Saturday, May 17, 2014

Foreshortened Lives: Kevin Oldham Symphony for Organ

Kevin Oldham was one of the composers who died of AIDS, he was also the one who began The Estate Project, to collect and preserve the work of composers and artits  who were dying of AIDS

When the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS was established in 1991, its first public face was a composer. Thirty-two year-old Kevin Oldham appeared on the cover of The New York Times on December 27, 1992, in an article announcing this new initiative to assist artists who face foreshortened lives in planning for the care and preservation of their creative legacies. 
"Whether you stay alive or not seems to be the trivial part," Oldham told The Times. "It's your work itself that must have a life of its own. If I can make sure that my music will continue to have life, that seems to be the more important consideration."

Kevin Oldham Symphony for Organ

Kevin Oldham died when he was 33, I never knew him, different musical circles.

Here is an article about just the composers who were included, and a lot of others could have been (see the list of organists and the comments about that).   I have counted the number of people I knew who died of AIDS and gave up at about 70. It was just too depressing to remember, almost all of them of them young, in the prime of life, as they say.  

Charles Tomlinson Griffes Sonata

Thomas Hunter (?) piano

This sonata is, by wide agreement, the greatest work of Charles Tomlinson Griffes who died in the influenza pandemic in 1920.   He was 35.   His relativly small body of very distinguished works shows that he was one of the great composers of his generation, someone whose work showed continual growth and development.   Like all great music, in the hands of good players, it will show different things.  Some, like that last one, I don't agree with but the piece is still there.  This piece was a major departure from Griffes' earlier music and we can only guess where he was headed with it.

This is a very fine performance that presents things about it that other very fine performances don't and which doesn't contain everything those performances do.   In that it shows how a great piece can contain different meanings, that the music is a collaboration between the composer and performers. And that leaves out the third participant, the listener.   It's the performer's responsibility to try to find what the composer put there and to communicate that and that is as much an act of creative imagination as the original composition of it was, though the primary responsibility of the composer comprises the greatest act of the three.   This pianist fulfilled his part, very well.


Believing "Sex Pos" Propaganda Is More Likely To Kill You Than Creationism Is

That I live in the country and seldom go to cities anymore, that I'm an old man, means that I don't often talk to young LGBT people as I did Friday.    What I found out was a reminder that my generation's hard lessons learned from watching a large percentage of our friends and family die of HIV-AIDS may as well have been the Black Death for young people today.   Nothing I've heard outside of the risk to all life from global warming and environmental destruction has been so profoundly depressing as what these young people told me they believe about AIDS.   The porn-prostitution industry, the columnists (who are often in the pay of the porn-prostitution industry) the "sex pos" pimps and others had convinced these college students that promiscuity is perfectly safe and, indeed, a positive good and that it had nothing to do with the rise and spread of AIDS.   It isn't because these people are stupid, they are all good students who are interested in progressive politics.

I got heated responses when I told them that promiscuity had everything to do with the AIDS epidemic, that it would have spread a lot more slowly, if at all, if men had not been promiscuous, that, contrary to the line of tripe they'd been sold,  needle exchange was a relatively minor venue of infection.   Of the dozens of men and several women I knew who died of AIDS, not one of them was an IV drug user, though one of the was married to one.

While I know that these same young folks would be outraged by the denial of evolution as a violation of scientific fact they had no problem with denying the far, far more certain science conducted by institutions such as the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, science which is far more important to them than whether or not we evolved from a common ancestor we share with chimpanzees or bonobos.

This campaign of lies is directly traceable to the media, to places such as Salon, Alternet, to blogs peddling "sex pos" which these kids read.  As the advertising industry long ago proved, it's the easiest thing in the world to sell false information using sex and the media didn't take long to figure out they could use the same fact. Through such media, young people have learned a series of slogans that are as wrong as those peddled by the Discovery Institute while being far more dangerous to them.   And it is forbidden on the alleged left to talk about that violation of fact, of that violation of science because, unlike an issue of minor importance in these peoples' lives, like evolution, well, it's all about sex and those vulgar right-wingers, "Xians", people with cooties are against promiscuity.   I really don't think there is much more to it than that mixed with the juvenile desire to have sex with lots of people, pretending there are no consequences to that or, as was true, traditionally of straight me, that any consequences for that would fall most on other people.

That was a possible delusion to maintain when penicillin and other cheap antibiotics could take care of most of the infections you were bound to get by sleeping around, though there were still things like hepatitis and pregnancy.   But, with the knowledge learned from the AIDS pandemic, which is continuing and killing people around the world, today,  that short period of breezy innocence shouldn't be possible.

One of the kids in the discussion, during the assertion that needle exchange, not sexual promiscuity is to blame for AIDS, mentioned hemophiliacs who were infected.  Apparently some columnists and/or "sex pos" bloggers are using them to lie about the overwhelmingly predominant role that sexual promiscuity played in spreading HIV.

I pointed out that no one predicted that something like AIDS was going to result from the would-be freedom of the 1970s and even in their naive belief that drugs had taken care of that problem, there is no reason that the same medium in which HIV mutated into a pathological form and spread,  the bodies of those engaged in world-wide promiscuity,  won't give rise to other deadly pathogens, perhaps some more deadly and even more intractable than HIV has been.   The publishing industry, the broadcast, cabloid and online media are engaged in an anti-scientific campaign that is far more dangerous and consequential than the one that the creationism industry is.   Only it's supposed to be all right because it's our side that's doing it, not theirs.

Update:  I have decided to publish this comment because it is such a good example of the kind of lies that have come to be believed by younger people, pushed by professional scribblers such as the one who wrote it.  I will comment on it more when I get the chance to give it the response it deserves.

Oh puhleeze. The usual half-truths and out and out paranoid pulled out of your ass bullshit ("the columnists (who are often in the pay of the porn-prostitution industry").

Here's a clue, Sparky. HIV is a really difficult bug to get -- you have to really, really work hard at it to get infected. Unfortunately, in the 70s and 80s, far too many people -- mostly homosexual men, and the occasional straight woman who was unlucky enough to be shtupping a homosexual man and/or IV drug user -- were working really really hard at it.

Those days are long gone, thank the Invisible God Being who doesn't do shit, and here in 2014, the average 20 something in a First World Country who engages in the average amount of non-promiscuous casual sex is about as likely to get infected with HIV as I am to be stomped on by Godzilla on the New Jersey Turnpike.

And please, spare me the sob stories about your dead friends. I lived in NYC back then, and I lost just as many as you. Schmuck.

Friday, May 16, 2014

And Now For Something Completely Inspiring or Discouraging Chris Potter Tunes Up

The Ear Is Faster Than The Eye

This is fun to try to follow, a transcription of John Coltrane's solo of Countdown. I'm a pretty good sight reader and, like everyone, I'm familiar with the solo but I lose track every time I try to read it.

Why Would These Be Provocative Questions?

Is a tee-shirt that says,  "So many Christians, never enough Lions," morally different from one that would say,  "So many Jews, never enough Zyklon-B"?  Why? And why is the first one acceptable whereas the unacceptability of the second one obvious?  It isn't because recent history has not produced the murders of many Christians because it has.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stravinsky The Our Father, Ave Maria and Credo in Old Church Slavonic

Just because of the comment I read somewhere else just now.

Mozart, Sonata C minor K 457, Ivo Sillamaa, Fortepiano

I should try playing again.  It's been a long recovery from my accident last winter.

Baptizing Aliens, etc.

I don't know if Carl Sagan really said it or not because I haven't been able to find the source of it, more on that in a minute, but I got into an argument at one of the allegedly leftist blogs over someone saying that he said it.   The alleged quote was, to the effect, that as soon as extraterrestrial life was contacted, it would be the death of religion.   Which, if it were true, would be one of the long series of predictions that this or that would be the end of religious belief.   The end of religious belief is the topic of so many prophecies and precognitions from a group that is, officially against both, it is remarkable how obsessed those guys and gals are with trying to convince themselves that their atheist millennium is just around the next corner.

As I recall the argument, the sentiment that the existence of extraterrestrial life would be proof, positive that religion was the bunk was shared by a number of others,  I would guess it was at Eschaton where that is something of the house religion.   But what, I asked, if the extraterrestrial life, presumably much more technically advanced than we are - they'd be the ones coming here since we definitely can't get there - were religious?   Which doesn't seem to be a possibility they accounted for in their speculations since they obviously don't believe it's possible to be religious and smart.    I proposed that some form of extraterrestrial life could have faculties of thought that made what is unavailable to us in a form that can be processed by us with OUR science as obvious as two resulting when you add one and one.

My recollection is that the other participants in the argument didn't like the idea but, since we haven't had the first bit of evidence that "other life" is there, it's not something they could really argue with.   Of course, if I'd wanted to be really mean I could have pointed out that their "extraterrestrials" were entirely the result of their imaginations, just as all of those that their hero,  Carl Sagan, was want to invent were his imaginary friends.     Unlike any real "other life" they were limited by what those guys could and desired them to be.  In that they are like many of the more anthropomorphic gods of the kind that atheists love to believe are the sum total of human conceptions of God.   They didn't want their extraterrestrials to be religious so they merely assumed they were atheists - just as so many online atheists seem to want their Copernicus or Galileo to have been atheists when they certainly were Christians and Catholics.   And they certainly don't want the God we believe in to be those things that God was described as being as early as the book of Exodus, inconceivable to human imagination, infinitely beyond our powers of conception.

Though I can imagine what they said,  having read their group-think so often, I haven't bothered to go look at the atheists response to the story that Pope Francis said that if an extraterrestrial asked him to be baptized that he would baptize them.
So here's how Francis tried to illustrate that point on Monday, with a much more modern example:

That was unthinkable. If – for example - tomorrow an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us, here... Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them... And one says, 'But I want to be baptized!' What would happen?"

