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  2. Las Vegas massacre byproducts

    By way of the Powerline blog's Scott Johnson, a video-montage by the New York Times -- "Mapping the Massacre."
  3. Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally Madness

    Dennis, Let's put it this way. I believe there probably was a Moses (whether by that name or another), but a lot of different stuff got piled into the legend part as the stories were handed down. As regards the 2.5 million slaves, from my current frame, the detail is not as important as the viability that conditions existed back then for it to be true. In other words, in the current story wars of modern culture, there is a general impression that slavery of antiquity was a sporadic thing that did not involve many people. It's a general impression and I believe it is engineered on purpose to contrast a fictional "good old days" against modern evil America and it's guilty-ass white self (so the left can expand into more power without resistance, of course). The idea of an ancient country having a population of 2.5 million, much less 2.5 million slaves (setting aside the rest) shocks against what modern propagandists call "the narrative." Granted, I have not read in depth statistical studies of Egyptian populations in Biblical times. What little I have looked at due to this discussion is all over the place. But there were a hell of a lot of people around back then (millions and millions)--far more than we imagine nowadays. That Egyptian slave number seems inconceivable in the modern narrative impression of antiquity. But it's not. Michael
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  5. Sessions, leaks, security, Manafort and 'false news.'

    From Foreign Policy, by Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes: Jeff Sessions Just Confessed His Negligence on Russia "The attorney general is aware of the threat Moscow poses to American elections — he just hasn’t done anything about it." Good reading for ... haters.
  6. Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally Madness

    No. You posted about how you'd wasted time in the past assembling "curated and carefully selected material", then criticized me for merely providing a Wikipedia link to back up the claim that Moses's historicity is "widely rejected today". And earlier you wrote " My recommendation is don't run from the truth. That will not lead you anywhere good. The Egyptians used slaves and lots of them to build. When Moses left Egypt, he took with him two and a half million Hebrew slaves. That's right. About 2.5 million. Let that number sink in." It looks like you're claiming the 2.5 million number is "truth". And that there was a Moses. I thought I could just chime in on that without derailing the thread. BTW even Joseph Campbell (you were reading him recently as I recall) thought the Exodus story had no basis in fact (ref one of his lectures from the early 80's (and how's that for a scholarly reference?)). We've probably done about an equal amount of reading on religion. I recommend the 2 books by Carrier because I'm confident you will find some new and valuable things in them. Funny thing about Valliant, this recalls what Peikoff said about Barbara's bio: "non-cognitive".
  7. Objectivist Esthetics, R.I.P.

    Here's the post in which the Moron initially suggested empirical testing: "To know better, this intuitive insight should be empirically tested in several double-blind experiments, using unknown artworks by unknown artists. Claimants would state what they 'see', against the artist's testimony of what he 'meant', or at least what he was feeling at the time. (If he meant anything beyond a nice design)." I simply agreed and suggested expanding his idea to all art equally, at which point the Moron accused me of being an empiricist who doesn't understand objectivity. Seriously fucked up in the head.
  8. Dealing with distractions from your values

    Dealing with distractions from your values, I think has to do with having a hierarchy of values. Distractions affect your life, values, purpose(s); so having a hierarchy of values can help a person know (identify) when a distraction is taking place, and what to do. Relatedly, Rand's Playboy interview came to mind, this question and answer: Q: If a person organizes his life around a single, neatly defined purpose, isn’t he in danger of becoming extremely narrow in his horizons? Rand: Quite the contrary. A central purpose serves to integrate all the other concerns of a man’s life. It establishes the hierarchy, the relative importance, of his values, it saves him from pointless inner conflicts, it permits him to enjoy life on a wide scale and to carry that enjoyment into any area open to his mind; whereas a man without a purpose is lost in chaos. He does not know what his values are. He does not know how to judge. He cannot tell what is or is not important to him, and, therefore, he drifts helplessly at the mercy of any chance stimulus or any whim of the moment. He can enjoy nothing. He spends his life searching for some value, which he will never find.
  9. I am intrigued by Regi Firehammer's article on Evolution, which is published at With his permission, I have re-published it at my website with my annotations, suggestions and notes. I will keep this blog entry locked until I have finished the first set of notes. Below is the essay as it stands. -- here is my annotated version as published. My work is incomplete now mostly complete, although the frame will 'update' if the work proceeds and I revise the file. Thanks, Regi, for the opportunity to reason. The direct link to the file is
  10. Objectivist Esthetics, R.I.P.

