Friday, September 12, 2014

Vocabulary list--#29

Some kool words from POSP stringer Tim.




1. A brief survey or sketch, outline.
2. An immediate impression, especially an intuitive insight.




The raising of an issue by claiming not to mention it.




Lacking all or most of the hair on the head, bald.








An ardent longing, as for something lost.




To remove the ambiguity from, make unambiguous.




Having two contrasting aspects, especially duplicitous, two-faced.




1a. An ornamental stand for plants or flowers.
1b. A large usually ceramic flowerpot holder.
2. A garnish for meat consisting of several cooked vegetables cut into pieces.




1. Dealing lightly and gracefully with a subject, brilliantly playful, lambent wit.
2. Running or moving lightly over a surface, lambent tongues of flame.




1. Resembling or having the properties of oil, oily, also, containing or producing oil.
2. Marked by an offensively ingratiating manner or quality.




Tedious, wearisome.




1. To kiss.
2. To bring into close contact or union.




1. A selection from a book.
2. A portion of sacred writing read in a divine service, lesson; lection.




1. [Obsolete]. The love of learning and literature.
2. The study of literary texts and of written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form and the determination of their meaning.




An abnormal desire to eat substances (as chalk or ashes) not normally eaten.


prih-koh- shul


Capable of a high degree of independent activity from birth.




Physically beautiful, comely.




An usually basement tavern or restaurant.




To wrinkle, crumple, crease.


A wrinkle.




1. A rascal or scamp.
2. Stock character in commedia dell'arte and farce who is a cowardly braggart, easily beaten and frightened.




[Meterology] Fine rain falling after sunset from which no clouds are visible.








[Archaic] A vision, dream.




Of or pertaining to bells or bell ringing.




1. One word or promise, especially in engaging oneself to marry.
2. Faithfulness, fidelity, or loyalty by my troth.




1. The quality or state of being green.
2. The color of grass or foilage.
3. Naive innocence.




Hypothetically reconstructed parent language, as Proto-Germanic, the ancestor, Germanic languages.




A mythical animal usually represented as a 2-legged winged creature resembling a dragon.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Another one at CU-Boulder?

"CU-Boulder investigating yet another philosophy professor -- Brad Monton"

Associate professor Monton subject of report written by outside investigator


Sarah Kuta

August 25th, 2014

Daily Camera

The University of Colorado is investigating yet another professor within the beleaguered philosophy department on the Boulder campus.

Associate professor Brad Monton is the subject of a report by Denver-based attorney David Fine for university administrators, according to an email from an account that appears to be Fine's.

Monton is the latest professor to come under scrutiny in the philosophy department, as one professor is in the midst of termination proceedings and another has threatened to sue the university. All this comes after the university made public an independent report that found sexual harassment, bullying and other misconduct within that department.

"I wanted to let you know that I am finalizing my report regarding Professor Monton," according to the email, which was sent July 29 to one of the parties Fine interviewed. "After reviewing all the information gathered, we determined we could not responsibly ignore the totality of information presented in this matter in light of the concerns expressed by you and others."

The email also said the university may reach out to witnesses in the future if anything they said was "relevant in proceedings related to the report."

CU declined to provide the Camera with the results of Fine's investigation and would not disclose the nature of the probe, citing confidentiality around personnel matters.

For the same reason, campus spokesman Ryan Huff declined to comment for this story. Huff said earlier this month that CU retained Fine to perform services, including independent sexual harassment investigations.

Fine said it would be inappropriate for him to speak publicly as the investigator on the case.

Monton confirmed that he is not teaching classes this semester. He would not say why, but said he is not being punished and is still completing service duties within the department.

He declined to comment further.

Monton had been scheduled to teach an introductory philosophy course and a course in critical thinking and writing philosophy, according to a fall 2014 course catalog.

Though not teaching, Monton is receiving his regular salary of $83,818.

Latest in philosophy

The inquiry into Monton comes to light several weeks after the revelation that the university initiated termination proceedings for tenured philosophy professor David Barnett, who has taught at the Boulder campus since 2005.

Another professor within the philosophy department, Dan Kaufman, is seeking $2 million in damages from the university after it barred him from campus for more than two months.

Many philosophy faculty members have said they fear the administration will dissolve the department for alleged incidents of misconduct summarized in an independent report released in late January. The university has not yet decided whether it will reopen graduate admissions into the philosophy department for the 2015-2016 school year after suspending admissions for 2014-2015.

