Sunday, November 30, 2014

Now Playing: Free Will

There are those who think that life has nothing left to chance
A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance

A planet of play things
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
'The stars aren't aligned
Or the gods are malign...'
Blame is better to give than receive

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill

Completion Rates for Humanities Doctorates

About 60% of those who begin Ph.D.'s in philosophy don't finish.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Blog Stats

Weird day on this blog.  I figured with a holiday there wouldn't be much activity on the blog (especially since I hadn't posted anything).

Pageviews by Countries Today

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United States

 France is usually 2nd to the U.S. in hits.  Those numbers are typically reversed.  Today France is number 1 so far.  Weird.  It could see 200 hits from France by the end of the day.

I'm Thankful For...

...this house.   Here are a few pictures from the house we bought; I'll try to get more up eventually.  You'll see some of what I (and family and friends) have been doing for the last few months.  We still haven't gotten any of our pictures or artwork up.  A few things are still over at the other house.

Upstairs Living Room Before (these pics are still on the web at Zillow):


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

More on Ferguson

Video: Female Papa John's Manager Bravely Defends Business from Rioters

In Defense of Riots.  (Read this to understand the left).  

Black Minister Voddie Baucham's Thoughts on Ferguson

It does me absolutely no good to assume that my mistreatment was systemic in nature. No more than it is good for me to assume that what happened in Ferguson was systemic. I have a life to live, and I refuse to live it fighting ghosts. I will not waste my energy trying to prove the Gramscian, neo-Marxist concept of “white privilege” or prejudice in policing practices. 
In the end, the best lesson my children can learn from Ferguson is not that they need to be on the lookout for white cops. It is far more important that I use this teachable moment to remind them that “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Moments before his death, Michael Brown had violently robbed a man in a store. A man doing the best he could to make a living. Minutes later, Brown reaped what he sowed, and was gunned down in the street. That is the sad truth. 
My sons have far more to fear from making bad choices than they have to fear from the police. The overwhelming majority of police officers are decent people just trying to make a living. They are much more likely to help you than to harm you. A life of thuggery, however, is NEVER your friend. In the end, it will cost you . . . sometimes, it costs you everything.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Obama on SNL


Ferguson: Protesters or Lynch Mob?

So what exactly IS being protested?  Jim Crow laws? 

Which ones? 

What IS the goal of the protests?  How long are they to go on?  Until the cop is dead too? 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Obama, an Accountant, an Engineer, and an Economist Walk Into a Bar

This from the Letters to the Editor at the Democrat-Gazette today...

The [Jonathan] Gruber Affair has suggested a variation of an old economist joke. Here it is.
The president is looking for a health-care adviser.  Three people apply.  An accountant, an engineer, and an economist--Jonathan Gruber.  A transcript of the interviews reveals the following:
The accountant is called in and the president asks: "How much is 2 plus 2?"
The accountant answers, "Four."
The president thanks him and calls in the engineer.  He asks, "How much is 2 plus 2?"
The engineer answers, "Four, give or take a little for unknown factors."
The president thanks him and calls in Professor Gruber.  He asks, "How much is 2 plus 2?"
Professor Gruber gets up, closes the blinds, and shuts the door.  He returns to this chair and asks the president, "What do you want it to be?"
As a joke, it is funny; as truth, it is sad.

Dover, AR

Friday, November 21, 2014

Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?

In this post I will attempt to prove that Obama is divine; more precisely, he is Jesus.

Liar-in-Chief Gets Upside-Down Pinocchio from the Washington Post!

Does this President have any shame?  What a lying liar!

 But the Washington Post doesn't get it completely right about Mr. Obama's position on his Constitutionally authorized powers vis-a-vis immigration.  Consider in particular what is in bold below
The president has certainly been consistent on [his Constitutionally authorized power]—until he saw that the path through Congress was blocked. It’s clear from the interviews that the president was not being asked about executive orders that would have provided comprehensive immigration reform, but about specific actions that ended deportations of a subset of illegal immigrants—precisely the type of action he will shortly unveil.Previously he said that was not possible, using evocative language that he is not a “king” or “the emperor.” Apparently he’s changed his mind. The president earns an upside-down Pinocchio for his flip-flop.
Apparently HE'S CHANGED HIS MIND??  Well, that's putting matters rather charitably, to say the least. Yes, he did flip-flop.  But who in their right mind thinks that, coincidentally when the Dems lost the Senate, Obama had a sudden revelation that he really does have constitutional authority to grant amnesty to c.5 million non-citizens without congressional approval?  The Post should've given him an upside-down Pinocchio for flip-flopping AND four Pinocchio's for lying, not changing his mind.

Obama: "Well, actually my position hasn't changed."

