In Praise of Logic

Sometime in the last few generations, logic started getting short shrift. I don’t mean logic as a concept; plenty of people can, and do, invoke “logic” as a defense for completely absurd arguments. No, I mean LOGIC, the formal subject of study, the one involving formal concepts like “and,” “or,” and “xor,” as well as fancy Latin words for various fallacies. Logic has gone missing, and we’re all of us the worse off for its absence.

When I was young, I had to do lots of logic games. These were the type involving a grid (or several grids) and a bunch of Xs and Os as the problem solver tried to determine which statements or pairings of entities were correct and which were not. For example, a problem might center on allocating livestock to farmers or favorite subjects to school students, given sufficient but incomplete facts. There were a lot of variants, but these are the ones I remember most.

My complaint is not that I did this and “kids these days” don’t. My complaint is that most kids didn’t do problems like that, then, either. See, I only did those games because I was assigned to the school’s “academically gifted” or “gifted and talented” programs (the name changed at some point for political correctness reasons). The rest of my classmates got the chance to do exactly one of these problems during my elementary school years, as I recall. Only a few of us did them regularly.

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What Kind of Lie?

I stumbled across a page earlier – I don’t even remember what site, now – that referred to a “bold-faced lie.” This is another one of those phrases that have evolved to the point that there are now at least a few variants, but little certainty on the “correct” (i.e., earliest or original) variant.

See, I grew up hearing “bald-faced lie” about 70% of the time and “bold-faced lie” the rest. These days, I hear the latter probably 80% of the time. I wonder which one is correct. The problem is that there are good explanations for at least three variants:

  • “Bare-faced lie” – British dominant version, according to some. Possible explanations:
    • This could make sense, as “bare” would mean naked, exposed, unconcealed, or obvious. Thus, “bare-faced”: obvious on its face.
    • I also have read that it could originally have been a derogatory reference to Native Americans. In the same sense as “Indian giver,” the phrase would thus imply unfair dealings by the native inhabitants of North America, many of whom have little facial hair by nature.
    • Possibly it dates to the sixteenth century, when beards were the social norm in English society, making a clean-shaven face audacious, like telling an obvious falsehood.
  • “Bald-faced lie” – Common American usage. Same explanation, but updated and possibly Americanized.
  • “Bold-faced lie” – Common American usage. Possible explanations:
    • Bold, as in audacious. It takes a “bold face” to tell an obvious lie.
    • Bold, as in typeface. The lie is so obvious, it might as well have been printed in bold to draw attention.

So, once again, the glorious Internet has given me more questions than answers. Does anybody know anything about this?

Quote of the Day: Runner-Up

“Hope, danger’s comforter, may be indulged in by those who have abundant resources, if not without loss at all events without ruin; but its nature is to be extravagant, and those who go so far as to put their all upon the venture see it in its true colours only when they are ruined; but so long as the discovery would enable them to guard against it, it is never found wanting. Let not this be the case with you, who are weak and hang on a single turn of the scale; nor be like the vulgar, who, abandoning such security as human means may still afford, when visible hopes fail them in extremity, turn to invisible, to prophecies and oracles, and other such inventions that delude men with hopes to their destruction.”

– The Athenians, in Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War (the Melian Dialogue)

The Joy of Mondays

Remember last week, when I wondered who puts trash in a neighbor’s trash cans immediately after the garbage truck comes by? The question this week is who manages to fill every trash can in sight to the point of overflowing with wet, stinking, mostly-unsacked garbage immediately after pickup? That’s what happened on our street, yesterday. Fortunately, I was able to get the city to treat it as missed trash and send a truck by.

Really, people, who does that?

Too Crazy

I have not been posting a tenth of what I want to post on here. I have lots to share – politics, economics, stocks, law, and other topics, for starters. Unfortunately, real life – that is, the private life of family, friends, and simply living – keeps getting in the way. This week in particular was insane, or at least insanity-inducing. I will probably not be posting much for a little while, unfortunately. Perhaps life will cut me some slack soon.

Post-Ike Update

As I said in my last entry, we survived Hurricane Ike just fine. In fact, we don’t seem to have suffered any damage except for the power outage and a front door that no longer opens due to swelling (the wind blew water right at the door all night, and it swelled to a point it can longer be moved except with kicking). The power is still out for us and about a third of the metro area. We have been blessed by wonderful friends who have put us up for the last week, but we’re hoping to get power back by Thursday; our zip code is scheduled for 80% or better restoration by then.

Meanwhile, life goes on. Work is starting to pick back up after the storm, and life is generally good. Now if we could just get power back and reduce our commute to something resembling sanity, all would be well here.

Alive and Well

Just a quick update that we are alive and well, but still (as of last night, anyway) waiting for the power to come back on. It went out a couple minutes after my last live-blog post. More to follow soon.

I (Don’t) Like Ike

As you may be aware, Houston is staring down a major hurricane (currently Saffir-Simpson category 2, but probably about to become a 3 or maybe even a 4). I’ll be working from home the rest of the day and all of tomorrow, given the craziness that is Houston’s roadways during a coastal evacuation. Our place is new, well-built, and nowhere near either the coast or flood-prone areas, so that’s not much of a concern; we just have to ride it out.

Anyway, for those checking in on us: we’re fine; we’re staying; we’ll be in touch as/when we can, though you should expect us to lose power for at least a while on Friday or Saturday, which could mean several days. I think, for kicks, I’ll live-blog it to the extent I can, starting tomorrow evening. So, if you’re looking for up-to-the-minute Ike reports, I’ll try to oblige.

Meanwhile, the best sources of information are StormPulse, The Weather Channel, and the National Hurricane Center.