Saturday, November 24, 2007

iPod U

I read the LA Times story about university lectures available for free from several universities. Apparently, the top rockstar at iPod U is UC Berkeley's philosophy professor, Hubert Dreyfus. Philosophy 6: Man, God and Society in Western Literature is the most popular lecture series.

That brings back memories. Dreyfus' picture in the LAT story shows his hair is gray now. The reading list is as I remembered. Back then, I was a 17 year old engineering major swamped with lectures, labs, and weekly theoretical problem sets and practical labs (with reports!) for each of my 3 other classes in math, chemistry and computer science. I didn't give the assigned reading for Philosophy 6 the close reading that I gave my technical classes.

Also, I found the vocabulary of the humanities professors and TAs esoteric. I'd never heard anyone use the phrase, 'paradigm shift' before that class. I recall having to look up paradigm in the dictionary because the usage didn't square with my understanding of the meaning of the word paradigm that I learned in science classes. When I approached my philosophy TA for help, she might as well have been speaking a foreign language. Then I asked the professor after class. Again, unintelligible. (Science and philosophy are two disciplines divided by a common language. LOL)

Maybe, now that I have more life experience under my belt, I can try again to understand his lectures. There is enough room on my iPod to download the entire 29 lecture series. I still have the old class reader. (During my stuff diet inventory of my books, I found my old philosophy and history readers from college.)

Iris has been asking all sorts of existential questions lately. She is obsessed with Greek mythology. She thinks the world would be a better place if people believed in gods instead of a single god again. She needs to read more about creation myths around the world. I just happen to have that in one of my old readers. See, you never know when you are going to need the old baggage, impedimenta, that you save. Hmm, I can give her my old Latin textbooks, too.

Many people assume that Iris is named after the flower. After all, I grow several types of irises in the garden. Additionally, many girls are named after flowers, myself included (but in Chinese). That is not quite the whole story.

Mark and I were sitting in the dining room when he asked me what those pretty purple flowers were in the backyard. I said they were irises. Didn't he remember from the time we bicycle toured around Mendocino and Sonoma counties in the spring? He asked me the name of the blue flowers by the road and I pointed out the characteristics of irises to him. (He also didn't know that those pretty yellow flowers were the California state flower, the golden poppy. It is a mystery how he graduated from high school in California.)

Anyway, he said, "Iris is a girls' name. I think she is a Grecian or Roman goddess. Let's look it up." So we ran upstairs (he ran, I waddled) and pulled the dogeared copy of Edith Hamilton's Mythology off the shelf. Iris is the Grecian goddess of the rainbow, a wonderful name for a multi-racial child.

When she was old enough to ask how she got her name, we told her about the goddess. She was enthralled, reading every Greek mythology book she could get her hands on. In addition to playing princesses and fairies, Iris likes to direct her playmates in 'gods and goddesses' play. But first, they have to decide if they are playing Greek or Roman. I asked her the difference. She says they have to use different names and the stories get a little garbled in the Roman version which gives them more freedom to improvise. Oh.


  1. That's a lovely story of the origin of Iris' name. I loved Greek mythology as a kid too - especially the stories involving Athena.

  2. I loved Norse mythology.

  3. Hi Grace,thanks for visiting my blog.

    I went and checked out your sunset and moonrise, and your friend's butterwings post. Beautiful! Thank you.

    ps. I adore Greek mythology.

  4. So many lectures, so little time... Thanks for the tip about the free iTunes lectures.

  5. Thanks for the tip about the lectures. Of course my Ipod is already heavily loaded. Must start listening (and perhaps knitting) a bit more.

  6. holy crap every time you said you looked it up I just kinda thought "google" bUT YOU STILL HAD TO USE BOOKS BACK THEN

    also little me was an adorable control freak