Heard Thunder

I just now heard the thunder from the first lightning in the first spring storm of the year in my new home. The crack and rumble rolling through the basal brain, jolting the ears like a dog's ticking trying to twist around behind me. Low clouds are flowing overhead, and here's the rain; it's the first storm of the year. I hear that sound in my gut, and it brings back memories unbidden. Under a darkened sky outside my childhood window, so like the one I face now, lighting flashes down. I am 4 or 5 years old, tiny and quaking half under a comforter even in humid June in Minnesota heat. Gray-green light covers everything, it is after my bedtime and the light is still fading, sunset not yet coming this far north. Rumbles shake through my shoulders as the wetness crashes down, quickly, passing by and over the neighboring houses and through the town and then gone beyond to the fields creeping with early green. The sourness of aging and the sweetness of memory fill me as I watch, fascinated. Cycles and cycles of life pass by but the weather remains constant and comforting. Rumbling, rumbling, first thunderstorm of the year.

go c my frend

shes a sweety:
"No one has noticed me yet, eyes untrained, only registering the mundane. No one knows how I laid down, breathing is the murk, choking on my hatred until my rage was subdued with candy wrappers and soda cans. Only the stillness followed."

been getin down on tha upsidez 2day.
I think I know the answer
I stumbled on and all the world fell down
And all the sky went silent
Cracked like glass and slowly
Tumbled to the ground
They say if you look hard
You'll find your way back home
Born without a friend
And bound to die alone
I'm Thinking of your highness
And crying long upon the loss I've found
And on the plus and minus zero chance of ever
Turning this around
Why doesn't anyone believe
In loneliness
Stand up and everyone will see
Your holiness
That say if you look hard
You'll find your way back home
Born without a friend
And bound to die alone

thx 2 c. cornell, b. shepard.


daybreak and after, impressions

Warm and sunny, breezy, happy. Had a premonition in the am and now approaching the halfway mark, best day so far this year. Sunshine at sunup good morning hello good morning. Nor tears nor frown nor snow nor sleet shall keep the skipping child from her appointed rounds. A catholic elementary school, kids in uniforms, screaming with laughter, warm, benevolent minders smiling on the playground. Walking corners of mouth upturned, quirked, late for the bus and glad for the opportunity. A soaring feeling coming up from the depths into filtered streaming shafty sunlight pouring filling swelling bursting overflowing. Bright high clouds wispy like drapes over breezy kitchen window at breakfast, birds outside chirping eggs nesting chirps new green and eating green and eating those eating green and growing, waiting for the hatch. After easter, renewed in a pagan metaphor transferred to the universal, the child-oriented thoughts and youthful energy all around, smiling, awake, alert and rested, bouncing and untroubled. Rising tilted high the temperate star, warming and gentle, face upward turned like the sunflower afoot, traveling the through-wintered streets, grass green anew darker and healthier feeding and straining up to the season, minds rising.


new fashions but cliched sentiments

Freshly back from spring break, the girls of the university have deigned to remove their shamefully body-covering winter garb in favor of a more hip, more mod, and most of all more form-fitting style, i.e. the bra-less/wonderbra'd t-shirt. If you've newer seen approx. 2000 20-yr-old women with a fresh tan, spring in their step, and a bounce in their chest--well, you should. If jebus existed, he would have said It Is Good.

What's the deal with not having body hair, though--and doesn't anybody like pheromones? Well, hell, of course you train your kids to like a sanitary odor-free environment. Because not-smelling-like-anythingness is next to jebuslyness. Except if you smell like $150/oz. Then it's okay. Anyone who's dated an athlete knows a good clean sweat when they smell one--it's delish. No, I'm not pushing that underarm-licking thing (The Joy of Sex? more like gross me out pervs). But think about this: a woman starts to smell when she's hot--and if you're not attracted to it, maybe that's cause you're some kinda wacko-Xian or other repressed soul caught in the 17th Cen. of like sexual carefreeness. (Ain't pushing Free Love 'cause that's a crock, so leave it to the bonobo monkeys.) Body hair is good for holding in a person's scent, and also it's real sensitive if you know how to almost-caress someone. I mean, damn, you and the dolphins--who hump a helluva lot but don't grope--and the naked mole rats are like the mammals with no body hair--superior... or inferior? (Hint: you=losers.)

As the man says, "Smell you (and your burning shame about yourselves) later."

Weather Report

Expect worsening clouds of fatigue over the next few days as a baby's diarhea-related illness sweeps northward on the wings of AirTran, with the front cresting in intensity over the next 5 days.


Drone's Vacation

Good lord! Campus is deserted these days, and it's a damn miracle (praise jebus). A week without whiny brand-wearing fools jabbering mindlessly about television. I'd smile :) but :) that isn't :) my style :) :) :) :) :) ha ha ha. Also be cause it has been raining I have to say don't get and stay wet. When you don't have regular access to a shower other than at the Y (and boy do they get testy when you're in there every day). Because you'll develop this... smell. If you ever stuck your nose in a sheep you'd know what I mean.

Can't make me any worse off, with no one around to make snide comments about "who forgot to shower" or "we have to call animal control". One thing I'll say about these people is, at least they know where everybody stands. I mean, it's hard for me, 'cause they all look the same. But they've got that "this brand means this and that brand means that" and so forth down to a science. If your life is supposed to be in a clannish group with others, maybe around a hundred individuals, then it's easy... there are about a million, or at least tens of thousands, of individuals on the campus let alone in the town. So what I'm saying is they have this system down for telling who's affiliated with whom and so forth.

Funny part is, they all deny it, like "I'm an individual, and my style expresses my individuality. It's cool, I'm cool, look at me expressing my own personal taste and I look good because I know what's up. Oh, hey I have a jacket just like that!" They all went off to explore their individuality at one of the like 5 places you can go for SPRING BREAK. And they do all the stupid break things every other person does. Because they want to, not because they think they should. Because that couldn't be true... ha ha sheep :p

Anyway tonight I'm going out to a bar, because it's Friday night and I feel like cutting loose in my own, special,unique, individual way.

