17 Sep 2013

First thing 20 min workout at 6AM: although I wanted to get to 250 lowrise steps, got only to 220. Will stay at this level for the next few days. Also did a short walk including 10 midrise steps.

Strawson’s The Bounds of Sense

Trying to complete, and understand, PF Strawson’s book, but the reason I don’t “get” it may be, other than fatigue, age and natural stupidity, Strawson’s ignorance of intuitionist mathematics. Strawson’s concept of infinity, which he uses to find faults in Kant’s “antinomies” of space and time (in which, in a four-part dilemma, we suppose space unbounded/infinite/etc.) only to find a paradox, then find yet another paradox when we suppose space bounded/finite, etc.

In Kant’s supposition, that time is infinite with no beginning, Strawson finds it unacceptable that a clock that started ticking at the beginning of time should have an infinite number of ticks recorded in some sort of log, or, minimally, should have ticked an infinite number of times. Why should it be unacceptable if we’ve already assumed that time has no beginning? If time has no beginning, all bets are off.

Kant, more than Strawson, seemed aware that “infinity” has two faces. We can easily enough specify an infinity by means of a rule, moreover we can specify two kinds of infinity.

We can say “zero is a number, and the successor of a number is a number”; we’ve just specified the “denumerable” integers of which there are a “denumerable” infinity such that between any two of these denumerable numbers there is no number. “Number” here means “integer”.

If we say on the other hand, “all integers are numbers, and furthermore between any two numbers N1 and N2 such that N1<N2 there exists a third number N3" we've just specified a far (far) (infinitely far) larger set of the real numbers.

Strawson doesn’t seem aware of the two types of infinity discovered by Georg Cantor in the 19th century as above, or of the two ways of thinking about infinity, as the above construction rules versus the Platonic idea of a finished infinity yet Kant, in a tortured “Whopper” of a sentence of 150 German, 180 English words (in the Guyer Moore translation) on p 613 of the G/M translation and p 712 of the 2nd edition, seems to have understood that there are two ways of thinking about (cognizing) infinity…and the Platonic way where we specify “infinity” simpliciter is where we get into trouble, for example by thinking of a clock that has logged an infinite number of ticks.

Strawson seems to believe that the bare possibility of such a monstrous thing refutes Kant’s argument by way of reduction to absurdity, but we have a lot more such “reductios” to deal with if we hypostatize (literally represent an abstraction as something concrete) a finished infinity going back infinitely to the beginning of time an infinite number of ticks ago.

Nonsense emerges from Kant’s hypostatizations of infinite time or space whether they are integer or real number simulations. In the integer model, if negative integers represent times before “now” there is an integer whose absolute value is infinitely small. It gets worse if in the real number model we ask what is the smallest real number r0>r1.

This is why I wish Strawson wouldn’t use “infinity” without precisely defining what he means as to the type of infinity (denumerable or non-denumerable) and the specification method (constructive as opposed to Platonic). Kant’s infamous verbosity resulted from his apprehension that there are “There are more things in heaven and earth …
than are dreamt of in [our] philosophy”.


I had a room in a motel that was also a sobriety center. Many meetings as I packed to go. I chaired one such meeting. The carpet of my motel room was fresh green grass and the room led out into the sunlight.

A Visit to the So-Called “Genius Bar”

I went in the waking world to the IFC mall since I needed to regain access to my computer, where about 4 keys have been disabled by the infamous Congee Spill of a few days ago.

I’d gone thru all the riga-marole and brou-ha-ha of signing up for a visit to a “genius” at the over-hyped “genius bar”: don’t pay people minimum wage and make them all wear the same shirt if they’re supposed to be “geniuses”, and don’t insult real geniuses with this bloody nonsense.

My “genius” was not as I’d hoped able to get rid of the short circuiting congee gunk on my keyboard so I wound up buying a new keyboard. I am now trying to get used to typing using the new keyboard on my lap and the laptop with its unused congee gunk keyboard on the rolling hospital tray table at a clumsy angle…with its touch pad that I am forced to use…like the man who bought the ill-fitting suit from Levine the Genius Tailor.

Sigh: I shall try putting the laptop back on my legs and using it for most keys, using the new keyboard for the Netvigator (Internet) dongle and to poke in the keys that were hammered by the congee flood: exclamation point, 1, Q, A and delete. This way I can get back to the situation I had before, with the PowerBook on my lap and not using the hospital rolling table. OK. Let’s try that. I keep on mistyping in this situation. Why couldn’t that clown simply have cleaned my keyboard?

OK, the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. No, typing that was a nightmare. So now I go back to using the new keyboard exclusively and the touchpad…all because quickly just cleaning a keyboard so that keys send the correct signals is a lost art, and the bottom line at the “Genius Bar” is getting rid of the customer, for whom is shown no respect, while hopefully selling him or her something.

As soon as I can I am exiting the Apple world and getting a PC Netbook style machine. There are really only three silver linings in this whole dreary and sordid situation. The first is that I have to pay attention to what I type in order to make sure it is correct, and Attention is a good thing. I got into computer work to strengthen my capacity for rule-following and Attention.

The second is that I found inexpensive but fine chocolate at the IFC grocery store, the most expensive grocery store in the world taken whole, but one with some bargains, including Grey and Black and Marquesse de Sevigny Noir Absolut.

There I go again, buying trivial luxuries as consolation for the harsh world.

The third is that the visit confronted me with the near impossibility of managing on my own any more. I am trying to set up an appointment with a sort of eldercare center in Sheung Wan since it’s clear I need a place where I can shuffle to noodle houses and dim sum joints since dramatically, I am now He Who Shuffles where just yesterday I walked, strode and ran down the street without a thought.

Talk about Acceptance…more precisely don’t speak to me about Acceptance, since I am the one who must Deal here with this world-historical weenie. And I realize that your professional Christians are always delighted if that’s the word when some big rogue comes a cropper and is thereby humbled and in the lingo, “broken”. Well, I was “broken” a long time ago. I realized that I had no control. But I’m damned if I will celebrate this. I will just chronicle my efforts to make the best of a bad situation.

That is (das ist) this situation is so bad as to be amusing and to demand every effort in response to make it better as opposed to lying supine or prone and moaning and groaning. “That is not what we do around here.”

A Note on Facebook and the Truth

Facebook has just prompted me for the town in which I worked for “Bell-Northern Research” and, in an innovation similar to one found long ago in resume processing, Facebook, at least by default, forces one to select from a list of known towns and USA states where the town is “Mountain View”.

So you cannot just make up the town anymore. Boo hoo, since most of my career I have had to compete with psychopathic liars, and I think it’s a good thing that, more and more, truthiness is enforced.

2 Responses to “17 Sep 2013”

  1. Rick Nilges Says:

    Sounds like the great coffee spill on the Remington 50 years ago…. Back then keyboards were mechanical and could be cleaned of foreign matter. Progess means throw it away or buy a separate keyboard. Had the same experience with the Geek Squad when the hard drive crashed on my last computer. Still beats farting around setting
    up pages on a typewriter and using white out when you make a mistake….

  2. spinoza1111 Says:

    Yeah, Dad never let me forget about that one. Also there was the Great Starbuck’s spill when I was living in San Francisco and using a Vaio to work on my book’s text and software.

    I’d gotten a Vente and was just settling down for a long day of coding and writing when the Vente slipped out of my hand and onto the Vaio…blue flame … smoke ,… Blue Screen of Death.

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