April 27, 2003

God loves atheists

It's an insult to God to believe in God.... So my suspicion is that the people he really loves best now in the twentieth century are probably the atheists and agnostics, because they're the only ones who have ever really taken him seriously.
Galen Stawson --In Our Time, BBC Radio 4
Posted at 03:29 PM

April 24, 2003

Waiting for Godot?

Samuel Beckett wrote Waiting for Godot. I have'nt read it yet, but it seems ripe with interpretations, especially the implication that Godot is God.

Posted at 02:56 PM

The opera from Bend it like Beckham

The opera played during the free kick is Puccini's Nessun Dorma from Turandot. Read the libretto

Il Principe:
Nessun dorma!... Nessun dorma!...
Tu pure, o Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza
guardi le stelle che tremano
d'amore e di speranza!
Ma il mio mistero
è chiuso in me,
il nome mio nessun saprà!
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo dirò,
quando la luce splenderà!
Ed il mio bacio scoglierà
il silenzio che ti fa mia!
Coro donne:
Il nome suo nessun saprà...
E noi dovrem ahimè, morir, morir!...

Il Principe:
Dilegua, o notte! tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle! All'alba vincerò!
Vincerò! Vincerò!

Translation
The Prince:
No one sleeps!... No one sleeps!...
Nor do you, o princess
in your cold room
Look the stars that tremble
with love and hope!
But my mystery
it is locked in me,
my name no one will know!
No, no, only on your mouth I will reveal it,
when dawn's light will shine!
My kiss will break the silence
and make you mine!
Female choir:
His name no one will know...
And we shall have, alas, to die, to die...!

The Prince:
Disperse, o night! Set, you stars!
Set, you stars! With the dawn I will win!
I'll win! I'll win!

Posted at 11:19 AM

April 23, 2003

Suzanne Vega - A minimalist

What's common between Suzanne Vega and Raymod Carver? minimalism apparently is one answer.

Also on Vega.net peruse on Masculinity

Posted at 11:57 PM

April 17, 2003

Truth Disinfects

The NYTimes has a great editorial on the importance of free press

Posted at 11:34 AM

April 16, 2003

Fareed Zakaria

You need to be able to talk about what should be done in Baghdad while quoting Swinburne over duck that you’ve cooked yourself.
The New York Metro profiles Fareed Zakaria. I wish I could say he is what I'd like to be when I grow up. But I'm already grown up and he is my contemporary. I suppose this is the place and time when I've paused and realized that I'm old. Not in a good or a bad way. Just that I've been waiting to start my life. Unfortunately its already been started for a while.
Posted at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)

Utopian idealism

Thomas More was a contemporary of Henry VIII. He was against the reformation that Martin Luther was instigating out in Germany. When Henry VIII wanted to break away from the Catholic church to set up his own shop (The Church of England) to grant him sanction to marry Ann Boleyn, More objected. Henry VIII threw More in prison. When that failed to change More's mind, he was put to death.

One of his contributions was the book called Utopia where like Plato he investigated a perfect world. More did address a lot of interesting topics in his book. One such excerpt on how marriages are conducted in Utopia (by the way fornication was severely punished in Utopia)


In choosing their wives they use a method that would appear to us very absurd and ridiculous, but it is constantly observed among them, and is accounted perfectly consistent with wisdom. Before marriage some grave matron presents the bride naked, whether she is a virgin or a widow, to the bridegroom; and after that some grave man presents the bridegroom naked to the bride. We indeed both laughed at this, and condemned it as very indecent. But they, on the other hand, wondered at the folly of the men of all other nations, who, if they are but to buy a horse of a small value, are so cautious that they will see every part of him, and take off both his saddle and all his other tackle, that there may be no secret ulcer hid under any of them; and that yet in the choice of a wife, on which depends the happiness or unhappiness of the rest of his life, a man should venture upon trust, and only see about a hand's-breadth of the face, all the rest of the body being covered, under which there may lie hid what may be contagious as well as loathsome. All men are not so wise as to choose a woman only for her good qualities; and even wise men consider the body as that which adds not a little to the mind: and it is certain there may be some such deformity covered with the clothes as may totally alienate a man from his wife when it is too late to part from her. If such a thing is discovered after marriage, a man has no remedy but patience. They therefore think it is reasonable that there should be good provision made against such mischievous frauds

Read the rest of Utopia

Posted at 09:24 AM

April 15, 2003

Kaizen

Kaizen is the Japanese management system based on continuous improvement. Kaizen works on the principle of :

1. Process creates result. Change the process. Results will not occur without changes and improvements to the process
2. Focus on the bigger picture
3. Do not focus on the person. Do not blame.

