Friday, December 19, 2008

'Get a Life' Meme

I saw this at Evolving Thoughts; it's a list of 219 movies, with the suggestion that if you've seen more than 85 you have no life. My count is 119, and even that is generous because I only counted movies I've seen all the way through; for several of those not marked I've seen most of the movie, just not part of it (usually the beginning or the end, of course). I had originally put my number at 114 but going back over the list I realized that there were several I had seen but simply forgotten.

( ) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest
( ) Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
(x) Starsky and Hutch
(x) Neverending Story
(x) Blazing Saddles
(x) Universal Soldier
(x) Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
(x) Along Came Polly
(x) Joe Dirt
( ) KING KONG which version?
( ) A Cinderella Story
(x) The Terminal
( ) The Lizzie McGuire Movie
( ) Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
( ) Dumber & Dumberer
(x) Final Destination
(x) Final Destination 2
( ) Final Destination 3
(x) Halloween
(x) The Ring
(x) The Ring 2
( ) Surviving X-MAS
(x) Flubber Orignial version only
( ) Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
(x) Practical Magic
(x) Chicago
( ) Ghost Ship
( ) From Hell
(x) Hellboy
( ) Secret Window
(x) I Am Sam
(x) The Whole Nine Yards
(x) The Whole Ten Yards
(x) The Day After Tomorrow
( ) Child's Play
( ) Seed of Chucky
( ) Bride of Chucky
(x) Ten Things I Hate About You
( ) Just Married
( ) Gothika
(x) Nightmare on Elm Street
(x) Sixteen Candles
(x) Remember the Titans
(x) Coach Carter
(x) The Grudge
( ) The Grudge 2
(x) The Mask
( ) Son Of The Mask
(x) Bad Boys
(x) Bad Boys 2
( ) Joy Ride
( ) Lucky Number Sleven
(x) Ocean's Eleven
(x) Ocean's Twelve
(x) Bourne Identity
(x) Bourne Supremacy
( ) Lone Star
(x) Bedazzled both versions
(x) Predator I
(x) Predator II
( ) The Fog
(x) Ice Age
(x) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
( ) Curious George
(x) Independence Day
( ) Cujo
( ) A Bronx Tale
( ) Darkness Falls
( ) Christine
(x) ET
( ) Children of the Corn
( ) My Boss's Daughter
( ) Maid in Manhattan
(x) War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour
(x) Rush Hour 2
( ) Best Bet
(x) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
(x) She's All That
(x) Calendar Girls
(x) Sideways
(x) Mars Attacks
(x) Event Horizon
( ) Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
(x) Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator
(x) The Terminator 2
(x) The Terminator 3
(x) x-Men
(x) x2
(x) x-3
(x) Spider-Man
(x) Spider-Man 2
( ) Sky High
(x) Jeepers Creepers
( ) Jeepers Creepers 2
(x) Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Little Mermaid
(x) Freaky Friday
(x) Reign of Fire
(x) The Skulls
(x) Cruel Intentions
( ) Cruel Intentions 2
(x) The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek
(x) Shrek 2
( ) Swimfan
(x) Miracle on 34th street
(x) Old School
(x) The Notebook
(x) K-Pax
( ) Kippendorf's Tribe
(x) A Walk to Remember
(x) Ice Castles
( ) Boogeyman
(x) The 40-year-old-virgin
(x) Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
(x) Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
(x) Lord of the Rings Return Of the King
(x) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
(x) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
(x) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
( ) Baseketball
( ) Hostel
( ) Waiting for Guffman
( ) House of 1000 Corpses
( ) Devils Rejects
(x) Elf
(x) Highlander
( ) Mothman Prophecies
( ) American History
( ) Three
( ) The Jacket
( ) Kung Fu Hustle
( ) Shaolin Soccer
( ) Night Watch
( ) Monsters Inc.
(x) Titanic
( ) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
( ) Shaun Of the Dead
( ) Willard
( ) High Tension
( ) Club Dread
(x) Hulk
(x) Dawn Of the Dead
(x) Hook
(x) Chronicle Of Narnia The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
( ) 28 days later
( ) Orgazmo
( ) Phantasm
(x) Waterworld
(x) Kill Bill vol 1
(x) Kill Bill vol 2
(x) Mortal Kombat
( ) Wolf Creek
( ) Kingdom of Heaven
( ) The Hills Have Eyes
( ) I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
( ) The Last House on the Left
( ) Re-Animator
( ) Army of Darkness
(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
( ) Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
( ) Ewoks The Battle For Endor
(x) The Matrix
(x) The Matrix Reloaded
(x) The Matrix Revolutions
( ) Animatri
( ) Evil Dead
( ) Evil Dead 2
( ) Team America: World Police
(x) Red Dragon
(x) Silence of the Lambs
(x) Hannibal
( ) Battle Royale
( ) Battle Royale 2
( ) Brazil
(x) Contact
( ) Cube
( ) Dr. Strangelove
( ) Enlightenment Guaranteed
( ) Four Rooms
( ) Memento
( ) Pi
( ) Requiem for a Dream
(x) Pulp Fiction
( ) Reservoir Dogs
( ) Run Lola Run
( ) Russian Ark
(x) Serenity
(x) Sin City
(x) Snatch
( ) Spider
( ) The Sixth Sense
(x) The Village
(x) Waking Life
( ) Zatoichi
( ) Ikiru
( ) The Seven Samurai
( ) Brick
( ) Akira

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Good Princess

By the example of my lord St Nicholas she will secretly send gifts to these good people by her almoner, without even the poor themselves knowing who is sending them the alms....She will speak to the poor and to the sick; she will visit their bedsides and will comfort them sweetly, making her excellent and welcome gift of alms. For poor people are much more comforted and accept with more pleasure the kind word, the visit, and the comfort of a great and powerful person than of someone else. The reason fo rthis is that they think that all this world scorns them, and when a powerful person deigns to visit them or to comfort them they feel that they have recovered some honour, which is naturally a thing that everyone desires.

Christine de Pisan, The Treasure of the City of Ladies, or the Book of the Three Virtues. Penguin (New York: 1985) 53.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Antiphons for Advent

We are approaching Christmas, of course, so here's an article on the O Antiphons. (This webpage is also a good source.) The Advent Antiphons, which date back at least to the ninth century, are probably best known from the fact that in the twelfth century they were reworked by an anonymous source as a French hymn, which was put into Latin at some point between then and the eighteenth century, which Latin version in turn was translated in the nineteenth century by Neale into the lyrics "Draw Nigh, Draw Nigh, Emmanuel," which time and much singing has altered to the following (with some variations):

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

O Come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

O come, O come, our Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times gave holy law,
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

O come, O Rod of Jesse's stem,
From ev'ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow'r to save;
Bring them in vict'ry through the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

O come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav'nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

O Come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

O Come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

The usual music to which it is sung appears to be Gregorian chant adapted to French plain song adapted to nineteenth century hymnody (often adapted to twentieth century tastes). From generation to generation, from nation to nation, from language to language, from culture to culture, people young and old, rich and poor, have carried forward the Advent message, adapted in words and music but never changed in point: Christ our Lord comes, the Star who brings light to those who live in the darkness and shadow of death.

Benevolence Is the Greater Part of Justice

Democracy, it seems, is the rule of the merciless. Thomas Kostigen argues that we should do away with Presidential pardon:

Why, oh why, should one individual be able to gain favor (and freedom) over another in a democratic system such as ours? No. The pardon system should be done away with, and along with it the ethical controversy that it portends.

Yes, why, oh why, don't we punish individuals as if they were all exactly the same! Oh, that's right, because sometimes, as James Wilson puts it, people "may be unfortunate in a higher degree, than that, in which they are criminal." And because sometimes, due to particular circumstances of the case, we can make a reasonable judgment that we would all benefit more if the person involved were given a second chance. And sometimes, perhaps just a little, because we need some clear symbol that laws are not perfect, that courts are not flawless, that mistakes are not unforgivable, and that compassion is essential to the health of justice.

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. notes that Kostigen's argument is based only on a few cases that make it into the papers:

And that is too bad. Kostigen should consider writing down the names of the 179 individuals who have received pardons and commutations from President Bush. Each name should be placed on a separate card. Kostigen should then place the cards in a bag and draw names randomly, until he comes up with one that he knows.

And President Bush is notoriously stingy in his the pardon power (Ruckman has a good post on that, too); a more reasonable use of the pardoning power would increase the names on the list. We should not just casually dismiss something that reaches into so many lives, so many families, so many communities.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tom's Algebra of Logic and James's Boundary Calculus

I have been toying around with ways to represent propositional-logic forms of Carroll's literal diagrams in a notation that could potentially allow for clarification of complicated instances (many terms) and yet would still preserve something of the diagrammatic character of the diagrams. And the most promising was a version of notation borrowed from Jeffrey James's version of boundary mathematics (PDF). Such a notation has three key features:

instance ()
abstract []
inverse <>

Out of these you can build number systems. But you can also do any sort of Boolean algebra with them, which means you can do standard propositional logic. So, for instance, this can be the disjunction (p v q):


This would then be conjunction:


To negate anything, we take its inverse, which, as noted above, is done with angle brackets:


Then rules for doing things with these brackets make it possible to handle all the transformations of standard propositional logic.

In toying with this a bit, I realized that it seemed a bit familiar; and indeed it was. It's closely related to Tom's algebra of logic. Here are Tom's types applied to propositional logic with their boundary counterparts:

[+a+b] : (ab)
[+a-b] : (a<b>)
[-a+b] : (<a>b)
[-a-b] : (<a><b>)
(+a+b) : ([a][b])
(+a-b) : ([a][<b>])
(-a+b) : ([<a>][b])
(-a-b) : ([<a>][<b>])

The brackets are reversed, but of course that's arbitrary. Of course, one would expect similarities in notations; but it never would have occurred to me offhand that Tom's algebra of logic was in the same family as boundary mathematics and so it was a bit of a surprise. (Surprise, I find, is almost the essence of logic.) But it means that one should be able to adapt boundary mathematics to do categorical syllogisms; and, vice versa, Tom's algebra of logic to do a hefty amount of mathematics. A smarter person wouldn't have been surprised by that, either; but I am very slow about these things. Something for me to think about, in both directions.

A Poem Draft

Gray Skies

The skies are gray today; but what of it?
Every gray sky has blue sky above it,
and warm light;
and when gray clouds are done
out will spring the splendid sun,
still clear and bright.

Mill on Worthiness

Mill in a number of places talks about worthiness as a department of utility distinct from morality in the strict sense. In those places he doesn't address the question of how it is distinct from morality; so it raises the question of how we might best understand this distinction.

Mill talks about worthiness elsewhere, in his argument against the ethics of Auguste Comte. The problem with the ethics of positivism, Mill suggests, is that it rejects the view that "between the region of duty and that of sin there is an intermediate space, the region of positive worthiness." Instead, Mill says, we should identify a standard of altruism that is obligatory but that allows for supererogation, a meritorious region beyond the call of duty; and he has an interesting argument that utility requires such a supererogatory region:

Text not available
Auguste Comte and Positivism By John Stuart Mill

So the greatest happiness requires that beyond the obligation there may be room for people to do goodness spontaneously and without subject to demand. Mill does hold that as time goes on the region of moral duty expands, through promise and reasonable expectation, so that virtue that once was uncommon becomes common; but there has to be space between duty and sin.

Mill goes on to connect this argument with what has to be one of the only unequivocal affirmations of the value of Catholic casuistry in nineteenth-century England:

Text not available
Auguste Comte and Positivism By John Stuart Mill

What is perhaps more interesting is that this criticism of Comte is clearly related to the criticisms found elsewhere of intuitionists and Benthamite utilitarians. We should cultivate personal enjoyments, and rather than placing the "moralization" of these enjoyments in the demand that everyone else enjoy them as well, we should instead place it in "cultivating the habitual wish to share them with others, and scorning to desire anything for oneself which is incapable of being so shared." The Benthamites treat the moral aspect of human life, i.e., duty as if it were the only one of importance; the intuitionists have (according to Mill) no principle for anything that is not morality in the strict sense; and the positivists allow no space between duty and sin. Mill insists against all three that the importance of free and voluntary moral cultivation (in the broad sense of 'moral') of one's own worthy enjoyments and tastes is an essential part of human life, and recommends his own version of utilitarianism against all three on the grounds that it takes this into account. This appears primarily to be aesthetic for Mill, in all three contexts; but it's clear from the discussion of Comte that it is not merely so, since morally heroic action is clearly taken to be an unusually great form of worthiness. There's a sense in which good taste is for Mill always moral taste; the difference between it and morality in the strict sense being that its normative force is weaker (things pertaining to morality in the strict sense are obligatory, while things pertaining to good taste are worthy of being done, although optional). While the precise form in which he deploys this idea against his opponents varies somewhat, it does seem to be a consistent theme in Mill, and is arguably one of the more important features of his system, since it is here that he places much of the superiority of his own approach over its major rivals.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Duty of a Poetical View of Things

According to the above theory, Revealed Religion should be especially poetical—and it is so in fact. While its disclosures have an originality in them to engage the intellect, they have a beauty to satisfy the moral nature. It presents us with those ideal forms of excellence in which a poetical mind delights, and with which all grace and harmony are associated. It brings us into a new world—a world of overpowering interest, of the sublimest views, and the tenderest and purest feelings. The peculiar grace of mind of the New Testament writers is as striking as the actual effect produced upon the hearts of those who have imbibed their spirit. At present we are not concerned with the practical, but the poetical nature of revealed truth. With Christians, a poetical view of things is a duty,—we are bid to colour all things with hues of faith, to see a Divine meaning in every event, and a superhuman tendency. Even our friends around are invested with unearthly brightness—no longer imperfect men, but beings taken into Divine favour, stamped with His seal, and in training for future happiness. It may be added, that the virtues peculiarly Christian are especially poetical—meekness, gentleness, compassion, contentment, modesty, not to mention the devotional virtues; whereas the ruder and more ordinary feelings are the instruments of rhetoric more justly than of poetry—anger, indignation, emulation, martial spirit, and love of independence.

John Henry Newman, Poetry, with Reference to Aristotle's Poetics, Essays Critical & Historical

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Surface of the Mirror

Unbelievers, however, cannot come to know the Trinity through these vestiges which rational creatures reflect as in a glass, because without a heart purified by faith they cannot know even that it is a glass; and hence they cannot come to know through it the things which are visible there. Thus Augustine says, in Book XV, On the Trinity: "Those who know their own mind, in whatever way it can be seen, and in it this Trinity, and yet do not believe nor understand that it is the image of God, do indeed see the glass, but so far do not see through it him who is to be seen there. Thus they do not know that what they see is a glass, that is, an image. If they knew this, perhaps they would realize that he whose glass this is should be sought through it, and somehow provisionally be seen, their hearts being purified by unfeigned faith so that he who is now seen through a glass may be seen face to face."

Matthew of Aquasparta, Disputed Questions on Faith, q. 5; A Scholastic Miscellany: From Anselm to Ockham, Fairweather, ed. Westminster Press (Philadelphia: 1961) 415-416.

I am looking for a good set of resources on Matthew of Aquasparta (one of the major Bonaventurans of the thirteenth century), but haven't been able to find any. Does anyone know of some?