Posted on March 17, 2008 by cupblog
Nick Smith is professor of Philosophy at the University of New Hampshire with a particular interest in how apologies work. He’s also a former trial lawyer for a major New York law firm. What does this mean for us? An unusually close look at Spitzer’s oft-sound-bite-ed public apology for his involvement with a prostitution ring.
He’ll be on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show tomorrow.
Watch the apology:
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Elliot Spitzer’s recent statements accompanying his resignation as governor of New York provide an occasion to reflect on the meanings of apologies. I find apologies dizzyingly complex social rituals. In I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies—published by Cambridge University Press—I identified more than a dozen kinds of meaning that we seek from gestures of contrition. Instead of worrying whether an example “is or is not” an apology, I wonder how well it serves certain purposes and to what extent it conveys certain kinds of subtle social meanings.
The book considers the many nuances and gritty details of apologetic meaning, but in general I find that asking a few simple questions can take us to the heart of the meaning of an apology: Did the offender explain what she did with an appropriate degree of specificity? Does she accept blame? Does she make clear why her actions were wrong and identify the principles she violated? Does she promise not to do it again redress the problem she caused?
These questions tend to lead to further questions about the meanings of any given apology, but they can provide some insight in Spitzer’s case.
First, Spitzer’s statements obviously admit very little. Rather than “coming clean” and confessing the details of his wrongdoing, he leaves us to speculate. He could have admitted all of the relevant facts, but instead it may require years of investigations and legal proceedings to disclose the extent of his transgressions. Or he might strike a deal that effectively ends the discussion. His repeated description of the reason for his resignation as a “private failing” seems untenable given that he is a former governor and attorney general facing charges in several federal crimes, but casting the offense in this way suggests that he may deny the prostitution-related charges and instead cast the sexual relations as an affair but not a crime. This may seem like a losing argument given the facts discussed publicly to date, but Spitzer may negotiate himself into a position to sustain this claim and avoid criminal charges. If he denies relations with a prostitute, he will not apologize for that specifically.
Filed under: Featured Books, Philosophy, Video | Tagged: Apology, Diane Rehm, Eliot Spitzer, I Was Wrong, Nick Smith, Spitzer, Spitzer Apology | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 17, 2008 by cupblog
Kristie Macrakis, author of Seduced by Secrets brings us some of the gadgets of the Stasi’s hidden spy-world, one photo at a time.
There are a lot of cool images surrounding the hidden world of espionage, many of them surprising. Hidden in plain sight, in a mind-boggling array of forms, spy gadgets have a clever way of concealing secrets. I think these images of objects of espionage are fascinating visual representations of the shadowy world of spying.
Each Monday, I’ll be opening my own photo-album of spy gadgets to show you the real Stasi espionage. I’ve been in and out of East Germany before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and have recently done a lot of research on the organization.
Here’s the first two:
This is a backroom at the German Federal Criminal Police, which houses spy evidence for court cases. It could be your garage, but alongside the seemingly innocuous tennis rackets are rows and rows of leather briefcase containers to hide documents and false documents like forged passports.
Of course, every spy needs to have a camera handy:
This carved deer statute has a Minox camera – the workhorse of the Cold War – hidden in the bottom. It is my favorite concealment. The spy inserts a pin in a hole in the bottom to activate the release mechanism.
Kristie Macrakis is author of Seduced by Secrets: Inside the Stasi’s Spy-Tech World, new April 17 from Cambridge.
Filed under: Featured Books, History, Spy-Tech Mondays | Tagged: East Germany, Kristie Macrakis, Minox, Seduced by Secrets, spy, Stasi | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 7, 2008 by cupblog
The Poetry of War is on its way to booksellers. James Winn launched the book at an event on March 4 at Boston University. Be on the lookout!
From the time of Homer and before, poets have embraced war as a grand and challenging subject. Despite the radical differences between warfare and poetry, author of John Dryden and His World and Pulitzer Prize nominee James Anderson Winn seeks to piece together the many threads that tie them in The Poetry of War.
According to Winn: “We need poems to counter the mindless simplifications of war propaganda.” Poetry boils war down to its most basic human experiences, without the lens of country, enemy or cause. The Poetry of War captures the tension created between the super-human efforts of soldiers and the awful, nearly absurd spectacle of warfare.
Filed under: Featured Books | Tagged: The Poetry of War | Leave a comment »