Friday, February 16, 2007

Notes and Links

I was away for the past several days; hence the lack of posting. More normal posting will return this weekend.

* By way of Fred Clark at "slacktivist" I found that Brad DeLong has an interesting series of posts on game theory (here, here, here, here).

* John Guilmartin's The Tactics of the Battle of Lepanto Clarified discusses the role of socioeconomic factors in employment tactics and weapons system design. He discusses the matter further in another essay on the battle.

* The movie Amazing Grace, about William Wilberforce is coming out on February 23 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Britain's abolition of the slave trade by the Slave Trade Act. You can see the trailer here. Spread the word. Wilberforce was the great abolitionist and social reformer of his day. Through the Internet Archive, you can read Wilberforce's A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious Systems of Professed Christians, a thorough (and thoroughly Christian) criticism of the Christianity of the middle and upper classes in his day (and it still manages to be a hefty critique of purely nominal Christianity even for today; I highly recommend it); and a collection of his private papers, which mostly consists of letters to him, but also has some lovely letters from Wilberforce to his daughter Elizabeth and son Samuel.

* Speaking of which, Rebecca has posted a review of Piper's Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce. Those who want a more thorough biography can consult Robert Isaac Wilberforce's five-volume Life of William Wilberforce online.

* In the meantime, you should also visit The Amazing Change website. As it points out, the fight against slavery is far from finished; it's devoted to carryiing forward Wilberforce's fight by stirring up consciousness of this fact. It might also be a good thing to blog something about liberty on February 18, which in many places around the world is Amazing Grace Sunday, a day of celebration for past victories against the slave trade and of prayer for future victories.

* Sister Sara Butler's paper, Ordination: Reviewing the "Fundamental Reasons", is the place to go for understanding the Catholic reasoning in refusing to ordain women. Butler has for some time been one of the most important and influential female theologians in the Catholic Church.

* Tim Enloe at "Societas Christiana" has a good post on Protestant historiography.

* The newest History Carnival is at Aardvarchaeology.

* I find myself in good company in a post at "Laudator Temporis Acti".


* In my undergraduate days, I used to listen to this Alphaville song over and over again.

* In Colin Klein's An Imperative Theory of Pain (PDF) there's an interesting argument that pains should be thought of on the model of proscriptions.

* I read with interest Amanda Marcotte's apologia in Salon. It suffers from two faults: (1) She talks as if the dispute were about her. But it clearly wasn't; it was about Edwards, and his association with a person whom others regarded as a bigot, whether rightly or wrongly, whether reasonably or unreasonably. (2) She tries to play up the argument that the critics were sexist and misogynistic; which may have in many cases been true. The trouble is that it's not really much of an argument in context: whatever the motivations for making the criticisms that were made, the criticisms themselves were about anti-Catholic bias, not sex, and stand or fall on their own merits. In that context, the sexism defense seems simply to be yet another self-indulgent case (of which there are far, far too many in politics) of someone trying to avoid the consequences of their actions by shoving a noble cause in the path of the oncoming bullets. Fighting against sexism and defending Marcotte are two very different things, as are being sexist and criticizing her; and yet the two never come apart in her article. This is very disturbing, and not at all convincing. I'm not much of a fan of Marcotte, but I had hoped she would give a more rousing defense than she managed. Here, as elsewhere, McEwan has a more intelligent take, but she misses the first point as well; she wasn't the target, nor was Marcotte; she was the accidental occasion for making a point -- several points, probably -- and when people make points in politics, it is an activity that is often brutal, to say the least. (Both Marcotte and McEwan came out relatively unscathed compared to what sometimes happens.)

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