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Showing posts from January, 2016

Dorothy Lee Sayers

A quote from Sayers on education, from a 1947 essay:

For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.

That insight was one she brought home to her readers through such personal questions as this:

Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that to-day, when the proportion of literacy throughout Western Europe is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass-propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard-of and unimagined? Do you put this down to the mere mechanical fact that the press and the radio and so on have made propaganda much easier to

Nurse Jackie

Nurse Jackie is the weekly TV program Edie Falco did after The Sopranos wrapped. I was thinking while I watched an episode via Netflix recently that my mother, who was a nurse 'back in the day,' would love the show.

But then I considered the drug-addicted character Falco plays and I thought ... oh, maybe not. Mom has a sense of humor about nursing but she has old-fashioned ideas about what kind of stories ought to be told.

Jackie as portrayed in the series is such a mess of a human being that it is hard to imagine the series having been a hit without the genius of Ms Falco. She had made Carmela Soprano sympathetic, she could do so with Jackie Peyton.

I was fascinated by a subplot of episode 4, season 1, in which Jackie's daughter Grace is diagnosed with having an "anxiety disorder" on the basis of such facts as that, when encouraged to draw something with crayons, she created a picture with grays and blacks, i.e. with no proper colors. Jackie's reaction (and…

Paul Tillich: A Quotation

The great mid-20th-century theologian Paul Tillich wrote the words italicized below. They are worth repeating because it seems, reading them, as if Tillich is responding to some of the misguided evangelicals of our day, who want to turn Creation into "intelligent design" and repackage it as "science" for secondary schools.

"Knowledge of revelation does not increase our knowledge about the structures of nature, history, and man. Whenever a claim to knowledge is made on this level, it must be subjected to the experimental tests through which truth is established. If such a claim is made in the name of revelation or of any other authority, it must be disregarded, and the ordinary methods of research and verification must be applied. ...Knowledge of revelation is knowledge about the revelation of the mystery of being to us, not information about the nature of beings and their relation to one another."  
SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, Vol. 1

Since Martin Luther King day…

Updating the password list

One of the pains of contemporary life is the need to keep a list of one's computer/internet passwords somewhere.

In my case, at least, that place is a physical piece of paper, always in a "secure location." I spend so much time on-line that the list has grown to be fairly long. Further, I haven't been able to get away with just having one password and using it in a lot of different contexts. The different sites where I log on with passwords have different rules about what is and isn't allowed, and some require regular change in passwords, etc. So the list keeps getting longer.

One of my year-end chores (which, yes, I'm getting around to rather tardily this year) involves a review of the list, with all the scratch-outs and revisions that I have inserted there over the last twelve months, and the creation of a new clean version of it.

Oh what fun. Makes me glad I saw a movie about a year ago about Alan Turing. I feel like both the Germans and the Brits in tha…

Calenders for 2016

I have a Dilbert day-by-day calendar again this year.

Saturday and Sunday share a single page, each day of the work week has a page, and a comic, of ots own.

I'll quote here the comic for January 9/10. Dilbert is sitting at his desk, the pointy-haired boss is standing behind him.

Boss asks, "Do we have any actionable analytics from our Big Data in the cloud?"

Dilbert, "Yes, the data shows that my productivity plunges whenever you learn new jargon."

Boss, "Maybe in-memory computing will accelerate your applications."

Dilbert, "Plunge, plunge, plunge."

I also have a month by month wall calendar, aptly titled "Puppies," in which I'll be greeted each month by another cure dog-child. January greets me with a photo of a babe beagle, running about in grass with an orange ball in his mouth.

Finally, am the proud possessor of a desk book for appointments. For the first time in several years, I'm NOT using one from American Exp…

Philosophers Alphabetized

Just as an arbitrary exercise, I thought I'd compile an alphabetical list thus:




The greatest philosopher whose name began with A was/is ... etc. 

All choices are  arbitrary. Obviously this is NOT a list of the 26th greatest thinkers, and if I drew up such a list a one-per-letter result would be a very odd coincidence. 

Here, then, is what I came up with.

Averroes (portrayed above); 
[Henri] Bergson; 
[Albert] Camus; 
[Rene] Descartes; 
[Mary Baker] Eddy; 
[Gustav] Fechner; 
[Kurt] Godel; 
[Anne] Hutchinson; 
Isaac Israeli the Elder; 
[William] James; 
[Immanuel] Kant; 
[Georg] Lukacs; 
[G.E.] Moore; 
Nishida; 
Ockham; 
[Blaise] Pascal; 
[W.V.O.] Quine; 
[Josiah] Royce; 
Socrates; 
[Leo] Tolstoy; 
[Dmitri] Uznadze; 
[Hans] Vaihinger; 
[Ludwig] Wittgenstein; 
Xun Kuang; 
[William Butler] Yeats; 
Zeno of Elea.

Yes, I've rather deliberately snubbed some big traditional names. Neither Plato nor Aristotle, neither Marx nor Hegel, neither Hobbes nor Locke. Marxists might be mollified a mite by my use of the lette…

The Prevalence of Fear

I can do nothing better for you today, dear reader, than reference John B., at "I, Ciceronianus."

He has written a fine blog entry on the prevalence of fear.

Click here and enjoy.