studiodekadent

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About studiodekadent

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  • Birthday 09/25/1986

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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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    Icon of Coil, Front Line Assembly, :Wumpscut:, [:SITD:], VNV Nation, Velvet Acid Christ, Suicide Commando, Grendel, Orgy (circa Vapor Transmission), Marilyn Manson (circa Mechanical Animals), Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, Front 242, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Apoptygma Berzerk, Covenant, Assemblage 23, Decoded Feedback, Julien-K, New Order, The Kovenant
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    Brisbane, Australia
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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. Indeed. If something offends the Moral Guardians (of either side of the spectrum), you know its going to be good.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.'
  5. 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.
  6. Korben, You're asking about two interrelated questions; first, the morality of gambling and second, the moral implications of (fiscally) supporting a government program. With gambling, I think MSK is correct. You're entering into a game of chance where the conditions are specified beforehand. Its a contract. You've earned the result of the contract. If you think "earning by luck" is not really earning, that sounds to me like an acceptance of the Labor Theory of Value... which has been rejected by economists ever since the Marginalist Revolution. Whilst moral value is a rationally-assessable thing, ECONOMIC value is and intersubjective matter. We're Objectivists. We're not Calvinists or Marxists. We don't think physical toil is the source of wealth nor do we believe it has an intrinsic worth. As for the issue of supporting a government program, you do have a point there. But in modern societies, governments have a finger in every pie. Consumption or sales taxes make it impossible to get some milk at the grocery store without supporting a government program. Income taxes make it impossible to earn a living without giving money to the government. Yes, entering a lottery is voluntary but so is getting a job. Where I WILL critique the lottery is in odds of winning. Frankly the lottery is one of the worst forms of gambling (measured in terms of house margin). Casino blackjack is far better in terms of expected loss (trust me, I'm a Platinum member at the MGM casinos in Vegas), but the Lotto has a lot more variance. So a small entry can IN THEORY result in an incredible win. But over the long run, the lottery is far worse gambling. Honestly, a token entry into occasional lotteries is hardly a sacrifice and does have a slim possibility of changing or at least improving your life. I wouldn't regard occasional lottery entry as a problem morally. I mean, if you can easily afford it and its a big jackpot and you don't have to make any sacrifices to make an entry? Sure, nothing wrong with it. Gambling is not a sin. Objectivists aren't puritans.
  7. I would think economics from what I know. Hell, anything he tackles will know it. Adam is correct, I will be doing my PhD in Economics. Thank you Michael, Adam and Brant for the well-wishes!
  8. I know I haven't been around very often. My apologies. I wanted to update everyone and say I'll be commencing a PhD program early next year. I still check in here from time to time so feel free to send PMs or email me. -Andrew
  9. This is a difficult subject because a lot of "evil" villains are simply not very believable. Platonic avatars of Evil... Satan-archetypes... characters who are evil-for-the-sake-of-evil... are impossible to really get. They're impossible to comprehend. This is because human beings deliberately try to act in a way that's good. The difference is that we have radically different views of what counts as "good." ISIS believe themselves to be fighting on the side of good, after all. Even though they are obviously evil, their version of Islam enshrines them as good. It is against human nature to act in a way one sincerely believes to be evil. People can absolutely act in ways which are in-fact evil, but they do so because they believe it may be the lesser of evils, or that it is actually good. I know we all have a lowish opinion of Kant, but Kant described this idea of actors who knowingly embrace evil as the "diabolical will" and he argued it did not exist. For all of Kant's mistakes, he wasn't wrong on that. Hitler may have been evil, but he BELIEVED he was good. And frankly, that makes Hitler scarier. Do you think fundamentalists or the like believe themselves to be evil? I believe H L Mencken said that the worst tyranny is the tyranny driven by good intentions. Belief that one is good and that one is right can provide a psychological license to commit evil. The road to hell is paved in good intentions. So I find it difficult to discuss the idea of the "most evil" fictional villain. Are we talking about actual evil or cartoony evil? Then there's the issue of mental disorders and the like; if these conditions are neurological, then it becomes harder to describe them as "evil." Fictional characters who are "pure evil" are impossible to relate to, impossible to understand. They don't have a motivation which makes sense to anyone. Desire for money is understandable. Desire for revenge is understandable. Even the idea that existence is suffering and therefore the destruction of existence is a good thing is understandable (because everyone wants to avoid suffering). So does this topic want the most "evil" villains? Or the most effective villains (i.e. the best villains)?