Weather Report

Low migraine clouds on the horizon as evening approaches, but the storm will be mitigated by a 90% chance of drunkenness; work on internal thoroughfares exposing new vistas is proceeding slowly, and work crews are behind schedule; expect delays.


too quiet?

Seems like the time when you get most paranoid about someone watching the back of your head is when nobody's around. I've been working here for an hour, and all of a sudden I get a chill like there's a crowd of LARPers outside the door, planning shenanigans of some dorky sort. Thank Prometheus I don't have a webcam--I'd be paralyzed with fear every time I sat in front of the Internet Box...

If you walk through the woods, at night, moon shining through in patches, crackles under your feet, you're just sure, sure that you can't move quietly enough. There's like a werewolf or some sort of serial killer out there, watching the back of your neck, waiting until you stop looking around, and then: gotcha! Never mind that the box office on movies like that isn't so good, I mean, everybody sees them or knows about them. It's like a knawing little termite in your confidence, waiting to bring the structure down just when you wish it wouldn't.

Probably right now you're sitting in a low-lit room, glazed, reading page after page, needing to change your underwear because you've got it all wet (with sweat--what did you think I was saying?), and there's a little creak of noise, a bang, a muffled thud. It's not the dog, no, nor the cat, and it sure as hell isn't the kids, not now, you know what that would sound like if it were kids. And you're alone in the house, or at least you're the only one near, and there's routes in your house to come to the door of the room you're in right now with a minimum of fuss, if no one was paying attention; if no one was expecting this thing to be creeping up, ever so slowly, looking at you as you read on, not thinking about the hulking shadow just out of your peripheral vision, and you try to see if maybe the is something without moving your attention away from the screen, and then there's a little flash of motion in the corner of your eye--------


cannot get enuf

of rdj's nu 'analord' buuuuuuullshit. greedy dickwad exploiting cultish fans. still, werf a lissen if u don' gotta pay. rockin a f-d up acid line no doubt, rockin a fat jay no doubt, rockin a ftp no doubt, now gonna put bucephalous bouncing ball on repeat an try'n fuck a suck as m. gyllenhall so famuslee sed. cannot get enuf of f'd up E music but damn eripsa why you gotta be havin a jones 4 this so long it aint like a gurl wanna get down wid it on. as tha track tittttle sez, werez yr girlfriend, well no bonin' u cuz she done gonna tha club.

anyway as i sed it is a brake fr tha norm to lissen to rdj an his many noms de guerre-not noms de art mind u. i guess rstevens is right.

Weather Report

Healthy skin, exfoliation, heavy moisturizing recommended for the next several days as the number of X chromosomes as a proportion of the total in the immediate vicinity has diminished until Friday; desperation could turn into showers of carpal-tunnel pains as overdue paper work nears completion; look for a break in the clouds Wednesday as a lull in day-job demands begins.


religious unAmericanism

Here's a long piece I want to dedicate to Messers. Robertson, Reed, Delay, Bush, and their zealot-acolytry.

"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion." One wonders whether this statement can be interpreted by a sane person to mean something like "Congress shall make no law promoting religious ideals other than mine." The latter statement, of course, is the sort of thing Focus on the Family and like-minded organizations, and the ultraconservative-evangelical-political/legal movement generally, have in mind when they see the former statement.

Another statement these types often give: "America is (or, was founded as) a Christian nation." This is patently a historical falsehood. The problem, of course, is trying to claim that because the founders were mostly Christian or had been raised Christian, that they intended their new creation to be a theocracy or, the weaker and more common claim, a country by and for the promotion of the creation of the New Jerusalem or some other such utopian Christian ideal. The Puritans, and some other religious groups, did come to these shores at least in part for that express purpose.

Everyone ought to be well aware that the Puritans were escaping state-sanctioned religious persecution. The point of their emigration notwithstanding, they turned around and immediately created their own repressive theocratic persecutory community. If one looks at the world of "The Scarlet Letter", you'll see the sort of thing the religious reactionaries must have in mind when they talk about "a Christian nation." (Perhaps they will still allow the internal combustion engine.)

Already we have run into the intellectual delusion surrounding religious belief on the part of this particular bunch of true believers. It's centered on a belief they share with UBL: that their beliefs are True and Right for everyone no matter the cost of ramming those thoughts and behaviors into other peoples' lives. The delusion is this: that they have good reason(s) to believe that their beliefs are more worthy than anyone else's. This is the central falsehood at the center of religious factionalism.

Let me take a moment here to elaborate on what "beliefs" are under consideration in the above passage. These are specifically religious beliefs. One way to notice the difference between these and other sorts of belief is to see the contrast between the following two claims: (1) "unprovoked killing of another cannot be allowed because it is a threat not only to the victim's well-being and the psychological well-being of members of the community, but because to the very stability of the society provided be mutual safety-ensuring mechanisms of the state apparatus of said society"; (2) "unprovoked killing cannot be allowed because God says it's wrong, and unrelated to its wrongness are the bad effects it has on society mentioned in (1)." The thing beginning 'because' in each of (1) and (2) is a belief. Only what follows 'because' in (2) is a specifically religious belief, because it expressly denies nonreligious justifications for its validity. If such a denial were implicit, the belief in (2) would still be specifically religious.

Since David Hume wrote his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, if not before, it has been clear that religious practice cannot be founded on any sort of evidence to be found in the world. I will not belabor this point; and the gist ought to be familiar to everyone--that religious belief is lifted on a "leap of faith" and not on a rational justification (Pascal's Wager and psychological-health-pragmatism accounts notwithstanding). The upshot is that pointing to your bible of choice or to a supposed "miracle" cannot be taken as evidence for the existence of Deity. One can give an explanation for any event entirely within mathematical, physical descriptions of events at times in regions of space (and quantum mechanics gives us an even more powerful tool in such explanation--and it would seem that if all God did were make subatomic particles hop one way or another this would be a different sort of thing than what the evangelicals want to be watching over them). There is, then, nothing to be added to the account of what goes on in the world by allowing religion into such accounts.

