Saturday, October 31, 2015

What! No smartphone...

They thought, therefore they were, and that was that..

Leibniz did publish one huge book, the Theodicy, and edited a number of other sizeable volumes which collected together documents he had transcribed from unpublished manuscripts held all across Europe. So a request for double-weighting would likely have been met with little resistance.

But of course the Ref is not all about the number and quality of outputs. How would Leibniz have fared on the other criteria – impact, and contribution to his research environment?

Pretty well for both, as is happens. Sure, he failed at the time to find an impactful use for some of his research, such as his discovery of binary arithmetic, which eventually had a huge impact when used as the basis for modern computing more than 250 years later.

But even allowing for this, the impact narratives that Leibniz could have written over the course of his career would still have been mightily impressive. After all, he rewrote the legal code for Mainz; built the first fully functional calculating machine that could do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; advised high-ranking officials and royalty on matters of public policy; and established the Berlin Society of Sciences.

It is much trickier to assess Leibniz’s contribution to his research environment, as there wasn’t really a research environment that he could contribute to. After all, he never held an academic post, and instead spent most of his life as a court counsellor and librarian in the relatively small German town of Hanover, often complaining that there were few people there he could speak to about his scholarly pursuits.

This non-academic career path also meant that Leibniz did not supervise any PhD students to completion or undertake any external examining. He did, however, have an impressive record of grant capture, inasmuch as he was often successful in getting his employer to provide financial backing for his research projects, such as his scheme to build windmills to drain the silver mines of the Harz mountains (which cost 2270 thalers, a sum almost four times Leibniz’s annual salary at the time), and a two-year trip to visit a number of historical archives across Europe.

Ultimately, then, we can say that Leibniz probably would have thrived if the Ref had existed in his day, and in fact would have been a Ref superstar. But the irony, of course, is that he (and all of the other great philosophers) managed to achieve all that he did without the incentive provided by the Ref.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Computers Alive? by Hoyt W. Huggins

Do computers facilitate, or do they control? How would you answer if you thought the computers were coming to life? Ponder the madness of computer intelligence in control of our vast network of communications, logistics, and weapon systems. Science fiction nonsense? But surely history is replete with science fiction "told-you-so's." Moreover, there have been hundreds of non-fiction works published over the past 20 years which seriously declare that computer consciousness is not only possible but likely.

With the possible exceptions of IBM and AT&T, the U.S. Air Force stands out like no other organization in its image of vast modern technology packed full of computers. Surely we should be the last to be unclear on this matter of machine intelligence--even for a discussion over a Friday beer at the club.

In hopes the reader will finish with at least a more comfortable answer to the first question, let us apply a cool but decidedly unmechanical approach to the issue.

One of the oldest computer jokes around tells of the latest IBM creation being fed the entire works of Saint Thomas Aquinas and then being asked, "Is there a God?" After a few tense seconds, a printout appears with the words, "There is now."

Despite its antiquity, this story serves well to keynote the eerie feelings that grip some of us as we learn of the amazing capabilities of today's computers. Moreover, the apprehension goes back further than the joke.

In the last century, English author Samuel Butler wrote "The Destruction of the Machines of Erewhon," foreshadowing serious consideration of machine life by many later experts. For most of us, this kind of speculation vaguely agitates our common sense, but few of us do more than shrug it off, and some of us believe it might actually be possible. As with many other subjects, we have become victims of our dependence on the "explanations" of the experts instead of masters of our own analyzing abilities.

This time, let's respond to our common sense, consult known scientific knowledge, examine the data, and get at the truth. We can begin by reviewing Butler's forebodings.

Butler feared that man would continue to evolve machines of increasing propensity for becoming living species. In fact, he wondered if they were already conscious, patiently plotting their evolutionary perfection and eventual domination of the world. If not, he was sure that one day man would produce a mutant having consciousness and independence. Moreover, he implied that the machine's consciousness would spring into being--like Pallas Athena, fully panoplied--with a value system underpinned by self- survival. You see, Butler's machines would just naturally view man as both enemy and servant: a threat to survival, yet essential to it. The machines would therefore ruthlessly conquer and mercilessly control mankind, that is, unless the hapless victims acted quickly to destroy all machines.

