Tuesday, May 27, 2008

spelling issue

So here is something that I have been dealing with for a while, and I have to make a decision about, but I am torn. Any thoughts on this matter are appreciated.

Because of the way Yiddish phonology works, my last name is spelled with two ayyins in it (tzadi ayyin resh mem ayyin resh). My grandfather spells his name with two ayyins, as does one of his two sons. However, my generation is somewhat split. Some of us have dropped the ayyins in order to be in line with the Hebrew spelling (tzadi resh mem resh). The name, I believe, derives from a Yiddish word, so it makes sense to keep the Yiddish spelling. Though the Yiddish origins are a bit obscure. But I am not particularly fond of the Yiddish spelling, and when pronounced with ayyins as a Hebrew word, it sounds a bit bizarre. The word in Hebrew would be meaningless.

Keeping one ayyin as a compromise strikes me as a bit dumb, as it is the worst of both worlds.

I have no interest in actually changing the name, but I am torn over keeping or dropping the ayyins. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

. . . speaking of suing

Not sure how many of you remember the TV show "Sliders", but one scene has been coming to mind a lot lately. The crew lands in a world where some 91% of the population are lawyers and pretty much everyone sues everyone all the time. creepiness ensues.

Given our last post, we thought we had seen it all. But wait. . . middle aged Jewish guy sues thirty-something Asian girlfriend for dumping him. Given the fact that he did this, it is no wonder she left. He was nuts.

What is this world coming to? Obama, a lawyer, apparently believes that the function of the court is to make policy, and not enforce law. Maybe these people are hoping to find a left-wing recently dumped radical feminist judge who will award them money for being pathetic?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why didn't I think of this

So a science studies professor freaks out at her students and calls them names because she is unable to convince them that her crazy ideas make sense. So she threatens to sue them.

This is just funny on so many levels. Clearly she is one of those freaks who really believes what she is talking about when she claims that the function of science and technology is to oppress women. She also believes that as an instructor her job is to talk at her students and not to them. She does not seem to believe that there are any standards for making a case, and if her students don't see what she takes to be obvious then they are "fascist demagogues". Clearly she is just nuts, and how she got to teach at Dartmouth is beyond me. And while I don't know that much about teaching, I know that if there is anyone whose job it is to be an adult in the class room - it's the instructor's. Priya Venkatesan has no such belief.

This is so bizarre.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Anyone heard of this John Stuart Mill fellow?

You would think if there was one publication in the world where the writers should be expected to have an inkling of what goes on in Academic life it would be in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Yet a political scientist there, a director of some center of research at Boston College displays the most complete ignorance of the point of his piece. His article laments the lack of attention that J. S. Mill gets among philosophers.

It is excusable to believe that no one reads Mill anymore. Perhaps he never took a philosophy class, or read a philosophy book. But had he done so, he would realize what a fool he is, as I would venture to say that the overwhelming number of ethics texts published struggle with Mill's ideas about utilitarianism and freedom. The overwhelming number of ethics courses and introductory philosophy courses devote some time to Mill's ideas on liberty, free speech, and utility. The majority of advanced texts and courses on Ethics devote time and space to Mill's ideas as well.

Of course the fact that ignorance is completely excusable does not justify his decision to write about it, or the Chronicle's decision to publish it. Did Alan Wolfe just not bother to ask a philosopher at Boston College if people still read Mill? There are plenty of people there who know Mill's work well.

I certainly hope that he does political science better than he does his public laments. I hear his next piece will talk about how classics don't read Homer, or perhaps how mathematicians no longer know geometry, or Protestants no longer pay attention to biblical texts. No wonder people think academics are out of touch.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

In Canada

I am now in London, Ontario 3/5 of the way through a five day conference. Nice place to visit.