I finished reading the first collection of Mao today. When I get home, I'll have to decide if I want to replace that computer bag reading slot with volume two or something else. At the very end, Mao wraps up by commenting on epistemology. I find it unfortunate that he doesn't keep it academic -- every so often he uses "as an example" why some of the things he thinks are right (which by and large I agree with so far) are best under his epistemology. The issue is that while he demonstrates a good understanding of Marx's form of the dialectic, he doesn't tie it together well enough to actually support his points. It's a bizarre method to argue -- to slip possibly contentious material in alongside good material, as if Steven Hawking dropped in liberal political commentary into his physics papers at a low rate. I suppose it's a bit late to call Mao on it at this point though - all that one really can do is notice it and try to justify (or reject) such leaps. I wonder why so many philosophers spend so much time on epistemology anyhow -- often it's not particularly relevant to the rest of their work, which can usually be trivially re-based onto another epistemological system if it's general enough. The best reason I can see for including it is that philosophers tend to at least have a strong opinion on epistemology (I don't think in terms of Marxist/Materialist dialectics or dialectics of any form) and they like to share their thoughts, and that philosophers, especially within the Marxist (and some other) traditions, write for people assuming it may be their first exposure to philosophy - familiarising people with one epistemology may insulate them from a foreign, carefully crafted epistemology that is particularly hostile ground for their philosophy. When people first are exposed to philosophy, and get the idea that consistency is important, they often take it too far, insisting that all the parts must fit together tightly (rather than functionally), and that reconciliation must happen immediately (rather than over years). Being able to say "These parts don't fit as I concieve of them, but I'm working on understanding them together" is a mark of maturity and often leads to fruitful ends (e.g. Sartre's later-years interpretation of Marxism in Existentialist terms). Use of labels as loose tools, and blurring style and essense are steps down this path (although I should note that this is a matter for philosophy, not for most religion).
As I recently read Mao on alliances, it seems appropriate to read this news - the European socialist alliance gave Slovakia's Social Democrat party the boot from their alliance, for forming a coalition with the Slovak National Party (a far-right party). Is this similar with the Chinese Communist Party entering alliance with the Kuomintang? I suspect not - the situation is not desparate enough to merit comparison to being invaded by Japan (although even in Mao's shoes I probably would've been considerably more reluctant to ally with the KMT). By accepting far-right parties in coalition, the Social Democrats are taking responsibility, to an extent, for whatever actions the racist parties take. Far-right parties in power are, and traditionally have been, the greatest enemies for the left, including Social Democrats, Democratic Socialists, and Communists - their rapid growth should be seen as a sign that the democratic process is failing, and preventing their exercise of power must be a top priority to prevent fascism (or theocracy) from rising. For the Communists and Social Democrats (not necessarily Democratic Socialists), I would hope that these are seen as a call to organise Red Armies for the defense and continuation of civilisation.
It is important to note in these times that we must not confuse the left from the right, nor the good left from the bad -- politicians in the traditions of Pim Fortuyn, who oppose conservative social mores and increased muslim influence in western governments - these are only an enemy of the deep-multicultural left, a faction that should not be trusted, celebrated, or defended. Communists defending Islamic Theocracy are an abomination - just as much so as those supporting any other form of Theocracy. The left factions that should be celebrated are the largely-libertine, academic, atraditional callers for racial unity, socialist economics, and one set of laws for all.
- "The 13 spellings for a sound like sh - shoe, sugar, issue, mansion, mission, nation, suspicion, ocean, conscious, chaperon, schist, fuchsia and pshaw - are a source of weakness, not strength." -- The Guardian (newspaper)
- I am probably going to get a Gumstix within the next month. If anyone in Pgh has experience with them and has opinions on what model is going to be the most interesting as a "getting-the-feet-wet" kind of thing, they should drop me a line. I don't yet have any particular ideas on what I'll be using the system for.
- I am hoping for good reccommendations for new plaes to eat that are within the general SqHill/Oakland/Shadyside area - I'd like to get some more variety. Any advice on food that's reasonably healthy, veggie-friendly, possibly with some spice, not eastasian, and not bread-centric (no subs/sandwich places, please) is welcome
- I am finally close to being able to cancel my Verizon wireless phone service. Hurrah!
- People and software that think in terms of 1000s of bytes rather than 1024s of bytes really piss me off, especially when they use words like GiB and MiB.
- I need to get new clothes. Many of my existing ones are getting ragged. Sigh. Anyone up for clothes shopping with me (maybe tomorrow?), please volunteer.
- I may go horseback riding with a small group of people sometime soon, if things work out schedulewise. I *really* want to do some snowboarding this coming winter.
- I find myself randomly curious about Canadian culture, and European perspectives/impressions on the topic.
- I love Bach's BWV 1042.1 (Violin Concerto in E Major Movement 1). I need to rename/retag all my Bach to include the BWV identifier so it's easier to have a short, clear name for the songs, as I had to look this up. Sigh. Naming classical music in a sane way in the age of digital devices is tricky.