Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Bhoys Win! The Bhoys Win!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The shot that launched a thousand jokes

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Christensen in Cuernavaca

My sister is studying Mexican for the summer in Cuernavaca which is a little south of Mexico City. Apparently her arrival was less than smooth, but she's alright. Hopefully she'll grace us with a report on her arrival and first impressions soon. She'll be blogging at La Exploradora, so tune in from time to time; she's a good kid.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Dear Reader,

Joe's Ideas, this blog, has been euthanised. Thank you to all two of you who have faithfully visited its bedside while it suffered quietly, too quietly, from the diseases of pretentiousness, opacity, and lack of focus. We can only hope that eventually the undiseased soul of Joe's Ideas will find a suitable vessel for its reincarnation. Its name will change, but that small, infrequently glimpsed kernel that was genuinely interesting will persist and someday reappear.

The family asks that any memorial donations be made to a charity of the donor's choosing.


The Bereaved

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Angel of Darkness. Glasgow, Scotland. This is in Glasgow's Necropolis. I lived a stone's throw from the graveyard for ten months and it became perhaps my favorite place in the city. Greenspace is hard to come by in Glasgow. I'll be posting some more. As always, click for a larger version of the picture.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sinn Fein Headquarters. Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Saturday Links--March 12

The New Yorker:The Current Cinema:Beginnings-one of the best movie reviews I've read in recent memory about one of the best movies I've seen in recent memory. "Head On" is the English title of "Gegen die Wand." Anybody have any ideas why they didn't translate it literally? "Against the Wall" would seem to be a very fitting title for this movie, connoting as it does in English a situation where there is no hope of a way out, that things are going to come to a head.

Stephanie Pommez Photography-very good photography. In that way, a nice contrast with what I've been putting up.

Judging Our Ancestors: Lessons from the Criminal Law

Remembering Francis Crick-touching essay written well by Oliver Sacks in the NY Review of Books.

Ephilosopher :: Philosophy News, Research and Philosophical Discussion

Leiter Reports: John Cleese: Britain to Revoke U.S. Sovereignty

A Prescription for Senile Liberalism

Für Deutsch-Leser
NETZEITUNG PEOPLE: Camilla ist «unattraktivste Frau der Welt»

Friday, March 11, 2005

Towards an attempt to justify the title of this blog

Some thoughts on the philosophy of language.

But the idea theory of meaning has lately been defended in new form. Called the theory of prototypes, it suggests that classes are formed on the basis of ideas of a particular, ideal token. For example, the category of "birds" may have the idea of a robin as a prototype, and then the limits of the meaning of bird (for example, a penguin) are sorted out through further experience and observation of like characteristics between robins and other similar animals. This theory has been defended by contemporary cognitive scientists Eleanor Rosch and George Lakoff.

Philosophy of language - Wikipedia

This seems very plausible to me. My ideas of things are elastic, expanding and contracting, shifting into other categories through experience. It seems that the categories of intermediate breadth would be last to come. For example, the concept of mammal would require extensive experience and a certain degree of artificiality while the more specific category of bird would begin to take shape after seeing a handful of birds, as would the broader category of living things. Artificiality is the opposite of being self-evident in this usage. Perhaps the articiality is due to the number of essential characteristics in play for a classification. If something has a beak, it is very likely a bird. If something moves volitionally, it is very likely alive. The concept of mammal requires more, and less obvious, observations.

This also seems compatible with my inchoate ideas about the importance of probability in thinking and perception. Probability must be at the center of any attempt at adaptive learning and language. Probability allows for an infinity of expression within a finite vocabulary and for neologisms. If one isn’t committed to saying things like “Only moving things are alive.” are certainties, then one allows for the mutability of definitions where definitions is meant as membership of a class. Things can move in and out of classes as knowledge or observations accumulate and things acquire more specific and more subtle categorizations and cross-categorizations. An example of a cross-categorization would be mammal which categorizes across the more specific and more self-evident categories like dog, cat, etc.

