Monday, July 30, 2007

etumos logos, redux

Part of my fascination in the study of the etymological roots of words is in the inexplicable delight I obtain from uncovering the "true" nature of the words we use to express the concepts that we oftimes have a clumsily understanding of in our minds. By identifying the root of the word I sometimes appreciate a clearer grasp of the concept, although this fastidiousness approach may appear as intellectual overkill to my peers whose verbal usage is merely conventional and rote.

That said, the acclaimed sci-fi author John C. Wright has been hosting a debate on his personal blog on the nature of of conciousness, in support of the position that concepts and abstractions exist qua existence, although not in a material sense, stating that:
"The assertion that all awareness, value judgments, ideas, concepts, and abstractions can be ultimately reduced to some description of mass, length, and dimension is pure metaphysical mysticism. It is mysticism in that it is knowledge that does not come from empirical observation..."

I find this line of argument quite convincing, and in contrast to the causeless explanation of consciousness as found in Douglas Hofstadter's I am a Strange Loop, a book which I thought could be appropriately subtitled "The Incoherent Ramblings of an Aged Consciousness Which Was Once Thought Relevant". No hard feelings intended, [to those senseless neuron firings in that lump of grey matter entitled to a sense of consciousness self-referentially calling itself] Douglas.

What I enjoyed from this very same debate and in connection to the original topic of etymology was the author's response to one of the comments, in which he writes:
"The explanation of the correlation between the mathematics of the physical universe and the rationality of mathematics is this: both come out of one cause. For religious men, call it The Word of God, or Logos. For nonreligious men, call it Logic. Logic means that a statement about numbers cannot involve a self-contradiction. Logic in physics means that the universe cannot embrace or contain a self-contradiction.

The universe cannot be illogical because the word 'illogical' is something that only happens in speech or in unspoken thought: it is the condition where the symbols used to represent the universe no longer follow the rules that allow them to represent the universe. Illogical, in other words, means what the universe is not.

argument from efficiency

"I do not accept individual freedom because the market is efficient. Even if the free market were less “efficient” than central planning, I would still prefer my personal freedom to coercion. Fortunately, I don’t need to make a choice. Austrian economics upholds the market’s efficiency, and that reinforces my overwhelming desire and right to be free."

- Ron Paul's Mises and Austrian Economics pamphlet (link to PDF)

The quotes around "efficient" are as found in the original text, and I'm not at all suprised to see that coming from an Austrian scholar, being that any and all measures of efficiency are ultimately and objectively meaningless.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

its not worth the tree pulp that it's not written on

Not content with the patent nonsense which passes for a 2-year study of citywide trees, a researcher wasted even more time quantifying how much value each specific tree specie produces per homeowner, taking into calculation the average proximities to the residents.

Friday, July 06, 2007

ministry of sacrament

In NYC, and I think throughout the tri-state area, the mere possession of fireworks is a punishable offense. As far back as I remember, come July the cops and officials make heady pronouncements as to the danger of non-professionally administered fireworks. Accompanying these PSAs are graphic depictions of those horribly mutilated and disfigured by firework displays gone awry and trumpeted as viceral propaganda to sway those who casually think to disobey the law.

I reckon I know why illegal pyrotechnics are so important to them-- the brazen audacity that the plebes must have to think they can administer the sacrament to the Holy Church of Statehood. The secular priests will have none of this.

I suppose that in some aspects its better this way; perhaps more folks will be disillusioned about the false gods they serve if they are turned away from taking part in their own fashion.

I still find a silver lining in this cloud-- its opportune to stir up well-deserved cognitive dissonance in the unsuspecting statist by questioning their "progressive" ideology, as to how in world does a city or township put up a quarter-million dollars worth of "ooohs" and "aahhhs" when there are still homeless and hungry people in the area-- have they eliminated those problems yet that there is ample taxpayer funds to go to waste?

I think that by taking this first step, you are getting the statist to agree with you, that there are priorities to be attended to before they dare incinerate your property taxes in splendid glory. This back door approach helps to uncondition the first rule of politics, which is to ignore the first rule of economics; the law of scarcity, that in general wants surpass means.


I can't recommend enough John C. Wright's latest trilogy, comprised of The Orphans of Chaos, Fugitives of Chaos, and Titans of Chaos. Only in part because I recently read for my first time Dante Alighieri's Inferno, I roared in delight over this passage found early in the second book:
"Come along, Mr. mac FirBolg. We have all had just about enough," I heard Boggin saying.

Stand back! I'm about to start speaking in tounges! Rafel mahee amek zambi almit! Papa Satan! Papa Satan allepe!"...

...Colin writhed and screamed and frothed, calling them all sinners and condemning them to damnation and hellfire.

Sometimes I wonder how you could possibly enjoy a novel without knowing what the author is alluding to with their cryptic references. I felt equally suprised when I read Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and discovered a passage smuggling Buridan's Ass ("And so I'm trapped between two opposing forces, like an ass who does not know which of two stacks of hay to eat" Pg. 348.) Heinlein pulled the same one in his Time Enough for Love which I already noted elsewhere. (I've also once noted that Robert Anton Wilson, in his seminal Illuminatus! Trilogy aped Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged with a nested G.E.B.-worthy story-within-a-story titled Telemachus Sneezed.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Today's daily article asks,
"Is Intellectual Property the Key to Success?"

Here was one thought I've posted on the Mises blog a while back in regards to IP:

"Information is an abstraction which describes some arrangement of matter into forms recognizable by the human mind, and apart from the mind of the person discerning it, it is ultimately and universally meaningless.

Those arrangements could be the magnetic polar orientation of an iron atom, dark-colored ink molecules weaved into paper fibers, electrically-charged phosphor molecules in a bed of silicon, etc.

To say you have ownership over such things can only be in a physical term- in that specific arrangement pattern.

To say you can control others from making similar arrangements is making a metaphysical leap from objects of nature, to things our minds think about nature."