WHEN OTHERS ARRIVE: Vladimir Putin threatens the world!

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2022

Cable keeps serving us porridge: We wish, wish, wish we could focus today on the work of Saul Kripke, whose death, at age 81, is reported in the New York Times.

In the Times' obituary, Sam Roberts describes Kripke as "a pioneering logician whose revolutionary theories on language qualified him as one of the 20th century’s greatest philosophers." 

It may be surprising to think that you've never heard of one the greatest philosophers of the 20th century.  But as we told you some years back, it's all anthropology now.

In fairness, Roberts isn't a specialist in the branch of alleged erudition known as academic philosophy. As a journalist, he's had a long career at the New York Times, dating to 1983.

In this morning's obituary, Roberts attempts to explain Kripke's enormous stature. The attempt begins in paragraph 3, then proceeds onward as shown:

ROBERTS (9/22/22): Professor Kripke’s classic work, “Naming and Necessity,” first published in 1972 and drawn from three lectures he delivered at Princeton University in 1970 before he was 30, was considered one of the century’s most evocative philosophical books.

“Kripke challenged the notion that anyone who uses terms, especially proper names, must be able to correctly identify what the terms refer to,” said Michael Devitt, a distinguished professor of philosophy who recruited Professor Kripke to the City University Graduate Center in Manhattan.

“Rather, people can use terms like ‘Einstein,’ ‘springbok,’ perhaps even ‘computer,’ despite being too ignorant or wrong to provide identifying descriptions of their referents,” Professor Devitt said. “We can use terms successfully not because we know much about the referent but because we’re linked to the referent by a great social chain of communication.”

Say what? People can use familiar terms despite knowing little about "their referents?" 

Can that possibly qualify as a discovery in the field of "logic?" Can that possibly explain why Kripke is rated as highly as he is? 

As he continues, Roberts stumbles ahead, keeping the Times from breaking faith with a companion elite. His attempt at explanation continues:

ROBERTS (continuing directly): The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch, writing in The New York Times Magazine in 1977, said Professor Kripke had “introduced ways to distinguish kinds of true statements—between statements that are ‘possibly’ true and those that are ‘necessarily’ true.”

“In Professor Kripke’s analysis,” he continued, “a statement is possibly true if and only if it is true in some possible world—for example, ‘The sky is blue’ is a possible truth, because there is some world in which the sky could be red. A statement is necessarily true if it is true in all possible worlds, as in ‘The bachelor is an unmarried man.’ ”

According to Kripke, "The sky is blue" is only a possible truth—it isn't a necessary truth—because we can imagine a world in which the sky is red?  As of 1972, could that possibly have qualified as some sort of major discovery in the field of "logic?" 

On its face, that seems to make little sense. And yet there it is, offered precisely that way, in this morning's New York Times, with editors relying on subscribers to accept such work on the part of the Times without eye-rolling or spit-takes or snorting, or even comment or criticism.

(As we'll show you below, we think that passage is a bit unfair to what Taylor Branch actually wrote.)

The fact that such work can appear in the Times is a fact about anthropology. According to experts in the field, so it may go when major journalists attempt to maintain faith, in a transparently illusory way, with the world of academic philosophy. 

Surely, no one can think that Roberts' explanation actually seems to make sense. As readers, though, we mumble each word to ourselves as we read through this strange account.

We agree to swallow our doubts. We agree to pretend.

In such ways, our tribe agrees to maintain faith in our intellectual elites. And that's how it works, it may possibly seem, with the way we accept the basic functioning of our upper-end mainstream journalism.

In our view, the New York Times has basically run a charade in today's obituary. In our view, the paper does a much more respectable job in the layout of its front page.

Even there, the paper basically splits the difference between two dueling events. The events in question are these: 

On the one hand, Vladimir Putin has threatened to bring an end to the world. But also, an appeals court has rejected a frivolous appeal by Donald J. Trump!

How should the importance of those dueling events be weighed? As some logicians might be able to say, that is a matter of judgment—but, like Solomon of old, the New York Times has pretty much decided to split the baby. 

In this morning's print editions, Putin's threat to destroy the world dominates two-thirds of the paper's front page (four columns out of six). Beneath a banner headline concerning President Biden's address to the U.N., the Times offers two reports:

Russian Leader Challenges the West, Issuing a Veiled Nuclear Threat

In Address to U.N., President Assails Kremlin as a Menace to Peace

In our view, that nuclear threat was thinly veiled, but that too is a matter of judgment. At any rate, this topic consumes two-thirds of the space at the top of page one—but it's placed to the left of the page.

The upper right-hand corner of the front page concerns Trump's legal troubles. Here too, a pair of reports appear, with one headline in all caps:

COURT LIFTS HOLD ON SENSITIVE FILES AT TRUMP'S ESTATE

New York Sues Trump, Citing Decade of 'Staggering' Fraud

In our view, Putin's threat to destroy the world is a major event. 

Depending how you want to score it, the legal events concerning Trump may have been given a larger display in the Times—though we'd say the Times played the two events as basically even-Steven in importance.

Reviewing, Putin has said that he damn-straight will use his nukes. Also, Trump got an expected negative ruling, by a unanimous vote.

In this morning's New York Times, these two events share the top of A1. But on blue tribe cable news last night, things were enormously different.

In the last two hours of the evening's broadcasts, the news about Putin's threat was mentioned in one (1) seven-minute segment. Other than that, it was tribal porridge and tribal pleasure all the way down:

Trump Trump Trump Trump Jail! This framework consumed the entirety of The Eleventh Hour with Stephanie Ruhle. It consumed all but one brief interview segment on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. 

Lawrence ran that one short interview segment, starting at 10:52 P.M. Aside from that, it was two solid hours of Trump Trump Prison Jail.

Back in our youth, Slim Pickens hallooed and waved his ten-gallon hat as he descended to earth riding a nuclear weapon. What kind of news judgment was offered last night on blue tribe cable news?

As some logicians could probably tell you, that is a matter if judgment. As for the death of (the undoubtedly brilliant) Kripke, we call tell you this:

Taylor Branch was an historian, not a specialist in academic philosophy. Still, we think he was scoring points in the street-fighting Summer of 77, saying such things as this:

BRANCH (8/14/77): Though this may not be an age of philosophical gods, Robert Nozick, the Harvard political philosopher, has called Saul Kripke "the one genius of our profession,” and many of Kripke's distinguished colleagues, who are not by nature given to lavish praise, say that he could one day rank with such legendary figures as John Stuart Mill and Bertrand Russell.

It is remarkable that someone so young has approached such a ranking. yet is so little known outside his field. But philosophy has changed a great deal in the past century. While “social” philosophers like John Dewey and Jean‐Paul Sartre are practically household names, they do not represent the mainstream of contemporary philosophical inquiry, which has become such an arcane discipline that it leaves most laymen gasping for meaning. Those who can easily grasp formulations like Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” are befuddled by a modern “analytic” philosopher's equivalent: “To be is to be the value of a variable.”

British analytic philosophers have abandoned to science the “pursuit of truth” while claiming for their own the logician's and semanticist's “pursuit of meaning.” Even the most well‐educated persons in America today, who understand the metaphysics of Schopenhauer or the epistemology of Kant, flounder in the mathematical thickets of such 20th‐century figures as Rudolph Carnap and Willard Van Orman Quine. 

This alone would explain why philosophy has become an isolated field of knowledge, increasingly neglected even by the must intellectual circles of society. But there is another, more important reason. 

The analytic school to which Kripke belongs has taken philosophy into such esoteric realms that it is divorced from classic philosophic questions like “What is the good life?” The analytic philosophers do not seek to provide a synthetic, or universal, “theory of life.” Many students who came to philosophy drunk with Plato or spellbound by Santayana have dropped out after discovering that the ideas of the old philosophers are out of the way, refrigerated, while their professors work with equations. The professors speak of “ordinary language” with distance and long for a “perfect language” in which the meaning of all words will be as precise as that of numbers. The current philosophical journals are packed with so many equations and Greek variables that a large family of waterbugs seems to be skating across the pages.

