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Showing content with the highest reputation since 07/09/2009 in Posts

  1. 4 points
    He's a child or else a very young adult. The graphic is General Iroh from Avatar: the Last Airbender an anime series that ran from 2005-2008 and is still popular today. The hand gesture Iroh is making is likely part of a kata as he often imparted wisdom to his grandson while they trained together. My 15-year-old and I loved that series and quote from it on a semi-regular basis. The very next line after the graphic, our mystery poster says, "So here I am, trying to draw wisdom from a new source." I read him in the same way I would have read my teenage son - more mature and smarter than average, but an awkward communicator and not sure how to convey that he wants to learn something while maintaining that he knows everything. You know, like a kid would do. Your experience, MSK, led you to read him differently, and you'll get no judgment from me on that, neither in my response to the poster nor in this response to you. However, I was compelled to answer honestly his honest inquiry. No, I did not get the same impression of him as others did.
  2. 4 points
    INTRODUCTORY NOTE: Wow, I haven't posted here in a long time. Unfortunately I've been preoccupied with working on my PhD. Another point I want to make is that, unfortunately, I've been finding that many conversations in the Objecto-sphere have become rather monotonous and rarely are new ideas or new topics being addressed, and thus the discussion has become less interesting for me in recent years. I'm still an Objectivist, I just haven't seen too much novelty in the Objectivist world, which is another reason I've been less than present on this forum. However, I am back with an article I wrote. I couldn't get it published at more general libertarian-outreach-activism places so I thought here would be a good choice. All comments are appreciated! NANCY MACLEAN, LIBERTARIANS AND AUTISM Introduction Criticism of Duke University history professor Nancy MacLean has become a cottage industry ever since she published her demented smear job against Public Choice Theory "Democracy In Chains." Indeed, MacLean's work is full of absurd distortions, misrepresentative quoting, and obvious untruths. Her entire thesis is that Public Choice Theory is racist; frankly I wonder if Nancy is attempting to continue Duke University's proud tradition of racially charged false accusations. Public choice scholars and economists like Michael Munger (see http://www.independent.org/issues/article.asp?id=9115 ) and Steven Horwitz (see https://www.cato.org/cato-journal/fall-2017/democracy-chains-deep-history-radical-rights-stealth-plan-america-nancy ) have done an admirable job in effectively shredding MacLean's thesis, but MacLean knew, just like Mike Nifong and Crystal Mangum, that women's tears are almost always believed and as such she decided to play victim (https://www.chronicle.com/article/Nancy-MacLean-Responds-to-Her/240699). It is no surprise Oprah shilled her book; I'm sure that soon enough Lifetime will be producing a telemovie about the trauma she suffered at being critiqued. But the point of this article isn't to channel my inner Christopher Hitchens and say nasty things about MacLean's screed. Plenty of far better commentators have done this. Rather, I am going to make a qualified defense of something she did say whilst criticizing what she seemed to be attempting to imply with what she said. We all know how utterly frustrating it is when people deal with their political enemies through the use of diagnosis as a substitute for dialectic. The Soviet Union took this to its logical extreme through claiming that political dissidents were mentally ill, because clearly no sane person could disagree with Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism; more recent entries in this category include the so-called "Republican Brain Hypothesis" (see https://www.abbeys.com.au/book/republican-brain-the-science-of-why-they-deny-science-and-reality.do ) that was proposed during the culture wars against the Religious Right during the George W. Bush administration. MacLean decided to add to this genre of political pseudoargument through arguing that there is indeed a libertarian brain, and that libertarian brain is characterized by being on the autism spectrum (see https://reason.com/blog/2018/02/13/democracy-in-chains-author-nancy-maclean/print ). Katherine Timpf at National Review fumed (https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/02/nancy-maclean-libertarians-seem-autism-spectrum/). Like several other critics pointed out (see https://psmag.com/news/on-libertarians-autism-and-empathy and https://anintenseworld.com/2018/02/10/duke-historian-nancy-maclean-identifies-autism-as-the-source-of-a-malevolent-ideology/ ), MacLean's understanding of autism primarily in terms of lacking empathy and not feeling solidarity with others is based on an outdated portrait of being on the autistic spectrum rooted primarily in the "Mind Blindness" concept of Simon Baron-Cohen; more recent research has greatly questioned whether "Mind Blindness" is a correct portrait in the first place. But so far, the responses to MacLean have focused on the fact she equates libertarianism with a lack of empathy and solidarity with others, and the fact that she equates being on the autistic spectrum with lacking said empathy and solidarity. These are all valid critiques to make of her position, but so far there has been little attempt to wrestle with the question of whether or not MacLean is correct that there might be a link between libertarianism and being on the autistic spectrum. Not only that, but no one to my knowledge has questioned the unstated premise of MacLean's argument, which is that libertarian economics (and Public Choice in particular) is wrong because the brains which formulated these economics are arguably on the autistic spectrum. MacLean's argument is simply not an argument unless one accepts that having autism or Asperger's Syndrome introduces systematic error into one's economic reasoning. Indeed, for MacLean to be correct, having a brain that is positively drenched in "empathy" and "solidarity with others" is necessary to be a good economist. My argument is simple; yes, it is in fact likely that libertarians are disproportionately likely to be either on the austistic spectrum or have subclinical levels of symptoms typically thought of as indicating Asperger's Syndrome. Libertarian thought and philosophy often is characterized by the kind of cognitive style which, in its extreme form, is characteristic of austists and in particular the high-functioning autists commonly described as having Asperger's Syndrome. This is where MacLean is right. However, the implication that this kind of cognitive style makes you bad at doing economics is precisely the opposite of the truth. Indeed, having a degree of autistic symptoms can plausibly be thought of as an advantage for an economist, and that it is the caring-feeling-empathy-solidarity normie-brain which could represent a disadvantage for someone trying to perform economic analysis. On a personal note, I am not just a libertarian with Bachelors and Masters degrees in economics (and in the process of working on a Doctorate in the field), but I also have Asperger's Syndrome. Nancy MacLean's statements therefore constitute an allegation that my very brain is less capable at economic reasoning than it would be if I were neurotypical (i.e. not someone with Asperger's Syndrome). Of course, one must wonder why I would develop an interest in and devote substantial amounts of time and effort to the field of economics if I were mentally impaired at comprehending it! 1. Libertarians: More 'spergy Than Average How someone thinks, their "cognitive style" or what Ayn Rand called their "psycho-epistemology," is partially determined by biology. Of course anyone of any neurology can grasp that 2 + 2 = 4, but research has shown that the biology of the brain influences how people think. Dr. Helen Fisher, for example, researches how brain chemistry impacts things like people's love life and people's politics (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lOPtTbFCMY ). Neurobiology has political correlates, as Fisher points out; she characterizes libertarians as having brains highly influenced by natal testosterone. Jonathan Haidt and several co-researchers also, in a study of libertarian morality, point out that biological factors can predispose one (albeit often indirectly) to different political ideologies (see http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0042366&type=printable ). An interesting thing which Haidt et al. point out is that libertarians rely on reason more, and emotion less, than leftists or conservatives; this is tested using Simon Baron-Cohen's Empathizer-Systemizer scale (see p12-13). This scale is interesting in that it is linked both to being on the autism spectrum and also gender; "libertarians score the lowest of any group on empathizing, and the highest on systemizing. In fact, libertarians are the only group that scored higher on systemizing than empathizing... relatively high systemizing and low empathizing scores are characteristic of the male brain, with very extreme scores indicating autism. We might say that liberals have the most 'feminine' cognitive style, and libertarians the most 'masculine'" (p13). In spite of Baron-Cohen's contested contention that people on the autism spectrum are less capable of empathy, the point remains that there is clearly correspondence between Haidt, Fisher and Baron-Cohen here; persons whom are on the autism spectrum can be described as having an atypically "masculinized" (i.e. shaped by prenatal testosterone) brain. Libertarians (on average) have brains which are more testosterone-influenced than the general population. It stands to reason, therefore, that brains-predisposed-to-libertarianism are more likely to also either be on the autistic spectrum or at least have more autistic-spectrum-traits than the average brain. This also provides a theoretical explanation for why libertarian