From Slate: ‘MFA vs. NYC’

Full post here.

Of the MFA (Master Of Fine Art):

‘Staffed by writer-professors preoccupied with their own work or their failure to produce any; freed from pedagogical urgency by the tenuousness of the link between fiction writing and employment; and populated by ever younger, often immediately postcollegiate students, MFA programs today serve less as hotbeds of fierce stylistic inculcation, or finishing schools for almost-ready writers (in the way of, say, Iowa in the ’70s), and more as an ingenious partial solution to an eminent American problem: how to extend our already protracted adolescence past 22 and toward 30, in order to cope with an oversupplied labor market.’

There are of course still storytellers, geniuses honing their craft that will hold up a mirror and lens for humanity in the fire of their creative imaginations (well beyond the politics of the day in scope, and the wishes of hangers-on).  Maybe they can be found at MFA programs, but I’m guessing they’re more likely doing other things:  getting crippled on a naval campaign, spending their days in an attic, learning to navigate the Mississippi by steamboat, or acting and writing for a theater troupe.

Addition:  And as a reader points out:  learning how to communicate during the current technological revolution.

Related On This Site: From Poemshape Via Andrew Sullivan: ‘Let Poetry Die’…Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment…English departments can’t just copy “(S)cience”…From Bloggingheads: Shakespeare and The Second Law Of ThermodynamicsRepost-How To Study Literature: M.H. Abrams In The Chronicle Of Higher Ed

Wednesday Poem: Wallace Stevens-Anecdote of The JarWednesday Poem: A Postcard From The Volcano..-Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

From Foreign Policy: ‘The Case For Chasing Al-Awlaki’

Full post here.

“Awlaki is indeed not a top leader in AQAP’s domestic operations, but he is arguably the single most important individual behind the group’s efforts to carry out operations in the West.”

And he’s a U.S citizen, which raises a host of issues.

Also On This Site:  A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea: From ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’…More Brits: Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’…Really?: From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended Muslims: Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

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From Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’

Full paper here.

“As Strauss understood it, the principle of liberal democracy in the natural freedom and equality of all human beings, and the bond of liberal society is a universal morality that links human beings regardless of religion. Liberalism understands religion to be a primary source of divisiveness in society, but it also regards liberty of religious worship to be a fundamental expression of the autonomy of the individual. To safeguard religion and to safeguard society from conflicts over religion, liberalism pushes religion to the private sphere where it is protected by law. The liberal state also strictly prohibits public laws that discriminate on the basis of religion. What the liberal state cannot do without ceasing to be liberal is to use the law to root out and entirely eliminate discrimination, religious and otherwise, on the part of private individuals and groups.”


“It seems that Strauss could not, in good conscience, be a believer in any ordinary sense of the term, but that did not prevent him from respecting Judaism’s ways and loving its wisdom. Strauss was persuaded that the ultimate claims of faith could never fully satisfy the criteria of reason. But he was also convinced that reason could not satisfactorily refute faith’s affirmations.”

Also On This Site: Some Quotations From Leo Strauss On Edmund Burke In ‘Natural Right And History’Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?  Saturday Quotation-J.S. MillA Few Thoughts-Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

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From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Binds That Tie Us’

Full piece here.

‘Summary:  To succeed in Afghanistan, the international community must tackle corruption, make aid more effective, improve cooperation with the Afghan government, pursue a regional solution to the conflict, and commit to long-term reconstruction.’
Europe obviously has a major security stake.  Hopefully many European nations will accept this responsibility, and recognize that the aid/human approach may not be enough, even in these extremely difficult economic times.  Leaving without addressing reasons why we’re there may lead to worse conflict.

Related On This SiteFrom Foreign Policy: ‘Reading Woodward In Karachi’From Michael Yon: ‘General Petraeus Letter’From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And Pakistan

From Foreign Policy: ‘Inside Talibanistan’

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Repost: From The Strasbourg Observers: ‘Remembering Lautsi (And The Cross)’

Full post here.

Sometimes a cross isn’t just a cross, as Stanley Fish notes.  All parties involved don’t think it’s a good idea to strip the cross from it’s religious meaning in law.

Aside from an interesting comparison on a specific legal question, perhaps there’s an underlying current as well.

The Strasbourg Human Rights project where the link is found seems reasonable:  “Strengthening the European Court of Human Rights: More Accountability through Better Legal Reasoning.”

Here’s a quote from The Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy:

“The philosophy of human rights addresses questions about the existence, content, nature, universality, justification, and legal status of human rights. The strong claims made on behalf of human rights (for example, that they are universal, or that they exist independently of legal enactment as justified moral norms) frequently provoke skeptical doubts and countering philosophical defences.”

