Category Archives: internet

Fifty Shades of Late Capitalism

Something fun to read:

“…What Fifty Shades of Grey offers is an extreme vision of late-capitalist deliverance, the American (wet) dream on performance-enhancing drugs. Just as magazines such as Penthouse, Playboy, Chic, and Oui (speaking of aspirational names) have effectively equated the moment of erotic indulgence with the ultimate consumer release, a totem of the final elevation into amoral privilege, James’s trilogy represents the latest installment in the commodified sex genre. The money shot is just that: the moment when our heroine realizes she’s been ushered into the hallowed realm of the 1 percent, once and for all.”


Posted in economics, internet.

Philosophy Carnival #141

Welcome to the one hundred forty first philosophy carnival. In my internet travels I found some really cool philosophy inspired posters by Genis Carreras, which I have paired with the links to pretty up the carnival.

Zombies, because philosophers like zombies.

An introduction to the philosophical discussion of zombies
and dualism by Tom B. over at Philosophy of… which looks like a promising new blog contributing “in some humble way to this movement of the popularizing of philosophy, and try to convince a few of you that it’s not so boring, obscure and irrelevant as many assume.”

Jason Zarri at Philosophical Pontifications
posts a more in depth post on the consciousness of a scattered zombie brain. See what happens if at first we have zombie brain, except that this brain is made of people working all over China to simulate brain activity. What happens if parts of the brain (people) are replaced by neurons, ending up with a normal (if scattered) brain?

Professional level zombie discussion!
Richard Brown vs. Dave Chalmers, with Dr. Brown discussing the use modal operators when arguing for the conceivability of shombies (a subspecies of zombie). This discussion goes from possible worlds to identities, and leads to a revised argument which concludes that non-materialism is false. Go check out the argument!


This is my favorite post of the carnival: U-Phil: Deconstructing Dynamic Dutch-Books? by Deborah G. Mayo. It is about dogmatism in Bayesian epistemology when considering Dutch Book arguments, as viewed by a frequentist. This is great stuff.

Is There a Difference Between Memory and Imagination? Ok, this has little to do with dogma, but I had nowhere else to put it. Greg argues that remembering is closer to imagination since it is a reconstruction.

Experimental Issues

Tomkow proposes
that philosophical experimenters need to take more care in separating their philosophical intuitions from biasing their results. This makes me wonder if there are further chances for a philosopher to bias their test subjects beyond psychological factors– can philosophical opinions be projected in new and unusual ways beyond what we account for?

What happens when people are placed under linguistic constraints and need to communicate? Experimental semiotics provides some insight with combinatoriality (recurrence of basic forms), but Gualtiero Piccinini argues that natural language is more complex. He says it requires potential infinite complexity, which may not occur with only combinatoriality. Still, ES leads him to hypothesize the “Gavagai Game” of language generation, which could provide insight into language.


Two different ethical views are propounded this carnival:

James Armstrong discusses a humanistic approach to the basis of certain rights, namely the right to freedom of movement. The argument is grounded in “the right of individuals to live a minimally decent life,” justifying a strong position on immigration.

Richard Chappell, however, outlines a position where acts are evaluated on utility, not the character of the person doing them. By evaluating acts and not the person’s character, individual accidents of psychology which may make one person much more (in)sensitive to certain issues than others may be separated from their moral will. He argues that this position is highly practical.

The Business of Philosophy

Gregory Wheeler has an interesting set of posts about sampling problems in our favorite school ranking system, the Philosophical Gourmet Report: The Sampling Problem and Educational Imbalance.

Secondly the smokers have posted and been discussing some cool research done in the area of tenure-track philosophy hiring by Carolyn Dicey Jennings. So you want a philosophy job? Take a gander and these numbers! [Go BU!]

Two takes on Rule Following

Murali at the Leage of Ordinary Gentlemen argues for a basis of law on a two tier system, the distinction between habit and rule following, and an internal point of view.

