Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lost Sheep and Cancer

My daughter's  post as her husband sufffers and dies of cancer and my reply:

Some times in the middle of the night are the hardest for me… After I do Ed's meds and get him taken care of my mind wanders…

Sometimes y'all say I'm strong and I feel very weak…

Sometimes I mourn Ed and my relationship and our love story…

Sometimes the tears run down my face and I don't think I can go on one more moment…

Sometimes I want to grab Ed up and run away (far away)

Even through all of these things I get up the next day and carry on…

I do it for Ed… I do it for our love…

It's just not easy and I am not strong I am just a woman who loves her husband and wants what's best for him…

A long response, but it comes from the depths of my soul and reflects a lifetime of struggle.
A person who does not suffer is not strong.  A person who does not feel is not strong.  It takes no strength to go on doing what you enjoy, or what is, at worst, boring.  

A strong person suffers and despairs, tries and fails, yet keeps on struggling.

Simon and Garfinkel's song declares:

In the clearing stands a boxer,
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev'ry glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame,
"I am leaving, I am leaving."
But the fighter still remains

He still remains, not because of his injuries or his failures.  He remains in spite of them, because he is strong. He could run and hide.  Instead he stays and fights the good fight.

Remember the post below from your philosophy class?  What it says about courage is true of strength.  There is no strength in doing things you enjoy and which are easy.  Strength is in struggle and in carrying on when you suffer.

Who is braver? The person who never fears anything or the person who overcomes his fear? Shakespeare said, "The coward dies a thousand deaths. The brave man dies but once." This is a very common attitude and it's very foolish. The idea that man who is brave is never afraid makes no sense at all. Bravery consists of going ahead when you are afraid. If a person ever existed who was never afraid of anything, he had no courage at all. He didn't need any. Also, he had some kind of severe brain damage.

Remember Aristotle's Golden Mean between cowardice and excessive courage. The person with no fear at all would be about as excessive as possible.

Imagine you go to a petting zoo and in one area there's a snake. Are you very brave if you walk up and pet it, when you have no fear of snakes and even enjoy their company? Of course not.

But an old friend of mine, Barbara Hamilton, was once teaching her class of special needs students. One of our bus drivers brought in his huge pet boa constrictor to show to the children. Barbara was absolutely terrified of snakes, but didn't say so because she didn't want to teach the children to share her fear. Since she looked so calm, the driver showed the children how nice snakes were by putting the snake on her lap and wrapping it up around her neck. She showed no sign of her fear.

The next day she couldn't come to work because she had broken out in hives as result of her absolute terror. She was brave. Although terrified, she would not show that fear because she didn't want to teach the children to be afraid.

The driver was not being brave, he was enjoying his pet.

The Gospels say:

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.  Luke 15:7 KJV

Is it not surely true that there is more joy and respect for those who suffer, yet carry on than there is for those who never suffered and which needed no strength?

We justly respect the man who serves by doing his job supporting the troops back home where there is no violence, but we only give medals to men who suffer and struggle and despair, but keep fighting on in combat.

It is better not to suffer, but if you do suffer, it takes courage to go on every day in the face of it.  It takes great courage.  It takes great strength.

You have both.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Making It Through

So much happening! But I must agree with Epicurus and Ecclesiastes: in this terrible, awful world good food, good conversation, friends and family still bring you joy.

It was a beautiful Thanksgiving and the family that could and wished to be there was there. My thoughts are with you, who were not there - both family and friends. I must admit I'm worn out, but I'm going to see if I can dig out the Christmas lights and follow tradition and get them up tonight, even though it's getting late.
So I have to find the Christmas barrel, even though the barrel that held all the Christmas stuff when I was a child has long since crumbled into dust.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fact: 0 Fear: 57

We're number 2 in ignorance? Not acceptable!  America will rise (sink?) to number one!

