BaalChatzaf

Members
  • Posts

    16,285
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    8

Posts posted by BaalChatzaf

  1. Jody,

    I'll be watching!

    I check the "Astronomy Picture of the Day" at refdesk.com every day. A few days ago they posted a stunning picture of the Andromeda Galaxy:

    http://www.robgendlerastropics.com/M31NMmosaic.html

    I never get tired on this stuff.

    Nor I. That is dazzling.

    When I look at this material I keep hearing Carl Sagan's voice: In the cusmos there are billyuns and billyuns of stuhrs and we are all made of stuhrstuff. The cusmos is all there is, all there ever was and all there will ever be.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  2. Learned something at work today. We were talking about big numbers. I think some of you might enjoy this. See the table on this site for the differences between U.S. and U.K. numbering.

    The big numbers past a trillion, in ascending powers of ten (in parentheses), are as follows:

    million (6)

    billion (9)

    trillion (12)

    quadrillion (15)

    quintillion (18)

    sextillion (21)

    septillion (24)

    octillion (27)

    nonillion (30)

    decillion (33)

    undecillion (36)

    duodecillion (39)

    tredecillion (42)

    quattuordecillion (45)

    quindecillion (48)

    sexdecillion (51)

    septendecillion (54)

    octodecillion (57)

    novemdecillion (60)

    vigintillion (63)

    centillion (108)

    I still don't know how much a brazillian or a gazillion is :-)

    Kat

    (edit - I had to disable the smileys because a happy face with shades popped up every time I typed 8)

    The following SI metric prefixes have been proposed based on the names of the Marx Brothers:

    harpo- hr

    1000^-9

    10^-27

    [1] Marx Bros. Harpo

    groucho- gc

    1000^-10

    10-^30

    [1] Marx Bros. Groucho

    zeppo- zp

    1000^-11

    10^-33

    [2] Marx Bros. Zeppo

    gummo- gm

    1000^-12

    10^-36

    [2] Marx Bros. Gummo

    chico- ch

    1000^-13

    10^-39

    [2] Marx Bros. Chico

    For example a Chicometer wold be 1000^-13 meters.

    See:

    http://www.chemtutor.com/prex.htm

    This sounds like there are people in the measurement naming community who have far too much idle time on their hands.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  3. Whatever the reasons for Rand's wanting to keep evolution at arm's length, its legacy is a weird disconnect about evolution out in some neighborhoods of Rand-land. When presented with "intelligent design," an ARI acolyte will insist that biological evolution is incontrovertible scientific fact and that "intelligent design" advocates are the sheerest of theological obscurantists. Yet, when asked whether evolution has any relevance to metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics, the ARI acolyte, quoting Dr. Peikoff, will insist that evolution is forever outside the scope of philosophy. And when questions are raised as to why Rand was uncomfortable with evolution, well... we know what happened to Neil Parille when he ventured into that territory a while back.

    Robert Campbell

    Allow me to venture a guess why Rand stood away from Evolution Theory. The Theory of Evolution in its current state puts us in a continuum of descent from a common ancestor to the chimps and the bonbobos. The chimps and bonobos manifest behavior which not purely instinctual. This is not to say the chimps (for example) equal humans in linguistic ability or mental abstraction. But they do show conceptual ability at some level as is exhibit in certain problem solving scenarios. Think of the prehomonids portrayed in -2001: A Space Odessy-. The difference between the bone weapon and an orbiting space station is one of degree as was shown in the famous "toss the bone" seqway in the motion picture. Likewise, humans exhibit some "wired in" tropes and behavior modalities. See -The Blank Slate- by Steven Pinker for more on that.

    Rand, if I understand her correctly, insisted that man is the only advanced mammal -without- instincts. It just ain't so. It may be true that Man is not -ruled- by instinct, but we do have them and we occasionally overcome them with effort and training. If you grant Evolution, as it currently is, then Man differs from his cousins on the evolution tree sometimes only in degree and at other times by kind. We are not totally sundered from those species with whom we share 95+ percent of our genes. To put a point on it, I belief Rand did not like the theory of evolution for some of the same reasons that the religious folk of Britain had when they objected to Darwin's thesis. She did not believe Heroic Man was a Great Ape's cousin.

