studiodekadent

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About studiodekadent

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    Andrew Russell
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    Individualist Renegade Objectivist Cybergoth-Freak type. Economist, Philosopher and Musician. Economics: Misesian/Hayekian/Evolutionary Philosophy: Open-System Objectivism Myers-Briggs Type: INTP Enneagram Type: 8w7 with a strong connection to 5 Favorite Song: "Joy" by VNV Nation Favorite Computer Game: System Shock 2 Favorite Quote: "Thought Does Not Bow To Authority" - Ayn Rand
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    Austrian and Evolutionary Economics, Objectivism, Electro-Industrial Music (Listening/Composing/ Producing), Synthesizers, Goth/Industrial/ Cyberpunk/Formal Fashion, Makeup (more than my mother), Drinking, Blackjack, Debauchery of Assorted Varieties.
  1. I consider it to be collectivistic, neo-segregationist and an attack on the true diversity of cosmopolitanism.
  2. William, Just to let you know, I am for international free trade (complete free trade) and economic globalization. I am also for relatively open immigration (I support screening for communicable diseases and potential violent threats like Jihadism) and I support cultural cosmopolitanism (but not official multiculturalism; I see that as a 'keep to your own kind' pseudo-segregationism). My problem is with supranational layers of regulation and control. Things like the EU. Jurisdictional competition has been a fantastic ally to liberty and things like the EU ultimately reduce jurisdictional competition.
  3. Ellen, Thank you very much. I agree that many Objectivists and also Libertarians/Classical Liberals seem to think of "globalism" in terms of international free trade as well as cosmopolitanism and cultural exchange, and from this they come to associate positive things with the label "globalism" and presume that the opposite to "globalism" is a parochial protectionist ethno-nationalism. Frankly the alternative right (the most common critics of "globalism") haven't done anything to dispel this false dichotomy. If my definition of globalism (as the empowerment of supranational institutions) is the correct one, then Classical Liberals (of any kind) SHOULD be the primary critics of globalism, because globalism represents the centralization of power which is anathema to liberty. Decentralization of power is a bulwark against tyranny. My definition of globalism has a particular advantage; it explains the paradoxical association of free trade with a position that is almost universally held by progressive leftists. If globalism is really about centralizing power within large supranational institutions, then it is basically the Progressive project on an international scale. Classical Liberals are effectively duped into supporting these institutions by the promise of "free trade" ("less unfree trade" would be more accurate).
  4. This sounds to me very much like Germany is more economically fascist than the USA. More "coordination" between big industry groups and unions... That is VERY corporatist. More decisions are made by large, centralized institutions. All you need to do in order to turn this "coordination" into textbook economic fascism is to have the government "encourage" (ahem) this coordination. A more institutionalized, more consolidated economy is a more corporatistic one.
  5. The US is also a Social Democratic/Mixed Economy country. There's a substantial degree of Economic Fascism in the US too. The US is not a free market paradise. It is MORE free market than Continental Europe but not anywhere near laissez-faire. What metrics are you using to establish Germany as "doing better" than the US? GDP per capita? Median income adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity? Growth rates? Job creation rates? In addition, Economic Fascism CAN result in very fast economic growth; the Asian Tiger model for instance (also Japan). No one would argue that nations CANNOT develop without full laissez-faire (I don't think any nation historically did) and no one would argue that anything short of complete laissez-faire makes development impossible. Social Democracies don't have the economic calculation problem like full-on socialist economies do. What makes one country grow faster than another? There are a huge number of complex policy variables which all ultimately impact growth rates and some are more impactful than others. But from what I know, Germany and Western Europe in general is extremely anemic in terms of economic growth and job creation. I'd say labor market rigidities and regulations are more damaging (in growth terms) interventions than interventions in at least some other areas. The short answer is that you can't just "put economies on a spectrum" of "more free to less free" (economic freedom is multidimensional/multivariate) and then presume that every economy with a similar "level" (in net terms) of economic freedom will have exactly the same growth rate.
