Print Story All that and then some
By lm (Sat Sep 04, 2010 at 11:02:26 AM EST) (all tags)
Apparently I'm all that. I wouldn't have used those words. But there they were.

In a note raving up the implementation team, the director of an outside vendor that we worked with for the project had some kind words to say about a couple of my cow-orkers and I:
X and Y were a pleasure to work with –competent, courteous, flexible, and reliable in keeping commitments. lm was all that, plus extremely impressive at the technical level.

The downside of that a general reputation within the company of having those attributes means that my time is  in high demand. I've got too much to do and not enough time to do it. Were I working full time rather than part time, I think I might be able to handle my present case load. But as it is, not so much.

But fortunately, I'm on several projects where other firms involved aren't being exactly helpful in ensuring a timely delivery. This works out well for me. I get the leisure to take the time to do things the right way the first time.

For example, the other day, a cow-orker asked for some help with a database report. It was a slightly interesting problem that needed a bit of thinking outside the box. It wasn't all that complex of a problem, it just needed a fresh set of eyeballs and someone to step back and look at what the report was actually reporting on. The answer was to create a new database view with and use that to drive the report. So created an example of what the view might look like and shot it to my cow-orker via email.

So my cow-order tried it out. It seemed to work, so he moved the report to the production database but forgot to also move the database view. Five minutes after he sent an email to the client to try out the report, we got a call, "I tried to run that report but it gave me an error message saying that it couldn't find THE_VIEW_OF_AWESOME_MIGHT."

(Just to be clear, there is no obfuscation going on over the name of the view. In the example code, I made the name THE_VIEW_OF_AWESOME_MIGHT. In a way, I'm quite fortunate that SQL doesn't allow apostrophes in the names of views and tables otherwise, I would have created LEE'S_VIEW_OF_AWESOME_MIGHT. Well, that's good for me anyway. But now that I think of it, that would have been even funnier.)

I still can't believe my cow-orker didn't change the name of the example view before tying the report to it. The only thing that could have been better would be if the client had opened up a ticket over that particular error.

:: :: :: :: ::

An atheist argues that if there is no God then there is no morality. I've got two bones to pick with Marks. FIrst, "hard atheism" has long been used in the philosophy of religion to describe those who think that God does not exist as opposed to "soft atheism" which is a mere lack of belief in God. (Agnosticim is a particular form of soft atheism.)  But that's not really an important point. More important, but still relatively minor, is that I don't think he is clear enough that it is atheism per se that implies that morality exists but rather lack of faith. It is possible for an individual to not believe in God and yet still believe in morality. It is holding to a world view that discounts faith from being knowledge that ends in the inability to form a moral code without being intellectually inconsistent. If you reformulated what I think is really his point, if scientific knowledge is the only form of knowledge then it follows that there is no such thing as morality.

Strippers strike back!. Buxom bikinied beauties stage counter protest in front of Evangelical parish.

Behold, the bed-bug returneth to America

Zombie culture has come too far when phones are being guerilla marketed as zombie apocalypse phones.

Frankenstein is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Hamilton County Court on charges of vandalism, menacing and disorderly conduct while intoxicated.

And you thought driving while texting was bad. Cincinnatians take distracted driving to a whole new level.

Allstate has its annual list of US cities by quality of driving up. Hy hometown (Dayton, OH) is near the top of the list. I guess that explains why almost everywhere I go, I think the drivers are crap.  The District (where I live now more or less) is dead last. Oh, joy. Only two things surprise me about the list. The first being that Cincinnati isn't lower on the list. The second being that Pittsburgh is ranked well above Philly. I've seen more bizarrely horrible driving in Pitt than I've seen anywhere else.

:: :: :: ::

The first week of school was more or less interesting. My coursework fits into the category of "stuff I'm kind of interested in but wouldn't really pursue on my own." One course is on Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy and the other is on Plato's Phaedo and its reception by the Stoics and Epicureans. I think I've got angles for term papers that are tricky enough to keep my interest. (And my preliminary research suggests to me that my angles are soundly grounded in the relevant texts.) But the real motive for taking those two courses was that I've done well grade wise with those two professors and I need to get my GPA up.

For the class on the Phaedo, I think I want to address the Stoic view of suicide. Two events bookend The Phaedo. It opens with Socrates' relating a supposedly Pythagorean argument against suicide based on the idea that human beings are the possessions of the God and, therefore, intentionally killing oneself is akin to one's ox wandering off on its own which deprives the master of its just possessions and is, therefore, an injustice. The book ends with Socrates' death, having drank a bowl of poison of his own volition. So how does Socrates counter the early argument? By arguing that the soul is immortal and by leaving behind the gods that rule the material world, he will be going to better gods in the hereafter. This argument, of course, would be unconvincing to the Stoics who thought that everything which has being is a material body. God is a material god. The soul is a material component of the person. So, how then would the Stoics have countered the argument presented against suicide? It's clear that they did. Suicide, especially a violent and nasty form of suicide, was at the top of their list for good ways to die.