Dave Maier discusses semantic rule following in Wittgenstein. This is actually a really good discussion of how we get caught in a bind of wanting both definitions and revisability when it comes to identifying fundamental measures, but I’m actually posting this because I want to point out that my duckrabbit is better (and more stylish) than his duckrabbit. My duckrabbit should be the standard duckrabbit. And what if my duckrabbit were to significantly change? Would we have to revise all other duckrabbits to account for the change? Of course not. Since it is so inconceivable that my duckrabbit should become fundamentally different, if it were to change, it would signify that we had lost our minds. So there is no problem here at all.

But What is Philosophy

Another article by Dave Maier, What is philosophy, again?, but this one over at 3 Quarks Daily.

My contribution to the carnival is that I am starting a new blog, The Road to Sippy Cups. My inaugural post is I Sneeze, Therefore I Am. I say on the about page, “Philosophy’s goal is to wean us off ideas — even if they had sustained us — because those ideas no longer provide us with what we need, and, hopefully, onto better ones.” And I will be writing, “metaphysics with an eye towards values, humans and society.” So I encourage you to go check it out.

If you have made it this far…

… you might be an internet philosopher!

So go over to the philosophy carnival page and sign up to host or submit your work!

Posted in fun, internet, philosophy. Tagged with , .

Carnival 141 Here

I’ll be hosting the next philosophy carnival, so please submit some fun links over at

Posted in fun, internet, philosophy. Tagged with , .

Water Water Everywhere

Running water is one of the most amazing things in this world. Turn a knob, water flows.

But even here in America we are starting to have problems:

Soon enough we are all going to have to decide between water and power. What really worries me is I have no idea who is going to make that decision.

Posted in internet.

$1000 Philosophy Blogging Prize

3 Quarks Daily is putting up a grand for the best philosophy blog post of the last year; $300 and $200 for 2nd and 3rd places respectively.  If any of you out there have written something good, or there is something you read that you really like, nominate it! [philosophy of science needs a better representation people]

3 Quarks Daily Prize

Posted in internet, news, philosophy. Tagged with , , .

bah humbug

I haven’t done a link roundup in a while, so be assured that all these links are awesome.

[via information aesthetics]


Animal of the Month: Immortal Jellyfish

‘Immortal’ jellyfish swarming across the world – Telegraph


In second place is: Giant meat-eating plants prefer to eat tree shrew poo – BBC – Earth News


A Softer World: 395


[via Don’t Panic > Magazine > Desire > THE BLACK HEART GANG]


Beautiful and depraved: “Absolutely amazing.  Welcome back Massive Attack. And Mazzy Star. Two of the most iconic performers I’ve ever experienced.  And then this woman.  Wow.” Not safe for work. [if that link isn’t working, the video is here too.]


[via Whitezine]


“Perhaps nothing has been more influential in determining the popular perception of the Italian game than furbizia, the art of guile… The word ‘furbizia’ itself means guile, cunning or astuteness. It refers to a method which is often (and admittedly) rather sly, a not particularly by-the-book approach to the performative, tactical and psychological part of the game. Core to furbizia is that it is executed by means of stratagems which are available to all players on the pitch, not only to one team. What are these stratagems? Here are a few: tactical fouls, taking free kicks before the goalkeeper has finished positioning himself, time-wasting, physical or verbal provocation and all related psychological games, arguably even diving… Anyone can provoke an adversary, but it takes real guile (real furbizia) to find the weakest links in the other team’s psychology, then wear them out and bite them until something or someone gives in – all without ever breaking a single rule in the book of football.

But if gamesmanship is so rewarding, why are some teams reluctant to embrace it? Why do the Spanish play such a clean version of the game and consider these tactics to be beneath them, while their closest neighbors, the Italians and Portuguese, have no such qualms? Here is Tallarita’s explanation:
Ultimately, these differences come from two irreconcilable visions of the game. The Spanish style understands football as something like a fencing match, a rapid and meticulous art of noble origins where honour is the brand of valour. To the Italians, football is more like an ancient battle, a primal and inclement bronze-age scenario where survival rules over honour.

