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Philosophy Forum - Part 4

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Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. What is truth? How do we know? Important and difficult questions that will be debated as long as there are humans with the ability to debate them. The two questions that I have to answer today are a subset of this larger topic. Here are the two questions that I have to tackle. - - - - - - - 'If knowledge is not justified true belief, is it justified true belief that meets also some further condition?' 'Is saying "I believe that p" just an alternative way of saying "p"?' - - - - - - - I'm going to give myself one chance to move through these questions. It's a unique way of trying to tackle an answer. In a way it's a bit conversational. My conversations often end up on similar types of issues, at least at similar foundational levels. And, when the conversation has gotten there I do usually switch from a rapidly exchangi

Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 21 of ?

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Winning is often the end of an endeavor, but not always. In politics winning should not be an end in itself, only a step. It is the beginning of the true struggle for which the entire history of humanity has striven. There is a balance to be struck. The balance between the value of the group and the value of the individual. Often people like to side with the one or the other, because both are simple solutions. But the plain fact is that there is no group without the individual. So too there would be no individual person without society. The two must coexist. The society must value and protect the individual as the core foundation of itself, and the individual must value the cooperation of others in creating a unique and emergent order. Harmony is the aim, the ideal. How to get there is what all of the controversy is about, what it's always about. Great atrocities have been committed in the name of peace, time and time again. The idea that peace is just on the other side of war has

A Christmas Card Poem

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I did an Ancestry DNA test a few years ago and ended up finding an older sister a few states over. My mother, father, and I have taken different approaches to giving her and her family gifts. I've sent books, of course, and so did my mother. But, they didn't get an enthusiastic reception. And books are about 90 percent of my gift-giving. Then my mother took my idea of giving out events as gifts and started applying it. I like doing that because I then go to the event with them. I make sure that I get one I'll like, so no matter what happens the gift is at least appreciated by one person. Lol. Being a few states away it's a bit different in this case, but events are still fun gifts. Last year my mother sent them family tickets to a movie theater near them in Nebraska. That worked out well. Now that theater is out of business. My mother looked around for something else. She almost got paintball passes, but they only got you in t

Philosophy Forum - Part 3

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Philosophy applies to life. And life adds perspective to philosophy. Often these two things end up disconnected. Here's the question for this essay. - - - - - - - What is the sorites paradox? Is there any satisfying way to resolve it? - - - - - - - And here are the few notes that I wrote down. - - - - - - - tree stumps affordances sorites blight - - - - - - - My general idea was that I wanted to make the answer to this practical. An actual application in the world. I thought about talking about grinding tree stumps, and I thought about going with the political issue of blight. In the end I went with sand. - - - - - - - There is a difference between things being general, ambiguous, and vague. If I say "Cats are cute." I'm talking about all cats, or more reasonably, most cats. It's a general

Philosophy Forum - Part 2

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I have two essays on logic to write today. And we're going to see one of the reasons that I don't particularly like academia right away. Here is a note about the essays. - - - - - - - Remember when answering that one of the key things you're aiming to do in an assessment essay is to demonstrate your understanding, so more fundamental than trying to make difficult arguments is honing your ability to clearly lay out the debate. - - - - - - - I understand the value of this approach. Most things that people are trying to solve they can just look up the answer to if they would work on researching more, or it's unsolvable and they would realize that by researching more. Nevertheless, I like to struggle with solving the problems themselves. To succeed in academia is a rather straightforward endeavor. You take the information that they're giving you, and then you repeat it back to them. I just have a dislike for parroting information

Philosophy Forum - Part 1

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Philosophy is inescapable. It is ignorable, which is what most people do with it. There are parts that I find quite interesting, enjoyable, and useful. Technical logic is not exactly one of the areas that excite me, but it can be useful, and is important. Maybe the most important thing about it is understanding the difficulty of the problems, and the complexity that underlies the set of problems. In this course on logic there were two sets of six questions posed. The idea is to give a short answer to one from each set. The first set has to do with descriptions. I chose question number four. Here is the question and my answer. - - - - - - - 4. Suppose I say "When I use the term "The King of France", I'm just talking about my idea of the King of France." How well does this account for the way we speak? In view of the idea that we speak to communicate, having a purely subjective referent obstructs the primary purpose of spee

