Logo for Reed's GumTree Bookstore of Tupelo, MS.On Wednesday, November 18th, I’ll be heading to Reed’s Gum Tree Bookstore in Tupelo, MS, for a book signing for Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South, from noon until 1:30 pm.

Earlier that morning, I’ll be giving an interview on WLOV’s This Morning show in Tupelo, MS. If you’re in Tupelo that day, the signing will be at lunch time, so come on by!

Date: November 18, 2015
Time: 12:00-01:30 p.m.
Event: Uniting Mississippi Book Signing at Reed's Gumtree Bookstore
Topic: Uniting Mississippi Book Signing
Venue: Reed's GumTree Bookstore
(662) 842-6453
Location: 111 S Spring St.
Tupelo, MS 38804
Public: Public

Learn more about the book here. Please share this announcement with them and spread the word!

Logo for WLOX.

Excited that I’ll be interviewed on WLOX Biloxi’s News at 4 program to talk about Uniting Mississippi. With my publisher’s help, we’ve set up a book signing that day at the West Biloxi Public Library.

Date: December 7, 2015
Time: 04:00 p.m.
Appearance: Interview for the News at 4 show on Uniting Mississippi
Outlet: WLOX, Biloxi, MS, Channel 3
Location: Biloxi, MS
Format: Television

I'll be talking about Uniting Mississippi, which you can learn more about here.

Logo for WLOV Tupelo.Katrina Berry of WTVA has kindly invited me for an interview on WLOV Tupelo’s This Morning, to talk about Uniting Mississippi.

Date: November 18, 2015
Time: 07:45-08:00 a.m.
Appearance: Interview on Uniting Mississippi with WLOV’s This Morning
Outlet: WLOV, Tupelo, MS, Channel 27
Location: Tupelo, MS
Format: Television

I'll be talking about Uniting Mississippi, which you can learn more about here.

U. of MS SOPHIA Chapter Interest Survey

Logo of the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA).

Conversational meeting in progress in Oxford, MS.People in and around Oxford, MS,

The Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA) is now a member and chapter organization. We are founding our chapter in Oxford this academic year and are gathering information from people who might be interested in participating in our chapter. SOPHIA is a national nonprofit that has been around since 1983. Our aim is to use the tools of philosophical inquiry to improve people’s lives and enrich the profession of philosophy through conversation and community building.
If you are interested in learning more or know you’d like to participate in our SOPHIA chapter here in Oxford,

Logo for surveymonkey.Please fill out this SURVEY.


(It’s short)

We haA conversational meeting in progress.ve plans for a first gathering on Friday, December 11th, to have a short, relaxed conversation on the nature of and challenges for community. Dr. Andrea Houchard will be our invited facilitator, and she has had great success building a chapter in Flagstaff, AZ.

Book Talk on ‘Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South’

At the Clinton School for Public Service, on Monday, October 19, 2015 at noon.

I am so grateful for two lovely introductions, one from Dean Skip Rutherford of the Clinton School and a former student of mine studying there, Rob Pillow. This video includes only the talk and Q&A. If I can get their intros, I’ll post them too. The Clinton School folks are excellent at what they do and were wonderful hosts. Here’s the video of my book talk:

You can find the video on the Clinton School’s speakers site here.

If you’re interested in inviting me to speak with your group, visit my Speaking and Contacts pages. 

UM’s University Police Department Impressive

This morning, I had to call Jackson, MS. So, I dialed 9 to get an outside line, then hit 1. Actually, somehow — I don’t think I could repeat it, as I don’t know how I did it — I managed to hit the 1 button twice, as fast as a double-clicked mouse. I realized that I had made a mistake, so I hung up and redialed. It worked and I had to leave a message. No problem.

About 20 seconds after I hung up, I got a call from the University Police Department. I didn’t understand it at first, but I was asked about my 911 call. What? Suddenly, I realized that I had indeed, totally by accident, pressed those buttons, before I quickly hung up. I felt embarrassed for not even having realized what I had done. More importantly, I apologized to the dispatcher and to the two UPD officers who showed up at my door within about 45 more seconds.

Photo of the UPD staff at the University of Mississippi.

