Saturday, April 16, 2011

email to fred, explaining my pouty glare without a single reference to pain. oops.

hello fred.  

not to worry: i am just depressed.

i am not angry, resentful, irritated, hypoglycemic, bedraggled, contemplative, behind (or ahead) of the game.

i am just depressed. my plan is to go to sleep as soon as possible and to continue to do that until such time as being awake is tolerable. past experience tells me that i will peak tomorrow between 5 am and noon.

in other news, you will be happy to learn that there is a NEW law and order show. law and order: LA. this is a good thing as we were in danger of not having enough versions.

i *did* do things today so you can just stop with the unceasing snarky, rude implications that i am lazy. i read your mind. i am not lazy. i did some laundry. i fed and watered the cats, washed a frying pan, wiped down counters, played with and groomed three cats, only one of whom was properly grateful. i wrote a blog post about the either/or logical fallacy and the republican governors who are attempting to destroy environmental protections and legislation at the state level.

i napped.

i thought about baking.

i wrote five long emails that were very overdue.

i sent my brother tw an electronic gift card to REI. (what do you think? would he use their gear? i was desperate and out of ideas.  rumor has it that i am also depressed.)

so, to reiterate: i am simply suffering from an affective derangement AND there is a new law and order show that takes place on the western coast of the united states.

yours very truly,
the prof
(if trump can be the donald, why can’t i be the prof? you wanna be the fred?)

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."
(1 Cor. 13:4)


We adore logical fallacies here at Marlinspike Hall, ancestral manor of the Haddock clan -- that arm indigenous to Tête de Hergé (Très Décédé *D'Ailleurs).

[* One of these days, we will have to address the issue of the correct form of "décédé," and whether it modifies "tête," an obviously feminine word, or "Hergé," an indisputably male person, even if décédé.]

One logical fallacy that we rarely discuss involves the use of "either/or," either explicitly as some purportedly bifurcated presentation or implicitly by the invocation of some imaginary branch in the persuasive path. We don't discuss it because it is an easy one, readily identifiable and facile snicker-fodder, but also because I tend to lose my cool early on in the discussion.  Like my ancestors, I curse and throw fine china.

Some people, less ardent, maybe, or perhaps less invested in rhetoric, consider my frenetic reaction to be, itself, illogical  (though I challenge them to label it in any way fallacious).

When "either/or" starts popping up with regularity, especially within public political discourse, it's a sign.  (All semioticians are excused from the remainder of this blog post.  Should you choose to stay, you must keep your sound and fury under wraps.)  A surge in the "either/or" method of argument and persuasion, when the dependency of the involved terms is a fallacy, indicates our submersion into deep ideological doodoo.

Interlocutors are ripe for "either/or" picking when they feel threatened, when they are confused, when it's easier to blame and deny in the vast minimum of a sound bite or a 140-character tweet than it is to understand and participate, in depth.

Kennesaw State University put out a nifty little cheat sheet on "Either/Or," and one comment near the top of the page actually got me pumping my fist and muttering a fierce, emphatic "yes":  

These tactics are purposefully designed to seduce those who are not well informed on a given topic. A clever writer or speaker may use the either/or fallacy to make his idea look better when compared to an even worse one. This type of selective contrast is also a form of stacking the deck. This type of argument violates the principles of civil discourse: arguments should enlighten people, making them more knowledgeable and more capable of acting intelligently and independently.

The New York Times published an article this morning about Republican governors, primarily of Tea Party persuasion, who are trying to repeal decades of environmental protections in their states.  Since it is awfully hard to argue that, in and of themselves, these are odious protections and ridiculous regulations, the reasoning being offered to justify raiding the involved moneys goes something like this -- "this" being a citation from a radio address by Maine governor Paul LePage, who proposes a 63-point dismantling of environmental protections and laws in his state, including opening a good chunk of the North Woods to deforestation and eliminating some child protection  mandates (product testing for toxic chemicals, for example):

Maine’s working families and small businesses are endangered,” he said. “It is time we start defending the interests of those who want to work and invest in Maine with the same vigor that we defend tree frogs and Canadian lynx.

Sorry, it's not an article, it's a blog. The distinction slips by me, more and more frequently. In particular, it is a multi-authored blog, called Green: A blog about energy and the environment.  This entry was written by Leslie Kaufman.  I am not yet sure whether journalism presented in a blog at a newspaper website merits different treatment or receipt than an article directly under the auspices of the banner.  Something to ponder should I ever return to my historic levels of caffeine consumption.

