Day: August 24, 2007
Today is the anniversary of Lexi’s natal day; she’ll forgive me for mentioning it (likely) if I don’t say anything about the year this blessed event occurred.
I had the absolute joy of FINALLY getting to see daughter Katie last night. She demolished the last of the greek salad, brought me bread and yummy treats, passport photos, much in the way of extended family news, and I gave her:
two nose rings
one blacklight sculpture kit
a bag of clothes from said Lexi, which Katie fell upon with a most gratifying avidity (Lexi, I started handing her stuff out of the bag and about half way down she said, sighing, “What I really need is bras” at which point I wordlessly handed her two bras… thanks for sponsoring that extremely amusing family moment)
an hour and a half of job search help on the computer
permission to quit her current job (boss is a liar)
six Robaxicet (back is bothering her see above)
and a bit of a scolding, motherhood being something like riding a bicycle in terms of how fast you remember how to do it.
She took it all in very good spirit and it was only about 9:30 when she left, so she probably managed to get a good nights’ sleep, too.
Off to Victoria today; me happy. I will be conveying birthday greetings to Pondside, and bringing as much earflapping as we can all mutually tolerate with me.
I spent a good deal of time last night reading contemporary libertarian philosophy. Most of it is wretched goo; some of it is pernicious nonsense, but mostly it is characterized by lack of internal consistency, cultism (uh, that would be collectivism, folks) and the most willful disregard of scientific inquiry (uh, that would be REASON, folks) the philosophical world gets to deal with since Lysenkoism. I wouldn’t have bothered (I’ve outgrown Randism & Rothbardism, and prefer the quiet demeanor, basis in fact and ability to reformulate views based on new evidence of persons such as Chomsky and my own DAD for Christ’s sake who really tend more to anarchism) but LTGW is dragging “Well the Libertarian viewpoint is” into every lunch time conversation, while ScaryClown, Robof9 and I vibrate like bobbleheads on crank. (Added later – like there’s a libertarian point of view. OBVIOUSLY liberty’s a good thing – but only if I get to define it.)
If analysis of libertarianism, objectivism, etc., leads one to understand that a philosophy which does not have a DNA helix for a spine will be at best interesting and well-constructed using current standards in how to assemble an argument, that’s all good. Everything that’s good and bad, inside and outside human scope, hangs around that spine. Attempting a philosophy without making a mighty effort to understand how understanding itself is shaped by those whims and strings of arbitrary protein strikes me as laughable. I tried explaining that to him the other day, but I’m in better shape now and at least the next time he drags libertarianism up, I’ll say, “Okay, given that human beings are inherently hierarchical, how do you grab somebody who enjoys taking orders and get them to enjoy liberty, without either sticking them in a political reeducation camp (uh, liberty?), forcing them to listen to you tell them to be free (uh, Narodnism?), making children listen to it (uh, don’t have parents have the right to educate their children as they see fit?). The only Libertarian philosopher I have any respect for is Robert A Heinlein, and even he was a way better writer than philosopher.
Having stated, ever so briefly, my philosophy (human beings find meaning in the exercise of their mental and physical powers, and happiness along the way as a byproduct) I must address counterarguments.
Human beings belong to God and should get with God’s program. It’s all written down in this here book. But your neighbour has a book too… and her neighbour has another one. So on down the line. My answer. I have a book. It’s coiled in every cell of my body. Like God, it can do things I can’t even CONCEIVE, let alone spell, or do outside of my own skin. I can’t see the book, but I know it’s there, and a scientist (jumps out from behind a curtain, wearing a labcoat, a superhero cape and looking SUSPICIOUSLY like Lady Miss Banjola) can help me prove it anytime we can put together a gene sequencer and some spare change.
Nothing about what we see around us is real. My answer. C’mere bud, lemme talk to you a second. (Thumping noises followed by a faint voice calling “Medic!”) Not very philosophical, but o so satisfying.
Human beings could maximize (pick any or all, or pull your own from the hat) wealth, utility, oneness with Gaia, sexual opportunity, peace, health, intelligence if they followed program x. My answer. You are daft as a brush, matey. My sequence of genes pushes me in certain directions; my upbringing in others; my learning from others in other ways yet; the thinking I’ve done independent of all of you in weirder directions still. Given that my genetic sequence is UNIQUE IN ALL OF TIME AND SPACE AND ETERNITY, and dude, so’s yours, how could one universally prescribed philosophy possibly work, let alone survive a sunny afternoon? Nobody is ever going to hold the same views in large enough numbers to get a crack at converting everyone. And when you do have a lot of people holding the same views….
There is only one free market. It is the market of ideas. The Gold standard is knowledge; reason is the nitric acid we apply to the gold to make sure that it is pure. The free market of ideas, like the one we’re told exists in Adam Smith’s vision, has ups and downs, and ideas rise and fall in value every day. As in everything else, the smart investor buys and HOLDS the good ideas and dumps the dogs as soon as she practically can.
Very few human beings wander through life with the same philosophy from beginning to end, and I’m no exception. Given that idea, the ferment and jostle of ideas and realizations of ideas, a broad philosophical prescription seems foolish. I don’t even want to convert somebody else to my way of thinking. The smartest thing an adult can do is learn to be comfortable in being the only person ‘who thinks a certain way” and that what you think, and how, “is subject to change without prior notice to you” – because no matter what anybody says, you are not 100% in control of what you think, no matter how hard you try. (Added later…. not even Ayn Rand – read Nathaniel Branden’s magnificent, brutal book “Judgement Day” on that score – could control what she thought. She was super hot in bed, too! Take THAT, Murray Rothbard! My point being that it’s in accounting for the cheap physical stuff that skews SO MUCH of our little lives that a lot of libertarian theory morphs between Tom Paine and Mr. Bean – while wearing a cute bikini.)
Not only can you be assured that this is true (added later – “Cause I SAY so, that’s why!), it is the surest safeguard against being a complete doctrinaire butthead when you run into somebody else’s ideas. Then you can pull out the blessed mantra, “Let’s agree to disagree on that one,” and move on to something you have in common, like grandchildren, or getting funds for a breast cancer research facility.
If you are one of those people who, having found Jesus or homeopathy, is smiling indulgently at my foolishness, good for you. We may still have common cause when the person who hates both of us wants to kill us for thinking as we do. If you are one of those people, who, having found my words objectionable, wants to kill me, gosh, I’m sorry, but the line forms on the left, and things aren’t looking good for an appointment today.