Friday, October 04, 2013

Links of Note and Notes that Note

* This cartoon by Jason Bach captures almost everything there is to say about recent media discussion of the Pope's interview.

* An article at Science discusses peer review in open-access journals. It concludes that sometimes there is and sometimes there really, really isn't.

* Dubious shenanigans in community college accreditation.

It's worth remembering that accreditation is a relatively recent thing, and that there is no reason to think that it does much. Canada, whose higher education system is as good as anything in the U.S., has no national or regional accreditation system; colleges are simply regulated by provincial governments, and that somewhat indirectly, and instead of jumping through hoops for accreditation, colleges simply maintain their status as members in good standing in professional associations; some particular departments and degrees have their own form of accreditation through appropriate agencies that can determine the right kind of accreditation for those programs. It's a system that works and makes sense -- it's programs and degrees, not colleges, that need accreditation, when it is needed at all. As noted at the link, we here have a case in which the accrediting organization's policies are actually interfering directly with the educational policies of the state of California, and on grounds that cannot be linked to superior educational quality.

* Ross Wolfe has a review of Victor Farias's Heidegger and Nazism at "The Charnel-House".

* Rebecca Stark looks at the basic meaning of mortification of sin, with links to Reformed resources on the subject.

* John Wilkins has a post on the idea that the brain could be downloaded, saying many salutary things.

Of course, even if it were possible, it might not be like we think; I remember a short story somewhere in which aliens learn how to hack a human being's brain, and they land on earth expecting to conquer us easily -- after all they can just break straight into our minds. And they discover that every single human brain is so different that they would have to start virtually from scratch for every single one.

* Rabbi Yaakov Ariel on Maimonides's 13 principles.

* Jana at "Wondering Aloud with Young People" discusses Rachel Carson's The Sense of Wonder, which I think is her best book.

* Hic Rhodus, hic saltus: Aesop, Erasmus, Hegel, and Marx

* T. E. Hulme Reconsidered at "The Imaginative Conservative". Hulme was born 130 years ago this past September.

I suspect history will treat Hulme reasonably well. He'll never be one of the greats, but I think people will keep coming back to him at least indirectly. His manuscripts on the philosophy of language, literature, and style are brilliant, and much better than almost any other twentieth century philosophy of language, since Hulme actually knew his subject in greater depth than being able to string words together into sentences. He is one of those philosophers who is brilliant in fragments; Leibniz is the most famous, and, ironically, given Hulme's arguments against romanticism, the Romantic philosophers. He is not as brilliant as Leibniz, and he lacks the movement the Romantics had, but he is of the same general kind. I think he will be a minor philosopher who is read far longer than many more famous for philosophy in their day.

An aphorism from his manuscripts on language: "Thought is the joining together of new analogies, and so inspiration is a matter of an accidentally seen analogy or unlooked-for resemblance."

* Another anniversary this year: Albert Camus turns 100.

* James Chastek on the trial of Socrates as the trial of all philosophy.

* John Michael Greer on the flight to the ephemeral at "The Archdruid Report".


  1. Mike Flynn4:22 PM

    John Wilkins has a post on the idea that the brain could be downloaded, saying many salutary things. Of course, even if it were possible, it might not be like we think; I remember a short story...

    There is a story here:
    entitled "Places Where the Roads Don't Go."

  2. branemrys4:54 PM

    That's one of the new ones, isn't it? I'll have to read when I get the chance.

  3. Enbrethiliel7:39 AM


    Accreditation has been a shady business to me since I was in elementary school and had to show up for Saturday classes for two whole months because it was an accreditation year and the school wanted us to do well on the test which was a big part of the criteria. We had tutorials, drills and mock exams because the school wanted to keep its ranking up. And sure enough, during the year I took it, we pulled the ranking up from #20 in the country to #18 in the country.

    But this story tells you more about my school than our test scores could have.

  4. branemrys10:32 AM

    That does end up saying a great deal. It does seem to encourage a sort of 'teaching to the test' at the institutional level.


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