A Pro-Bono Offer To Teach Brett Stephens Some Epistemology

This morning, I mailed the following letter to the New York Times Education section. I do not expect a reply. Greetings, I’m a professor of philosophy of Brooklyn College and I’m writing to offer to teach epistemology (the study of knowledge) to Brett Stephens, your Op-Ed columnist. His last three essays (‘This Revolution Too, WillContinue reading “A Pro-Bono Offer To Teach Brett Stephens Some Epistemology”

Science And The Provision Of Existential Comfort

Stephen Asma offers a well-worn and reasonable defense of religious belief in The Stone–but ironically enough, in a plea for more tolerance, strikes a rather dogmatic note himself. The defense of religious belief and ritual is a familiar one: religion may be an opiate but it is an effective painkiller as a result. Asma offersContinue reading “Science And The Provision Of Existential Comfort”

Brooklyn College’s Disrepair And The Attack On Public Education

Over the past two weeks, I’ve sent the following emails to my departmental faculty list, complaining about the state of classrooms at Brooklyn College. First on Thursday, September 7, I wrote: Once again, this semester, I’m teaching in 4145 and 4219 Boylan. These classrooms are a disgrace. The air conditioner is so loud we cannotContinue reading “Brooklyn College’s Disrepair And The Attack On Public Education”

Margaret Sullivan Won’t Miss Five Things About The NYT; Here Are Two More

Margaret Sullivan–“the media columnist for The Washington Post….former Public Editor of The New York Times“–lists the five things she won’t miss about the New York Times: 1. The inherent tension of the job. The whole concept of coming to work every day to handle complaints, and maybe to criticize work done at the next deskContinue reading “Margaret Sullivan Won’t Miss Five Things About The NYT; Here Are Two More”

CUNY And The Public University That Couldn’t

In the fall of 2015 I taught my philosophy of law class in a hostile environment: my classroom.  With windows and doors open, it was too noisy to be heard; with windows and doors closed and the air conditioner turned on, it was too noisy. With the air conditioner turned off, it was too hot.Continue reading “CUNY And The Public University That Couldn’t”

‘A Manual For The Police On How To Conduct Beatings’

Leonard Strickland was beaten to death; in jail, by prison guards. Those who did so, and those who supervised them, were secure in the knowledge that very little would be, and could be, done to bring them to justice. History and the law is on their side. In 1992, in one of Clarence Thomas‘ earliestContinue reading “‘A Manual For The Police On How To Conduct Beatings’”

On The Possible Advantages Of Robot Graders

Some very interesting news from the trenches about robot graders, which notes the ‘strong case against using robo-graders for assigning grades and test scores’ and then goes on to note: But there’s another use for robo-graders — a role for them to play in which…they may not only be as good as humans, but better.Continue reading “On The Possible Advantages Of Robot Graders”

Bowe Bergdahl and the Military: An Unhappy Marriage

Bowe Bergdahl has always been a very interesting young man. As this profile by Kirk Johnson and Matt Furber makes clear, he carried around with him, as interesting people invariably do, a divided self, one drawn in several different directions all at once. Some psychic currents pulled him in the direction of spirituality and bookishContinue reading “Bowe Bergdahl and the Military: An Unhappy Marriage”

Maureen Dowd Lays Her Mile-High Bum Trip On Us

It might have been predicted, with probability one, that in the wake of Colorado legalizing marijuana, we would be inundated with tall tales of reefer madness sweeping the state, scouring the slopes and plains of that mountainous land like one of those snowy avalanches that sometimes afflict its more outdoorsy folk. That moment is nowContinue reading “Maureen Dowd Lays Her Mile-High Bum Trip On Us”

Photocopiers and the Failure to Agree on Meaning

Brett Weiner at The New York Times has put together an amusing Op-Doc titled “Verbatim: What is a photocopier“? As  Weiner describes the provenance of the piece: In a deposition in Ohio, a lawyer became embroiled in an absurd argument about the definition of a photocopier….The dialogue was so sharp, inane and fully realized thatContinue reading “Photocopiers and the Failure to Agree on Meaning”