Friday, January 13, 2012

Hermeneutics For The Blogosphere

The definition of "hermeneutics" is "the theory and practice of interpretation" (Hermeneutics).

It is said that originally the notion of hermeneutics was a way to interpret scripture.

In the western world in general, that would mean interpreting the Bible (ibid).

In the realm of jurisprudence, lawyers and judges utilize "legal hermeneutics" when they analyze, for example statutes, and it has even been said by some writers that they have refined the practice of hermeneutics:
In the larger field of hermeneutics, legal hermeneutics is characteristically described as exemplary.
(SSRN, The Distinctiveness of Legal Hermeneutics). Notice that there is a "larger field of hermeneutics", and that the field of legal hermeneutics is "exemplary", that is, a good example for the other fields of hermeneutics.

I can think of one technique immediately that brings out one exemplary dynamic of legal hermeneutics:
... canons of construction are no more than rules of thumb that help courts determine the meaning of legislation, and in interpreting a statute a court should always turn first to one, cardinal canon before all others. We have stated time and again that courts must presume that a legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there ... When the words of a statute are unambiguous, then, this first canon is also the last: “judicial inquiry is complete.”
(Connecticut Nat. Bank v. Germain, 503 U.S. 249, 253-254, 1992). It seems like a "no brainer", after even minimal analysis, that if there is only one unambiguous meaning to a text, "interpretation" is not necessary.

But remember that the definition given in the first link in this post was that hermeneutics was all about "interpretation."

Still, "interpretation" would be perverse to meaning if there was nothing about the subject text that could be "interpreted".

So, in the practice of "exemplary" legal hermeneutics, the exercise is first called "statutory construction", rather than "statutory interpretation", because the first exercise is to determine whether or not any "interpretation" is necessary.

Remember the oft repeated statement "what is it about 'no' that you don't understand?"

The implication is that "interpretation" is unnecessary to determine what "no" means.

Those who can find their way around the blogosphere know that misunderstanding of both blog posts, and of comments on those blog posts, are regularly confused and/or conflated as to their meaning.

We bloggers would do well to follow good canons of textual inquiry, that is, good blogging hermeneutics.

Using good hermeneutics does not mean that we have to agree with any text, once it has been analyzed for meaning, but it does mean that we won't be arguing or debating incoherently over that text.

One has to wonder if improper hermeneutics could be the reason that some experts disagree on the same body of evidence --- they have not developed sound hermeneutics?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

On The Peak of Intelligence

Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has cited the book "The Peak of Everything" in a previous post.

This blog is not the only blog, or other source, for an examination of the various peak notions.

No, many words flow from mouths and keyboards around the blogosphere in an effort to deal with the notion of the peak of this, and the peak of that.

Which is as it should be.

Depending on your world view, a famous or infamous clock even has tick-tocks pointing to the ultimate peak, the peak of the demise of current civilization:
In a sign of pessimism about humanity's future, scientists today set the hands of the infamous "Doomsday Clock" forward one minute from two years ago.
(Doom's Day Clock Moved). Twelve midnight is the Mother of All Peaks in terms of current civilization.

Today we focus on something that has not peaked in human civilization, or at least we hope that it has not.

That something is "intelligence", at least the type of intelligence that has to do with thinking, not the type that has to do with spying on Americans.

While pondering the peak of "intelligence", I do not link insanity to intelligence in any linear way, that is, a civilization can be very intelligent yet very insane at the same time.

Intelligence is a resource that can be used well, or misused, it is just that the extreme misuse of intelligence approaches the borders of insanity and can even go beyond that border.

Today, I argue that intelligence has a great distance to go before peaking, and I also argue that if human intelligence continues to be maximized, then used properly, we will be better off (so long as intelligence is not handled like we have handled the other things that can and have peaked).

To illustrate further, notice that the structure of how we think, in terms of brain operations, is not intelligence either:
Kahneman presents our thinking process as consisting of two systems. System 1 (Thinking Fast) is unconscious, intuitive and effort-free. System 2 (Thinking Slow) is conscious, uses deductive reasoning and is an awful lot of work. System 2 likes to think it is in charge but it’s really the irrepressible System 1 that runs the show. There is simply too much going on in our lives for System 2 to analyse everything. System 2 has to pick its moments with care; it is “lazy” out of necessity.
(Thinking, Fast and Slow, Financial Times). Dredd Blog defines "intelligence" as the efficient use of the two systems to bring about sane results.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Some Way Out Of Here - 3

In this day and age in the U.S., characterized primarily as a deceptive era, sometimes people wonder if there is any way out of the state of affairs.

On this date in 2009 Dredd Blog posted "Some Way Out of Here."

That post was later moved from Dredd Blog over to the Ecocosmology Blog.

For your perusal, since it is a fundamental subject, Dredd Blog now posts that information once again:
It isn't often that I can see a path that fits what the Joker said to the Thief: "There must be some way outta here said the Joker to the Thief ..." (All Along The Watchtower, by Bob Dylan).

I mean some way out of the energy crisis.

A device has been built by University of Michigan scientists and students.

It takes water current (e.g. wave motion) and converts it into electricity:
A revolutionary device that can harness energy from slow-moving rivers and ocean currents could provide enough power for the entire world, scientists claim.
(Ocean Wave Electric Generator). A technical discussion of the physics and mechanics of it are discussed here.

The electricity produced by the generator can then be used to convert earth atmosphere into methanol.

