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Friday, April 14, 2006

World Class Federalists is moving, becoming even more World Class

Hello faithful readers. As of now, World Class Federalists in Paradise is moving to Typepad, and our new address will be www.worldclassfederalists.com!

This is an exciting step up for us. I have redesigned the site a bit, so it should be a little easier on the eyes, and we'll have a lot more functionality (like categories). Please update your bookmarks, links, etc., and thanks for your tireless support!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"You want me to do it!"

There has been a lot of buzz lately on the so-called "Gospel of Judas" -- a 1700 year-old apocryphal manuscript that was discovered in the 1970s and which has recently been translated into english. This all seems nicely timed to coincide with the May release of the Da Vinci Code film, as Bainbridge notes.

The main idea of the text is that Judas was not so bad after all, since he was merely a cog (and a highly essential one) in God's magnificent New Testament plan. This seems to have been an attractive idea to the Gnostics and Cainites (who made it their business to rehabilitate Biblical villains). Of course, this was a central (and controversial) theme in Jesus Christ Superstar:
Jesus
Peter will deny me in just a few hours
Three times will deny me - and that's not all I see
One of you here dining, one of my twelve chosen
Will leave to betray me -

Judas
Cut out the dramatics! You know very well who -

Jesus
Why don't you go do it?

Judas
You want me to do it!

Jesus
Hurry they are waiting

Judas
If you knew why I do it . . .

Jesus
I don't care why you do it!

Judas
To think I admired you
For now I despise you

Jesus
You liar - you Judas

Judas
You wanted me to do it!
What if I just stayed here
And ruined your ambition?
Christ you deserve it!
So why is this such an enduring idea? I think it stems from two fairly natural philosophical instincts: anti-compatibilism (i.e., pre-determination is incompatible with free will) and consequentialism (rightness of act depends on goodness of consequence). Both of these, I wish we could kick.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

is it true?

South Park this week trashes the American media for failing to stand up for free speech in the Danish cartoon controversy, and claims that Comedy Central would not let them air a depiction of Muhammed in this week's episode. Of course, the Prophet has been on the show before, in the "Super Best Friends" episode from Season 5:


That episode originally aired July 4, 2001, but has been rerun normally, as far as I know, for years. I'm uncertain whether it has aired since the cartoon controversy began.

Update: Comedy Central execs admit they pussed out.

Update 2: The South Park Scriptorium has the clip that Comedy Central censored here. But it's probably a fake. (H/T: Jim Lindgren)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

mr. taliban

I've come across this message from the Yale Admissions office re: Mr. Hashemi, the former Taliban spokesperson who is now a non-degree Special Student at that fine institution. Personally, I haven't thought this was a big deal. It isn't Yale's job to judge the moral character of their candidates. From my understanding, the Special Student program is designed to admit people with non-traditional backgrounds who have academic potential and who can contribute something unique to the University. Though this guy may not have been my preferred choice if I were on their committee, his admission seems perfectly rationalizable.

But, what a pretentious bunch of gibberish and double-speak Yale's email is. I've commented on some of the sillier bits (emphasis mine):
Memorandum
From: Jeffrey Brenzel, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions
To: Alumni School Committee Directors

On February 26, the New York Times Magazine ran a cover story profiling Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, an individual who is currently taking undergraduate courses part-time at Yale in a special student program that does not award Yale degrees. Mr. Hashemi is a former member of the Taliban party in Afghanistan. At the age of 21, he visited the United States as a spokesperson for the Afghan government, a few months before the events of 9/11.
Could we skirt the truth a little more? This description makes it sound like he was a spokesperson for the Afghan government who just happened to be a Taliban party member, as opposed to a representative of the Taliban regime, actively engaged in defending their regressive policies. Imagine the difference between a Nazi party member who represented the German government vs. a Nazi party spokesperson who defended the detention and execution of Jews.
Following the invasion of coalition forces, he escaped Afghanistan and was later cleared twice by the State Department, both for a temporary visa and then a student visa granting entry to the United States.

The original profile in the New York Times has produced other media stories, including some that have been critical of Yale for allowing a former Taliban member to take courses here. If you have seen this coverage, you may have questions about it, or you may receive questions from applicants, parents, school counselors, or other alumni in your ASC area.

Within the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, we are responding to inquiries with two comments. First, some articles have stated that Mr. Hashemi is occupying a place in Yale College that would otherwise be available to another undergraduate student from the United States or abroad. This is not the case. Mr. Hashemi has not been admitted to Yale College as a degree-seeking undergraduate.
This is highly misleading. Just because Hashemi isn't a degree-seeking undergraduate doesn't mean he isn't occupying the spot of another student. The non-degree Special Student program is limited in size, and he is there in place of someone else. It is also not uncommon for non-degree students to apply as degree students after a year or two, and if they have been successful in their coursework, they have a very strong advantage in the admissions process. Aside from the obvious advantage that the admissions committee sees success at Yale as correlating strongly with success at Yale, non-degree students don't have to go through the regular pool of over 20,000 freshman and transfer applicants. They instead are selected by the Special Student admissions committee, which has their own dean as a member. Hashemi has said he intends to apply to the degree program in just such a way. This opportunity is certainly being denied someone else.
Rather, he obtained approval last spring to take courses part-time as a non-degree special student. A small number of non-traditional students use this program to earn a limited number of college level credits. If Mr. Hashemi applies for a degree-granting, we would review that application in due course.
See comments above. Also, I presume that should be "degree-granting program."
Second, in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, we are following well-established policy of not commenting publicly on Mr. Hashemi’s case, just as we refrain from commenting publicly on anyone who is a potential candidate for admission. In your work as an admissions volunteer representing the office, we ask that you not make public comments as well, unless you simply seek to clarify the point that Mr. Hashemi has not been admitted or enrolled in a degree-granting program at Yale.
So the official response is not to comment at all, except to distance Yale from the guy as much as possible. What a lack of loyalty. Where's the, "We refuse to comment on the specific factors that went into Mr. Hashemi's application review, but we stand by this and every other admissions decision, under the criteria outlined in [wherever the non-degree Special Student admisisons criteria are outlined], any public controversies notwithstanding."?
We know that with respect to his presence on campus, views will differ sharply and that you may hear from some who feel strongly on both sides of this issue. You may also have strong feelings of your own, and I would welcome hearing your feedback or having you forward to me correspondence that you receive from others.

I would also just like you to know that we deeply appreciate the enormous efforts that you and your interviewers have made to reach this year’s record number of 21,100 applicants for places in the Class of 2010. In the last two ASC newsletters, I have reported some impressions of my first year as Dean, and I will share some further thoughts with you when we complete the regular decision cycle.

Yours for Yale,
Jeffrey Brenzel
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions
Yes, he actually signed, "Yours for Yale." What a tool.

the day the music died

This is not an april fool's joke. Suge Knight has failed to show at yet another hearing in his $107 million litigation with imprisoned drug dealer Michael Harris, whose lawyer calls this "a death sentence for Death Row Records." Knight's attorneys appear to be mounting the Ostrich Defense -- that is, they're sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring the neverending string of adverse rulings.

Tupac needs to come out of hiding and right this sinking ship, or his albums are going to end up remixed by P. Diddy.

Oh please, please, let this case go to the Supreme Court.

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