22 March, 2004

Getting My Feet Wet

Maybe it is just that I had a particularly odd way of growing up, but I was never taught as a child that I should wear "shower shoes" while in the shower. It was never a concern for me.

Throughout the many years, I have taken many, many showers, yet in not a single one of them that I can sincerely recall did I ever wear shoes in the shower. I suppose the subject of shoes worn in the shower was just too alien to my previous experience for me to come up with on my own.

The first time I took a shower in a public setting was in middle school. I was in a boarding school at the time, with a roommate and everything. I was never told to use shower shoes while there. I never noticed any others wearing shower shoes while there. It just didn't ever come to mind.

Fast forward to my college days. In the second semester of my freshman year, I moved into a dormitory on campus. I lived alone, without a roommate. No one ever told me about shower shoes, so I continued to go without them.

But now, this year, I finally have a roommate. And one of the first things he brought up about my habits was this: "why do you never wear shoes in the shower?"

The first time he mentioned it, it took a while to register. Shoes in the shower? I mean, for a person like me who has never been exposed to the idea, it seems quite odd. You must understand: when I think of shoes and water together, I remember the times when I was little and would jump into puddles in the rain. My shoes would get horribly wet then, and I would have to squish my way to whatever destination I was headed. And whenever this happened, I had to let the shoes dry on the front doorstep. To take them inside would be pure heresy.

So you might imagine that it took me a while before I understood what was meant by shower shoes. But I did understand the concept, after a time. I'm not utterly stupid, after all.

The only thing is... Now it seems that I need shower shoes. But I'm left in a quandary. You see, I have only very limited funds to buy things with. And from those funds, I would tend to want to purchase those things which would help me out the most. And, quite frankly, shower shoes just aren't very high on that list.

So today, when I took my shower, I once again failed to wear shoes. Just like yesterday. And the day before.

I suppose it makes me a rather strange person. To value other things (video games, eating out w/ friends, etc.) over shower shoes. But I even checked the prices on them, and they're so very expensive! Even the cheapest, at five dollars, is not worth the money I'd spend on it. Remember, when one's funds are limited, five dollars is an extraordinarily huge sum of money. I don't think I could take that kind of a hit on my savings account.

But, I suppose, this is all beside the point. What does it matter, really, whether I wear shower shoes or not? My friends seem to think it a dreadfully important thing. My experience (so far) has shown it to be quite otherwise. This summer, I think, I will purchase shower shoes. But until then, there is just too much other stuff that I'd rather spend my money on.

Like Metroid: Zero Mission. That really does look to be an interesting game. It will definitely be my next purchase. But shower shoes? Eh, they can wait.
Current Music: Moonlight Sonata, by Beethoven

08 March, 2004

My First Journal Entry

Well, I've finally started a LiveJournal. Certainly took me long enough.

I suppose I should start by introducing myself -- it does seem to be the proper thing to do, though I admit that I'm not sure whom I am introducing myself to, seeing as how no one yet reads nor even looks at this journal. Hmm... I guess I will just have to address this introduction of myself to the rare reader who finds my journal later on, and decides to read my first entry, on a whim, just to see what it might be like. I wonder how much time will pass before anyone reads this first entry of mine...

Sorry about all that. I do tend to ramble at times. My apologies. Anyway, moving on...

My name is Eric Jonathan Herboso. When witing my name, I generally write it as: "Eric J. Herboso". The use of my middle initial is somewhat important to me. I am twenty-two years old, born on the evening of July 1, 1981. I look older, however, and I feel younger. (I'm so odd.)

I am currently an undergraduate student at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, majoring in mathematics and philosophy, with a minor in literature and a peculiar emphasis on political science. I plan to switch over to physics once in grad school in Los Angeles, California. After that, my future plans are to teach college-level physics and mathematics courses at a small private institution.

I love to argue and debate. Almost any topic will do: philosophy, logic, religion, politics, mathematics, literature -- hell, even video games make for interesting discussion with me. (Ask me about Rinoa Heartilly if you've played all the way through FFVIII.) I love to read; mostly, I read nonfiction essays and such, but I do adore great literature almost as much as I abhor bad literature. I am an incessant writer... Sometimes I think it is to make up for not talking much most of the time. But then again, when I get into a good argument, I do tend to talk almost as much as I write. I like composing music, usually of the background kind, and always instrumental. I love playing games: Magic: The Gathering, StarCraft, Final Fantasy and Axis & Allies immediately come to mind.