communities are disproportionately male; strongly masculinized brain development is more likely to happen to natally male individuals. This "systemizer-brain" orientation is evidenced all over libertarian culture, as evidenced by the emphasis we tend to place on logical consistency and reason in general (to the point where our biggest magazine is literally named Reason). As Ayn Rand made clear, she was not primarily an advocate of markets, liberty and egoism, but rather of reason, and if one embraced reason all the rest would follow; agree or disagree with Rand as much as you like, but she serves as evidence of how libertarianism has deep cognitive roots. The fact that libertarian advocacy is ultimately rooted in the Enlightenment, which championed human reason, is further evidence of this. Whilst the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has fallen out of favor with academic psychology research, I distinctly remember discussions in libertarian communities about how libertarians are about 80% xNTx (it is even more extreme amongst Randians/Objectivists, whom are about 85% xNTx and particularly biased towards INTx individuals; indeed MBTI enthusiasts often characterize Howard Roark as an INTP, and Rand herself as an INTJ); this is massively disproportionate relative to the general population, which is about 12% xNTx. The xNTx style of cognition is the "rational temperament" focused on thinking rather than feeling, and high level abstractions over immediate sensory information. To the extent that cognitive style is biological, the implications are depressing for libertarians. The libertarian mindset is strongly correlated with a brain that is heavily influenced by prenatal testosterone, moreso than the average brain. Libertarianism appeals to an atypical style of mind, one that is likely to exhibit more characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome or the autism spectrum generally; libertarianism appeals to a mind which is more emotionally detached, more introverted, more abstract, and less invested in social relationships than the norm (Haidt et al.'s paper substantiates this; libertarians are less likely to define or describe themselves in terms of their relationships to other people). This is consistent with the fact that libertarianism is not a mass movement, and implies that most people will find libertarianism counterintuitive at least initially. 2. Good Economics Is Counterintuitive Too It has been noticed by many that even very mainstream economics requires thinking that goes "against the grain." As Bryan Caplan demonstrated in The Myth of the Rational Voter, the average American diverges substantially from the economic beliefs of the average economist, and diverges in systematic and predictable ways (in particular, the average American is less pro-market than the average economist). The economists in the survey are a general cross-section of economists, and not "just the staff of the Cato Institute," so it cannot be claimed that there is bias in the selection of experts; the experts are consistently to the economic 'right' (if by 'right wing' one means pro-market) of the average American citizen. Even economists generally associated with the left, such as Paul Krugman, are surprisingly pro-market relative to the average (Krugman, for example, is more pro-free-trade than Steve Bannon). Not all libertarians are economists and not all economists are libertarians, but the presence of libertarians within economics is unquestionably disproportionate relative to the general population. The point to emphasize, however, is that according to the experts, average people are (on average) systematically wrong about the benefits of markets. Caplan notices that even first year economics students come into the classroom bearing the imprints of multiple economic errors which need to be eliminated from their thought. In other words, even non-controversial neoclassical economics goes against the intellectual grain for many, many people. This should not be a surprise. After all, economics is the field that suggests (and this is anything but a controversial argument in economics) people who act selfishly in the commercial realm will make life better for other people alongside themselves; this is hardly the first thing that comes to the mind of most people when they're asked to picture a "selfish" person. Rather, they imagine some bloodsucking brute, not the local shopkeeper. Many people who run various local governments believe that rent control is still a good policy, even if it is literally textbook bad economics. Many people believe that cheap goods from overseas somehow are "exploitation." Many people don't grasp the fundamental insight that voluntary trade where parties have all the relevant information will always make both parties better off by definition. Even non-controversial, non-extreme, standard-issue economic reasoning does not come naturally to most people. Economists in general, not merely libertarian economists, don't think typically. This does not mean all economists have Asperger's Syndrome (economic reasoning can be taught, after all); it means that economic reasoning has to fight an uphill battle against the conventional mindset. 3. Neurology And Systematic Error What I have shown is that libertarians are defined by a cognitive style which overlaps neurologically with certain symptoms of being on the autism spectrum. This is what Nancy McLean is correct about. I have also shown that economists in general (across the political spectrum) are more pro-market than average people, so the "norm" (which presumably includes and is defined by the majority of neurotypical persons) is systematically wrong. What I have not shown yet is that the characteristics of the neurotypical cognitive style (higher levels of empathizing than systemizing, "solidarity with other people" as MacLean claims, that kind of thing) can systematically bias someone towards incorrect economic conclusions. This is what I will now attempt to do. I should clarify that I do not intend to claim someone must have Asperger's Syndrome or substantial levels of autistic-spectrum-traits in order to be a good economist; economic reasoning is a skill which can be taught. All I am claiming is that having at least some level of autistic-spectrum-traits helps avoid systematic error. The first argument that needs to be made is that economics, as a field, is focused entirely on systemizing and has literally no room for empathizing. In economics, society and individuals are dealt with impersonally, as either collections of logical rules or utility functions or value-scales. Every person is merely one item in a far larger picture. Economists think in terms of optimizing systems, not caring for particular individuals (this does not mean they do not care, merely that this isn't the focus of economics). Standard-issue general equilibrium economics is built from mathematical models borrowed from field theory in physics. Individual happiness is just a matter of "utility" - a simple quantity of pleasure/satisfaction. The economy is invariably conceptualized as a system... be it a physical system, a biological system, a network, a machine, but it is still a system. Not only that, but economists are addressing one of the most painful and difficult facets of the human condition - specifically poverty - and how to ameliorate it. We have to deal with difficult tradeoffs that may sacrifice ten lives to save twenty five other lives. This simply is not a field suited to mindsets that focus on things like "feelings" and "empathy" and "solidarity" and "caretaking" and the other things which Nancy MacLean associates with the neurotypical mindset; it is a field which requires cold calculation, and often literal calculation since at times economics is like physics or mathematics. In this situation, a systemizing-oriented brain is exactly what one wants to have solving the problems. It is easier to speak of temporary frictional unemployment than to be confronted with the day-to-day minutiae of someone without any marketable skills trying to secure a job interview. A second, and in my opinion stronger, argument could be made however. Let us look at several "textbook bad economics" policies. How are these policies sold to the polity? How are they justified? Rent control is a fantastic example: "to ensure affordable housing for the poor." The motive here is compassion, solidarity, empathy, a concern for the plight of the poor. And it isn't controversial to say it doesn't work. Welfare states are consistently justified in terms of compassion for the suffering and solidarity between human beings. But, pray tell, why are these welfare states almost always full of massive bureaucracies rather than policies which handle welfare through simple income transfers (for example via a negative income tax or basic income guarantee)? Given the many problems and flaws that bureaucracy and its associated incentives have, one would think that a genuine motive of compassion doesn't necessarily mean one will pick the least costly, most effective means of being compassionate. Of course some environmental protections are easily defensible on the basis of economic reasoning. But what about environmentalist attacks on genetically modified organisms (a proven-safe technology) or nuclear power (which is incredibly safe and efficient if modern technology is used)? Environmentalists consistently appeal to the emotions, to empathizing, to feelings and fluffiness in their campaigns to cast GMOs as "impure" and all nuclear power plants as Chernobyls-In-Waiting. Nordhaus and Schellenberger, both economists, campaign (through their think-tank the Breakthrough Institute, see https://thebreakthrough.org/about/mission/ ) for technological solutions to environmental problems, yet the environmental establishment still demands wind, solar, organic and biodynamic (the latter of which is based on a semi-spiritual framework rather than a purely scientific one). Environmentalism appeals to compassion, feelings, oneness with the earth and all of that emotionalistic illogical bilge, yet consistently avoids the policy proposals