    Yes, moron, that's exactly why I wrote it!!! In the quotes, Rand identifies meaning in abstract forms!
  11. Objectivist Esthetics, R.I.P.

    Indeed, Rand did not state that one must verify one's conclusions about a work of art and its creator's intentions. She neglected to recognize that objective, logical necessity. Elsewhere in her writings she addressed the folly of people claiming to read others' minds. She was quite inexperienced in the philosophical field of aesthetics, and there were many obvious, rudimentary issues that escaped her. Went right over her head. She didn't apply her own stated epistemological principles to the field of aesthetics, but instead seemed to be just kind of full of herself. Plus she seemed to savor the idea of keeping for herself some magical powers which she could use to condemn and punish others, and her aesthetics was the crystal ball that she believed allowed her to know others better than they knew themselves based only on a work of art that they created. It's glaringly anti-Objectivist. It's the mindset of witch trails. And the fact that you are attracted to that mindset, and find so much joy in practicing it, is not surprising. Conversing with you is like stepping back in time and talking with a stupid, petty, misanthropic witch trial jurist.
  12. Some Deep Swamp comes up swinging

    There are some folks out there saying that this is one of the main reasons for bringing out big guns like former presidents against President Trump. After the release of the JFK assassination docs, let's see if they have a point. When I commune with my inner conspiracy theorist about this, I get a serotonin bump like you wouldn't believe. Michael
  13. Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally Madness

    Dennis, Why? Do you want me to do your own homework for you? I merely took a look at a link, followed a few links in the article, and, despite the claim, what I saw didn't show a consensus of anything much less a consensus of scholars, but I did see the word and phrase a few times... Well, folks did agree in general that ancient religious stories are a mix of fact and legend. There was a consensus about that... I haven't read any Carrier book yet, but currently I'm not not reading around trying to delve into the historical accuracy of different religions. My zeal to debunk religions has waned, but not because I converted to anything. I've done some debunk-religion crusading in my time, even here in O-Land. For instance, see this post from 2006 over on RoR (when it was still Solo). I used to read a guy named Earl Doherty who tries to debunk an historical Jesus (you can see his books on Amazon here). I've even talked about him over here on OL if I'm not mistaken and, if I remember correctly, there are posts that are probably still available, but only as screenshot images. That means they are not searchable, so I will leave off uncovering them (if they exist) right now. It's too much work for too little point. This problem was due to the hacking attack OL suffered back then. Over time, I stopped this line of inquiry and started delving into the religions themselves to see what was there. I've read the main texts of the main Western religions (Bible, Qu'ran, all three Mormon books, and a few things like Augustine's Confessions, etc., including more fringe stuff like New Age texts). And I've read some texts of Eastern religions. I started with the Bhagavad Gita, but only followed with sporadic texts from Hindu, Buddhism (in its various denominations), Taoism, Shinto, etc. There have some great stories... I've completed a lot of online courses on religion (and other things, for that matter) from The Great Courses using the following system. I watch one lecture per day. Later I print out the PDF. Then I go back and do the course one more time. This go-around, I read the PDF chapter for each lecture, make notes, then watch it again--generally one lecture per day as before. It's not a perfect system for fully absorbing the material, but it is wonderful for getting an in-depth overview. This system allows me to blast through a lot of learning quickly and let me know where to pursue things if I want to go deeper (as has happened in a few cases). There are other resources I study, too, in addition to delving into philosophy and other interests--especially modern advances in understanding the human mind and how storytelling is at the root of everything cultural. I've been fascinated about the epistemology of storytelling, including the science part (what neurochemicals are released and how, etc.) But I'm still doing all this religion stuff. I haven't stopped. In fact, I feel like I've only scratched the surface. So why am I doing it? Well, I spent a lot of time bashing religion when I was younger, but it was always based on second-hand knowledge. I started with Randian views on mysticism, memories of my upbringing, and branched out from there. But I got trapped in my own undertaking. When you are earnest in searching for truth, especially if you seek to destroy something as big as religion, you cannot accept someone's view and only that view (or the views of those who agree with that view) as the real deal. You have to look at the original stuff and you have to do it in an "identify then evaluate" two-step mode in order to be fully objective. So I bit the bullet and got busy looking. Also, my view of history changed radically. (Or, maybe, social unfolding is a better term. I mean the broad strokes of history, not the gotcha details.) I now see where certain themes in different cultures come from. I remember my first impression when this dawned on me in all it's glory. I literally thought: "Woah..." Then there was this. I could not accept the premise that the majority of mankind was a bunch of doofuses who don't know their asses from a hole in the ground. And, by extension, I belonged to a superior insider group of The Smart People who know The True Truth. When I looked around me in my bubble back then, I kept seeing that there were us awesome smart folks on one side, and them, the rest of the awful stupid human cattle, poor things, on the other. The doofus side, by that standard, included the major geniuses of mankind throughout history who sporadically emerged out of their doofusness to do something worthwhile, then sank back to their stupid stupidity. To put it mildly, once I perceived that, especially when I asked myself the big questions of life, that group vanity crap no longer resonated with me. As to Valliant, you do well to not waste the precious non-repeatable moments of your life and beautiful mind (I mean that ) looking at his boneheaded meanderings, omissions, biases, opinions and just plain wrong shit mixed with enough correct stuff to make a crap salad. We have a lot of common ground on that score, except you are smarter than me. I actually wasted some time on it. And I don't say that with pride. Michael
  14. Objectivist Esthetics, R.I.P.

