Thinking & Learning Activities – September 20, 2020

πŸ“– πŸ“Grammar

Some Notes On Part of Lecture 2 From Peikoff’s Grammar Course

(These are some notes I took, so they’re not particularly well-structured or well-organized)

Peikoff makes an interesting connection in terms of subordinating/structuring things in grammar and explaining a philosophy idea like the meaning of freedom. He says you can’t just list off a bunch of concretes in trying to say what freedom is (e.g. no government controls over mortgages), you need to give a capsule essential statement. He connects this to egalitarianism – if you don’t pick specific things or ideas as more important or less important, that’s treating everything the same, which is like egalitarianism.

I think Elliot has written or said something somewhere roughly like: having a bunch of half-assed interests, “things you’ll get to” that you never do etc is kinda like having no interests at all. I couldn’t find it though so that doesn’t have the status of a quote. Anyways I think that idea connects to what Peikoff is talking about.

Peikoff says you can’t be egalitarian in the presentation of your thoughts when writing. You have to decide what the essence of your thought is. Peikoff:

You cannot be egalitarian in the presentation of your thoughts. You must decide what is the essence of your thoughts – that gets the main clause – and what is a side issue – that goes into the subordinate clause.
So the essence of good writing, good thinking, as regard to this point anyways, is your structural emphasis must correspond to your view of the contents’ importance.

He talks about someone who is asked what a movie is about and gives a scene-by-scene recounting of the film, contrasted with someone who says “it’s about a werewolf being the president of the United States.” That latter statement conveys an opinion about the essence of the film.

My idea: if you don’t have some opinionated position about what details are more important and less important, it’s a bit like being a dumb AI. I could totally imagine a non-intelligent “AI” program that does poor, unhelpful movie summaries heavy on details but without a connecting theme. Poor college papers I’ve seen that were written by disinterested people to meet requirements could totally be written by a dumb AI.

Peikoff actually has a nice quote related to this:

In other words, whether it’s a movie or a definition or whatever the subject is, the mind works by constant contrast of emphasis. It has to be guided all the time by: “This is important. This is a side issue.” In that sense, egalitarianism is the exact opposite of thought.

(emphasis in audio of original). The bit about egalitarianism and thought being opposites is interesting. I certainly had a negative view of egalitarianism but more in terms of it contrasting with things like freedom and justice. Saying it’s the opposite of thought itself is adding another dimension/angle to the negative perspective I have on egalitarianism.

So summing up, you need to have a view of what details matter when you’re writing something, and you need to make sure you actually communicate that view effectively in terms of how you structure your writing. Having a view of what details matter is more about just being a thinking/opinionated person, not a writing craft issue. Having your opinion of what matters reflected in the structure of your writing is a writing craft issue. I wonder which aspect people typically have more of a problem with.


I made a tree (link to download) comparing two different ways of reading a sentence that came up in Leonard Peikoff’s grammar course.

Contrasting sentence trees on He came He Also Ran - Justin Mallone September 18 2020

πŸ€” πŸ’¬ Thinking About Problems

Should I Get a Freezer?

See the tree below (or click here) for an analysis.

freezer Justin Mallone September 2020

πŸ—£ Practicing Explaining Something Simple: Adding a Deal Alert to Slickdeals

Slickdeals is a user-driven website that allows people to submit and vote on good deals. One way to get the most out of it is to set up alerts for deals you are particular interested in. That way, you’ll get notified when something you’re waiting for a deal on goes on sale.

To set up deal alerts, you’ll need an account and be logged in. I won’t go into the details of getting an account here.

Once you have an account and are logged in, type the name of the product you’re interested in in the Slickdeals search bar. Below I use the example of an 8TB hard drive.

Then hit the magnifying glass to search for it.

Some results for your search will appear, but we’re really interested in the “Add a Deal Alert” link that appears. Click that.

After you click the link, it will say Deal Alert Added for the thing you searched for.

Congrats! You’ve got a basic deal alert. Now we’ll look at some more advanced options.

Click on the name of the thing you searched for (in blue) and you’ll get taken to the Deal Alerts screen.

Here you’ll see your various deal alerts and can edit, pause, or delete them.

Let’s click on Edit for 8tb hard drive.

From this screen, you can customize the threshold at which you’re alerted about deals, the methods by which you receive alerts for that deal, and various other options.

🧠 🌩 Brainstorming: Things to Improve Sleep

  • Try different pillows (one back-sleeper, one side sleeper?)
  • Try different blanket/comforter
  • Try adjusting temperature in bedroom
  • Try using earplugs
  • Try using sleep/relaxing music
  • Try wearing night mask

πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ’» Activities

I bought a dough scraper. I like it so far. It made cutting my cookie dough into very tiny pieces for making very tiny cookies very easy. It also handled chopping off a bit of parmesan cheese from a wedge quite well. It did the job with cutting up a nutella quesadilla, but I think my pizza cutter would have been better for that particular job, since a circular cutter does a better job with messy/gooey things. I’ve been working with dough a fair amount lately so this item seemed like a good idea to have. It was quite cheap as well, and I find the AmazonBasics brand pretty decent in general.

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