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About syrakusos

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    Rational Empiricist
  • Birthday 11/10/1949

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    Michael E. Marotta
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    Senior technical writer for enterprise information systems serving complex organizations. Content strategist and knowledge presentationdesigner for projects serving electrical power, telecommunication, insurance, and manufacturing... Post and patrol for large crowd events, as well as for business, technology and retail customers. Responsible for greeting, clearing and directing visitors and employees. Inspection of premises and grounds via closed circuit television cameras.
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    West Wing, Die Hard 1-4, Big Bang Theory
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    Numismatics, Physical Security and Computer Security, Aviation

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  1. I get the point, but it does not address the deeper issue. You can prove that 2 + 2 ≠ 6 because the statement is not isolated from all the rest of arithmetic. All you have done is take one truth (2 + 2 = 4) and misstate it into a falsehood. And your objection does not tie the analytic to the synthetic. You cannot prove that the Moon has not been used as a base by aliens. You cannot prove that God does not exist. And all the rest. How are empirical observations, or the lack of them, different from logical truths?
  2. Yes, of course all of those are only the result of attempting to prove a positive assertion and running into a contradiction that falsifies it. Then, you turn it over and make it a disproof. That is just a subset of how proofs are done in algebra. Andrew Wyles's proof of Fermat's Conjecture is a great example. Perhaps I need a better way of stating my hypothesis, but I do not want to separate the rational from the empirical. .
  3. I patronize the local atheist boutique to buy bumper stickers, pens, pencils, lapel pins, and badges. This one sat on my desk for a couple of weeks. Then, I had a reply. "Watches only prove that beaches were not designed to be watches." The fallacy goes to the root of arguments for atheism. You cannot prove a negative assertion. When you try, you run into non-sequiturs. Complete essay here:
  4. I am always impressed by ARIWatch. They appear to be consistently dispassionate and factual. My only sense of dismay is all the time and effort that goes into it, when the world holds so many other more interesting and profitable pursuits. But to each his own, and, with my thanks for the hard work.
  5. IQ

    Over on Rebirth of Reason, frequent contributor Luke Setzer has had bad experiences at MENSA meetings and just wrote off all of the High-IQ crowd. That underscores Orwell's quip about some ideas being so wrong that only an intelligent person can accept them. I grew up in Cleveland, which still has a Major Work program in 3-12th grades. It was started in the 1920s based on Lewis Terman's theories of eugenics. (I was not in Major Work because I was not smart enough. I went to summer school to catch up. My brother was in it. Fans of "I Love Lucy" reruns, he still denies calling me "Mickey Retardo.") (See "World Peace Through Massive Retaliation" here. And the related links in "Previously" below that, and others, such as "She's Such a Geek!" reviewed here.) In fact, it is an attribute of standard IQ testing that for many problems, no amount of extra time will be enough: you either get it or you do not. That is the nature of intelligence, or at least one aspect of some kinds of intelligence. We all know that standard IQ tests are shot through with conceptual errors and cultural biases. Quart is to liter as inning is to chukker. Old Objectivists know Ayn Rand's endorsement of Banesh Hoffman's book The Tyranny of Testing. As I recall, it was in the SATs of the time that Beethoven's "Emperor Concerto" and Strauss' "Emperor Waltz" were both correct answers -- just one out of many... That kind of "intelligence" is just one aspect of human action. We are more than the books we read or music we listen to. The standard IQ test format has no way to measure "natural" ability in the visual arts. That is why the best (yet limited) intelligence tests are administered one-on-one by a trained psychologist over a series of sessions that explore (as I recall) seven aspects of intelligence, including socialization and empathy. As for chess, music, and everything else we do, I have given some thought to the problem of "prodigies" children who are fantastically accomplished at some skill such as playing the piano or mathematics. My theory is that what humans can do is defined by what humans have done and some will always be better and worse at anything along any applicable scale. Someone invented the piano. The piano is within the realm of human action. Therefore, some people will have a "natural" ability to master that device. That applies to everything we have done or can do. And we do not yet know all of the things that we can to. Some child will someday have an amazing facility with warp drive mechanics...