actual economists can demonstrate would be effective means to environmentalists' declared ends. Let us also look at the monster example: socialism. Socialism was motivated in many cases by compassion for the poor, by the desire to reduce poverty, by the desire to spread prosperity as widely as possible. Every attempt to try it failed miserably, and to the extent that any socialist system worked it only worked to the extent it preserved property rights and market incentives (for example Titoism, which avoided famine, yet did so through preserving property rights over farmland). It strikes some as counterintuitive to suggest that letting people keep things for themselves (i.e. property rights) can result in a larger and broader distribution of goods than forcibly taking those goods and collectivizing ownership, but the historical record makes it clear that property rights and markets are essential conditions to wide-scale prosperity. Again, not even left-leaning economists contest this; the Economic Calculation Problem is a fact, which is why contemporary economists on the left are Social Democrats rather than old-school Socialists. There is a systematic pattern; advocacy of bad economics is constantly rooted in the same motives Nancy MacLean accuses libertarians and persons on the autistic spectrum as lacking. Compassion and solidarity and empathy are certainly positive traits, yet they seem to be the driving force behind some atrociously bad policy preferences. This certainly doesn't mean that good intentions always result in bad policy, but it suggests a possible theory that I will summarize as follows: "Neurotypical drives towards compassion, empathy, solidarity and other associated feelsy-niceness override rational consideration of what means are actually effective at generating the desired positive outcomes. Because people with at least some level of austistic-spectrum-traits can detach themselves from the compulsive cries of 'feelings' more easily, they may be better judges of what is practically effective." Conclusion Nancy MacLean's book on Public Choice is frankly so bad the only use I can see for it is toilet paper, even though I generally prefer pages of Abrahamic religious texts for that particular purpose. However, she isn't wrong to suggest libertarians may be more likely to have Asperger's Syndrome or at least an atypically high level of autistic-spectrum-traits relative to the general population. But that doesn't make us wrong about the economics. Indeed, the opposite is likely to be true. Highly empathizing brains without much systemizing capability are not the brains you want to have evaluating different economic policies. Frankly awful economics is typically justified on the basis of empathetic, caring, emotionalistic rationales. The more people feel and the less people think (i.e. the more they empathize and the less they systemize), the worse their economic reasoning gets. Even by the relatively moderate (compared to libertarians) standards of the economics profession, the general population is deeply misguided about economic fact. Neurotypical cognitive biases towards "solidarity" and "empathy" can lead away from economic truth, not towards it. Even non-libertarian economists use cold, impersonal reasoning to justify intervention rather than appeals to emotion and fluffy-wuffy-snuggliness. Good economics goes against every instinct of the neurotypical brain, which is why it is so counterintuitive and so many prejudices need to be weeded out. Libertarians, on the other hand, are disproportionately likely to have the kind of brain able to overcome these cognitive biases and see where the policy which appeals to "empathy" and "solidarity" will be counterproductive to these ends. This overlaps (although is not identical) with the kind of brain that is often described as "on the autism spectrum" and in particular the higher functioning regions thereof. Whilst MacLean is justified in suspecting a lot of us are "on the spectrum" at least to some degree, her implication that this is a reason to dismiss libertarian economics is arguably the opposite of the truth.
  3. 4 points
    Greetings all, This will be my first and only post on OL. Ted lead a compartmentalized and complicated life. My being here has crossed a circle that he kept private. At one extreme, he was a loving Uncle, excited to share all the joys of life with his nephews and niece. At the other, he could be bitter and angry, throwing darts at targets that may not have been the intended recipients, but were instead opportunistic proxies for an unknown true target. He suffered with demons that I hope have lost their grip now that his spirit has departed this plane. I will not dwell on the sorrow of it all. Rather, in true "Ted" fashion, I will share that which made Ted happy. Simply put, Ted loved books. He read more than anyone I know and if the local library were a for-profit business, they'd have lost money on him. His interests spanned everything from proto-indo-European trees to Heinlein, Thomas Aquinas, and Uralic languages. Just prior to his passing he was learning American Sign Language. He shared his love of books with my children, his nephews and niece. Upon his passing, the kids donated money to the library and asked that they purchase books on snakes, rocks, mythology, languages, science fiction, Doctor Who, and Ayn Rand. Ted loved the woods and found great joy in collecting remnants of deer and other creatures and teaching the kids to bleach the bones. I now have a collection that looks like something out of a natural history museum. Ted loved rocks (especially geodes) pecan pie, old movies, and building couch forts. He had a vast and encyclopedic collection of music. He loved a good joke, like the time he would hold telemarketers on the line and tell them off in Russian. He loved his own past, learning about his Carpatho-Rusyn heritage. Ted enjoyed unconventional horticulture, nursing poinsettias between seasons and propagating opuntia from the dunes of NJ (I now have some in my garden). He loved to argue. He loved Legos. Ted loved the Szechuan Garlic Chicken at our favorite Chinese Restaurant and following it up with a Hacker-Pschorr. May this parting bit hopefully bring a smile...He was buried with a copy of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology minus a few pages from which the kids crafted origami boats and sent off some honorary ashes downstream where he often wandered. - With Love, Ted's Sister.
  4. 3 points
    Lo and behold, just days after Berman's being taken out, SDNY's case against Jeffrey Epstein's child victim procurer Ghislaine Maxwell finally proceeds after having been sat on for years. https://jonathanturley.org/2020/07/02/epstein-confidante-maxwell-arrested-in-new-hampshire/
  5. 3 points
    And Gates. And WHO. And everyone else involved in the scheme. I'm very angry about the deaths from this "dastardly plot." I'm thinking of those who died as war casualties. Ellen
  6. 3 points
    The pandemics in 1957 and then again in 1968 killed roughly 100k Americans each, they were influenza viruses , I don't know of any societal wide reactions that match this one. Did we flatten a curve ? Or do curves just do what curves do? It doesn't seem like lockdowns did much other than economic damage. I mean pandemics suck , but yeah they suck. Hurricanes suck too . ? It's starting to really feel like we've been played , no ?
  7. 3 points
    Classic Objectivism absolutely opposes anti-trust. What wasn't addressed back then was State charted, created, sponsored corporations. There are 50 States. Where is there the room for public corporations in the ideologic rubric of libertarianism/Objectivism or in Randianism, if you will? Basically corporations are facets of economic fascism written large by today's social media. Hit them with anti-trust as a necessary stopgap. --Brant
  8. 3 points
    The single greatest advance in medicine was the germ theory of disease. It's precursor was smallpox vaccination. There is no handling flu with vaccine, just the pretense, but the pretense is a horse to ride into good doing the world. I'd never get a flu shot. The virus mutates too much too quickly. Money is a road to power. These money men, ironically, are being controlled and used by people who live in all ways high on the hogs. They aren't after a virus, but you and me through nation state destruction and globalization. Above all they must all belong to the same fraternity. If Bill Gates were a true hero he'd go after malaria with DDT advocacy. --Brant
  9. 3 points
    Michael, Ghate is not stupid, true. What's been irritating to me is that while ARI authors show their expertise when they mostly stick with pure Objectivist theories, and finding new ways to re-present them - they are singularly poor at applying theory to reality (or, as you say, applying reality to the ideas, rationalistically). And to top it off, prescribing their own judgments to other O'ists with Randian authority. Surely: Identify the entire situation as it is as a conceptual whole. While also keeping high standards in mind, not what it ~should be~ in an imagined, future perfect world. Where's context? What is the hierarchy of values here? Do actions and positive results matter less than airy words, style or sweet delivery? (Kant's - the noble intention, above all - comes to mind) What is the moral character emerging under pressure (and not the conventionally conformist 'character' - the public and media persona) of the actor(s)? This is after all, raw politics, and as it's been turning out, at its low-down dirtiest, anyone in and out of the US can see. One sees a sort of naivete when ARI Objectivists, going back to Peikoff, come down to the real world, so I'm not so certain there're other motives like financial gain/power involved. Maybe. But they do sound sincere. Perhaps it is all about making Objectivism "relevant". When you've ( I think it was Elan Journo, also generally a good thinker) predicted "a Trump dictatorship" - when hardly had he entered Office - and you now see you were wrong, damn, have the grace to admit your bad judgment and personal dislike in another article.
