Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Donald Trump is Gaslighting America

"The good news about this boiling frog scenario is that we're not boiling yet. Trump is not going to stop playing with the burner until America realizes that the temperature is too high. It's on every single one of us to stop pretending it's always been so hot in here."

Read the rest at Teen Vogue. (Yes, Teen Vogue, and see this article in Slate Outward for more on the rise of Teen Vogue.)

Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Hate Crimes and our Trumpist Future

"Muslim Americans are our friends and family members, our doctors and nurses, our police officers and firefighters. They own businesses and teach in classrooms. Thousands of them have fought for the American flag. Many have died defending it. And yet, too often—especially in the last year, following a number of tragic terrorist incidents, and amidst an increase in divisive and fearful rhetoric—we have seen Muslim Americans targeted and demonized simply because of their faith. And to impose a blanket stereotype on all members of any faith because of the actions of those who pervert that faith is to go backwards in our thinking and our discourse, and to repudiate the founding ideals of this country."

Read more at Slate.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Abortion: An Allegory

Angelina Rosario went into Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in Santa Cristina, California, last week for a minor procedure to help with her dysmennorhea and walked out pregnant. The hospital is still trying to figure out exactly what happened. There was also another woman, Rosaria Angelino, there that day. Ms Angelino had been undergoing fertility treatment and was scheduled to have several embryos implanted in her uterus. Somehow, their charts got mixed up as they were taken into adjoining operating rooms. (There was a small earthquake about that time, and there is some evidence that the charts were knocked off the women’s gurneys.) The error was not discovered until the two women woke up in recovery. Ms Angelino was surprised to find that she had gotten an ablasion, but not nearly as shocked as Ms Rosario was to discover that she was pregnant.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

"Why Are There Lesbians?" Asks Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner

Absolutely fantastic, and really quite funny, article over at Outward about arguments yesterday at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals concerning what may turn out to be a landmark LGBTQ discrimination case.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Working Class Voters and the 2016 Election

The day after....

Today in my introductory logic class, we were supposed to start talking about formal deduction: one of the most important, and confusing, topics in the course. When 10am rolled around, there were a lot of missing people. And those who were there mostly looked half-asleep, and many of them looked as if they were about to cry, or scream, or something else. I canceled the class, and several students thanked me.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

How To Be a Man in the Age of Trump

A man behaving as Trump does would be a pariah in any culture that did not actively and persistently enable men like him.
It sounds like an interesting article, but it turns out to be much more interesting than you might expect. It's written by a transman, who has a special perspective on what it is to be a man.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

New Paper: Comments on Imogen Dickie's "Fixing Reference"

The main focus of my comments is the role played in Dickie's view by the idea that "the mind has a need to represent things outside itself". But there are also some remarks about her (very interesting) suggestion that descriptive names can sometimes fail to refer to the object that satisfies the associated description.

You can find the paper here.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Make New Files in Some Directory Be Accessible to a Group

My wife Nancy has finally let me move her over to Linux, so now we can easily share access a lot of files on our server, such as photos. But I want her not just to be able to read those files, but also to be able to write them. But, on the other hand, I don't want to make them world-writable. I just want them to be Nancy-writable.

Obviously, the solution is to create a group rghnlw of which we are both members, make that group own the files, and make them group-writable. That's easy enough for existing files. But what about new files? I'd like those also to be owned by the group and to be group-writable.

Making the new files be owned by the group is easy: All we need to do here is make the directory in which these files live setgid, and to make the group in question own that directory (and also any subdirectories). So let's say I've put our common files into /home/common/. Then the first step is:
# chgrp -R rghnlw
# chmod -R g+s /home/common

Now any new files created in /home/common/ will have group rghnlw.

Unfortunately, however, those files will not be group-writable---not if my umask, and Nancy's, are the typical 022. Changing that would be an option, but it would make all files that either of us create group-writable, which is not what I want.

The solution is to use access control lists. There are good discussions of how to use these for this purpose here and here, but I'll summarize as well.

First, we need to enable access control lists for whatever filesystem we are using. In this case, /home/ is mounted on its own partition, the line in /etc/fstab looking like:
/dev/hda3      /home      ext3    defaults        1 2

We need to change this to:

/dev/hda3       /home      ext3    defaults,acl        1 2
And then to activate the new setting, we need to remount:
# mount -o remount /home
# tune2fs -l /dev/hda3
The latter should now show acl as active.
Second, we need to establish the access controls.
# setfacl -d -m group:rghnlw:rw /home/common/
# setfacl -m
group:rghnlw:rw /home/common/
The former makes rghnlw the default group, with read and write permissions; the latter applies this to existing files.

Converting "Stitched" Pages from PDFs

More and more great books (including philosophy) are going out of copyright and so are appearing on public archives, like Project Gutenberg and Unfortunately, though, many of these PDFs are constructed in a somewhat odd way, with each page consisting of several separate images that get "stitched" together. So if you try to extract the pages to run them through OCR, say, it ends up looking like you ran the pages through a shredder.