Great Movies About Writers and Writing

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A few years ago I went looking for a movie list to both inspire and instruct me about writing and being a writer. There are such lists, but there are no good lists. Over the last couple of years I've made my own list. And, it's good. These ten are perfectly on point, grade A awesomeness. There are a dozen others that almost made the list, but didn't. The Man Who Invented Christmas Charles Dickens wrote 'A Christmas Carol' in six weeks to release it for Christmas, because he was broke, even though he was famous. Also, no one would publish his weird ghost story, so he self-published it. That was 1843. I'm not a huge Dickens fan, but this little book is genius, and I liked seeing the story behind it. Dickens talked about how his characters were more real to him than real people. It's hard to show that kind of creative writing process in pictures or film, and they do it superbly in this show.  Mary Shelley Both of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley's parents

Jeff Invents a New Necktie Knot

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A few days ago I was watching the movie 'Gabriel's Inferno'. In one scene Julianne is fixing Gabriel's tie in a car. It annoyed me that the rich, sophisticated, intellectual was both bad at tying a tie, and that it was a simple and bad looking knot. It just seemed incongruent. So, I paused the show. I grabbed a tie and looked up knots. I learned the notation system, which is pretty simple. I went through the 13 most common knots from the book 'The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie'. I determined that the knots that I think are decent are the: Small, Victoria, 11-3, Nicky, Half-Windsor, Hanover, Plattsburgh, Cavendish, and Balthus. Then I started playing around. I thought I might be able to invent a new tie knot. That's not an easy task to do. There are mathematical academic articles written by physicists on working out all of the different ways to tie a tie. The first knot I thought I invented ended up being number 34 in the 'Encyclopedia of Tie Knots'. I also th

Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 20 of ?

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This election will change things throughout the United States, and in Dalton Township. Predicting what that change will be is more difficult. In Dalton there are three possible directions. Vaclav Havel led the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. He points out in 'The Power of the Powerless' that when you start to live in truth you put pressure on those in power. Government officials that have become overly controlling only have two ways that they can respond when people start taking responsibility and demanding recognition of their unalienable rights: repression or adaptation. If the current regime stays in power in Dalton Township they will have a choice to make. They can either repress people more, and gather more control unto themselves. Or, they can adapt to some of the proposals I've made to limit their own power and make themselves more transparent. Those are the first two options. The third option is to choose change via the ballot box

Why Authoritarian Governments Hate Small Farms

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Authoritarian governments have a tendency to limit or even collapse the food supply. At first that doesn't appear to make sense. People get angry and desperate when the food supply is limited, especially when their kids start starving. That's often when the king, queen, pharaoh, president, emperor, or empress is overthrown and killed. History demonstrates that over and over again. Yet, authoritarian governments keep doing it. It's a contradiction I've been thinking about for years. And when you think about it long enough and hard enough, it makes complete sense. Imagine there's a nice family living in a house with a yard. They decide to plant a few things. The things grow. They eat them, the food is good. They have a few extra things. They give some to a neighbor. The neighbor likes them too. The family needs a shed built. The neighbor is a carpenter. They trade. Everything is good. What's missing? The government. From a civilian's perspective this se

