Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cafe Philo in New York City in two weeks, Thursday, 11/4: Did William James kill Buridan's ass?

Cafe Philo in New York City will meet in two weeks, Thursday, November 4, 2010 with a discussion on the topic of "Did William James kill Buridan's ass?" The topic was suggested originally by Bernard Roy. It represents a philosophical conundrum about rational choice and whether William James resolved the conundrum. See the Wikipedia article on Buridan's ass for a summary of the conundrum, but not William James' solution.

The suggested topics for the upcoming meeting and their votes (out of 7 attendees):

  1. Does determinism entail predestination? (2)
  2. Why is rhetoric more appealing than reason? (3)
  3. Did William James kill Buridan's ass? (5) *
  4. What will be the most important elements shaping our future? (3)
  5. What is it that draws us to philosophy? (2)
  6. Would dueling have a salutary effect on society? (2)
  7. What is the relationship between philosophy and art? (4)

I have been acting as guest moderator lately. Bernard Roy has been attending as a participant.

Catch up with preparatory online discussions in the Yahoo! group for Cafe Philo NYC.

As usual, the meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the back room at Bamiyan Afghan Restaurant at the northwest corner of Third Avenue and 26th Street in New York City. In exchange for free meeting space, it is expected that each attendee will purchase a minimum of $5 of food or drink. A glass of red wine can be had for $6 (plus tax and tip.)

After winding down our discussion, we entertain and vote on proposals for the topic question for the next meeting.

There are also usually some attendees who go across the street to McCormack's Pub for drinks and food and extended discussion after Cafe Philo, but not limited to the scheduled discussion topic.

There are a number of small groups in the U.S. and Europe who meet regularly to discuss topics related to philosophy. Some of these groups go by the name "Cafe Philo." There is one here in New York City that meets every two weeks, every other Thursday. It is organized and moderated by Bernard Roy, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Each meeting focuses on a specific topic which was suggested and voted on by the participants at the last meeting.

Also, there is an online discussion forum for the NYC Cafe Philo at:

There is also a new web site for NYC Cafe

I have been attending the NYC Cafe Philo off and on since 2004. Previously I had attended the Cafe Philo in Washington, D.C. starting in 2001.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Made my tenth payment to pay down the public debt of the U.S. government

I just made my tenth monthly payment to pay down the public debt of the U.S. government. Not much, just another $25, but it is a matter of principle, albeit mostly symbolic. It may take me another 46 billion years to pay it all down all by myself at this rate (and assuming the deficit went to zero immediately), but, as I said, it is a matter of principle and a sense of personal responsibility. It is our debt, not somebody else's.

According to the U.S. Treasury web site, the total public debt outstanding was $13,615,674,949,267.90, as of October 7, 2010. It was $13,441,762,397,157.23, as of September 10, 2010, for an increase of about $174 billion over 27 days, about $6.4 billion a day or $2.35 trillion per year (annualized daily deficit.)

Here is what I wrote back in January 2010 when I made my first donation/gift/contribution/payment:

Everybody is whining and complaining about the ballooning debt of the U.S. government, but who is actually doing anything about it? Well, for starters, ME! Yes, that's right, I, Jack Krupansky, just did something to reduce the U.S. government debt. Really. No kidding. I actually paid down a small slice of this debt. Granted, it was a rather small slice, but a slice nonetheless. Okay, sure, it was only $20, but the point is that at least I am one of the very few people willing to stand up and DO something about the problem, rather than be one of the whiners and complainers who refuse to acknowledge that it is their debt and their problem, not just the fault of mindless politicians in Washington, D.C. After all, every politician ultimately answers to voters and most of the so-called wasteful spending of the U.S. government is simply politicians responding to the demands of their consistituents (voters.) Maybe my one small contribution to paying down the debt won't really make any difference to any of those whiners and complainers, but for me it is a matter of principle. I consciously choose action rather than the inaction and lack of responsibility of the whiners and complainers.

If you have any sense of principle, you too can pay down a slice of the U.S. government debt yourself at You can pay via credit card or debit transfer from a bank account.

So do the right thing and show all those whiners and complainers (including so-called "tax protesters") how mindless and spineless they really are. PAY DOWN THE DEBT! And that has to start at the grass roots with us individuals before politicians will ever pick up the lead.

For the record, the only real way out of the deficit is not to merely cut expenditures or raise taxes or some combination of the two, but through economic growth, which includes a healthy amount of immigration in addition to unemployed workers going back to work and young people entering the work force. Sure, we need to manage the federal budget more carefully as well, but the big focus has to be on achieving sustainable economic growth. In truth, nobody, including all of the Nobel laureate economists, knows what that sustainable rate really is or how to get there.

-- Jack Krupansky