P.S. Yes, it's the same George Lakoff who came up with the empty-shell ideas of Don't Think of An Elephant. As his serious work has apparently led to his very silly ideas outside academia, I will remain skeptical.

Life Underwater. Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Independence and Socialism. Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Escalator. This one was published in the UI undergrad arts review, Earthwords. You could see it on their website if only their archives weren't out of commission. Plus, I don't trust them to be true to my artistic vision in their presentation. Who would?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Saturday Links

Saturday Links: a new feature in which I will provide links to the most interesting web sites and articles that I've come across during the week. For the convenience of my fellow ALDaily readers, I've marked with *...* the articles/sites that are not linked to from that page as far as I know.

Foreign Policy

Inside the Committee that Runs the World-Foreign Policy
*The Myth of Alan Greenspan*-Foreign Policy
*Taking on Tehran*-K Pollack in Foreign Affairs
*'The Crisis':Reading the Future in Tehran*-K Pollack in NY Times
*Syria Comment*-Josh Landis, blog on Syria by a professor spending a year in Syria : there has been a lot of insight about the Syrian reaction to the Hariri assassination.
*No Beirut Spring*-spiked-online : often clear-eyed spiked goes selective, shrill, and ideological in an attempt to maintain contrarian bona fides. The selectivity and shrillness will be apparent to any reader. What I mean by ideological is that the writer indicates that current opposition in Lebanon has no right to call for Syrian pullout because those people now in the opposition at one time or another in the past had supported Syrian presence. That's just silly and seems to indicate an ideological reason for condemning pragmatism.
*The Tharwa Project*-"The Tharwa Project is an independent initiative that seeks to provide a forum for identifying the aspirations and addressing the concerns of the various ethnic and religious minorities inhabiting the Arab World." It was founded by the Syrian dissident who maintains Amarji-A Heretic's Blog. The blog is intensely personal and has lately shown the conflict between dissidence and having a family.


On Bullshit-Harry Frankfurt
*Dissoi Blogoi*-new Ancient Philosophy blog from a professor
*Idiocentrism*-quasi-blog by John Emerson, a disgruntled philosopher/generalist

Arts & Culture

Sign and Sight-summarizes and links to articles in the arts and culture sections of German newspapers. At the moment they have a roundup of the Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival, for you film buffs.
*Al Jadid Magazine*-"A Review of Record of Arab Culture and Arts"
*The Forager Blog*-infrequent, but smart posts on movies
*The Language Exchange*-"writing on history, language, and contemporary culture"
*The Italians: Three Centuries of Italian Art*-very cool site with the audio tour that a visitor to the museum would hear.

Für Deutsch-Leser

*Perlentaucher*-Bücher, Kultur, usw.
*Überraschung im Libanon*-taz
*Was ist dran am legendären Optimismus der Amerikaner?*- :-) tagesschau
*Unser Fundament bleiben die USA*-(The USA remains our foundation) Merkur

I may try to translate that last one because it's a very good article.

Special of the Day

Behind the Neue Wache. I've had this one up before, but I like it, so here it is again.

Kitchen Table Still Life

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Rathaus Stralsund. (click picture for larger version) I promise there will be more than just pictures of buildings. The sky cooperated in this picture better than the last. It's learning, slowly.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

And I repeat

I've been going through some of my pictures and I might actually post some more of them as I promised to do months ago. Strangely, not a single person from the adoring hordes held me to the promise. I'm going to try to post at least once per week. We'll see. Maybe that Canadian will decide he wants to collaborate and I'll really start blogging again. First order of discussion in the joint yet-to-be-named blog: P.G. Wodehouse is not a good writer. Or shall we answer the perplexing question, What is Canada without hockey? Or maybe, How to be a military free-rider in the 21st century: the Canadian experience.

