faced with an unpredictable legal landscape because the meaning of certain elements of Common Article 3 are vague.How did article 3 suddenly become vaguer? The military has been able to comply with Common Article 3 conflicts more pitched and bloody than this. What has changed?
Over the course of several months, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings and briefings on standards of military commissions and tribunals, as well as the administration's recommendations. Subsequently, legislative measures were crafted to provide a comprehensive statutory structure for military commissions that will allow for the fair and effective prosecution of captured members of al Qaeda and other unlawful enemy combatants.Did you notice the presumption of guilt here? The people on trail are assumed to be members of Al Quada, this despite the fact that large numbers of people who have survived the military commissions process have turned out to be completely innocent, picked up on little or no substantial evidence. The presumption of guilt is one of the most powerful rhetorical tools the administration has been using. We are constantly assured that the people in Gitmo are "the worst of the worst," when in fact we have no reason to think this is true, and the whole process eviscerating the courts is set up to keep up from ever learning if this is true. Ok, here's some more McHugh
The suggestion that the Military Commissions Act condones torture or that the legislation implicitly permits, "enhanced torture techniques" is absolutely false and contradicts the very language in the bill. First, it is illegal under U.S. law to torture – this was true before and it will remain true. Moreover, the measure makes torture a war crime that can result in the death penalty. This means that under the War Crimes Act, any U.S. personnel that engages in torture will be subject to prosecution for committing a war crime. Additionally, in the context of military commissions, a statement obtained through torture is not admissible.Well, there might be some technical sense in which these things are true, but for all practical purposes they are not. The law explicitly says that evidence gained by “coercion” is allowed. ((3(949a)(C))., see Karl Schonberg’s analysis here.) The other important fact is that the administration still gets to decide what counts as torture. And they have already told us that they aren’t going to count anything as torture. The practical upshot is clearly that the Military Commissions Act allows the government to waterboard a confession out of you, and then use that as evidence against you in your trail.
McHugh’s defense of his vote is feeble. Vote the jackass out of office.
A Teach-in Sponsored by Save Our Constitution (SOC)
November 3, 2006 from 12:00 to 4:00 PM
St. Lawrence University
Winston Room, Student Center
Schedule of Events
Noon: Natalia Singer (Department of English)
The Military Commissions Act
12:10: Eve Stoddard (Department of Global Studies)
12:25 - 1:10 -- Panel 1 -- Erosion of the Constitution, Moderator: Eve Stoddard
Panelists: Steve Horwitz (Department of Economics, Associate Dean of First Year Program), Jon Cardinal (President of the Thelomathesian Society). Discussion to follow.
1:15 - 2:15 -- Panel 2 -- Torture and International Law, Moderator: Rob Loftis
Panelists: Karl Schonberg (Department of Government), Rob Loftis (Department of Philosophy), Armina Omerika (Department of History). Discussion to follow.
2:20 - 3:15 -- Panel 3 -- Language, Rhetoric, Politics of Fear, Moderator: Gus diZerega
Panelists: John Collins (Department of Global Studies), Gus diZerega (Department of Government), Laura Rediehs (Department of Philosophy). Discussion to follow.
3:20 - 4:00 -- Wrap-up -- What You Can Do, Moderators: Natalia Singer and Jon Cardinal
Remarks from: Sal Cania and Somdeep Sen (Amnesty International), Dennis Morreale (the ACLU initiative), Julia Warn (SLU Republicans), Mihnea Tudoreanu (SLU Democrats), Carol Kissam on voter registration, Oxfam, Armina Omerika (Facebook), other student and community groups.
Although September 11, 2001 was a traumatic event, we do not want future historians to say that the events of that day sparked the end of constitutional democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law in this country. In the interest of avoiding such an outcome, we feel a profound call to stand up now and strengthen our defense of democratic principles. To this end we are organizing teach-ins and other events to alert the public to these threats and to facilitate discussion about how to save our Constitution at a time when it is under unprecedented attack.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Coincidentally, we also have some nice new graphics today showing just what waterboarding is. David Corn has an interview up with Jonah Blank an anthropologist and journalist who has returned from Cambodia with pictures of the waterboarding apparatus used by the Khymer Rouge as a part of one of the great genocides of the 20th century. Here it is.
Here is how it is used
Blank emphasizes in the interview that the Khymer Rouge did not use waterboarding to extract information. They did it to extract confessions for show trials before their victim was ritually killed. Bottom line: "They-- like so many brutal regimes--made waterboarding one of their primary tools for a simple reason: it is one of the most viciously effective forms of torture ever devised." Check the whole story out.
The McClatchy papers also have a nice graphic explaining how waterboarding is done.
And one more thing: A taxonomy of torture techniques from Slate.
hat tips to majikthise, and Bart Harloe and Ken Gould on the SOC listserv.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I'm going to start collecting information on absentee voting on this site, beginning with the states that SLU students come from. I'm just quickly scanning the homepages for the Secretaries of State, so corrections are encouraged.
New York. Instructions, Application Form
Deadline to apply for ballots: Tuesday, October 31st
Postmark deadline for the ballot itself: Monday, November 6th
Vermont, General instructions Application form
Deadline ot request a ballot: the day before the election
Vote411.org, from the League of Women Voters has a good list of links, including links to state elections pages.
