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    • Michael Stuart Kelly

      New upgrade with simpler interface   05/13/2016

      Once again, the fine folks at IPB made a new upgrade and things might not be where you started to learn they were. However, this is one time where I think they actually improved things for navigation. There are only a few big buttons: When you click on one of those buttons, some other stuff opens up, depending on which button you click. (Later Note: These only appear when zoomed in or in the mode for smartphones/tablets.) I'm learning this as you are, so I suggest you do what I am doing: click on these big buttons, see what they open and fiddle with the software some. Ironically, you will find there is a lot that is intuitive. That's what I'm discovering. (Later note: I just discovered that I was viewing the site zoomed in too far to see the normal view. The menus are still there with the old buttons, but when I zoom in too much, they disappear and the new buttons appear. I believe this zoomed in way is what the site looks like on mobile devices. I'm going to mess with it some more, then maybe make some explanations.) Sorry for the inconvenience. Still, over time, I hope you end up liking these changes. Michael

Ed Hudgins

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About Ed Hudgins

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  • Full Name Edward Hudgins
  • Description Director of Advocacy and Senior Scholar, The Atlas Society
  • Articles New Cult of Darkness Every Day a New Year Milton Friedman: 1912-2006 Republican Election Fiasco The Pope vs. Islam: Who Stands for Reason? Happy Labor Day - We're All Workers! Gustav Mahler’s Second and Eighth Symphonies Starbucks' Fat Cup of Trouble "Atlas" Movie One Step Closer! THE INSIDE SCOOP Why We Give Gifts Policing Phone Calls and Perverting Principles Birthday Blips: Are Americans Really Free & Equal? A Cool Capitalist Atlas Forced into Early Retirement The Public Side of Private Love

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  • Website URL http://www.objectivistcenter.org
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  1. How to Celebrate “Be a Millionaire Day.” By Edward Hudgins May 20, 2016 -- I don’t know who determined that May 20 should be “Be a Millionaire Day,” though it is a good idea. I do know that most people’s ideologies wreck their chances to earn big bucks. Be a millionaire: the how-to part The way to become a millionaire many times over—a million really isn’t that much these days—is to invent some breakthrough tech or app, or to start and grow a business that has the customers lining up for what you have to offer. A more mundane way that should be on most people’s lists is to save and invest. You all know Moore’s Law, that semi-conductor capacity doubles every two years? So increases aren’t 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 but, rather, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128. Compound interest from investments sort of works that way, too. Not quite that fast, but if you put several thousand dollars, tax free, into an IRA or 401K when you’re young, and you keep at it, you’ll probably be set for a financially comfortable future. If you’re young, do it now. I’m serious. Do it now. Presidential roadblocks to prosperity That said, here’s what can land you and pretty much everyone else in the poor house: the anti-success, pro-envy ideologies that are dominating our culture and that result in wealth-destroying public policies. Let’s say Hillary Clinton becomes president. And let’s say she and her similar successors continue with crony handouts and welfare state entitlements. More and more, who gets what will be determined by political power. Government debt will pile up. With interest it will grow: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128. Today, the government debt is around $16 trillion. Perhaps the Federal Reserve will need to inflate the money supply, another way of saying that your dollars will be diluted and $1 million today might only be worth a few thousands when you retire. Or let’s say Donald Trump becomes ... (Continue reading here.)
  2. Which Culture Can Make 120 Years Old the Prime of Life? By Edward Hudgins March 18, 2014 -- Emma Morano, age 116, is the last person alive born in the nineteenth century. New cutting-edge technologies could mean that more than a few people born at the end of the twentieth century will be in the prime of life when they reach that age. But this future will require a culture of reason that is currently dying out in our world. Is the secret to a long life raw eggs or genetics? Signorina Morano was born in Italy on Nov 29, 1899. On the recent passing of Susannah Mushatt Jones, who was born a few months before her, Morano inherited the title of world’s oldest person. She still has a ways to go to best the longevity record of the confirmed oldest person who ever lived, Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) who made it to 122. Every oldster offers their secret to long life. Morano attributes her feat to remaining single, adding that she likes to eat raw eggs. But the reason living things die, no matter what their diet, is genetic. Cellular senescence, the fancy word for aging, means the cells of almost every organism are programmed to break down at some point. Almost, because at least one organism, the hydra, a tiny fresh-water animal, seems not to age. Defying death Researches are trying to discover what makes the hydra tick so that they find ways to reprogram human cells so we will stop aging. As fantastic as this sounds, it is just one part of a techno-revolution that could allow us to live decades or even centuries longer while retaining our health and mental faculties. Indeed, the week the Morano story ran, both the Washington Post and New York Times featured stories about scientists who approach aging not as an unavoidable part of our nature but as a disease that can be cured. Since 2001, the cost of sequencing a human genome has dropped from $100 million to just over $1,000. This is spurring an explosion in bio-hacking to figure out how to eliminate ailments like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. We also see nanotechnology dealing with failing kidneys. New high-tech devices deal with blindness and other such disabilities. An achievement culture and longevity But this bright future could be fading. Here’s why. The source of all human achievement is the human mind, our power to understand our world and thus to control it for our own benefit; Ayn Rand called machines “the frozen form of a living intelligence.” But America ... (Continue reading here.)
  3. Ayn Rand’s Thoughts on Israel

