Monday, January 23, 2017

Two New Poem Drafts

Re-met

I knew your face, I think, your glancing eye.
The limpid waters waved beneath the sky.
The moon was shining bright; it glowed within;
aloof, it wanly smiled on blessed men -----

----- and yet we never met; I never knew
the color of your eyes; your face is new.
No past that I forget, paths never crossed
now bubble in my mind, like children lost, -----

----- and yet I knew you well, before I ever knew;
your face was heaven's sky, your eye was true;
the splendor of your light my eye enthralled.
We met again just now, who never met at all.

Breath

Tell me, O breath of the girl I love,
how widely did you roam?
How many leagues of voyage swept
from paradise, your home?
In Africa or Asia,
in Europe, on the sea,
how many years of journey passed
before you came to me?
Or did you drift from futures far
where springs unborn have bloomed?
Or darker times when steel and stone
all crumble in the gloom?
Was it through valleys of the earth
that your whisper fled,
or distant stars by man unseen,
or realms of shades long dead?
Tell me where to find the girl,
the queen who has my heart,
that I may finally meet the soul
of which you are a part.

A Word to the Wise...

...which needs continual reiteration but will nonetheless clearly be unremembered and unregarded in the sectors of society that need it most:

The first and most basic and most essential form of politics is reasoned discourse. This follows directly from the fact that human beings are rational and therefore social creatures; it is the actual structure of functional civilization; and it is a requirement for any just society. If you have any political view -- and I mean any political view, however clever the sophistry and rhetoric with which you fancy it up -- that does not treat reasoned discourse as the heart of civilization, then your view is a politics of coercion and violence, based on a principle that might makes right. At this level there is no third option: either politics is, in its foundations, by reason or it is by force.

There are, of course, other aspects of political life. The world being as it is, people will sometimes attempt to shut down reasoned discourse by force; and thus reasoned discourse must sometimes be protected by a countervailing force. But the point must be to protect reasoned discourse, because that is what it is to protect civilization. People will sometimes not participate in reasoned discourse in good faith, deliberately manipulating it in ways inconsistent with itself; this might, once one has established clearly that it is occurring, require things like protesting, or shunning, or shaming, or even rioting or revolution. But if you are just, the point of these things will be to restore the priority of reasoned discourse. And if the point is not to do that, you are unjust.

It is by interacting rationally that we receive common good as a legacy; it is by interacting rationally that we form common good as moral progress; it is by interacting rationally that we protect and preserve common good against political corruption. If you have any political view, if you perform any political act, that does not recognize rational communication as the fundamental kind of politics, you are not on the side of justice, no matter how loudly you insist that you are. Indeed, you are not on the side of justice even if you are advocating a thing that happens to be just; you are simply a snake in the grass. In anything and everything, the just will give shared reason its due. Anything else is sophistry -- literally, in fact.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Immortal Things

West Wind in Winter
by Alice Meynell


Another day awakes. And who—
Changing the world—is this?
He comes at whiles, the winter through,
West Wind! I would not miss
His sudden tryst: the long, the new
Surprises of his kiss.

Vigilant, I make haste to close
With him who comes my way.
I go to meet him as he goes;
I know his note, his lay,
His colour and his morning-rose,
And I confess his day.

My window waits; at dawn I hark
His call; at morn I meet
His haste around the tossing park
And down the softened street;
The gentler light is his: the dark,
The grey—he turns it sweet.

So too, so too, do I confess
My poet when he sings.
He rushes on my mortal guess
With his immortal things.
I feel, I know, him. On I press—
He finds me ’twixt his wings.

Due to some accidents of schedule here at the beginning of term, I think the fortnightly book will be delayed to next weekend, to avoid having to rush it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Light upon the Shining Sea

St. Agnes
by Alfred Tennyson


Deep on the convent-roof the snows
Are sparkling to the moon:
My breath to heaven like vapour goes:
May my soul follow soon!
The shadows of the convent-towers
Slant down the snowy sward,
Still creeping with the creeping hours
That lead me to my Lord:
Make Thou my spirit pure and clear
As are the frosty skies,
Or this first snowdrop of the year
That in my bosom lies.

As these white robes are soil'd and dark,
To yonder shining ground;
As this pale taper's earthly spark,
To yonder argent round;
So shows my soul before the Lamb,
My spirit before Thee;
So in mine earthly house I am,
To that I hope to be.
Break up the heavens, O Lord! and far,
Thro' all yon starlight keen,
Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star,
In raiment white and clean.

