Monday, June 18, 2007

I am NOT Maudlin...

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Philosophical Connundrums

Consider the following from a great article in the San Diego Reader this week, the full article is here: Philosophy Majors Sit Around and Think About Things

"Sentence one: Lois Lane believes that Superman can fly.

Sentence two: Lois Lane believes that Clark Kent can fly. "

"Sentence one is true. Sentence two is false, because Lois Lane doesn't know that Superman and Clark Kent are one and the same person. From this, it seems reasonable to conclude that it's the substitution of the name "Superman" for "Clark Kent" that changes the sentence from true to false. Let's call that our intuition. And let's call the truth or falsity of a sentence its truth value Simple enough."

“… The first: Proper names that refer to the same thing have the same meaning. In this case, "Superman" and "Clark Kent" mean the same thing, since they both refer to the same person. The second principle: "Embedding a proper name in a belief context does not change its meaning." That is, putting "Superman" and "Clark Kent" in sentences about Lois Lane's beliefs doesn't change the meaning of "Superman" and "Clark Kent." Got it. And for principle number three: "The meaning of a sentence comes from its structure and from the meaning of its parts."

Now -- "If we accept that sentences with the same meaning must have the same truth value" -- a reasonable claim in Niemeyer's opinion -- "then the truth value of the sentences must be one and the same." So, because sentence one and sentence two mean the same thing, they must have the same truth value. But our intuition was that they did not have the same truth value.”

Fair enough. For sentence two to be false is should read “Lois Lane believes that Clark Kent cannot fly”. Obviously, because we know Superman and Clark Kent are the same person. But if we had no pre-existing notion of Superman or Clark Kent, then would sentence one and sentence two be true?

No, because Superman and Clark Kent are still a priori the same person. I doesn’t matter what we believe for something to be true because truth exists outside our perception. Much like 2 plus 2 equals 4. This equation is true even if we change the names of the objects.

Another interesting tidbit from the article:
"In it, she places herself on the side of Aristotle and other philosophers who favor "the hypothesis that mental functions map onto a certain kind of physical organization. That is, they are brain activities." She opposes this to the view of thinkers like Plato, who embraced "the idea that the mind cannot be a physical thing but must be ontologically distinct from the physical brain." She pricked the mind-folk for not being able to explain how a "nonphysical soul (or nonphysical properties) can have effects on the physical world without violating the law of conservation of mass-energy." And she suggested that they were clinging to the "folk intuition that brain activity and mental experiences are too different to permit a neural explanation of mental events."

So tell me, how does “thought” violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics? How does thought impact the physical world? Unless, thought then translates into action, but that is something altogether different in my mind. No pun intended. In what way, does neural activity generate thought? It is (at least at this point in time) an unprovable theory. In order, to absolutely hold that thought is a function of neural activity, you would have to prove that thought ceases when neural activity ceases. But in order to do that, you’d have ask a dead person wouldn’t you?

Interesting article, I suggest you read the whole thing.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

You'll need a kleenex for this...

You'll want to turn the volume all the way up

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

It gets me every time...

I adore song lyrics. Amazing lyrics backed by great music gets me every time. Here's a list (undoubtedly incomplete) of some of my favorites. I challenge you, if you don't know them already, to listen to these songs and hear the words in context. I will accept the challenge in turn, so please respond with your own!

"And I won't sleep through this
I survive on the breath you are finished with"
~John Mayer "Come Back to Bed"

"But if you you think you would
Trade it all, all the pain and suffering?
But then you'd miss
The beauty of the light upon this earth
And the sweetness of the leaving"
~Jane Sibbery "Calling All Angels"

"You tell me where to go and
Though I might leave to find it
I'll never let your head hit the bed
Without my hand behind it"
~John Mayer "Your Body is a Wonderland"

"Let me climb up you to the top
So I can see the view from up there
Tangled in your hair"
~Dave Matthews Band "Let You Down"

"I remember that time that you told me, you said
Love is touching souls
Surely you touched mine
Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet"
~Joni Mitchell "A Case of You"

"There's a girl in New York City,
Who calls herself the human trampoline,
And sometimes when I'm falling flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Woah so this is what she means,
She means we're bouncing into Graceland,
And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart,
Everybody sees you're blown apart,
Everybody feels the wind blow"
~Paul Simon "Graceland"