What would happen? They'd get baptized, that's what would happen. He goes on:

"When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, 'No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, lets do it this way'... Who are we to close doors? In the early Church, even today, there is the ministry of the ostiary [usher]. And what did the ostiary do? He opened the door, received the people, allowed them to pass. But it was never the ministry of the closed door, never."

The Vatican's astronomer — the same one who dismissed 'Intelligent Design' as 'bad theology' — said in 2010 that he'd baptize an alien because "any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul." But, again, only if they request it. So glad that's settled. Now all we have to do is wait.

The first thing that jumped out at me in that story was that in both the Pope's and Fr. Guy Consolmagno, the astronomer said was that the decision to baptize an alien would be the decision of the alien to be baptized.   So, as we can see, these two Catholic clergymen could conceive of one having free will that may or may not be in line with their own beliefs.   As I've gone over here so often recently, many of the sciency atheists don't believe that such freedom of thought is even possible.   The Catholic's imagination of extraterrestrials that have free will that we are bound to respect, that they are free to choose and that their inherent dignity as a fellow being created by God would compel them to include them within the Christian religion strikes me as enormously more generous than the atheist imagination of them.

The second thing that struck me was Consolmagno saying that "any entity ... has a soul" which contradicts what we were taught in catechism where we were told that only human beings have a soul.   I never believed that, I couldn't believe that animals didn't have souls.   Some of my recent reading seems to indicate that idea came from Descarte and, ironically, today, was part of his conception of living beings as machines, something that is insisted on, these days, most stridently by atheists.  Only the atheists want those ghosts out of their machine entirely.


In looking for that quote from Sagan I was struck by how, contrary to the presentation of him as being something of a pacifist in the atheist war against religion, he was continually and stridently, arrogantly and dismissively hostile to religion.  That was true even as he was presenting his Cosmos and it, apparently, became more true after that.   He coupled his dismissal of religion with a ridiculously romantic presentation of what science is, how scientists behave* and the inevitably beneficial results of science.   I think that, now that the mantle of Sagan has descended on Neil Degrasse Tyson, he's doing pretty much the same thing, only with a bit more of care being taken to preserve deniability that his anti-religious goal isn't really there.  You don't have to be a creationist to notice the real goal of the Seth Macfarlane, Ann Druyan, NDT Cosmos is not really the promotion of science so much as it is a promotion of scientism and the hostility to Christianity and other religions that has been a feature of all of their work in the past.


It really is important to the neo-atheist effort that religion has to, in each and every case, be the villain.  As I noticed in the discussion of a recent Salon piece asserting that gay marriage was not in conflict with The Bible, it was obvious that the atheists, who seemed to have more to say on it than anyone else,  couldn't stand the idea that The Bible wasn't in conflict with marriage equality.  It was obvious that they cared entirely less about gay rights than they did about their hatred of Christianity and other religion.  And that is what motivates the kind of atheists who make hatred of religion one of their central activities, the kind of atheists we hear from.   They don't care nearly as much about science as they do their hatred of religion.  On a practical level, that makes them unreliable allies in the struggle for rights and progress, the reason that they are always trying to distract us from the real goals with their divisive and futile war against religion.

*  This quote, given to a CSICOP gathering was rather hilariously hypocritical, considering what happened during CSICOP's one and only bungled scientific investigation.

In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

Considering that Sagan was there as the sTARBABY scandal happened, a witness to how CSICOP's  co-founder, Paul Kurtz and his fellow "fellows and councilors" George Abell and Marvin Zelen massively screwed up and covered up, conducting a campaign of slander and expulsion against Dennis Rawlins, the guy who understood the problem AND WHO WARNED  Kurtz, Abell and Zelen that they were screwing up and, when they lied about what they were doing, tried to set the record straight.  Obvioulsy, Kurtz, Abell and Zelen didn't welcome being told they were wrong.   They continued to behave badly, with the full knowledge of and acquiescence of the CSICOP "fellows and councilors" for a number of years, as you can read in the first link in this paragraph.

Rawlins pointed out that Sagan, a member of CSICOP would have certainly understood the problem and would have been a better person to address it, at the time.  So  Sagan saying that, to that group, which kicked Rawlins out over his crime of scientific honesty, several years after the scandal was known to him and to them was extremely hypocritical.  As a general statement it is so absurdly romantic about the way that scientists act, especially in protection of the basis of their scientific and professional reputations, as ready to use dishonest means to suppress anything that endangers them as any other profession, that it's amazing that Sagan could have had the gall to say it.   To say it to the very people who brought about the scandal by a witness to it is jaw-dropping hypocrisy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Got To Plant Carrots and Beets So Here's a Recently Made Comment on Another Blog