He lifts me to the golden doors;
The flashes come and go;
All heaven bursts her starry floors,
And strows her lights below,
And deepens on and up! the gates
Roll back, and far within
For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits,
To make me pure of sin.
The sabbaths of Eternity,
One sabbath deep and wide--
A light upon the shining sea--
The bridegroom with his bride!

And one by me, which I've posted before:

A Poem of St. Agnes

The little lambs on heaven's field
remind me of a girl who fought
against the darkness, for the fair,
whose heart was free from trembling fear,
who would not falter, did not fail,
but held her ground against the foe.
"I faithful stay to Spouse and Friend,
my Jesus; I am truly free
with him," she said, her voice not faint.
And then she bent her head, with faith
exposed her neck. The death-stroke fell.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dashed Off II

Classifications, symmetries, etc., show that not all natural regularities are temporal.

impartial spectator in ethics // manipulation accounts for causation ?

analogy-breaking as heuristic
analogy-filling as heuristic

Is there an analogy to double effect in nomology?

compatibilism // pantheism

consequentialist, deontological, and virtue-ethical accounts of evidence

a Ring of Gyges parallel in accounts of rationality (attempts to reduce it to success)
- sensible knave problems (but the 'sensible' part is a complication in presentation)

Is there a possible distinction between 'endurantist' and 'perdurantist' regularity theories of causation?

In Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott is deliberately novelizing the polyphony of the romance.

burdens vs licenses

nomology : M :: deontology : D ??

natural law // natural classification
best systems accounts of obligation // natural classification

? Do regularist deontologies tend to D while necessitarian deontologies tend to D4?
? Do regularist nomologies tend to M while necessitarian deontologies tend to S4=M4?
- But B seems quite plausible for a nomology, so perhaps S5 instead? Would regularists then tend to B, or would they still be more plausibly linked with M?

'Always' and 'everywhere' are Boxes requiring specific kinds of measurement.
- Is there any kind of divide between measurement-relative vs non-measurement-relative modalities?
- Can only classify modalities by using a classification of different kinds of measurement, in a way that's of any use?
- How does this interact with the fact that some modalities are dependent on specific kinds of causes?
? Can we get an at least partial acount, that's of use, of modalities using four causes? i.e., material box, formal box, efficient box, final box. Are there plausible examples? ---
- regularities as material Box?
- obligations as final Box?
- laws of nature, as understood by necessitarians, as formal Box?
- necessity in Third Way as efficient Box?

moment of infusion of theological virtues // moment of transubstantiation ??
- this would give some unexpected answers re epiclesis and words of institution

Arethere modalities that are not Box but are Box-like? (T may count as such.)

customary norms as artificial classifications
conditions for convergence of customary norms on natural law

externality // denial of self-causation
independence // denial of circular causation
continuity // necessity of ground (denial of groundlessness)
- is there anything // to denial of infinite regress? Perhaps think Berkeley here; or efficacy and secondary causality, perhaps.

the sensible knave as without moral faith

baptism as sacrament of filial piety

Determining how a hypothesis would actually be falsifiable is not always an easy thing -- it is an error to assume that our understanding of hypothesis exhibits closure.

steady state // uniformitarianism ; big bang // catastrophism
Dare one draw the analogy tighter, as to how elements of both of the second terms were required?

scientific cold cases

convenientia arguments as profile/desiderata-based

defeasibility arguments & the anticipative direction of reasoning

gratuitous depictions of evil in aesthetics

It is important to look for confirmations of a hypothesis because it is sometimes these confirmations that (1) provide the most serious disconfirmations on closer analysis; and (2) provide the most useful suggestions for how to develop the hypothesis further.

Even wise men are not immune to peer pressure.

novels as hybrid between drama and romance

The image of the Trinity in us is that in us which makes it possible for us to be led to God.

the First Way beginning with virtue (ST 105.4; cp Aristotle EE 7)
beginning with grace (cp SCG 3.123ff)

At Mass, the congregation are all courtiers of Heaven.

Jonathan Edwards on D//OM at Miscellanies 129
Miscellanies 199-200: a design argument starting from the human soul
Edwards: Eucharist is the sacrament of confirmation! (Misc 207)
Holy Spirit properly called Love, from the nature of the sin against the Holy Spirit (Misc 310)
use of something like PSR (Misc 342)
permissibility of usury Misc 1117

arguments for immortality of the soul as external world arguments in reverse (external and independent of body, continuing)

argument-plots and argument-episodes

the light of grace as a new sprout/shoot (Mencius) in human nature, leading to infused virtue (grace, to virtue, to meritorious works)

grace as the seminal reason of supernatural effect

infused virtues as refractions of grace through human capabilities

apostolic succession // prophetic mission

ecclesial unity (Father), apostolic succession (Son), evangelical mission (Spirit)

invalidity as search failure

Grice's Cooperative Principle is teleological by nature.

resemblance as an explanation of ambiguity

All implicatures have a certain amount of 'give'.

NEwman's notes of development as applied to scientific progress

living transmission of Gospel
(1) apostolic succession
(2) chain of memory and testimony
(3) consistency of practice to practice
(4) continuity of preaching
(5) intercommunion of sees

liturgical implicatures

holy days as pilgrimages in time

True ecumenism begins by building bridges within one's communion.

the felt need for consecration

(1) classical: persons are minds or bodies, but not both.
(2) glutty: persons are both minds and bodies
(3) gappy: persons are neither minds nor bodies
(4) coincidental: mind-person and body-person coincide without being the same
(5) eliminativist: there is no real person

The hagiographical tradition is a wisdom tradition.

sanctuary as garden of Eden, as throne room of Heaven, as holy of holies, as upper room
altar as tree of life, as heavenly throne, as ark, as table of the Lord's Supper

the integral parts of prudence in experimental reasoning

the modern world and delicate barbarians

Note that Bentham fully subordinates good to pleasure: he takes good to be cause or instrument of pleasure

Bentham's pleasure-production theory of value

samsara as symbol of or metaphor for original sin

Note that St. Theodore Studite (First Refutation of the Iconoclasts) links orthodox view of icons to view of Eucharist as true Body and Blood.

Icons are instruments of Christ's mediation; Christ mediates between God and man and all icons are directly or indirectly of Christ, having Christ as their prototype.

By approaching icons in the Spirit we move through the Son as immutable icon to the Father of which He is the flawless Image.

By means of Christ's human nature, icons represent the dive person of Christ.

God took a human form without corrupting His glory; He represented Himself by visible appearance without defacing His glory; we imagine Him by visible image without insulting His glory.

iconoclasm as crypto-docetism (note 2nd Helvetic Confession's use of John 16:7)

"Your Church, O Savior, bears a heavenly treasury and riches in the mysteries and types that You have bestowed upon her and in which she takes refuge and hope: the Great Book of Your Proclamation, the venerated wood of Your Cross, the beautiful icon of Thine humanity, these great mysteries of her salvation." Anthem of the Sancutary of the Feast of the Holy Cross (Church of the East)

Look at evidence of Synodicon Orientale of the Church of the East accepting Chalcedon.

incongruity as the formal cause of the humorous, play as the final cause

The folly of intellectual is to put inquiry above truth; the folly of simpletons is to put aside inquiry in the name of truth.

Covenant is naturally expressed in rite or liturgy.

jokes as deliberate rational expressions, in word or deed, of unified incongruity, for playful purpose

infallibility of consensus of the Fathers of the Church; therefore infallibility of the consensus of liturgies
infallibility of bishops in ordinariy magisterium; therefore infallibility of the consensus of liturgies

Diamond-equality vs Box-equality

The principle of double effect is the recognition of the possibility of tragic situations for decision.

premise-conclusion affinity

Incarnation as pedagogy and participation

temporally intricate goods

laugh tracks as communications of intent

No society starts sacrificing to Moloch except by thinking it progress.

The Hippocratic Oath seems especially concerned with bodily integrity.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Music on My Mind



America, "My Back Pages". A Dylan song originally, of course, although best known in the version by The Byrds.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Recipe for Scrapple

Since Anne Higginson Spicer's poem in the previous post mentioned recipes for scrapple, I thought I would provide a recipe for scrapple. This one is from The Farm Journal for November 1914, which would have been broadly in the vicinity of when Spicer was writing; the article is "Meat for the Family: Time to Get Busy", and it discusses cured hams, panhas, and scrapple.

SCRAPPLE

There seems to be little difference between panhas and the favorite Pennsylvania Dutch dish, known by us as scrapple, and liked by most people. This is made of the waste pieces of meat, the trimmings of the hams and shoulders, the head, the heart, a small piece of the liver, and the skins from the lard and the sausage meat. The ears, carefully cleaned and the cartilage removed, may be used. The head is split between the jaws, and after the tongue is taken out is split the other way. Cut off the snout, remove the jaw and nasal cavities. Put the head meat and skins into the boiler with water to cover them, the rest of the meat fifteen minutes later. Boil until the meat leaves the bones, then chop it fine, strain the liquor and add to it enough water to make five parts liquid to three of meat. Set the liquid to boiling, stirring in corn-meal to make a moderately thick mush, and stirring all the time. Then put in the meat, mixing thoroughly, and season to taste with salt, black and red pepper, and either sage, sweet marjoram, thyme or pennyroyal, whichever flavor you prefer. The corn-meal should be fine, made of new corn, well dried before grinding, and there should be about as much of it as of the meat. Put the scrapple away in pans in a cold place. To cook, cut into slices, lay in a very hot pan and fry quickly till brown.

Come Thoughts

On the Difficulties of Writing a Sonnet at Home
by Anne Higginson Spicer


Come thoughts, for you must muster on parade,
A sonnet on the rain, my fancy orders.
(We'll have to sell the house or take in boarders
If things keep soaring skyward, I'm afraid.)
The rain—I'll make it spatter in a glade
Where larches tall o'er spreading flowers are warders.
(The old provision dealers are such hoarders;
It's all their fault that prices high have stayed.)
The rain, down-dropping in a scented wood.
(That recipe for scrapple sounded good.)
The rain, it rings with elfin laughter running.
(This pattern for my new frock will be stunning.)
The rain, where breezes sing and zephyrs laugh.
(Our oil stock cut its dividends in half!)

Poems about writing itself are difficult to do, in part because writing on its own is not a particularly interesting process, but this one works splendidly. I particularly like the repetition of 'the rain' as the poet keeps having to start up the poem again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

OGE Scandal II

Richard Painter and Norman Eisen have an interesting but rather overwrought article on the recent furor over the USOGE. A taste of it gives a sense of the absurdity of it:

For speaking up about the shortcomings of this plan, Shaub found himself in the Republican crosshairs. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that has jurisdiction over the White House, demanded Shaub appear for a Star Chamber-style recorded inquisition and implicitly threatened to shut down the Office of Government Ethics if Shaub did not submit. Chaffetz ought to have been doing the exact opposite, supporting OGE and demanding documents from Trump about any financial ties to Russia or other foreign governments.

Look, the first and most basic principle of government ethics is that authoritative action requires a mandate for the relevant authority. This can get a bit complicated. Director Shaub as a political appointee has more leeway than any of the civil servants under him do. But this is not unlimited. As head of a government agency not explicitly required by the Constitution, Shaub has no authority -- indeed, no right -- to engage in any actions qua head of the agency that are not explicitly authorized by statute, either in itself or as interpreted and specified by Presidential order. If there is even the slightest question about whether he has overstepped their bounds, Congress has the right, and the duty, to investigate as it deems appropriate.

And Director Shaub's recent actions raise serious concerns about whether he is remaining within the bounds of his actual authority when speaking as Director of USOGE. Despite the apparently unrestricted name, the Office of Government Ethics is not a universal ethics agency -- for very obvious reasons, the ethics authority of the government is spread around among a number of very different agencies. (Contrary to some news reports, there is no sense in which Shaub is the government 'ethics chief'.) OGE has no enforcement authority -- there are excellent reasons from a government ethics perspective to split ethical policy-making and advice, which is what OGE does, and enforcement. OGE has no advisory authority over the Office of the President, not just for the obvious reason that it itself is an executive branch agency, but for other reasons. It is primarily concerned with the civil service (and, to a lesser extent, political appointees heading the civil service), not with the actions of the President. In this it contrasts with (e.g.) the Office of Legal Counsel -- arguably the most important ethics advisory agency in the executive branch -- which has, as part of its explicit authority, informing the President on the constitutionality of his actions. The OLC is an instrument of the Office of the President's ethical self-review; the OGE is an instrument of that Office's ethical review of the executive branch. Nor does the OGE have any general authority to advise on ethics; its entire existence is to assist in carrying out conflict of interest statutes and financial disclosure statutes through advice, training, and policy-making. The Office of the President is not governed by these statutes, and these statutes establish no requirements that a President-Elect must meet in order to come to occupy the Office of the President. (It would likely be unconstitutional for Congress to impose such requirements where they were not simply specifications of explicit requirements in the Constitution.)

Thus Director Shaub's exact role in this context is very, very limited. It is customary for the Office of the President to consult OGE on matters where its actions could be related to COI statutes primarily in order to 'lead by example'. This is not a legal requirement; it's just a reasonably good thing to do. But it means among other things that Director Shaub has no authority to tell the President how his finances must be arranged, or whether he must take certain steps to deal with conflict of interests; all he really has the authority to do is to say whether the President is making an exception for himself or not. The President-Elect has no official position; as a private citizen he does not directly fall under Director Shaub's authority, even purely advisory authority, at all. Transition matters are handled under the direct authority of the Office of the President. In advising the President-Elect's transition, Shaub is strictly speaking advising the President and, to a lesser extent, serving as an intermediary of communication between the President and the President-Elect. This leaves very little authoritative room.

And it is at least questionable whether Shaub has stayed on this limited ground. Indeed, I would argue that his Twitter effusion, which baffled everyone at the time and for which he later claimed direct responsibility, was, besides raising more general ethical concerns about professionalism and about correct use of the means of government communication, a clear overstepping of authority. Some of his more recent comments are at least close to the line, not because they were done but because they were not directed to the appropriate parties (the President, primarily, and the President-Elect, as the concerned party, and Congress), but were made in public. Public criticism is not standard OGE practice; it is doubtful that a Director has the authority to engage in it. And if he technically does, there's good reason to argue that it would be more appropriate to inform the President of his concerns so that the President can address it in public. This is indeed a puzzling aspect of the entire situation; why is Director Shaub making these statements, rather than President Obama, who can do so without any danger of overstepping his authority?

But there's another issue in the vicinity here. If OGE does not have direct authority to review and assess conflicts of interest relevant to the Presidency, who does? And the answer is very clear: only Congress and the Presidential Office itself. And Congress has perfect right to question over his actions on a matter like this, and, if necessary, reprimand the head of the OGE for failing to recognize this. It is, of course, another question whether it is prudent or reasonable for it to do so, but, again, Director Shaub's recent actions go well beyond the normal precedents for how the head of the OGE advises and assists in these matters.

Painter and Eisen are on much stronger ground when they criticize attempts to argue against Shaub's general record or his competence. The OGE is, if I can say it without sounding negative, just about the most boring bureaucracy in a government full of boring bureaucracy; that is to say, most of what the OGE does is quite cut-and-dry, a system of procedures for ruling and advising on what is consistent with various procedures, and the human judgment side (of which there is a fair amount) is almost wholly concerned with precedents and the interpretation of executive orders on very specific subjects. It works admirably, and extremely consistently, to the point that it is almost monotonous. Shaub has kept it running quite smoothly through his entire tenure, so that there could hardly be any general complaints about his work. But this is precisely what makes his recent unusual behavior -- and it is very unusual -- stand out all the more.

Painter and Eisen go on to say:

We think apologies are due Shaub. In addition, we recommend that Republicans back off of their threats. How about Chaffetz instead publicly affirm the need for the agency and invite Shaub to have a public conversation about that and about Trump’s conflicts with both the majority and minority members of the committee? We are sure that Shaub would accept such an offer and explain to the committee and the public why his concerns about the president-elect’s plan are well founded.

Rep. Chaffetz might be well advised to do such things; but it is certainly clear that he has neither constitutional nor legal obligation to do so. Director Shaub is concerned with one strand of ethical policy under the executive authority of the Office of the President and in accordance with the statutory guidelines laid down by Congress, and both the President and the Congress can, practially speaking, demand an accounting about pretty much anything concerning Shaub's actions as Director of USOGE. And if Chaffetz does honestly think there may be an overstepping of statutory authority here, he has an ethical obligation to follow up on it, particularly given that he is chairman of a Congressional committee with clear oversight authority for these matters. What Shaub would accept or not is irrelevant to this; he is an appointee operating under the President and Congress, not his own man. And the question is not whether his concerns about the President-Elect's plans are well founded; the question is whether he is acting in a way appropriate to his position. Any citizen can have well founded concerns about the President-Elect's plans; the route citizens have for dealing with this is to inform their Congressional representatives. But Shaub is acting as the head of a government agency with very specific and narrowly defined boundaries which he has an ethical and legal responsibility to respect. Chaffetz has been quite explicit that this is, in fact, what concerns him: his charge is that Shaub is "blurring the line between public relations and official ethics guidance". And, as I've noted, it's not an illegitimate concern -- Shaub's recent actions are not typical of how the OGE goes about giving official ethics guidance, and it's not at all clear why he is taking the responsibility himself to be public about it rather than turning the matter over to the President.