RAT BEACH

 A great story. Personal note: I enlisted in the USMC at 17 for the next war.

When I was seventeen, bravado, mingled with what must have been a death wish, made me enlist in the officer-training program of the Marine Corps. Since those in my age group were considerably too callow to lead troops into battle, it was decided at the Navy Department that we would be sent to college, where, as book-toting privates, we would gain a little learning and seasoning, and also a year or two of physical and mental growth, before our fateful collision with the Japs.

Read here.


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Camus

More than fifty years after Algerian independence, Albert CamusAlgerian Chronicles appears here in English for the first time. Published in France in 1958, the same year the Algerian War brought about the collapse of the Fourth French Republic, it is one of Camus’ most political works—an exploration of his commitments to Algeria. Dismissed or disdained at publication, today Algerian Chronicles, with its prescient analysis of the dead end of terrorism, enjoys a new life in Arthur Goldhammer’s elegant translation.

“Believe me when I tell you that Algeria is where I hurt at this moment,” Camus, who was the most visible symbol of France’s troubled relationship with Algeria, writes, “as others feel pain in their lungs.” Gathered here are Camus’ strongest statements on Algeria from the 1930s through the 1950s, revised and supplemented by the author for publication in book form.

In her introduction, Alice Kaplan illuminates the dilemma faced by Camus: he was committed to the defense of those who suffered colonial injustices, yet was unable to support Algerian national sovereignty apart from France. An appendix of lesser-known texts that did not appear in the French edition complements the picture of a moralist who posed questions about violence and counter-violence, national identity, terrorism, and justice that continue to illuminate our contemporary

Book Review: Algerian Chronicles
Book review:  By Phillip C. Naylor

Sunday’s Sermon

world_religion2Though we can’t prove the existence of one (or many) god(s), we can provide evidence for the power of religion. For good or for evil, faith factors into our everyday lives in one way or another. We’ve evolved to believe. But it is also clear that extremist beliefs can have terrible consequences.

I won’t go through a list of the evils that religion can support or contribute to, for all you need to look at for a history of evil is most any “holy scripture” describing “holy” wars and destruction (the one I am most familiar with is “The Book of Judges” in the Hebrew Bible). Or, your daily newspaper or twitter feed.

Here are several articles: (Yes, there will be a quiz! Smile)

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History lesson

Back in the day . . .from my colleague, Ian Johnston:

Ian in our kitchen after a discussion of Shakespeare – in the olden days.


In 1969 it was Malaspina College, then Malaspina University-College, and now Vancouver Island University – the name has changed over time and the place has grown bigger and bigger. What else has changed? I leave that to those still there to discuss.

Ian on education ( a few years ago):

The Rant [A Section Specially Designed for Letting off Some Serious Steam]

Ask Not What the University-College Can Do For You . . . and so on
by Ian Johnston

Qui s’excuse, s’accuse.

Last semester Ken Lyall was hauled out of his recent retirement and commissioned to conduct some sort of enquiry into research, scholarly activity, and so on at Malaspina. Dr. Lyall dutifully did the rounds talking to faculty and eventually, towards the end of his interviews, arrived at my door. We had a very pleasant conversation, near the conclusion of which he asked me the following question: “What do you say to faculty members who complain that the college does not provide them enough support for scholarship?” At the time the question struck me as a bit odd, but I muttered something in reply, and we finished our agreeable chat. Well, I’ve been thinking about that question for a while, and I think I may have arrived at a more complete answer than the one I was able to provide on the spur of the moment.

First of all, I’d ask them what they meant by “the college.” Aren’t they an integral part of this institution? Are they wondering why they don’t give themselves sufficient support? The question, thus posed, seems silly. If they are so keen to support scholarship, surely the best way to demonstrate their support for scholarly activity is to stop the endemic whining and, as the slogan says, just do it, by actually carrying out some project or encouraging and assisting their immediate colleagues in their endeavours.

But, of course, some might answer that by “the college” the question really means the college administration, those in charge of the money. The issue is that such executives don’t allocate sufficient money to what faculty want or need to do by way of scholarship. The obvious answer to this interpretation of the question is to ask those making the complaint where the money is to come from, with the proviso that they should immediately abandon any notion that there is a huge pot of money somewhere which is being withheld.

For some time around here there has existed a perception in academic circles that far too much money is squandered on useless things like physical plant, maintenance, Adult Basic Education, Vocational Education, and (on occasion) Liberal Studies. If this money went where it most properly belongs, into promoting scholarly activities, then all might be well.

This perception, although common enough, is excessively stupid for obvious reasons. Quite apart from the arrogance in the claim that other activities are useless or less important than the generally valueless work of university academics, the funds for many of these activities are often ear marked, so that if the activity were removed, the money would disappear. Moreover, there are provincial standards in most support areas (like Advising, for example), which Malaspina is expected to meet (and with respect to which, in some cases, we have been seriously deficient in comparison to other university-colleges).

Before those who expect more support from the college for their research launch into their next plangent chorus of lachrymose distress, they should be prepared to answer the following question: “Which specific area of your own department’s offerings would you recommend curtailing in order to obtain the support you are so desperate about.” Until they can answer that question, they, like pit bulls paraded in public in Nanaimo, should be muzzled.

For the largest wasteful squandering of money in this institution by far is the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually of instructional money into faculty scholarship, or rather, to put the matter more precisely, into release time for such purposes (how much scholarship, trivial or otherwise, is actually done is a moot point). Such scholarship has no pedagogical benefits whatsoever (other than projects directly linked to student activity, in which case the issue is one of workload), and the release time we provide for it is a major factor contributing to the financial plight we are in, with a series of degree programs we cannot afford to maintain.

