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Monday, September 25, 2017

Richard Hofstadter and Sebastián Gatti

Richard Hofstadter was an intellectual.

Today I read Sebastián Gatti in La Jornada de Oriente, a newspaper in Mexico. He is a Public Intellectual.

I am an online intellectual. Only for some days I put my ideas in La Jornada de Oriente. As it happened, I left Mexico and my university stopped hosting this paper in our server.

Professor Hofstadter wrote a classic book "Anti-intellectualism in American Life". Maybe the frontier, maybe the colonial stage, I really don't know. Nevertheless American Europeans like myself, do not have the Intellectual habits our Europeans counterparts have. Sebastián and myself are not full professors at universities as Hofstadter was. Nevertheless we feel like this American historian, that we have a responsibility. We think more than the average person, so we write, hoping that somebody will read us and benefit. It is a responsibility.

Hofstadter pointed out that the intellectual in American public life does not have as much weight as other actors. I can think of the American president getting into shouting matches with basketball players. With due respect, neither Donald Trump nor LeBron James have the education to help Americans think better. I can see that little kids love sports but at some point grownup men, yes usually men, should go to Community College, and so many other avenues they have, to improve themselves, and they choose to spend hours, and hours watching balls going around a sport court.

Going back to Puebla, where Gatti lives, he writes (his piece is in Spanish, he was born in Argentina and lives in Puebla City) that his child going out on his bike to pickup a few friends to help others during the recent earthquake in that beautiful city, is something he supports more than government agents getting in the way.

Things get complicated, don't they?

We intellectuals try to make sense of everything!

We keep trying, I hope you keep coming back.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Catastrophe

Facts are usually more important than opinions.

Right now I am watching Spanish CÑÑ with Carmen Aristegui and Mario González in Colonia Roma, near my neighborhood in Mexico City. By the way Alfonso Cuarón just finished a movie about Colonia Roma where he grew up.

Elena Poniatowska wrote a piece today about the earthquakes of September 19, both in 1985 and 32 years later in 2017, in La Jornada, the Mexican online newspaper I follow  from Illinois.

These facts are important.

I expect the current Mexican Government to change in important ways going forward.



Holidays

Rosh Hashanah gave me the opportunity to think about the holidays.

My upbringing was secular. I was baptized in the Catholic Church, and very much admire Pope Francis, but I am not a practicing Catholic. I married into a Jewish family, and some of my relatives are Protestant.

I had the opportunity to tell students about my beliefs, here I take the opportunity to do it again.

I believe in reality.

There is an objective subjectivity so to say. That is, the very process of perceiving is real, and frail. We need other sentient beings to corroborate what we perceive, to be sure. This frailty forces us to be skeptic. I believe that Science provides the best antidote to this fundamental problem of perception.

What is True? This is a scientific question, not religious, nor philosophical.

In my book, President Trump is morally wrong because he lies.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

This Blog

I have several blogs maintained by Google. Obviously I am betting on the longevity of Page & Brin's company. There is even one for UFOs, for goodness sake!

The idea is simple, the URL has my name on it. There are other people with the same name, but this is the only blog that identifies me, as a singular universal phenomenon.

Apart from the uniqueness of all of us as human beings, I do believe that I stood out, since I was a boy. I couldn't stop talking, that's more of a girl thing, but there you have it. If people let me talk I don't know when to stop. That explains the number of blogs in Page & Brin, or should I say, Larry & Sergei?

This note was prompted by a dear cousin.

She just woke me up last night with a video from Huitzuco. The town where we used to meet since we can remember. Some of the cousins lived in other places then. She used to live in the town though, and I used to live in Mexico City.

These memories bring back thoughts of another Huitzuco relative, aunt Irma. She grew up with my mother in that town, then later in life she took care of me when I went to study at the University of California.

Yesterday I talked to another cousin in Huitzuco. There was an earthquake there, you can read about it here. 

Fortunately only things were damaged, but my family is under some stress nonetheless.

Physical events can take us away from the fake world invented by a bunch of deluded kids online.

I am glad I touched base with my roots.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Church of Humberto Cantoral

My father was a free thinker.

Yesterday we lost another one, Dick Gregory.

Both of them knew that their children must have their own thoughts. Think about it, Mr. Gregory used to say during his speeches-sermons. My father taught us to watch TV always thinking of what was going to happen. I even developed the habit of reading books from the end to the beginning.

When I read a scientific article, my first thought is: What's the point?

Obviously neither my father, nor Mr. Gregory, nor myself, know what is coming, there are not prophets with a 100% success rate. That's precisely the nature of this Universe we appeared in. We are always surprised.

Therefore Mr. Gregory was known for his penchant for Conspiracy Theories. My father and him didn't receive a Scientific Education, like I did. In Science we have the Fallibilism Principle. Statements which cannot be proven wrong, are useless to advance our knowledge.

Tomorrow the Moon will cover the Sun around noon, here in Warrenville. This is a scientific statement. All I have to do is to walk out to the backyard and witness one of the marvels our Universe can give us.

Since I am his son, hereby I start a new religion, "The Church of Humberto Cantoral".

Do not believe everything the powers that be tell you, they do it to control you.

Thanks Mr. Gregory, thanks Dad.