    Ba'al Chatzaf (Chutzpah Guy).

  4. Although Bob framed his questions in terms of just inquiring about the status of a person's convictions on the subject, I have a cavil because the wording of the questions carries the implications (a) that there is global warming; and (b ) that at least some of said warming is anthropogenic. I think there are two more-basic questions to ask first:

    (1) Do you think there even is a warming trend?

    (2) If yes, do you think that human production of CO2 is a factor at all in producing that trend?

    My answers are that I know of no good reason yet to conclude there is a warming trend, or to think that human CO2 production is a contributing factor if there is one.

    Ellen

    ___

    In a way, I was asking if the hypothetical questionee believed that the climate models are sound. I have grave doubts on that matter. As I have stated elsewhere we really do not have a well grounded theory of earth-climate. And for good reason. It is much more complicated than, say, field and particle physics and we are lacking a great deal of the data. In addition our data collection is biased by urban "heat islands" where most of the measuring stations are located. And to top it all off, the underlying processes, insofar as we comprehend them, are non-linear and chaotic. Compared to climate and weather, quantum field theory is a trivial exercise. I would be hesitant to base public policy and zillions of tax dollars on the conclusions from models which are incomplete and probably defective.

    In todays climate (sic!) this is a very un-PC attitude. That puts me at odds with (gasp!) The United Nations! Oh the horror, the horror!

    Ba'al Chatzaf (Lord of Chutzpah)

  5. You're 100% correct: equality sucks. As much as I revere the US Declaration of Independence, it states in the first line of the second paragraph: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."

    I beg to differ.

    It's crushingly clear that all people are not created equal. That concept is a Great Lie that US society injects into our heads as soon as it thinks we're able to comprehend.

    Context! Jefferson was talking about the equality in basic rights: Life, Liberty and the Purfuit of Happineff.

    Ba'al Chafatz

  6. Hume wanted to burn books?

    Dayaamm!

    I think Hume must be given more serious attention by Objectivists, but with comments like that, all he did was add gasoline to the flames of the Hume/Kant burners.

    Michael

    Hume was simply being rhetorical. In fact he was a librarian at some period in his life, and he wrote -the- definitive book on English history (at that time). It was the first fully documented history of England. Our own Ben Franklin made arrangement to buy a set and to help fund Hume's historical efforts. So I seriously doubt that Hume was a genuine book burner.

    He considered only two classes of statement philosophically meaningful:

    1. Statements about the relationships of ideas

    2. Statements about fact and quantity (empirical statements).

    Anything else, he considered as nonsense, hence his rather rhetorically excessive quip.

    Whether you agree with Hume or not, just compare the clarity of his writing with the obscurity of Kant's writings. Hume wrote in order to be read with understanding.

    Ba'al Chafatz (Lord of Chutpah)

  7. Quotes, everybody loves to read 'em. What are your favorites?

    A few of mine that I apply to my every day life are:

    "Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."

    Ayn Rand

    Here is a beauty spoken by our Rabbi at the last Purim Service: (Purim commemorates a failed genocide attempt in Persia 2300 years ago).

    They tried to kill us

    The failed

    Let's eat.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  8. Quotes, everybody loves to read 'em. What are your favorites?

    A few of mine that I apply to my every day life are:

    "Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."

    Ayn Rand

    "I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

    Ayn Rand

    "The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me."

    Ayn Rand

    "In theory, theory is practice. In practice it isn't."

    Yogi Berra

    "Be careful if you don't know where you're going because you might not get there"

    Yogi Berra

    "You can observe a lot by just watching."

    Yogi Berra

    "All pitchers are liars or crybabies."

    Yogi Berra

    Here are few I use:

    When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

    David Hume

    Mongol General: Conan! What is best in life?

    Mongol Soldier: Swift horse, the wind in the face, the falcon upon the hand!

    Mongol General: Wrong. Conan! What is best?

    Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

    Mongol General: Yes. That is best.

    From the mouth of Conan the Barbarian as played by the Governator -- Arnoldt Schwartzernegger

    Persian to Spartans: Lay down your weapons?

    Spartan to Persian: Μολών Λαβέ (Come and get them!).

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  9. Thanks guys. You are all too kind. I am going watch my diet and pay more attention to my brother's ideas on diet. You're all great.

    As soon as your doctor clears you to do physical exercise, visit the gym thrice weekly (at least). When there do, but not overdo, gentle aerobics and some upper body work with the weights. Easy does it, but do it.

    A day without a twenty mile bike ride is a day without joy. Like today. It has been raining steadily all day here in the Bad-a-Bing State, New Jersey. Phoo!

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  10. Knowledge is power. There can be great advantages to joining a group of like-minded people, but we must know the dangers involved in such membership, and we must be very certain to keep sacrosanct our own independent view of reality. If we do not, we may not become suicide bombers, but we surely shall become cultists.

    Barbara Branden

    You don't even have to join a cult.

    See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

    Normal people can easily be turned into monsters.

    With a little trickery we can all get in touch with our Inner Nazi.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  11. My own idea of the history of philosophy, from the time I was a child, has been summarized by the title of the introductory volume of the Great Books set: "The Great Conversation." I have thought of philosophy as a discourse amongst intelligent minds grappling with difficult questions in an ongoing dialogue over the ages. [...]

    Mortimer Adler, who created the Great Books program and breathed that perspective, was worth a dozen Peikoffs as an educator.

    I am dismayed that more haven't followed Adler's lead in a host of areas. Such as with his small but potent book Aristotle for Everybody. That got me interested in delving into Rand's idol as no other book ever could, including the one she recommended by John Herman Randall. Why haven't more Objectivists or sympathizers found the writing touch to do other such brief, accessible treatments of philosophers for the general public?

    Amen to that. Adler has presented Aristotle in the best light for those not familiar with Aristotle's works. I am not an Aristotle fan myself. I think the blunders he committed in his -Physics- and -On the Heavens- set back real science hundreds of years. In spite of this, Adler has given me an appreciation of just how broad The Philosopher's interests were. He was a smokin' Philosophy Machine and he left his mark on the ages for -both- good and ill. A true genius.

    Men like Adler have done yeoman service to making philosophy both interesting and relevant to the non-scholar. On balance, I think Adler has done a better job of promoting Aristotle's philosophical heritage than either Rand or Peikoff.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  12. If I may stretch the category a bit, I really enjoyed Arthur Koestler's The Act of Creation and The Ghost in the Machine. They're both about a lot more than science, but it figures prominently in them.

    Roger-You're about the third or fourth whose intelligence I respect that has recommended these two books. I have read "Darkness At Noon", but nothing else of Koestler's. Think I'll pick those up(which is the last thing I need, more books I have to read!, but I can't resist any excuse to purchase more books)

    Read -The Sleepwalkers- by Koestler. Embedded therein is the only (partial) English translation of Kepler's notebooks. Kepler is one of the few scientists who kept a stream of consciousness journal of his thinking when he did researches on planetary motion, included self deprecations for making mistakes (oh what a dummkofp, I am etc. etc.). So you not only get Kepler's final results (he fitted ellipses to the data points of Mars which Tycho Brahe's people recorded), but you get the intermediate steps, his false and mistaken tries at fitting the data. Kepler's results are not only the work of genius and inspiration, but of elbow grease and lots of calculations (Kepler did not have calculus as did Newton). Kepler sweated over the Mars ephemarus for eight solid years before he got a decent fit.

    Bob Kolker

  13. Generosity and Self-Interest

    by David Kelley

    From the December 2004/January 2005 issue of the Fraser Forum.

    People do generous things. They give directions to strangers, contribute to charities, volunteer in hospitals, send food and supplies to earthquake victims. Actions like these are usually described as altruistic, in contrast to the pursuit of self-interest. In a free society, most of our interactions with people involve trade: we provide values to others only on terms that benefit ourselves. Generosity, however, means providing someone with a value that is not part of a definite trade, without the expectation of a definite return.

    TOC...

