Monthly Archives: May 2006

comparing the loot

It’s somewhat crass, but being a groomsman in two weddings two weekends in a row, its hard for me not to compare the two. And one thing to compare is the gifts I received as a groomsman. It is apparently traditional for the groom to give his groomsmen small gifts.

Pricing the two items on various sites, they are comparable. And they are roughly the same color. But the similarity stops there.

My cousin took the traditional route and gave out a beautiful set of cufflinks. We all wore the cufflinks with our tuxes at the wedding, and whenever I wear the cufflinks in the future (maybe tomorrow — who knows when after that) I’ll think of my cousin. It was a great gift.

My friend handed out his slightly untraditional gifts at the rehearsal dinner tonight. I got a 1GB PNY Attache flash drive. Whenever I use the flash drive in the future (I can imagine I’ll use it frequently) I’ll think of my friend. It was a great gift.

Bar hoppin’

Tonight I celebrate a friend’s ‘last night’ as a bachelor.  Since the wedding is Sunday tomorrow night is really the last night, but this gives the guy a little extra time to recover.

He’s way too young to be getting married though.  Heck, he’s ten years younger than I am!

How does that saying go: always a groomsman, never a groom.

Bar hoppin’

Tonight I celebrate a friend’s ‘last night’ as a bachelor.  Since the wedding is Sunday tomorrow night is really the last night, but this gives the guy a little extra time to recover.

He’s way too young to be getting married though.  Heck, he’s ten years younger than I am!

How does that saying go: always a groomsman, never a groom.

Sublime Philosophical Crap

You scored 100% Non-Reductionism, 55% Epistemological Absolutism, and 100% Moral Objectivism!
You are an N-A-O: a metaphysical Non-Reductionist, an epistemological Absolutist, and a moral Objectivist. If you are simply dying inside to figure out what all this mumbo-jumbo means, then simply continue reading.

Metaphysics: Non-Reductionism (Idealism or Realism) In metaphysics, my test measures your tendency towards Reductionism or Non-Reductionism. As a Non-Reductionist, you recognize that reality is not necessarily simple or unified, and you thus tend to produce a robust ontology instead of carelessly shaving away hypothetical entities that reflect our philosophical experiences. My test recognizes two types of Non-Reductionists: Idealists and Realists.

1. Idealists believe that reality is fundamentally unknowable. All we can ever know is the world of sense experience, thought, and other phenomena which are only distorted reflections of an ultimate (or noumenal) reality. Kant, one of the most significant philosophers in history, theorized that human beings perceive reality in such a way that they impose their own mental frameworks and categories upon reality, fully distorting it. Reality for Kant is unconceptualized and not subject to any of the categories our minds apply to it. Idealists are non-reductionists because they recognize that the distinction between phenomenal reality and ultimate reality cannot be so easily discarded or unified into a single reality. They are separate and distinct, and there is no reason to suppose the one mirrors the other. Major philosophical idealists include Kant and Fichte.

If your views are different from the above, then you may be a Realist. 2. Realists deny the validity of sloppy metaphysical reductions, because they feel that there is no reason to suspect that reality reflects principles of parsimony or simplicity. Realism is the most common-sensical of the metaphysical views. It doesn’t see reality as a unity or as reducible to matter or mind, nor does it see reality as divided into a phenomenal world of experience and an unknowable noumenal world of things-in-themselves. Realist metaphysics emphasizes that reality is for the most part composed of the things we observe and think. On the question of the existence of universals, for instance, a realist will assert that while universals do not physically exist, the relations they describe in particulars are as real as the particular things themselves, giving universals a type of reality. Thus, no reduction is made. On the mind-body problem, realists tend to believe that minds and bodies both exist, and the philosophical problems involved in reducing mind to matter or matter to mind are too great to warrant such a reduction. Finally, realists deny that reality is ultimately a Unity or Absolute, though they recognize that reality can be viewed as a Unity when we consider the real relations between the parts as constituting this unity–but it doesn’t mean that the world isn’t also made up of particular things. Karl Popper is a famous realist.


Epistemology: Absolutism (Rationalism or Pragmatism) My test measures one’s tendency towards Absolutism or Skepticism in regards to epistemology. As an Absolutist, you believe that objective knowledge is possible given the right approach, and you deny the claims of skeptical philosophers who insist that we can never have knowledge of ultimate reality. The two types of Absolutists recognized by my test are Rationalists and Pragmatists.