  6. SCIENCE NEWS | Fri Mar 3, 2017 | 6:21pm EST Mars astronaut radiation shield set for moon mission trial: Developer The vest will protect vital human tissue, particularly stem cells, which could be devastated by solar radiation in deep space or on Mars, whose sparse atmosphere offers no protection, StemRad's CEO Oren Milstein said. I mention this because BaaChatzaf has often asserted that colonizing Mars will be impossible because of the intense radiation, both during the trip and then settled on the planet. It is a valid concern, of course, but all along, others have pointed out that such problems get solved. Apparently, this one may be, as well.
  7. (I sent this to CivicAction at Meetup dot com. I also sent out-takes to the groups that belonged to, most of them for computer users.) I am cutting my access to all of my Meetup groups and to as of February 28, 2017, in response to a corporate decision by Meetup to support the Resist political action collectives. “We decided that we wanted to do more to support these efforts so we created a network of 1,000 #Resist Meetup groups with a few special characteristics.” -- While I am sympathetic to many of the social justice causes pursued by Resist, I must object to Meetup’s delivering a special value to them. My comrades on the right wing also have advanced the cause of freedom. Their methods and their successes do not grab headlines. It is a matter of culture. As collectivists, my progressive comrades form strong groups, and groups are easy to see. They grab headlines when they grab other people’s property. But that property had to be created first. The exceptionally great wealth of America was the work of millions of individuals who mostly minded their own business, making their own lives as best they knew how by the standards they chose according to their personal values. That does not make the home pages of news media – unless it is to “doodle” in celebrating the historical birthday of a dead writer, musician, inventor, or scientist. is a tool for those conservatives, libertarians, and Objectivists who advance the ethics and politics of individualism. By creating new, no-cost platforms for one political group, of necessity excludes those of other political beliefs – and those groups with no political agenda. It is also a platform for millions of individuals who share personal – sometimes peculiar – interests of their own, far removed from politics. And that speaks to a fundamental problem with progressive causes. It is critical that this be understood. Dr. Martin Luther King looked forward to a future in which each person is judged by the content of their character. But character is an attribute of a person, not of a group. Choosing not to do business with someone because they are not from your ethnic, social, gender, class, or religious group is irrational. But freedom of association is a fundamental political right. While my collectivist comrades try to eliminate discrimination by engaging the power of the state, my friends on the right go to the root problem: lack of character. If the owners of want to end social injustice, they should empower their customers who meet to build character. But that would mean creating a 1000 special groups for some religions or some philosophies in preference to others. And there is no way to parse that, because, after all, even karate builds character. Therefore, I will delete my Meetup account and switch to some other service or set of services, such as Google Groups, which, in fact, evolved from the age-old Usenet maillists. Ultimately, no one needs That is something to keep in mind. Michael E. Marotta
  8. That's all well and good, but the word "sex" has been dropped from the conversation. Beyond NOIF, what does it mean to be treated "fairly" in sexual encounters. Ethics vary with social context. Can sexual ethics be different for different genders? I assume not, as my primary. But it is easy to come up with social situations in which ethics depend on context. Good ethics are objective, but they are not all the same for everyone in every case. In business, if I am paid by the hour, and it is time to go home, and if I have a family waiting, then punching the time clock and leaving is ethical. If I am on salary and live alone, then leaving when the work is done - not when the clock says 5 - is ethical. I have worked in a lot of places because I am a contractor. So, I know a lot of ways that people get along ethically in business. I do not have much experience in sexual encounters with others. One ethical rule I have is "ladies before gentlemen."