Butler quite obviously did not understand the concept consciousness. Just as obviously, he did not understand the conceptualization process required for extending the primitive survival instinct to the abstraction threat. Let us deal first with the latter.

Read more....

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why "Sacrifice" Means Loss, Not Gain, by Craig Biddle

"If we want our concepts and definitions to serve their proper purpose, which is to mentally unite essentially similar things and differentiate them from essentially different things, then we have to define words correctly....

"Actions intended to result in a net loss, or those that result in such a loss due to lack of forethought or effort, are essentially different from those intended to result in a net gain. Properly formed concepts and definitions account for these differences. 'Sacrifice,' 'forfeit,' and the like refer to actions that render a net loss; 'trade,' 'profit,' and the like refer to those that render a net gain."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Could you kill baby Hitler?

Given certain assumptions, this isn't a hard question. Assume that going back in time merely eliminates Hitler, and that the sole effect of that is that the Nazi Party lacks a charismatic leader and never takes power in Germany, and World War II and the Holocaust are averted, and nothing worse than World War II transpires in this alternate reality, and there are no unintended negative consequences of time travel. Then the question is reduced to, "Is it ethical to kill one person to save 40-plus million people?" That's pretty easy. You don't have to be a die-hard utilitarian to think one baby is an acceptable price to pay to save tens of millions of lives.

But, of course, those assumptions are strong. Too strong. Here are just a few of the issues you'd need to sort out before even starting to intelligently consider whether killing baby Hitler would be wise.


Why Nietzsche had to part company with the only other creative genius he had over known ...

From an early age Nietzsche was passionately fond of music, and by the time he was a student he was a highly competent pianist who impressed his peers by his ability to improvise.  In the 1860s Wagner’s star was rising.  He began receiving the support of King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1864; Tristan and Isolde had been given its premiere in 1865, The Meistersingers was premiered in 1868, Das Rheingold in 1869, and Die Walküre in 1870.  Although opportunities to see operas performed were limited, both because of location and finances, Nietzsche and his student friends had obtained a piano score of Tristan and were great admirers of what they considered the “music of the future.”

Nietzsche and Wagner became close after Nietzsche began visiting Wagner, his wife Cosmia, and their children at Tribschen, a beautiful house beside Lake Lucerne, about a two hour train ride from Basle where Nietzsche was a professor of classical philology.  In their outlook on life and music they were both heavily influenced by Schopenhauer.  Schopenhauer viewed life as essentially tragic, stressed the value of the arts in helping human beings cope with the miseries of existence, and accorded pride of place to music as the purest expression of the ceaselessly striving Will that underlay the world of appearances and constituted the inner essence of the world.

Wagner had written extensively about music and culture in general, and Nietzsche shared his enthusiasm for trying to revitalize culture through new forms of art.  In his first published work, The Birth of Tragedy (1872), Nietzsche argued that Greek tragedy emerged “out of the spirit of music,” fueled by a dark, irrational “Dionysian” impulse which, when harnessed by “Apollonian” principles of order, eventually gave rise to the great tragedies of poets like Aeschylus and Sophocles.  But then the rationalist tendency evident in the plays Euripides, and most of all in the philosophical approach of Socrates, came to dominate, thereby killing the creative impulse behind Greek tragedy.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Governments cannot dictate either discovery or invention...

To most people, the argument for public funding of science rests on a list of the discoveries made with public funds, from the Internet (defense science in the U.S.) to the Higgs boson (particle physics at CERN in Switzerland). But that is highly misleading. Given that government has funded science munificently from its huge tax take, it would be odd if it had not found out something. This tells us nothing about what would have been discovered by alternative funding arrangements.

And we can never know what discoveries were not made because government funding crowded out philanthropic and commercial funding, which might have had different priorities. In such an alternative world, it is highly unlikely that the great questions about life, the universe and the mind would have been neglected in favor of, say, how to clone rich people’s pets.

The perpetual-innovation machine that feeds economic growth and generates prosperity is not the result of deliberate policy at all, except in a negative sense. Governments cannot dictate either discovery or invention; they can only make sure that they don’t hinder it. Innovation emerges unbidden from the way that human beings freely interact if allowed. Deep scientific insights are the fruits that fall from the tree of technological change.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Archvillain Ellsworth Toohey’s growth from childhood up to adulthood..

