Friday, March 25, 2011

Deutsch als Vatersprache…

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sich mit der Absicht tragen
Seit fast einem Jahrzehnte hat er sich mit der Absicht getragen, Pfaffer zu sein.

sich abspielen
Wo soll diese Geschichte sich abspielen?

auf Abstand gehen
Obwohl er das Buch schon bis zur Hälfte gelesen hat, ist er plötzlich auf Abstand gegangen, und es ins Müll ausgeworfen!

Zeit und Gezeiten warten auf niemand. --> Time and tide wait for no man.

Zeit ist Leben, und Leben ist Zeit. --> Ewiges Leben ist endlose Zeit.

Zeit ist die best Medizin. --> Time heals all wounds…

Zu früh alt, zu spät weise. --> Old too soon, wise too late.

半途而廢 bàn tú ér fèi : A job half-done is not done at all. (一知半覺。)

模棱兩可 mó léng liâng kê : To be of two minds, wishy-washy. (反無常的?)

Summa contra gentiles Sancti Thomae Aquinatis - Glosses from Jazzland: SCG, I, 34–36

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Never say die. I'm still plugging away at SCG, though, I admit, it's been weeks since I posted the text and glosses. Today's selection is three short chapters, very rich stuff, highly recommended you at least have a look.

Summa contra gentiles Sancti Thomae Aquinatis - Glosses from Jazzland: SCG, I, 34–36: "Chapter 34: THAT NAMES SAID OF GOD AND CREATURES ARE SAID ANALOGICALLY [Quod ea quae dicuntur de Deo et creaturis dicuntur analogice] [1] Fr..."

Sentire cum Ecclesia: Albertus Magnus: "De Adhaerendo Deo"

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Chapter 4: How man's activity should be purely in the intellect and not in the senses [Qualiter operatio humana debeat esse in solo intellectu, et non in sensibus?]

Happy therefore is the person who by continual removal of fantasies and images [per abstersionem continuam phantasmatum et imaginum], by turning within, and raising the mind to God, finally manages to dispense with the products of the imagination [obliviscitur phantasmatum], and by so doing works within [operatur interius], nakedly and simply, and with a pure understanding and will [nudo ac simplici ac puro intellectu et affectu], on the simplest of all objects, God [circa objectum simplicissimum Deum]. So eliminate from your mind all fantasies, objects, images and shapes of all things other than God [Omnia igitur phantasmata, species, imagines, ac formas rerum omnium citra Deum a mente rejicias], so that, with just naked understanding, intent and will, your practice will be concerned with God himself within you. For this is the end of all spiritual exercises - to turn the mind to the Lord God and rest in him with a completely pure understanding and a completely devoted will, without the entanglements and fantasies of the imagination [Nempe finis omnium exercitiorum hic est, scilicet intendere et quiescere in Domino Deo intra te per purissimum intellectum, et devotissimum affectum sine phantasmatibus et implicationibus].

This sort of exercise is not practised by fleshly organs nor by the exterior senses, but by that by which one is indeed a man [per quod quis homo est]. For a man is precisely understanding and will [homo vero quis est intellectu et affectu] {!}. For that reason, in so far as a man is still playing with the products of the imagination and the senses, and holds to them, it is obvious that he has not yet emerged from the motivation and limitations of his animal nature [nondum exisse motus et limites bestialitatis suae], that is of that which he shares in common with the animals. For these know and feel objects by means of recognised shapes and sense impressions and no more, since they do not possess the higher powers of the soul. But it is different with man, who is created in the image and likeness of God with understanding, will, and free choice [secundum intellectum et affectum et liberum arbitrium, ad Dei imaginem et similitudinem creato], through which he should be directly, purely and nakedly impressed and united with God, and firmly adhere to him [pure et nude imprimi, et uniri, firmiterque inhaerere] {Notice the use of inhaerare…. I wonder if there was any significant difference between adhaerare and inhaerare in Albert's time.}.

For this reason the Devil tries eagerly and with all his power to hinder this practice so far as he can, being envious of this in man, since it is a sort of prelude and initiation of eternal life [quodammodo praeambulum et initium vitae aeternae]. So he is always trying to draw man's mind away from the Lord God, now by temptations or passions, now by superfluous worries and pointless cares [nunc sollicitudine superflua et cura indiscreta], now by restlessness and distracting conversation and senseless curiosity [nunc turbatione, et conversatione dissoluta, curiositateque irrationabili], now by the study of subtle books [nunc per studia librorum subtilium], irrelevant discussion, gossip and news [colloquia aliena, rumores et novitatem] {Facebook! Yahoo! Google!}, now by hardships, now by opposition, etc. Such matters may seem trivial enough and hardly sinful [etsi nonnumquam levia et tamquam nulla videantur peccata], but they are a great hindrance to this holy exercise and practice [tamen magna sunt impedimenta hujus sancti exercitii et operis]. {Note the pragmatic valuation: even what is not "sinful" is still not glory, and therefore to be "hated".} Therefore, even if they may appear useful and necessary, they should be rejected, whether great or small, as harmful and dangerous, and put out of our minds.

Above all therefore it is necessary that things heard, seen, done and said, and other such things, must be received without adding things from the imagination, without mental associations and without emotional involvement [sine phantasmatibus, imaginibus et occupationibus], and one should not let past or future associations, implications or constructs of the imagination form and grow [nec etiam ex consequenti vel antea vel tunc super hoc phantasmata et implicationes formentur et nutriantur]. For when constructs of the imagination are not allowed to enter the memory and mind, a man is not hindered, whether he be engaged in prayer, meditation, or reciting psalms, or in any other practice or spiritual exercise, nor will they recur again.