  9. I am sorry, Ba'al, but I find that your description is too reductionist, so it misses the essence. Just for starters, I already pointed out that living things do not necessarily replicate themselves: hybrids are often sterile, but are alive nonetheless. At the cellular level, not all cells reproduce. Red Blood Cells (erythrocytes, which is only Greek for "red cells") are made in the bone marrow. Perhaps your description properly puts them outside the definition of "life". But, evolutionarily, maybe they were independent at one time and just "devolved." Animals without interior bones must have some other ways to transport oxygen. But, again, I regard my own words above as falling into the reductionist fallacy. You can take something apart and never find the "it" that you took apart because "it" is the sum (greater than the sum?) of its parts. As for intelligence, I think that it is possible that intelligence reverses entropy. Ideas are immaterial. That opens the door to our nature as "spiritual" beings. I think that perhaps all other living things are also "spiritual" only that they have less "spirit." And, likely, other living things have more than we do: higher orders of angels, you might say. I went back and read some of the posts by jts in Sports and Recreation about chess programs. How are they not intelligent?
  10. My degrees are in criminology (BS) and social science (MA). In any arbitrarily "large" business, about 20% of the employees are criminals. In addition, many enterprises are criminal by nature, with 100% participation by the employees. The suburbs suffer as much crime as the inner cities, only that the worst crimes are often different, being worse in the suburbs. For a close analogy to inner city crime, you need to go to rural areas. That statement expresses a criminogenic attitude. It is a version of the cultural foundations of Sharia Law.
  11. Thanks. That was sad and compelling.
  12. We need to go back to what it means to be ailve. Binswanger's essential assumption is to be engaged in action to sustain itself. By that definition, all of the cells in a baby are alive, but the "baby qua baby" is not. We might accept crying as an attempt to sustain itself, which I believe is inadequate. On the other hand, is the growth of a crystal an expression of its having life? Back in the mid-1980s, discussing software life, I looked up definitions for "life" in biology textbooks. As you can imagine, they were general and intuitive, not rigorous. The attributes of life do not apply to all living things. For instance, "mules" (real donkey-horses, and other hybrids) do not reproduce their own kind because they are born sterile. (Some exceptions apply. It depends on the species of the jack/jenny and mare/stud. That seems true in other kinds of hybrids. In the wider context, fertile hybrids call Darwinian definitions of "species" into question.) At any rate, Binswanger is just adhering to Ayn Rand's definition, which, again, is intuitively obvious, but perhaps not rigorous. Almost every cell in your body would be alive, of course, but by that definition your gametes (sperm, ovum) are not. I worked in robotics and factory automation in the 'nineties. For one robot show, Kawasaki had two six-axis mechanical units controlled by one computer, to which was also included a vision system. It solved Rubic's Cube in a minute. (Can Binswanger do that?) I built hobby robots since then. Right now, we have this toy for our cat. The toy has a simple mechanical servo to back away and re-direct after hitting a barrier. That is more that a sperm can do. Then, of course, her in this Board, we have discussions of computers that play chess. In fact, as I understand it, we are now at the point where humans are relegated to a different arena because the computer always wins. If not "always" certainly "often." Autonomous machines are important to space exploration. That they cannot reproduce their own kind does not disqualify them as "life." They certainly do perceive and react to their environments to sustain their range of actions.