"Ellsworth Monkton Toohey was seven years old when he turned the hose upon Johnny Stokes, as Johnny was passing by the Toohey lawn, dressed in his best Sunday suit. Johnny had waited for that suit a year and a half, his mother being very poor. Ellsworth did not sneak or hide, but committed his act openly, with systematic deliberation: he walked to the tap, turned it on, stood in the middle of the lawn and directed the hose at Johnny, his aim faultless – with Johnny’s mother just a few steps behind him down the street, with his mother and father and the visiting minister in full view on the Toohey porch. Johnny stokes was a bright kid with dimples and golden curls; people always turned to look at Johnny Stokes. Nobody had ever turned to look at Ellsworth Toohey." ~ From Ayn Rand's Fountainhead 

The man who builds a factory builds a temple... Coolidge

“The man who builds a factory builds a temple, . . . the man who works there worships there, and to each is due, not scorn and blame, but reverence and praise.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Question with boldness even the existence of a God - Jefferson

"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. . . . Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find inducements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you." ~ Thomas Jefferson's letter to nephew Peter Carr, written from Paris, Aug. 10, 1787

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Thomas Paine - Reflection on Titles

When I reflect on the pompous titles bestowed on unworthy men, I feel an indignity that instructs me to despise the absurdity. The Honorable plunderer of his country, or the Right Honorable murderer of mankind, create such a contrast of ideas as exhibit a monster rather than a man. Virtue is inflamed at the violation, and sober reason calls it nonsense.

Dignities and high sounding names have different effects on different beholders. The lustre of the Star and the title of My Lord, over-awe the superstitious vulgar, and forbid them to inquire into the character of the possessor: Nay more, they are, as it were, bewitched to admire in the great, the vices they would honestly condemn in themselves. This sacrifice of common sense is the certain badge which distinguishes slavery from freedom; for when men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game

“Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with.” ~from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Only let us hurry and open the roads

"Scarcely ten years ago, all hope of flying had almost been abandoned; even the most convinced had become doubtful, and I confess that, in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that men would not fly for fifty years. Two years later, we ourselves were making flights. This demonstration of my inability as a prophet gave me such a shock that I have ever since distrusted myself and have refrained from all prediction–as my friends of the press, especially, well know. But it is not really necessary to look too far into the future; we see enough already to be certain that it will be magnificent. Only let us hurry and open the roads." ~ Wilbur Wright, quoted in The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

On Oscar Wilde

Published posthumously in 1905, De Profundis is an angry manifesto which details the greed of Douglas, his vicious slights and most of all, his ingratitude. “While you were with me,” writes Wilde, “you were the absolute ruin of my art.” The relationship – which as Wilde stresses throughout he repeatedly attempted to end – drained him emotionally, artistically and financially. Wilde’s tone is formal and dramatic. Written, a page a day, on prison notepaper, the letter looks beyond a destructive affair, and reveals Wilde reaching an understanding about life, his response to it and his awareness of the time and gifts he had wasted. He was aware, and history agrees, that he could have achieved far more had he lived longer. His heartfelt letter also serves as a metaphysical meditation about the role of the artist.

“I was a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age... Few men hold such a position in their own lifetime, and have it so acknowledged. It is usually discerned, if discerned at all, by the historian, or the critic, long after both the man and his age have passed away. With me it was different. I felt it myself, and made others feel it…The gods had given me almost everything. I had genius, a distinguished name, high social position, brilliancy, intellectual daring; I made art a philosophy and philosophy an art; I altered the minds of men and the colours of things… to truth itself I gave what is false no less than what is true as its rightful province, and showed that the false and the true are merely forms of intellectual existence. I treated art as the supreme reality and life as a mere mode of fiction.”


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Montesquieu on power of reason

"In a free society, it is not always important that individuals reason well, it is sufficient that they reason; from their individual thought, freedom is born." ~ Montesquieu

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave - Alex Gendler

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ayn Rand - Happiness is the Reward of Virtue

"Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values." ~ Ayn Rand

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Orwell on why he wrote 1984

In 1944, three years before writing and five years before publishing 1984, George Orwell penned a letter detailing the thesis of his great novel. The letter, warning of the rise of totalitarian police states that will ‘say that two and two are five,’ is reprinted from George Orwell: A Life in Letters, edited by Peter Davison and published today by Liveright. Plus, Orwell's advice to Arthur Koestler on how to review books.

