Language: April 2004 Archives

I tend to think of dumb things to write about when I have a huge stack of grading to do, and here's yet another one (actually I think about them all the time, but I write about them when I have stuff to put off doing). Arianna Huffington was on NPR today. One thing she said caught my attention. It's a common enough saying, but it struck me today how odd it is. She was describing President Bush's response to the dead and very slowly rising economy after 9-11 by cutting taxes. She said that this response is the very definition of insanity. Leaving aside the tendentious nature of the proposition she was trying to express with this sentence, let's consider how the sentence is supposed to express that proposition to begin with. After all, how can his action be the very definition of anything? My first thought was simply that she must not be thinking about what a definition is. It's not an action. An action can illustrate a definition as a clear case, but it's not itself a definition.

The time has arrived once again when I have too many things to blog about and not enough time to do it, so before some of this stuff gets too old I'll at least link them and say something about them.

Discoshaman comments on the scientists on the verge of creating life in a laboratory to the effect that someone's going to start denying that it's happened on the grounds that only God can create life. Read the first comment, the one about the dirt. It's hilarious and exactly the right to say here.

This one's been old for a while, but I just found it. Philosopher Keith Burgess-Jackson has been a gradual convert to conservative thought over the course of his life. He wrote this before the big brouhaha over liberal professors in academia of the last few months, but it looks at why so many liberal thinkers think conservatives are stupid in a way that's neither insulting to liberals nor favorable to the position that conservatives tend to be stupid.

Speaking of philosophers discussing important issues, Jeremy Chong gives a near-formal deductive argument for the conclusion that soy milk is indeed milk. I would have argued on the same basis but in a very different way, focusing more on philosophy of language but really for the same reasons and based on the same intuitions.

Volokh: A 15-year-old girl is up for child pornography charges for taking pictures of herself and sending them to people through the internet. Get a load of what they're charging her with.

Also at Volokh, Jacob Levy, from my alma mater Brown, mentions two things of note in one post. First is his reference to Buddy Cianci, former mayor of Providence who was convicted of a felony and then later re-elected mayor for multiple terms while still not serving any terms. It's as if he's a cartoon character. What Jacob says about him is precious. Then he goes on to tell a great story of the new attorney general of RI calling Marvel Comics to get Stan Lee's permission to use a quote from the first appearance of Spiderman.

Yet again at Volokh: Anyone up for a vampire slaying? This one wasn't posted on April Fool's Day. At least the guy was already dead.

Last but not least, you have to see the latest two comments on my post from January about the racist Condoleeza Rice poster that had been circulating at the time. It would be ideal if you go and look at the family pictures on my old blog site first to appreciate the full humor of what these two guys (assuming they're two people -- I haven't checked the IPs yet) think they can get away with saying. Update: Sam weighs in. I like the MTV comment. It's too bad I didn't catch that. It's insulting enough to assume that I don't know my wife. To assume that I watch MTV may even be worse.

I've got a couple more, including another from Volokh, but I'll hold off on them in the hopes that I might be able to say a little more about them.

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