This process actually takes the "green house gas" carbon dioxide (CO²) out of the atmosphere during the process. Yes, green house gas is converted into clean energy in the form of methanol during the process.

Another positive in this approach is that methanol works in current internal combustion engines, including gas and diesel versions. Methanol is not ethanol.

See, there is a way "outta here". Several ways.

The next post in this series is here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dredd Blog's Third Anniversary

Wow that was fast.

Thanks to all the readers of Dredd Blog who have made it an interesting three years.

Hope you found something here that helped you in some way, made your day once in awhile, and challenged you always.

If not, there is always a chance it will happen in 2012 when "THE WORLD WILL END", but Dredd Blog will hopefully still be here.

Check in after the world ends, and together we will try to find where it went, then give it CPR for another, wiser try.

The sad, the funny, the profane, the criminal, the wrong, the good, and the next are all happening.

Everything is happening, so it is difficult sometimes to catch what will help or inform most.

Two other blogs, Toxins of Power and Ecocosmology, were initiated a couple of years ago, so that some specialized issues could be put there.

Keep the comments coming, they are a true value both for lurkers and for other bloggers who like to comment too.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Myth Addiction Is Establishment's LSD - 3

One "great" myth which the establishment 1% forces on the 99% citizenry, via McTell News, is the myth that our national policies are wholly modern and civilized.

They tell us that all our cognition is modern because, as a nation, we learn from our experience, then move on to higher moral, civilized ground.

The reality, however, is that the fundamental underpinnings of U.S. political intellectualism, civics education, perception of history, foreign policy, as well as economics, seems to have been in very gross stagnation for quite some time.

Notice the following quote from a book, published in 1944, commenting on U.S. exceptional propaganda of that time, aptly describing the McTell News generated perception and concept of a "national enemy":
The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells.
(As We Go Marching, by John T. Flynn, 1944, page 222). Some experts expect Iraq to "accidentally" become the largest supplier of oil now, since we blundered "accidentally into their oil wells".

From that same book it would appear that the U.S. economic propaganda of today seems to have also been aptly described in 1944:
ON THE night of October 22, 1929, one of America’s most widely known economists addressed a great banquet of credit men. Not only were Wall Street prices not too high, he told his delighted hearers, but we were really only on the threshold of the greatest boom in the nation’s history. The prophecy evoked a burst of applause. Next morning, a few minutes after the great bell announced the opening of trading on the Stock Exchange, the storm broke. The greatest economic depression in our history was formally ushered in — though it had been in progress for some time. From this point on, as the country slowly roused itself to a consciousness of the far-spreading crisis, leaders in politics and business repeated with invincible optimism that it was all just a wholesome corrective. After several years a waggish commentator published a little volume called Oh, Yeah! It was a sardonic recording of the persistent and unconquerable stream of promises of quickly returning health. There you will find recorded the statements of statesmen, financiers, university professors, leading economists, and editors assuring the people that it was all a blessing in disguise, a corrective phenomenon, that the broad highway to renewed prosperity lay just ahead. All of which proved quite conclusively that these men did not know what they were talking about because they had no understanding of the economic system under which they lived. Then came the collapse of 1933 on the grand scale — and a resumption of the bright prophecies of happy days.
(ibid, page 166). If that sounds familiar (McCain 2008, 1 mo. prior to great economic collapse in US: "what economic problems?") perhaps we are on a roll, perhaps we should take a look at another "historical DNA similarity"?

If so, how about the historical fact that we are the only nation to have burned alive hundreds of thousands of women and children of "barbaric enemies" with WMD in Japan, while at the same time putting Japanese Americans into concentration camps here in the homeland?

That was then, but recently while "blundering accidentally into their oil wells", we also "accidentally" used depleted uranium ammunition (WMD) again on women and children:
Alani's log of cases of birth defects amounts to a rate of 14.7 per cent of all babies born in Fallujah, more than 14 times the rate in the affected areas of Japan [Hiroshima, Nagasaki].
(Fallujah Babies). The sordid past and the sordid present witness against the notion that MOMCOM operates with modern, civilized practices.

We can go back a generation prior to the time MOMCOM used WMD to kill, maim, and destroy hundreds of thousands of women and children, to a time when myth addiction began to become institutionalized in the USA:
"... One of the most important comments on deceit, I think, was made by Adam Smith. He pointed out that a major goal of business is to deceive and oppress the public.

And one of the striking features of the modern period is the institutionalization of that process, so that we now have huge industries deceiving the public — and they're very conscious about it, the public relations industry. Interestingly, this developed in the freest countries—in Britain and the US — roughly around time of WWI, when it was recognized that enough freedom had been won that people could no longer be controlled by force. So modes of deception and manipulation had to be developed in order to keep them under control
(The Deceit Business). We can take a further gander into "the family album" to see that the little tykes grew up in a mythical world of empire daze proportions:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons — a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty [now 320] million — who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world ... It is the purpose of this book to explain the structure of the mechanism which controls the public mind, and to tell how it is manipulated by the special pleader who seeks to create public acceptance for a particular idea or commodity. It will attempt at the same time to find the due place in the modern democratic scheme for this new propaganda and to suggest its gradually evolving code of ethics and practice.
(The Ways of Bernays). When Bush II said "childurns do learn", most likely he was not talking about our U.S. children, that is, unless radical changes are made to our world view so that we become civilized once again, then convey that civilized education to them.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.