  10. We all know of the event by now. A true tragedy. And no, I'm not presently interested in levelheaded discussion. I'm interested in sorrow-drowning. My recommendation to all OL members is to drink a whole bottle of Champagne (real champagne of course) whilst listening to anti-Islamic death metal (there's tons on youtube... a good example is this song here: ). Eat some pork rinds as well, just to round out the "haram" trifecta. Vive Le France. Je Suis Charlie. Obama's speech wasn't absolutely perfect in terms of what it DIDN'T say (i.e. he didn't explicitly name Islamic fundamentalism) but it was on-the-money in terms of what it DID say. The psychos attacked many different communities, including the metal community. This, I think, will be a turning point; counterculturalists will start hating fundamentalist Islam as much as they hate fundamentalist Christianity. And I consider this a positive development. Let us raise our 'horns' (you know the hand gesture) in solidarity with the murdered metalheads. Only in a free society can counterculture flourish. Please, for great justice... listen to anti-God music. Let us reward artists who attack the Abrahamic delusion. And not JUST its Christian variant.
  11. Pekka, This isn't an orthodox Objectivist forum but as a non-orthodox Objectivist, I'm glad to see you here. Welcome.
  12. I contest your presumption that the "original idea" was that "God does not make gay people." Indeed, the mere concept of sexual orientation is pretty new - there's no mention of it in the Bible or in any Hellenic philosophy. The idea that there are "innately" heterosexual or homosexual people seems to be a product of post-Freudian psychology. From what I know, the "original idea" is that anyone could engage in sexual activity (or at least "activities which we'd probably describe as sexual") with members of either sex. Viking conquerors raping male prisoners, Greek pederasty (intercrural sex was the only accepted kind of sex but still), Greeks and Romans anally raping male slaves (completely permitted), these are all 'sexual' acts going by modern standards. And yet a free man could rape his male slave in the butt and that didn't impugn his manhood or bring his sexual practice into social disrepute. A viking warrior could rape a male monk he captured and he could still go back home to his wife and shag her. "Gay" and "Straight" - the idea that someone is innately predisposed to exclusively sexually desire members of the same or the opposite sex, is absent from the historical record. I've heard that only 1% of people are actually born with the gay gene, but there is a psychological reason people become gay. I have no idea if that is true. Personal opinion? Its a mix of factors. No one has found a biological factor that 100% results in homosexuality. But we've found several biological correlates, from genetic ones to the Fraternal Birth Order Effect. Plus, frankly, I know a lot of gay (or mostly-gay) men who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse. In my opinion this doesn't damage the case for gay rights. Gay rights is a product of the fact that consensual sex between members of the same sex doesn't violate anyone's rights, and therefore the "reason" they want to screw members of the same sex is irrelevant. But the point I am making is that IMO, both nature and nurture seem to contribute to sexual preference. Very true. That said, I would go so far to say that even IF it were a choice, that wouldn't make any sexual preference immoral. There's no moral duty to reproduce, and not everyone wants a family.
  13. And here I was thinking there would be some substantial commentary... First, to Brant, accusing me of being a Randroid is both offensive and patently false. I've freely stated my disagreements with Rand. I am not some fundamentalist and I think Peikoff is a douche. Second, also to Brant, I stated that the attitude of the film smacked of (amongst other things) Social Democracy, which isn't Marxism (it is founded on a similar moral belief system but a Social Democracy is effectively a regulated mixed economy with significant wealth redistribution). Marxism requires collective ownership of the means of production and the abolition of profit; this is far more extreme than Social Democracy. Social Democracy is arguably an economically Fascist ideology. Now, this is hardly the opposite of Marxism and philosophically it is closer to Marxism than it is to Enlightenment Individualism, but it would be a substantial overstatement and mischaracterization to treat the two ideologies identically. Also, Social Democrats may not be socially liberal (by which I mean socially laissez-faire) but they aren't social totalitarians either, which is more than we can say for Marxists or Fascists. But the social democracy really isn't the primary aspect; it was more a general smug European attitude towards Americans and American society in general. Social democracy (versus the US's somewhat less controlled economy... which is still social democratic in some respects) is a portion of this, but not ALL of it. Its a component part. Finally, to Greg, So, no deep discussion or commentary? Calling the film "leftist crap slinging" is a bit of an exaggeration, because many of the things thematically mocked by the film are bad by classically liberal standards. Bush-era foreign policy was terrible (on the moral, political and fiscal levels), waterboarding and "enhanced interrogation methods" were atrocious, jingoism is dangerous-as-fuck, and the US really does have substantial problems within the criminal justice system (particularly within California). Where the film went wrong is in portraying these things as inherently American, innate to the American Experiment, rather than savage betrayals of American principles (which is what they in fact are). But look, one annoying theme doesn't destroy the entertainment value of the film (I would say the same about Pacific Rim, which was entertaining in spite of the fact the main theme was massively collectivist (thankfully there was a subplot with a resoundingly individualist theme as well)). At least if one isn't averse to shock humor, this film is still entertaining.
  14. LOL! Going by how so many self-proclaimed "artists" tend to act these days, I think that diagram has quite a degree of empirical truth.
  15. Thank you Tony, and I agree; genuine empathy proceeds from understanding which proceeds from rationality. Reason is not empathy's enemy but its enabler. I agree entirely. The "empathists" as you describe them are very fickle in who receives their empathy, and often when they demand empathy they want empathy FOR THEM and are not very good at being empathetic towards others.