Brendan

1144 posts
A revolution without dancing? Pfft.
Brain Bath

Billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman says his masters in philosophy has helped him more than an MBA

by Richard Feloni | Business Insider Nov. 24, 2017 Reid Hoffman is the billionaire cofounder of LinkedIn and one of tech’s most influential investors. Instead of a business education, he pursued his master’s degree in philosophy. He told us that the analytical thinking skills he learned have made him a better investor and entrepreneur. When students begin graduate studies in philosophy, they’re typically looking to explore the essence of existence — and suffice it to say, most are not getting on a path to riches. But one of Silicon Valley’s most influential billionaires, LinkedIn founder and Greylock Partners investor Reid […]

Brain Bath

That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket

From George Anders 2015 column in Forbes magazine. Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s 42-year-old cofounder and CEO, whose estimated double-digit stake in the company could be worth $300 million or more. He’s the proud holder of an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Canada’s University of Victoria and a master’s degree from Cambridge in philosophy and the history of science. “Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says Butterfield, sitting in his office in San Francisco’s South of Market district, a neighborhood almost entirely dedicated to the cult of coding. “I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument […]

Brain Bath

Why study philosophy?: A statement by Jordan Kotick, Vice-President J.P. Morgan, Wall Street

While considering what to study in my first year as an Undergraduate, I decided to take a few Philosophy courses. When informed of my decision, those I knew murmured, “Philosophy…what are you going to do with that?” Soon after my first year was complete, realizing that I enjoyed these courses and my intellectual curiosity was peaked and challenged, I decided that one of my double majors as an undergraduate was going to be Philosophy. The echoes grew louder as those I knew grumbled “Philosophy? What are you going to do with that?” After four years and a Bachelor of Arts […]

Brain Bath

A Society with Poor Critical Thinking Skills: The Case for ‘Argument’ in Education

Huffington Post (08/15/13 | Updated 10/15/13) by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz Researchers have shown that most students today are weak in critical thinking skills. They do poorly on simple logical reasoning tests (Evans, 2002). Only a fraction of graduating high school seniors (6 percent of 12th graders) can make informed, critical judgments about written text (Perie, Grigg, and Donahue, 2005). This problem applies to both reading and writing. Only 15 percent of 12th graders demonstrate the proficiency to write well-organized essays that consisted of clear arguments (Perie et al., 2005). Critical thinking and argument skills — the abilities to both generate and critique arguments […]

"John Stuart Mill," by Mitch Francis

Mill’s Utilitarianism

What Utilitarianism Is
According to the Greatest Happiness Principle… [hilite]the ultimate end[/hilite], with reference to and for the sake of which all other things are desirable (whether we are considering our own good or that of other people), [hilite]is an existence exempt as far as possible from pain, and as rich as possible in enjoyments[/hilite], both in point of quantity and quality; the test of quality, and the rule for measuring it against quantity, being the preference felt by those who in their opportunities of experience, to which must be added their habits of self-consciousness and self-observation, are best furnished with the means of comparison.

"Aristotle," by Mitch Francis

Aristotle’s Ethics – Book X: On Happiness and Contemplation

This section of our text is selected from Book X of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (Εθικη Νικομαχοι). Trans. W.D. Ross.Numerals styled like this are “Bekker numbers” deriving from the 19th century Bekker edition of Aristotle’s surviving works (Corpus Aristotelicum), still standard for references.I indicate where my commentary ends by using our writer’s avatar where the primary text begins:

Marijuana “Experts” Disappoint: Part II – The Law Enforcement Establishment

Opinion | Perspective ‘Experts’ disappoint, part 2 April 17, 2016 in Rutland Herald / Times Argus Surprised and disappointed by the marijuana misinformation in circulation, we set part of the record straight in part one of our commentary (“Marijuana ‘experts’ disappoint,” April 10): Despite what Vermont’s health experts are telling us, science has not shown that marijuana causes laziness or lung cancer or that it lowers IQ. Although marijuana can be used to counter these conditions, we wouldn’t hear about that from Vermont’s vocal health “experts,” who carefully ignore the relevant scientifically established benefits of marijuana. We are surprised, too, […]

Marijuana “Experts” Disappoint: Part I – The Medical Establishment

Opinion | Perspective | Rutland Herald By Brendan Lalor and Philip Lamy Commentary | April 10,2016 Editor’s note: What follows is Part 1 of a commentary piece by Brendan Lalor and Philip Lamy. The second part will run in a future edition. We are concerned by the marijuana misinformation in circulation — and in particular by the number of “expert” sources ignoring relevant scientific data. Vermonters look to medical and scientific bodies to inform our marijuana policy discussion yet find so many so-called experts repeating half-truths and outright falsehoods. Hence, we write to promote greater integrity in our marijuana policy […]

Abe Lincoln on Prohibition

Abe Lincoln: “Prohibition … goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. … A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”

Marijuana “Experts” Disappoint

We are concerned by the marijuana misinformation in circulation – and in particular by the number of “expert” sources ignoring relevant scientific data. These include organizations such as the Vermont Medical Society, the Vermont Academy of Family Physicians, the Vermont Psychiatric Association, the Vermont Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Vermont Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Vermont Chapter of the American College of Physicians, the Vermont Public Health Association, Vermont Department of Liquor Control, the Vermont Department of Health, and individuals such as Dr. Paul Parker of Richmond. Why are so many experts repeating half-truths and outright falsehoods? This is especially disturbing because we Vermonters look to these medical and scientific bodies to inform our marijuana policy discussion. Further, when young people learn the real science, or gain experience of their own, they develop a legitimate cynicism that undermines their trust in our institutions. Hence, we write to promote greater integrity on the information-based side of our marijuana policy discussion.

