Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘problem of evil

All the July 4th Links You Wanted — And More!

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* The Declaration of Independence has a typo; America is abolished. Happy Fourth of July.

* America at 238, by the numbers.

* Hobby Lobby as Pandora’s Box. The icing on the cake.

* Like the Founders intended, an investigation into Blackwater was squashed after a top manager threatened to murder a State department official. Checks and balances. The system works.

Remarks of Thurgood Marshall at the Annual Seminar of the San Francisco Patent and Trademark Law Association in Maui, Hawaii, May 6, 1987.

I cannot accept this invitation, for I do not believe that the meaning of the Constitution was forever “fixed” at the Philadelphia Convention. Nor do I find the wisdom, foresight, and sense of justice exhibited by the Framers particularly profound. To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today. When contemporary Americans cite “The Constitution,” they invoke a concept that is vastly different from what the Framers barely began to construct two centuries ago.

As a Canadian I rather like the idea of the American Revolution being aborted and our Yankee cousins staying within the Empire. Among other things it would have meant that slavery would have ended in America a generation earlier and without violence (the British outlawed the slave trade in 1807 and abolished slavery in 1834).

* Meanwhile, a great moment in American democracy.

* Great new web comic from Jason Shiga, whose Fleep and Meanwhile I’ve praised here before.

* Some Dawn of the Planet of the Apes prequels.

* A new China Miéville short story.

* Zoo Animals Are Depressed.

* Gynofuturism: Zoe Saldana says the best roles for women are in space.

* Here’s a List of What Junot Díaz Wants You to Read.

* Judy Clarke defends the indefensible.

* Maria Bamford’s new web series wants to put you in The Program.

* Philosophy Job Placement 2011-2014: Departments with Relatively High Placement Rates.

* “Neuroeconomics.”

* “The Princess Effect: How women’s magazines demean powerful women—even when they’re trying to celebrate them.”

Lionel Messi Is Impossible. More.

* How Belgium built one of the top contenders for the 2014 World Cup, and what the team means to this fractious nation. How Tourette’s-afflicted Tim Howard went from international ridicule to World Cup history. Really, All Hail Tim Howard. How Spain Succumbed to the Innovator’s Dilemma. Why the last group stage game is played simultaneously. Who Won the World Cup of Arm-Folding?

* Zwarte Piets were once openly characterized as Santa’s slaves. Man, Santa’s legacy is complicated.

Cop Keeps Job After Violently Shoving Paraplegic Man From Wheelchair. The search continues for something a cop can do that will actually cost them their job.

* At time of austerity, 8 universities spent top dollar on Hillary Rodham Clinton speeches.

* The European Court of Human Rights has upheld the basic human right we all know about to see other people’s faces in public.

* A radical reply to Hobby Lobby: Take Away the Entire Welfare State From Employers. And another: Hobby Lobby, Student Loans, and Sincere Belief.

* The rules underpinning Porky Pig’s stutter.

* Shirley Jackson reads “The Lottery.”

Have We Been Interpreting Quantum Mechanics Wrong This Whole Time?

* Lies Your Doctor Told You.

* Oklahoma is now the earthquake capital of the country, thanks to tracking.

* Membership has its privileges: African leaders vote to give themselves immunity from war crimes.

* A Brief History of the Smithsonian.

* A People’s History of the Peeing Calvin Decal.

* In 1990 this nation faced a horrifying outbreak of Richard Nixon rap parodies. This is that story. (via @sarahkendzior)

Facebook Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out.

* The arc of history is long &c: Oakland Raiders Will Pay Cheerleaders Minimum Wage This Season.

* American Gods is alive! It’s on Starz, but it’s alive!

* “Exclamation points have played a distinguished role in the history of Marxism.” Why We’re Marxists.

* SMBC on fire: If God is omniscient and omnipotent, how could he let this happen? Telepathy machines were created. Check Your Bat-Privilege. I’m the superfluous female protagonist.

* Scenes from the next Paolo Bacigalupi novel: An abandoned mall in Bangkok has been overtaken by fish.

* The UNC fake-classes scandal has gotten so outrageous even the NCAA has been forced to pay attention.

* Should “free college” be framed as a right or a privilege?

When two good guys with guns confront one another.

* The Hard Data on UFO Sightings: It’s Mostly Drunk People in the West.

* Let’s colonize ourselves by 3D printing ourselves on other planets.

* Catfish and American Loneliness.

* The Hooded Utilitarian has been running an Octavia Butler Roundtable.

* Another Pixar conspiracy theory: the truth about Andy’s Dad.

* All about the miraculous Community revival. And more. Yay!

* Introducing the Critical Inquiry Review of Books.

* And some more good news! Bear rescued after head gets stuck in cookie jar. Happy Fourth of July!

Written by gerrycanavan

July 4, 2014 at 8:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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The Whole Point of the Old Testament Is That I’m a Sh*tty Administrator

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Written by gerrycanavan

January 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm

BSG

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Somewhere in the gap between “appointment TV” and “well-developed narrative” lies this week’s Battlestar Galactica, which tied up so many loose ends at such a frenetic pace I hardly know where to begin. Couldn’t some of this have been spread out, you know, over the last few seasons? And couldn’t the exposition have been less of a ham-fisted contrivance?

[coconut falls on head] I remember everything!

Don’t even get me started on the inevitable introduction of [SPOILER] another final Cylon mystery [/SPOILER]. Why, Gods, why?

