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#academe | Vox Clamantis In Deserto

Adams v. US ex rel. McCann

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There is a very interesting quote in Adams v. US ex rel. McCann, 317 U.S. 269 (1942) that “What were contrived as protections for the accused should not be turned into fetters. [. . .] To deny an accused a choice of procedure in circumstances in which he, though a layman, is as capable as any lawyer of making an intelligent choice, is to impair the worth of great Constitutional safeguards by treating them as empty verbalisms.” (Id., at 280). The odd thing is that Adams is like a snake eating its tail. It’s not very useful in and of itself, but the phrasing is righteously potent.

Gender Equality in the Shadow of 1960s Civil Rights

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The outside temperature reached 103° F one recent July afternoon in south Georgia. I once experienced even hotter temperatures in Spain a decade ago, but the gulf humidity here is a beast of a different kind. I bounced to a thrift store in search of extensively used (i.e. breathable) medical scrubs. Little did I know that this simple mission would ignite a profound inquiry into gender equality.Continue Reading

On Discovering Truth

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[T]ruth is best discovered by powerful statements on both sides of the question. Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)


N.B. Though often attributed to Lord John Scott Eldon (1751-1838), Eldon was, in fact, quoting Bacon.

On Teachers’ Striking Over Salary

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It has been said that the government which governs least also governs best. And as a libertarian, I think the government’s interference with those things which can be handled locally should be avoided. I have often remarked that the federal government should not be involved with school lunches. But the recent spate of teacher strikes makes me wonder where this nonsense will end.Continue Reading

Yahweh, Jehovah, & Adonai

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I learned a little Arabic in 2022. The classes ended abruptly so I did not progress as far as I had expected. My graduate studies included linguistics that were heavily Indo-European (duh, I speak English, Spanish and French). Of course any linguistics curriculum includes an overview of other language families, and that once-extraneous knowledge of Semitic languages quickly made a lot of sense. It probably also accelerated my uptake. It definitely connected dots which I could apply to Hebrew.Continue Reading

Otros ángulos analíticos sobre coronavirus

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No puedo creer como se finja entender el coronavirus sin admitir lo oculto o incognoscible. Coronavirus ya existía hace décadas; sin duda hay muchos que ya tienen inmunidad parcial debido a su contacto anterior. Es más, no creo que afectará a todas personas de igual manera. Tiempo no basta ya para hacer los estudios genéticos para ver cuales linajes serán más susceptibles que otros. Y es cierto que en poco tiempo, se anunciará que hay COVID-19a, COVID-19b, etc, etc. Como el 19° se evolucionó de aquél de 2003, así el 19° se evolucionará en otros. Y no es muy diferente de la influenza que en el.mismo invierno puede descapacitarle a uno y sólo molestarle a otro.

Nymphomania and Satyriasis

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I was cogitating on the percrptive societal dissimilarities of sexuality while turning the use of “nymphomania” over in my head. The “nymphomania” label (to say nothing of “nympho”) carries an implicit connotation of abnormality and even a subtext of whoredom that is not commensurately accorded to males (the implication being that males are whorish dogs whose sexuality is valueless while the sexuality of women is valuable). There is so, so much to unpack here, but for now I want to mention a particularly interesting preliminary finding. It turns out that there is a male analogue called “satyriasis.” That said, the fact that no one ever hears this word is itself a statement on society’s dissimilar treatment of female and male sexuality.

Homo Sapien

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Is being “sapien” homo’s Achilles’ heel? Homo sapien’s life might be an easier existence but is it a better existence? Shouldn’t it be preferable to live in a state of nature? So is our sapienhood a perversity of evolution or a cruelty of creation?Continue Reading

God Is Love (but what does that mean?)

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Christians are quick to quote 1 John 4:8b that “God is love” but how often is this quoted in a self-serving, self-affirming manner? By this I mean in the first that when going through a rough stretch in the road of life, is professing that “God is love” just a way for the sufferer to revive hope that s/he is not utterly alone? Conversely in the second, is saying “God is love” just an excuse wielded to excuse the adherent from demonstrating love for his/her neighbor? Such a Christian believer might inwardly believe that it is God’s love that summons the unbeliever to believe and that the believer’s love for the unbeliever is of no consequence whatsoever. Both these and any other conceptualizations are completely and totally incongruous with the text.Continue Reading

On Simplification

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Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Albert Einstein

On Beauty

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Beauty is truth, truth beauty–that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

On the Age of the Cosmos

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A fundamental problem in articulating the age of the universe is that time has not always existed. Whether one subscribes to the big bang or to creationism, there is evidence that time was not constant throughout the universe’s existence.Continue Reading

Cuando los ojos vean tu dolor

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En mi clase de literatura Española del siglo XVI, tuvimos la tarea de escribir un soneto en el estilo del período. Éste es el que yo escribí el 11 de marzo de 2003.

Cuando los ojos vean tu dolor
y el corazón se sienta tal tristeza
las lágrimas huecas regarán hiedra
tu ilusión otra vez querrás de amor.