Kripke's contributions to philosophy thus far have extended the boundaries of the most unfamiliar and technical regions of modern analytic philosophy—where philosophical reasoning intermingles with abstract mathematic theory. He has worked in the field of modal logic, a branch of formal logic that has introduced ways to distinguish kinds of true statements—between statements that are “possibly” true and those that are “necessarily” true.

Thank God for modal logic! According to Branch, it was that branch of formal logic which had allowed Kripke to note the fact that certain statements are only possibly true.

Branch isn't and wasn't a specialist in academic "philosophy." We wouldn't endorse everything he wrote in that passage, but we'd say he was occasionally in the turnstiles on his way into the ballpark.

Full disclosure! We were introduced to Branch on one occasion, right there in Baltimore's version of the Pantages. We'll only say what we've said before:

In our view, the logicians have largely walked off their posts. Along the way, they left some comical markers behind, including the hundreds of pages Russell devoted to proving that 1 + 1 equals 2.

The logicians have largely walked off their posts! That helps explain why you've never heard of one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century.

At the Times, Roberts offers a puzzling account of Kripke's greatness. As in the old joke from the Soviet Union, Times readers agree not to notice.

(The old joke from the Soviet Union: We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.)

Within our tribal elites, we keep pretending that we have "logicians" guiding us in our various struggles. Also, we keep pretending that we have a wide array of functioning mainstream journalists.

Last evening, on tribal cable, the plight of the migrants had disappeared. But so it goes, again and again, when others arrive at our borders.

Tomorrow: Attention C-Span callers!

Fuller disclosure: O'Donnell mentioned Putin's threat, somewhat briefly, during his seven-minute interview with Karine Jean-Pierre. 

For the most part, Jean-Pierre was allowed to spend the time extolling President Biden's unmistakable greatness. "Karine Jean-Pierre gets the last word," Lawrence said as he closed.


86 comments:


  1. "In our view, that nuclear threat was thinly veiled, but that too is a matter of judgment."

    What are you talking about, dear Bob?

    ...y'know, for a fella constantly complaining about the "storyline", you appear to be a faithful kool aid drinker of this one...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bob,
    Are you asking the media for more politicization of what Putin said?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's asking you not to consider Biden's effective
      speech or Trump's day of disaster. Just think about
      a pink elephant, it's just the same to Bob.

      Delete
  3. Yes, reporters can talk about famous philosophers and their accomplishments without fully understanding what their contributions were. That is an illustration of Kripke's assertion about naming and reference. I can refer to someone as a great baseball player, without knowing anything whatsoever about baseball, because I know that such a player is considered by others to be great.

    Roger Shepard at Stanford University, demonstrated the truth of Kripke's assertion empirically (in an experiment) by testing the judgments about color of people who were blind from birth and had no first-hand experience of color perception. They made their judgments based on their knowledge of the meanings of color-terms, the words people use consensually to describe colors in the world. By learning language, blind people also learned the relationships among colors and were able to use color words the same way as everyone else does, even if they had no color knowledge from their own experience.

    This is how language works, because words mentally represent experiences in ways that are equivalent to the experiences themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Somerby seems to expect reporters to be as expert as the philosophers they are talking about (as in obituaries). Why should that be so? Reporters routinely describe many things they are not personally involved in. If a reporter describes the opening of a new plant to build cars, that doesn't mean they have any personal involvement with that plant. They interview others and report what they say. But Somerby thinks this reporter should understand Kripke's work at the same level as a philosopher would. Why should that be expected? I wouldn't expect a reporter to be a zoo animal or a zoo keeper, in order to discuss an expansion at the local zoo.

    This is foolishness on Somerby's part, intended to disparage reporting. The event being reported is not the discovery of ideas in philosophy -- it is the death of a human being who made discoveries in a particular field. Anyone who wants to know more about what he discovered can read his books, or better yet, go take a university course on philosophy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Kripke, working in the 1970s, addressed problems in meaning raised by Wittgenstein. And yet Somerby is only just now telling us about Kripke's work. There is something dishonest about presenting a problem for philosophy without also telling readers about the solutions, such as the work done by Kripke and others working in reference philosophy and naming. Somerby exaggerates the problem and then hides part of the solution (others worked in this area too).

    It may be that Somerby only today discovered Kripke, but he speaks as if he himself has known about this famous philosopher for years. Since his work came after Somerby's graduation from Harvard, perhaps Somerby never read his work, never even heard of him after he left college. Somerby often appears as though his knowledge were frozen in time, stopping when his education stopped. That would be fine -- many people are this way about their college majors -- except that Somerby keeps sounding off like an expert and even today patronizingly describes Kripke's work, as if he were well aware of it, despite never having said a word about it until today.

    This is another reason why I wouldn't trust a thing Somerby says about philosophy or the expertise of famous academic thinkers. Somerby doesn't know what he is talking about on this subject. He may be qualified to call out reporters for being more ignorant than himself, but he doesn't have anything to say about the problems they describe in their news articles. And he lacks integrity because he skews his discussion by leaving out the info that would make his accounts balanced and fair. Kripke doesn't deserve to be the latest cudgel to attack journalism and his death is being mourned by people who genuinely care about him as something other than another stick to attack academic expertise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. Anonymouse 10:57 pm be that Somerby only today discovered Kripke, but he speaks as if he himself has known about this famous philosopher for years. Since his work came after Somerby's graduation from Harvard, perhaps Somerby never read his work, never even heard of him after he left college. Somerby often appears as though his knowledge were frozen in time, stopping when his education stopped. That would be fine -- many people are this way about their college majors -- except that Somerby keeps sounding off like an expert and even today patronizingly describes Kripke's work, as if he were well aware of it, despite never having said a word about it until today.”

      Nope. Bob can successfully reference Kripke solely upon the authority of being linked by a great social chain of communication.

      Delete
    2. If Somerby is doing this with Kripke, then on what basis can he criticize a reporter for doing it too?

      Delete
    3. I know, you think you are being clever, but your comment doesn't make sense.

      Delete
    4. I can help that you’re as concrete as a war bunker.

      Somerby wasn’t criticizing the NYT for ignorantly or inaccurately relaying the gist of Kripke’s work. Had he done that your use of my quip would have made a little sense.

      Somerby responded to the paper’s unquestioning manner toward Kipke’s analysis.

      You then accuse Somerby of being both ignorant of Kripke and deceitful for not having mentioned him in relation to Wittgenstein.

      Oh, how wronged and misguided you’ve been.

      Meinong should have made up for it, poor dear.







      Delete
    5. Yes, that is exactly what Somerby was doing -- criticizing the NYT for inaccurately relaying the gist of Kripke's work. Somerby says:

      "On its face, that seems to make little sense. And yet there it is, offered precisely that way, in this morning's New York Times, with editors relying on subscribers to accept such work on the part of the Times without eye-rolling or spit-takes or snorting, or even comment or criticism."

      Delete
    6. “The analytic school to which Kripke belongs has taken philosophy into such esoteric realms that it is divorced from classic philosophic questions like “What is the good life?” The analytic philosophers do not seek to provide a synthetic, or universal, “theory of life.” Many students who came to philosophy drunk with Plato or spellbound by Santayana have dropped out after discovering that the ideas of the old philosophers are out of the way, refrigerated, while their professors work with equations. The professors speak of “ordinary language” with distance and long for a “perfect language” in which the meaning of all words will be as precise as that of numbers. The current philosophical journals are packed with so many equations and Greek variables that a large family of waterbugs seems to be skating across the pages.”

      Bob excepts the above report from 1977 by another journalist as being more in the ballpark as to what was going on in the field of philosophy.

      It is a more questioning stance on the value of Kripke’s work (and with what was going on in his field) as opposed to your take that Bob criticized NYT’s accuracy in their reporting of what Kripke said.

      Your misunderstanding of that led to your tone deaf response to my quip.

      Delete
    7. Somerby says Branch is a historian, not a journalist. Your explanation doesn’t excuse Somerby’s criticism of Kripke. But Somerby has no standing to judge great philosophers at all, with his failed college courses and admitted inability to grasp their ideas. Your are an idiot.

      Delete
    8. The only appeal that anonymices possess is the appeal to authority.

      Delete
    9. "Bob can successfully" right there you lost the argument, making a nonsense claim without credible evidence - a tactic Somerby regularly employs to no apparent "success".

      If I knew you I would be embarrassed for you, as it stands I just find it amusing, and sad too, the disparity between how you view yourself, and reality. I laugh at the non sequiturs and malapropisms, I weep at the remarkable lack of self awareness. I have to go, I need a tissue for these tears...

      Bless your little heart, Cesillyia.

      Delete
    10. Well, while you’re feeling embarrassed, and also laughing, as well as being sad, perhaps you should bother to read the blog so you would have understood the reference.

      Delete
    11. It would have helped if you understood your own reference, that would have helped too, Cesillyia!

      Delete
    12. Anonymouse 11:04pm, well, you’ve come as far as to go back and see that it was a reference/quip and not my own “claim”.

      You did it, Anonymouse! Good for you!

      Delete
  6. "On the one hand, Vladimir Putin has threatened to bring an end to the world. "

    Somerby, who pretends to be a stickler for getting things right, himself exaggerates Putin's threat. Putin is not threatening to end the world, but to use limited nukes to beat Ukraine. That is not the same thing. Is it possible that Putin could set into motion a chain of events that might severely damage the world and make life on it untenable. Yes, anything is possible. Is that likely? No so much, even if Putin does use nuclear weapons of some sort. Is that what Putin actually threatened? No, because his goal is to win his war, not to end all of us on this planet (the world would likely continue to exist, even if life were wiped out by nuclear contamination or a nuclear winter that destroyed food sources).

    This is bombastic language of the sort that Somerby deplored when applied to the accomplishments of a philosopher -- Somerby wouldn't even let the great man be called great. But Somerby says Putin HAS THREATENED to end the world. Somerby can be such an asshole.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Kripke's contributions to philosophy thus far have extended the boundaries of the most unfamiliar and technical regions of modern analytic philosophy—where philosophical reasoning intermingles with abstract mathematic theory. He has worked in the field of modal logic, a branch of formal logic that has introduced ways to distinguish kinds of true statements—between statements that are “possibly” true and those that are “necessarily” true."

    Modal logic is hugely important in computer science, not just modern philosophy. It is taught in philosophy programs but also in cognitive science (an interdisciplinary field that melds computer science, mathematics, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy and linguistics). Branch's view (echoed by Somerby) that Kripke's work (and that of other modern logicians) is useless is pure ignorance. Somerby is complaining because math made philosophy no fun any more. He echoes every bewildered algebra student, who moans, why do we have to have variables? It is the equivalent of saying "why do we need statistics, isn't counting enough?"

    Somerby name-drops Branch and talks about meeting him. I had dinner once with Latfi Zadeh, from Stanford, after I gave a talk on evaluating machine learning at NIST in Maryland (National Institute on Standards for Technology). He was in his 80s and he fell asleep during the keynote address, but he was very gallant and courtly and his work was very important -- he founded fuzzy mathematics, making him a great man too. So, we can all play that game. The roots of today's advances in AI depends on such work, not Somerby's nay-saying and whining when things become harder to understand without doing some actual intellectual WORK.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right winger = fascist
      Republican = right winger

      Do the math Somerby!

      Delete
  8. "Slim Pickens hallooed and waved his ten-gallon hat as he descended to earth riding a nuclear weapon. What kind of news judgment was offered last night on blue tribe cable news?"

    Putin has made the same threat several times before. This is nothing new. It is called sabre rattling and it happens all the time in foreign relations. North Korea does it all the time. Note, however, that Putin and Zelensky were cooperating to keep a nuclear reactor from being damaged and leaking, so you can take Putin's threat to blow up the world in the spirit in which it was meant.

    Somerby wants us all to be afraid, very afraid. He thinks the NY Times should give Putin's threat pride of place and scare headlines. Why? Because when people are scared, they are more likely to vote Republican. Scaring the base is their signature get-out-the-vote method. I think we can trust the NY Times to know when a threat deserves a headline and when it is manipulative scare-mongering -- much better than Somerby. For all we know, Somerby's marching orders today may have said "Push Putin's threat" and distract from Trump's problems in NY. Because that is exactly what Somerby is doing. After first telling us that NY Times reporters are incompetent because they think Kripke was a great man, or words to that effect.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "At the Times, Roberts offers a puzzling account of Kripke's greatness. As in the old joke from the Soviet Union, Times readers agree not to notice.

    (The old joke from the Soviet Union: We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.)"

    This seems to be the only joke about Russia that Somerby knows.

    If a reporter cannot roller skate, then he cannot report on the national roller-skating championships. But if they cannot skate, are they only pretending to writer about it? I don't think so -- especially if they get the details right. Somerby doesn't tell us whether Kripke is still alive, the only fact that would make an obituary inaccurate. Is Somerby even aware that much of the content for obituaries is supplied by the family, a close associate, or by a university at which an expert worked. But he doesn't point out any actual flaw in this guy's writing. It is his tone that does the heavy lifting in his attack on Kripke and the NY Times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Soviet Union operated under state capitalism during an effort to transition to socialism - which never happened, and while there is not much to admire about that regime, they did produce an enormous amount of growth in a relatively short amount of time, so that joke is misguided.

      Delete
  10. Who ever promised Somerby that if he went to Harvard and got C's, he would be able to understand everything he reads in the NY Times? Somerby has a bad case of unrealistic expectations and entitlement. I picture him with that aggrieved crease on his forward, using Carlson's whining voice and asking "where's the beef?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “Philosopher Kripke, we’re down on our knees. Cause no one wants a blogger with a transcript of C’s.”

      Delete
    2. It would be very surprising, and embarrassing for Harvard, if it turned out Bob wasn't a legacy.

      Delete
    3. You’re forgetting that he was a good basketball player. Perhaps that got the dunce into Harvard.

      Delete
    4. His mother forced him to go, so he most likely wasn't on a basketball scholarship. Athletes generally want to go to college because they get to play ball. Somerby wanted to stay out of Vietnam and no doubt hoped to go to the least rigorous school possible so he could float through and visit comedy clubs at night.

      Delete
    5. He got into the Harvard because he’s brilliant. Did you really think I was implying anything else?

      Delete
    6. He is not brilliant to begin with and he is worse with age.

      Delete
    7. He got into Harvard as a legacy admission thanks to his grandmother's influence.

      Have another drink.

      Delete
    8. And you enjoy your sour grapes,

      Delete
    9. When you misinterpret every criticism as something goofy like "sour grapes", you know you're a bad faith-er, and possibly a redneck too, who knows!

      Delete
    10. “Every criticism”? It’s entirely negative criticism, Anonymouse 11:08pm.

      There’s no clearer indication of “bad faith”.

      Delete
  11. "Within our tribal elites, we keep pretending that we have "logicians" guiding us in our various struggles."

    Somerby has called for this, but when did anyone ever "pretend" logicians were guiding us?

    There are professional ethicists who are hired to make medical decision of life and death, and there are ethicists who teach at our military colleges to train future generals and admirals. But I don't think we have ethicists in factories or fast food shops. I could be wrong though -- anything is possible. But who among us said we did?

    ReplyDelete
  12. ""Karine Jean-Pierre gets the last word," Lawrence said as he closed."

    This is a routine act of courtesy toward a guest. Does Somerby not believe in courtesy?

    ReplyDelete
  13. "Last evening, on tribal cable, the plight of the migrants had disappeared. But so it goes, again and again, when others arrive at our borders."

    No, the migrants are back in the news this morning. Apparently DeSantis and Abbott shipped a plane full of ghost migrants to Nashville today.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Here is some help for the reporter who will write Somerby's obituary when the time comes:

    "He was unable to understand Einstein's theory of relativity but was otherwise a stand up comedian."

    ReplyDelete
  15. "Depending how you want to score it, the legal events concerning Trump may have been given a larger display in the Times..."

    Why should anyone have to explain to an intelligent guy like Somerby why Trump news matters to our nation? He is not only leader of a cult menacing our democracy in local races across the nation, with a midterm election coming up in less than 2 months, but he is planning to run for office again. These legal proceedings have the potential to prevent that from happening. So anything related to Trump's legal troubles is BIG news. It is bigger news than Putin's threats because our presidential politics affect each of us directly. Putin's threats affect Ukraine and have an indirect impact on the economy, but they are something he has said repeatedly, is unlikely to actually happen (no matter how crazy Putin may be, he is surrounded by barracudas capable of taking him out), and is not time-urgent just because he made yet another threat today.

    Why does Somerby appear unable to weigh and balance competing priorities? Or is it just that he wants us to stop talking about Trump?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Well, let’s start with the central irony: President
    Trump threatened other countries with
    nuclear weapons while he was in office.
    Nobody in the Press seemed to care,
    and Bob didn’t care that they didn’t
    care. But this was new to our experience.

    Bob obviously is embarrassed the
    walls are closing in around the Trumps.
    Poor baby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trump threatened hurricanes with nuclear weapons!

      Delete
    2. And other Countries too if they didn't show him
      proper respect.

      Delete
    3. And re routed them with a Sharpie!

      Delete
  17. Breaking news. The always moral and compassionate Democrats have announced that what was previously called "a heartbeat" in a human being before she is born is actually a "manufactured sound."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Take your BS and stick it, weirdo.

      Delete
    2. 12:52,
      Be honest. How much better do feel when you force 11-year olds to carry their rapists babies?

      Delete
    3. I always feel bad.

      Delete
    4. You could call the Veterans Suicide Hotline about that, but the Republicans have tied it up so no one can get through, as some sort of protest.

      Delete
    5. If you ask me it's better to require an 11 year old to complete a pregnancy than to sterilize one with castration or cut of their breasts and mutilate their genitals.

      Delete
    6. 4:06,
      Or let them grow up to vote Republican.

      Delete
    7. At least with the Republican form of mistreatment of 11 year olds a life is saved but with the Democrat form a life is ruined.

      Delete
    8. Don't argue with fanatics.

      Delete
    9. "“At least two more minors made pregnant by sexual assault were forced to leave Ohio to avoid having their rapists’ babies,” Ohio Capital Journal reports.

      “The affidavits show that a Columbus 10-year-old was not the only child or teen rape victim forced to leave the state. They also describe more than two dozen other instances in which the abortion law put women under extreme duress.”

      Delete
    10. It's odd, though, that all 100% of the aborted fetuses vote democrat.

      ...or maybe not. They want more company?

      Delete
    11. Reminds me of the old joke.
      Did you hear the one about the Republican voter who isn’t a bigot?
      Me neither.

      Delete
    12. All 10 year olds who are pregnant are rape victims.
      That said abortion kills another victim and not killing humans is good. Castration and genital mutilation are never good.

      Delete
    13. At least with the Republican form of mistreatment Establishment elites get HUGE tax breaks, which the "economically anxious' Republican voter (who, BTW, isn't at all just turned-on by bigotry) loves more than their children.



      Delete
    14. Which humans have been killed by abortion?

      Delete
    15. Everyone who wants to kill large numbers of humans has invented a way to define them as something less than or other than human. That kind of atrocity is nothing new.

      Delete
    16. Nor is scientific ignorance.

      Delete
    17. Imagine believing science holds that a human fetus is not human, and simultaneously thinking such a belief represents something other than scientific ignorance.

      Delete
    18. It is ignorant in every way to assert that a clump of non sentient non viable cells is a human.

      It is worse than ignorant, it is immoral, and causes tremendous suffering.

      Abortion causes zero suffering, it mitigates suffering.

      That heartbeat sound is in fact not a heartbeat and is in fact manufactured by the device that interprets electrical impulses to sound like a heartbeat. This is not a good thing as it generates misunderstanding with the parents, and the moronic among us.

      Your righteousness is misguided, you are in reality promoting something that is immoral, harmful, and hurtful. Society does not need to be crucified for your sins.

      Delete
  18. I see Donald J. Trump, two-time Republican Presidential nominee, is blaming the banks for not catching on that Trump was inflating his asset valuations.
    The party of personal responsibility (for black people) strikes again.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I don’t know who coined the term “referent,” but he was a dunce. It comes from the Latin present active participle, so its natural interpretation is “the one who refers (to a thing),” not “the thing to which one refers.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "A direct reference theory is a theory of language that claims that the meaning of a word or expression lies in what it points out in the world. The object denoted by a word is called its referent."

      The word does the referring, not the object that it names.

      Delete
    2. “The object denoted by a word is called its referent.” That’s dumb. “The word does the referring,” so it should be called the referent.

      The guy that started using “referent” in this way was a dork.

      Delete
    3. Words only have meanings to the extent that people agree about what they mean. You do not get to decide your own personal meanings, based on dimly remembered Latin or anything else. That is what schizophrenics do. Aside from the meanings people agree to attach to words, they are just meaningless patterns of sound.

      This is just at excuse for you to shit on experts and call people names. Sort of like what Somerby does here every day.

      Delete
    4. Yes, words are arbitrary. The philosopher could have called the thing referred to a "Somerby fan," but that would have been goofy. Calling it a "referent" is goofy. In coining his technical term, he blundered.

      If only he had come to me.

      Delete
    5. You don’t even know whether he coined it.

      Delete
    6. Somebody coined it. There was a time when nobody called the thing referred to the referent. Now, unfortunately, thousands of people call it that.

      Delete
    7. I'll coin my dick in your mouth. How do you feel about that?

      Delete
    8. The thing referred to is called the object.

      Delete
    9. Sometimes the thing referred to is the subject.

      Delete
    10. Is there thinking without language?

      Delete
    11. I'll coin you, bitch.

      Delete
    12. Is there language without thinking?

      Delete
  20. "In our view, the logicians have largely walked off their posts."

    Somerby has always had an odd view of what the job of an academic is. These so-called posts are not what logicians do, or have ever been expected to do. The logicians have instead been working at their actual jobs and doing them well. It is Somerby whose view is skewed.

    ReplyDelete
  21. While the disparaging about Somerby are largely on target, he's right to disparage the author of Kripe's obit. The example of something being necessarily true shows clearly its author capable of displaying massive ignorance. When I took mathematical logic classes back in the Dark Ages of the 1960s, that would have been known as a tautology, a term I believe recognized by any literate person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Complex topics cannot be fully explained in the space of an obituary. The idea that they should be is ridiculous. A death announcement is to tell people that someone has died, not summarize their life's work in a few paragraphs.

      Do you really think Kripke would be considered great if his ideas amounted to tautologies?

      Delete
    2. I would have given points to Somerby if he had made a point about how published obits pick winners in a way that is detrimental to society.

      He did not.

      Delete
    3. Anonymices are always on board with what Somerby didn’t write.

      Delete
  22. Tonight Sean tried to find a bullshit solution
    to a greedy insane traitor problem.

    ReplyDelete
  23. How about this: Trump and Putin want to destroy the world.

    ReplyDelete