The DJ booth at WRFL Lexington on December 10th, 2016.
DJ’ing on Saturday, December 10th, 2016 on WRFL, 88.1 Lexington

I’m still just practicing as a DJ as I plan the Philosophy Bakes Bread radio show to start in January. It is an awful lot of fun, though. Plus, to create the talk show may take committing to a two hour block for a one hour show. That will mean that I might plan an hour of music and then have the second hour be the Philosophy Bakes Bread talk show programming. Or, vice versa. Or, I could alternate in 30 minute segments. Still to be determined.

Photo of Weber with a class at the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, January 2016.
Photo of the class I helped lead in Washington, D.C., in January 2016.

When asked to help out with Dr. Neil Manson’s exciting Wintersession course on Bioethics at the University of Mississippi, I was hesitant at first. I have tried hard to protect my writing time, which is very easy to give up. When I learned of the need for help, though, and the fact that the class would not make without a colleague’s help, I accepted. I joined the Study USA folks at the University of Mississippi, including Dr. Laura Antonow, and Seth Waite, a helpful graduate student in Philosophy at the University of Mississippi. We spent a week in D.C. visiting all kinds of great groups and organizations to talk about bioethics. Dr. Antonow took this photo and kindly gave me permission to post it here. It was a fun trip and a good group of students.

Beyond the fun visits for the class, the highlights of the trip were the five or six outings I got to take with former students and with colleagues living and working in D.C. I must have met up with over 20 former students and three or four current ones, interning in D.C. Thanks for the photo, Laura!

Nietzsche photo with a quote, which reads: "Forgetting our objectives is the most frequent of all acts of stupidity." It also shows the Web address for my Web site, EricThomasWeber.org
Philosophy Quote of the Day

I’m planning an op-ed on education, that has to do with how we often focus intensely on some details while forgetting our goal. That reminded me of an often quoted line from Nietzsche. The usual way we see it, it reads: “Forgetting one’s purpose is the commonest forms of stupidity.”

I like that version too, but the scholar in me goes a bit nuts when I can’t actually track down the source of a quote. So, I looked for and found the original version of this in Nietzsche’s Human, All Too Human, volume 2, number 206. The translation in the English version from Oxford is what I included in the photo. To put it in text too, it reads:

“Forgetting our objectives is the most frequent of all acts of stupidity.”

You can check it out for yourself in Google Books.

The Eulogy Virtues Valued in Life

This is a photo of the cover of David Brooks's latest book, The Road to Character, 2015. David Brooks has been challenging young people lately to think about more than what he calls the “résumé virtues.” His latest book is called The Road to Character, and he has been touring the country to talk about what’s more important than the many small steps we take in advancing our careers. Which matters more: what people think or say about your résumé, or what people will say at your funeral?

Brooks argues that so many of us today focus on the wrong things — on getting the next notch in our belts — when what we should be developing are the eulogy virtues. In the end, people usually don’t care about this or that promotion you earned. The bigger house you bought rarely comes up at a funeral. What matters most to people are the qualities of your character, not the quantities in your bank account.

Brooks’s message especially to young professionals and those aspiring to be them resonates with me. First of all, Aristotle noted that happiness is something that can only really be measured in terms of a person’s whole life. When we say we are happy, in everyday language, we are primarily talking about how we feel right now. What makes for a happy life, however, is not a certain number of happy-feeling-moments. We can endure great challenges for the right reasons and be happy about what we have contributed. The feeling is less the issue, however. What matters, as Brooks notes, is our character.

With a focus on professionalism today, one can certainly make a great deal more money going into any number of careers than one earns as a teacher. So some other force pushes people into that line of work. As I said in my last post, I’ve been very fortunate to feel appreciated at the University of Mississippi. Recently, a number of students added to that very kindly.

The funny thing about moving, as Annie and I soon will, is that you get a glimpse of people’s appreciation of the eulogy virtues, but without the dying part.

The logo of the University of Mississippi's Student Alumni Council.The Student Alumni Council at the University of Mississippi is a clever organization, in which current students are involved in the work of the alumni association — hook’em early, they say. It’s a great idea, actually, for networking purposes as well as for opportunities for student leadership. Yes, those are related to résumé virtues. The group is more meaningful than that, however. They organize an event each spring (though I don’t know how long this has been going on) where they recognize mentors, hosting a “Random Acts of Kindness” event. When I received my invitation, I joked to myself that I generally intend my acts of kindness to be thoughtful and purposeful, rather than random.

