Pablo’s Problem: Diary, 8/16-8/17/21

Dreams; potassium; quotes from Bell: Debunking Science; pragmatic philosophical hack work; ice cream binge; quote from Stoker’s Dracula; Afghanistan pessimism; Batman v Superman; Pablo taken ill.

Copyright (text only) 2021 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Left to Right: The Author; Mark; “Pablo”; Salome

{8/16/21}  Weight 214.0 at 5:20 am.

A long dream.  I was in a big building with large halls, like a mall, but I also lived there.  I was in bed, with other men around, trying to get sticky bits of food out of my long hair.  One advised me to wash it.  I even found a small dish stuck in my hair.  I went looking for a sink and found a few, but they were in use by men wearing only underpants.  I encountered a friend and asked how he was.  He responded but I couldn’t hear what he said, so I asked him to repeat.  He said he felt “chummy.”  “Oh, chummy!”  And I put an arm around his bare shoulders and we walked together that way.  He got ahead of me and disappeared.  No longer knowing where I was going, I came to a way down, something like an enclosed ladder.  I began climbing down—I think I was concerned because I was wearing flip-flops.  That’s all I remember.

Went to bed early to read, went to sleep around 9:30, woke before 3:00 am.  Read a little and slept some more.  Dreading the heat today.  108° is predicted, which is two degrees less than was the prediction for today of a couple of days ago.  So it will be about 88° inside today, at the worst.  Bad enough.  By Wednesday it will be down below 100°.

I looked up “potassium” in Wikipedia because my book on the periodic table doesn’t say why the symbol is “K.”  It’s from “kalium,” which is neo-Latin.  Turns out that a banana doesn’t really contain much potassium, contrary to the popular belief.  Probably a good thing I take a multivitamin every day.

Eric Temple Bell:  Debunking Science, is available here.  An excerpt:

This is from page 39.  The next page has:

The pragmatists will ask, “How do we know what is good?”  and immediately answer, “It’s good if it works.”  Never mind the “proof,” which Bell has just debunked, at least to his own satisfaction.  I don’t understand his argument, it’s over my head.  But I can understand rejecting “known error,” something that has been tried and failed.  It’s not unlikely that my “Bleak Philosophy” paper says much the same, perhaps more adroitly, poor thing though it is.  I wanted to look up the short book (40 pages) by Bell because it’s quoted in Korzybski’s Science and Sanity, a foundational text for my Bleak Philosophy, notably for the quote:  “Nevertheless, the consuming hunger of the uncritical mind for what it imagines to be certainty or finality impels it to feast upon shadows.”

I can’t recommend Bell’s essay because it starts with several pages of tedious arguments in favor of critical thinking, and the style is quite dated.  Part II is more interesting, especially if you’re looking for ammunition against Russell & Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica.  Being a pragmatist, I am untroubled by all this, just as I am untroubled by my lack of understanding of quantum mechanics.  I am content that the products based on QM work just fine.  We don’t need “certainty” and I distrust anyone who claims to have it in anything more problematic than immediate sense perceptions.

I know that this is philosophical hack work; if you want better expressions of the same thoughts, read Richard Rorty, William James, W. W. Bartley, III, and Karl Popper.  I write philosophically to explain things to myself, to work out answers that I can, on a good day, defend to my own satisfaction.  I recognize my inability to provide anything more impressive.

{8/17/21}  Weight 214.8 at 4:15 am.

Given that I consumed an extra 1,010 calories yesterday evening, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s “Cherry Garcia” ice cream, I’m astonished to see that I’ve gained less than a pound.  My understanding of these daily losses and gains is rudimentary.

Weird dream fragment:  I was trying to increase the volume on my sound bar, using the remote, because I couldn’t hear whatever it was that I had on TV.  But none of the buttons had any visible or sonic effect.

A quote from Bram Stoker:  Dracula, Fall River Press/Sterling, New York, 2020:  “There was everywhere a bewildering mass of fruit blossom—apple, plum, pear, cherry; and as we drove by I could see the green grass under the trees spangled with the fallen petals. In and out amongst these green hills of what they call here the ‘Mittel Land’ ran the road, losing itself as it swept round the grassy curve, or was shut out by the straggling ends of pine woods, which here and there ran down the hillsides like tongues of flame.” p. 7-8.

I like the choice of “spangled” and the personification of the road “losing itself.”  But while dictating, I noticed the lack of parallelism of “losing itself” together with “was shut out.”  It seems ungrammatical, even.  But looking further, it seems that “it swept” and “was shut out” form a grammatical parallel…?  Anyway, I liked it for its imagery but I guess I won’t hold it up as a “fine example of poetic prose.”

I’ve read Dracula two or three times before and always liked it; I wanted to read it again after reading Tod Browning’s Dracula, doubly so because I don’t have the movie on DVD.

Yesterday was rather miserable and I didn’t get much work done.  Mostly I slept, two naps and an early bedtime, and read some bits here and there, notably the Bell essay quoted above.  My other less savory pastimes will go unmentioned.

I did watch some news, rather a lot actually, regarding the terror in Afghanistan.  It seems that the Taliban has not engaged in massacres yet; Biden goes on TV and says “mission accomplished,” thus putting lipstick on a pig.  The repugliKKKans will make political hay of us in Afghanistan and kill the Democrats in the next election, and the rest of us shortly thereafter.  Actually, aside from wasting time on impeaching Biden, not that much will change because nothing will get done until 2025.  After that, fascism may be anticipated, if we don’t quite have it yet.  Call me a pessimist.

Watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) on DVD for probably the third time—maybe the 4th.  I enjoyed it more than I expected to; I did not bother with the very tiresome Man of Steel first, although I like Cavill as Superman/Kent.  Also includes Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot, both of whom I like in their roles (Batman and Wonder Woman, if you don’t know).  In Man of Steel it irks me that Superman fights the Kryptonians again and again, yet every time allows them to fly away in their big ships.  He could ground those things with a simple zap of his heat vision, but can’t be bothered because—he read the script!  In BvS [spoiler alert] it becomes apparent that when Supe takes the “Doomsday” monster for a ride into space, he could very easily have taken him all the way to Jupiter and thrown him in, end of battle.  I never thought of this before and I like the idea because it’s smart rather than stupid, i.e., the stupid solution in the movie itself.  There are many terrible things in this movie, plot pieces that don’t fit together, unnecessary mass murder by Luthor being one, and murky motivations for the big fight.  I like the special effects and the stars, but the tomato meter has it at 23%, with the audience at 63%.  I find that “plot holes” and “illogic” don’t matter much when you’re watching this much action, even for 2½ hours.  If I want a tight plot, I’ll watch Hitchcock with one eye closed.

Got a call from Pablo at 8:30 this morning, early for him.  His voice was slurred.  He complained of numbness and weakness on his left side; I said “stroke.”  He wanted me to come over.  I told him he needed an ambulance, not me, but I went anyway.  When I got there, an ambulance was present, but was told that he wasn’t going.  The fire department had already been and left, and told him that it wasn’t a stroke.  I have my doubts.  Anyway, I hung out there for an hour, and his condition was up and down, apparently getting a bit worse or more alarming or something, because he got his neighbor to drive him to the hospital.  I came home.  This was unkind of me, but I’m not very good at holding hands.

Copyright (text only) 2021 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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