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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
    Well, I think you deserve a lot more than a pork chop. Just to let you know: I might not be able to be responding to anything further for a couple days. I have a dental operation scheduled for early tomorrow. Oh, such fun. Ellen
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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.
  19. 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
  20. 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?
  21. 2 points
  22. 2 points
    Blacks as akin to apes is old time deep South racism I've not heard for years. You make it sound as if Carol was born in Atlanta and grew up watching Birth of a Nation at the local theater. Playing a racism gotcha on such thin semantical evidence albeit powered by logic is ad hominem but not enough to accuse you of being an ad hominemist. --Brant
  23. 2 points
    Correct. It's dogmatism: Dogmatism made this little dog taller than the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. J
  24. 2 points
    Is the problem that Bob is misperceiving the illustration as representing the north pole despite being told otherwise? Verbal description is being overridden by a visual misunderstanding? Maybe this will help? Start at the yellow ball. Walk south 1 mile (the distance of the red line). Walk west 1 mile (the circumference of the green circle). Walk north 1 mile (the distance of the red line). You are back at your starting point, the yellow ball. J
  25. 2 points
    The true north pole? This can't be the answer; it's too easy. Des Moines? --Brant
  26. 2 points
    William, you won't like my "best guess." You like gossip, inquisiting nosily. You like posting gobs of stuff. You like getting a rise from people and then whining about their not treating you respectfully. You crave attention, which you wouldn't have much success at getting on liberal sites. You aren't seeking rational discourse and aren't actually "a fan of reason," as you describe yourself, but Objecivish sites give you a place where you can preen ruffled feathers over people's lack of desire to discuss issues with you and where you can adopt a superiority tone tut-tuting their supposed (sometimes actual, granted) cultishness. Ellen
  27. 2 points
    Er, your demand was, "I will continue to attack your mother if you don't do what I want (ie, stop contradicting me)." If you want to be left alone, you go where other people aren't. I have always found that strategy to work well.
  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
    I think Letendre wants Objectivist Living to be a precious little island 'safe from WSS.' That will be the day. At some point I think he will come away from the cult of QAnon. I wish Jules wouldn't try to ape the kookiest and most disgusting behavioural aspects of Letendre. It makes the forum front page today seem to be gurgling with aggression, delusions and irrationality. Objective-ish assessments, discourse and disputes? Not so much. I report most of these disturbing posts, but no one seems to be picking up at the other end.
  30. 2 points
    So what you are sayin is Billyboy has more class than you? 😈
  31. 2 points
    Right, and thanks. The "should" was that of the poser of the problem. I thought after I'd posted that Tony might mistakenly take the "should" as mine, even though I'd said "Here's how the problem goes" (i,e., here's how the person posing the problem was thinking), but I didn't have time to edit by adding a parenthetical stating that the "should" was the assumption of the problem's formulator. Regarding Tony's continuing to call the track superfluous: The track, like the "should," was put into the problem by the person who formulated it. Quite agreed - and I've said before - that the problem isn't a genuine paradox - defined as "an apparent contradiction between two true premises" - but instead an actual contradiction between a false assumption and reality. Ellen
  32. 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/
  33. 2 points
    Tony says the lid does NOT over-spin it’s track.
  34. 2 points
    >> Well, at least the article gives the correct solution > I get it. You believe there is only one correct solution -- merely because you like it. There are many proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. Is only one of them correct merely because you like it best? So you admit that it is a solution. However, it is the same solution that has been given and defended by Jon, Jonathan, Ellen, Baal and me. Yet you’ve many times stated that our solution was wrong, that seems to me to be a contradiction. Further it is a simple solution that goes to the heart of the paradox. >> The part with the cycloids doesn't explain the paradox. > Maybe to you. The cycloids solution is correct. What part of it do you not understand? There is nothing to understand. Your own summary states: “Summarizing, the smaller circle moves horizontally 2πR because any point on the smaller circle travels a shorter, more direct path than any point on the larger circle.” Well, duh. That the smaller circle moves 2πR when the large circle rolls without slipping one revolution is trivial, you don’t need any cycloids to prove that. Moreover, in your “second solution” you say the same thing without any cycloids, implying that these are just unnecessary embellishments. But the fact that the smaller circle also moves over a distance of 2πR is just the first part of the solution. The paradox is generated by the supposition that the small circle also rolls without slipping, implying that after one revolution it would move over a distance 2πr < 2πR: contradiction. Conclusion: the small circle cannot roll without slipping, it must slip to make up the difference 2π(R – r). QED. > This is easily shown. Add two more inner concentric circles to the usual two depicting Aristotle's wheel paradox, such as to represent the inner and outer edges of the white ring on a white wall tire. When all four are rolled together, all three inner concentric circles move the identical horizontal distance, the circumference of the largest circle. Their circumferences, all different, are irrelevant, but their centers, all the same, are relevant. The same as above: it is trivial that all those circles move the same horizontal distance, but that is just the first part of the paradoxical statement, the second part being the supposition that those smaller circles also can roll without slipping. It is only by combining those two parts that the paradox arises. Therefore the notion of slippage is essential for understanding and solving this paradox. > 'Slipping' is in fact just an unnecessary distraction compared to the second, translation solution on the Wikipedia page. The translation solution is simpler and far more elegant than 'slippage'. The center of the smaller circle matters; its circumference doesn't. Wrong. As I’ve shown above, the “translation solution” isn’t a solution, it’s just stating one half of the paradox problem. The circumference of the smaller circle is essential to the paradox and its solution. If the radius of the smaller circle equals the radius of the large circle, the paradox disappears. > On August 14 I challenged you to quantify the three terms on the right of this equation: > 2*pi*R = Rotation + Translation + Slippage > You haven't answered yet. Is answering it too difficult for you? You can’t expect me to “answer”, as you didn’t ask me anything in that post.
  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
    I'm assuming that the left is temporarily back to fully selectively supporting presumption of innocence again, correct?
  37. 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
  38. 2 points
    Notice that in the animation, the red arc of the larger wheel first moves left before moving right? See how, in it's very first few moments of movement, it goes to the left of the vertical line that represents the starting point? Then, as the larger wheel's red line unrolls, it extends out beyond the vertical line on the left (the finish line), and then tucks back in at the last fraction of a second? These are the types of things that some of us notice, where others don't. Um, no. "The" eye/brain? Heh. Which brain is "the" eye/brain? My eye/brain does just fine measuring both tapes at once. My eye/brain notices and accounts for things that "the" eye/brain doesn't. Btw, the animation is clearly fucked up. The distance covered is too long for the small wheel, and too short for the large wheel. Yeah, the safety wheel is not in contact at the same time as the main wheel. It's there for when the main wheel fails. J
  39. 2 points
    I'm looking forward to hearing idiot lefties who are going to be surprised when they discover that their having taken the House will have no effect on their trying to shut down Trump's nomination of Ginsberg's replacement. "Ha ha, we've got the House now, and we're not going to confirm anyone you try to appoint! Suck it! Wait, what? Huh? The House doesn't get to vote on it? That's not fair!"
  40. 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
  41. 2 points
  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
    They see suave, debonair Frisco giving a philosophically deep money speech, or John Galt taking over a radio presentation and addressing the audience in the manner of a professor. If they don't see that style in someone real life, then they don't see that person's intelligence and productivity that they themselves will never match, and they look down their noses at the substance and accomplishments. They're kind of living in the aesthetic trance from having read Rand's novels, and having cast themselves as being equal to her fictional heroes, despite not really having accomplished shit. They also tend to forget what a "bad boy" Roark could be. True narcissists promise things that they don't deliver. Obama did a lot of that. He was stylistically smooth and gave the appearance of being an intellectual, and of knowing what he was doing. He made people feel that he looked as if he should be in charge. Dingbat Ocasio-Cortez is currently trying to do the same, but not succeeding as well at the pose. She's recently been asked a few times by members of the press about how she intends to pay for her 40 trillion dollar proposed commie spending spree. She has been able to come up with only 2 trillion by proposing seriously putting the wealthy through the ringer (and disregarding the consequences of doing so). And then she starts to promise what narcissist Obama had promised: Socializing shit will actually SAVE lots of fucking money! Yeah! Hoorah! We can give shit away, left and right, to millions of more patients, students and consumers, and even do more consuming than producing, and the result will be savings and cheaper prices and rainbows and gumdrops and happiness! Cuz we're the richest country so we can therefore afford to raise our moral standards and become just as civilized as all of the countries which are poor due to having adopted Ocasio-Cortez's wonderful ideology. And, yet, Trump, whose ideas deliver more than promised, is accused of being a "narcissist"? Hahaha! J
  44. 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?
  45. 2 points
    It's probably global warming. Nothing a government tax or regulation can't fix. Michael
  46. 2 points
    The companies are private, when Alex Jones signed up for these services he signed agreements that the content he posts is within their rules. From memory, Alex Jones either heard about Youtube banning him or it was that he received warnings from Youtube---the point is, Jones knew they were looking to remove his channel because he was not within their rules, yet he continued posting. This isn't the government censoring free speech, it is Youtube looking after their brand, standards, shareholders, etc. I'd bet they contacted lawyers before banning Jones to make sure they are well within their rights. This is a business removing someone for not following their rules.
  47. 2 points
  48. 2 points
  49. 2 points
    There is no paradox. Please see: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/AristotlesWheelParadox.html The small wheel mounted on the same hub as the big (outer wheel) slips and drags.. For an angle theta that a radius turns the center is moved 2*pi*theta*R horizontally where R is the radius of the larger outer wheel. This exceeds 2*pi*theta*r where r is the radius of the smaller innerwheel. R > r so the distance that the center goes during a turn of angle theta is greater than the smaller inner wheel would have gone if it did NOT SLIP. The resolution of the so-called paradox is that the inner wheel slips by the quantity 2*pi*theta* (R-r). As the article I quoted states the appearance of a paradox is based on the false assertion that the existence of a continuous one to one function between the points on the circumference of the inner and outer wheels in implies the length of the arc on the inner wheel corresponding to a turn of d theta (in infinitesimal turn) equal the length of the corresponding arc on the outer wheel. Not so. the length of the outer arc is to the length of the inner arc as R is to r. Problem solved. It is unnecessary to fall into the philosophical tar pit of Logical Positivism which denies an external reality and asserts all we have are relations between data, i.e. perceptions of the outer reality. This is sometimes called phenomenalism. It says that either there is no outer (external) reality or all that our minds can ever get are the experience of the outer reality (if it exists). This is also the premise that Kant used. He said there is an external reality, but we only get what the mind filters in (of it). To be truthful, I do not know of a satisfactory resolution of the disconnect between the external or "real" reality and the perceived reality that our intellects can deal with. I do not resolve the paradox (I am sorry to say). I AVOID the paradox by resorting to the "shut up and calculate" tactic in which I get an answer that conforms to what I experience each and every time I make a measurement and calculate an assertion of what I will measure. This approach is never wrong, but it is totally unsatisfying to those who insist that the :"real" reality is there and can be experienced or sensed. Kant denied this. Me? I avoid the disagreement. I beg you to forgive me for not resolving the question you raised. The best I can do for you is clarify the problem, but I still leave you with the problem. Sorry about that.
  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