Saturday, 1 December 2007

All Fred, All the Time

I leave you this fine evening with a New York Times story about Fred Thompson. Fred doesn’t like journalists, and they pay him back by writing mean-spirited stories about him.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “A Good Mystery: Why We Read” (Week in Review, Nov. 25):

Having raised two children (ages 13 and 10) who are truly voracious readers, and after having had an opportunity to observe the habits of many of their friends since they were toddlers, I have a strong opinion regarding why so few young people choose reading as their leisure activity.

We decided to watch no television or videos at all for years, until well past the time that our children were able to read. Without the option of watching a screen as something to do, our children learned to read for pleasure and see books as a relaxing, comforting and fun pastime.

Even though they may watch the occasional show now or play the occasional video game, it is never their first choice—books are.

I wish that more parents of very young children would consider shutting off the television, videos and computer completely while their kids’ habits and preferences are being formed. We have never regretted it.

Erika C. Roach
Indianapolis, Nov. 26, 2007

Note from KBJ: Thank goodness my parents were readers.

A Year Ago


From the Mailbag

Professor Burgess-Jackson,

First, I apologize if my salutation is not correct. I have not had occasion to formally write to people with hyphenated last names, and don’t know the etiquette.

I was so glad to see the subject essay published in TCS. I always read your stuff, and always learn so much from your essays, and it has been a long dry spell. In fact, I was a little worried that you might no longer be with us, or at least no longer writing.

A great piece, by which I mean I learned a lot from it. However, I have a question for you. I understand from your BIO that you teach for the U. of Texas at Arlington. Do you ever do any online teaching, offer any courses over the internet? I would love to study philosophy, and from reading your writings, I think I would learn much from the experience. However, since moving to Arlington is not in the cards, some form of distance education is my only option. So, I was curious as to whether you ever did that.

Thanks for the piece on the logic of torture . . . I learned a lot about philosophical thinking and training from it. I hope your next article is not so long in coming.


Paul Hamilton
Papillion, NE

Note from KBJ: Thanks for writing, Paul, and thanks for the kind words. I prefer to be called Keith. Some people call me KBJ, which has a nice ring to it. I’ve been called Keithy, Keithers, Keefers, and some names I can’t mention. No, I don’t do any online teaching. Most colleges and universities offer philosophy courses, and there are plenty of introductory books on the market if that’s what you want. If you describe to me what sort of philosophy you’re interested in, and at what level, I’ll recommend some books. To me, philosophy is conceptual clarification. That’s what I tried to do in my torture column for TCS. You’ll notice that I didn’t take a position. That doesn’t mean I have no position on the morality of torture; it means the position I take has nothing to do with my being a philosopher. (Philosophers differ as much as anyone else on evaluative matters.)