    To be fair, I also had a quote where she said she didn't have detailed knowledge of some of the history.
  4. Ayn Rand’s Thoughts on Israel By Edward Hudgins May 12, 2016 -- On the anniversary of Israel's founding on May 14 1948, we can turn to Ayn Rand for insights about why such an economically successful state with an open society is so hated by its neighbors. East-West conflict and Israel In 1974, Ayn Rand was asked about American Middle East policy in the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli War of the previous year. That was the fourth war since the modern state of Israel was established in 1948. It was the fourth time that the little country had had to fight for its existence. While Rand did not advocate sending American troops into the conflict, she did argue that America should “Give all the help possible to Israel.” She stated specifically that “the help Israel needs is technology and military weapons—and they need them desperately. Why should we help Israel?” She explained that at that time, Israel was “fighting not just the Arabs but Soviet Russia, who is sending the Arabs armaments.” The Soviet Union, of course, has since collapsed. But there was more to Rand’s argument, because she asked, “Why are the Arabs against Israel?” Premodern vs. Modern Arab-Israeli culture clash “The Arabs are one of the least developed cultures,” Rand argued. “They are typically nomads. Their culture is primitive, and they resent Israel because it's the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their continent.” Of course, most Arabs even then weren’t nomads. Indeed, a millennium ago Baghdad and Cairo were major urban centers. But the deeper point was that in modern times Arabs have had a pre-modern culture and world view, especially compared to the Jews who had emigrated from Europe (Continue reading here.)
  5. Is Theft Now Legal in Italy?

    Our psychological capacities and many tendencies are programmed in us by evolution. But we need to question them with philosophy. For example, tribalism probably helped our survival value 100,000 years ago. Someone who looked radically different from members of your tribe probably did want to bash you in the head and take you stuff. But we judge that an instinct to make fun of skin color of eye shape is morally wrong. In some cases, psychological propensity lines up well with philosophy. If anyone threatened by wife and kids, they might well find themselves dead, and good riddance. In most cases empathy and philosophy line up. I'd grab the boat as well. But the empathy that drives many to support the welfare state is out of context.
  6. Is Theft Now Legal in Italy?

    I'd argue that Rand is saying, correctly, that all principles must be applied in the full context of the facts on the ground. All principles assume a certain context. This is how an Objectivist view of ethics differs from an intrinsicist view or a subjectivist view. The context of the principle of private property is that individuals 1) have a right to their own lives, which means 2) a right to act to preserve their lives, which means 3) a right to secure and utilize the materials in the world necessary for survival, which means 4) in a social context trading for one's own benefit with others based on mutual consent, each respecting the property of others, which 5) assumes all individuals have the capacity in a free society to produce enough to survive and prosper a some level. But in an emergency, life, the basis of all value, is threatened because one cannot survive by doing 3) and 4).
  7. Is Theft Now Legal in Italy?

