Archive for June, 2010

Anarchy for Saboteurs


The hometown of Matteo Fiorito and Arturo Giovannitti

Ripabottoni, the home town of Matteo Fiorito and Arturo Giovannitti

The Author’s maternal grandfather immigrated to Canada from Ribobottoni, a small hilltop town in the Abruzzi-Molise region in 1890, a decade before Arturo Giovannitti (Industrial Workers of the World) emigrated from the same small town to the United States.  It was a time when ‘globalism’ referred not to corporate commerce but to Il Proletario (also the name of the newspaper Giovanitti was editor of).  It was a time when new ideas of freedom and governance were clashing with the established order.  It was a time when the establishment did their best to cast social activists as ‘evil’ people and ‘framed’ activist leaders for crimes they did not commit (e.g. Giovannitti and Ettor, Sacco and Vanzetti).  History and ‘the authorities’ later acknowledged some of these injustices  (e.g. the State of Massachussetts proclaimed in 1977, fifty years after their execution, that Sacco and Vanzetti had been ‘unfairly tried and convicted’). What has not been ‘owned up to’ is the darkness unfairly cast upon ‘anarchy’ and ‘sabotage’, words that emerged in a far less ‘sinister’ context than they became ‘overprinted’ with, a dark overprinting that continues to taint them today.  For those who seek to understand the frames of reference for these terms as they existed at that time, this essay may be of interest.

‘Sabotage’ derived from the french expression ‘travailler a coups de sabots’, ‘to work slowly and clumsily as if wearing wooden clogs’.  It derived from the logic of ‘a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’ which suggested, to the worker, the parallelism ‘a less-than-fair-days work for a less-than-fair-day’s pay’, rather than ‘a fair day’s work for a less-than-fair-day’s pay’ as was often the employer’s ‘equation’.  That is, if the pay was not fair then worker moved about in the manner of one of the ‘three stooges’, a country simpleton whose wooden clogs greatly constrained his mobility.   Giovannitti underscores this in his introduction to Emile Pouget’s essay ‘Sabotage’; (more…)

Part II: The Problem with Education is Knowledge


Part I to this essay pointed out that insofar as ‘education’ imparts the student with ‘knowledge’, this is troubled by the fact that knowledge is often in the ‘positivist’ terms of ‘how to make something happen’ and ‘making something happen’ is something we monitor by visual observation, ignoring the ‘spatial tensions’ that associate with change.

destination-oriented birds are equipped for speed, not comfort

destination-oriented birds are equipped for speed, not comfort

Knowledge of ‘how to make something happen’ is non-controversial for many simple tasks, but not so for more complex tasks.  For example, the knowledge of ‘how to ride a bicycle’ is not something that can be imparted in terms of written or spoken concepts/instructions since it is not in that class of dynamic processes that can be decomposed into ‘what one does’.  It is instead in the class of ‘resonant behaviours’ wherein one must let one’s actions be orchestrated so as to sustain a dynamic balance. It is akin to the ‘V’ flight of wildgeese where the spatial relationships one is included in (co-stimulating), one must allow to ‘take the helm’. (more…)

The Yin and the Yang of it…


design: does outer shape inner or inner shape outer?

design: does outer shape inner or inner shape outer?

If there is an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for achieving the highest number of different ways of exploring the same topic (‘self’ and ‘nature’ and how they relate), it feels as if I should be down there somewhere, on the list of ‘honourable mentions’.

I am not looking for a ‘prize’ but I would like to review where I’ve been to share my impression that investigative inquiry involves a ‘cocktail’ effect where, as you stir in each new bit of ‘evidence’, the concoctions that ‘result’ depend on the order in which the ingredients have been combined.   For example if you start with a ‘natural mix of ingredients’ (as in the body), add herb A and follow it with pharmaceutical B, you get a deadly mix, but if you stir in herb C between herb A and pharmaceutical B, the cocktail is innocuous.  We could call this ‘the law of non-commutativity’ of combining evidence in exploratory inquiry.

A + B + C ≠ A + C + B

examples: a solution B when added to A may convert the solution from a base to an acid, but not if C is added before B, or, Romeo finds Juliette dead and so he kills himself before opening the note that says that Juliette has taken a potion that makes her look dead. (combining the same ingredients in a different succession takes one through different cocktail effects),

In other words, the same evidence leads different people to different conclusions depending on how they combine the same evidence. (more…)

What Went Wrong with the film ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’


The film ‘Expelled : No Intelligence Allowed’ written by Kevin Miller, Ben Stein and Walt Rulof drew a lot of flack and this post explains why. (listen up now, Kevin, Ben, Walt  {;-} )

It mostly goes back to a disagreement between Plato and Aristotle.  Plato believed that nature’s dynamics are characterized by ‘extrinsic final cause’ while Aristotle believed that nature’s dynamics are characterized by ‘intrinsic final cause’. (more…)

The Problem With ‘Education’ Is ‘Knowledge’


when knowledge-informed purpose displaces resonance-seeking experience

knowledge-informed purpose replacing resonance-seeking experience

I always intuited that ‘something was wrong’ with my uneducated grandparents and moderately educated parents to wish that their grandchildren would receive what they had missed out on; i.e. a ‘superior education’.

Education too often seemed to be a bypassing of life experience; the rich sort of life experience that they had had, for which education could never be a substitute.  That is, it was ‘education’ of ‘another kind’ as John Abbott indicates in the title of his book ‘Over-schooled and Under-educated’.

One thing is for sure, education imparts ‘knowledge’ or ‘know-how’ to its clients which changes their behaviour.

How does ‘education’ change one’s behaviour? (more…)

Is Calculus Taking Science (And Us) On A Mad Joyride?


What a difference a 'differential' makes!

What a difference a 'differential' makes!

Differential calculus plays an important role in the mathematical foundations of science.  The notion of ‘change’ as ‘difference’ not only shapes our scientific models and solutions, but seems to ‘bleed through’ and shape our social behaviours. (more…)

My Letter on ‘Climate’ to the ‘Islands Independent’


Canadian Youth Climate Coalition - G8/G20 Pledge

I will hold the Canadian Government responsible for their failure to take action to stop climate change. If the government continues to dismiss its residents, I will come to the G20 meeting in June or participate in demonstrations in my community. I will make it clear to the world that people in Canada care about climate change and won’t accept inaction any further.

Ok, I participated in ‘activism’ in my student days and I think there is a need for the upcoming generation to ‘stir it up’ and make people think.   But, … a partnership with the Pembina Institute!?!  Is youth the victim of the ‘politicizing of science’?

* * *

I believe that the motivation for the statements on ‘climate’ by Elizabeth May, Nadia Nowak and Peter Carter is ‘the health and harmony of the community/habitat’, and this is true also for myself.  This common motivation makes of us a kind of ‘virtual team’.  But as in many teams, there is not always a common understanding of ‘the issues’.

My virtual ‘team-mates’ and I currently differ in our understanding of ‘climate’, me being the ‘odd man out’, and I wrote a letter (click here) to the ‘Islands Independent’ (which may be published in the June 11th issue) thanking the paper (Laurie Kay) for providing fair and open access for comments on such issues. (more…)

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