mayflies Another year, another Mays. Somewhat wet this time; my pic is from Friday M2 which was especially rainy during the row-down; here we see, keeping up my shameless tradition, Caius M2. Watch the whole thing.

Fortunately Saturday was sunnier.

As to the results, the blockbuster was LMBC catching Caius on day one. I didn't see that, it happened halfway down the Reach; here's a vid. Congratulations to LMBC; commiserations to Caius, who also went down on Saturday to Magdalene. And also congratualations to Fitz on making it into div 1; I expect great things of the future. On the women's side, the widely-tipped Caius went down to LMBC to third on day one, got them back on day three, and then dramatically went head on Saturday.

As usual, this post is really just here to link to the full playlist.


Spinoza, Ethics

PXL_20230822_075622617~2 Spinoza, Ethics was recommended by Russell; that is recommended in the influence on thought sense. I "read" (browsed, skimmed, eventually gave up) this on Kindle during last summer's holiday; these are my notes from that reading.

You can tell from the title (Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order) that its going to go wrong, being another (but perhaps the first (no: the rather more successful Leviathan predates it by 10 years)) to ape geometry. It doesn't take him long to go wrong, he doesn't really understand definitions / axioms well: thus he defines finite (not rigourously, obvs) and then uses infinite without defining; he uses eternal before deffing it; etc. We get a pile of propositions that all depend on e.g. exactly what he means by "substance" so I didn't care.

Then, the ontological proof of god, which no-one believes, including him, because he immediately follows it with another proof variant (see wiki: by God he may mean Nature; which may or may not be the simple material universe (in which case why bother prove it exists?) or some pantheistic god).

Later, he proves that you can't cut an infinite thing in half because it would then be two infinities which is twice as large. Duh. He also neglects to consider one part being finite. I hope we get past this dull stuff soon.

Doesn't like free will (prop xxxii) since will needs a cause which must regress ro god; similarly (xxxiii) the world could not be other than is, since it proceeds from god and god cannot be different it would be absurd. Confusingly (corr to prop xxxi, but another ordering of props) things are contingent.

There's very little actual ethics in there. In discussing good / bad (mostly in terms of desire / aversion in which he is close to Hobbes) I think he goes wrong (e.g. later: good-v-evil is nothing but emotions of pleasure-v-pain). He is missing the key concept of societies only existing if they have moralities that allow existence. This is unsurprising but means all his stuff is broken. Note: it is important to realise when things are broken. Not doing so, and endlessly chattering, is a key failure of most philosophy. Of his many propositions re emotions, some are kinda interesting aphorisms, and so of some value, but the proofs are all uninteresting.


Hazlitt, in The Foundations of Morality, quotes Spinoza for "In no case do we strive for, wish for, long for, or desire anything because we deem it to be good, but on the other hand we deem a thing to be good, because we strive for it, wish for it, long for it, or desire it" (written between 1661 and 1675). That would make me think him worthwhile, had he originated it. But it is just a rip-off of Hobbes: "But whatsoever is the object of any mans Appetite or Desire; that is it, which he for his part calleth Good: And the object of his Hate, and Aversion, evill; And of his contempt, Vile, and Inconsiderable. For these words of Good, evill, and Contemptible, are ever used with relation to the person that useth them" (Leviathan, published in 1651).


Two Federal Courts Rule Against Biden's New Student Loan Forgiveness Plan on the Same Day.

* France 2023 part four: Les Deux Alpes to La Berade; around; Dibona; and to Bourg D'Oisans.


In Defence of War

PXL_20240622_191625720Before you get too excited, no, this is nothing to do with the current fracas in the near orient; instead it is a work of philosophy by Niglet Biggar. In terms of the examples he uses, WWI comes up.

I've read approximately a third of it, and eventually stopped, not because it is poor quality but because his analysis is almost entirely from a Christian, Thomist, Just-War perspective. Being a good atheist I reject reasonning based on an assumption of the correctness of the Christian perspective, of course. That could, though, leave us with the Just-War theory as of value because it has historical respectability; because it has been honed over centuries; because it has been considered and improved by fine minds.

But I don't believe that. I think Just-War1 theory is a figleaf; a confection, devised to "allow" states to do what they would anyway. I can think of no examples of when states have said "oh hold on no we won't have this war because it fails test 3 out of the Just-War list of conditions". All the intellectual effort over the years has gone into disguising this.