We established this gravy train to win approval from the University of Victoria for the upper-division courses we offered in their name here, and we have maintained the transfer of funds (and expanded it slightly) in order to win accreditation. It was the price of joining the club. Now that we have accreditation, let us hope that the administration puts a firm stop to any further robbery from student Peter in order to pander to the interests of some faculty Paul.

I’m sick of the complaint that we are expected to carry on scholarly activity and yet not given sufficient support. This statement is far more a confession of the inadequacy of the complainer than a significant critique of the institution. For over twenty-five years, with financial perquisites far less generous than those presently in place, Malaspina faculty carried out all sorts of scholarly activities (however that term is to be defined precisely), publishing academic books, scholarly articles, plays, poems, novels, textbooks and carrying out a number of important practical projects. The notion that scholarly work simply cannot be done at the present level of support is a self-serving lie or excuse or confession of failure or all of the above. [emphasis added]

To make this claim is not to say that all forms of scholarship are equally easy to pursue in Nanaimo. We are a long way from the nearest nuclear generator, Sumerian archeological site, sub-Saharan mosquito (in situ), or expert in regional dialects of the medieval Serbo-Croats. But the challenge of scholarship at the university-college, for those who feel they must do it, is to adjust the nature of the project to the resources at hand, not to whinge constantly about the lack of funds for some single project requiring very specialized resources.

In my own case, coming to work in the BC college system meant I had to give up a scholarly interest in the history of modern Shakespeare productions. My PD money did not permit regular flights to Stratford-upon-Avon (the real one). So what? I shifted my attention to what could be undertaken here. Those who protest that this is not possible in their case are just indicating their own lack of imaginative initiative.

It’s true that research training often is excessively narrow, a very poor preparation for a situation demanding imaginative intellectual flexibility (I recall one application for a job here which indicated that the candidate had spent the last fifteen years or so studying full-time the mating habits of a particularly exotic insect species). To wish to perpetuate that narrow specialization is all very well (I suppose), but to ask for more instructional money (i.e., student spaces) to promote it seems entirely antithetical to what this particular institution is here to achieve.

Thus, to return to the question Dr. Lyall posed in my office: now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I’d tell those making the complaint to shut up and get some sort of (intellectual) life here within the present arrangements (something like, say, teaching) or seek employment elsewhere.

Source.

SS: A guided tour

The Bell Tower, Tower of

London: Thomas More, Elizabeth

I, and Other Histories, Part 1

An interesting and informative description of a visit to various locations in the UK. Enjoy the trip!
From “Ordinary Philosophy” : ~ Ordinary Philosophy is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you. Any support you can offer will be deeply appreciated!

RIP, Dr. Homer Swander

One of the world’s greatest Shakespeare teachers dies at 96. I was a student of his at UCSB. Great experience.

Dear Bob,

This is Murph’s daughter, Susan, writing to tell you that Dad passed away at 3:40 a.m. the morning of February 15, 2018. He died peacefully at 96 years of age.
 
You may know that his beloved wife, Laura, died a little over a year ago at the age 0f 93. They had been married for 73 years.
 
Neither of them wanted memorial services or any big fanfare. They didn’t even want obits published. I may ignore that one and submit obits anyway. Their ashes will be laid to rest together at Calvary Cemetery in Santa Barbara.
 
If you wish to honor them in some way, donations can be made in their names to a non-profit organization that they supported over the years and that they deeply believed in. It is Project Aurora, P.O. Box 193, Cottage Grove, OR 97424 (501C3 corporation). They had a very personal connection to this group.  
 
If you have any questions or want more information, please let me know. Feel free to pass this email & news on to whomever would want the info.
 
Thanks,
 
Susan Swander
An earlier post here.

New Journal

List of science fiction television programs by...

List of science fiction television programs by genre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Journal of Science Fiction and Philosophy, a peer-reviewed, open access publication, is dedicated to the analysis of philosophical themes present in science fiction stories in all formats, with a view to their use in the discussion, teaching, and narrative modeling of philosophical ideas. It aims at highlighting the role of science fiction as a medium for philosophical reflection.

The Journal is currently accepting papers and paper proposals. Because this is the Journal’s first issue, papers specifically reflecting on the relationship between philosophy and science fiction are especially encouraged, but all areas of philosophy are welcome. Any format of SF story (short story, novel, movie, TV series, interactive) may be addressed.

We welcome papers written with teaching in mind! Have used an SF story to teach a particular item in your curricula (e.g., using the movie Gattacca to introduce the ethics of genetic technologies, or The Island of Dr. Moreau to discuss personhood)? Turn that class into a paper!

Yearly Theme

Every year the Journal selects a Yearly Theme. Papers addressing the Yearly Theme are collected in a special section of the Journal. The Yearly Theme for 2017 is All Persons Great and Small: The Notion of Personhood in Science Fiction Stories.

SF stories are in a unique position to help us examine the concept of personhood, by making the human world engage with a bewildering variety of beings with person-like qualities – aliens of bizarre shapes and customs, artificial constructs conflicted about their artificiality, planetary-wide intelligences, collective minds, and the list goes on. Every one of these instances provides the opportunity to reflect on specific aspects of the notion of personhood, such as, for example: What is a person? What are its defining qualities? What is the connection between personhood and morality, identity, rationality, basic (“human?”) rights? What patterns do SF authors identify when describing the oppression of one group of persons by another, and how do they reflect past and present human history?

The Journal accepts papers year-round. The deadline for the first round of reviews, both for its general and yearly theme, is October 1st, 2017.

Contact the Editor at editor.jsfphil@gmail.com with any questions, or visit www.jsfphil.org for more information.

Source: The Splintered Mind

Flare (science fiction novel)

Flare (science fiction novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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