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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. 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.
  3. 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 !
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 3 points
    I don't want to talk about it. --Brant
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 3 points
    I hope my posts get a lot of sads (from the anti-Trump bitches!)
  15. 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.
  16. 2 points
    I have begun to wonder if Obama is running the Deep State behind the scenes. He might be an Acting President, everyone in the Federal civil service working hard to oust Trump. Sort of makes sense. Obama lives in Washington. Be interesting to have NSA metadata on who he talked to last week, and whether he personally directed Lynch and Comey to bury the Hillary evidence. Anything is possible.The caravans were a stroke of genius. Motor voter registration and driver licenses for illegals. Yep. Recent history has Obama's fingerprints all over it. Rush Limbaugh speculated that NATO diplomats agitated for an FBI counterintelligence putsch to smear candidate Trump. No way. It was an Obama White House op, start to finish.
  17. 2 points
    Heh. That's a "TANTRUM"? And that's a "real" interviewer with "difficult" questions? Mr. Shapiro, I've selectively misinterpreted some fragments of your past statements to mean what I want them to mean. I gotcha. Defend yourself against my accusations. Pro Boss Real Interviewer right there. Is he the male Cathy Newman? J
  18. 2 points
    I haven't looked at the article yet, but the statement made in the title strikes me right off as false. The globalist elitists are parasitical. They require people who aren't like them to feed on. Consider a comparison to thieves. If everyone were a thief, who would be producing the goods for thieves to rob? Ellen
  19. 2 points
    Brant. It is exactly the contrary. There is a lot under the hood and I think you don't believe much in it because it's new and you aren't familiar with the extents and proofs. Look at it this way for just one angle. The NYT is constantly struggling to stay alive financially. And without Bezos, WaPo would have folded. The amount of money these companies generate and need to operate is very small compared to the financial world of the social media giants. It's the elephant and mouse thing. What's worse, but more of an indication of the influence of these giant Internet companies, they made their billions and billions in the last ten years or so from practically nothing. That's not much time at all. Besides, neither NYT nor WaPo convince anyone of anything these days. They don't change hearts and minds. They sing to a small diminishing (but loyal) choir while resting on their reputations from years past. The social media giants are based on behavioral science at the root. Once you learn what they do, how they do it, and see the results according to split testing, you really get creeped out. (Look up growth hacking sometime if you are curious.) The only reason traditional media is still relevant financially is because of old connections with old advertising models. Once the ad world wakes up, they will leave traditional media and chase bigger payoffs for their clients elsewhere. This is already starting to happen. I could go into a lot of detail, but I don't have time. I believe Obama started the deep corruption of the tech giants. He (and his COBS people) helped them engineer the Arab Spring and they began to believe they could partner with political power to topple dictatorships and remold the world. These are nerds and that kind of power went to their heads. Once tasted, that kind of power is more addictive to nerds than their algorithms. Obama also put lots of his folks into Google while putting lots of Google folks into the government. I could go on and on about all this. Michael
  20. 2 points
    Ellen, I see some. The Notre Dame Cathedral is definitely a human species thing. It was not built by one man or woman. It was a group effort over generations--the best of mankind--from the 1100's (with history continuing to be added over the centuries). The ancient building was in a form--a concrete, not abstract, form--anyone could walk into today. Walking into it (before the fire) was not like looking at artifacts from an archaeological dig, but was walking into a fully functional building in use in today's society. When you do that, all you can do is marvel about the human species (and about God for the religious) that it was built about 900 years or so ago. Knowing that things like that exist gives most people comfort on a deep "I came from that" level. That's what I feel. I think that is a species-related emotion although I don't recall Bloom talking about this particular emotion. But, to me, seeing that building go up in flames left me feeling like my great grandfather, who was in perfect health yesterday, just died. (That's a hypothetical to demonstrate the emotion.) The comfort of belonging to a historical lineage is something so much a part of me and underground in my mind, I never verbalized it properly. And hanging around Rand-world drove it further underground except as banter about coming