caro thinks

Yikes! Carolyn's intense, ebullient, and goddamned logical tonight! The horror! How shall we survive it?!

Straw men of small minds
Make big scary commotion.
They know crows can't count.
date 2000-10-26:07:10
music Frank told me today that he likes classical music, and it wasn't Rachmaninoff! He actually knows who Wanda Landuska is. This is quite remarkable. Apart from the amazing Carol and Kim, I don't think I know any Objectivists who actually understand the meaning of the term 'early music'.

My own early music has suffered of late, the victim of a too-busy schedule. But a most mirculous thing has happened! Suddenly I can get a public radio station! I wish I knew what the mechanism is, so that I don't screw it up. I just moved from the small bedroom into the large one, and lots of wiring has been moved with it. Given the depth of this canyon, the difficulty of finding even a country station (country stations are everywhere), and the finicky particularity of the antenna wire with regard to the speakers, I am ready to believe it is the current position of the torche lamps upstairs that is making this boon possible.

24 hours a day, nonstop music. And they like early music. On original instruments. It is heaven. I feel like my whole life has changed: to be able to walk to the stereo in the morning and have real music all day without going back to flip the disk.

Now it is true that they played 'Rodeo' twice since this bit of providence two weeks ago, they've already played 'Eine Kleine Nacht Musik' once, which is a bad statistical sign. But I will take it. To hear new music every day. To hear those grinding, yeowling baroque strings, and harpsichord music that I don't own. La Jolla is now complete. It was only a month ago that I was terribly homesick for Bloomington, and the main thing my mind kept wandering back to was the incessant music, everywhere, radio stations catering to the Early Music Institute students and faculty and local fans thereof, the Institute itself offering free concerts around the clock, my own harpsichord lessons, stores selling sheet music without modern notation scribbled in--anything you could possibly dream up to ask for (well, I did have to write to France for the Duphly--but I got the Partitas over the counter). How could I have left it? I think it was partly the slight drop in temperature, the overcast days, and the longer nights that triggered the feeling that I should be going back to school any minute now, and the smell of rosin and confused tangle of practice sessions would soon assault my senses in the hallway of the "square" building. I will always love you, Indiana, for this even more than your pink and white spring streets and your big sky.

What a little night music can do for a place.
fallacies My little germ of an idea from yesterday has developed into one whopper of a core dump today. I've got enough material here for a logic textbook, and there seems to be no end in sight!

Some of my favorite ad-hominem-poisoning-the-well fallacies are shooting out in all directions on the wetheliving lists. I don't subscribe to Atlantis; the bits that people make me read are quite enough, speaking of bullshit (see "perl"). But OWL has gotten pretty wild now itself. When I moderate discussion lists, I simply don't publish fallacious arguments: they got sent back to the writer with instructions for revision.

This is the sort of thing that just a tiny bit of philosophy education teaches you: you don't make fallacious arguments, and when someone points out to you that you have committed a fallacy, you don't repeat the fallacy more loudly and augment it with more fallacies; you look it up, study it, make sure you never, ever do it again. Fallacious arguments are a scandalous embarrassment to philosophers, because they know they ought to know better, ought to have caught it.

It's incredible to me--literally--that fallacious arguments are not only common among Objectivists, but shouted proudly and acceded to readily by listeners. I have to honestly look at reality and see that this is indeed happening despite my fondest whims to the contrary; but I can't help but hope that the smart people are just sitting at their computers, shaking their heads sadly, and hitting DELETE over and over, unable to bring themselves to walk out amongst wild animals who proudly proclaim that they cannot be reasoned with. You're out there somewhere, aren't you? Please, talk to me!

Some people respond to cogent arguments offered on OWL, by yelling more offensively and more loudly on ATL. How do insults win the case? Or is it that these people just can't distinguish anymore, between an insult and an argument?

It is shameful.

As if Objectivism didn't have enough obstacles to acceptance amongst real, respectable thinkers, we've got to go all over the internet bullying each other with fallacies that 100-level undergraduates are too embarrassed to commit.

I blame Rand for this, and Peikoff, and all the other early Objectivists who slung mud with abandon. It doesn't matter if you also give good arguments: you don't use fallacious ones, ever. One reason you don't, is that the teenagers who enroll in your ranks before their minds are fully formed may not be able to tell the difference between arguments and mud. And when push comes to shove, it's much easier and faster to whip out a nice loud indignant fallacy than it is to test reality and think through the real argument. Objectivists would do well to cultivate a sense of self-consciousness about their methods, the own ignorance, and the utter lack of such methods in any respectable academic or technical discipline or business, and learn to feel embarrassed by their own willful errors. Do everybody a world of good.

Yes, Nathaniel, then we should all accept and forgive ourselves. But mostly we should fix what we screwed up.

So, while y'all are doing your doggonnedest to make sure that Objectivism is the laughing stock of rational thinkers everywhere, fortunately for all of us there are people in academia writing relentlessly calm, reasonable papers and having peaceful, forceful discussions, holding forth with the point of view of which you demonstrate so little understanding when the rubber hits the road. And some day, hopefully very soon, reasonable people will understand that Objectivism really doesn't have more than its share of lunatics and idiots, because, after all, look at what we've written.