To Noel Willmett

18 May 1944
10a Mortimer Crescent NW 6

Dear Mr Willmett,

Many thanks for your letter. You ask whether totalitarianism, leader-worship etc. are really on the up-grade and instance the fact that they are not apparently growing in this country and the USA.

I must say I believe, or fear, that taking the world as a whole these things are on the increase. Hitler, no doubt, will soon disappear, but only at the expense of strengthening (a) Stalin, (b) the Anglo-American millionaires and (c) all sorts of petty fuhrers° of the type of de Gaulle. All the national movements everywhere, even those that originate in resistance to German domination, seem to take non-democratic forms, to group themselves round some superhuman fuhrer (Hitler, Stalin, Salazar, Franco, Gandhi, De Valera are all varying examples) and to adopt the theory that the end justifies the means. Everywhere the world movement seems to be in the direction of centralised economies which can be made to ‘work’ in an economic sense but which are not democratically organised and which tend to establish a caste system. With this go the horrors of emotional nationalism and a tendency to disbelieve in the existence of objective truth because all the facts have to fit in with the words and prophecies of some infallible fuhrer. Already history has in a sense ceased to exist, ie. there is no such thing as a history of our own times which could be universally accepted, and the exact sciences are endangered as soon as military necessity ceases to keep people up to the mark. Hitler can say that the Jews started the war, and if he survives that will become official history. He can’t say that two and two are five, because for the purposes of, say, ballistics they have to make four. But if the sort of world that I am afraid of arrives, a world of two or three great superstates which are unable to conquer one another, two and two could become five if the fuhrer wished it.1 That, so far as I can see, is the direction in which we are actually moving, though, of course, the process is reversible.

As to the comparative immunity of Britain and the USA. Whatever the pacifists etc. may say, we have not gone totalitarian yet and this is a very hopeful symptom. I believe very deeply, as I explained in my book The Lion and the Unicorn, in the English people and in their capacity to centralise their economy without destroying freedom in doing so. But one must remember that Britain and the USA haven’t been really tried, they haven’t known defeat or severe suffering, and there are some bad symptoms to balance the good ones. To begin with there is the general indifference to the decay of democracy. Do you realise, for instance, that no one in England under 26 now has a vote and that so far as one can see the great mass of people of that age don’t give a damn for this? Secondly there is the fact that the intellectuals are more totalitarian in outlook than the common people. On the whole the English intelligentsia have opposed Hitler, but only at the price of accepting Stalin. Most of them are perfectly ready for dictatorial methods, secret police, systematic falsification of history2 etc. so long as they feel that it is on ‘our’ side. Indeed the statement that we haven’t a Fascist movement in England largely means that the young, at this moment, look for their fuhrer elsewhere. One can’t be sure that that won’t change, nor can one be sure that the common people won’t think ten years hence as the intellectuals do now. I hope 3 they won’t, I even trust they won’t, but if so it will be at the cost of a struggle. If one simply proclaims that all is for the best and doesn’t point to the sinister symptoms, one is merely helping to bring totalitarianism nearer.

You also ask, if I think the world tendency is towards Fascism, why do I support the war. It is a choice of evils—I fancy nearly every war is that. I know enough of British imperialism not to like it, but I would support it against Nazism or Japanese imperialism, as the lesser evil. Similarly I would support the USSR against Germany because I think the USSR cannot altogether escape its past and retains enough of the original ideas of the Revolution to make it a more hopeful phenomenon than Nazi Germany. I think, and have thought ever since the war began, in 1936 or thereabouts, that our cause is the better, but we have to keep on making it the better, which involves constant criticism.