The video is also well worth watching, but oddly blames television for the problem. Surely the citizens of the other nations in the survey have televisions, yet they mange to be better informed and less deluded. The problem is that we allow our corporate masters to hijack our public airspace and use it against us.  Thank you, Ronald Reagan for vetoing the bill extending the Fairness Doctrine, and thus ensuring the robber barons would control our minds. My favorite superhero is Ronald Reagan, Destroyer of Democracy!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Commercials I Love To Hate

State Farm commercial. Wife discovers her husband at three in the morning having a hot, sexually suggestive conversation. She grabs the phone and demands, "What are you wearing, Jake from State Farm?"

"My  boots, my old leather chaps, and my cowboy hat. And nothin' else."

Shocked wife, "What!?" (Avert your eyes from the television screen at this point unless you are gay, a female who appreciates the male body, a premed student currently taking anatomy, or an art student.)

Jake replies, "State Farm's helping your husband come out of the closet!"

End commercial.

Scream, Shriek, Curse, Spit...Oh, You're Innocent

I posted : After two years of lies, smears, and hysterical shrieks of "coverup" instead of doing anything useful for America, the Republicans finally are forced to admit that they were the liars. --GOP panel on Benghazi finds no Obama administration wrongdoing--

Dan responded: This thing got so ridiculous that it finally felt to me like a matter of racial hatred or fear. Not just from Congress but from a vast number of Americans. One of the reasons Democrats lost so badly in the midterms, I'm honestly afraid.

I responded: I sincerely wish that I could disagree with you, Dan. Unfortunately, I cannot. From the first arrival of Europeans, even when they were clearly a tiny minority, this was regarded as a White Man's Nation. The historical evidence leaves no doubt. I see three subdivisions of this basic issue:

1. Blatant racism. When Obama was running for president my grandson, who is in law-enforcement, and I had a lengthy and interesting series of discussions on what effect this would have on racist hate groups. We were in agreement that we would see a rise in the number and influence of such groups. Sadly, we were correct.

2. The simple fear of change. In spite of the realities, as I noted above, this nation was regarded as a White Man's Nation since Europeans first set foot on the continent. Now this is clearly changing. The demographics cannot be denied. We will be a nation of nothing but minorities in the near future. That means Whites will be a minority, albeit, the largest one, just like all the other groups in America. A new America is being born, and it is very different from the America of the past. To a generation that grew up in the oh so White 1950s, this is terrifying.

3. And finally we get to another issue. Minorities have traditionally been treated very badly in America. When has this not been true? Whites are going to be one minority among others. I have no doubt that many in this particular group are afraid they will be treated the same way. Now that's really terrifying!

I wonder, considering the two years of smears, lies and false accusations, if we can expect an apology from Fox Lies or the GOP?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

How Reagan Failed To Win The Cold War Or Tear Down That Wall

What really caused the fall of the Soviet Union and the opening of the Berlin Wall? Not Ronald Reagan.
So, my right wing friends, I am confident that you want to know what really did cause the collapses. Here is a brief, but accurate, answer:

According to Mary Sarot, History and International Relations Professor at the University of Southern California :

The Revolution was aging. The Soviets were crippled by instability; in only 2 1/2 years, the USSR had four leaders, because three of them had dropped dead. (No, Ronald Reagan did not sneak over the Soviet Union, have a gunfight with each one of those men at high noon at the OK corral, then ride off into the sunset, back to America, after each gunfight. They died because they were very, very old.)

Because of this embarrassing series of deaths, the Politburo decided the next General Secretary had best be a young man who was more likely to survive. Primarily for this purpose, they chose Mikael Gorbachev. (No, that is not Russian for Ronald Reagan.)

Gorbachev, the only General Secretary of the Soviet Union to have been born after the October Revolution, opened up the Iron Curtain and eased repression through Perestroika and Glasnost, both of which began to erode Soviet power and control. Rather than brutally crushing all opposition, the kinder, gentler route was chosen, and this ultimately lead to the people rebelling. (No, Ronald Reagan did not order him to do any of these things.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, aka America, Ronald Reagan left office, his successor, George Bush Senior, fired almost all of the previous administration members. This was one of the most extreme changes of administration in American history. The policies of Ronald Reagan were canceled. (No, policies which have been abandoned no longer have the power to change the world.)