from hillbillies and things like that. Now, one physical proof of my inner certainty of belonging to a long line of humans who strive for greatness has gone away. No wonder it's bothersome. It makes me sad and melancholy and really pissed off when I think it may have been arson. As an aside, Bloom says people who wither away and die of depression are suffering from a species emotion (my paraphrase since I'm going by memory--I think his words were different, but the concept is the same). Super-depressed people don't feel like they are worth anything to the species, to anyone else, or even to themselves anymore. Bloom says this self-destructive shutting-down emotion is built into all of us, meaning it can manifest under the right conditions in anyone, so the species can be culled of useless members like cells of a body organ die. The dead get replaced by the new. I find this thought fascinating and--for now at least--it sure seems like this mental mechanism (including for other emotions as well) is one of the core components of human values. For a fiction writer, this opens up a whole world of compelling nuance in big picture events and character motivations--nuance that will resonate universally in others as it does in me. Like I said, I don't believe this species thinking is either-or with individualism. Humans are both individuals and members of the human species. Good and evil exist for both the individual and the species. Ditto for illness and health. If some of Rand's scope excesses can be reduced to a size where their validation can be checked by observation of anyone, and room made for the stuff pertaining to individual human nature she left out, I think this kind of species thinking aligns perfectly with her kind of thinking. At least, I intend to pursue this path until it leads somewhere good or bad (or both ) in my writing and my own thinking. Michael
  21. 2 points
    I love "on the sidelines" of #TrumpKimSummit. He's negotiating peace with a nuclear—armed country, ending a state of war that has existed between us for the last 70 years. While doing that he scores a deal for $12.7 billion of planes, then goes out for a smoke break with Phu Trong and a few of the Bamboo guys and returns with an additional $2.9 billion dollars. Best President ever.
  22. 2 points
    So now it's again: 1 - 2*pi*X = x/(1+x) (X+1)*(1 - 2*pi*X) = X X + 1 - 2*pi*X2 - 2*pi*X - X = 0 X2 + X - 1/(2*pi) = 0 X = - 1/2 + 1/2 SQRT (1 + 2/pi) (here only the positive root makes sense) = 0.13965220479 Your estimate was not bad! My attempt was more difficult because I used a general distance "walked" Z instead of 1 mile, and the fact that I made a correction for the difference between the radius of a circle in a plane and measured along a meridian. For circles with radius about 1 mile on Earth the difference is negligible, but not for larger circles. Perhaps I was just too ambitious...
  23. 2 points
    yep, pretty sure Castro took away the guns , not armed the counter revolutionaries as he calls them ( Gusanos )
  24. 2 points
    0.5 mile north of the equator. I'm too lazy to calculate the corresponding geographic location...
  25. 2 points
    There are an infinity of more. Sets of infinities, actually. :-) J
  26. 2 points
    Ultimately all scientific hypotheses and theories are validated by 1. observation and measurement 2. laboratory experiment and testing 3. clinical testing which generally uses some statistical form of hypothesis test. The bottom line is: the predictions have to match what nature shows through either observation or experiment. Science of any kind has to be subject to testing and potential empirical falsification. Obviously the details of the experiments and observations depend on what is being studied. Some things can be corroborated by conditions in imposed in the laboratory. Other things have to be observed and measured as they happen naturally. Astronomy, as you pointed out, is such a science. So is cosmology. Particle and Field physics are tested in such installations as CERN. Chemistry is tested in the lab. Biology is test both in the lab and in the field. The essential thing that distinguishes the physicals sciences (that work) is ultimate empirical testing and possible falsification, from philosophy which is all vapor and abstraction. Mathematics is a peculiar thing. It is not a science because it is not empirical but its claims have to be validated by proofs which are formulated by mathematicians, then read and checked by other mathematicians. Checking a proof for correctness is empirical even though all of the subject matter is abstract.
  27. 2 points
  28. 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.
  29. 2 points
    The correspondence between points in continuous sets (areas, curves, lines, volumes) are correspondences of the cardinality of the sets, not their metric properriwa. For example a one inch line and and a one mile line have the same cardinal number of points, but the two sets have widely differing length. Ditto for volume. A sphere one inch in diameter has the same cardinal number of points as a sphere one mile in diameter but differ widely in volume and surface area.
  30. 2 points
    @Jon: Well, I admire your patience...
  31. 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.