Anyway, let's leave if-and/or-when and return to either/or.  In political speech, "either/or" is often used as a fallacious way to so focus the interlocutor's mind such that he comes to believe in an artificial limitation to the choices inherent in a situation.

The last time I followed an "either/or" mass movement was in January 2010 on the "Dr. Phil" website as his followers weighed in on the topic of aid to Haiti following the magnitude 7+ earthquake that killed over 220,000 people and left millions homeless in that already economically devastated country.  The overwhelming tenor of the arguments are represented by the entries cited below.  It's clear that the authors are speaking from a massive, accumulated frustration that is serving almost as a unifying identifier. They refuse to even speculate on the need of that radical "exotic" other, the Haitian.  The argument is poor and illogical, but protected by its popularity, its good-old-boy environs, and disguised as a kind of brave, shoulders-braced-and-chin-jutting patriotism of the people.
The only country where we have homeless without shelter,
children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds,
and mentally ill without treatment - yet we have a benefit for the
people of Haiti on 12 TV stations, ships and planes lining up with food,
water, tents, clothes, bedding, doctors and medical supplies. Imagine if
we gave ourselves the same support that we gave all other countries. I
feel bad for them but I guess who cares about America.
-- user raiderdreger, March 23, 2010

I am aware of the dire circumstances of our economy. I realize most of your peers, as are you, are focused on the war on terror, "fixing our economy" while lining your pockets with my hard earned money and of course there is the health care fiasco that faces our country. The United States is run by big business not a democracy. I'm not going to pretend it is otherwise.'s all about money. Recently I have witnessed a great deal of money floating around, changing hands. You recall the disaster that occurred Haiti. Apparently there are people out there willing to help when horrific events present themselves. Governor Beshear we have a horrific event occurring right here, in Kentucky, but for some reason you are turning a blind eye. --  user cstohne, January 21, 2010, titled "Letter to Governor Beshear of Kentucky"

I hate to say this but no one seemed to care about this place before why now? We are in enough debt, we can't get jobs or have neough money to feed our own kids, or afford a dcotor or health insurance. Since when has any other country helped us in time of a disaster?
-- user delight1208, January 26, 2010, titled "Haiti relief"
Those lucky underclassmen in English 1101/55 and 57 at Kennesaw State in the Fall of 2002 were given three examples of an "either/or" fallacy, along with a polite reminder that it is possible to use the construction (literally or as a presentation format) without falling prey to misrepresentation.  This is the second example given:

A firm believer states: “I'm not pro-choice; I'm pro-life.”

Politicians have wrapped this issue up into a messy ball of catch phrases. They assume that a person must have a definitive stand on the abortion issue across the board – either for it or against it. Using these terms, however, make this either/or fallacy especially comical. Who is not technically pro-“life”? We are all still here on this planet – living, eating, socializing, etc. – living life. We like life; we fully support it. On the other hand, we are all Americans whose speech is protected by the First Amendment that grants us freedom of intellectual choice. Therefore, aren’t we all technically pro-“choice” too?

We can play these word games for hours, but these terms cannot adequately help us arrive at a conclusion on this issue if they obscure the realities. Wouldn’t some anti-abortion advocates be in favor of aborting a fetus in order to save the life of the mother? So are they pro-“life” or “choice” if they sacrifice one of them instead of both? … or neither? Do you see how this gets us nowhere? The pro choice/life debate has been “dumbed down” to these two equivocated, loaded, slanted, and distorted terms that only get people mad. Life, death, and abortion are much too complicated to be understood on a bumper sticker.  

You've probably noticed that I haven't mentioned or in the least belabored my arguments against the G.O.P. movement to divest environmental protections and regulations of capital by an assault on environmentalism at the state level. Should I list the benefits of not ruining 3 million acres of Maine's North Woods? Will I herald a return to persuasive logic if I argue the merits of salvaging the Florida Everglades, a goal likely to need every penny of its already allocated $50 million budget -- a worthy project that would be hamstrung by Tea Partier Gov. Scott's proposed $33 million cut to its funding. Is there merit to following the either/or rhetorical trend by placing the fate of the manatee alongside the socioeconomic destiny of Philhelmina Florida and her Florida family?

