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Parableman



Some say I speak in parables. The reality is far more complex. Within these walls you may find musings on philosophy, theology, politics, and Christian apologetics (without parables -- I'm a much more competent straight-talker than storyteller).



Published: 2008-02-28T12:05:22-05:00

 



Christian Carnival CCXIII

2008-02-28T12:05:22-05:00

        Want this badge?The 213th Christian Carnival is up at Jevlir Caravansary. Henry had some serious server problems this week and had to host it at one of his other blogs as a result, but he now has it up, and it looks to be a pretty good edition.



Obama and Judicial Appointments

2008-02-27T21:48:54-05:00

The word is out that Senator Barack Obama's judicial advisory team (assuming this report is accurate) takes him to be interested in judicial nominees who come across like John Roberts in person but who would decide cases like Justices Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan. [hat tip: Orin Kerr] Obviously he doesn't mean they'd come across sounding like a moderate conservative, or it would be hard to get Democrats to support his nominees. He means someone who doesn't have much of a record in terms of ideology but who seems like a well-qualified judge. But he also doesn't mean someone who would be moderated in liberalism the way John Roberts is moderated in his conservatism. Otherwise he wouldn't name Justices Brennan and Marshall, two of the most liberal justices ever on the Supreme Court (by pretty much anyone's standards). So he wants nominees who are actually extremely liberal but sound moderate. Moderation within judicial liberalism ends up with something like Justice Breyer, the one justice of the four liberals on the Supreme Court who is most likely to vote with the conservatives on constitutional issues of any moment. (Justices Ginsburg and Souter often vote with conservatives on statutory interpretation, but that's only when little of ideological importance is at stake.) Moderation in judicial liberalism does not lead to appointments of judges who will vote the way Justices Marshall and Brennan did. For political reasons, this strategy does make sense. If you want to replace Justice Stevens, for example, with someone even further to the left, then you better find someone who isn't obviously further to the left, or it would be much harder to confirm them. I'm not going to dispute such a strategy. Both sides in the current environment need nominees who come across the way Roberts did if they want to get anything like a strong confirmation vote. I think McCain would need to be even more conscious of this than a Democratic president would, given the Democratic control of the Senate, but the Senate is still divided enough that the Republicans could present problems for a Democratic nominee if they really want to (and partly because the Gang of 16 was successful, which McCain would then have himself to thank for). But even if this strategy makes political sense, I think it shows something about Senator Obama. He doesn't say he'd appoint real moderates in order to get them confirmed. He wants real liberals but knows there isn't enough popular support for them to get them through the current Senate. The conservatives I've been reading who are arguing for appointing someone like Roberts in order to get a chance at confirmation are arguing for someone just like Roberts, not someone who sounds like Roberts but actually would vote like Judge Robert Bork. I do worry about whether this counts as deception. But whatever you think about that issues,. this is yet another clear sign that Barack Obama is no moderate, despite the popular view of him. It continues to amaze me how far left of center he is, and yet so many people see him as the sort of person who would be able to break down the gridlock in Congress and get genuine conservatives to work with him on proposals that are anathema to them. I just don't get it. I had to laugh at the last line of the Emily Bazelon Slate piece I linked to above. The judicial strategy of sounding moderate but turning out to be quite a bit to the left of moderate wouldn't exactly be a new tactic for Senator Obama.



No Longer Visiting This Planet (Larry Norman, 1947-2008)

