Some time ago now Deborah Lane urged Karen and me to consider moving into their home from the retirement home we were living in. As covid raged across the land the move seemed a wise thing to do. We have lived with Steve and Deborah for a year now. Some thoughts about the move:

  1. First let me say the food is great. Delicious suppers and lots of milk to drink! (Believe it or not but I do not drink much alcohol anymore.)
  2. The rooms we have are comfortable, warm, easy to clean and we sleep comfortably.
  3. We seem, for the most part, to live separate lives. We do share supper together – always varied and delicious – but for much of the day we go our own way. Walking in our old neighbourhood, socially distanced, and more and more making and keeping doctor appointments.
  4. Supper time conversations are rich and interesting, although Karen has some hearing problems, and I get lost from time to time, leading to some laughable moments as I am somewhat of a buffoon!
  5. After one year, I can say: it was a wise move.
  6. It seems we are happy and well-fed in our new place.
  7. Thanks. And Happy Anniversary!
  8. PS: Angelina, the cat, likes us both!

Doug Rirosky #3

Doug and Callie had a garden in the back yard. I remember digging it up one Spring as a surprise for them. They raised vegetables for the table. Callie prepared the best fried chicken EVER (as my Grandson would say – letting the word drag on for EVER!) They had two beautiful daughters and three sons. Callie worked in the school system preparing hot lunches for school kids. She was an attractive and vibrant women loved by our kids.

After we left Santa Barbara we tried to stay in touch, but soon the letters stopped. The Riroskies were good friends, good teachers, good people, and we all learned from them.

I tried calling them from Canada later. Callie remembered me, but Doug’s health was deteriorating and he had some memory problems. Soon after he died leaving me with memories of a good man who walked the earth with pride and was a good friend, who helped me and my family in many ways.

I have always been proud to call Doug Rirosky – friend!

“It was middle school, eighth grade, when a sheltered 13-year-old boy suddenly found himself immersed in an unfamiliar world, guided by a girl who wasn’t much older, a girl on the verge of leading a religious movement,” writes host Ramtin Arablouei.

“The boy was me. The girl, Lauren Oya Olamina, is, of course, the main character in Octavia Butler’s classic science fiction novel Parable of the Sower.”

Hear the episode here!

Black History Month

I want to tell you a bit about Doug Rirosky.

He was a Black man, a good friend, and he helped me and my family while I was a graduate student at UCSB by providing high paying construction work for me on weekends. I would go to his house and we would get in his pick-up to drive to the job. We talked; or, Doug talked and I listened.

Doug told me a bit about this past while we were traveling in his old pick-up to the jobs on weekends. As a young man he faced serious challenges as a young Black competing with whites as a labourer in Chicago. To keep his job in those days Doug had to work harder and faster than his white colleagues. He could do so. He was the strongest man I ever knew. I want to tell you a few stories about Doug.

One: As my family were getting ready to leave Santa Barbara for my first full-time teaching position, Doug called me into his kitchen one night after a marvelous dinner, prepared for us by his wife, Callie. He said, “Bob. I found these old suits and thought you might be able to use them in your new job.” I remember thinking “if these were yours they will never fit me!” We were quite different in size and shape.

He presented me with two complete suits – each with two pairs of pants – and said “try them on.”

I did. They fit perfectly.

He had sized me up, ordered the suits from a local tailor, and gave them to me for wearing in my new teaching position.

I hugged him. And cried.

Black History Month.

Fallacies, Miracles, and Fun



1. A two part discussion of David Hume’s argument against miracles. Here.

2. A discussion of fallacies at the SEP.

3. Philosophers’ Breakup Letters Throughout History from The New Yorker (like the one below):

For our entire relationship, I was absolutely and irrevocably miserable. I can see now that you used me purely as a means to an end. Don’t you know how that makes me feel? It is imperative that you reflect on the meaning of universal law, and stop doing that thing you did with your tongue. I hated that.—Immanuel Kant

