Saturday, June 16, 2007

WELCOME to The VIRTUAL Philosophy Club Blog

Anyone who is interested in courteous discussion of serious topics is invited to join this Blog and participate as a Lurker, Commenter, or Author.

To be a LURKER, and simply read the published postings, all you need to do is to use your Internet Browser and go to:

To be a COMMENTER, and reply to published postings, all you need to do is get a Google account which is free, easy, and quick.

To be authorized as an AUTHOR, with the capability to initiate new topics on this Blog, please send an email to with your Google account ID and associated email address.

Let the (courteous) Blogging begin!

Ira Glickstein (Administrator)


Stu Denenberg said...

I look forward to many useful and respectful and fulfilling discussions on this auspicious occasion...


Ira said...


Thanks for being the first to post a comment on this new version of the TVPClub Blog.


Stu Denenberg said...

Re: St. Ives: it reminds me of the "research" question, "How many married bachelors are there in the Villages?
One way to find out is to take a stratified sample and carefully tabulate the results (statistics). The other way is to realize that the set of married bachelors is an empty one and the number of elements in the empty set is zero and is thus the answer. No research is necessary just armchair deduction.
In general I believe that statistics is like a tie in football which is like kissing your sister --- OK but not really satisfying.
As a result I think most statistical evidence is not very strong. It bolsters the beliefs of those who already agree with the statistical outcome and hardly ever changes the minds of those who disagree.
That said, in many cases it's the best evidence we've got and it's usually better than any single person's opinion.


Stu Denenberg said...

I have one more comment:
Is the caption under the "Atypical" member of the blog typical?


Ira said...


Since virtually nothing in the real world is completely "black" or "white" but shades of gray, ALL the empirical evidence we have is more or less statistical. If there is anything of which *I* am *certain* it is "there is no certainty" :^)

Therefore, what I think Disraeli and Twain (and I, and probably you) are saying is that we need to be properly suspicious of statistics *because* they can hide particularly insiduous lies!

On the "Atypical" caption - yes that is a *typical* joke for me (and not at all atypical :^).


Steve said...

So by Twainian logic statistics are lies. But when my eye views Ira's picture it averages (a statistical tool) the very small pixels and I can see the picture. Seeing the pixels would be "the truth" but would not make a very pretty picture. So yes statistics can be used to support lies - but sometimes we like it!

In the case of vision this is a good thing. But when we approach a problem with the desire for an outcome of our own choosing - then statistics are typically abused.

But - can we EVER be without some pre-conceived notions?

Steve said...

St. Ives: Maybe this shows the value of a good question and of making sure that all concerned understand what is being asked. The questions can lead us into a better understanding - or to more questions.

P.S. Posting this after responding to the email invitation.

JohnS said...

Ira, I had trouble with my password so I am snding this to confirm that I can comment. JohnS

Ira said...

Steve (and ALL):

Thanks for posting to this new blog.

(I'm not absolutely sure which "Steve" this is, since I recently invited two! One Steve is a friend from my undergrad years at the City College of NY and was the co-editor of the CCNY engineering magazine prior to me. Our families have kept in touch for all these years. The other Steve was an engineer at an organization I did business with and we became friends. Perhaps we need to choose screen names that are more specific?)

All comments so far have been on the "Welcome ..." topic (although both Stu and Steve mentioned the "St. Ives" poem which is on the "Lies..." topic). I would like to see some comments posted to the "Lies..." topic. For example, did everybody fall for the trick and try to "do the math" rather than follow the logic?

(When you post a comment about a particular topic, you need to click just below that topic to get your comment to fall where you want it.)

Stu Denenberg said...

I didn't fall for the trick because I had already fallen for it many years ago (in grade school I think). I also remember the "test" that started off with the instruction to "read through the whole test before beginning" and then the last sentence instructed the reader to ignore all of the questions and just put their name on the top of the test and turn it in...of course, no one did this but just began answering questions until, embarrassed came to the end.

Perhaps we're all just a tad too impatient --- I believe it was Kafka who said that most of our problems derive from either laziness or impatience...

Stu D.

Kerensa said...

Thank you for the invitation. It is nice to have an intellectual outlet. I have a little one at home and while time with him is well spent and enjoyed, it is good to briefly get away from bright, shiny toys and poopy diapers.

I like the married bachelors example...I run into way too much of that type of thinking lately.

Ira said...


I agree with you that Franz Kafka was right when he said:

"There art Two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness [...]

"There are Two main human sins from which all the others derive: impatience and indolence. It was because of impatience that they were expelled from Paradise, it is because of indolence that they do not return. Yet perhaps there is only one major sin: impatience. Because of impatience they were expelled, because of impatience they do not return." [from]

Of course, all human invention and civilization springs from exactly the same sources!

We organize ourselves into communities and engage in trade with others to obtain goods more rapidly and at lower cost. Goods are produced by those most skilled and/or located in regions where the raw materials are most readily available.

Inventors are rewarded when their products are purchased by people too lazy and impatient to use the old-fashioned methods.

Isn't it interesting that "sins" are the source of engineering and science and nearly everthing else that makes us "higher" than the other primates and "lower" animals.

(Humans are the only animals who have the sentience to be "moral agents" and thus the only ones who can "sin".)


Anonymous said...

As I was going to St. Ives I met a man who was travelling my way. While chatting, we were soon overtaken by his seven wives and a bunch of cats and kittens.

Moral of the Story: Don't be the last traveler of the day to seek lodging in a town with pet-friendly inns.

...the "other" Steve ("Author Steve")

Stu Denenberg said...

When I used to teach programming classes I viewed it as a branch of problem solving and I would teach the students that good problem solvers were lazy but in a good way: they try to avoid unnecessary work. They also are persistent to the point of being stubborn, never giving up until the problem has been solved. And they should always strive to be patient as it is usually impossible to predict how long it will take to solve even the simplest problems.


Ira said...

Stu: I love the way you put it: "... lazy but in a good way: they try to avoid unnecessary work." [Emphasis added]

The dictionary definition of "lazy" is "Disinclined to action or exertion; idle ..." That implies someone who accepts the status quo to the point they will not exert themselves, even to achieve a better status quo for the future.

Your kind of "lazy" shirks unnecessary work, but is quite willing, in your words, to be "persistent to the point of being stubborn, never giving up until the problem has been solved."

I like that kind of lazy, based on what might be called enlightened self-interest -- an understanding that exertion now will save work later. A good characteristic for a programmer or any productive worker.

However, that type of person never achieves the save work later status quo, because he or she will always find new areas to apply themselves to and work hard to achieve further improvement.

Perhaps the only relief from hard labor for that type of person (our type :^) comes in the final reward in Heaven. But, I'll bet the mechanical engineers in Heaven keep busy lubricating the Pearly Gates and the electrical engineers making sure the Heavenly Lights are adequately powered.

Ira Glickstein

Jayar said...

Hi Gentlemen (pardon the gender, but I note that so far only males are commenting).

I really look forward to participating in the dialogue at this site. So far my only comment would be that the position that between black and white is lots of grey. That gamus is so spread out that grey seems to be arcane - I would think that between black and white there is a spectrum full of all of the colors of the rainbow.

As for statistics, I typically cringe before any one citing them as an authoritative source. I remember my professor who would say without cracking a smile that he is the 1/2 child in his parents' average 3-1/2 child family!

And, boy, that "read the whole exam" ploy must be universal - and passed on with each generation.

Finally, I look forward to an inteesting discussion tomorrow evening at Temple Shalom. I e-mailed a frined of mine who is on the panel a article in todays Sentinel about four boys being recruited to play football at one of our area colleges who were dropped off at Disney to enjoy themsleves and were profiled as gangsta type and detained and then banned from the facility because they were loitering on the grounds -- What else does one do when in an unfamiliar locale and wondering what to do or go see next!!


Ira said...

TO: JohnS, Kerensa, Anonymous "AuthorSteve," Jayar, and ANYONE else who posted and was not Published right away.

I misinterpreted the Blog Moderation settings and thought I had set this up for a free-for-all. Instead, apparently, anyone who has not been authorized as an Author will get Moderated by default (Google rules, not mine).

Therefore, if you post a Comment and it does not appear for a while, that is because I have to authorize it.

If you want to be an Author, please send an email to me at, with your name, email, and brief bio, and I will authorize you. WOW - what an offer!

Ira Glickstein (RED-faced, but pleased at all the Comments!)

Ira said...

to Kerensa:

Thanks for posting and I like your photo on your Comment.

I have not yet set up a profile, but, I guess if you set one up with a photo, it will automagically appear on postings.

What a great system!

Take a break from the "poopy diapers" and post some more here when you get a chance.

I enjoyed your intellectual abilities and good writing when you were in my online class at the University of Maryland and hope to "see" you and your former colleagues here on this Blog.

Feel free to invite your friends and colleagues to participate.

Ira Glickstein

Ira said...

to "AuthorSteve" also known as Anonymous:

Pleased to finally see your posting that I told you in my emails was not posted due to a "technical" problem.

Turns out that problem was me! (We have met the enemy and it is US!)

Yes, I've stayed at roadside places with animals and it ain't nice (although some of them had nice dogs:^). I wonder how many rooms that guy with the seven wives and a couple thousand cats and kits had to rent? And, all that cat urine. Oh my!

Ira Glickstein

Ira said...

to Ralph (also known as "Jayar"):

Thanks for your great Comment and I look forward to your future participation. I hope you accept my invitation to become an Author.

Yes, between Black (no light) and WHITE (all light) there is not only grey, but also a whole spectrum of light from the colors of the entire rainbow.

(My appologies again for my failure to Moderate properly and for my email to you implying that the problem of postings appearing might have been due to "technical" problems. It was ALL my fault.)

Ira Glickstein