The implementation works around PDCA (Pick, Do, Check, Act)
Pick the project; do; check results; standardize the new process

Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke (Sort, Straighten, Scrub, Spread, Standardization)

Posted at 11:47 PM

April 13, 2003

Easy Zen

A contentment gained from idleness or from a laissez-faire attitude of mind is a thing most to be abhorred. There is no Zen in this, but sloth and mere vegetation. The battle must rage in its full vigour and masulinity. Without it, whatever peace that has been obtained is a simulacrum, and it has no deep foundation; the first storm it may encounter will crush it to the ground. Zen is quite emphatic in this. Certainly, the moral virility to be found in Zen, apart from its mystic flight, comes from the fighting of the battle of life courageously and undauntedly.
-- D.T. Suzuki Essays in Zen Buddhism
Posted at 07:01 PM

April 12, 2003

A realization

A realization sweeps over me. Like the morning sun's rays it illuminates a new perspective in my mind. Sipping my French roast I sat contesting my colleague's philosophical absolutism. "A Liberal call to arms is in order" she exhorted. "Liberals are too accomodating. They rationalize even the most egregious flaws in thinking. Liberals should be more forceful in their ways". My mind wandered. If our world was indeed fleeting and of no consequence, why bother with all these discussions. In my mind I was slipping into the outstretched arms of advanced solipsism. The siren that she was, solipsism beckoned me with the sweet words: "quench your dilemmas. This world is your creation. There is nothing". Out of the blue, the image was shattered. I saw the cruel gaze of a nihilistic scheharazade tricking me into destroying my own existence. I've been snookered. Nihilism has stopped me in my tracks. Its a left-turn only lane with a red light that never changes. The sign points to escape from the traffic, but I remain stuck in the middle of it without moving. My life and other lives pass me by as I await an egress.

Enough is enough. Call an end to this accomodating morass of relativism. If as Sartre says by choosing I choose for all humanity then I must choose what I want. Yes! The world is of NO consequence. Then the wonderful nature of the world is HERE. Live the life YOU want. Damn the consequences. Do what you want. Live the best life you can script for yourself.

The problems that subvert this attempt are the host of psychological problems that attempt to pulverize you into submission. They must be resisted. An internal call to arms is indeed necessary. Wake up! Your life awaits you.

Posted at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2003

Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things. The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed. And on the pedestal these words appear: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.


- P.B. Shelley on Pharoah Ramses II

Posted at 04:12 PM

April 09, 2003

Modern Times

Each of us not only 'has', but lives a biography reflexively organised in terms of flows of social and psychological information about possible ways of life. Modernity is a post-traditional order, in which the question, 'How shall I live?' has to be answered in day-to-day decisions about how to behave, what to wear and what to eat - and many other things - as well as interpreted within the temporal unfolding of self-identity.
Anthony Giddens --Modernity and Self-Identity
Posted at 08:48 PM

Fine Wine

Why does wine cost as much as it does?

nytimes explains

Posted at 04:36 PM

April 07, 2003

Where is Cebu

Cebu is a province in Phillipines. More info at about cebu

Posted at 02:07 PM

Suicide and life

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that
-- Albert Camus The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays
Posted at 10:20 AM | Comments (1)

Women

A woman does not want the truth; what is truth to women? From the beginning, nothing has been more alien, repugnant, and hostile to woman than the truth - her great art is the lie, her highest concern is mere appearance and beauty.

Friedrich Nietzsche
--Beyond Good and Evil

Posted at 10:12 AM

April 03, 2003

A thoughtful civilization?

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.
Alfred North Whitehead --An Introduction to Mathematics
Posted at 07:48 AM

April 02, 2003

Existentialist Angst

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
--Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)
Posted at 10:10 PM

Theodicy

Theodicy to put it simply is the problem of Evil. Most philosophical discussions with atheists center around the proof of God. An atheist does not have to prove the non-existence of God. He only has to disprove any theory for the existence of God.

Theodicy is the main argument put forward by the atheist to the believer. If God exists then how can evil in the world be explained? Evil comes in two flavors. Natural evil comprises tornadoes, earthquakes that kill "innocent" people. Moral evil encompasses despicable acts of Hitler, Idi Amin et al.

David Hume proposed the theodicy argument quite lucidly. Loosely paraphrased his claim centers around God's ominpotency. If God is omnipotent, then he can stop evil. The presence of evil implies that God is not willing to stop evil. If this is true, then God is not good. However if God is willing, but not able, then God is not omnipotent and hence can't be "God". But if God is both omnipotent and willing as theists claim then why does evil exist?

Posted at 09:07 PM

April 01, 2003

What is a Weberian view?

Max Weber (1864-1920)
Bureaucracy: a highly structured hierarchical from of organisation based upon legal-rational authority
The fundamental characteristics of bureaucracy, for Weber, are:
A continuous organisation of official functions bound by rules
A specified sphere of competence. This involves:
a sphere of obligation to perform functions which has been marked off as part of a systematic division of labour;
the provision of the incumbent with the necessary authority to carry out these functions;
that the necessary means of compulsion are clearly defined, and their use is subject to definite conditions.
The organisation of offices follows the principle of hierarchy; that is each lower office is under the control and supervision of a higher one.
The rules which regulate the conduct of an official may be technical rules or norms…
…the administrative staff should be completely separated from the ownership of the means of production …[and] that is also a complete absence of appropriation of his official position by the incumbent
Administrative acts , decisions, and rules are formulated and recorded in writing
the office if filled by a free contractual relationship
Candidates are selected on the basis of technical qualifications. this is tested by examination or guaranteed by diploma certifying technical training or both. they are appointed not elected.
They are remunerated by fixed salary in money, for the most part with a right to pensions.
the office is treated as a sole, or at least primary occupation of the incumbent
It constitutes a career. there is a system of promotion according to seniority , or achievement or both,. Promotion is dependant on the judgement of superiors.

