Category Archives: Facebook

Posts of this category mention Facebook for various reasons; a few posts specifically condemn it, and these posts are the reason why I created the category:
What I loathe about Facebook,”
The Facebook Algorithm,”
An afterbirthday message.”

What Now

I composed this post after the US Presidential election of November 8, 2016; I revised it after the election of November 3, 2020. The general question is of responsibility, as for Clinton’s loss in 2016 or the Democrats’ loss of Congressional seats in 2020. More precisely, the question is not whom to blame, but why. The former question depends on the latter. There is a common belief, retained from childhood experience, that somebody, some power, is going to judge our actions. With regard to this belief, many of us continue to behave as if we are still children, be we obedient or not. Asked, for example, to think of the feelings of Trump supporters after their man’s 2020 loss, some of us reply, “Why should we? Did they ever think of our feelings?” You can ask that of a parent whom you expect to impose fairness; do you think there is such a parent of the world? My investigation of the 2016 election continued in “How to Learn About People.”

“Everything will be fine” is usually correct, but not always.

I wrote my last article, “Happiness,” after the arrests of editors and writers at Turkey’s largest independent newspaper, Cumhuriyet (“Republic”).

A philosophical point buried the article was this: there is no one reason, not even a collection of reasons, why things happen.

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All You Need Is Love

Note added May 31, 2018: Here are some meditations on education from the summer of 2016, when Donald Trump was threatening to become President of the United States. Education cannot be forced on unwilling students. Neither need students know just what they are accepting; they may be enticed or beguiled into learning. Whether they have learned cannot be directly tested. I include some memories of racism (as an observer, not a victim) and of my own liberal education.

Note added May 22, 2023: I return to this post, precisely because of that assertion that testing does not show directly whether students have learned. As I have learned recently through a friend, Emily Bender said something similar on Medium last year, in response to Steven Johnson in “A.I. Is Mastering Language. Should We Trust What It Says?” (New York Times Magazine, April 15, 2022):

First, large language models have been making steady improvements, year after year, on standardized reading comprehension tests.

Bender’s response is “On NYT Magazine on AI: Resist the Urge to be Impressed” (April 18, 2022):

just because the tests were designed to test for reading comprehension by people, and even if we assume that they do a good job of measuring that, doesn’t mean that comparable scores by machines on the same tests entail that machines are doing something comparable …

Bender goes on to talk about “construct validity.”

Would education solve the world’s problems? A meaningfully positive answer would imply that the appropriate education could actually be supplied to us, or enough of us; and yet education is not a drug that can be administered willy-nilly.

Tables for art entrance exam, MSGSÜ, 2016.08.02
Tables for art entrance exam, MSGSÜ, 2016.08.02

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Life in Wartime

Turkey has given me a lot. My spouse would be enough; but life in Turkey offers various pleasures, and—for me at least—time to enjoy them. Hard work may be considered a virtue in the United States. Not so in Turkey. I am still driven to do things here, but perhaps only in the way that Thoreau was driven. He was driven to do what he wanted to do. One thing he wanted to do was write as follows.

I sometimes wonder that we can be so frivolous, I may almost say, as to attend to the gross but somewhat foreign form of servitude called Negro Slavery, there are so many keen and subtle masters that enslave both North and South. It is hard to have a Southern overseer; it is worse to have a Northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself. Talk of a divinity in man! Look at the teamster on the highway, wending to market by day or night; does any divinity stir within him? His highest duty to fodder and water his horses!

For how many Americans is the highest duty to go to work to pay for the car that they drive to work?

We suffer in Turkey from the delusion that one head is better than two or more, at least when that one head belongs to the man who is driven to be president-for-life. We also suffer in Turkey from terror attacks, like the one last night at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport. Continue reading


The following notes about the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis are from four emails that I wrote in the fall of 2015 (with some noted additions in the spring of 2020 and some additional editing on November 25, 2021). The emails rebut various objections to the Narnia books. I have put my emails here, because I noticed that a friend on Facebook was wondering whether her daughter was ready to read the Chronicles, or perhaps to be read to from them. I do not wish to write much on Facebook, for reasons detailed elsewhere in this blog; so I asked interested persons to read me here.

