The Practice of Science According to Article Abstracts and Headers

Sometimes close reading of article headers can pay rich dividends. On Monday morning, my Philosophy of Biology class and I were slated to discuss a debate crucial to understanding adaptationist  paradigms: the role of bodyplan (Bauplan) constraints in restricting an organism’s  occupancy of possible points in developmental space, which complicates our understanding of the supposed ubiquityContinue reading “The Practice of Science According to Article Abstracts and Headers”

Art House Double Features: A Day (or Night) at the Movies

The impecunious graduate student’s best friend is the arthouse cinema double-feature. The evidence is in and the case is clear: for payoff in a diverse set of dimensions, the cinema double-feature is the winner hands down. Sure, the wine-and-cheese reception might get the budding academic a date or two–paper acceptances, book contracts, meaningful academic conversation,Continue reading “Art House Double Features: A Day (or Night) at the Movies”

Marino on Kierkegaard and Anxiety

Gordon Marino suggests the patron saint of Danish angst, the ‘Danish doctor of dread’,  Soren Kierkegaard, can offer us, through his theoretical and conceptual insights into anxiety, a view of ourselves more philosophically informative than the pharmaceutical-enforced rendering of humans as collections of discrete pathologies, each amenable to a piece-meal isolation and ‘treatment’. In doing so,Continue reading “Marino on Kierkegaard and Anxiety”

Adaptation, Abstraction

This spring semester, teaching Philosophy of Biology–especially the Darwinian model of adaptation and environmental filtration– has reminded me of the philosophical subtleties of  ‘abstract model’ and  ‘abstraction’. More generally, it has reminded me  that philosophy of science achieves particularly sharp focus in the philosophy of biology, and that classroom discussions are edifying in crucial ways.Continue reading “Adaptation, Abstraction”

Reflections on Translations – III: The Pleasures of Iranian and German Movies

I like many products of contemporary Iranian cinema: for instance, the movies of Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and Majid Majidi–to name only three of a long and distinguished line-up of directors. Theirs is a neorealism with a compellingly different grammar from that of other products of the genre. There is another, not-so-overt reason for theContinue reading “Reflections on Translations – III: The Pleasures of Iranian and German Movies”

Workplace Coercion, the Military, and Resisting Superiors

Corey Robin’s post on Arizona’s new anti-birth control legislation centers on a recurring concern of his: coercion in the private sector work-place, which remains largely impervious to constitutional circumscriptions of state power. I want to use this opportunity to talk about coercion in a very particular workplace: the military. The coercion of subordinates by superiorsContinue reading “Workplace Coercion, the Military, and Resisting Superiors”

Nietzsche, Power, and Bible-readers on the Subway

Last evening, after a full day of work teaching Philosophy of Biology, a seminar on Nietzsche, and conducting a teaching observation of a graduate fellow, I left campus for my evening weightlifting session. I was feeling run down, and not a hundred percent. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, perhaps a nagging cluster ofContinue reading “Nietzsche, Power, and Bible-readers on the Subway”

Houston, We have a HotSpot Problem in Austin #SXSW

BBH Labs thought it was being clever, and perhaps even slightly humanitarian, when, at this year’s South by SouthWest technology conference, it enlisted thirteen volunteers from a homeless shelter, strapped Wi-Fi devices onto their bodies, gave them business cards and T-shirts that read, (for example), “I’m Clarence, a 4G Hotspot” and sent them out into theContinue reading “Houston, We have a HotSpot Problem in Austin #SXSW”

This Summer I Hear The Drumming, Sixteen Dead in Panjwai

It seems a peculiarly American destiny, hovering over the heads of this nation and its people, to keep on reading, in the morning papers, news paragraphs like the following: Any accelerated withdrawal would face stiff opposition from military commanders, who want to keep the bulk of the remaining American troops in Afghanistan until the endContinue reading “This Summer I Hear The Drumming, Sixteen Dead in Panjwai”

Video Game ‘Cloning’: What Is It Good For?

Cloning of video games is a Bad Thing. Or so sayeth Brian X. Chen and some video game developers (New York Times, March 12th, ” For Creators of Games, A Faint Line on Cloning”). Roughly, the thesis advanced is: ‘cloning’ can be destructive of developer motivation and the video game market, and thus seems toContinue reading “Video Game ‘Cloning’: What Is It Good For?”