Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Our Special Guest Philosopher today is Giambattista Vico, b.23 June 1668  d.23 January 1744

VERUM ESSE IPSUM FACTUM (the truth is what has happened, or, as it is more commonly translated, the truth is what is made)

Tuesday Morning EDT/
Tuesday Evening Japan Time
Shipwreck Is Everywhere Update
"Si bene calculum ponas, ubique naufragium est."

-Gaius Petronius Arbiter
Which I roughly translate as 

"All in all, an objective consideration of life leads one to conclude that shipwreck is everywhere."

Debris from the tsunami is drifting off the coast of Japan creating a hazard to shipping. Everything from ship containers, to truck trailers and houses are floating in the ocean according to Bloomberg. 
“Usually, there’s only the odd piece of debris,” said Hidefumi Akagi, who is responsible for advising shipping lines on sea routes for Japan’s coast guard. “Currently, we’re getting reports of loads of floating objects.”

"Men first feel necessity, then look for utility, next attend to comfort, still later amuse themselves with pleasure, thence grow dissolute in LUXURY, and finally go mad and waste their substance."

For those who want a reactor by reactor status update you can go to CNN. The update is remarkable for the paucity of information on radiation levels and how much the press must rely on TEPCO's largess for the little information available. It just goes to show that if you are a big company and you create a disaster it helps for public relations purposes to be able to totally control the area in which it happens. But I suppose there are not too many reporters banging down TEPCO's doors to be allowed into the plant complex to report first hand.

"Common sense is judgment without reflection, shared by an entire class, an entire nation, or the entire human race."

Radiation levels in the ocean near Fukushima Daiichi have been running five to seven million times safe levels in the last few days. Measurements several hundred yards from the plant are said to be 1000 times the legal limit. The Associated Press reported that the Japanese government has set a standard for acceptable radiation allowed in fish for the first time.

"Uniform ideas originating among entire peoples unknown to each other must have a common ground of truth." 

Environmentalist George Monbiot has created a stir with his endorsement of nuclear power after the Fukushima Daiichi affair. You can read his views at his website. Basically George says that an old nuclear plant of bad design got hit with a giant earthquake and tsunami and the world didn't end. Ergo, nuclear power is good.
Here is a refutation of his beliefs. "Why George Monbiot is Wrong On Nuclear Power" 

"It is noteworthy that in all languages the greater part of the expressions  relating to inanimate things are formed by metaphor from the human body  and its parts and from the human senses and passions. Thus, head for top or  beginning; eyes for the looped heads of screws and for windows letting light  into houses; mouth for any opening; lip for the rim of a vase or of anything else; the tooth of a plow, a rake, a saw, a comb; beard for rootlets; the mouth  of a river; a neck of land; handful for a small number; heart for center (the  Latins used umbilicus, "navel," in this sense); foot for end; the flesh of fruits; a  vein of water, rock or mineral; the blood of grapes for wine; the bowels of the  earth. Heaven or the sea smiles; the wind whistles; the waves murmur; a body  groans under a great weight. The farmers of Latium used to say the fields were  thirsty, bore fruit, were swollen with grain; and our own rustics speak of plants making love, vines going mad, resinous trees weeping."- a passage from Vico's The New Science revealing his approach to etymology. Vico, as do most thoughtful and intelligent men, finds revelation in etymology. He also points out to us in The New Science that the Greek word for 'war' 'polemos' finds its etymology in the Greek word for 'city' 'polis'. Now we know that anyone who indulges in polemics is a war-monger. And, perhaps, that the anthropology of premeditated war begins with the establishment of cities.

The worst offense that can be committed by a polemic is to stigmatize those who hold a contrary opinion as bad and immoral men. -John Stuart Mill

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