Alabama (800) 274-VOTE http://www.sos.state.al.us/election
Alaska (907) 465-4611 http://www.gov.state.ak.us/ltgov/elections/
Arizona (877) 843-8683 http://www.sosaz.com/election/
Arkansas (501) 682-3526 http://www.sosweb.state.ar.us/elect.html
California (800) 345-VOTE http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections/elections.htm
Colorado (303) 894-2200 http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/main1.htm
Connecticut (800) 540-3764 http://www.sots.state.ct.us/
Delaware (302) 739-4277 http://www.state.de.us/election/
Columbia (202) 727-2525 http://www.dcboee.org/
Florida (850) 245-6200 http://election.dos.state.fl.us/
Georgia (404) 656-2871 http://www.sos.state.ga.us/elections/
Hawaii (808) 453-8683 http://www.state.hi.us/elections
Idaho (208) 334-2300 http://www.idsos.state.id.us
Illinois (217) 782-4141 http://www.elections.state.il.us
Indiana (317) 232-3939 http://www.in.gov/sos/elections
Iowa (888) 767-8683 http://www.sos.state.ia.us
Kansas (785) 796-4564 http://www.kssos.org/election/elewelc.html
Kentucky (502) 573-7100 http://www.kysos.com/index/main/elecdiv.asp
Louisiana (225) 342-4970 http://www.sec.state.la.us/elections/elections-index.htm
Maine (207) 642-7736 http://www.state.me.us/sos/cec/elec/elec.htm
Maryland (800) 222-VOTE http://www.elections.state.md.us/
Massachusetts (800) 462-VOTE http://www.state.ma.us/sec/ele/
Michigan (517) 373-2540 http://www.michigan.gov/sos
Minnesota (651) 215-1440 http://www.sos.state.mn.us/
Mississippi (800) 829-6786 http://www.sos.state.ms.us/elections/elections.asp
Missouri (573) 751-2301 http://www.sos.state.mo.us/elections/
Montana (406) 444-4732 http://sos.state.mt.us/css/index.asp
Nebraska (402) 471-3229 http://www.sos.state.ne.us/Elections/election.htm
Nevada (775) 684-5705 http://sos.state.nv.us/nvelection/
New Hampshire (603) 271-3242 http://www.state.nh.us/sos/electionsnew.htm
New Jersey (609) 292-3760 http://www.state.nj.us/lps/elections/electionshome.html
New Mexico (800) 477-3632 http://web.state.nm.us/elect.htm
New York (800) FOR-VOTE http://www.elections.state.ny.us/
North Carolina (919) 733-7173 http://www.sboe.state.nc.us/
North Dakota (800) 352-0867
ext. 8-4146 http://www.state.nd.us/sec/
Ohio (614) 466-2585 http://www.state.oh.us/sos/
Oklahoma (405) 521-2391 http://www.elections.state.ok.us/
Oregon (503) 986-1518 http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/elechp.htm
Pennsylvania (717) 787-5280 http://www.dos.state.pa.us/bcel/site/default.asp
Rhode Island (401) 222-2345 http://www.elections.state.ri.us/
South Carolina (803) 734-9060 http://www.state.sc.us/scsec/
South Dakota (605) 773-3537 http://www.state.sd.us/sos/sos.htm
Tennessee (615) 741-7956 http://www.state.tn.us/sos/election.htm
Texas (800) 252-VOTE http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/index.shtml
Utah (800) 995-VOTE http://elections.utah.gov/
Vermont (800) 439-8683 http://vermont-elections.org/soshome.htm
Virginia (804) 786-6551 http://www.sbe.state.va.us/
Washington (360) 586-0400 http://secstate.wa.gov/elections/
West Virginia (304) 558-6000 http://wvsos.com/elections/main.htm
Wisconsin (608) 266-8005 http://elections.state.wi.us/
Wyoming (307) 777-7378 http://soswy.state.wy.us/election/election.htm
The answer is simple, and I urge it on you the internet.
These are the lists of everyone in the House and Senate who voted for the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Don't vote for these bozos.
Govtrack presents the same information in more readable format, including a nifty map, here and here. Govtrack, btw, seems to be a nifty site.
Monday, October 23, 2006
These new TALONs were issued with all of the competence and sensitivity to the value of human intel we have come to expect from the Global War on Anything We Decide to Label Terrorism. First of all, they misreported the second event as being in Springfield, IL, rather than Springfield Mass. Second, the Pentagon spies apparently found out about this event through the incredibly sophisticated method of "Subscribing to the AFSC emailing list." You'd think that if they had the announcement for the event in front of them, they would get the city right.
There's a fun personal connection here, too. Molly has a lot of family who are Quakers living in the Akron area. My in-laws could be a threat to national security, with their damned nonviolence and mayonnaise heavy, Midwestern cooking.
Via John Collins on the SLU listserv.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
DCI’s latest? The video "Al Gore's Penguin Army," appears to be a homemade spoof of An Inconvenient Truth posted to YouTube by 29 year old named "Toutsmith," from California. The Wall Street Journal, however, has discovered that the video was actually posted from DCI computers in Washington DC. For those who subscribe the full story is here. For those who don’t here are some highlights.
Nancy Snow, a communications professor at California State University, Fullerton, viewed the penguin video and calls it a lesson in "Propaganda 101." It contains no factual information, but presents a highly negative image of the former vice president, she says. The purpose of such images is to harden the views of those who already view Mr. Gore negatively, Dr. Snow says. …Via Dale Jamieson on the ISEE list.
Traffic to the penguin video, first posted on YouTube.com in May, got a boost from prominently placed sponsored links that appeared on the Google search engine when users typed in "Al Gore" or "Global Warming." The ads, which didn't indicate who had paid for them, were removed shortly after The Wall Street Journal contacted DCI Group on Tuesday.