Let us come back to the Constitution and the founders for a moment. Many of the founders would have been well aware of Hume's work, and many of them were Deists. A Deist is someone who believes that God set the universe in motion at the moment of creation and hasn't done anything but watch since; for the Deist there is no rational justification for any specifically religious belief because no evidence for preferring one belief over another could be found (by beings like us); their conception of what religious discussion should be is that there ought to be no discussion, since no conclusion can be reached, and therefore one ought to shut up about the whole thing.

A note on the Dialogues: Hume was a Deist himself, and he did think there was a sort of justification available for religious belief. That is, he bought the teleological justification for the existence of God. That justification is, roughly, the following: (i) if we look at the universe we can see its intricate and beautiful order, (ii) because of our acquintace with things that are designed, we are able to tell what sorts of things are artifacts and what are natural, (iii) the order in the universe cannot be merely natural since we can "tell" that it is the sort of order of an artifact, (iv) a deity is the only thing that could create a universe with such order, (v) therefore there is a deity. But nothing, even if one buys this account (it is not a particularly strong argument), can justify any claims about what the deity is like. And anyway, there is no evidence one can point to--one sees artificial order or one does not--that justifies the first premise.

It is safe to assume, without providing the scholarly historical references, that the founders wanted to avoid state sanction for any particular religious faction. I realize that they probably assumed that the nation would be populated mostly by Christians and that the laws would reflect the Christian tradition--but nothing in the Constitution they provided, nor in the ideal of Enlightenment liberalism, justifies continuing to have laws in such a tradition because they are traditional or Christian. One ought to read the writings of Rousseau, Hume, Locke, and Kant if one wants to find out the sorts of things the founders would have been thinking about as reasonable ways to go about justifying legal apparatus (these writers' views can be detached from their religious beliefs).

The establishment clause's purpose, then, is to prevent the state from interfering with the specifically religious beliefs that people have or the exercise thereof unless a countervailing nonreligious reason could be provided for doing so. Such a reason would exist, in this country, if for instance a bunch of cannibals emigrated and claimed exemption from relevant laws because their religious beliefs allowed them to kill, unprovoked, non-assenting people (and, of course, to eat them); the reason would be that the state's interest in protecting its citizenry from victimization by one another is strong enough in this case that it will prevent the cannibals from acting on their beliefs.

It should be noted, carefully, that the state in this case does not have a countervailing reason of the same magnitude for preventing the cannibals from believing what they do. We can set the case of cults aside by introducing the idea that the state has some responsibility to protect its citizens from brainwashing under a similar justification and more on to mainstream religious bodies who anyway are more likely to be able to put significant pressure on government to sanction their particular beliefs. The claim I'm making is this: the state has no interest in your religious beliefs, as long as your actions do not conflict with the interest of the state.

That last phrase looks loaded, so let's unpack it a bit. The constitution is supposed to be the founding document for a nation of, by and for "the people" of that nation (thankfully the people now include women and blacks and non-landowners). The representatives in the government are trying to do what is best for those people. It would be another claim, one which I will not defend here, that what is in the interest of the state as such is what is in the interest of the people of the state, and that the state as such has no other interests (so e.g. geopolitical power gained or exercised by the government should only be so in serving the interest of the American people, as opposed to the interests of only a few, or of the government, or members of the government, or against the interests of the American people). I accept that as crucial to the understanding of a representative democracy as such, and I think we can all agree that the U.S.A. is supposed to be a representative democracy.

What is in the interest of "the people"? Well, here are two primary interests: security and education. There may be others, but let us restrict the discussion to these. The government maintains (the ability to have) a defensive force to prevent other countries from taking us over and/or killing us. The government mandates a minimum of education to prevent such problems as: poverty, demagoguery, revolution, crime, and the inner rot to the nation caused by representatives pleasing people who don't know enough to know what their best interests are. (On the last point cf. poor white southerners who voted for G.W. "deficits for your children, no retirement for the poor, exporting middle-class jobs, ruining your health, a billion pissed-off Muslims, dollar devaluation and inflation, love is evil" Bush.)

Here one could have a debate about what the purposes of elections are. I am not going to address the position of some who think that it is perfectly alright to vote in order to effect social legislation in order to impose specifically religious beliefs on other people; such a view is incoherent once one notices that it is undermined when one mentions that they should not mind if someone else's religious beliefs be forced on them. I am instead going merely to assume that the purpose is to elect individuals who will both represent their constituents best interests in areas where appropriate and also not do this in such a way that the outcome harms other parts of the country (here I am talking just about national office, and also construing 'harm' quite broadly). "Appropriate" then does not include the arena of religion. This claim is not going to be here supported in other areas such as tax law; we will leave that for another day.

Suppose we turn to education. It is in the interest of the state, and in the interest of parents, that children receive a good education. This obviously means, in large part, that they gain access to true information about the world around them. In fact, information provided in the classroom ought to be true or as close to true as possible (we need not go into detail here) and it would seem that everyone can agree on this. (We assume agreement on the need for state funding of the opportunity for universal education.) Accurate, true, or factual information is the province of history (broadly) and science.

When the state funds an educational system, in in effect endorses the things taught in the educational system. By endorsement I mean that the weight of the state's authority (and it is considerable) is behind the authenticity of the facts taught--usually, to people who don't know them and have (often) no tools for deciding independently about the authenticity of said facts. So it goes with legislation; by passing legislation the state effectively sanctions the validity and authenticity and truth and accuracy of any views about how the world is that are implicit in the legislation.

Thus it is that the founders had a need for the establishment clause. This is the way to prohibit the state from explicitly or implicitly endorsing (or promoting) any particular religion and any specifically religious beliefs. Because of course specifically religious beliefs are part of a religious system endorsement of which is necessary to make sense of endorsement of the particular belief. To sum up: the establishment clause prohibits the government from making laws that endorse (or are solely/primarily intended to dispell) specifically religious beliefs, even though they are allowed to prevent actions based on such beliefs if they are against the common interest.

Of course, we have assumed that the part of the amendment about the "free exercise" of religion allows us the action proposed in the case of the religious beliefs of the cannibals in the example above. The point being that free exercise does not allow citizens who are not agents of the state to interfere (at least violently and, I would argue, otherwise) in the lives of others. It would not prohibit us from going door-to-door trying to convert the unbeliever.

And let us not engage in another debate with certain Supreme Court justices and others who, although no doubt they meant well, certainly allowed their beliefs to trump their reason. Said debate would be over the silly (and obviously false) claim that the state has reason to promote religious belief at all, let alone some particular one. Our institutions explicitly ("We the people") derive their authority from the assent of the populace and not from some (assumed) supreme being. And we can see easily, if we look with unclouded eyes, that atheism is a sort of religious belief, i.e. that there is no deity or other supernatural forces (contra Karl Popper, I mean to say that there are not rational grounds for denying the existence of a supreme being either; we ought to just not talk about it; most especially if we are the government).

It is a promotion of a specifically religious belief for the government ever to mention the word 'God' in a context where it is clear that the government takes it that such a being does (or does not) in fact exist. Sometimes the word has accepted uses as shorthand for "unusual circumstances" as it is on insurance contracts, or for "the very nature of the thing" as with the "Creator" in the Declaration of Independence, which by the way is not a legal document but an historical one; but in something like the Pledge of Allegeance it is obviously (as an historical fact) a reference to an actual deity.

So here is the claim it its raw form now that the preliminaries are out of the way: the government is not allowed to have (or endorse) any opinion whatsoever about any religious beliefs and can only have opinions about actions taken upon those beliefs when they violate the interests of the people (i.e. actions we have laws against for nonreligious reasons). What could be more clear, once we get down to it?

Consequences we shall find ourselves with if we think about religion carefully as I think we have just done (and I admit there are issues not addressed here which I am perfectly willing to take up elsewhere):
1. It's a real proposal to stop using the word "marriage" to designate the legal contract between two consenting adults who want to share their lives. If is a "historical" or "cultural" tradition then those promoting only heterosexual marriages need to justify why (a) this particular supposedly non-religious belief (and I guarantee it reduces to a religious belief) tradition should be kept while, say, the tradition of sanctioning the authority of the government via religious approval such as King George III had should not (b) since this discriminates against certain of the citizens that something in this tradition ought to be sanctioned by the state at all. Instead, why not keep the legal contract, which, to the state, is all "marriage" now is, and do away with the nomenclature--call the contract, say, a "partnership" or a "civil union" for everyone? This has the attractive benefits of allowing everyone the same legal rights and privileges while still allowing anti-gay bigots to feel self-righteous in regarding certain other citizens' religious practice as illegitimate (which they would do anyway).
2. We ought not to give inaccurate or incomplete information to students in public schools on spurious and specifically religious grounds. It's a simple fact that abstinence-only programs, for both sex and drugs, are utter failures. What keeps these so popular are unfounded beliefs. It's a simple fact that the earth is billions of years old, and that life has evolved (whatever that means). "Creation science" is merely an unfounded belief inserted into a framework of facts, and such disingenuousness on the part of publicly funded educators ought not to be allowed. And so on.
3. Parents need to be parents. If your are concerned that a public-school education will "contaminate" the pure and True beliefs of your religion, then instruct your children in such a way that they learn from you. The public schools exist to produce good citizens, and not to produce good believers. In the same respect, if you want your children to abstain from things you need to be a parent and let your kids know clearly what is expected of them, and to be interested in your child enough to know whether they are listening to you or not.
4. Saying the "abortion is murder" cannot be substantiated on specifically religious grounds. If you can't come up with something that everyone can accept as a reason, whether or not a good one, don't enter the debate; that's just ridiculous. As terrible as it may be to many on both sides, Roe v. Wade at least attempted to set up a framework for discussing whether certain abortions would be murder or rather justified killing, or not even "killing" as such (one might say, for instance, that you can't kill a liver even though you can kill its owner). As we have seen, the grounds for a particular abortion policy need to have nonreligious grounds, whatever the motivations of the people enacting such legislation in creating it.
5. Last, but certainly not least, is the conclusion that there is something seriously wrong when large numbers of people seem to want to transform the United States into a theocracy of some kind. This country was founded on freedom of religion, and careful individuals do not claim, as Billiy Graham spuriously suggested, that this means "freedom from religion"; it means freedom from government promotion of any particular religion, it means, freedom from you pushing your religion on me. This means you, evangelicals.

To say that this is a "Christian nation" or to claim that the country ought to adopt policies based on specifically religious principles is to profoundly misunderstand the founding documents we share as guides to what it is to be an American. Shame on you all.

[type edits...

It has been brought to my attention that there are a number of unaddressed issues (as I acknowledged) here; however, the gist of the thing is surely correct. If you would like to have a civilized exchange of ideas, even if you think I am utterly wrong, feel free to comment or email me]


A small project in virtue ethics

Some thoughts jotted down over lunch, outlining a project to occupy the next week or so. (The abbreviation "Hb" shortens "human being" and all of its cognates.)
The virtues of a good Hb go beyond "moral" goodness. The excellence of the best Hb seem of involve health in the purely physical sense; these are to be set aside. What we're looking at is what it is to be what is colloquially called "a good person." It seems that this is not just goodness in the narrow traditionally moral sense, which is itself mainly derived from religious (specifically Christian) notions of good behavior. Taking the specifically religious out of this context (that is, removing the original cultural ground of the ordinary use and conception of good behavior) still leaves us with a fairly wide field of behavior to look at.
For one thing, other-concern and self-concern are both within the province of excellent behavior. But here, I think, I want to make virtue go beyond just being a "good person" as well. Now the question becomes: how do I approach the theory in order to see whether this can be (needs to be, and/or in some sense ought to be) done.

