Friday, July 20, 2007

I Just Live Here

It ain't my world, I just live here. Somedays, the world seems a little too weird not to have been conceived of by the Cosmic Comic. A few news stories:

From Gwydion's Things I Love and/or Hate comes this tale out of the Washington Post of an armed robbery, almost.

A grand feast of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp was winding down, and a group of friends was sitting on the back patio of a Capitol Hill home, sipping red wine. Suddenly, a hooded man slid in through an open gate and put the barrel of a handgun to the head of a 14-year-old guest.

"Give me your money, or I'll start shooting," he demanded, according to D.C. police and witness accounts. The five other guests, including the girls' parents, froze -- and then one spoke. "We were just finishing dinner," Cristina "Cha Cha" Rowan, 43, blurted out. "Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"

The intruder took a sip of their Chateau Malescot St-Exupéry and said, "Damn, that's good wine." The girl's father, Michael Rabdau, 51, who described the harrowing evening in an interview, told the intruder, described as being in his 20s, to take the whole glass. Rowan offered him the bottle. The would-be robber, his hood now down, took another sip and had a bite of Camembert cheese that was on the table.

Then he tucked the gun into the pocket of his nylon sweatpants. "I think I may have come to the wrong house," he said, looking around the patio of the home in the 1300 block of Constitution Avenue NE. "I'm sorry," he told the group. "Can I get a hug?"

Rowan, who lives in Falls Church and works part time at her children's school, stood up and wrapped her arms around him. Then it was Rabdau's turn. Then his wife's. The other two guests complied.

"That's really good wine," the man said, taking another sip. He had a final request: "Can we have a group hug?" The five adults surrounded him, arms out. With that, the man walked out with a crystal wine glass in hand, filled with Chateau Malescot. No one was hurt, and nothing was stolen.
Chateau Malescot St-Exupéry, yes, a fine choice. For armed robbery, you definitely need a big red. Now if it had been, say, embezzlement, you definitely would have wanted to go with something lighter. I mean, they don't call it "white" collar crime for nothing.

Confused, Maybe Not sent me this one about Daniel Kaufman, star pitcher for the Tel Aviv Lightning who had a no-hitter going against the Netanya Tigers at the opening of the new Sportek Field until it was broken up by a solo home run in the seventh. Tuesday night marked the grand opening of Sportek Field in Tel Aviv so Tel Aviv pitcher Daniel Kaufman commemorated the night with a dominating one-hitter, leading the Lightning to a 5-1 win over the Netanya Tigers.
Kaufman tossed a no-hitter through six innings before giving up a solo homerun to Dominican Julio Guerrero in the top of the seventh. The right-handed Georgian struck out nine batters while walking just one in 6 1/3 innings of work to earn his second win of the season.
Israeli professional baseball is much like it is here except that when they hit the ball, they run to third. That and after your seventh game, they take about an inch and a half off the end of your bat. Look for Kaufman to lead Tel Aviv to the Vorld Series. Oh, and when they say that Guerrero is a Dominican, they are not refering to his country of birth, he really is a Catholic friar.

And then from the "irony can be so ironic" file comes this pointed out to me by coyotesqrl from Eric Schwitzgebel of the wonderful Mind Splinters.
Why don't ethics professors behave better?

If you spent your whole life trying to work out how to be ethical, you would think you'd be more moral in everyday life. Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel has found that this isn't the case, and asks the question "Why don't ethics professors behave better than they do?". Initially, this was based on a hunch, but Schwitzgebel, with colleague Joshua Rust, has begun to do research into the question. They've found some surprising results.

At a recent philosophy conference, he offered chocolate to anyone who filled in a questionnaire asking whether ethicists behaved better than other philosophers. It wasn't long before an ethics professor stole a chocolate without filling in a questionnaire. (This reminds me of a famous psychology study that found that trainee priests on their way to give a talk on 'The Good Samaritan' mostly ignored someone in need if they were in a hurry!).

When the results came in, ethicists rated other ethicists as behaving better, but other philosophers rated them as no more moral than everyone else.
I heard it said that a significant proportion of psychology majors are really attempts to self-diagnose. Maybe it's the same sort of thing here. In the same line, I will never forget hearing one philosopher considered as "that guy teaching ethics is like a blind man teaching aesthetics."

Ethicists stealing chocolate. Maybe they thought it would be helpful in case they needed a quick caffeine boost should they come across run-away trains and had to quickly decide whether to pull the lever and send it towards groups of infants or their sick mothers both of whom are tied to the tracks. In that case, taking the time to fill out the form would have led to unecessary death and taking the chocolate would not only maximize overall utility, but make sure the care-based relationships received ample consideration and the right to life of innocents would be figured in.

Yeah, I just live here.