So commit yourself confidently and without hesitation, all that you are, and everything else, individually and in general, to the unfailing and totally reliable providence of God, in silence and in peace, and he will fight for you {cf. Sir 4:28}. He will liberate you and comfort you more fully, more effectively and more satisfactorily than if you were to dream about it all the time, day and night, and were to cast around frantically all over the place with the futile and confused thoughts of your mind in bondage, nor will you wear out your mind and body, wasting your time, and stupidly and pointlessly exhausting your strength. So accept everything, separately and in general, wherever it comes from and whatever its origin, in silence and peace, and with an equal mind, as coming to you from a father's hand and his divine providence [Cuncta ergo et singula, undecumque et qualitercumque occurrentia ortum habeant, sic accipe cum taciturnitate et tranquillitate aequanimiter, quemadmodum de manu paternae divinaeque providentiae tibi venirent]. So render your imagination bare of the images of all physical things as is appropriate to your state and profession, so that you can cling to him with a bare and undivided mind [nuda mente et sincere inhaereas ei], as you have so often and so completely vowed to do, without anything whatever being able to come between your soul and him, so that you can pass purely and unwaveringly from the wounds of his humanity into the light of his divinity [pure fixeque fluere possis a vulneribus humanitatis in lumen suae divinitatis].

The Bodybuilding of an Educator: The Bodybuilding of an Educator: Gym regimen - Mar...

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[Funny! I accidentally posted my update about BBEDU on BBEDU! So now I'm posting an update about an update. Just try to keep up!]

The Bodybuilding of an Educator: The Bodybuilding of an Educator: Gym regimen - Mar...: "Yes, I am still lifting and training happily and intensively. (Scroll down for posts on some training equipment I have been making, some of ..."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Deutsch als Vatersprache…

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Um wieviel Uhr ich gestern eingeschlafen bin, da schnallst du ab. (You'd be flabbergasted at what time I fell asleep last night.)

Bei der Olympiade schnitt ihr Land gut ab. (Her country did well at the Olympics.)

es abgesehen haben
Der Gefreiete glaubte, dass der Feldwebel es auf ihn abgesehen hatte. (The private thought the sergeant had it in for him.)

Zielen ist nicht genug, es gilt treffen. --> Man kann nicht nur einen Plan haben, sondern muss auch imstande sein, die Tat in Schwung zu bringen.

Zeugen sind besser als Urkunden. --> Menschen und Spuren können beide lügen, aber nur die Menschen können auch verleumdet werden, um ihre Wahrheit auszufinden.

Zeitvertreib ist der Anfang von Vergesslichkeit. --> Man muss sich sozusagen vom Anfang daran erinnern, was er machen möchte, bevor er kann sich nur daran erinnern, was er früher gern gemacht hätte. (So Faulkners "Memory speaks before knowing remembers", oder?)

Zeit verloren, Leben verloren. --> Carpe diem! Hic Rhodes, hic salta! Nunc vel nunquam (?).

百步穿楊 / 百發百中。 A sure hand. A masterful display.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Deutsch als Vatersprache…

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die Abrede (stellen)
Wenn ein katholischer Priester Abtreibungen finanziell unterstützt, stellt er im Grunde dabei seinen Glauben und spirituelle Autorität in Abrede.

Der Streit um die Erderwärmung reisst nicht ab!

auf dem Absatz kehrtmachen
Sofort als ich sie in der Kaffeestube bei dem Tisch, an dem ich sitze gern, gesehen hatte, kehrte ich auf dem Absatz und ging zurück nach Hause.

Zufriedenheit wohnt mehr in Hütten als in Palästen. --> So Sprüche 15.17 "Besser ein Gericht Kraut mit Liebe, als ein gemästeter Ochse mit Haß! " und 17.1 "Besser ein trockener Bissen mit Ruhe, als ein Haus voll Opferfleisch mit Zank!"

Zufriedenheit ist eine Tugend, Selbstzufriedenheit ein Fehler. --> Die Heuchler sind ihre eigenen grössten Unterstützer.

Zufriedenheit geht über Reichtum. --> Als oben, Sprüche, usw.

News roundup…

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Maryland Lawmakers Reject Same-Sex 'Marriage'
Bill turned back in spite of support from Catholic governor, legislators.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland House of Delegates “killed” a bill Friday that sought to legalize same-sex “marriage” in the state.

The House of Delegates sent the bill back to the Judiciary Committee — a move described in The Washington Post as “an acknowledgment by supporters that it did not have sufficient votes to pass on the floor.” It was an unexpected conclusion to an intense political fight that pitted key Democratic lawmakers who are Catholic but whose votes were contrary to Church doctrine against the leaders of their Church.

Local Catholic pastors applauded the outcome, but they remain troubled by the disconnect between the public stance of the Maryland Catholic Conference and prominent Democrats like Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Meat Still Served at Jesuit College on Lenten Fridays, But Withheld Monday to Save Planet

An article on the website of the Student Free Press Association reports that on March 14 Boston College hosted “Meatless Monday” in “an effort to reduce carbon emissions.” From reading this article, it doesn’t sound like students were too pleased.

The author of the article, identified as the managing editor of the Boston College Observer, writes:

All stations in two dining halls served vegetarian entrees, much to the dismay of the student body save for a few flower children who were in support of the event. Delivery cars from local restaurants such as Roggie’s and New Hong Kong could be seen all over campus…

BC is a Catholic school yet it still serves meat on Fridays during Lent. This does not become a big deal until BC decided that an underground dirty hippie movement should merit the expulsion of meat related products while the crucifixion of our Savior does not.

Fear the Media Meltdown, Not the Nuclear One (UPDATED)
Relax: this is not another Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, and I'll tell you exactly why. The only thing to fear is the sensationalist reporting that has the world panicked.
March 15, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

The March 11 earthquake off the coast of Japan has been an unprecedented disaster. Now estimated to have been a magnitude 9 earthquake — one of the top five earthquakes measured since reporting started in 1900 — it was the result of a “megathrust” in which an area of sea floor bigger than the state of Connecticut broke free and moved under the force of colliding tectonic plates. It was so strong that it literally moved the entire island of Honshu eight feet to the east. The earthquake was then followed by a tsunami comparable to the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 — but since the epicenter of the quake was only a few miles off the coast of Japan, the tsunami struck the heavily populated coast of Honshu with almost no warning, basically washing many coastal villages off the face of the earth.