I think that Tyson is being a bit too cute about his alleged "accommodation". He doesn't come right out and slam religion but that is the end of what I've seen of it online. It is certainly how it is being taken all over the internet, certainly at Alternet. Considering that scientists have been a lot more important in inhibiting innovation and progress in science, they certainly have had a bigger hand in producing intentional fraud and ideology masquerading as science, you would think a series dealing with impediments to science would pay more attention to that than to the quite often entirely mythical impediment that religion has been to science. I suspect that any series produced by professional atheists such as Seth Macfarlane and Ann Druyan (she and Sagan met through the production of his "Cosmos" as I recall) is unlikely to avoid distorting that history. I don't think that Tyson, who has been working in that area of sci-showbiz for quite a number of years now, is unaware of what was likely to result. I think he's just trying to have it both ways, participating in the neo-atheist fad while hedging his bets in case it goes out of style. I think that Larry Krauss was doing the same thing, though he has certainly put all his money on the fad lasting.

I haven't trusted a TV science show since Nova went bad about a decade or so ago. And Tyson was part of that as well. I remember when I first became aware of Sagan, on Nova programs where he talked about his area of scientific competence, I thought he was fascinating. Then he went on to become The Greatest Genius In The World, gassing on about stuff he didn't know anything about, producing intellectual atrocities such as The Amniotic Universe and The Dragons of Eden and before long I couldn't stand the guy. His Cosmos, whenever it touched on the history of science, was mostly a rehashing of old-line Brit anti-Catholic, anti-religious bromides and slogans. When you look at what people such as Copernicus, Galileo, etc. actually said, what their lives actually were and their relationship with the Catholic church was, the show-biz presentation is as much of a falsification of reality as the worst of creationism. I know that's not supposed to matter because it is mere history and that a sci-guy like Sagan or Tyson pushes false information is, meh. But we happen to be people and our history is as much vital information necessary to understanding our lives and our position in the universe as theoretical physics is. Considering how much of theoretical physics turns out to be wrong and, based on speculations on fragmentary information it's bound to turn out lots of wrong guesses, history, based on a far more certain, far richer and far less ambiguous range of evidence, can tell us a lot more about us than science can. I think it's probably a more serious matter with more consequences to lie about history than it is about many of the issues that we are supposed to be continually in a swivet about.

I have gone over this before but the most serious suppression of science in the past century was the suppression of genetics in the Soviet Union by atheists and the most serious crimes committed in the name of science were those that grew out of eugenics, invented by viciously anti-religious people, Galton, Haeckel, etc. Not to mention the use of science to produce weapons of mass destruction, just about every one of those people I know of were atheists as well. It would seem to me that looking to see if an ideology that so often includes a denial of and refutation of morality mixes salubriously with the potent efficacity of science might be a bit more important than rehashing the old line Brit Catholic bashing accounts of those two life long Catholics, Copernicus and Galileo. That's especially true since Catholics haven't been in the business of offing people for heresy for quite a long time now, whereas the history of atheist regimes murdering scientists has happened within living memory. I suspect it goes on today in places like North Korea and China to little notice by western popular media.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Not So Stupid As To Say That Kind of Stuff Either, Neilsie

Since Neil Degrasse Tyson is to be believed to be The Greatest Genius in the World, taking over that post from Issac Asimov and Carl Sagan, it is pretty stupid of him to have said what he did about philosophy (from a post by Massimo Pigliucci)

Neil made his latest disparaging remarks about philosophy as a guest on the Nerdist podcast, following a statement by one of the hosts, who said that he majored in philosophy. Neil’s comeback was: “That can really mess you up.” The host then added: “I always felt like maybe there was a little too much question asking in philosophy [of science]?” And here is the rest of the pertinent dialogue:

dGT: I agree.

interviewer: At a certain point it’s just futile.

dGT: Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. My concern here is that the philosophers believe they are actually asking deep questions about nature. And to the scientist it’s, what are you doing? Why are you concerning yourself with the meaning of meaning?

(another) interviewer: I think a healthy balance of both is good.

dGT: Well, I’m still worried even about a healthy balance. Yeah, if you are distracted by your questions so that you can’t move forward, you are not being a productive contributor to our understanding of the natural world. And so the scientist knows when the question “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” is a pointless delay in our progress.

[insert predictable joke by one interviewer, imitating the clapping of one hand]

dGT: How do you define clapping? All of a sudden it devolves into a discussion of the definition of words. And I’d rather keep the conversation about ideas. And when you do that don’t derail yourself on questions that you think are important because philosophy class tells you this. The scientist says look, I got all this world of unknown out there, I’m moving on, I’m leaving you behind. You can’t even cross the street because you are distracted by what you are sure are deep questions you’ve asked yourself. I don’t have the time for that. [Note to the reader: I, like Neil, live and work in Manhattan, and I can assure you that I am quite adept at crossing the perilous streets of the metropolis.]

interviewer [not one to put too fine a point on things, apparently]: I also felt that it was a fat load of crap, as one could define what crap is and the essential qualities that make up crap: how you grade a philosophy paper? 

dGT [laughing]: Of course I think we all agree you turned out okay.

interviewer: Philosophy was a good Major for comedy, I think, because it does get you to ask a lot of ridiculous questions about things.

dGT: No, you need people to laugh at your ridiculous questions.

interviewer: It’s a bottomless pit. It just becomes nihilism.

dGT: nihilism is a kind of philosophy.