    Is Theft Now Legal in Italy? By Edward Hudgins The Italian Supreme Court has ruled that stealing small amounts of food out of desperation “does not constitute a crime.” The adverse moral and political effects of this ruling will be large and downright criminal. License to steal The case concerned an impoverished Ukrainian immigrant who stole a few pieces of cheese and some sausages from a Genoese market. He was sentenced to six months in jail and a fine that he could not pay. One has visions of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables suffering as a state slave for stealing a loaf of bread to feed a hungry child. Who wouldn’t oppose such a miscarriage of justice? Indeed, in the appeal, Italy’s high court decided that “The condition of the accused and the circumstances in which he obtained the merchandise show that he had taken the little amount of food he needed to overcome his immediate and essential requirement for nourishment." The court further added that “People should not be punished if, forced by need, they steal small quantities of food in order to meet the basic requirement of feeding themselves.” This ruling leaves open many legal questions. Does it imply that the punishment didn’t fit the crime or does it imply that no crime was committed? Does it imply that anyone who steals and can make the case that they did so for some essential, immediate need must be found “not guilty?” Ethics of emergencies Ayn Rand sheds light on this case in her essay “The Ethics of Emergencies.” She explains that one must “differentiate between the rules of conduct in an emergency situation and the rules of conduct in the normal conditions of human existence. This does not mean a double standard of morality: the standard and the basic principles remain the same, but their application to either case requires precise definitions.” Specifically, she observed that “An emergency is an unchosen, unexpected event, limited in time, that creates conditions under which human survival is impossible—such as a flood, an earthquake, a fire, a shipwreck.” In such situations, it’s morally permissible to do things to preserve one’s life that would not be moral under normal circumstances. But there are crucial caveats. Rand explained that if ... (Continue reading here.)
  8. Epilepsy and Consciousness