For the course on Descartes, I want to tackle the role of God in his epistemology. In the Meditations, God (or rather the goodness of God) is presented as the guarantor that our perceptions are of the real world. That is to say, Descartes appears to have found it impossible to doubt the beneficence of God. But I think that something subtle is going on here. I need to examine the text more closely but it seems to me that Descartes leaves plenty of room to have his written work be compatible with atheism. The alternative to our perceptions being true (at least most of the time) is the brain in a vat scenario where our perceptions are being fed to us by a malificent demon intent on deceiving us. So his point isn't really that God exists and is beneficent. Rather the argument is that if a deity with that sort of power exists, then it must be God and it is inherent in the idea of God that God be beneficent. Reformulated thus, this argument runs into two problems. Advances in technology that lead to the possibility of scenarios like The Matrix (or better yet, Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream) take away the whole question of malificence or benificence. And, on a more historic note, thinkers such as the Marquis de Sade present a counter-factual of individuals who believe in a malevolent God.

I also need to buckle down and write an MA thesis. The more I research and the more I try to puzzle it out, the more I think that I'm on the write track. But I need to commit some words to paper and get my advisor's approval and then get it into shape for her to submit to the committee that reviews proposals for thesis topics. And I should really do that sooner rather than later.

:: :: ::

I'm planning to bottle my first real batch of beer this weekend. My wife's favorite beer is Negra Modelo. So I looked up what various home brew forums claim is a recipe for something similar. The recipe is a bit complex so I simplified a good deal. I couldn't find the right type of hops or years at the home brew store so I substituted. I also misremembered what sort of malts to use in addition to a dark malt. (Negra Modelo is considered a Vienna lager and for some reason I came home with Munich malt.) It'll be interesting to see how it turns out.

I'll also be starting a wheat ale. I was going to hop it up but I misremembered how much hops I needed for the batch of beer started above. Consequently, I used up all my hops. This isn't a huge deal, it should still turn out fine.

The fun part is that a friend is coming over to see what's all involved. He and his partner recently bought a house and now he has large basement calling out to be used for some sort of project. He's thinking that home brewing might be one possibility.

:: ::

Running this week has been unremarkable. Most mile times are between 8 and 10 minutes. The first mile or two is usually under 9 minutes with subsequent miles being just over 9 minutes. This marks my second week of getting my full running schedule in. It adds up to 24 miles split over six days. That's a lot of miles. The more I think about it, the more I think that folks that run marathons are nuts.

The weight machines have also been unremarkable. Having backed off a plate on the shoulder and bench press, I can get complete sets almost all the time on the shoulder press which is something new. But I'm also only doing two circuits for the present rather than three. My shoulder is still sore in a way that I'm not sure it should be sore. So I'm trying to take it easy.

My weight has been almost dead on at 175 all week. The scale was a hair over one day and a hair under a couple of days.


We've got company coming over for dinner on Labor Day. (This coming Monday.) They're a new couple in town from the midwest. I think I'm going to spend all day in the kitchen cooking up Ms. Singh's Sweet and Sour Pork Delicacies. It's been a while since I've made that. And if I wait too long into the semester I'm not going to have the time.

Good thing that I've found a few new and interesting recipes that are quick to make. One that is of awesomeness is a Korean style barbecue sauce.

2 TBSP fermented pepper paste (gochujang)
3 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP sesame oil
1 TBSP liquid smoke
1 tsp rice wine

Whisk the ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved. Makes enough for about a pound of meat. I cooked mine by mixing it with cubes of beef and cooking it in the slow cooker. Presumably other methods of cooking the meat would turn out just as incredibly delicious.

We used the barbecued to meat to make Kogi style tacos. Along with the Korean style barbecue, they were served with pickled turnip. The only thing keeping them from perfection was me screwing up steaming the tortillas. They turned out mushy. Still delicious, just falling apart and not very taco like.

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All that and then some | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Stoics on suicide by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #1 Sat Sep 04, 2010 at 12:19:38 PM EST
Stoics were never that keen on suicide, though they thought it was the right course in some circumstances. It was a bit of a strawman argument by their opponents that they would just commit suicide on a whim.

Also bear in mind that the Stoic is supposed to be ruled by Reason, and that they identify God with Logos or reason too. So if a stoic's reason tells him that suicide is the best course of action, it means that it's also God's will too.

This bit of Epictetus might be relevant:

You would come to me and say: "Epictetus, we can no longer endure being chained to this wretched body, giving food and drink and rest and purification: aye, and for its sake forced to be subservient to this man and that. Are these not things indifferent and nothing to us? Is it not true that death is no evil? Are we not in a manner kinsmen of the Gods, and have we not come from them? Let us depart thither, whence we came: let us be freed from these chains that confine and press us down. Here are thieves and robbers and tribunals: and they that are called tyrants, who deem that they have after a fashion power over us, because of the miserable body and what appertains to it. Let us show them that they have power over none."