    I think a case for generosity can be made on the basis of a generalized trader principle. Let us assume your acts of uncalculated generosity do not put you to excessive trouble or place you at hazard. If you want someone to grant you an unpurchased and unrequited favor, it seems fair that you be willing to do and actually do the same sort of thing. If I expect someone to give me directions if I ask them (it isn't all that troublesome to the person being asked) I feel obliged to do the same if I am asked. In any case, acts of minor generosity promotes an ambiance of helpfulness that we can all benefit from. And it promotes a generally friendly and cordial attitude to boot. There is nothing wrong with cordial relations with one's fellow humans.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  14. Inconvenient Truth versus Inconvenient Swindle

    (Thoughts on both sides of the global warming issue.)

    Another very pleasant surprise was the basic science lesson I received from this film. I have never been interested in ecology one way or another, so whenever I have seen the phrase, "global warming," I always assumed that it meant something like the earth getting hotter from the atmosphere all the way down to the core. I was pretty surprised to see that it was merely the weather and the atmosphere (and, to a smaller extent, the ocean). A much better term for me to have understood at my lack-of-interest distance would have been "warming of the earth's weather." I am sure that there are many people who are at the awareness level I was on this and they would be surprised to learn that all the shouting is not over our planet getting hotter. It isn't. Only the weather is.

    Sometime hot makes cold. If global weather warming causes enough melting of the Canadian ice pack and Arctic polar ice, the salt concentration in the ocean region between the Gulf of Mexico and the Northern Canadian Maritime Provinces will be lowered. This could rapidly turn off the thermo-hallicene conveyor which means the Gulf Stream will go away. That means warm water from the Gulf will not be transported to Europe. England, Holland and the areas bordering the North Sea will cool off and these areas will have hard cold winters. Once again folks may be ice skating on the Thames and in the Dutch canals. It will be time for Hans Brinker to get his Silver Skates out of the closet.

    The interruption of the Gulf Stream could have some heavy effects on the El Nino. This could lead to drought and flooding. Alas, the mechanics of the El Nino is not completely understood so there will be more said about that by the experts when they learn more.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  15. Rather, the skeptics were the adherents to Aristotle's doctrines, according to which imperfections in the heavens were impossible. No doubt contributing to his fate, Galileo provoked these philosophers, scoffing at their uncritical reliance on Aristotle's text. When one of them died, Galileo quipped that although the man had ignored the moons of Jupiter during his time on Earth, he might discover them on his way to heaven."

    --American Scientist, Trial of the Centuries

    Galileo's nickname was Wrangler. Apparently he was argumentative and pugnacious. He was also a smart-ass of magnitude 1. His portrayal of Pope Urban VII as Simplicio (an Aristotelean dumb-dumb) in G's famous -Dialogues on the Two World System- did not endear him to the upper management of the Church. In fact, his cheekiness put his arse in a meat grinder. Galileo was truly a ba'al chatzaf!

    Strangely enough, Mr. G's favorite argument for the rotation of the Earth was completely bogus. G had a theory of tides that was essentially the water sloshing in a moving tub model. G, in his correspondence with Kepler, chided Kepler in thinking that the Moon had something to do with tides. Galileo called such speculation -moonshine-! Well Kepler was right and Galileo was wrong. So even smart-ass cheeky geniuses can be wrong sometimes.

    What is even more strange is that Galileo discovered the very instrument with which he could -prove- the Earth rotates about its axis. It is none other than the pendulum. In 1851 Leon Focault displayed his namesake pendulum in Paris proving for damned sure that the earth rotates on its axis (not that anyone at that time doubted it). Galileo had the proof he needed in his hand, but his grasp of inertia was not sound enough for him to make the case.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  16. If it is facts independent of human choices then grok this. Shot an electron through a Stern Gerlach magnet. The electron will go up or down wrt. to the plane dividing the heads of the magnet. All electrons are alike being in a superposed quantum state for there spin. You have a fifty fifty chance of an up or down outcome. Now shoot a stream of up-electrons through another Stern Gerlach magnet. Lo and Behold! The stream splits again. Which way it comes out is not determined by any observable property of the electron. The same electron with spin up on one occasion will emerge spin down on another. Since no discernible factor determines the output I would say the output is happenstance.