Before I get into the familiar grind of blogging, however, I would like to point out that I have had an ongoing online journal since October first, 2001. Unfortunately, at the time I had chosen freeopendiary.com as my journal webhost, and they have been -- how should I put it? -- quite inefficient at the job. Of course, free is free, no matter how one looks at it, and it has only been quite recently that LiveJournal has started accepting new journalers without using a code of some kind first.

Unfortunately, I took down most of the entries from my freeopendiary journal, but if you're interested, you can still see a few of them at http://www.opendiary.com/entrylist.asp?authorcode=B441946. I warn you, though: pop-ups abound there. Note also that I spent much of my time there both writing to and reading the entries of two other freeopendiary users: Harm's Way, an 18 year old college freshman that is well versed in literature, poetry, and cursing -- I'm not sure which he's best at, but it's definitely one of those three; and Child Of Babylon, an 18 year old college freshman that has a sincere capacity for thought, emotion, truth, and the situation of the human soul in joy and turmoil -- and she also has a very blunt and open perception of the passions of humanity.

You may also find interesting the journals of those I know on LiveJournal already: Robin Raven, the one person I admire most in this world for following her dreams and actually coming through with them --she is my best friend and confidant, and the one woman that I have ever loved in my life; and The Blessed Lunatic, the only one of my friends at Spring Hill College that has a LiveJournal account.

Keep in mind that not every subsequent entry will be original; I have a tendency to quote sections of text that I find interesting before I give my reaction to them. But don't worry about ever being confused, because, if anything, I am always extremely careful about citing everything I quote from elsewhere. Note also that I will sometimes quote myself from an earlier journal entry, whether written on paper or online, as sometimes it is relevant to the day at hand.

And with that, I suppose I will start this journal. You may expect my next entry to be one more typical of the entries I plan to write in this journal.

Until then...

-EjH

On the Failure of the Experiment of the Constitution of the United States of America

The following is an assigned essay which was completed for a grade. Unfortunately, some formatting has been lost in the transition to LJ.

Eric J. Herboso
Mr. Mullek
American Political Thought
Tuesday, March 08, 2004




On the Failure of the Experiment
of the Constitution of the
United States of America




The construction of the Constitution of the United States of America, as an experiment, is ruined. Since the birth of the nation, the Constitution has been changed in ways that it was never intended to be changed by, though it was always a given that the means to change it should be there in some fashion. One cannot now look at the United States in order to say something about the formation of the Constitution originally, because in the intervening two hundred years, too much has changed in too many ways. Not only is the control for the experiment nonexistent, but also the parameters of the experiment have changed so drastically so many times that no data can any longer be inferred from the current state of the union with regards to the original formation of the document of the Constitution. One example of such drastic change would be the centralization of government seen in the Reconstruction amendments, “which profoundly shifted the balance of power between state governments and the federal government” (Amar, 2).

It is a shame that the experiment was not allowed to continue as was the intent of the framers. "The ability of states to diverge in manners not inconsistent with the national Constitution reflects the true wisdom of federalism: not only the freedom to set a different course, but the power to do so as well" (DuPont, 4). But that wisdom is now gone, for the powers all seem to be in the hands of the national government now.

Madison himself made quite clear that the intention of the framers was to make sure the powers delegated "to the federal government are few and defined... [and] the powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state" (Hutchins, Fed. 45).

Yet today's system has almost no memory of that intention. Ex-Governor DuPont writes: "the most outrageous act of the Supreme Court in recent history, clearly usurping the powers of the states, is represented by a school desegregation case from Kansas City, Missouri. In that case, the federal district court realigned the school district, finding that it was segregated, and ordered the school district to raise local taxes to pay for the expenses caused by the court's decrees. The Supreme Court upheld this action, finding that it was 'plainly a judicial act within the power of a federal court, (MO v. Jenkins, 1990)' despite the fact that it violated the Missouri Constitution" (DuPont, 3).

The experiment of the Constitution, then, is a failure. Not in the sense that the Constitution failed to work, but that the experiment itself failed to work. The only means for an examination of the experiment of the Constitution is to be more in depth with the arguments made for and against that Constitution at the time prior to its ratification, rather than with the details of events and facts dealing solely with an era too far removed from the time of the document's forming. Thankfully, these arguments can be seen most distinctly in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, and they are clearly the most important philosophical work to ever come out of the United States' founding.