The latter was pretty much the only correct observation about philosophy in the whole dialogue, as far as I can tell.

I very strongly suspect that like most sci-guys these days, Neil Degrasse Tyson has read little to no philosophy and he obviously doesn't have the slightest idea of what he's talking about.   As Pigliucci notes he's said such stupid things before:

“Up until early 20th century philosophers had material contributions to make to the physical sciences. Pretty much after quantum mechanics, remember the philosopher is the would be scientist but without a laboratory, right? And so what happens is, the 1920s come in, we learn about the expanding universe in the same decade as we learn about quantum physics, each of which falls so far out of what you can deduce from your armchair that the whole community of philosophers that previously had added materially to the thinking of the physical scientists was rendered essentially obsolete, and that point, and I have yet to see a contribution — this will get me in trouble with all manner of philosophers — but call me later and correct me if you think I’ve missed somebody here. But, philosophy has basically parted ways from the frontier of the physical sciences, when there was a day when they were one and the same. Isaac Newton was a natural philosopher, the word physicist didn’t even exist in any important way back then. So, I’m disappointed because there is a lot of brainpower there, that might have otherwise contributed mightily, but today simply does not. It’s not that there can’t be other philosophical subjects, there is religious philosophy, and ethical philosophy, and political philosophy, plenty of stuff for the philosophers to do, but the frontier of the physical sciences does not appear to be among them.”

Makes you wonder if the Cosmos guy has ever dipped much into cosmology, which can't escape questions of philosophy or his ideological buddies, such as Larry Krauss, whom the philosopher William Lane Craig mopped the floor with and Sean Carroll, who came closer to that fate than I think he could believe he might.

As an informal student of Arthur Stanley Eddington, a far greater astrophysicist than Tyson is likely to develop into, I especially liked this from Pigliucci's answer.

You and a number of your colleagues keep asking what philosophy (of science, in particular) has done for science, lately. There are two answers here: first, much philosophy of science is simply not concerned with advancing science, which means that it is a category mistake (a useful philosophical concept ) to ask why it didn’t. The main objective of philosophy of science is to understand how science works and, when it fails to work (which it does, occasionally), why this was the case. It is epistemology applied to the scientific enterprise. And philosophy is not the only discipline that engages in studying the workings of science: so do history and sociology of science, and yet I never heard you dismiss those fields on the grounds that they haven’t discovered the Higgs boson. Second, I suggest you actually look up some technical papers in philosophy of science to see how a number of philosophers, scientists and mathematicians actually do collaborate to elucidate the conceptual and theoretical aspects of research on everything from evolutionary theory and species concepts to interpretations of quantum mechanics and the structure of superstring theory. Those papers, I maintain, do constitute a positive contribution of philosophy to the progress of science — at least if by science you mean an enterprise deeply rooted in the articulation of theory and its relationship with empirical evidence.

Call me skeptical but I doubt Tyson is going to take much time from his career as The World's Greatest Genius (granting that title seems to have moved from PBS to FOX, nowadays) to do much boning up on current philosophy of science and no one on TV or radio or podcast is going to call him on it.  I have noted before how Paul Feyerabend dressed down an earlier generation of scientists on their ignorance of philosophy

The younger generation of physicists, the Feynmans, the Schwingers, etc., may be very bright; they may be more intelligent than their predecessors, than Bohr, Einstein, Schrödinger, Boltzmann, Mach, and so on.  But they are uncivilized savages, they lack in philosophical depth.

If there's one thing obvious about the guys mentioned in Pigliucci post, they ain't no Feynmans or even Schwingers.    As I recall Pigliucci took part in the round table discussion led by Carroll that motivated my post, linked to.  It makes me wonder why he doesn't see through the arrogant ideological position that has led to the ignorance of these conceited geniuses.

Rupert Sheldrake recently commented on the massive ignorance of most scientists whose training was so incredibly narrow as to make them entirely ignorant of other things that used to be part of a general, liberal education.  If I can find a transcript I'll post that.   It's especially hilarious for someone who has read philosophy to hear how often these guys gas on in a philosophical manner even as their education doesn't clue them into the fact that they are philosophizing.

Update:   Here's where Rupert Sheldrake made that point, at 20:55, a point which even Colin Blakemore has to agree with, for the Sheldrake detractors out there.

Update: 2  RMJ has written a better piece about this.

Allergies, Too Stupid from Taking Benadry To Write

But not as stupid as the guy I just read at Alternet who claims that Copernicus was burned at the stake.   On days I'm not fit to write, I'll try to post items of interest to people who read my blog.