2008-02-26T23:06:04-05:00

Larry Norman has died. Some called him the grandfather of Christian rock music. He helped develop it before it got all commercialized and processed, and many of the earliest Christian rock musicians (Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, Keith Green, The Second Chapter of Acts) were at least at some time all within his circle. His music was often cheesy but in a fun way, and it clearly challenged the status quo in evangelicalism in many good ways. It was funny when I walked into my department a number of years ago and heard "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus?" playing very loudly through the hall, expecting that maybe our one evangelical professor had it playing (although he's not the type to play Christian music loudly so the whole department can hear). But it turned out to be a different professor, one who grew up in an evangelical home but is in fact an atheist. He had rediscovered Larry Norman on Napster and downloaded a whole bunch of his albums, and he was playing them loudly to illustrate the excellent music he'd grown up with. He wasn't in the least shy about proclaiming his appreciation for this outspoken evangelical rock musician whose lyrics were quite explicitly evangelistic. Larry Norman had a hard life in many ways. Despite his significant influence, he never had much commercial success compared with the next generation of Christian rock (e.g. Amy Grant, Petra, Michael W. Smith, White Heart, Steve Taylor). He never became a mainstream artist or even a mainstream CCM artist in many ways, even though most early CCM musicians saw him as an important influence and owed him a great debt for helping get Christian rock going in the first place. He had heart trouble for decades, and to top it all off he had serious relational difficulties with several people close to him, the details of which too often made the rumor rounds in the public domain. His heart problems finally caught up with him on Sunday. But whatever else is true of Larry Norman, he had a big impact on a lot of people, and I've probably been influenced by him indirectly in ways I don't even know about. I never listened to him much as one of my own favorites, but my brother Joel absolutely loved his stuff, so I have some familiarity with his music, and some of the people I did listen to growing up were directly influenced by him. Larry was very nice to my brother, and I appreciate that a lot. Joel was in a college band called Mustard Seed that some people thought had all the signs of having a decent chance of becoming a hot new CCM act, just as Jars of Clay had done a few years earlier from the same school. (I won't comment on how Jars of Clay treated Mustard Seed when they had a chance to meet them, however.) My brother had put together a bootleg called We Wish You A Larry Christmas. Many people would have been upset, but Larry thought it was great, and he adopted the bootleg and began to produce it officially himself. When my brother died in 1997, Larry did a free concert at his college as a tribute and performed one of my brother's own songs (Friendship's End) on a tribute CD some of Joel's college friends made after he died. His version isn't as good as Mustard Seed's, but it was a nice gesture. [I can't sing Larry's praises fully on this score, however. He later put that song on one of his own albums, and I have to think an administrative error took place, because he didn't give Joel any credit for it. Given how he'd previously treated him, this couldn't have been a deliberate attempt to take credit for my brother's work, even if it was disappointing to find out about.] I've already seen several good tributes to Larry's life by people who know and appreciate a lot more about Larry's music than I can do justice to, so I'll refer you to those: Charles Norman, Larry's brother Internet Monk my friend Gnu at Wildebeest's Wardrobe Mark Joseph (at, of all places, the Huffington Post) Steve Camp Jeff Smith posts Randy Stonehill's response I may add more as I discover them.



Supererogation and Christian Ethics

2008-02-25T10:53:23-05:00

In a comment on this post, Kenny Pearce directed me to Robert Adams' paper "Christian Liberty", which appears in Philosophy and the Christian Faith, ed. Thomas V. Morris, a book I happen to have. I had been making the claim that a Christian ethical theory that fits with the biblical texts requires us to be perfect, as God is perfect. It thus allows for no actions that are what philosophers call supererogatory. A supererogatory act is supposed to be something that would be a wonderful thing to do but is far beyond what you can be expected to do. As I'd been saying in the post I linked to, I don't think Jesus believed in such acts. The Sermon on the Mount seems to me to preclude such a category. Since I think the Sermon on the Mount accurately captures moral truth, I reject the notion of supererogation.Adams says that a Christian ethical view needs to allow for supererogation to capture the sense of options in Christian life. There's no other way to account for Paul's insistence that Christians are free in Christ and no longer slaves, that Christians are friends of God and no longer in servitude. I have two responses, one exegetical and the other philosophical.The exegetical point is that I think he misconstrues Paul's point. Paul isn't saying that we are free from God's command. The freedom is first of all a freedom from sin. It's a freedom to serve God, which is put in slavery language. Christians are no longer enslaved to sin but are instead enslaved to God. This picks up on the language of Exodus. The people of Israel were freedom from slavery to Pharoah to become slaves of God. The Hebrew term in question is often translated as "worship", and so translations often say that Israel is freed from slavery to Pharoah to go worship God. But the verb is the same. It's a movement from slavery to Pharaoh to slavery to God. God is the master. It's just that God is a master who loves his people and wants what's best for them, while Pharaoh is just taking advantage of them. The parallel language in Paul's epistles about Christians being freed slavery from sin to become enslaved to God should be no surprise given the old covenant antecedent. Freedom in Christ is slavery to God. So I don't see how the movement from slavery to freedom involves moral permissibility to do as we wish provided that we meet some minimal moral threshold. It in fact binds Christians to serve God fully and completely, to surrender any self-directed goal in favor of becoming like God, having a heart that values what God values, having motivations that line up with God's will, and acting in a way that a morally perfect being would act. This is in fact what the Sermon on the Mount enjoins. "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect", an echo of Leviticus 18, which says "Be holy, as I am holy."Now this doesn't mean that there aren't options in Christian living. As Adams points out, there are two ways of generating options. One way is supererogation, which allows for the less-than-perfect to be morally permissible. That's what I don't see Jesus allowing for. The other way is what Adams calls indifferent actions. These are things that are equally good, and so we have the option of choosing whichever of the equally good things we will do. If there really are equally good things, all things considered, then I have no problem with those.I'm not sure they will easily occur, though, and Adams seems to agree. He just says it's because of nuances in ethical importance that may play a role. I can imagine he has in mind things like the fact that two actions might be equally good but that one of them involves going against my natural tendency and thus allows me to develop a trait that I ought to work on. He might have in mind two actions that, other things being equal, are equally good, but one of them involves a better fit with my special obligations to my family. In such cases, it's pretty clear to me that the one that is better, all things considered, is morally obligatory. So these a[...]