  6. Close. "Economic Fascism," also called "Corporatism," occurs when the means of production are privately OWNED but they are regulated/controlled by the State (to at least a substantial degree). As such, to the degree that these economies regulate/control capital (i.e. control how private businesses act), they are Economically Fascist. More hardcore forms of Economic Fascism involve a lot of cronyism and "government-linked corporations," cartelization of the economy, etc. Economic Fascism can exist in terms of degree, basically. I'm saying that it is present to a substantial degree under Social Democracy.
  7. Basic Income: does it violate capitalism? It depends on your definition. If by "capitalism" you exclusively mean "an economy where all the means of production are privately owned and the government's only permissible role is to enforce contracts, property rights and prohibit force/fraud/coercion and can ONLY extract the absolute-minimum tax money required to do this, then yes, a basic income guarantee does violate capitalism. But let us look at how Basic Income is usually supported by pro-market advocates; as a replacement for the current welfare state and for current public services. When judged by this criterion, a Basic Income is actually an extremely attractive alternative for the following reasons: 1. It allows the firing of a huge number of bureaucrats and the abolition of an immense number of government departments. This solves several Public Choice problems with large, entrenched governments and public sector unions, without allowing those snakes to use "the poor!" as a human shield to justify their own job security. 2. Replacing a welfare system that is designed basically to modify behavior and manipulate what people do with a system that enables individual choice increases the liberty of welfare recipients and lessens the government's ability to engage in social engineering. In other words, the same "safety net" could be made much less expensive and much less coercive/managerial. A safety net could be provided at both a reduction in the cost-to-liberty and the cost-to-taxpayers than that represented by the current system. In addition, it could be justifiably argued that an unconditional direct income transfer to someone is LESS coercive than an economic regulation; a transfer requires only the extraction of the tax money (one instance of coercion). An economic regulation requires BOTH the extraction of tax money to fund the regulators and enforcers (one instance of coercion) AND inflicts a second coercion in that it forbids businesses from engaging in a particular course of action (or mandates businesses engage in a particular course of action). You could make the argument that ceteris paribus, the regulatory state is a more important target than a social safety net (and further, that certain kind/s of social safety net are worse than others). Personally I think the Basic Income Guarantee (as a replacement for the current benefits system) would be a fantastic way to slim down the welfare state, decrease government social engineering and decrease the overall cost of government, and doing so would be politically palatable since it would retain the safety net. It would represent a net increase in liberty relative to the current system. Honestly, I don't think that the 100% abolition of all safety nets is possible, and arguably it is not even particularly desirable. I think the smallest possible government (without some sort of titanic improvement in general moral character of most people) will include a safety net, and the Basic Income Guarantee is the best way to do it.
  8. Sanders is not a "socialist" in the technical sense, nor are France and Germany "really" socialist in the strict technical sense. Sanders is a Social Democrat, and France and Germany are both Social Democratic mixed economies. Social Democracy absolutely comes from the socialist intellectual tradition but it differs from classical socialism because it accepts the necessity of a market in the means of production. Classical socialism is defined by abolishing markets in capital/input goods. Social Democrats are basically what happened when Socialists realized that Mises and Hayek were right; without a marketplace in the means of production, economically efficient allocation of capital and inputs becomes impossible, and there is no substitute for the market process. So instead of focusing on the distribution of the means of production, Social Democrats focus on the distribution of the results of production. Thus for them, the core issue is income distribution and attempting to regulate and redistribute away the alleged flaws of the necessary market process. In practice this really doesn't differ substantially from economic fascism (which is also welfarist and believes in the managerial state), although it often focuses on different cronies and justifies itself differently. But no, France and Germany do not live under socialism today. They are Social Democracies/Mixed Economies/Regulated Market Economies. France and Germany DO, however, appeal to ideas from the Socialist intellectual tradition in order to justify their economic systems.