Una vez pasión, ahora rencor,
nada más de leña para la hoguera
solución no sobra sino las piezas
del lazo hiriente de alabado amor.

¡Huye! ¡Huye! A tu secreto hogar.
Adónde el refugio te esconderá.
Un día saldrás, y verás el sol,

Extenderás la mano así probar
rosas venenosas te abundarán,
cuando los ojos vean tu dolor.

On Logic

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Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. William of Ockham

Is Sexual Orientation a Choice?

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So I was just pondering the statement that “straight” people don’t choose to be straight. Of course, the über-religious will say that’s because it’s the natural order of things…the way we’re created. But if someone is physiochemically wired a certain way, doesn’t that imply that God either makes mistakes or that God is a watchmaker rather than a timepiece? To avoid that theological quagmire, they equate homosexuality with sin and since sin necessarily depends on choice, sexual orientation must therefore be a choice as well. It seems to me that the blindly religious are spending way more energy trying to avoid the theological heavy lifting than it would take to just sit patiently and meditatively for understanding to come. Theophilosophy shouldn’t weaken one’s faith; it should strengthen and deepen it. As an axiom, a sovereign deity cannot err and all people must have the same free will. So shouldn’t it be the case that if heteros don’t choose to be hetero, homos don’t choose to be homo?

On Studying

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Much study is a weariness of the flesh. Ecclesiastes 12:12

Anoche, Cuando Dormía

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Cursando en la Universidad de Alcalá en 2002 con la Dra. Susana Cavallo, tuvimos la tarea de buscar y recitar un poema que «nos conmoviera». Luego de una larga búsqueda, una amiga madrileña me sugirió el siguiente escrito por Antonio Machado.

Anoche, cuando dormía,
soñé, ¡bendita ilusión!,
que una fontana fluía
dentro de mi corazón.
Di, ¿por qué acequia escondida,
agua, vienes hasta mí,
manantial de nueva vida
en donde nunca bebí?

Anoche, cuando dormía,
soñé, ¡bendita ilusión!,
que una colmena tenía
dentro de mi corazón;
y las doradas abejas
iban fabricando en él,
con las amarguras viejas
blanda cera y dulce miel.

Anoche, cuando dormía,
soñé, ¡bendita ilusión!,
que un ardiente sol lucía
dentro de mi corazón.
Era ardiente porque daba
calores de rojo hogar,
y era sol porque alumbraba
y porque hacía llorar…

Anoche, cuando dormía,
soñé, ¡bendita ilusión!,
que era Dios lo que tenía
dentro de mi corazón.

On Righteous Boundaries

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We made too many compromises already, too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no farther! Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek VIII

Which calls to mind this other memorable performance from the TV series.

Adam and Eve

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According to the Genesis (chapter 2) account in which Eve was “extracted” from Adam, that means Adam was the biological sum of man and woman. So Adam became man simultaneously with Eve becoming woman. Man and woman were thus created simultaneously, not sequentially. Man is not preeminent over woman.

Amadou Diallo

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In February 1999, four plain-clothes New York City cops shot and killed 23 year-old African immigrant Amadou Diallo more than 40 times in the doorway of his own home. Diallo was unarmed. The cops were acquitted of second degree murder.Continue Reading

Gnostic Theology

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People like Ben Carson and Mike Pence shade intellectual Christians as much as they flame dogmatic Christians. As for me, yes, I can engage philosophical arguments without fear of sacrificing belief. Argument might alter my concept of God but argument will never change my belief in God.

Why I Wear Skirts (as a man)

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Muscular man in masculine brown skirt and blue polo shirt

Why I wear skirts has everything to do with equality. It started one roastingly hot July day in 2016 and I haven’t looked back since. Sure, I see the curiosity in others’ eyes and on their faces, but it surprises me how few people are direct enough to ask about it. This is, after all, the deep south far from international megatropolises like Miami, Los Angeles, and New York where cultural anomalies might be more commonplace. Perhaps southerners just want to avoid the appearance of rudeness. Even so, a few days ago a local librarian lamented that I had not blogged my experience and this led me to think that just maybe the public at large might be interested in my personal reasons and my social message.Continue Reading

On Striving for Gender Neutrality

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I once experienced a freak Saharan heatwave with highs over 40° C while studying in Madrid. It was a dry heat, though, and very different from one recent 103° F July afternoon in south Georgia. I bounced to a thrift store in search of some well-worn (breathable) medical scrubs and that’s when I saw it: the plain, charred olive A-line mini. It struck me as the ultimate heatbuster and looked so sensible and professional that it triggered a brief flashback to my days in the corporate offices of a large regional bank and I wondered, as progressive as the bank was, if I would have been permitted to elect its female dress code. On second thought, I have no desire to cross-dress, but shouldn’t gender equality give men the option to wear skirts just as it gave women the option to wear pants many decades ago? As counterintuitive as it might be, I suspect the bank would have been much more cerebral than most universities in contemplating such questions. This being a summer break, I decided to test the waters and having donned various skirts for three weeks now, I reflect upon deeply disconcerting truths.Continue Reading