1x59cvjb_mojtouxmkbihsq

“When we’re trying to recreate an intellectual milieu, even one that’s relatively recent, we invariably discover that the vast majority of the sources we need to do such a thing have been swallowed up by oblivion and lost forever. Sometimes those that remain—e.g., Plato’s dialogues—remain because they were the best of the best, works of great importance. But this isn’t always (or even usually) the case. Sources often survive for largely accidental reasons. Regardless, the temptation to exaggerate the significance of what we have has proven irresistible for generations of intellectual historians. As the philosopher Aaron Haspel puts it in Everything (2015): “The parable of the drunk looking for his keys under the street lamp, where the light is better, explains vast swaths of intellectual history.” (John Faithful Hamer, Touch They’re Real in his blog Committing Sociology)

As always things are not as simple as they seem at the first glance – otherwise we wouldn’t have had a parable to start with, would we?

Basically the drunkard is doing the only reasonable thing available to him. Searching in the lightless park would be completely pointless but what if somebody else had lost a wallet in the lighted area?

Aaron Haspel is also right. Our intellectual history consists indeed of whatever cultural artifacts have been lucky enough to survive. Considered important enough by a sufficient number of people so they helped preserve it to the present day.
Or, evidently, both!

I’d like to direct your attention to ‘Considered important enough by a sufficient number of people’.
You see, the drunkard was looking under the street lamp because ‘This is where the light is’. He was reacting rather sensibly to a real situation.

But what if the reality of something is not so easily ascertainable? What if it’s a ‘second degree’ reality, one that is constantly (re)created by human intercourse? Like people choosing which book to keep and which one to through into a bonfire?

fahrenheit451

Or even a ‘third degree’ reality? One that is imagined by someone who tries to assess the wishes of somebody else?

“Politicians are fooled into thinking corporate welfare is important to voters because politicians spend an inordinate amount of time with the powerful people to whom corporate welfare is vitally important. That’s why every candidate who has tried to win Iowa has prostrated him or herself before ethanol.”

You certainly guessed it. This paragraph will be about the ‘fourth degree’ reality. The one we, the voters, bring upon ourselves at the ballot box. After having carefully considered each candidate and his or her programme. Or having voted with ‘that particular one’ just because  …

The point I’m trying to make here being that this ‘fourth degree reality’ is not at all ‘virtual’, in the manner the second and the third ones are. In fact this ‘fourth degree’ reality is exactly the one where we have to live. Where we are faced with the consequences of the choices we, ourselves, have made while bringing it about.

cruzmeme

“That was done by somebody named John Fugelsang, who somehow thinks he’s funny. At least he has the courage or naivete (you decide) to own up to such stupid overgeneralizing, of a company-line liberal sort that panders to a sycophantic gaggle of Cruz-hating left-wing foamers. [I’ve hosted the image locally in case the creator sees this essay and tries to delete it from his social media out of shame and embarrassment…sorry, man, too late–it’s on the record now!”

“The Candidate is a natural born citizen by virtue of being born in Canada/(Hawaii) to his mother who was a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth,” the board said, explaining Cruz/(Obama) met the criteria because he “did not have to take any steps or go through a naturalization process at some point after birth.”

Wow… That settles it… Both are indeed ‘natural born citizens’ so the only relevant thing here is the manner in which people relate to a ‘delicate’ subject.
Some tend to let themselves be driven by sentiment rather than reason while others change their minds according to their most immediate interest.

September 9, 2015, at a rally in Washington against the deal with Iran:

“Despite being rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, Cruz and Trump enjoy an unusually cozy relationship. Cruz, who invited Trump to the rally because he would bring the spotlight, praised the real estate mogul as “my friend” and the two men embraced on stage.”

“I hear it was checked out by every attorney and every which way and I understand Ted is in fine shape,” Trump told ABC News just before speaking at a Capitol Hill rally blasting the Iran nuclear deal.

Fast forward to January, 2015.

“Donald Trump doubled down on rival Ted Cruz’s citizenship Monday night, again questioning whether the Canadian-born Texas senator is eligible for the presidency.
“My new battle is with a gentleman named Ted Cruz,” the billionaire real-estate mogul said at a rally in Farmington, N.H. “The Canadian, the man from Canada.””

“But Trump has begun to raise an issue that could have deeper resonance. He criticized his principal GOP rival as trying to portray himself as “Mr. Robin Hood — he’s gonna protect you from the horrible Wall Street bankers,” when he took a loan from Goldman Sachs, his wife’s employer, for his Senate campaign, which he didn’t fully disclose.”