Christian Carnival CCXIII Plug

2008-02-24T22:18:48-05:00

         The 213th Christian Carnival will be taking place this coming Wednesday at Jevlir Caravansary. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers. For examples of past carnivals, see the not-recently-updated Matt Jones's list of previous Christian Carnivals or the up-to-date but less-informative christiancarnival.com list. To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Select only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from the last Wednesday through the coming Tuesday). Then do the following:



Cosmological Constants, Inference to the Best Explanation, and Many Universes

2008-02-23T17:07:18-05:00

Scientists keep discovering the number 10^122 occurring in mathematical relationships in the natural world [hat tip: GeekPress]. The last time this happened, it was when 10^4 kept appearing in both electromagnetic and strong/weak nuclear contexts, and it turns out that it signaled a common relationship between the two. So scientists are concluding that the best explanation is some common, underlying factor that explains why the same ratio keeps coming up.Now here's what I'm wondering. If we're just one universe among a huge number, and the constants in each universe are different, then we just happen to be the universe with these constants. So why assume some common explanation for why the constants are the ones we've got? Doesn't the multiple universe explanation make the search for a common explanation otiose? At least that's what you'll hear if you try to make an inference to the best explanation when the constants happen to be in the narrow range that allow for the development of life. So what's different about this inference to the best explanation when both arguments involve what cosmological constants we happen to find ourselves with?



Obama and Infanticide

2008-02-22T12:06:57-05:00

Barack Obama's opposition as an Illinois State Senator to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act has been making the rounds, with a lot of people overstating their case on both sides. Some conservatives are taking this as a sign that Obama thinks infanticide is morally ok, and some liberals are acting as if his approach is what any supporter of keeping abortion legal before viability should say. I'm not sure either is true, but I'm also not sure this reflects well on Obama. Here is the law. It says that if a baby is born alive, whether by intended delivery or by failed abortion, it is legally a person, a human being, a child, and an individual. It counts as born alive only if it is completely removed from the mother (ignoring an umbilical cord connection, which does not count as a sufficient connection according to this law). Partial-birth abortion is thus not ruled out, because a partial birth is not a complete removal of the fetus. As long as the birth has not fully taken place, this law threatens no actual abortion rights. Obama's reason for not supporting this ban is not because he thinks it's ok to kill a born fetus. As far as he's said, he does not actually support infanticide (and he didn't vote against the law; he just voted present, although that in itself was part of a strategy devised by Planned Parenthood of Illinois to protect pro-choice politicians from voters seeing how pro-choice they are). For his actual words, see comment 9 here. What he says is that he worries about the logic. Here is what seems to me to be his argument: 1. The Supreme Court has declared laws banning abortion before viability to be unconstitutional. 2. There is no between the moral status of a fetus inside its mother before viability and the moral status of a born baby at the same developmental stage. 3. Therefore, banning the killing of a born baby at this stage is morally tantamount to banning abortion at a pre-viability stage. (from 2) 4. Therefore, the law is unconstitutional. (from 1 and 3) This argument does not amount to supporting infanticide morally. It is merely an argument based on the constitutional issue. According to Supreme Court precedent, this law is unconstitutional, and thus it's pointless to pass it. He gives no moral argument against the ban, just a pragmatic one. So from this speech alone it's impossible to get any clear support for infanticide. Nevertheless, I think this is a terrible argument. The first premise is clearly true. I would argue that the second is also true. I see no difference in the intrinsic moral status of the fetus merely because it is contained within someone or is separate. However, I don't think 1 and 3 guarantee 4. There's no legal reason why morally inconsistent laws can't occur. You can ban something that's morally equivalent to something else that's unconstitutional to ban, as long as the first thing isn't unconstitutional to ban. But the real problem I have with the argument is his inference from 2 to 3. The standard pro-choice argument is not that a mother has a right to kill a fetus growing within her. Only the most extreme abortion-choice proponents hold such a view. The standard view is that a woman's right to control her body is morally more important than whatever rights a fetus might have. That argument allows for a fetus to have some sort of moral status such that killing it would be prima facie wrong, even if the bodily rights of the mother outweigh that. What this means is that the standard pro-choice argument does not accord a mother the right to the death of the fetus. If it survives removal, her rights have been satisfied. That means the moral status of the fetus is what kicks in to determine what you should do in such a case, and this law settles that question. It does not threaten the woman's bodily rights, at least not according to the standard justification of abortion rights.