This easing of pressure by the Russian government caused the Hungarian Communist dictatorship, which had previously respected the East German government's refusal to allow their citizens to exit the country, to suddenly change its mind. Bribed by the West German government to do so in September, 1989, they began allowing East Germans to come to Hungary and from there take trains to escape to West Germany. So many took this route that the government in East Germany was in danger of collapsing. (No, Ronald Reagan was not the engineer, nor conductor on any of these trains. Neither did he work for the Hungarian government.)

East German officials became so desperate they declared they were going to close the borders even more decisively. This led to mass protests. (No, Ronald Reagan did not lead or participate in any of the protests.)

Now threatened with the demonstrations, the panicked government planned to have their own Tiananmen Square, imitating their Chinese allies. When protests erupted in in Leipsig on October 9, 1989, the government issued orders to shoot to kill. To accomplish this definitive crushing of protest, machine guns were issued to the massive number of troops sent to the city. The 100,000 plus demonstrators turned out to be far more than expected and were so peaceful that the troops refused to fire on them, and instead began to join the demonstrators. (No, Ronald Reagan was not in command of the East German army at that time. He did not issue an order to join the protesters, or refuse to fire on them.)

The spectacular failure lead to the leader of East Germany being kicked out of power. (No, Ronald Reagan was not involved in the decision to fire Eric Honecker or to replace him with Egon Krenz.)

Krenz proved to be incompetent. He decided to talk a nice game while maintaining all existing brutality and oppression. In pursuit of this policy, he made an announcement that there would be minor changes to travel restrictions. He intended this to sound as if changes had been made, while in fact changing nothing. The announcement was botched, leading reporters from the West to think the Wall was opening. The East German people, assuming that the reports were accurate and that this meant the Wall was now open, stormed it en mass. (No, the Great Communicator, aka, the Great Deceiver, did not write or make the announcement. Neither did he storm the Wall.)

With a successful Solidarity movement in Poland on their minds, with the efforts of the Polish Pope inspiring them, with the recent fall of the leader of the repressive government, with the success of the protests which turned the army onto their side, the people of East Germany decided that this was the time to act. Tens of thousands of them went to the Wall and demanded to be allowed to pass. The Stasi tried to hold the line, but began to fear for their own lives. They were outnumbered literally thousands to one. Finally, Harold Yeager, a junior officer on duty that night decided to let people through. Once this was done, the damn had broken and stations all over the city followed his lead. (No, Harold Jager is not the German spelling of Ronald Reagan.)

Remember: Ronald Reagan was no longer president of United States when the Wall finally did fall. Ronald Reagan's policies had been replaced by the sharply different policies of his successor.

So, Republicans, please pay attention. In spite of your fervent belief, your absolute conviction, and your total unwillingness to consider any alternatives, Ronald Reagan did not open the Berlin Wall in 1987. He gave a speech. He gave a rather poor speech. The Wall did not open until his policies have been repudiated and changed by his presidential successor.

So who did tear down the Wall? The answer is: The people of East Germany. Many others contributed and helped to create the atmosphere that led to this final action on their part; but ultimately, they did it. They put their lives at risk and they tore down that Wall. Ronald Reagan's contribution, if he made any, was minor and unimportant.

This is more than just correcting history and eliminating a foolish delusion. As Dr. Sarot points out, the idea that Ronald Reagan gave a speech and magically everything fell before him, has convinced American neocons that all we have to do is rattle our sabers and then wait around until, almost instantly, the world changes into a wonderful happy place. It was exactly for this reason that they included the phrase "from Berlin to Baghdad" in plans that led to the Iraq war and its foolish dreams of easy success and a war that would pay for itself.

Later in the same program, Melvin Leffler of the University of Virginia, a history professor, reported on how the fall of the Berlin Wall looks to various parts of the world, as explained at a meeting with his colleagues from other parts of the world.

