Wolfe, Chomsky and Everett

The Kingdom of Speech by Tom WolfeI wrote in a previous post. about the kerfuffle surrounding two scholars of linguistics and Tom Wolfe’s fascinating commentary on it in his book The Kingdom of Speech. I just read an article about the affair that had a great quote in it that I wanted to preserve on this blog so I can return to it and point to it now and again. It is an interesting article that is worth a read. The quote:

Chomsky’s theory of language, as will be evident to the reader of Everett’s piece, is on a par with Darwinism. A theory about nothing but itself about how things happen. We could leave it out and nothing would change except the air would be cleaner. Not that Everett says this, of course.

Our bald eagle is back

Bald eagle again, but with binoculars

Our bald eagle friend came back today and we took a picture of him with our digital binoculars. We are really glad we got them, but can see we need to get better ones or a telescope. We think we want to go the telescope route and equip it with a real machine vision style camera. We were glad our eagle came back, too. Now we know we might get to see him every now and then.

Lorena picks blueberries again

Lorena picks blueberries in Rochester, WA 2017It gets no better than this. They were very, very sweet and there were many of them. She got a good batch, but she really needs to get two to three times more. If she gets enough we will plug in the freezer before the kitchen is finished and there should be good progress in the kitchen again this week. Mark has promised we will be done by mid-August. We appreciate his great work and are looking forward to it. The name of the U-Pick farm is Black River Blues in Rochester, Washington. She is going to try to go again in the next few days before the season is over.

I found a great old picture of Lorena

Lorena at Thanksgiving in Boynton Beach, Florida, 1972

I found this great picture of Lorena from shortly after we were married in 1992. It reminded me of another photo I saw of the day when Grandpa Lauro and Grandma Conchita got married on November 13, 1966–very close to exactly twenty six years after the above picture was taken. It is kind of amazing that they both look so much like Conchita’s mother who is signing for the marriage on the right side of the image below. Our twenty fifth anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. I am awfully grateful to be part of this family that has been so kind to me.

Lauro and Conchita get married (Grandma Leonor signs) -- November 13, 1966

My Bible reading plan–getting close to complete

Reading through the BibleI was pretty bad at consistently reading my Bible up until shortly before we moved from Oregon to North Carolina in 2006 when I started keeping track of my reading (here) on one of my blog pages. I started out with a plan to read a chapter a day until I had read through the entire Bible three times, with a couple of extra readings of the New Testament after each complete pass through the whole Bible for a total of nine individual reads. Here are some notes on how it has gone:

  • The first time I read through the whole Bible, it took me 1363 days or 3 years, 8 months, and 25 days.
  • My last pass through the whole Bible took me 584 days or 1 year, 7 months, and 6 days.
  • My first pass through just the New Testament took me 11 months and 9 days.
  • My most recent pass through the New Testament which I completed today took 127 days or 4 months and 5 days.

I really have only missed a handful of days in this entire time where I did not read and have made up for all the days I have missed to the best of my recollection. The thing that is most interesting to me is that I am not really reading any faster now than I did previously, I am just taking more time. In addition, I am enjoying it more and more every time and find myself “reading ahead” on a fairly regular basis, especially on Sundays.

I have one more read through the new Testament to finish the original plan, then I need to make a new plan. I want to do some topical studies, but I also want to read some other version. My current thinking is that I will do a read through the NASB and the RSV using the same plan as before (one read of the Old Testament and three reads of the New Testament), then switch over to some topical studies. In the meantime, Lorena and I want to read through the Reina Valera (1960) translation together using that same trajectory.

Almost a Washingtonian

New plates on the carWell, we finally got the Washington plates mounted on our car. We retired our Texas plate to a place of honor in the garage. The only thing left now to make it official is for me to go down and get my license changed. That will have to wait until Friday or sometime next week, though because I am headed off to work in Canada for a couple of days.

Driving through Seattle was so bad last time that I decided on a new strategy for this trip. I hope to leave the house by 4:30 AM if Lorena can kick me out of bed in time. Then, I hope to head back pretty late on Thursday so I hit Seattle at 10 or 11. I am not sure that will work, but anything will be better than last time when we took six hours to make a four hour drive. And we saw NO wrecks, but lots of stopped traffic.

My buddy Bryan brings his drone

Bryan and Ken hang out together, but not on purpose.My long time buddy (closer than a brother) called me last night. I am totally envious of him because he has three grandchildren with a fourth due on August 1. Mari and Brian, Bryan’s daughter and son-in-law broke down in Chehalis on the way to a Birthday party for their nephew up in Bellingham. They were in the Walmart parking lot waiting for Bryan to arrive to bring another car. Bryan told me they were planning to get a hotel and wondered if they could park the broken down car at our house.

Of course, we went down and picked them up to stay with us overnight (how many times have the Joyce families bailed me out and/or had me stick around for dinner? The number is too high to count). We are so grateful they could stay with us and we took them down for the normal massive breakfast at Country Cousin in the morning. Then Bryan arrived, we got all the car stuff sorted out, and I was saying goodbye to everyone when Bryan had a thought.

