A Tale of Two Places –

In an earlier posting I describe a fun word-game in which the word “pants” is substituted into quotes or lyrics of sentences. We used to play it at a company I started back in 1997, and I always thought we were the inventors of it (alcohol was involved!) We had another game that we played, which was the elaborate retelling of Official Jokes. There were 3 (the lion hunter joke, the parrot in the fridge joke, and the kennedy assassination joke) and since we all knew them, for some reason it was screamingly funny to hear someone trying to tell an old joke in a new way.

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Monday Meslier: 191 – What a Happy and Great Revolution Would Take Place in the Universe if Philosophy was Substituted for Religion!

Jean Meslier Portrait

Jean Meslier

Philosophers, in all ages, have taken the part that seemed destined for the ministers of religion. The hatred of the latter for philosophy was never more than professional jealousy. All men accustomed to think, instead of seeking to injure each other, should unite their efforts in combating errors, in seeking truth, and especially in dispelling the prejudices from which the sovereigns and subjects suffer alike, and whose upholders themselves finish, sooner or later, by becoming the victims.

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Sunday Sermon: Military Glory – Heroism

I grew up reading feats of military derring-do, and watching films like “Seven Samurai” and “Harakiri” – books and movies about martial glory and the character of the warrior. I noticed early on that a big piece of military glory and heroism is the stand against great odds – the acceptance that one’s mission will probably cost one’s life, but that’s a secondary concern: doing the right thing matters more. I read a lot about the samurai and bushido, and I always deeply felt the distinction between katsujin ken (the life-giving sword) and setsunin-to (the life-taking sword). Somehow it all ties together in my formative anarchy as part of something basically anti-authoritarian, because the authority and the establishment usually are the “powers that be” against which the life-giving sword must work.

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Some Things About Uranium

Our president knows things about uranium! So do I!

“We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? It’s a thing called nuclear weapons and other things. Like lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things” – Donald Trump

Most bombs nowadays are plutonium, but that’s a little detail. Nuclear weapons-making, though, is something that beggars my imagination when it comes to complexity, which is why I’ve always been interested in it. These are a few random factoids that stick in my mind from a lifetime of collecting random factoids…

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How to Beat Oneself Up: Basic Technique

One of the hard parts about putting my opinion out here in a blog is that I have to turn over all my ideas and attitudes and look at them more carefully. I’ve done that, regarding computer security stuff, for around 25 years, and I like to think I’ve dislodged most of the B.S. But, when you start publishing your opinions about art, music, food, F-35s, military glory, and good scent oils to put in soap – it gets harder. Because I’ve suddenly moved into this weird grey zone where I know I’m writing about my opinion but I don’t want to take the attitude: “well this here is my opinion and if you don’t like it, F you.”  Because that’s not how to have an opinion. To have an opinion you have to actually think about why you have that opinion, and then you can decide whether it’s defensible or not.

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Argument Clinic: The Destroying Parry

Is this the right room for an argument?

Is this the right room for an argument?

I’m going to try something here that I consider daunting: as a side effect of this module, I will attempt to offer a refutation of two important paradoxes/arguments that bedevil philosophers and skeptics. Not one, but two! In the interest of Argument Clinic, however, I am willing to fail in the attempt even though it may leave me covered with shame and ripped to pieces by The Commentariat(tm)

In fencing, a destroying parry is one in which the defender’s blade kills the momentum of the attacker’s blade, leaving them in a known position for a riposte.

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