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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 3 points
    Mick West at Metabunk.org has published a book! It's called "Escaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respect." The early reviews at Amazon.com are brutal. I publish a fair-use excerpt from the introduction to the book published last month at Salon: How to pull a friend out of the conspiracy theory rabbit hole | It’s not a blue pill or a red pill, but a poison pill I've added highlights to parts of the excerpt that might be helpful to OLers struggling with the entailments of conspiracy-ideation --in friends, family, and perhaps in themselves ... as those of us who have read the Rob Brotherton classic understand ... "Its not THEM, it's US" ... no one wing of political or social groups is more vulnerable to the harms of conspiracy ideation than another. "Try to figure out my tricks." What good advice ...
  4. 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 !
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 3 points
    I don't want to talk about it. --Brant
  11. 3 points
    I would agree with those who say that Rand's aesthetics do not cover everything. OTOH I also think that one source of puzzlement is that Rand (as usual) traces things back to their roots, and rarely speaks of proximate causes. The closest I come to art is photography, and that might be a particularly simple example. What determines what I chose to take a picture of? I think that goes back ultimately to the kind of things Rand talks about, but I am not conscious of that as I take the picture. If you asked me at the moment I might say that I loved the way the new mown hay looked in the late afternoon sun, but why that appealed to me is probably far below the conscious level. A lot of my photo work records the history of the American Industrial Revolution. Some of it is just a record of the past, but some of it has an artistic element. Why is it that when I go to these dying cities that were once centers of industry I record the mills and factories rather than the winos in the alleyways? I think it reflects a judgment of what is important.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 2 points
    Totally tasteless. But funny. So, I was walking through the mall in Portland and I saw that there was a Muslim bookstore. I was wondering what exactly was in a Muslim bookstore so I went in. As I was wandering around taking a look, the clerk stopped me and asked if he could help me? “Do you have a copy of Donald Trump’s book on his U.S. Immigration Policy regarding Muslims and illegal Mexicans?” The clerk said, “F— off, get out and stay out!” I said, “Yes, that’s the one. Do you have it in paperback?”
  15. 2 points
    I haven't read the article , so I don't know who is shilling for whom. But whenever I hear about conspiracy theories relating to tech companies becoming seemingly tech behemoths it makes me wonder whether the behemothing was orchestrated by other than market forces. Especially things tech/social/media. I get there can be tons of money chasing info /data the sellers can take advantage of for marketing and such. It would be hard to direct all that spending toward mining that data if it were spread out far and wide, fortunately the behemoths aggregate a lot of it and fortunately since a large majority of everyone uses the behemoths we are pretty comfortable using them . It's odd there is Coke and Pepsi but no Google and .., or YouTube and .., no? I get Carnegie built US Steel , but he acquired and built his way to that, bought other independent companies , integrated supply chains ect. US internet behemoths feel like they sprang from nothing to everything , did Facebook ever experience a lack of servers that limited their capacity ? Or YouTube? Did they acquire others' capacities ? How much investment is/was needed for the hardware ? I am completely ignorant of the cost structure for the industry , but I assume the price of raw computing power has decreased in at least the last decade, though I doubt Mom or Pop would be able to out compete the existing titans just on the hardware costs alone. But as I said I'm ignorant of the cost structure and perhaps that just feeds my bias toward sympathy for the idea that Big Brother helped to make sure all the lovely data and control bottlenecks seem to be limited to a few players.
  16. 2 points
    That guy is a Christian Nazi. He should stay away from the holy smoke if he wants to be a rational holder of public office. I despise people who want to wed their religion to public law. Even with a powerful Episcopalian entity in England, there was some separation of church and state going back to earlier times, which was reinforced in the U.S. Constitution. Back then, you couldn't be an atheist without being lynched or booed in the mid to late 1700's but you could be a Deist. And the more intelligent of the West's leaders and intelligentsia called themselves Deists.
  17. 2 points
    Makes sense. I wasn't thinking in terms of strategy and financial benefit re Japan. Jon, an issue I've raised before in your accounts is the "total control" bit. Can't be acquired. Brainwashing, blackmail, bribery, whatever - no method turns a human into a complete automaton with no power of choice. And regarding Iran, are you indicating that the Ayatollahs aren't in fact Islamic fanatics? Ellen
  18. 2 points
    Sad life? One that is someone else's fault? If only they would get out of your way... But, alas, you are doomed to constant punishment for virtues lesser souls can't even dream about as you rant, "The bastards! The bastards! The bastards!" in impotent solitude... (How am I doing so far? I can do this with my hands tied behind my back because I've been there. Never produced a goddam thing when I was in that state. Heroism is not only fighting others, it's fighting your own self-destructive urges that are seasoned with self-pity and a growing taste for laziness--and actually producing something. That's not psychobabble. Suicide is a dangerous idea to cultivate. It eventually transmutes on its own from idea to reality. It starts with a shrug...) Reality is wonderful, even with idiots in it. Brush them aside and build. Besides, how can you win a world you haven't produced? What have you actually won by pretending? A feeling? You can't lose what you don't have. Most of all, stop looking down at others. Paraphrasing Nietzsche, when you look into the abyss, the abyss looks back into your soul. You become what you gaze upon. Michael
  19. 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.
  20. 2 points
    Second that. Partly second that. Jon's form of trash talk doesn't bother me in the circumstances in which he's using it. He doesn't use it indiscriminately. I'd use a different metaphor for William. Insidious poison. Slithery. Never quite coming out with a thing. Insinuating. I've seen that for some while. Ellen
  21. 2 points
    One of the general differences between those on the left and right is that the right understands the left's views... You can see this with their parody and satire. Leftist characters are portrayed accurately, and sometimes, right-wing media creators can even explain the left's views better than actual leftists. The parody and satire created by leftists, though, is consistently egregious--like the description of Jussie Smollett's attackers, for example (pretty much every right leaning person knew it was bullshit immediately). Again, it's a generalization. Obviously not all right-wingers understand the left's talking points, but for the most part, they get it... while for the left, the opposite is true. They can't even conceive of what they are arguing against. So what you end up with is ignorant, and possibly stupid, people who the right is gently trying to point out as ignorant and stupid... which reaffirms the leftist's belief that people on the right are immoral (mean). Obviously accusing someone of being immoral is worse than accusing someone of being stupid... so it's insane. This is pretty much just venting... but it's really annoying that this is the case. Politics has become a chore where people with good ideas have to hold the hands of their attackers to help them see what they're missing.
  22. 2 points
    Jonathan, It's funny. When you ask for repeatable scientific results re Climate Change, you always get blah blah blah and they never use the term "repeatable results." It's like going into a small eatery and saying, "Do you have an ice cream cone?" And the person says, "Here's some tasty steamed octopus." You ask, "What about an ice cream cone?" The person says, "Look at these green beans and mashed potatoes. How big a portion do you want?" "But I want an ice cream cone." "Well, you've come to the right place. Our mac and cheese is amazing." "Don't you have ice cream cones?" "Only stupid people think we don't have hamburgers." "You really don't have ice cream cones?" "True believer idiot. The dinner rolls are right in front of you. God, some people..." He throws a stack of menus in your face--ones that do not list ice cream cones... And on it goes. It's amazing to watch. Michael
  23. 2 points
    Who wrote this: "Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization, they hate white males, they hate rationality. The reasons that leftists give for hating the West, etc. clearly do not correspond with their real motives. They SAY they hate the West because it is warlike, imperialistic, sexist, ethnocentric and so forth, but where these same faults appear in socialist countries or in primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for them, or at best he GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whereas he ENTHUSIASTICALLY points out (and often greatly exaggerates) these faults where they appear in Western civilization. Thus it is clear that these faults are not the leftist’s real motive for hating America and the West. He hates America and the West because they are strong and successful." Answer: Ted Kazcyski, the Unabomber in his Manifesto published in the New York Times and Washington Postl. Are you surprised?
  24. 2 points
  25. 2 points
    Imagine a circle surrounding the South Pole as its center and exactly a mile larger in radius than a concentric smaller circle with circumference of exactly a mile around the South Pole. Then there are an infinite number of starting points which satisfy the conditions. But it doesn't sound to me like that's what you and Jonathan are thinking of. Ellen ADDENDUM: See this post, next page. I realized a bit later that there's an infinite number of circle sets.
  26. 2 points
  27. 2 points
    Socially greedy people like you, Jon, I can't say fascinate me, but certainly perplex me. With every weapon you have in gratuitous insult, obscene and beyond name-calling to the point of psychotic delusion, you have wasted oceans of hate over a few harmless individuals here with the goal of getting us to stop posting on the site, because you disagree with our ideas and can't tolerate any back talk from from non-Trump worshippers. You obviously support a total re-branding of OL into a 24-hour Trump rally, and may well succeed. Of course, you have plenty of hate left over for all public figures who are anti-Trump too, so I don't worry about your stamina. Your input and Jonathan's are obviously paramount to Michael , so your position on this site is pretty supreme. But as mentioned, you are greedy. What is the quote, "It is not enough to succeed, everyone else must fail"? Dissent must be silenced and banished. MSK has expressed his gratitude and loyalty to you, and his devotion to his Kat is legendary, so I truly admire him for not acquiescing to your urgings that he get rid of the people who have criticized you. Must be tough not being able to throw people off the site on your own authority, eh? Just put us all on ignore.. you'll sleep better.
  28. 2 points
    I thought, reading that, "You would [report posts]." Nanny time. I'm not surprised that William tried backstage pressure. Again, he would. I like Jon quite a bit, though I think the name-calling is becoming overdone. I'm puzzled about the hostility between Jon and Jules. How did that get started? Ellen PS: Michael, agreed with your remarks about OLand and the absurdity of prominent O'ists supporting Hillary Clinton, and about this site's helping elect Trump - not in any big influence way, your readership isn't large enough, but some help, for which "Bravo!"
  29. 2 points
    Because it doesn't address the problem of the paradox, namely how the points of the "forced" wheel are mapped onto the longer distance on its track. For the "forcing" wheel it's rather obvious: circumference and traveled distance are equal, so it's easy to construct an 1-1 map, while for the "forced" wheel the circumference and traveled distance are unequal. What the old guys didn't know, is that it is also possible to map a smaller segment 1-1 onto a larger segment, but if you do that, you'll have to take into account that the smaller wheel is slipping (supposing that the large wheel is the "forcing" wheel). Well, that was obviously irony, the apparent result of Aristotle's paradox. Does that invalidate the article? And if Aristotle writes about two circles, the mechanical implementation would be two wheels, so nothing wrong with that either.
  30. 2 points
    Just for reference: here is the original text in Greek, Microsoft Word - ΜΗΧΑΝΙΚΑ ΤΕΛΙΚΟ-ΕΞΩΦΥΛΛΟ2.pdf and for those whose Greek is a bit rusty is here the translation (from http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Aristotle/Mechanica*.html): 24 A difficulty arises as to how it is that a greater circle when it revolves traces out a path of the same length as a smaller circle, if the two are concentric. When they are revolved separately, then the paths along which they travel are in the same ratio as their respective sizes. Again, assuming that the two have the same centre, sometimes the path along which they revolve is the same size as the smaller circle would travel independently, and sometimes it is the size of the larger circle's path. Now it is evident that the larger circle revolves along a larger path. For an examination of the angle which each circumference makes with its own diameter shows that the angle of the larger circle is larger, and of the smaller circle smaller, Bso that they bear the same ratio as that of the paths on which they travel bear to each. Yet on the other hand it is clear that they do revolve over the same distance, when they are described about the same centre; and thus it comes about that sometimes the revolution is equal to the path which the larger circle traces out, and sometimes to that of the smaller. Le ΔΖΓ be the greater circle and p389 ΕΗΒthe less, with Α as the centre of both. Let the line ΖΙ be the path traced by the circumference of the larger circle, when it travels independently, and ΗΚ the path travelled independently by the smaller circle, ΗΚ being equal to ΖΛ. Fig. 13 If I move the smaller circle I am moving the same centre, namely Α; now let the larger circle be attached to it. At the moment when ΑΒ becomes perpendicular to ΗΚ, ΑΓ also becomes perpendicular to ΖΛ; so that it will have invariably travelled the same distance, that is ΗΚ, the distance over which the circumference ΗΒ has travelled, and ΖΛ that over which ΖΓ has travelled. Now if the quadrant in each case has travelled an equal distance, it is obvious that the whole circle will travel over a distance equal to the whole circumference, so that when the line ΒΗ has reached the point Κ, then the arc of the circumference p391 ΖΓ will have travelled along ΖΛ, and the circle will have performed a complete revolution. Similarly, if I move the large circle and fit the small one to it, the two circles being concentric as before, the line ΑΒ will be perpendicular and vertical at the same time as ΑΓ, the latter to ΖΙ, the former to ΗΘ. So that whenever the one shall have traversed a distance equal to ΗΘ, and the other to ΖΙ, and ΖΑ has again become perpendicular to ΖΛ, and ΑΗ has again to ΗΚ, the points Η and Ζ will again be in their original positions at Θ and Ι. As, then, nowhere does the greater stop and wait for the less in such a way as to remain stationary for a time at the same point (for in both cases both are moving continuously), and as the smaller does not skip any point, it is remarkable that in the one case the greater should travel over a path equal to the smaller, and in the other case the smaller equal to the larger. It is indeed remarkable that as the movement is one all the time, that the same centre should in one case travel a large path and in the other a smaller one. For the same thing travelling at the same speed should always cover an equal path; and moving anything with the same velocity implies travelling over the same distance in both cases. To discover the cause of these things we may start with this axiom, that the same or equal forces move one mass more slowly and another more rapidly. Let us suppose that there is a body which has no natural movement of its own; if a body which has a natural movement of its own moves the former as well as itself, it will move more slowly than if it moved by itself; and it will be just the same if it naturally moves by itself, and nothing is p393 moved with it. It is impossible for it to have a greater movement than that which moves it; for it moves not with a motion of its own, 856Abut with that of the mover. Suppose that there are two circles, the greater Α and the lesser Β. If the lesser were to push the greater without revolving itself it is clear that the greater will travel along a straight path as far as it is pushed by the lesser. It must have been pushed as far as the small circle has moved. Therefore they have travelled over an equal amount of the straight path. So if the lesser circle were to push the larger while revolving, the latter would be revolved as well as pushed, and only so far as the smaller revolves, if it does not move at all by its own motion. For that which is moved must be moved just so far as the mover moves it; so the small circle has moved it so far and in such a way, e.g. in a circle over one foot (let this be the extent of the movement), and the greater circle has moved thus far. Similarly, if the greater circle moves the less, the small circle will move exactly as the greater does. (This will be true) whichever of the two circles is moved independently, whether fast or slowly; so the lesser circle will trace a path at the same velocity, and of the same length as the greater does. This, then, constitutes our difficulty, that they do not behave in the same way when joined together; that is to say, if one is moved by the other, not in a natural way nor by its own movement. For it makes no difference whether it is enclosed and fitted in or whether one is attached to the other. In the same way, when one produces the movement, and the other is moved by it, to whatever distance the one moves the other will also move. Now when one moves a circle which is p395 leaning against or suspended from another, one does not move it continuously; but when they are fastened about the same centre, the one must of necessity revolve with the other. But nevertheless the other does not move with its own motion, but just as if it had no motion. This also occurs if it has a motion of its own, but does not use it. When, then, the large circle moves the small one attached to it, the smaller one moves exactly as the larger one; when the small one is the mover, the larger one moves according to the other's movement. But when separated each of them has its own movement.15 If anyone objects that the two circles trace out unequal paths though they have the same centre, and move at the same speed, his argument is erroneous. It is true that both circles have the same centre, but this fact is only accidental, just as a thing might be both "musical" and "white." For the fact of each circle having the same centre does not affect it in the same way in the two cases. When the small circle produces the movement the centre, and origin of movement belongs to the small circle, but when the large circle produces the movement, the centre belongs to it. Therefore what produces the movement is not the same in both cases, though in a sense it is.16 16 The ambiguity of the phrase "path of a circle" has confused the argument. It may mean (1) movement of the centre; (2) movement of a point on the circumference; (3) e.g. the impression made by a tyre on a road. Probably Aristotle usually means (3). It is not easy to be sure whether he has seen the true solution of the problem, viz.: in one case the circle revolves on ΗΘ, while the larger circle both rolls and slips in ΖΙ. "both rolls and slips" again someone who says so, that must be a conspiracy! M
  31. 2 points
    The suicide note left by Fidel Castro’s eldest son has rocked the Cuban nation this week, with the most astonishing revelation being the claim that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was his half-brother and the son of the late Fidel Castro. http://whatsupic.com/index/cuba-justin-trudeau-fidel-castros-son/
  32. 2 points
    Indeed. And it's a pity that he's messed up this Wikipedia page with those useless cycloids, giving "solutions" that aren't.
  33. 2 points
    Check out the edit history at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Aristotle's_wheel_paradox&action=history Merjet, Merjet, Merjet. He's obsessed with it. He seems to think that if he alters the "paradox" at Wikipedia, especially by visually eliminating the Mechanica's reference to the upper line that the smaller circle contacts throughout its motion, then that's the final authority. It trumps reality. The Wikipedia page is no longer about "Aristotle Wheel Paradox," but has now become "Merlin's Personal Attempt to Distort the 'Paradox' So That He Can Feel That He Won Over at OL." J
  34. 2 points
    @Jon: Well, I admire your patience...
  35. 2 points
    Jonathan, Thank you, It is a quite brilliant idea. Perhaps a moving experience for the audience. Both pieces are against a wall in my studio, it hasn't occurred to me to throw out the background. I will keep your suggestion in mind. Undoubtedly a postmodern collector would enjoy buying the background, it fits beautifully with PM view of destroying art. Funny irony that. Cheers
  36. 2 points
    None of this is true--except A is A. --Brant
  37. 2 points
    Well, at least the article gives the correct solution: Physically, if two joined concentric circles with different radii were rolled along parallel lines then at least one would slip; if a system of cogs were used to prevent slippage then the circles would jam. The part with the cycloids doesn't explain the paradox. That there must be an error is trivial, 2*pi*r < 2*pi*R for r < R, that impossibility is what makes it a paradox (an apparent contradiction) but that still doesn't tell us what exactly the error in the presentation of the paradox is. That is namely the supposition that both wheels can roll without slipping. The fact that this is impossible is the easy and final solution to the paradox. Further it isn't necessary to assume that the larger wheel rotates without slipping, we can as well suppose that the smaller wheel rotates without slipping; in that case the large wheel must be slipping (skidding), as the wheels are then translated over the smaller distance 2*pi*r after one revolution. In that case a point on the rim of the large wheel will trace a prolate cycloid. But cycloids are in fact just an unnecessary distraction for explaining the paradox.
  38. 2 points
    Don't you see a difference between keeping group members in line with blackmail and controlling, for instance, whether or not the North Korean government resorts to using nuclear weaponry? Also, a difference between affecting what happens and running the show? Even on the level of keeping group members obedient with blackmail, there's no guarantee of compliance. Plus, the greater the number of people in a group, the smaller the chances of unanimity. There are just too many factors for there to be a central control on the scale you appear to be saying exists. Anyway, I don't want to be arguing with you about who is or isn't a Gang member and to what extent the Gang runs world affairs. My concern is with a small group of people who are not Gang members, who include a couple brilliant biochemists in their number, and who are developing ingenious biological methods of thinning out the globe's human population. A few things you said sparked my curiosity as to whether or not your sources are aware of the schemes I mean. Doesn't sound as if they are. Ellen
  39. 2 points
    The actual horrific shooting sure upstages the ineffective bomb mailings, and I suppose the mainline news sources are in consternation since the shooter was not a Trump fan and didn't vote for Trump. I'm doubtful about the secret friend in the Jew-hater's case, though I think that a secret friend is plausible bordering on likely with Sayoc. Ellen
  40. 2 points
    Muh, muh Russians! With two years of Muh Russians under their belts, why isn't the left and its lapdog press focused on the possibility that Muh Russians sent the packages? It fits their two-year Narrative™. Muh Russians want to disrupt. They want to taint our elections. J
  41. 2 points
    Jon, They think tobacco is something. They ought to try crack cocaine. I'm lucky I didn't kill myself. I'm so lucky, I still have my goddam teeth. But, still, when it started wrecking my life, I felt like Slim Pickens in Doctor Strangelove riding an A-Bomb like a rodeo horse as it was falling out of a plane. It was one wild ride while I was on it... It was my life, so no regrets. I did it. I lived it. I loved it. I paid the price. But I won't be doing that one again. One ass-kicking of that magnitude is enough. Later on, I might take up motorcycle riding, though. Every time I've been on one, I've loved it. Seeing you do it in your videos tugs and something primal in my heart and makes me see a flock of wild geese I want to chase down... Michael
  42. 2 points
    Jonathan, I think you're right. Style over substance added to delusions of grandeur and an aesthetic trance based on Rand's storytelling skills. It's not often I read an insight like this these days. I love the term "aesthetic trance." Thanks. Michael
  43. 2 points
    So today I had an interesting post on my twitter feed. A person looking to purchase a rights managed image for an add campaign. So I sent her my personal email via Message in order to get more details. i sent her a link to the image she wanted and ten minutes later BAM! https://fineartamerica.com/saleannouncement.html?id=9becce4a0811b1bc99e633e17bff67ee Kinda cool eh?
  44. 2 points
    Hillary dindu nuffin! She's an angel. Sweet, and innocent, and honest. If she were unintentionally guilty of anything, first of all, she'd admit to it right away, because that's how honest she is, and, second, if she somehow accidentally didn't admit to it, she would've been caught, charged, tried, and convincted, because that's how much integrity that democrats and Obama's Justice Depaetment and investigative and law enforcement agencies had! It's just silly nonsense to imagine that the Clintons had a powerful political machine and abused anyone. That kind of stuff doesn't happen in reality. Conspiracy theory kookiness. You're stupid if you've bought onto the vast right wing conspiracy lie that Hillary is anything less that a saint.
  45. 2 points
    The perjury trap ...
  46. 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
  47. 2 points
  48. 2 points
    Hi Michael, A while back I became familiar with the term, "motte and bailey." (My apologies if you're already familiar with the term.) The term originates as a description of a certain kind of fortification in which there is a highly fortified keep (or motte) surrounded by a less well fortified but generally much larger courtyard (or bailey). The smaller motte is easier to defend, while the larger bailey is more difficult to defend. As an argument, a motte and bailey is, "a combination of bait-and-switch and equivocation," in which the arguer switches between an easily defended statement such as, "the climate is changing," and a harder to defend claim such as, "man-made global warming will have catastrophic effects on our environment." Whenever attacked, the person putting forth the motte and bailey position retreats to the stronger assertion that the climate is changing. Once the attacker gives up attempting to assail the stronger position, the arguer reverts to asserting the truth of the weaker bailey position that man is to blame and that the consequences will be catastrophic if "we" don't do something about it. Anyone who questions the bailey is accused of questioning the motte. In my view, the same thing is going on here. The assertion is made that, "the Russians interfered in the election." The motte is that they interfered in the election campaign and attempted to hack voting machines. The bailey is that they actually changed a sufficient number of votes to change the results of the election by either hacking voting machines or by swaying the decisions of weak minded voters. There is little doubt that the Russians bought ads on Facebook. They may have also hacked the DNC, Clinton campaign servers, and interfered in other ways. The question is whether they actually swayed the opinions of a sufficient number of voters to change the election. There is very little evidence to support the latter assertion. Somehow, we are supposed to believe that sweet, innocent, Hillary Clinton's visionary campaign was derailed by insidious Russian influence and that Trump is a secret Bolshevik (read "Manchurian") candidate. Yet, the evidence only supports a much weaker assertion of feeble attempts to interfere in the campaign. Moreover, there is no evidence that Trump was involved in any way. In my opinion, a fair number of leftist arguments fit the motte and bailey mold. Darrell
  49. 2 points
    A thought experiment is not made invalid by the fact that there is no real world equivalent of that experiment (yet). That is in fact irrelevant, as long as there in principle could be a real world equivalent. And it wouldn’t be difficult for an instrument maker to make a model to illustrate Aristotle‘s paradox. It could for example be a dual rail system, one higher rail for the small wheel and a lower rail for the large wheel (like an adaption of a train wheel). Those wheel-rail combinations could be made exchangeable, so that one can choose for a gear teeth combination to ensure rotation without slipping, and a smooth combination that enables slipping. Such a system would show that the wheels will be locked if both combinations have gear teeth: rotating of both wheels without slipping is impossible, contrary to the premise in definition of the paradox in the Wikipedia article). I’ve demonstrated before that this slipping can be unequivocally described mathematically and that it follows automatically from the description of the system. It is a very real effect, even if you might not encounter such systems in daily life. After all we’re talking about a thought experiment, not about what’s happening in the streets.
  50. 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