The original problem is that Christianity is a blatantly pacifistic religion, which has been adopted as a state religion, and states need to go to war or at the very least credibly threaten to do so; and there has never been a shortage of intellectuals willing to provide words to paper over the problem.

Our Author does his best to get round Christianity's pacifism by noting things like "well, there are soldiers in the New Testament, and they are not ostracised, nor is there any suggestion they should give up their profession; from the Bible's silence on this, we can deduce that...". He is obliged to admit that deduction-from-silence is weak, but then immeadiately leaps over that.

Similarly - but here I am relying on my weak memory, and on sections that I didn't read carefully anyway - he has a tendency to bring up subject X, which has been brilliantly handled by scholar Y; but ah: he analyses scholar Y's analysis and finds it, whilst brilliant, quibblable; and so discountable.

My own defence of war, should I be obliged to make one, would align closely with Hobbes.


1. Somewhere - lost in the depths of wiki I think - I have a weak joke on this in which I suggest that Just-War should really be called "Just-Go-To-War, using the alternative meaning of the word Just.


Sherwood B. Idso suffers hard delete

PXL_20240601_173547588 Another one bites the dust; at least according to wiki. I'd tell you what the Dork Side thinks, but WUWT is giving me "429 Too Many Requests" at the moment2. Perhaps it too has kicked the bucket1.

I don't think I had much accasion to write about SBI; I can find a casual "one of the usual suspects" in Who were those masked men? and Patrick Michaels suffers hard delete.

Here's an obit for Sherwood Burtrum Idso.



1. My picture shows our faithful old bucket, which we acquired when we moved to Coton in 1995, as the old owners had left an ex-chickenshed full of stuff. It moved with us into Cambridge, until felled by a mighty blow from a pallet that delivered our new bench, a birthday present from my mother.

2. It's back now; no mention of the lateness of Idso that I can see. Archive.is is also giving me troubles; but here's an arch.



Polling Pales

Middle East news: both sides are trying to avoid giving a definitive answer to those nice USAnian's peace proposal, and are hoping they can blame the other side for rejecting it. Cue endless vacillation and death.

Meanwhile, there's a poll by the Palestinian Center for POLICY and SURVEY RESEARCH; see here; h/t RH. It makes grim reading for anyone hoping for peace.

Before going on, it's worth noting the finding that A majority of 58% expected Hamas and Israel to reach a ceasefire in the next few days while 39% did not expect it. That's 58% delusional or reporting their hopes rather than actual expectations1, which you should factor into your reading of all the other answers and my notes.

Most interesting to me is the figure below2.

Poll: Humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip

Yes that's right: slightly fewer people have been injured; and the number killed has increased by less than a percent. We could excuse this by sampling difficulties, perhaps, but the lack of increase of dead is weird. Of course it isn't the number of dead, it is the proportion of "families" with at least one dead, but still the lack of increase over the last three months suggests to me that these numbers just aren't reliable. Bizarrely, the report itself makes absolutely no comment on this oddity.

Support for Hamas's attack remains high, at 73% (fig 1), perhaps partly because only 3% think Hamas committed atrocities (fig 4) and 67% expects Hamas to "win" the current war. They carefully avoid explaining what "win" might be. 61% would prefer Hamas to control Gaza (fig 7); though if you prefer a slightly different perspective, Most Palestinians Don't Want Hamas Rule, Poll Shows3.

But what should be done? We have: When asked about its support and opposition to specific policy measures to break the stalemate: 66% supported joining more international organizations; 49% supported resort to unarmed popular resistance; 63% supported a return to confrontations and armed intifada; 62% supported dissolving the PA; and 22% supported abandoning” the two-state solution and demanding one state for Palestinians and Israelis. Three months /’, 55% supported a return to confrontations and armed intifada; 45% supported resort to unarmed popular resistance; 58% supported the dissolution of the PA; and 24% supported abandoning the twostate solution in favor of one state. Unfortunately they weren't offered the option of "surrender; stop fighting" which is my suggestion, but I doubt that would have been popular. Fig 22 provides another view on this, with 54% up for armed struggle 25% for negotiations; and 16% for popular non-violent resistance. "66% supported joining more international organizations" is amost sweet in its delusion; but more likely it indicates despair of other ideas. [Note: the weird "Three months /’" is in the original; I don't know what they've been smoking.]