    Epilepsy and Consciousness By Talia G. Hudgins When I was 21 years old I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Though the news was upsetting, I was relieved it wasn’t a brain tumor. But as I realized the seriousness of the diagnosis, I also came to appreciate how wonderful consciousness and the ability to think rationally really are. Strange sounds It began with a series of strange feelings, or “auras,” themselves mild seizures. I could no longer hear a woman who was speaking to me. I realized with a thud in my stomach that I was “feeling” her voice. Standing on a subway platform, a fear enveloped me that my hearing was disappearing with the train in the tunnel, and a fear that my consciousness might be slipping away as well. I frequently had vague, heart-pounding feelings of dread—always that I would faint, or worse. But as unpleasant as these experiences were, I thought I could explain them: The wind or sound in the tunnel knocked out my hearing. I was tired, hungry, or anxious. The temperature was too hot or cold. But one morning I woke with every muscle screaming, and nausea so intense that merely lifting my head was agony. Worst of all, I had bitten the sides of my tongue to a pulp. Diagnosis and control Then came the MRI scans and EEG tests. It was epilepsy, a default diagnosis when neurologists cannot explain seizures by a brain tumor or injury. Afterward came years of trying different medications. One wasn’t quite strong enough. One stole my appetite (a welcome side effect) but also what felt like my sanity. All made me dizzy and tired. But finally an excellent physician figured out the right treatment. The medicine eased my dread of waking up with a chomped-up tongue. I had to give up alcohol, an easy sacrifice, though giving up espresso was not. Except for some few and far between “episodes” caused by dehydration and childbearing complications, grand-mal seizures became a thing of the past. I’ve had none for many years now. Conscious of altered consciousness However, I still occasionally get the auras. The symptoms... (Continue reading here.)
  9. Can A Freedom Party Emerge After Trump? By Edward Hudgins With Donald Trump the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, the GOP of the past is dead. It was a victim of its own internal contradictions and its abandonment of the limited government principles that, albeit imperfectly, guided it. Can a new freedom party emerge? Trump will lead the Republicans to disaster Pundits and Republican leaders failed to understand Trump’s appeal. He’s a foul-mouthed demagogue. He advocates policies that are economically destructive—a Mexican trade war—or impossible without a police state—deporting 12 million illegals. None of this has mattered to his supporters even though his form of populism flies in the face of GOP semi-orthodoxy. This isn’t the Goldwater-Reagan party. Trump could well lose to Hillary Clinton this fall. The GOP could also lose both Senate and House. In the face of a new Democratic-left ascendancy, freedom activists must take both a principled and practical approach to a new party—the two are not mutually exclusive. Too many of these activists engage excessively in academic policy debates and forget that politics is about candidates persuading voters to support them and about elected officials persuading other lawmakers to back their policy prescriptions. To be politically successful, freedom activists must connect an exciting and inspiring vision of a better future with the actual concerns of voters, engaging both the intellect and the emotions of voters. Understanding the civil war within the GOP that allowed Trump to triumph provides a guide for a pro-freedom strategy. Fighting about the wrong things in the Republican Party Establishment Republicans might want to cut taxes and some regulations, but they essentially support the welfare state. They merely want to tweak it to make it more efficient. But sometimes they’ve expanded it, e.g., with George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind. And after winning control of Congress, they failed miserably to oppose Obama’s worst policies. Many Republican voters rightly don’t trust them and many turned to Trump as a “pull down the house” alternative. Extreme social conservatives give priority to a religiously-motivated values agenda that usually involves limiting individual liberty rather than government power. Many see in the culture what seems to be the complete collapse of moral standards and the rise of leftist political correctness. They harken back to the social order in an older, traditional America. They jump on symbolic issues, for example, by opposing same-sex marriage. But such stands drive away socially liberal young people from the GOP. Many social conservatives feel adrift in today’s economically stagnant America. And they rightly blame establishment Republicans... (Continue reading here.)