  10. 3 points
    There's an overwhelming over-abundance of more than enough information. And that's just in any single frame of the video. Consider all of the content of all of the frames, and there are multiple, layered, redundant means of determining whether or not any entity, attribute, action or effect seen in any frame conforms to reality. The space, the objects within it, and the motions are all precisely measurable. Then add all of the visual information from other cameras at other vantage points... Each participant on this thread who has commented on the visual evidence is right about some things, yet wrong about others. The issue is not that the visual evidence is insufficient, but that none of you has the technical knowledge to be making any conclusions, or to be dismissing anyone else's observations or concerns, or to be throwing accusations of kookiness or conspiracy theorizing at anyone who thinks that something in a photo looks a bit odd. J
  11. 3 points
    https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-milkyway-over-beaverhill-county-jestephotography-ltd.html Something a lil different than my Wildlife photography. Nikon Z7 mirrorless with a Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 Art series lens for Astrophotography.
  12. 3 points
    Ted (in) Lieu (of fill in the blank) pulled out his cell phone and on the Congressional record called Candace Owens a ****er lover. I saw it !
  13. 3 points
    William, rumors of Bill Dwyer's demise have been greatly exaggerated! ;-) I don't know who Mary Ann is or was, but Bill is still going strong at age 78. Dennis
  14. 3 points
    And I'm not too proud to admit that I started leaning into the corners by the end of the second vid. J
  15. 3 points
    out of the mouths of , you know, what you call those very young uneducated beings...you know the quote, but under no circumstances could one call Jan Letendre a babe. However , that charming Billyboy has more class than nearly everyone we know, is indeed wisdom, and worth any amount of baked goods.
  16. 3 points
    Thanks for noticing, Max. It’s easy for me, to be honest. I don’t mind stupid, it doesn’t rub me the wrong way at all. It’s only when snippy gets added to stupid that I have to explode or walk away. I have, without any doubt, much more patience than most everyone here. I substitute taught elementary school for five years. Classroom teacher, gym, art, music, librarian, special needs - I filled every position in the district’s elementary schools except Principal. I raised two daughters from infancy, was the at-home parent and they’re getting (almost) straight As in high school now.
  17. 3 points
    “I'm a bit confused, so are you saying that the news about packages targeting the Obamas, Clintons, and others is fake news and a false flag? If so, then why does Trump say the packages exist?” Oh boy. Someone doesn’t even know what a false flag is.
  18. 3 points
    I don't want to talk about it. --Brant
  19. 3 points
    Amen to that. McCain-Feingold in particular, which led to the Citizens United case. As to the rest, all I wanted to establish was that he did "something more than getting captured and held prisoner of war for years", no matter how we project what his motives at the time were. He made a choice, and (hard to believe I'm about to type this) it was something comparable to John Galt advising his captors how to fix their torture machine.
  20. 3 points
    While I was no fan of McCain qua politician, and regard his prisoner-of-war heroism as misdirected, the story bears reviewing. This comes from David Foster Wallace's piece on McCain from 2000. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/david-foster-wallace-on-john-mccain-the-weasel-twelve-monkeys-and-the-shrub-194272/ But there’s something underneath politics in the way you have to hear McCain, something riveting and unSpinnable and true. It has to do with McCain’s military background and Vietnam combat and the five-plus years he spent in a North Vietnamese prison, mostly in solitary, in a box, getting tortured and starved. And the unbelievable honor and balls he showed there. It’s very easy to gloss over the POW thing, partly because we’ve all heard so much about it and partly because it’s so off-the-charts dramatic, like something in a movie instead of a man’s life. But it’s worth considering for a minute, because it’s what makes McCain’s “causes greater than self-interest” line easier to hear. You probably already know what happened. In October of ’67 McCain was himself still a Young Voter and flying his 23rd Vietnam combat mission and his A-4 Skyhawk plane got shot down over Hanoi and he had to eject, which basically means setting off an explosive charge that blows your seat out of the plane, which ejection broke both McCain’s arms and one leg and gave him a concussion and he started falling out of the skies right over Hanoi. Try to imagine for a second how much this would hurt and how scared you’d be, three limbs broken and falling toward the enemy capital you just tried to bomb. His chute opened late and he landed hard in a little lake in a park right in the middle of downtown Hanoi, Imagine treading water with broken arms and trying to pull the life vest’s toggle with your teeth as a crowd of Vietnamese men swim out toward you (there’s film of this, somebody had a home-movie camera, and the N.V. government released it, though it’s grainy and McCain’s face is hard to see). The crowd pulled him out and then just about killed him. U.S. bomber pilots were especially hated, for obvious reasons. McCain got bayoneted in the groin; a soldier broke his shoulder apart with a rifle butt. Plus by this time his right knee was bent 90-degrees to the side with the bone sticking out. Try to imagine this. He finally got tossed on a jeep and taken five blocks to the infamous Hoa Lo prison – a.k.a. the “Hanoi Hilton,” of much movie fame – where they made him beg a week for a doctor and finally set a couple of the fractures without anesthetic and let two other fractures and the groin wound (imagine: groin wound) stay like they were. Then they threw him in a cell. Try for a moment to feel this. All the media profiles talk about how McCain still can’t lift his arms over his head to comb his hair, which is true. But try to imagine it at the time, yourself in his place, because it’s important. Think about how diametrically opposed to your own self-interest getting knifed in the balls and having fractures set without painkiller would be, and then about getting thrown in a cell to just lie there and hurt, which is what happened. He was delirious with pain for weeks, and his weight dropped to 100 pounds, and the other POWs were sure he would die; and then after a few months like that after his bones mostly knitted and he could sort of stand up they brought him in to the prison commandant’s office and offered to let him go. This is true. They said he could just leave. They had found out that McCain’s father was one of the top-ranking naval officers in the U.S. Armed Forces (which is true – both his father and grandfather were admirals), and the North Vietnamese wanted the PR coup of mercifully releasing his son, the baby-killer. McCain, 100 pounds and barely able to stand, refused, The U.S. military’s Code of Conduct for Prisoners of War apparently said that POWs had to be released in the order they were captured, and there were others who’d been in Hoa Lo a long time, and McCain refused to violate the Code. The commandant, not pleased, right there in the office had guards break his ribs, rebreak his arm, knock his teeth out. McCain still refused to leave without the other POWs. And so then he spent four more years in Hoa Lo like this, much of the time in solitary, in the dark, in a closet-sized box called a “punishment cell.” Maybe you’ve heard all this before; it’s been in umpteen different media profiles of McCain. But try to imagine that moment between getting offered early release and turning it down. Try to imagine it was you. Imagine how loudly your most basic, primal self-interest would have cried out to you in that moment, and all the ways you could rationalize accepting the offer. Can you hear it? It so, would you have refused to go? You simply can’t know for sure. None of us can. It’s hard even to imagine the pain and fear in that moment, much less know how you’d react. But, see, we do know how this man reacted. That he chose to spend four more years there, in a dark box, alone, tapping code on the walls to the others, rather than violate a Code. Maybe he was nuts. But the point is that with McCain it feels like we know, for a proven fact, that he’s capable of devotion to something other, more, than his own self-interest. So that when he says the line in speeches in early February you can feel like maybe it isn’t just more candidate bullshit, that with this guy it’s maybe the truth. Or maybe both the truth and bullshit: the guy does – did – want your vote, after all.