Dedication of the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies to Pope Paul III

Nicolaus Copernicus (1543)

I CAN easily conceive, most Holy Father, that as soon as some people learn that in this book which I have written concerning the revolutions of the heavenly bodies, I ascribe certain motions to the Earth, they will cry out at once that I and my theory should be rejected. For I am not so much in love with my conclusions as not to weigh what others will think about them, and although I know that the meditations of a philosopher are far removed from the judgment of the laity, because his endeavor is to seek out the truth in all things, so far as this is permitted by God to the human reason, I still believe that one must avoid theories altogether foreign to orthodoxy. Accordingly, when I considered in my own mind how absurd a performance it must seem to those who know that the judgment of many centuries has approved the view that the Earth remains fixed as center in the midst of the heavens, if I should, on the contrary, assert that the Earth moves; I was for a long time at a loss to know whether I should publish the commentaries which I have written in proof of its motion, or whether it were not better to follow the example of the Pythagoreans and of some others, who were accustomed to transmit the secrets of Philosophy not in writing but orally, and only to their relatives and friends, as the letter from Lysis to Hipparchus bears witness. They did this, it seems to me, not as some think, because of a certain selfish reluctance to give their views to the world, but in order that the noblest truths, worked out by the careful study of great men, should not be despised by those who are vexed at the idea of taking great pains with any forms of literature except such as would be profitable, or by those who, if they are driven to the study of Philosophy for its own sake by the admonitions and the example of others, nevertheless, on account of their stupidity, hold a place among philosophers similar to that of drones among bees. Therefore, when I considered this carefully, the contempt which I had to fear because of the novelty and apparent absurdity of my view, nearly induced me to abandon utterly the work I had begun.   

 My friends, however, in spite of long delay and even resistance on my part, withheld me from this decision. First among these was Nicolaus Schonberg, Cardinal of Capua, distinguished in all branches of learning. Next to him comes my very dear friend, Tidemann Giese, Bishop of Culm, a most earnest student, as he is, of sacred and, indeed, of all good learning. The latter has often urged me, at times even spurring me on with reproaches, to publish and at last bring to the light the book which had lain in my study not nine years merely, but already going on four times nine. Not a few other very eminent and scholarly men made the same request, urging that I should no longer through fear refuse to give out my work for the common benefit of students of Mathematics. They said I should find that the more absurd most men now thought this theory of mine concerning the motion of the Earth, the more admiration and gratitude it would command after they saw in the publication of my commentaries the mist of absurdity cleared away by most transparent proofs. So, influenced by these advisors and this hope, I have at length allowed my friends to publish the work, as they had long besought me to do.
But perhaps Your Holiness will not so much wonder that I have ventured to publish these studies of mine, after having taken such pains in elaborating them that I have not hesitated to commit to writing my views of the motion of the Earth, as you will be curious to hear how it occurred to me to venture, contrary to the accepted view of mathematicians, and well-nigh contrary to common sense, to form a conception of any terrestrial motion whatsoever. Therefore I would not have it unknown to Your Holiness, that the only thing which induced me to look for another way of reckoning the movements of the heavenly bodies was that I knew that mathematicians by no means agree in their investigations thereof. For, in the first place, they are so much in doubt concerning the motion of the sun and the moon, that they can not even demonstrate and prove by observation the constant length of a complete year; and in the second place, in determining the motions both of these and of the five other planets, they fail to employ consistently one set of first principles and hypotheses, but use methods of proof based only upon the apparent revolutions and motions. For some employ concentric circles only; others, eccentric circles and epicycles; and even by these means they do not completely attain the desired end. For, although those who have depended upon concentric circles have shown that certain diverse motions can be deduced from these, yet they have not succeeded thereby in laying down any sure principle, corresponding indisputably to the phenomena. These, on the other hand, who have devised systems of eccentric circles, although they seem in great part to have solved the apparent movements by calculations which by these eccentrics are made to fit, have nevertheless introduced many things which seem to contradict the first principles of the uniformity of motion. Nor have they been able to discover or calculate from these the main point, which is the shape of the world and the fixed symmetry of its parts; but their procedure has been as if someone were to collect hands, feet, a head, and other members from various places, all very fine in themselves, but not proportionate to one body, and no single one corresponding in its turn to the others, so that a monster rather than a man would be formed from them. Thus in their process of demonstration which they term a “method,” they are found to have omitted something essential, or to have included something foreign and not pertaining to the matter in hand. This certainly would never have happened to them if they had followed fixed principles; for if the hypotheses they assumed were not false, all that resulted therefrom would be verified indubitably. Those things which I am saying now may be obscure, yet they will be made clearer in their proper place.   

