I retired almost thirteen years ago and have rarely thought about getting a job, even a part-time job, since. But it appears I’ve settled on a hobby, without really intending to. This blog has been part of it for twelve years. Another part is a philosophical “book” about perspective (or points of view) I’ve been “working on” for almost ten years. The other part is lots and lots of comments I’ve spread around the internet.
Many of these comments have been deposited at an interesting site called Three Quarks Daily. It’s mainly an aggregator. They link to articles of intellectual interest at other sites. They also have a Monday Magazine, which features original content.
The site is free, although a “one-time donation” or “small monthly payment” makes advertisements disappear. Most of us don’t need more to read on the internet or elsewhere, but I highly recommend 3 Quarks Daily.
What led me to writing this post is that I spent part of last night and most of this afternoon responding to four articles at 3 Quarks (which is more than average output for me).
The first was a response to a Guardian article called “The Federal Reserve Says Its Remedies For Inflation ‘Will Cause Pain’, But To Whom?”. At 3 Quarks, I merely quoted some of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s recent dialogue with the Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell:
Warren asked Powell if Fed rate increases will lower gas prices, which have hit record highs this month. “I would not think so,” Powell said.
Warren asked if grocery prices will go down because of the Fed’s war on inflation. “I wouldn’t say so, no,” Powell said.
“Rate hikes won’t make Putin turn his tanks around and leave Ukraine,” Warren said, adding that they won’t break up corporate monopolies or stop Covid-19.
“Inflation is like an illness and the medicine needs to be tailored to the specific problem, otherwise you could make things a lot worse,” Warren said. ” … the Fed can slow demand by getting a lot of people fired and making families poorer.”
The Massachusetts Democrat urged Powell to proceed cautiously with further rate hikes.: “You know what’s worse than high inflation and low unemployment? It’s high inflation with a recession and millions of people out of work”.
Next was a response to an article at Aeon called “Armchair science: Thought experiments played a crucial role in the history of science. But do they tell us anything about the real world?”
I disagreed with one of the philosophers quoted in the article, James Robert Brown of the University of Toronto. He said he was extremely impressed with Galileo’s thoughts regarding falling objects.
Suppose we connect the two objects [a musket-ball and a heavier cannonball] with a short, stiff rod. One could argue that the lighter musket-ball acts as a brake on the heavier cannonball, slowing its fall. Then again, one could also argue that the composite body, whose weight is equal to the sum of the two original bodies, must fall faster than either body alone. This is obviously a contradiction. The only solution, Galileo says, is that all bodies fall at the same rate, independent of their weight.
“I fell out of my chair when I heard it,” Brown said. ‘”It was the most wonderful intellectual experience perhaps of my entire life.” Brown went on to become a leading authority on thought experiments.
At Three Quarks Daily, I expressed skepticism, concluding that Galileo’s thought experiments didn’t prove anything except that it was worth getting empirical evidence on the question (trying it out) before reaching a conclusion.
Number 3 concerned an original article at Three Quarks written by Thomas R. Wells, a “British academic philosopher living in the Netherlands”. He called his article “We Should Fix Climate Change, But We Should Not Regret It”.
Mr. Wells argues that the climate crisis began with the Industrial Revolution, but we shouldn’t regret the Industrial Revolution because of what it’s led to. I’m not sure any sane environmentalists actually regret the Industrial Revolution. I left the fifth comment:
We can agree the Industrial Revolution was a good thing, while also noting that climate change [is] the result of regrettable choices we made along the way, not by starting the Industrial Revolution, but by ignoring our effect on the climate, even though scientists discovered that effect decades ago.
We could have made this a “vastly better world for most people” without making it a vastly worse world for so many other living things. Not exactly coining a phrase, but other living things matter.
Finally, another Three Quarks contributor, Mike Bendzela, who I believe teaches in the English department at the University of South Maine, published an article today called “Abort All Thought That Life Begins”. He argues that there is no such thing as the “beginning of life”. Life has always developed as a gradual process without any particular beginning (its ending isn’t always clear either).
As you might expect, this article has elicited a variety of comments (they’re still landing). I responded to another reader this way:
Justice Blackmun, who wrote the Roe v Wade opinion, shared an internal memo with the other justices before the majority decision was published. He wrote “You will observe that I have concluded that the end of the first trimester is critical. This is arbitrary, but perhaps any other selected point, such as quickening or viability, is equally arbitrary.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…]
… I believe the author … is making the point that any decision regarding a moment when there is “conversion from not human to human” is somewhat (or totally) arbitrary. I’d say the transition from “not human enough” to “human enough” is a matter of convention.
That’s how the five Republicans and two Democrats on the Court ruled in 1973 — they came to a nuanced agreement based on trimesters and viability. It was a reasonable compromise that worked well enough for 50 years, until the Court was corruptly (after Senatorial hypocrisy and lies told to the Judiciary committee) taken over by ideologues.
I see that the person I responded to has now responded to me. Once more unto the breach…
I’ve never read all of Roe v. Wade or the dissents, and I know some lawyers and scholars who oppose forced births (women who get pregnant being compelled by the state to eventually give birth) disagree with the Roe majority’s legal reasoning.
However, as others have pointed out, the 9th Amendment to the Constitution says: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”. Even though the Constitution doesn’t mention a right to privacy, or pregnancy or abortion for that matter, I agree with Tim Quick above that we all have certain fundamental rights, including the ones he mentioned that justify women and their doctors sometimes ending a pregnancy without interference from the government.
If topics like these interest you, I recommend Three Quarks Daily. You don’t have to read the comments.