Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hobo Signs.

Click to enlarge.

Hobo signs - Beginning in the 1880's up until World War Two, hoboes placed markings on fences, posts, sidewalks, buildings, trestles, bridge abutments, and railroad line side equipment to aid them and others of their kind in finding help or steering them clear of trouble. Usually, these signs would be written in chalk or coal letting others know what they could expect in the area of the symbol. The classic American hobo of the late 19th and early 20th centuries communicated through a basic system of markings, a code though which they gave information and warnings to their fellow Knights of the Road. Today hoboes communicate with cellular phones, and e-mail.

Edward Said's shadowy legacy.

Tricky with argument, weak in languages, careless of facts: but, thirty years on, Said still dominates debate.

So many academics want the arguments presented in Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) to be true. It encourages the reading of novels at an oblique angle in order to discover hidden colonialist subtexts. It promotes a hypercritical version of British and, more generally, of Western achievements. It discourages any kind of critical approach to Islam in Middle Eastern studies. Above all, Orientalism licenses those academics who are so minded to think of their research and teaching as political activities. The drudgery of teaching is thus transformed into something much more exciting, namely “speaking truth to power”.

The Forgotten Philosopher.

Contemporary academic philosophy is riven by a great divide: Either you adhere to a Continental perspective identified with Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger that addresses big speculative subjects like the Essence of Being, or you identify with the British and American analytic school that puts a priority on rigorous logic, language, and meaning. What, then, are we to make of John Stuart Mill, who belongs to neither?

Sen Edward Kennedy hospitalized.

BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, a leading Democrat and patriarch of a prominent American political dynasty, was hospitalized on Saturday in Boston after suffering symptoms of a stroke.

Kennedy, 76, was rushed from the Kennedy compound at Hyannisport, Massachusetts, to Cape Cod Hospital at 9 a.m. (1300 GMT), before being airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, hospital officials said.

A Democratic Party aide confirmed that the long-serving Massachusetts senator had symptoms of a stroke.

I had the opportunity to meet Senator Kennedy in...what was it...1989? Anyway it's been a while. He was kind and gracious and unlike his late brothers he actually worked hard at being a Senator. While I seldom (if ever) found myself in agreement with him, I've always admired his commitment to public service and his unshakable faith in the power of government to help the unfortunate. Get well soon.

Revisiting the Lessons of Appeasement.

Donald Douglas over at American Power reminds us of the folly in trying to appease Iran. Unfortunately certain Democratic Presidential candidates are so historically illiterate that such lessons are lost on them.