Those wily beasties who are spearheading these local attacks know that as soon as their opponents' words buy into their fallacious dichotomies, the verbal argument is won, or at least rendered so complicated and far afield of the point as to remain indefinitely on life support.  Gov. LePage is so eager to trap and trick that he fishes with a specific lure, knowing that I will follow his lead of "tree frogs and Canadian lynx." See how he tries to sneak in a sly reference to illegal immigration?

Piece o' cake.  Their own tendency toward overeagerness will betray these Money-Grubbing Earth Haters...

G.B. Trudeau: Doonesbury 08.06.2006

Why not one last moment of additional levity?  After referencing Dr. Phil's fans and their attitudes toward Haiti, I was reviewing past references in this blog to the island nation.  How fortunate to find this piece from April of 2009, readymade with an academic and rhetorical aspect:

You will recall that my Brother-Unit Grader Boob is an English prof at a large public university.

One of his writing assignments for his Freshman comp students involved song analysis. Sorry to say, Grader Boob notes that, "apparently, the idea of a thesis merging literary and rhetorical analysis escapes most of my writers."

By way of clarification, he offered the following quote from a student paper positing reggae as a music of resistance:

"Marley was a Jamican who sometimes visited the island of Hadee."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

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The earthquake off the coast of Japan on Friday, 11 March, and the subsequent tsunami have caused tremendous destruction. The Cochrane Collaboration's Evidence Aid resources are available through this website and The Cochrane Library. They provide information on healthcare interventions that are relevant to flooding and treating injuries. Furthermore, in partnership with Wiley-Blackwell, Evidence Aid has opened free, one-click access to the whole contents of The Cochrane Library to everyone in Japan.
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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fr. Roy Bourgeois: You are telling me to lie... This I cannot do...

I found this link over at Fresca's place, l'astronave, along with The "Name Ten Fictional Characters You Would Have Sex With" Meme.

Yes, well, first things first!

Michael J. Bayly, co-editor of The Progressive Catholic Voice, is helping to publicize the case of Fr. Roy Bourgeois who has refused to recant his support of women's ordination into the priesthood and therefore faces dismissal from his community at Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.  This failure to recant means that the Vatican will proceed with its threatened laicization.

Yesterday Bayly published a nice excerpt from Bourgeois' open letter to the Superior General of Maryknoll, Fr. Edward Dougherty in his personal blog, The Wild Reed: Thoughts and reflections from a progressive, gay, Catholic perspective.  It being open and all, I'm stealing it... because who doesn't love and want to support someone standing up to speak truth to power? *

. . . After much reflection and many conversations with fellow priests and women, I believe sexism is at the root of excluding women from the priesthood. Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard we may try to justify discrimination against women, in the end, it is not the way of God. Sexism is about power. In the culture of clericalism many Catholic priests see the ordination of women as a threat to their power.

Our Church is in a crisis today because of the sexual abuse scandal and the closing of hundreds of churches because of a shortage of priests. When I entered Maryknoll we had over 300 seminarians. Today we have ten. For years we have been praying for more vocations to the priesthood. Our prayers have been answered. God is sending us women priests. Half the population are women. If we are to have a vibrant and healthy Church, we need the wisdom, experience and voices of women in the priesthood.

As Catholics, we believe in the primacy and sacredness of conscience. Our conscience is sacred because it gives us a sense of right and wrong and urges us to do the right thing. Conscience is what compelled Franz Jagerstatter, a humble Austrian farmer, husband and father of four young children, to refuse to join Hitler's army, which led to his execution. Conscience is what compelled Rosa Parks to say she could no longer sit in the back of the bus. Conscience is what compels women in our Church to say they cannot be silent and deny their call from God to the priesthood. And it is my conscience that compels me to say publicly that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice against women, against our Church and against our God who calls both men and women to the priesthood.

In his 1968 commentary on the Second Vatican Council's document, Gaudium et Spes, Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, said: "Over the pope . . . there still stands one's own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary, even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority."

What you are requiring of me is not possible without betraying my conscience. In essence, you are telling me to lie and say I do not believe that God calls both men and women to the priesthood. This I cannot do, therefore I will not recant. . . .
– Roy Bourgeois
Bayly lists several avenues of support for Fr. Bourgeois at the end of his post, and this link to a petition on the Women's Ordination website, as well as some suggested background reading and relevant previous postings at The Wild Reed.

Father Roy Bourgeois (center) presides during the ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynska (far right).

