All entries by this author

Ill-served by his Acolytes *

Sep 28th, 2003 | Filed by

Terry Eagleton thinks it’s politically catastrophic that cultural theory refuses to engage the big issues.… Read the rest

Are Aesthetic Preferences Influencing Science? *

Sep 27th, 2003 | Filed by

Scholar argues that non-native species are not necessarily bad, and causes a row.… Read the rest

Immunization Down, Measles Up *

Sep 27th, 2003 | Filed by

Ill-founded fears of MMR jab could result in epidemics of dangerous diseases.… Read the rest

Sisterhood is Powerful *

Sep 27th, 2003 | Filed by

Elisabeth Nietzsche embodied everything her brother disdained, and she continues to warp his legacy.… Read the rest

Hitchens on Said *

Sep 27th, 2003 | Filed by

A moving, emotional tribute, that discusses flaws as well as virtues, but with emphasis on the latter.… Read the rest

Williams on Truth *

Sep 27th, 2003 | Filed by

A review of Bernard Williams’ last book.… Read the rest

Social Engineering in University Admissions? *

Sep 27th, 2003 | Filed by

‘We have to decide what we mean by fairness.’… Read the rest

Hitchens on the Islamic Mafia *

Sep 26th, 2003 | Filed by

And tenderness toward their sensibilities from people who ignored Sarajevo.… Read the rest

Hitchens Rebuts an Opponent *

Sep 26th, 2003 | Filed by

Enforcing distinctions not blurring them, and a chapter on the ‘armchair’.… Read the rest

An Israeli View of Said *

Sep 26th, 2003 | Filed by

The Ha’aretz obituary.… Read the rest


Sep 25th, 2003 7:51 pm | By

One can see from this story how hopeless it is to try to reconcile worries about injustice, torture, inequity, barbaric punishments, misogyny, and just outright cruelty and brutality and bloody awful ugliness, with worries about being tolerant and broad-minded and not colonialist or cultural imperialist or Eurocentric.

Prosecutors argued Ms Lawal’s child was living proof she committed a crime under Sharia. However, defence lawyers countered that under some interpretations of Sharia, babies can remain in gestation in a mother’s womb for five years, raising the possibility that her ex-husband could have fathered the child.

That’s interesting. What if there were no such interpretations of Sharia? What if every possible interpetation of Sharia that anyone could find anywhere held that a … Read the rest

281 to 1

Sep 25th, 2003 5:16 pm | By

I’m reading Mark Crispin Miller’s The Bush Dyslexicon, a witty but deadly serious analysis of Bush’s real as opposed to advertised nature, and what the election of such an ignorant, unqualified, spiteful man says about US politics and media. Miller makes, for example, one point that doesn’t get made nearly often enough or loudly enough – that Bush and his propagandists succeed by conflating ignorance with poverty – intellectual poverty with literal, financial poverty.

However, the comparison with Andrew Jackson is, to put it mildly, problematic. That military hero was, of course, a fiery democrat…When ‘the laws’ are used ‘to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful,’ Jackson wrote in 1832, ‘the humble members of society –

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Edward Said *

Sep 25th, 2003 | Filed by

The Guardian obituary.… Read the rest

Edward Said *

Sep 25th, 2003 | Filed by

New York Times obituary.… Read the rest

No Death By Stoning *

Sep 25th, 2003 | Filed by

Blow to cultural relativists as liberal values prevail. Sort of.… Read the rest

Political Rhetoric *

Sep 25th, 2003 | Filed by

How does rhetoric differ from argument? Crooked Timber discusses the matter.… Read the rest

Wit, Blather and Screwiness *

Sep 25th, 2003 | Filed by

Carlin Romano goes to the World Congress of Philosophy in Istanbul.… Read the rest

Bloom Disses King *

Sep 25th, 2003 | Filed by

Is an award to Stephen King a symptom of dumbing down? Or is Bloom just cranky.… Read the rest

News Flash

Sep 25th, 2003 12:19 am | By

Let’s re-invent the wheel again. How many times do we need to learn that democracy is not the same thing as freedom, that the majority will does not necessarily (in fact almost certainly doesn’t) represent the will of absolutely everyone, that in fact majorities are perfectly capable of deciding to oppress minorities? John Stuart Mill seems to be widely read, judging by the number of copies of On Liberty one sees in used bookstores, and yet we still go on telling each other with an air of innocent surprise that democracy in Iraq could possibly mean that people will vote in an oppressive fundamentalist Islamic government. Well yes, it could mean exactly that.

Nicholas Kristof pointed this out in the … Read the rest

Ya Big Meanie

Sep 24th, 2003 9:05 pm | By

The Chronicle of Higher Education had an interesting story in June – interesting albeit peculiar. So many people arguing so back-to-front – I don’t like this/this is offensive/this hurts my feelings, therefore this has to be wrong. Not that it’s exactly a news flash that people do argue that way – it’s even possible that I’ve been known to argue that way myself – but there is so much of it in this story it does get one’s attention.

Other scholars and activists have blasted the book for reinforcing inaccurate stereotypes.

Hmm. Why do I suspect that those scholars and activists would still have ‘blasted’ the book even if the stereotypes had been accurate? Why do I wonder if they … Read the rest