The earthquake and tsunami seriously damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi (“number one”) and Daini (“number two”) in Okuma, in Fukushima Prefecture, and also damaged the Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture. In total, of the 55 nuclear power generation plants in Japan, 11 have been forced to shut down, cutting power generation capacity in Japan dramatically and forcing the country to adopt a series of rolling blackouts. It would seem impossible to overstate the severity of the crisis.

The media, however, has risen to the challenge, with a combination of poor information, ignorance, and alarmism, along with antinuclear activists passing themselves off as unbiased experts.

Why They Celebrate Murdering Children
Islam is as Islam does.
MARCH 16, 2011 4:00 A.M.

Do you think the State Department noticed that no one in Arizona, Mexico, or even Mars took to the streets to celebrate the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords? No one seemed to think it was a “natural” act — the Islamic term du jour to rationalize the throat-slitting massacre of a sleeping Jewish family: 36-year-old Udi Fogel, his 35-year-old wife, Ruth, and, yes, their three children: 11-year-old Yoav, 4-year-old Elad, and Hadas, their 3-month-old baby.

There had been about a week between this most hideous Muslim barbarity and . . . well, the last hideous Muslim barbarity. On that one, the Obama administration could not bring itself to label as “terrorism” a Kosovar jihadist’s gory attack on American airmen in Germany.

Muslims are frequently found carrying out the Koranic directive to “strike terror into the hearts of the unbelievers.” Actually, make that the Koranic theme, so often is it reiterated in the scriptures devout Muslims take to be the verbatim commands of Allah. (See, e.g., Suras 3:151, 8:12–13, 8:60, 9:5, 33:25–27, 59:2–4, 59:13.) And that is beside the hadith, scriptures in which Mohammed, taken to be the perfect Muslim role model, boasts, “I have been made victorious with terror.” (Bukhari 4.52.220 — just scroll down from here, through the glories promised to Muslims who wage jihad against the infidels.)

Muslims, in fact, are more often exhorted by their scriptures to brutalize non-Muslims than Christians are urged by the gospels to love their enemies and turn the other cheek. Yet, though we assume the latter are meant to take the message to heart, we are somehow sure Islam doesn’t really mean what it says — that when Muslims strike terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, it must be Israel’s fault, or America’s, or something, anything, other than Islam, the only common denominator in these attacks.

Catholic priest who finances abortions remains unpunished by bishop
Fri Mar 11, 2011 19:47 EST

BARCELONA, March 11, 2011 ( - For three years, the Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona has refused to act against a priest in his diocese who boasts openly of having financed abortions.

Now, the priest is a subject of a new book in Catalonian, “Fr. Manel: Closer to earth than to heaven”, which describes the ever-growing popularity of his charitable work with Spanish celebrities. In addition to repeating his claim of having paid for abortions, Fr. Manel Pousa says he has performed “blessings” of homosexual unions, and endorses the creation of female “priests”, according to reports in the Spanish media.

He also states that he regards clerical celibacy as optional, and says he has a girlfriend—but claims that their relationship is celibate.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tales from Lynchdom…

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A couple recent Lynch moments.

A few days ago when I got home from the gym, I stopped by a local (grand)mom-and-(grand)pop shop to buy tuna and a sports drink. I had to wait a minute behind another customer and his son (?). Their backs were turned to me but I sensed they were shuffling their hands around a shelf. They said nothing. They turned to leave the shop and came at me with bright red daggers of fingers. Oh. They had merely bought sweetened, dyed strips of squid for a snack. Turns out the father was mute/deaf and he and his son were bickering over how many squid strips they had bought (or could still buy). As they were bickering, in their audibly halcyon way, a middle school girl sidled up to them to join the debate, even though I don't think she spoke sign language. Realize, of course, that whatever fluency the father and son had in sign language was gone with the wind, unraveled by the strips of squid seizing their stammering fingers. I was tired from my workout but also rushing to get a shower to go to work, so the whole thing felt like a time-lapse film.

And the other…

I forgot while writing this post and multitasking on the Internet.


I remembered my Lynch moment. Tuesday at my cram school, I got there early to sub for someone, so I was surrounded by students I don't normally see. I was making copies with the machine near the bathroom door and one boy, maybe five years old, came closer, pointing at the bathroom. "It's changed," he chirped. "It was pink, now it's not." Another teacher corrected him that nothing had changed. "It's changed, it's not pink now." As my copies extruded sheet by sheet, I had an insight. I reached over and flicked the light switch on. The floor tiles took on a dull patina of pink. He and the even smaller girl beside him waddled closer to examine the change. "Yes, it's pink, see!" Then I flicked the light off and they giggled. I stepped away and they proceeded to play with the switch for themselves.

This may seem more like a Norman Rockwell than a David Lynch moment, but the reason it struck me is because I imagined myself morphing into a child as I had my epiphany about the boy's perception of bygone pink. And in my reduced state, he swelled to an incredible intellect, like a boyish wizard. And when he pointed into the bathroom again, through the drapes wafting in the doorway, the lights flicked on and off, each second of light revealing
Twin Peaks Bob hopping in a crouched ball of sadistic glee.]

But I can tell you about a dream I had a couple nights ago.

I was being extorted by a mobster into pulling a hit on his main rival. I was staked out in a building under construction and was given a long-range bolt gun (a super nail gun, really). The weird part is that my shooting position was across the hallway from the mobster's office, perhaps so he could keep an eye on me and be sure I "done de t'ing right." I think the building was the mobster's new headquarters, and it was already partially in use even while still being built, so all kinds of people were popping in on me. I tried to escape once or twice, I think to go save my family, but I was always brought back to finish the hit. I remember a few close-up views of my targets through the scope and although I killed the rival early on, I had to keep fighting his henchmen as they were firing back at me. This led to a sequence of me shooting numerous nails into a few video-game-esque henchmen on the roof a couple blocks away. At one point they shot a grappling hook cable onto the girder on my (third) floor. I killed the henchmen, unhooked the grappling hook, ran downstairs and refastened it on the girder on the first floor so as to mislead them of my location when other henchmen rushed into the building. My plan was to ambush them from the stairwell as they looked for me (they knew the grappling hook had been fired accurately by the henchmen I later killed). I woke up thinking, "But wouldn't they just rush up the staircase and outgun me?" I realized, grimly, that I'd just have to take them on with my bolt gun.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Belief, character, behavior, perception…

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Our behavior is an expression of our character.