Breathing like they had hurried, they kindly asked me if everything was alright. They didn’t for a second make me feel bad for having foolishly sounded an alarm. I was responsible for spiking at least three people’s adrenaline, though they looked quite calm. I felt my own adrenaline rise as I became aware of the magnitude of my dialing error. The fact that we need today to respond that fast to problems that arise on campuses around the United States rushed into my thoughts.

Protesters calling for secession at the University of Mississippi, October 2015.

Beyond the violence that has occurred on campuses around the U.S., in Jackson and in Oxford protesters are calling for secession, threatening “to fight” if they can’t achieve their ends by political means. They complain of “Marxists” in politics and in education. They’re frightening and are reasons why now, of all times, we need all the more vigilance and prompt replies to 911 calls. I won’t be testing the system accidentally again, but I can testify to the impressive professionalism I witnessed from UPD.

I’m grateful to UPD, who revealed to me how well oiled their system is. I feel much safer on campus after that experience. I also plan to order a special dialing wand, like the one Homer Simpson needed, or at least to be infinitely more careful than I was this morning when I dial out.

I’m grateful to the three I spoke with for their generous understanding about my accidental dialing. I’m more grateful for their and the university’s serious and professional effort to be rapidly responsive when called upon. The next time I’m feeling cynical from witnessing people who seem not to care about others’ problems, I’m going to think about my experience today. The rest of us avoid danger, while some good, courageous people rush towards it for our safety.

For a little levity, Homer Simpson’s dialing problem:

Orson Welles

Orson Welles circa 1975.

Update: I had to link to another video on YouTube. The good news is that this one is captioned properly.

Philosopher Vince Evans today shared with me (and others on FB) this great video illustration of Plato’s allegory of the cave. It’s from 1973 and was narrated by Orson Welles, which is already very cool. It was illustrated with artwork by Dick Oden, according to the description posted on YouTube. If you’ve got 8 minutes, check it out.

This is perhaps the most influential allegory in the history of philosophy. You can read the original text of the allegory on the Internet Classics Archive. Book VII of the Republic opens with the allegory.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., waving to a crowd.My Philosophy of Leadership course at the University of Mississippi focuses extensively on Plato’s Republic for the first third of the class. Plato had a great deal to say about the virtues of the soul, of the city, and of the kinds of people that his Socrates believed we need if we are to have a just society. For those who think that Plato is not the right thinker to inspire leaders in a democratic society, I suggest you read the interview that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave, in which he said that, not counting Scripture, his “desert island book” would be the Republic.

‘View from Ventress’ – Nice Announcements

View From Ventress, 2015It’s hard for a big institution to show appreciation for all the people who deserve it. Given that, I feel fortunate. The College of Liberal Arts has issued its 2015 ‘View from Ventress’ publication, in which it announced awards over the last year. This past year was an exciting one, as in February, the MS Humanities Council issued me their Public Humanities Scholar award and in September my book came out, Uniting Mississippi.

The college noted both in a very nice piece they put together in this yearly fall publication. If you click here or on the image on right, you can open a PDF of the page with the announcement.

Otherwise, you can open the whole ‘View from Ventress’ file online, opened to that page here. I think the college was very kind with this announcement. On top of that, I think they did a lovely job making the announcement, connecting with the substance of my work. That took care and sincere interest. I feel fortunate and motivated to pass along to others appreciation for what they do, given that it’s nice when folks make that effort.

Unscientific Justification for My Coffee Dependency

Silly chart that I made unscientifically to show a slight correlation between increased coffee consumption and increased per capita GDP.

I was thinking about coffee because I love it, and a silly idea struck me. I’m not a quantitative researcher and the silly activity I spent a few minutes on this morning is utterly unscientific and drawn from sources that confer no serious credibility. Therefore, I urge anyone looking at this not to cite it in any kind of research or writing, unless you’re writing about silliness.

I wondered whether one could show some correlation between growth in coffee consumption and economic growth. Selecting out an inconvenient year before my chart starts, I got a bit of a correlation. Both go up! See?!

It gave me a chuckle, so I thought I’d share. Even if it’s just a silly thought to make me feel better about my dependency on coffee…