Reefer Madness 2.0

Recently, I attended a public showing of the documentary “The Other Side of Cannabis: Negative Effects of Marijuana on Our Youth.” The film has been traveling across the state, sponsored by local drug awareness groups to stimulate public discussion of potential marijuana legalization in Vermont. The film might more accurately be subtitled “Reefer Madness 2.0” …

For the Sake of the Children, Outlaw it!

Thanks to Ms. Slaton’s Letter, we awoke from our slumber, recognizing in her words a call for an about-face from our current focus on marijuana in Vermont. She asks, “What are we teaching [our children] if we legalize a substance that is known to be harmful to their development and their ability to learn?”

Bingo. She’s right.

If our children learn by paying attention to messages implicit in the law as Ms. Slaton suggests they do, then we are in big trouble, and we have already brought down immense harm on them by introducing them to alcohol.

The Perfect Moral Storm: Philosophers Respond to the Impending Anthropogenic Apocalypse

For at least the next 200 years, weather forecasts predict shitstorms, with global temperatures now set to remain elevated for hundreds of years to come. The latest IPCC report explains that our emissions are nearing the point of no return. Even if industrialized nations switched to solar power overnight, it is now too late to fully reverse the planet’s course. Geologists have officially termed this new epoch, where the human species has irreparably shaped earth’s geological history, the
Anthropocene. Policymakers no longer have the luxury to decide how we might “stop” global warming. Instead, we have to figure out how we’ll manage amidst climate instability.

Ilya Yefimovich Repin's painting, Barge Haulers on the Volga (1870-73).

The Birthday Dirge

What is “The Birthday Dirge”? “The Birthday Dirge” is sung to the tune of “The Volga Boatmen”. If you don’t know the tune by name, you know it by sound. It’s the depressing sounding Russian folk tune that nearly everyone has heard at one time or another. The resounding thud that follows each “Happy Birthday!” is traditionally accompanied by a “HUHN”-like grunt. The sort of groaning grunt that workers lifting heavy loads might find natural. What are the lyrics? The Dirge is known in various circles as “The Barbarian Birthday Song”, “The Viking Birthday Sang,” “The SCA Birthday Dirge,” etc. […]

Tocqueville caricature by Honoré Daumier, 1849.

De Tocqueville’s “Democracy In America”

I hold it to be an impious and an execrable maxim that, politically speaking, a people has a right to do whatsoever it pleases, and yet I have asserted that all authority originates in the will of the majority. Am I then, in contradiction with myself? A general law—which bears the name of Justice—has been made and sanctioned, not only by a majority of this or that people, but by a majority of mankind. The rights of every people are consequently confined within the limits of what is just.

Google Doc Templates – Not in Apps for the Organization!?

If you use the free, Standard Edition of Google Apps, your admin control panel will give you the illusion that you can enable the use of document templates on your domain. But it won’t work, and there is a hidden note to this effect in Google Help. So if you want to use doc templates, here’s how to set up a workaround: Log in to your personal Google Account (with the username@gmail.com address). Do not log into Google Apps (Standard Edition) for your domain. In Drive, create the Doc you would like to use as a template. Still in your personal account’s Drive, select that […]

Quine's 1975 passport photo

Quine’s “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”

Originally published in The Philosophical Review 60 (1951): 20-43. Reprinted in W.V.O. Quine, From a Logical Point of View (Harvard University Press, 1953; second, revised, edition 1961), with the following alterations: “The version printed here diverges from the original in footnotes and in other minor respects: §§1 and 6 have been abridged where they encroach on the preceding essay [“On What There Is”], and §§3-4 have been expanded at points.” Except for minor changes, additions and deletions are indicated in interspersed tables. I wish to thank Torstein Lindaas for bringing to my attention the need to distinguish more carefully the […]

Rebekah Frumkin

Socrates and Glaucon on the Home Shopping Network

by REBEKAH FRUMKIN, McSweeneys (19 May 2010) SOCRATES: Good evening, Glaucon. You look troubled. GLAUCON: I am, Socrates. SOCRATES: What worries you so? GLAUCON: Look at my kitchen floor. That brown scum is the stain of fowl livers. I spilled them earlier today and cleaned them up, but the stains remain. SOCRATES: I see. GLAUCON: The stains are attracting countless pests with their foul odor and bacteria. There is no way to clean them up. SOCRATES: Are you sure of that? GLAUCON: Yes. To do so, I would need some convenient means of cleaning and sterilization. SOCRATES: And you are […]

