My clothes dryer broke. So for the past several weeks I have been going to the coin laundry to dry clothes. Yesterday there was an event I want to share with you.


An elderly lady parked her bike in front of the laundromat. A while later another lady backed her car into a parking spot and hit the bike. It was a gentle nudge but it resulted in a minuscule scratch to the back bumper of the car.

The driver who hit the bike demanded that the lady apologise for parking her bike where it would be hit by an (inattentive) driver. The bike riding lady refused to apologise, but was generally good mannered and not looking to make a fuss.

The driver of the car then threatened to call the police and press charges for the scratch to the car, if the elderly lady refused to apologise and recognise that she was at fault.

The elderly cyclist refused and the driver of the car called the police.

The officer came and he was a true peacemaker. He warned the driver again and again, that if she chose to press charges, it would not go well for her. But she insisted on dragging the elderly cyclist to the police station and pressing charges.

The event was shocking because it shows how humans can be blind to their own faults while exaggerating the “injustices” they have suffered. Let’s forgive and forget, because in all likelihood, we have done much, much worse and got off scot-free. I know for certain that I have done so much wrong that I can never demand justice; it would come back like a boomerang and obliterate me a thousand times over.

Justice as taught to 4th graders

I am amused by the religion taught in public schools. Namely, that justice is not a fancy word for a highly contested and entirely non-scientific concept, but that justice is in fact equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity.

This image is used to illustrate that point for fourth graders in public school.

Equality versus Justice

Equality versus Justice

Plato – Bloom or Jowett?

This is Jowett:

And thus, Glaucon, after the argument has gone a weary way, the true and the false philosophers have at length appeared in view.

I do not think, he said, that the way could have been shortened.

This is Bloom:

“And so, Glaucon,” I said, “through a somewhat lengthy argument, who the philosophers are and who the nonphilosophers has, with considerable effort, somehow been brought to light.”

“Perhaps,” he said, “that’s because it could not easily have been done through a short one.”

And this is Paul Shorey (Loeb Classical Library edition):

“So now, Glaucon,” I said, “our argument after winding a long and weary way has at last made clear to us who are the philosophers or lovers of wisdom and who are not.”

“Yes,” he said, “a shorter way is perhaps not feasible.”

I find Jowett to be the most natural, easy to read translation. I refuse to read Cornford’s translation because he simply ignored and omitted sections that he didn’t find meaningful. Not that Cornford’s translation is at all popular. Reeve’s is very close in style to Jowett.

Krugman contra Krugman

What the living [minimum] wage is really about is not living standards, or even economics, but morality. Its advocates are basically opposed to the idea that wages are a market price–determined by supply and demand, the same as the price of apples or coal. And it is for that reason, rather than the practical details, that the broader political movement of which the demand for a living wage is the leading edge is ultimately doomed to failure: For the amorality of the market economy is part of its essence, and cannot be legislated away.

Astonishing to see how different the two Krugmans are.

Krugman contra Krugmam

Plato’s argument for justice from pleasure

In Plato’s Republic (583b), Plato has Socrates say,

That, then, would be two points in succession and two victories for the just man over the unjust. And now for the third in the Olympian fashion to the saviour and to Olympian Zeus — observe that other pleasure than that of the intelligence is not altogether even real or pure, but is a kind of scene-painting, as I seem to have heard from some wise man; and yet this would be the greatest and most decisive overthrow.

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Misplaced Trust and Individualism

There are those who trust business to take care of our needs. Then there are those who trust government to take care of our needs. I think both of these are wrong approaches. Most trust, in the end, turns our to be misplaced. The individual must look to himself or herself for the answers. The answer to my problems will be found when I take the initiative. The answer to your problems will be found when you take the initiative.

In my life, when I have waited upon others to fulfill my needs, I’ve always been disappointed. I’m not talking about basic needs like food – that, of course, is the individual’s responsibility. I’m talking about happiness. When people invest in others and expect that investment to be return to them as happiness, they are setting themselves up for disappointment. Set your own goals. Achieve your own goals. Invest in yourself. Stop worrying about improving society – improve yourself, and society will be improved.

I fear this post will be misunderstood. The point I am getting at here is the one made by the Stoics, that your happiness depends on internal, not external factors.

Is Reason Magazine changing?

Just posting a thought here that’s been bothering me. I often but not avidly read Reason Magazine, and I do so because they usually avoid the tabloid type hyperbolic news and opinion that is so rampant everywhere nowadays.

Then I read this a couple days ago: The Abysmal, Pathetic Obamacare Rollout.

Abysmal? Pathetic? I am opposed to Obamacare as much as the next guy, but heaping on the insults does nothing to edify me intellectually. Remember, it’s Reason Magazine, not ‘Incite Emotion’ Magazine.

The article itself isn’t as bad as the headline, but it does indulge in overuse of adjectives. It adds nothing to the argument. Please, keep Reason Magazine rational.


The man versus nature dichotomy

I’m reading Julia Annas’ Very Short Introduction to Ancient Philosophy. She starts out well enough when it comes to explaining Aristotle’s take on nature as “a self-regulating system” of which man is a part. As opposed to the nature versus man dichotomy, which seems to assume that man comes from another reality.

But then she seems to say that Aristotle was mistaken in this respect, only because he hadn’t witnessed mankind “intervening disastrously in the working of nature, wrecking ecosystems and exterminating species.”

Mankind cannot “intervene in nature” any more than I can intervene in my own life. We are part of nature. Mankind has exterminated how many species? Now compare that to the number of species exterminated by “nature.” Evolution has not stopped, evolution determines who bites the dust and who doesn’t. The self regulating system that is nature has not stopped. It’s working.

And wrecking ecosystems? The ecosystem that regulates this planet will not be wrecked. Humans might select themselves for extinction some day (seems likely), but the ecosystem will continue to regulate the planet.

This man versus nature dichotomy which assumes that mankind is a match for the system which created him, and even external to that system, is perversely out of place in this day and age. It was out of place on November 24, 1859, and even more out of place now.

Millions of years from now, a Homo superior is going to uncover that passage by Julia Annas and think to himself, “look at that silly! The Homo sapiens thought that they were the end of evolution! How cute.”

And millions of years after that some other species will look back on the Homo superior and shake his head at the attempts of that species to stop evolution.