Therefore, having turned over in my mind for a long time this uncertainty of the traditional mathematical methods of calculating the motions of the celestial bodies, I began to grow disgusted that no more consistent scheme of the movements of the mechanism of the universe, set up for our benefit by that best and most law abiding Architect of all things, was agreed upon by philosophers who otherwise investigate so carefully the most minute details of this world. Wherefore I undertook the task of rereading the books of all the philosophers I could get access to, to see whether any one ever was of the opinion that the motions of the celestial bodies were other than those postulated by the men who taught mathematics in the schools. and I found first, indeed, in Cicero, that Niceta perceived that the Earth moved; and afterward in Plutarch I found that some others were of this opinion, whose words I have seen fit to quote here, that they may be accessible to all:—   

  “Some maintain that the Earth is stationary, but Philolaus the Pythagorean says that it revolves in a circle about the fire of the ecliptic, like the sun and moon. Heraklides of Pontus and Ekphantus the Pythagorean make the Earth move, not changing its position, however, confined in its falling and rising around its own center in the manner of a wheel.”   

Taking this as a starting point, I began to consider the mobility of the Earth; and although the idea seemed absurd, yet because I knew that the liberty had been granted to others before me to postulate all sorts of little circles for explaining the phenomena of the stars, I thought I also might easily be permitted to try whether by postulating some motion of the Earth, more reliable conclusions could be reached regarding the revolution of the heavenly bodies, than those of my predecessors.   

And so, after postulating movements, which, farther on in the book, I ascribe to the Earth, I have found by many and long observations that if the movements of the other planets are assumed for the circular motion of the Earth and are substituted for the revolution of each star, not only do their phenomena follow logically therefrom, but the relative positions and magnitudes both of the stars and all their orbits, and of the heavens themselves, become so closely related that in none of its parts can anything be changed without causing confusion in the other parts and in the whole universe. Therefore, in the course of the work I have followed this plan: I describe in the first book all the positions of the orbits together with the movements which I ascribe to the Earth, in order that this book might contain, as it were, the general scheme of the universe. Thereafter in the remaining books, I set forth the motions of the other stars and of all their orbits together with the movement of the Earth, in order that one may see from this to what extent the movements and appearances of the other stars and their orbits can be saved, if they are transferred to the movement of the Earth. Nor do I doubt that ingenious and learned mathematicians will sustain me, if they are willing to recognize and weigh, not superficially, but with that thoroughness which Philosophy demands above all things, those matters which have been adduced by me in this work to demonstrate these theories. In order, however, that both the learned and the unlearned equally may see that I do not avoid anyone’s judgment, I have preferred to dedicate these lucubrations of mine to Your Holiness rather than to any other, because, even in this remote corner of the world where I live, you are considered to be the most eminent man in dignity of rank and in love of all learning and even of mathematics, so that by your authority and judgment you can easily suppress the bites of slanderers, albeit the proverb hath it that there is no remedy for the bite of a sycophant. If perchance there shall be idle talkers, who, though they are ignorant of all mathematical sciences, nevertheless assume the right to pass judgment on these things, and if they should dare to criticise and attack this theory of mine because of some passage of Scripture which they have falsely distorted for their own purpose, I care not at all; I will even despise their judgment as foolish. For it is not unknown that Lactantius, otherwise a famous writer but a poor mathematician, speaks most childishly of the shape of the Earth when he makes fun of those who said that the Earth has the form of a sphere. It should not seem strange then to zealous students, if some such people shall ridicule us also. Mathematics are written for mathematicians, to whom, if my opinion does not deceive me, our labors will seem to contribute something to the ecclesiastical state whose chief office Your Holiness now occupies; for when not so very long ago, under Leo X, in the Lateran Council the question of revising the ecclesiastical calendar was discussed, it then remained unsettled, simply because the length of the years and months, and the motions of the sun and moon were held to have been not yet sufficiently determined. Since that time, I have given my attention to observing these more accurately, urged on by a very distinguished man, Paul, Bishop of Fossombrone, who at that time had charge of the matter. But what I may have accomplished herein I leave to the judgment of Your Holiness in particular, and to that of all other learned mathematicians; and lest I seem to Your Holiness to promise more regarding the usefulness of the work than I can perform, I now pass to the work itself.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Found At A Link In My E-mail

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      Kristoff is making good sense today:
      "Why are fanatics so terrified of girls’ education? Because there’s no
      force more powerful to transform a society. The greatest threat to
      extremism isn’t drones firing missiles, but girls reading books."

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          Educating girls and empowering women are also tasks that are, by global standards, relatively doable. We spend billions of dollars on intelligence collection, counterterrorism and military interventions, even though they have a quite mixed record. By comparison, educating girls is an underfunded cause even though it’s more straightforward.

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              He and Hillary seem to be on the same page. Cracked my shit up when the banksters paid her $250,000 to give a talk and she devoted a large portion of it to educating girls and women instead of high finance. They must have been sitting there thinking, wtf? Still, if she managed to get through to just a few of them, it's good.They'd probably had never heard it before, and most likely, won't be hearing again. She had a captive audience and knew what to do.

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                  He has a pretty good track record on this.

