“Get a load of this”

Diary 5/31 to 6/1/22: Dr, Hill, Sherlock, etc.; coffee and death risk; where’s my ballot? laughing at the VA; my left hand; Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey; depressing Truthout; gun control hopeless; Wittgenstein, Marcel, and my reading.

Gottlob Frege (1848-1925)

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{5/31/22} Continued.

Well, the blog hit 150 followers today.  I suspect that most of these “followers” don’t actually follow my writing at all, otherwise I’d get more than half a dozen views of my posts.  But, even so, it’s encouraging.

Dr. Hill enjoyed my “get a load of this” items and we had a really excellent conversation.  She told me some things about herself, which I cannot at the moment recall to mind (and likely they are thoroughly gone until some association triggers them).  She said that she hasn’t read Proust and didn’t know who he was, and she read The Hunchback of Notre-Dame in her AP English class in high school.  She was homeschooled also; clearly she had an excellent education.  She shared with me her enthusiasm for Sherlock, a cube puzzle game and mentioned owning a large Rubik’s Cube.  Since she didn’t mention solving it, I’d guess she didn’t—my standard cube, which I got when they first came out, took me two days to solve, working virtually continuously.  Best Puzzle Ever:  you have to discover a science to solve it.  Unless you buy a book or look it up online.  I bought another one a few years ago, mixed it up, and didn’t solve it, having forgotten the solution in the forty years or more since I first solved it.

Sherlock puzzle cube

Interesting article from Neuroscience News: “Sweetened and Unsweetened Coffee Consumption Associated With Lower Death Risk”; a quote:  “Summary: Those who drink sweetened coffee daily are up to 31% less likely to die within a 7-year follow-up than non-coffee drinkers. Those who drank unsweetened coffee were 21% less likely to die during the follow-up.”

Based on this study, which included over 100,000 participants, it’s better to have sugar in your coffee.  I can’t make sense of that.  That is: “sugar bad”; “coffee good”; “coffee with sugar gooder than coffee without sugar”; “WTF?”

{6/1/22}

An hour’s writing this morning, just a page but thoughtfully written.

Well I haven’t received my ballot for the June 7th election.  It was mailed early in May.  Perhaps I’ll have to end up going to the polling place.

I took a picture of the VA appointment reminder:

Message from the Veterans Administration Clinic

The box on the lower right is amusing:

I noted the text previously, but since I was taking a picture of my hand (see below), I thought I’d record this for posterity, providing “the ocular proof.”

My hand turned black [just the back of my hand] a week ago, apparently due to blood leakage under the skin.  The cause of this is, I guess, because I missed my medications for about three days because I was dilatory about requesting refills from the VA.  I took this picture this morning:

It’s a pity that I couldn’t be bothered to take a picture a week ago, when the hand was much more spectacular.  There is a little pain and swelling near the wrist to the left of center, a condition I first experienced about twenty years ago.  I had assumed “carpal tunnel syndrome,” but it doesn’t fit the description in the Merck Manual.  It does seem to be brought on by typing, however.  Sometimes, to spare my hand, I dictate for speech-to-text conversion, though it’s somewhat more tedious because I’m a moderately fast typist and the conversion is error-prone.

Read some more of the disappointing Agnes Grey of Anne Brontë, a chapter titled “The Cottagers.”  This was amusing satire, giving me a reason to continue reading.

So much work to do and so little accomplished.

The news from Truthout this morning is pretty depressing. Here are some headlines:

  • Right-Wing Supreme Court Tacitly Approved the Execution of Innocent People
  • States Have Passed 9 Bills Making It Easier for Elections to Be Tampered With
  • After Mass Shootings, Republicans Shield White Supremacists From Scrutiny

The top item [at the website] is an opinion piece by Henry A. Giroux: “To End Mass Shootings, We Need to Change the Deeper Structure of Life in the US.”  I haven’t read it, but I confidently predict that Congress will do nothing substantive about gun control.  We’ve been through this too often to have any hope.  It has annoyed me that MSNBC is “all massacre, all the time,” for the week-plus since the shooting. The shooting is important, but so is other news; the choices made by MSNBC are, of course, driven by ratings. I blame MSNBC more than the viewers.

It looks like giving up on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus is appropriate for me.  I’ve tried several times to get into the Tractatus, and was baffled every time.  Reading about the book in Ted Honderich:  The Oxford Guide to Philosophy (hereafter OGP) suggested that the place to start is by reading Gottlob Frege.  However, reading about Frege in the same reference, I find that his writings are all about logic, and I have no interest in logic beyond what I’d call ordinary reasoning.  Frege was primarily interested in the project that Russell and Whitehead tackled in the Principia Mathematica (PM), and thought they had solved (I think).  The OGP, in the article on Frege, says that the problem can’t be solved because of Gödel’s proof that arithmetic can’t be reduces to a complete and consistent set of axioms.

Such things, like quantum mechanics, are beyond the scope of my interest in philosophy, which is and I suppose has always been limited to questions of relevance to my life.  The scope of this “relevance” perhaps varies from time to time, and indeed I have occasionally looked into symbolic logic and occasionally have considered trying to read PM.  Now I see that it’s not worth the effort for “this body right now.” [An example of “bleakspeak.”]  Books are many; one is always forced to make choices.

That raises the question, now what?  I have exhausted my interest in Wittgenstein, and previously I exhausted my interest in Nietzsche and William James.  Richard Rorty is a possibility.  I’d also like to read Richardson’s biography of Emerson.  Last night I picked up Gabriel Marcel’s Homo Viator:  Introduction to a Metaphysic of Hope.  Given that he’s considered a “Catholic philosopher,” I can’t really expect much, though in looking at the book just now, I find chapter titles of some interest.  On the back cover it says this, in part:  “[This book] is an outstanding example of the philosophy concerned, not with technical problems, but with the urgent problems of man. Marcel talks to our condition, emphasizing our urgent need of hope, thus discovering beyond the lack of stability the values on which we may depend.” Attributed to James Collins.  In the next paragraph Collins calls Marcel “the leading religious existentialist in Europe today.” Marcel is also included in Philosophy in the Twentieth Century, an anthology which I have previously praised and found very useful. That would seem a likely place to start, if I want to explore Marcel.

Screen capture–link doesn’t work

In the “Introduction” to “Phenomenology and Existentialism,” I find this: “…it does not seem unreasonable to expect, since all things human have a tendency to pass into their opposite,” [In the margin I previously wrote, ‘I can’t accept this, nor does it seem very clear’] “that the Continent, which at the beginning of the modern period had produced the strongest affirmations of reason, should toward the culmination of this very same historical period produce the most radical doubts and questionings of reason.” Volume 3, p. 127. I suppose this is not out of line with existentialism generally, and I find much to like in existentialism. Perhaps the thing to do is just to read and not try to decide whether to eat before tasting. Stay tuned.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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