Thursday, June 30, 2011

It Sounds Reasonable

Is It True?

If you follow The Stone in the NYT, (and who doesn’t?), you will have been following discussions on logic and reasoning, and the apparent difference in the two approaches to truth.

GARY GUTTING recently examined a study called “The Argumentative Theory Of Reasoning”, and the readers responses turned out to be more argumentative than reasonable. So he attempted to clarify the first article by re-writing his conclusions in a different order;

From The New York Times;

We systematically focus on data that support a view we hold and ignore data that count against it.

These facts suggest that our evolutionary development has not done an especially good job of making us competent reasoners.  Sperber and Mercier, however, point out that this is true only if the point of reasoning is to draw true conclusions.  Fallacious reasoning, especially reasoning that focuses on what supports our views and ignores what counts against them, is very effective for the purpose of winning arguments with other people.  So, they suggest, it makes sense to think that the evolutionary point of human reasoning is to win arguments, not to reach the truth.

This formulation led critics to objections that echo traditional philosophical arguments against the skeptical rejection of truth.   Do Sperber and Mercier think that the point of their own reasoning is not truth but winning an argument?  If not, then their theory is falsified by their own reasoning.  If so, they are merely trying to win an argument, and there’s no reason why scientists — who are interested in truth, not just winning arguments—should pay any attention to what they say.   Sperber and Mercier seem caught in a destructive dilemma, logically damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

Philosophical thinking has led to this dilemma, but a bit more philosophy shows a way out.  The root of the dilemma is the distinction between seeking the truth and winning an argument.  The distinction makes sense for cases where someone does not care about knowing the truth and argues only to convince other people of something, whether or not it’s true.  But, suppose my goal is simply to know the truth.  How do I go about achieving this knowledge?  Plato long ago pointed out that it is not enough just to believe what is true.  Suppose I believe that there are an odd number of galaxies in the universe and in fact there are.  Still, unless I have adequate support for my belief, I cannot be said to know it.  It’s just an unsupported opinion.  

Knowing the truth requires not just true belief but also justification for the belief.

Star Spangled Banner

Read all about this famous banner at the Smithsonian.

Why Stars?

Strong evidence indicates that Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was responsible for the stars in the U.S. flag. At the time that the flag resolution was adopted, Hopkinson was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board's Middle Department. Hopkinson also helped design other devices for the Government including the Great Seal of the United States.

For his services, Hopkinson submitted a letter to the Continental Admiralty Board asking "whether a Quarter Cask of the public Wine will not be a proper & reasonable Reward for these Labours of Fancy and a suitable Encouragement to future Exertions of a like Nature."

His request was turned down since the Congress regarded him as a public servant.

From the Federal Citizen Information Center.

Just One More Thing

In case you missed it, there is a very nice obituary for Peter Falk in the NYT.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Reality Is Beautiful

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Must Be Gas

Or The Neighbors Motorcycle

Here in Redding there are a lot of loud vehicles. There are a lot of loud anythings in our little town. If it has a motor on it, and it’s loud, you can easily find someone who wants to buy it.

Some guys spend extra money for loud pipes so their motorcycles sound like sustained burrito fed flatulence, painting a Bronx cheer, raspberry stripe, along the nighttime Redding roadways.

The rain has arrived at 4:00 AM. The forecast called for a good soaking in the north state as a result of the jet stream bringing moisture from Siberia. This is part of the mechanism that Scott Mobley describes in the Redding Searchlight weather report.

Last Saturday

The band played at the historic French Gulch Hotel last Saturday. We had a different drummer because Jeff was out of town. The drummers name is Rocky. He played well and he sounds good on the recordings I made.

I am still mixing the songs from Saturday, but I have one here for you, along with a few pictures I took over the weekend. I didn’t make arrangements for pictures to be taken of the band while we played, but I will try to remember next time.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Good Things

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ask A Busy Person

What Should I Ask?

I had the chance to visit the bank of commerce parking lot a few times in the the last couple of days, and while there, I found some wonderful subjects for the TZ3 and me.

These first two pictures were taken today when I was helping to get our board secretary on the club account as a check signer. We were returning with the documentation that we didn’t bring the previous day.

I had taken some pictures of the parking lot flowers the day before, and put a couple on my account with 500pix that night. It is a place to exhibit photos for professional photographers, and some talented hobbyists, (I like putting myself in that category).

This is the image that got the most attention;

It was a real treat to open my email this morning and find that people in other countries had looked at the parking lot lily and said nice things about it.

I showed the picture to the account person at the bank and she said it is called a fortnight lily. I let her know that it was now world famous.

You can view the high resolution image HERE.

Other Things On My Plate

I am attempting to eat up some of the food that I bought over the last couple of years that has just been pushed to the back to make room for food that I would rather eat.

Tonight I had some of the raviolis that have been taking up space in the freezer. I thought I might use one of the tomato sauces that are in the round about cupboard, but the jar of Ragu had an expiration date of September 2007, so I didn’t use it.

The pop up indicator on the cap was still down, so I put it back in the cupboard as a possible emergency ration in the event everyone and everything else in the world vanishes, and I have a hankering for spaghetti.

The agapanthus are beginning to bloom outside the Treehouse office, so you can look forward to pictures of them over the next few weeks.

Lassen Peak in the last rays of sunlight;

Tomorrow, the band plays in historic French Gulch. I hope to get some pictures of Whiskeytown Lake on my way to the gig. Maybe someone will take pictures of the band while we are playing, and perhaps I will get a clean recording of a song or two that I will be able to share with you.

In the meantime, I think you will enjoy...

