A Puff of Absurdity: On Social Control in Universities

Chris Hedges has concerns with Trump’s impact on intellectuals: Trump and his Christian fascist minions, sooner than most of us expect, will seek to shut down the small spaces left for free expression. Dissent will become difficult and sometimes dangerous. … The Trump administration will hand our Christian jihadists a platform to champion a repugnant ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Social Control in Universities

Chris Hedges has concerns with Trump’s impact on intellectuals: Trump and his Christian fascist minions, sooner than most of us expect, will seek to shut down the small spaces left for free expression. Dissent will become difficult and sometimes dangerous. … The Trump administration will hand our Christian jihadists a platform to champion a repugnant ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Requiem for the American Dream

This is Chomsky’s last long-form documentary. It came out in January, but I hadn’t heard about it until recently. I paraphrased/transcribed the 72 minute video liberally with links to further readings below. It’s about the American Dream: the idea that you can be born poor but work hard enough for a home and car and ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Requiem for the American Dream

This is Chomsky’s last long-form documentary. It came out in January, but I hadn’t heard about it until recently. I paraphrased the 72 minute video liberally with links to further readings below. It’s about the American Dream: the idea that you can be born poor but work hard enough for a home and car and ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Charles Taylor on the Crises of Democracy

Charles Taylor gave a lecture on the “Crises of Democracy” two years ago, as part of a “Civic Freedom in an Age of Diversity” program where he explores the very complex situation we’re in. He says we’re not in a period of democratic stagnation, but in a downward spiral that has to be actively stopped. ...

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Josh Gelernter, Science-y Type Guy

He writes, bitching about The Left, Science, The Earth Centered Universe, Climate Change, and all that: People tend to think that proponents of an Earth-centered solar system were nothing but intransigent religious fanatics. In fact, they included scientists of Galileo-level genius, like Ptolemy and Aristotle. When their theories were weakened and their opponents’ strengthened, they ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On So Much Anger

Anger may be defined as an impulse, accompanied by pain, to a conspicuous revenge for a conspicuous slight directed without justification towards what concerns oneself or towards what concerns one’s friends. If this is a proper definition of anger, it must always be felt towards some particular individual, e.g. Cleon, and not “man” in general. ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Friendships of Utility not Virtue

It sounds horrible, doesn’t it?  Like we’re using people, hanging out with them only because they have a nice car or because they often pick up the bill for lunch. I wrote here about utility like it’s a bad thing, but what if we use people for their company? Does that make it different? And ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Acting Nice

I’ve been watching lots of movies and thinking about this bit from Aristotle: “But we get the virtues by having first performed the energies, as is the case also in all the other arts; for those things which we must do after having learnt them we learn to do by doing them; as, for example, ...

Joe Fantauzzi: Rob Ford’s Political Body

Toronto’s Rob Ford lives a political life. Both his bare existence and his public personae have taken on a politicization since he entered municipal governance. Plainly said, his weight and other biological issues have become just as political as his public life as “mayor” of the City of Toronto. The Ancient Greeks, such as Aristotle, had ...

Political Eh-conomy: Aristotle contra the math stick: Magic numbers redux

In the last post I explored how magic numbers, such as a 90% debt-to-GDP ratio or a 2% inflation target, at once over-simplify and stifle economic policy debate. The role of magic numbers raises more general questions about “the rule of number” in economics. The math stick used to browbeat those who enter economic policy debates ...

Political Eh-conomy: There is no good value

A piece in the Financial Times from several days ago has finally pushed me to scribble down a few initial thoughts on value – a topic I been thinking about more and more. Titled “The attack of the rentier killers”, the article argues that the wealthy who hold and receive income from assets will fight ...

Alberta Diary: Campaign Diary Volume 14: ‘You’ll hear no irresponsible calls from me to slash programs’

Here’s a video of my opening remarks to the St. Albert Taxpayers Association’s all-candidates’ forum last night. Mayor Nolan Crouse, at left, and candidate Ted Durham, are visible in the frame. Here’s the heart of my opening remarks to the St. Alberta Taxpayers Association (SATA) all-candidates forum at the Arden Theatre in St. Albert last ...

Parchment in the Fire: Debt and Democracy

While this was written by Cicero in 44 BCE, after the assassination of Caesar and a year before Antony had Cicero murdered, the sentiment can be heard in today republicans–particularly those associated with the Tea Party. Any attempt at redistribution, according to Cicero, threatens the very foundation of the republic, which, he points out, was ...

Alberta Diary: Campaign Diary Volume 11: The uncomfortable truth about taxes and radical tax cuts

Radical cuts can’t be accomplished without harm – anyone who says different, like the city council candidate above, is presenting an illusion. Actual St. Albert city council candidates may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The philosopher Aristotle. A St. Albertan has asked me the tough question that all city council candidates are going to ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Animal Testing: What’s wrong with education this time?

Okay it’s really about our kids.  But this post was inspired, in part, by this cartoon gaining swift popularity: There’s a burgeoning rebellion against the way we teach.  I’m all for rebellion, but we have to figure out if we really want to overhaul the entire system or just tweak it a bit.  Too many ...

Five of Five: Aristotle, Homer, Rembrandt and Joseph Heller

Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer, Rembrandt van Rijn. (1653) Apparently Joseph Heller wrote his novel Picture This about this painting. The only Heller novel I haven’t read yet. Heller concludes that we don’t learn from history (and in fact so much of history may be nonfactual that learning may be impossible). Being a pessimist chronicler

Five of Five: Aristotle, Homer, Rembrandt and Joseph Heller

Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer, Rembrandt van Rijn. (1653) Apparently Joseph Heller wrote his novel Picture This about this painting. The only Heller novel I haven’t read yet. Heller concludes that we don’t learn from history (and in fact so much of history may be nonfactual that learning may be impossible). Being a pessimist chronicler