  9. Well I haven't been here in over a year. Sorry, but the life of a PhD student can get busy (and I can get sidetracked with a lot of other things outside of the Objecto-sphere). But here's the latest article I've written; its an attempt to explain why some libertarians love Trump (and other libertarians hate him). Enjoy! Comments appreciated! HOW TO EXPLAIN PRO-TRUMP LIBERTARIANS The phenomenon of pro-Trump libertarianism is paradoxical; Trump certainly has only modest-at-best credentials from a small-government viewpoint and his embrace of nationalism has many worried that Trump represents a collectivist ethnonationalism rather than an individualism-compatible civic nationalism. How can we explain why some libertarians have embraced Trump? First, we need to define what being "pro-Trump" constitutes; many people in US elections (including many ideological libertarians) vote on a "lesser of two evils" basis. Is reluctant "better than Hillary" support sufficient to constitute an embrace? Perhaps it does and perhaps it doesn't, but I'd rather focus on the "why." Why would a libertarian vote for a law-and-order protectionist big-spender candidate? Indeed, libertarians were strongly polarized by Trump with those who didn't embrace him loudly denouncing him; if ideology and policy were the key factor that drove libertarian voting we'd have expected a relatively uniform libertarian consensus. Instead we ended up with polarized responses. I am going to argue the following; Trump's embrace by some libertarians is not fundamentally about policy per se. Rather, the polarized reaction to Trump really speaks to a dichotomy between two different styles of libertarian activism and self-positioning; one style of libertarian activism is centered around trying to build the presence of libertarian ideas within the powerful instutions of culture, media and the academy. Libertarians who pursue this strategy will often identify with these institutions, and whilst critical of the flaws of these institutions will approach fixing these flaws in a reformist fashion. We can call these people "libertarian mainstreamers" - those who believe that libertarian activism should be pursued through building a presence at the commanding heights of the cultural mainstream. The other style of libertarian activism rejects the viability of building a mainstream presence; this style of libertarian activism generally sees the mainstream media and universities as so corrupt and dishonest that they are impossible to reform or even infiltrate. Libertarians who pursue this strategy believe that the universities and media are simply too entrenched with anti-liberty ideas; furthermore, many libertarians of this kind believe that the mainstream person is hostile to libertarian beliefs (due to either indoctrination or fear of freedom or Rational Irrationality). As such, trying to persuade the CNNs, BBCs, Harvards and Stanfords of this world that libertarian ideas represent a serious and compelling body of theory is a waste of time. Libertarians of this kind generally disidentify with the mainstream media and the academy and believe that these institutions cannot be reformed, but rather must be transformed or destroyed or circumvented and undermined. We can call these people "libertarian iconoclasts" - those who believe that libertarian activism should focus on attacking and discrediting institutions with entrenched unlibertarian biases, and replacing these institutions with competing ones. Trump is not a libertarian but I would wager those libertarians who embraced Trump embrace libertarian iconoclasm; Trump was a vote against Political Correctness, against the prejudices of the progressive left, a rejection of the entire set of cultural norms and preferences that are both held by the kinds of people that disproportionately dominate most media and practiced daily on elite college campuses. In short, Trump is a symbolic attack against the commanding heights of our culture; an attack against the mainstream media, an attack on the academy, an attack on norms and practices seen as emblematic of these institutions. Those libertarians who embrace Trump, in other words, supported him as at attack on the cultural elite. This is not the same thing as Populism vs. Elitism per se; libertarian ideas are not necessarily populist (although they are anti-elitist, which could be thought of as a 'soft' populism) and relatively consistent libertarianism is rare amongst the population (even though most people have a few libertarian sympathies). Nor is it necessarily anti-intellectualism; most libertarians see themselves as intellectuals and studies of IQ have shown that people holding classically liberal beliefs have higher IQ relative to those who hold left-liberal, progressive, or socially conservative beliefs. Rather, it is more of a rebuke to the reigning intelligentsia - those intellectuals whom control the powerful institutions within our culture - from members of an outsider intelligentsia that believe they are cheated, that the game is rigged, and that the progress of liberty can only be achieved through the demolition of corrupt institutions. THE LIBERTARIAN MAINSTREAMERS Whilst some on the Reason Magazine comment sections like to call these people "Cosmotarians," libertarian mainstreamers are following a very traditional libertarian strategy that almost all libertarian organizations participate in to some degree; education and the dissemination of information. The goal for libertarian mainstreamers is for the libertarian perspective to become an accepted and established perspective within mainstream cultural institutions (this is distinct from the goal of seeing this perspective become part of mainstream culture per se). In short, this is the reformist, persuasion-based view which sees the mainstream media and the academy, and the audiences and students thereof, as reachable through reason. Reason Magazine is part of this group, as is the Niskanen Center, and to various extents Cato and the "Kochtopus" generally. An important feature of the libertarian mainstreamers is that their distaste for Trump is often partially due to his brashness, his coarseness, his ineloquence, his tacky hotels and bling-centric personal style, his general lack of refinement. These are cultural sympathies shared with the mainstream media and academy which mainstreamers identify with and are attempting to reform. In short, these libertarians (and yes, they are indeed libertarians) have embraced the cultural norms of the reigning intelligentsia in order to integrate with them (often Reason comment sections derisively describe this in terms of "fitting in at DC cocktail parties"). These libertarian mainstreamers are seeking access to the commanding heights of our culture; this presupposes a belief that access to these commanding heights is fairly open to anyone whom can make a compelling argument, and that access is not regulated in a biased fashion. THE LIBERTARIAN ICONOCLASTS Alternative Media, Wikileaks and such may not be always libertarian (although Julian Assange himself is), but they are contributing to the cause of libertarian iconoclasm. Libertarian iconoclasts reject the mainstreamers as being far too optimistic and argue that the mainstream media and the academy is beyond mere reform and needs to be replaced. Because they have no interest in integrating into the social milieu of mainstream media types or academics, they do not need to conform to those cultural norms; that said in practice they're more likely to be mocking, gleefully transgressing and criticizing said norms. The central proposition of the libertarian iconoclasts is that the most powerful cultural institutions are not merely biased but beyond reform and act systematically to exclude libertarian ideas and perspectives. Even if libertarians produced a perfect argument for their ideals, it would be silenced, ignored or strawmanned. This is not a new argument; Robert Nozick argued that intellectuals are inherently biased against free market classical liberalism due to its lack of rewarding their talents to the extent intellectuals believe they are worthy. Adam Smith pointed out that rulers are going to be hostile to any advice which lessens their power; surely this explains the affinity of intellectuals for ideologies which let them become philosopher-kings. Public Choice Theory would advise us to expect that public universities are unlikely to embrace ideologies which advocate less public universities, and that public broadcasters are probably going to act similarly. Cato founder and Public Choice theorist Bill Niskanen pointed out how bureaucrats would always seek more power, more prestige, more money. Economist Bryan Caplan points out that people gain pleasure from having their view of the world confirmed and displeasure from having that view challenged; everyone is prone to "rational irrationality" where the costs of being wrong are outweighed by the joys of confirmation bias. Not to mention the fact that people are prone to self-serving beliefs in general. These people are not merely free from the cultural milieu surrounding our culture's hallowed institutions; these people hold that milieu in contempt (for its systematic intellectual dishonesty) and mock, criticize and spite that milieu. They gleefully break its rules and conventions; they offend its sensibilities with relish. This is both an act of defiance as well as a form of critique and activism; transgressing these norms deligitimizes these norms. THE NORMS OF THE REIGNING INTELLIGENTSIA The reigning intelligentsia are not merely professors (and not all professors are part of this reigning intelligentsia). They are journalists at mainstream publications, they are people with influence over cultural norms, they are those whom are (paraphrasing Hayek) second-hand dealers in ideas. In effect, these are people with platforms and people with influence on large numbers of others. In general, the reigning intelligentsia embraces third wave feminism and intersectional social justice ideology, both of which power a set of social norms known as political correctness. In culture, the reigning intelligentsia promotes a specific set of ideas as to what is cool/uncool, what is tasteful/tacky, what is polite/rude (this in particular overlaps with social justice ideology) and what is sophisticated/crude. These norms cover aesthetics and social protocols as well as political beliefs. Trump offends practically every single one of these norms. Instead of carefully-crafted