It does seem that these people are motivated by hatred: The poll found significant opposition of three quarters to Saudi-Israeli normalization, even if it is conditional on Israel accepting a Palestinian state and taking concrete and irreversible steps toward that goal.

Somewhat more speculatively, I notice that the Palestinians invariably refer to their dead - all and any of their dead - as martyrs. That doesn't seem healthy. Whereas the Israelis usually call theirs murdered.

Update: Lebanon / Hizbullah

I'll write a few hasty words here before the world explodes, so I know what I thought.

The major oddity is that the Lebanese govt gets very sniffy about Isreal violating their sovereignty (example; notice that doesn't mention why the naughty Israelis are attacking, which is of course Hizbullah). And that would be fair enough, were they indeed sovereign in southern Lebanon. But if they are, then they're responsible for the rockets being fired into Israel from there (alternatively, they condemn the rocket attacks and would like to stop them, but can't, in which case they do not have actual sovereignty over the area). And if they're flinging rockets at Israel, they can hardly complain if Isreal bombs them back.

The answer, of course, is that the Lebanese govt is too weak to control Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, but doesn't want to admit it, and won't upset its people by telling Hizbullah to stop. The best solution would be for Iran to stop funding Hizbullah; that seems unlikely; second best is probably the upcoming Israeli attack.

Update: Hobbes

it is a precept, or generall rule of Reason, "That every man, ought to endeavour Peace, as farre as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps, and advantages of Warre." The first branch, of which Rule, containeth the first, and Fundamentall Law of Nature; which is, "To seek Peace, and follow it." The Second, the summe of the Right of Nature; which is, "By all means we can, to defend our selves." - Hobbes, Leviathan, CHAPTER XIV. OF THE FIRST AND SECOND NATURALL LAWES, AND OF CONTRACTS, The Fundamental Law Of Nature.


1. Speaking as a SWeng or mathematician, when people ask me a question I tend to answer it, and become unhappy when I can tell that my answer to their question, given literally, will mislead them; or when their question is so badly posed that no accurate answer is possible. But most people, I observe, treat a question more as an invitation to say whatever they like on a given topic. So I have no faith at all that survey reports are literally accurate.

2. I don't know why they've labelled that as "Jun 24"; the text says surveys between May 26 and June 1, 2024.

3. There's some wishful thinking going on there. Another way of saying it is Among those intending to vote, support for Hamas stands at 46%, Fatah 25%, third parties 6%, and the undecided at 25%.


Reporting of yer conflict.

The flower of justice is peace.

Meritocracy, democracy and competition.

Two views of democracy.

Words for the word god: "He moves in darkness as it seems to me, Not of woods only and the shade of trees".

France 2023: part two: around Vallouise and Ailefroide.

Reflections on Juneteenth.

ADHD Reconsidered.

The Gap.

Are the Rich Antisocial and the Poor Emotionally Intelligent?

* The parable of the Antheap and the Anteater.


The morality of not meddling in other people's business

PXL_20240608_120158084 Welcome to ye merie monthe of jun. Which is always a busy month of rowing - Mays is in swing as I speak - so perhaps that excuses my shameful lack of posting.

We're back to the olde feldes with Supreme Court preserves access to abortion pill at which all right-thinking people shout hurrah! Although one senses that the Graun isn't fully comfortable, or even cognisant, of what happened. The issue is one of Standing: just because you happen to care deeply and passionately about a given issue doesn't give you a right to stick your twitchy nose and grimy fingers into the legal pie. Which I link to my previous advice to care less.

This is a legal principle1. But elevated - carefully - to a constitutional provision in some suitable fashion I would tout it as a solution to the Great War: in the sense that the govt really has no cause to be making laws about things that are best left to individuals. I've said this before to the inevitable great acclaim.


Church and State.

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight / Where ignorant armies clash by night.

The Supreme Court Inches Towards Liberty - Richard Hanania.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18th.

Whole Woman's Health v. Jackson.


1. For an opposing view, see The Case Against Restrictive Constitutional Standing Requirements; and for discussion of standing, see many comments on Murthy.