Rhyme of the Day

Various meanderings with a rhyme in there somewhere.

Purity in Kant
This is going around, in response to something Marco Rubio said suggesting that maybe more people should go into welding and fewer into philosophy:

Kant, who was hugely influential, is the very model of an armchair philosopher. I've never been a fan exactly, but he tackled big questions, with his "critical method."

As with so many things Kantian, it's hard to say exactly what the "critical method" was, but it recently occurred to me that there was a strong similarity of program in his ethics and his aesthetics, a similarity I hadn't thought about before.

In ethics he pushes hard on the idea that you can only be sure that you're really being moral when you do the right thing when it's against your own interest and desire. So if you hand money to a beggar, and you feel good about it, and it doesn't really inconvenience you, then you haven't done a verifiably good deed!

In aesthetics he pushes hard on the idea that you're only having a true aesthetic appreciation when you admire an artwork for its form alone, absent any natural admiration of the content. So if you like a nude statue partly because it arouses a hint of eros in your mind, you're on the wrong track, buddy!

You can see the push toward purity, of a kind. Purity from earthly considerations or motives.

Then today I was thinking there was something similar going on in his Critique of Pure Reason. There's that word "pure" right in the title. But I puzzled a bit because it's not desire that plays the role of a corrupting influence in his epistemology. Certainly it turns out that it's actually impossible to really know anything about reality - the underlying reality that's out there somewhere beyond the sensory manifold, unfiltered by our mental categories.

But it strikes me that the underlying push is still the same - it is to remove the holy grail of knowledge from our earthly grasp - away from the flesh - away from our puny mortal minds - and into rarefied imaginary territory.

I write all this without quotes.
No doubt I have simplified.
His castle is circled with moats,
And many have vanished inside.

Yoga Smoke
As I arrived at yoga tonight there was a young woman puffing on a cigarette just outside the door in the chilly air. You see this all the time at office buildings, but I'd never seen it at yoga before.

Now that I reflect on it, some sizable percentage of yoga-attenders must be at least occasional smokers, but they must not do it right around class.

This young woman, it turned out, was doing 3 yoga classes back to back, meaning she'd been doing maybe 3 hours already when I saw her.

For some reason I never liked the smell, but I do feel kind of bad for smokers nowadays. They have so few spots where their habit is acceptable.

When you need nicotine on a regular basis,
you end up puffing in inconvenient places.

Melissa Click Apologizes
I see where the U. of Missouri protesters weren't very nice to journalists yesterday:

'Video shot by student Mark Schierbecker shows Janna Basler, the university's assistant director of Greek life and leadership, telling photographer Tim Tai, a student working freelance for ESPN, to "leave these students alone" in their "personal space." Moments later, Melissa Click, an assistant professor in Missouri's communications department, is seen confronting Schierbecker and calling for "muscle" to help remove him from the protest area.'

Although students - most importantly the football team - were deeply involved, it almost sounds as if the overall effort was organized by members of the school's staff!

Anyway, after having won 2 high-level adminstration scalps, and having faced a media firestorm for trying to lock out the media, they're ready to make nice to the media again. Here's Melissa Click, the prof who was calling for 'muscle':

'"I regret the language and strategies I used, and sincerely apologize to the MU campus community, and journalists at large, for my behavior, and also for the way my actions have shifted attention away from the students' campaign for justice," she said in the statement.'

She wanted to muscle out the working press.
Did she overreach? The answer's yes.

Preying on the Praying
It happened in Florida:

"A 60-year-old church usher was arrested Sunday in Marion County on allegations of stealing money from offering baskets while the congregation prayed with their eyes closed and heads bowed, deputies said."

The usher was under suspicion, and was caught on camera.

To save his soul from dour damnation,
He needs to be kept away from temptation.

Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin
Not ready for Christmas yet?
Relax, this is only a set.

The name of the show is Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin, and it's playing at the Royal George Theatre here in Chicago. It's one of these one-actor biography shows. Felder's good, the biography was interesting, and the songs were standards. I would say that nowadays the songs are much better known than the author of the songs, and so a lot of the show consists in explaining what was going on in Berlin's life and mind when he was writing these songs, such as White Christmas, God Bless America, Putting On The Ritz, and on and on.

I saw Felder before, some years ago, playing George Gershwin in a similar one-man show. That one was just called Gershwin Alone. It didn't have Felder's name the title.

But he's done lots more. The Wikipedia article, which kind of sounds like it was written by a publicist, has this:

"Combining the craft of acting and concert-level piano performance, George Gershwin Alone was followed by the creation of the role of Fryderyk Chopin, the Polish composer/pianist, the roles of Ludwig van Beethoven and Gerhard von Breuning in Beethoven, As I Knew Him, Leonard Bernstein in Maestro Bernstein, Franz Liszt in Musik, and Irving Berlin in Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin."

I guess he's doing all right,
playing every composer in sight!

Anatomy is Destiny

Wherever she goes
She follows her nose.

50k Coming Up
I signed up for a 50k race, 8 days from now. That's 31 miles. I've done the distance 3 times before.

Basically, if you've done a marathon, it's just 4.8 more miles. Piece of cake.

I did have a physician, who never seemed to think there was anything odd about marathon running, react negatively to the notion of running a 50k. His opinion was that humans weren't meant to run farther than a marathon. I assured him that I would walk part of the way.

I had been thinking about doing a different 50k a week ago. But the forecast, which proved quite accurate, was for a day full of rain.

I woke up last week in time to make the race. I looked out the window and thought about running for hours and hours in the rain.

And then, instead,
I went back to bed.

Pyramid Hypotheses
Not that it seems particularly relevant to the job of being American Prez, but what is up with Ben Carson's opinion that the Egyptian pyramids were giant wheat silos?

'In the video, Carson says: "My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids in order to store grain." He was referring to the Old Testament story of Joseph predicting famine and advising the pharaoh to store surplus food.'

I have a far more scientific theory:

The pyramids were erected
by visitors from space,
to hide out undetected
in a subterranean place.

We're all familiar, from mystery stories, with murders staged to look like suicides. But it happens the other way, too, and it happened in a spectacular way here in Illinois:

'Two months after Fox Lake Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz was found dead, investigators call his death a "carefully staged suicide" to cover-up years of embezzlement.'

He fooled a lot of people. For a while. An expensive manhunt was conducted for his killers.

Had a big funeral where people praised him as a hero.
Now his reputation's dropped to zero.

ACA vs. Costs
The Affordable Care Act seems to be bending the "cost curve" in the wrong direction. The cost of coverage seems to be going up, at the same time as the plans are covering less and less.

It's a mess.

The law always seemed to be an overly complicated machine, a wild combination of bureaucracy and market mechanisms, something that defied human understanding. Was this because it was constructed by an uber-genius? Or was this because it was constructed by committees of sub-geniuses.

Perhaps it doesn't matter
but I fear it was the latter.


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