Category Archives: Philosophy

In Looking At Comments

…in this post, I see that I need to write an essay titled “Why Diogenes‘ Search Is Futile, And Why It Doesn’t Matter.”

So much to do, so little time. And I should note, that the man himself knew that his search was futile. Of course, some will inevitably argue that this fable is more about human nature than about whether or not truth exists. And they may be right.

Is There An Objective Truth?

Jonah wants to know:

There are more persuasive games to be played in order demonstrate that there is truth out there (think science, math, Irish whiskey). But Matt isn’t saying (I assume) that there isn’t any such thing as truth, he’s saying he doesn’t believe in moral truth.

Well, actually, the science and math aren’t examples of truth, either (I can’t speak to Irish whiskey, though I suspect that Goedel would shoot that one down as well). No, sorry, there is no absolute truth of any kind, moral or otherwise, sad to say. Scientific truth is so only in the context of science. If you don’t accept the premises of science, or the postulates of math, then there’s no truth to be found there, either. It’s a cruel world for conservatives.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t defend our civilization from barbarous misogynistic Islamonutballs, though.

Rutan and Safety

Rutan said anyone offering spacecraft for commercial service should demonstrate their confidence in the system’s safety by having their children be among the first fliers, as Branson has said he will do.

Spaceship guru roasts his rivals,” Alan Boyle,

Should cigarette makers force their children to smoke or withdraw their product? Should parachute makers force their children to skydive or withdraw their product?

This does not follow. People afraid of heights should be allowed to sell bungee jumping supplies without personally testing them. The deathly afraid maker might design better equipment than a fearless one. Makers of hazardous products do not have to partake and may be sending a clearer message if they don’t. That does not mean their product should be shunned.

It is ironic that Virgin Galactic will be required to disclose its product is quite risky. It will require flying thousands of times before showing a spacecraft is as safe as a military jet. Very little is learned from a single draw on a distribution. 98% of shuttle astronauts returned. All that Branson and his family flying prove by flying is that they are risk takers, not that his craft is safe. It is a greater disservice to create a false impression of safety than to put a product on the market where hazards are fully disclosed and no effort is made to express false confidence.

Rutan’s sentiment is a throwback to medieval food testers to test for poison. He is not alone–Transportation Safety Administration required people to take a drink of liquids they were carrying (at least in Austin). Weird.

We will have a choice of vendors for spaceflight. Some of them will fly the owners first. Some of them will fly with a pilot and others will be remotely operated from the ground.

Would customers like me to raise the price of an entry so I can fly personally before the first winner?

Mazel Tov

For those lacking patience, I give you the two-minute Haggadah.

Speaking of children: We hid some matzoh. Whoever finds it gets five bucks.

The story of Passover: It’s a long time ago. We’re slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. God brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matzoh. God parts the Red Sea. We make it through; the Egyptians aren’t so lucky. We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again. (Let brisket cool now.)

Happy Passover.

[via Joe Katzman]

No Surprise

You scored as Serenity (Firefly). You like to live your own way and don’t enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Serenity (Firefly)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Moya (Farscape)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with

There’s a problem with the quiz, though (as there often are with these things).

I wasn’t quite sure how to answer the very first question:

“Peace is achieved through large single government rule (agree, disagree).

Well, I agree that this is certainly a way to achieve peace, but there seems to be a presumption to this (or at least an implication) that peace is an unalloyed good. As some anti-war types are fond of pointing out, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was largely at peace (if you don’t count the random murders and torture that he occasioned on his own people), but it was hardly a desirable state. So I answered yes, but I’m not sure how that answer was interpreted by the test creators.

Also, interestingly, I see that when I go back to look at the quiz, the order of the questions is different. They must randomize it.

[Via Alan Henderson]

[Late morning update]

The more I think about it, the more I suspect that the “peace” question lowered my Firefly score. I think that whoever wrote the question did assume that a) peace is a desirable thing, per se and b) everyone would agree with that–the only issue is how it’s best achieved. What’s the flip side of that question? “Peace is achieved through multiple government rule?” “Peace is achieved through minimalist government?” “Peace is achieved through a well-armed citizenry?” This was a really unuseful question, as posed.