CU initiated termination proceedings for Barnett after paying a graduate student more than $800,000 to settle claims that Barnett had retaliated against her after she reported being sexually assaulted by a fellow graduate student. The woman claims that Barnett conducted his own investigation into her alleged assault, and in the process, had conversations with other students and professors about her sexual history and behavior.

Barnett staunchly denies accusations that he inquired into the woman's past sexual history or that he made generalizations about her character.

According to a notice of claim the woman filed, Fine also looked into Barnett's investigation and issued a report about that case on May 5, 2014.

Fine also was hired to review the university's investigation into the alleged sexual assault involving the two graduate students. Fine concluded that the Office of Discrimination and Harassment, the office tasked with investigating claims involving university employees, acted appropriately and had followed university policy.


Monton, who has taught on the Boulder campus since 2006, specializes in the philosophy of science, religion and time, according to his curriculum vitae.

CU awarded him an arts and humanities fellowship in 2007-2008 that reduced his teaching load, and another fellowship in 2008-2009 to teach honors courses on campus.

In April, the state and local chapters of the American Association of University Professors alleged that Monton was forced to resign from the Boulder Faculty Assembly and was banned from participating in university committees and services responsibilities.

The AAUP claimed that Monton was pushed out of the faculty group for comments he made about an independent report that found sexual harassment, bullying and other unprofessional behaviors within the philosophy department.

Monton had said that several university administrators pressured him into retracting the opinions he expressed during a meeting of the faculty group's executive committee. His comments about the philosophy department report were erased from the meeting minutes.

Abigail Adams bucks the classical philosophers

"Philosophy of Abigail Adams illustrates August’s remembrance"


Jenny Lemma

August 26th, 2014

Opening August’s backpack is fairly difficult because, well, we seem to have misplaced it. We retrace our steps, trying to recall what we were doing before we lost it. Nevertheless, for a panicked moment or two, we cannot remember where we put it. When we do recover it, the relief of finding it is obscured by the realization of its curious contents.

#Inside, there are no modern devices, no archived electronic files, no flash drive, no i-anythings or e-anythings. Just letters. Many old letters written by a timeless philosopher who urges us to remember: to remember as we evolve, to remember as we progress, to remember as we improve. To remember each other.

#The eighth month’s philosophy is poignant, ageless, bittersweet, tender and very, very human. Abigail Adams may not be the most famous of sages, but her wisdom effectively resonates — surprisingly and shockingly at times — with contemporary readership while offering prudent insight to current events. August’s philosophy is rooted in memory, awareness, honesty and real time, with a little bit of sauce served on the side.

#Honored historically for her role as first lady to John Adams’ presidency, and for several well-known and well-placed sentiments, Abigail Adams’ ideas are not often recognized as constituting an independent, legitimate and weighty philosophical theory. However, hers is just that. Abigail’s entire life, and her commentary about it, is a remarkable example of Kierkegaardian authenticity. It is a primal synthesis of paradox.

#Through her immense surviving correspondence, a massive collection of letters to her beloved husband, John, we hear Abigail’s voice as she personalizes and humanizes historical events against the backdrop of familial concerns. Through her letters, we experience, as Joseph J. Ellis writes in his book, “First Family Abigail and John Adams,” how she and John were not “comfortable denying any important dimension of their respective personalities. And the more they interacted, the more they defied rigid gender categories and completed each other.”

#He continues to explain, “(a)s they were working out their new roles as husband, wife, and parents, the American colonies were being asked to work out new roles within a reconfigured British Empire.” This, he argues, “permits us to recover the messier and more layered mentality of history happening, that is as Abigail and John actually experienced it. The great public events of the time that stand front and center in the history books were only part of the story they were living, and the more private side of their story — their family life — became the lens through which they perceived and made sense of those grander events emanating from England.”

#Ellis elucidates, “Logically, Abigail should have felt torn between her two sides as a traditional New England woman and a fiercely independent personality. But she did not. The apparent contradiction felt to her like a seamless continuity. She could mend a hem while engaging you in a discussion of Macbeth’s fatal flaw. If that caused trouble for some people, that was their problem. ... She was simultaneously a dutiful wife and an intellectual equal, a lover and a friend, a heart and a mind.”

#Her ability to recognize she was a part of history in the making, while attentively addressing the emotional, social, physical, economic and spiritual needs of those around her, is inspiring, comforting and humbling. Yes, it is something worth remembering.

