February 27, 2007

Joshua Gone Barbados

It seems that you can find out lots of interesting information on the Internet. I'm listening to Sally Timms and Jon Langford's Songs of False Hope and High Values, and got curious about the story behind the fantastic "Joshua Gone Barbados." The song is apparently about a sugarcane workers' strike called by Ebenezer Joshua, Prime Minister of St. Vincent. Karl Eklund in that entry gives the details of the strike and the characters and neighborhoods mentioned; he's much more sympathetic to Joshua than the song is. He has more detail in the other entries on his St. Vincent blog.

The songwriter, Eric von Schmidt, died just earlier this month; here's a long profile of him. Here's few more links; this (scroll down to Dec. 9) is especially illuminating about why Joshua went to Barbados.

Posted by Matt Weiner at 05:08 PM | Comments (2)

February 25, 2007


I haven't seen or heard of any of the live action shorts before, but based on the clips, I was going to be really mad if West Bank Story didn't win.

UPDATE: The Fug Girls agree.

Posted by Matt Weiner at 07:05 PM | Comments (2)

February 24, 2007

"Being Poor Is a Full-Time Job"

via Brad Plumer, an old entry of his with an extensive quote from David K. Shipler's The Working Poor on the horrific obstacles welfare bureaucracies put up to discourage eligible people from getting assistance. This sort of thing is probably why Rawls opposed the welfare state and favored universal guaranteed incomes.

Private charity might be less bureaucracy-ridden, but I doubt it's the answer either, because it's designed not to be universal. A polity that cared about the problems of poverty rather than viewing the poor as Other might help, and a system that wasn't full of perverse incentives for state welfare departments would be nice too.

Posted by Matt Weiner at 09:24 PM | Comments (2)

February 20, 2007

Still a Few Kinks in the Algorithm

Why is it that Burge's "Content Preservation" comes in at 56% relevance on this JSTOR search?

(I assure you that I've read the paper and have a paper copy that I could probably find very quickly -- but I decided it would be nice to have a pdf on this computer.)

Posted by Matt Weiner at 06:22 AM | Comments (4)

February 19, 2007

A Disappointment

I expected the Typo of the Day blog to be enthralling. Yet I'm not enthralled.

That's ironic, I guess, since I found it indirectly through this post on a thread about "Horribly boring titles for interesting articles."

[In other disappointments, Magical Trevor 4 isn't very good. Have they gone to the well too often? 1 2 3. Warning: eternally looped flash animations with earworm soundracks.]

Posted by Matt Weiner at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

Paradigm Cases

I'm ashamed to say I don't know enough about the history of the philosophy to judge whether this comment (on this thread) is accurate, but I find the general claim about what counts as Enlightenment very interesting. Is Rousseau Enlightenment by definition because of his influence on Kant -- did Kant effectively name the Enlightenment by pointing at himself, Rousseau, and some others and saying "The Enlightenment is stuff like this"? Or do we have some good reason to say that "The Enlightenment" refers or came to refer to some tenets that Rousseau rejected, so Rousseau isn't enlightenment or is marginally so?

I think the latter is possible, but we would need a very good reason to define Rousseau out of the Enlightenment if he was one of the original paradigm cases. This reminds me of some old debates I used to have about free jazz -- in which some people would claim that early (Atlantic-era) Ornette Coleman wasn't really 'free jazz' because it relied too much on chords, while I thought that if 'free jazz' meant anything it referred to the movement started by the performers of "Free" and Free Jazz. This in turn is related to some thoughts about ordinary concepts that I've been mulling over in the shower -- which is to say, they're too informed to post even here.

Posted by Matt Weiner at 03:47 PM | Comments (5)

February 17, 2007

Panhandle Discontent Post

Three things annoying me about the region:

1) The local production of "The Vagina Monologues" tried to sell tickets through Select-A-Seat, but a supermarket chain that is a major Select-A-Seat vendor refused to sell the tickets. A spokesperson for United Supermarkets said that when they sold "Vagina Monologues" tickets in Amarillo, complaints outweighed praise for selling tickets. The spokesperson said it might've made a difference if they'd known that the production raised money for the rape crisis center, but I'm still annoyed that the word for a woman's body part is considered so offensive that community pressure drives it out of the public arena. I suppose I will have to try to organize a few people to complain to United about not selling tickets.
2) via Josh Marshall, a state representative from the Panhandle (Pampa, near Amarillo) distributed a letter from a Georgia state representative opposing the teaching of evolution. That may be garden-variety idiocy, but the letter pointed people to a geocentric website that is apparently a wee bit anti-Semitic. Representative Chisum has offered a lame apology -- "I'm willing to apologize if I've offended anyone" -- and said that he hadn't looked at the website. Which I believe, but perhaps the bits in the memo about "Rabbinic writings in the mystic 'holy book' Kabbala" should've tipped him off about the Jewish thing?
3) Last night a Chippendale show in a bar was halted and the Chippendales and bar manager were handcuffed and jailed. The police lieutenant in charge on the scene said that "the dancers engaged in a simulated act," which from the story (and another story in the local dead-tree paper) seems to mean kissing or pretending to kiss women on the cheek. (Though another story says that the dancers were simulating sexual positions.) There also seems to be something slightly imprecise about saying that "one or more of the dancers" did something when all the dancers were arrested and jailed; shouldn't only the ones who did what was allegedly illegal be arrested? In any case, I'm sure that there was nothing better for twelve to fifteen police officers to do last night than to watch male topless dancers.
This one, at least, is already stirring outrage.

Posted by Matt Weiner at 08:29 AM | Comments (7)

February 16, 2007

Proverbs in Action

Dogs and cats, living together.

(Further research reveals that this is not so much a "proverb" as a "quote from Ghostbusters.")

Posted by Matt Weiner at 06:02 AM | Comments (0)