    That is not correct. The electrons from the spin-up beam will remain spin-up if there are no other interactions, they are in a pure state, so in a second SG apparatus they'll generate only an up-beam. However, if the second SG magnet is oriented in a different direction (for example in the y direction if the first SG magnet was oriented in the z direction and x is the direction of the beam) you'll get again split beam, half of the electrons with spin in the y direction and half of the electrons with spin in the -y direction. Still strange enough for your purposes.

    Thank you for the correction. Two identical measurements done real quick before decoherance indeed will be the same.

    Still strange: Take an up electron out of the first S.G. magnet and put it through a right-left S.G. magnet. That same electron put through an up-down S.G. magnet again has a fifty fifty chance of coming out down.

    In short, the direction of our much abused electron is not determined by any property it came to possess and what ever its final outcome is , is by chance. No necessity there. So even in the world of the inanimate and insentient you have contingent and accidental events (which are facts).

    The general statement that facts are necessary has been shown to be false by counter example.

    If an outcome different from the outcome observed is still -possible- then the outcome is not necessary.

    In general terms necessary p => not possible not p. That is modal logic for you.

    And lest we think there are hidden determinants (know as "hidden variables"), the experiments showing the failure of the Bell Inequalities throws that supposition into doubt.

    Be that is it may, the last word has not been said.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  17. You're new here so I'll be polite, but please cut out the condenscension. If there's one thing I know it's how to fight a war, from the bottom up or the top down and lots of in between.

    --Brant

    Asking for politely for particulars in response to a rather general unspecific assertion is hardly condescension. What it is, is a request for more data. Apparently you are disinclined to elaborate on your assertion. 'Tis a shame. So be it.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  18. Latin america is currently recovering from years of capitalist policy which was detremental.

    Chavez is increasingly popular and successfull in his policy for developing 21-st century socialism.

    It sets an example how a poor and underdeveloped country can develop itself, using it's own resources for the benefit of the poor masses, helps them to get education and healthcare, etc.

    Chavez is another Alliende. After he gets through running the Venezuelan economy into the ground either the U.S. or China will have to bail him out along with what is left of the oil production capacity of Venezuela. I am worried some that it will be the Chines.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  19. Phil Coates -- and whoever else wants to weigh in on this -- in your considerable experience of hearing Rand and Peikoff (and others) lecture about induction, deduction, and mathematics, do you recall if any of them ever conceded a significant role in mathematics for induction? I just finished listening to the Understanding Objectivism lectures, and Peikoff therein talked about mathematics being atypical (epistemologically) because it was deductive, whereas the typical pattern of human knowledge acquisition was by means of induction. Has he modified this view since 1983?

    Are you aware of any different position on induction in re mathematics from the people who have published in The Intellectual Activist?

    REB

    Which mathematics? There are purely formal system of mathematics that are devoid of empirical content and there are mathematical theories which were specifically formulated to deal with the dynamics of motion in the real world. For example; calculus and differential equations.

    Mathematics done rigorously involves proving theorems from postulates. That is deductive. But sometimes deduction is guided by intuition and real world examples and hints. That is inductive.

    LP's grasp of mathematics is rather limited.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  20. My favorite book on cosmology is Eric Lerner's The Big Bang Never Happened.

    REB

    Lerner's book presents a rather bogus version of the Cosmos. He leans heavily on the work of Aalfens, but the verdict is pretty well in. The measurement of the Cosmic Background Radiation initiated by Wilson and Penzias in 1965 gives very heaving evidence in favor of the Big Bang. Apparently, according to the best available evidence, really did happen.

    Even Hoyle's theory is better grounded than Lerner's nonsense, and Hoyles theory turned out to be wrong.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  21. Ellen-

    Good luck with the Principia. Hopefully they have translated the mathematics into a readable, modern form as well. I've never read it, but I've heard that mathematically it is trying for even physicists. Not that it is inherently difficult, but I don't think the equations are couched in modern forms.

    You are right. Newton derived his results using his newly invented calculus and differential equations, but his math was far too advanced for the readers of his time. So he translated the mathematical formulation to the more traditional Euclidean Geometric mode. In his time calculus was like the kind of mathematics used nowadays to express super string theory. Very few are sufficiently trained to follow it.

    Ironically, modern readers can handle the calculus based presentation, but are hard put to comprehend the older geometric approach. The central position of Euclidean Geometry in the mathematics curiculum has been denigrated and a watered down version is taught in American high schools.

