Tag Archives | Praxeology

Experimenting with the Timeline

Below is a presentation I created today using a software tool called Timeline, as part of a teaching workshop I’m participating in this week:

That embedded version is a bit cramped; for a less cramped view, click here.

I wanted to break long paragraphs into shorter ones, preferably on more than one page, but couldn’t figure out (in the allotted time) how to do it.

I also wanted to date the slides by centuries, not individual dates. I couldn’t figure out how to do that either. So then I wanted the first dated slide to be labeled “c. 340 BCE.” (“c.” for “circa.”). But it wouldn’t let me include “circa,” either; no non-numeric content was allowed in the dates. And it said I had to use negative numbers for BCE. So I ended up dating that slide “-340.” But I’m not happy about that, because they’re not equivalent; positive and negative integers belong to a cardinal sequence separated by a zero; but the BCE/CE (or BC/AD) system of dating is an ordinal system with no Year Zero. So, strictly speaking, 340 BCE would correspond to -339, not -340.

Otherwise, though, I’m fairly pleased at how it looks; and I could probably get something closer to what I want if I tinkered with it a bit. (The content I wrote is oversimplified, but this is just a trial.)

Who Said This?

“Language is a code dependent upon the life rhythms of the species which originated the language. Unless you learn these rhythms, the code remains mostly unintelligible.”

Guess the author. (Or see the link to the answer in the comments.) Although it’s a somewhat Wittgensteinian sentiment, I have no particular reason to think the author had read Wittgenstein, though I wouldn’t necessarily rule it out. While the author certainly is known for having a philosophical turn of mind, he or she did not publish in the area of philosophy and is best known for something else. (The lion is not a clue to the author, btw – just a reference to Wittgenstein’s “If a lion could speak, we would not understand it” and “a mouth smiles only in a human face.”)

My Crime Family Connections

[cross-posted at POT]

I just got back from Brunswick GA for a Liberty Fund conference on Frank Knight. I’d never read much of Knight before beyond the risk vs. uncertainty stuff, but his methodological, ethical, and (though he wouldn’t have used the term) praxeological writings turn out to connect nicely with a number of my areas of concern: Plato and Aristotle, Frege and Wittgenstein, Collingwood and Winch, Mises and Hayek.

The conference was at the Jekyll Island Club on Old Plantation Road. It’s like a fusion of the sins of the Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian factions! (And given that Knight taught at Chicago, it seems appropriate that there’s a connection between Jekyll Island and Hyde Park.)

For photos of the venue, see my Facebook page.

Speaking of Jekyll Island: my grandfather Charles Roderick McKay (1873-1954), although he wasn’t at the famous Jekyll Island meeting, was one of the people involved in setting up the Federal Reserve; he worked with Paul Warburg et al.

From a poverty-stricken childhood in Prince Edward Island, he became a runner for a bank while visiting Chicago relatives with his mother, and eventually worked his way up to the position of Transit Manager for the First National Bank of Chicago, in which position he developed the numerical check-clearing ABA system which would be adopted by the Fed. Once the Fed was established he became Deputy Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, though he was really more of a co-governor; when the various Fed Governors went to DC to meet with FDR, the Chicago gov was the only one who brought his deputy with him.

By way of partial mitigation of his role in the Fed, I note that when the central Fed began artificially lowering interest rates, which on the Austrian analysis was a major cause of the Great Depression, it was in large part thanks to my grandfather that the Chicago branch resisted the policy until finally overridden by the central; and in later retirement he felt betrayed by the direction the Fed had taken. (My grandfather’s economic and political views were broadly speaking “Old Right.” I never met him; he died a decade before I was born.)

I found his photo online in this periodical. From my mother’s stories I gather he was as much fun as he looks.

Sagebrush Thymology

I recall a long car trip with my mother from Colorado Springs to San Diego when I was seven. (We were moving.) (I mean we were relocating to a different residence, not merely that we were in motion relative to our geographical surroundings.) The only reading material I seem to have had with me was a single comic book (Wacky Witch #4, October 1971 – this was before I’d discovered the greener pastures of superhero, sci-fi, and horror comics, a revelation awaiting me in the stores of Ocean Beach), and so I read its contents, aloud, in the car, over and over and over and over and over and over as we traversed the desert landscape. That my mother did not bludgeon me to death with the tire iron is a mystery that passeth understanding. (Maybe we didn’t have a tire iron?)

(I haven’t seen this issue in many years and have no idea whether I still even have it , but I can still assure you: show me a king who can’t sleep, and I’ll show you a sleepy king!)

Anyway, my audio performance included not only the story but also, as an extra treat for my captive audience, the ads. There was one Hawaiian Punch ad that to this day I can still recite nearly verbatim – but I don’t need to, because I just found it online:

As a tot I found this very droll.

Anyway, back then I didn’t give much thought as to why Fruit Juicy Red was excluded from the promotion. (I remember a slight puzzlement, but no real interest in the question.) But now, knowing some economics, I would guess that Fruit Juicy Red was their best selling flavour, and that this promotion was designed to get readers to buy (or to nag their parents to buy) some of the other flavours as well – not to get them simply to switch from Fruit Juicy Red to another flavour (there’d be no particular point in achieving that), but rather on the hypothesis that if kids got to liking a wider variety of Hawaiian Punch flavours, this would lead to their desiring Hawaiian Punch more often (since if they got temporarily sick of flavour A they might then turn to flavour B of the same brand rather than turning to some entirely different brand), and so a greater total amount of Hawaiian Punch would be sold.

Incidentally, let me assure you, for the sake of my mother’s sanity, that the in-car entertainment on this cross-desert voyage did not consist solely in my repeated dramatic readings of Wacky Witch #4. My mother and I also improvised a long drama about two brothers, Maraschino (an aristocratic fop) and Bing (a crude, vulgar sort), though the details now escape me.

Who Said This?

[The] whole doctrine [of laissez-faire] was founded on the complete impossibility of directing, by invariant rules and by continuous inspection, a multitude of transactions which by their immensity alone could not be fully known, and which, moreover, are continually dependent on a multitude of ever-changing circumstances which cannot be managed or even foreseen ….

See the answer.

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