Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stop-Motion Star Wars

Comin' to us from Robot Chicken, it's Ponda Baba's back story: thirty seconds of pure pathos!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Philosopher

"The acts of a morally weak person are accompanied by appetite, but not by choice, while a morally strong person acts from choice, but not from appetite." (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1111b12)

I think the guy has a point, and I'm inclined to believe him. After all, appeasing my appetite for pizza would lead to health problems, and that would be bad if not immoral. But choosing to eat vegetables would be good for me. I got an appetite for mega mammon, but rather than just grab it from the nearest cash drawer, I must choose to show up to and work a job that's less than satisfying.

Aristotle would say that appetitive acts are voluntary, i.e. morally accountable. What do you think? Does it matter whether one acts from appetite or choice? Is one really better than the other? Does the Christian always act by choice rather than appetite? Can a person have an appetite for something morally virtuous or excellent?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Note to Self

Funny, isn't it, how at important moments in our lives certain authority figures make us write notes or letters to ourselves? Letters to be opened a few years down the road...reminders of our past selves and our aspirations for the future. My senior English teacher Art Holcomb introduced me to the concept. The thing about these letters is that they're always surprise assignments (and sometimes require a certain degree of BS, at least when I have to do them).

I remember Diane Mezger making us TIME Team Leaders of 2000 write down 25 personal goals, goals for the summer and life in general. They had to be stated in the present tense, however, as if already accomplished. I wrote down the requisite number of affirmatives and filed ‘em. I saved that piece of paper and read my goals not too long ago. Some, like "I light up fine tobacco whenever I please" existed in a state of ongoing fulfillment (although right now this goal is suspended). Others remained more or less unaccomplished. But surprisingly, I still wanted to achieve most of the things on the list even more than I had when I'd written them down. My hastily jotted notes turned out to be truth sprung from my soul.

Then there's the essay I wrote for my application to UT: "The Ideal Classmate". That was the required topic, so I gave it my best shot and sent it in. I translated the qualities of an actual ideal professor into an imagined ideal student. But I reread it today, and I was struck by how much truth it contained. The words literally described an ideal classmate, but even more, seemed to embody my convictions about the ideal educational experience. The soul truth of the essay struck me the same way my old list of goals had. I believed these words more now than I had when I composed them. I wanted to shout "Hell yeah! that's what I believe!" Then came the question: had my subsequent decisions agreed with what I wrote? Was I living it?

"In the fall of 2006, I took my first collegiate government class. Ms.
Olivia Garcia—an enthusiastic Latina with a strong liberal streak—taught the class and proved to be one of the most beneficial instructors I have ever taken. Her socio-ethnic background, political philosophy, and enthusiasm for government could not have been more different from mine. Although we had little in common, I learned a great deal from her. Our differences drove me to not only tackle the coursework but to expand my paradigm as well. Those from whom I stand to learn the most are most often those with whom I have the least in common, and I believe the qualities that made Ms. Garcia a great instructor would also make the ideal classmate."

Tastes like candy coating at first, but there's a delicious, crunchy, chocolate-covered peanut of truth at the center.