  21. 3 points
    That's what it says at the top of the page. Your point? It's not like this thread has devolved into a medley of cat videos. Yet.
  22. 3 points
    I hope my posts get a lot of sads (from the anti-Trump bitches!)
  23. 2 points
    Q said years ago we would reach the day when they cannot safely appear in public. Welcome to that day.
  24. 2 points
    Jon, Here. I did a screenshot. Michael
  25. 2 points
    I find it a little ironic that on the one hand I advocate for a system where there would be little to no public property, state media, public utilities of any kind. Where all is privately owned, traded, rented, sold and used in the free market. Yet I almost am tempted to treat the various media service platforms as coming within the public sphere, I almost conflate their private with public good and their private action with government action...but reason brings me back from the brink. My only consolation is the double negative... that since we live in a mixed economy there no doubt is favouritism and cronyism which needs to be reined in by force of regulation.
  26. 2 points
    George hadn't a clue. Ellen
  27. 2 points
    The VICE statement gives strong (inverse) grounds for hope. Ellen
  28. 2 points
    Indeed. I may be skeptical about aspects of the story, but not the story itself.
  29. 2 points
    Methinks the pollsters are hoping to produce a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ellen
  30. 2 points
    Ghate may be as he says an "expert" on Rand's philosophy, but doesn't say we shouldn't have elected Trump. That would have let Clinton and the left and deep state out of the bag. Trump is a cultural warrior par excellent and we are in a cultural war. The left is being smashed in a way Rand could not, but she laid the intellectual foundations for Trump doing what he's doing. The left gave up all intellectual pretensions 50 years ago with the Vietnam War protests. They are power seekers and wielders and have always been so just below the now disintegrating surface. As for Rand despising Trump: well, you can despise the past, not a non-existent future. Ghate's just ad h-ing him with a Rand club. --Brant maybe post-Trump we can go back into the world (after making the sign of the dollar)
  31. 2 points
    So, after Bandler finally let the Holocaust denial flag fly one too many times and Linz banned him, SLOP sort of lay there basking in the sun like a fetid marsh stewing in its own juices until Linz's new Great White Hope, Bruno Turner, came along. They did podcasts and everything! The idea being that Yaron Brook is a lousy public speaker, so they'd produce something far better. The one I was able to watch any of began with Linz butchering Italian--I guess Linz decided that if Brook could butcher a beautiful language, then he'd butcher a beautiful language even more grotesquely. Anyway, some people, including, one gathers, regulars there, made comments sotta voce to Turner that he of course reported to Linz, like any good enforcer does: Bruno, we'll never go broke overestimating the number of craven cowards, cultists and lickspittles within OrgOism. That includes the very people right here you've just rightly called out on other threads for their uselessness and gutlessness. It includes the jellyfish who attacked me to you in secret Faecesbook societies when we started our series. (Seriously, who thought it wouldn't get back to Linz? Maybe that was their way of informing him his performance in the series was lacking, or maybe they thought Turner was a man of enough honor not to report something told to him in confidence? And who knows if Turner even reported their comments correctly?) So, Linz sicced his new enforcer on the denizens of his own swamp. Turner wrote (highlights given; I urge you to read the whole thing), One of her philosophy's most crucial points is complete and total atheism, as opposed to agnosticism. Given her rejection of God is in more than one place indicated as being based on "moral" grounds (i.e. her distaste), she in fact comes out to be a hater of God and anything that could possibly be above human beings. Her "ideal man" is in fact her god; in other words she is an idolater. Her idol is a fictional character of her imagination, and her philosophy is the attempt to change human nature to become such a being. To the extent her idol is a "light bringer" he is very close to being a satanic symbol. Rationality, which in its pure form can only be of God, as recognized by nearly all the major philosophers, is in her philosophy given place only within man. However, since a man can obviously never obtain pure rationality, because he is in fact a creature of dual nature - animal and rational being - he can never attain this ideal. Linz then indicated 100% agreement with the non-religious sections of this screed. Luke Setzer and Gregster then asked the obvious question whether Turner is a Christian, and being a forthright brave new intellectual in the Perigo mold, Turner ignored the actual question (a simple "yes" would have sufficed) and went on the attack: " You useless cucks, who contributed NOTHING to MOGA, can you argue with what I said?" After more back and forth with Turner posing as an independent thinker while considering it a valid argument to count up the number of previous thinkers who argued there must be a god (far from the only logical fallacy in his new patented SLOP Swampwater), Linz's camp follower Olivia replied: If the world of Objectivism actually bred “first hand” thinkers, the movement would be successful beyond words. Appallingly, it did not, hence the cultism... and the “Ayn Rand said... Ayn Rand said” squawking mentality which always relies on a written prescription from her on every single topic, for all time. Luke’s “anyone who rants this is clearly not an Objectivist” line is a classic example. Just like many Christians say “anyone who doesn’t believe such-in-such, is clearly not a Christian.” As a thinking human being, I have been influenced by many philosophers, writers and thinkers, but what sits well in my own conscience when everything gets weighed up in my own mind will be the motivating principle into actions or arguments. Again, the question of whether a site that claims to be Objectivist is still actually Objectivist in any meaningful sense is studiously ignored--can't have your cake if you eat it. Luke Setzer replied in part: Thanks for making it abundantly clear that this is no longer an Objectivist site. Y'all have fun. I will be sure to renew my monthly contributions to ARI this coming week despite my disagreements with them on immigration since they expose fine young people like this one to the philosophy. At least they are not prattling about how rotten are the foundations of Ayn Rand's thought while also praising the rationality of God and concurrently saying they want to MOGA, a hash of contradictions if ever I heard one. Indeed. (Though I would urge him not to contribute to ARI; among other reasons, his money would would mostly go to salaries.) No response to this has been posted yet; I doubt it will be particularly insightful, just Linz dismissing from his sight yet another of his former friends and admirers, with abuse piped in from the heroically posed enforcer and camp follower. This wouldn't be worth comment except for the fact that Linz calls his site Objectivist--it's in the damn name. One wishes he would show the independence of mind and heroic endeavor needed to finally create his alternate theory of Non-Sacrificism or Selfism or whatever other watered-down alternative to "selfishness" (which alienates people, doncha know, and a brave herioc individual can't have that!) he keeps claiming he is hatching. Please do, Linz--if it's as good as you claim it is, we'll all be the better, and if (as seems rather likelier) it's more SLOP Swampwater, then at least you will clarify what is currently as foggy as the modern world you so hate. But to do so, Linz would have to do at least two things: (1) Get off his lazy ass and actually produce something, and (2) assuming he were as honest as he claims, stop calling his site "Objectivist." A person who argues, as Linz does, that the body-soul dichotomy is in fact valid, that abortion should be banned once the fetus has a heartbeat, and that Rand was an unemotional Vulcan, among other things--why would he want to call himself an Objectivist? (The amusing part about her supposed lack of emotion is this complaint: "She had no idea of convivialism—with good food, good wine, good fellowship, good converstion—except in the entries in her journals when Roark, Dominique, Mallory and Mike got together after work. These are very brief, non-defining passages, alas." So basically, because she didn't have her protagonists get together after work for a cold one or two [I leave it to you to consider whether he is even correct here], and because she didn't make that a Leitmotiv of her fiction, then she was an unemotional Vulcan. In other words, she didn't include everything under the sun in her novels, regardless of whether they even pertained to the plot--that is, she actually was so much of an unemotional Vulcan as to exercise esthetic selectivity! A supposed Objectivist condemning Rand for not being a naturalist? That's some truly fetid SLOP Swampwater!) So, if Rand was so wrong on so many basic issues, if the coy theist enforcer and the studiously irrelevant camp follower are the only good ones of the bunch, why continue calling yourself Objectivist? That's obvious: It's the only branding the guy has. If he left off "Objectivism" and renamed his site more accurately as, say, "Emotionalist Spittle Duct," how many hits would he get in searches? None. He would fade even further into irrelevance. So, like any second-hander, he keeps the name while doing nothing to earn it and, indeed, doing his damnedest to undermine it for his admirers, but not forthrightly enough to save his integrity or, alas, lose his brand. He poses heroically as the great alternative to Rand, ready to correct all her mistakes and create something new and valuable and admirable, but in actual deed he just sits there holding court in an ever-diminishing salon, a bullfrog in a fetid swamp, damning the small channel of Objectivist water trickling into it through the occasional Google hit while making damn sure not to dam(n) it all off, because then his tiny corner of the world would all dry up and he wouldn't be able to market any more SLOP Swampwater. Second-handers are pitiful, Objectivist second-handers most of all.
  32. 2 points
    The Real Roots of the Internet and Social Media The following video from Corbett is quite an education. You can get the transcript and sources here: Episode 359 – The Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Big Tech Doesn’t Want You to Know If you want to know why the claim is bogus that big tech companies are private companies, therefore they should be able to freely censor whoever they please over political preference, take a look at this video. Would one ever make political preference a condition for civil service or joining the armed forces? Of course not. There is a fact that is becoming clearer and clearer to the public as time goes on. Big Tech is Big Government in the guise of private companies. But the big tech companies were and still are funded in great part by the government. And they never strayed from their real purpose, covert surveillance and influence of people in foreign lands--and ditto for American citizens. From that lens, a hell of a lot of mysterious happenings start making sense. Michael
  33. 2 points
    Several years ago I did some textual research into Anthem. The different editions you can buy (Caxton, Signet, etc.) contain many discrepancies - not to mention the Project Gutenberg version. I even went to the Library of Congress to inspect the galley proofs. My conclusion was that the 1946 edition is definitive, so that's the version I republished at my website for texts in the public domain. You can read more at http://monadnock.net/rand/anthem.html and http://monadnock.net/rand/anthem-notes.html if you're so inclined.
  34. 2 points
    We read the online Chicago papers for news and obits. Did a building collapse? We cried. We kept clicking on the OL link. We even looked for other sites. What happened we said. Sigh. Welcome back!
  35. 2 points
    Last July Craig Biddle of The Objective Standard published “Regarding Carl Barney and Scientology” in defense of Barney. That didn’t satisfy some of his readers so a few days ago he published a Part Two, same webpage as what is now called Part One. I review it at: Barney Continues Telling His Story
  36. 2 points
    I have excerpted some paragraphs from the article below. If you want a real hoot, read the comments at the bottom of the article, but not with a full mouth. THE INNER WORLDS OF CONSPIRACY BELIEVERS Those who subscribe to 9/11 conspiracy beliefs are generally suspicious and inquisitive, a new study suggests. By Bruce Bower June 20th, 2009; Vol.175 #13 (p. 11) Shortly after terrorist attacks destroyed the World Trade Center and mangled the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, conspiracy theories blossomed about secret and malevolent government plots behind the tragic events. A report scheduled to appear in an upcoming Applied Cognitive Psychology offers a preliminary psychological profile of people who believe in 9/11 conspiracies. A team led by psychologist Viren Swami of the University of Westminster in London identified several traits associated with subscribing to 9/11 conspiracies, at least among British citizens. These characteristics consist of backing one or more conspiracy theories unrelated to 9/11, frequently talking about 9/11 conspiracy beliefs with likeminded friends and others, taking a cynical stance toward politics, mistrusting authority, endorsing democratic practices, feeling generally suspicious toward others and displaying an inquisitive, imaginative outlook. “Often, the proof offered as evidence for a conspiracy is not specific to one incident or issue, but is used to justify a general pattern of conspiracy ideas,” Swami says. His conclusion echoes a 1994 proposal by sociologist Ted Goertzel of Rutgers–Camden in New Jersey. After conducting random telephone interviews of 347 New Jersey residents, Goertzel proposed that each of a person’s convictions about secret plots serves as evidence for other conspiracy beliefs, bypassing any need for confirming evidence. Goertzel says the new study provides an intriguing but partial look at the inner workings of conspiracy thinking. Such convictions critically depend on what he calls “selective skepticism.” Conspiracy believers are highly doubtful about information from the government or other sources they consider suspect. But, without criticism, believers accept any source that supports their preconceived views, he says. “Arguments advanced by conspiracy theorists tell you more about the believer than about the event,” Goertzel says. Conspiracy thinkers share an optimistic conviction that they can find “the truth,” spread it to the masses and foster social change, Goldberg asserts. Over the past 50 years, researchers and observers of social dynamics have traced beliefs in conspiracy theories to feelings of powerlessness, attempts to bolster self-esteem and diminished faith in government. Much as Swami’s team suspected, beliefs in 9/11 conspiracy theories were stronger among individuals whose personalities combined suspicion and antagonism toward others with intellectual curiosity and an active imagination. A related, unpublished survey of more than 1,000 British adults found that 9/11 conspiracy believers not only often subscribed to a variety of well-known conspiracy theories, but also frequently agreed with an invented conspiracy. Christopher French of Goldsmiths, University of London, and Patrick Leman of Royal Holloway, University of London, both psychologists, asked volunteers about eight common conspiracy theories and one that researchers made up: “The government is using mobile phone technology to track everyone all the time.” The study, still unpublished, shows that conspiracy believers displayed a greater propensity than nonbelievers to jump to conclusions based on limited evidence. “It seems likely that conspiratorial beliefs serve a similar psychological function to superstitious, paranormal and, more controversially, religious beliefs, as they help some people to gain a sense of control over an unpredictable world,” French says.