  10. Take Your Daughters to Work Day By Edward Hudgins April 28 was “Take your daughters to work day,” and I did! (I hope all you parents took your sons along as well!) My five-year-old fraternal twins, Sophia and Allegra, went to the office with Daddy! What did I teach them about what Daddy does, and what did Daddy learn? Kindergarten coming On that same day, my wife, Talia, and I took the girls first to the local elementary school to enroll them for Kindergarten in the fall. The girlies love the small preschool they currently attend, and we were concerned they’d be anxious about the new place. But they enjoyed their visit to the much bigger facility, and played with the other kids who were also there for enrollment. Allegra, who already can use an iPad better than her Mom, was jumping for joy at the computer lab! In Daddy’s office We headed downtown to my office and when we arrived, the girls wanted to do what they like best: explore. They crawled under my desks and table, and played with the items on my shelves. They ran with their usual energy and excitement through the hallways and up and down the stairs of the fine old townhouse that currently houses my work digs. In the drawing room/lounge area they posed with busts of famous Americans and plopped down on the big chairs and sofas, chirping, “This room is so fancy!” Back in my office I tried to read to them from the book An Island of Liberty, which my colleagues gave me as a gift for them when they were born. (Continue reading here.)
  11. Millennials Need Capitalist Morality By Edward Hudgins April 28, 2016 -- A new Harvard survey found that only 42% of 18 to 29 year olds support capitalism. The good news of sorts is that only 33% support socialism. Yet 44% support its close cousin progressivism, and 48% support “social justice activism.” These results show a deep confusion that will require a strong dose of capitalist morality to cure. Mixed-up data about millennials and capitalism Many friends of freedom see the strong support for Bernie Sanders among young people as evidence that a new socialist ascendency will move America more swiftly to economic catastrophe a la Greece or, worse, Venezuela. And Pew surveys have found that only 46% of young people have a positive “reaction to” capitalism while 49% react positively to socialism. Granted, these are different questions from the ones in the Harvard report. But when the word “free market” is used instead of “capitalism,” results are more favorable. Even so, concerning that Harvard report, the Washington Post screamed a sensationalist headline, “A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, poll shows.” While these findings indeed are wake-up calls for friends of freedom, they need to be understood in full context. For example, while the Harvard survey found that 51% of young people do not support capitalism, it also found that 59% don’t support socialism. Further, 49% don’t support progressivism and 42% don’t support “social justice activism.” These and other surveys do find that America is an extremely polarized society. Mixed-up millennial understanding about capitalism But even more than being polarized, America is an extremely confused society. Today we live in a crony system. Businesses, unions, and ideological interest groups use political pull and influence to secure taxpayer handouts or regulations that favor them by limiting the liberty of others. This corrupt system, facilitated by both Democrats and Republicans, is rightly condemned by both Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street adherents. Capitalism, by contrast, is the system in which who gets what is determined by individuals and enterprises producing goods and services to trade with voluntary customers. But statist politicians, led by Bernie Sanders, portray the crony system as “capitalism” and argue that it should be replaced by a system in which only certain elites... (Continue reading here.)
  12. Aspirations, Gaza Death Tunnels, Schools of Hope By Edward Hudgins Geopolitical decisions often reflect the aspirations of peoples. The Hamas rulers of Gaza made no secret of their aspirations when they built a secret tunnel from their territory into Israel: to kidnap and kill Jews. But a focus on the physical tunnel itself lends a telling perspective on the self-made hell of these moral monsters. Death tunnel or schools? The latest of many tunnels discovered by the Israeli Defense Forces was said to measure a mile and a quarter long, wide enough to bring people easily through it. It was made of concrete, and supplied with electricity and ventilation. And it was to come out near a kibbutz, allowing easy access for the infiltrating murderers to potential victims. My back-of-the-envelope calculation finds that a tunnel of this length, with 8-foot-high and wide walls, dug 100 feet deep, would require about 250,000 square feet of concrete. But what else could that material have been used to build? An elementary close to where I live is a two-story structure that is about 190 feet square. Such a space could fit 18 decent-sized classrooms, a few administrative offices, and a large rec-room/cafeteria, all with concrete interior walls. Such a school could educate around 1,000 kids at a time. I calculate that such a school would require about 125,000 square feet of concrete. In other words, the 250,000 square feet in the Hamas death tunnel could have built two elementary schools to educate 2,000 children at a time. Condemning their own children The Gazans chose their Hamas rulers who... (Continue reading here.)