That is correct.  You are still a serial liar.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Kids, Language, and Football

My one-year-old somehow can pick out anything football related.  It's like a miracle.  "Tackle!"  That is his universal word for football player, football game, football, etc.  As far as I can remember, I only introduced him to the word "tackle" when he runs at me and tackles me when roughhousing.  But somehow he picked up that this is what goes on in football.  One day as I was watching football he came in and said, "Tackle!"

I have five kids and it still never ceases to amaze me with each one how they develop their native language.  It's not too difficult to understand how one can learn a second language or third or fourth language, but learning a language with no language is mystifying.

Typically, we think that children learn the meaning of terms by ostension--by some sort of pointing children learn what is signified by the sign or word.  Some of the first books we read to our kids are picture books with shapes, objects, and colors.  You point to a red truck and say "red truck," point to a red ball and say "red ball."  Eventually the kids learn to see what is in common when the word "red" is used and the like.

But then (to borrow from Quine) how do children learn my meaning when the range of possible meanings seems underdetermined by the objects pointed to?  I point to a rabbit and say "rabbit."  "Rabbit" could mean that furry animal which is alive (what you and I MEAN by rabbit!), it could signify undetached-rabbit-parts, the space that is always inhabited by a rabbit, the outside of a rabbit, and so forth.  Or take "walking."  I could walk around the room and say "I am walking."  But how does one recognize walking from hurrying, taking 50 steps, sauntering, moving, and the like?  How does a child recognize that anyone who has walked farther than I have when I have said "I am walking" is also walking?  How is it possible that language gets started?  Yet children seem to automatically (or at least very quickly) understand what I mean be the term.

I am reminded of Augustine's Confessions where he describes his own learning of a language as a child (1.6.8)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Book I Just Finished

Fantastic true story of a trouble-maker turned Olympic athlete, WWII veteran, who is Unbroken.  Heroism, defeat, forgiveness, salvation, and horror on land and at sea.  It's all there.  Read it.

If you aren't going to read it, read this article on the man and the film to be.

Don't Tell 'Em (Obamacare song)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Are All Sins Equal?

This is too big of a topic to tackle in a short post.  It's the job of the theologian to reconcile the passages below and give a coherent account, and I'm only a part-time theologian.  Nonetheless, here are few quick thoughts off the top of my Bible.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Barack Obama, Alvin Plantinga, and The Heart of American Darkness

Philosopher Jerry Walls has this brief must read message for us.  I've reposted it below.

It is not often when I’m reading a tome of analytic philosophy that I am stopped in my tracks by a passage that reads like a penetrating diagnosis of what’s wrong with contemporary America. But that happened recently, and I have not been able to get the passage out of my head. The passage appears in Alvin Plantinga’s 500+ page volume Warranted Christian Belief in a chapter where he is discussing how sin distorts our ability to see the truth.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What I Think Whenever I See MTV's "Rock the Vote"

PLEASE.  Do everyone a favor.  Do NOT Get-Out-The-Vote

"With God All Things Are Possible." Is that true?

Matthew 19:25-26 reads:
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

What does "all things" refer to?  All actual things?  All possible things?  All impossible things?  Some take this verse to entail that God can do anything logically impossible.  God is such that he could have made it the case that he never existed.  For to make it the case that one never existed is to be such that one can both exist and do something such that one has never existed which would be to do the logically impossible.  God could make a square circle. He could make a perfect triangle the sum of the interior angels being zero degrees and fluffy.  Moreover, God could make it the case that he's always been a square circle and never been a square circle.  I fail to find such a view coherent.

To someone who holds such a view, I ask, "Has God done such a thing? Has God made it the case that he's an evil square circle?"

Answer: "No, for that's not in the Bible."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Could God Make a Cadillac So Shiny That He Could See His Own Invisible Attributes In It?

The answer may not seem obvious.  It is about as obvious as whether God is powerful enough such that He could turn himself into a billiard ball.
I asked the latter question in class yesterday.  I'll take a stab at answering it and leave it to the reader to answer the former question.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Conservative Disadvantage

An old Mav Phil post that is still applicable today.

The Conservative Disadvantage

We conservatives are at a certain disadvantage vis-a-vis our leftist brethren. We don’t seek the meaning of our lives in the political sphere but in the private arena: in hobbies, sports, our jobs and professions, in ourselves, our families, friends, neighborhoods, communities, clubs and churches; in local road races and chess tournaments and tractor pulls; in the particular pleasures of the quotidian round in all of their scandalous particularity.

