English, philosophy: what a retrospective point of view might reveal

via Daily Prompt: Retrospective

retrospective (adj):

surveying past events or periods.

Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Current English, Oxford University Press, Don Mills, 2005.

Humans are occupied with time’s passage and the changes that transpire. Individuals, teams, businesses, and countries have periods brilliance, of decline, and of progress.

Perhaps the immediate question that might be asked in a retrospective light is why success was lost, or else gained. Sometimes the answer might seem obvious:

Our team used to win all the time; now they never do. What happened?

I know what you mean. They lost their star pitcher – don’t you remember?

The reasons, in a person’s own life, for periods of success, failure, and reconstruction, might seem just as straightforward, but are they ever, really?

I don’t follow baseball, but I recall, when I was a kid, how a team with an impressive roster would lose to a team of relatively obscure players. It seemed to happen often, even in championships. Does it still, and not just in baseball?

The key to success might not be talent, but rather, balance. Yet, balance is difficult to see – and maybe even harder to recall. Perhaps, from a retrospective view, you can point to successful times as evidence that it was achieved, and times of failure, when it was lost. However, balance is instantaneous; in retrospect, what facilitated it is likely elusive.

Perhaps, more importantly than great pitches, the star pitcher brought balance to the team. How did they do that? A retrospective answer might be difficult to piece together, since so many facts evaporate when a period ends. Yet, when the retrospective point of view is all we have, perhaps we need to look in the right places, for the right information, rather than just what was recorded as important.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English, philosophy: what do you juxtapose?

via Daily Prompt: Juxtapose

Self-tutoring about the application behind a word: the tutor reflects about juxtapose.

juxtapose (verb):

to set side by side so as to compare.

Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Current English, Oxford University Press, Don Mills, 2005.

Typically I find that when I juxtapose two or more subjects, it’s a passive process: it happens before I even know I’m doing so. People juxtapose options as they prepare decisions.

Perhaps the more interesting juxtapositions are of scenarios, possibly one or both being largely unknown by the examiner. Do I make better cakes than my neighbour across the street, whom I don’t even know? What kind of cakes might they bake, compared with the ones I do?

Is there a way I could dress or behave, that would make me more popular? If I dressed like Person Y, for instance, would I have more friends? If I saw the world from Person Z’s point of view, would it make more sense to me? What is the difference in our viewpoints? Can I discover it, if I juxtapose them?

People wonder about countless scenarios. Yet, they often have an idea what might be going on, but just can’t be sure. Therefore, they juxtapose educated guesses, knowing neither may be right.

A couple months back, my wife, my two sons, and myself were sharing a breakfast table at a hotel. At the table next to us were two ladies possibly a little younger than I am. Circumstance itself juxtaposed us.

I’d say the two ladies were a couple. Juxtaposing them with us, I can’t resist wondering about the path that led them to such a different way of life from ours. We fell into some friendly conversation; even their small-talk revealed a point of view completely different from mine. I can’t help but wonder: What do they take for granted, that I have yet to learn?

I feel there is an invisible point of view more comprehensive than mine. I’m not sure whether it belongs to a person or it’s a collective consciousness, ubiquitous, waiting to be discovered. Until I can join it, I can only suppose what it knows – the ideas I juxtapose are limited by the confines of my imagination.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English, philosophy: what does archaic mean to you?

via Daily Prompt: Archaic

Self-tutoring: the tutor reflects on an inexorable process.

Seeking a solid foundation, I look up archaic:


1) ancient; 2) out-of-date.

-Collins Essential Canadian English Dictionary and Thesaurus, HarperCollins, 2006.

For the purpose herein, archaic’s second meaning – out-of-date – is the one I’m exploring.

For me, as a tutor, and as a parent, the word archaic defines a challenging philosophical boundary. The reason is simple: to me, truth never goes out-of-date. Yet, to society, truth has a shelf-life. Past its shelf-life, any truth becomes archaic, so people don’t respect it.

A person can have an archaic point of view without realizing. Such happened to me with the kids’ piano lessons. They had recitals and exams to prepare for, so I spurred them to practice. One of them argued that it didn’t interest him, so he shouldn’t have to.

I was shocked at the notion that not wanting to practice can remove its requirement. After all, if people only do what they want in this moment, the world as we know it will cease to exist within an hour.

Over time, I have realized that my point of view is archaic. Today, in this society, people don’t generally believe a kid should have to practice the piano if they don’t want to. That philosophy extends well beyond practicing the piano – and well beyond just kids.

Mentioning the fact that, failing to practice, the student may fall short at the recital and the exam, only sinks me deeper, since I’m expressing archaic reasoning. People don’t typically think of consequences in that way nowadays – at least, not around here.

My kid did practice the piano: it was a battle, but I won. It’s probably my last victory.