Christian Carnival hosting schedule

2008-02-21T22:13:41-05:00

Want this badge? The Christian Carnival is still taking volunteers to host future carnivals. For more information about the Christian Carnival, you can see this post and the links therein. I'm in the process of scheduling hosts in the weeks beyond what's listed below. If you're interested in hosting, send me an email at the link at the top of the page.212 Feb 20 The Evangelical Ecologist213 Feb 27 Jevlir Caravansary214 Mar 5  Thinking Christian215 Mar 12 Fish and Cans216 Mar 19 Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet217 Mar 26 Diary of 1218 Apr 2   A Kiwi and an Emu219 Apr 9   Chasing the Wind220 Apr 16 Imago Dei221 Apr 23 Everyday Liturgy



Death Penalty and Deterrence

2008-02-20T22:15:22-05:00

I've been teaching capital punishment for the last week in my ethics class. There are two main arguments for the death penalty, and I see them as relatively independent of each other. Retributivism is the view that the death penalty is the only just punishment for premeditated murder because it is the only punishment that's proportional to the crime. A life was taken, and that is so serious that no other punishment matches up with what the murderer deserves. This sort of argument rarely occurs in public policy arguments, in my experience, even though it's the argument with much stronger philosophical support historically. I think that's probably because our culture has moved away from liking the idea that we deserve anything bad when we do wrong. Most people do accept a kind of retributivist justice when they get robbed of something they think they've earned. They just don't want to extend retributivist arguments against wrongdoing. So death penalty advocates have often relied on deterrence claims in recent decades. The only problem is that studies aiming to establish whether capital punishment deters any potential murderers from killing have been fully inconclusive. The ones with the strongest conclusions have tended to be the ones with the least credibility. The weaker the conclusion, the fewer problems critics have been able to find. This is so in both directions, and many people familiar with the literature have concluded that we can't know whether capital punishment deters, and that has left philosophers defending the death penalty trying to establish why we should retain capital punishment even if we can't show that it deters. A couple of those arguments are, I think, quite brilliant. One takes a form of Pascalian-style wagering based on the potential rewards if you bet on deterrence and win vs. if you bet on it and lost, compared with what happens if you bet on non-deterrence and ban capital punishment. There are difficulties with these arguments, but I find it fascinating that people would go to such lengths to defend the deterrence value of capital punishment because studies on deterrence are inconclusive, when the historic justification for the death penalty doesn't assume any deterrence at all. That was the state of play a few years ago. It's pretty much how all the ethics books dealing with the question leave things. It amazed me, therefore, to see that The New York Times highlighted a dozen studies in the last few years that conclude that the death penalty does deter murders, from as many as 3 to 18 murders per execution. This article was published in November. I only heard about it because Joe Carter linked to it. I didn't save a link to it at the time and had to do some careful Google searching just to located it again. I didn't see other reports of it in that searching. That surprises me, because this is huge if these studies turn out to be well-founded. It changes the whole debate about the second justification for the death penalty, and apparently it's changed the minds of a number of important figures, including Cass Sunstein, a well-left-of-center law professor who had been completely opposed to the death penalty. I haven't seen these studies, and I'm not sure I'm qualified to evaluate them fully even if I did see them, but I do know some people have criticized them, although that tells us very little. Some people will criticize anything that gives a conclusion they don't like. I'm going to be looking out for further developments on this. I don't think those who support the death penalty should abandon retributivism, but if the death penalty does deter that's worth knowing about, because those who aren't retributivists might be basing their whole evaluation of the death penalty on this one question.