1. Rationalists believe that the use of reason ultimately provides the best route to truth. A rationalist usually defines truth as a correspondence between propositions and reality, taking the common-sense route. Also, rationalists tend to believe that knowledge of reality is made possible through certain foundational beliefs. This stance is known as foundationalism. A foundationalist believes that, because we cannot justify the truth of every statement in an infinite regress, we ultimately reach a foundation of knowledge. This foundation is composed of a priori truths, like mathematics and logic, as well as undoubtable truths like one’s belief in his or her own existence. The belief that experiences and memories are veridical is also part of the foundation. Thus, for a rationalist knowledge of reality is made possible through our foundational beliefs, which we do not need to justify because we find them to be undoubtable and self-evident. In regards to science, a rationalist will tend to emphasize the foundational assumptions of scientific inquiry as prior to and more important than scientific inquiry itself. If science does lead to truth, it is only because it is based upon the assumption of certain rational principles such as “Every event is caused” and “The future will resemble the past”. Philosophy has a wide representation of philosophical rationalists–Descartes, Spinoza, Liebniz, and many others.

If that didn’t sound like your own views, then you are most likely the other type of Absolutist: the Pragmatist. 2. Epistemological Pragmatists are fundamentally identified by their definition of truth. Truth is, on this view, merely a measure of a proposition’s success in inquiry. This view is a strictly scientific notion of truth. A proposition can be called true if it leads to successful predictions or coheres best with the observed facts about the world. Thus, for the pragmatist, knowledge of reality is possible through scientific reasoning. A pragmatist emphasizes man’s fallibility, and hence takes baby-steps towards knowledge through scientific methodology. Any truth claim for a pragmatist is open to revision and subject to change–if empirical observations lead us to call even logical rules into question (like quantum physics has done for the law of the excluded middle), then we can and should abandon even these supposed a priori and “absolutely certain” logical rules if they do not accord with our testing and refuting of our various propositions. As a consequence of this, a pragmatist doesn’t feel that scientific knowledge is based upon unfounded assumptions that are taken to be true without any sort of justification–rather, they believe that the successes of scientific inquiry have proved that its assumptions are well-founded. For instance, the assumption of science that the future will be like the past is adequately shown by the amazing success of scientific theories in predicting future events–how else could this be possible unless the assumption were true? Pragmatism borrows elements from realism and yet attempts to account for the critiques made by skeptics and relativists. It is essentially a type of philosophical opportunism–it borrows the best stances from a large number of philosophical systems and attempts to discard the problems of these systems by combining them with others. Famous pragmatists of this type are Peirce and Dewey.


Ethics: Objectivism (Deontology or Logical Positivism) In Ethics, my test measures your tendency towards moral Objectivism or moral Relativism. As a moral Objectivist, you are opposed to Subjectivist moral theories and believe that morality applies to people universally and actually describes objects and situations out in the world as opposed to just subjects themselves. The two types of moral Objectivists my test recognizes are Kantian Deontologists and Utilitarians.

1. Kantian Deontologists believe that the one intrinsic good is a good will. As rational beings capable of making decisions, the moral worth of our decisions is ultimately derived from the intentions behind our actions, not their consequences. A moral being does the right thing not out of recognition of any consequences, but out of a sense of moral duty. For Kant, a good will is the ultimate good because to deny the will is to deny the one thing that makes us rational, moral beings. If an act will accord with or further our status as free, rational beings, and it is possible to will the universalization of such a moral principle without infringing upon our good wills, then an act is good. Kant’s categorical imperative provides an objective standard to judge moral worth–it is not hypothetical in the sense of other imperatives, which hide a latent if-clause. For instance, “Eating razors is good” is good ONLY if you tack on an if-clause that says something like: “If you wish to destroy your gums.” Thus, the categorical imperative is good, not just IF something is the case, but in ALL cases. It requires people to treat others as ends, and not means to ends, for to treat everyone as a means to an ends would be to deny them their ability to function as rational, free beings–which is what makes morality possible in the first place. The major propnent of this view in the history of philosophy is, quite obviously, Kant.