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

More Kind Thoughts

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Horizons

TZ3 Expands My Universe

I am beginning to see compositions in a different way since I got the Lumix TZ3 last Saturday. At first I was looking at subjects as I would with the TZ1, but I am learning the personality of images from the TZ3.

Like one would do with the technique of biofeedback, I am learning how to compose pictures in new ways with this camera, by using it, analyzing the resulting images, and then applying what I have learned to the next batch of pictures.

Instead of continuing to do A B comparisons to the TZ1, I am focusing on finding the range of creative imaging that is possible with this new camera. like the above image of cereal and berries before and after adding milk.

I can visualize compositions in different ways that I didn’t see before. This camera has brought my attention to supporting players that I didn’t use in previous pictures.

Garie wondered why I take so many pictures of flowers. I explained that they are the most convenient subjects I have, since they are literally just outside my door, and they are constantly changing day after day, morning and evening.

This new chapter in my photographic discovery and development, is exciting, gratifying, and artistically stimulating. I put a few pictures up on Flickr for you to examine closely, or watch as a slide show. TZ3 Awakenings

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Perspectives Yet To Behold

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


A and B, TZ1 and TZ3

Eye have been staring at hundreds of images, all of which look really good to me, but the task is to objectively analyze the differences to reach conclusions regarding which camera does what best.

I find that I like both cameras! I guess I’ll just use one or the other, or both at the same time. How fortunate to have been born into a life where I have such abundance and opportunity.

Some Solstice Stories

Macedonians greet the dawn at the ancient observatory of Kokino.
Photograph by Georgi Licovski, European Pressphoto Agency

The summer solstice is a result of the Earth's north-south axis being tilted 23.4 degrees relative to the sun. The tilt causes different amounts of sunlight to reach different regions of the planet.

More at National Geographic.

Funny, You Don’t Look Druid-ish?

(AP / Matt Dunham)

June Weddings and Honeymoons

Pagans called the Midsummer moon the "Honey Moon" for the mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding ceremonies performed at the Summer Solstice.

Perhaps the most enduring modern ties with Summer Solstice were the Druids' celebration of the day as the "wedding of Heaven and Earth", resulting in the present day belief of a "lucky" wedding in June.

More solstice stories Here

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Light Humor

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Snapper

Thanks Marian

I had been looking to get a newer version of my trusty and magical Panasonic Lumix TZ1, and each time I would find a bargain on the internet, I would be too late, or I wouldn’t remember where I saw it.

It seems that, once again, there was a semi-new Lumix TZ3 waiting for the right time to come to me through Marian and Leona. It was languishing in a drawer, waiting until I had become an expert with the TX1, and could apply the upgrades and improvements to my established rapport with a Lumix camera.

When I got it home and checked the test shots I had taken, I discovered that it already had about 150 pictures on it, stretching back in time to 2007. I noticed that the white balance was not set right, and found a time in the camera’s past, where the balance had been changed.

The pictures had an undesirable blue cast to them that, back in the days of film would have meant the vacation pictures looked like my dad’s trip to Bermuda pictures in 1954, and one would be stuck with them.

This proved to be a minor adjustment in the iPhoto editor when it came to correcting Leona’s pictures. The TZ3 had plenty of image data that I was able to correct the color back to reality, and the pictures are saved.

When I got to Corning to meet Marian and Jim, and receive the new camera, I took a few pictures and noticed the display had a blue cast, but figured I would see what that meant when I got back to Redding. I am glad I was able to save the pictures that were in the camera.

One of the first things I did when I got home was to set the white balance to automatic, set the movie proportions to 16:9, and to get out and get some samples of colors that the TZ1 had a little trouble with. Red and certain shades of blue were tricky for my TZ1, but the new TZ3 has wonderfully accurate representations across the entire color spectrum.

There are additional features, functions, and settings on the new camera that I can intuitively use right away, the result of having taken over 80,000 meaningful images with the previous model. I am grateful, thankful, and ready to spend Father’s Day exploring the world I love with this new imaging tool.

All the images  shown here were taken with the Lumix TX3, except the pictures of the TZ3, which were taken with the TZ1.

R.I.P. Clarence Clemons
Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Art Survives

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Round Up

Or Something

It has been an interesting week. I have been slowly getting back up to speed after an injury to my back last weekend. Was it bending down, just using my back to take a close-up of a primrose, or was it lifting stuff out of the trunk to put on a cart to get it inside out of the weather?

Whatever it was, it was a reminder to be more mindful of my motions. It took a couple of days of not moving much at all till I was ready to ease into my more active pastimes. It will be a bit longer before I am in shape for the Iron Man Triathlon.

Wednesday, I was able to play a few tunes with Peggy Richardson and anyone else who wished to join in the joy of making music. Linda Elliot took some movies and pictures with her iPad. The iPad is an amazing device, and takes really impressive HD movies.

(I am in the process of editing some of the footage that Linda shot of the Treehouse Residents All Star Music Review to present here one of these days.)

Thursday I played and sang a few songs down at the Shasta Blues Society jam night. It was a lot of fun, as usual, and Mark Mlcoch was there to play bass with Jon Harrison and myself. We played with a drummer named Rocky, (not the same Rocky that used to play drums for us a couple of years ago), and based on our bass players basic evaluation, we hired him to play with us next weekend in French Gulch.

Our regular drummer, Jeff Brooks, will be up in Oregon next weekend.

National Book Festival

The National Book Festival is going to be a 2 day event this year. If you happen to be in our nations capitol September 24 - 25, and you want to see some of your favorite authors, old and new books, or just to see that a great number of Americans still read, that would be a good place to be.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Back In Action