Sunday, March 18, 2007

bref parcours

I'm always happy that my blogroll features a fascinating mix of searing brainpower and nimble wit. Several shining examples of such witpower present themselves for your delectation on this fine, fine spring day.


If you haven't been following this Civil War exchange over at Naked Villainy, you should. What sparked the thread was the contention that the Civil War isn't really all that interesting a subject for study-- a claim made by my buddy Mike. Mike knew his claim would provoke some strong responses, and he managed to rope in no less a blogospheric deity than Steven Den Beste (formerly of the USS Clueless).

The thread in a nutshell:

Old Slow Trot: Mike's post that began the kerfuffle. The argument seems to be that the Civil War's outcome was a foregone conclusion, which makes most "what if" speculation superfluous.

Civil War Kerfluffle: Mike's first update. (NB: "Ker-fluff-le" turns out to be a legitimate spelling, but I'd never seen it before. I normally see "ker-fuff-le.")

The South Couldn't Have Won: Mike's full-length explanation for why he thinks the Civil War's outcome was a foregone conclusion.

Once More Unto the Breach: Smallholder's erudite followup to Mike's post.

If Union Victory was Inevitable, Why Did It Take So Long?: Smallholder's detailed followup post.

Question for the Smallholder: a post by the Air Marshal regarding parallels between the Civil War and the Japanese mentality in World War II.

Japan: Smallholder's response.

Civil War Reprise: Smallholder takes on blogosphere giant Steven Den Beste, who had responded to Mike's long argument.


Go over to Liminality and read Poetry in Negotiation, an essay about a venerable East Asian negotiation tactic: the submission of poetry to make a point. Charles offers a characteristically erudite take on a recent incident in which Korean FTA negotiators submitted a poem to the American side. The Koreans were apparently trying to express their frustration with the turn the negotiations had taken. Charles notes:

But this is not child’s play we’re talking about here, and they [the Korean negotiators] had to know that eventually the American negotiators would find out the true meaning of the poem and the historical background behind it. Though they probably didn’t know at the time, I’d bet that they know now. Whether they care or not is another story entirely, of course.


Check out Malcolm's blog for "Causing Problems," the beginnings of an exploration in the arena of philosophy of mind. Malcolm's post commences the exploration by taking us right to the question of mental causation. As Malcolm says:

So, if the mind is made of a substance that is not of the physical world, an obvious question arises: how does the mind do anything? How does it get the body to move, and how do the physical changes in the body get through to the mind? In short, how do they interact? This is the same problem that young children often point out when they watch Casper the Friendly Ghost on television: if Casper can fly through walls, how can he catch a ball?

Happy reading!


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