Saturday VI • 18 March 2007

Uh oh. Interesting proposal in my in-box this morning, to assist a philosophy of science class next quarter—a small honors seminar. The prof is a chemist-philosopher who has written a great deal on the (very exciting) periodic table, and has a way of shredding those who poach physics to substantiate the claim that everything is connected. Given that I use sociology to make that claim, this endeavor would sharpen my schtick. And it would take me back to my undergrad years, of running the philosophy club (very Secret History) and writing papers on truth-claims of the Institute for Creation Research.

I ought give thanks for my grants and focus on the dissertation, but I haven’t taught for nearly a year and it itches. And I don’t have a strong practice of saying no, in general. We’ll see how the schedules mesh.

Meantime, since yesterday morning got away from me, here’s the usual Saturday sweep, a morning late. Hope all is well with you all.

? New issue this week of of democratiya, “the liveliest and most stimulating new intellectual journal on political themes.” Short reading-investment for decent context on global politics debates. The review of Saskia Sassen’s historical sociology is a bit awkward but covers key questions and ideas.

? The Guardian reviews Terry Eagleton’s new book. After all that overcooked lit crit, his popular writing (especially The Gatekeeper) has been delightfully smart and kitschily quotable. His new offering is on the meaning of life. What a public service.

? For an even more refined version The Secret, an infographic.

? This is amazing. Thic Nhat Hahn has returned to Vietnnam after 40 years of exile, fomenting Buddhist revival. For the ceremonies, “Marxists are invited to recite passages and statements from Marx which reflect his spirituality and his love for humanity.” That’s saying a lot, considering the so-called Marxism of the government that locked him out. SB, I thought you would be particularly inspired.

William T. Vollman is one of the greatest writers writing, but he’ll be gone before he’s appreciated. He’s uncynically human, mercilessly so. Here’s the new book (& LAT Review), about poor people. Poor people In general. Bold guy.

? To see. Documentary arguing that “the west has become trapped in a false idea of what it means to be human.” It’s a modern history of the rational actor model, the theory of action that makes mainstream econ and poli sci into such abstract-theoretical exercises that I got out of that business and into sociology. The film is only airing on BBC, but the linked article is a nice, practical overview of the theory, and an outline of the its worldly consequences.

? Chris, T-shirts.

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