En Espanol

I was watching Law & Order last night — a syndicated episode, not the network one — and saw a Century 21 ad in Spanish, complete with a Hispanophone 800 number (1-800-8TU-CASA or some such). I wonder how locally targeted that advertisement was.

On Calendars

One way in which I am out of step with the contemporary academic management styles of outcomes and assessments is in making the calendar for my courses. Here I would like to be a free-to-be-you-and-me type of professor, walking in every day and dealing with what we’ve gotten to and reminding them to start reading the next book because we’ll be there by next Wednesday.
I never have the slightest idea how long it will take to “cover” or “do” or “read” a book. How long does it take a group of 18 year olds (who I haven’t even met yet!) to work through Gilgamesh? The Symposium? Argh! And I’m paired in a “learning community” for one of my three courses (I know, I know – I agreed to it. I must’ve been feverish.).

Citations =/= Reads, but it’s still uncomfortable

Prof. Tom Smith at The Right Coast has this to report about legal scholarship, but the same thing can be said about most of our fields.

This data covers about 385,000 law review articles, notes, comments, etc. etc. that appear in 726 law reviews and journals, and looks at how often they are cited. Cited by other law reviews, or cases.
First of all, 43 percent of the articles are not cited . . . at all. Zero, nada, zilch. Almost 80 percent (i.e. 79 percent) of law review articles get ten or fewer citations. So where are all the citations going? Well, let’s look at articles that get more than 100 citations. These are the elite. They make up less than 1 percent of all articles, .898 percent to be precise. They get, is anybody listening out there? 96 percent of all citations to law review articles. That’s all. Only 96 percent. Talk about concentration of wealth.

Umm – he points out that the numbers include self-citation.

Fundamental Option as a response to totalitarianism?

Amy Welborn asks a fascinating question about Moral Theology

H as anyone ever studied the impact of Nazism and the war on Christian theology – not during, but after the fact? Michael took a class from Josef Fuchs, and he said that the moral theology of Fuchs, who had been a pastor in Germany during the War, struck him as very accomodationist…a “do what you can do” as long as your Fundamental Option is in the right direction (Fuchs being the father of much contemporary Catholic moral theology, as you can tell), and it seemed to him that this approach was very clearly reflective of Fuchs’ position as pastor in that situation.

I’d very much like to read about this. I don’t really care for theology or philosophy per se, but I love intellectual history (which means that I don’t care much about the gossip of who-was-a-student-of-whom or the lives of the philosophers).

Why We Fight

Does anyone believe that there’s not a culture war on? And I don’t mean the self-styled civil culture war (which I put very little stock in — there are far too many Catholics getting abortions and divorced then remarried Evangelicals for me to take any top-down “culture war” activity very seriously) — I mean Modernity versus Islamism? Go read this blog while he’s covering the trial of Mohammed Bouyeri, killer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Bouyeri’s direct address to van Gogh’s mother is especially awful.
Yes, “Islam” has to deal with this. When people commit horrific crimes explicity in the name of a religious system the religious system must respond to the murderer’s claims. A serious problem here is that there’s about as much central authority in Islam as there is in, say, churches with the word Baptist on the signboard; there’s not much of anyone to do the dealing. For instance, one may believe that the Catholic Church (and especially its hierarchy) is filled with hypocrisy about the priestly scandals so prominent in the past few years, but in the face of the Catechism it would be difficult to say that official Church teaching was in favor of the bad behavior. If you wanted to discuss “what Catholics believe” and try to get an official statement it’s remarkably clear-cut (not easy, just a clear organizational structure). It’s very easy to figure out who to sue in the Roman Catholic Church.
It would be nice to read statements against bombers from the imams at al Azhar, but they’re far too closely linked to the Egyptian government for any jihadi to take them seriously. The Saudi Grand Imam? Hah! The final problem, though is that the professors at al Azhar and the Saudi religious leaders have no real authority. Lots of the violent want an authority, a caliph, and the fact is that there isn’t one.
The establishment of the caliphate (whether the initial or a “renewed caliphate”) is an intractable historical problem (and one well-worth reading about — I’m sure the khilifally-inclined among the suicidal bomb-wearers wouldn’t be happy with this recommendation from my summer reading: God’s Caliph : Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam, Crone and Hinds), but I find it worth remembering that some of our enemies want a caliph. People who talk about the need for a Reformation in Islam are not well-read.
Peaktalk via Dilys

IMDB joy

I’ve watched a lot of movies in the last 6 days — if I’m over 100.8 I can’t do anything but sleep; between 99.6 and 100.6, say, I can watch television; this is the first time that I’ve been ill enough to be useless AND had Turner Classic Movies, AMC, and all the regular movies of non-premium cable. Having wireless means that I can sit here watching movie after movie and learn the answers to all my trivial questions by looking the celluloid up on the Internet Movie Data Base — you know all those “is that the same person who was in . . . ?” questions. IMDB can answer them all.

Did any of the ‘contestants’ know who Jerry Hall WAS? (Is? Is she still someone?)

O.K. – what’s weirder? That there’s a realty show contest to become Jerry Hall’s kept man or that Pete Townshend is evidently a regular part of the show? I know what’s more wicked (the series), but weird? Maybe the Pete Townshend part (the lad is referring to him “Mr. Townshend,” which doesn’t imply a wide familiarity with The Who).
Hey – I have bronchitis and I’m really depressed about the London thing. Bad t.v. is indicated. It’s on opposite “Being Bobby Brown,” so I’ve got options.

Why I don’t bother with op-ed pages.

What partisan media? If one really didn’t believe the NYTimes has a position for which they are willing to edit op-ed pieces, one could read all three of these. If one didn’t believe that, evidence like this probably wouldn’t be impressive. Of course I don’t notice things like this (even web-based corrections) because I don’t bother wtih op-ed pages anymore.