Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Graduate Conference on Essentialism

Well, blogging will probably be light for a while (in case you couldn't tell already!) - with dissertation work and job applications all in the mix, it's a wonder I ever find time to do anything else. That means putting a lot of future blog posts on the backburner as I try to finish up here at Davis and move on to the next stage of my career. The next few months will be extremely busy as I get application materials together, teach three sessions of phil religion and exegetical stuff at FBC, give a paper at the Midwest Philosophy and Theology Conference, TA for Minds, Brains and Computers here at Davis, work on chapter 4 of my dissertation, and so on. Already it's been busy. Last weekend we had a Graduate Conference on Essentialism here at Davis, organized by our very own Dana Goswick. It was a really fun time and I got to meet and have interesting discussions with some cool people from out of town (as well as some new incoming Davis grad students). I was a commentator for Melissa Ebbers' paper on Chalmers 2D argument against materialism. We also had some interesting papers concerning vague composition, quantifier variance, and other cool topics. The free food was pretty nice too!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

First Obama, Now Palin - Smears All Around!

I don't blog about politics very much, mostly because I'm not very comfortable in either of our major parties and don't quite fit under either extreme right or extreme left ideologies. Hence why I'm not registered with either party. Also, I'm enough of a stickler about having sufficient justification for my beliefs that I find it hard on many issues (economic ones in particular) to really pick a side, since I don't feel I know enough to judge who's right (or who's more right, I should perhaps say). But the way the current election is going, I'm pretty fed up with the smears going on on both sides of the political aisle (yes, both - I don't see how anyone whose head isn't completely muddled with extreme partisanship could miss the loads going on on each side). In particular, I've found the smears about Obama and Palin particularly galling. First, various ignorant people spread rumors that Obama is really Muslim, a terrorist sympathiser, etc., they attack him through guilt-by-association because his pastor has said some kooky things, and so on. Fortunately, most of this has gone on outside the mainstream media (not all - the Jeremiah Wright stuff got pretty annoying). The latest feeding frenzy of blind attacks - this time, centering on Palin - has, unfortunately, been almost entirely perpetrated by the media (or its members) itself! So much for journalistic integrity.

Consider, how, for instance, Palin, when pressed, said that we perhaps would have to go to Russia if Georgia were to be a NATO member and Russia attacked Georgia (thus making a response on our part a contractual obligation), but even then she thinks really we should instead resort to sanctions, etc., and should try to avoid war. And what do we find in the news? Big media headlines, twisting her words out of context, saying 'Palin ready to go to war with Russia' or something like that. Again, so much for journalistic integrity - its all about sensationalism and taking people's words out of context to make them look bad. Oh wait, that's what journalism's been like for years now!

Other lies, misrepresentations and quotes taken out of context include the constant refrain that Palin 'wants creationism taught in schools', that she 'was part of a secessionist party', that she 'thought the war in Iraq was God's will', and so on. None of this is accurate and finding out that it is innacurate only takes a few moments to check one's facts and read Palin's quotes in context - once one does this, the accusations reported by the media as accepted fact are pretty ridiculous. Again, so much for journalistic integrity.

One finds all kinds of partisans repeating these lies and misrepresentations - even when they have been corrected - without any apology and without acknowledging any similar problems, etc. about their favored side in the election. See, for instance, Brian Leiter's posts on the election, where he repeatedly calls Sarah Palin an "ignorant yahoo" and goes for cheap shot after cheap shot, largely based on innacurate information garnered from the media (he's a good philosopher and I like reading his blog, but his political posts read like a liberal Anne Coulter - with all the stereotypical over-the-top, blinded-by-partisanship, lack-of-fact-checking, sheer overload of mere rhetoric that that implies - see the recent posts on his Leiter Reports site (link to the left on the blog sidebar)).

Jeremy Pierce has some interesting posts pointing out media hypocrisy and hysteria about Palin and how manipulative they have been - including a link to 71 rumors about Palin that are being passed around. See his posts here, here, here, and here.

When is this country going to get some real journalists who are objective and have some integrity? Politicians, whether they be Obama or Palin, deserve better (whether you agree with them or not).