Life: June 2004 Archives

As I was walking home from campus the other day, I had an amazing realization. For many years I've been wondering why men's bikes have a crossbar and women's don't. After all, men are more likely to want to avoid having something to land on if they slip forward off the seat. Why would women's bikes have the crossbar missing? Presumably men's bikes existed first, since that's things have typically gone. Someone must have deliberately made bikes without that, but how does being female lead to not having such a thing? I've had discussions about this quite a number of times, and no one has ever given me a satisfactory answer during these discussions.

Well, as I said, the reason has now occurred to me, and I think our contemporary situation keeps us from seeing what would have been obvious to anyone a couple generations ago. What I saw when walking home was a woman riding a bike, which I've seen before. What was different this time was that she was wearing a skirt. It wasn't just a skirt. It was a long skirt, and it went down to her ankles. Yet she had no trouble reaching the pedals. Nowadays women wouldn't ordinarily wear a skirt on a bike if they can help it, and if they do it probably wouldn't go down to their ankles. That's why it doesn't occur to most people today to think that a bike would be designed for someone wearing a skirt, but in those days women didn't wear pants very often if at all. They needed a bike that could allow them to have wear a skirt or a dress without interfering with functionality or modesty. It seems obvious once you think about it.

For my 450th entry, I'll post my last (so far anyway) of my series on things you really have no need to know about me (the main body of which was written over a month ago).

Righteous Anger

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Jollyblogger has started a new series on relationships based on a a sermon series he's doing. The inaugural post is on conflict and has some good stuff.

His comments on the use of "righteous anger" as a fake justification are spot on. Almost no one ever has righteous anger, at least not unless mixed with selfish or prideful motivations. Usually people's claims to righteous anger aren't even close. As most people use the term, it describes anger that they feel justified in having, but it almost never involves concern for justice for others instead of concern for one's own wounded pride or feelings of being wronged (even if in some cases it's a feeling of being wronged because a loved one has been wronged).

Ready for Parenthood

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She Who Will Be Obeyed! has a pretty accurate test for whether you're ready to be a parent.

Weekend Roundup I

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While I was in New York City for the weekend I was able to do a little writing for posting when I went online with an incredibly slow connection, but I couldn't do much that involved looking around at other blogs and blogging about them, so it's time for another roundup.

Stuart Buck has a helpful post about cable companies and bundling packages. A number of conservatives and libertarians have been arguing that cable companies should charge by the channel, and then people would only pay for what they watch. As much as I'd like not to have to pay for ESPN or any other sports channel, since those will never be watched in my household unless my dad or Sam's dad is around, this sort of proposal doesn't make much sense once you learn a little more about how cable companies work.

Stuart also has a good quote from philosopher C. Stephen Layman that I think shows two things. First, a lot more arguments beg the question than most philosophers will admit. Second, begging the question isn't always all that bad. Many good arguments are question-begging. See my comment on Stuart's post for a little more on why I think this, if you can't see the reasons from Layman's quote.

At Digitus, Finger & Co. we have a striking diversity of feminist responses to Abu Ghraib.

I've got eight windows open now full of other things to read more carefully before deciding if they deserve linkage, but I'm too exhausted now to do more. We've been up late every night, partly from kids not sleeping due to the unfamiliar location, and I have to tutor football players at 8am, so I need sleep. To be continued...

Mark Heller

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I can't bear to link to Brian Leiter's blog. He just shows such contempt for so many things I hold dear, and he refuses to allow comments. Still, I can link to Mark Steen's Orangephilosophy post that links to his announcement that Mark Heller will be coming to Syracuse. This is the most exciting news I've had in a long time. After the three professors who had restored Syracuse to its former glory as one of the best places in the world to study metaphysics (and I mean like top five) all got snatched up by Rutgers, now tied for number 1 in the U.S. for philosophy, partly because of them, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I came here partly because of the presence of one of them, and the arrival of the other two seemed to confirm to me that this was the right choice. Then they all left, and others left with them.

They've been replaced by good people, most of them not in metaphysics. The one senior hire in metaphysics is someone whose interests are close to mine, and he's extremely nice and has offered to help me out more than once, but he's been overbooked recently as the only senior metaphysician at a department stocked with metaphysics grad students who came to work with the three who left and are now in dissertation work. So I like him, but it's not as easy for him to oversee as many people as have been assigned to him. Also, his philosophical sensibilities and personality are so far removed from my own that I don't know how easy it would be to work primarily under his guidance. Well, from what I know about Mark Heller, he's almost the perfect advisor for me, so I'm pretty excited. Now I just need to come up with a dissertation that he could oversee.

Mark spent the first part of his career working on exactly the issues I'm interested in. His book argues that physical objects are quantities of stuff extended through time and not just at a time, and his more recent metaphysics work deals with anti-realism about ontology. His current epistemology work is more like metaphysics, since it's about contextualist theories of knowledge, which I think should be relevant to the work on race I'm doing right now. So both my current projects (if you count the stalled one that I'd like to be my dissertation) are related to things he's a specialist in.

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