Author Archive | Roderick

The March of Time

I realise that I’ve never blogged here, even minimally, about my trips from last March. (I thought I had, but actually I just discussed them on facebook.)

So on March 9-10 I participated in a workshop on exploitation, run by Matt Zwolinski and Ben Ferguson, at the University of San Diego.

I flew out a couple of days early in order to spend some time hanging out with my friends Gary Chartier and Alicia Homer.

Then on March 12-14 I attended the PPE conference in New Orleans. (That’s “Philosophy, Politics, and Economics,” not “Personal Protective Equipment.”) I gave a talk on “Virtue’s Unity and the Liberal Quest for Principled Moderation.” Several of my co-panelists, alas, had to pull out in light of the impending Coronapocalypse.

After that, the Coronapocalypse fell utterly across the land and all further travel was curtailed; thus I did not attend APEE (Las Vegas), the Pacific APA (San Francisco), or Gary and Alicia’s wedding celebration (Laguna Beach) in April, nor again the AtInER Philosophy Conference (Athens) in May.


Name Game

So here’s a puzzle.

When I was a little kid I often went by “Rod.”

But from at least 5th grade on I went by “Roderick,” as was my preference, and everyone called me “Roderick” (except my mother, who was the only person who still often called me “Rod,” and indeed did so ever after).

In high school I was Roderick. In college I was Roderick. In grad school I was Roderick.

Then, in the 90s, when I got my first teaching job at Chapel Hill, nearly everyone suddenly started calling me “Rod.” (I recall several people at Chapel Hill asking me if I preferred “Rod” or “Roderick”; I told them “Roderick,” but to no avail, as they usually gravitated unhesitatingly back to “Rod” again soon thereafter.)

And it wasn’t just a Chapel Hill thing, because people that I met in the libertarian academic sphere during that period – the Institute for Humane Studies, the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, etc. – also generally called me “Rod.” So it’s hard to identify a unified cause.

And to this day, people who first met me during that period of 1990-1997 (except for those who know me well enough to know better) usually call me “Rod.”

But then I moved to Auburn in 1998, and from then on people have almost always called me “Roderick” again – and not just people I met at or through Auburn either, so again a unified cause is elusive.


Luke Island Blues

Rian Johnson has been either praised or blame, according to taste, for subverting, in The Last Jedi, the expectations raised by J. J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens.

In some respects the description is accurate – for example, in regard to Rey’s parentage, with Johnson subverting Abrams, and Abrams subsequently counter-subverting Johnson (like the humorous alternating-teacups-and-battlefleets round-robin mutual-hostility story that used to hang on the wall in the Chapel Hill Philosophy Department, and which I wish I could find online).

But one aspect that has been viewed as a subversion that I think is no such thing is Johnson’s treatment of Luke Skywalker. It wasn’t Johnson’s decision to have Luke hiding on a distant planet while the First Order was rising, his sister was fighting a desperate battle against it, and his nephew and former pupil was stalking around as a Vader wannabe. That was what Abrams established in TFA. If Rey had shown up and told Luke his sister and the galaxy needed him, and he had immediately replied, “oh, then I guess I’ll end my hermit-like existence and go fight the baddies,” it would have rendered inexplicable his not doing so long before Rey’s arrival.

The opening of TLJ¸ with Luke tossing the lightsabre over his shoulder and walking away, wasn’t a subversion of the final scene of TFA; it was pretty much the only continuation that made sense. If you wanted a more active role for Luke, blame Abrams, not Johnson.


Thursday’s Child

Theory: the character of Aurra Sing (as she appears in The Clone Wars, not as she appears in The Phantom Menace) was inspired by Paulina Porizkova’s character in Thursday.


Echo Location

Has anyone else noticed that Ava Sharpe (on Legends of Tomorrow) and Kim Wexler (on Better Call Saul) have very similar voices and facial expressions? (The effect is magnified by the fact that they tend to dress alike and have similar hair, despite not looking all that much alike otherwise.)

The main difference is that one’s in love with a resurrected ninja assassin while the other one has made questionable relationship choices.


Hail Aunts!

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813), Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest (1895), and P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories (1915-1974; my favourite is Code of the Woosters from 1938) span over a century and a half, but they all take place in the same social milieu – where idle young men, who somehow manage to be simultaneously wealthy and impecunious, divide their time between flats in London and estates in the country, seeking or avoiding romantic entanglements while dodging the dictates of terrifying aunts who control the familial purse strings.

That P&P belongs to this tradition is less obvious than the affinity between IBE and J&W, because in P&P the milieu is seen from a viewpoint partially outside it – not of the flitting men but of their female love interests. Still, someone needs to do an era-defying mashup where the three sets of characters are all interacting at once.


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