*The phrase "speaking truth to power" goes back to 1955, when the American Friends Service Committee published Speak Truth to Power, a pamphlet ii at proposed a new approach to the Cold War. Its title, which came to Friend Milton Mayer toward the end of the week in summer 1954 when the composing committee finished work on the document, has become almost a cliche; it has become common far beyond Quaker circles, often used by people who have no idea of its origins.

To speak truth to power sounds so much like an integral part of Quakerism that some modem Friends have simply assumed the phrase goes back to the seventeenth century rather than arriving late in the middle of ours. It reflects what many contemporary Friends would like to believe is the characteristic Quaker stance toward political authority, hallowed in practice if not the exact words. Yet in its origins it was a political statement, entitling an explicitly political document.

Let me recall the origin of the phrase. According to Steve Cary, the phrase just came to Milton Mayer one day, as he was thinking about the pamphlet. Everyone on the drafting committee liked it and asked where it came from.

Milton Mayer thought he recalled it from some early Quaker writing, but no one subsequently found it, though Henry Cadbury made several attempts to find the phrase. In short, it would seem to have been original with Milton Mayer, though in sound and attitude it feels like an authentic expression of early Quakerism. It has its meaning for us, in part, because it is so concentrated and vivid an expression of an attitude toward government and other institutionalized forms of power. Surely it was the perfect title for a pamphlet challenging the behavior of the two antagonists of the Cold War. They represented raw, terrifying, unreflective and deadly power. What was called for to transform that power was bold and uncompromising truth.


Good morning.

I woke up optimistic, figured it best to rush and tell the world, surprise my friends, amaze my family!

Let's give the credit to Interesting Dreams, the plots of which I chose to let drain from the sieve of my claptrap mind -- Interesting Dreams mostly due to the appearance of good people not thought of in a long time.

My Oneiric Planner is off-kilter. The dream, as I said, was nicely peopled, well-cast, but the location was clearly temporary. Most of the episodes, in fact, might have been scouting attempts to score A Place For This Dream. That must be why we passed from motel rooms to strip malls, from motel rooms to rectangles of office parks, from motel rooms to cafeterias. We congregated on walkway/sidewalk intersections, in front of my stepmother's old family home, behind the former Dumas/Giddens Oil Company beach cottage, before 313 Fitzgerald Avenue, 8260 SW 145th Street, 301 Walnut Creek Drive, 466 Kentucky, 58th Street.  Everything was stateside.

I won't carry the dreams too far with me into the day, there is too much to do. 

Tomorrow is Ketamine Treatment #4, dosage at 125 mg.  A helpful friend {gagging cough} sent me two studies claiming that chronic/longterm CRPS is unresponsive to ketamine, that -- like sympathetic {choking spasm} blocks -- they're only useful within 3-9 months of onset. 

Yeah.  Well.  Your Mama!

And on that note, I'm off to eat soup... and see why the fire department has arrived down the road, in front of the Digital Drugs, Nutmeg, and Paraphernalia Renaissance Villa and Dairy Farm (where "Weekend Warrior" has a whole other meaning...).

Sunday CatCam

I thought I'd see what the "magic movie" feature on the Flip camera turned out -- and it's fine, I suppose.  It's also kind of hard to screw up video of a bunch o'cats.  (It *did* botch the list of credits, but -- again -- it's a matter of crediting a bunch o'cats, so no big whoop.) 

The song is "Love Will Guide You Home" by Deadman.

Anyway, at least there are shots of the recently departed Uncle Kitty Big Balls, and even a few of the Reclusive Marmy Fluffy Butt.  Dobby, Our Little Idiot, is, of course, everywhere, and there's plenty of footage of our newest inmate, Buddy the Kitten.  Despite "Buddy" being his official moniker, I cannot seem to stop calling him "Numbnut." I am also calling Dobby "Sammy," and anyone who will listen is liable to hear "Little Boy."

You there!  Feline! 

[I know it's not fair to compare but I surely do miss Sammy.  Now *that* was a mighty fine cat.]

Even though the music ended up overlain so as to drown out the inevitable squeaks and moans that I seem to always add to a soundtrack, it was actually playing while Buddy the Kitten was lullabied to sleep. He seems to like Brett Dennen's voice, find it relaxing. Me, too.

I just didn't want you to hurt yourself trying to figure out some significance to this music being paired with pictures of a kitten snoozing.