  37. 2 points
    The Perfect Storm for a VACCINE HOLOCAUST is Now Here video, 36 minutes -- Mike Adams https://www.brighteon.com/8879b5af-59b3-4ed3-98e6-f9037f22ade5
  38. 2 points
    Brant, Nah... Ignoring the problem--and what caused it--is the back door to fascism. Principles operate in contexts. For example, the principle of private property was practically useless when the Titanic was sinking. As were all the principles of good seamanship. And those are great principles. The problem was the ship was going down. Once there are no people and no ship, principles mean what? Nothing, that's what. Would you have fought the different Communist takeovers of the different countries last century with syllogisms and principles? Many people did and look what it got them. What about that big pile of bodies, millions and millions of them, from Communist purges? Do dead people use syllogisms? In today's world, allowing government protected communication cartels to skew the next election toward an authoritarian elite because of a principle that doesn't work with government protected cartels is playing with that kind of fire and, frankly, it is a foolish way to enforce individual rights against a hightech cartel (one that is protected by the government) that is starting to run amok. Go on and let fascists win by cheating, then see how they act. Hell, just look what they did when they didn't win by cheating. For over two years they tried to ram a big fat lie down the public's throat that could have started WWIII had it worked and grown in the wrong direction, and they misused the intelligence forces and legal system to do it. (Not to mention all that blackmail due to pedophilia and other misbehavior of powerful insiders). In other words, we will not drift into fascism by recognizing a commons where private Internet companies can operate, but includes the protection of individual rights on that commons. The current social media giants are already practicing fascism there. Most people don't realize how much money and resources they received from the government and the extent of the secret contracts they have with the government, including massive surveillance contracts, facial recognition contracts, and so on. There is another issue. These Internet companies want to have the legal protections of private platforms, but want to act like publishers in operating their platforms. You see, publishers can choose the slant of their content. They can choose who they publish or not. But they are also legally liable for what they publish. Platforms are not legally liable for what is published on them. They want the powers of publishers, but the legal situation of platforms. This is a question of the law not catching up to technology while mixing in a lot of government money and legal cartel-oriented protections. Note: these companies are not de facto private companies. They have the shells of private companies, but they have the substance of something more like the Federal Reserve. They are intertwined with the government on many, many different levels. And now they are going fascistic. This problem of fascism is not something in the future to avoid. It is something in the present and we have to deal with it now, especially since it is still at a size we can deal with it. After it grows to a tipping point, we will no longer be able to deal with it through peace and law. Look at what they are doing--what they are doing right now and right here--and see if growth of that to a dictatorship by technocrats that will have no use for individual rights can be ignored. I, for one, have no intention to ignore it while cautioning about virtual back doors. I mean, who needs to worry about a back door when the fascists have already come in through the front door? Michael
  39. 2 points
    I’m not knowledgeable or passionate about art but I have followed many of your conversations with interest. When you point out the inconsistency that music doesn’t fit her criteria but she called it art anyway, they break into gibberish or avoid the issue, it’s comical, I’m always entertained by it. I also don’t get the either–or rigidity regarding whether this or that discipline is art, say, architecture. Keeping water out is utility not art, but a textured roof that looks like waves of wind over tall grass and costs three times a traditional roof and raises the cost of the home by 8% is art because it was done for contemplation and aesthetic consideration, the essential characteristic of art. Insisting on the absence of utility strikes me as definition by exclusion. We can make distinctions, we can call it fine art or pure art when there is no utility at all. But if someone’s favorite sculpture turns out, unbeknownst to them, to be a personal aircraft — you press this button here and wings fold out and you can fly away in the thing — then now they have to pick a new favorite sculpture because this one isn’t art anymore? Seems like definition by non–essentials to me.
  40. 2 points
  41. 2 points
    Jules, you and Jon are free to continue as you will. Jon has no more special posting status than you or I. Michael made that clear. --Brant Michael's not our paterfamilias
  42. 2 points
    So what you are sayin is Billyboy has more class than you?
  43. 2 points
    I don’t think Trump is a Randian hero , I think John Galt is a Trumpian hero . Atlas Shrugged was still only a book , Trump is real life
  44. 2 points
    i thought you all might get a chuckle out of this. ?
  45. 2 points
    It's probably global warming. Nothing a government tax or regulation can't fix. Michael
  46. 2 points
    The perjury trap ...
  47. 2 points
    Jonathan, When you first said a version of that (to poke William) after I talked about James Corbett, I thought, this was a joke that could get old fast. Then William posted and you did the quote above. Then I thought, "Nah... It's funny." Michael
  48. 2 points
    Can a person really be economically coerced, or is it simply a choice? Was Cohen using the tapes for insurance or a way to blackmail President Trump? Can he be disbarred? In Maryland I don’t think you can record someone unless they know what your are doing. Peter From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: sophistry Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 01:29:41 -0500 a.d. smith wrote: "Recently, I was arguing with an anarcho-socialist friend about fundamental political and ethical principles. I had stated that I was opposed to the use of force in social relations (except in retaliation). He said that I was inconsistent in that I was not opposed to the use of "economic coercion" (e.g., the threat of firing someone) as well as physical force. I was wondering how my fellow Atlanteans would reply to this argument I think I did a fairly good job in elucidating the differences between physical force and "economic coercion," but I could have done better. What would you guys have said in this situation?” I find that well-constructed examples and counter-examples can sometimes communicate the distinction better than abstract arguments, or at least serve as an introduction to them. Many years ago, during a college seminar on Marxism, my professor gave the following popular example: Suppose I am stranded in the middle of the desert, and I run across the only oasis in my vicinity. It is privately owned, and the owner tells me that I must (a) work for him at fifty cents per hour, or (b) stay off his property. And since he is charging $5,000 for the food and water that are required to sustain my life during the remainder of my journey, this means that I am being economically coerced -- indeed, enslaved -- since I must either accept the offer or face certain death. I responded by changing one condition of the example. The same oasis owner has more money than he knows what to do with, so (as before) he tells me that I must take a job to earn my supplies, but he now offers me $10,000 per hour instead of fifty cents. So now I can earn what I need in 30 minutes (during which the owner, who is starved for intellectual companionship, only requests that I talk to him about philosophy) and even walk away with a handsome surplus. The professor then protested, "But that's not a realistic example." "Neither is your example," I replied, "but that's not the point. The purpose of the example is to isolate the key elements that generate what you call economic coercion. If your example, in which I am economically coerced to work for 50 cents an hour is valid, then so is my example where I am economically coerced to work for $10,000 per hour by discussing philosophy. I didn't change anything essential in the hypothetical; all I did was change some details, which should be irrelevant to the point you are making. So if you claim that my example doesn't qualify as economic coercion, then why doesn't it? I will die just as surely if I turn down the offer for $10,000 as if I refuse to work for fifty cents. What's the difference? According to your definition, I am being coerced in either case -- but it sounds a little strange to say that I am being 'forced' to work at the higher wage. You are loading the example in your favor by including very low wages, but the amount of the wage is immaterial to the point you wish to make. Surely the validity of your argument should not depend solely on its emotional appeal, so it should make equal sense to take about a wage-slave who is forced to discuss philosophy at $10,000 per hour." I don't remember my exact words, of course, but the preceding is a fair representation of my argument. It took the discussion in some interesting directions that might otherwise have been overlooked – such as whether the CEO of a multinational corporation is also economically "coerced" to accept his multi-million dollar salary -- and the discussion ended when the Marxist professor said, "Well, I'll have to give some additional thought to your example." That's about as close to an unconditional surrender as a student is ever likely to get from a professor. Ghs From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: sophistry Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 04:40:33 EDT A. D. Smith wrote "Recently, I was arguing with an anarcho-socialist friend about fundamental political and ethical principles. I had stated that I was opposed to the use of force in social relations (except in retaliation). He said that I was inconsistent in that I was not opposed to the use of "economic coercion" (e.g., the threat of firing someone) as well as physical force.” There is no such thing as "economic coercion." We owe it to people not to use force against them; we do not owe it to them to supply them with employment nor to keep them employed if we do not choose to. People have a right to seek jobs; they do not have a right to *have* jobs if the employer finds them unsuitable. So to threaten an employee with firing is in no sense of the term "coercion." The job is not his by right, but only by the decision of the owner of the business. Barbara From: "a.d. smith" To: "George H. Smith" Subject: Re: ATL: Re: sophistry Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 05:06:07 -0400 (EDT) On Fri, 27 Jul 2001, George H. Smith wrote: The example of the oasis brings up my friend's second basic argument --- the possibility that first-comers may claim all the natural resources in an area to the detriment of people who arrive in the area later. These people may hold their property without improving or with mixing only a token portion of their labor with it.(I pointed that historically most examples of land speculation of this type were made possible by the state, but his point was that even in a stateless society, this type of engrossing could be possible. My reply was that under a system of competing governments, a protection agency that enforced an obviously illegitimate claim to unimproved natural resources would likely arose the anger of the community at large). From: "William Dwyer" To: Atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: sophistry Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 09:34:02 -0700 a.d. smith wrote, >The example of the oasis brings up my friend's second basic argument --- the possibility that first-comers may claim all the natural resources in an area to the detriment of people who arrive in the area later. These people may hold their property without improving or with mixing only a token portion of their labor with it. > I fail to see how this is an argument against capitalism, since capitalism doesn't sanction this kind of unearned appropriation. In order to acquire property under capitalism, you need to mix your labor with a previously unowned resource, or acquire the property from its previous owner by mutual consent. Obviously, there are issues with regard to the specifics of acquiring previously unowned land, but these cannot form the basis of any serious argument against capitalism. I n any case, the Coase Theorem in economics (for which Ronald Coase was given the Nobel Prize) states that if property rights are clearly defined and transaction costs are low, resources will tend to flow towards their highest valued uses, regardless of who owns them. In other words, even assuming that people could appropriate land without mixing their labor with it, in a free-market economy, the land could be bid away in exchange for money. The highest bid would tend to reflect its most profitable uses, by reflecting what consumers would be most willing to spend their money on. Thus, under capitalism, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference how the property is initially acquired. It will eventually be allocated toward its most popular and desired uses. If laissez-faire capitalism existed in Latin America, for example, the large landed aristocracies would not last, because they would either be induced to sell their land at an exorbitant price, or to use it in ways that are the most profitable and consumer-friendly. Bill
  49. 2 points
    I have to take issue here, because you at least twice decided to talk about me instead of the subject at issue, and your personal comments were grossly wrongful. The issue was not Q, about which I know nothing and care nothing. But your comments were about me, and if you wish to be taken seriously by me at least here, you should retract them.