Index of Passages and Vocabulary

Links to passages Aristotle poses the question: How is happiness acquired? Aristotle’s definition of virtue Martin Luther King’s “an unjust law” Martin Luther King’s “difference made legal” Mill’s harm principle Mill’s utility interpreted in light of humanity’s “progressive being” Plato’s definition of courage Plato’s definition of justice Plato’s definition of temperance Plato’s definition of wisdom Plato’s articulation of might-makes-right Plato’s articulation of the challenge to justice Socrates’ daemon/voice Socrates identifies with Apollo Socrates on death Socrates on “obedience to god” Socrates on the examined life Some Vocabulary Ad hoc Ad hominem Ambiguity Appeal to authority Argument by analogy Begging the […]

"Rene Descartes," by Mitch Francis

Descartes’ Discourse on Method

Selections from Descartes’ Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences are from Jonathan Bennett’s translation. Some words on his practices: “[Brackets] enclose editorial explanations. Small ·dots· enclose material that has been added, but can be read as though it were part of the original text. Occasional •bullets, and also indenting of passages that are not quotations, are meant as aids to grasping the structure of a sentence or a thought. Every four-point ellipsis . . . . indicates the omission of a brief passage that seems to present more difficulty than […]

"Rene Descartes," by Mitch Francis

Descartes’ Passions of the Soul

Selections from Descartes’ Passions of the Soul is from Jonathan Bennett’s translation. Some words on his practices: “[Brackets] enclose editorial explanations. Small ·dots· enclose material that has been added, but can be read as though it were part of the original text. Occasional •bullets, and also indenting of passages that are not quotations, are meant as aids to grasping the structure of a sentence or a thought. Every four-point ellipsis . . . . indicates the omission of a brief passage that seems to present more difficulty than it is worth. Longer omissions are reported between brackets.”

"Schopenhauer," by Mitch Francis

Schopenhauer on Pessimism

by Arthur Schopenhauer Unless suffering is the direct and immediate object of life, our existence must entirely fail of its aim. It is absurd to look upon the enormous amount of pain that abounds everywhere in the world, and originates in needs and necessities inseparable from life itself, as serving no purpose at all and the result of mere chance. Each separate misfortune, as it comes, seems, no doubt, to be something exceptional; but misfortune in general is the rule. I know of no greater absurdity than that propounded by most systems of philosophy in declaring evil to be negative […]

Stuffed Poblano Pepper Delight

Ingredients 4 good sized peppers One tube of 3.5 oz chèvre 8 oz block of cream cheese the other things mentioned below Instructions Soften the cheeses (e.g., let them sit at room temperature). Bake peppers empty about 20 minutes at 350 degrees (F). Meanwhile, blend the cheeses (e.g., fork mix). Add sautéed garlic, olive oil, garden herbs, breadcrumbs (and anything else you want: onion, shallot, chive). Stuff the peppers with the mix. Bake for another 20 minutes. Save leftover mixture for bagels.

Turnip Baked Fries

Michelle made this tonight from our first turnip harvest. We’ve discovered that there’s more to turnips than mashing or steaming them! Turnip prep. First, peel three good sized turnips; slice them a little less than a half-inch thick, and cut them into french-fry shapes. Next, coat them in olive oil (or the oil of your choice). The dry mix In a separate bag, combine half a cup of grated parmesan cheese, and a teaspoon of each of the following: garlic salt, paprika, onion powder, and a dash of what seems best to you. Combine and bake Shake the turnip fries […]

I'm Dangerous

“I think, therefore I earn”

by Jessica Shepherd, The Guardian (19 November 2007) “A degree in philosophy? What are you going to do with that then?” Philosophy students will tell you they’ve been asked this question more times than they care to remember. “The response people seem to want is a cheery shrug and a jokey ‘don’t know’,” says Joe Cunningham, 20, a final-year philosophy undergraduate at Heythrop College, University of London. A more accurate comeback, according to the latest statistics, is “just about anything I want”. Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show philosophy graduates, once derided as unemployable layabouts, are in growing […]

Stretching Beyond

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we are saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own; therefore, we are saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness. ~Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History (1952)

Wall Street

The US is not a democracy but an oligarchy, study concludes

by JC Sevcik, UPI, April 16, 2014 WASHINGTON, April 16 (UPI) — Oligarchy is a form of government in which power is vested in a dominant class and a small group exercises control over the general population. A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities concluded that the U.S. government represents not the interests of the majority of citizens but those of the rich and powerful. “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” analyzed extensive data, comparing nearly 1,800 U.S. policies enacted between 1981 and 2002 with the expressed preferences of average and affluent Americans as […]

Out of Body Experience

How to Have an Out-of-Body Experience

Greg Stevens, Science Correspondent, The Kernel, Thursday, 10 April 2014 You can have an out of body experience right now, and it isn’t even that hard. Some people can do it more easily than others, and it may take a little practice. But it is something that anybody can do, and it can be done scientifically. Senses and the self Let’s start with a question: Where do you feel like the center of your “self” is right now? Most people feel like the center of their consciousness—the vantage from which they are experiencing the world—is somewhere behind their eyes. This […]