The Journal of Applied Impossibility
Kant has a point worth acknowledging about the function of lying with respect to truth telling. He points out that in order for a lie to work the way its speaker intends, most people have to be telling the truth most of the time.* This is sometimes expressed by saying that lies are parasitic upon truth. Habermas will talk about strategic discourse (i.e. telling you what it takes in order to elicit certain outcomes I prefer) and how it makes use of communicative discourse (i.e. telling you true things for the sake of clear and accurate communication). Strategic discourse (parallel to, but not exactly equivalent to lying) depends on communicative discourse, but the reverse is not the case. If there's something I don't like about "the wokism" it's this: It
(Originally Begun 24. Feb. 2021. I'm becoming less timid in sharing thoughts)
Something a friend said to me made me realized that I have a certain reputation. I am apparently known in some circles for saying things at the park that scandalize other parents. J.K. Rowling is better than Neil Gaiman.* The children of elected officials should be required to go to public school, and the school should be decided by a weighted lottery.† Officials without children should not be allowed to make rulings on education policy. Get rid of pharmacies and have prescription drug vending machines.‡ Sometimes I remember to preface these remarks with "I'm not sure how much I believe this, but as an intellectual exercise, let's consider what might happen if..." Sometimes I just let it slip and see how far I can argue my point. But one claim I will fight for is this: Bad art is immoral The argument is pretty simple. Resources are limited. Every moment spent making art is a moment that
(Begun June 6, 2021) The Backlog is thinner than ever -- Less than a year!
It's my sometimes M.O. to attempt drawing connections between two disparate ideas in a way that seems jarring at first blush, but which I hope ends up being illuminating. This is how thinking and learning in general feel to me, and while some may not wish to share in the feeling of being jarred, I think it's good to experience it from time to time at least. Today's first topic is social-justice language in theology.
I find myself writing about something current and "topical" and then sitting on it for months or years until no one cares except me, but I'm still grumpy about it (I started on this piece March 4th of 2021). I think that if more people did this, the social fabric would be in a better place. At any rate, there is a bruhaha about the most celebrated children's author.* This is my hot take (freshness not guaranteed by date of publication).
In one of his occasional moments of insight, Bill Maher noted a tension between the notion that one must obtain consent in order to touch someone's elbow or invite them for drinks, and the hookup culture (As a man who married before Tinder existed, to this day, I don't know which direction one swipes for which purpose, and I'm rather happy about that). This made me think about the nature of algorithms, and our current obsession with consent as a basis for morality.
...OR, How P.Z. Meyers Changed My Mind
In July 2008 (This is a controversy to which I am terribly late)*, P.Z. Myers posted to his blog the following photograph:
About this, he had the following to say:
I know some of you have proposed intricate plans for how to do horrible things to these crackers, but I repeat…it’s just a cracker. I wasn’t going to make any major investment of time, money, or effort in treating these dabs of unpleasantness as they deserve, because all they deserve is casual disposal. However, inspired by an old woodcut of Jews stabbing the host, I thought of a simple, quick thing to do: I pierced it with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffee grounds and a banana peel. My apologies to those who hoped for more, but the worst I can do is show my unconcerned contempt.
I began this on February 21st-ish, 2021. But I always keep my hot takes on a back burner until they're no longer relevant, so I'm sure that if this post ever meets the light of day, the story will be very old news.
In response to this and this and this, a friend sent me this.
I think I find Wilkinson's blog post irksome -- and I'm trying to work through (1.) why that is,
(2.) whether it matter that it's irksome, and
(3.) what about my thinking is or ought to be different for my having read it.
I have to admit that I find myself among the partisans here, and it's very difficult to know whether I am "objective" -- and if (as I suspect) I am not, it's also very difficult to know how to correct this. I have already noted my suspicion that "objectivity" is overrated. But there's a difference between
NOTE: this was originally written for my personal site on May 18, 2018. I then deleted it, and thought about re-publishing. This should give you an idea of how long it takes me to get over my discomfort with sharing my thoughts.
The titular phrase is a part of our workaday lexicon, and I confess that it has always struck me as odd. It is odd because it seems to mean one thing to most people, but whenever I hear it, it sounds like it should mean just the opposite. This strikes me as a microcosm of the collapse of intelligent conversation in the world today. I will also suggest an alternative to this understanding that may be the last great hope for preserving such discourse.
Here's a boring science fiction story. Like all fiction, it is not based on anything real and you definitely shouldn't attempt to draw any real-world conclusions based on the story. I repeat: it is purely fiction. This sort of thing would never really happen.
On planet Gorolbrax in a neighboring galaxy, there was a race of intelligent aliens with a culture as rich and complex as our own. Something interesting about Gorolbraxians is that about half of all of them were fuchsia and the rest were magenta -- and this ratio held true in every society on Gorolbrax. Among Gorolbraxians, there was some debate over which of the two groups was better at certain things, but everyone agreed that both the fuchsia and the magenta Gorolbraxians were vital parts of their planetary life and culture, and that neither group was inherently superior in terms of moral worth. And neither was hands down better at doing all the things Gorolbraxian society valued.
Then a fun new activity swept Gorolbraxian society by storm! They called it "tarandalation" ...
Note: originally posted on my personal site. Date changed here to reflect original posting date as I migrate my blog here.
I want to discuss politics on this blog, but in order to do so I need to develop a vocabulary. I have a meta-political pet peeve which I believe I can name and explain through a discussion of the parlance of magic. In honor of Penn and Teller, I’m going to try to make the world a slightly better place by giving away a secret to a magic trick. This is a big no-no in some parts of the magic world, and so I’m sorry to magicians everywhere. It’s for the greater good...
I write about all sorts of things. This is one of the places where I do it.