You are here

Influences I

Whenever someone asks me which philosophers I follow, I very quickly branch off into persons who do not seem to be philosophers within the narrow meaning of the term, lover of knowledge. But how could Mark Twain possibly be not that? If asked who are the great wits, I will come up with a list from all over the place. In what universe would we think Lewis Carroll was not as witty as could be? continue reading

State Education: Money

Eventually, per Rothbard, the pols saw that leaving the marching minions holding promises instead of solid specie was a dream come true. But they did also realize that an honorable verbal promise was an oxymoron. Enter the written promise, aka the IOU, aka scrip, aka paper currency. The typical note promised exchange for the purported full amount in gold, not sooner than 1 year hence. Many of the veterans began to barter these slips of paper for those things for which they could not wait a year -- things like food! continue reading

Short Subjects and The Shipping News

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science and self-ordering phenomena, pre-TSA world traveler, domestic traveler. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here. Obviously, my plan to catch up to my bi-weekly production goal for columns foundered on the rocks of gang awry.  Now I am even farther behind schedule.  It’s the summer schedule or lack thereof.  When I have teaching duties at the Community College, and when I am involved in my Lifelong Learning courses, I often have several hours at the library or in the computer lab which can be filled with constructive work.  In the summer, however, I often find myself working outdoors on the farm during daylight hours, sometimes up until nearly 10 pm. But now the autumnal equinox is near, and I am getting back into a regular schedule.  I’m going to give the serialization effort a more fair trial under these conditions. Logic Fallacies — Short Subjects Just a few days ago, I began to meet with a shared interest group (SIG) on Logic and Reason.  Our facilitator, a retired math professor from Transylvania University, gave each of us in attendance a set of 5 informal fallacies to explore and present to the group next week. Veteran readers will know that I have frequently included discussions of  logic fallacies in previous columns, and I often have an idiosyncratic view of them.  So it is with enthusiasm that I will do capsules here, in hopes of expanding them in future writing. Argument to the stone:  The story behind this one was that Dr. Ben Jonson insisted that Dr. George Berkeley‘s philosophy on immaterialism was disproven by the existence of a stone, which Jonson kicked, thus believing he had proven materialism.  Unfortunately for Dr. Jonson, he himself could just as easily have imagined the stone and the kick.  Both doctors insisted on their own versions of reality to reject the other.  A modern version would be to counter an assertion with “you can’t be serious!” Argument from ignorance:  My lovely bride and I have been married now for 50 years, but I pulled a stunt during our first year that leaves me amazed that we are still a team.  She told me about a huge oceanic whirlpool in the North Atlantic.  I was sure that there was no such thing.  “That can’t be true!  Else I would know about it!”  It turns out that I just had not consulted the proper sources.  This was before the Internet was available to groundlings.  If you go to the Bay of Fundy, in the Canadian Maritime Provinces, by boat, you had better be prepared for the “Old Sow Whirlpool” or you may sleep with the fishes. Argument from (personal) incredulity:  Often we may react to an instance of our own ignorance by insisting that... continue reading

Kids for Kash, Dictator Fallacy, Combinatorics

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science and self-ordering phenomena. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here. I will be publishing my columns for awhile, until we see how it goes, in serial form, following in the footsteps  of Charles Dickens.  Let’s hope that my prose is at least halfway Dickensian. To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart. — Charles Dickens In Dickens’ classic, Oliver Twist, he insisted that we become aware of the exploitation of youth, and in the same spirit I share with you my outrage that modern American statism does not draw a line at the corruption of the treatment of the young. Kids for Kash A few years back, I saw a story about a judge who was being investigated for taking bribes from prison-for-profit corporations.  Then it was just by chance that I caught a fleeting follow-up this past week on some media channel about judges finally going to jail for this scam. My first thought is, what took so long?!  But this new info was hard on the heels of the story about how the FBI was dropping the investigation on a certain candidate for POTUS.  I must admit that I received both of these reports with a minimum of surprise.  Our country is dying of political corruption, and this has been the case for over two centuries — so it is a chronic illness.  The very thing that makes our country great is also the thing that is taking us down.  It is our adventurous spirit for which we are coming to account. America has always been in a hurry.  When we declared our independence from the British Empire, we were so arrogant with our newfound hubris that we decided to run ourselves on the British model. We were a sort of Leviathan Lite.  Let’s rub their limey faces in it.  We started with towns, counties, provinces, and their attendant civic functionaries based on the model of the tyrant we hoped to escape.  What could go wrong?  Just because England was a bureaucratic nightmare of aristocratic monarchists, we thought we could dip in the same slop while keeping dry and clean. It’s as Willy Stark opined in All the King’s Men, we do not rise far above our birth.  We embraced a corrupt system cooked up in the witches cauldrons of the European world of the 17th Century.  Any student of history knows that the train had long before jumped the rails of civilization.  Europe, and by extension, England had clawed and cheated, stolen and murdered its way to dominating the world through colonies.  You couldn’t find honorable individualism with a torch. The stench of the sewer... continue reading

Division of Labor, Evolution, Tom Woods

Send him mail. “Finding the Challenges” is an original column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Verbal Vol. Verbal is a software engineer, college professor, corporate information officer, life long student, farmer, libertarian, literarian, student of computer science and self-ordering phenomena. Archived columns can be found here. FTC-only RSS feed available here. With today’s column, I am still four columns behind on the year. I am always unprepared for the long days of Summer, when I often work outside with my beautiful bride. We are often slaloming our zero turn mowers over the hayfields until the sun is just an orange glow in the west, sometimes up until 10pm. Then we usually eat together. I am no longer doing adjunct teaching in Lexington, also a Summer happening. But the hiatus may be permanent this time, as our new governor has put the community college system on short rations. When I have more or less regular duties, I can carve out time to sit to write for EVC. No excuses, though, I’m mostly saying that I will make every effort to catch up, now that I have analyzed the problem. It is my objective to author 26 columns a year. I will begin my comeback with a rambling re-enactment of a conversation recently engaged in on Facebook. Then more rambling, as I consider some of the implications of evolution. And speaking of evolution, we have a highly evolved, modern Socrates amongst us — Tom Woods is his name and knowledge is his game. Be sure to check Topic #3 below. Division of Labor A picture of a bustling pre-1913 Washington, DC, looking along Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, shows a prosperous and vital cityscape. Overburned on the scene are the words, “Did you know? … Prior to 1913 Americans kept 100% of their paycheck.” This picture is courtesy of TheFreeThoughtProject.com. It also has a sub-caption, “There were still roads, schools, colleges, fire departments.” I shared this meme on Facebook, initiating this fascinating discussion: NG: Growing your own food also back then. Something I’m still doing. VV: My grandparents lived in that time. On one side, they lived in Boston — the 2nd largest US city then. They lived by division of labor. On the other side, my ancestors lived in Liberty KY — a town of 1,000 then. They lived by division of labor. Something I’m trying to do still. NG: Given modern technology, its a great era to do both, grow great quality food at home, and do division of labor. But I worry that some anarchists see homegrown as some kind of a threat to division of labor. I am into division of labor. But I also love the high quality of my own home produced food, and all the wonderful exercise, the beauty of greenery, the joy for my family picking fresh food, the joy of nature on my own property. It’s incomparable and cannot be bought. I have no quarrel with folks who get their food in... continue reading