The Father of Pragmatism

Charles Sanders Peirce is one of the smartest guys you never heard of. He lived in the 19th century, studied a bunch of sciences, and pretty much founded the particularly American philosophical movement called Pragmatism. Granted, if you have heard of it, you’ve heard about what later thinkers like William James and John Dewey did to a perfectly good philosophy.

For example, I just re-read “The Fixation of Belief” which describes scientific inquiry as an epistemology that beats out mysticism and insanity. If you’ve got time, I’d recommend you read the whole thing. It’s written clearly, without the cant used by contemporary academics to defend their tenure in esoteric philosophical journals. This essay appeared in Popular Science magazine back when scientific thought was popular.

Maybe I’ll do a longer post sometime about how Peirce’s thought meshes well with Objectivist and Existentialist strains in my own thought. If you, gentle readers, could stomach it.


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The Difference Between Republicans, Democrats

I urge all of you except my family members to read this piece of humor.

I shall unveil it live, using puppetry, to you family members at the family reunion this weekend, so do not spoil the surprise.

(As seen on Right We Are.)

The Difference Between Republicans, Democrats

I urge all of you except my family members to read this piece of humor.

I shall unveil it live, using puppetry, to you family members at the family reunion this weekend, so do not spoil the surprise.

(As seen on Right We Are.)

Point / Counterpoint: Foreign Intervention

Iraq: Damned if you do.

Liberia: Damned if you don’t.

Bush = Hitler? No, Bush = GOD. He kills people by acting, he kills people by not acting. This man apparently determines the fate of every person on the planet (and a couple cosmonauts on the International Space Station). Maybe I ought to start sending burnt offerings to Mark Racicot and the Republican National Committee.

Point / Counterpoint: Foreign Intervention

Iraq: Damned if you do.

Liberia: Damned if you don’t.

Bush = Hitler? No, Bush = GOD. He kills people by acting, he kills people by not acting. This man apparently determines the fate of every person on the planet (and a couple cosmonauts on the International Space Station). Maybe I ought to start sending burnt offerings to Mark Racicot and the Republican National Committee.

Ending the Felony Rampage

You loyal readers have noticed I often spit upon proposals to create new felony crimes or bump existing infractions up into felonies (come on, jaywalking causes over $1000 damage to public safety?). Well, some other digitaluminaries are weighing in on this very subject, including Professor Reynolds and Robert Prather (Not Richard Prather, sorry Shell Scott fans).

Now, if each of us could convince one of our senators that this is a good idea, we’re a little under 6% of the way to reform! Well, not quite 6 percent, but closer than we are now.

Paranoia Would Have Paid Off

Techdirt is linking to a story about a guy who installed keylogger software on Kinko’s computers in Manhattan for years. He grabbed many, many sets of usernames and passwords and accounts before being caught.

How did he get caught?

A guy who used a remote access program called GoToMyPC to log into his home personal computer from Kinko’s. Several days later, as this poor sap was sitting at his home PC, he was startled to see the mouse cursor moving on its own and looking through his computer, and then the computer made a new bank account with the mark’s info, much to the mark’s surprise.

The mark logged into his home PC from Kinko’s! Class, how many security rules has this mark broken?

Is “Iris” a Love Song?

Some people seem to think that the Goo Goo Dolls’ song “Iris” is a love song.

Personally, I think it’s begging for a restraining order. Hell, I creeped out women with mere sonnets describing their beauty, much less anything with the lines of

    You’re the closest to heaven that i’ll
    Ever be
    And I don’t want to go home right now

Or

    When everything’s made to be broken
    I just want you to know who I am

John Hinckley, Jr., might have hummed this tune were it around in 1981.

Book Report: We Can’t Go Home Again by Clarence E. Walker

Since I read a lot and nothing good seems to come of it, I’ve decided to do a bit of brief book reviewing for you, my five Internet readers. I shall incorporate some puppetry for the sixth person who cannot read but logs in for the soothing blue tones.

I have just completed We Can’t Go Home Again: An Argument about Afrocentrism by Clarence E. Walker, a professor at University of California at Davis. It’s a highly academic book, as the 31 pages (out of 164) are end notes, and it’s split into only two chapters: “If Everybody was King, Who Built the Pyramids: Afrocentrism and Black American History” (83 pages) and “‘All God’s Dangers Ain’t a White Man’ or ‘Not All Knowledge Is Power'” (50 pages). Personally, this limitation (only two chapters) rather makes it difficult to read, since the organization of the material in the macrochapters is not readily apparent (by the subdivision).

Instead, we have super-sized chapters ill-suited for consumption by a McDonald’s audience. The first chapter, “If Everybody was King, Who Built the Pyramids: Afrocentrism and Black American History”, is the pure science of the book. Walker examines certain tenets of Afrocentric thought, such as Egypt (Kemet) as the primary source for most intellectual thought in the ancient world (which the white men of Greece and Rome ripped off) and that Egypt was even a “black” culture. Instead, Walker identifies Afrocentrism as a therapeutic movement that bears little relationship to actual history. Walker also explores how black African-Americans (not redundant) in the United States diverged from Africans by the nature of their passage to this hemisphere and their bondage.

I didn’t trace the quotes nor research from his endnotes, so I cannot comment on the thoughts and arguments to which he is responding, but his historical points and interpretation make sense in themselves.

