The fixation of lecture notes

My general workflow is to write notes by hand the first time I teach something. If I teach it again, I type up those notes— making changes as I do— and print them out. When I teach it the time after that, I pencil in revisions on the print out from the time before. For things I teach many times, I eventually incorporate the revisions into the file and print a fresh copy.

This means that I’m not just phoning in the same lecture every time, but I’m also not starting from scratch every time. Incremental refinement.

Today I’m teaching Peirce’s essay “The Fixation of Belief” in my Understanding Science class. I was preparing for class and realized that my marked printout was originally composed for Understanding Science in Fall 2012. Since it’s been almost ten years, I figure it’s time to revise the file and print a fresh one.

Celebration and title ruminations

I just found out today that my book on the philosophy of cover songs has been accepted for publication! Both referees said that the manuscript could be published as is, but of course went on for pages with comments about how it might be improved.

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The limits of risk

My paper, The scope of inductive risk, has been accepted at the journal Metaphilosophy. I’m told it will appear in the January 2022 issue.

Abstract: The Argument from Inductive Risk (AIR) is taken to show that values are inevitably involved in making judgements or forming beliefs. After reviewing this conclusion, I pose cases which are prima facie counterexamples: the unreflective application of conventions, use of black-boxed instruments, reliance on opaque algorithms, and unskilled observation reports. These cases are counterexamples to the AIR posed in ethical terms as a matter of personal values. Nevertheless, it need not be understood in those terms. The values which load a theory choice may be those of institutions or past actors. This means that the challenge of responsibly handling inductive risk is not merely an ethical issue, but is also social, political, and historical.

Season songs’ revenge

One side effect of the pandemic is that I’m out and about less, so I hear less programmed Christmas music. Here’s a flashback to pre-pandemic times, when I did a series of posts about my favorite holiday songs. I’m not sure the list would be any different this year.

  1. Fairytale of New York
  2. The Boar’s Head
  3. Fuck You If You Don’t Like Christmas
  4. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
  5. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  6. Good King Wenceslas
  7. Greensleeves
a boar carrying a tray of food

Every video has an equal and opposite reaction video

I’m not a big fan of reaction videos as a genre, but Glamour‘s second-order reaction video series You Sang My Song is an exception. A star watches YouTube1 covers of their hits, and then the people who made each cover watches the reaction video of the star watching their cover. The stars sometimes get genuinely excited. The YouTubers are often genuinely verklempt.2

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Sucking on a chili dog

One thing about cover songs is that there are a lot of weird edge cases. And so people ask What does your account say about… some oddity that they have in mind. For example: What does your account say about Tom McGovern’s video where he plays John Melloncamp’s “Jack and Diane” but replaces the usual lyrics with permutations of the phrase “suckin’ on a chili dog”?

The answer is a bit convoluted.

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Why I don’t give a definition of “cover”, Christmas in October edition

In a remembrance of his friend Rob Aldridge, Rick Beato recounts being in a band with him. They were playing Christmas songs in a bar. The proprietor interrupted their set and said that he thought they were going to play covers.

Aldridge replied, “What are you talking about? We didn’t write these songs!”

Unamused, the proprietor paid them for the gig on the condition that they stop playing immediately.

a donkey with a harp