Monday, August 27, 2007

Return to the source

Philosophers' Carnival #52, at the home of our fearless leader (who seems to have had some work done - looks nice!).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Michael Frede RIP

According to Leiter Reports, Michael Frede has died. Frede was a scholar of ancient philosophy, and probably the first to get me to see how the debates in that area could be directly relevant to the present. He didn't lean on the tired we-are-all-merely-footnotes-to-Plato line, or look down his nose at rootless moderns who abandon the Eternal Philosophical Problems because they're too hard or not fashionable enough. He simply discussed the issues in a way which brought out the continuing relevance of classical texts. I'm not extensively familiar with his work, but one of my favorite books is Burnyeat & Frede, The Original Sceptics: A Controversy (available used from Amazon for a mere pittance). I also have this one, but I haven't gotten to it yet.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Philosophers' Carnival #51, that is. Check it out here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Death must be a cinephile

Edward Yang wasn't enough for him, so he comes back and picks up Bergman and Antonioni on the same day. What, are they having a film festival up there? These things come in threes, I hope. Otherwise Wim Wenders better start looking over his shoulder.

Naturally most of the memorial fuss has been made over Bergman (though Yang's passing did not go unnoticed in spots). Antonioni was uneven in a way that Bergman was not. I haven't seen Red Desert, but Zabriskie Point is a mere curiosity. Blow-up and The Passenger are fine films, but for me they leave a lingering aftertaste of self-conscious artiness. (I should say "left," as I haven't seen them for a while; maybe I'll give them another chance.) Il Grido is an early one which I recommend.

L'Avventura, however, was a real kick in the head. It's tough sledding (it got booed at Cannes), but it's a real milestone in cinema. 1960 must have been some year, with Breathless too. I find it very difficult to say what I got out of these films (there's a reason I'm not a film critic!), but it has something to do with close attention to the nature of time (and the experience of same). No doubt this reflects the influence of existentialism on the Continent.

As for Bergman, his consistency is remarkable. I just saw Smiles of a Summer Night a while back, one of his breakthrough films (1955), and Faithless (2000) was just as good (actually, Liv Ullmann directed this one, from Bergman's script). I look forward to seeing Saraband (2003); the library has it but I haven't gotten to it yet.

RIP to both; but Death better cut it out or all we'll have left is Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Gagne with a spoon

Hope everyone's having a nice summer. Here are some reflections on a particular summer activity of great importance.

I see the Red Sox couldn't let the trading deadline go by without doing something. Unfortunately, I'm not sure they did the right thing. What they did was trade starter Kason Gabbard to the Rangers along with a couple of minor-leaguers, for closer Eric Gagne. Now Gagne is a fine closer, no doubt about it (as the Red Sox noticed when they faced him earlier this season and failed to score). But they have a fine closer already, not to mention a set-up man with an ERA of 0.87, plus a number of other quality relievers (they lead the majors in bullpen ERA). So I'm not sure that Mr. Gagne won't be a bit redundant. On the other hand, they did announce that Brendan Donnelly won't be returning after all, but will instead undergo season-ending elbow surgery. Plus they traded Joel Pineiro to the Cardinals for a player whose identity, in this context anyway, has yet to be determined. So there's that. Still, Gabbard had done very well, and while it seems that when Curt Schilling rejoins the team this weekend, there won't be a place for Gabbard in the rotation (what with Jon Lester's return), I hate to lose him. If any starter goes down, they'll be stuck with Julian Tavarez, a man who has Middle Reliever written all over him (10.80 ERA in his last three starts). Tavarez starts tonight, in Gabbard's place – let's see how he does tonight.

Now the Sox had also apparently been trying to land Jermaine Dye from the White Sox, who is admittedly having an off year, but he still runs rings around the Red Sox reserve outfielders Wily Mo Pena and Eric Hinske, both of whom have spent the season hovering limply around the Mendoza Line. (The former in particular fails to impress me. So he's a big guy and can hit it a long way on the rare occasions that he happens to tag one. Big deal. IIRC, even the time he went 5 for 5, 4 of them were seeing-eye grounders.) I think I heard they had even settled on Pena plus X for Dye, but they couldn't agree on X. Too bad; they need some more pop from the outfield bats, given the off seasons from Coco Crisp (gotta love that name though) and J. D. Drew.

So they went with the Gagne trade instead. It may all work out, if the hitting picks up, or if Hideki Okajima gets hit by a meteorite. At least it won't be as bad as the infamous L**** A******* – J*** B****** trade (*shudder*). But if Gabbard wins the 2010 Cy Young, don't come crying to me.

UPDATE [8/2]: Tavarez did okay, 3 runs, 7 hits through 5 innings. Back to the bullpen with you though! As for Wily Mo Pena, the man is an LOB machine:

3rd: man on first, no out: pops up
4th: first and second, 2 out: grounds into force
6th: first and second, 2 out: grounds into force
7th: bases loaded, 1 out: pops up, infield fly rule

Total LOB: 8