On September 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention at which the Constitution's final version was finally approved came to a close, and though the four month debate over forming "a more perfect union" (Hutchins, Con., Pre.) was over, the new debate over ratification had only just begun. (It should be noted that even at the very last minute of the Constitutional Convention, a change was made in Article I, Section 2, Clause 3: instead of the maximum number of representatives not being allowed to exceed one for every forty thousand persons, the maximum was lowered to one for every thirty thousand. This makes it clear that even at the close of the Convention, and even with the "unanimous consent of the States" (Hutchins, Con., Art. VII), there was still much consternation as to the agreement to the document. Benjamin Franklin said it best: "I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best" (Farrand, 643).)

This debate of the Federalists, newly started and rife with intent, would eventually succeed, and the Constitution would be ratified. But the experiment itself would fail, and so the big question seems to remain still unanswered: “whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether hey are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force” (Hutchins, Fed. 1). For while the Constitution was eventually ratified, and while the United States does still exist, it exists in a way that would seem to be based more on ‘accident and force’. The reconstruction amendments came about from the force of a country torn by civil war, trying to reclaim (too much) power over its individual states.

There remains little left of the untainted experiment today, despite the Constitution having survived over two centuries. For example, from the very beginning, the Commerce Clause (“To regulate commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes”: Hutchins, Con., Art. I, §8, Cl. 3): “served to prohibit the states from regulating any economic activity not completely local in character, while the national government regulated activities only truly interstate and commercial in scope” (DuPont, 2). But this all changed with the New Deal: “the Supreme Court began to allow Congress to regulate activities within states, as long as Congress could show that the activity had some effect, whether direct or indirect, on interstate commerce” (DupPont 2). Of course, it’s hard to think of some activity that doesn’t have at least some indirect effect upon commerce.

It would be truly interesting to see if a society could ever make up good government through ‘reflection and choice’ – but unfortunately, as long we continue looking toward the United States for the results to the experiment of the Constitution, we will only see the result of ‘accident’ (like a poorly worded Commerce Clause) and ‘force’ (like federal legislation mandating a minimum drinking age of twenty-one in each state, or else losing road construction funds).



Amar, Akhil Reed. “Anti-Federalists, The Federalist Papers, and the big argument for union”, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.
Winter 1993: Vol 16, Issue 1, p111, 8p.

DuPont, Pete. “Federalism in the twenty-first century: Will states exist?”,
Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.
Winter 1993: Vol 16, Issue 1, p136, 12p.

Farrand, Max, ed. The Records Of The Federal Convention Of 1787, Vol. II.
James Madison, et al., au.
Yale University Press: New Haven, CT: 1908.

Hutchins, Robert, ed. Great Books Of The Western World, Vol 43:
“American State Papers, The Federalist, & J. S. Mill”. Hamilton, Madison, Jay, et al., au.
Encyclopedia Britannica: Chicago, IL: 1952.

Lawler, Peter & Robert Schaefer, ed. American Political Rhetoric, 4e.
Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham, MD: 2001.

02 March, 2004

The Republic: Book VII: The Dialectic of Plato & Socrates

The following is an assigned essay which was completed for a grade. Unfortunately, some formatting has been lost in the transition to LJ.

Eric J. Herboso
02 March, 2004

The Republic: Book VII: The Dialectic of Plato & Socrates


In Book VII of Plato’s Republic, Socrates talks about the myth of the cave. The analogy is one of everyday people living in a cave, unable to turn their heads and only being allowed to see shadows upon the wall. The point of this diversion is for Socrates to make clear to Glaucon et al. that the Philosopher King (Aristotle’s Pombosileia) should in fact rule. It is, Socrates says, the duty (for the good of the city; i.e., in order to make the city more just) of those philosophers who see past the shadows into what reality truly is to come back into the darkness of the cave, in order to help those left behind to see what truly is what.

But while Socrates is engaging in this dialogue, Plato himself is also engaging in a dialectic, though it is one that must be read in-between the lines. In Leo Strauss’ On A Forgotten Kind Of Writing, it becomes clear that writers like Plato are truly engaging in a dialogue with the reader himself; and it is this dialogue that truly makes it a dialectic. While Socrates is busy explaining the myth of the cave, Plato is trying to get across the idea of questioning the very method that Socrates is using – just as Socrates talks of first seeing shadows, and then seeing reality, Plato is bringing up the idea of something more than that: a form of forms.

Plato writes in this manner continuously in his Republic, and it is interesting seeing as to how Socrates’ argument continues book by book at the same time as Plato’s argument continues book by book. I look forward to seeing how things will change in the upcoming books.

Bloom, Allan. The Republic of Plato. Au. Plato.
Basic Books: United States of America, 1968