#Against a backdrop of historic magnitude, she tackles domestic problems, struggles with economic investments, worries over the education of her children, advocates for women’s rights and counsels her husband in political matters. As Ellis points out, her ideas are creative, farsighted and, well, revolutionary.

#It is well known that she reminded John in March 1776 to “Remember the Ladies” while contemplating the principles of a new nation’s independence. She urges him, “Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or representation.”

#And, also from the book “My Dearest Friend, Letters of Abigail and John Adams,” edited by Margaret Hogan and C. James Taylor, we hear her visionary thoughts expressed to John in a letter dated August 14, 1776: “If we mean to have Heroes Statesmen and Philosophers, we should have learned women. The world perhaps would laugh at me, and accuse me of vanity, but you I know have a mind too enlarged and liberal to disregard the Sentiment. If much depends as is allowed upon the early Education of youth and the first principals which are instilld take the deepest root, great benefit must arise from literary accomplishments in women.”

#Abigail’s philosophy is not limited to a particular space and time; it is a transcendent reflection, contemplation and theory with great contemporary relevance. For those of us trying to raise children in an uncertain and unfair world, she commiserates with us in our struggles.

#In 1783, she wrote, “I have a thousand fears for my dear boys as they rise into Life.” Moreover, in a letter to John in 1797, she recounts her incensed reaction to a schoolmaster’s limited application of the principles of liberty and equality. Appealing to the sensibilities of the person in question, she asks: Is denying educational instruction to a person based upon the skin color adhering to “the Christian Principle of doing to others, as we would have others do to us?”

#She addresses economic inequality, misplaced adherence to material wealth, struggles with virtues (or vice) within the folly of human behavior. Her philosophy constantly reminds us that this folly is not just theoretical, it is composed of real characters, real people. Our decisions affect real people; our beliefs influence our actions and determine our value system.

#Therefore, Abigail’s August philosophy urges us to remember. To remember the ladies, the less fortunate, the heroes and the sacrifices that are made — not only on the battlefield, but also on the home front when we own our principles and put them into action. She recognizes the gravity of the micro representations of the macrocosm within our communities. Her philosophy demands we remember the children, the marginalized and the less fortunate. To remember, amid the hustle of modern-day living, that fortitude, kindness, strength of character and humor never lose their relevance. To remember we are part of history in the making. August reminds us to remember, so that when others review our place in our own space and time, we, too, will be worth remembering.

[Jennifer Lemma is a philosophy instructor at Walla Walla Community College.]

An infinite universe?

If the universe is infinite now it has always been infinite. This is the opinion of many astronomers today as can be concluded from the following series of interviews, but the opinions differ much more than I had expected. Many astronomers do not have a clear opinion on this matter. Others have a clear opinion, but very different from the majority. Detailed arguments by two experts on general relativity are also included. Observations show that the universe is flat, i.e. the curvature is zero within the small uncertainty of measurements. This implies an infinite universe, though most probably we will never know that for certain. For comparison with the recent interviews, opinions during the past 2300 years since Aristotle about the universe being finite or infinite have been collected from literature, and it appears that the scientists often had quite definite opinions.

Astrosociology: Interwiews about an infinite universe by Erik Høg

The Feynman lectures on on line for free

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Less than a year...New Horizons' Pluto countdown


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bolivia's lithium trains are rusting away

"The Beautiful Junkyard Where Bolivia’s Trains Were Left to Rot"


Alex Davies
August 7th, 2014


Booming global demand for smartphones, tables, laptops, and electric cars has led to increased interest in Bolivia, home to the world’s largest deposit of the lithium needed for the batteries that power those devices.

It’s not the first time natural resources have attracted foreign interest to Bolivia, which celebrates 189 years of independence from Spain this week. Near the end of the 19th century, British engineers came to the country with the Antofagasta and Bolivia Railway Company, which was building a railroad to carry minerals from the Bolivian capital of La Paz to Chilean ports on the Pacific Coast. In the 1940s, the mining industry declined, leading to the creation of the Cementerio de Trenes, or train graveyard.

Just outside the city of Uyuni, in southwestern Bolivia, dozens of abandoned steam trains are scattered around as if a giant child dropped them there. The “cemetery” marked only by a small sign that explains very little, has become a minor attraction for tourists visiting the nearby Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. The trains have been buffeted by wind for decades, just a few miles an enormous natural stockpile of salt, and it’s obvious. They’re rusted out, long ago stripped for useful parts. Covered in graffiti—some of it pretty good—they’re strangely beautiful relics of an industry left behind.