sylvar: (Default)
If you like good writing about bad writing, read this AND its comments:

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2008/09/ends_and_means_2.php

Some of my favorite comments:
  • Man, that guy is a ridiculous cockbag. At least he’s always on the last page so it’s easy to skip him.

  • Some people seem to think that Leon Wieseltier is an excellent literary critics, and certainly I’m in no position to question anyone’s literary criticism skills.
    Actually, I am in such a position, being a professional literary critic (ie, I have a job and am paid by a major university to do literary criticism, believe it or not–I still can’t really), and I can assure you: Leon Wiseltier is a terrible, and terribly pretentious, literary critic. So, breathe easy.
  • It reads like someone’s attempt to enter a parody of George Will in a Bulwer-Lytton contest. What utter crap.

My credo

Jul. 11th, 2008 10:36 pm
sylvar: (Default)
I tinkered with the look of my LJ tonight, and decided to use a style that allows custom text. Here's what I put there:

I believe in humanity: our indwelling capacity for good, our insatiable desire to make ourselves known to one another, our coruscating passion for knowledge, our ability to handle the truth, and our capacity for learning from really dumb mistakes.

I believe in humor as the universal solvent of ignorance, grief, and fear.

I believe in public libraries.

I believe in using intellectual property rights to establish a sustaining wellspring for the creative endeavors of others; I believe in the Creative Commons license.

I believe in putting final punctuation outside the quotes unless it was present in the original.

I believe in the Oxford comma.

I don't believe in rigid gender lines, violence as national economic policy, or any particular religion (though I'm congenial to many).


A friend of mine took a religious education class at a Unitarian Universalist church. No, seriously. One of the products was her own personal credo. This is mine.
sylvar: (Me: Ignatius J. Reilly)
Let's just skip the intermediate steps of hyperbole and go straight to calling it

The Only Tuesday That Has Ever Mattered In The Entire Universe—And The Only Tuesday That Ever Will

The N-Word

Mar. 30th, 2007 10:26 am
sylvar: (Default)

Stephen Colbert interviewing Jabari Asim, author of The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why:

Colbert: First question. Did you want to name the book The N-Word and they said, "No, you have to call it The N-Word"? Or, did you say, "I want to name this book The N-Word," and they assumed you meant, you know, The N-Word, when in fact you meant The N-Word?

Asim: I think I suggested calling it The N-Word and they thought it was a good idea to play it safe and call it The N-Word.

Colbert: OK. This raises another interesting subject to me, is that the N-word has become so anonymous [sic] with the N-word, uh, is saying the N-word pretty much like saying the N-word? Because, I would never say the N-word, but I don't want somebody to think I'm saying the N-word by saying the N-word. You know what I mean? Because I would never say that word that begins with the letter after M.

link (via Language Log)

sylvar: (Default)
What began as a routine invasion of Iraq for some American soldiers almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident, when the troops got lost at night and mistakenly marched into Somalia.  U.S. sources say the soldiers will leave immediately for Equatorial Guinea as soon as the Somalis are ready to resume control of a representative democracy, with similar stops planned in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and Cameroon, since we happened to be in the neighborhood anyway.

(inspired by this story)

Where's Tully Bascombe when we need him? (The Mouse that Roared is second only to Duck Soup on my lists of best satire, best war movie, and best political movie -- above Dr. Strangelove on those lists.  Duck Soup is, moreover, my favorite movie of all time, so The Mouse that Roared never had a chance at #1.)
sylvar: (Alton Brown: Mine is an evil laugh)
Three things that made me happy today:
  • Since my opponent didn't play 12. Kf1 Nc2, I stayed alive in this game.  I'd probably have resigned at that point.  I've also stayed alive against [profile] whispersessions.  I'm not claiming I'll even draw either game; I'm just happy to still be in both games.
  • Getting compliments on the enchilada lasagna  and guacamole dinner I made.  I didn't see dried chipotles at the store, and I plumb forgot to pick up a jalapeño, and I used celery instead of a cup of the onions, and somehow this was pretty much exactly right.
  • Getting ++ed for my jokes in #code4lib.

Three things I accomplished today:
  • Identified the source of a Java error in our vendor's product, despite the fact that I don't know enough Java to write hello world.
  • Cleaned the catbox
  • Got to bed before midnight
sylvar: (Doonesbury: Mike and Nichole)
Today's Penny Arcade strip ("It's Really Not That Hard") contains no references to video games and yet somehow it manages to be funny.