Nowadays, the concept of preparing for exams is being challenged as archaic – “How will this help me in life? In the real world, people work in groups – don’t you know?”

I’m becoming a marginal character. Academic learning – seeking understanding for the purpose of self-improvement – is outmoded in the world that surrounds me. It is, so I am, archaic – at age 48, I’m out-of-date:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle, reading: blogs: Maanini

Finding blogs to follow leads to self-tutoring: the tutor mentions Maanini Singhvi’s blog A Fresh Outlook.

Reading a blog can inject you with the writer’s point of view. Such was my experience today, reading Tagore’s Ideals and Our Progress. Therein, Maanini observes challenges India faces towards becoming an ideal nation. I wonder if Maanini realizes any large democracy could be the subject.

Tagore’s poem, displayed above the post, sounds almost biblical, and reminds the reader that our “western” ideals actually come from the eastern world. Asia was the centre of human civilization for thousands of years before the “western” countries even existed. India, China, Iraq, and Egypt, with their marvelous agricultural potential and other natural resources, hosted the development of our common ideas of civilization.

Large western democracies had their time of prominence during the 20th century, but now, seemingly, need reinvent themselves. Maanini, mentioning India’s internal challenges, highlights our own as well.

A couple of clauses from Maanini’s article catch my attention. One is the observation that Parliament’s “sessions are washed away with trivial issues….”; I love the imagery there. The other is that India’s progress is a thousand mile journey that must begin with a single step, which is based on the saying by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu.

While India and China seem seldom to be mentioned together, they are neighbours. Both have emerged into dominance this new millennium, from starkly different approaches. As we all go forward, what will those two old giants teach to each other, and to us in the west?





Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Philosophy, business: the “single source of truth” concept

In the tutoring realm, awareness of new insights and definitions is important. The tutor mentions single source of truth.

In my March 5 post I mention the idea of a data silo. Put simply, it’s knowledge kept secret by some members of an organization, even though they’re meant to be cooperating with the others.

Single Source of Truth
The single source of truth model conceives one source of information to which everyone has access and everyone trusts as “best”. It eliminates the possibility of data silos – why would you use your own private information when the others have access to better?

In business, many believe that the reason one enterprise is more successful than the next is that its internal cooperation is superior. Hence, the single source of truth paradigm appeals to many business leaders.



Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Philosophy, Religion: how to achieve a perfect life

For me, religion involves constant self-tutoring. The tutor shares an observation from Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the Hare Krishna Movement.

At this festive time, people are striving to keep their relationships strong. During the year’s darkest days, doing so makes sense: humans survive by relationships, and they love the light.

I think we live in a wise era: virtually everyone I hear wants something immaterial, be it relationship to God or to other people.

Whether you are surrounded by people in bright festivity, or alone in a room lighted only by the computer screen, does the following observation intrigue you?

If you understand what is God and try to love Him, your life is perfect.

-Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Happy holidays:)




Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Computer science, English, philosophy: what is a schema?

Tutoring academic subjects, meanings are so important. The tutor shares ideas about the meaning of schema.

a description of a particular subset of reality. The schema will include members of that reality and their properties. It will also include the relationships between them.

A schema might often be shown as a diagram, table or flowchart in order to express the relationships among its members.

A truly good schema will not only describe reality accurately, but will suggest possible relationships before they have even been realized. Hence, schemata (plural of schema) are used not only for teaching, but also for research.



Mish, Frederick C. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 2004.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English, religion: what is pantheism?

Tutoring English, you might research diverse topics. The tutor shares some findings about pantheism.


(1) The world view that identifies God as the laws of nature.
(2) The belief that God is, in fact, the Cosmos.

Most nature-centred religions can be described as pantheistic: Their members believe that nature is benevolent and that one cannot live outside it or in conflict with it.


Mish, Frederick C. (editor). The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 2004.



Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Philosophy: absence of evidence vs evidence of absence

Tutoring philosophy, evidence – or absence of it – is a constant focus. The tutor discusses the meaning of “absence of evidence”.

Typically a skeptic will point to lack of evidence as satisfactory proof, from their point of view, that X doesn’t exist or can’t be true.

In opposition, a researcher of paranormal or supernatural phenomena, or even a conspiracy theorist, might claim that even without available proof, X might indeed be true.

Interestingly, as long as premise X is unproven, neither point of view is wrong.

Likely, the reason that absence of evidence, commonly, is good enough to conclude falsehood is due to our legal system. The prosecution must prove, with evidence, a suspect’s guilt; if they can’t, then the suspect is innocent, though they may in fact have done the crime. In that context, absence of evidence practically means that claim X is false.

However, in defense of the believers’ point of view, a fresh investigation might begin with no evidence, but manage to discover it. (Anyone who watches investigation shows knows that.) Then, premise X swings from “false” to “true”, even though, ironically, it was true all along.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.