Wow! I must be in a bad mood! And I was feeling so perly a little while ago!
Tom My dear Tom, do you realize that by turning you loose with this program I have given you license to write me long self-absorbed essays once again? One year later we've come full circle.
wildlife A few days ago a hummingbird had a dogfight with a yellow jacket. The feeder, which I inherited from the previous residents, is in bad shape, and the bee guards were lost long ago. Now that it's "fall" (see "La Jolla"), the yellow jackets are out in numbers. They're just the right size to slip into the feeder holes--don't know why they don't just make the holes smaller: the birds wouldn't mind. A hummingbird arrived just as the wasp was exiting the hole. The bird backed off a little, and the wasp approached it. For about 30 seconds, they did a little dance with each other, hoving to face off, tracking each other's dodges, facing off again. I've never seen a hummingbird back down from a fight, but yellow jackets are annoyingly persistent, and the bird finally zoomed away. But she was back soon, and spent the rest of the day minding the feeder from a perch on the jasmine.

I don't know if it is the same bird who is usually babysitting the feeder, but one visitor today was quite fat. I imagined that I could see the outline of two eggs puffing out her belly. T'is the season. But I've never seen a baby hummingbird. How do they eat? Do they just mature to adulthood in the nest, and then emerge full-grown?
perl I had to force myself to stop coding the journal and start writing in the journal tonight. It is exhilarating, to be so immersed. I forget, when I don't code for a while, how much I enjoy it, how much better my life is for it. The exercise of any skill or knowledge is pleasant. But the exercise of a long-standing way of being is exquisite and all-possessing. I am new to programming, but I am not new to logic. I first engendered my mother's hatred, at the age of five, by demonstrating logical facility; she actually used the words 'goddamned logic' to berate me for the way I was responding to her. An education in philosophy was inescapable. And earning a living writing code makes perfect sense to me, although it usually surprises people. I don't think most people realize what kind of discipline philosophy is. Of course they don't. They think it's bullshit, because 'philosophy' is what they call it when they're spewing bullshit.
pornography Real dolls: should I add this to the paper? Or are sex toys not closely-related enough to porn?

They seem to me to bring up the same issue: one of the objections is that people should be having sex with real people, and porn makes it possible for them not to (or actually prevents them from doing so). Real dolls should fall under the same objection. Have to see how the arguments develop.

Add to Benefits: Practice, not just physically, but in habits of thought and feeling.

Interestingly, this benefit, too, can be interpretted as a drawback. It looks like a lot of the points are going this way, which seems to indicate that the morality of pornography is a derivative issue. It is often said that the real issue behind controversy over porn is freedom of speech, and, therefore, rights. But that seems too simplistic to me at this stage in my thoughts. For one thing, one can grant that there is a right to make and consume porn, without granting that it is moral to make and consume it; and so the problem reappears as soon as we've done the rights analysis.

Nevertheless, there seems to be something broader that stands behind the issue. I mentioned information last time. Information leads to knowledge; it also leads to mistakes if the information is faulty or if the information is given out of context or to someone incapable of interpreting it correctly--thus we worry about children consuming porn, as their context and capacities are at various stages of development. We can worry about adults too, if their context has been limited--and whose hasn't? A sheltered geek may have no real experience with sex, but have a world of internet porn to bathe in, and yet only choose whatever he happens to come to like first.

But why would we assume that limiting the information further would be better? Expectations are dependent on many variables, one of which is information. So if information is low, expectations will be low--and that will lead to a lower disappointment rate? Hm. Unfortunately for this take, the drive for physical sexual pleasure is built in pretty firmly. You may not know exactly what you're missing, or even know that you're missing something, but you will probably still feel the lack. People can't always say exactly what is making them unhappy or feeling unfulfilled, and certainly we wouldn't expect them to be able to say, if they had never even heard of anything better than what they are getting.

And so, to psychologize a bit, limiting information on these grounds looks very bad, in terms of results and motivations. The motivation doesn't have to be "evil" or meanness to be bad simply because it is unencumbered by the thought process.

Reason Number Four to Live in La Jolla

It's October 26, 2:00am. It's 70F. There's no heat in the house, and there won't be, all winter. Instead of installing air conditioning units, they installed vast windows that open to the earth. Today, in the garden office, it was 75F, as usual: breezy, stark blue sky, bright clean sunshine. It's as though all of humanity originated in this one spot and our species evolved to live in this one place, and then we wandered forth and forgot how amazing it was to be home. And now I'm home.

I was thinking yesterday, as I splashed in the water I was so desperate to reach and looked up at the hills I had never even dreamed existed, that it's always the same with me: I dearly love the place where I am, and can't think of leaving it. Even the most detestable places have grown on me; even in the most desperate of circumstances I have wanted to stay in my latest beloved space. But there is a difference in memory. Bloomington I will always remember as one of the best places on earth, and Hollins too; while Baltimore is one of the most repugnant. But La Jolla is a trap much worse than Bloomington, and Bloomington manages to trap a fair number of graduates. La Jolla is not likely to let me go without a big fight. (Oh, and, that's "Lah HOYa", not "Ligiolla". Say it with me now...)

Find Enlightenment