Librarians will probably find this particularly amusing, as many of us have actually been asked this sort of question.
sylvar: (Default)
I've been assisting [profile] turtlebat23 with her applications to grad school; I am, after all, a librarian, so I've been identifying articles that would interest her.  In the process of doing that, I've learned a bit about philosophy myself.

One thing I've learned is that philosophers use language in a very peculiar way.  They tend to redefine existing terms, define new phrases, and expend great effort in avoiding any possible misunderstanding.  Most philosophers, for example, would feel quite at home with a sentence like this:
"By 'want' I am going to mean a electrochemical state in the brain of A corresponding to which the indeterminate but possible future condition at time t of having fries with that is judged, whether explicitly or without deliberating, by A to be preferable to the possible future condition at t of not having fries with that, without regard to whether the possession or consumption of fries would be beneficial to A's health, whether the portion which A may have reason to believe would be served in the former possible future condition would be compatible with either or both Aristotelian moderation and Singerian concern for unnecessary consumption by the affluent, or whether there is truly something of intrinsic value in the value size, and without regard to whether A is truly free to decide whether or not to have fries with that, or (on a higher-order evaluation) to determine A's own desire to desire, not desire, or be indifferent to the prospect of having fries with that."
Another thing I've learned is that although philosophers have been Thinking About Ponderous Stuff for a very long time, they seem to have decided only relatively recently to try to underpin their work by creating a foundation (or, for you Kantians in the room, a Grundlegung) on which the rest of their deductions can safely rest.  And as far as I can tell, there's remarkably little that has been really accepted by almost everyone as having been conclusively demonstrated; many philosophers would agree that it would be permissible if not downright obligatory to mislead a terrorist in order to save a million lives, though some (notably Immanuel Kant) believe(d) that lying was never morally permissible, even under comparable circumstances.  The only sensible response I'm aware of to the problem of foundational knowledge is Gödel's incompleteness theorems, and tenure committees probably aren't interested in hearing that it's mathematically impossible to establish that we know (simpliciter, as they say) anything -- that it's turtles all the way.  Which is probably why people keep trying to do it anyway.

For that matter, there are some surprising topics which seem not to have been settled at all.  Hyperintelligent beings are deeply interested in whether, and how, color exists -- what it really means to say that a particular rose is red when viewed by a bog-standard human being in ordinary sunlight: is redness a property of the rose?  This seems straightforward to me: the rose has the inherent quality of absorbing some wavelengths of electromagnetic energy and reflecting others, to (and at) various degrees, and human observers who have sensed various complex waveforms with similar characteristics have pigeonholed that cluster of experiences as 'redness'.  Perhaps there's something I'm failing to understand here.

When I realized this week that I was getting interested in philosophy, [info]turtlebat23 thought that it would be great if I got a PhD in it too.  But I convinced her that it would be tricky trying to get both of us employed at the same time, in the same location, in a field with so few jobs available.  Instead, I'll probably try to pick up as much philosophy as I can so that I can be a great research assistant and editor.  It won't be my Real Job, but it'll be fun.

Speaking of that Real Job, it's long since time for me to go to sleep.  I should be walking into the office about seven hours from now.
sylvar: (Florida: America's Wang)
Fart jokes ARE literature. And this is the most beautifully illustrated way of making that point.

Bwahahaha!

Mar. 2nd, 2006 06:10 pm
sylvar: (Oh purr!)
A new webcomic has joined my daily links. Here are a few of my favorites:

Just a few, I swear... )

Anyway: Questionable Content rocks out.

I'm goin' home now and taking my medication, since I forgot to do that this morning...
sylvar: (Ignatius J. Reilly)
"I know no method to secure the repeal of bad, obnoxious, or unjust laws so effective as their strict execution." -- Ulysses S. Grant

Watch what happens when people conspire to act legally -- in this case, to obey the 55mph speed limit on a major interstate highway in tandem, thus forcing everyone behind them to do the same.

Note: link opens an auto-playing video on Google Video. If your sound is on, you may wish to turn it down before you click.
sylvar: (Default)

Hmm...

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just isn't the same...
Hmm...

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