Above all, we conservatives do not seek any transcendent meaning in the political sphere. We either deny that there is such a thing, or we seek it in religion, or in philosophy, or in meditation, or in such sorry substitutes as occultism. A conservative who denies that there is ‘pie in the sky’ will certainly not seek ‘pie in the future.’ That brand of lunacy is left for the leftists. A conservative could never write a book with the title, The Politics of Meaning. Politics for a conservative is more like garbage-collecting: it is a dirty job; somebody has to do; it would be better if nobody had to do it; and we should all lend a hand in getting the dirty job done. But there is no meaning, immanent or transcendent, in garbage collecting and sewage disposal: it is something one gets out of the way so that meaningful activities can first begin.

I’m exaggerating a bit. To write is to exaggerate. Too French! Delete! But I’m exaggerating to make a serious point. We conservatives don’t look for meaning in all the wrong places. And because we don’t, we are at a certain disadvantage. We cannot bring the full measure of our energy and commitment to the political struggle. We don't even use the word 'struggle.' We are not totally committed to defeating the totalitarians who would defeat us.

But we won the last round anyway. 

10 Hours of Princess Leia Walking in NYC (in 2.5 minutes)

If you need an explanation see here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Response to a Response by Glenn Peoples on Divine Command Theory

Discussion here.

GP:  You do not describe an alternative to experiencing the feeling of being commanded, but rather you say “I often experience a requirement that seems generated from…” In other words you say that you experience where the obligation comes from. 

TB:  I wouldn't put it that way, unless a seeming is sufficient for an experiencing.  When I feel myself to have a duty/obligation/requirement it often seems to come from (feels like it's coming from?) whomever or whatever I have the duty/obligation/requirement towards.  I think you've offended me; I slap you in the face.  I then realize I was mistaken and you hadn't offended me.  I've done something morally wrong--I realize I've wronged you--and there was something about you such that what I did was wrong.  It feels like I've in some way violated you.  Another example: my house is starting to burn.  My children are in there.  I have a moral duty to save them.  I feel the pull of that duty.  The feeling of that pull doesn't feel like the pull of having been commanded.

Instead of responding point by point, let me just reconstruct what I take your argument to be and respond to it (hopefully this is a fair rendering):

1. If x seems exactly like having been commanded to A, then x probably is having been commanded to A.
2. Having a moral obligation to A seems exactly like having been commanded to A.
3. So having a moral obligation to A probably is having been commanded to A.
4. The best explanation for this identity is a theistic one.

Monday, November 10, 2014

An Argument for Divine Command Theory Rejected

Glenn Peoples is starting a series of posts and arguments for a Divine Command Theory of ethics.  As I understand DCTheories of ethics they ground moral rightness and wrongness in God's commands.  On the paradigm case (or perhaps on the strongest formulation) the property of some action A being obligatory just is the property of being commanded by God to A; the property of A being impermissible is the property of being forbidden by God to A; and the property of A being merely permissible (permissible but not obligatory) is the property of God neither commanding nor forbidding A.  From Peoples's own description, this seems more or less his understanding as well.

Here now is a sketch of his argument for DCT in his own words (naturally, I'm leaving a lot out, but I think this does justice to the basic argument):

NPR Morning Edition Story Today

I had to go to Sherwin Williams this morning to get another gallon of paint while their 40% sale is still on (among other things, we're building another bathroom at the house we bought).  So I get back in the van and there's a story on NPR that's already begun about this lady who is a Christian, she came from a conservative, evangelical background, her dad was a pastor of a large church, etc.

"WHY is this human interest story on NPR?"  I'm thinking.  What IS the catch? Why is there a story about a white evangelical on the news this morning?

Ah.  She's bisexual.  Got it.   I kinda figured it had to be either the B or the T but the T's have been receiving a lot of press, so it's only fair to throw in some B stories too to be fair and balanced.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Now Playing

I recall this being the last song I listened to minutes before I left home for Basic Training.

Uncle John's Band (The Grateful Dead)

Well the first days are the hardest days, don't you worry any more,
'Cause when life looks like Easy Street, there is danger at your door.

A Movie Paradox?

This just occurred to me in class the other day.  There are several types of movies.  There are excellent movies and there are real stinkers.  Within the class of bad movies there are some that are so bad that you just have to see them because they are so bad.  But there are also bad movies that are not so bad, that you see once and would never recommend seeing to anyone else.

I have tried to think of examples for these bad movies but I rarely watch bad movies since I only watch movies that have been recommended to me from people I trust or that I've read reviews about.  The first 3 Star Wars movies were pretty bad, but not so bad that I'd want to see them again or would recommend them for their badness.  The Fast and the Furious was about as stupid of a movie as I've ever seen but it's not so bad that I'd recommend it for its badness.  One website I came across had Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins in the "so bad it's good" category but that movie is not even bad!!  In fact, I've seen it at least twice!

But does it make any sense to talk about movies that are so bad that they are good?  How could a movie be so bad that it's better than a not so bad movie?  Impossible!  There are no movies that are so bad that they are good!  (Yes, i realize I'm riding roughshod over the intrinsic/extrinsic good distinction but it's just a blog post).