And to this I reply:-- "Friends, wait for God. When He gives the signal, and releases you from this service, then depart to Him. But for the present, endure to dwell in the place wherein He hath assigned you your post. Short indeed is the time of your habitation therein, and easy to those that are minded. What tyrant, what robber, what tribunals have any terrors for those who thus esteem the body and all that belong to it as of no account? Stay; depart not rashly hence!"

It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
We're going to go through The Handbook by lm (2.00 / 0) #2 Sat Sep 04, 2010 at 12:42:49 PM EST
But the first few weeks of class will be a close reading of the Phaedo.

That bit from Epictetus does sound much of the echo of the argument that Socrates brings up in the Phaedo.

From my preliminary research, it appears that Seneca was the one that was gangbusters for suicide and there seems to be a question of how "orthodox" of a Stoic he was. A while ago I read a review of a book that argues that Seneca's tragedies were developments of his epistemology (Seneca and the Idea of Tragedy). It piqued my interest but not by enough to go track down the book.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Morality and Religion by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #3 Sun Sep 05, 2010 at 10:12:02 AM EST
I've always taken an exception to the argument that you need religion for morality.   It is true that amongst animals there is no morality.  The problem is that human beings are not animalistic.  Consciousness and social ability are the differentiator between animals and humans.   Because we have a sense of self and because we have a sense of social acceptance we will have morality.   Morality is completely irrelevent without a sense of self.  You don't need religion to have morality; you need a sense of self. 

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
That's an entirely different question by lm (2.00 / 0) #4 Sun Sep 05, 2010 at 05:18:36 PM EST
The question of whether athesists can be more agents is an entirely different question then whether or not being an atheist is compatible with this or that moral theory.

Marks' article (and my comments on it) are all about what one ought to believe given that one subscribes to an atheistic worldview. This says nothing about how people who hold atheistic worldviews behave with regards to morality.

Or put another way, a "hard atheist" of the sorts that Marks describe is left without any way of condemning murder as evil but that doesn't meant that "hard atheists" of that sort go around murdering people. As you mention, most people have an inherent sense of morality whether or not they subscribe to this belief system or that belief system.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
My point is by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 09:41:58 AM EST
I don't believe it's a valid argument to make from the beginning since it presupposes that morality is based on religion and dictates from outside the individual.   From what I read he's making morality analagous to religion which it is not.   You may be right about his attempt to be trying to argue from a purely scientific point of view, I've seen it with sociologists.  I've seen the approach that what we consider morality is simply learned behaviour that is directed from others.  But he needs to view morality solely through morality and distance himself from religion.  I think a sociologist makes the point better.  Right now he's looking at both and doing neither justice in his argument. 

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
You're on the right track with 'scientific pov' by lm (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 09:57:26 AM EST
Marks is a professor of philosophy. He's considering morality as a belief system and arguing that, as such, its incompatible with some other belief systems, such as atheism. On that level, I think he's certainly correct. Then he throws in the assertion that the "hard atheist" belief system is true. If it is true (and if one grants that being true means that it corresponds to way things actually are) then it follows that there is no such thing as morality.

On the other  hand, this doesn't do justice to the human capacity for holding contrary beliefs.

On the other other hand, in a way, it also begs the question of what morality is by presuming that it is entirely a system of beliefs.

On the other other other had, in the post-Quine landscape, we can't take it for granted that truth means correspondence to an objective reality rather than being consistent with a particular mental schema.

So I do agree with you that there are problems with the way he makes his argument. But I disagree with you over what those problems are. He, does, as you say attempt to reduce morality to culture studies of a sort. But he does that only as the consequence of first determining that there is no real morality by (a) his argument that morality as a belief system is incompatible with atheism and (b) asserting that atheism is the case. He offers the anthropological aspect of morality only as a way to explain the phenomena, to describe why most people feel that there is some sort of moral code.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Philosopher vs Scientist by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Sep 07, 2010 at 08:19:34 AM EST
That's probably my problem right there.  He would get more milage from me if he took the sociological point of view of morality which is consistent with atheism.  More consistent with atheism than with religion.  Morality is a system of learned bahaviours.  Beliefs?  Maybe if you consider a learned behaviour a belief; which I do not.  

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
Sense of self by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 11:20:50 AM EST
Plus an imagination in order to engender empathy.

[ Parent ]
A person might not be an animal. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 01:56:03 AM EST
People are big, dumb, panicky animals and you know it.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Animal vs Animalistic by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 07:59:15 AM EST
Yes, people are still ruled by their animal brain at a base emotional level.  It's part of the reason I don't like people.   But they're basically not animalistic.  They do have some measure of thought on occassion even if most of them don't try to use it.

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
Eat, sleep, fight, fuck. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #12 Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:08:23 AM EST
Most people aren't that far separated from the rest of the animal kingdom at any given moment.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Washington DC by duxup (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:37:10 AM EST

Holy crap.

All that and then some | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback