Michael Stuart Kelly

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Everything posted by Michael Stuart Kelly

  1. John, Let's try to do this without taking things personally, if we can. Who should feel more offended, me because you say my entire questioning is irrelevant, or you because I say your arguments don't address the issues? Why does somebody have to be offended? I'm not. (Frankly, I fully intend to keep questioning and reasoning about this until I am satisfied. If that offends you, I'm sorry. I'm not going to stop, though, and I still hold that your arguments did not address the issues I raised. You find them irrelevant, so we should move on to some other issue, don't you think?) Like I asked Dragonfly once (and he fully agreed), we can disagree on something and still be friends, can't we? Can't we? Michael
  2. John, Thank you for that post. While I admit that there is an enormous psychological problem with this issue, there are other considerations. The one I have been battling for so much is to look at this from the child's perspective. (Your entire post mentioned only the adult's rights and obligations.) If I understand the crux of your argument, you say the problem would not exist for true Objectivists because any true Objectivist would not let the problem exist - he obviously would act. If did he not act, he is not a true Objectivist. I can imagine a Christian saying that. Or a Muslim. Or even a communist. I am very curious as to why this problem is dismissed so much. Since you brought up RoR, I recently had another round over there. This time, however, it was a lot more civil. Still, I mentioned a google search I did and came up with all kinds of hits. One poster implied that these hits happened because I didn't use google correctly (and even showed where he got zero hits on some phrases). Some others (a core group) started belittling the notion, as if to say, "So what?" Here's the truth. People do starve children to death. The Internet is full of cases of this. Ignoring it will not make it go away. If a parent would let a child starve, why wouldn't a stranger? I think the huge volume of instances of child starvation points at something in human nature that needs some kind of intellectual attention. The issue is serious and it cuts deep into the human psyche. Observable facts that back this up - I can present two right off the top of my head: (1) The level of emotional excess this causes among Objectivists. You can argue that the emotional excess is due to a presumed threat to individual rights, but the fact is that you don't see this fanatical condemnatory level with other issues involving rights (the minarchist-anarchist thing, for instance, which gets heated, but rarely that scorching). (2) The constant rapid growth of religions. The treatment and protection of children is one of the backbones of religion. (This indicates that a very deep human need is being addressed by religion.) Since there is a lot of hooting and hollering whenever I see this issue raised among Objectivists (ahem... except on OL of course), I can almost here the Preachers chuckling amongst themselves. They don't have to worry about competition from Objectivism on this score. Really loud Objectivists not only refuse to examine the issue, they get obnoxious with anybody who wants to talk about it. They do the Preachers' work for them more competently than any religious argument ever could. The overwhelming feeling I get from the majority of Objectivist or Objectivist-friendly people who have belittled the discussion of this idea (and even some very good people who do not belittle it, but hold such a strong view about the adult's rights that they constantly mention it, regardless of the angle discussed) is that they are afraid of losing intellectual ground. They are afraid that altruists and collectivists and government apologists and religious zealots, etc., can take aspects of my focus to invalidate the Objectivist position, thus invalidate individual rights. I hold that a good idea has to be defensible from all angles and that it must deal with all issues head on - even inconvenient ones. Reason is the standard and, if used properly, it will take us to good places even for inconvenient problems. I also hold that the principles of Objectivism have to be just as valid for a kid as they are for an adult. This leads me back to my question. Here is the scenario again, an adult stranger who has plenty meets a stray starving child away from civilization and refuses to share a bit of food. In this case, if the adult has a social obligation to share his food, you sacrifice his rights. If he does not share his food, you sacrifice the child's life. There is something seriously wrong in that alternative. Why is any sacrifice necessary? I hold it isn't and I am trying to figure out why. (Saying that a true Christian, er... true Objectivist wouldn't let that happen doesn't do much for the kid if he happens to encounter one who is not a true whatever. He is sacrificed and society then sanctions that as proper with no penalty. Some people mention that the person will be shunned by decent folks, but