It’s Hard to Do Vocabulary Drills in Personal Languages

  I read Douglas Hofstadter's Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking a few months ago, and, although I wouldn't recommend it as enthusiastically as Gödel Escher Bach, there was one section I was delighted to read.  It felt like Hofstadter had crystallized a very important part of my thinking process and set it down on paper. We would like to offer a simple visual metaphor for thinking about the words of a language and the concepts they represent. We begin by suggesting … [Read more...]

Football is not healthy for children and other living beings

Today, I'll be wishing many terrible things on Harvard, but the one thing I wouldn't wish on their football team is football.I've talked on this blog a couple times about how the concussion-heavy sports of football and boxing seems like an abhorrent assault on human dignity.  In a slightly analogous way to the claim you don't have the right to sell yourself into chattel slavery, I don't think we have the right to be paid to take repeated hits to the head that will wipe out your personality a … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (11/22/13)

--- 1 --- I recently picked up Leigh Bardugo's two novels Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, both of which I enjoyed.  [Note, the Amazon description of book two includes major spoilers for book one].  I got interested in Bardugo after reading one of her short stories, "The Witch of Duva" on  I definitely recommend checking it out.And if I haven't enticed you enough, the opening sentence of the story is: "There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls." --- 2 --- I like Bar … [Read more...]

The Selfishness of Playing to Your Strengths

Calah Alexander has a post up about her frustrations with Disney storylines, where plot can warp around the characters to make sure they get whatever they wanted at the beginning of the movie.  Ariel's father is portrayed as tyrannical, not prudent, when he tries to forbid her from chasing after Prince Eric, even though her choice puts her entire kingdom at risk.  Magic abounds to help characters realize they've been special all along, and that they deserve their happy ending.  She writes: See, … [Read more...]

Peeta Already Kicks Ass, No Blood Needed

In the run up to the release of Catching Fire, the second Hunger Games movie, the director sat down with io9 to discuss some of the changes they made to the second film.  For instance, they bowed to fan outcry and swapped Prim's cat so it looks more like the book one.  An exchange at the end of the interview caught my eye.  (Spoilers if you're unclear on the premise of the new movie, I guess):One of the things I really enjoyed about Catching Fire was a change you made. In the first movie Pe … [Read more...]

Disenchanting the Villain

First Things has a review up that I liked very much of a Macbeth that the reviewer did not like very much.  Kate Havard watched a Macbeth that took all the tragedy out of the Scottish King, reducing the title character (played by Ethan Hawke) to a stumbling, unpleasant man.  She writes: Yet there’s something right about making the Scottish tyrant so vulgar and unromantic. It reminds us Macbeth is ultimately a butcher, not a hero. True, in a more nuanced Macbeth, we’d see him as both: a fallen he … [Read more...]

Philosophy Class Should Be Perilous

Over at Friendly Atheist, there's a trailer for a terrible looking Christian movie, where a noble Christian student stands up to his bullying atheist philosophy professor who begins the semester by essentially asking telling his students that they'll need to disavow religion in order to pass.  Cue the intense stares, montages, lazy apologetics, and guest appearance by a Christian rock band.Hemant Mehta titled his post "This Must Be What Christian Apologists Think A College Philosophy … [Read more...]