Sunday, July 27, 2014

Some Philosophy Podcasts

Jim was a gracious host during my few days in Mt. Lebo last month, and between grocery shopping and travels around Pittsburgh we got to talking a bit about philosophy and online resources for its study. I'd promised to share some podcasts that I've found interesting, so I thought I'd post them here for those who might also be interested.

The first is the Partially Examined Life, which just posted an interview with Michael Sandel, the professor behind Harvard's popular "Justice" class, one that has been featured on this blog (I believe).

And the second is called Entitled Opinions with Robert Harrison, of the Italian Department at Stanford. He's a Dante scholar and, as best as I can tell, a kind of Catholic Heideggerian. I've especially enjoyed his interviews with Thomas Sheehan on the historical Jesus and on various continental philosophers. His favorite philosopher of the 20th Century: Hannah Arendt.

He also recently published a criticism of the culture of Silicon Valley in the New York Review of Books (low hanging fruit, but still a good read):

I'd be interested to hear of other resources visitors here have found interesting.


Mike (the younger)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mental Health Break -- Louis Prima

We celebrated the Fourth of July this year by attending an outdoor concert given by the Harrisburg symphony orchestra. As we approached the end of the concert, the conductor -- who had commented on his musical selections thoughout the evening -- declared that he has gotten sick and tired of July 4th concerts always concluding with the 1812 Overture.   He said that he never understood what a musical piece about a victory of the Russian Imperial Army over the French was doing in a celebration about American independence. So, this time, he replaced the 1812 Overture with this American classic, written by Louis Prima and made famous by Benny Goodman.   What music better captures the urgency and pandemonium of American life?

Note: the video is from the 1993 movie Swing Kids.  Despite the presence of Robert Sean Leonard, the movie got mixed reviews at best.  But it's a good enough backdrop for one tremendous song. By the way, this was released in 1936.  Mom would have been 17.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Our Children...

Ellen tells this story about when she was in Prague studying. While there, she was lucky enough to be able to see a qualifying match for the 2012 European Championship between Scotland and the Czech Republic. Days before the game, Prague was invaded by what appeared to be thousands of Scottish soccer fans who more or less took over the city. Ellen learned that these folk called themselves the Tartan Army and followed the team around the world attending matches.  They were a good-natured and amazingly exuberant lot, and inhibited is not a word that would naturally spring to mind to describe them.  While the Scots were in Prague, they generally hung out, held parades in full Scottish regalia and partied a lot.  She ended up falling in with one group and had a pretty boisterous night in one of the local pubs (even though she had supported the hometown team).

Anyway, perhaps you have seen Ann Coulter's recent piece that decries the current American passion for soccer sparked by our team's modest success in Brazil.  AMERICA'S FAVORITE NATIONAL PASTIME: HATING SOCCER.  So, knowing Ellen's past association with soccer, I shared with her a little of Coulter's column today by email. Here’s the discussion:
Finally, I've got the latest from Ann Coulter on the recent American enthusiasm for soccer.  Coulter writes:  "I've held off on writing about soccer for a decade — or about the length of the average soccer game — so as not to offend anyone. But enough is enough.  Any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation's moral decay.”  How do you think your Tartan Army would respond to this?
Haha, the Tartan army wouldn't pay her any mind. They're too busy getting drunk in public and dancing on tables. We should all probably follow their lead.
Out of the mouths of our children comes truth and wisdom.

Ellen and HWS friend with two footsoldiers in the Tartan Army

We are all concerned about reality, right?

The author's science is undoubtably stronger than his philosophy, but this article is an interesting, if incremental, read.