He notes that in Western Europe, the fall of the Wall is regarded as evidence of the success of multilateral cooperation and integration among nations and institutions. Russia regards the fall of the Wall as evidence of the results of poor leadership and placing trust in foreign governments. China regards the event as proof of the need to have economic reforms to benefit the peoples' standard of living, while at the same time suppressing political liberalization and strengthening the power of the state.

At the meeting, Prof. Leffer's contribution was to explain the meeting of the fall the Berlin Wall to the United States. He explained to his colleagues that we regarded the fall as a triumph of "freedom over tyranny" and think it showed how effective the United States was in its use of power in the policy of containment and the threat of the use of force against Communism. In other words, we see this as an American victory as a result of American power, which shows the benefits of American supremacy.

It is important to note that no one else in the world looks at it this way. This is an American interpretation. It is deeply flawed. It ignores the people who actually worked so hard in cooperation with America to contain and defeat Communism and it assumes that we, and we alone, should take all the credit. It is a neocon fantasy. It is a neocon mythos.

Bizarrely, Republicans and Democrats, and especially Bill Clinton, actually somehow decided that we had destroyed Communism because of unrestricted free enterprise! This led Clinton and others to believe that deregulation would be a good thing because it would automatically make everything work better. The ultimate result was the second greatest economic disaster in the history of the world.

The professor agrees that memories of the Berlin Wall coming down were a major contributor to the strange belief that we would be welcomed as liberators in Iraq, which would spontaneously turn into a democracy. We know how successful that was.

Somehow the neocons forgot to notice that East Germany joined West Germany. West Germany! ...An established and successful social democratic democracy. That is to say, a highly regulated, free enterprise-based, socialist system. Not unrestricted free enterprise, but free enterprise working within a highly socialist and well-regulated system. He further notes that we were not a largely unregulated, radically free enterprise system when the Berlin Wall fell. That came later. At the time of the fall, we were still very much an FDR nation. Capitalism was well regulated, with socialistic safety nets such as Social Security and Medicare firmly established and welfare in full effect in this country.

He adds that what actually caused the fall of the Berlin Wall includes the reconciliation between France and Germany and the spread of economic cooperation across Europe in the form of the Common Market and in the expectations that the then proposed European Union would bring even greater prosperity.

All acknowledge that US power was an essential contributor through containment, but that it was a contributor, not the cause. Containment is what allowed these other factors to take root, flower, and lead to the harvest of freedom. Reagan did made a contribution, but it was not in blustering speeches and being threatening as Republicans would have it today. It was in working with other leaders who also contributed and in maintaining the decades old policy of containment. It was in negotiating. It was in cooperating even with our enemies, not in taking a bullying, domineering, militaristic stand. He did the former early in his presidency. He evolved to the latter position as he matured as a president.

Ultimately, the American president who most contributed to the fall of the Wall was George Bush Senior. He succeeded where Reagan failed, not by being provocative, but rather by encouraging reforms and a sense of peace between the Soviets and the Free World.

But if a single person is to be given credit for the fall of the wall, the professor indicates that the one who most contributed was Gorbachev. It was he who changed the vision of the Soviet Union, turning away from militarism, international bullying, and a threat based, security conscious state. If anyone tore down the Wall it was Gorbachev. (No, he did not do it because Reagan told him too.)

The next speaker, Jeffrey Angle of Southern Methodist University, the Director of the Center for Presidential History had much the same points to make, although his statements can be summed up as, the fall of the Wall was, "an intertwined global affair."

He then says that the ultimate lesson of the fall of the Berlin Wall varies from nation to nation. For America, he says, "Ronald Reagan single handedly spent the Soviets into the ground.… And single handedly, moreover, tore the Berlin Wall down, brick by brick."

And of course most Americans believe that Reagan did this because he believed in freedom and strength and, I add, that for strength you can also say militarism or bullying.