that falls flat with me, since there are a lot of people who are not so decent walking around and the shunning is not enforceable.) Like I keep stating, I don't have the answers. And I know that raising this problem makes people uncomfortable. But I am highly uncomfortable with the lack of a firm non-sacrificial principle here. btw - I noticed on a site called Objectivist Nation that you live near another Objectivist, Steven Shmurak. I used to like his posts on SoloHQ and while researching another thing a while back, I came across his profile. He listed one of my articles as his favorite. Since then, I have tried several times to email him, but the emails bounce back and google is no help. Do you know him? Is he still alive? If you do have contact with him, please tell him that I send my best regards. Michael
  3. Paul Hear hear! LW got it right. That is some heavy shit. That also bears repeating. You are one of my favorite quiet voices of reason and your comments often help bring me back to focus. Michael
  4. Tina, Happy birthday and much much much wishes for all the happiness being in this world can bring you. You are a very special young lady and I am proud you are coming into my life. Sweet sixteen is a wonderful time of life. Have a ball! Hugs and kisses, Michael
  5. Mike, Thank you. I also have come up with the gazillion dollar question that should be answered BEFORE thinking about how to apply ethics. Objectivist ethics are against the doctrine of self-sacrifice. In any scenario involving an adult and a child, there is a presupposition that one or the other has to be sacrificed. Either the adult gets enslaved or the child dies. And we argue over which is better (or moral or legal or whatever). But isn't that a false dichotomy? Why does either have to be sacrificed? Why is sacrifice necessary in this case? The more I think about it, the more I see that there is no good reason on earth to sacrifice the kid - and no good reason on earth to sacrifice the adult. The kid doesn't need to die and the adult doesn't need to become a slave. Those are not metaphysical either-or exclusive alternatives. It's just a matter of working out how. That's only a start, but I am beginning to get the feeling that all this thinking is going somewhere good. Michael
  6. LW, I apologize for the delay in answering. (It slipped by somehow.) You asked: I am only speculating, but I am pretty sure that some really basic perceptual integrations occur before birth since there is sensory awareness. The innate things I was talking about are already present when the conceptual integrating mechanism kicks in. According to the Objectivist theory, conceptual integration only happens when percepts are present and, excluding the primitive ones done in the womb, these come from sensory input of outside "things" (sound waves, light waves and so forth). Thus what gets integrated is something that is already there (the innate stuff) and something new (stimuli). Here is a case involving handedness. If a person is right-handed, his concept of writing - when applied to him - will include doing it mostly with the right hand. That information was both present in the early stages of building this concept (when he first started reaching for stuff) and was reinforced over time by the person observing himself (the sense of sight, mostly). I am not a scientist, but I intend to look into this to see how accurate it is. Michael
  7. Ciro, You are correct on one level. But little power mongers like to intimidate people into adopting a "party line" to the extent that they lose their individuality. And the mediocre people I discussed do that under the guise of "morality." I worked in both art and entertainment. One of plums of entertainment is to make a fad that catches on. You try to get people to say "I want to be that too." It could be a catch phrase, a hair style, even a restaurant to go to a lot. Trying to be colorful and faddish is one of the tricks some of these mediocre people use to gain an audience. So I was just making a call for people to let go of the fad for a minute and see if (1) they liked being part of a gang, and (2) they wanted to join in group scapegoating and leave their own achievements to the side. These mediocre people do this and they do very little else in life. Michael
  8. I posted this over on RoR also. It upset me. In the first part paragraph, Sharon asked the following and I answered as given below. (The part with Sharon is not really pertinent, but I find it important somehow.) Sharon, If I were around and something like that happened, you can rest assured that I would do what was necessary to see that your granddaughter (even if she were a stranger) received enough care to survive and get to a safe haven (including changing her dirty diaper if need be). I would not seek compensation for this and it would make me feel good inside to do it. I hereby volunteer to be responsible in that case (and any similar one I happen to be confronted with). People can make of that what they will. I speak for me. Just because I keep hearing a refrain that nobody would actually starve a child, I decided to