Designs on Kids and Culture: Cartoons

Screen capture of Charlie Brown shaking hands with Franklin, the first African American character in Peanuts, introduced in 1968.

While I have been writing A Culture of Justice, so many examples have come up to illustrate what I’m concerned about. The latest is from Charlie Brown. At the same time, it’s true that culture is a funny thing to think about when it comes to justice.

When I first read Plato’s Republic, I found it so strange that Plato addresses oddly specific decisions about which kind of music and arts should be allowed in just city. It is one thing to be concerned about music that promotes violence or that demeans women, but what does the mode of the music have to do with justice? By modes, I’m referring to the dorian, the phrygian, or the mixolydian modes. Plato believed that it mattered profoundly which modes of music were taught to young people. Here’s a YouTube lesson on the modes of music – probably longer than you need, but you can stop whenever or jump ahead:

Plato presented a highly authoritarian version of Socrates in the Republic, so much so that Karl Popper accused him of betraying his great teacher. Popper saw the real Socrates as an advocate for freedom and the open society. The early dialogues do seem to present a different Socrates from the late dialogues. Plato loved his great teacher, yet the Athenians killed unjustly. It is not surprising that he would be skeptical about the will of the people to lead wisely.

While I disagree with the extent of Plato’s heavy handedness, I think he was right to attend to culture’s relationship to justice. Today, we defend the freedom of expression to amazing lengths, protecting even hateful speech. The modes of music seem strange to think of limiting, sure, but it was once prohibited to show Elvis Presley’s shaking hips on television.

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Reciprocal Goodwill Is Answer to Flag Issue

My latest Clarion Ledger piece, published December 8, 2015, 8A.

Photo of the printed version of the article.

Thumbnail photo of the Clarion Ledger logo, which if you click will take you to the Clarion Ledger's site where you can read the full article.My latest piece in the Clarion Ledger draws on Aristotle’s insights about friendship, which he called acknowledged reciprocal goodwill. We sure need more of that in Mississippi.

Click here or on the Clarion Ledger logo on the right to read the piece on their Web site.

You can also see a scan of the printed piece on Academia.edu.

Video of My Interview on WLOX TV News at 4

The video clip of my interview on WLOX TV News at 4 in Biloxi, MS, is included at the bottom of this post. I had a great time visiting the coast, seeing the beautiful water, and talking with some really nice people.

This is a still video frame from my interview on WLOX TV News at 4 in Biloxi, MS, about my book, Uniting Mississippi.

I also had a great time meeting Jeremy from Bay Books for the book signing afterwards at the West Biloxi Public Library. While I was at the TV studio, I was able to snap these photos.

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Signed Copies of ‘Uniting Mississippi’ for Southern Bound Book Shop

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Beautiful day in Biloxi! Just met the owner of Southern Bound Book Shop. If you live nearby and can’t make it to the signing tonight, you can head there for a signed copy later. They also have a store in Ocean Springs. If you live closer to Bay Saint Louis, Bay Books will have copies there after tonight’s signing.

Uniting the States? Brainstorming a Trajectory

When I was in graduate school, looking at the job market, I remember feeling perplexed at certain questions about the future of my career. Some colleges and universities ask you about your “research trajectory.” Finishing a dissertation prepares you with a stack of paper, but now it’s supposed to be nimble and fly like an arrow. I can just picture throwing an unbound dissertation from the top of some stairs, watching the pages fall in all directions. That’s one kind of a trajectory.

A photo of me reading at my desk in 2010, before I came to need glasses.

It wasn’t too hard to imagine things that I wanted to study next, but it’s a huge step in one’s academic career just to finish a major, final project. To be asked at that moment what your next one will be takes one aback. I’ve come to like that question, but somehow I hadn’t been expecting it at the time. It was exciting to think about what I might pursue over the course of my career, though. I had ideas about wanting to work on this or that topic, and some of them did come together.

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Photo of a brown bag with writing that reads "Brown Bag Lunch Talks"Looking forward to giving a Brown Bag Lecture at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture in Oxford. I’ll be talking about Uniting Mississippi, a work of philosophy relevant to folks interested in history, southern studies, education, political science, economics, and policy. I hope to see you there.

Date: February 3, 2016
Time: 12:00-12:50 p.m.
Event: Brown Bag Lecture on 'Uniting Mississippi'
Topic: Brown Bag Lunch 'Uniting Mississippi'
Sponsor: Center for the Study of Southern Culture
662.915.5993
Venue: Tupelo Room
662.915.5993
Location: Barnard Observatory
University, MS 38677
USA
Public: Public

If you're looking for a speaker for your next event, visit my Contact page. Follow me on TW & FB.

Photo of the West Biloxi Public Library.After an interview on WLOX TV in Biloxi, MS, which will air on the 4pm news program, I’ll head to the West Biloxi Public Library for a book talk and signing event.

Logo of Bay Books of Bay Saint Louis, MS.I’m very happy to say that Bay Books of Bay St. Louis, MS, will be there to manage book sales for the signing. Please spread the word and, if you’re near by, come talk about Mississippi’s future.

Date: December 7, 2015
Time: 05:00-06:00 p.m.
Event: 'Uniting Mississippi' Book Signing
Topic: Uniting Mississippi
Sponsor: Bay Books
228.463.2688
Venue: West Biloxi Public Library
228.436.3095
Location: 2047 Pass Road
Biloxi, MS 39531-3125
USA
Public: Public

If you're interested in having me speak with your group, be in touch, visiting my Contact page. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

Check out the nice promotional video that the local public television station made in Little Rock (UALR TV) for the recording of my talk at the Clinton School, which they aired. They added music and edited bits down into some representative moments. How cool? The music is great.

Paperback editions featuring the cover of 'Uniting Mississippi.'Of course the funny thing about sound bites is in examples in which an idea or a contrast is cut in half — when you explain what’s “on the one hand,” and then we don’t hear what’s “on the other hand.” I don’t think the edit misrepresented what I was talking about, fortunately. The promo still got to the heart of what I’m up to in Uniting Mississippi.

I’m learning the importance of planning a few key short statements of my points, which get called “soundbites.” That’s not foolish or superficial to think about, however. Plato’s Socrates often had long definitions of concepts, which he then boiled down into more succinct restatements. I see that. I also make an effort of that kind for my definition of good democratic leadership in the oh-so-cleverly titled Democracy and Leadership.

Anyway, check out this short, 1 min+ promo video. I’m new to this, so it’s still cool and exciting to me. The video of my full talk is here. Soon I’ll also have the audio from my local Little Rock NPR interview. Coming Soon…