Well, that was a relaxing break, despite Harvard's drubbing at the hands of the dreaded Yalies. Reminds me of something that Monty Burns said, "Harvard is getting more pathetic every year. They barely even won." To which Smithers replied, "Their cheating was even more blatant than last year." Anyway, I was away for over a week, but now I am back.
So, now I answer the questions that some of my loyal readers left. Exemplar of benevolence wrote:
A philosophy professor once told me that Harold Ramis' "Groundhog Day"
was a very philosophical movie. Please explain why this is so. Also
expand on other works of popular culture which might help the layperson
with difficult concepts of philosophy.
Groundhog Day is pretty fantastic. The philosophical content of Groundhog Day is fundamentally ethical: what is a life well-lived? One idea that has been batted about is that of the eternal recurrence (also given voice in the movie K-Pax): I should live my life such that if I had to live it over and over I would be satisfied with it. I think it also contains elements of existential philosophy, like Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus where the despair of living in a meaningless world can only be driven off by some kind of radical commitment to...something.
To answer your second question, I think I will list ten of my favorite philosophical movies (you can find a good list here):
Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
A Few Good Men
"Man of many options" asks:
On what side of the ice is hockey played on?
I believe that the question is "What end of the ice is hockey played on?" Well, it is played on both ends of the ice.
Steve Calderwood asks:
Joe Barton of TX-06, candidate for House Minority Leader, is on C-SPAN
and just said that the right to bear arms is a "fundamental family
How does one respond to the rantings of a blithering idiot? One nods ones head and backs away as if they were a dangerous animal, which is in general how I feel like we need to treat Republican Congressman (especially from Texas). But what this incident really indicates is that "family values" has joined the ranks of "democracy" and "imperialism" as terms that don't really have any meaning anymore. They are best analyzed in expressivist terms. If I refer to something as "imperialistic" I am really saying "Booo, thing!" and if I describe something as a family value I am really saying "Hurrah thing!" Which means, I think, that if I assert that X is a family value and Joe Barton says it isn't (like living a life free of poverty), I don't think we are really disagreeing. We are really just talking past each other. It is just one of those concepts which have become non-cognitive due to sustained warped public discourse.
Steve also asks:
I have this friend who only has an elementary knowledge of Rawls' theories. Where would you suggest he starts?
I think there are three places that are worth looking into. First, you have the compilation Reading Rawls which collects many initial reactions, especially an important one by Hart which lead Rawls to make some significant revisions to the concept of primary goods. Second, you might want to check out the chapter "Liberal Egalitarianism" in Kymlicka's Introduction to Political Philosophy. Finally, I like Scanlon's and Cohen's chapters in The Cambridge Companion to Rawls.
...the following has to be pretty high on the list. So, you have Michigan and Ohio State University that are, by universal acclimation, the two best college football teams in the country. And you considerable controversy who number three is. Some say USC, others Rutgers, and others (inexplicably) pick an SEC team out of a hat and say they are number three.
Here's what I don't understand. Michigan and OSU will be playing this weekend and one of them will, necessarily, lose. But, supposing that the game is fairly close, we won't have any more information about who the second best team in the league will be after that game. If OSU loses, then they lost the best team in the country and could very well be the second best team in the country themselves. If Michigan loses, same thing.
But will Michigan and OSU remain 1 and 2 (in either order) after this weekend? Almost certainly not. Even if Michigan loses by a field goal with three seconds left, they will drop out of number 2 and USC or Texas or Rutgers or Notre Dame (?!) or Florida (???) will invariably take up spot number 2 for the national title game. I just find it totally bizarre. Am I missing something?
The Red Sox won the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka, a Japanese pitcher with a fastball in the high 90s, great off speed pitches, and a brand new pitch called a "gyroball." He is so dominant (he won all three games in the most recent World Baseball Classic) and so popular in Japan that there is a generation of Japanese that are called the "Matsuzaka generation."
The Cubs were in the running. See, you have to put in a bid to the team in order to even get the privilege of making an offer to the player. The Yankees offered about $30 million, the Mets offered $40 million, and the Red Sox won with a bid of slightly over $50 million (plus whatever it costs to sign Matsuzaka).
I was really hoping the Cubs would win the bid (it isn't like they don't have the money). The Cubs need another big starter to go with Carlos Zambrano. It would also convince the fan base that the Cub organization was serious about winning, and I think it would have to be positive in terms of public relations, ad revenue, and the like.
I was reading this post, and I think it is a great idea. My week is going to be dominated by packing (going to Harvard-Yale this year) and grading, so I won't have much time to go searching for new blog topics.
So why don't my loyal readers leave me a question, any question, that they would like my take on and I will do as many of them as I can? Saves time, and it guarantees that you will read something that you may actually be interested in.
(P.S. It would be embarassing if no one asked any questions.)
Idiot George has political capital and he's going to spend it. Dubya actually has higher unfavorables than Dick Cheney. With the Democrats on the Hill, it seems almost unfair. Like boxing someone with both hands tied behind their back...