NEM#185: Bruce Thomas’ Bass Lines Before, After, and During the Attractions

Bruce is best known as Elvis Costello's bassist for his first on about a dozen albums as The Attractions, but he's been in bands since 1970 and has done numerous session gigs, most notably for Al Stewart's early albums, plus The Pretenders, John Wesley Harding, Billy Bragg, and many more. We discuss his work on "Blood Makes Noise" by Susanne Vega from 99.9 Degrees (1992),  Continue Reading …

(sub)Text: Production for Use in “His Girl Friday”

Before she settles down to life of homemaking, security, and insurance policies with Bruce Baldwin in Albany, star reporter Hildy Johnson has one more story to write for her ex-husband and ex-boss Walter Burns, editor of the Morning Post. Hildy must write up an interview with convicted killer Earl Williams that will grant him a last-minute reprieve on the basis of insanity. The  Continue Reading …

Ep. 305: Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” (Part One)

Subscribe to get parts 1 and 2 of this now, ad-free. On McCarthy's 1985 anti-Western novel, featuring Wes, Seth, and Dylan. How does violence play a role in the way the world works? The novel tells a historically based story of the 19th century Glanton gang who were hired as scalp hunters by the Mexican government but then went on a rogue massacre. It's told from the  Continue Reading …

Ep. 305: Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” (Part Two for Supporters)

Continuing from part one on McCarthy's 1985 novel, we discuss whether the plentiful, explicit violence in the book is actually gratuitous or whether it's central for presenting the book's philosophy. What makes the book supposedly unfilmable? We then focus on the details of Judge Holden's philosophy. He posits that war is the purpose (the telos) of man. Man is essentially a  Continue Reading …

Ep. 305: Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” (Part One for Supporters)

On McCarthy's 1985 anti-Western novel, featuring Wes, Seth, and Dylan. How does violence play a role in the way the world works? The novel tells a historically based story of the 19th century Glanton gang who were hired as scalp hunters by the Mexican government but then went on a rogue massacre. It's told from the point of view of "The Kid," a 15-year-old member of the gang  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #42: The Worth of a Human Life w/ Carneades the YouTube Star

The anonymous policy wonk who runs the Carneades.org YouTube channel joins Mark and Bill to discuss the core concept of his new book, Are All Lives Equal?: Why Cost-Benefit Analysis Values Rich Lives More and How Philosophy Can Fix It. Should economics really be measuring the value of life at all? Can it do this in any principled way? Can economists really understand how  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #138: What Are “Creatives”?

Is there really a division in today's culture between those who create and the merely receptive masses? Mark gathers three artists in different media about the place of the artist in society: sci-fi author Brian Hirt, art photographer and academic Amir Zaki, and musician/novelist/ex-English prof John Andrew Fredrick (of The Black Watch). We touch on art education, the  Continue Reading …

PEL Nightcap November 2022: Listener Testimonials

Recorded 10/26/22. We recently put out a call among our supporters for some short audio clips of folks telling us about their relationship to PEL, and here they are. Mark, Seth, and Dylan play and respond to all of these. We are grateful to those that submitted, and all of you! We also talk about a few responses to our last Nightcap on representation.  Continue Reading …

NEM#184: Mike Baggetta Feels Out the Guitar

Mike has put out 18 releases of largely instrumental guitar music since 2004, sometimes with his jazz quintet or as a duo with trumpeter Kris Tiner, and more recently in more of an instrumental rock format with legendary bassist Mike Watt and with drums by either Jim Keltner (Traveling Wilburys, Ry Cooder) or Stephen Hodges (Tom Waits). We discuss the title track to  Continue Reading …

Ep. 304: Dworkin v. Hart on Legal Judgment (Part One)

Subscribe to get parts 1 and 2 of this now, ad-free. On Ronald Dworkin's "The Model of Rules" (1967) and Scott J. Shapiro's "The 'Hart-Dworkin' Debate: A Short Guide for the Perplexed" (2007). How do judges make decisions in hard cases? When the law "runs out" and doesn't definitively decide, e.g., whether we have a general "right of privacy," do judges then just draw  Continue Reading …