Christian Carnival CCXII

2008-02-19T21:59:10-05:00

         Want this badge?The 212th Christian Carnival is up a day early at The Evangelical Ecologist. He's still taking submissions and thus adding more posts until midnight EST, so don't expect it to be complete for a couple more hours.



Judith Jarvis Thomson and the Good Samaritan

2008-02-18T21:47:54-05:00

Judith Jarvis Thomson's "A Defense of Abortion" is sometimes said to be the most-reprinted article in philosophy, and I believe it. It's one of the most influential papers in all of applied ethics, and several of the arguments Thomson makes have become standard moves in completely unrelated discussions. One of Thomson's claims is that it would be morally indecent to have an abortion in the ninth month for fairly trivial concerns but that we shouldn't expect a young teenager in her first trimester, pregnant by means of rape, to go through with a pregnancy. She thinks it would be a wonderful moral decision to choose to go through with it, but it's more than we should expect. Philosophers regularly speak this way. They find a middle ground between what is wrong and what is morally required. That range includes anything that would be morally excellent to do but not morally required. This does fit with a lot of people's moral intuitions. There are sacrifices that would be morally admirable to make, but no one is really obligated to make them. This class of actions is called supererogatory. Thomson is saying that it's supererogatory to go through with a pregnancy in some conditions, but it's morally obligatory to go through with it in other cases. What struck me as odd as I was reading the paper again this time around while preparing to teach it was her use of Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan to express this view. She says the ninth-month abortion in the above paragraph wouldn't even be an example of a Minimally Decent Samaritan. We should expect more morally. But going through a pregnancy in the other case would be an example of a Very Good Samaritan, i.e. well beyond the call of duty. I'm not going to dispute the possibility of distinguishing between a range of cases, with some supererogatory and some morally obligatory. It does seem strange to use the Good Samaritan parable to do so, however, since Jesus' point in that parable is that you ought to love your neighbor as yourself, and your neighbor is anyone in need, which means you ought to go way beyond what you thought you were obligated to do, and this is even in cases involving complete strangers whose social position means you wouldn't normally even rub shoulders with the person. In other words, Jesus is at the very least minimizing the category of supererogatory actions. He doesn't explicitly deny that there are such actions, but it's hard to avoid the impression on reading the parable that he thinks most actions philosophers would classify as supererogatory as actually morally required. That suggests an interesting response to Thomson's argument. What about those who don't hold to a view like Thomson's about supererogatory actions? What we ought to be as good as we can be? What if we ought to do as much good as we can do? Thomson's intent is to assume for the sake of argument that a fetus has full moral status and a right to life, arguing then that there are still reasons to think abortion is morally permissible under certain conditions (and as she goes it becomes clear that those conditions aren't just extreme ones like rape but include any case of failed contraception, provided that the abortion takes place early enough in the pregnancy). There are lots of places people might question her argument, but one place I hadn't thought about was to question her reliance on there being a wide range of supererogatory acts. If not, then you might concede all her other points and still oppose abortion. If you think it's morally better to go through with a pregnancy, as Thomson concedes (and many pro-choice people have since then), then once you deny supererogation you end up with a moral obligation not to have an abortion, and this has nothing to do with fetal rights (Thomson is no longer assuming for[...]



Christian Carnival CCXII Plug

2008-02-17T21:55:20-05:00

        Want this badge?The 212th Christian Carnival will be taking place this coming Wednesday at Evangelical Ecologist. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers. For examples of past carnivals, see the not-recently-updated Matt Jones's list of previous Christian Carnivals or the up-to-date but less-informative christiancarnival.com list. To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Select only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from the last Wednesday through the coming Tuesday). Then do the following:



