Friday, July 23, 2010

Blogging note

In case anyone is wondering, the recent paucity of blog posts (or at least of substantial ones) owes to the fact that I have been on jury duty for nearly two weeks. On top of that, my wife is away for a week with two of the kids while I am watching the other three (or rather, scrambling to get others to watch them while I am at the courthouse). So, little time for blogging, much less getting any work done. Things should be back to normal by next week.


  1. Have you been chosen for a jury? Quite often those with Ph.D's, much less professors, are excluded.

  2. Since James mentioned it, I'll share this story.

    When I was taking a law course at university, the lawyer said flat out that he and other lawyers would go out of their way to get professors out of the jury box. The reasoning was that everyone else tended to be wowed by having an actual professor with them, and would more or less defer to them for any reason. Their field didn't matter. And the professor, feeling under pressure (and probably with egos a bit swelled), would end up over-analyzing and pontificating on things that had nothing to do with the case.

    He also gave the example of how, in a child molestation case, the guy who did it was let off. The evidence against him was tremendous, but the (philosophy, I think) professor involved managed to convince the jury that absolute certainty of anything was impossible, and therefore they could not be sure "beyond reasonable doubt" that the man was guilty.

    All anecdotes from this one teacher, of course, but the story stuck with me.

  3. The time I was on jury duty, and was called up (*), was a real education.

    (*) I was recently on duty again, but all the cases were cancelled/settled before going to trial.

  4. I have been on jury duty for nearly two weeks...

    Judge not, lest ye be judged.

    Dude's innocent, innocent as hell. I don't need to hear the evidence, I can tell just from your post.

    Don't be a judgmental bastard, Ed. Have some compassion, dammit.

  5. I spontaneously had my best comedy line at the very end of my latest jury-duty stint. Being one of those rare men who speaks in complete sentences, the judge had paused briefly after saying how we couldn't be called for a year.

    "How about we don't get called until everybody who's never served gets called?" I said with a respectfully mischievious tone.

    Somehow the idea penetrated the usual grim courtroom solemnity. Instantly everyone broke out in raucous laughter -- bailiffs, prisoners, prosecuters, lawyers, even the court recorder. The judge was laughing too hard to bang his gavel at the brief uproar.

    He composed himself briefly enough to say "Good luck with that", which definitely prolonged the chuckles.

    Then it came to me that the laughter was cynical disbelief in the possibility of the System ever caring how many times they called you back.

    Which brings me to ask: isn't it wrong that they don't let anyone volunteer for jury duty?
    e.g. Retirees, people about to start a job, etc.

  6. Act and Potency -

    Ed - I was thinking about something I had read on your page a bit back. About how things have what they actually are and the potential they have in them to change. And how for most things that potential needs to be manifested by the workings of something already actual.

    To me at first, it sounded like a bunch of babble. Babble to someone find some mundane thing and show from it God exists.

    But I was at work one day and I balanced a pencil on the eraser end - standing it straight up.
    I got to thinking about it tipping over. There was a gust of air from the air conditioner that kept causing it to tip, so I tried to block that air flow (I was really bored at work!!).
    Also, there was working going on on the floor below me, so the desk was kind of shaking.
    I was thinking of all of these external (actual) things that were trying to actualize the potency of the pencil laying flat on the desk as opposed to balancing, standing up straight (I wasn't thinking of it in exactly those terms at the time).
    But then I thought, if nothing external acted on this pencil standing erect it would never tip over.
    It seemed like such an obvious thought but it also seemed so significant. Right then I started thinking of your posts about act and potency. It was actually a really cool/crazy moment in my life.
    I went up to other people at my work mentioning the pencil standing erect scenario.
    Stating to them "think of how profound it is - if nothing already actual acts upon this pencil, it would never tip (let alone change)".

    They all seemed to appreciate how that would related to someone knocking it over or wind blowing on it. Immediately people would start saying "well what about an earthquake", to which I would reply "but still, it's something actual and it has to act externally on the pencil".
    One person said "what about decay of the pencil. Eventually that pencil will start to weather and eventually crumble", but again I replied "again, all of those factors that cause decay are external to the pencil. These are still all external actualities that are causing the potential state of the pencil to tip (change) to itself be actualized."

    This simple little moment at work completely changed my mind about what you were initially trying to say with Act and Potency.
    Something so evident that you don't need to waste time talking about specified complex information or irreducible complexity.

    I'm a changin' man.
    Something external to me prompted me to reconsider God's existence.

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  8. Ha! You Lie! I see right through your pathetic excuse. You're really going huntin', fishin' and drinkin' with the boys aren't you?