“Cruz noted that Trump in September said Cruz’s Canadian birth did not disqualify him for the White House since his mother was an American citizen. Now, he has changed his mind.
“Now since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed,” Cruz said, “but the poll numbers have.”
Trump acknowledged as much, saying that Cruz didn’t seem like a threat before, but now is neck-and-neck with him in the Iowa polls.”

perspective09

During this exchange Cruz brought back into the limelight an almost forgotten movie:
cruz jumping the shark

“That’s the scene that brought into our parlance the use of the term “jumping the shark” to signify that someone’s relevancy had reached it’s zenith and was in decline.”

Prophetic words?
For which one of them?

Anyway, my ‘democratic conundrum‘ is still unsolved.

Gov. John Kasich, maybe?

kasich, the underdog

Oscar Hoffman, an excellent Professor of Sociology at the Bucharest University, kept telling us, his students:

“For a proposition to be ‘true’ it is not enough for it to be ‘logical’, it also has to make sense from the epistemological point of view.”

Rather hard to swallow, specially for young individuals… and since most students tend to be … well… at least young at heart… it wasn’t simple for us to follow him.

Here’s a story that might help.

“A young man knocks on the door of a great Talmudic scholar.

“Rabbi, I wish to study Talmud.”

“Do you know Aramaic?”

“No.”

“Hebrew?”

“No.”

“Have you ever studied Torah?”

“No, Rabbi, but I graduated from Harvard summa cum laude in philosophy, and received a PhD from Yale. I’d like to round out my education with a bit of Talmud.”

“I doubt that you are ready for Talmud. It is the broadest and deepest of books. If you wish, however, I will examine you in logic, and if you pass the test I will teach you Talmud.”

“Good. I’m well versed in logic.”

“First question. Two burglars come down a chimney. One emerges with a clean face, the other with a dirty face. Which one washes his face?”

“The burglar with the dirty face.”

“Wrong. The one with the clean face. Examine the logic. The burglar with a dirty face looks at the one with a clean face and thinks his face is clean. The one with a clean face looks at the burglar with a dirty face and thinks his face is dirty. So the one with the clean face washes.”

“Very clever. Another question please.”

“Two burglars come down a chimney. One emerges with a clean face, the other with a dirty face. Which one washes his face?”

“We established that. The burglar with the clean face washes.”

“Wrong. Both wash. Examine the logic. The one with a dirty face thinks his face is clean. The one with a clean face thinks his face is dirty. So the burglar with a clean face washes. When the one with a dirty face sees him washing, however, he realizes his face must be dirty too. Thus both wash.”

“I didn’t think of that. Please ask me another.”

“Two burglars come down a chimney. One emerges with a clean face, the other with a dirty face. Which one washes his face?”

“Well, we know both wash.”

“Wrong. Neither washes. Examine the logic. The one with the dirty face thinks his face is clean. The one with the clean face thinks his face is dirty. But when clean-face sees that dirty-face doesn’t bother to wash, he also doesn’t bother. So neither washes. As you can see, you are not ready for Talmud.”

“Rabbi, please, give me one more test.”

“Two burglars come down a chimney. One emerges with a clean face, the other with a dirty face. Which one washes his face?”

“Neither!”

“Wrong. And perhaps now you will see why Harvard and Yale cannot prepare you for Talmud. Tell me, how is it possible that two men come down the same chimney, and one emerges with a clean face, while the other has a dirty face?”

“But you’ve just given me four contradictory answers to the same question! That’s impossible!”

“No, my son, that’s Talmud.”

OK, but where’s the promised link?

Well, who wrote the Talmud in the first place?

A countless number of people who have figured out there’s no such thing as a definitive answer for any question?
That books should be written to help other people develop their minds, not to ‘mold’ them?
That books should be read as an exercise for the ‘thinking muscle’, not in (vain) search for ‘the absolute wisdom’?

Still looking for that link?
Keep reading, only take greater care when choosing them books.

(another version of the same story ends up like this:

“Goldstein is desperate. “I am qualified to study Talmud. Please give me one more test.”

He groans, though, when the rabbi lifts two fingers. “Two men come down a chimney. One comes out with a clean face, the other comes out with a dirty face. Which one washes his face?”

“Neither one washes his face.”

“Wrong. Do you now see, Sean, why Socratic logic is an insufficient basis for studying Talmud? Tell me, how is it possible for two men to come down the same chimney, and for one to come out with a clean face and the other with a dirty face? Don’t you see? The whole question is “narishkeit”, foolishness, and if you spend your whole life trying to answer foolish questions, all your answers will be foolish, too.”

May we all have the wisdom to ask, and answer, the wise questions!)

As an engineer, raised in a communist country by rather atheist parents and heavily influenced by an agnostic grandmother, I am more than skeptic about the mystic side of the religious phenomenon and deeply suspicious whenever people pretend to be able to ‘see’ things – irrespective of whatever method they claim to be using.

However.

