Sunday, July 03, 2005

Further Linking

* I've always thought that, despite some weaknesses, The Ball and the Cross is one of Chesterton's best works -- not up to the level of The Man Who Was Thursday, to be sure, but still quite good. Michael Gilleland recently posted the following quote from the book, which reminds me of why:

"Well, we won't quarrel about a word," said the other, pleasantly.

"Why on earth not?" said MacIan, with a sudden asperity. "Why shouldn't we quarrel about a word? What is the good of words if they aren't important enough to quarrel over? Why do we choose one word more than another if there isn't any difference between them? If you called a woman a chimpanzee instead of an angel, wouldn't there be a quarrel about a word? If you're not going to argue about words, what are you going to argue about?"

So if you haven't already, read the book, you chimpanzees. And I use that word in a nice way.

* At "Houyhnhnm Land" I've posted on an important issue in the philosophy of vision, the Horizontal Moon; or, as Sharon calls it, Mooning with Brandon. (An interesting fact: for most people the illusion ceases if they stand with their back to the moon, bend over, and look at it through their legs.) You can leave comments about it here, if the impulse takes you; if you catch any errors I've overlooked, please let me know.

* Around July 4, it's always a good thing to take a little time out for a relevant blogospheric classic, What Should Christians Think of the Fourth of July? at "Parableman".

* An interesting post on theodicy at "Prosblogion"; Jeremy's comment and trackbacked post are dead-on.

* Timothy Burke at "Easily Distracted" has an excellent post on Live8; the general thought I thought myself (while watching Ah-Ha; honestly, I didn't even know they were still alive, but they looked like they were doing well; and "Take on Me" still sounds horrible without studio editing), but Burke has a knack for clarifying issues like this. (HT: Cliopatria.)

* "Death in the Afternoon" rightly points out that the Daleks are The Doctor's most terrifying enemies. Indeed, despite the fact they look like modified garbage cans, they are the sci-fi baddies I would least like to tangle with. The Daleks are not merely ruthless but ruthlessly ruthless. They are also, unlike many sci-fi baddies, very good at long-term strategy (not so great when they have to think on their feet, though); and they are the only species who were capable of fighting to mutual destruction the Time Lords of Gallifrey. The Daleks are also an interesting sci-fi concept, in that they are independent of the show itself: the intellectual property rights to the Dalek concept are partly owned by the estate of Terry Nation, who created them, and the BBC has to go through immensely complicated negotiations and pay a rather hefty price whenever it decides to use them (so much so that the Daleks, who recently made an appearance on the season finale of the new Doctor Who series, almost didn't: in original negotiations they failed to agree on terms). The BBC has through the years had to find a medium between the cheaper and easier alternative of not using them (which irritates fans, who have always been fascinated by the Daleks and want more of them) and the fan-desired alternative of using them often (which is financially prohibitive).

* Macht guests at "The Evangelical Outpost" with an interesting post on technology. I suppose I'm neither quite instrumentalist or substantivist; what constitutes technology as technology is a set of intentions and conventions. As a result I agree with a number of things in Macht's post. Incidentally, technology is a good reason why the move in philosophy of science from the 1930s & 1940s emphasis on social and ethical aspects of science and society to the more technical (and, with rare exceptions, completely useless) confirmation-and-justification babble that has largely occupied it since was a sort of fall from grace. Whatever might be said against the Vienna Circle (and many things might be said), they were entirely right that the ethics and politics of science is of crucial value and importance.

[Kathleen Okruhlik has a good article in Hypatia (2004) called "Logical Empiricism, Feminism, and Neurath's Auxiliary Motive" that, among other things, notes how the devaluation of values in philosophy of science has been systematically used to block feminist critiques of scientific and technological practice and how a return to the more values-oriented view could have fruitful results. Even if you have no sympathy with Neurath's Marxism, it's a worthwhile read; Neurath's work on the 'auxiliary motive', despite some oddities, is an interesting place to start for people interested in the way valuation works in science, and his work on the problem of how to convey complicated statistical information to ordinary people is fascinating work that needs to be developed.]

* Chris has a post at "Mixing Memory" sorting out different strands of research that are called "evolutionary psychology".

* UPDATE: Rebecca gives Cecil Alexander's 1889 translation of the Lorica of St. Patrick.

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