    For a clear (but not easy) presentation of -Principia Mathematica- read the new translation edited by I. Bernard Cohen. The translation avoids some of the old fashioned locutions (in English) found in the Cajori translation. Really, who understands phrases like hemidemisubsesquintial ratios. (I exaggerate only slightly).

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  22. Where principles and rights break down

    This is going to be one of the shortest articles I have ever written.

    If some evil son-of-a-bitch wants to starve a child to ill health or death on purpose, irrespective of the reason, he better not do it in front of me or near me, because no principle or right on earth is going to keep me off him.

    Michael

    Interesting. May I ask why? I assume you are not related to that hypothetical child. Do you have a dog in this hunt? If so, what is it? Would you react strongly (or even violently) simply because you disapprove? Why is your approval or disapproval substantive? Is it substantive?

    I would caution you as an apparently decent and reasonable fellow that appointing yourself guardian of interests that at not rightfully or factually yours and without invitation or permission leads you down a dangerous path: the Path of the Buttinsky.

    This is not to say that I don't understand your emotional charge. I really do. But emotions, per se, are not proper warrants for actions. Have a care, lest ye become dangerous to your fellow humans.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

  23. The Objectivist position of existence is that no alternative to the fact of reality is possible or imaginable. All facts are necessary. In Ayn Rand’s words, the metaphysically given is ABSOLUTE. A is A. Facts are facts. Existence exists.

    ***

    Really? It is a fact that the United States consists of fifty States. Is that a necessary fact? Not at all. There was no law of nature compelling congress to admit Alaska and Hawaii as States. So the fact that the United States has fifty States is -contingent- on certain decisions having been made.

    Be careful now. You are on the verge of denying free will.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

    Ba'al,

    Welcome to OL.

    That either Alaska and Hawaii is a state (or at one time not) of the United States is not a "metaphysically given" fact, (which there is no alternative to) but rather a man-made fact. I take it that you are not too, too familiar with Rand's work, of else you would not have presented this type of challenge to me. :}

    -Victor

    First of all, I have read Ayn Rand (AS, TF, WTL) and I used to subscribe to -The Objectivist-.,

    A Fact is Fact. A Fact is that which is. The distinction between metaphysically given facts and facts arising from choices (by man, beast or plant) is nugatory. Whatever is, is a fact however it came about.

    If it is facts independent of human choices then grok this. Shot an electron through a Stern Gerlach magnet. The electron will go up or down wrt. to the plane dividing the heads of the magnet. All electrons are alike being in a superposed quantum state for there spin. You have a fifty fifty chance of an up or down outcome. Now shoot a stream of up-electrons through another Stern Gerlach magnet. Lo and Behold! The stream splits again. Which way it comes out is not determined by any observable property of the electron. The same electron with spin up on one occasion will emerge spin down on another. Since no discernible factor determines the output I would say the output is happenstance.

    The odds on the outcome are fixed (50 - 50) by the symmetry of the electron spins but the particular outcomes are not determined, hence are accidental, happenstantial not necessary etc. etc.

    Yet another. How about your conception or mine or anyone's. Zillions of sperm racing to the egg (and which egg? I could have been one of many.). Which one gets there is a function of the when and the where of the ejaculation, not a matter of necessity. We are all accidents. So much of life is a horse-race. So much is accidental. So little is necessary.

    The facts are just what happen to be the case. Which is not to deny the existence of laws governing what facts may be. But these laws are constraints, not determinants. Many outcomes are possible, but not any old outcome.

    Ba'al Chatzaf.

  24. The Objectivist position of existence is that no alternative to the fact of reality is possible or imaginable. All facts are necessary. In Ayn Rand’s words, the metaphysically given is ABSOLUTE. A is A. Facts are facts. Existence exists.

    ***

    Really? It is a fact that the United States consists of fifty States. Is that a necessary fact? Not at all. There was no law of nature compelling congress to admit Alaska and Hawaii as States. So the fact that the United States has fifty States is -contingent- on certain decisions having been made.

    Be careful now. You are on the verge of denying free will.

    Ba'al Chatzaf