So why do we say this?  I suppose that it's because the movie is so bad that it's funny.  But then if it's funny it's not so bad.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I Don't Want a Choice to Die

Wesley J. Smith comments on how assisted suicide advocacy hurts the sick, and he provides a moving letter from a friend.


Imagine you have Lou Gehrig’s disease. You know you are dying.
But your struggle is made even more difficult by advocates who claim:
1) You should commit suicide if you want “death with dignity;” and,
2) Your society should help you do it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What are the Philosophical Implications of the Urge to Urinate?

Not many, as far as I can see.  People are less likely to believe in free will when they have urges they have little control over.  I can buy that.  But having false beliefs and believing things without good arguments is perfectly consistent with having free will.

I Dignify Monash's Comments with a Post

Does this make any sense?
I don't dignify just any old comment of Monash's.  Some comments do not rise to the level worth dignifying. In such cases we say thing like "I will not dignify your comment with a response," or "Do NOT answer him!  That remark should not be dignified with a response!"

Why do we say such things?  I think it is because we know that responding to some comments (or other actions)  does indeed add dignity to the comments and to the person offering them.  But of course some things that are said by people do not rise to the level worth dignifying, and we are to refrain from doing things which would add dignity to what has been said or to the person saying them.

Other comments on Monash's comments:

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dignity and Honorary Doctorates

I don't know who this guy is.  Hopefully he's not a Communist.
Receiving an honorary doctorate, I maintain, can make one more dignified. It can add dignity.  This is not necessarily the case, of course.  Word has it that at one of my alma maters a board member who had an honorary doctorate insisted that everyone refer to him as Dr._______.  Clearly this honor had gone to his head, and he acted in less than a dignified manner overestimating his own worth.

Another example of when receiving an honorary doctorate does not confer dignity: When someone is given an honorary doctorate who simply deserves punishment and not reward. If Stalin were given an honorary doctorate the honor would be a pure farce.  But thought well-of because of evil by evil people does not add worth.

So one must already have some dignity worthy of receiving an honorary doctorate in order have dignity from that honor--one must already have a good deal of dignity in fact.  But the receiving of an honorary doctorate is not something that one deserves.  The honorary doctorate is a supererogatory good.   And the honoring of someone in this way adds dignity.  One has now been honored by having an honorary doctorate.  One has now been esteemed with this award and one now has the benefits and privileges therein.


In response to the previous post, Monash Jonas writes:

Dignity, I take it, is a form of self-worth. And, it seems to me, has for the most nothing to do with what others think...Take Ms. Brittany. Her sense of self-worth is diminished...why? Perhaps because she can no longer function without the aid of someone else. 
Dignity or self-worth concerns my own bearing, in the first instance. It has, again, little to do with anyone else (excepting God, of course). I hold to certain principles, say, and I judge myself on how well I apply those principles to my life - such dignity has nothing to do with anyone else. So I guess I'm unclear as to why you think appealing to anyone else (in terms of their feelings or thoughts or whatever) has any bearing on what I think of myself. 
JS, adds "it also seems to me that dignity has almost nothing to do with what others think. "

I am not sure if I understand what Monash means by self-worth.  It sounds as if Monash means to be saying with his example of "Ms. Brittany" is that dignity=self-worth and self-worth is the worth that someone has in virtue of valuing herself.  Dignity just is valuing oneself; the more one values oneself, the more dignity one has; the less one values oneself, the less dignity one has.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Death With Dignity

The death of Brittany Maynard was brought to my attention today. Brittany suffered from glioblastoma; she ended her life by taking a fatal dose of barbiturates.  In her own words,
"My glioblastoma is going to kill me and that's out of my control," she told PEOPLE last month. "I've discussed with many experts how I would die from it and it's a terrible, terrible way to die. So being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying." 
I shall not comment on the death of Brittany or the circumstances surrounding them. What I shall comment on are views or beliefs intimately tied to cases such as this one.  I will only comment briefly in passing on one important issue:  There is no right to death.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Where Football Players Call Home

Which Parts of the Country Produce the Most NFL Players

Where College Football Players Call Home

Recent NFL Draft Hotbeds


Breakdown over last 3 drafts per capita
1. Mobile (726K) 12.4 
2. South Georgia (1.5 million) 11.3
3. Miami-Dade Co.(2.59) 10.42
4. Palm Beach Co.(1.37) 10.22 
5. Broward County (1.85) 9.19
6. New Orleans (2.1) 8.57
7. Birmingham (1.35) 8.14
8. Florida Panhandle (1.23) 8.13 
9. Columbus(1.95) 6.67
10. Cleveland (2.1) 6.6