Our character is an expression of our beliefs.

Our beliefs are a codification of our perceptions.

If we can modulate our perceptions, and perceptual environment, by systematically altering out behavior, we can alter our beliefs and, in turn, our character, which will also influence our behavior. This is praxis. This is the "technique" of ascesis and sacramental devotion.

The soteriological dispute between Protestants and mainline classical Christians about "works vs. faith" runs much deeper than the exegesis of various biblical passages. The proper teaching on salvation must reflect Jesus' basic account of being(s), definition, and agency. "You shall know a tree by its fruit"––that is a very Aristotelian concept. Powers stem from essence; actions reveal powers. Essence is revealed, or known, in the (actual) application(s) of its given powers.

"You look at the signs of the weather but do not look at the signs of the times"––a semiotic thesis. If a thing's existence integrally includes its semiotic relations to other subjects, then a thing's real nature must include its outward 'performance(s)'. If a subject's faith, faith rooted in an object, does not manifest in certain signs, in certain 'performances', then it is not essentially the faith that the subject is seeking.

Fides formata et informata, I know, I know… but it would be an interesting study to see how Jesus' naturalistic and often philosophically robust parables illuminate the "faith vs. works" dispute. The task of faith is to align itself with the signs presented by its object so that the subject generates the appropriate signs on its own. If you do not 'perform' such signs, objectively you have no faith and thus no salvation.

One of those people…

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Some life advice:

If you ever want to test an object (a fence, an appliance, a wire, etc.) for live electrical current, lightly tap it with the back of your hand. If it's live, your arm will contract and curl away from the source, whereas if you use the palm of your hand on a live object, your muscles will contract around it and you'll be much worse off, if not dead. I learned that when I was nine or ten on a science museum field trip.

I realized yesterday that I do something similar to a woman with whom I must deal on a regular basis. I use a conventional greeting––"Hello, how are you?"––like the back of my hand: politeness expended just to assess how hazardous or volatile her mood is for the day. Sigh.

Deutsch als Vatersprache…

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Es ist unbedingt unhöflich, die Unterhaltungen von anderen in einem Restaurant oder in der Bibliothek abzuhören. Trotzdem ist es sehr verführerisch, so abzuhören!

Da möchte ich nicht abgemalt sein! (I wouldn't be caught dead there!)

Eine solche Geschichte nehm ich euch nicht ab. (I don't buy your story.)
Sie hat viel abgenommen. (She's lost a lot of weight.)
Bei abnehmendem Mond will die Isispriesterin nichts unternehmen.

Zu rechten Zeit Schweigen ist eine Kunst. --> Halt die Klappe, halt den Frieden.

Zur Besserung ist es nie spät. --> 改正永不言晚。 Where there's life, there's hope. You can't teach an old dog new tricks but new tricks might teach an old dog something.

Zum Streiten gehören zwei. --> Zum Tangotanzen gehören auch zwei.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Deutsch als Vatersprache…

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Schon fünf Jahre sind abermals verstrichen, jeddoch habe ich noch nicht Latein beherrscht!

Nachdem ich zuviel Wodka getrunken hatte, hatte ich mich gleichzeitig bei ihrer Familie gegessen.

sich eine Abfuhr erholen
Ausgenommen dass Sie diesen Aufsatz gänzlich korrigieren, werden Sie beim Promovieren eine Abfuhr erholen.

Zwang hält nicht lang. --> Geduld ist die stärkste Strategie. [Die Lügen haben kurze Beine.]

Zuweilen ein Narr sein, ist auch eine Kunst. --> Als Bill Cosby gescherzt hat, Väter eigentlich Genien seien, weil sie alle andere in der Familie überzeugen können, dass sie Idioten seien.

Zuviel Weisheit ist Torheit. --> Als Francis Bacon (1561–1626) in "Über Atheismus" geschrieben hat, "Ein wenig Philosophie führt zu Atheismus, aber tiefe Philosophie bringt den Menschen wieder zur Religion [It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion]."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Well, as long as it gets his books sold…

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A controversial psychologist's VERY politically incorrect 'truths' about human nature
By NIALL FIRTH, Last updated at 10:45 AM on 1st December 2010

…this is not the first time that evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa has stirred up controversy with his outspoken declarations.

Usually perfectly timed to coincide with his latest book, The London School of Economics researcher has come out with a raft of startling claims about what makes us human.

Already this year he has claimed that men who cheat on their girlfriends or wives are less intelligent.
And he claimed that most suicide bombers are Muslim because they do not have enough sex.

He even gave psychological reasons why liberals are more intelligent than those with more conservative viewpoints.

A few yellow flags.

First, this strikes me as our era's version of phrenology. In Victorian times, it was titillating to inspect a friend's head, perhaps surreptitiously, and conjecture what it meant about his character or destiny. Now we like to superimpose a skein of evolutionary impulses onto others and conjecture the same.

Second, to take one example, what does Kanazawa mean by "physically attractive" women? Conceptions of feminine beauty can shift in just a few generations and already varies widely across cultures/regions. Is there a single evolutionary mechanism here that produces such scattered results, or are there really numerous 'occult' mechanisms working diversely in us as subspecies? Either answer is a bit harebrained.

As another example, it's hard to say just how high Kanzawa's analysis of Arab terrorists should extend. What if Arab guys just did a lot of prostitutes, would they still be inclined to terrorism? If the claim is that the motor of Arab terrorism (!) is the fact that most Arab men are competing for a mate, what does it mean to "have a partner"? To have access to a vagina on a regular basis? To have a shoulder to cry on? Or to have someone with whom you can produce offspring so you can transmit your genes? If the latter––and I think that's the only respectable answer a "real Darwinist" would want––, then shouldn't more gay people be terrorists?

Third, these claims are only as good as their statistical corroboration. In other words, as statistical claims, they can't be said directly to cause the behavior b of a particular man m at time t, otherwise the mechanism could be discerned 'straight off' m's actions at t, and then what would be the point of evolutionary psychology versus good old fashioned psychiatry? Laws are generalizations about the dispositions of concrete existents; but those dispositions are not wholly reducible to the laws, since they are merely dispositions dependent for their expression on a convergence of different factors. If the dispositions just were mechanistic laws, then laws could be violated with simple counterfactual adjustments, and that's an insult to the term "law". As always, evolutionary psychology is reifying a collective subconsciousness and ascribing it to "us", as if each of us were a real specimen of the real species Homo sapiens sapiens. Essence pervades the theory or its general claims don't hold for particular speci(e)mens. Since, however, essence is de jure anathema to modern evolutionary reasoning, the theory's general claims don't hold in particular cases.

Shakin' and a-quakin'…

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Recent 7.2 earthquake in Japan.

5.8 earthquake in Yunnan, China yesterday.

And that's not even counting the nearly 240 other earthquakes we've had in the past week.

Get it together, Earth, get it together!

Deutsch als Vatersprache…

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die Abbitte
Mit einer Pralinenschachtel wollter er die Abbitte seiner Frau leisten.

sich keinen abbrechen
Obwohl sie mir ein bisschen geholfen hat, hat sie sich dabei keinen abgebrochen.

Es ist noch nicht aller Tage Abend.
Bis jetzt bin ich nicht imstande gewesen, 100kg beim Bankdrücken abzuheben, aber es ist noch nicht aller Tage Abend!

Zweifel ist des Glaubens Feind. --> Folgt es daraus, dass die Unwissenheit der Feind des Wissens ist? Folgt es auch aus, dass Glauben Feind der Zweifel ist? Hmm...

Zwei Hunde an einem Beim kommen selten überein. --> Als man auf Englisch sagt, dieser Insel ist nicht genug groß für uns beide.

Zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen. --> Das heisst, zwei Vögeln mit einem Stein abzutöten. [Einfach mal die Klappe halten: Warum Schweigen besser als Reden ist]

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Internets is self-affirmed…

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According to this peculiar website, the Internet has a 65% positive attitude towards… "the Internet".

Then again, it apparently has an 89.2% positive attitude towards… "death"!

I'm sure he'll be glad to know that the Internet has a 74.9% positive attitude towards "Richard Dawkins" and 66.9% positivity about "the New Atheism", while it scours with a 52.4% negative attitude towards "the pope" and 59.8% negativity towards "the Catholic Church".

Good thing truth ain't a beauty contest.

On a similar front, "natural selection" gets 86.1% positivity while "intelligent design" only gets 63.1% love.

Results may vary from region to region and time to time.

Dialecticae splendor…

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[I think that title means "the splendor of logic" but I'm shaky on making adjectives in Latin.]

I recently posted an article on my Facebook about a movement of mostly Catholic university students campaigning for traditional marriage in Maryland. I included the following quotation in my link:

Shortly after setting up at a busy intersection, reactions erupted from passing traffic. All sorts of reactions -- honks of approval, thumbs up, double thumbs up, and applause. Then there were some who let out ghastly strings of insults, all in the name of “tolerance.” Why did they insult us? Because our banner stated this truth: “God’s marriage = one man + one woman.”

I cannot be sure without asking, and I don't want to ask, but I believe this prompted a friend of mine––call her Ariadne––to update her status with a kind of rebuttal:

So, let me get this straight...Charlie Sheen can make a "porn family", Kelsey Gramer can end a 15 year marriage over the phone, Larry King can be on divorce #9, Britney Spears had a 55 hour marriage, Jesse James and Tiger Woods, while married, were having sex with EVERYONE. Yet, the idea of same-sex marriage is going to destroy the institution of marriage? Really? Re-post if you are proud to support equal rights.

Amidst the welter of "Like" votes and supportive comments, one person was kind enough to point out the logic here is a bit… off… although she didn't elaborate. Allow me to elaborate.

Let's formalize Ariadne's argument:

Supporters St of traditional marriage t (i.e. heterosexual monogamy) believe homosexual marriage h undermines/destroys the institution of marriage m.

The behavior of many St actually undermines/destroys m.

Therefore the arguments of St against h are invalid.

This is a weepy ad hominem fallacy, with a splash of emotive tu quoque. Let's run the argument in a parallel scenario:

Supporters Sh of honesty h believe lying l undermines/destroys the goodness of human communication c.

The behavior of many Sh actually undermines/destroys c.

Therefore the arguments of Sh against l are invalid.

Or again:

Supporters Sr of reforming the (USDA) food pyramid r believe the conventional food pyramid p undermines/destroys optimal human health h.

The (gustatory) behavior of many Sr actually undermines/destroys h.

Therefore the arguments of Sr against p are invalid.

I'll run two more versions, just because it's fun:

Supporters Sl of a law enforcement agencies l in society believe legal anarchy a (?) undermines/destroys the goodness of social harmony s.

The behavior of many Sl actually undermines/destroys s.

Therefore the arguments of Sl against a are invalid.


Suporters Sm of Western medicine m believe heavy drinking and smoking ds undermine/destroy optimal human health h.

The behavior of many Sm actually undermines/destroys h.

Therefore the arguments of Sm against ds are invalid.

I hope you see how poor this reasoning is.

"I've seen lots of NBA players miss shots from the three-point perimeter, so it's not an NBA rule that you have to make three-pointers from that line. You can make three-pointers from anywhere on the court, as long as you don't hurt anyone and you really, truly, sincerely intend to make a three-pointer. Re-post this if you are proud to support equal shooting rights in the NBA."


That's the level of logic we're dealing with here.

If proponents of traditional marriage based the nature of marriage on the quality or performative excellence of its "practitioners", then Ariadne's argument would be valid and sound. (A stronger argument would be to say that, since supporters of traditional marriage cannot agree, even among themselves, on a single definition or policy for marriage, there's not even a coherent case for traditional marriage.) Instead, the defense of traditional marriage––nay, the defense of marriage itself––rests on the principles of social and biological fruitfulness and order. When heterosexuals sin against that order by "doing marriage" so poorly, they eo ipso underscore the intelligibility and dignity of marriage. Indeed, defenders of homosexual marriage like Ariadne invoke the examples of bad heterosexual marriages because they implicitly agree those couples failed to live up to what marriage is, namely, lifelong monogamy between heterosexual partners.

Interestingly, while writing this post, I learned of a fallacy I had not known before: the argument from fallacy! (I call it the fallacy fallacy.) This fallacy occurs when A rejects the conclusion cb of B's argument b because b is dialectically fallacious. Showing that b is fallacious does not, however, suffice to show cb is false, since only an argument that cb is false would demonstrate ~cb. Hence, I am not saying that, because Ariadne's argument is fallacious, therefore homosexual marriage is wrong; doing so would mean I commit the fallacy fallacy. Rather, all I have done in this post is show that her argument against traditional marriage is fallacious and does not suffice to show the rightness of homosexual marriage and certainly doesn't suffice to invalidate defending traditional marriage.

Well, I never knew…

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From the Wikipedia entry on the history of Xiamen:

Xiamen was the port of trade first used by Europeans (mainly the Portuguese) in 1541. It was China's main port in the nineteenth century for exporting tea. As a result, Hokkien (also known as the Amoy dialect) had a major influence on how Chinese terminology was translated into English and other European languages. For example, the words "Amoy", "tea" (茶; tê), "cumshaw" (感謝; kám-siā), and "Pekoe" (白毫; pe̍h-hô), kowtow (磕頭; khàu-thâu), and possibly Japan (Ji̍t-pún) and "ketchup" (茄汁; kiô-chap) originated from the Hokkien.

As for gung ho?

This unofficial motto of the US Marine Corps is an abbreviation for the Mandarin Gongye Hezhoushe (sic [工業合作社 Gongyè Hézuòshè]), or industrial cooperative. The term was used in China, starting in 1938, to refer to small, industrial operations that were being established in rural China to replace the industrial centers that had been captured by the Japanese. The phrase was clipped to the initial characters of the two words, gung ho (or gung he, as it would be transliterated today), which means "work together." …

Enter Lt. Col. Evans Carlson, US Marine Corps. Carlson was a military attache in the US embassy to China in the late-30s. In China, Carlson reported on both the operations of the Chinese army in the field as well as the country's industrial capacity and was favorably impressed by the industrial cooperatives. When he returned to the States and the US entered WWII, Carlson was appointed commander of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion. Recalling his time in China, Carlson chose gung ho as the motto for his elite battalion and by late 1942 was widely adopted throughout the Marine Corps as an expression of spirit and "can do" attitude.

Readings from…

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FULGENTIUS OF RUSPE (468–533): The sacrifice of bread and wine

In the time of the Old Testament, patriarchs, prophets, and priests sacrificed animals in honor of the Son as well as the Father and the Holy Spirit. Now in the time of the New Testament the holy Catholic Church throughout the world never ceases to offer the sacrifice of bread and wine, in faith and love, to him and to the Father and the Holy Spirit, with whom he shared one Godhead.

In those ancient victims the body and blood of Christ were prefigured: the body which the sinless one would offer as propitiation for our sins, and the blood which he would pour out for our forgiveness. The Church's sacrifice, on the other hand, is an act of thanksgiving and a memorial of the body Christ has offered for us and the blood he has shed for us. With this in mind, blessed Paul says in the Acts of the Apostles: Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as bishops to rule the Church of God, which he won for himself by his blood. Those sacrifices of old pointed in sign to what was to be given to us. In this sacrifice we see plainly what has already been given to us.
-- Ad Petrum 62: CCL 91A, 750-751.

AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (354–430): God Calls Us to Conversion

God calls us to correct ourselves and invites us to do penance. He calls us through the wonderful gifts of his creation, and he calls us by granting time for life. He calls us through the reader and through the preacher. He calls us with the innermost force of our thoughts. He calls us with the scourge of punishment, and he calls us with the mercy of his consolation.
-- Commentary on Psalm 102, 16

As I read in the missal this morning for Ash Wednesday: "Direct our hearts to better things, O Lord; heal our sin and ignorance. Lord, do not face us suddenly with death, but give us time to repent."

Prayer. Lord, see your work in me, not my own. For if you see my own work, you condemn me; but if you see yours, you crown me.
-- Commentary on Psalm 137, 18

FRANCIS DE SALES (1567–1622):

Do not pay any attention to the kind of work you do, but rather to the honor that it brings to God, even though it may seem quite trivial. Desire only to do the Divine Will, following Divine Providence, which is the disposition of Divine Wisdom. In a word, if your works are pleasing to God and recognized as such, that is all that matters. Work hard every day at increasing your purity of heart, which consists in appraising things and weighing them in the balance of God's will.
-- Letters 280; O. XIII, p. 53

G. K. CHESTERTON (1874–1936):

A MAN can be a Christian to the end of the world, for the simple reason that a man could have been an Atheist from the beginning of it. The materialism of things is on the face of things: it does not require any science to find it out. A man who has lived and loved falls down dead and the worms eat him. That is Materialism, if you like. That is Atheism, if you like. If mankind has believed in spite of that, it can believe in spite of anything. But why our human lot is made any more hopeless because we know the names of the worms who eat him, or the names of all the parts of him that they eat, is to a thoughtful mind somewhat difficult to discover.
–– 'All Things Considered.'

Deutsch als Vatersprache…

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[English is my mother tongue, but I began studying German when I was about 15, i.e. more than half my life, and majored in it in college. I have dreamt in German, been drunk in German, taught and learned in German, even made a girlfriend in German, oh those many years ago. I love the German language. And so I consider it my "father tongue."

As it stands, however, I have been in Taiwan so long now, and have spent so much cognitive energy on learning Chinese, that my German has fallen behind. So I decided I will work through a couple books I have –– German Idioms, Henry Strutz (ed.) and 德漢諺語詞典 (A Chinese Dictionary of German Sayings) 常和芳 編著 –– as a personal refresher. I will start from the front of Strutz's book and from the end of 常's, and may provide brief glosses on the sayings, so I can practice writing a little German on a hopefully daily basis.