  32. 2 points
    It is intriguing. I've been fairly obsessed for about a year with thinking about details. I find microbiology fascinating. I wouldn't be wise, however, to talk about details. The schemers are ruthless, and there are search engines. I don't want to draw attention to myself - or to OL. I've been trying to choose wording carefully, but I think I'd best just stop talking. I hadn't been reading OL at all for somewhat over eleven months. I blipped in since I was curious to see what was being said here about the mid-term elections, especially by Michael, who I think has been very astute in matters Trump. Then I got curious about some things you were saying.... Talking can get a person in trouble. I'll just say that the methods don't involve contagious diseases, which could get out of hand. Things which interfere with reproductive and other bodily processes. Ellen
  33. 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
  34. 2 points
    Those van stickers were done by a pro. The bombs were unworkable fakes.The election is less than two weeks away. It all stinks to high heaven. Trump supporters don't do this stupid shit. The lefties do. --Brant
  35. 2 points
    I think that so many people will have immediately suspected that it was a false flag attempt, it will backfire and produce the opposite of the intended effect if that's what it was. However, suppose it was a false false flag attempt - i.e,, actually done by Trump supporters who wanted it to look like a dumb move by Trump detractors, then it would have been a clever move. (I think the likelihood of someone's having been hurt in any of the incidents was close to zero. We'll see if something further which looks as if it might be a serious attempt is tried.) Ellen
  36. 2 points
    Moar Queue Pleez ...
  37. 2 points
    At a skim, there is a lot of dropped context and rationalizing to conflate different things, going on in that article. "Frightening parallels" with the Third Reich? "Fascists". "Ultranationalism"? That sounds like the collectivist's knee-jerk response to confronting independence, autonomy, self-sovereignty, self-responsibility--and sure, caring for your country and admiring its accomplishments, while acknowledging its errors. One quote : "...you create this false fear and panic by painting the ordinary center-left party as socialists..." (Right, I see - there aren't any socialists just those poor, hard-done by center-leftists). (And he cites Hannah Arendt approvingly...). And: "It's a future thing, our greatness, not a past thing". (Wow. Nothing to see here, America and Americans made nothing and achieved nothing. Maybe one day we can be great, when we've appeased everyone and apologized enough for existing). Then - "Trump's War On Immigrants". So why do (some, many, if not all) immigrants want to enter the US to live, if not for their liberation from others - from their own people - and under laws they won't find back at home or elsewhere? But even so, nobody has an inherent right to immigrate to any sane country today, without some controls (like several SA friends who settled happily in the USA twenty to thirty years ago, did not have that "right" - it took years and they had to fulfill many requirements, e.g. first finding solid employment there). To indulge their moral sentimentalism, and for nefarious demographic reasons, the leftists want to open the doors to everyone. By so doing, I imagine the essential nature of the nation could eventually change, exactly contrary to what some of those immigrants sought in the first place! And it's not like many caring Leftists are volunteering to take in and look after newcomers, themselves. Others will pay for us to feel good. America has its Fascists, but those I keep seeing, loudly hearing and forcing their opinions down others' throats while shutting down dissent and freedoms, are almost all plainly Leftists. The smear "ultranationalism" is camouflage to cover Jason Stanley's tracks: what he and many want is 'Internationalism', or "Globalism". Here is a plain-spoken conservative voice to clean the palate, what I've floated before, about Obama and intellectuals dedicated to Europeanizing America : Europeanize America? Not on Your Life by David C. Stolinsky September 27, 2018 at 5:00 am https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/13022/europeanize-america Europe did not invent racism and religious bigotry, but it surely perfected them. Europeans lived for centuries under kings and emperors. They came to believe that power flowed from the top down. The "elite" decide what is best for the "common people" -- the "masses" -- and then cram it down their throats. The "elite" send their children to the best schools and universities, and relegate the children of the "common people" to lousy schools, where they get lousy educations, which prepare them for lousy jobs, which pay lousy salaries, which leave them dependent on the government for a lifetime of "assistance." But they expect the "common people" to be grateful for the "universal education" -- and for the "assistance." The American idea of individuals being responsible and taking responsibility is utterly foreign to the "elite," who seem much more comfortable with the European idea of infantilizing subjects to make them dependent on a parentified government to protect them, care for them, dole out money to them, and in general control their lives. If people cannot even choose their own light bulbs, toilets, or dishwasher detergent, in what sense are they free? The Normandy American Cemetery is the burial place of thousands