Moral Empathy

Jeffrey Alexander and Ron Eyerman published a great piece yesterday in Newsday (also available at Common Dreams), in which they argue that the massive economic and social changes necessary to alleviate suffering on a global scale are dependent, finally, upon change of a more fundamental and personal nature


If you’re interested in adding multiple style sheets to your site, do what I did: read Paul Sowden’s excellent tutorial, then rip off his script.

A Note from Knoxville

Newsday posted a fun article yesterday about the University of Tennessee’s Anthropology Research Facility. Of course, the word “fun” is totally relative when you’re talking about a two-acre plot of land where donated bodies decompose under the close scrutiny of forensic anthropologists.

Heavy Industries

Y0ung-Hae Chang Heavy Industries Presents is just about the coolest damn Website I’ve found in months. Finally, someone is doing something original with Flash — and by “original” I mean a backward glance to early-Godard all jumbled together with politics and sex and Blue Note jazz.


So, today at lunch a co-worker was getting us all up to speed on the latest episode of Average Joe, and our conversation turned — inevitably, perhaps — to the sick pleasure we humans seem to take from experiencing others’ discomfort.

Friday Colloquy

On Friday afternoon I subjected myself to ninety minutes of critical scrutiny by a group of professional historians. And it ended up being a damn good time.

Stuck in the Long, Hard Slog

But wish as I might, I can’t yet join the knee-jerkers, and I’m not sure why, exactly. Except that I don’t want it all to have been for nothing.

Ghosts, Goblins, etc.

Halloween is the highest of the holy days in Long Pauses land. My wife spends months planning her costume — this year she was Galadriel, I was Harold (from Harold and Maude).

Survival Saturday

College football is the only sport capable of raising my heart rate these days.

Bring ‘Em On

“When Bush landed on the aircraft carrier in that flight suit, I immediately thought, ‘From now on, just do Bush in the flight suit. Every single time.'”

Writing a Dissertation

A diary of my week.

World Enough, and Time

Some days I fantasize about giving up on this dissertation. Mostly I want my free time back. I want to walk into a library and choose a book that has nothing to do with Cold War history or American literature.

Writing is Hard, Redux

The alarm went off a 5:45 this morning, and I got up. Lord help me. I actually got up.

More on Teaching and Technology

I find myself stuck in an odd position: I want to be a classroom teacher, but the tight job market and the “business” of graduate teaching assistantships has left me working instead in Instructional Technology, a field about which I feel ambivalent, at best.

A Few Good Reads

A few interesting education-related links passed through my desk today. The first is to “Rethinking Thinking” from the Christian Science Monitor, which attempts to look beyond the lip-service academics typically pay to the importance of “critical thinking.”

Thanks for the Links

My host recently adjusted their Webstats software, so I’m now able to get better data about Long Pauses readers.

This is Persecution?

So, while driving to and from Atlanta this week we heard two interviews with David Limbaugh, who is out promoting his latest book, Persecution: How Liberals are Waging War Against Christianity.

Academic Blogs

I chased a link and ended up discovering a fascinating community of academic bloggers, most of whom are like me — insiders with an outsider’s (slightly disgruntled) perspective. If you’re considering graduate school, read the links on the right side of Invisible Adjunct before making any rash decision.


The “business” of health care is beyond me. Which is why I don’t typically write about our need for something like socialized medicine. But that quote has stuck with me. In our money-saturated political discourse, caring about the health of our least advantaged citizens has become a question of “altruism.”

Trying to Understand It All

I’ve become interested in Iran lately. For personal reasons. I have a new student in my ESL class who arrived recently in America by way of Switzerland and Tehran.

Edward Said

Edward Said, who seemed to devote his life to the greying of a world that many would like to keep black and white, has passed away at the age of 67 from pancreatic cancer.

God and the Machine

Today’s issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education features an interview with Alan Lightman, a professor of physics and the humanities at M.I.T. Lightman recently edited a collection of essays, Living With the Genie, in which various authors examine the effects of technology (both good and bad) on our lives.

Unexpected Vacation

I’m writing from sunny south Alabama, where we’re spending a few days after an expected, but still sad, death in the family. Funerals are such strange ceremonies. So sterile and composed. Sometimes I think we’d all benefit from a little more wailing and dirt.

Speaking of Blogs

I spent Thursday afternoon with UT law professor, Glenn Reynolds (a.k.a. Instapundit), and thirty or so other faculty and staff in a discussion of blogging and its potential impact on academic life.

Incompatible with Morality?

Hitchens, a man obviously capable of higher-order thinking, looks at the Church and denounces it as incompatible with morality. I disagree completely, of course, but, watching events as they unfolded in Alabama, I can’t say that I blame him. Hitchens, a man obviously capable of higher-order thinking, looks at the Church and denounces it as incompatible with morality. I disagree completely, of course, but, watching events as they unfolded in Alabama, I can’t say that I blame him.

New and Improved?

After a year of stubborn resistance, I finally knocked the HTML chip off of my shoulder and joined the Blogger world. Management of the blog itself — and of the archive, in particular — was becoming too great a burden and was detracting from my actual writing and posting.

