Tuesday, October 26, 2010

shooting j's

Over the last few months I’ve been trying to chase down some logic books – logician books, the science, not logic puzzles. Of course, I don’t mind a good logic puzzle. My luck had been middling with a few smaller paperbacks that I enjoyed but the mother lode escaped me; my Moby Dick, if you will. The problem is that I believe the world to be littered with vast textbooks on the subject that are undoubtedly dry and miserable (don’t even start on your thought that all logic is already dry and miserable). What I wanted was a guide to walk me through the process all the while being exciting and readable. This logic problem folds in nicely with my previous post on history in that we aren’t actually taught these things in school…either back in the 70s and 80s, or now. I went to some high quality public schools and aside from about two weeks of proofs and theorems in Geometry – and I hated that block of instruction – none of the real theory is offered through primary or secondary school. They also never really explain that “begs the question” is a logical fallacy and not something spouted by talking heads to mean a completely different idea. Well, I’ve found my white whale and it’s a two volume primer written by Paul Teller. Teller, who I believe teaches (or taught) at UC-Davis, has converted his course material to books that were originally published by Pearson Education. At some point they ceased printing and returned all rights to Mr. Teller and he’s been awesome enough to allow us to access it for free. I’ve already printed the first volume and am slowly working my way, two steps forward-one step back, through the meat of it all. I’m sure L. can’t wait until a few years hence when I gracefully bequest hot her a copy of A Modern Logic Primer. If you’d like to add it to your wish list then you might just find a copy under the tree at Christmas; I can already see that smile on your face.

I’ve drafted up a short Omaha primer for WonderTwin 2’s impending jaunt to my homeland. Bearing in mind that the city has ‘changed’ and grown since my youth – and my three-year tour in the early, mid -90s, the fact of the matter is the Omaha never really changes. There will still be drivers heading east on I-80 who can’t figure out which lane will take them downtown and which will shoot them off to Council Bluffs (they only changed the layout about 20 years ago). You’ll still be able to find a steakhouse that’ll serve you a hunk of meat with a side of manicotti. And the basketball hoop in my old driveway is still there – it may survive any disaster ever laid upon the world. If you look real close, and squint just so, you can see the ghost of my youth working on my turnaround jump shots and free throws on a cool summer’s eve in 1978.

I’ll let you go.

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