October 31, 2008

Saint Augustine

A case study in philosophy: close reading a passage from Saint Augustine's On Free Choice and the Will, and argument for free will:
“For we can deny that something is in our power only if it is not present even when we will it; but if we will, and yet the will remains absent, then we are not really willing at all. Now if it is impossible for us not to will when we are willing, then the will is present to those who will; and if something is present when we will it, then it is in our power. So our will would not be a will if it were not in our power. And since it is in our power, we are free with respect to it.”
This isn't entirely transparent, to a large extent because of a large number of conditional sentences (if...then) and negations, but also due to the use of "will" as both a noun and a verb. Let's try to fix this and go at it again. For clarity, let's replace "to will" with "an act of will," and take "the will" to be either [1] the ability to have acts of will or [2] that in virtue of which we are able to have acts of will. Think of it either way, it doesn't make a difference for this passage. Again:
“For we can deny that something is in our power only if it is not present even when we have an act of will to the effect that it be present; but if we have an act of will, and yet the will remains absent, then we are not really having an act of will at all. Now if it is impossible for us not to have a will when we have an act of will, then the will is present to those who have an act of will; and if something is present when we have an act of will to the effect that it be present, then it is in our power. So our will would not be a will if it were not in our power. And since it is in our power, we are free with respect to it.”
That's better, getting there. But now that we are clear on the distinction between acts of will and the will itself, let's look to the conclusion, that since the will is in our power, we are free with respect to it. We got here with the general claim in the beginning of the passage that "we can deny that something in in our power only if it is not present even when we have an act of will to the effect that it be present." This statement concerns "something," and the rest of the passage is showing that the will is one of the things that can fit in here.

So what of this power we have over the will? Augustine has in mind the power to make present, that is, the power to bring it about that the will is present through an act of will. Now the question is whether or not this type of power is enough to make us free with regard to the will. Yet the mere fact that I can make my will appear just by willing doesn't imply anything regarding whether or not I am free in terms of the content of my will. That requires a stronger power, something else that Augustine hasn't established - the power to not only make present my will by willing, but to also determine my will by willing. Unfortunately, this has other problems, like the potential for an infinite regress (are we then free with respect to our acts of will)?

I don't get it, why do people think philosophy is boring. I wanted to vomit for three hours yesterday as I painstakingly worked my way through this passage. History of Philosophy is not my favorite. It get's better though when you get those nugget little quotes, all from Augustine:

1. "Lord, give me chastity and continence, but not yet." I mean, who would want it now?

2. "Consent given in dreams to illicit sex is not sin." Rad, now I don't have to feel bad about this.

3. Something about musical farting being analogous to the control of bodily movements exhibited by Adam and Eve before the Fall. I couldn't tell you the details here, I got to grossed out and read over it quickly.

October 30, 2008

Oh No!

My roommate was fired from his job as a teacher today for being gay. Of course that wasn't explicit, but it is pretty clear from the complaint that this is the deal.

Charges include showing an indecent movie (actually rated PG-13); having indecent photos on his computer, one of which is a photo of his arm around his husband; talking about making out with a chic [sic] on a cruise, which is unlikely, since he's...umm...gay; giving a group of students a bad grade; other bullshit like this. Seven pages. Seven pages! When it isn't obvious lies, like the charge that he took underage students drinking on a school sponsored trip to london (not school sponsored, ex-students, not underage across the pond), the charges are all hearsay. The draft is so full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors - fucking frustrating.

I want to get even somehow, so I went looking for means of revenge, and I found crabs! Of course! Revenge crabs, to put in the superintendent's bed to make him itchy itch with my indignation. Each scratch would give me satisfaction.

Honestly though, there aren't a whole lot of other options. My roommates pay is suspended, if he get's another job he can't pursue damages for this one, and his union is doing jack shit. Don't even get me started on the union. They have done absolutely nothing for him, a teacher for twelve years who took the school's team to nationals for Mock Trial. They've just been complicit, sucking the superintendent's dick the whole time. The only comment the union representative said during a meeting today was that he would still have to pay his dues now that he's fired if he wants the help of the union.

If McCain wins, that would just top it. You know what did it? A couple of Jehovah's Witnesses came to the house yesterday morning and I asked them a number of hard questions about free will and homosexual marriages. This is god's punishment? Or maybe it was because I've played Madlibs with the bible? Who knows these things.

As tough as all this is, imagine being forced to watch this video 100 times in a row. I suppose life could get worse.

October 29, 2008

Russell the Pimp

Yesterday I voted. I grew up in one of the most conservative districts in Cali, hell, the the democrats didn't even run against the incumbent Ted Gaines, some jerk republican baby killer. So I wrote in my own candidate: little Jackie Paper from Puff the Magic Dragon (watch the video and just try not to be moved. You have no heart). I wrote in that he was a minor, entirely fictitious, and doesn't live in the district (but rather the land called Honna Lee), but he would probably do a better job than Ted Gaines. Little Jackie Paper has no chance in the heartless land of my youth, where dreams go to die.

Oh, but the photo! That's Bertrand Russell there, being the ball player that he was. I'm on a committee to come up with awesome stuff for the philosophy department to do. We unanimously named it the Lord Russell Committee, since he was a philosopher who knew how to have a good time, smoking tobacco, drinking liquor, sleeping with everyone's wife, you know, the usual.

October 26, 2008

Plane Wreck

Check out the remains of this plane up at Black Mountain. There are all these chunks of melted aluminum scattered on the ground around it - looks like something out of Terminator 2. Are they all going to pool together and morph into a killing machine from the future? I'm safe, if it were going to happen, the time was decades ago.

What else though? Got that thang Smackdown (v9) at the Boulder Basin. Apparently people stack pads on this one to reach the first hold, ha! It's a jump start, otherwise it's like, hell, v3. I guess it depends on how many pads you stack though. No no no, you better be jumping your ass up there or you are a big phat phony. Still, one of the best at the mountain.

Got a few other little gems. The sit to Tour de France (v?) just went this summer. It felt a little like v10, but I was using holds without chalk. Ah, the reason I haven't worked it before - lack of a clear line.

October 25, 2008

Hitler Plans

This is the funnies thing I've ever done. And probably the funniest thing I'll ever do. The protagonists are Hitler, Justin, and John. The setting: my bunker, summer '08. This shit's going viral. I spent a whole hour on it, so praise my speedy speed.

Is this what life becomes, a little like Vietnam, watching all my friends die/get jobs? I leave you with some knowledge, T.S. Elliot style:

I grow old - I grow old.
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

October 24, 2008

Velvet Revolver

More movies, coming at you. All the beta that's fit to show for Velvet Revolver (v9) at the Black. But the mystery foot that get's cut off? You'll have to figure that one out for yourself. I'd love to have a little clip of Joe the Cameraman sending this rig, but alas, another day and another time.

I'm sick of this shitty camera, it's time to upgrade soon. Donations? Anyone? For a good cause? Ah yes, the tragedy of the commons. Miss Amna Shiekh has denied me the use of hers, something about not trusting me with a breakable physical object. I suppose she is quite intelligent then, isn't she? That's probably why her time these days is all spent applying for grad school, a miserable process, just follow the link.

All I've got to say is that I miss my training buddy!

October 23, 2008

Return to Black Mountain

First day back to the Blacky after what, a four month hiatus? Time has not been kind to me. I walked around, check up on my old rocky friends, which are doing just fine, and even climbed some blocs! Let me put it on the record here, v8 is hard. It really is.

In this video (with fancy editing!) one can witness Alan Moore on Ubiquitous, a newish v9 in the campground. Looks like I got the name wrong in the movie film. It was originally rated v12 but the FA dude, but it's looking like that was a few grades off. Oopsie. The lesson: always take a grade or two off of new problems you FA since others will always find an easier way up those holds.

October 22, 2008

Night Bouldering Returns

Night bouldering at the Jupiter boulders today, with Nic (complain-a-thon, damn) and Dom. I tweaked my knee a little on a heel-hook thing, but no bother, I'm good for it. Getting back into shape, getting cool enough to climb hard, things are going well.

Question though. Why does 5.10 makes shoes with a heel that is nothing like the shape of a human foot? And why do they make shoes (V10, Dragon, Jet7) that only get good right before they wear out? You have a shitty shoe for a month, it finally gets broken in, then a week later you have a hole.

On the same note, what is this? Seriously Urban Climber? That's like a photo I would take, except it is hasn't been deleted from my computer because it sucks. There is nothing good about it. Should I explain why? The body position isn't aesthetic, she is on a V0, her cuffs look all disheveled, she needs a conditioner that gives her hair body, and what's that in her pocket? A copy of Teevee Guide? Seriously?

October 12, 2008

Perhaps a Return?

Alright, I'm back. Here's my trip this summer: to Nice, Ceuse, Saint Leger, Geneva, Chamonix, Basil, Freiburg, Barcelona, and Rodellar. I'm like, international or something. More to come. I've got to get back into it slowly or I'll totally rupture a disk. I'm an old man now. I'm 25.