of American soldiers who fought and died to liberate Europe during World War II, many of them on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace) If Europeanize were not a word, we would have to invent it, because that is what many are doing to America. Remember when candidate Obama was asked if he believed America is exceptional? He answered yes, but only in the sense that Britain, Greece, and other nations are exceptional. As Gilbert and Sullivan said, "When every one is somebodee, Then no one's anybody!" If every nation is exceptional, none is. It is not that Obama and his friends really think America is unexceptional. They may well believe it is exceptional, but that it should not be. So they do everything they can to end its exceptional nature, and to make it resemble other nations. They are Europeanizing America. Do not get me wrong. I love Europe. That is, I love to visit it: I love to see the towers in Ireland, where monks hid from Viking raiders while preserving knowledge for the West. But now, Ireland's church is scandal-ridden. I love to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, a reminder of the time when Britain controlled one-fifth of the Earth. But now the British army is a shadow of its former self. In 2013, a British soldier was murdered and almost beheaded on a London street. I love to see the unsurpassed beauty of Paris. But now France is undergoing a demographic transformation. I love to see beautiful cathedrals, where Christianity inspired great works of art. But now they have few worshippers. And there are other things in Europe that I do not love, but I feel obligated to see: I feel obligated to visit Clifford's Tower in York, England, where in the year 1190, Jews were massacred because of their faith. Europe did not invent racism and religious bigotry, but it surely perfected them. Europe invented the blood libel as far back as 1144, falsely accusing Jews of using the blood of children for Jewish rituals. I feel obligated to remember (because it no longer exists) the Vélodrome d'Hiver, the Paris bicycle-racing stadium where in 1942 the French police rounded up thousands of Jews for shipment to Auschwitz. And today in France, Jews are targeted for assault or murder. I feel obligated to visit Belleau Wood, where U.S. Marines fought and diedto liberate Europe in World War I. I feel obligated to visit Omaha Beach, where U.S. soldiers fought and diedto liberate Europe in World War II. I feel obligated to read (insofar as I can) European newspapers, to remind myself of ingrates who condemn "American militarism." I feel obligated to visit the reading room at the British Museum, where many people say Karl Marx sat and fantasized an ideal communist society -- as a result of which about 100 million died. I feel obligated to visit the site of the Munich beer hall where Hitler launched his first attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic. Thanks a lot, Europe, for giving us two world wars, socialism, communism, fascism, Nazism, and for perfecting racism as exemplified by the Holocaust. You have done so much for the world in the last century. No wonder "progressives" think Americans should be more like you. Europeans lived for centuries under kings and emperors. They came to believe that power flowed from the top down. So they felt comfortable when their new rulers called themselves Führer, the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Council of the European Union, or whatever. The idea was similar: The "elite" decide what is best for the "common people" -- the "masses" -- and then cram it down their throats. The "elite" dream up notions of the "ideal" state, and leave the "common people" to deal with the inevitable mess that results. The "elite" are cared for in the best hospitals and clinics, and relegate the "common people" to the tender mercies of "gatekeepers" who may -- or may not -- allow you to see imported doctors from who-knows-where. But they expect the "common people" to be grateful for "universal coverage." Government-run health care is a major step in the demolition process. If bureaucrats can tell people what care they and their loved ones can receive -- and what care they cannot receive -- in what sense are those people free citizens, and not subjects of a domineering government that imposes life-and-death decisions on them? The "elite" send their children to the best schools and universities, and relegate the children of the "common people" to lousy schools, where they get lousy educations, which prepare them for lousy jobs, which pay lousy salaries, which leave them dependent on the government for a lifetime of "assistance." But they expect the "common people" to be grateful for the "universal education" -- and for the "assistance." The "elite" view schools and universities as a source of indoctrination, not education. They require students to regurgitate the "correct" doctrine, whether it is Nazi, communist, socialist, or environmentalist. Original thought is punished with lower grades. The "elite" view our children as wards of the state, for whom we have only limited responsibility. They view home-schooling with alarm, and they want to imprison parents who home-school their children, as is already done in (surprise!) Germany. The "elite" view the government as the source of help for those in need. So they vote the "correct" way, but like Europeans, they give little to charity, and they actually discourage giving to charity. The "elite" see nothing wrong with the fact that 52% of American childrennow live in households receiving