Shut Up, Already

Note to self: Stop whining about the dearth of cultural events in Knoxville. I was just flipping through this week’s issue of The Metro Pulse, and I noticed the following.

I Just Don’t Know

A dear friend of mine is now in parts unknown, doing the type of work that must be done if this war ever really will lead to greater peace and safety in the world. This is the last note I received from him: “I consider it a privilege to be able to serve the people of Iraq. Please pray that they will find true shalom in the coming months and years.”

Fulfilling Contractual Obligations

As a Knoxville resident and UT employee/student, I’m required to make the following statement. (It’s actually a bylaw of the state constitution — listed right there under the mandatory regressive tax structure and last-in-the-nation per/pupil spending.) It’s football time in Tennessee!

Dreaming of a 28 Hour Day

I hadn’t planned to take a four day break from blogging, but life — as it’s wont to do — keeps getting in the way. And by “life” I mostly mean Sobig viruses, network flubs, and frustrated faculty, all of which have conspired this week to make my day job unusually exhausting.

New to Long Pauses?

To anyone who may have heard me on the radio this afternoon, let me apologize: I can’t believe that, when asked in the final seconds leading up to a commercial break to recommend a single film to listeners, I spat out Citizen Kane. Citizen Kane! I don’t even like Citizen Kane.

F— Off, Old Europe

The arrogance of this bunch is just staggering. Tell me — is there any legitimate justification for our continued snubbing of the U.N.? I mean, other than a general, “nobody’s gonna tell me what to do” stupidity?

Grief Sucks

In the last week, several friends have been forced, suddenly — and even if it’s expected, it’s still always suddenly — to deal with death.

What Am I Doing Here?

I was thrilled to find on Dr. Reidy’s site a link to Tony Kushner’s May 26, 2002 commencement address at Vassar, which I’d never read before.

Theology of Empire

This weekend I received the latest issue of Sojourners, in which editor-in-chief Jim Wallis discusses the neocon move toward empire and the bad theology that Bush uses to promote it.

Vigorous Democracy

George W. Bush has turned me into a political animal, and I’m not the only one. Everywhere I go now, I find myself stepping into political discussions. Wars, dead soldiers, and budget deficits will do that to a country, I guess.

Calling Howard Roark

Both the Times and the Post ran cover stories on construction projects today. The subject at the Times is the new Trade Center design, which is finally beginning to build some sort of consensus among politicians, developers, and architects.

The Precision of Words

I worry when politicians denounce ambiguity, when they normalize and conventionalize concepts as mysterious as democracy and history. People die unnecessarily as a result.

Head Trip

I woke up this morning dreaming of Philip Roth and Norman Mailer. The details are sketchy. I know that I was in a mall of some sort and that one or both of them were there for a bookstore signing.

Wear and Tear

For the first time in my life I know the difference (sort of) between simple and complex carbohydrates, and my refrigerator is stocked with PowerAde. Not only have I become the guy who bitches at Meet the Press, but I’m also now a “runner.” Lord help me.

Looking Back

I totally sympathize with this woman’s frustration (believe me), but to act as though the “untidiness” of post-war Iraq is a big surprise only proves your ignorance.

It Smells Like . . . Victory

I was aware of Sheen’s activism, of course — it’s near impossible not to be when he is so often demonized by the conservative media — but I’d never heard him explain so rationally and passionately his motivations.

Independence Day

I was startled by one woman’s face in particular. She looked, in a word, ecstatic. When the first Chinese song ended, she began another, sailing into one of those lilting melodic lines that so mesmerized Debussy a century ago.

Happy Anniversary

I’d forgotten that the execution was delayed by several hours because Eisenhower and his cronies thought it unseemly to execute Jews on the Sabbath. Apparently they weren’t as troubled by the other quirky problem posed by the date: Julius and Ethel died on their fourteenth wedding anniversary.

Take Me With You, Alec

According to a recent poll, a third of the American public believes that we have already discovered WMD in Iraq. And nearly a fourth believes that Iraq actually used chemical and biological weapons during the war.

Give ‘Em Hell, Bill

“Sleep the sleep of the just” is my favorite line from Moyers’s speech. That strange metaphor — the idea that sleeping soundly somehow demonstrates moral rightness — has shown up in a few odd places lately, most notably in the frequent reports that President Bush is sleeping well despite (or, perhaps, because of) the war. Well thank God for small blessings, eh?

A Dangerous Admission

I’m slowly waking to the realization that I’m a socialist.

Simple Design

But I’d like to think that it’s also because content is king, and the sharing of content is the only reason that the Internet continues to excite me.

Christian Nation

“Christian” — if you mean by Christian what the Sermon on the Mount says — is a weighty word, and it’s serious, and, most remarkable of all, it’s full of grace. Please don’t affix that word to this country, which, for some reason, has been blessed with the delicate gift of democracy but will never deserve it.

Different Perspectives

Last night I gathered with my English as a Second Language students for our final class of the semester. Before digging into another dry reading comprehension exercise, we just sat and talked, which, to be honest, is the main reason that Thursday night is often the highlight of my week.