Sunday, July 15, 2012

Signing Off

Hello all!

So, I'm officially ending Logios Dolios Eriounios.

I've started a new blog, Mr. Wright's Blog, which will record the next stage in my life.  It's going to be similar to LDE, but will hopefully emphasize issues in education and, specifically, special education.  You know, to illustrate the fact that I am no longer an unemployed grad student in philosophy living in Chicago, and am now an unemployed grad student in education living in Champaign, IL!

I'm going to keep this blog open, of course, and please continue to read an comment at your leisure.  I'll keep coming back every once in a while, but if you want any new pieces, come on over!



Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hipsters are not the problem

A point-by-point response to "20 Ways to be Popular at a Liberal Arts School": (Sarah Lawrence, Amherst, Bard, Bates, Hampshire), by Ben Saucier. (The title is a bit of a misnomer. It's really, "Things that many people do at liberal arts schools." My responses are based on whether or not large amounts of folks at Bard did what the author is claiming were "popular.")

1) This is true. However, more people should support Palestine. A lot of what is wrong with the world is because of America's perverse relationship with Israel.

2) Yeah, I never got the appeal of Parliaments. I smoked Camels, that nice, bland, middle class white brand of cigarette.

3) Not true. Bard had school spirit up the wazoo. That was awesome.

4) True. But also true about the Real World, e.g., vague complaints about immigration, the economy, kids these days. Hipsters do not have a monopoly on vague, self-serving bitching.

5) I'm sad that nobody ever occupied a building when I was at Bard. There were some protests about the new performing arts building or the new science building, but these, I believe, tended to devolve into surrealist circus-type antics and drinking.

6) All college kids smoke weed and don't do homework.

7) See #1. Sure, a lot of kids may not understand why they should be offended by sexist or racist language, and some may only be taking on being offended as an affect. But I think that's better than not caring at all, calling everyone "fag" and everything "gay", etc. In other words, wouldn't the world be a better place if more people, not fewer, took offense at homophobic speech?

8) Sure, you could skip class. But then you'll probably fail, and, deep down, you actually do care about what you're learning.

9) This is very true, and I never understood it. So many people were always talking about the inevitably of transferring specifically to NYU, and then never did. Mysterious.

10) Very True. And hilarious.

11) Yeah, this happened more than it should have. The funny thing is that I never saw anyone ever get anything done on Adderall. Mostly it just led to chain smoking and writing and rewriting the same one paragraph for days on end.

12) Yup.

13) Yeah, there were a couple of students I could name who never seemed to get the point, who always somehow changed the class conversation to that one dream they had last night, or whatever. But they were pretty well outnumbered by people who worked hard, cared about the material, and respected other people's opinions.

Furthermore, now that I am at a big, state school, I am shocked at how many students do not do the reading. This is not a quality of rich hipsters at small liberal arts schools; they largely did their homework. It's the students at the big, faceless universities that never do their reading because they're just gonna be sitting at the back of that 200-student lecture hall, so why fucking bother, eh?

14) Philosophy is awesome, so back off. Although, to be fair, I spent way too much of my time building arguments to precisely refute people saying, “Well, your entire point hinges on the false assumption that a physical reality actually exists.”

15) Sure, why not.

16) This one passed me up. I was either wearing the same hoodie and pair of dungarees I had been wearing for two weeks, or a suit.

17) OK, I'm actually too old for this one. Some folks would wear Hannah-Barbara t-shirts, or weird shit with, like, Voltron or some obscure anime characters on it. But Spongebob had yet to become a "thing" yet, as far as I am aware.

18) Fun is totally in the eye of the beholder. In my opinion, drinking games like beer pong are simply not fun. The only drinking games I have enjoyed are card games like Presidents and Assholes and Drunk Driver, which is essentially one person dealing him or herself an entire deck of cards and drinking whenever a face card is played. (Flip Cup is OK, but it stresses me out.) Having said that, implying that standing in the cold drinking and smoking a cigarette is lame overlooks the fact that a lot can take place during that smoke. As I have said before, any evening that begins in the gentlemen's club, discussing Wittgenstein, is an evening well spent.

