Saturday, November 13, 2010

Heads-up for 13 November 2010

Radio Open Source
Kwame Anthony Appiah: How to Make a Moral Revolution
Kwame Anthony Appiah in The Honor Code is inviting all of us to pick the “moral revolution” of our dreams and let him show us how to get big results fast. His exemplary case histories start with the end of dueling in England, which came swiftly on the news in 1829 of pistol shots between the Duke of Wellington (victor at Waterloo and by then Prime Minister of England) and the Earl of Winchelsea. In the same quarter century, England got out of the English slave trade and abolished slavery in the English colonies. And from the East, Appiah recounts the sudden, shamefaced end of female footbinding in China — the collapse of a thousand-year tradition within a generation after 1900. In each instance, a persistent, noxious openly immoral practice died of ridicule, as much as anything else. Appiah makes it a three-step process. First, “strategic ignorance” gets overwhelmed by a very public confrontation with an evil tinged with absurdity. Then the stakes of “honor” get redefined; no longer a prop of support, the idea of honor (as earned respect) becomes a battering ram of opposition. And finally group lobbying and popular politics seal a shift in values and practice.
(review, feed)

London School of Economics: Public lectures and events
The Polish Question at the End of the First World War
When the First World War broke out many assumed that it would inevitably lead to the re-emergence of a Polish state. As the war drew to an end the battle for Poland commenced on several fronts, both diplomatic and military. In the end, an independent Polish state would bear the mark of the way Poland re-emerged, placing the importance of nationalism above the need to build a modern democratic state. Anita J Prazmowska is professor of international history at LSE. She is the author of a number of monographs on Poland's place in European politics.
(review, feed)

Philosopher's Zone (ABC - Australia)
The Art Instinct - evolution and aesthetics
Peacocks have tails; we have art. Dennis Dutton, Professor of Philosopher at the University of Canterbury, argues that art is a form of costly display designed to attract members of the opposite sex. But there´s more to it than that: the arts take us into the minds of the people that made them and so they´re an aspect of social life that is beneficial to human beings. This week, we explore a subtle, Darwinian approach to the painting of paintings and the telling of tales.
(review, feed)

New Books In History by Marshall Poe
Joe Maiolo, "Cry Havoc: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931–1941"
In Cry Havoc: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931–1941 (Basic Books, 2010), Joe Maiolo proposes (I want to write “demonstrates,” but please read the book and judge for yourself) two remarkably insightful theses. The first is that the primary result of the disaster that was World War I was not the even great catastrophe that was World War II, but rather a new kind of state and one that is still with us. Maiolo’s second insight has to do with the origins of World War II itself. Most historians agree that it was “Hitler’s War.” He planned it, he armed Germany for it, and he started it. Maiolo doesn’t necessarily disagree with this position, but he offers an interesting counter-factual that puts it in a different light. What if there had been no Hitler? Would the statesmen of Europe have avoided a second great conflict? Maiolo suggests not, and for an interesting reason.
(review, feed)

Veertien Achttien
Bernard Freyberg en twee vuile vingers in een wond (zondag 12 november 1916)
Commandant van de Nieuw-Zeelandse troepen in WOII, had Bernard Freyberg aan WOI al een heldenstatus overgehouden. Zijn zwempartij naar Gallipoli, zijn doodsverachting aan de Somme, zijn verovering op 11 november 1918: perfect cv voor een VC.
(review, feed)

Rabbi Adam Chalom - Kol Hadash Podcast

Rabbi Adam Chalom (pronounce 'Shalom') can be heard on the podcast Kol Hadash. There are currently six issues in the feed that are recordings of his sermons before the congregation. The majority are connected with the recently passed High Holidays and superficially do not seem very different from any other rabbi speeching before his flock. (feed) However there is something very different.

One, the most recent, issue is about the more uncommon and complicated subject of Jews and the Muslim World. This is much less a sermon and more a lecture and a very interesting one at that, unfortunately the audio quality is below par and the rabbi can barely be understood. It gives though the first indication something is different with Rabbi Chalom. Another indicator is the name of his congregation: Kol Hadash, humanistic congregation.

Some of the sermons give a little bit of a hint what Chalom means by Humanistic. It appears Humanistic Judaism is not Orthodox, not Conservative and not even Reformed. I am going to listen to more in order to find out. It is one thing to hear the occasional sermon that I find uplifting, but I always struggle with the awkward feeling I am eavesdropping on a gathering that I am not part of, do not want to be part of and cannot be part of, because I do not believe, I do not belong and I am just this happy go lucky secular individualist. Chalom however, seems to embrace secularism. His Judaism seems to try to combine the religious tradition with modern concepts. He suggests he does not believe either, or at least does not propose you must believe. He openly questions whether one must uphold all the prescriptions, including keeping kosher and sabbath.

Not believing in god, not keeping kosher and not keeping sabbath sort of defines a very large portion of people who might feel connected to Judaism, however, I never thought they might have a congregation. I never thought they might be collectively doing something with it. That makes me want to hear more of Kol Hadash. (Which, by the way aptly means: new voice)