Three Deathbed Realizations

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There are certain situations that approach the limit of what it is possible for us to experience as human beings. In December of 2015 I was laying in a hotel bed in Mombasa, Kenya. I had been poisoned. Then I had my money coerced from me at the beach on the Indian Ocean. Somewhere along the way I had picked up an unknown bacteria that was destroying my entire digestive system. Things weren't going that great. The philosopher Karl Jaspers came up with the modern concept of the limit situation. He talked about four things that can bring it about when taken to extreme levels: fright, guilt, finality, and suffering. The thing is, these all go together. I was going in and out of consciousness. My ability to walk, or even to stand, had left me. I had been vomiting. I remember rolling over and vomiting off the side of the bunk bed I was in, and seeing blood in the vomit. I thought, "That's not good." It's not the only place that blood had been coming out of. I

Vera and the Disappearing Squirrel

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The stories we consume affect how we view everything. With a nine-year-old girl in the world today, the movie 'Frozen' has a good chance of coming up. - - - - - - - Once upon a time in the kingdom of Arendelle lived a King, a Queen, and the Princesses Elsa and Anna. On a stormy Tuesday they decided to play a game. But the window wouldn't fully close in their room. They wanted to play with snowballs. Elsa had magic in her hands, she could make snow or ice because of her magic hands. Just as Elsa was going to make a pile of snow in the room the window slammed open with a loud Bang! In jumped a squirrel that looked very cold. He turned around and shut the window. "Elsa," said Anna "what a big storm! Please close the window. It is so scary!" "Do not worry Anna!" said Elsa. The squirrel looked at Anna and said, "Hey, I already shut the window. You have no idea how cold it is out there." "A talking squirrel?" sai

Vera and the Girl Who Became a Mermaid

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Transformation is a common theme in literature. Sometimes we transform and then enter a new world, at other times we enter a new world and then transform. Sometimes, it's both. Mermaids are interesting creatures that I've never looked deeply into. That idea of an entire underwater world is intriguing though. I remember scuba diving at the bottom of a lake and thinking, 'If it was logistically possible, it would be cool to live down here.' In ancient Greece mermaids were sirens that seduced and devoured men, in comic books they are heroes, in Harry Potter they are intelligent monsters. No matter how they are portrayed, mermaids have always been enchanting to the minds of humans. - - - - - - - Night on a lake can be dark. With clouds blotting out the stars above, the sky looks black, and the water below looks black. Angie sat alone, in a little boat, surrounded by darkness. Then she heard a big splash and she saw a tail. She thought that this tail belonged to a

Vera and the Raccoon that Caught a Fairy

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Fun, funny, and serious can often go together. One can change to the other in a split second. That happens in life, and sometimes it happens while you're writing. Pay attention near the end when Vera changed this to a serious story. I was a little surprised, but it was good. - - - - - - - In a forest lived a girl with a dog. The dog was clever. Next to the girl and the dog lived a raccoon. The raccoon was clever too. The raccoon helped the girl and the dog eat. The girl's name was Gigi, and the dog's name was Bim. "Would you like some more grapes?" asked Rocko the raccoon, holding out a handful of grapes toward Gigi. "Yes, please!" said Gigi, and she made that sound, of being satisfied with food, and wanting more too. Bim walked away from the table in the woods to a tree. He curled up in the soft grass, and was soon asleep in the mid-afternoon shade. "He is so tired!" said Gigi, "he needed a nap!" and she smiled. But

Vera and the Talking Dog in the Forest of Many-Colored Trees

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I've put some of the stories that Vera and I have written together up on my blog over the last few months. She likes it. You can see that in the ending of this one. I like fairy tales. They are allegories, meaning they are full of hidden meanings. But that idea can grow into something more. Myths, legends, and epic fantasy tales abound both now and throughout history. This reminds me of that. - - - - - - - "Why?" said Devan, looking at the trees surrounding him, "Why would they make all of the trees different colors?" "I do not know?" said Allie. Devan thought for a moment, bringing his hand up to his mouth, in the way that he did. "I think," he began, but then trailed off. Still staring at the trees. "Let's go home!" said Allie. "But where is home?" replied Devan, without a moment's hesitation. He turned and looked at her, in a serious way, but with a slight smirk. "Do you remember which trees w

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