4. Remember Phineas Cage?

Stretch your horizons

ODIP: The Online Dictionary of Intercultural Philosophy



The Online Dictionary of Intercultural Philosophy offers brief and understandable definitions of non-Western philosophical terms. It aims to promote a shift from Comparative Philosophy to World Philosophy enabling a genuine plurality of knowing, doing, and being human. The Online Dictionary of Intercultural Philosophy 1) collects key-concepts from several regions and 2) presents those concepts in a succinct fashion. It is meant to be an inspiring and stimulating resource for philosophers who aim to expand their horizons and think interculturally.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

  1. Cosmology: Methodological Debates in the 1930s and 1940s (George Gale) [REVISED: June 4, 2015]
    Changes to: Bibliography
  2. Emergent Properties (Timothy O’Connor and Hong Yu Wong) [REVISED: June 3, 2015]
    Changes to: Main text, Bibliography

    Word Meaning (Luca Gasparri and Diego Marconi) [NEW: June 2, 2015]

  3. Skepticism (Peter Klein) [REVISED: June 2, 2015]
    Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html
  4. Quantum Approaches to Consciousness (Harald Atmanspacher) [REVISED: June 2, 2015]
    Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html
  5. The Revision Theory of Truth (Philip Kremer) [REVISED: June 2, 2015]
    Changes to: Main text, Bibliography
  6. Convention (Michael Rescorla) [REVISED: June 1, 2015]
    Changes to: Main text, Bibliography
  7. Hermann Weyl (John L. Bell and Herbert Korté) [REVISED: June 1, 2015]
    Changes to: Main text, Bibliography
  8. Fallacies (Hans Hansen) [NEW:

Otto was a farmer – repost

wheatMy step-father was a dry-land farmer. He worked with his hands all of his life. He worked with mules, horses, and later tractors. Otto was primarily a wheat farmer. He took pride in his farming. Straight rows [once when my brother was home on leave during WWII, and was new to farming, Otto had him working in a field where he was supposed to drive the tractor at an angle across the face of a hill, Bud’s rows got so crooked that he decided to fix the line by working up and down the hill to correct the line! The result was a disaster as the rows now ran up and down the hill side instead of across its face.], sowing at the right time, cultivating, knowing when to harvest. There was a German Lutheran toughness to him and a real pride in growing crops and beasts to feed the people.

It was a real shock to him when he made his first trip to the east coast. He went up to the top of the Empire State Building and looked out over the city. He noticed barges in the Hudson River that were dumping their loads into the river. He asked what they were dumping. He was told they were dumping excess wheat and also milk. He could not believe it.

Why would they do that he asked. For the futures market he was told. Too much wheat brings the prices down now and in the future.

When he came back to the farm he was changed. Those barges had stolen his life’s purpose.

At about the same time Camus was writing his Notebooks 1951 – 1959. He writes (35) :

According to Melville, the remora, a fish of the South Seas, swims poorly. That is why their only chance to move forward consists of attaching themselves to the back of a big fish. They then plunge a kind of tube into the stomach of a shark, where they suck up their nourishment, and propagate without doing anything, living off the hunting and efforts of the beast.

The remora reminds me of the Wall Street speculators of today. They do not produce any wheat or corn – they merely bet on its price in the future. And they don’t manufacture anything to use for anything – they specialize in gambling. Oh, and gas prices? Betting on the futures is responsible for a large share of the price.

Oh, yeah, and Otto paid his fair share of taxes.

More stories.

Sunday’s Sermon: Professor Douwe Stuurman

historyRemembering Stuurman

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

RUSSELL: Douwe Stuurman?

HARDIN: Well, he’s one of a kind. He was one of the spearheads of the movement to keep this [UCSB] a small liberal arts campus. He was, as you know, at Oxford–a Rhodes Scholar–and very much a lover of humanities in a traditional sense. I don’t know how one could summarize him. You know plenty about him anyway. He’s quite unusual.

It is appropriate at this time of year to think back on the year and all of the years that have slipped by so quickly, and it is appropriate to begin with a Proust quote, for the subject of this remembrance was a great Proust student: Douwe Stuurman. University of California Professor Stuurman. My MA advisor for my degree in English. A man who influenced generations of students in his long teaching career. A mentor, teacher, friend.

Continue reading