Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Coyote Ugly

Maggy was home for my
birthday. I drove her back to New York Sunday morning in time for her shift at Coyote Ugly. My sister suggested visiting her at the bar - something I probably never would have done alone.

She says there are a lot of bad pictures of her at the bar. Here's another.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Africa and Sister Agnes

Sister Agnes said there was no point in studying Africa because it changed so much. She was reputed to be in her eighties when she was my high school history teacher in 1965. So, perhaps it had changed a lot in her lifetime. Wouldn't that be all the more reason to study it? Anyway, it remains a gap in my otherwise fine Catholic school education.

In my continuing effort to fill the gaps, I found these maps. I posted the map of Africa over the kitchen sink. I admit that at first glance I can only accurately place four or five countries on the map. And there are several countries whose names I don't recognize. Ask me again next month.

Then perhaps I'll move on to Carl Sandburg. "Fog comes in on little cat feet..." was okay. But "Chicago" was not poetry 'cause it was ugly. If Sister Agnes read this she'd be furious that I used the contraction... Or perhaps my spelling of Sandburg. I tried to confirm it with a Vivisimo search and found 204 references to Sandburg and 77 references to Sandberg. This is surely not an area where majority should rule.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Philosophy and Ideology

I've been enjoying Ron Suskind's book The Price of Loyalty, about Paul O'Neill's two years as Secretary of the Treasury, partly for the insight into the Bush administration and partly for the similarity to my last job. O'Neill was shocked by Cheney's position, ("Reagan proved deficits don't matter. We won the midterms. This is our due.") in the debate over further tax cuts in the face of rising deficits in late 2002. O'Neill "thought that, clearly, there's no coherent philosophy that could support such a claim," and started to ponder the difference between philosophy and ideology.

"I think an ideology comes out of feelings and it tends to be non-thinking. A philosophy, on the other hand, can have a structured thought base. One would hope that a philosophy, which is always a work in progress, is influenced by facts. So there is a constant interplay between what do I think and why do I think it..." I think many of us in the Reality Based Community are asking those questions continually. In June I wrote something similar about knowledge vs belief.

Recently in this discussion of evolution a writer putting forth his "Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis" refers to the "Darwinian Myth." Another commenter, skillfully and politely questioning the hypothesis leads him to this astonishing position:

"I have great difficulty applying logic to evolutionary matters. The major weakness in the Darwinian scheme is the fact that superficially it seems very logical. That does not make it correct. Hypotheses have to be reasonable - facts don't. An hypothesis does not cease to be an hypothesis when a lot of people believe it."

He may be making a logical leap to "Everything outside the set of 'reasonable things' is fact." Or "The set of things people believe in does not intersect the set of things that are true." Or a number of other logical errors.

This serves to drive me closer to Greenspan's recent exhortation that the best thing we can do for the economy is to educate middle and high school people better. I think, to some degree, that would make it easier to continue to educate people after they leave school. I'm often frustrated when I don't have enough information to reach a reasonable conclusion, but I'm increasingly infuriated by people (including some of my liberal friends) who have little or no information to support their positions.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Dark Wraith

Dark Wraith has the most interesting thing going about tax reform and national sales tax here - part 1 and here part 2.