Yours sincerely,
Geo. Orwell


PHILOSOPHY - Religion: Classical Theism 3 (God's Omnipotence)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

George Orwell on "primitive patriotism"

"Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbours, films, football, beer, and above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumours and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous; but no attempt was made to indoctrinate them with the ideology of the Party. It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working-hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice." ~ from George Orwell's 1984 

Anaxagoras - Philosophy Introduction

AN INTRODUCTION to Anaxagoras, the somewhat forgettable Pre-Socratic philosopher.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

When philosophy takes the wheel - The Dilemma of Teaching Ethics to Self-Driving Cars

For self-driving cars, this has been recast as the "tunnel problem." Imagine that an autonomous vehicle is traveling on a single-lane mountain road and about to enter a tunnel, when a child inadvertently crosses into its path just inside the entrance so that the car has to make a split-second decision. Does it continue straight and hit the child? Or does it swerve and hit the tunnel, injuring or killing the car's occupants?

The day after getting a ride in Google's self-driving car in Mountain View, California, I attended an event at Mercedes-Benz's North American R&D facility in nearby Sunnyvale. Among several topics covered throughout the day, Stanford professor and head of the university's Revs program Chris Gerdes gave a presentation that delved into the subject of ethics and autonomous cars.

Gerdes revealed that Revs has been collaborating with Stanford's philosophy department on ethical issues involving autonomous vehicles, while the university has also started running a series of tests to determine what kind of decisions a robotic car may make in critical situations.

The Dilemma of Teaching Ethics to Self-Driving Cars

Be a postmodernist at your own risk...

On human beings...

“Francisco, what's the most depraved type of human being?"
"The man without purpose.”

~ From Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Aristotle insists that private property is essential to the wellbeing of the state

The first lesson comes to us when Aristotle actually critiques the ideas that his mentor laid out in Republic. For in Plato’s work, the philosopher argues that the state should be happiest if the citizens are as unified as possible.

Plato makes the claim, somewhat capriciously, that all the wives of the rulers ought to be shared. Additionally, fathers ought not to think of a child as being their own son or daughter. Rather, the citizens should view all children of the state as being their own.

Taken literally, and Aristotle sees no other way to take it, this sort of thinking would effectively eliminate private property and would revert all things in the state, including women and children, to shared ownership.

But shared ownership simply is not the way to go, Aristotle tells us. The sharing of property and children will make the friendship in the city “watery”. It is human nature that when responsibility (the responsibility of raising child for instance) is divided among many (the entire state) the result is that nobody truly pays any attention to the responsibilities at hand.

Everybody simply assumes that somebody else will care for these matters and the people become lax, uninterested in managing any affairs. Aristotle compares this to a dinner party that runs more smoothly when there are a few servants attending to their own affairs rather than numerous servants attempting to tend to the entirety of the responsibilities.

The benefits of having private property are similar. For people are most interested in tending to and facilitating that which belongs to them or that which might benefit them. If all property is shared, there is no incentive for the citizens to maintain or develop the lands and properties of the society.

Self-interest, Aristotle tells us, is human nature. The philosopher writes as much in Nicomachean Ethics when he declares that the goal of a human life is to achieve our individual happiness through an understanding and application of virtue.

And so we see that the ownership of private property, as well as the self-interestedness of the citizens, is actually beneficial to the state as a whole.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The genocide against men of ability..

"There is no principle by which genocide—a crime against a group of men—can be regarded as morally different from (or worse than) a crime against an individual: the difference is only quantitative, not moral. It can be easily demonstrated that Communism means and requires the extermination—the genocide, if you wish—of a particular human species: the men of ability." ~ Ayn Rand in The Objectivist Calendar (June 1978)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus

"Cynicism, uncertainty, and fear are the insignia of the culture which liberals are still dominating by default. And the only thing that has not rusted in their ideological equipment, but has grown savagely brighter and clearer through the years, is their lust for power—for an autocratic, statist, totalitarian government power. It is not a crusading brightness, it is not the lust of a fanatic with a mission—it is more like the glassy-eyed brightness of a somnambulist whose stuporous despair has long since swallowed the memory of his purpose, but who still clings to his mystic weapon in the stubborn belief that “there ought to be a law,” that everything will be all right if only somebody will pass a law, that every problem can be solved by the magic power of brute force." ~ Ayn Rand in "The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus - [Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal]

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ambrose Bierce attacks Oscar Wilde