He again makes the point that neocons in America assumed that this meant that all we had to do was run around, make threats, maybe have a very brief pay for itself war, and everybody will automatically want to be American just like the East Berliners had. The problem with this, he points out, is that the East Berliners did not want to be Americans. They wanted to be Europeans.

They had, he says, "A desire to join the collectivist spirit embodied in the nascent European Union." So, to Europeans the lesson was clear, unrestricted socialism as found in Communism is a miserable failure while well regulated capitalism working together with well-regulated socialism make a great team. Collectivism is desirable, if it is balanced with individualism. That's pretty much the exact opposite of what so many Americans take as the lesson of the Berlin Wall. The Director points out that Gorbachev expected us to reward him and his country, now Russia, with aid and support and by keeping NATO right where it was. Because we interpreted bullying, and militarism, and saber rattling as the solutions to all international conflict, we did those things instead. The result is Vladimir Putin.

So let me draw a conclusion: Ronald Reagan helped, a bit, to cause the collapse of the Berlin wall, while George Bush Senior, who did less than many other leaders in the world (and who did it by being thoughtful, careful, and keeping his mouth shut), contributed more.

In other words, if I were channeling Ronald Reagan's ghost I would not declare in his famous drawl, "Well, I won the Cold War. All by myself." Instead I'm quite certain he would say, like that little girl in the Shake and Bake commercial that anyone of my age remembers, "And I helped!"

I repeat: The big contribution America and Reagan made to the fall of the Berlin Wall had nothing to do with spending or threatening. It had everything to do with the policy of containment, a policy practiced by every American president from Harry Truman (who developed it) through George Bush Senior. However, containment alone could do nothing but exactly what it's name indicates, contain Communism. By doing so we kept the rest of Europe free and allowed them to develop the capacities and systems which eventually outcompeted the Soviet Union. But remember, we did not beat the Soviet Union through unrestrained, unregulated capitalism. The defeat of the Soviet Union is correctly attributed to a combination of well-regulated capitalism and well-regulated socialism, combined with the efforts of many world leaders, the aging of the revolutionary, Stalinist leadership of the USSR, and the courageous sacrifices of the oppressed people of the Warsaw Pact.

During the question-and-answer period, Prof. Sarotte indicated that if there was one thing she could change about the historiography of that era, it would be that, both then and now, people talking about this era would not simply talk about Europe, but would also talk about Europeans! She points out that it's not possible to accurately talk about the fall of the Wall without talking about Berliners or about the reunification of Germany without talking about Germans, but many people, including historians, do exactly that. She then recalled a former activist she had interviewed on the subject. This was a woman named Mafianna Buetler (sp?), an activist in East Berlin, "It still amazes me when I read history books about the history I lived...about the history I made. I read these history books, and they say the Wall fell and it gave us our freedom. We fought for our freedom and then the Wall fell." The professor said that's what she would change. She would make it clear that there were people who risked their lives to gain their freedom and that the Wall fell as a result of their struggle and its success.

Got it?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Emo vs Geek

In response to a post which suggested that Republicans have difficulty with Obama because they are not intelligent enough to understand him, I posted:

There is some truth to this point of view, but it goes much deeper than a mere question of intelligence. Republicans are emotionalists, while Obama is a rationalist. Obama's biggest failure is that he does not communicate well. Ronald Reagan was often remarkably incompetent, but he communicated his incompetence at a very personal level. What he said in his speech may not have made any sense, but it made you feel good.

Obama knows the judgement of history will look upon him as one of our better presidents. That's good enough for him. But he could have been an even better, perhaps even a great president, if he had taken the time to make his case more clearly to the American people instead of simply letting the facts speak for themselves.

He did very much the same thing I did as a principal. That is to say, he has spent time doing a good job instead of spending it convincing everybody that he was doing a good job. Sadly, reality is clear on this point. The person doing a poor job, but who does a good job of convincing people he's doing well, will be rewarded. The person who is simply doing a good job, who is actually doing a good job, but who fails to clearly communicate that fact will be judged poorly in the present. His true value will largely be seen in retrospect.

What Obama has not done well is to reach the American people on an emotional level. He believes the fact that he's doing a very good job should stand on its own. And so it should. However, that is not true of most human interactions, certainly not in the area of politics.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

New Common Core Math vs Algorithm Man

In response to a post from respected colleague regarding common core math (note: she is a skilled practicing teacher with real world experience), I responded:

Thanks for the input from the front lines. I always listen to actual practitioners much more than to theorists. However, I must note that similar confusion attached to New Math thirty years ago. New Math was also supposed to replace mindless algorithms with understanding. It failed to accomplish this noble goal (no sarcasm intended) and we went back to algorithms. Now I have difficulty helping my great grandson with his first grade math homework.

I will make a prediction. Common Core Math will face the same fate as New Math for the same reason, not all of us are born with a natural talent for mathematics. Some of us, many of us, NEED mindless algorithms just as some of us are tone deaf and cannot benefit from music theory.

"Lhude Sing, Cuccu!"

In response to the LA Times article (California legislators flying to Maui to meet with special interests) I posted to a linguistically inclined friend:

Dan, note how language is changing and becoming both shorter and simpler: "provide a relaxed setting" is the new way of saying, "provide an extravagantly generous, but technically legal, bribe".

This shouldn't surprise us. After all it was only a few hundred years ago we were singing, "Sumer is i-cumin in—" Whereas now we say "Summer's here".

The song went on, "Lhude sing, cuccu!" or "Loudly sing cuckoo!"

Interestingly, the cuckoo part has only changed in spelling.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Commence Unrestricted Free Enterprise

In response to a friend and colleague's post on Bush getting big donations in return for tax cuts for the wealthy, I responded:

Okay Jeff. I'll bite. Step one: the Republican Party has become a wholly owned subsidiary of big oil and other mega corporations. The Democrats are certainly not a terribly moral party, but at least they remain a party with multiple sources of support rather than a single master (extreme wealth).

As far as capitalism goes, there's nothing wrong with a free enterprise system. The problem is, we don't have one in America today. The government gives massive tax breaks and massive kickbacks to various huge corporations, and thus totally destroys the concept of a free market. America today is an economy controlled by the central government.

The facts show that a great many corporations pay zero taxes. This includes General Electric which actually makes a profit off the US government. In what way is this competition? The answer is it is competition only in the sense of who can get the most corporate welfare from the US government.

Entitlements ARE a big problem, but not the entitlements given to individual US citizens. The real entitlement problem in America, one which destroys our budgetary stability, is the entitlements of huge corporations; the vast subsidies paid to them by the US government no matter how incompetently they run their businesses.

Corporations constantly scream and yell about the high US corporate tax rate, but they know that is only on paper. In reality we have a tax system so beneficial to those corporations that we not only have the lowest effective corporate taxes in the developed world, we actually have a negative tax rate in which we pay out to the corporations. Remember, during our economic boomtimes, the 1950's, the tax rate exceeded 90%!

What we have today is the equivalent of unrestricted submarine warfare. We have unrestricted free enterprise, in which wealth can destroy the functionality of the free enterprise system by granting itself endless bonuses and endless benefits.

If we were to return to a well regulated system such as we had in the economic glory days of the 1950s, when United States dominated the world in all economic areas, partly as a result of the disaster of World War II, but also as a result of a superior economic system, We could restore many of those past benefits.

Note that the individual entitlement system under the G.I. Bill was huge then compared to now. This was an economic engine that drove economic development, not the drain that ideological conservatives and fantasists would have it to be. Facts matter. Fantasies matter only to those who hold the fantasies and to those who suffer the consequences of their delusion.

The United States today has become a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations. Mere human beings are no longer considered to be full, first class citizens.

Lots more at:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bread And Circuses, Symposia, Or...?

We need to begin serious discussions now about how we will economically adapt to many current jobs being performed by robots.

