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Monday, February 16, 2004

Johnny


I've been buying one cup a coffee a day for the last two years for Johnny.  He is as close to an idiot-savant as I have come.  His job seems to be to save parking spaces for a nearby garage, and he takes it very seriously, walking back and forth in all sorts of weather.

His area of expertise is music.  He listens all day, and seems to know everything about blues, jazz, and some rock-and-roll.  If you saw him in passing, you'd think he was homeless, but he's not.  He lives in a nice apartment a few blocks away.

If, as he sometimes does, he asks for a second cup of coffee from me, I tell him: You hit your limit John.  One cup is all you get from me per day -- and he laughs happily and always says, you're okay Dave.  You're okay.  Not like dem other bums.

5:57:19 PM    

My favorite segment from last night's debate was when Sharpton was asked whether Pres. Bush was a liar.  The question was first asked to Kucinich, but I was hoping that Sharpton would get a crack at it, and he hit it out of the park.

"I think that if he did know he was lying and was lying, that's even worse," Mr. Sharpton said. "Clearly, he lied. Now if he is an unconscious liar, and doesn't realize when he's lying, then we're really in trouble. You know, I'm a minister. Why do people lie? Because they're liars."

This brought the question of what a liar is into the realm of epistemology.  If you tell untruths, and are not aware of it, are you a liar?  If this were true, we would all be seen as inveterate liars and I would cite myself as one of the top ones.  And it opens up a whole line of questions: what if you knew you were lying, but later forgot that fact. And then you repeated the lie.  Are you still a liar? 

Where is the line between being constantly wrong, and being a liar? 

I will only say that Sharpton is the only one on the stage that comes out with lines that are unpredictable.  For this alone, he is to be savored.

[ epistemology: The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity. - ed]

8:53:17 AM