Not a very reader-friendly series, I know. Then again, maybe you know Deutsch, or maybe you'll just like seeing it happen!]

das A und O
Das A und O beim Studium der Philosophie ist, erst die richtige Frage zu stellen.

Obwohl ich Bücher jeden Tag tagelang lesen möchte, dennoch kann ich mit meiner Gesundheit nicht so aasen!

ab nach Kassel
Mitschüler, ab nach Kassel––sonst erwischt uns der Lehrer!

Zwischen zwei Bergen liegt immer ein Tal. --> Doch haben die höchste Erlebnisse im Leben ihrer negativen und vielleicht gefährlichen Aspekte.

Zwischen Kummer and Freude liegt nur Haaresbreite. --> Im Menschenleben ist es immer möglich, dass der Angst sich plötzlich in die Freude und die Glücklichkeit sich in den Kummer verwandeln.

Zweite Ehe, aufgewährmtes Mahl. --> Nichts ist so süß als die erste Liebe und im allgemein kann kein Erlebnis mit dem ersten Mal vergleichen.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"…why the above is funny."

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"The Average Person's Axioms of First Order Predicate Logic:

(A -> B) -> (B -> A)
(There exists) x A(x) -> (For all) x A(x)
(A -> C) AND (B -> C) -> (A -> B)

--Warren Vonroeschlaub

Predicate logic is the study of why the above is funny."

Or, in English:

If a duck is an animal, then an animal is a duck.

There is a toy that is red, therefore all toys are red.

If it rains the ground will be wet, and if the sprinklers turn on the ground will be wet, therefore if it rains the sprinklers will turn on.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Put me through the ringer…

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My gf recently grilled me on a grammar point in Chinese which has always given me trouble… and it was a kind of crucifixion.

I'm keeping these notes here for reference… and as proof that I do now understand the grammar point… after years of uncertainty.

God, Lord, Jesus, my Messiah––sometimes I HATE LEARNING CHINESE!

[7 March 2011 ADDENDUM: I was being overly pouty, so, in retrospect, the emphasis should be on "sometimes," not on "hate."]

(She is Y, I am X.)

[2011/3/5 上午 1:37:10] X: ....的→形容詞 ...得→verb.+得=adv.
[2011/3/5 上午 1:37:50] Y: →
[2011/3/5 上午 1:38:02] X: ....地→ adj.→adv.
[2011/3/5 上午 1:38:34] X: 可愛_____
[2011/3/5 上午 1:38:43] X: 走___到
[2011/3/5 上午 1:38:48] X: 上___去
[2011/3/5 上午 1:38:53] X: 漂亮___
[2011/3/5 上午 1:39:00] X: 肥胖____
[2011/3/5 上午 1:39:30] Y: 的, 得,得 , 的,的
[2011/3/5 上午 1:40:34] Y: 可愛的小孩
[2011/3/5 上午 1:40:52] Y: 雖然走得到,可是路很陡
[2011/3/5 上午 1:40:58] X: 他沒有喝酒,所以看___非常清楚
[2011/3/5 上午 1:41:19] Y: 你腳怎麼痛你還上得去嗎
[2011/3/5 上午 1:41:34] Y: 漂亮的瀑布
[2011/3/5 上午 1:42:13] Y: 肥胖的小豬特別好吃
[2011/3/5 上午 1:42:50] Y: 他沒有喝酒,所以看得非常清楚
[2011/3/5 上午 1:43:32] X: 非常了___
[2011/3/5 上午 1:43:56] Y: 非常了得
[2011/3/5 上午 1:44:06] Y: 了不起
[2011/3/5 上午 1:44:07] Y: ?
[2011/3/5 上午 1:45:06] X: 排了半天的隊=排隊排了半天
[2011/3/5 上午 1:46:02] Y: (we) waited for half a day, if (we) wait (we'll) wait half a day
[2011/3/5 上午 1:47:45] X: 講話講了一整天
[2011/3/5 上午 1:48:38] Y: 講了整天的話
[2011/3/5 上午 1:48:40] Y: 吧
[2011/3/5 上午 1:49:34] Y: 講了一整天的話
[2011/3/5 上午 1:49:53] X: 跳了一整天的舞
[2011/3/5 上午 1:50:14] Y: 跳舞跳了一整天
[2011/3/5 上午 1:50:26] X: 抽了一整包菸
[2011/3/5 上午 1:51:20] Y: 抽菸抽了一整包
[2011/3/5 上午 1:51:20] X: 昨天我走路走了一整天,想要去買一瓶酒,結果問了五十個人,沒有人找___到正確___位置,真___氣死我了!
[2011/3/5 上午 1:56:45] Y: 昨天我走了一整天的路,想要去買一瓶酒,結果問了五十個人,沒有人找得到正確的位置,真的氣死我了!
[2011/3/5 上午 1:58:03] Y: 昨天我走了一整天的路,想要去買一瓶酒,結果問了五十個人,沒有人找到正確的位置了,真的氣死我了!
[2011/3/5 上午 2:00:55] X: 結果問人問了五十個 … 9.5

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The music of Bach exists…

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…therefore God exists.

p --> q, p &there4 q

This is an argument for God's existence which I have mentioned before, but the following performance adds even more aesthetic depth to the matter!

Another of my favorite pieces:

Wer kann solch ein abgekartes Spiel nicht spielen?

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(Or, loosely, "two can play at that game.")

I believe the citation is to be found in Robert Kane's introduction to free will, which is not with me at the moment: Nietzsche once called free will the greatest self-deception of all time. Nietzsche, as you may or may not know, wrote a lot about "self-deception" and its role in normal human behavior. By normal, of course, Nietzsche meant only dubious convention, the socially triangulated willfulness of some to control and shame others. Free will is a self-deception partly because it sunders, in Nietzsche's eyes, the eternal unity of each of us with everything else. "Die Lehre von der Freiheit des Willens," Nietzsche asserts, "ist eine Erfindung herrschender Stände" (Werke I - Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, "Der Wanderer" 9, 6. Aufl. Frankfurt/M u. a.: Ullstein, 1969, S. 877 (II, II)). ["The doctrine of the freedom of the will is an invention of the ruling classes."]

