dice1The guy from Buffalo, Jaquandor, linked to this New York Times article, The Dangers of Certainty: A Lesson From Auschwitz by Simon Critchley. You should just read it. He describes his love of the 1973 BBC 13-part documentary series called “The Ascent of Man,” hosted by Dr. Jacob Bronowski.

In only one episode did the good doctor deviate from what Critchley called a “relentlessly optimistic” account. The 11th episode, “Knowledge or Certainty,” was different, and explaining it further would only diminish it. But here is a relevant quote:

For Dr. Bronowski, the moral consequence of knowledge is that we must never judge others on the basis of some absolute, God-like conception of certainty. All knowledge, all information that passes between human beings, can be exchanged only within what we might call “a play of tolerance,” whether in science, literature, politics or religion. As he eloquently put it, “Human knowledge is personal and responsible, an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.”

The relationship between humans and nature and humans and other humans can take place only within a certain play of tolerance. Insisting on certainty, by contrast, leads ineluctably to arrogance and dogma based on ignorance.

Someone asked: “But does certainty always lead to Auschwitz?” Well, of course not, but as Jaquandor noted: “But that’s not the claim that is made. It’s the assumption of the absolute rightness of our views that can lead to dangers.”

And I KNEW – OK, I BELIEVED that he was correct. How else does one blow up churches, perhaps with innocent black girls inside? Or shoot a doctor who performs abortions, inside a church? Or commit terrible atrocities against “the other”? Or blow oneself up in a train station? Or wage unwinnable wars against “them”? It seems to me that one would have to be quite certain of the rightness of his or her action.

I’ve said, frequently, that often I don’t know. Would others feel the same before acting upon their convictions in such brutal fashions.
***
The younger of my sisters linked to 10 painfully obvious truths everyone forgets too soon. Not totally sure of #2 and #4, but it’s a useful list.

AmericasdebtMore from New York Erratic:

What was the greatest joy in the last year?

It had to be Thanksgiving. My wife and daughter and I spent it at my second cousin’s house, just outside NYC, with her and her family, her sister, my eldest niece and her husband, a couple of my mother’s first cousins (the hostess’s uncles) and more. The next day, my family did Manhattan with the niece, her husband and her friends.

What do you think is really causing the deficit?

I just don’t know. It seemed that Bill Clinton had a real handle on reducing the deficit, but then, kablooey, it got all out of control. It’s totally mysterious.
Read the rest of this entry »

Mozart-musicI’ve sung the Mozart Requiem in D minor at least thrice, once in 1985, once or twice in the 1990′s, and once on September 11, 2002. I LOVE this piece of music. Read the rest of this entry »

MLK-ed-quoteIn a couple different Facebook strains around the Martin Luther King holiday, I read suggestions that Martin Luther King was a creationist. This is, as far as any evidence I’ve seen, a total fabrication.

First, a sidebar: apparently, there’s a narrative out there that suggests that philosophically – it is a Darwinian worldview that allows racism to exist, while a biblical perspective does not Read the rest of this entry »

MarvinGayeThe absurd death of Marvin Gaye, at the hands of his father, a day shy of his 45th birthday, always saddens me in early April. He would have been 75 today, but instead was killed 30 years ago yesterday.

Here are twenty-one songs, all linked here, some multiple times, and with different spellings. My list is more or less in preference order, though I’m sure I left off something obvious. The citations refer to its Billboard pop charts zenith, and the year:

21. The Star-Spangled Banner – a controversial version performed at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game
20. Yesterday – WAY too many covers of this Beatles song, yet this is one I like
19. Let’s Get It On (1, 1973) Read the rest of this entry »

It’s April 1, and, as usual, I got nuthin’. I usually find the stuff that people pull on others, such as this list from PARADE magazine, are, at best, unfunny, and at worst, really annoying. Though I rather liked this one.

I’m reminded again that I can be funny, but that it’s situational. Just yesterday, I was in a convenience store and some government agency guy wanted to take pictures of the cigarettes, which I noted to the clerk was was one of the worst pickup lines ever; she laughed, and it WAS funny (especially with the delivery and voice), but ya had to be there…

Punography

JohnandYokoJohn Lennon met Yoko Ono at an art gallery in November 1966. Very soon, the thing that would really bug Paul, George, and Ringo was that SHE was in the studio with John and them; this had been the Beatles’ nexus, but now he’s bringing in his girlfriend?

Her vocals would eventually show up on Beatles songs, notably Revolution 9 from the white album, and the very strange song What’s The New Mary Jane [LISTEN, if you want] which actually never made it onto a legitimate record until the third Beatles Anthology album, released in the 1990s.

They did a number of albums together, including a couple avant garde albums called Unfinished Music. Two Virgins had the infamous nude cover; the CD release added the Yoko song Remember Love [LISTEN], the B-side to the Plastic Ono Band single Read the rest of this entry »

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