media-friendly calculatedly-inoffensive spin (sometimes equated with political correctness), he speaks carelessly, bluntly and in easily-uncharitably-interpreted ways; to the reigning intelligentsia this is evidence of crudeness, oppressiveness and stupidity, but to others it is evidence of honesty, authenticity and directness. His hotels are a rapper's idea of opulent; to the reigning intelligentsia this conveys a lack of taste and refinement, but to others it conveys a populist idea of luxury that is opulent in a way that lacks pretentiousness or elitism. He is willing to say things about PC-favored-groups which are sometimes easy to (mis?)interpret as racist; the reigning intelligentsia thinks this proves he plans on having death camps, but to other people it comes off as willing to say the hard things that other politicians won't tell you. All of this ultimately conveys that Trump is not part of the reigning intelligentsia, that he disregards those norms, that he fundamentally is not like them. When Trump criticizes the mainstream media (a media which has been proven not merely biased, but actively collaborating with one particular side, by Wikileaks), publications like Reason Magazine will take this as evidence of a threat to press freedom. This demonstrates how Reason writers identify with the MSM they one day wish to join; a libertarian iconoclast would say this wish is for the impossible and that Trump is criticizing not the press in principle, but the actually-existing press that coordinates with the Clinton campaign. And after all, Trump's criticism of CNN doesn't criticize Wikileaks, and Wikileaks are indisputably engaging in the activity of journalism. And thus, a libertarian iconoclast will be willing to at least tolerate Trump; the Giant Douche may indeed be the enema that Washington, the MSM and the academy are sorely in need of. He is the antithesis - ideologically and socially and aesthetically - to the reigning intelligentsia. He's the necessary antibiotics, the man likely to smash political correctness and the progressive-biased MSM. He may have an immense number of flaws, but essential medications can have negative side effects. And if the American body politic gets a terrible case of diarrhea, its a small price to pay to kill off the insanities of postmodernist academics, the unquestionable corruption of the Fourth Estate, the pretentious trash of hipsterism, the eternally-growing civil service and basically to every single subculture and institution which has fortified itself against libertarian thought. CONCLUSION There are many rational reasons to be critical of Trump, and many rational reasons to think he will do at least some positive things. I do not write this in order to claim any particular position on Trump is "correct" from a libertarian perspective; my personal opinion is that this election was indeed Giant Douche vs. Turd Sandwich and that reasonable people can have different perspectives over which evil was the lesser one. Nor am I attempting to claim any particular type of libertarian is the "right" one; as I see it, we need both mainstreamers and iconoclasts, and that whilst there are some individuals in the MSM and the academy whom can be reached there is also substantial corruption too. In a post-Podesta-Emails world, no one can deny there is at least some legitimacy to the iconoclast case, but in a world where Jeffrey Miron can be a professor at Harvard there is at least some hope for some people at the commanding heights. This article is not about which is right or wrong; the issue is how libertarian activists relate to culturally powerful institutions. Pro-Trump libertarianism seems to be a manifestation of a desire to demolish them, whereas anti-Trump libertarianism seems focused on reforming them. On a personal note, whilst I am ambivalent towards Trump, events like the Podesta Emails and protests against "oppressive" Halloween costumes at Yale make me immensely sympathetic to libertarian iconoclasm (not to mention my own personal cultural preferences render me outside the mainstream); there are reasons to think that the universities are beyond saving, that most academics will perpetually hold a grudge against liberty, that government bureaucrats will never accept that their departments are unnecessary, that most reporters have no desire to question their own political biases or put truth above the narrative. We Objectivists have been victims of attacks from the cultural elite as well; Ayn Rand herself and her ideas have consistently been the victim of media smear campaigns. The academy has, for the most part, gatekept against her ideas. Libertarians are polarized on Trump; if policy were the driving factor behind reactions to Trump then you'd expect libertarians to have a more unified response. This leads me to argue it is not policy which is driving libertarian opinions toward Trump but rather Trump's positioning as an anti-establishment figure. Libertarians who aim for Libertarian integration into the establishment thus see Trump as counterproductive at best (and a dangerous threat at worst). Libertarians who believe the mainstream is a lost cause will be more likely to have a positive view of Trump, at the very least for "enemy of my enemy" reasons.
