Friday, May 18, 2007

The Original Battlestar Series

From the Battlestar Wiki. There is so much to love about this picture: the hair, the outfits. The outfits are officially pressure suits used by viper pilots. Viper pilots apparently need a horizontal strip of protection across their chest, and a triangle across the crotch. I really dig the fact that the panel on the crotch doesn't go all the way around their hips, like it was underwear. It is just a triangle, suspended there.

Battlestar Paper

So I'm writing a paper for the Blackwell volume on Battlestar Galactica and philosophy (my original proposal is here) and the author guidelines really push you to keep to the style of the series. Example: "Contributors should keep to the popular culture topic. Ideally, the topic should be mentioned several times on every page. At a minimum, don’t let a page go by without mentioning the popular culture topic at least once." I am of course glad to do so, but I really want to stick to the fun aspects of the style and avoid the pandering.

So the first decision along these lines has come up. They changed my title from the ponderous "Gaius Baltar and the Image of the Tyrant in Plato and Boethius" to "Being Your Own Worst Enemy: Baltar and the Image of the Tyrant." I'm down with having a catchphrase for the supertitle, but I want a better one than "Being Your Own Worst Enemy." Any suggestions?

Update: The new title is: "What a strange little man": Baltar and the Image of the Tyrant

Thursday, May 17, 2007

On failing to shrink my library

Well, most of my Amazon sales have closed. In the end, I made $628.62 $771.62 by selling 36 140 books. That figure doesn't include the amount I spent on postage, which probably brings things down to around $550 $680.

More to the point, though, during the book sale I actually picked up 24 books from the free books table in my building, most of which were abandoned there by Anne, who studies Chinese history, and John the paleoanthropologist. Thus basically I've been exchanging books on continental philosophy and physics for books on China and human evolution. My books now better match my current interests, but I can't really say I've simplified. I suppose I could just return books to the free table, and undoubtedly I will do this a little, but there is no way I'm parting with this.*

How hard is it for me to get rid of books? I can't even return library books. I have had this this incredibly obscure book out of the SLU library. Every time I try to return it, I start browsing through it, and think "Hey this is neat! I'm sure I'll get around to reading it." Well, given that I am now leaving SLU, and have to return my library books, you would think I would be able to just give up such hopes. Well, sure I can do that for a difficult book like Buddhist formal logic, a work that brings together the most technical parts of two very desperate fields, which I will in no way be able to read before I leave. But you know, I might want to read some of Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives or maybe Buddhism under Maobefore I leave for China, or maybe between the China and Hawaii trip. Maybe! It could happen!

* I have now learned to properly link to books in Amazon so I get a cut if someone buys the book. I doubt that will happen for any book I talk about in a post like this, but if at a later date I do full fledged book reviews, it might net me a few pennies.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tenure Track!

So the news I've been sitting on for about a week is that I have a tenure track job! My new job is at Lorain County Community College, in Elyria OH. Community college will be a shift for me. As Evelyn pot it, I'm on "the front lines of education" (can you hear the shelling?)

Moving will be a, um, challenge, considering all the travel we have scheduled this summer. I'm taking students to China (next week!) and after that I'm participating in the NEH Summer Institute on history and philosophy in China (In Honolulu!) Hopefully, they will let me keep junk in this office for a while. You know how in the movies, when someone gets fired, they are always told "clean out your desk and be out of here by the afternoon" and then they cut to the laid off worker with a single cardboard box of personal affects? That could never happen to me. It will take at least two full work days to sort through all the crap here and get it out.

But by the end of the summer, we should be in Ohio, at least mostly. Maybe. We are looking at places to live. Maybe Avon? Oberlin? There is a Cleveland suburb with "lake" in it--Westlake. Considering I don't want to ever move again, and may never have to move again, picking a place to live should be done carefully. But probably won't be. At least I sold that damn amplifier (and got $80 for it.) Next question: should we take the piano with us?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Violence at critical mass

Via Unfogged

Update: Story here. Police are saying the bikers threw their bikes under the car. I'm taking the word "motorist" out of the post title to be more evenhanded about the confrontation.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

misplaced modifier fun

Ok, I know I haven't posted in almost two weeks. To compensate, I give you a sentence from a student paper, which I will now use to illustrate misplaced modifiers in class:
I don't think because someone is a different religion they go to hell like a lot of Christians

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May 1, 2003

The President, May 1, 2003, from the deck of the Lincoln, in front of a banner saying "Mission Accomplished":
Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. (Applause.) And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
Yesterday, in Washington, the State Department released a report.
Terrorist attacks against noncombatants nearly doubled in Iraq from 2005 to 2006 and were up sharply in Afghanistan, with those two countries alone accounting for a 29 percent increase in terrorism worldwide, according to a report released Monday by the State Department.
Lets go back to May 1, 2003. The President:
In the battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban, many terrorists, and the camps where they trained. We continue to help the Afghan people lay roads, restore hospitals, and educate all of their children.
And yesterday in Kabul:
United States Special Forces said they killed more than 130 Taliban in two recent days of heavy fighting in a valley in western Afghanistan, but hundreds of angry villagers protested in nearby Shindand on Monday, saying dozens of civilians had been killed when the Americans called in airstrikes.
The President in 2003:
For a hundred of years of war, culminating in the nuclear age, military technology was designed and deployed to inflict casualties on an ever-growing scale. In defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Allied forces destroyed entire cities, while enemy leaders who started the conflict were safe until the final days. Military power was used to end a regime by breaking a nation.

Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war; yet it is a great moral advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent.
And in Kabul yesterday:
But the local residents said that civilians were killed in the bombardment and that some drowned in the river as they fled, according to a local member of Parliament, Maulavi Gul Ahmad. News agencies reported that demonstrators said women and children were among the dead.

Mr. Ahmad condemned the bombing and said that the fighting angered local residents because the Americans raided their houses at night.

“They should not do that,” he said in a telephone interview. “The number that they claim — that 130 Taliban were killed — is totally wrong. There are no Taliban there.”