"Your coat was old, ragged and worn
And you wore it down through the ages
Ah, the sufferin' did show in your eyes as we spoke
And the gospel music
The voice of Mahalia Jackson came through the ether
Oh my common one with the coat so old
And the light in the head
Said, daddy, don't stroke me
Call me the common one.
I said, oh, common one, my illuminated one.
Oh my high in the art of sufferin' one.
Take a walk with me
Take a walk with me down by Avalon"
~Van Morrison "Summertime in England"

"Fat man sitting on a little stool
Takes the money from my hand while his eyes take a walk all over you
Hands me the ticket smiles and whispers good luck
Cuddle up angel cuddle up my little dove
We'll ride down baby into this tunnel of love"
~Bruce Springsteen "Tunnel of Love"

"The runway lies ahead like a great false dawn
Fat lady, big mama, Missy Bimbo sits in her chair and yawns
And the man-beast lies in his cage sniffin' popcorn
As the midget licks his fingers and suffers Missy Bimbo's scorn
Circus town's been born"
~Bruce Springsteen "Wild Billy's Circus Story"

"And I shall drive my chariot
Down your streets and cry
'Hey, it's me, I'm dynamite
And I don't know why'
And you shall take me strongly
In your arms again
And I will not remember
That I even felt the pain.
We shall walk and talk
In gardens all misty and wet with rain
And I will never, never, never
Grow so old again."
~Van Morrison "Sweet Thing"

"There's a dream where the contents are visible
Where the poetic champions compose
Will you breathe not a word of this secrecy, and
Will you still be my special rose"
~Van Morrison "Queen of the Slipstream"

"All along the watchtower,
Princess kept the view
While all the women came and went,
Barefoot servants too.
Outside in the cold distance
A wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching
And the wind began to howl"
~Jimi Hendrix/Bob Dylan "All Along the Watchtower"

"The rock candy's melted, only diamonds now remain"
~John Mayer "Clarity"

"Bartender, please
Fill my glass for me
With the wine you gave Jesus that set him free
After three days in the ground"
~Dave Matthews Band "Bartender"

"No guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father in the garden"
~Van Morrison "In the Garden"

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Che Bella Nido has a new website

Check it out and tell us what you think. Click on the sign.
Nothing follows

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Universal Cuteness

Is there a country in the world where this wouldn't elicit an "awwwwwww"?!

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Last Weekend - Part Two


Well we arrived downtown a wee bit early, so naturally we stopped at the closest watering hole for a drink. We had an interesting Chardonnay (at least I think it was a Chardonnay), what made it interesting was the bouquet. It was reminiscent of Feta cheese, but actually was quite nice on the palate. I cannot stand Feta cheese, but really love Chardonnay; it was an interesting dichotomy hard on the nose, pleasant on the tongue. I managed.
We met the remainder of our party of 10 at the bar, finished our drinks and moseyed on up to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

A little background: This event was an annual fundraiser for St. Joseph’s Center, an organization providing services to needy families and individuals; you can read more about them here. This soiree was in fact their annual fundraiser, so prior to assembling at our table we took a pre-auction tour. Conveniently, there was a wine/beer bar located strategically throughout the silent auction area, so glass in hand we took a stroll through the stuff. There were a lot of travel items, most well beyond our price range, others places we had no interest in going to. We did find a “Sideways” tour that looked promising, which La bid on and eventually won. I had my sites on the iPod, starting bid at $160.00, I placed my bid and would wander back from time to time to see if I had been out bid yet. For the first 30 minutes or so, everything looked good, but we were early and as the crowd increased, I noticed that I had been out bid by a large margin. Oh well. We also, bid on a couple of art pieces – one a photograph taken on Venice Beach, the other an abstract painting in tones of silver, a quiet ethereal piece. I have no idea how much we paid for them, I suppose I’ll find out when I receive the AMEX bill.

The agenda for the night’s festivities was dinner, speeches and awards during dinner, auctioning off the cool stuff, and dancing.

Dinner was really quite good, filet mignon and … to tell you the truth I can’t remember what came with it. The dessert was pretty good too.

Now the award was kind of surreal. It was for lack of a better description – The Most Improved This Year award. It was given to a 57 year old gentleman who just happened to have a 7 year old son. No mention of a “Missus”, I’ll go out on a limb here and state the child was born out of wedlock. They showed a short video of this gentlemen being interviewed by one of their caseworkers, he stated things were going pretty well, although after he got his first job he injured his back two weeks into it and was now on Worker’s Compensation. He hopes to be off disability soon so he can get back to work and care for his son.

I’m staring at the screen incredulous.

After the video, there was resounding applause and the MC, who is this lady:

Asks him to come up to receive his award, at which point he trundles up the stairs (with his kid if I remember correctly), says a little speech and afterwards receives a standing O from a significant chunk of the audience.

You know I used to defend Los Angelenos, as I was raised in LA, but it really says something about their mindset and/or expectations when a old man who has fathered a child, goes to work only to get injured in his first two weeks, then goes on state disability to receive a most improved award.

The soft bigotry of low expectations.

So we got that out of the way, now it was time for the cut throat stuff – the auction. The auctioneer was a trollish, balding sort of a fella who I must say to his credit had a good auctioneering cadence to his voice. Being short, he had stringers throughout the party to alert him that someone raised their paddle.

I’ve never been to an auction before and it was fun to watch. I wasn’t about to bid on anything but I must say I admired Lady Voldemorts courage and tenacity. There were several times when she bid and I looked over and I thought – “are you out of your mind?” Only later, at the Après Soiree did I learn she was just trying to up the bid. See I would NEVER do that. You know why? Because I’d be the hapless schmuck to get stuck with the bid, that’s why.

The highlight of the auction was an eight person trip to Idaho in a private Leer jet, kindly donated by LA’s last mayor with a pronounceable name – Richard Riordan. As a matter of fact it was his house. I’m not sure where bidding started, but the Lady raised her little paddle at 14K, and I gave her another one of those looks… But hoping she’d win in case maybe La and I got an invitation. Alas, it was not to be over at the other side of the room another paddle went up for a bid of 16K.

Going once. Going Twice. Going Threeeeeeeee Times….

Sooooooooollllld to the man in the lovely tuxedo at table 16!

Much later in the evening, I noticed the gentlemen from table 16 having a confab with the Lady. It turns out he’s the Director of St. Joe’s, and the ex-Mayor had placed a condition of his donation, namely that he’d match the bid amount on anything over 20K. So the gentleman in the tux from table 16 was trying to up the bid!

Hah! Now he’s the hapless schmuck who got stuck with it! I hope St. Joe’s pays well.

I kinda doubt it.

One thought on the Grand Dame – the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, it’s been around a good long time, the last time I was there I was fifteen or so to see George M starring Joel Grey. I say this because today the Pavilion has a quality much like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. I don’t mean to say as has been or washed up or anything like that, more that its grandeur is recognizable but under a patina of old age and perhaps neglect. In the back bar, you can tell the Hollywood glitterati of old used to gather there for Manhattans and cigarettes. The art on the walls are oddly anachronistic – on one wall an early Frank Stella, on another a rustic three dimensional fishing village scene that appears to made of driftwood. Strange, Romantic and Melancholy all rolled into one.

Our group in typical fashion was the last to leave. We bundled up our stuff we bid on and tumbled down to street level like a bunch of well dressed puppies to await our limo. It turned up in good time, we all piled in and from somewhere out of the blue a bottle of wine appeared. Life’s good.

La and I would like to publicly thank the Lord and Lady for their immense generosity. They paid for the table and the limo. It was truly a wonderful evening!

Next: Le Après Soiree.

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For Nick

Poor soul's never heard of Ry Cooder, here's a sample:

Monkey Wash, Donkey Rinse

Little Sister ( LP Version )

The Borgeois Blues (LP Version)

and finally

Always Lift Him Up/Kanaka Wai Wai (LP Version)

Nothing follows

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Last Weekend - Part One

We still haven’t figured out what that story I was going to post is, chalk it up to old age. The following will have to suffice.

Anyway, we did have a lovely weekend. Friday night we had dinner with a couple of old friends whom we haven’t seen in quite some time. We had a great dinner at a local bistro which is immediately downstairs from our place, which is altogether way too convenient if you know what I mean. After dinner, we adjourned back upstairs to get caught up on everyone’s life, drank wine, and even had a civilized political discussion, which I enjoyed because it is such a rare thing these days. After several bottles of wine we decided that it was best to call it an evening, I think it was around one am.

One of these friends gave me my first real opportunity in my previous corporate life, and I will be forever grateful. He’s a great friend, and I’m going to make sure we keep in touch.

Saturday, we had to get up way too early to be out of the house by 9:00 am for our trip to LA. We live in San Diego; LA’s a two hour drive north or if you drive like me 90 minutes. We arrived at the Voldemoors' around 11:30 am (we had to stop at McDucks in San Clemente as I was starving – it’s Pavlovian – we always stop there), it’s hugs and kisses all around and we were lucky enough to get a parking space right in front of their house. It’s Manhattan Beach and parking is more of a problem than in Little Italy.

La and Lady Voldemoor had an appointment for a manny/peddy, and the Lord informed me that he had committed to a neighbor to move some furniture, but it should only take a few minutes. Great. He said, that because I was wearing such a nice shirt, I really didn’t have to do any heavy lifting. Great! So the girls go off, and we walk to the neighbors, the Lord knocks and knocks on the door, a huge barking sound emanating from behind the door. I had met this dog before, so I wasn’t nervous. Not that I’m nervous around dogs, but… well, you just never know do you? So his neighbor opens the front door after what seemed a long time and we make the introductions and as we enter the home, “J” tells me to be careful as the dog jumps – OK. So whilst I’m guarding my upper torso against a possible 85 pound projectile, the dog “Nef” lunges like a torpedo out of German U-Boat right into my groin! The effect was instantaneous and painful.

OOOF! Doubling over as the word escaped my mouth, not so much a conscious articulation; as air being forced out my body, past the surprised vocal cords, and tongue and lips (equally surprised and not in position to make cogent vocalizations).

J says, “Oh man, I’m really sorry. Nef NO!”

Unnggh, No worries.

I managed to quickly recover, and we moved to the upstairs back portion of the duplex to inspect the furniture. Two large sofas, an armoire and what looked like an architectural drawing file cabinet. Each piece looked to be about a thousand pounds a piece. It reminded me of our last home; we had a hide a bed in the “library” and an upright grand piano in the living room. There was no way, we wanted to move either of those pieces so we included them in the counter offer and they went for it!

J is a great guy by the way, although he talks like Jack Kerouac’s prose in Subterranean, rapidly with no punctuation and no paragraphs.

As I had the great shirt, I didn’t have to lift anything but feeling a little guilty about just standing around I took the pillows off the couches and brought them down to the garage to await their compadres. It was at this time I noticed the staircase leading off a ninety degree angle from the front door, it’s about 32” wide and rises steeply at about a fifteen degree angle, and I’m thinking – How the hell are they going to get the stuff down the stairs? Not to mention the immediate left turn at the bottom of the stairs into a hallway about 36” wide into a 30" wide door about 2 feet from the left turn.

One couch was about 8 feet long and just cumbersome, it had to be tilted on its side and hung over the entranceway landing about four feet just to get the ass end out of the house, turned again and made the slow trip down the staircase. Unfortunately, once at the landing they couldn’t fit the couch through the garage’s rear entrance. So a little later they had to carry it around the block and bring it through the garage front entrance. The other couch was a modern version of a hide a bed, I say modern because it had wheels and the bed didn’t pop out from within the couch, rather it had a mechanism where the back of the couch folded backwards to make the bed, pretty clever but problematic when you’re trying to move it as the back kept want to “lay down”. The couch managed to behave on the way down the staircase, but once they made the landing it decided it was nap time, and whoosh the back folded outwards and locked in place. We conferred a minute, and decided it was best to bring the couch into the living room of the front duplex; once it was placed we could not figure out how to get the back in its upright position again. We pulled, we tugged, we looked underneath, we stood up and scratched our heads…

This went on for about ten minutes.

Finally, we noticed that we’d been pulling on the front of the couch NOT the back. We gave the back a quick pull and up she went.

Thankfully, J said we didn’t have to move the armoire that day. This was a good thing because they both had lost about 10 pounds of water. So we all had a beer to replenish our bodily fluids. After making short shrift of the beers the Lord and I departed to meet up with the girls for lunch. We’d be seeing J later that evening at the grand soiree at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

We had lunch at a lively Tapas Restaurant at Hermosa Beach Pier. Now if you’re familiar with that neck of the woods, but haven’t been there in… let’s say 20 years, I can tell you it’s changed A LOT. The first thing that you notice is that the road has been closed at Highland and Pier, now it is an esplanade of some sort. There are some of the originals still there though, The Lighthouse is still there, but it looks a bit more upscale than when La and I used to go there, the church pews are gone replaced by what appears to be belly bars. I’m not sure because the Neanderthal bouncer wouldn’t let me get that close of a look, that’s new too. There are many, many bars that cater to the 20 something crowd. The Poopdeck is still there, with the same clients from way back when, although they’ve aged a bit. They’ve made quite a bit of improvements to the pier itself, it’s much nicer today than when we used to hang out there. Although, the crowd hasn’t changed much, they’ve just more disposable income.

On the east side of Highland on Pier the Either Or Bookstore is gone, replaced by colorful little boutiques. It makes me a little melancholy as that was one of the best bookstores in LA County, reminiscent of San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore. It was the Either Or that introduced me to Kerouac, Herman Hesse and Carlos Castaneda. There was also a dive Mexican restaurant there called El Yaqui (or El Yucchee) that we used to frequent, everything they served was under a quarter inch of grease, but it was cheap!

We finished our lunch with just enough time to spare to get La to her facial appointment.

The Lord, Lady and I went back to their place to chill a bit before getting ready for the big event.

I’m not sure how but the day seemed to get away from us, after we picked up La from the facialist it seemed there was very little time to get ready before the Limo arrived. So we rushed around and managed to make the 4:30 arrival time of our chariot with a few minutes to spare. Everyone looked all sparkly and shiny; it’s fun to get dressed up sometimes. “R” another neighbor of the Lord and Lady met us at the house, an altogether nice guy who’s a partner in a retail toy business; followed a short while later by J. We piled into the limo and we were off for our grand event.

to be continued...

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I'm working on a post that's taking me a bit longer than I anticipated, so I'll leave you with this..

The moral? Always check the title before popping in the video, and even then you're not always quite sure.

Hat Tip: Jeff and Jer

Nothing follows.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A great story!

La and I were talking last night over a glass of wine, and had a great story for the blog. Unfortunately, today neither of us can remember what we were talking about.


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Sunday, June 3, 2007

Botanic Verses

Relaxing with the latest version of Encyclopedia Botanica.


Had to try out my new scanner.

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Friday, June 1, 2007

Little or no posting from me this weekend

Going to LA for a tony soiree at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion. Courtesy of Lord and Lady Voldemore. Maybe, some of our prodigal Residents will post this weekend and take up some of the slack. Let's hope so.

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Yesterday was a Blue Moon


Again, from Wikipedia

"The term blue moon has at least four related meanings. One is a common metaphorical phrase for a rare event. Full moons are given names in folklore, and two definitions of blue moon are a name for a rare full moon that does not have a folk name. One modern blue moon definition is a result of a misinterpretation of the Maine Farmer's Almanac, where a second full moon occurs in a calendar month. The older definition of blue moon is for an extra full moon that occurs in a quarter of the year, which would normally have three full moons, but sometimes has four. Oddly, it is the third full moon in a season that has four which is counted as the "extra" full moon and named blue moon. According to certain folklore, it is said that when there is a blue moon, the moon has a face and talks to the items in its moonlight."

or you just have a crappy day.

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White Rabbit, White Rabbit!

How many of you say that first thing in the morning on the first day of the month? We do.

From Wikipedia:

"The exact origin of the superstition is certainly unknown, though it has appeared in print at least as early as 1420 in England, where it is most commonly said to have originated, though some reports place its origins even earlier, into the 1200s. Today it has spread to most of the English-speaking countries of the world, although like all folklore, determining its exact area of distribution is difficult. "

Read the rest here

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