  10. I'm going to have to somewhat agree with MSK here. "Globalism" isn't necessarily "global free trade." Rather, it seems to me to ultimately be a belief in supranational, multilateral institutions. This is why Globalism supports things like the EU and the UN. Globalists these days are often aligned with the "left" but if Globalism were about free trade, how do you explain the fact that the EU is basically a mixed-economy/social-democratic bloc rather than a laissez-faire bloc? How do you explain the fact that the EU itself creates one giant overarching supranational layer of bureaucracy on top of the already large national bureaucracies in Europe? Globalists are equally against American noninterventionism (because it represents a withdrawal from multilateral, supranational institutions) as they are against American unilateral interventionism (because it represents non-cooperation with multilateral, supranational institutions). Globalists are okay with multilateral interventionism because it represents more decisions being made by multilateral, supranational institutions. If Globalists were about free trade, why have so few free trade agreements actually been free trade? Granted most of these agreements are net-liberalizing but they also include substantial levels of cronyism (the TPP, for example, demanded that non-US countries enforce US-style intellectual property and copyright laws; this was seen as a handout to big media and to some degree big tech). And why would Globalists be so uniformly on the left? Why would all these large, supranational, multilateral institutions be pushing anti-classical-liberal agendas?
  11. Indeed. If something offends the Moral Guardians (of either side of the spectrum), you know its going to be good.
  12. In "Sausage Party," Seth Rogen delivers an extremely funny and brutally profane film which in some ways is the ultimate inversion of VeggieTales; the film is about talking food items at the local supermarket, but the plot is an anti-religious allegory. The anti-religious themes of Sausage Party make it of interests to Objectivists, but only for those who enjoy transgressive comedy. Animated in the style of Pixar films such as "Toy Story," "Sausage Party" centers around a hot dog named Frank, his girlfriend (a hot dog bun) named Brenda, and a smaller sausage named Barry. Alongside all the other products in the store, they see human shoppers as their gods, even greeting them with hymns in the morning (although humans cannot see that the produce is alive, at least under normal conditions). In their religion, the Gods who "choose" (purchase) them will whisk them away to an eternal paradise called "The Great Beyond," where the hot dogs and buns will no longer be bound by their packaging or mandate to remain 'fresh,' and the hot dogs may finally be inside their beloved buns. The allegory is pretty obvious here, and the viewer is never left in doubt as to what the produce items represent. When a jar of honey mustard is returned to the store and casts doubt on their religion (claiming that the Gods are brutal monsters before committing suicide), a chain of events is set in motion where Barry, Frank and Brenda learn the horrifying truth about "The Great Beyond." Along the way, they are joined by a bagel (who is a stereotypical Woody-Allen-esque New York Jew), an Arabic flatbread (who's own version of the produce's religion promises him 77 bottles of extra-virgin olive oil), and a sexually repressed taco who is (unsurprisingly) a Mexican and wrestles with her attraction to Brenda. Pursuing them is a (literal and figurative) Douche who blames Frank and Brenda for an accident which rendered him "spoiled merchandise." The comedy is raunchy, to say the least; in between the corny puns are sex jokes by the dozen, drug jokes, and even more frequent profanity. The obvious ethnic allegories and stereotypes come thick and fast, and of course the German mustard is preoccupied with exterminating the juice. Indeed, the film contains an orgy sequence so graphic that the only way the producers got away with it was because the characters are anthropomorphic food items; it makes Team America's "puppet sex" sequence look positively coy by comparison. But what really makes this film so good is its religious theme, which is a lot smarter than many would expect from a comedy with such bawdy humor. The film has a pretty strong anti-religious message, exploring misotheism/dystheism, the crisis of faith and disillusionment, questioning and rejecting dogma, and the typical stuff we see in Nietzsche and then the Existentialist philosophers. Hell and Satan are both given analogs in the religion of the produce, and ultimately the foodstuffs face the challenge of asserting and defining their own purpose