The officers carry out their duty in

a spirit of formalistic impersonality, "Sine ira et studio", without hatred or passion, and hence without affection or enthusiasm. The dominant norms are concepts of straightforward duty, without regard to personal considerations. Everyone is subject to formal equality of treatment; that is, everyone in the same empirical situation.

According to Weber this


purely bureaucratic type of administrative organisation is …capable of attaining the highest degree of efficiency…It is superior to any other from in precision, stability, in the stringency of its discipline, and its reliability. It thus makes possible a particularly high degree of calculability of results for the heads of the organisation and for those acting in relation to it . It is finally superior both in intensive efficiency and in the scope of its operations, and is formally capable of application to all types of administrative tasks.

From Weber, M The Theory of Social and Economic Organisations: Wirtshaft und Gesellschaft

CRITIQUES

The informalist critique: is that the ideal type, by concentrating on formal structure of bureaucracy ignores the way in which formal arrangements are modified by the spontaneous interaction of the members of the bureaucracy. People in organisations are not one dimensional 'officials' acting in complete accord with the rules of the organisation.. They attempt to exert some degree of control over the organisational environment in which they work developing a work culture of leaders cliques communication methods and so on. By neglecting these informal relationships, the critics argue, Weber 'excludes from analysis the most dynamic aspects of formal organisations.'.

The dysfunctionalist critique is that Weber was so concerned with the functional aspects of bureaucracy that the concomitant dysfunctions were ignored for example :
Discipline - conformity to the rules of the organisation - is clearly essential to the attainment of precision , reliability and efficiency, but the very process by which discipline is inculcated in the bureaucrat can lead to the displacement of goals. Instead of being instrumental means to the achievement of the ends of the organisation, the rules become ends in themselves.
The other aspect of discipline - the acceptance of the directives of superiors - makes possible the coordination of large numbers of people, but may also result in the refusal of the bureaucrat to accept responsibility for decisions.
The non-competitive situation created by the principle of promotion by seniority allows the development of a high esprit de corps, tending to maximise the bureaucrats sense of duty. However the group spirit engendered by this lack of competition often leads to bureaucrats defending their common entrenched interests against elected higher officials.
What the criticisms of Weber don't really address is the problem that Weber's ideal type was designed to solve;

Weber was concerned with the notion of legitimate authority: the grounds on which rulers justify their demands for obedience and which the ruled accept as moral imperatives.

The Weberian view of Politics is:

A state of human community that successfully claims the monopoly of the means of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. The sate is considered the sole source of the right to use violence.

Weber identifies three ideal types of legitimate authority.

1. Traditional authorityrests "on an established belief in the sanctity of immemorial traditions and the legitimacy of the status of those exercising authority under them. Provided the ruler rules within tradition it is open to free favour and arbitrariness where the ruler rules 'at pleasure as sympathy or antipathy move him…"

Under such system the following features are absent : clearly defined sphere of competence subject to impersonal rules; a rational ordering of relations of superiority and inferiority; a regular system of appointment and promotion on the basis of free contract; technical training as a regular requirement; fixed salaries paid in money

2. Charismatic authority rests on the devotion of the followers to the leader, given by his 'gift of grace'…

3. Legal authority rests on the acceptance of the laws enacted by proper procedure .legitimised not on a personal basis but because the officer is in a legally established position.

Having placed bureaucracy within this context of ideal types it is clear that Weber was not primarily concerned with organisational efficiency. His object in construction the ideal type was to understand the distinctive characteristics of the administrative apparatus of legal rational authority, as compared to traditional or charismatic authority.

When we look to reform we need to look at what and why we are reforming. Most Public admin starts with a look at Weber. When we dispense with him and move on because of perceived inefficiency we need to think about the kinds of authority that the new administrative regimes can develop. Weber was primarily concerned with managerial efficiency but political theory on a broader canvas - a historical analysis of authority and administration.

-- from http://www.gu.edu.au/text/centre/kceljag/eljag/03_what/kel7022/unit1.html.

Posted at 09:27 AM

Sovereignties

There are three types of sovereignties. Westphalian paradigm keeps maintenance and protection of the sovereignty as the primary goal. Liberal paradigm deals with popular sovereignties. Anti-Utopian sovereignties ?

The Westphalian system dates back to the treaty of Westphalia that ended the thirty years war. It was decided then that sovereignty of states (including loser states) would be respected. Other states would not interfere in the internal affairs of another state. This philosophy has been followed quite extensively since then. However, this issue arises today with the US intervention in Kosovo. Also, with the invasion of Iraq one wonders what the "new" Iraq will look like.

links:
Not-so-Sacred Borders

Posted at 09:21 AM
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