El órgano del placer es la inteligencia.
The organ of pleasure is the intellect.
(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Escolios a un Texto Implícito, 2.84)
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Monday: March 27, 2006
(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Escolios a un Texto Implícito, 2.84)
Sunday: March 26, 2006
What with my domain problems, I’m a bit late getting to this, but better late than never.
Brian Leiter has been trashing Leon Wieseltier for an insufficiently respectful review of a book by Daniel Dennett. Here’s his second post on the subject:
This, of course, is a familiar epistemological point, though it is amazing how many folks, including some (not very good) philosophers, fail to appreciate it.
Maudlin’s example is astonishingly ill-chosen. Apparently neither he nor Leiter remembers that the solution to the problem of the structure of benzene came in a dream. Here’s what a chemistry page at Purdue has to say about it:
Of course, it took quite a bit of lab work to show that the hypothetical circular structure was in fact correct. But this example suffices to prove that the origin of an idea, no matter how ridiculous, does not in any way invalidate it, just as Wieseltier wrote. It is indeed amazing how many folks, including some (not very good?) philosophers, fail to appreciate the point.
Like Eve Tushnet, I ordered “Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life” from Netflix as soon as I heard the name. It’s not bad, though no short could quite live up to that title. One of the other three shorts on the DVD, “The Deal”, contains a memorable exchange between two megalomaniac plutocrats:
The rest of “The Deal”, and the rest of the disc, don’t come close to meeting that standard, though the song sung over the credits of one of them, “Shut Up Bitch (I Love You)”, was rather sweet.
Tuesday: March 21, 2006
I bought myself a Netflix subscription for my birthday (last Wednesday, the Ides). So far, I’m very pleased, and waiting for my second batch of three. Too bad I wasted one of my first three on something (Pasolini’s Oedipus Rex) I’d mixed up with what I really wanted (Stravinsky’s). I’ll watch the former some day, but I’m in no hurry, particularly since the disk didn’t have any next-track function and even the 20x fast forward was too slow for some scenes. I’m much more careful now in making sure I select the right disc to move to the top of the queue.
A few random thoughts, or rather questions:
Welcome to Dr. Weevil: new URL, same old content.
If anyone is wondering how the original URL (www.doctorweevil.org — no, I will not link to it) turned into an anonymous site advertising links to abortionists, among other things, here’s what happened:
A year or so ago, I transferred both of my sites from Earthlink to Hosting Matters as part of the process of moving from Movable Type to WordPress. I was forced to move, since Earthlink couldn’t provide the MySQL required by WordPress. I decided to move my domain registration as well, to keep things simple, but left my e-mail account with Earthlink. Unfortunately, only one of the domains was transferred. Hosting Matters claims they told me this one was not completed, but I still have all of their e-mails and none of them gives any sign that anything was amiss. If I’d known they couldn’t handle a simple domain transfer, I would have used WhoIs to check up on it, but I never thought I’d have to WhoIs my own site to see who owned it. Last Friday, roughly thirteen months later, www.doctorweevil.org suddenly started displaying a set of medical links instead of my weblog. It took a couple of days to find out what happened, and a couple more to (more or less) fix it. Apparently Earthlink waited for my domain rental to expire, then let go of the domain (or didn’t let go — see below), without ever asking me to renew. They could have very easily billed me for the $20 renewal fee on my monthly statement, as they used to do, and as they still do for my e-mail account. Or they could have e-mailed me at the contact address on the upper left of this page, or snail-mailed me at the street address on my monthly bill.
So far, not too bad, and my troubles are partly from my own incompetence or (as I prefer to think of it) my overconfidence in the competence of others. So why do I think that Earthlink sucks? On Saturday, I filled out their on-line support form to see if I could find out what had happened and how to fix it. Here is the first paragraph of their reply:
The page they sent me to was the very same page I had already used to submit my complaint, which was not in fact an e-mail. Since they said they would accept “replies to outbound email messages”, I tried replying to this one, and was not surprised at the total lack of response. Gross incompetence or intentional evasion of disgruntled customers? I don’t know, and don’t much care, since the effect is the same.
When I finally got hold of a human being on the telephone Sunday evening, I was told that Earthlink no longer had possession of my domain, had nothing to do with it, and I should do a WhoIs through registrar.com to find out who has it now.
When I did that, I found this information (irrelevancies omitted):
It certainly looks as if Earthlink still has possession of my domain, even if ‘Host Master’ (person, place, or thing?) is some kind of subsidiary. Earthlink headquarters is at 1375 W. Peachtree St., so the relationship between Host Master and Earthlink looks rather cozy, even if they are legally separate entities.
So why would Earthlink say they no longer have my domain? I may be wrong, but it looks as if they may be liars and common extortionists. When I went to the register.com website, I was invited to “make an offer” for the domain name:
So I need to spend $49 to join afternic.com (“the Exchange”), then bid a minimum of $200 to get my domain back — possibly much more, since the anonymous bidding would (hypothetically) allow Host Master to pretend that there are other offers, even if there are none. All because Earthlink couldn’t be bothered to bill me for another year of domain registration with them, or even e-mail me before canceling the registration. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but it looks to me like a technically legal but morally contemptible scam designed to cheat unwary customers. Has this sort of thing happened to anyone else?
Anyway, I have now rented this domain, www.drweevil.org, and my site is now visible again to those few who know the new address. Of course, it is very inconvenient for me and others to have to write to everyone who links to me and ask them to update their links, but I’ll be damned if I’ll submit to extortion. Please delete your links to the old URL as soon as possible: I want www.doctorweevil.org off the Blogdex Top 200 as soon as possible.
The worst thing is that any link ever made to this site before last Friday is now dead, and will stay dead until the domain-thieves relinquish their booty, if they ever do. So a new URL is far from a full solution, and I will do everything I can within the bounds of American law and basic human morality (laxly interpreted) to screw Earthlink. Anyone have a recommendation for a good e-mail access company in Raleigh, NC? It won’t be convenient to have to change e-mail addresses as well as URLs, but I don’t want to send Earthlink another penny.
Tuesday: March 14, 2006
What oft was said but ne’er so ill-expressed: just as Homer used formulae, naming the same person or thing over and over with exactly the same words, Brian Leiter repeats the same three-word formula in every one of the following quotations. Without peeking, can anyone guess what words are missing?
How to Influence the U.S. Election . . ., October 14, 2004:
The Republicans Who Fear Bush, November 1, 2004:
Philosophers Thinking of Moving to Canada?, November 9, 2004:
Political Blogging, November 10, 2004:
End-of-the-Year Blog Stats, and New Year Blogging “Resolutions”, January 5, 2005:
The Coming Military Draft, yet again, January 12, 2005:
The Texas Taliban Move to England?, January 17, 2005:
Bush Declares World War III, January 20, 2005:
The Imminent Military Draft, January 31, 2005:
A Sharp Response to Ward Churchill . . ., February 18, 2005:
The Curtain Comes Down, May 10, 2005:
The impending horrors?, August 13, 2005:
Pro-Sheehan Piece in the Right-Wing NY Daily News!, August 18, 2005:
Chomsky Interviewed in Newsweek, January 6, 2006:
Give up? The phrase is “bestiary of madmen”. Leiter seems peculiarly proud of this inept, inane, and incoherent phrase. He doesn’t seem to realize that a bestiary contains beasts, not men (whether mad or sane): it is not a polysyllabic synonym for ‘zoo’. Even a collection of mad dogs would not constitute a bestiary, which generally contains one each of many different species. Not to mention that a bestiary contains only pictures of animals, not the animals themselves, and that the animals depicted are often imaginary.
Of course, anyone can mix and mangle a metaphor, particular when blogging hastily on matters of the day. But to mix one so badly and then repeat it fifteen times as if it were something to be proud of is a remarkable feat.
Sunday: March 5, 2006
Laudator Temporis Acti posts a tidbit from Rabelais about the disgusting habits of the Bonasos, or Paeonian ox, with an ancient parallel from the Elder Pliny. Here is what Pseudo-Aristotle has to say on the subject in chapter 1 of his delightful work De Mirabilibus Auscultationibus, “On Marvellous Things Heard”:
And here is Aristotle (?) himself, in the History of Animals, 9.45:
Is Pseudo-Aristotle a common plagiarist? I don’t have the books to say. The translations are by (1) L. D. Dowdall, from The Complete Works of Aristotle, the revised Oxford translation, edited by Jonathan Barnes, Princeton, 1984, volume 2, page 1272, 830a5ff, and (2) D’Arcy W. Thomson, on-line here. Search for ‘45’ to find the chapter. If I’ve coordinated my ancient and modern maps correctly, the habitat of the Paeonian ox is the eastern third of FYROM, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
What LTA does not mention is that Pliny’s Bonasos — Pseudo-Aristotle’s Bolinthos — is surely the bovine known as the European Bison or Wisent, Bison bonasus. It is very similar to the American bison, Bison bison, with two exceptions:
The best source for information I’ve found on the web was compiled by Donald Patterson for a Geography class at San Francisco state: it also has the best picture, which I will copy here to avoid link-rot:
A Google search on “European bison” will lead to more information and pictures. The description fits tolerably well: the wisent is indeed bigger than an ox, with a mane and smallish smooth black horns. There doesn’t seem to be anything on the web about voiding excrement when frightened, but frightening a wisent would be difficult, and dangerous, even if it were not illegal to annoy endangered species, so it’s possible no one has checked in the last century. Pseudo-Aristotle is often gullible (examples here), so his authority counts for nothing either way, but he does have Aristotle on his side.
Here are the most interesting bits from Patterson’s timeline (with references omitted):
Breeding in the Polish nature reserve at Bialowieza has increased the herd from 35 in 1960 to several hundred today. It’s interesting what can be known or not known in different times and places: the Caucasian subspecies wasn’t even discovered until the 1830s, but we know the name of the man who shot the last wild Lowland Bison in 1919. I hope Nikolaj Szpakowicz spent the rest of his life in jail.
An interesting question for casuists: If Szpakowicz knew he was shooting the last one, and did not know that others survived in zoos, does that make it worse, or might he have argued that the real criminal was whoever shot the last one of the other gender?
Wednesday: March 1, 2006
Terry Teachout quotes some words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., on his 90th birthday:
I thought it was odd that Holmes did not name the Latin poet, but it turns out that he is anonymous, or at least pseudonymous. The quoted words are a very close translation of the last line of Pseudo-Vergil’s Copa (“The Barmaid”), on-line here:
Holmes obviously knows that this is Pseudo-Vergil, since the original Vergil had been dead for 1950 years when he spoke. Of course, his 1500 years is just a very rough guess, and von Albrecht’s History of Roman Literature (to look no further) puts the Copa in the Augustan age.