He said, “Hey, Ken. This would be a great spot to take some drone pictures.”

Lorena had already headed off to Ikea in Renton go buy some beds–we were a little bit embarrassed about our lack of accommodations so we decided it was time to try to fix that a little, so she would never know I was not completing my honey-do’s.

I said, “Yeah, that would be great.”

So we did. the pictures are below. The first picture is a view of the house looking toward the West. The property boundary is just this side of the workshop at the top of the image and runs down to the very end of the cul-de-sac. The South boundary is the trees and the North boundary is the road that ends in the cul-de-sac. There are several more pictures if you click on the “Continue reading…” below.

Thanks Bryan! Again.

House looking toward the West

Continue reading My buddy Bryan brings his drone

Breaking down and buying binoculars

Nikon D90 in bonus roomWe found the power cable to the charger for Christian’s Nikon D90 Camera. We set it up to take pictures of stuff going on in the yard, the area just above the Chehalis river, the town behind it, the hills behind that, and finally Mount Rainier behind that. We cannot see the river, but that draws a ton of wildlife so we absolutely benefit from its presence. We kind of have not figured out the camera yet, but eventually I will find the time to figure it out and start to take some photos.

We had a long talk with Christian about which zoom lens we should get.

He said, “What do you want to do with it?”

We said, “We want to take pictures of the mountain, stuff like deer, flowers, and birds in the yard, and birds like the bald eagle that was on the tree by the river yesterday morning.”

We got it all figured out, but we cannot afford it all for awhile, so in the meantime, I bought some binoculars with image and video capture capability. I am sure they are not great, but they are much better than what we have now and we can just use them as binoculars. Here is what we are getting. I will leave you with one more deer picture we took at dinnertime out on the deck this afternoon.

Deer in the back yard

A bald eagle out our living room window

We are absolutely going to have to get a zoom lens for our camera. Lorena saw this bird on a tree–I have no clue how she first spotted it–and got the binoculars. It is a beautiful bald eagle. The tree is one that is very close to the Chehalis River, so I am assuming this one was doing some fishing.
Bald eagle

Some kind of fire near Centralia?

Mystery fire near Centralia?
We woke up this morning and saw a lot of smoke off in the distance. The smoke column on the left has been there for awhile, but it seems like the one on the right is new and we are not sure what it is. Maybe some of the folks who live around here might know.

Atheist close-mindedness

Tom Gilson found and wrote about a study that shows what so many of us already knew for so many years. The study shows close-mindedness and intolerance to the beliefs of others is a defining characteristic of the non-religious and the anti-religious. The paper is here. It is worth a read.

Deer beside the deck

Deer by deck in Centralia houseI know, I know, we will get tired of deer pictures before too long. We have lived in this part of the world and the reality is that you can get these kinds of pictures just about anywhere in the U.S. I remember going to Princeton, New Jersey to do some work at Bell Labs and we saw tons of deer out the window of the conference room where we had our meetings. Still, we like them and want to remember our joy in seeing the deer because after we plant our garden, we know everything will change. Lorena was only a few yards away from this little guy who spent the entire heat of the day under a small bush beside the deck knew we were there and knew looked right at Lorena when she was taking the pictures.

Ordered a new diet book: The Obesity Code

Obesity CodeI saw on Facebook a friend had started using the program described in the book The Obesity Code. It is another one of those book that is more a way of eating than a diet book. It looked pretty interesting when I read the reviews and the blurbs about it, especially in terms of my current state in life and the philosophy what I know works best for me. So, I wrote my friend and email. He has been using the program for awhile now and getting really good results, not just in weight loss, but in also with his diabetes.

I ordered the book and plan to read through it and figure out what I think about it, but I am also going to stay in touch with my buddy to see how “sticky” the diet is. That is important to me because a lot of these diets are easy to maintain during weight loss, but motivation drops when you have to stay with something painful with no immediate positive feedback (weight loss) because the weight has been lost and the food was only good and interesting the first few weeks of the program. My friend seems to have good success with it for quite awhile now, so I have hope it might be good for me, too. I will keep you posted.

July 4, 2017 in Centralia (I had the concept wrong)

We heard when we moved here that the fireworks were just phenomenal. You might excuse us for thinking we had a view of the professional fireworks from our deck. We were completely wrong. We had a spectacular fireworks display that lasted for three hours. This little video does not really do it justice because there was much bigger stuff going off a lot of the time all over the whole valley below us. We were awestruck. It was not so much that the fireworks were amazing, even though they were. It was more that this thing went on at a frenetic pass for three hours. There must have been an explosion of some kind two or three times per second with periods of much more than that. The thing that was most mind-boggling is the level of participation amongst the whole community had to be huge because these things were going off everywhere, up and down the hills and valleys, in town close, far, on our side of the river there was even a very healthy level of participation. It was a joy to be here. Next year we have to share this with more people.

