Monday, July 17, 2006

Asked you a question.

But I didn't need you to reply.

I. Great weekend, by the way. I went kayaking with Andy and Cheryl, got terribly sunburned. Oh, and I saw Who Killed the Electric Car?, which was a pretty good documentary (with a surprisingly solid knowledge-to-vitriol ratio for a film involving some big-name culprits). Did you know that from 1996 to 2000, there were affordable and impressive electric cars being leased (but not sold, for reasons we later discover) in California? The last of them were forcibly reclaimed and destroyed by the car companies in recent years. The question of why that should have been makes for an fascinating movie, and the people who tried to save the electric cars come across as fully human, hopeful, patient, and not bitter- this was as far as could be from a Two Minute Hate documentary. I recommend it if it shows where you live.

II. Teaching is hard.

III. I've been rereading the Nicomachean Ethics for the philosophy seminar, and I'm pretty sure that Aristotle would have benefited from a more developed mathematical terminology. He talks about virtues as being the means between certain character traits (i.e. courage as a mean between cowardice and rashness), then spends a great deal of time talking about how this is not analogous to the arithmetic mean, that sometimes the mean is closer to one of the two extremes (as courage is closer to rashness than to cowardice), and that in some cases the virtue is one of the extremes (as for example the virtuous disposition with regard to injustice is to avoid it completely).

It would have been much simpler had he been able to speak of maximizing an 'excellence function' on the interval of the character trait; most often the maximum lies inside the interval, sometimes at one end or the other. Maybe I've been thinking about calculus too much. Possibly I'm crazy.

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