However, when we get to “‘All God’s Dangers Ain’t a White Man’ or ‘Not All Knowledge Is Power'”, Walker fails to signal for the left turn he makes. Just because Afrocentrism is wrong doesn’t mean that affirmative action should be eliminated, I think he means. He begins the second paragraph of the second chapter (page 85, remember):

    A rightward drift in American politics is moving the country toward what I call “free market racism,” the state of American race relations during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when the ideology of lassez-faire reigned supreme in the realm of economics and race on the national level.

There he lost me. Not in a violent explosion of disbelief, during which I fling the book against the wall and/or stomp on it (this wasn’t Stupid White Men, after all, and it is not a paperback). But by coining a term “free market racism,” Walker provides the good citizens of Oceania academia with a twist of logic.

Racism and affirmative action, the practice this book defends, represent a statist intrusion into thought and practice in one form or another. Free market, on the other hand, represents a rational system of commerce wherein the best value wins. In a free market of ideas, individual performance should prove a better value than racism or affirmative action. Hence, “free market racism” is a paradox, a contradiction, and a big fat hanging straw man that Walker cracks with a full swing.

I was greatly disappointed with the practical application of repudiating Afrocentrism. Quit following a foolish, bankrupt, therapeutic ideology and start supporting affirmative action. Well, the professor does teach at the University of California at Davis. What did I expect?

Paranoia Would Have Paid Off

Techdirt is linking to a story about a guy who installed keylogger software on Kinko’s computers in Manhattan for years. He grabbed many, many sets of usernames and passwords and accounts before being caught.

How did he get caught?

A guy who used a remote access program called GoToMyPC to log into his home personal computer from Kinko’s. Several days later, as this poor sap was sitting at his home PC, he was startled to see the mouse cursor moving on its own and looking through his computer, and then the computer made a new bank account with the mark’s info, much to the mark’s surprise.

The mark logged into his home PC from Kinko’s! Class, how many security rules has this mark broken?

Is “Iris” a Love Song?

Some people seem to think that the Goo Goo Dolls’ song “Iris” is a love song.

Personally, I think it’s begging for a restraining order. Hell, I creeped out women with mere sonnets describing their beauty, much less anything with the lines of

    You’re the closest to heaven that i’ll
    Ever be
    And I don’t want to go home right now

Or

    When everything’s made to be broken
    I just want you to know who I am

John Hinckley, Jr., might have hummed this tune were it around in 1981.

Book Report: We Can’t Go Home Again by Clarence E. Walker

Since I read a lot and nothing good seems to come of it, I’ve decided to do a bit of brief book reviewing for you, my five Internet readers. I shall incorporate some puppetry for the sixth person who cannot read but logs in for the soothing blue tones.

I have just completed We Can’t Go Home Again: An Argument about Afrocentrism by Clarence E. Walker, a professor at University of California at Davis. It’s a highly academic book, as the 31 pages (out of 164) are end notes, and it’s split into only two chapters: “If Everybody was King, Who Built the Pyramids: Afrocentrism and Black American History” (83 pages) and “‘All God’s Dangers Ain’t a White Man’ or ‘Not All Knowledge Is Power'” (50 pages). Personally, this limitation (only two chapters) rather makes it difficult to read, since the organization of the material in the macrochapters is not readily apparent (by the subdivision).

Instead, we have super-sized chapters ill-suited for consumption by a McDonald’s audience. The first chapter, “If Everybody was King, Who Built the Pyramids: Afrocentrism and Black American History”, is the pure science of the book. Walker examines certain tenets of Afrocentric thought, such as Egypt (Kemet) as the primary source for most intellectual thought in the ancient world (which the white men of Greece and Rome ripped off) and that Egypt was even a “black” culture. Instead, Walker identifies Afrocentrism as a therapeutic movement that bears little relationship to actual history. Walker also explores how black African-Americans (not redundant) in the United States diverged from Africans by the nature of their passage to this hemisphere and their bondage.

I didn’t trace the quotes nor research from his endnotes, so I cannot comment on the thoughts and arguments to which he is responding, but his historical points and interpretation make sense in themselves.

However, when we get to “‘All God’s Dangers Ain’t a White Man’ or ‘Not All Knowledge Is Power'”, Walker fails to signal for the left turn he makes. Just because Afrocentrism is wrong doesn’t mean that affirmative action should be eliminated, I think he means. He begins the second paragraph of the second chapter (page 85, remember):

    A rightward drift in American politics is moving the country toward what I call “free market racism,” the state of American race relations during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when the ideology of lassez-faire reigned supreme in the realm of economics and race on the national level.

There he lost me. Not in a violent explosion of disbelief, during which I fling the book against the wall and/or stomp on it (this wasn’t Stupid White Men, after all, and it is not a paperback). But by coining a term “free market racism,” Walker provides the good citizens of Oceania academia with a twist of logic.

Racism and affirmative action, the practice this book defends, represent a statist intrusion into thought and practice in one form or another. Free market, on the other hand, represents a rational system of commerce wherein the best value wins. In a free market of ideas, individual performance should prove a better value than racism or affirmative action. Hence, “free market racism” is a paradox, a contradiction, and a big fat hanging straw man that Walker cracks with a full swing.

I was greatly disappointed with the practical application of repudiating Afrocentrism. Quit following a foolish, bankrupt, therapeutic ideology and start supporting affirmative action. Well, the professor does teach at the University of California at Davis. What did I expect?