Trivialities: The Perils of being an Outlier

I am an outlier.  At least in one way.  I am incredibly near-sighted.  I also have an enormous head.  So yesterday at the eye doctor didn’t go well.  I saw a sweet pair of prescription sunglasses, which had a sort of Malcolm X  look.  They were so cool.  But they were too small for my enormous head (we’re talking ENORMOUS).  I asked if they came in different sizes and then the bomb was dropped.  Since prescription sunglasses often wrap around the head, there are few that even come in my atrociously high prescription.  But almost NO glasses even come in the size that’s appropriate for my head.  So I left without a new pair of prescription sunglasses.  So I had my glasses cleaned and that was that.

As an outlier it’s harder to find items that work for you.  Businesses that manufacture and sell items can’t waste their time and money by keeping items in stock that almost no one wants to buy.  They’re here to provide a service to people, but there’s no use in providing a service that no one wants.  The problem is few people want prescription sunglasses, but then the number of those people who are also people with enormous heads and terrible vision is even smaller.  So unless they are some kind of specialty shop, how can they devote stock and money to providing prescription sunglasses for people who probably won’t come in.  So we’ll see if I can acquire a set of prescription sunglasses.  I hope so.

Tune in MWF for more content.
Peace be with you,
-JS

America’s Skewed Perspective

America (or the American media) have a skewed perspective on the world.  Every piece of news comes out looking all upside down or sideways.  Think back to almost every major leak by wikileaks, or to Edward Snowden’s revelations.  It’s almost as if the people who do the news are looking at the issues while hanging from monkey bars.

There’s a weird formula that all major episodes with a whistleblower go down.  They follow this outline:

  1. Leaker leaks his leak saying US Government/party/candidate did terrible things X, Y, and Z.
  2. Sometimes some foreign news outlets will run the following story: US Government/party/candidate did terrible things X, Y, and Z.
  3. The ubiquitous story in the US becomes: Leaker leaks his leak!  Tune in to hear us discuss whether we think Leaker is a good guy or should be tried/murdered!  The token devil’s advocate will say “but what about X, Y, and Z?” and be quickly dismissed while we discuss all the dirty details of Leaker’s personal life.

Consider the following cases:

Even some of the most balanced seeming reporting, e.g., settles on the question of whether Snowden (and the few press who cooperated with him) is a criminal and should be punished and not on the issues his leaks expose.

 

This happened again after wikileaks leaked the DNC’s emails showing their concerted (and corrupt) effort to make sure Hillary Clinton got selected as a candidate over Bernie Sanders.  I’m not sure what this skewed perspective means.  Maybe it’s something to do with political pressure on the media.  Maybe everyone in the media has a particular sort of state apologist’s perspective on the world.  Maybe it just makes for more watchable news to talk about a guy than to talk about terrible government wrongdoing.  I’m not sure which of these is true.  It’s simply concerning, and, I would think, depressing for those who may leak the next terrible wrongdoing by various American actors.  Our only hope, really, is the alternative news outlets.

Tune in MWF for more content.

Peace be with you.
-JS

Branson Vacation Pokemon Haul

If you’d like a guide to Pokemon hunting in the Branson are, check out this link.

I had a lot of fun hunting Pokemon in Branson.  Here are a series of images showing the Pokemon haul I got from casual Pokemon hunting on vacation in Branson Missouri:

There were so many great Pokemon on this trip.   This happened so much throughout the vacation.  I would run out of Poke-balls and immediately be surrounded by Pokemon.  This was super frustrating.

But here is my full Pokemon haul from my vacation in Branson:

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Tune in every MWF for more content.

Peace Be With You.
-JS

Pokemon Hunting in the Branson, Missouri Area

Hunting Pokemon in Branson, MO was a lot of fun.  Later on I will post about my Pokemon haul from down there.  And it was quite a haul.

But let me spend some time talking about the various places to play Pokemon in Branson Missouri.  There are a number of places I’d like to recommend to you as great both for your tourist needs and for your Pokemon Go needs.  The Branson area has a lot to offer.

College of the Ozarks

The first place I noticed was College of the Ozarks.  It is full of PokeStops.  Unfortunately, Niantic put about 8 of those stops in a very important war memorial.  So Pokemon Hunting is quasi-banned in College of the Ozarks.  So, after hearing this I did some research and this is the scoop.  Pokemon Go is banned near the war memorials in College of the Ozarks.  You are welcome to play Pokemon Go at the myriad other stops on campus, as long as you do it respectfully.  This is a great place to stock up, and a beautiful campus to admire.

Silver Dollar City

A trip to Silver Dollar City is also a great place to stock up on Poke Balls and to catch some rare Pokemon.  The Branson area is absolutely LOUSY with Nidorans, so you’ll catch a bunch of them.  The best times to hunt hear seem to be around opening time and around closing time.  These are the times I caught things like the Snorlax I found there, among other cool things (like a couple squirtles).  You will have a problem here.  You will have trouble keeping up with the Pokemon with the PokeBalls you get if you are enjoying the park at an ordinary park pace.  There are tons of stops, but there will be more Pokemon.  Silver Dollar City is great for Pokemon Hunting whether you are going hard core Pokemon or just enjoying the park while playing the game.

Branson River Landing

If, instead, you want to enjoy some tourist shopping instead of theme parks or college tours then you might want to enjoy Branson River Landing.  Here there are tons of little shops and things to enjoy, as well as tons of PokeStops and Pokemon.  Go a little further down the hill and you can enjoy two stops and tons of Pokemon at the Bass Pro Shops on the river.  This is also a great place to hunt Pokemon.

Table Rock State Park and the Hatchery

There is a road that goes by Table Rock State Park, several other cool destinations, and ends at the Fish Hatchery.  There are tons of stops along this way that will allow you to get out and take a look at the beautiful countryside.  This was a very fun part of the trip both for Pokemon Hunting and for enjoying the natural beauty of the area.

Later I’ll do a Pokemon Haul from the trip, but hopefully this will help those of you considering Pokemon Hunting in the Branson area.

Thomism and Epistemology

I’m a Thomist, but I’m technically a specialist in analytic epistemology.  I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find people who give a Thomist epistemology.  I’ve struggled to find anything particularly helpful.  Etienne Gilson says some interesting things about modern epistemology and its roots in the Cartesian doubt.  He rightly points out that Thomas Aquinas doesn’t think of skepticism as a live option.  But he also thinks that Thomas Aquinas purposely distances himself from epistemology.

But there has to be a Thomist epistemology.  A Thomist epistemology needn’t take skepticism seriously.  There are all sorts of respectable epistemologies that don’t take skepticism to be a live option.

But there’s also a nearly irresistable urge when we take this line to construe Thomas as an externalist.  I also think that this is problematic.

So how do we proceed in trying to figure out what Thomas’s epistemology is so that we can subject it to critical scrutiny?  I’m not sure what the answer is.  We need to look at the places where knowledge comes up in the discussion of other topics.  We need to look where the knowledge of God comes up.  We need to look where Aquinas talks about the sciences and their nature.  We need to look at where Aquinas talks about how we know God.  We need to look at his theory of cognition.

In the coming years, I would like to engage in a project of searching out some of the main places where Aquinas discusses knowledge so that I can settle once and for all what Aquinas thinks about the nature of knowledge and justification.

Peace be with you.
-JS

Making Sense of Trump

Donald Trump, primarily, is a reality show star.  He knows this world and he knows the strategies of this world.  But what is being a reality show star about?  Well, one of the best strategies in reality shows is to be outrageous and villainous.  That is, you should do things that keep people talking about you and make yourself the most recognizable person in the show.  Say outrageous things.  You’ll get people saying “Can you believe what Johnny said on Survivor yesterday?”  You need to create a persona.  Preferably you will create an outrageous one that gets people talking.  You will also make your persona able to be boiled down into a few words.

Trump, for example, is playing the outrageous brash business tycoon.  He’s the classic confident reality star who “isn’t here to make friends; he’s here to win.”  He stays in your brain by saying those things that will trigger the offense circuit in your brain and make you clutch your pearls and say “well, I never!”

This keeps him in your mind.  Everyone who is continuously offended by Trump (especially those in the news media) is playing right into his hands.  Trump’s message is carefully constructed to get you to feel a certain way.  He is then able to predict your moves and what you will think, because he made you feel in that particular way.

Think of the masterful way that Trump has recently taken the headlines again.  Wikileaks releases records of the DNC’s emails showing the contempt the democratic establishment had for Bernie supporters, and for a day or so the news is about the leak and is about the DNC.  But with a single speech Donald Trump has made the headlines about him.  He says that if Russia was the group that hacked Hillary’s emails, then he hopes they’d find those missing emails and release them.  All of a sudden the media is on a fainting couch saying “Can you believe that Trump just called for Russian espionage?!”  And all of a sudden, Trump wrenches the headlines back to talking about him.  He also anticipated that his comments would be misconstrued, giving him more ammunition with his followers to play the “misunderstood” card.

He’s a genius and the media are playing straight into his hands.  The down side of all of this is that we don’t ever know what Trump’s actual views are.

Honestly, I think that Trump will be a deeply mediocre president if elected (but terrible in the sense that a libertarian thinks all presidents are terrible).  He only plays a supervillain on tv to trick you into still thinking about him.  Hillary isn’t any better.  Vote Gary Johnson I guess.