Monday, March 26, 2007

A Classical Education Helps A Lot

Many would be surprised to hear what I have to say about a classical education. For one thing, I got one. The thing I really like about a classical education is that you learn how to learn instead of just a bunch of random facts. Unless you are really dense, you learn how to write, instead of learning a formula for churning out the occasional paper and getting an A. You learn how to research and how to organize your thoughts. You learn how to weigh arguments. You learn to be skeptical, but you also learn how to take joy in seeking truth and accuracy. You learn to let go of the things that do not matter in light of the things that do. In a way, you become somewhat irreverent. You take what people tell you and you read about it instead of believing every word you hear.

For example, my prof at school is a great guy and I would never say anything bad about him personally or as a teacher of his subject. But half, if not three quarters of what he says when giving opinions is total crap. How do I know this? Because I put it to the test. Unfortunately, most of my classmates have never learned this art. They suck in everything they're told because they really do not know any better. If they do have doubts then those doubts form thoughts such as, "this is stupid." They are not well thought out arguments that challenge the very nature of what he attests.

Taking all these notions into account -- learn, read, listen, think -- I went to see the movie 300 over the weekend. Now, as a disclaimer this movie is definitely rated R for graphic violence and nudity. It's a very stylized movie. But it's stylized into almost a rhythm. Unlike normal battle sequences where slow motion is thrown left and right, the slow motion in 300 forms a pattern with the fast motion and it really keeps the audience's attention. It's amazingly well done. Watching the movie is like watching a really good comic book without having to turn the pages. That was my honest impression.

At the same time, this movie concerns a matter of historical import. One that someone with no classical education whatsoever will not understand. You have to know something about the Greeks and the Persians. You have to understand the idea of reason in ancient Greek cultures. You must have an idea of the Greek city states and how they differed from one another. If you have never read Aristotle on virtue then you will be lost. You might enjoy the movie, but you will not get it. Strangely enough the movie has a lot to say about contemporary politics.

The 300 Spartans who fight the barbaric hordes of Persians represent the rule of law and decency. They are not afraid to fight with everything they have, they are not afraid to frighten the enemy with a form of barbarism. But they are essentially holding off the storm of illogic and lawlessness that threatens to destroy their own society.

Many have discussed whether this movie is in favor of the War on Terror and Bush or against them. Let me point out that if you know anything about Frank Miller -- he wrote the graphic novel that 300 is based on and he was influential in the making of the movie -- then you are in no doubt of what he supports. On the other hand, think about the plot of the movie. Think about the words that are reiterated over and over: reason is good, the lack of it is worse than death. Think about the state of society today. Challenge the opinions set forth by both the non-classically educated and the classically educated. You will have your answer.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ah, Logic # 8

The title of this article was too good to pass up. Upon further investigation the article turned out to be quite logical and excellent. It makes me happy to read.

I haven't much to say on the U.S. Attorney firings. Only this: the word "scandal" has become so misused and far flung that it makes me want to poke my eyes out. I am sick and tired of every little thing being dredged up as a terrible, calamitous scandal. There has got to be an end of this. I don't give a flying monkey's butt if Bush fires his entire administration and does not tell us why. Eight attorneys is hardly the end of the world.

In the end I understand why scandals keep getting thrown right and, well, right. It's because Bush is a weak executive. People will follow a strong man into the jaws of death for a totally bogus reason. But they will scoff at a weak man until they turn blue in the face even when he's right. No I am not saying Bush is right about everything -- or anything for that matter. I am saying that it does not matter when he's right. He's weak and in the real world, that's what people notice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Stop Sporting With My Intelligence

This article explains why grammar is important. That is not the subject of the article. It's actually about the U.S. attorney issue. I am not giving an opinion of the subject matter, because I cannot get past the grammatical issues. Do they teach journalists anything about English grammar anymore? I stopped reading the news about two months ago. I only read headlines for a while. Lo and behold, when I started reading again I began to notice the dismal state of grammer in American journalism. It makes it impossible to understand what the writer meant to say. Here's my favorite sentence from the article:

"The Bush administration's efforts to use an obscure provision of the Patriot Act to replace U.S. attorneys it deemed too vigorous in investigating Republican officials, too slow in indicting Democratic public officials or too reluctant to investigate "voter fraud" -- a euphemism for attempting to suppress the minority vote -- caused me to re-think my opinion of the fairness of Western Pennsylvania's U.S. attorney, Mary Beth Buchanan."

It took me three tries to read the sentence and three more to make head or tail of it. I am still not entirely sure what it means. Furthermore, this article is the third one I have tried to read today. The others were too grammatically difficult for me to trudge through and this one has quickly joined their club.

I declare a war against bad grammar. My blog will fight this war until journalists begin inserting random smiley faces into articles and shortening words and phrases such as "you, your, yours, you are, laughing out loud and in my opinion. " At that time, the war will have been won, but not by me.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I'm Back, Baby!

Aside: Yes, I did spend the last week watching two entire seasons of Seinfeld.

I returned to work today. It felt amazing. I even got a lot of stuff done and discovered that in my absence my work had not piled up. Much. Still, it's great to go back and realize that someone else basically took care of my stuff while I was out. It's even better to go back. I needed a vacation before I left for surgery. By today I needed to work. I was getting bored.

I spent the last week recuperating. I did a lot of tv watching, saw several movies and spent countless hours editing my 2005 NaNo novel. It was a good time. I spent a lot of time with Craig because he was on spring break. I learned something about myself: I want to stay home and work on my books. I'm tired of having an out and about, full time job. At the same time, I want to be mobile. Going and getting shopping done, taking the dog (we do not have one yet) for a walk, being more involved at a church and possibly even working part time are all part of being mobile. I hope that when we move (and soon we will) I will be able to find a decent part time job. Then I can spend a lot more time on my writing and get things around the house done.

The good news at the moment is still that I'm back! It's good to be back.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Down And Out -- Really

I had surgery on Thursday to repair a hernia. I have not been in the best of shape for writing despite the fact that I have a couple interesting topics lined up for discussion. I'll get to those later. I had been scheduled for this surgery for a while now and it's finally over. Except, it's not really over. There's this thing called recovery and let me tell you, it sucks. I am always in a little bit of pain. The pain meds do bad things to me even when I take them. I'm tired all the time. I can only walk around for so long before I want to go lay down again. I get restless. I cannot lift things. It's difficult to bend down and pick things up from the floor because it hurts. I am not the most patient invalid.

I am thankful that I have such a patient, kind hubsand to take care of me through all this.

So far, recovery has been going pretty good. I know, I complain. But look, I am typing on the computer three days after I got cut open and sewn back together. That's something!

Oh yes, you know how you hear all those horror stories of people being awake through their operation. I was awake during mine. I remember it. I remember the doctors standing over me talking and asking for various instruments. I don't think they knew I was aware of them. But I was. I was so groggy that I did not get scared or anything. I just lay there and let the whole thing go on. It was kind of interesting really. I wondered if I would be able to withstand the anastesia and I was.

Soon I will be fully recovered and more able to do things than before I had the surgery. I am looking forward to that day.