  13. Sexual ethics derive from morality. Like metaphysics, and epistemology, morality rests on absolutes. Alone on his island, Robinson Crusoe needed morality. Proper ethics are objective, but not absolute. Subjective thoughts and actions, and arbitrary thoughts and actions are destructive. A business dress code is not absolute, but it does define a kind of ethical conduct. So, too, with sex, are the moral rules absolute, and the social rules objective. The worst outcomes are the result of subjectivism and intrinsicism. Socially, we trade value for value. Sexually, your pleasure is primary and as a consequence you find pleasure in your partner enjoyment and celebration. The business rules of creating and delivering the best at the highest price the market will bear have sexual analogs. Getting it done and over with is an expression of failure within, a lack of self-esteem, even a consequence of self-loathing. Again, it is similar to the way people slog through jobs they hate. If a male birth control pill were invented, it would be incumbent on the man to accept primary responsibility for the consequences of sex with a woman, though her own responsibility to herself still exists. Each has a primary responsibility to themselves, from which comes their responsibility to their partner. Not to recognize that and live it, would be like short-changing a customer, or weighing goods with your thumb on the scale. A schoolmate of mine from a social psychology class said that sex is what is between your legs, gender is what is between your ears, and orientation is what goes on between the sheets. That seems like a nice vernacular summation. It addresses some of the errors that have been posted here as claims of truth. On the subject of rape, the claim that women use the false accusation of rape as a weapon against men is completely inadequate. I doubt that in a discussion of business ethics, Dallas Korben would have opened with an assertion that businesses routinely use false accusations of fraud as a competitive strategy, though, historically, you might find some examples of that. Moreover, the other tet-a-tets failed to include male-on-male rape which is more common than most people consider. Male-on-male rape brings into sharp relief that fact that rape is primarily about dominance and control, not about sex. Sex is just the modality of expression. Moralist's traditionalism is likewise unworkable as an approach to understanding and defining sexual ethics. We think of men as hunters. But in an anthropology class, we read about a tribe where the men had long ago convinced the women that fire is a dangerous demon. So, the women leave the men at home to tend the children who are (1) off the breast and (2) too young to be gendered and therefore (3) go hunting with their mothers, while the men tend the home fires and get dinner ready. People have a wide range of possible behaviors and within the bounds of objective good, can choose many paths. The claim that "males must be men" is hollow for lack of objective meaning. On a positive note, a friend of mine who is sexually active told me a time when she picked up a guy and was shocked when he entered without a condom. It stopped right there. "I felt violated," she said. And I agreed. Our society is at a point, personally, where I would be hesitant to have sex with a stranger unless I were wearing a frogman suit. Myself, I think that it is that bad out there... It has always been the case that the best behavior is to get to know someone before you open up to them. In some traditional Jewish culture, the betrotheds were housed together for a month, but, supposedly, without sex. They were to get to know each other while waiting for the woman to have a menstrual period to show that she was not already pregnant, and therefore marriageable. It seems like a workable theory. In our society, while "dating" you learn about your partner, including, and especially, their commitment, at least to to serial monogamy -- while you wait to see if they break out in herpes or something... Interviewing the owner of an manufacturing company that sought Tier 1 contracts with the automotives, he referred to "doing the mating dance" with a potential customer. It did not work out, and they called it off before a contract was signed.
  14. I am not sure what Atlashead means. I grant that it is difficult to say it all in a few paragraphs, even for someone who writes for a living. But what was offered was internally disconnected. 1. "Thus, in any toxic relationship, only the woman can totally control whether a baby is born." That would make a "toxic" relationship the default. The loaded word "toxic" opens many doors of discussion. 2. " Thus, a relationship between any man and a woman can be moral, as long as a child is not created." That does not follow from any premise. The word "thus" is misleading. 3. "A relationship between a man and a woman where the child is born into slavery is immoral. A relationship between two who are capable of not hurting the child, and the child's not born into compulsion, is a moral one." The "slave" status of infants and children is much debated here an elsewhere in O-land. As an infant matures into childhood and beyond, it gains more rights by its nature. 4. "Thus, it is WOMEN, by nature, who can use sex as a weapon, but men cannot use sex as a weapon, because ..." I agree with DLL that this is confused, at best, and mostly just wrong. I do point out, however, that rape is not about sex. It is about violence. Sex is just a part of that, much of it cultural. When you are punched in the nose, you do not suffer a special kind of "nasal assault." Maybe if we were elephants, you would... Some feminists argue cogently, that our Puritanical foundations make rape something other than physical assault. We are just irrational about sex. 5. "... an unborn child; which objectivists believe to be potentially good in all cases, because objectivists do not believe that one's parentage=a person." Again, that is not a logical statement. The premise "parentage does not equal person" does not mean that unborn children are all potentially good. All unborn children - all newly born infants; and probably most teenagers; and many adults - are "potentially" all manner of alternatives, from good to bad. Moreover, as an Objectivist, I assure you that parentage can indeed define the person, both genetically and culturally. It need not be so in every case; and it depends on the person, probably in every case. However, as a card-carrying criminologist who finds the "rational choice" theory of crime most explanatory, some people do seem to be beyond all remediation: they are born criminals.
  15. Fascinating. Thanks!