Star Trek XI Desiderata

2008-02-16T23:02:55-05:00

The eleventh Star Trek film is currently being filmed, and I wanted to express some desires (some perhaps more likely than others) of a few things I want to see in it. I've had three longstanding problems in Star Trek history, and all three of them will be relevant for this film. I've actually wanted to express these in a blog post since I first heard they were doing this (which had to have been at least a year ago), but I never got around to it until now. 1. There are supposed to be Klingons in it, according to rumors. This film takes place between the Star Trek: Enterprise series and the original series. There's always been a problem with the look of the Klingons. In the original series, they look like humans. Then they get those funny foreheads. in the movies It's much cooler, but they needed an explanation of why the look changed. Now until Deep Space Nine came along with their Tribble time travel episode, they might have been able to say that the original series just portrayed them poorly, and they always looked like what we've seen since the first film. But once DS9 revealed that Miles O'Brien didn't recognize the original-series-era Klingons as Klingons, and Worf revealed that something had happened that Klingons don't discuss in public, the franchise had to offer an explanation. I'm glad to say that the final season of Enterprise did exactly that and did an excellent job with the explanation. Klingon DNA became altered to include human DNA in most of the population, and they projected a time period for how long they'd fix the problem that matches up with how long it took. So that one's taken care of. There is the problem that by the time of the original series the crew believed that no humans had ever seen Klingons. I haven't seen that quite explained yet. If Abrams has Klingons in a film with Kirk and Spock as young officers or cadets, then we'll need some further continuity explanations or some careful avoidance of any contact with the Klingons (which Enterprise was able to pull off a few times with Romulans that the crew never met, or at least never knew they met). We'll see if it works. They claim to be paying close attention to canon so as to avoid any problems. 2. The movie is rumored to contain time travel. I have a huge problem with Star Trek time travel that happens far too often, and I really don't want to see it in this film. Why are there all these episodes that never happened? Most of the time travel episodes end with something changing the past so that the entire episode never happened. Then why did we watch it? Why did they bother filming it? And if it never happened, why did they end up at a place where the events that never happened were able to cause the state things revert to when it becomes true that it never happened? This, of course, is not something the creators of Star Trek can really do anything about. It's just the result of a really stupid view of time travel. If someone really could come up with a story to explain why all these people keep changing the past and experiencing effects of things that never happened, while retaining a plausible theory of time travel involving a fixed timeline, then I'd be overjoyed. I'm not holding my breath, and I certainly don't think J.J. Abrams is the one to do it. But if he stays away from this problem, I'll be satisfied enough, and if he doesn't do any past-changing at all, which is a metaphysical impossibility, I'll be very happy.



My Most Current Cell Phone

2008-02-15T17:51:03-05:00

I received a message today from the college I teach at. In response to the shootings at Northern Illinois, they're implementing a third-party notification system. They give no specifics about this system, but at they end they say this: This system will be a powerful tool that we will allow us to communicate instantaneously. To maximize effectiveness, however, we will need everyone in the campus community to provide us with their most current cell phone number. Now keep in mind that this is the institution that pays two-thirds of its adjuncts something like $2175 per course without a Ph.D. and about $500 more to those with one. (They arbitrarily selected some departments to give a raise to at the beginning of this year to equal one-third. Next year they'll pick another few departments to make it two-thirds, and the year after will lead to a raise for the rest.) Keep in mind also that they don't normally allow adjuncts to teach more than two courses per semester (with one in the summer, and those pay based on how many students are enrolled). Remember also that it would be stupid for someone trying to finish a dissertation to try to teach more than that (and I only teach that much to retain half-time work to keep health insurance, which the state, not the college, provides and only to families of at least five at my income level.) [When the adjuncts at Syracuse University formed a union, the faculty at this college were so embarrassed (because they pay even less) that they passed a resolution urging the president to give immediate raises to their own adjuncts, who get paid about 2/3 as much as the adjuncts at the university. It went nowhere for a year, and then they decided to implement the ridiculous three-stage raise described above, which angered the 2/3 of the adjuncts who were now getting paid less than the people who sit next to them in their office without anyone doing any different work. This attempt to pacify the adjuncts thus led pretty quickly to the very union they were seeking to stave off. Suffice it to say that this is one of clearest cases of white-collar exploitation I've been familiar with.] So why is it that they're expecting people in this kind of position to have a cell phone? Do they honestly expect people with a family who can't afford to have more than one phone to have that one phone be a cell phone that only one of them can have and that it would happen to be with the one who works for them? I'd much rather have VOIP. It's cheaper, includes the free long-distance, and doesn't bring with it the temptation to leave one's spouse stranded at home with no phone. It also allows multiple physical phones with one connection, so we can charge one while using another or have two people talk at the same time. There are times when I'd like a cell phone with me when I'm out, but it's just not a good idea to expect your employees to have one if these are the working conditions you're going to provide for them. Notice that it doesn't say "everyone who has a cell phone". It says "everyone in the campus community". They really are assuming everyone has a cell phone. Now I could give them my most current cell phone number. It won't do them much good, though. I'm sure someone else has been using it for over a year. They didn't ask for a current number, though, just the most current one, and I can give them that. I probably shouldn't, though. It wouldn't be nice to whoever has it.



Christian Carnival CCXI

2008-02-14T09:05:05-05:00

         The 211th Christian Carnival is up at Brain Cramps for God.