Fortunately, as I noted in an earlier post, we can use ImageMagick to fix this up. I'm having to do this often enough now that I've written a small script to automate the process. Here it is:
my @splits = @ARGV;
my $start = shift @splits;
my $stop = shift @splits;
sub normalize {
        my $in = shift;
        if ($in < 100) { $in = "0$in"; }
        if ($in < 10) { $in = "0$in"; }
        return $in;
my $newpage = 1;
while (1) {
        my @files;
        for (my $i = $start; $i < $stop; $i++) {
                push @files, "*" . normalize($i) . ".pbm";
        my $cmd = "convert " . join(" ", @files) . " -append outpage" . normalize($newpage) . ".tiff";
        print "$cmd\n\n";
        my $lasttime = scalar @splits;
        last if $lasttime == 0;
        $start = $stop;
        $stop = shift @splits;

The script can also be downloaded here.

There are two ways to invoke the program.

stitch_pages -n INIT STEP PAGES

In this case, INIT gives the number of the first image (this will usually be 0 or 1); STEP tells how many images are used to construct each page; and PAGES tells how many pages we are constructing.

Obviously, this assumes that there are the same number of partial images for each page. If that is not true, you can use the other form and specify the "splits" manually.

stitch_pages -s SPLIT1 SPLIT2 ... SPLITn

In this case, we will stitch together the partial images SPLIT1 - (SPLIT2 - 1), etc. The last split given should thus be one greater than the last image available.

New Paper: Logicism, Ontology, and the Epistemology of Second-Order Logic

Forthcoming in Ivette Fred and Jessica Leech, eds, Being Necessary: Themes of Ontology and Modality from the Work of Bob Hale (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
In two recent papers, Bob Hale has attempted to free second-order logic of the 'staggering existential assumptions' with which Quine famously attempted to saddle it. I argue, first, that the ontological issue is at best secondary: the crucial issue about second-order logic, at least for a neo-logicist, is epistemological. I then argue that neither Crispin Wright's attempt to characterize a `neutralist' conception of quantification that is wholly independent of existential commitment, nor Hale's attempt to characterize the second-order domain in terms of definability, can serve a neo-logicist's purposes. The problem, in both cases, is similar: neither Wright nor Hale is sufficiently sensitive to the demands that impredicativity imposes. Finally, I defend my own earlier attempt to finesse this issue, in "A Logic for Frege's Theorem", from Hale's criticisms.

For the most part, the paper is not terribly technical, but there are some (what I think are) interesting applications of technical work on models of second-order arithmetic toward the end of section 3.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Amazing Reflection on Sexuality and Sexual Violence

On Feministing:
When I started having sex, disposability was the first thing on the menu. Fuck you, ignore you, make fun of you on Facebook. Even now, it is the public penance exacted from women who dare.
A friend of mine said as much at the end of our first semester of college. ...“Boys aren’t going to want to date you if you keep having sex with them,” my friend said. The words smashed against my face like ice or glass.
And that's just the part about sexuality.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Every Woman Has Been a Little Bit Raped

Terrific piece on Role Reboot about why we (as a culture) need to broaden our understanding of rape and sexual assault. See also this piece on Bustle and this follow-up piece.

One of the most striking things to me was the idea, apparently expressed as often by women as by men, that stopping in the middle of sex "robs a man of his orgasm". This is particularly odd given that what's being discussed here, for the most part, is stopping intercourse. There's no indication, for example, in the Bustle piece that the author wouldn't have been happy to continue having some other sort of sex. Of course, it's her right not to stop altogether, if that's what she wants to do, but, as I said, that's actually not what seems to be at issue in most of these stories. There are other ways a guy can have an orgasm, you know?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Amicus Brief By 113 Female Attorneys About the Role of Abortion in Their Lives

This happened a while ago, but I just saw it today and read through the brief. It paints a fascinating picture of the importance of safe and legal abortion in the lives of American women.

There are interesting stories about this in Slate, in the Atlantic, and in Forward. There's an op-ed by one of the women in the Washington Post, too.

But maybe the most powerful thing I've read on this topic is this series of stories, collected by the Atlantic. Some of them are just heartbreaking. All of them speak to just how intensely personal the decision to abort is. Perhaps what is most inspiring is what the stories say about ordinary people's ability to navigate the ethical complexities that such decisions involve.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

More News on NC's Horrible Anti-Trans and Anti-Gay Law

I grew up in NC, and the rest of my family still live there. It's a diverse state, but one with a lot of jerks, it would seem.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Men's Basketball vs Women's Basketball

OK, so it's not a surprise that colleges (OK, actually, their conferences, get more money for victories by men's teams than for victories by women's teams. But how much more do you think that is? Would you believe that a victory by a men's team is worth $1.56 million and that a victory by a women's team is worth...wait for dollars? As in, absolutely nothing?

Well, according to the New York Times, that's how it is.

News On North Carolina's Horrific New Anti-Trans Law

As someone who grew up in North Carolina, I'm embarrassed for my home state: