Werner's to the rescue

I had passively learned that Joaquin Phoenix was in a car accident a few days ago, but it turns out that he was pulled from the wreckage by Werner Herzog. This quote makes a simple overturned car way more interesting:

"I remember this knocking on the passenger window," Phoenix said. "there was this German voice saying, 'Just relax.' There's the air bag, I can't see, and I'm saying, 'I'm fine. I am relaxed.'"

"Finally, I rolled down the window and this head pops inside. And he said, 'No, you're not.' And suddenly I said to myself, 'That's Werner Herzog!' "There's something so calming and beautiful about Werner Herzog's voice. I felt completely fine and safe. I climbed out."
But this blurb from a little piece in the Guardian made it even better:
But like all do-gooding superheroes, Herzog refused to stick around and take the glory. "I got out of the car and I said thank you," Phoenix said. "And he was gone."
I wish I could fully describe the delight this news has brought me, I'll just say that coffee spurted from my nose and leave it at that.

When the word fellatio becomes an adjective...

This is kind of a weird thing to be first post in a while, but... I couldn't resist. Plus, I needed something to get me doing this again.

So some background: Andrew Sullivan, a blogger/columnist sort that Andrew (from this blog) and I dig, described a biography on Bush by a conservative pundit named Fred Barnes as, "Fred Barnes' fellatial biography of Bush."

Let's ruminate on that one for a second, "Fred Barnes' fellatial biography of Bush"...

Wow. Leaving aside the accuracy of that brief description, that is a pretty kick ass one-word takedown. I'll leave the full analysis to one Arnold Zwicky at Language Log, from a post called "The vocabulary of toadying". Needless to say, it's an extremely comprehensive and thoughtful post on the use and meaning of the word fellatial. Which, I'm sure, has something to do with why I laughed so damn hard while reading it.

Superbowl fun fact

native Jerome Bettis was recently given the key to the city this week. Only three others have ever received this honor: James Earl Jones. Detroit neurosurgeon, Dr. Benjamin Carson, of Johns Hopkins University and Saddam Hussein.


Sullivan gets his points back

Man when he delivers he delivers.



I still read the Earlham Word occasionally not so much as a source of shadenfreunde as I did in the past but because Earlham remains a fascinatingly weird place for me. (I’m also utterly fascinated by North Korea BTW. The DPRK has a “heart” too, but it has a 60 foot statue in the middle that you’re strongly encouraged to give flowers to.). In the most recent Word, Doug Bennett, I believe, made the most candid admission yet that all is not well in Earlham’s intellectual ecosystem.

Bennett also warned against two particular threats to the search for truth. The first threat, he said, is the threat posed by fundamentalist religions. There are elements of fundamentalist religions that believe simple readings of their holy texts can reveal all truth and tolerate no compromise. For these elements, Bennett said, "reason leads to dangerous conclusions." Bennett insisted that free inquiry is essential to a genuine search for truth. Echoing Cardinal Newman, Bennett declared, "Our truth seeking should be fearless and unfettered."

According to Bennett, the second danger to the free exercise of reason comes from reason itself. In searching for truth, we may end up seeing only what we want to see. Our search may be distorted by relationships of power and diverted by our passions and interests. "Our commitment to truth seeking must be thoroughgoing, even if it leads to unpleasant conclusions."

Unless you consider “Fair Trade” a fundamentalist religion, I think the possibility of being influenced by the former at Earlham is remote. The latter posited by Bennett is clearly the greater threat to Earlham’s (and academia in general) intellectual integrity (knee jerk pseudo-intellectual criticism from predictable sources adds credence).

While my Kremlinology may be a little a little excitable in this case, in the past year or so from the many EC mailings I somehow still receive I’ve detected increasing notes of perestroika from Bennett; more or less acknowledging that the long campaign to unencumber the academic establishment from tradition may have gone too far; that instead of intellectual discovery being hindered by ridged social and religious tradition, it is now being compromised by those unwilling to let their newest thought experiment be constrained, much less respect the inherent value of convention/tradition. This environment helped bring about the civil rights movements, but also gave us new math and crippling political correctness. In short I think Doug was very reasonably trying to say that in order for institutions of higher learning to regain their once lofty place in the marketplace of ideas (outside of stuff you can patent) balance needs to be restored between absolute and relativistic perspectives.