Skip to main content


The Idea of a Hate Crime

Something happened recently at a town very close to mine that has me thinking again about what is a hate crime.

Two 16 year old boys attacked a younger boy, 14 years old. The targeted boy had Down's Syndrome. He also had an iPhone in his possession, and the assailants robbed him of that.

Now: under the relevant state's laws, as I understand them (I speak off the cuff here) -- IF the older boys, whom I will simply call AH, because I don't use crude phrases for the sphincter in this august blog -- if they attacked him because of who he was, because he has Down's Syndrome, that is a hate crime, and they can be punished as adults.

On the other hand, if they attacked him just to steal the iPhone: that is garden variety theft, and they will be punished if caught under the juvenile justice system in play.

I shall of course make no effort to defend or mitigate the AHness of the two AHes. If anything happened at all along the lines reported, their behavior was thoroughly disgus…
Recent posts

David Hume on Tories and Whigs

I'd like to present today, without further ado, something David Hume wrote about the Tories and the Whigs of his day.

As no party, in the present age can well support itself without a philosophical or speculative system of principles annexed to its political or practical one; we accordingly find that each of the factions into which this nation is divided has reared up a fabric of the former kind, in order to protect and cover that scheme of actions which it pursues. ... The one party [defenders of the absolute and divine right of kings, or Tories], by tracing up government to the DEITY, endeavor to render it so sacred and inviolate that it must be little less than sacrilege, however tyrannical it may become, to touch or invade it in the smallest article. The other party [the Whigs, or believers in constitutional monarchy], by founding government altogether on the consent of the PEOPLE suppose that there is a kind of original contract by which the subjects have tacitly reserved the…

Quite suddenly, a web based operation called went dark last month.A casualty of the spike in natural gas prices. More accurately, it was a casualty of hubris, as manifest in a failure to hedge against natural gas prices.
The suckers -- excuse me, its investors -- received an email November 15 with the subject line "Catastrophic Loss Event." 
The catastrophic loss was that had bet heavily that natural gas prices would NOT suddenly spike any time soon. As the chart I've pasted on to this blog post indicates ... nat gas prices spiked in a big way. 
This was part of the pitch that you might have encountered had you gone onto their website before the spike. "Stocks are great, until they aren't. Options are better, but most make the mistake of buying them." 
OOOOOh, I see, so the trick is to be on the SELLING side. Taking a small amount of money in return for a promise to pay off later if specified events happen in the market. It's easy t…

Adolf Grünbaum, RIP

Adolf Grünbaum died on November 15. 

He was a professor of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh perhaps best known as an outspoken critic of Freudianism and psychoanalysis more broadly.


This book was in its own way as much a criticism of Popper as of Freud. Psychoanalysis was the paradigmatic case of a pseudo-science for Popper. It was unfalsifiable and thus not a science, but rather a structure of ideas falsely marketing itself as a science.

Popper, though, did not maintain that it was meaningless, or valueless. Had Freud considered himself an author of creative, imaginative, prose he would have been on the right side of the demarcation Popper sought to enforce. 

As Grünbaum tells the story, that was misguided. As the Popperian critique itself became conventional, some of Freud's admirers complied with it, on the master's behalf. And so was born the "hermeneutic" school of Freudianism…

What is Science?

What we nowadays call science is a specific practice that developed within a specific time and place, that is, within, Europe beginning around 1500, that is, during Columbus's voyages. This was also, I believe, around the time when a Polish fellow whose Latin name was Copernicus was taking up in a serious way the study of astronomy, where he would in time make a name for himself.

The Empty Box

I included a comic in yesterday's post -- one which mentioned the Buddha is a hypothetical sort of way Today, we will invoke an actual carton image OF said Buddha.

This is funny and thought provoking.

If the recipient is pleased with the box, then the gift is the box, not the absent coffee maker.

Had the Buddha been confused or unhappy about the empty box, the giver would have apologized and run off to fetch the coffee maker. 

A superposition of possibilities here. Would this be like Schrodinger's cat?

Let's not try to press that thought too hard....

On the Use of "They"

Perhaps I'm just being a curmudgeon, but I really wish people would stop using "they" as a neuter third-person singular pronoun.

There are two situations in which the grassroots seem very recently to have decided that this is acceptable, whereas it until very very recently would have been a barbarism. There is (a) the case of the individual whose sex is not know to me and (b) the case of the individual who "identifies as non-binary" and who prefers "they."

The former case includes, "A child was in danger, so they had to be helped," where the sex of the child is unknown, or the child is hypothetical and the sex is not important to the hypothesis. In the old days, one would have gone with the generic "he" here. In our own enlightened time, "he/she" seems still to be available, though "they" is gaining ground.

Perhaps the people have spoken. Those bastards.

The use of "they' in the above comic is somewher…