Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It (Sort of) Makes Sense When You Think about It

Biola University, a conservative evangelical university in southern California, is giving its Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth to Antony Flew, one of the staunchest defenders of atheism in the past century. Of course, Flew is no longer an atheist.

I recall some people mocking Biola last year for giving the Phillip E. Johnson award to (who else?) Phillip E. Johnson. I wonder if those people will mock this year. Seriously. Would they claim that Biola is just giving the award to Flew because he converted from atheism (in part because of things like intelligent design -- read the interview in which he discusses this)? Would Biola have given the award to Flew even if he were still an atheist?

Monday, March 27, 2006

In Which I Wonder if Rowling Alludes to Socrates

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Rowling introduces the character of Luna Lovegood. Luna is loony but proves to be a good friend to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Her father publishes a newspaper called The Quibbler, which ends up playing an important role in the story: It is the vehicle by which an important truth is made known. However, it is maligned throughout the novel for its reputation for printing pointless conspiracy theories and other nonsense; in short, for quibbling instead of employing words for more serious matters, like the oh-so-serious Daily Prophet. (OED's first definition of "quibble" is "to pun, to play on words.")

In Aristophanes' play Frogs, we find the following description of Socrates:

So it is refined not by Socrates
to sit and chatter
casting aside the pursuits of the Muses
and neglecting what's most important
in the art of tragedy.
But to spend time idly
in pompous words
and frivolous word-scraping
is the act of a man going crazy.

(trans. Dillon)

Here we have the perfect description of a quibbler. (Klein, in his commentary on the Meno, actually refers to Socrates in the Aristophanes passage as a quibbler.) Aristophanes -- who was at least not bosom buddies with Socrates -- describes Socrates as engaging in idle chatter. But if we take Plato's word, Socrates was not interested in chatter but in seeking the truth. Of course, it is easy to see how Socrates, who was always talking (discussing), could be mistaken for a word-scraper, or, in general, how one who seeks (even dispenses) the truth by conversing with others could be mistaken for a quibbler.

(I hope I need not remind my readers that Rowling has a degree in classics.)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

In Which I Guess that All the Harry Potter Novels So Far Lead Up to This Speech by Dumbledore about Voldemort

". . . he was in such a hurry to mutilate his own soul, he never paused to understand the incomparable power of a soul that is untarnished and whole" (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, p. 511).

Rowling's genius has now exposed millions of people all over the world to this beautiful idea.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's Like They're Animals

Our cats. I woke up this morning to find that one of them (Rosemary, I'm looking in your direction) had vomitted all over a placemat on the table. I left it just in case the culprit wanted to have it later for a snack. Sometimes they do, and it saves me having to clean up.

"I for one am all for scraping ancient barrels"

On the publication of the 500th volume in the Loeb Classical Library, A.N. Wilson has thoughts on the significance of Greek and Latin today.

HT: Michael Gilleland

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

In Which I Complain about the Froufrou Naming of Colors

So I bought this jacket for my wife for her birthday. According to, the color of the coat I ordered is called "persimmon," and in the color sample "persimmon" looks quite red, does it not?

When I received the jacket today, I discovered that persimmon is actually orange. Now I have no idea if persimmons are orange, and I really could care less. But it would have been much clearer if the Weatherproof jacket company had actually named the color of the coat "orange."