  13. Dishonest Attacks on Genetically Modified Organisms By Kevin Schooler For those who take their health seriously, it’s always a challenge to determine which claims are true and which are fiction. This task is made more difficult by those who, either out of malice or shear ignorance, spread misinformation. One example that seems more deliberate distortion is the case made by many against Genetically Modified Organisms or “GMOs.” GMOs targeted GMOs, unfortunately, have been the targets of much deliberate misinformation and fear-mongering by organizations like Greenpeace and countless bloggers who spread memes that ignore underlying research. They state as fact that GMOs are somehow harmful to human health. The evidence suggests they aren't. They state as fact that GMOs increase the use of pesticides or reduce yields. The evidence suggests they don't. They state as fact that GMO cotton has caused the suicides of tens of thousands of Indian farmers. The evidence suggests it hasn't. They state as fact that GMO companies, Monsanto in particular, engage in unscrupulous business practices, somehow "forcing" farmers to buy from them. The evidence suggests they don't. The objections to GMOs are almost always demonstrably false. Almost. Truths out of context Occasionally, there are genuine attributes of GMOs which are the basis for critics’ objections. However, these attributes are presented in the most distorted and out of context ways possible. For example, it is asserted that GMOs are "unnatural." Technically, this is true in the sense that human intervention rather than nature evolution has resulted in altered organisms. What the anti-GMO folks don't usually mention is that apart from wild game, virtually the entire modern food supply is unnatural, the result of hundreds or thousands of years of artificial selection. ... (Continue reading here.)
  14. On Nabokov’s Birthday, Lessons in Liberty By Talia G. Hudgins April 22, 2016 -- April 22 marks the birthday of Vladimir Nabokov. Born in 1899, this writer had similarities to as well as differences from fellow Russian Ayn Rand. But Rand fans will find that his insights on individualism and liberty complemented hers. Ayn Rand and Vladimir Nabokov parallels Rand and Nabokov probably never met. But both hailed from St. Petersburg, and Rand and Nabokov’s younger sister were schoolmates. Like Rand, the native language of the world-famous author of Lolita was not English. And like Rand, this non-native speaker wrote some of 20th century’s definitive works in English, in the United States—the country they both adopted and that adopted them. Both were victims of tyranny; the Bolsheviks confiscated Nabokov’s family fortune and Rand’s father’s business. Nabokov lived in poverty among émigrés in Berlin until he, his Jewish wife, and their son fled to France and then the United States. Rand arrived in America via Berlin, when she took advantage of a rare chance to leave the communist dictatorship supposedly on a temporary visa. She stayed in America and had to work her way up like so many other immigrants. Political novels One difference between Nabokov and Rand is that he had no interest in political writing. He claimed only disdain for “art shot through with ‘human interest,’” which he thought dangerously close to propaganda. However, he did write two novels—Invitation to a Beheading (1934) and Bend Sinister (1947)—with political settings. Both take place in dystopias that resemble Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. Perhaps an inspiration for them was that Nabokov, like Rand, was horrified by naive Westerners who sympathized with the Bolsheviks, who he thought no less brutal than the Nazis. But his novels weren’t forewarnings, finger-waggings, or calls to action. His interest was different than that: it was the freedom in one’s soul. Avoiding a beheading Invitation to a Beheading begins with a political prisoner named Cincinnatus C. The name itself is suggestive. Cincinnatus was an ancient Roman magistrate who had retired but was summoned by the Senate and given the powers of a dictator so he could lead an army against invaders. He defeated the enemy in less than two weeks; but then he gave up his power so he could return to private life, wanting no more part of politics. Nabokov’s Cincinnatus is in jail... (Continue reading here.)
  15. Earth Day’s Subtle Pollution By Edward Hudgins On the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, my high school class traveled to the Mall in D.C. to mark the occasion. Me? I skipped the trip. Instead, I stayed home to watch the crippled Apollo 13 spacecraft return to Earth. My classmates and I had different values. And in the years since, I’ve watched as some of the sub-rosa values of Earth Day have spread to pollute our culture. Earth Day as soft indoctrination To get the obvious out of the way, it is valid to be concerned about the measurable adverse effects on human health of raw sewage, or toxic waste dumped into rivers, or poisonous factory fumes pumped out to choking lungs. But that concern has metastasized into a cultural hypochondria, a fear that everything created by humans is dangerous and, worse, is dangerous to an abstraction called “the environment” rather than to humans. What happened? For four and a half decades Earth Day has spread a form of soft indoctrination. Every year, school kids cut out little paper trees and leaves, visit recycling plants, watch Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance, and are generally asked by teachers, “What are you doing to help the environment?” Local news reporters visit the Earth Day Greenpeace booths at the town park and interview local politicos or business folks about how they are conserving the planet. All value is for humans What’s missing from this picture? Humans! Certainly the messages are mixed. Certainly there is talk about our kids living healthier lives if they are not exposed to carcinogens and the like. But the subtle shift fostered by this annual April ritual is from the material world being of value to humans to the material world being of value in and of itself. Forests are of value to humans because we can use their trees for lumber for our houses—good for our material well-being—or walk through them to enjoy their beauty... (Continue reading here,) ----- On Twitter follow Edward Hudgins @DrEdwardHudgins.