Archive for March 11th, 2010



March 11, 2010

This is a little crude, but if you’re not above crude, you might enjoy it as much as I did:

I am Locking the Wikipedia Article on Our Sex Life:

Dear Josie,

After repeated instances of vandalism and abuse, I have taken the step of locking the Wikipedia article on our sex life. Although I have previously banned both your user account and your home IP address, malicious edits have continued, both anonymously and from newly registered users “alanequalswanker” and “ooohImabigimportantadmin.”

I know that’s you, Josie…

Click here to read the rest.


The Point

March 11, 2010

Here’s this nice response to our question earlier in the week about the relevance of philosophy, from Harry Brighouse:

If I were in the position of having to justify my own department’s existence, and was unconstrained by the comments of my colleagues, I would focus on the service we do to students for whom the course they take from us is the only Philosophy course they take. For many Business majors taking an ethics requirement, this is the only course in their upper years that they will write a paper, and for most it is one of very few courses in which retaining information will be less important than exercising higher order cognition, facing up to questions to which the answers are not known with certainty by anyone. We serve ethics requirements for many majors, and what we do in those courses is NOT tell them what they ought to think about ethical issues, but introduce them to intellectual resources which, when used by people of good will, will help them to get closer to the truth concerning the hard ethical questions they will face as citizens, professionals, and in their personal lives. Like most Philosophy departments we have an informal logic/critical reasoning course, which teaches students how to identify various kinds of fallacious reasoning, and targets instruction to contexts which the students are likely to find themselves in in the course of their lives. We teach aesthetics, environmental ethics, and philosophy of religion, all of which courses attract students with other majors who want to think at a higher level of abstraction than their regular courses allow about what they are doing in their major.

Yes, you read that correctly, students o’ mine: “Facing up to questions to which the answers are not known with certainty by anyone.” Turns out, that is how we roll in philosophy.


Fish Guts

March 11, 2010

Paul Gowder offers this nice evisceration of Stanley Fish’s recent tragedy on secular reasons.


Plane Geometry

March 11, 2010

It is said that all one needs to stabilize (or to form) a plane are three discrete points: one, two, three. Completely unrelated to that, Greenwire has three discrete points in three discrete articles today. Put these in your tailpipes and smoke them:

1) Shale plays create ‘new world’ for energy industry:

Talk of vast new reserves in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale and Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale has filled the corridors and even the keynote speech Tuesday on what had been billed as “oil day.”

ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva used that keynote to tout shale gas as “nature’s gift to the people of the world.” He praised the ingenuity of an industry that learned how to employ horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to open up shale, a rock that had long been considered too difficult to drill.

Now the gas-laced rock has doubled the discovered gas resources of North America, providing 100 years of supply to a country that a few years ago was planning a host of new terminals to import liquefied natural gas, or LNG. Shale gas now accounts for 20 percent of the country’s gas supply, up from 1 percent in 2000.

2) Pairing oil recovery with carbon capture a win-win for U.S.

Enhanced oil recovery — a technique that stimulates aging wells — combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS) could slash U.S. petroleum imports if there is a strong price on carbon, according to a report commissioned by an environmental group and released yesterday.

The Natural Resources Defense Council backed the report that says combining CCS with enhanced oil recovery could boost U.S. production by 3 million to 3.6 million barrels a day.

“Significant growth is dependent on sourcing affordable carbon dioxide,” said Mike Godec, vice president of Advanced Resources International, which prepared the report. “Climate legislation obviously would give enhanced oil recovery a kick start and allow the technology to grow most rapidly.”

Oil companies for years have wrung as much oil as they could from maturing wells. And for the past 35 years or so, they have been pumping CO2 into aging reservoirs to displace oil and enhance production.

3) Injection well is ‘plausible cause’ of Texas earthquakes:

Researcher Brian Stump of Southern Methodist University, one of four researchers who worked on a study published in the magazine Leading Edge, said the injection well at the airport was a “plausible cause” of the earthquakes that started seven weeks after the well began operating in 2008 and stopped when the well was closed.

The last article is basically on hydraulic fracking, though there are similar concerns about CCS too. If true, I think it raises questions about the stability of this plane.