The event was lovely. One student at a time got up to say a few words about a mentor he or she wanted to recognize on campus with a Random Act of Kindness award. Next, two students got up to say that they had both nominated a certain professor. It was heartwarming. We do this work because we believe in it. It’s icing on the cake when people actually show you appreciation for it. When the time came, I was taken aback by three students who each got up to say some deeply thoughtful and kind things about our work together. I got a taste of the value of the eulogy virtues, without having to die, when Mary Kate Berger, Natalie King, and Rod Bridges each spoke eloquently and kindly in their explanations for their nominations for me.

I feel profoundly fortunate to have worked with great people in Mississippi. I also am more confident that Brooks and Aristotle are right. Character is the most important thing we can cultivate. The funny thing that so many people miss, however, is that attending to one’s own happiness really comes down to attending to the same for others. I can’t think of a more rewarding opportunity than to help others to shape their character.

Thank you again, Rod, Mary Kate, and Natalie (left to right in the photo)!

This is a photo of Rod Bridges, Mary Kate Berger, Eric Thomas Weber, and Natalie King at the UM 2016 Student Alumni Council 'Random Acts of Kindness' event.

 

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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Had a Great Visit with Katrina Berry on WLOV Tupelo

Photo of terrible rain in between Oxford and Tupelo, MS.Despite the torrential rain this morning, I made it on time to meet with Katrina Berry of WLOV Tupelo’s This Morning show.

Berry is an impressive, award-winning journalist and TV anchor. Her award was from the Associated Press for her weekly series, Heavenly Helpers. When I first got a chance to talk with her, she explained that they aim to support local authors on the show, which was great.

It can seem strange to most scholars to put a lot of effort into securing and participating in a 3 minute interview, which is what it came out to be. Consider how much advertisers spend on 30 seconds or 1 minute of television, however, and all of a sudden, you can appreciate better what 3 minutes of air-time means, in financial terms. One source estimates that even on a local show, ads can cost from as little as $200 to as much as $1,500 for 30 seconds. So a 3 minute interview could be valued from anywhere between $1,200 and $9,000. That’s worth the drive to Tupelo, MS. Those aren’t funds that come to me, of course, but they are value that the show offers for getting the word out about Uniting Mississippi.

After a few nice questions about the book, Berry asked me about the book signing that I’ll be holding from 12-1:30 pm today at Reed’s Gumtree Bookstore, here in Tupelo. Here are a few photos I snagged of my visit to WLOV. When I get a clip of the video of the interview, I’ll post it to my site also. It was a great experience.

Know a TV station that might be interested in hearing about Uniting Mississippi? Let me know on Twitter or on Facebook

“Race and Moral Leadership in the U.S. Judicial System,” open forum discussion

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves of Mississippi.

“District Judge Carlton Reeves has presided over key race and equality cases in Mississippi.” (NPRPhoto by Jackson State University.

NEW: University of Mississippi PRESS RELEASE on this event

When: Tuesday, October 27th, at 4pm.

Where: Bryant Hall room 207, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS

U.S. Judge Carlton Reeves of Mississippi caught national attention with a speech he prepared for the sentencing in a murder trial. The case concerned the racially motivated murder of James Craig Anderson. Reeves’s speech has been called “breathtaking” on NPR.org and has been viewed well over a million times. NPR published a short bio about “The Man Behind the Speech.”

Poster for the event. Click on it to open a large Adobe PDF file of the poster.Reeves’s position and leadership are special in part because of his position as a judge. We often think of executives or legislators as leaders. Judges also exercise leadership in their own unique ways and contexts, however. Reeves’s example is also special because of the context of his leadership and the location and circumstances of it. We will have an open forum discussion about “Race and Moral Leadership in the U.S. Judicial System” in Bryant Hall room 207 on Tuesday, October 27th, at 4pm.

Dr. Eric Thomas Weber, associate professor of Public Policy Leadership at the University of Mississippi, will be moderating the discussion.

This forum is free and open to all students, faculty, staff, and community members. Anyone needing accommodations related to disabilities, contact Dr. Eric Thomas Weber at etweber@olemiss.edu.

WLogo of the Mississippi Humanities Council.e are grateful for the generous support of the Mississippi Humanities Council and the University of Mississippi’s College of Liberal Arts.

Date: October 27, 2015
Time: 04:00-05:00 p.m.
Event: Moderating "Race and Moral Leadership in the U.S. Judicial System"
Topic: Race and Moral Leadership in the U.S. Judicial System
Sponsor: The Mississippi Humanities Council
601.432.6752
Venue: Bryant Hall, 207
662.915.1336
Location: 1944 University Circle
University, MS 38677
Public: Public