And further on down the line, some humanists are pretty ‘aspirational’ as well as having a logo and a revised manifesto:


Here are a few questions:

1. How does one address the chasm between the cultures and societies of Western secular morality and other religions?  or the larger chasm between Western civilization and the many non-monotheistic tribal societies?  Is a raft of broadly based rights in European law also an extension of Western civilization to/upon other groups of people?

What moral obligations (and upon what principles) does the West base to other peoples through its laws?  Wouldn’t some of the problems with the U.N. have to do with this kind of thinking?

2. How would secular humanists defend against/deal with the militantly religious?  or a militantly agressive theocracy?  or a militant nationalism with a standing army?  or any other potentially existential threat?

3.  Can humanism transcend the ideas that would merely lead to the growth of a secular state (which is part of what Stanley Fish might be objecting to), and the dangers and tragedies and excesses that have come with it this past century?

Any thoughts and comments are welcome…

Related On This Site:   From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

How might Nietzsche figure in the discussion, at least with regard to Camille Paglia.  See the comments:  Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful

Nussbaum argues profoundly for more equality:  From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

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From Bloomberg Businessweek: ‘Russia Will Cooperate With NATO on Missile Shield, Sets Terms’

Full post here.

‘NATO is trying to turn the anti-missile system — initially opposed by the Kremlin — into a fulcrum for cooperation with Russia as part of the U.S.-driven “reset” of relations. Russia and NATO will create a “working group” on missile defense, according to an official Russian fact sheet.’


‘Russian leaders opposed the missile shield when it was originally proposed by former President George W. Bush, seeing it as a threat to Russia’s strategic arsenal. That plan foresaw permanent anti-missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, two nations dominated by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.’

Also On This Site:  Are we headed toward 19th century geo-politics?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

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From The New Atlantis: ‘Montesquieu’s Popular Science’

Full piece here.

‘Montesquieu would make most everyone’s top-ten list of political philosophers, but he is not prominent in the ranks of natural philosophers. Following the lead of the American Founders, who referred to him as “the celebrated Montesquieu,” we associate his name with new discoveries and improvements in the science of politics rather than science proper.’

Related On This Site: Isn’t Dennett deeper than that? From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’Repost-Steven Weinberg’s Essay ‘On God’ In The NY Times Review Of Books…How far will utilitarianism go: Peter Singer Discusses Hegel And Marx,

Hilary Putnam On The Philosophy Of Science:  Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On YouTube

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From Spiked Via The A & L Daily: ‘Turning New York Into A Nudgocracy’

Full piece here.

Brendan O’Neill declares:

“They want nothing less than to turn New York into a nudgocracy (my word) by ‘changing the entire cultural landscape in order to make bad choices harder and good ones easier’ (their words).”


‘New York is now run by officials who conceive of themselves as morally superior to the city’s everyday inhabitants precisely because they’re healthier.’

As the San Francisco near ban on toys in happy meals can demonstrate, the health movement has many players, and there’s more than a little authoritarianism there.

Related On This Site:  From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’…it isn’t just global warming, it’s the desire to control an entire economy under the control of the ‘right’ ideas, and the government is the only entity capable of achieving that aim: From if-then knots: “Response To Yetter On AGW”

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From Tom Ricks: ‘Gentile: How I Would Revise The Army’s Counterinsurgency Manual’

Full post here.

“As Andrew Exum has pointed out, the whole issue of the U.S. relationship with the host country is fraught, especially because the desired outcome is different from the colonial goals of the countries on whose COIN experience the U.S. military has drawn most from, Britain and France of the 1950s and 1960s. The British and French were fighting to stay. We are fighting to leave, albeit leaving behind a friendly government, which I am not sure is possible, especially in the Mideast, if that government is to last.”

Related On This SiteFrom Foreign Policy: ‘Reading Woodward In Karachi’From Michael Yon: ‘General Petraeus Letter’From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And Pakistan

From Foreign Policy: ‘Inside Talibanistan’

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Via Youtube: ‘Homemade Spacecraft-Space Balloon’

A camera inside the craft provides an interesting view of the trip.

Related On This Site: Repost-’More On “Dark Flow” From’Repost: Richard Feynman at NASAA Short Post On Red Sprites And Blue Jets: Cosmic Origins Of Lightning?.Via Hulu: NASA Mission To The Moon And Mars..

Via Youtube: ‘Space Shuttle Launch From The Perspective Of A Solid Rocket Booster After Detachment”From Listverse: ‘Top 10 Incredible Sounds’

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