Thursday, March 12, 2009

Purim Plato

I saw Robert Mankoff speak yesterday at the Institute for the Humanities Brown Bag Lunch. He was funny but, like all other White People in the croud, I love New Yorker cartoons, so it was a lot of preaching humor to the laugh machine choir.

During his monologue he claimed that Plato and Aristotle warn against the vices of humor. This was our interaction during the Q&A session:

Me: But when you read Plato it is obvious that he is not always serious. For instance in the Republic Socrates chides poets for speaking in a voice other than their own, but then you realize that Plato is speaking through the voice of Socrates.
Mankoff: That's what I get at the University of Michigan*.
Me: I think that is funny.
Mankoff: And I think you are full of shit.

For the moment I don't want to contest his notion of humor (which I think leaves out such things as puns), but want to understand what he means by "full of shit." It reminded me of when Jose and I were walking down the Champs-Élysées and I was ranting about some ridiculous idea when he accused me of the same thing. I remarked in turn: I am not quite sure what you mean by "full of shit." If you mean to say, "My Zev, you are sounding very Zev-like today" then I may take your meaning.

Are "we" full of shit? Is that, maybe, what we are supposed to be? Let the pedantic comments roll.

* I wanted to correct him and say Chicago, but I (fortunately) thought better of it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vice Quota?

After listening to a BBC report on the 'severity' of cannabis factories in London, I was wondering, does society have a vice quota? From what I understand it is pretty clear that there is nothing wrong with ingesting pot, so long as one does not smoke packs a day. Is it possible, however, that society needs vice? Currently people use marijuana to get their vice fix, but were it legal many (not all, or probably even most) would ("be forced to") get their fix in other ways, such as with more severe narcotics?

There are certainly many hippies out there who love the psychedelic effects of hash, but there are also many stupid teenagers who smoke weed because it serves as an affront to power. Those stupid teenagers would probably just find some other outlet, or worse, pick up cigarettes. If you look at the problem as a vice addiction as opposed to a drug "addiction" (which really doesn't apply for weed) the contours of the problem might change significantly.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Fun Morning Data

In October of 2006 the Pres. Bush signed executive order 13412 blocking the involvement of U.S. oil companies in Sudan. Guess what happened to oil production in Sudan from 2006 to 2007? Sudanese oil exports jumped from $4.8 billion to $7.6 billion and China increased its oil exports from Sudan by 121% according to the WTO. That's a 59% increase over a 15% global price increase or roughly a 35% increase in production. With that kind of growth we should start putting sanctions on ourself.

Can you guess three of the top ten oil exporters to China from which the US receives no oil?
N. Korea, Iran and Sudan.