Tag Archives: philosophical

May 17 “I Want My”

Money for nothing:

It sounds too good to be true.

Learn more, send me cash.

If an economy is to survive, it needs to be based on a real and sustainable foundation, like goods and services.  I will till your field, you will give me a meal. Then the “services” start getting a little fuzzy around the edges and the whole thing starts to crumble.  And even as Rome burns, people are still fiddling around with get rich quick schemes.

To learn more about how this is, in the long run, a Very Bad Idea, just click the Donate button and drop a thousand bucks in my PayPal account, and I’ll explain it to you personally. Seriously.

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YouTube video: “Dire Straits & Sting – Money for Nothing [Live Aid -85]

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May 2 “Might as well”

To study the past

is to be doomed to believe

you won’t repeat it

…. see what I did there? I turned it around…

The original expression “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is from Spanish-born philospher George Santayana, from his Reason in Common Sense, the first volume of his The Life of Reason.  The idea being that if we dutifully learn about the mistakes of the past, we will be protected from suffering through the consequences of making similar mistakes today.

For example, learning about the Great Depression will ensure that our current economic model is safe and sound, and that no such global economic meltdown will ever happen again.  (cough cough)

Demonstrators protest the proposed 700 billion USD Wall Street bail-out in front of the New York Stock Exchange in the Financial District in New York on September 25, 2008. In response to the global financial crisis, protesters, from a variety of activist groups, denounced the capitalist system, Wall Street and the administration of US President George W, Bush. (Photo credit NICHOLAS ROBERTS/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators protest the proposed 700 billion USD Wall Street bail-out in front of the New York Stock Exchange in the Financial District in New York on September 25, 2008. In response to the global financial crisis, protesters, from a variety of activist groups, denounced the capitalist system, Wall Street and the administration of US President George W, Bush. (Photo credit NICHOLAS ROBERTS/AFP/Getty Images)

click for
YouTube video: “Van Halen – JUMP (live Toronto 1995)
(original David Lee Roth version removed by copyright police, sadly)

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May 1 “Damn Darkness”

Sometimes, late at night,

I like to light a candle

AND curse the darkness.

Some online sources attribute the expression that “it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness” to Eleanor Roosevelt, when in fact it was said ABOUT her, by Adlai Stevenson at her memorial service.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt

It has also been attributed to Carl Sagan, who did make use of the expression in support of his 1995 masterpiece of skeptical thinking: “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark“.

The book is intended to explain the scientific method to laymen, and to encourage people to learn critical or skeptical thinking. It explains methods to help distinguish between ideas that are considered valid science, and ideas that can be considered pseudoscience. Sagan states that when new ideas are offered for consideration, they should be tested by means of skeptical thinking, and should stand up to rigorous questioning.

Sagan presents a set of tools for skeptical thinking which he calls the “baloney detection kit”. Skeptical thinking consists both of constructing a reasoned argument and recognizing a fallacious or fraudulent one. In order to identify a fallacious argument, Sagan suggests the employment of such tools as independent confirmation of facts, quantification and the use of Occam’s razor. Sagan’s “baloney detection kit” also provides tools for detecting “the most common fallacies of logic and rhetoric”, such as argument from authority and statistics of small numbers. Through these tools, Sagan argues the benefits of a critical mind and the self-correcting nature of science can take place.

The phrase appears originally to be a Chinese proverb, perhaps by Confucius.

Apr 30 “Now Then”

What a tangled web:

When plotlines criss-cross in time,

Causation is LOST.

From an article about time travel, on Wikipedia:

David Lewis’ analysis of compossibility and the implications of changing the past is meant to account for the possibilities of time travel […]  without creating logical paradoxes. Consider Lewis’ example of Tim. Tim hates his grandfather and would like nothing more than to kill him. The only problem for Tim is that his grandfather died years ago. Tim wants so badly to kill his grandfather himself that he constructs a time machine to travel back to 1955 when his grandfather was young and kill him then. Assuming that Tim can travel to a time when his grandfather is still alive, the question must then be raised; Can Tim kill his grandfather?

Consider the fact that Tim’s grandfather died in 1993 and not in 1955. This fact about Tim’s situation reveals that him killing his grandfather is not compossible with the current set of facts. […]  So what must happen to Tim as he takes aim? Lewis believes that his gun will jam, a bird will fly in the way, or Tim simply slips on a banana peel. Either way, there will be some logical force of the universe that will prevent Tim every time from killing his grandfather.

“His gun will jam” … This is a device we’ve seen on LOST before!

Actually, the gun jamming occurs a little bit after the events (from season 4) shown in the clip [clip not available]… but the point is what Tom says here, “You can’t kill yourself, the island won’t let you”.  And since the island itself seems to be acting as a giant, barely manageable time travel machine, the whole series begins to look like a primetime TV illustration of David Lewis’ compossibilty argument. Well, among other things.

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