    Moron, you're the one who brought up empirical testing. I simply replied by saying that, yes, we should empirically test all art, including not just abstract works, but also representational ones that you accept as valid. And then you started getting upset and calling me an empiricist who doesn't understand the difference between empiricism and objectivity. You're seriously fucked in the head. And now you're bitching about the idea of being challenged to objectively prove what you assert was in an artist's mind! Why are you here? What do you imagine that you have in common with Objectivism? You hate and reject it. You don't practice it. In fact, your personal method of "thinking" is the exact opposite. What you've done is glommed onto Rand's mistakes and personal deviations from the rationality, logic, and objectivity to which she aspired.
  15. Objectivist Esthetics, R.I.P.

    Oh. Right. So that is why, after the excerpt, you wrote: "See, you have her permission to identify meaning in abstract forms!" You mixed your genres, and that's the end of it. And, after misapplying "attributes" to abstract art. I'm going to call you Smoky Joe from now, J. You've never lost an argument which you couldn't wiggle your way out of with a word-storm. That's enough from me for now.
  16. Objectivist Esthetics, R.I.P.

    Leave it or leave it. I'm not setting up to scientifically 'prove' what's in some artist's mind. And seeing you're invoking her, she did not state that one must "demonstrate" one's conclusions. That's your addition. The assessment was for *my* purpose as I've always done - I.e. The individual, for whom Rand laid out her theory: a surprise to you! Can you understand that concept? Art for the individual, not the mystic collective. Rand clearly did not intend to train art teachers primarily, although the philosophic base is there to become proficient in art if one chooses. If I was at all interested in that picture I'd examine it further - but I think it's a close assessment. You could of course render your judgment? Feel free. I am well over explaining to you the differences between empirically and - objectively. You still think "objectivity" equals "empiricism", and it informs your misinterpretations and errors of Objectivism for years. For you then, art is a science experiment - enjoy. ;)
  17. Objectivist Esthetics, R.I.P.

    Your subjective speculations and wild psychologizings are bad enough, but at least get the simple, objectively observable facts straight. The image does not contain primary colors.
  18. Let's talk about it. Here.

    This has been going around for a month or so ... Media Matters summed up a Laura Ingraham position, a prediction that some people will never patronize public washrooms. Stock up on Depends ...
  19. Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally Madness

    Coming on the heels of your post about not doing people's homework for them, this is pretty rich. I suggest Richard Carrier's books Proving History and On the Historicity of Jesus. Which aren't about Moses, though there's some discussion of the topic. No, I'm not interested in reading anything by Valliant.
  20. Objectivist Esthetics, R.I.P.

