Print Story A piece of green tarmac walks into a bar
By TheophileEscargot (Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 10:07:13 AM EST) Reading, Listening, Watching, Me, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "The Psychopath Test" Listening: "Plato, Socrates and the Dialogues". Watching: "The Crazies". Me. Web.

What I'm Reading
Finished The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, the offbeat journalist who also wrote "Them: Adventures with Extremists" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats". Ronson looks at how psychopaths are diagnosed, meets an alleged psychopaths in Broadmoor who wants to be released, takes a course in identifying psychopaths, then starts trying to apply it. Towards the end of the book he expand the topic to look at how psychological conditions of all kind are diagnosed.

Pretty interesting book, written in his usual self-deprecating style. It's also thought-provoking as to which of the people he meets can be classed as psychopaths. However, the book doesn't really scratch the surface of the main issue where psychology has moved from a category view to a spectrum view, where many mental illnesses are regarded as being the extreme ends of a spectrum of traits we all possess to varying degrees.

Worth a look if you like his stuff, but not unmissable.

Jon Ronson TED talk (unwatched).

Latest Teaching Company course was Plato, Socrates and the Dialogues by Michael Sugrue. Good overview of the dialogues, how they work and why they matter. Observes quite a few things that I hadn't noticed, and gives useful pointers of things to look out for. For instance, moving up/down metaphors are important, whenever Plato mentions mathematics he's seeking or referring to ultimate certainty, the sun as a metaphor. Not totally convinced about the theory that Socrates is supposed to be a new Odysseus.

It's well worth accompanying the Dialogues with something like this. I think there's too much irony and too many cultural references for the dialogues to be really intelligible to a modern person without much preparation. E.g. if you don't know that Alcibiades was a much-reviled traitor, you just don't know to be suspicious of anything he says.

Overall, informative and well-presented, worth a listen.

What I'm Watching
Saw The Crazies on DVD. 2010 remake of the George Romero movie, where inhabitants of a small town are driven violently insane.

Pretty good, proficient action-horror. There are some nicely paranoid moments as you're not sure who's getting crazy when. Does get a bit more formulaic towards the end, as things get more like a standard zombie movie, and he overdoes the tied-down-and-helpless trope that worked really well at the start.

Overall, decent genre movie.

Had two job interviews for different jobs last week (I'm losing my job some point). Haven't heard back from one. The other has led to another interview on Monday, where I have to give a short presentation on a researched topic. Finding it a bit stressful and time-consuming coping with two processes at once, but good to get some interview practice in.

Socioeconomics. Cameron's consistent error.

News. Naked rambler has spent most of the last 6 years in prison for nudity, via. Memepool sort of returns.

Sci/Tech. Microsoft censors Pirate Bay IMs. Programmer Grief. Inflatable wind turbine. Girls Around Me app is a bit creepy.

Video. Slow motion ballet dancers. Tyre rolls down hill, back. Lego battle 1940s women gym machines.

Politics. Tories: Petrol crisis is our Thatcher moment. US. GOP's woman problem:

For much of its history, misogyny was not the style of the party of Lincoln. For most of the twentieth century, the GOP was ahead of the curve in bestowing women’s rights. When the Nineteenth Amendment granting suffrage was ratified in 1920, roughly three-quarters of the 36 state legislatures that did so were controlled by Republicans. In 1940, the GOP mandated that women be equally represented in its national and executive committees—a standard not imposed by the Democrats until more than three decades later.
Articles. The invention of the shoelace and collapse of the shoe-buckle industry. New Yorker ponders Daily Mail. John Lanchester on Karl Marx. Christopher Priest complains about Clarke awards shortlist, via. 1944 advice on How to Pick the Right Girl.
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A piece of green tarmac walks into a bar | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)
naked rambler by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 12:40:46 PM EST
so, (a) dude really should just compromise and go home and stay the f- out of scotland. at this point, he's choosing to say that whatever point he is making is more important than anything else, including (say) being with his mum before she dies.

(b) why the f- is being naked in public illegal, anyhow?
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

Contradiction by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #3 Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 01:37:33 PM EST
The irony is that from what I understand, he wasn't arrested for public nudity.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
the linked article by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 01:42:30 PM EST
says he was arrested for 'breach of the peace' on the grounds that his nudity was a breach of the peace.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
That's what I mean by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 04:41:38 PM EST
Public nudity isn't itself against the law there apparently.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
that's debatable at best, right? by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #6 Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 06:19:36 PM EST
i mean, ok, it's not explicitly against the law, but if it's being considered a breach of the peace, than it's effectively against the law.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
not per se by lm (4.00 / 1) #7 Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 09:24:05 PM EST
Two potentially different situations at play.

Situation 1. Someone is arrested for disturbing the peace because this person walked naked through a community in which someone strolling around naked does disturb the peace.

Situation 2. Someone is arrested for disturbing the peace because this person walked around naked and the cops don't like people walking around naked but couldn't think of any better charges.

Situation 2 is a bit like the change of `insulting Turkishness' in Turkey applying to people who blaspheme Mohammed.

Situation 1 can, on some occasions, make sense.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
from the article by bobdole (4.00 / 1) #8 Sun Apr 01, 2012 at 07:39:15 AM EST
"Breach of the peace" legislation is a bit like Situation 2. It can be applied to anything that causes alarm, disturbing or annoying somebody. Being naked by yourself (in a public place) is not a breach of the peace.

Appearing naked on a nudist beach would not be "a breach of the peace" either, but appearing naked in court (as this gentleman did) would most likely be (and usually, as in this case), also contempt.
-- The revolution will not be televised.

[ Parent ]
Socrates as new Odysseus by lm (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 01:17:43 PM EST
Depends on what you mean by Socrates being the new Odysseus. By the time of Plato, an allegorical interpretation of The Odyssey and The Iliad was fairly common. In this interpretation, Odysseus was considered to be an allegory of the human soul trying to make its way back to its true home (The Good Itself) after being incarnate in the material world, forgetting its true nature,  and being tempted with things of no consequence that weight it down and prevent its return to its true self.

I don't think it exceptionally controversial to see Plato's characterization of Socrates serving much the same literary role in his dialogues as Odysseus served in the allegorical interpretation of Homer.

On the other hand, I think it's a very good question as to whether the allegorical interpretation of Homer has any bearing to Homer's intent in writing his poetry.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
A piece of green tarmac walks into a bar | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)