Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ode to a Catalina 385

Catalina
Sung to the tune of "Wild Thing"
by The Troggs


Catalina,
You make my heart sing-a



You make everything
G-r-o-o-o-o-v-y! 



Catalina,
I think I love you...
 


But I wanna know for sure!


So c'mon and hold me tight
I   L-O-V-E  you



 Catalina
You make my heart sing-a



You make everything
G-r-o-o-o-o-v-y!



Catalina, 
I think you move me


But I wanna know for sure!



So c'mon and hold me tight
You   M-O-V-E   me


Catalina
You make my heart sing-a



You make everything
G-r-o-o-o-o-v-y!



 

C'mon, c'mon, Catalina



Shake it, shake it, Catalina





Monday, April 24, 2017

'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' Author Robert M. Pirsig Dies at 88

Author Robert Pirsig and his son Chris in 1968.


I am saddened to learn about the passing today of Robert Pirsig, author of one of my all-time favorite books. I read it first when I was a teen, and my idea of a cross-country trip on 2 wheels was #RAGBRAI.

Many years later, I re-read the same dog-eared copy as a 50-year-old cancer patient with a broken marriage, an unfinished dissertation, and a glorious #Road_King.


Reading a book the second time can be an amazing experience, particularly if the intervening years had some character-building experiences...

In my youth, I latched on to the lighter part of #ZAMM which deals with adventure--the open road, and a mechanic's appreciation for the well-engineered machine. 

My second exposure occurred many hard miles later. At that time, Pirsig's dark and desperate struggle to find truth, keep his sanity, and add value to the world--all of that absolutely pierced me. 

I am grateful for my life and all of its lessons. I am grateful that every time I was ready to learn, a teacher appeared.
 
Thank you, Robert, for so much wisdom lurking behind the veneer of a travel story. You taught us to not merely exist but to truly "be in the scene." May your heavenly highways be full of twisty turns. In the afterlife, may man and machine work as one, evermore.



Links for further reading:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Turn the World Down




This is the cover art for the album Black Cat by the artist Zucchero Fornaciari. The album's English version includes collaboration with Elvis Costello on "Love Again" (renamed as "Turn the World Down").

This song--Elvis Costello's words and Zucchero's bluesy rock voice--this is great stuff

Watch a video HERE as you scroll through the lyrics below.



"Turn the World Down"


Now and then
It’s night again
Like black ink pouring from a pen

Curse my eyes
For opening
I’m having trouble just recovering

And in those hours we gazed
Upon white sheets, torn back from a page
My heart is spent

Almost erased
Turn the world down
There’s nothing between?
All this beauty and this suffering?

Please if you know
Get the word out
Let the globe spin
Save everyone and everything.
Like a blade Keen and thin
Scimitar Soft like a maid
Beneath his skin

Upon this scene
Disgrace and sin
Where are you now?
Where have you been?

And in those hours we gazed
Upon red sheets, pulled back by the rage
My hearts are spent

Almost erased
Turn the world down
There’s nothing between
all this beauty and this suffering?

And if you know
Get the word out
Let the globe spin
Save everyone and everything
Turn the world down
There’s nothing between
all this beauty and this suffering?

My mind is all bent
It’s stamping my soul

I’m burning down
To tar and charcoal

To blood and ash
To feathers and trash

I gotta move

Turn the world down
There’s nothing between
all this beauty and this suffering?

And if you know
Get the word out
Let the globe spin
Save everyone and everything

Turn the world down
There’s nothing between
all this beauty and this suffering?

I gotta move
I wanna move
Now and then
It’s night again
It’s night again





You can learn more about Zucchero's 12th studio album and listen to all 15 tracks HERE

The copyright for the Black Cat cover art displyed above is believed to belong to the label, Universal, or the graphic artist(s). Source: Fair use. File:Zucchero - Black Cat.jpg. Uploaded: 24 March 2016.

Begging the Question?




Everyone knows that "begging the question" is a technical term used in logic and debate. The term refers to the flaw of asserting an unproven assumption as if it were true. Therefore, obviously, no one would ever use "begging the question" to mean raising or posing a question that needs to be answered.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Pink Freud Matter: Today's Lesson in Critical Thinking

Have you seen this quote circulating on any of your social media sites?

Quote attributed to Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) 


Odds are good that you have seen this quote at least once. It showed up in my news feed again recently. This particular image has 1.2 million shares on just one Facebook site (Fb / The Idealist, as in "idea list"). There may be countless other individuals and groups circulating this same image via Facebook. It's on Twitter, too. And Pinterest. In short--it's everywhere.