On the other hand, no one should ever judge any one else for having a good time at a party (within limits). I ain't gonna judge anyone inside the party whooping it up, but, you know, there are important things to be talking about.

19) There's a lot in this one. a) Is "governmentality" a word? b) Everyone should learn to love Foucault and Derrida. c) I have an uncle who plays the banjo and it is awesome. d) "Deconstructionalism" is definitely not a word and if Mr. Saucier had done his readings he would know that. e) Always throw it at them.

20) Thought about getting a tattoo. Never did. Do not regret that decision.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Teaching Philosophy

I made this film today as a part of my "e-portfolio" for my teaching certificate. I'll probably revise it later, but thought that it was worthwhile sharing now nonetheless.

Philosophy - What's The Use?

Gary Gutting, who is one of my favorite living philosophers - has a rather curious post at the NY Times' philosophy blog. I kind of think he's missing the point about why so many people tend to be so dismissive of philosophy, but I think his post is worth reading nonetheless.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Philosophy is the Most Important Thing

"A man's maturity: that is to have rediscovered the seriousness he possessed as a child at play." - Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

It was a nice, cold, sunny morning in December when I left my practicum placement at Urbana High School and walked towards the bus stop, where I would catch a bus headed back to the U of I campus. There was another student waiting there, an undergraduate, and she started asking me questions about the Education Department at U of I. She had just come from an observation at Urbana Middle School, and has been considering majoring in education, although not special education in particular, like me, and so she had a lot of questions to ask.

Unfortunately, I'm not the best person to ask these sorts of questions, not because I'm uninformed - although I guess I could educate myself a little better - but because I am a very atypical SPED student. I am a 27-year old graduate student in classes of mostly undergrads. I am a male in a class that is overwhelmingly (more than 90 percent) female. I am the only student in the class with a visible disability. Finally - and I guess this is kind of related to that first difference - I did not major in education as an undergrad. No, as I eventually came around to telling this sophomore as we waited for the No. 5 Green W Bus*, I majored in philosophy.

Upon learning this, my undergraduate bus-waiting compatriot remarked that, oh, he had taken an Intro to Phil. class last year and, um... well, what she remembered most about it is that the professor spent four weeks discussing whether or not anyone could know whether or not the sun would rise tomorrow, and that it was about that point when she decided that she had better things to spend her time doing and worrying about.

It was here where I wished that I could have called a "time out." Because, look, whether or not inductive inferences do or do not count as knowledge is actually really important, and is highly relevant to how the scientific method functions. And I would've loved to have talked to her about it, and about how tragic is was that the lesson that she got out of it was that philosophy was that spending time doing philosophy is a big, fat waste of time.

But I was tired, and anxious about my upcoming meeting with my adviser, and didn't really feel like this was the appropriate venue to get into an epistemological discussion**, so instead, I muttered something like, "Oh, yeah, you gotta know if the sun is gonna rise.." and proceeded to quiz her about what other "Most Boring" "Greatest Hits of Philosophy" that they covered in her Phil 101 class:

"Evil demon?"

- Yup

"Brains in vats?"

- Yes.

"The Matrix?"

- Um, we watched a few scenes. Mostly we talked about robots.

What she got out of the class, of course, was that philosophy was wasting her time and her energies; that she could and should be doing more productive things with her life, like volunteering at the local middle school and pursuing her degree as a math teacher. And it's not like I could blame her. The tragedy, however, is that these are the concepts that everybody ought to know. Understanding them ought to enrich everyone's lives, regardless of profession, and yet they are taught within the "academy" as obscure and esoteric things, and the professors and the T.A.'s - really, in a large university setting, the responsibility here falls on the T.A.'s shoulders - reinforce this attitude that philosophy is not worth the time or the effort of people who are not "serious" about philosophy. So someone like my bus-riding friend gets the message loud and clear that those who aren't prepared to sacrifice the rest of their lives for the sake of brains in vats and evil demons shouldn't even bother.

