Tag Archives: debate

BB #59: Who Among Us

BrainFireIt doesn’t matter, because this isn’t about that, but it was a blog page I was reading — about baseball, as it happens — where the writer used the phrase, “who among us is perfect?” I hear variations of that sentiment often. It’s meant to embrace the flawed humanity in all of us, but to my ear it sometimes excuses the egregious.

In this particular case (again, not the point), the writer was excusing the putative racism of a ballplayer during the 1940s, and that’s when a Brain Bubble floated up to my consciousness: Does it seem we use the phrase “no one is perfect” a little too broadly, a little too generously?

Have our standards of acceptable gotten lower in the modern era?

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Great Expectations

debate2016-1This post’s well-known title could apply to my Minnesota Twins (who lost their 100th game yesterday), but even someone who’s been a close observer only six years knows better than to have great expectations of the team these days.

It might also apply to the pending NASA news conference about Europa. Many of us are hoping for something along the lines of a mysterious monolith and staying away, but rumor has it that the Hubble telescope spotted the long-absent water geysers. (They were observed years ago, but never since.) ((Update: The rumors were correct!))

But, while those are expectations, considering what’s taking over about a dozen TV networks tonight — what’s been long awaited by so many — the post’s title absolutely refers to the first Presidential debate.

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For The Record

Thank You For ArguingIt was a number of years ago that the book you see pictured here on the right caught my eye. I was wandering around a bookstore, as book-lovers do, seeing what there was to see (and possibly buy). This may surprise you, but I’ve always enjoyed a good debate, so the book’s topic seemed attractive and a nice change of pace from baseball and science books or SF novels.

Plus: Aristotle, Lincoln and Homer Simpson! Who could resist that? A glance at a few of the pages showed an easy and breezy open writing style that went down nicely, and the bits I read were quite intriguing. I snagged it thinking it would be right up my alley, and that I’d enjoy it thoroughly.

I never got more than a third of the way through it!

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Determined Thoughts

Rene Descartes

I think, I think.

A bit more than three years ago I began this blog intending to write about matters of existence and consciousness (and science and computing). Since then I’ve tried on other hats, stories from my past and present, opinions and views about society, even the occasional post above movies or TV. But those meatier topics — the ones the blog is named for — still attract me.

There are three problems, though. Firstly, other sites specialize in that sort of thing and do it very well. Secondly, they aren’t topics that attract visitors — my meaty posts get even fewer reads than my less weighty posts. And thirdly, I may not be as good as explaining things as I would like to be.

That said, sometimes I just can’t  help myself, so here we go again.

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Deflection and Projection

inet highwayIn his 1982 book, Megatrends, John Naisbitt famously wrote, “We are drowning in information, but we are starved for knowledge.” What was true 30 years ago is true today at a level that is both jaw-dropping and mind-numbing. The interweb “highway” speeds past at a breath-taking pace; yesterday vanishes rapidly behind while tomorrow barrels down on us constantly. The sheer volume of traffic (meaning both ‘lots of’ and ‘very noisy’) can be overwhelming.

I’d like to take the topics from last Thursday and Friday to a new level and talk about how we find knowledge and truth amid all that information. In a world filled with opinion and conflicting assertions, how do we tell fair from foul? When facts and expertise compete with ideology and status quo, how do we pick among them?

This is about ways to separate the wheat from the chaff.

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Vector Thinking #1

Last time I talked about opposing pairs: Yin and Yang, light and dark, north and south. I mentioned that some pairs are true opposites of each other (for example, north and south), whereas other pairs are actually a thing and the lack of that thing (for example, light and dark). Such pairs are only opposites in the sense that an empty cup is the opposite of a full cup.

However in both cases, the opposites stand for opposing ideas; two poles of polarity, and it is polarization that I address today. Specifically I want to discuss a way of thinking that helps avoid it.

It’s easy to divide the world into sides. Many sayings begin with, “There’s two kinds of…” It seems easier to break things down into opposing points of view than to consider a variety of views. It seems easier to compare features between two things than twenty. Our court system has two sides and so does our political system (despite many attempts to create a viable third party).

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