The Street That Wasn’t There

The previous post ends by asking "What do you call it ... when you say something you know is not true?" One possible answer, other than "a lie," is "a trap street." I first learned about this as a kid, when I inherited my older brother's ten-speed and a road atlas of Middlesex County. My best friend lived in one of two houses on a short street connecting two dead ends, like the crossbar of capital "H." The road atlas, however, showed another street … [Read more...]

Coming attractions

Never pick a fight with someone who buys [virtual] ink by the barrel. In theaters today is Breach, (trailer) described in the film's publicity as "Inspired by the true story of the greatest security breach in U.S. history." It's the story of F.B.I. analyst Robert Hannsen, who was arrested in early 2001 after spying for the Soviet Union and Russia for more than 20 years. Hannsen is, to say the least, a complex and contradictory figure. He betrayed his country for money, … [Read more...]

After the fire

"You have no reason to reproach yourself: you did your best." "A human best, which is very little. It's hard to accept the idea that there cannot be an order in the universe because it would offend the free will of God and His omnipotence. So the freedom of God is our condemnation, or at least the condemnation of our pride." I dared, for the first and last time in my life, to express a theological conclusion: "But how can a necessary being exist totally polluted … [Read more...]

What shall it profit?

One of the least fruitful dead-ends in any online discussion forum is the Eternally Refined Analogy. Someone attempts to illustrate their argument with an analogy which, being only an analogy, is not perfectly equivalent to the gist of what they're trying to say. And with startling speed, the original matter of the argument is abandoned and the conversation becomes primarily about criticism and refinement of the analogy. Part of the reason I've never been particularly fascinated with … [Read more...]

Dittohead

Rush Limbaugh, tomorrow: "The [Bears/Colts] lost even though the media has been very desirous that a black coach do well. There was a little hope invested in [Lovie Smith/Tony Dungy], and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve." … [Read more...]

Repeat after me

This isn't hard. If you're a Democratic candidate for president, you will be asked about the other Democratic candidates for president. You will be asked whether or not each of them would make a good president. You will be asked whether you think each of them is qualified to be president. These are easy questions to answer in 2007, because in 2007 the current president is George W. Bush. And that's all you need to say. "I'm sure that … [Read more...]

Freethinkers wanted

MAN: Oh look, this isn't an argument. ARGUER: Yes it is. MAN: No it isn't. It's just contradiction. ARGUER: No it isn't. MAN: ... An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition. ARGUER: No it isn't. MAN: Yes it is! It's not just contradiction. ARGUER: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position. MAN: Yes, but that's not just saying 'No it isn't.' ARGUER: Yes it is! MAN: No it … [Read more...]

Fuels and schools

During his State of the Union speech, President Bush and I both got a bit lost in the details of his domestic policy initiatives. Fortunately, WhiteHouse.gov offers a handy summary in language so simple that even a president can understand. So let's look at that "Twenty in Ten" energy proposal. The purported goal is to reduce America's gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 10 years. That sounds ambitious until you realize that Blade Runner is set in 2019, which is only 12 … [Read more...]


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