Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The memorial of Jackie Winters, my step grandmother, was conducted today. In all honesty I admit that I wasn’t too fond of her being in town to visit when I was bringing friends home for the holidays; she was suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease and she required a lot of attention from my family- which meant less attention would be spent on me (I know, I can be really selfish). But Jackie would send me homemade cards on a regular basis where she would tell me about everything that was going on her life. She would write them in that old school cursive script older people write in and they took forever to read. On my lonely Sunday’s at Biola I would finally find the time to read them and they always made me forget that I was lonely… May her memory be eternal.

I asked my mother tonight if I, at the age of 26, am further along in my relationship with God than she was when she was 26. (I was probably fishing for compliments) Her response:

“In philosophy perhaps, but in your walk with God I’m not so sure.”

Ouch! She wasn’t even a Christian until she was 36! But maybe I should take that as a hint and maybe I should do something about it.

We put up the Christmas tree I grew up with tonight. While straightening out its wired branches I caught a whiff of synthetic pine and the smell of old metal and all of my childhood memories of Christmas flooded my senses. I haven’t felt that way during Christmas, well, since the last time I was around this same tree. We even got my old train out and it still had my GI Joes tapped to it.

“Too much and too little wine.
Give him none, he cannot find
truth; give him too much, the same.”

-Blaise Pascal


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

moron comment of the week.

"The fall of the dollar is not the fall of the dollar, it's the fall of the American empire."

- Hugo Chavez


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

adjudicating probabilities.

Could an immortal monkey, given an infinite amount of time, an incorruptible typewriter and an endless supply of ink ribbons and paper, reproduce the complete works of Shakespeare?

The prima facie case that Albert II, the immortal monkey, can:

(1) Albert II has the functioning capacity to press every key on the type writer, such that any letters and punctuation found in the English alphabet is within Albert II’s ability to duplicate.
(2) All texts are the mereological sum of a certain arrangements of letters, spaces, and punctuation marks.
(3) By (2), the complete works of Shakespeare is the mereological sum of a certain arrangement between letters, spaces, and punctuation marks.
(4) Because Albert II has the capacity to produce any and all English letters and punctuation marks, he has the ability to reproduce any given word found in Shakespeare’s complete works.
(5) Given an infinite timeline all possibilities are actualized.
(6) To have a capacity is to make something possible.
(7) (1)-(6) entail that Albert can reproduce, verbatim, the complete works of Shakespeare.

Some might find premise (5) suspect, which said that on an infinite timeline all possibilities are actualized. Isn’t it possible that on an infinite timeline something never actualizes its possibility? For instance, we say that it’s possible that an orange could be painted red. But despite this fact it might so happen that in an infinite timeline this possibility is never actualized? If so, then (5) is false.

Crap. I just realized that in order give this issue adequate attention I need to write a whole book on modality, intentionality, and causation. And I don’t have the time for that… nor the proper understanding…

But my hunch is that Albert II cannot; that possibility, under these conditions, is null. It’s metaphysically impossible. And my reason for thinking such is this: Albert II does have the capacity to communicate but lacks the cognitive capacity for abstraction, and the ability to use language depends heavily on a robust capacity for abstraction. In order to reproduce the work of Shakespeare one would need to be able to know the content of his works, and then use language to represent it. Albert II simply lacks this ability, and therefore he couldn’t reproduce it. Albert II could of course, happenstantially, reproduce a few Shakespearian sentences; but happenstantially reproducing a single page of Shakespeare, let alone all of his works, is simply impossible.

So what of the original prima-facie case? What premise would I deny? I would accuse premise (1) of being causally insufficient to entail (7). Albert II can press keys on a typewriter but he cannot form sentences with the appropriate type of teleology; and having a telos is necessary for duplicating the arrangement of letters, spaces, and punctuation marks that Shakespeare used to compose his work.


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