Is it the case that so-called moral virtues are just one kind of excellent Hb behavior set off from others by content? Probably. Are they also set off by the overridingness of motivations based on salient features of situations which "activate", in some sense, one's reasons (because one is disposed, qua virtuous, to act on such reasons; or because one has a virtue that constitutes in some sense a "secondary" reason)? Unknown at this time. It may be that various kinds of reasons just are the overriding ones in the relevant situations with such salient features. If this is the case then in situations of conflict is the moral reason overriding? (These are, anyway, the interesting cases, since overridingness wouldn't be necessary in situations where the salient features conduce only to one type of (motivational?) reason). If such reasons are ovrriding in this sense, is that why the content distinction arises? Unknown at this time. A special class of overriding reasons, if it exists, it would seem (assuming we know the type of actions constituting it), marks out the relevant content of types from others. That is, the division is non-accidental.


in a rare moment of lucidity
waking too early
it's still last night and now you can't
sleep or dream
under a cover gray in the glimmers of the new day
lightening unwanted
after the depths of the pyramids entorched
and low in gravity
fly by tour in cartoon
outlined in mind controlled half conscious
in a rare moment of lucidity
bringing back old loves now dead and under
a blanket of warm thoughts fading
gray with age and lightening
no long such a weight with years
gravity weakens in the garden
my mother's I can see with childs eyes
sun-dress clean and knees with dirt
like mine small again love like sunshine
the conversation we never had
told her the things that weighed on me
she would never know, remain
in the dark now, lightening unwanted
unexpected moment of lucidity
in and out of sleep
farewell night goodbyes in a cemetary
stones fading grey and darkening
lightening sky after pre-dawn rain
box covered in dirt the tomb
entorched in memory and dream
floating behind unwanted lightening
a tour under
half-control gray and new light natural
softer greying now like sunshine
fortold in dreams a rare moment
finally finished and woke too early but after the end
unencumbered in the weak gravity under
dark covering warmth follows that rare moment
like coming sunshine lucidity


I found this while going through the dumpsters by the History building. I hope you're entertained by the essential hopelessness of whoever wrote this for ever having a class of students who can use half a brain.

...a few comments about the paper assignment.

1. The assignment for the paper has only to do with Marquis’ (M) argument; the argument is the topic of the paper (the conclusion is not the topic). To discuss is to address (all important) relevant issues and to address (and assess) more than one viewpoint.

2. You are addressing the soundness of M’s argument (see the assignment sheet for the peer review draft for definitions). In order for the argument to be sound, it must both be an argument that works (the conclusion must follow from the premises) and one whose premises are true.

2a. A valid argument, for our purposes, will have only one conclusion possible from the premises; the conclusion will not contradict any of the premises.

2b. There may be premises not explicitly stated by M; make sure you clearly state all of the premises of his argument (you need not give a list). Make sure you correctly characterize what M’s conclusion is.

3. The assignment does not require you to defend any particular viewpoint on the issue of abortion, and it would be inappropriate to insert your opinions on the topic into a discussion about an argument (as opposed to one about policy decisions or the like).

3a. If you claim that M’s argument is sound, then you make a de facto commitment to the truth of his conclusion. If you argue that M’s argument is not sound, you are only committed to saying that this particular argument for this particular conclusion fails.

3b. There are a variety of views to take on this topic. I may have said in class that I do not think that M’s argument works. Some of my reasons for this are claims well outside the purview of this class. And of course, I could always be wrong.

3c. To repeat: this assignment is about skill in navigating an argument, not about what the correct position on the abortion issue is (if there is one). Disagreeing is fine; just back up your assertions, and remain civilized.

3d. We will assume for our purposes that there are “objective” (whatever that might turn out to mean) ethical standards of some sort, and that what we are doing in this class is discussing those. We will assume that if there is an ethical rule or imperative of some kind, this gives us a prima facie reason to act in accordance with it.

4. One could claim: (i) M’s argument is both valid and its premises are true, i.e. that it is sound; (ii) M’s argument is neither valid nor are all of its premises true; (iii) M’s argument is valid but (at least one of) its premises are false; (iv) M’s argument is not valid even if all its premises are true.

4a. Option (ii) above is work than one needs to do in order to deny that M’s argument is sound; you need only show either that it is not valid or that (at least one of) its premises is false. If you are claiming it is a sound argument, you need to fit (probably) more work into the same amount of space.

4b. Seriously: you all should be having difficulty in editing your paper down to the space requirement, not in filling it up to get over four pages. I am happy to advise you on editing, if this does turn out to be your problem.

4c. Of course, there are extraneous things that need not be said in order to give the argument in its best form; don’t pad your paper with ‘facts” (in this case such facts would be bits of reportage about things M does in his article).

5. The argument on both sides ought to be in its best form. Bad arguments are boring, and besides if we want to be sure of ourselves we need to make and defend the best case that can be made (for our chosen conclusion).

5a. Make sure you give (as closely as possible) the strongest interpretation of M’s argument that you can, whatever you will later say about it. This means explaining technical uses of terms, relations between concepts, and the overall structure of the argument. Don’t sell M short. At the same time, don’t sell yourself short by making unwarranted assertions. You can’t just assume things willy-nilly and use these in your argument.

5b. That is not to say that there are general assumptions in place in order to be able to discuss M’s argument in the first place. One effective method of argument can be to attack assumptions (I am not here endorsing any particular method of argument for your papers).

