September 30, 2002
Wayne Olson — have I mentioned recently how refreshing it is to find a blog where the writer tackles real philosophy? — ponders the nature of necessity. In my pilgrimage to Orthodoxy, one of the things I refused to let go of was logic. Although my spiritual father repeatedly slandered logic in the catechism, it remains that the ancient Fathers of the Church had no hesitation to use logic at the service of true doctrine. My own patron, Saint Basil the Great, was well versed in Hellenic philosophy, rhetoric, and logic.>>
come confused about the role of logic when confronted with a robust and well-nuanced conception of mystery. (This is not an analysis of Wayne’s well-reasoned examination of logical necessity — simply an observation I have made seeing many people convert to Orthodoxy.) I find that when this confusion seeps in like a rotten odor, it is often helpful to examine the core proposition of logic.
I am speaking here of the original laws of logic discovered by Aristotle, not more esoteric systems. In my mind non-Aristotelean logic is like non-Euclidean geometry — fascinating, but not necessarily helpful, though I am told that non-Euclidean geometry has actually helped some influential modern discoveries. Science and math experts can rattle sabers with me in some other context.
The most basic law of logic is a is not equal to not-a. Every other law of logic — I’m simplifying here — is based on this. Which is essentially saying, “It is not possible that a proposition can be both true and false at the same time and in the same sense.” Which is simply reflecting what reasonable people know to be true about the real world, that it is not possible for an object to exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense. (Quantum mechanics, for the hecklers in the audience, only demonstrates that the accuracy of our measurements of the position of a subatomic particle is inversely proportional to the accuracy of our measurements of its speed.)
Thus, logical necessity, when we are dealing with Aristotelean logic, is simply a reflection of the rules of existence when applied to propositional truth. Obviously, this depends in part upon a rather common-sense approach to language, viz., that a statement is true when it corresponds to objective reality. I acknowledge that this dependence on a sort of correspondence theory is a weakness only to the extent that I have not sufficiently thought about how to defend correspondence in the light of Kant and Wittgenstein. However, as a philosophy student, I have always been fond of common-sense realism, in which camp I include Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Reid, and modern Thomists like Jacques Maritain and Ralph McInerny.
September 28, 2002
On Second Thought…
As you can see from my comments on his blog entry, I was a little conflicted about whether it was possible. Well, I’m still a little conflicted, but I decided to do something anyway. Find a Saint (by name, OCA). It’s not the best. It will return pages that only mention the saint once in passing (this is especially true of “big name saints” like Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, or Gregory the Theologian. It will also bring up pages that are not saints pages — for example, if a person by the same name is mentioned. (Tip: the synaxaria that the OCA site is using typically prefer the Greek forms of names in many cases — for example “Demetrios” gets results; “Dmitri” does not.)
I hope that helps, Chris. 😉
“…But They Can Never Take Away Our Freedom!”
Doc Searls and Jonathan Peterson both have links to Robert Cringely’s latest Pulpit — “Steal This Column: Criticism won’t change the DMCA, but breaking the law will.” So, to increase the Googlerank, I’m linking to them and him!
My addition to this discussion is to remind people of the medieval notions of natural law and positive law. St. Thomas Aquinas, following St. Augustine, believed that there are two kinds of law: that made by men, the positive law, and that written indelibly by God in human hearts and in the natures of things, the natural law. The two must be in harmony with one another. If the positive law violates the natural law, it is no law at all — it is null and void — and it has no power. It is not being broken, because it is not a law. Ignore it as you would any childish silliness and go on.
A law that violates the natural law is not a law, and it should be ignored. This of course applies to a great many things. But it currently applies very well to the infringement of user rights in the realm of software we call “digital media.” The issue is justice — it is a great injustice both to the users and to the true producers of digital content. The law is unjust; therefore, there is no law.
Period. Full stop.
September 26, 2002
In More Moderation, All Things
I just took another test to determine where I fall on a two-dimensional political axis. (Faithful readers will remember that I have blogged about this subject before.) A few points left and under the center axis, thank you very much. I’ve always thought of myself as a moderate; it’s good to see an informal poll justify this. Of course, this falls right in line with my love/hate relationship with the libertarian party. And probably my financial woes helped to soften my answers which ordinarily would have pushed me farther to the right economically. I’ll have to take the test again sometime when I’m gainfully employed and paying off all of my creditors.
Despite my enthusiasm, it’s not the most well-written test. There were several loaded questions, like this: “It’s fine for women to have careers, but their first duty is to be homemakers.” To this, one responds with one of four options from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. This is the perfect example of a loaded question: to which question, exactly, am I responding? How do I respond if I disagree with the first clause?
But it convinces me that we need to see politics in at least two dimensions, not only one. So what might we consider a third dimension? Perhaps the manner and means by which religion is involved in society. You could consider Byzantine theocracy on the positive and atheistic suppression on the negative (using those terms in a purely mathematical sense). Hmm. That might be interesting.
Now he’s reading my mind and writing bookmarklets that I have ideas for before I can. It’s useless. There is no escape.
I think I’m going to learn LISP now.
September 25, 2002
Commemorating the Saints
You know, there is nothing quite like the feeling of having accomplished something yourself. Nor is there anything quite like wanting to accomplish something yourself, asking for help, and having your helper do it for you. Especially when he has nothing whatsoever to prove.
A bookmarklet for your browsing satisfaction. It will take today’s date, or one you provide, and retrieve the synaxarion from the Orthodox Church in America website. Saints of the Day. (As with all bookmarklets, right-click [or ctrl-click on Mac OS] and choose “Bookmark This Link” or “Add to Favorites” to use it, or just drag-n-drop.) That’s courtesy of Tim. I came up with a faster, if slightly less robust form, Today’s Saints. (Geek out: If you look at the code, you can see Tim killed me by using a regular expression, which made it possible to use a prompt and then separate the month and day out from the user data. Also, I copied his simplified assignment of the months to the array. My original used the long version — var foo = new Array(); foo[n]="bar"; — to do the assignment. Grossly inefficient. As I said, he really had nothing to prove.)
So, what exactly is a synaxarion? In Greek, the language in which the Christian Scriptures were written, the word synaxis means “assembly.” The Divine Liturgy, the service normally served on Sundays and holy days, is a synaxis or assembly of the people of God. The synaxarion, then, tells us who we commemorate on each day of the year and why.
In the beginning, almost all Christians were martyrs — martyria means “witness” — the martyr’s death was the ultimate witness to the lordship of Christ. It became customary to mark their martyrdom with a feast or a celebration, since the day of their martyrdom was the day of their entrance into the presence of God. After martyrdom became less common, thanks to St. Constantine, it remained customary to mark the death of especially virtuous Christians as a day of rejoicing. As you can imagine, after 2000 years, there are a lot of holy men and women to remember!
September 24, 2002
The Default Choice
Update — There. 😛
This is why I like Wil Wheaton. Wil, being the geek that also happens to be cute and famous, writes a memoir of the one that got away. But, because he’s cute and famous, he actually gets a ton of comments from women everywhere. This, of course, makes me think. Something I do a lot of these days.
This is 2002, and it seems that women have one last barrier in the fight against patriarchalism: the fear of appearing too eager in a sexual relationship. I have been considering this for a long time. Why don’t women ever introduce themselves to me? Why don’t they ever ask me for my phone number? Why don’t they ever call when I give them my phone number? Why is it that women never ask me out on dates?
The answer is simple: I am the man. All that stuff is my job. Which sucks, because I suck at it. In plain: I just can’t seem to do it at all. Which leads to my present situation: I’m still single. At my age. No girlfriend. Not really even any leads around the corner.
I guess I could spend all of my energy making it easier for me to do that. Advancing a lucrative career. Making lots of money. Working out. Plastic surgery. But then I would become a different person that I am not really sure I want to be. And would it really be me that whoever it is fell in love with?
So, I guess I must prefer being a lonely, loser freak to doing whatever it takes not to be.
September 22, 2002
Wil Wheaton: “She screwed up her courage, leaned close to me, her full, pouting lips just inches from mine, and asked, breathlessly, ‘Didn’t you used to be an actor?’” Not very many sites rate this, but Uncle Willie had me ROFLMAO. See him in my linkroll now? OK. Now, give him his props.
In an unrelated rant, I’ve decided that using option menus for website navigation is so terribly lame, that the site had better be bustin’ with the best content ever known to humanity for me to use it. I would rather hack the URI. Personal sites are right out! Ack! Kill me now.
September 21, 2002
Blake clarifies that he was not talking down to Tim. Cool; in spite of my acerbic tone, I respect his work on the Mozilla Project, especially Phoenix. (I’m pretty sure Tim does, too.) As for who I am, if you have ever read Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, you will find that I bear a striking resemblance to Benjy. I’m just a mumbling fool, ejaculating at random intervals.
Speaking of which, what is up with mpt? He blogs about life after Mozilla! Did I miss something? (This is possibly where it shows that I do not follow the newsgroups.) Am I reading this wrong? Has he finally despaired of inspiring clue in Mozilla UI design?
What a sad state of affairs that would be — but not completely hopeless. In spite of my use of hyperbole earlier, I am well aware that not all Mozilla developers are created equal. I would start a list of those in addition to Blake I regard as endowed with clue, but that would only expose the vacuum in my cranium. Oh, wait.
That great whooshing sound you hear is my brain being filled with passing detritus.
September 18, 2002
A-hem! A Point of Clarification.
Tim clarifies my original comments about underlining links by stating that I don’t “emphasize that this violates a fundamental design principle. User preferences should not be ignored. If users go to the trouble of turning link underlining off, they get annoyed when that preference is overridden.“ Agreed. This should have been a more prominent point, although I did eventually get around to it: “forcing underlining to be either on or off violates the principle of respect for the user….” Also note that a lot of this typography talk is traceable to David Siegel’s wonderful and witty Web Wonk site.
September 17, 2002
Default Away Message
Hello, it’s me; I’m not at home. If you’d like to reach me, leave me alone. —Sheryl Crow, “A Change Will Do You Good”
I’ve volunteered to help my parents move some stuff around down in the great state of Tennessee. This is very cool, because Tennessee is in a tie with North Carolina for the greatest state in the Union in my book. (All apologies to Barnabas and Photius; if it’s any consolation, Georgia peaches have South Carolina all beat.)
September 16, 2002
<rant mode="usability">Web designers, leave text-decoration alone! No, no, no — bad!
There are two reasons for this:
- If you force text-decoration to be none, users who do not fiddle with their settings will lose one of their primary modes of determining what text is linked. In fact, this identification is so strong that some designers mistakenly think that it is the only thing necessary to distinguish a link, which leads to the next point.
- If you force text-decoration to be underline, then users who specifically do not want their links to be underlined will be annoyed at your overriding of their preference.
My former employer is guilty of both offenses at once! They use text-decoration: none for a:link, and then they use text-decoration: underline for a:hover. (I did not work in the web design department, but I let them know that this is a problem. As usual, I was ignored.)
Although the abuse of HTML and CSS has caused link colors to stray far from the once-standard blue for unvisited links and purple for visited links, sticking with these increases the chance that users will recognize and follow your links. When it is necessary for aesthetic purposes to go with other color choices, straying as little as possible is preferrable. Try to stick as much as possible with either [blue|#0000ff;] or [red|#ff0000;] for links. Red is a good second choice because, as a hot color, it will pop out from most designs.
It is also important for accessibility initiatives that methods other than color be used to distinguish links from surrounding text. I prefer bold, because typographically underlining is not good for anything. However, forcing underlining to be either on or off violates the principle of respect for the user, in terms of aesthetics in the case of forcing underlining, and in terms of accessibility in the case of disabling it.</rant>
September 12, 2002
Here’s the code:
Use this for SearchPageDefault in WebsiteDefaults.strings. The advantages of this code are several.
- Qr=document.getSelection(); allows you to select some text in the current page and access the search engine directly. No prompts, just go!
- By omitting client=googlet from the URI, it does not falsely bloat Google’s stats. To Google, this means that a specific client was used, which is false in this case.
Keep up the good work, Chris. Let us know when you actually have something to download. I’d love to see what you’ve got.
By the way, if you are not a Mac über-poweruser like Chris, you have to ctrl-click on the Chimera icon to get the context menu, then click on “Package Contents” to access this stuff.
Copyright © 2002–2011 Kevin Robert (Basil) Fritts, all rights reserved.