    Holy shit. You took a turn into downtown Dopeville. The point was not about writing. It was about architecture. See, the idea behind my quoting Rand there was that, in her esthetic theory, she categorized architecture as an art form. And she wrote a famous novel in which architecture as an art form was a major part. Architecture is not representational, but is abstract. It uses the relationships of forms, shapes, colors, and textures to achieve its aesthetic effects. It does not use immediately identifiable mimetic likenesses of thing in reality. In the Romantic Manifesto, which is a book that Rand wrote which presented her theory of art, she referred readers to The Fountainhead (that''s the famous novel that I mentioned in the above paragraph) as the source for more information on her views on architecture as an art form. In the two sections that I quoted from The Fountainhead, Rand describes the aesthetic effects of the fictional buildings that she envisioned. Those buildings are made up of non-representational forms -- planks, slabs, sheets, platforms, steps, pillars, pilasters. And she sees human attributes in those abstract forms, and motion and action and attitude. Do you understand now?
  21. Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally Madness

    Dennis, So the way you do research is go to Wikipedia, pick out the conclusions related to some scholars in an article that promote one line of thinking, but ignore the others, then make a sweeping claim as if it contained only the view you like? Granted, the word "consensus of scholars" and the like is thrown around liberally in that Wikipedia article, but when I looked, I found such statements tended to reference rather obscure sources. In fact, on my skim of that article, I saw scholars landing all over the place on what is historical and not about Moses. Don't you want to play with them, too? I agree the story of Moses is embellished up the wazoo with legend (it's what happens when dealing with ancient stories and verbal transmission leading to mostly verbal transmission), but, like with climate change, when scholars are constantly yelling at each other over an issue, its hard for me to get excited as a debunking knight in shining armor. The one thing that cannot be denied is the impact the Moses story had on human civilization, even underpinning the civil rights movement last century. It's not going anywhere. As to holding up an obscure source or other (as seems to be the case on Wikipedia when I just now read around a bit on other related issues) and claiming this a "consensus of scholars" yada yada yada, and besides, it is proof there was no slavery in ancient Egypt, or slave labor was not used in building the pyramids, that makes a great David and Goliath story (with the payoff of an emotional feeling and impression that only the slavery of blacks by evil hypocritical America ever existed), but life is short and all this cherry-picked controversy to debunk major practices in basic history is long... I'll leave that to the Round Table boys... If you want to see some recent breathtaking cherry-picking about Biblical issues in O-Land, check out Valliant and Fahy's book on Jesus (it's called "Creating Christ" and is available on Kindle and Audible). They claim the Jesus story was made up by the Roman elite in the second half of the first century to quell trouble with rebellious Jews and keep them obeying Roman emperors. (Oddly enough, when this book was first published and for the longest time, Fahy was not included as author. Now he is...) They kinda leave out a lot of stuff, including a lot of empire... But, to hear them tell it, there go those damn Jews again... always causing trouble... But, this time, the Flavian emperors cunningly defanged them with altruism... (yawn...) Michael
  22. Objectivist Esthetics, R.I.P.

    You skipped the part where you objectively verify all of the above. Without that, all that you've done is give your subjective free associations and your angry Randian psychologizings.
  23. Let's talk about it. Here.

    This story made the rounds yesterday: I found the headline objectionable, however effective it was as click-bait. This didn't happen in a public bathroom, but in a private home. If it had happened in a closet would the headline have included that detail?
  24. Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally Madness

    The historicity of Moses (and the Exodus) is widely rejected today. Which is tangential to your (valid) main point about slavery in the ancient world. But I hear they had free health care.
  25. Dealing with distractions from your values

    Floods of data, factoids and ready-made opinions, one could get lost in without trace! Making all the more critical conceptual minds. And there is every sign that conceptualism is on the decrease (from complacent reliance on the 'flood', sadly and ironically).
  26. There Are No Shortcuts

    This is called condescending vanity. God knows what it's doing on a philosophy forum. Why does one who hunts rabbits not go where rabbits are, but instead goes to the open sea and call his hunt "thankless"? If one is hunting for credulous, gullible, and superstitious people, why not go where there are credulous, gullible, and superstitious people? OL was not designed to prepare the way for a savior of mankind. And, although the martyrdom itch can be bothersome, nobody around here crucifies savior wannabes. So even that storyline falls flat... btw - I am protective of regular OL members. If anyone wants to insult them as a collective, there is a huge Internet out there to do so. I am not running this place for that to flourish here. Michael
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