A picture I faux-pretentiously like to call 'Layers of Berlin.' And when I say 'Layers of Berlin' I move my hands in a post-modernist gesture that indicates the mysticism of the multiple and obscure meanings that defy straightforward interpretations. Man, I wish it hadn't been so cloudy that day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Secret Genocide Archive

Nicholas Kristof-NY Times
Photos don't normally appear on this page. But it's time for all of us to look squarely at the victims of our indifference.

These are just four photos in a secret archive of thousands of photos and reports that document the genocide under way in Darfur. The materials were gathered by African Union monitors, who are just about the only people able to travel widely in that part of Sudan.

This African Union archive is classified, but it was shared with me by someone who believes that Americans will be stirred if they can see the consequences of their complacency.

The photo at the upper left was taken in the village of Hamada on Jan. 15, right after a Sudanese government-backed militia, the janjaweed, attacked it and killed 107 people. One of them was this little boy. I'm not showing the photo of his older brother, about 5 years old, who lay beside him because the brother had been beaten so badly that nothing was left of his face. And alongside the two boys was the corpse of their mother.

The photo to the right shows the corpse of a man with an injured leg who was apparently unable to run away when the janjaweed militia attacked.

At the lower left is a man who fled barefoot and almost made it to this bush before he was shot dead.

Last is the skeleton of a man or woman whose wrists are still bound. The attackers pulled the person's clothes down to the knees, presumably so the victim could be sexually abused before being killed. If the victim was a man, he was probably castrated; if a woman, she was probably raped.

There are thousands more of these photos. Many of them show attacks on children and are too horrific for a newspaper.

One wrenching photo in the archive shows the manacled hands of a teenager from the girls' school in Suleia who was burned alive. It's been common for the Sudanese militias to gang-rape teenage girls and then mutilate or kill them.

Another photo shows the body of a young girl, perhaps 10 years old, staring up from the ground where she was killed. Still another shows a man who was castrated and shot in the head.

This archive, including scores of reports by the monitors on the scene, underscores that this slaughter is waged by and with the support of the Sudanese government as it tries to clear the area of non-Arabs. Many of the photos show men in Sudanese Army uniforms pillaging and burning African villages. I hope the African Union will open its archive to demonstrate publicly just what is going on in Darfur.

The archive also includes an extraordinary document seized from a janjaweed official that apparently outlines genocidal policies. Dated last August, the document calls for the "execution of all directives from the president of the republic" and is directed to regional commanders and security officials.

"Change the demography of Darfur and make it void of African tribes," the document urges. It encourages "killing, burning villages and farms, terrorizing people, confiscating property from members of African tribes and forcing them from Darfur."

It's worth being skeptical of any document because forgeries are possible. But the African Union believes this document to be authentic. I also consulted a variety of experts on Sudan and shared it with some of them, and the consensus was that it appears to be real.

Certainly there's no doubt about the slaughter, although the numbers are fuzzy. A figure of 70,000 is sometimes stated as an estimated death toll, but that is simply a U.N. estimate for the deaths in one seven-month period from nonviolent causes. It's hard to know the total mortality over two years of genocide, partly because the Sudanese government is blocking a U.N. team from going to Darfur and making such an estimate. But independent estimates exceed 220,000 - and the number is rising by about 10,000 per month.

So what can stop this genocide? At one level the answer is technical: sanctions against Sudan, a no-fly zone, a freeze of Sudanese officials' assets, prosecution of the killers by the International Criminal Court, a team effort by African and Arab countries to pressure Sudan, and an international force of African troops with financing and logistical support from the West.

But that's the narrow answer. What will really stop this genocide is indignation. Senator Paul Simon, who died in 2003, said after the Rwandan genocide, "If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different."

The same is true this time. Web sites like and are trying to galvanize Americans, but the response has been pathetic.

I'm sorry for inflicting these horrific photos on you. But the real obscenity isn't in printing pictures of dead babies - it's in our passivity, which allows these people to be slaughtered.

During past genocides against Armenians, Jews and Cambodians, it was possible to claim that we didn't fully know what was going on. This time, President Bush, Congress and the European Parliament have already declared genocide to be under way. And we have photos.

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