If that didn’t sound like your position, then you are probably the other variety of moral Objectivist–the Utilitarian. 2. Utilitarians define “happiness” or “pleasure” as the sole intrinsic good, and the principle “The greatest pleasure for the greatest number” best reflects a Utilitarian view of ethics. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist moral theory, meaning the consequences of an action–not the intentions behind it–determine the act’s moral worth. Even if you intended to do great evil with a certain act, if the act produces a net gain of pleasure and happiness for the greatest number, then it was indeed a good act because your intentions weren’t realized. What matters in this scenario, obviously, is the consequences of the act. Utilitarianism, of course, can also be reduced to Hedonism. If you do not feel that the greatest happiness of the greatest number matters, but only pay heed to the greatest happiness of individuals, then you are more adequately classified as a Hedonist. But both Utilitarians and Hedonists define “pleasure” as an intrinsic good and determine the moral worth of an act through its consequences. The only difference is whether we measure the collective pleasure of a group or only an individual’s pleasure. Prominent Utilitarians include Bentham and Mill.


As you can see, when your philosophical position is narrowed down there are so many potential categories that an OKCupid test cannot account for them all. But, taken as very broad categories or philosophical styles, you are best characterized as an N-A-O. Your exact philosophical opposite would be an R-S-R.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

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You scored higher than 92% on Metaphysics
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You scored higher than 39% on Epistemology
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You scored higher than 89% on Ethics

Link: The Sublime Philosophical Crap Test written by saint_gasoline on Ok Cupid, home of

Test stolen from AWholeCanofPlot an action that absolutely cannot be reduced to anything one could objectively call moral.

Time Zones and sloppy government writers

The US Code on Time Zones and Daylight Savings

The State of Idaho ought to be in the Pacific and Mountain zones. Right? Even if your geography is poor, if you watch enough television, you probably know that the order of the time zones is (from West to East): Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern, Atlantic.

But here’s section 264 quoted from the above link:

Sec. 264. Part of Idaho in third zone

In the division of territory, and in the definition of the limits of each zone, as provided in sections 261 to 264 of this title, so much of the State of Idaho as lies south of the Salmon River, traversing the State from east to west near forty-five degree thirty minutes latitude, shall be embraced in the third zone: Provided, That common carriers within such portion of the State of Idaho may conduct their operations on Pacific time.

OK, so what’s the ‘third’ time zone?

Section 263:

The standard time of the first zone shall be known and designated as Atlantic standard time; that of the second zone shall be known and designated as eastern standard time; that of the third zone shall be known and designated as central standard time; that of the fourth zone shall be known and designated as mountain standard time;

So Idaho is split between Pacific and Central Time. Several places in Idaho you can have one foot two hours ahead of the other. Cool, hunh? (I somehow suspect in the majority of instances, Idaho is breaking the law.)
The page does says ‘current as of 2002’, so I went in search of something more recent:
The House of Representatives page is current as of 2004, and suggests section 264 was last revised in 1948.

What seems to have happened is clear from the amendment history of section 263

1966 – Pub. L. 89-387 added Atlantic standard time as first zone designation; redesignated as eastern standard time, central standard time, mountain standard time and Pacific standard time for second through fifth zones

So, according to US Law, for the past 40 years, Idaho has been in the Pacific and Central time zones. Maybe it’s time someone pointed this out to someone in Washington…
Thanks to Greg for spotting the error.

filming insights

I’ve read (and heard) a couple reviews by people surprised by the studio audience at the Will and Grace finale who gasped when they were told who the characters in the college dorm were.  The consensus of these reviewers were that everything was so set up by the scenes that go before it, that the audience would have had to be dolts not to know what was going on.

Well…I have learned that that was the first scene filmed on that day.  The audience was given a little upfront explanation of what had happened previously.  So they knew what the names meant.  But they hadn’t seen the scene that immediately precedes it where Will and Grace talk about destiny.
So the reaction is a little more understandable.

Thoughts from Kansas City

I traveled with my parents to Kansas City for a cousin’s wedding.
We left for Kansas City from gate 18 in the East Terminal (Southwest Airlines).
On arrival at the KC airport, our rental car was in parking space #42.
My room number at the hotel is #1008. For the mathematically disinclined:

When I mentioned to a colleague I was going to a family wedding this weekend, they asked if I would be looking at the women, or if that would be too redneck. I responded it wouldn’t be if I focused on the bride’s side. I’m not related to them.

I have also learned that a shot of kahlua looks identical to a shot of jaegermeister; a fact that can be used for humorous results.
Some walk signals in KC have timers on them so you know how many more seconds you have left to cross the intersection.

Do you look like a celebrity?

MyHeritage allows you to upload a photograph of yourself, and compares it against its celebrity database.  It contains entertainment figures and political figures, and I’m not sure what else.

I’m 50% Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein leader) and 50% Helmut Kohl (Chancellor of Germany)

I used the photo on the left.