Ep. 304: Dworkin v. Hart on Legal Judgment (Part Two for Supporters)

Continuing from part one on Roland Dworkin's "The Model of Rules" (1967) and Scott J. Shapiro's "The 'Hart-Dworkin' Debate: A Short Guide for the Perplexed" (2007), plus some of Dworkin's "Hard Cases" (1977). We go through some responses by Hartians to Dworkin's initial attack, revisiting the issue of whether judges can employ moral considerations when making decisions, or  Continue Reading …

Ep. 304: Dworkin v. Hart on Legal Judgment (Part One for Supporters)

On Ronald Dworkin's "The Model of Rules" (1967) and Scott J. Shapiro's "The 'Hart-Dworkin' Debate: A Short Guide for the Perplexed" (2007). How do judges make decisions in hard cases? When the law "runs out" and doesn't definitively decide, e.g., whether we have a general "right of privacy," do judges then just draw on their personal moral judgment in deciding cases? And if  Continue Reading …

PREVIEW-Ep. 303: H.L.A. Hart on the Foundations of Law (Part Three)

Subscribe to get Part 3 of this episode in its entirety. On The Concept of Law (1961), ch. 6, "Foundations of a Legal System." This chapter goes into detail about Hart's "rule of recognition," which is what is supposed to foundationally make something legitimately a law in a given society. How can we identify something as a law? In Britain, Hart says it's when the Queen in  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #137: Slashing the “Halloween” Film Franchise

What's the appeal of this 13-film franchise that started with John Carpenter's 1978 film Halloween and has purportedly wrapped up with David Gordon Green's Halloween Ends? Actor/SFX makeup designer/horror podcaster Nathan Shelton joins Mark, Lawrence, and Al to figure out if even all the various filmmakers involved understood what the appeal of that first film was.  Continue Reading …

Ep. 303: H.L.A. Hart on the Foundations of Law (Part Two)

Subscribe to get Parts 1 and 2 ad-free, plus a supporter exclusive Part 3. Continuing from part one on "Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals" (1958) and The Concept of Law (1961), ch. 5 and 6. If law is not based on morality, then why obey the law? Hart claims that it's just a fact that most of us feel most of the time that we should obey the law. If this  Continue Reading …

Ep. 303: H.L.A. Hart on the Foundations of Law (Part Three for Supporters)

On The Concept of Law (1961), ch. 6, "Foundations of a Legal System." This chapter goes into detail about Hart's "rule of recognition," which is what is supposed to foundationally make something legitimately a law in a given society. How can we identify something as a law? In Britain, Hart says it's when the Queen in Parliament declares something to be a law (note that I say  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #41: Situatedness in Three Persons w/ Sarah Shockey

What is personhood? How can a group best collaboratively invent a scene? Sarah is a host of Marty and Sarah Love Wrestling and a repeat guest on Hello From the Magic Tavern. We fit in THREE scenes, some discussion of the various layers of what it is for something to be (or not be) person, and some musings about the weather and such. Follow us @sarahjoyshockey, @btarnett, and  Continue Reading …

(sub)Text: Post-Doctoral Bedevilment in Christopher Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus”

Dr. Faustus expected more from his education. After a lifetime of study, his professional options—philosophy, medicine, law, and theology—all seem disappointingly ordinary. He is of course not the first to have this experience. At a societal level, the promise of knowledge is power, especially once it has become technology. At an individual level, what education seems to make  Continue Reading …

Ep. 303: H.L.A. Hart on the Foundations of Law (Part One)

Subscribe to get parts 1 and 2 of this now, ad-free. On "Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals" (1958) and The Concept of Law (1961), ch. 5 and 6. What's the relationship between law and morality? If law isn't founded on morality, what is it founded on? Hart was a leading figure in the philosophy of law, and wrote in the tradition of legal positivism that goes  Continue Reading …