5c. Do justice to objections to M’s position. Be sure to honestly account for how he succeeds (or fails) at addressing objections. This does not mean you have to mention every objection. You do not have to talk about every topic M talks about, either; you are allowed to ignore things not relevant to your question (i.e. whether the argument of the article is sound); you are allowed to bring in considerations not found in the article.

5d. You only need to address that which is necessary for M to make his argument, and what is necessary for you to make yours. You do not have to talk about every topic M talks about, either; you are allowed to ignore things not relevant to your question (i.e. whether the argument of the article is sound); you are allowed to bring in considerations not found in the article.

6. Remember your target audience: you are supposed to be making it possible for someone who is intelligent and interested but without a background in this topic able to easily understand your argument (which will be about M’s argument).

6a. The standard you are striving to achieve here is perspicuity, that is, crystal clarity (perspicuous means transparent, it comes from latin “see” “through”). The reason for this is to achieve the above mentioned goal. So: don’t make the reader work to get your point. Once you can make the argument perfectly clear, then you are free (after this course is over) to make it confusing again, if you want.

6b. Your ability to so explain yourself will demonstrate your understanding of the topic and your mastery of the skills we are attempting to teach.

6c. For the ninth minipaper assignment, do the following. Summarize in under two hundred words the main thrust of the objection Steinbock makes against Marquis (this means: say what the point of attack is, and how the attack is supposed to be accomplished).

6d. I must receive the minipaper assignment from you by 1pm tomorrow (Friday). You may consult with others in the class, but you must write your answer in your own words (don’t write them together, it’s easy to tell who does that).

7. As always, if you have any questions, especially specific questions about your draft, please email me, and/or set up a time to visit me in my office. You do not need an appointment to come to regular or announced office hours.

Weather Report

Midday through evening seeing heavy showers of Tullamore Dew, a 70% chance of Guiness by nightfall, and dehydration coupled with a crippling inability to clear the nose enough to sleep continuing well into the weekend.


misuse of quotes

rockin 2 the live ninelim. ed. w/'still' it is pretty much beautiful. wonder whatever happened to feelings and loathing and waste and looking around and seeing the bad parts of life even though challenges are something everyone faces and seeing how you can move on through even tho u see all around bad shit.
God himself with reach his fucking arm through/just to push you down/just to hold you down

i mean cobain sort of ruined it all because people had hopes ridin on him and all but they put their emoz in the wrong place and then had hearts ripped out. not blamin (reprasent nirv. what) but look it all went down and then a ec. boom took tha impetus away lookin for britneys implants and who gives a care and now bad went to worse out there and bombs fallin. don't want 2 feel, hate 2 feel even tho thats what its about and instead just listen 2 u2 an ignore dont pay attention to lyrics just watch another the swan ep. and forget get a dose like soma order tha dominoz with a dogz noze and doze it aint right but bombin shit u just wanna get thrashd an fast its your last thought if you fought to get past what you bought.
i listen to the words he'd say
but in his voice i heard decay
the plastic face forced to portray
all the insides left cold and gray

there is a place that still remains
it eats the fear it eats the pain
the sweetest price he'll have to pay
the day the whole world went away

yeah so lame moral tv bad good things good get an art clue and a spine.

Work Now, No Break

Well the work is piling up. I have about a hundred things to do and nothing to do them with. Fizhburn's out and about but refusing to help (keeps mumbling about F-ing J. McDowell and Aristotle, the prick). Peeps passed out and late nite just beginning, plus no booze left. Fur's falling out and my stash is nonstashed because dammit that's a fool's game. I just do not play with fire.

The police like to play this little game, see, it's called they don't catch the ones causing the problems. (Don't ask, freaks in a nearby apartment complex were screaming about a stolen dog or something. But who gives a shit about a dog?) Anyway the noisy-ass mothers got away and now it's just little old me and the in-box stack staring me in the face, with a three-week backache punching the back of my skull.

Foo Fighters "Exhausted" on repeat. I am fucking done. Haf-assd work's better than none. Just a quick vent:


Whew! Feeling better: back to the grindstone. Payday at 8am. S. break only sixty hours away. Then the primates will play ;)


Weather Report

Nose flooding possible by midday; watch out for detours at the dinner hour: there may be watsed time blocking the road; overnight tonight activity will unfortunately not drop below "awake" until at least dawn.

bad news went down

people hurt other people; that is not nice at all; but sometimes humorous; but fictional drama is much more funny; but then why would fiction be plausible? double-sigh; off to watch.


good walk today/goodnight

saw sky for the 1st
time, after
a long time, it had been a while
since i looked
clouds over grey last
months of snow freezing eyes
walking home, about a mile under
my feet, the sky above me
azul and glowing
ruffles of cream
spring at last

Love Line coming on; pathos to be used ensued.


Just a news update.

A shout-out to america's very own blog for exposing the continuing hypocrisy of everyone (seriously, almost everyone) on sex politics in DC.

Fortunately now Pickles can straighten everyone out (she has an awesome gift shop too!). Thankfully women's ownership of their bodies will soon cease to be a "problem", as will all other ownership "problems." Once the elites get ahold of everything, managing related and complicated aspects of your public life will cease to be a problem. And that's a good thing, because what we really need to do is let someone else worry about the world. Of course there's no way right thinking individuals should be forced to give up their prerogative as the most respectable and accomplished decision-makers for all the planets' species.

Ha ha.

(I am not trying draw a direct connexion between military imperialism and habitat loss)

New Crush (non-orange-flavored)

Students, and let me be clear here: undergraduate state-U. students. These are "students" in the sense that they are "learning" things for the duration of a course, with the ultimate goal of reaching a degree, which is for them just a job credential. Fuck them.

Learning is--and take it from me, the talking "ape" (you ass)--good for its own sake as well as for further ends. Sure. But then why in the hell do these "students" not care? Well because they are brainwashed into gunning for the black Navigator with two different DVD players and a Playstation setup and a sound system scientifically proven to cause your GODDAMN EADRUMS TO RUPTURE YOU LITTLE BASTARDS I WAS TRYING TO SLEEP!

Who in their right minds would think it was a good idea to teach kids to get noisy toys instead of reading books? But then, a job as an attorney is just a way to get rich, just as is medicine, or a stock-broker's (okay yeah that last one really is)--right? These whiny "I need an A" little whiners sniveling and whining about how its not fair to have to THINK, well, they can go cry to their mommies and daddies about how their tuition money bought them a rejection letter from their school of choice. Also they claim they don't understand, but they don't ask questions. Pathetic.

Oh by the way new crush "in" my life. Of course damn fine Homo sapiens are out of my league, so it looks like sweaty palms and tears for a while.

Weather Report

Ear, nose, and/or throat illness has descended for the forseeable future, optimistic otherwise.


Weather Report

Hung over, partly procrastinating with a chance of despair toward evening.

Medicine and thanatology

Apparently the Epicureans of old held that death was annihiliation, and so that it could not be a harm to be dead (and one could not be harmed "when" dead because unable to be pleasured or pained). This view of death is also apparently not popular these days. Perhaps this is a result of certain religious beliefs prevalent in current society. Supposing, then, that there is an afterlife, what would it be like? This is surely a specifically religious question suitable only for theologians. Since there is no evidence for there being an afterlife, and no evidence that there could be any such evidence, one has to conclude that these notions are, at best, comforting lies one tells oneself. The "truth" of the matter of "being" dead is that the concept of death is a way of thinking and talking about a person who used to exist, including about one's own future nonbeing. And that will fit fine with any way of talking about death that refers to it as just not being alive as I presently am, i.e. no longer conscious; it will also fit with any way of talking about death that thinks consciousness goes on after death, just in so far as it means not like now (of course, one has to wonder how much disanalogy actually occurs in, say, a conception of the afterlife as a paradise in which one has a body etc.). All of the above goes by way of preliminaries for the following:

Since there is no way to find out about an afterlife, or about a soul that need not attach to a physical body, it ought to be uncontroversial that our concern for people's welfare, if we have such concern, rightly attaches to their well-being in this present world. So here we draw explicitly the ethical result of thinking clearly about death: we cannot concern ourselves with ultimate salvation of others (perhaps someone would want to weaken this by adding "...more than we concern ourselves with their present-life well-being" but I do not). This does not contradict (without a further account that I decline to provide here) the thought that a person's believing their soul to have been saved is part of their well-being. That is to say, the comforting lie, if we are in the business of comforting, may (lacking that further account) be morally permissible even though prima facie lying is ethically impermissible (surely true).

Medicine is in the business of looking after people's well-being. If we allow psychiatrists into "medicine" then we can say both their mental and physical health are in medicine's sights; and if we have a further account about "well-being" that makes holistic claims about one's life circumstances being bound up with (physical and) mental health, then "doctors" are surely interested in the whole of the life circumstances of their patients. The above I think runs counter to one's (American) intuitions that doctors relieve symptoms, somewhat accidentally this involves curing diseases, and only accidentally does this involve things like advising someone to take a vacation to relieve the stress aggravating their high blood pressure (i.e. life circumstances generally). For of course one's such intuitions are bound up with libertarian ideals...

Let us set aside the elephant in the corner of the room, which is to say let us not here discuss whether removing religious beliefs is actually and in all normal cases a benefit in terms of well-being for the person so disillusioned (religion being itself a belief structure about unreal entities). The suggestion, without giving the argument to support it, is this: if we feel that those concerned specifically and professionally with beneficence are to be given as much as possible to accomplish the task we expect them to perform, it is in our interests to concern ourselves with obstacles placed in the way of thinking clearly about what that task is. The parish priest, qua counselor, is a healer of sorts, but his medicine is slow poison. If well-being that we can affect only takes place in this life, our ethics must guide us to actions affecting people only in this life, and so perhaps the comforting lie can be replaced with a placebo; it certainly seems it should be.

Are we asking too much of our healers for them to be guides and philosophers? Perhaps, and the general practitioner need not be a financial planner. Are we asking too much of the public for them to think more, and more clearly, about sickness and death? No. Misunderstanding and fear are reflexively reinforcing, and in this case instead of bed-rest the patient needs a breath of fresh air.


False laws of nature undone

A conference speaker, Sean B., apparently of Knox C. and more recently out of L.A. just gave a talk on a topic in Phil. Sci., and it was sort of interesting in trying to mediate between hard-core realism and Van Fraasen-style antirealism in respect of the thruth of laws on nature. Apparently this was not so explicit in his paper, and the discussion turned mostly clarificatory. But in a sense the dispute was over what, in fact, a law of nature "describes" and so its falsity rests on its characterization as a method of doing this rather than that. Also an real ugly dude who arrives late for everything disrupted two of the talks today. Our pal eripsa was also seen imbibing as early as the noon hour. Things look good for the party later, where I intend to drink about a quart of squirrel-carcass-flavored vodka. Also a tiny phil major named Melba is around, and approximately my same height--my fingers are crossed.

Teleosemantical pseudoproblem?

Apparently a speaker at the phil. graduate conference last night wanted to try to dissolve a difficulty that arises from teleosemantical theory. This is the supposed problem of resolving an apparent conflict between a description at the teleosemantic level with a description at another (lower) level. The description would be of a function or process in an organism, e.g. a from detecting an object with certain properties and nabbing it with its tongue. The conflict seems to arise when the description is given as e.g. "detects small dark object, sticks out tongue" and "sees frog chow, tries to eat it"; and the situation is problematic when a non-frog-chow item is so nabbed. So for instance the frog detects a BB instead of a fly, its object detector functions properly, but it doesn't try to eat frog chow (because no frog chow is present). The speaker attempted to show that this is a pseudoproblem by using some ideas from R. Millikan, among others. I don't buy that account (maybe more on it later) but I do thing this is nothing but a confusion resulting in a "problem" for the teleosemanticist... But then I don't necessarily think teleosemantics has much going for it either...


