8 thoughts on “Justin’s Microblog”

  1. I liked this quote:

    Each man is worth exactly the value of the things that he
    has seriously pursued.

    Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, as quoted in Who Killed Homer?.

  2. I made my blog’s content space wider, so it should look nicer on big monitors now. I stole the CSS code to do so from this: https://wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/177572/twenty-fifteen-wider-right-column-for-the-content

    I noticed that the “Proudly powered by WordPress” block at the bottom appears a bit skewed now. I should figure out how to fix that at some point.

    For now I’m putting custom CSS code into a Custom CSS field on the backend (I think this functionality is from a plugin). I think the best practice would be to break stuff out into a child theme, but I tried setting up a child theme before and had some trouble, so I’m just doing things this way for now.

    I also made the font of code blocks bigger, so they should be more readable now. I’m using a plugin for handling code syntax which hasn’t been updated in a while. I need to figure out a good replacement plugin at some point.

    I also made a Peikoff Grammar tag https://oldblog.justinmallone.com/tag/peikoff-grammar/

  3. From BLITZ: Trump Will Smash the Left and Win by David Horowitz:

    DePaul University professor Jason Hill is a Jamaican immigrant who is openly gay but politically conservative. Hill describes himself this way: “I’m mixed race, but I’m perceived as being black in America. And, like any person of color who has lived in America, I’ve experienced my fair share of racism. But I don’t see America as a nation of extreme bigotry.”55

    In his book We Have Overcome, Hill offers a memorable insight into the paradox of progressives who defend inner-city carnage and protect corrupt black politicians. Progressives, Hill believes, are driven by liberal guilt and low self-esteem. He writes: “If the moral meaning and purpose of your existence as a far-left liberal rests on my suffering and victimization as a black person, then you will need me to suffer indefinitely in order to continue to cull some meaning and purpose from your life. If I reject your help on the grounds that I will not let you expropriate my agency on behalf of my life, that I will cultivate the virtues in my character that are needed to emancipate my life from the hell you imagine it to be, then I’ve annihilated your meaning here on earth. I’ve identified your moral sadism in the relief of my suffering and named the moral hypocrisy of your life. It was never about me all along. . . . You needed me to suffer so you could gain meaning, atonement and redemption.”56

  4. From Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (a bit spoilery I guess?):

    Kaladin crept through the rains, sidling in a wet uniform across the rocks until he was able to peek through the trees at the Voidbringers. Monstrous terrors from the mythological past, enemies of all that was right and good. Destroyers who had laid waste to civilization countless times.

    They were playing cards.

    Notable writing technique thing here. Sanderson does a bunch of dramatic, serious build-up about the nature of the Voidbringers. We’re expecting a certain sort of thing to follow, and then Sanderson dramatically subverts those expectations by having them play cards.

  5. Oathbringer line I liked, from Jasnah:

    “That’s something nobody ever seems to understand—I have no stake in their beliefs. I don’t need company to be confident.”

  6. I was thinking about the idea of practicing improving your methods/practices while you do other things.

    The things you practice while doing something else can be pretty simple. They can be things like:

    • being persistent in doing something.
    • engaging in honest self-assessments.
    • exposing yourself and your work to criticism.

    If you actually work on things like these in the sense of keeping them active in your mind and letting them inform your decisions, then you are practicing them even while you work on, say, programming or other things.

    I think it’s easy to think that such things don’t count as practice or as effort at leading a more thoughtful and examined life. I think that’s a mistaken perspective. If you are making an effort to improve your practices and do things differently, you should account “applied examples” of that effort, and not just count the time you are explicitly studying philosophy or something like that.

    I think maybe there is a connection between not counting this more “applied example” stuff and rationalism. Because the rationalistic approach kind of treats philosophy as idle fun intellectual speculations disconnected from reality and not as a lived practice, as something you are and you do. So then if you have a sort of rationalistic perspective, the metrics you use for what you count as “doing philosophy” are informed by that perspective, and you can make mistakes that further entrench that perspective and entrench mistaken approaches to doing philosophy.

    It’s also possible to fool yourself about what you’re actually doing and whether you’re improving your processes and methods of doing things. However, I think if the things you are practicing include things like “putting more of your ideas out in public for criticism”, then that can help with the fooling yourself thing. If you succeed at all at a goal of exposing yourself and your work more to criticism, then that makes it easier for people to point out ways you are making mistakes in various ways, and so that can help you with not fooling yourself.

  7. From Peikoff’s Lecture Series on Moral Virtue, lecture 2, about 31 minutes in (automated transcription with some manual adjustments, but might have errors):

    But I want to consider an even more instructive, although I hasten to say purely hypothetical and impossible example, but it’s the type that Platonists raise, so let’s take it. Let us suppose that the force wielders restrict or coercion to only one significant issue such as choice of career.

    And let’s say that they reach their verdict that a given boy should go into medicine, we’ll pick that, and they reached that verdict forcers only after administering a panoply of psychological tests to determine the boys own interests and aptitudes that you have in the Minnesota test and this test and that. Suppose further, let’s give them the biggest benefit of the doubt, I mean, theoretically, you can imagine, let’s suppose that the boy himself is actually mistaken in his choice.

    He thinks that some form of art is the right field for him, even though as a matter of fact, his basic subconscious value judgments actually point to a career in medicine, only he himself has not discovered this fact does not believe it, and cannot be persuaded to accept the forcers conclusion. Now, that is as good a cases you can make, for the propriety of force or for its leading to a good result.

    And my point of even granting this whole impossible setup, the philosophical point remains true, even if medicine would be the right field for this boy, where he did choose it himself, the act of forcing it on him makes it wrong.

    Let’s see why. If a boy goes into medicine, through the exercise of his own judgment and choice, he thereby brings a certain cognitive and emotional context to the assessment of his experiences in the field. Since he has decided to pursue certain objects, he can relish them when he reaches them, for example, the new knowledge he gains the new skills, the fascinating cases he encounters, the dramatic cures. And he can also accept with equanimity as the price of these positives, the stretches of boredom or other negatives with which any career is replete. And parenthetically, if his choice of career is mistaken, the process of introspection will give him abundant evidence of the fact

    but now project the case that the boy is forced into medicine under threat of jail or physical harm.

    In that case, the context he brings with him is reversed. The positives, so-called, are no longer positive. They are not values to him, because he has not evaluated them as such. And as to the negatives – the back to back emergencies, say, the litigious paranoids among his patients, the 48 hour shifts the relentless atmosphere of accident, disaster, blood, pus, and death, well he obviously can only have one feeling: this is the nightmare men forced me into when they tore out of my life my passion for art now.

    I ask, can you think of a better way for manufacturing hatred of a career? Is there a better way to make a mind give up all ambition? Would you want to be treated by this kind of physician?

    Is this the means of achieving quote “value” in human life?

    You could easily lay out a similar hypothetical and ask similar questions in regards to forcing people to learn things in school.

  8. I was taking screenshots using the built in macOS tools and pasting the screenshots to Ulysses when writing blog posts. When doing that, the screenshots were initially too big on my blog cuz they are retina images. When I tried to handle that issue using a script and command line tools to shrink the image and paste the result to Ulysses, the image got uploaded as a tiff and wouldn’t display on my website at all.

    Then I discovered Monospace:


    Monospace has a setting to shrink Retina screenshots, and lets you configure the format of the image that’s copied to the clipboard when you take a screenshot using Monospace. I picked PNG format and everything seems to work fine now.

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