My explorations continue in “Return to Narnia.”

Side of boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia from 1970s

I started reading the Chronicles in the summer before fourth grade. They had been on a list of suggested reading supplied by my school. I do not believe I was corrupted by those books, or by any other books; but anybody may read below for signs to the contrary!

Spines of Chronicles of Narnia in boxed set

The emails here were part of a conversation, albeit one in which I was the most loquacious. I have edited the emails to stand alone, but have preserved the original timestamps (according to Istanbul time).

I. Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 6:03 PM

I have been thinking a lot about childhood. Continue reading

What I loath about Facebook

I wrote the polemic below as a comment on Facebook, in both senses. I was responding to a Johnnie friend’s comment, “David Pierce loathes fb as a forum for real discussion.” “Johnnies” are alumnae and alumni of St John’s College, the one with campuses in Annapolis and Santa Fe. My own view of our College is expressed in an article called simply St John’s College published in the De Morgan Journal in 2012. Since then, I have written about the College in the present blog, Continue reading


This entry features assorted photographs from recent months, along with my reasons for taking the photographs in the first place.

Devices for taking them

In a tweet there was a photograph of a crowd of excited people, all brandishing cellphones, except for this one old woman. Continue reading

The Facebook Algorithm

I thank all of the friends who sent me birthday greetings on Facebook this year. [But see note at end.] One friend noted that I was not likely to see his birthday greeting, since I do not pay attention to Facebook these days. I usually do not pay attention; but since so many friends apparently continue to use that medium, I have not closed my account. I recently posted on Facebook a couple of photographs showing a friend from Washington who was visiting Istanbul. These photographs were “liked” by friends of that person or of me. Thus I suppose I used Facebook for its best purpose. Continue reading


How do our thoughts age?

Having written recently that natural science was not history of nature, I looked back at Collingwood’s posthumous Principles of History for his arguments about this. I read his discussion of freedom as what distinguishes history from natural science. I recalled that his earlier writing was more concerned with removing distinctions than drawing them.

This is something that I investigate here. I occasionally encounter denials that we have “free will.” I find such denials bizarre; but evidently some people believe them, or at least believe they are worthy of consideration. I find Collingwood’s own account of freedom to be worthy of consideration. But then, considering this along with the rest of his œuvre, I have to conclude that everything is free. This conclusion is not really new to me; I drew such a conclusion as an adolescent. It may be a common thought. Wordsworth seems to have had such a thought, according to his Ode:

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Cogito ne demek?

Why the late Geoffrey Lewis’s Turkish Grammar (2d ed., Oxford, 2000) is exceptional:

At the beginning of a clause demek, demek ki, or demek oluyor ki (‘it becomes to say’) signifies ‘that is to say’: düşünüyorum, demek ki varım ‘I am thinking, which means I exist.’ (This Turkish translation of Descartes’ Cogito ergo sum is right—‘I am thinking’—and the usual English version—‘I think’—is wrong.)

I sent the foregoing to Facebook this morning, but this was not the best medium for the typographical features of boldface, italics, directional quotation marks, and indented quotations.

I had been aware that Lewis had died, Continue reading

An afterbirthday message

I originally posted the following on Facebook on March 17, 2014. I post it here too so that it is not lost in the bowels of that other medium.

Sevgili arkadaşlar // dear friends,

Doğum günümü kutladığınız için hepinize teşekkürler, ve aşağıdaki sözleri okuyanlara teşekkürler. // Thanks to all of you for the birthday greetings, and thanks to those who read the following.

(1) Yaşayın, (2) Diaspora*’ya katılın, (3) özgür olun! //

(1) Live, (2) join Diaspora*, (3) be free!

İngilizce’de devam ediyorum // I continue in English. Continue reading