Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Friday, December 31, 2010


My brother ordered a Kindle for me for Christmas. I am so looking forward to it.

There's a used book I've been waiting for to arrive in the mail. I'm tempted to just get the Kindle version and start reading it on Kindle For Mac.

I'm a bit concerned that the Kindle does not have a touch interface. Isn't it awkward to highlight and annotate passages using the cursor buttons?

I am tempted to download a bazillion free and paid books onto the device. A temptation I shall resist. What would be the point of doing that? I would be building up a library of books that, honestly, I would never get around to reading.

Even with a Kindle, there are not enough hours in an evening to read even a fraction of everything that one would like to read.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Overheard on a bus: What we need in this country

Man: "What we need is affordable housing; really, truly affordable housing."

Woman: "What we need in this country is a guaranteed income. If people want to make more, they can. But a guaranteed income, where there's no need to fight for scraps."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Infographic: Aristotle's Thought

I created the infographic below (pdf) to give a rough indication of the range of ideas covered by Aristotle's works.

Aristotle's Thought

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ning is hiring software engineers

The company I work for ( is hiring software developers. I've been working there for five years and I enjoy it—mainly because my co-workers are (1) super-smart and (2) super-easy to get along with. Give us a look if you're in the job market and are passionate about software development.

Where does the time go?

There are 24 hours in a day. So if you sleep for 8 hours, and work for 8 hours, then theoretically you have 8 hours free to do anything you like.

One can do a lot of amazing things in 8 hours.

So where do those 8 free hours go each day? It is instructive to ponder.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Aristotle on what constitutes a good life

This is a list of components of a good life according to Aristotle, found in Chapter 12 of Aristotle for Everybody:
  • external goods: food, drink, shelter, clothing, sleep
  • bodily goods: health, vitality, pleasure
  • goods of the soul: knowledge, skills, friendship, self-esteem, honor
  • moral virtue: temperance, courage, justice
  • good fortune (luck)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Table of Contents for "Aristotle for Everybody"

Here is the remarkable Table of Contents from Adler's Aristotle for Everybody. This is actually the alternative Table of Contents which he gives on p. 193. It seems heavy, but it's actually way easier than Aristotle's crazy-hard-to-understand translations.


1. Aristotle's Fourfold Classification of Sensible, Material Substances: Inorganic Bodies, Plants, Animals, Men
2. The Range of Beings: The Ten Categories
3. Productive, Practical, and Theoretic Reason or Mind


4. Nature as an Artist and the Human Artist as Imitator of Nature
5. The Three Main Modes of Accidental Change: Change of Place, Change of Quality, Change of Quantity
6. Aristotle's Doctrine of the Four Causes: Efficient, Material, Formal, and Final
7. Further Developments in the Theory of Potentiality and Actuality, and of Matter and Form, Especially with Respect to Substantial Change, or Generation and Corruption
8. Aristotle's Analysis of the Intellectual Factors in Artistic Production and His Classification of the Arts


9. The End as the First Principle in Practical Thinking and the Use of Means as the Beginning of Action: The End as First in the Order of Intention and Last in the Order of Execution
10. Happiness Conceived as That Which Leaves Nothing to Be Desired and, as so Conceived, the Final or Ultimate End to Be Sought
11. Aristotle's Distinction Between Real and Apparent Goods, or Between Goods That Ought to Be Desired and Goos That ARe in Fact Desired, Together with His Distinction Between Natural and Acquired Desires
12. The Real Goods That Are the Components of the Whole of Goods That Constitute Happiness, and Moral Virtue as Indispensable to the Pursuit of Happiness
13. Moral Virtue and Good Fortune as the Two Indispensable Operative Factors in the Pursuit of Happiness
14. The Obligations of the Individual With Regard to the Happiness of Others and With Regard to the Welfare of the Organized Community
15. The Role of the State in Abetting or Facilitating the Individual's Pursuit of Happiness


16. The Senses and the Intellect: Perception, Memory, Imagination, and Conceptual Thought
17. Immediate Inference and Syllogistic Reasoning
18. Theoretical and Practical Truth
19. Aristotle's Theory of Knowledge and His Distinction Between Knowledge and Right Opinion


20. The Actual and the Potential Infinite
21. The Eternity of the World and of Motion or Change
22. The Immateriality of the Human Intellect: Conceptual Thought as Involving the Abstraction of Forms From Matter
23. The Prime Mover: The Divine Being as Pure Actuality

A shorter road from Aristotle to Aquinas

Not sure what I was thinking, but I had a grand plan to read translations of most of Aristotle's works, before moving on to Aquinas' 3000-page Summa Theologiae. Great minds consider the combination of Aristotle and Aquinas to be the greatest and truest philosophical system, so it was an admirable goal.

Too hard, too hard it is to read translations of all of Aristotle, especially when one does not have much free time. I grinded to a halt after several months of plodding through Aristotle's Categories and Prior Analytics.

Given that "Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong," I have decided to take some shortcuts. First, Adler's book Aristotle for Everybody instead of Aristotle's original works. I should be able to get through that over a few Sundays. Then on to Kreeft's Shorter Summa, which is a richly footnoted super-slim abridgement of the Summa to 5% of its original size (162 pages). If I get through that, I'll do another iteration with Kreeft's Summa of the Summa, another footnoted abridgement to 18% of its original size (539 pages). And if I get through that, I may try to tackle the 3011-page original. Maybe.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Giving up feeds for Advent

Advent (the time before Christmas) is actually a time for penance, as we patiently wait for Christmas Day. For Advent I am giving up reading RSS feeds. It's been a couple of days so far, and I have no idea what is going on in the land of tech. On the plus side, it's giving me a bit of extra time each day.

I'll emerge from the dark on December 25th and see what you all have been up to.

Procrastination Activity: Sewing Up Holes In Pockets, Etc.

Here's a great activity for structured procrastination: Repairing holes in your clothes. Recently I've found myself having to repair some holes in pockets and collars. I just used a whip stitch, which is where you go around and around and around the edge of the cloth:


I found the following video useful: how to create knots at the start and the end of the stitch.

Secure a Knot & Tie Off Thread (

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