Oct 15, 2013
No, it's not the latest design show on HGTV|DIY. It's what passes for news in some circles:
Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.
Well, if you hang around these parts, that's olds, not news!
Oct 15, 2013
This is lovely:
Yesterday I set up a stall in the park selling 100% authentic original signed Banksy canvases. For $60 each.
The artworks sold to probably-unwitting buyers were worth… well, considerably more than that. Click the pick for details.
To learn more about Banksy, stream Exit Through the Gift Shop through your favorite service.
Oct 8, 2013
It may seem a mite unwholesome
To lust after a corpus callosum,
That hard body inviting fixation
On mammillary fornixation,
But I'm told there's temporally more sex
In proportion to a convoluted cortex,
And that with decreased neural density
Come connective intensity
And a naturally selective propensity.
So don't be hesitant to probe.
There's nothing like falling in lobe!
Oct 2, 2013
Pray that I alter it further.
In the meantime, be sure to express your opinion in the comment field enhancement post.
I have implemented the following features for now:
- A preview pane that appears below the comment field as you type and shows you how your comment will appear after you submit it.
- A 5-minute timeout allowing you to edit your comment in case the preview pane betrays you.
- New HTML tags, including <table> and <tr> and <td> and <ul> and <li>.
- Clearer explanatory text below the comment field.
- Top Commenters by Volume (as measured in decibels) in the sidebar.
Oct 2, 2013
This poll is about the interface for adding a comment to a post. (It is not about comment threading. We'll deal with that separately.)
Sep 17, 2013
Sep 8, 2013
Qióng: Shīfu Shíjú! Shīfu Shíjú!
Shīfu Shíjú: Qióng, what do you want?
Qióng: Please, tell me why size matters?
Shīfu Shíjú: Idiot! Go finish your chores.
Qióng: I have done them, Shīfu! I am ready to know!
Shīfu Shíjú: Very well. Sit down. Now, first I will show you the way of integers. What is the next digit in this series? 12345…
Qióng: The next digit is '1', Shīfu!
Shīfu Shíjú: How can you say the next digit is '1'? Have you never brought Shīfu a six-pack?
Qióng: The next digit is '1' if the series is 1 through 5 repeating: 1234512345123–
Shīfu Shíjú: Idiot! If you introduce complexities such as grouping and blocks you will never understand! To follow the way of integers, you must not think in cliques and tribes; you must ask yourself what one, all on his own, can contribute.
Qióng: Thank you, Shīfu. Now I will go and rake the yard.
Continue Reading »
Aug 20, 2013
The kind of sonnet form that Shakespeare wrote
–a poem of Love, or Time, in fourteen lines
Rhymed the way these are, clear, easy to quote–
Channels strong feelings into deep designs.
Three quatrains neatly fitting limb to joint,
Their lines cut with the sharpness of a prism,
Flash out in colors as they make their point
In what logicians call a syllogism–
(If A, and B, then C)–and so it goes,
Unless the final quatrain starts out "But"
Or "Nevertheless," these groups of lines dispose
Themselves in reasoned sections, tightly shut.
The final couplet's tight and terse and tends
To sum up neatly how the sonnet ends.
~ John Hollander, 28 October 1929 – 17 August 2013
Rhyme's Reason, Yale UP, 0300088329, 1981, p. 19
In your playground I learned to care deeply about form. Thanks, John.
Aug 20, 2013
When we elected Sweet Old Bob to represent our city,
He said he'd never take a bribe nor tap into the kitty.
We misconstrued, he turned out lewd, and isn't it a pity
That now we're screwed because his "private conduct" has been shoddy.
His platform failed to mention groping, feeling, copping, kissing.
I'm pretty sure that spooning, mooning, chi, and tea were missing.
And so he bagged a victory that left opponents hissing,
And set about to leave his mark, a man of poll and party.
Turns out "increasing public staffing" isn't what we thought,
And "touching every household" isn't quite what we were taught,
And "I'll scratch your back" isn't just a metaphor for "bought",
And kleenex, with a thousand uses, isn't just for sneezing.
So listen, Sweet Old Bob. It isn't you. It's me. It's we.
You quid pro quo, and I can't go for that with you, you see.
A swift kick in the recall may cut short your sunset spree,
So sail away. Your stream, now slow, will only finally peter.
Aug 14, 2013
In a closed facebook group on analytic philosophy, someone asked a question along these lines: "How do you primarily criticize other people's reasoning?"
Here's the reply I gave. What are some other ways you approach the task of evaluating another's reasoning?
There's no definitive checklist or prescription for identifying an issue and diagnosing someone's treatment of that issue. One reason such an endeavor cannot be reduced to an algorithm is that the complexity of any single issue can be daunting, and the product of interactions among such issues is of an order of complexity too high for even the best merely human mind to address synchronously or sequentially.
Instead, we have to use various troubleshooting heuristics until we've isolated a matter of interest that fits our capacity for analysis. At that juncture, we can go to town on it, and perhaps make (micro-)progress toward clearing away the underbrush of human cognition and laying out defensible assertions about how and why things are.
Typical questions in the area of fuzzy diagnostics applied to person P include (but are not limited to):
- What is the general domain that P is addressing, and what general domain does P seem to believe P is addressing? Do these match?
- What are the purposes of P's discourse? To identify an assertion and rebut it? To identify a confusion and clarify it? To rant gracefully against a disfavored ideology? To note an oversimplification and introduce remedial complexity? Other?
- What does P assume? Does P acknowledge that P assumes that?
- When fluff and qualifications and mods and idiosyncratic terminology and other debris have been swept away, what is P's argument? What conclusion does P claim to reach? Which premises does P offer as an avenue to reach it? What evidence does P adduce in support of them?
- What kinds of evidence are actually relevant to P's argument? What kinds of evidence does P employ? What kinds does P ignore? What kinds does P dismiss? What is the effect of this particular configuration of employment, ignorance, and dismissal on P's endeavor?
- Which alternatives to P's affirmations and inferences does P explicitly consider? What does P prefer to them? Which explicit judgments account for P's preference? Which unacknowledged factors constrain it?
- Does P's argument, taken as facially acceptable, pass the "So what" test?
- If you find fault with P's argument in its given context for reasons such as those suggested above, is there something about your own approach, your own assumptions, your own preferences, or your own commitments that prompt or guide you to object in that way?
- Is P right?
- What would you have to know or reliably believe in order to evaluate P's discourse in each way listed above? Are you suitably positioned to evaluate it?
Note: this is not an exhaustive list– not even close. It's also given not in a chronological or diagnostically relevant order; it's given in the order in which I improvised the list while eating a bagel and superficially weighing your question.
The broad point is that there's no formula for doing philosophy. Instead, there's a set of habits of mind intermixed with some balance of generosity, skepticism, curiosity, and hope.
Jul 31, 2013
Today, embrace the sun and moon,
Pose questions to the rocks and clouds,
Consider ripples in the sea,
And delve into the dust of doubt.
Engaging them, take time to see
That each announces not itself
Alone, but one, strong, fair, and true,
Who them displays, whose word all wealth
Now allocates to large and small,
Including you within some scope,
Governing cosmic, quantum, all,
A ground of mystery and hope.
So when you ponder, ask, and reach,
Give time to see as well as show.
Discerning means and motives, learn
To shape and teach as well as know.
Jul 26, 2013
Kill A Better Mousetrap, a one-act play recently featured at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, has been extended as part of the "Best of Fringe"!
Additional performances will occur on Sunday, 28 July, at 1pm and again at 5:30pm.
Miles Edward Merbinau has somehow inherited the film rights to the world’s longest running play, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Unfortunately, due to a legal technicality, he can’t do anything with them until the original London production of the play (now in its 60th year!) closes… which hardly seems imminent. Several “peaceable” efforts to shut down The Mousetrap having backfired on him, Merbinau is now determined to borrow a leaf from Dame Agatha’s own works… murder!
The people have raved, of course, but the author and lead actor, Scott Ratner, felt that some celebrity endorsements would also be fitting. Having failed to secure them, he had to roll his own:
(Edit: bumped for great justice!)
Jul 20, 2013
Here's a bit o' light verse, given that words are many but hours few.
A dandelion puff aloft went wayward without sinking,
Uprooted, blown into the sky by simple wishful thinking.
So bold, its dreams of meaning made of happenstance and hope.
So dry, the withering stem now plucked– an epistemic trope.
The keep with no foundation falls apart in nothing flat.
Our prison-house of language games will make quite sure of that!
Each proposition needs a promise– given, cherished, kept–
Else thinking, thus unsteadied, spawns a progeny inept.
So build your treehouse near the stream and, firmly rooted there,
It will provide the place where thought may thrive and grow and dare.
The blooming bud once plucked becomes a thing already dead.
Perennial, the cultivated carefully instead.