Consider self checkout at the market and the library. Clerical tasks once performed by professional, well trained, highly skilled librarians are now performed by computers cooperating with the library patron. Librarians are still essential, but fewer of them are required to attain the same level of performance. At first, you might think that this is good for librarians. Now they have time for more serious tasks and longer need to devote themselves to what is essentially a repetitive clerical function. However, consider that this was one of the ways which librarians most interacted with the patrons they were serving. Also, it becomes a money-saving measure for government through reducing the number of librarians actually employed.

So robots are already taking jobs away from humans. This is a trend which shows every sign of rapid expansion. With even self driving cars now legal in some states, it is clear that humanity will soon find itself with far fewer occupations available when seeking employment. What will happen in the future when the leisured class includes almost everyone?

The Roman model was bread and circuses for the unemployable mass of poor citizens. The Greeks turned to a planned level of limited wealth ("How far the Persians have traveled to rob us of our poverty!” said Spartan king Pausanias.) combined with public service and a rich intellectual life.

With robots filling the jobs held by slaves in classical economies and by minimum wage, part time employees in ours (and potentially many skilled functions as well), a strategy to keep the unemployed occupied is essential. The topic is as challenging and interesting as it is essential.

Any thoughts?

Consider the interrelated fields of cosplay, role-play, historical reenactment, fanfics, and other ways of extending entertainment from a passive act to an active one.

A Non-Aristotelian View Of Aristotle

In response I posted: Finally! A professional scientist agrees with me that Aristotle was in many ways the first scientist. And also that Plato was the enemy of science. Positions I've held for a long time. Positions which generally are held in reverse.

The review indicates that the author does note that neither of these men grasped the concept of experimentation, which kept them from being true scientists. But you cannot ask a philosopher to become a true scientist without all the background of centuries of intellectual development which led to what we now know as the scientific method.
Aristotle has had a bad name because the scholastics of the Middle Ages, with the support of the Catholic Church, warped and distorted his philosophy into something it was never intended to be. Criticizing Aristotle for the attitude of the middle ages Church is like criticizing Darwin because of Social Darwinism. Darwin never supported or accepted Spencer's bizarre beliefs, even when Spencer renamed them Social Darwinism. Similarly, Aristotle ever accepted the mindless belief in authority once promulgated by the Church.

Reflections On Our Lives

How strange the twists of life. Being warriors in a war we never wanted to fight, getting the news that the cause we love so dearly seems irreversibly lost, seeing the ruin of so much that is precious and irreplacable...

Yet, somehow at least we have each other to hold. In the end family is really all we have.

And yet tonight my son and I could talk. And in the midst of everyday life and all its little interlocking bits and pieces, little gears whirling and twirling...and in the midst of all the great disaster all around us...we could talk. The horror is no less. But somehow there's a sense of acceptance. A sense of resignation. A sense of it will have to do.

We both regret the time we no longer have just to bum around together, but we are not strangers. He has learned that which I taught him. He has learned family. He does what needs to be done and still finds time to simply to be with his children, close together, sharing life, making moments.

This is a gift it took a lifetime to create. It is a gift I hope will pass on down, generation upon generation.

And it will have to do.

Hard News

I use Facebook to keep in touch with the world. Thanks to Facebook and my iPad, I'm not a complete hermit. I usually stick with political posts, scientific posts, and an occasional spot of humor. However, sometimes I do use it for more serious issues, as when I asked for support and prayers for my son-in-law, then just diagnosed with cancer.

It's been a very long and very brutal fight. No point in going into details, but even for cancer patients it's been an unusually bad run. Anyone who has been through it knows the ups and the downs which come and go. I didn't feel the need to share those.

I do thank you for your spiritual and emotional support but I must tell you the news that was delivered yesterday. The doctors believe that Ed has no more than six months to live. Again, no point going into lengthy detail. It's just that it's a hard time for me and my family right now.

Normal family interactions notwithstanding, no one ever felt anything for Ed but love and respect.