Graduate conference begins

A graduate conference in philosophy is taking place at this university over this weekend. I figure a lot of drinking, lots of abuse of bad papers, more drinking, etc. Apparently hosting grads from other programs is an excuse for unparallelled debauchery. We shall see how many licks it takes to get to the center of a 1.5 of Jack. But they didn't invite any women (tho' given the field not surprising) so I'll just have to say ":)". I hear stories of the storied past of graduate conferences and parties and debauchery, but I bet it's a hell of a letdown. These people are just not the Mack. So we have to create our own entertainment, and that means: my monkey ass right in their face.
I recently got a link to this site. It's kind of lame in my opinion. Occasionaly humorous, but basically hit-and-miss leaning toward miss. There is a damn hilarious one about deliciousness that I used to taunt Melody who was complaining about a craving for fast food...

Far, far better--you all know about this, I am just repping my inter-web 'hood--is explodingdog.


mix tape decisions

trying to make a mix tape about inner hurting/depression. need to cut about 12 minutes. here it is:

i'm so tired
nobody's fault but my own
the drugs don't work
carry the zero
send the pain below
long december
knife party
rock bottom
take another
my own worst enemy
black eyed dog
restin' bones
head down
crushing me
burning inside
bombs in my head

okay that is in order by artist what in the hell can i get rid of okay maybe lit is not appropriate but other wise i don't know maybe the beatles but i am trying to cut the heaviness with some less heavy stuff can you help pls oh well too late i'll finish it tomorrow. thanx 4 helpin yo.

HST and reading

I am joining in late, of course, and as is my wont. But HST is one of my favorite characters/writers/role models. I've read Fear and Loathing probably three times in the last year, and seen the fine Terry Gilliam interpretation too many times to count.

Side note: reading of fiction and poetry at a cafe tonight. A friend of mine (call her "Melody") read a wickedly funny piece about fiction writers. But she got some odd looks from writing MFA faculty at the U who were in attendance. An MFA-er commented that the 1st rule of writing is that you never talk about fiction writers; probably true, but this was so brutally honest that one can only hope that no one would believe it.

So: farewell, Hunter. I'm about to go out and do a shot or three for you, since I can't shoot anything off...



hey yalls. i want to link to some shit b/c I feel like promoting some stuff i like. iIf you are like internet-savvy you know about this but if not then read this: www.achewood.com. check my friend eripsa (link on the right). he is a saintly man, as a recent post attests.

okay bizness is out of the way. anybody heard of Norma Jean? they are like this sort of grind/hard-core group, their first albut was produced by adam doll i believe. they just put out a new one "o god the aftermath" it is the shit. i'm impressed by their skill because a lot of grind is like, just hackety hack hack no-talent shit. and now i guess because mastodon is all going art-rock and also dillenger escape plan is pussified i guess we have to move on and keep on.

but that's okay cuz a lot of bands just say what they have to say and then turn to crap. what i mean is that youthful idealism is the driving force behind a lot of bands being good. or getting lame. or both. when they make a few records they just run out of things to say and then their edge goes. some groups take a long time to do it like the rolling stones. some take not long at all like any one-hit wonder that was not total shit to begin with. like limp bizkit which is shit but like when they started not total shit but then quickly became shit because fred durst turns out to be a bad writer. he should've stuck to like producing former rappers gone folkies. also eminem is about the opposite in that he is in a slow and steady decline who still has skills that are obvious but technical skill without inspiration = total lack of vitality so he is just aging and not changing (tho his new political angle might be good cuz everybody loves a rags 2 riches story guy advising them on how to be). maybe the beatles were the only group that got better as they got older. how sad is that? p.s. i like them. so but ansyway lots of bands hit album no.2 and like peter out or go on to have good careers that change and grow and by that i mean they don't do the same old thing. the ramones like played about the same three songs for thirty years and coasted on a body of work basically complete by 1980 (ie b4 i wuz born). the sex pistols only burned like a supernova and then went cold. album 2 is the defining moment. thus dillenger seems to have collapsed (rip adam d.'s limbs).

but maybe like real arty-type groups/artists can keep going. bowie was always uneven so that saved him. hendrix's second was a sell out b/c of the 3-minute cap on songs and you knew the end was nigh--he lived on the energy of the damn hippy generation anyway and could not survive them even tho he was bach-like true genius all the way. nirvana was obviously doomed from the beginning, another icarus story. biggie knew the score. anyway that is why i fucking get pissed because the early energy is lost, the rush is gone, and even with talent all you get is a form-letter read through a crackling microphone for like ten years and then they break up. so album two is the moment because it has to be better than before but not so good you curse yourself with too high expectations but if you can't reproduce then skru off because your were not good anyway. it's idealism, energy, youth, agression/depression/repression/obsession that makes it good. and once you get past that the novelty is gone, and the real truth of such music (and yeah there's lots of other kinds of music) is in the newness, the freshness, the "edginess" (crap word that it is), that makes it catharsis and rejuvenation to put into your brain. so anyway Norma Jean O God the Aftermath. check as well: Godspeed You! Black Emperor "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven" (not the same kind of music) for catharsis.

New Blog, Same old boredom

This is the initial post of the blog. I'm only doing this to get it out of the way. It seems like I should have this exciting something to SAY and really introduce you to me and how this all is going to work. But really I hate starting things and introducing myself is, I think a waste of time. After all, if I tell you about me and you come back and read something later and it turns out I misrepresented myself, then how would I look? The point is, the blog will probably display (certain aspects of) my personality far better than an exposition of any sort is likely to... So hello and welcome! There, now I've finished my opening remarks to the empty hall. On with the show.