25 July 2013: The Matador, I

Up at 5:30 AM in agonizing pain: essayed to do 100 lowrise steps and 250 supine motions with hand weights. Succeeded. At 2:00 in the afternoon did about 700 movements on the Rackety Rowing Machine. Its hand weight and pulley broken, so I replaced that feature (which was very easy owing to the looseness of he pulley) with rowing and upper body dance movements with “zero” (no) resistance.

I’d learned from Billy Blanks that “zero resistance” is non zero owing to the mass and lifting of the arm/hand or leg. Doing his moves without weights almost as difficult as with the weights. So, I merely mimed running and upper body dance to get a reasonable workout for 20 minutes.

Much pain experienced during the first workout but now, in the Now, at this minute, not feeling any pain AMDG (ad maiorem Dei gloriam), to the greater glory of God: for a workout is beyond a work of conceptual art, it is a sacrifice. Oooohhh there’s a throb of pain, blasting the ass and rear thigh, rolling through like a Midwestern storm: and dark is his face on the wings of the storm.

Kant Study: Here’s a Dollar, Buy a Clue

Finished Rohlfe on Kant and Kant’s view of reason but backing up to the somewhat more critical question: the meaning of what seems to be at once the central and most difficult chapters, “On the Clue to the Discovery of All Pure Concepts of the Understanding”, and, the single most difficult chapter, “On the Deduction of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding”.

Kant, in these chapters, seems to me to proceed by a minimalist venture in which, grasping at straws (to find an account of sensation-to-concept) he comes up with straws which we then must grasp. From minimal straws, that is, very thin propositions which are seen to be synthetic apriori by us (because they cannot be anything else in an argument by elimination), he reasons to other SAP truths.

Straw 1 is “apperception is a judgement”. If all that happens in perception, considered as getting from sensation to concept, were to be “I am having this sensation”, that’s something: “I am having this sensation” is a binary proposition, true or false (but never false in actual practice: better said “made or not made”) but always true in practice.

Which is troubling. As Hume had observed, a report of sensation can never be denied although it may be false when the speaker is lying. Such reports as “the balloon to me appears as red”, in contrast to “the balloon is red” can never be denied unless they are lies. Applying the four way taxonomy we know that “the balloon is red” is synthetic aPosteriori. What about “the balloon appears to be red” when we know (through magic) that the user isn’t lying?. Some philosophers of the sort who can guess what I am up to will say that this statement is synthetic in that it extends the concept of “me” to “being thinking that the balloon is red”, but strangely aPriori in that we cannot deny a perception-report, other philosophers, and most ordinary people, will say that the statement is synthetic aPosteriori, true if I see red no matter the “real” colour, false if I lie, and be done with it. As we should.

But again an aside: rather than use italics I will mark out the return to the main question.

When I was at Princeton, a departmental or college secretary, a jolly Chinese matron, said that Saul Kripke of Princeton’s philosophy department “really got the girls”…up to a point. I can affirm that there are philosophy groupies at Princeton.

This was because Kripke found that we need not accept the four-way taxonomy (analytic aPriori, analytic aPosteriori, synthetic aPriori, and synthetic aPosteriori) because it’s never been proven and for that reason can’t be used without proof or at a minimum, thinking.

Analytic aPriori makes perfect sense; the categorization may have been invented to mark out this kind of statement once 17th century mathematicians realized that logic and possibly mathematics were aPriori and not synthetic. But note that while Kant classed logical truths with the analytic aPriori, he did not so categorize mathematical truths such as 7+5=12 because 12 is not inside 7, not inside the plus sign, and not inside 5. Kant didn’t think of the string 7+5 as a singular Concept … not having talked to Godel who’d say it was one, with a Godel number derived from the string 7, plus and five.

Kant didn’t see “7+5” the way a modern logician or compiler developer sees it, as having the same ontological status as 7, 5, 7+5 or 12 (and 1+11, 2+10 and so on), and being just another version of the number 12, something valid as a term in any expression. But not the same ontological status as + or (possibly) 7+5=12 when the programming language tool does not support the equals sign as a test operator returning true or false, or “something like that”.

Synthetic aPosteriori propositions like “the length of that stick they have in Paris is one meter” are analytic aPriori in Kripke’s quondam view. This is surprising but makes sense once we realize that the stick defines one meter. But then Kripke realized that this presented all kinds of problems for the traditional taxonomy which had never been proven to be true although its utility was remarkable.

To end the aside, to return to the main question, then.

The clue is the fact that apperception is judgement. And it is already a complex judgement at least of the form (Ex)[x=Me & hasPerception(x, y)], where “y” is the content of the perception; if we were, say, to write a simulator of the Kantian mechanism, y would be a complex “software object” encoding the perception in as simple or as complex a way as one would want: the Logical Positivist would, I’d hazard, settle for x, y, and z space coordinates, a w time coordinate (when it did happen in World Time), perhaps a d duration, and the shade of red hopefully not reported as a Windows color byte. The Phenomenologist would want precisely all these reports and similar reports for other sensory inputs occurring at the same time.

But as we see in the above paragraph, where we tentatively start to construct apperception as a software object, treating software as Carnap treated his own notation in Der Logische Aufbau der Welt, we find that it’s at a minimum a true-false AND statement: I exist and I see red.

That’s the clue. Kant differs from Descartes in two ways: cogito ergo sum becomes sum ergo sentio: not “I think therefore I am”, instead “I am therefore I perceive”, and I perceive only by way of judgement, starting with the obvious true/false judgement “I am”. It’s never false when made but retains the logical and the syntactical form of judgment.

Judgement is complex all the way down and “simple apperception” was a self-destructive clue that explodes on examination. And even though “I exist and I see red” is already complex, a minimal judgement can always extend to maximal judgement.

“Sensory deprivation” experiments of the 1960s turned out to cause some subjects to create lurid fantasies in place of ordinary sense data and prisoners in isolation, truck drivers, pilots, mariners and other occupations to see colors, shapes, and human figures, with or without sounds, when sensory deprived. This phenomena is called “prisoner’s cinema”. The Clue to use of all categories (for Kant, “the” Categories of the logic of his time) is the judgmental nature of simple Apperception. If we can reason and judge at the simple level, there’s no aPriori obstacle to doing this at a much more complex level.

I claim that the Clue is the “edition one” story of bare naked apperception then seen to be completely extensible in 1787, but still understood by many as bare naked apperception. The Clue is like a spider’s web’s cable tossed across the path which can be thickened without limit as we bring more and more to apperception. Rather than a stepwise, sequential series of independent processes, as I diagrammed in my “Evil Clown” picture in order to get started in a somewhat misleading way, “everything” happens all at once.

But I need to extend and support this reading, based on the text of Kant.

Apple Development

This gave me the willies when I tried to restart:

“The MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update will update the EFI firmware on your computer. Your computer’s power cord must be connected to a working power source. When your MacBook Pro restarts, a gray screen will appear [the Gray Screen of Death?] with a status bar [that never moves or worse moves backward as one waits in fear, hoping that power will not be interrupted, the Status Bar of Death] to indicate the progress of the update. It will take several minutes [several hours?] for the update to complete. Do not disturb or shut off the power on your MacBook Pro during the update.”

This should end with:

“Your needs take second place to our incompetent and overly pressured developers.”

In other words, yet more design for the upper middle class that ignores the fact that many users, especially in the cities or rural areas as opposed to suburbs do not have uninterrupted power but experience brown-outs that could very well cause a partial “EFI Firmware Update”…or may simply not be able to boot until they find a clean power source.

Firmware is special and rather secret code that enables the machine to execute new instructions, extending its power. But if firmware gets in any way messed up, for example by a slight interruption in power during the EFI firmware update you have at a minimum a not-fun visit to an Apple store and at worst a nice chunk of aluminum that doesn’t do anything and never will. What say you upgrade to the next gen?

There were many ways to get around this when the firmware was developed, mostly by loading the firmware as a chunk of data, without trying to execute it during startup, and then, once the machine is fully operational, getting the user to approve the firmware update, check the power source for reliability, and then relax and watch the firmware load. A reliable, restartable and safe firmware “up” load that has the full resources of your system.

I can just see me fighting, and usually losing, the battle for this kind of software that acknowledges a real difficulty. My team has the chops to do it but the firmware guys want to keep control and they win by creating the appearance that somehow meeting the user’s needs to avoid problems the user doesn’t fully understand is “too much work”, “too much expensive development” (for profits must be maximized) and, in the most amusing argument, “not filling real users’ needs”.

These are, I think, the problems at a high level of abstraction and as such Apple developers might snarl that I don’t know what I am talking about. But I do, and I do see a potential problem for the 99% user. But ever since 1984, Apple has preferred to deal with affluent users who have clean power, and a considerable amount of time every time they purchase a new device, to get it working…users like the couple in Spielberg’s film A.I. who are given a highly advanced robot child by their company that the (nonworking) wife installs including activation codes.

It’s amazing that I was so gulled by Apple’s PR, which since 1980 has created the illusion that Mac users are intelligent hipsters, that I abandoned HP’s inexpensive and reliable “net book” technology, the HP Mini, available for less than 500 USD and reliable in the sense that non-proprietary technology, as opposed to the Mac’s highly proprietary technology, breaks in more visible ways.

And, there’s not this strange fear of developers, outside Apple’s distortion zones. I had to jump through hoops to get xCode and the “command line tools” for compiling C and C++, whereas Microsoft makes .Net non-enterprise software available to download for one and all. Apple, it appears, came close to requiring a credit card to get software without which you can’t write code, and provided a workaround at the last minute.

Apple’s Microsoft-like arrogance provides a chance for Microsoft to get competitive once again as it was in the .Net glory days (2000-2005). But under Ballmer, Microsoft won’t see that opportunity.

Rawls, Krugman, Yer Granny, Sun Yat Sen and Practically Everybody Now Hates NeoClassical Economics Even When They Don’t Know What It Is

Let’s start by giving NeoClassical Economics what might seem to be a great argument for free. It concerns the justice of any taxation whatsoever and if it’s valid, liberals can no longer tax as a matter of justice at all, and libertatiantards win.

OK? OK. It would seem that progressive taxation or even a flat tax is unjust towards the taxed, for it is a second taking after the first “taking”, in which the taxpayer provided his labor to get the money from his employer or client. It would seem that the taxpayer pays twice, unjustly: in the first labor and then in paying any tax at all.

The Right would love this (and is about to get as we say pimped). We do a job of (presumed) valuable work giving our employer or client x units of pure (reinen) value (Germans, I claim, love this sort of argument and its sort of destructive and divisive effect). Since we’re not in anyway heaven forfend “altruistic” saps who mess things up with their altruism we expect pay at the end of the day and we get it.

End of story: Nozickan justice done. To come ’round and pass the Government hat for taxes, requiring me and the lads to pony up is injustice because the government by cracky gets money it didn’t earn.

But the answer comes from Rawls (Political Liberalism, A Theory of Justice)…and common sense.

First of all, progressive taxation as determined by an exponential function ramps up slowly and is close enough in a representative currency to be zero for low income working people for quite a while as we ramp up her income. Also, we can and have, in all progressive income taxation schemes, inserted points where income below that point is not taxed. Therefore, the “injustice” only kicks in for rich slobs.

The tragedy of the latter day Republican Party? You can’t make a victim out of a perp. Abraham Lincoln said, in a bit of folk wisdom preserved in Irving Copi’s Introduction to Logic for many years, “if I call a tail a leg how many legs does a dog have?”

When Lincoln asked this, his interlocutor, perhaps his hapless Secretary of State Seward, said, “well, five, Mister President?”, knowing he was about to be had, Lincoln replied, “no: callin’ h’it a leg don’t make a limb, a leg, whether for a poppet, a dog, or a human child: the cre-a-ture remains a dog with four legs.”

Likewise, a perp (the Congressman who ends abortion and causes the murder of women seeking some say in the use of their bodies, the enraged white male, the deadbeat Dad) tries to pose as the victim.

But words have to mean something, as Kong Fu Zi (Confucius) “said” in “The Rectification of Names”. Rush Limbaugh’s real insanity, what he babbles, is that Rush actually believes that in a conservative (don’t soak the rich and arm the government) state we can make anything true

The more money you have, the higher value (monetary or otherwise) of civic goods including democratic institutions, no corruption, and rule of law becomes to you. Your money above certain levels can be invested in running for office, and reducing taxation. “Money attracts money” as if money were like gravity. The more you earn, if your income increases in a linear fashion (a=bm where a is next year’s income, b is last years and m is a multiplier) the more benefits you retain in a non-linear fashion.

At 50K you pay your bills and save for a house.

At 500K you have a house. Home equity makes you richer in the form of access to credit and a safety net (two types of wealth).

And, you didn’t lose the house to get “access to credit and a safety net”.

At 500,000 you’re a significant player in real estate.

And, you didn’t lose the house, access to credit or a safety net to become a Player. Did you.

At 500 million you make the market in real estate and print your own money.

And, you didn’t lose the house, access to credit or a safety net to become a Player. Did you.

In terms of Rawlsian, “really real” dollars the rich are not only different from you and me. They are richer than they seem to be. To pastiche Ogden Nash:


You remember how poor Scottie Fitzgerald used to mumble, after several Old Fashioneds “the rich are different from you ‘n me”?
Well, lemme tell ya something pal, and here’s a clue, buddy:
The rich are also richer ‘n you and me, systematically.

To factor in what Rawls identifies as values that increase as your income increases such as the greater holding power of your political orientation you need to apply a “progressive” multiplier, the value of value as it were, to higher and higher levels of raw dollars…until society becomes polarized, not only into CEOs making thousands of times more dollars than us, and us, but also into us, and CEOs whose overall “taking” is not thousands of times ours but hundreds of thousands.

The result, until recently, for yours truly? Rushing through fancy malls (where I’d never shop except at the chemist and bookstore) to get to the City of Sadness to try to level a playing field between near-native ESL speakers from expensive international schools, and people relegated to service and dead end jobs as soon as they opened their mouths.

What we want, what the founders in the USA (except for Hamilton) wanted, what Sun Yat Sen wanted for China and what #OccupyHongKong wants is a far more egalitarian society in which the rich man would not be able to buy influence and office: where Confucius wouldn’t have to trundle around north China looking, essentially, for “temp” and adjunct positiond with traps like Nan-zi the Courtesan being set in his way. How to get there is through the progressive income tax which by reducing excess wealth that naturally sticks to the already rich man even as kitten wool naturally sticks to his woolen suit.

The ordinary slob, like “Dave Moss” in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, otherwise becomes profoundly cynical and ready at any indication to tear his own society apart. “The rich get richer, it’s the law of the land”, as Moss says when he wearily comes to work. We know we’re being screwed (heck, I deserved a large cash bonus more than once in my career and didn’t get it) but like Caliban in th’old play we must eat our dinner.

Change Record

27 July 2013: Revised and extended section on Rawls (and Practically Everybody With a Clue) vs Libertarianism

27 July 2013: Revised and extended section on “My Dreams Post-Diagnosis”, removed it to make it stand alone.

27 July 2013: Error: the person who says “x appears as red” may be lying. Reworded but the entire passage needs to be revised and re-evaluated for it is horseshit as it stands.

One Response to “25 July 2013: The Matador, I”

  1. spinoza1111 Says:

    I Like all my posts by definition. For me to mark this particular post as Liked is silly and was a slip of the finger.

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