as ends in themselves. Whereas Douche is driven mad by his loss of ability to serve his religiously-mandated purpose, other characters respond differently. One problem with the allegory is that in a later part of the film the anti-religious theme is slightly softened by a scene in which the character trying to spread the truth about The Great Beyond is chastised for being "intolerant" (including by the Nazi-stereotyped German mustard) of other people's beliefs, merely for presenting evidence and using some slightly harsh rhetoric. Another character explains that the secret is to give people something to believe in, and describes this in terms of having "faith" in something. This not only feels like an unnecessary "screw you" to the New Atheists (who got accused of being intolerant, smug and arrogant simply for making arguments that dared to be boldly phrased, at least in the case of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris' work), but its not even a particularly effective way to try to avoid alienating religious audience members since it concedes every important point to the atheist-analog side and merely suggests they're not phrasing the message sensitively enough. Not only this, but its outright hypocrisy to criticize New Atheism for being smug or arrogant when New Atheism arose to combat a moralistic, fundamentalist Christianity which certainly encouraged (even if perhaps unintentionally) a smugness about the righteousness of the believers and how all those people who dared to disagree are going to get eternally tortured in fire, and that those who are saved will not only be able to watch but that watching the unbelievers suffer will only increase their joy in heaven. Indeed, this is reflected in the opening song where its made clear that a shared tenet of the food's religion is "everyone else is f**king stupid, except for those who think like me." Apparently, this attitude is fine for religious people, but insufferably smug for the nonreligious. Not only that, but the use of 'faith' to describe having a positive confidence in something is an equivocation; there's a difference between 'faith' meaning confidence or belief, 'faith' meaning any particular set of beliefs, and 'faith' meaning belief in the absense of evidence. Of course, we could read the "people need to have faith in something" argument charitably, as an assertion of how people need ideals and values and a sense of meaning and purpose in their own life (which feeds into the Nietzschean/Existentialist ideas at play in the film), but frankly it weakens the strength of the anti-religious allegory; indeed, an early version of the script that was leaked by Wikileaks didn't have this whole "don't be smug/people need faith in something" aspect, and this version came off as much more intellectually pleasant. In addition, it didn't have the fourth-wall-breaking ending, which frankly made very little sense. But in spite of those small flaws in the allegory (and I will concede that the whole "people need to believe in something" angle did make the film more accurately emulate the heartwarming tone of Disney/Pixar-style children's cinema), the film still delivers an enjoyable critique of religion and faith in general, and satirizes a lot of the conventions and mores of much religion today. It does so with an endearing, pun-filled visual style and comedy that ranges from the cheesy to the dark to the utterly obscene. I'd unreservedly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys offensive comedy (and hence is likely to lack easily-offended religious sensibilities). However, Objectivists who enjoy such comedy will particularly enjoy the film for thematic reasons. Just like "Antz," this is a fantastic animated film with Objectivist-compatible themes.
  13. An unfortunate problem with some Objectivists is that they regard divergent aesthetic tastes as "treachery to Objectivism" and thus proof that the person with the "wrong" tastes is insufficiently Objectivist and thus worthy of condemnation. Here's my contribution to this (unfortunate) tradition. This is a song from the video game "Deus Ex: Human Revolution" (a game that's basically thematically masturbatory to any Objectivist). This is a game about mankind's ability to use reason and science to rise up to the level of the gods. Therefore, if you don't love this song (the game's theme song), you're not Objectivist enough. You're a traitor. You don't believe in human greatness, or science, or reason, or logic. And therefore you have Death Premises in your Sense Of Life which need to be rooted out. NOTES: I love this song but this post is intended to be a Reductio Ad Absurdum to an unfortunately common argument made by Randians so don't assume I actually BELIEVE what I wrote above.