Furthermore, plenty of creative people have entered their own versions of the meme into circulation. A simple Google search reveals a multitude of variations.

Not only have you probably seen this exact poster--or one very similar to it--but you may have even shared it with your friends and contributed to its popularity. Oh, we love the sardonic and heartfelt wisdom in the remark. And we'd love to ascribe such earthy wisdom to someone whose reputation validates our instinctive trust. Confirmation bias (the tendency to believe statements because they reinforce our previous understanding) makes it easy for us to accept the attribution to Freud without question--as millions of others have done.

However, the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud is most certainly not the author of that quote. That's right, we've all been duped! Because ...

Freud never said those words!

Freud was a prolific writer. Many great quotes are legitimately attributed to him. The following links feature quotes gleaned from his writings. At best case, they are properly cited. As you read through them you will notice certain tonal qualities to them that reveal the context and content of Freud's thoughts. Yet no where will you find the "quote of the day."



In Freud's day (the early 20th century), few educated people used offensive gutter terms like "assholes" in serious conversation. Apparently many others have questioned the language of this quote, because a simple search of the Internet turns up many variations of the quote of the day in which the offending term is replaced with something else.
  • I found an "arseholes" version. (Born and educated in eastern Europe, Freud died in London. This term is common vernacular in England today, but was it used by an Austrian ex-pat in 1920?)
  • There are many versions, still attributed to Freud, where the offending word is replaced with benign synonyms: "idiots," "bunch of jerks," or "mean people." 
  • In one version, the offending word is not replaced but boldly over-written with "idiots." This edited version makes it clear that the person circulating the quote did not approve of "Dr. Freud's" language and wanted to substitute a more suitable term without breaking attribution. 
  • Many of the modified quotes are shared anonymously, without attribution of any kind. 
  • Perhaps my "favorite" version is the one published by Board of Wisdom (www.boardofwisdom.com) and credited to someone supposedly named Laura Rose. Neither the Board of Wisdom nor Laura Rose understand plagiarism.  

Nice try, Laura Rose! (If that is your real name.)

Laura Rose: Altering is not authoring!

So far, we've seen how the popular quote has been attributed to Freud without a shred of evidence and despite the inconsistency with his other, properly attributed quotes. We've seen how the language of the quote has been edited by a number of others, and even co-opted by at least one more would-be author. Turns out, Freud is not the only person people want to believe uttered these words. The quote has also been misattributed to  the award-winning science fiction author, William Gibson.


William Gibson (1948-present) did not say these words, either

Compare the Freud and Gibson versions and note the subtle difference in the last phrase: "...just surrounded by assholes," versus "...just surrounding yourself with assholes." The former is passive, and the latter is active. Unlike our friend Laura Rose, Gibson did not change a couple of words and pass the quote off as his own idea. Gibson merely re-tweeted--initially without attribution--something he saw and enjoyed. Others, seeing the Gibson imprimatur, were all too quick to ascribe his authorship and create posters such as the one above. But the fact is that Gibson not only did not write the quote, he has actively attempted to give credit to the (less famous) person he re-tweeted. Yet the misattribution to the more well-known writer persists.

The question of who authored the quote was put to Quote Investigator (http://quoteinvestigator.com) and researchers there scoured the Internet and written records for clues. They actually searched Freud's papers and contacted people such as William Gibson and asked questions. They found a tweet by @debihope published in 2010. When contacted, she said she just wrote what she felt after a bad breakup. The researchers failed to turn up any prior citations.

Based on current evidence, we conclude that Debbie Hope (Twitter handle @debihope) should be credited with composing this saying. The attribution to William Gibson (Twitter handle @GreatDismal) was based on a misunderstanding because he re-tweeted the remark. Gibson himself never tried to take credit for the quote, and attempted to credit Steven Winterburn (Twitter handle @5tevenW) from whom Gibson had re-tweeted the quote. Interestingly, Winterburn has claimed to be the originator, but his first use (May 24, 2011) was 16 months after that of Debbie Hope (Jan 24, 2010). The ascription to Freud has no substantive support.

Note how easy it is to believe that Freud said these words. The words make sense and we want to believe them. We may even want to share them so that we can be affiliated with the wisdom contained in them. But when it comes to credibility, with which person do we prefer to align our opinions? Sigmund Freud? Impressive! Or William Gibson? Popular! How about Steve Winterburn? Debbie Hope? Anonymous? Or maybe we follow the Laura Rose example and put our own name on it?

From evidence, we conclude the attribution to Freud is incorrect. Gibson vigorously denied authoring the statement. Both Winterburn and Laura Rose claimed attribution in error. That leaves Hope, the person who claims the quote. So far, no previous version has been documented.

So the matter is settled. Or, is it? Why do so many people persist in attaching the quote to Gibson or Freud?  

Pink Freud to the rescue! 

Fixed it! Or, did I? Who is Pink Freud?

So, what is the point of all this? Several lessons can be drawn.

  • Don't believe every poster or meme--they are easy to make. Deb Hope is not the meme artist known as Pink Freud even though I spent all of 5 minutes making the above poster.
  • Think critically about the information that is pouring into your ears and eyes. Don't be so quick to trust the attribution given by someone else.
  • Avoid confirmation bias by asking challenging questions about what you know versus what you want to believe.
  • Always test what you know and check sources. Don't make up a source or accept an unverified source
  • Give credit where it's due. Do not plagiarize or take credit for someone else's idea.


Thanks for reading PhilosFX. Check out these related links!


Friday, February 24, 2017

Call to Action: Shut down the "Deathtrap"



Tell #NBC that you will NOT watch the March 1st episode of #ChicagoFire because you are a decent human being and it's too soon to make money off of the horror that was the "Ghost Ship" fire.

NBC is planning to air an episode entitled "Deathtrap" which is a realistic depiction of the Oakland warehouse fire that took place just 3 months ago. That fire trapped and killed 36 people and injured 2 more. The community and the survivors and their friends and families are still reeling from this devastating loss!

The synopsis of "Deathtrap" makes it clear that NBC is re-enacting the Oakland warehouse fire in a Chicago setting. The casting call makes explicit reference to "Ghost Ship" and the requirement for actors to re-enact the experience of being trapped in a blazing warehouse. How did this disgusting and crass story get green-lighted? Have the executives at NBC lost their minds?

Call to Action
  • Social media warriors, drive to ZERO the viewership for this indecent episode.
  • Corporate sponsors, withdraw your advertising dollars from this repugnant programming.
  • Dick Wolf, super-star producer, admit that this idea was a crass mistake, and acknowledge the lesson learned: We value life when we respect the dead.
Links to more information on this issue

"We value life when we respect the dead."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Venus and Mars are Alright Tonight!


This picture shows the view in the west-southwestern sky about an hour after sunset on Feb 20, 2017 in Alexandria, VA. About 30 degrees above the horizon, one notices a brightly glowing planet: Venus. Above and to the left of Venus, about 7 degrees away, is a fainter, redder planet: that would be Mars.

Venus and Mars are alright tonight!





The celestial dance of ultra-feminine Venus and the combative, uber male, Mars has fired up human imagination since time immemorial. The Roman myth of Venus and Mars is familiar to most of us. Venus, the Goddess of Love has a passionate affair with Mars, the God of War. Together they have a beautiful daughter, the Goddess Harmonia. But like love itself, the story of Venus and Mars is much more complicated than it would seem on the surface.

Venus is betrothed to pragmatic and hard-nosed Vulcan, Roman God of Fire, but she finds him too prosaic. She has a passionate affair with Mars. But Vulcan discovers what is going on. Being a blacksmith, he fashions a fine metallic mesh which ensnares Venus and Mars on a couch. They are then both humiliated in front of the other gods on Mount Olympus. 

Yin and Yang. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. In the long run, life did not work out well for these two star-crossed lovers. But tonight? Tonight, Venus and Mars are alright!







Sitting in the stand of the sports arena
Waiting for the show to begin
Red lights, green lights, strawberry wine
A good friend of mine, follow the stars
Venus and Mars are alright tonight


Standing in the hall of the great cathedral 
Waiting for the transport to come 
Starship two-one-ZNA-nine 
A good friend of mine studies the stars 
Venus and Mars are alright tonight






Any time, any day, you can hear the people say that love is blind
well, I don't know but I say love is kind 

Soldier boy kisses girl, leaves behind a tragic world but he won't mind, 
he's in love and he says love is fine 

and love is fine for all we know, for all we know our love will grow, 
that's what the man said









Notes:

Garry Beckstrom's guide to exploring the night sky: http://www.beckstromobservatory.com/whats-up-in-tonights-sky-2/


Charles J. Harwood, the forbidden love of Venus and Mars: https://sites.google.com/site/charlesjharwood/forbidden-love-of-venus-and-mars

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (1992) is a book written by American author and relationship counselor John Gray.

Lyrics for the title song to The Wings' 1975 album Venus and Mars: Paul McCartney - Venus & Mars Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Listen to the whole album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKWZP9dSjIc