I caught the Green, with these thoughts in my mind, and went to my weekly meeting with one of my advisers on campus. I walked into her office, and we chatted about my morning, and about how my instructional program with one of my students, Ajax, was going. And then, when we were finished with our order of business, she asked me how I was doing. And I told her about my conversation that morning, and about how it got me thinking about how frustrating it is for me to feel like philosophy is the most relevant thing in the world, that it is relevant to everything, and is useful for everyone in every situation, and yet the way that it is handled, specifically the way that it is taught to young people, ensures that the field and the study of philosophy remains enshrined within a few very specific contexts.

I went on to talk about how happy I would be if I could spend my mornings in a special education class, helping and encouraging students who have been chronically disadvantaged, and then spend my evenings in a college philosophy course, reminding students that they are incredibly privileged in our country.

"Yeah, Joel," said my adviser. "You should make that job." (She's good at being supportive. She used to be a special ed teacher.)

*C-U has a super complicated bus system.

**That's disingenuous of me. It is always a good time to talk epistemology.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Feelin' fine...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Football Poetry and Prose

I spent most of today compiling a master list of pre-season top 25 lists for college football - because Robyn is out of town and because I am done with work (for now!). Anyways, I will not torture you with my statistics (maybe I'll do that on my sports blog) but I did stumble across maybe the greatest college football related blog post ever.

This blogger on has posted his own personal top 25 list - which is cool, I fuckin' love lists - but it seems like his post was originally written in, like, Mandarin or Russian or something and then translated using BabelFish. For example, Mr. Zimbio (I don't know if that's his name, but that's what I've been calling him in my head) has Oklahoma as his #1 team, a popular pick amongst the blogs. But this is how he explains his choice:

It is formidable not to collect Oklahoma as the preseason top-ranked group in the nation. They accomplished impassioned in 2010 and lapse 16 starters from a group which won the Fiesta Fool around final year.

He's right. It is formidable not to collect Oklahoma as the preseason top-ranked in the nation. But the "Fiesta Fool?" That sounds like someone you'd meet at the Renaissance Fair.

The best part is that Mr. Zimbio has some excellent observations about the state of college football, if only you can decipher his prose. Here is what he has to say about his #8 team, the Boise State Broncos:

Let me initial proceed by observant which I cannot mount the “underdog” or the “little guy” teams in college football, and it heedfulness me to say which Boise State has the possibility to be a BCS buster yet again in 2011.
This is amazing. It's like, the Shakespeare of sports blogging. I think that he means that Boise State can no longer be considered an "underdog" or "little guy", and that they could get to the BCS again in 2011. Why? Because:

Losing far-reaching receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Immature will be tough, but not severe. The Boise State offense should still upsurge similar to it customarily does.
I love the idea of an offense "upsurging" rather than "coming up big." (Yawn.) Also, Titus Young should totally change his name to Titus Immature.

At first, Zimbio can be difficult to understand. But once you get used to his particular prose-stylings, he becomes a thoroughly enjoyable read.

On #10 South Carolina:

The Gamecocks have a auspicious SEC report subsequent deteriorate which should concede them a possibility to repeat as SEC East champions.
They have an easy schedule.

#11 Stanford:

Stanford will be one of the many engaging teams in the republic subsequent season. This offseason, they mislaid their conduct manager (Jim Harbaugh), many of their descent line and 5 defensive starters.
I agree, Stanford will be one of the most engaging teams in our glorious republic this year. And what is a coach if not a "conduct manager"?

He's got defending champ Auburn at #23. Why? Because:

Auburn is not a BCS pretension contender for 2011. They fool around in the toughest multiplication in college football and fool around a heartless report which includes games at South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU and Georgia.
Yeah, that report is heartless. But maybe they would do better if they would just quit fooling around in the SEC.

And what does he have to say about the #3 Ducks?

There is really small disbelief which Oregon’s offense will be unstoppable again in 2011. They are returning quarterback Darren Thomas and Heisman claimant using behind LaMichael James. If which isn’t sufficient to similar to about the offense, they are additionally returning parsimonious end David Paulson and special teamer extraordinaire Kenjon Barner.
I think by "using behind" he means "tailback." You know - full behind, half behind, quarter behind. And "parsimonious end" is a way better term than "tight end" - especially since David Paulson is such a frugal player. But I'm sure that Kenjon Barner will appreciate being labeled a "special teamer extraordinaire." If only all sports writers were this imaginative.