When in college I used to read way more than what I was supposed to and to follow, unofficially, some subjects in no way connected with my major.
That’s how I came across a very interesting idea promoted by a literary critic – whose name I unfortunately cannot remember:
Whenever trying to asses the value of a text stay focused exclusively on the written word. Do not let other information influence your judgement, for instance those about the life-style of the author‘.

For an engineer this makes a lot of sense, isn’t it?
What do I care if the guy who produced an elegant blue-print was a womanizer, a drunkard or a whore, as long as the machinery depicted there worked as advertised?

Or I can make a step further and ask myself ‘what do I care about the reason behind someone publishing a text which contains something that makes a lot of sense?’

Is he trying to manipulate me (into doing/believing something)?
OK, I’ll figure that out independently, after I’m done evaluating the text itself.
Should I do my best to ascertain if what is said there makes as much sense as it seemed to do when I first glanced at it?
Of course, but shouldn’t that be my standing policy, regardless of who ever wrote it?

After this rather lengthy ‘overture’ I’d like you to read this excerpt:

“Yesterday when I pastored church, I addressed how to curtail our need to demonize that which frightens us. Fear begets fear. For many right now, that fear is Islam. For those confused by the concept of Islam, or who believe that all Muslims are terrorists, this guy being interviewed on the video below hits the nail on the head in spite of the leading questions by CNN, who didn’t enjoy his honest factual answers that couldn’t be manipulated and don’t support the American vitriol towards this religion.

Before we become part of the extremist problem by pushing *extreme* ideals that we claim are the “god’s honest truth” because we read it online so we’re passing around propaganda that supports our freak-out and subsequently causing others to freak out, let’s get our heads in the game. Let’s get our facts straight rather than purporting fan-fiction authored in fear. We can’t address a terror problem if we’re insisting on creating a war with every Muslim on earth. That’s not addressing a problem. That’s starting one. That’s ignorance and it’s dangerous ignorance at that — just as dangerous as extremist Muslims who want to war after every other religion.”

Does it make sense?

Yes, particularly where it says that “We can’t address a terror problem if we’re insisting on creating a war with every Muslim on earth. That’s not addressing a problem. That’s starting one.

Is it manipulative in any way?
Click on the link and decide for yourself.

Then should I care about the author, Danielle Egnew, being “an internationally renowned Psychic and Medium”?
Well, I’m sharing her words, don’t I?

After all, who am I to say that ‘something like this cannot exist’ if it’s right here, in front of my very own eyes?
How, and why, did it get there?
That’s something else, but I cannot question it’s existence simply because I’m not sure about, or I don’t agree with, how it came to my attention.

 

 

I published yesterday a post on this subject. In Romanian.

Today I stumbled upon another article which uses almost the very same manipulative tools. In English this time.

legal public urination

“Of all the things one could think of that New York City needs more of, public urination doesn’t immediately come to mind. But New York’s City Council, which is so far left it almost collides with the right, is about to make it happen thanks to it’s Speaker, a Puerto Rican nationalist who supports terrorists and rejects the Pledge of Allegiance.”

 Now can someone explain to me how can decriminalizing something be interpreted as an encouragement towards that something?
And what’s the use of making it a crime to urinate or to drink in public? A crime? Something that will be written into your rap sheet and follow you all your life?
Let’s imagine for a moment that you are a 19 year old who had one too many beers. And had to take a leak. A cop happens to be in the area. Now tell me what are the chances that he’ll look the other way if you’re white? And if you’re black?
Do you understand, at least now, what the ‘liberal official who sponsored this change’ meant by ‘helping the minorities reach their full potential’?
Who’s going to give a real chance to a ‘minority’ with a criminal record? Who has the time to check that his only crime was ‘public urination’? Or that he had a beer in front of his porch? Not exactly in front of his porch, because he used to live in a ‘public housing facility’ but you get the general idea…
Reality check no 1.
How about providing some places where people can relieve themselves? Porta-johns for instance? Or functional public rest-rooms in all New York subway stations?
Now I’m wondering what the author meant by “But New York’s City Council, which is so far left it almost collides with the right, is about to make it happen thanks to it’s Speaker, a Puerto Rican nationalist who supports terrorists and rejects the Pledge of Allegiance.“?
What has the Pledge of Allegiance have to do with anything? What’s the relevance of the Speaker’s ethnicity, beyond the fact that belonging to a minority increased her awareness of the way the minorities are treated by some of the law enforcement officers?
And how come a ‘supporter of terrorism’ has been elected Speaker in the first place?
What’s going on here?

deveselu

La prima vedere sunt niste traiectorii ale unor rachete care lovesc teritoriul Rusiei.

Nu e chiar asa. In realitate este vorba despre modul in care ar urma sa functioneze, daca ar fi vreodata cazul, sistemul de aparare impotriva eventualelor rachete Iraniene Shabab.

Imi cer scuze pentru rezolutia proasta – care adanceste impresia despre care vorbeam. Am incercat sa gasesc imaginea si in alta parte dar nu am reusit. In consecinta am fost nevoit sa o copiez pe cea din articolul care mi-a oferit ‘materialul didactic’. Pentru a intelege mai bine despre ce este vorba dati un click pe poza si cititi-l inante de a merge mai departe.

Avem de a face, pentru a nu stiu cata oara, cu o subtila manevra de intoxicare. Mi-e greu sa spun, dupa ce am citit doar un singur articol, care sunt scopurile intreprinderii dar mijloacele folosite sunt limpezi ca apa de izvor.

Autorul articolului se face ca incurca doua planuri ale aceleiasi probleme.
Comportamentul americanilor si comportamentul nostru.
Americanii ne-au cerut voie sa faca o baza aici, in anumite conditii, si acum folosesc acea baza in conditiile agreate.
Noi ne-am lasat sa ajungem in starea deplorabila in care suntem astazi.
Din scrisele autorului rezulta, indirect, ca americanii ar fi de vina pentru situatia in care suntem noi acum.
Acestia sunt mentionati, nefavorabil, de nu stiu cate ori. In schimb ‘preocuparile’ “liderilor tarii” (noastre) sunt amintite doar o singura data si tot doar o data vine vorba si despre ‘sovietici’ – si asta abia atunci cand este discutata provenienta bateriilor de rachete antiaeriene.
Intrebarea e ‘ce facem de-acum incolo?’
Ne hotaram si noi odata cu cine votam?
Si mai ales ne asumam, odata si odata, raspunderea pentru propria soarta?
In mod real, nu doar sa ne obraznicim in stanga si-n dreapta.
Nu asta e sensul cuvintelor lui Horea.
“Ce e rau în robie nu e atîta robia, rau îi ca daca trece prea multa vreme omu se învata cu ea; cu robia, cu frica, cu supunerea, cu saru`mâna, sa fie BATJOCORIT si sa nu-i mai pese, se învata ca pasarea cea proasta cu colivia, care uita c-o si stiut zbura oarecândva, sau se teme sa nu afle stapânul ca n-o uitat sa zboare. Numai ca amu cu voie de la împarat ori ba, AM ÎNVATAT CA SE POATE!”

I recently shared this meme on my FB wall:

when_i_was_poor_and_i_complained_about_inequality_they_said_i_was_bitter_2014-07-23

This is what happened next:
No two people are the same.“”That’s why I prefer equal opportunities instead of equality.
No two opportunities are the same. What you might consider an opportunity I might pass up. It’s a very diverse world we live in, a wide one in which hopefully everyone can be accommodated.

‘Can be’ or ‘will be’?

And who is the real looser here?

Let’s see what the broad picture looks like:

The world’s super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy.”

Meanwhile

education debt

And what’s wrong with that?!?
Everyone has the right to do what ever he wants with his money and why should anyone expect to be educated for free?!?

OK, let me put it differently.

Every society is like a big community, even if its members do not share an intimate knowledge of each-other.
At least theoretically an overwhelming majority of any nation share the same set of values and the same goal – the long term survival of both the population and the afore mentioned set of values.

Now please consider which society would be better at the game of survival:

One which would make it easier for as many of its members to develop as much of their individual potential as possible or one that would make it easier for a small number of its members to spirit away so much wealth that the rest would remain crippled?

One which would use the very concept of a ‘free market’ as broadly as possible – make sure that as many as possible of its members enjoy the widest possible autonomy – or one that would allow the ‘never as free as advertised’ market to degenerate into the ‘winner takes it all‘ situation we are bound to reach if we continue on our present course?

How could enough people afford to ‘wander around’ for long enough to find the opportunities that would fit them if they are saddled at birth with a huge burden – the ever burgeoning national debt?
Would enough people risk to take on any additional debt (in order to prepare themselves to make better use of the opportunities they might find) if too many of those opportunities, even if met diligently, do not pay enough to ‘eat’ AND pay back the debt?

How is a society going to survive, let alone thrive, if a lot of ‘opportunities’ (social needs) end up being ‘plugged’ by unfitting/under-skilled/’less than enthusiastic’ individuals? Or not at all?

On the ‘supply side’, what do you think of those who choose to dodge paying taxes?
On the ‘demand side’, what do you think of those who squander public money as if there is no tomorrow?

So what should we be talking about? Equality or Equal Breadth of Opportunity?
About the Bed of Procrustes or about a ‘Free Market’ where all participants are simultaneously autonomous and fully aware of their responsibility for their children’s future?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 358 other followers

%d bloggers like this: