Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

Sage Words From The Past About Political Parties

A true party-man hates and despises candour; and, in reality, there is no vice which could so effectually disqualify him for the trade of a party-man as that single virtue. The real, revered, and impartial spectator, therefore, is upon no occasion at a greater distance than amidst the violence and rage of contending parties. To them it may be said, that such a spectator scarce exists anywhere in the universe. Even to the great Judge of the universe they impute all their own prejudices, and often view that divine Being as animated by all their own vindictive and implacable passions. Of all the corrupters of moral sentiments, therefore, faction and fanaticism have always been by far the greatest.

Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments III.3.43

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Does Everything in California Cause Cancer?

I saw this sticker in the window of a new car in my work parking lot a few days ago.  

Does everyone in California make as much fun of these stickers as we do?

Does the state of California this these are helpful and useful and informative?

I know no one who sees these that don’t express derision.

Are we really a society in which everything warrants a warning sticker.  

Is the state of California not in “cry wolf” territory now?

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American Naturalist Covers

(This post was first published on the AmNat150.org website)

The American Naturalist was first published in March 1867. Over the last 150 years, AmNat has had 16 different covers. Below is a gallery of those covers, with the dates they were used. Click on any image to bring up the full-sized gallery.

AmNat 1867-1875

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The cover of the first issue in March 1867. This cover design was used through 1875.

One of the fascinating features to trace through the covers is how the motto of the journal changed through the years.

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A Conservative Principle to Guide Health Care Reform

For all the “conservatives” who rail against the ACA as a liberal take-over, you should go back and read your Adam Smith (remember, the guy who wrote Wealth of Nations – or more correctly An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations – the founding document of modern capitalist economic theory). His first book was The Theory of Moral Sentiments, a fascinating philosophical book that lays out the basis for what makes the Wealth of Nations work. His moral philosophy is undergirded by the Golden Rule. For example, this paragraph is from Chapter 1 of The Theory of Moral Sentiments:

And hence it is, that to feel much for others and little for ourselves, that to restrain our selfish, and to indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature; and can alone produce among mankind that harmony of sentiments and passions in which consists their whole grace and propriety. As to love our neighbour as we love ourselves is the great law of Christianity, so it is the great precept of nature to love ourselves only as we love our neighbour, or what comes to the same thing, as our neighbour is capable of loving us.

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Important Words About “Celebrating” The Confederacy

I have written here before about my heritage.  Some of my ancestors were Union enlisted men who fought and some died in the Civil War.  My family has always payed great homage to Abraham Lincoln and how he saved this country from those who would have destroyed this country because they wanted to own other human beings.  

Those who would argue that the Civil War was about “states rights” and not slavery should read the secession proclamations of the various Confederate states.  For example, Mississippi stated in the second paragraph of its declaration:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. 

Against this backdrop, some in this country have celebrated the Confederacy since the war ended. Much of this celebration of Confederate soldiers was actually directed at trying to rewrite this history.  Recently, many towns and cities across the south have finally decided that this rewriting of history and celebrating those who took up arms against the United States to defend slavery and human bondage can no longer be justified.  One of the clearest and most forceful statements about this legacy is the speech given this week by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.  Here is his speech in its entirety.  Bravo Mayor Landrieu!!!

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Can A New Sense Of Country Before Party Take Hold?

Among all the political and legal noise that was created last week, I think one thing that was sorely missed was this exchange between Gov. Kasich and Sen. Sanders.  I think both of these people have identified the important problems facing our country, and I agree much more with Gov. Kasich about what the solutions to those problems might be.  However, I, more than anything, appreciate the civil and intellectual tone that both take in this discussion.  This is what we need to get back to!

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More Chairs!

The Boss wants a new set of kitchen chairs to go with the kitchen table I made last winter. I started the prototype today.

Finished chairs with table

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The finished kitchen table and chairs.

The legs and seat rails are made of cherry, and the back rails are maple. The seat will also be maple. I’ll update this as this prototype is finished and more come into existence.

23 April 2017: legs tapered. Everything on the chair sanded and assembled. All mortise-&-tenon joints pinned with walnut dowels. Finally, two braces installed on the insides of each leg joint – one high and one low on the joint. Only one of these inner braces is installed right now; the second set will be installed after the seat is attached. Hopefully, this is enough stabilization of these joints to allow me to get away with no lower struts on the legs.

23 August 2017: Finally, all the chairs are finished, so the kitchen table and chair set is complete!

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More Words of Wisdom From A Past Leader

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Wisdom From Martin Luther King, Jr. For These Times

On 3 December 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered an address to the First Annual Institute on Non-Violence and Social Change in Montgomery, Alabama.  I read this again last week and found much that resonated in today’s world.  One section in particular speaks to politics today:

Another thing that we must do in speeding up the coming of the new age is to develop intelligent, courageous and dedicated leadership. This is one of the pressing needs of the hour. In this period of transition and growing social change, there is a dire need for leaders who are calm and yet positive; leaders who avoid the extremes of “hot-headness” and “Uncle Tomism.” The urgency of the hour calls for leaders of wise judgement and sound integrity–leaders not in love with money but in love with justice; leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity; leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause. To paraphrase [Joshua Gilbert] Holland‘s words:

God give us leaders!
A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts,
true faith and ready hands;
Leaders whom the lust of office does not kill;
Leaders whom the spoils of life cannot buy;
Leaders who possess opinions and a will;
Leaders who have honor; leaders who will not lie;
Leaders who can stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous
flatteries without winking!
Tall leaders, sun crowned, who live above the fog
in public duty and private thinking.

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It’s Almost Baseball Season Again!

It’s almost baseball season again!  It always makes me think of a couple of my favorite comedians – Abbott & Costello.  Their word play is dizzying.  This is an audio recording of their radio show from 12 May 1948. The entire show was about Costello preparing to take Joe DiMaggio‘s place on the New York Yankees.  This has the classic “Who’s on First” bit, but I’ve excerpted the show to begin with another classic routine “Feller Pitching?”

Enjoy!

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