Recent experiences had me pondering the dubious motives behind that other great self-deception––if we're going to play the "philosophy by suspicion" game, I mean––, namely, determinism. For, if we can treat all viewpoints as but fragile shells of rhetoric placed over deeper, self-serving motives, how can we not see determinism––the denial that one has freedom to form one's own character in certain instances––as the peak of self-serving rhetoric? How convenient it is to be able to say, "It was not I, but my genes, not I, but my upbringing, not I, but my environment"! I know a retired lawyer who now believes the entire legal-penal system is just a social sham, a power game, and should be radically reformed, if not totally scrapped, in light of the truth that humans lack free will. Awfully convenient: the legal-penal system is a scandal only after one has completed one's very lucrative career in it. Fortunately, of course, not even that bit of self-deception is blameworthy, since our man had no choice but to be a hypocrite.

My critique is not, I believe, a very novel insight, but it is something worth keeping in mind. The usual slant in these debates is that hard determinists are actually more compassionate, more reasonable, more cutting-edge, and the like, since they seek to dissolve musty old conventions like "morality," "guilt," "responsibility," "law," "punishment," etc. with more humane ideas like "reform," "acceptance," "quarantine," and so on. It's always hip to be Buddhist, and, allegedly, the Buddhist thing to do is simply to accept everyone's so-called failings, without adding punishment and social rage to their already pitiful fate (cf. this Wiki link and this essay [PDF!] for some corrective data). The problem, though, is that even this tack resolves back into the schema of praise and blame, since compassionate determinism is proposed as the morally praiseworthy course of action. The self-deception does not stop there, however, for another major benefit of compassionate determinism is that one is granted a pardon for all one's failings. Adultery? No problem! We know you didn't mean it: we know you could not have done otherwise. Fraud? Same pass. Murder? Pass. Holocaust? Er, well, uh….

This ambivalence about "forgiving oneself" and yet making just condemnations of "truly evil people" (like Hitler) ran through Einstein's life. Consider these quotations from Einstein:

"An Freiheit des Menschen im philosophischen Sinne glaube ich keineswegs. Jeder handelt nicht nur unter äußerem Zwang sondern auch gemäß innerer Notwendigkeit. … Schopenhauers Spruch: 'Ein Mensch kann zwar tun, was er will, aber nicht wollen, was er will', hat mich seit meiner Jugend lebendig erfüllt und ist mir beim Anblick und beim Erleiden der Härten des Lebens immer ein Trost gewesen und eine unerschöpfliche Quelle der Toleranz" (Albert Einstein, Mein Weltbild. Zürich: Ullstein, 2005, S. 9).
["By no means do I believe in human freedom in the philosophical sense. Everyone acts not only from external compulsion but also from internal necessity. … Schopenhauer's dictum: 'A man can certainly do what he wants, but cannot will what he wants', has (ful)filled my life since youth and has always been a comfort in the face of suffering the hard things in life, as well as being an inexhaustible source of tolerance."]

Never mind that Einstein also vocally condemned the Nazis during and after the War for their moral wrongdoing. Somehow, "our" lack of free will is a pitiful fact, while "their" misuse of freedom is an onerous truth. Either way the polarity is a useful fiction for those who wish to be among the morally ruling class ("ist eine nützliche Erfindung der, die dem sittlich herrschenden Stände gehören möchten").

+ + +

"Unser Handeln sei getragen von dem stets lebendigen Bewußtsein, daß die Menschen in ihrem Denken, Fühlen und Tun nicht frei sind, sondern ebenso kausal gebunden wie die Gestirne in ihren Bewegungen."

["Our behavior is borne by the always living consciousness that humans are not free in their thinking, feeling and doing, but rather are as causally bound as the stars in their motions."]

–– aus Einstein sagt. Alice Calaprice (Hrsg.), München/Zürich: Piper, 1997, S. 177.


An related addendum, c/o a reader:

Quos dii volunt perdere dementant prius…

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(Those the gods would damn they first drive mad.)

Foster parent ban: 'no place' in the law for Christianity, high court rules (Tim Ross, The Telegraph, 28 Feb 2011)

Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson made the remarks when ruling on the case of a Christian couple who were told that they could not be foster carers because of their view that homosexuality is wrong.

The judges underlined that, in the case of fostering arrangements at least, the right of homosexuals to equality “should take precedence” over the right of Christians to manifest their beliefs and moral values.

In a ruling with potentially wide-ranging implications, the judges said Britain was a “largely secular”, multi-cultural country in which the laws of the realm “do not include Christianity”.

Campaigners for homosexual rights welcomed the judgment for placing “21st-century decency above 19th-century prejudice”. Christian campaigners claimed that it undermined the position of the Church of England.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


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Freedom perfects nature.

This was an epiphany.
Perhaps the most vivid and obvious example: Saving sex for marriage, as a free sacrifice of one's natural and good urges, perfects the natural enjoyment of sex.

Ein voller Bauch studiert nicht gern –– also an epiphany, but of the more "cynical" flavor.

If human nature (h) is wholly and merely a combination (result) of one's environment (e) and one's genetic inheritance (g), then the determinacy of h is but a function of the determinacy of e and g.

Since e is radically indeterminate with respect to teleological embodiment (i.e. rational control), h is radically contingent. Further, since g is contingent upon e–-e.g. the manifestation of "lung cancer genes" based on the inhalation of urban pollution or many cigarettes––, h is as indeterminate as g.

Imagine e, h, and g as the corners of a triangle, the triangle of real human existence (r). There is an inverse proportion between the indeterminacy of any corner and the other two. (Does Newton's three-body problem further accentuate the indeterminacy of r? I have the impression that the three-body problem is more tractable in quantum mechanics… that that mechanics is itself rife with indeterminacy, by most accounts.)

□e ∧ □g ⊃ □h
(~□e ∧ □g) ∨ (□e ∧ ~□g)
∴ ~(□e ∧ □g)
∴ ~□h
e ∧ g ⊃ h
◊~g ∧ ◊~h ∴ ◊~h
∴ h is not determinate

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