means-tested government assistance. In fact, the "elite" would like 100% of children to depend on government assistance ‒ that is, on them, the "elite." The "elite" care little for foreigners who suffer and die, so like Europeans, they want to shrink the military until it is too weak to intervene to stop tyranny or mass murder. They run up huge debts and push new social programs, leaving less money for defense. Europeans could let their defenses atrophy, because America defended them. But if we weaken ourselves, who will defend us? Belgium? Who will fight global terrorism? Liechtenstein? Yes, war is terrible; is surrender better? Is what China is engineering now -- total spying, grading and controlling all of its citizens -- what the West really wants for its children and grandchildren? Americans, on the contrary, believe that power flows from the bottom up. We believe in trying something, and if it doesn't work, trying something else. We do not believe in allowing the "elite" to impose their unworkable notions of the "ideal" state. We view our children as gifts, for whom we have ultimate responsibility to bring up to be self-reliant, ethical citizens. Americans, in fact, do not believe in the "elite" in the first place. So, predictably, the self-anointed "elite" do not like American ideas, and they seem to be doing their best to demolish the American system. And now, with the unaffordable Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"), we can look forward to increasingly severe doctor shortages. Many young people are willing to spend the best years of their lives training to be independent professionals, but not to be government underlings. And waiting times are growing progressively longer. I wish you good luck and good health -- you will need both. The American idea of rights is utterly foreign to the "elite," who are much more comfortable with the European idea of privileges granted -- or withdrawn -- at the whim of the government. The American idea of individuals being responsible and taking responsibility is utterly foreign to the "elite," who seem much more comfortable with the European idea of infantilizing subjects to make them dependent on a parentified government to protect them, care for them, dole out money to them, and in general control their lives. If people cannot even choose their own light bulbs, toilets, or dishwasher detergent, in what sense are they free? Yes, the "elite" want to Europeanize America. But in view of what has happened in Europe in the last century, and what is happening there now, this seems like a really abysmal idea. And I'll keep that in mind when I vote. Dr. David C. Stolinsky, a retired physician, is based in the US.
  38. 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
  39. 2 points
  40. 2 points
  41. 2 points
    i thought you all might get a chuckle out of this. ?
  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
    "I have my eye on you". (In effect) The president doesn't have to say much more, his implication, as regularly before, is if you (a country) want to be part of the civilised and rule of law-abiding group of nations -- then behave that way, with self-responsibility, and protect lives and property rights. (Otherwise, there could be economic consequences - and you know I can do it). Every other world leader, notably the UK, has shirked and played down the farm issue in South Africa, with a muted response only from an Australian govt. minister inviting farmers over there. Their chicken appeasement policy is clear, like the UK turned a blind eye after cutting loose Zimbabwe: they don't want to appear to be racist, patronising and post-imperialist. As it is, the outraged reactions in local media have been tiresomely predictable. Good for you, President Trump!
  44. 2 points
    Alex Jones is a fighter. He will kick their asses so hard that they will have to clear their throat to fart. They will wish to God they never tangled with Alex Jones.
  45. 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
  46. 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
  47. 2 points
    No clarification needed, if you read the thread, you'll see that I've solved that problem already. Indeed, as you say: "The small wheel mounted on the same hub as the big (outer wheel) slips and drags", I've given a mathematical description that shows that the small wheel must slip if the large wheel rotates without slipping, contrary to the premise that both wheels rotate without slipping. Problem solved.
  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
    Two thumbs up. We can only hope there is enough talent out there to replace all the other Gunns and Barrs who ought to be fired forpolluting tweets..
  50. 2 points
    Argument by assertion? Nope, just a plain old assertion. I note the conspicuous absence of any sort of reason for this naked assertion! The President, by his own words, was educated at the best schools, has the best words, the best comprehension of events, the best living spaces, the best clothes, the best lawyers, the best employees, the best mind, all the trappings of life "at the top." That is the antithesis of elite. Of course, just because you incorporate an elite mind, an elite understanding, an elite-class persuasive appeal, and an Ur-elite self-record of being right about everything that matters ... and just because somebody sees an Emperor's crown your head, as the apex man, the elite hotelier and a person who builds towers that do not fall down(!), none of this suggests a man sees himself as elite. And I, of course, am Marie of Roumania.