Fictionalism

Fictionalism is the view in philosophy according to which statements that appear to be descriptions of the world should not be construed as such, but should instead be understood as cases of “make believe”, of pretending to treat something as literally true (a “useful fiction”). Two important strands of fictionalism are modal fictionalism developed by Gideon Rosen, which states that possible worlds, regardless of whether they exist or not, may be a part of a useful discourse, and mathematical fictionalism advocated by Hartry Field, which states that talk of numbers and other mathematical objects is nothing more than a convenience for doing science. Also in meta-ethics, there is an equivalent position called moral fictionalism (championed by Richard Joyce). Many modern versions of fictionalism are influenced by the work of Kendall Walton in aesthetics.

Fictionalism consists in at least the following three theses:

  1. Claims made within the domain of discourse are taken to be truth-apt; that is, true or false
  2. The domain of discourse is to be interpreted at face value—not reduced to meaning something else
  3. The aim of discourse in any given domain is not truth, but some other virtue(s) (e.g., simplicity, explanatory scope).

Wikipedia

Why America’s New Apartment Buildings All Look the Same

Cheap stick framing has led to a proliferation of blocky, forgettable mid-rises—and more than a few construction fires.

I Can’t Get No Interaction

Back in the AOL/dial-up era, Mick Jagger was on one of AOL’s live chat room events. From memory –

How does it feel knowing you are still being outsold by The Beatles even though they’ve been broken up for thirty years? *
No comment

My name is Michel and I’m from Quebec, so pardon my English …
Ca va Michel

Also, Mick said that it was possible to get addicted to anything. “Even something as banal as chatrooms.”

from http://www.aolwatch.org/faq2b.htm

Here’s how Scott Rosenberg of the San Francisco Examiner described his attempt to watch Mick Jagger’s appearance.

“I Can’t Get No Interaction”
You couldn’t see the thick lips, and you couldn’t hear the thick British drawl. But Monday night on America Online, you could watch Mick Jagger type.

The online celebrity forum is an increasingly common marketing tool that puts a famous name behind a keyboard to take questions from a crowd of cyber-onlookers…It’s a pretty inefficient way to find out stuff about the rich and famous–though it does provide the best insight yet available into their typing skills. Like many others, I spent the hour from 6 to 7 p.m. vainly clicking on the AOL “Coliseum” icon, pounding on the door to the room where Jagger was answering questions.

I wound up with a bunch of other Jagger turnaways in another AOL forum, the Odeon, where Oingo Boingo bandleader and movie-soundtrack composer Danny Elfman was also holding an online chat.

Question: Loved “wierd science” & “dead man’s party”. How about a new Oingo album?

Elfman 1: Are you trying to piss me off or what? I just came out with a new Boingo album. Why the f*** do you think I’m here right now?

* referring to this, presumably –
1 is a compilation album by the English rock band the Beatles, originally released on 13 November 2000. The album features virtually every number-one single the band achieved in the United Kingdom and United States from 1962 to 1970. Issued on the 30th anniversary of the band’s break-up…

Grand Guignol

GrandGuiglnol

The Theatre du Grand Guignol, for years one of the leading tourist attractions of the French capital, was the classic shock theatre, specializing in productions designed to horrify and sicken.

Historian Mel Gordon, in The Grand Guignol: Theatre of Fear and Terror (1988), recounts some of the plots:

The innocent Louise is unjustly locked in an asylum with several insane women. A nurse assigned to protect her blithely leaves for a staff party as soon as Louise falls asleep. The insane women decide that a cuckoo bird is imprisoned in Louise’s head and and one gouges out her eye with a knitting needle. The other crazy women are freaked and burn the gouger’s face off on a hot plate.

via The Straight Dope

Add “ing” to the end of a movie title, what is the movie about now?

La La Landing. The harrowing tale of the first Teletubby to walk on the moon.

Wоrld War Zing. An apocalyptic tale оf a world overrun by crushing one-liners…
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger…
I think you mean starring Matthew Perry.

The Land Before Timing. A very awkward and frustrating place…
It could be a documentary about a group of emerging stand up comics struggling to find their voice.

Add "ing" to the end of a movie title, what is the movie about now? from AskReddit

reddit

How to write unmaintainable code

In the interests of creating employment opportunities in the Java programming field, I am passing on these tips from the masters on how to write code that is so difficult to maintain, that the people who come after you will take years to make even the simplest changes. Further, if you follow all these rules religiously, you will even guarantee yourself a lifetime of employment, since no one but you has a hope in hell of maintaining the code. Then again, if you followed all these rules religiously, even you wouldn’t be able to maintain the code!

To foil the maintenance programmer, you have to understand how he thinks. He has your giant program. He has no time to read it all, much less understand it. He wants to rapidly find the place to make his change, make it and get out and have no unexpected side effects from the change.

He views your code through a toilet paper tube. He can only see a tiny piece of your program at a time. You want to make sure he can never get at the big picture from doing that. You want to make it as hard as possible for him to find the code he is looking for. But even more important, you want to make it as awkward as possible for him to safely ignore anything.

Programmers are lulled into complacency by conventions. But every once in a while, by subtly violating convention, you force him to read every line of your code with a magnifying glass.

You might get the idea that every language feature makes code unmaintainable — not so, only if properly misused.

Roedy Green, Canadian Mind Products
@ github

“Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly”, GK Chesterton

QUESTION: Was it Chesterton who said, “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly”?

ANSWER: A resounding Yes! The line, which has shown up on posters, cards, needlepoints, and calendars everywhere, actually reads “Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.” It comes from the chapter entitled “The Eternal Revolution,” in Chesterton’s great book, Orthodoxy.

via The Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton

The Best of Simple, by Langston Hughes

Who Is Simple?

I CANNOT truthfully state, as some novelists do at the beginnings of their books, that these stories are about “nobody living or dead.” The facts are that these tales are about a great many people—although they are stories about no specific persons as such. But it is impossible to live in Harlem and not know at least a hundred Simples, fifty Joyces, twenty-five Zaritas, a number of Boyds, and several Cousin Minnies—or reasonable facsimiles thereof.

“Simple Speaks His Mind” had hardly been published when I walked into a Harlem cafe one night and the proprietor said, “Listen, I don’t know where you got that character, Jesse B. Semple, but I want you to meet one of my customers who is just like him.” He called to a fellow at the end of the bar. “Watch how he walks,” he said, “exactly like Simple. And I’ll bet he won’t be talking to you two minutes before he’ll tell you how long he’s been standing on his feet, and how much his bunions hurt—just like your book begins.”

The barman was right. Even as the customer approached, he cried, “Man, my feet hurt! If you want to see me, why don’t you come over here where I am? I stands on my feet all day.”

“And I stand on mine all night,” said the barman. Without me saying a word, a conversation began so much like the opening chapter in my book that even I was a bit amazed to see how nearly life can be like fiction—or vice versa.

Forward to The Best of Simple, Langston Hughes

Denver Teacher Strike Imminent


Denver is so expensive that teachers have to get creative to make ends meet

For 14 months, teachers in Denver have been negotiating with Denver Public Schools for more pay. On Saturday, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association said talks had broken off and they’ll walk on Monday.

Yes, it’s about money, many have told CNN. But it’s also about the uncertainty of living paycheck to paycheck. It’s about the necessity of taking on a second or third job. It’s about the untenability of carrying on this way much longer.

Christina Zdanowicz,  CNN 

What is a Samovar?

From Three Sisters
[Enter CHEBUTIKIN followed by a soldier with a silver samovar; there is a rumble of dissatisfied surprise.]

OLGA. [Covers her face with her hands] A samovar! That’s awful [Exit into the dining-room, to the table.]

IRINA. My dear Ivan Romanovitch, what are you doing!

TUZENBACH. [Laughs] I told you so!

MASHA. Ivan Romanovitch, you are simply shameless!

CHEBUTIKIN. My dear good girl, you are the only thing, and the dearest thing I have in the world. I’ll soon be sixty. I’m an old man, a lonely worthless old man. The only good thing in me is my love for you, and if it hadn’t been for that, I would have been dead long ago…. [To IRINA] My dear little girl, I’ve known you since the day of your birth, I’ve carried you in my arms… I loved your dead mother….

MASHA. But your presents are so expensive!

CHEBUTIKIN. [Angrily, through his tears] Expensive presents…. You really, are!… [To the orderly] Take the samovar in there…. [Teasing] Expensive presents!

Samovar 2Samovar 1

A samovar (literally “self-brewer”) is a heated metal container traditionally used to heat and boil water in Russia…Though traditionally heated with coal or charcoal, many newer samovars use electricity to heat water in a manner similar to an electric water boiler. Antique samovars are often prized for their beautiful workmanship.

Samovar @ wikipedia

Albert Finney

albertfinney2
Finney in some early work

The direction is incisive, but there remains the incontrovertible fact that this is a filmed play that one should have seen on the stage. Failing that however, it is still a magnificent experience to watch Rachel Roberts and Albert Finney reenact on film the union, in George Meredith’s words, of this ever-diverse pair. It is acting at its very highest: anyone who cares a rap about performance penetrating to the essence of humanity owes himself this experience. Watch Finney change from act to act (the movie preserves the act division): he goes from a baffled but still belligerent young husband to a cocky, irresponsible lecher, and thence to a man prematurely old and exhausted but clinging to some illusion of independence. It is not one but three glorious performances rolled into one; I promise you that you have never seen an actor change more drastically without benefit of make-up—bulge out so in one scene, and cave in on himself so utterly in the next. Notice how the eyes go dead, the voice gets blunted, the very outline of the body blurs with defeat. Rachel Roberts is no less superb, but her part has fewer dimensions. Yet how piteously she ages, becomes more thrall to despair, and still preserves a spark of pugnacity, however dulled and enfeebled.

The film simply reeks humanity from every frame or pore: battered, smelly, hopelessly soiled humanity, yet somehow luminescent in its very putrescence.

from John Simon review of Alpha Beta

Historical figures as Instagram Influencers

Which historical figure would be the most obnoxious Instagram “influencer”? from r/AskReddit

Socrates. Dude loves to stir the pot

Socrates’ instagram account would just be Plato posting stuff he heard Socrates say

Oscar Wilde. His famous quotes would seem pretty douchey as captions on Instagram photos:
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

Henry David Thoreau – Good Lord, Henry David Thoreau would be HUGE on instagram. Like a 19th century version of today’s “all natural, all good: the simple life, the real life,” hipster-like influencers. Just endless pics of his cabin that end with #thetinylife.

Thomas Edison – what a douche. He’d constantly repost without credit

Napoleon – #winner

Rasputin – Maybe not Instagram, but Rasputin would have been an absolute Tinder fiend.