  14. True, Poker is not a house game. You play against other players, not the casino. But gambling in Vegas is more rational (in terms of overall expected loss versus possible return). Take the amount you're betting (your total betting volume, i.e. stake * house margin for the game/s you're playing), and that's your expected loss. Balance that against the value of comps (typically you get 40% of what the casino assumes to be your expected loss (basically they estimate higher than the mathematical house edge to take into account very few people play in a statistically perfect fashion) back in room/food discounts so that ALREADY lowers your expected loss by 40%), the pleasure of the entertainment (which includes more than just the game... it includes the social experience and the atmosphere of the casino), etcetera. After you do that, gambling is pretty cheap entertainment in the long run, presuming you play the right games in a statistically optimal fashion. In the short run there will be variance - big losses and big wins - but statistically speaking, you won't lose much overall. Indeed, if you play good games of blackjack with correct basic strategy, you'll effectively be getting free entertainment (a typical Vegas casino will estimate an expected loss of 0.7% of your total betting volume - 40% of this casino-expected loss works out roughly to the house margin of a good-rules Blackjack game). There are safer ways to get a thrill than skydiving. Rollercoasters and thrill rides for one. Are these artificially induced ways to get an adrenaline rush "not compatible with rational action"? Horror movies? Video games? Of course not all gambling is rational - plenty of it isn't and lots of people gamble stupidly. There are better and worse games and casinos to gamble at (frankly, Vegas is getting worse, particularly for lower-level Strip players). But anyway, I don't know how you could allege that doing thrilling stuff somehow is not compatible with rational action. Getting on a thrill ride to have some adrenaline fun is not irrational. Trying to think rationally while this is going on doesn't work too well. Your mind is automatically constricting and excluding. In an emergency situation--and maybe in sports--you have pre-programmed yourself. The danger with "rational" gambling is gambling frenzy. That means going off; some go off big time, trying to get it back. Rational gambling is what Fred Smith did in Vegas to meet his Federal Express payroll. He won. He left. --Brant such is the story Gambling frenzy is certainly irrational. But you seem to presume that it is inevitable. I can assure you, it is not. Please remember that I actually do have a blackjack hobby and I'm doing a doctorate in a gambling-related field. Gambling is NOT synonymous with 'problem gambling' or 'gambling addiction' or 'stupid gambling.'
  15. True, Poker is not a house game. You play against other players, not the casino. But gambling in Vegas is more rational (in terms of overall expected loss versus possible return). Take the amount you're betting (your total betting volume, i.e. stake * house margin for the game/s you're playing), and that's your expected loss. Balance that against the value of comps (typically you get 40% of what the casino assumes to be your expected loss (basically they estimate higher than the mathematical house edge to take into account very few people play in a statistically perfect fashion) back in room/food discounts so that ALREADY lowers your expected loss by 40%), the pleasure of the entertainment (which includes more than just the game... it includes the social experience and the atmosphere of the casino), etcetera. After you do that, gambling is pretty cheap entertainment in the long run, presuming you play the right games in a statistically optimal fashion. In the short run there will be variance - big losses and big wins - but statistically speaking, you won't lose much overall. Indeed, if you play good games of blackjack with correct basic strategy, you'll effectively be getting free entertainment (a typical Vegas casino will estimate an expected loss of 0.7% of your total betting volume - 40% of this casino-expected loss works out roughly to the house margin of a good-rules Blackjack game). There are safer ways to get a thrill than skydiving. Rollercoasters and thrill rides for one. Are these artificially induced ways to get an adrenaline rush "not compatible with rational action"? Horror movies? Video games? Of course not all gambling is rational - plenty of it isn't and lots of people gamble stupidly. There are better and worse games and casinos to gamble at (frankly, Vegas is getting worse, particularly for lower-level Strip players). But anyway, I don't know how you could allege that doing thrilling stuff somehow is not compatible with rational action.