Fireworks in Centralia with Kelly 2017

Kelly comes home for the Fourth of JulyKelly came home for the weekend to find out whether it is true we have the best seat in Centralia for the annual Fourth of July fireworks display. She and Lorena have been cooking and shopping up a storm. I actually have worked most of the time with a short hiatus for a visit from our friends Brent and Suzy along with their son Kevin.

In the meantime, Christian took a much needed break and is heading out this afternoon and evening to see what there is to see on Independence Day in one of those places where it all got started. Today, he had a hamburger at a restaurant owned by a semi-famous guy named Danny Wahlberg. He has not yet reported on that hamburger–probably still dazzled by the lobster roll he ate at the Park Street McDonald’s.

So, I will try to report here how it goes with that fireworks thing. It appears they shoot them off at the fairgrounds which does not seem like it would give us that much of a vantage point. We will see what we will see and if it is anywhere within viewing distance, we will put up an image.

Update (9:30 PM): The fireworks will start at the fairgrounds between Centralia and Chehalis after the Demolition Derby at 10:30 PM. Is that Americana or what? We are above the little valley where Chehalis is situated. It is truly amazing the number of fireworks being expended hear. It is like a war is going on that started up about an hour ago and has not let up even a little bit. Some of the explosions are quite a bit bigger than I ever remember anyplace else I have been and I bet we are hearing one go off two to three times per second during that time with spurts of quite a lot more. I am wondering how much activity they have down at the emergency room this time of year. I hope they are well staffed.

Boston cultural experience

Park Street McDonald's (Boston's worst restaurant)We are glad for every reminder that Christian is having the best of all possible cultural experience during his summer in Boston. For instance, he ate at the Park Street McDonald’s today after meeting. Christian eats a lobster roll at the Park Street McDonald's in BostonHe said that it had been suggested to him that particular McDonald’s was quite possibly the very worst restaurant in all of Boston. When you are in a new place, you need to be sure to try to find the best example of the specialties associated with that place. What did he have? He is in Boston! He had a lobster roll which seems to pretty much disqualifying factor for being the worst of anything.

McDonald’s price: $9
Famous lobster roll: $20

McDonald’s taste: like McDonald’s (decent, worth it)
Famous lobster roll: really good

Continued insights on the mind-brain problem

Michael Egnor recently authored a new article in First Things on the mind-brain problem titled A Map of the Soul. I am really just putting this up here as a placeholder and reference for use in future discussions. Egnor writes clearly and concisely about something he has studied up close as a brain surgeon. In addition, it is obvious that he has spent time trying to understand Philosophy and Philosophy of mind. He makes a compelling case for a dualist view. Here is an excerpt of some the observations that have informed his belief in the existence of the mind apart from the brain:

Wilder Penfield, an early-twentieth-century neurosurgeon who pioneered seizure surgery, noted that during brain stimulation on awake patients, he was never able to stimulate the mind itself—the sense of “I”—but only fragmented sensations and perceptions and movements and memories. Our core identity cannot be evoked or altered by physical stimulation of the brain.

Relatedly, Penfield observed that spontaneous electrical discharges in the brain cause involuntary sensations and movements and even emotions, but never abstract reasoning or calculation. There are no “calculus” seizures or “moral” seizures, in which patients involuntarily take second derivatives or ponder mercy.

Similar observations emerge from Roger Sperry’s famous studies of patients who had undergone surgery to disconnect the hemispheres of the brain. This was done to prevent seizures. The post-operative patients experienced peculiar perceptual and behavioral changes, but they retained unity of personal identity—a unified intellect and will. The changes Sperry discovered in his research (for which he won a Nobel Prize) were so subtle as to pass unnoticed in everyday life.

China

I have never really been to China yet. I have been in a lot of different parts of East Asia, but never in China proper. That includes Taiwan, Japan, Korea (South of course), Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan. I was scheduled to fly to Shanghai and Shenzhen on July 3–imagine that, the Fourth of July in China, but could not manage to get the visa in the short amount of time available. I currently work on a team with distributed workers–two in China, one in Quebec, the boss in Vancouver, BC, and me. It works amazingly well. I am the only one on the team whose first language is English, but that is what we speak. I love this new job so far. There is lots of pressure, but also lots of interesting work. What more could you ask out of a job at my stage in life–interesting work is worth gold. I will be over there in the next few months, God willing. Looking forward to it.

Luis’ and Mine’s paintings

Luis paints us a pictureOur dear friends Luis and Mine who are also Lorena’s brother Rigo’s father and mother-in-law each painted us a painting for our new house when we moved to North Carolina. It was so kind of them to paint these for us and we love them a lot. Now we have found a great home for both of them in our new house.Mine paints us a picture Mine’s painting is perfect for a kitchen setting. We found a tripod for it and keep it on the counter. The colors are just perfect, too.

Luis’ painting is amazing. It is a street scene that is very, very Mexican in style. One of the bathrooms in the house has a patently Mexican motif and the colors match remarkably well. We would have had a hard time finding a painting better than the one Luis painted for us.

We are grateful to them both.