Saturday, January 13, 2007

bref parcours: great reads

My buddy Mike is worried about the disappearance of what many philosophers call "libertarian free will." I'd venture that Mike has little to worry about: even if we become capable of tracing every single human impulse back to a previous physical cause such that nebulous concepts like "mind" and "will" need not be invoked as explanations, there will always remain the question of predictability. Although not often explicitly included in philosophical definitions of freedom, it is usually implied that freedom contains an aspect of unpredictability. This is not to say that freedom is merely a form of randomness; after all, random phenomena do not demonstrate the existence of freedom. But a free creature, and that creature's interactions with its environment and with other, similarly endowed creatures, will produce possibility trees that ramify in surprising and unpredictable ways. Rest easy, my friend. You're as free as you need to be.

The Party Pooper explains why we must gloat about Michelle Wie's thrashing by a significantly younger (and shorter) Japanese-American chickie. Key quote:

Now some of you may question why I gloat over Michelle Wie's dramatic failures. To tell the truth, I had never had anything against Michelle Wie until her father opened up his mouth to Korean reporters about how 'the only thing American about Michelle Wie is her passport'. He basically played the Korean nationalism card to get some sweet advertising contracts for his daughter and did his little part to set back Korean-American relations in the States just that much further. Honestly, if Korean-Americans are to become fully accepted into American society (as most should be), idiots like this need to shut up and keep their nationalism (and implied racism) to themselves.

Max has some great posts, including one about the very creative French class he's running. My class isn't nearly this exciting. Yet.

A few days ago, the Marmot showed off this YouTube video of a Canadian dude, who calls himself Kimchiman, doing a strange and funny sendup of "Arirang."

Charles's January 6 piece regarding his podcast is quite educational. Masochist that he is, Charles seems to prefer "honest criticism" to words of encouragement. Knowing Charles as I do, I can say the man is his own worst critic and needs no help from others when it comes to self-assessment. I thought his podcast was a fine first effort, given that he had followed my last-minute suggestion to ditch the script and simply talk. Speaking as a teacher (not as Charles's teacher, of course, but as someone who spends a lot of his time being encouraging), I tend to think that too much criticism early on in the learning process does more harm than good. Success experiences are paramount; stumbles need to be seen for what they are, but they also don't need to be set in bold relief. Later on, critics of the learner's effort should indeed become less forgiving and more "honest" in their criticisms, but during those crucial early stages, standing back and letting the learner make his own mistakes and discoveries is far more important than informing him of his errors, about which he is doubtless already well aware.


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