But this just begs the question: why are the visions of the game so different in nations that are geographically and culturally so close?

Rajiv Sethi: Gamesmanship and Collective Reputation [via]


[via Core77]

Posted in fun, internet. Tagged with , .

Climate Change

This is a post for Blog Action Day 09!

If the climate changes rapidly enough, the human race is finished.  If the climate does not change quite that rapidly, we’ve got other problems.

For the sake of argument, let us assume that we are not beings in some religious pantheon, but are merely biological organisms of this Earth.  If the climate changes, i.e. if nature as we know it no longer exists, then how are we to think of ourselves?

For our entire history we have lived within a climate that is amenable to us.  Living in a new climate would be like living on an alien planet, without hope of returning to Earth.  The problem is:  we are not aliens, we’re Earthlings.  If we are not Earthlings, what are we?  Hence the problem of climate change is more than a problem of our survival, it is an existential problem of our species.

We don’t need any more existential problems, and since this is one preventable, lets do something about it.

Posted in internet, philosophy. Tagged with .

the lowest desires of modern people

… Another alternative would have been to give you what’s called a popular scientific lecture, that is a lecture intended to make you believe that you understand a thing which actually you don’t understand, and to gratify what I believe to be one of the lowest desires of modern people, namely the superficial curiosity about the latest discoveries of science.

This quote is from the beginning of Wittgenstein’s “A Lecture on Ethics” or whatever the untitled transcript of the talk he gave to The Heretics Society is called.  I’ve seen this part of the lecture omitted; admittedly it has little to do with his later arguments.  However, I always felt that this barb was something interesting.

The quote has little force as an argument: it is merely his opinion that a superficial curiosity about the latest discoveries of science is bad.  No contradictions or other nonsense is pointed out, nor does it even evoke a parallel between those he is disparaging and some accepted foul thing.

But it is clear, concise and otherwise totally unlike everything else that Wittgenstein is known for, while touching upon the topics of belief, understanding, science, and desire.  Odd, no?

What the quote is, is a smear; it is an insult:  Calling something a lowest desire, without reason, is merely to insult it.  What’s going on here?

Say I have a superficial curiosity about the latest discoveries of science.  So what?  If the latest scientific research has little to do with my profession, say I’m a restaurateur, then what harm is there in having a passing interest in what other smart people do?  It might even be considered commendable that I make such an effort.

Now Wittgenstein is saying that my earnest effort is nowhere near commendable, but all the way at the bottom, the basest, of desire.  Since he accusing “modern people” it is not just ‘me’, but everyone.  This is insulting and unwarranted.

However, this isn’t exactly what Wittgenstein was after: he disliked superficial curiosity in scientific discoveries not because of the impulse of people to learn and take interest in others, but because it made people believe that they understood a thing which actually they didn’t understand.  Understanding difficult things is an accomplishment, and scientific research is difficult. In enjoying a superficial curiosity about the latest discoveries of science, he is accusing us of feeling a sense of accomplishment when we have done nothing to merit it: he is accusing us of mental masturbation.  Ouch.

We can also now understand why this criticism is “modern”.  Before  modern times, there was no way to have a “popular scientific lecture”: only in the last century or so have we had the communications technology and an available public which allows for such a thing.  You couldn’t expect feudal peasants to leave their farms or be educated enough to appreciate such a lecture.  But by November 1929, the date of this lecture, mass media was in full swing with the wide distribution of newspapers and books, and the start of national radio broadcasts.  Only with widespread media distribution did the danger of popular science becoming a narcotic exist.

Wittgenstein saw that with the modern increase in information distribution capability came a danger of intellectual drugging of the population.  It disgusted him that people would take pleasure from the feeling that they understood difficult theories with which they only had the most superficial engagement.  Unfortunately he had no argument or solution to prevent this, and so he resorted, as we all do when we are out of good arguments, to insults.

One can only think that the internet has made this an even more pervasive problem.  It blows our information distribution capability off the charts.  And we are, unsurprisingly, completely addicted to it.  It’s too bad dear Ludwig never really commented more on modernity, he seems to have been rather perceptive.

Posted in ethics, internet, philosophy, science, wittgenstein. Tagged with , , , , .

phil sci interwebs goings on

Although I seriously doubt anyone who reads this blog for philosophy of science doesn’t yet know about It’s Only a Theory, if this does apply to you, go check it out. It bills itself as “A Group Blog Devoted to General Philosophy of Science”.

Along the same lines Bryan over at Soul Physics has listed some of the few places to find philosophy of science on the net.  Yours truly was pleasantly surprised to make the list.

It’s Only a Theory just asked whether the pure philosopher of science is going the way of the dodo.  This question is of some interest to me because 1) I like philosophy of science but I have only a passing interest in any particular science,  and 2) I’ve gone the way of the dodo:

I never thought I was going to be an academic and it became painfully obvious after a short stint in grad school that being an academic wasn’t for me (or at least the normal academic route isn’t).  Now there are a few reasons for this, but one of them was that doing philosophy of science in the way I saw fit wasn’t going to happen.  The details of physics or biology just aren’t what interest me: I care about what makes theories work and then downwardly applying any results to the sciences.    So I could have been one of these pure phil-sci people, but from my perspective at the time, and apparently it still applies, this won’t get you ahead in academic philosophy.

… but at least my rss reader has some more interesting stuff nowadays, and hopefully yours will too.

Posted in internet, philosophy, science.

i’m wearing a hat

Animal of the Month: The French (no insult intended). Anyone who would even consider having this as their national tourism logo is deserving of praise:


I don’t normally post anything that I’ve seen on Digg or Reddit, but this turns jaw dropping at around 1:28  [3:45]: moogaloop.swf

Industrial design:

Orbita Mouse Is One Big Scroll Wheel | Technomix | Fast Company

“Over its forty year life the mouse has seen some interesting re-inventions, and the new Orbita mouse is one that’s eye-catching. Its designers have taken the idea of a scroll wheel and inverted it, making the entire top surface of the mouse into a scroll dial.” – MythBusters Co-Host Adam Savage on Obsession[16:54]

MythBusters co-host Adam Savage presents a glimpse into the mind of the obsessed and the motivation that drives their obsessions.

Industrial version of the Angel of Death shreds much more than paper – Core77 [multiple videos]
What “Will it Blend?” wants to be when it grows up.


YouTube – larytta – souvenir de chine – video directed by koerner union[3:13]
Really cool, like a kaleidoscope of animals.
Varini’s Trompe L’oeil | Trend.Land
“I am totally fascinated by Swiss Trompe L’oeil artist Felice Varini whom I just discovered.Dont be fooled by your first percetion of this work. These are not photo rendered images, it is master craft! He has worked on many interior spaces and exterior spaces which are even harder to believe. Varini’s work is comes together in full in only one exact point where the entire geometric calculation is percieved. From anywhere else it looks like some graphic design made of lines, concentric circles, and triangles of color. Here a gallery of some of his works.”



Graphical Art:

Weeping Willow: Mood-Driven Data Sculptures – information aesthetics
swissmiss: Typographic study of a-holes
Dark Roasted Blend: What Kids Wish For
… A hat that would make everyone fall in love with you



Human Wrecking Balls [via Core77]
“The stupidest show on TV.”

Welcome to 3EyedBear
I love these things: You print them, cut the piece of paper and glue, and you have a brand new toy in less that 10 minutes! I think this is one of the great successes of modern technology.

Best for last: I watched this thing over and over.[1m] via

I’m not sure if it is the gorgeous priest (this is the first time I’ve had that thought), the overall beauty of it, or the love on their faces. check out this live performance of the song and realize how amazing a singer she is.

Posted in fun, internet. Tagged with , , .