Overall, it’s (the start) of a decent series mythology, wrapped inside an absolutely ludicrous sense of plot. Even a pro like Dean Stockwell could barely sell it. John Hodgman, however, owned the screen…

Written by gerrycanavan

February 14, 2009 at 3:58 am

Evil

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In the London Review of Books, Nicholas Spice has thoughts on the horrifying Elisabeth Fritzl story, still I think the most awful thing I’ve ever heard.

The story of Amstetten has the unreality of the ‘bad’ fairy tale. The numbers in it are fairy-tale numbers: seven children above ground, seven children below. The 24 years of Elisabeth’s captivity are as inexact as the hundred years that Sleeping Beauty slept – they stand for eternity. We might be able to imagine being locked away in a windowless cellar for 24 days, for 24 weeks even, but not 24 years. How did Elisabeth Fritzl survive this? In what sense did she survive it?

There’s a strange, haunting novel called Die Wand (The Wall) by Marlen Haushofer, an Austrian writer from the generation before Jelinek’s, in which a woman finds herself trapped in a mountain valley which has been sealed off by a mysterious and invisible wall. She is alone except for a dog, a cat and a cow. As the months pass, her fear grows that she will lose her humanity: not that she will become an animal – animals are not monstrous – but that she will overstep the animal altogether, since ‘a human being can never become just an animal; he plunges beyond, into the abyss.’ In an attempt to prevent this she keeps strictly to her daily routine – brushing her teeth, cleaning the house, keeping her clothes in good order, hanging up the washing, feeding the animals. Josef Fritzl doubtless imposed certain standards on his daughter’s housekeeping. She needed to be kept moderately human. So he built her a kitchen and a bathroom (did he let her choose the tiles? Jelinek asks). So that, like any good housewife, she could wash and cook. So that, like any good housewife, she would remain wholesome to fuck.

If we have trouble grasping how Elisabeth Fritzl could have stayed sane, the capacity of her father not to understand what he was doing to his daughter, not, above all, to understand what it meant to keep her there for a quarter of a century, is perplexing in a different way (in his first account of himself, Fritzl said he was ‘probably a monster’ – probably). Freud characterised the unconscious as without temporal extension. Fantasies expressive of unconscious desires do not exist in time. Above ground, Josef Fritzl obeyed the rules of ordinary time and causality, the rules that say actions have consequences and are subject to the constraints of conscience (das Gewissen); but when he went down into his cellar, he left all this behind to enter the timeless underworld (das Ungewisse) of his desires. As long as no one found out, it was as if what he did down there had never happened (if he’d killed his children and grandchildren, he said, no one would have made a fuss). Jelinek calls what Fritzl did to his daughter a ‘performance’, the addictive acting out of a pathological need. In building his cellar, Fritzl was building a compartment of his own mind, a theatre for the nightly performance of his fantasies. Elisabeth Fritzl’s grotesque misfortune was to be imprisoned in this compartment, to be trapped inside her father’s head.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 2, 2008 at 5:50 pm

Natural Evil

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The official death toll in the central Chinese earthquake has now exceeded 12,000, with more than 18,000 people believed to be trapped under rubble in a single city alone.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 13, 2008 at 1:34 pm

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Sensationalistic *and* Awful

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I don’t normally post the big-media sensationalism of the moment, but this without a doubt is one of the most awful things I’ve ever heard.

Police in Austria have entered a cellar where a man allegedly held his daughter captive for 24 years, during which time he may have fathered seven children by her.

Detectives say Elisabeth Fritzl had been missing since August 29, 1984.

And, unbelievably, it gets worse.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 28, 2008 at 1:02 pm

Vonnegut, Evil, Baseball, Memory, and Hulk Hogan

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A rather random assortment of links, even for me:

* How’s life? Well, it’s practically over, thank God. Cynical-C has another nice Vonnegut link: one of his last recorded television interviews, October 7, 2005. As you might expect, it’s great. Here’s an excerpt, and here’s the rest.

* “The ‘Problem of Evil’ in Postwar Europe, Tony Judt’s acceptance speech for the 2007 Hannah Arendt Prize. Via MeFi.

Today, the Shoah is a universal reference. The history of the Final Solution, or Nazism, or World War II is a required course in high school curriculums everywhere. Indeed, there are schools in the US and even Britain where such a course may be the only topic in modern European history that a child ever studies. There are now countless records and retellings and studies of the wartime extermination of the Jews of Europe: local monographs, philosophical essays, sociological and psychological investigations, memoirs, fictions, feature films, archives of interviews, and much else. Hannah Arendt’s prophecy would seem to have come true: the history of the problem of evil has become a fundamental theme of European intellectual life.

So now everything is all right? Now that we have looked into the dark past, called it by its name, and sworn that it must never again be repeated? I am not so sure. Let me suggest five difficulties that arise from our contemporary preoccupation with the Shoah, with what every schoolchild now calls “the Holocaust”…

* Rules and quirks of baseball. As I’ve said in the past, rules and quirks are pretty much the only aspect of professional sports that can keep my interest, so this is the perfect link for me.

* Scientists have accidentally discovered a promising new technique for treating memory loss.

* Hillary Only Up By 12 Over Obama In New York? This would be amazing, but I find it a little hard to believe it’s really that close.

* Also in political news: Obama wins the coveted Hulk Hogan endorsement.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 30, 2008 at 11:14 pm