  50. 2 points
    Robert, I've left the battlefield where people fight over the split. Ever since then, I've been able to see clearly that it generally boils down to money, sex and power with humans, including Objectivists. On another thread, Neil Parille just stated that ARI lost a major donor: Ayn Rand Institute Having Financial Problems. In the past, major donors have migrated from ARI to TAS, so maybe this is what is happening. Maybe Brook is pissed ARI lost a lot of money to TAS. So there's the money angle. TAS has hired a new set of faces for the organization and, from what I've seen so far, they are far more media-savvy than the ARI folks. The fact that some are pretty women like Alexandra York and Jennifer Grossman helps, too. It's not PC to say things like that anymore, but I don't care. Adding pretty faces to a message has enhanced its marketing appeal since the dawn of capitalism. That's a fact that is, was and always will be. I imagine the success of TAS galls the ARI folks, who consider themselves to be a superior life form. More elitism. which is the power angle. TAS has its own issues with elitism (snobs are everywhere and TAS is no exception), too, but they are not nearly as severe as those of ARI. There's also a toxic personal vanity thing re relationships. The entire ARI-TAS kerfuffle stems from Rand excommunicating the Brandens for feeling they rejected her. So she rejected them. Peikoff never knew of Rand's affair with NB while she was alive. When he discovered proof in her papers after she passed away (he was her legal heir), he had a heart attack. Literally. It almost killed him for real. Although he has never said so, this is a form of rejection and I imagine it screwed with his emotions bigtime. Like or dislike Peikoff, a brush with death is an impactful event in the life of anyone. Also, both Barbara and Nathaniel never hid their low opinion of him--they always called him some variation of crazy, so with the discovery of the affair and the terror of almost dying over it, I think his hatred of them went into white-hot mode and has burned steadily ever since. Notice that almost all major sins of the principals in O-Land in this split boil down to people refusing to hate the Brandens. In other words, the issue is not ideological. They all say it is, but it isn't. It's about relationships and rejection at root. If it were ideas only, the disagreements would be more civil and rational. You don't see a deep level of hatred of communism in their demeanor, for example, even though all self-respecting Randians consider communism to be evil. But notice how people involved in this inter-subcommunity fight get overly-emotional, mischaracterize the work of each other, etc. That comes from something other than ideas. From the way I figure, it comes from rejection by a loved one, and for the followers of that person, feelings of protection of someone who has suffered such rejection. People fight and the seed produces its toxic fruit. Thus, taking sides has become a precondition to making friends and this has nothing to do with the issues dealt with in Objectivist thought. Also, there are variations on this theme shot all through O-Land. For example, there's a site, Solo Passion, that bashes the crap out of Brook, but blames everything wrong in the world on the Brandens. See this post as an example. Why would that be? Well, I was part of the history of this one, so I know from seeing it up close. Perigo and Barbara Branden used to be tight. And Perigo always dreamed of being an Objectivist leader. With her endorsement, he was part way there. They ended up falling out (mostly vanity issues) and she ultimately rejected him. When a book critical of the Brandens came out, he embraced it and has been on a crusade against the Brandens ever since. Oddly enough, this guy supports Trump like I do. But I don't want President Trump to wipe every last vestige of the Brandens off the face of the earth and I imagine he does. (That's a quip and I make that qualification for the idiots reading this. ) Also, Brook agreed to debate Perigo recently about immigration. Brook bowed out when it became clear Perigo would insult him to his face in public. So Brook rejected him and he has been on a nonstop rant against Brook ever since. From what I have read (and I don't read a lot of this stuff), some of the reasoning is justified. (I could go into it, but that's not the point of this post.) But much of it is just emotional hate-baiting based on being rejected. In the end, all this rejection stuff is about power. Public rejection and waging war over it is a power-play. War is all about power, right? I wish there were some intellectual depth to all this, but there is very little, mostly none. The ARI folks demand that Objectism be only what Rand wrote and, I agree, it is reasonable to make a classification of what she wrote as being what it is. But they want to erect an establishment out of this where they can control the speech and thought of others. They feel threatened when someone who doesn't think like they do calls himself or herself an Objectivist. Ultimately, they don't trust individuals to do good thinking on their own. That's the main reasoning behind ARI's current hostility. (Although I believe the driver is money, sex and power, but not all that much sex. They need to get laid more. ) People who disagree with this think they have the right to absorb Rand's vision and do things with it filtered through their own life, their experiences, reading and thinking. They claim the right to call themselves Objectivists and still have disagreements with Rand, ARI, whoever. Should they be able to do this? Let's look at it. The intellectual part of the issue boils down to a dictionary, believe it or not. Open any dictionary and you will see that almost every word in it has more than one meaning. When ARI folks use the word "Objectivism," them mean only what Rand wrote and don't want there to be a second definition. They claim they have the right to demand this. When others use the word "Objectivism," they mean using what Rand wrote as a starting point for their thinking as they go off in their individual directions. (So, yes, Virginia, there can be two meanings for the same word and people have a right to use words .) I belong to this second group, although I rarely refer to myself as an Objectivist these days. It's not because I want to avoid unpleasantness with the fundies (fundamentalists ). And they do ladle on unpleasantness if you get close to them. But I'm not competing with them so we generally stay distant. It's because I don't want the general public to confuse me with the fundies. I think it's embarrassing to demand other people use the language in one meaning only. Human language constantly morphs. It morphs slowly, but has done so since humans began to speak. Also, I disagree with the worshipful rigidity of the fundies and, ultimately, don't think a society of people like that was what Rand was after at all. I know I don't want to be that--I don't want to be a fanatic or disciple within a closed-off tribe. I'm my own man. However, my philosophical foundation was formed by reading Rand's works over a lifetime. I can't undo that even if I wanted to. Nowadays I disagree with Rand on some things (mostly scope), but that doesn't mean I disavow what I do agree with. And it doesn't mean that what I do agree with isn't foundational in my thinking. It is. Like all humans during all of human history, I need a label for something important, a label others can understand that doesn't require long explanations everytime I use it. This is just simple communication. Outside of the fundies, most people get what I mean when I say I follow Rand's thinking without being a fanatic. In that sense, I'm an Objectivist. Michael