That sovereign of insufferables, Oscar Wilde has ensued with his opulence of twaddle and his penury of sense. He has mounted his hind legs and blown crass vapidities through the bowel of his neck, to the capital edification of circumjacent fools and foolesses, fooling with their foolers. He has tossed off the top of his head and uttered himself in copious overflows of ghastly bosh. The ineffable dunce has nothing to say and says it—says it with a liberal embellishment of bad delivery, embroidering it with reasonless vulgarities of attitude, gesture and attire. There never was an impostor so hateful, a blockhead so stupid, a crank so variously and offensively daft. Therefore is the she fool enamored of the feel of his tongue in her ear to tickle her understanding. The limpid and spiritless vacuity of this intellectual jellyfish is in ludicrous contrast with the rude but robust mental activities that he came to quicken and inspire. Not only has he no thoughts, but no thinker. His lecture is mere verbal ditch-water—meaningless, trite and without coherence. It lacks even the nastiness that exalts and refines his verse. Moreover, it is obviously his own; he had not even the energy and independence to steal it. And so, with a knowledge that would equip and idiot to dispute with a cast-iron dog, and eloquence to qualify him for the duties of a caller on a hog-ranch, and an imagination adequate to the conception of a tom-cat, when fired by contemplation of a fiddle-string, this consummate and star-like youth, missing everywhere his heaven-appointed functions and offices, wanders about, posing as a statue of himself, and, like the sun-smitten image of Memnon, emitting meaningless murmurs in the blaze of women’s eyes. He makes me tired. And this gawky gowk has the divine effrontery to link his name with those of Swinburne, Rossetti and Morris—this dunghill he-hen would fly with eagles. He dares to set his tongue to the honored name of Keats. He is the leader, quoth’a, of a renaissance in art, this man who cannot draw—of a revival of letters, this man who cannot write! This little and looniest of a brotherhood of simpletons, whom the wicked wits of London, haling him dazed from his obscurity, have crowned and crucified as King of the Cranks, has accepted the distinction in stupid good faith and our foolish people take him at his word. Mr. Wilde is pinnacled upon a dazzling eminence but the earth still trembles to the dull thunder of the kicks that set him up.

Ambrose Bierce, in an unsigned comment from a column titled Prattle in the satirical magazine Wasp, published in San Francisco (March 31, 1882).

The Lost Language of Liberalism

The liberalism that emerged particularly during the 18th and 19th centuries has been the jewel of western civilization. The liberal discourse of the liberal era featured a number of central words. Many of the central words became confused especially in the period 1880 to 1940. The central words are shown in the left side panel.

Most of the central terms were infused with certain core meanings. In 1870 in the West, though perhaps not dominating the culture, the liberal meanings were at least rather focal. But today for many of the words the core meaning is lost. Today the important words mean little to people, or mean something quite different from the original liberal meaning.

The substance of a cultural system lies in its semantics. The semantics reside in central words. When central words lose their meaning, the civilization loses its character. Their semantics lost, people find themselves lost. In most public discourse today, the central words are in confusion. Liberalism, the jewel of humankind, exists only vaguely, only half perceived, with little voice and standing.

Source: Lost Language, Lost Liberalism 

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Junk Science exposes professor falsely claiming to be Nobel Prize winner

Junk Science has exposed Jagadish Shukla, the professor and climate profiteer, who had been falsely claiming to be a Nobel prize winner on George Mason University’s web site. See image below.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Health benefits of coffee: Harvard research

Highlights from Harvard research include:

A 2005 study exploring concerns that too much coffee was bad for blood pressure found no link between higher blood pressure and coffee and found some suggestion that it improved blood pressure.

Regular coffee drinking was linked in a 2011 Harvard study to lower risk of a deadly form of prostate cancer.

Also in 2011, a study showed that drinking four or more cups a day lowered the rate of depression among women.

A 2012 study tied three cups a day to a 20 percent lower risk of basal cell carcinoma.

A 2013 Harvard study linked coffee consumption to a reduced risk of suicide.

Also in 2013, a Harvard analysis of 36 studies covering more than a million people found that even heavy coffee consumption did not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and that three to five cups of coffee daily provided the most protection against cardiovascular disease.

Also in 2014, Harvard Chan School researchers found that increasing coffee consumption by more than a cup a day over a four-year period reduced type 2 diabetes risk by 11 percent.

The same study showed that those who decreased their coffee consumption by more than a cup a day increased their type 2 diabetes risk by 17 percent.