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                      Melissa Gira Grant really lays into Kristoff in her new book, Playing the Whore:
                      The sex industry is an endless source of prurient drama for the mainstream media. Recent years have seen a panic over “online red-light districts,” which supposedly seduce vulnerable young women into a life of degradation, andNew York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s live tweeting of a Cambodian brothel raid. The current trend for writing about and describing actual experiences of sex work fuels a culture obsessed with the behavior of sex workers. Rarely do these fearful dispatches come from sex workers themselves, and they never seem to deviate from the position that sex workers must be rescued from their condition, and the industry simply abolished — a position common among feminists and conservatives alike.
                      “As self-appointed saviors like Nicolas Kristof command mainstream media attention for their crusade on behalf of trafficked women, Melissa Gira Grant provides a sharp and powerful counternarrative, a layered, justice-minded critique of such interventions as well as a much needed skewering of ‘carceral feminism.’ An important, illuminating and engaging read.”
                      – Liliana Segura, Senior Editor, The Intercept (First Look Media)
                      Grant is on the latest Theory of Everything podcast, "Bootlickers," and is worth a listen.

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                          She also did an FDL book chat.

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                              I think Kristof is occasionally a little creepy. But that said, there's quite a difference between an adult who chooses sex work, and a kid in Bangkok forced into it.

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                                  The point is that "forced into it" needs to be examined, and unpacked in such a way that the humanity of the woman or girl in the context of her position of life is acknowledged. Too often, almost always, the view is a patriarchal view.
                                  Gotta run...

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                                    Adding, my own sense of recent journalism around sex work is that it's remarkably fact-free, comes from a puritanical standpoint and refuses to acknowledge that sex workers have agency.
                                    Locally, there's been a creation of a "gang" called North Preston's Finest, which supposedly traffics women from here to the strip joints in Ontario. There's no actual evidence that the gang actually exists, and in all of the few court trials around this, the supposed evidence was thrown out as being unsupported. But never mind that, we gotta hate on the sex workers.

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                              This so absolutely matches what Katha Pollitt was talking about in the post I did last week that I couldn't, in good conscience, not point it out.
                              On a blog of the "left"  Moe Szyslak, a regular, WHO IS A WORKING JOURNALIST (HE IS CONGRATULATED ON WINING A JOURNALISM AWARD IN THE SAME THREAD!) can make a claim that denies the FACT that women are forced into prostitution and trafficked like commodities and, other than one mildly pointing out "there's quite a difference between an adult who chooses sex work, and a kid in Bangkok forced into it"  none of the assorted liberals, including at least one feminist blogger challenged his absurd assertion.    Perhaps he never saw the UN Office of Crime and Drugs Global Report on the Trafficking of Persons  

                              Based on data gathered from 155 countries, it offers the first global assessment of the scope of human trafficking and what is being done to fight it. It includes: an overview of trafficking patterns; legal steps taken in response; and country-specific information on reported cases of trafficking in persons, victims, and prosecutions.

                              At the launch of the Report in New York, the Executive Director of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa said that "many governments are still in denial. There is even neglect when it comes to either reporting on, or prosecuting cases of human trafficking". He pointed to the fact that while the number of convictions for human trafficking is increasing, two out of every five countries covered by the UNODC Report had not recorded a single conviction.

                              According to the Report, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. Surprisingly, in 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. In some parts of the world, women trafficking women is the norm.

                              but it might have kept him from more than just implying that reporting about human trafficking by the sex industry is some kind of oppression of women, disrespecting their "agency".   "Agency" is one of the most popular words used by pseudo-leftists in a way that is remarkably similar to assertions by the worst of market-worshiping econ types who claim that people who work under the worst possible conditions are free to not do it so it's their choice to work in conditions that degrade them and that often lead to their injury, illness and death.   

                              Perhaps "Moe" in his real life as a journalist would like to do a Nellie Bly turn, putting his mouth (and anus) where his fingers are now, finding out what a prostitutes' "work" is really like.  Only he probably wouldn't be under the control of a pimp who would beat him up or threaten to kill him and he would know that, after his stunt a la  Melissa Gira Grant, he could leave.  I would suspect he'd never have to worry about having sex with a man who refused to use a condom.  

                              I wonder about the people who frequent these liberal blogs that promote the lies of the sex industry,  if they have ever had a family member who was at risk for being controlled by a pimp of forced to prostitute themselves due to desperation, drug addiction or some other frequently given reason that women, men and children become prostitutes.   

                              Obviously two of the participants in the thread understood that there was something wrong,  Gromit and David Derbes, I wonder at the fact that they or Hecate didn't object to Moe's asinine rejection of the reality of trafficking in women by the sex industry.  I think enough of those three to hope it wasn't because they knew that, as Katha Pollitt said, you're supposed to disdain Nicholas Kristoff or, worse, that they were afraid that they'd be unstylish.   But there was no good reason to go silent on this issue in the face of what was said.  If you can't express your objection to human trafficking by the sex industry, your convictions have no power.  And that is why liberals are a flop in politics.