google the thing (crime child starvation). I came up with 1,260,000 hits. No. I didn't make a number mistake. That's one million, two hundred and sixty thousand hits. I started looking through them. Obviously most of the hits were parents and some were foreign countries. I am sure I can find wilderness stranger stories if I look hard enough, too. But I started getting sick in my heart reading one case after another. What a horror! Then I came across this ABSURD story. In this one, the 19 year old mother, the legal guardian (who was not the mother), and strangers who worked in a shelter center ALL starved a five week old baby boy to death. ALL OF THEM! And what about government protection? THAT FAILED EVEN WORSE! The result? No one was held responsible. The rest of the result? The Toronto Metro Catholic Children's Aid Society received more money! Dayaamm! The entire civilization flunked that one! Here's the story (my mouth is still open from my jaw dropping): I didn't have the stomach to read all the details. Michael
  9. I'm not going to take Jonathan up on his bet because he got the best date! And Kevin, thank you for that. Here's a reality test for you, folks. If you start feeling moved by the "defending a hero" and "fighting amoralism" and "total passion for the total height" type rhetoric, I suggest you step back, shake it off just for a second and take a hard look at the people who make those grand utterances. What have they done in life? Look very close and you will see one failure after another - a pattern. A small achievement might appear, but only in a sporadic instance or other. Look hard. You will see what it really is - an exception to their failed lives and empty souls. I have seen nothing that will last beyond a few years after the death of any of these particular crusaders. Certainly nothing anywhere near the stature of We The Living, much less The Fountainhead. (I will not disrespect Rand's magnum opus by citing the achievement of that within this context.) These people talk about individualism and are tribal collectivists underneath, trying to form gangs. They talk about being heroes and are parasites underneath, feeding on other Objectivists. They talk about Rand's achievement and have no achievement of their own, except trying to trash the reputation of other people. They need Objectivists who have admitted error to scapegoat because they don't even have the capacity to recognize error when it stares them in the face from the other side of the mirror. And they need famous Objectivists to "take down" so they can steal some of the shine. They have no shine of their own. These intellectual bloodsuckers hold themselves up to the world as Rand's New Intellectual. They are mediocre garbage. Ask yourself, in such a moment, if you are looking hard, "Do I want to fight for a world so that I can be like one of them?" Then look at your dreams and your own achievements in life. The answer should be clear. Michael
  10. Jody, That was very amusing. So many poets try to insinuate things that simply are not there and a poem becomes something like a crossword puzzle. However, I am a strong believer in the "between-the-lines" non-verbal messages of great poetry. These are the things that make them powerful on an emotional level. For instance: Threre is a subconscious connection betweent the "ka ka ka" and "aaw aaw" calls of wild birds with the "k" alliteration in the first verse (clasps crag crooked close) and the end rhymes of the last verse (crawls walls falls), respectively. This is definitely a bird poem. When I find time to write poetry, I go to a great deal of trouble nagging the words to death if there is no "between-the-lines-whisper." (Oops... That should have been fantasy echo... echo... echo... echo... echo... ) Michael
  11. Jenna, You obviously read quickly. I don't think I read as fast as you do from the enormous amount of material you are always citing. However, there are two very good pieces of advice I learned for critical reading: 1. I flip through the book before reading it to get a feel of what is going to be covered, and especially look through things like the Table of Contents and the Index and even dwell a bit on illustrations. I often do this even when I am in the middle of book, normally when I pick it up the next day. This also stimulates my curiosity. 2. I use a pointer, leading my eyes by tracing a line under the words I read. This is usually my finger, but sometimes it is a pencil or pen. (On the computer screen I often highlight the sentence I am reading with the mouse. This is really useful with long paragraphs that are hard on the eyes.) I don't do this all the time, but I find that it helps in getting through boring parts without going out of focus. It also makes repeating something that I didn't understand on first read easier. (As I am a creative person, I sometimes have problem with focus, so I can read a sentence and have no idea of what I just read - I was daydreaming about a tangent that was suggested earlier. There's nothing to do when I catch myself except to reread what I missed.) There is an aspect to textbooks and nonfiction that most people do not perceive, but I find interesting. I mentioned this in a small discussion of a book by Jeff Walker, The Ayn Rand Cult. Here is a quote from that post: Often a work is not written by the same author, despite only one author being given. Regardless of why this could be (research staff, I presume, in the case of the Walker book), it is entirely possible that one chapter will be filled with excellent information and the next will be more dubious. This often is due to the author relying on different people or sources. This is something to look out for, if you can develop the "feel" for it. If you notice the style of writing of a dubious part, you will find that when this style returns later, the information is dubious there also. The same goes for the good sections. Michael
  12. I had a silly thought, but it won't leave me alone, so maybe posting it will help. The noun version of excommunicate would make a very good title for a science-fiction series: The X Communicants Michael
  13. Mike, You just wrote: You just made my day. (That is one of the things I have been fighting for.) Thank you very, very much. (singing softly) And I think to myself, What a wonderful world... Michael
  14. Happy, happy, happy birthday, Nathaniel! May you have many more! Michael & Kat
  15. Online Objectivist Mediocrity by Michael Stuart Kelly I have been trying to keep a distance from all the recent foolish bombast, but a small series of online shenanigans from the loudmouths of the Objectivist movement has drawn attention away from the beautiful world we are trying to build. I am thoroughly disgusted and hold nothing but contempt for these people. They say they are fighting to save the world through Objectivism. In reality, they act like they are trying to form a gang. But there’s more. Oh, the “shining world” rhetoric is bandied about and they scapegoat people like the Brandens in order to have a rallying cry, but if you look – and you don’t have to look hard – it is much worse than all that. These poor souls want to form an audience of neophytes because they are mediocre. They don’t have talent. The ones that do have some talent don’t want to do the work to obtain quality. They can’t get heard on the open market. The few times they do emerge, they don’t stay there. They’re a bunch of losers. That’s the sad truth. What’s galling is that this crap is done in the name of Objectivism, where competence is held as a top value. One thing mediocrity has going for it, though. If everybody is mediocre, you can chime in without worrying about being judged too harshly. That is what you use scapegoats for. I’ll look at scapegoating, then at a few examples of the mediocre garbage (satire, short story, nonfiction and politics), and then folks, in all due respect, I don’t have the stomach for too much more. When I was in Brazil for over three decades, dreaming about returning to the USA and hooking up with productive heroes in life based on a marvelous vision portrayed by Ayn Rand, i.e., the people in the Objectivist world, I had no idea that it would be populated by such inept crummy little pretenders. Bah! What good is scapegoating? Well, for one thing, it centralizes an enemy. It allows people to take their rational focus off of what they are doing and put it on a common enemy. Achieving something – building something – is hard work. It takes time, effort, and most of all, sustained rational thought. The emotional payoff is wonderful though. There is nothing like pointing your finger to a complicated magnificent achievement and saying, “I did that.” Nothing beats that. Nothing. There is something close, though. If you are lazy or mediocre, it is a poor substitute, but it does allow you to get by and fool yourself into thinking you are a virtuous Objectivist hero. You can point your finger at a group of people and condemn them. You can call them evil or immoral or evaders or whatever makes you feel good. How’s that for an easier choice than doing productive work? You don’t have to put in long hours, overcome tortuous inner doubts, listen to ridicule from other people for things taking so long, expend so much mental effort it seems like your brain will burst. You don’t have to do any of that. All you have to do is point at someone and bitch – bitch real loud. Then you can pretend you are better than others. No wonder the mediocre like this so much! You can get some achievement-like glory and audience without actually doing anything hard. Let’s take a look at satire, to start with. The charm of satire is to make word plays and present a person’s weak characteristics to an exaggerated extent. I hate to do the following, because when you explain a joke, it loses its funniness, but I want to give an example of good quality satire before talking about the bad. Here is a brilliant example by Roger Bissell: “Dizzy Vertigo” for Lindsay Perigo, and “Total Bashin’ for the Total Hype” for “Total Passion for the Total Height.” In the name, there is a word play on Linz/Dizzy and Perigo/Vertigo. Roger was able to tie in several concepts at the same time – alcohol drinking (to allude to the scandals that occurred on SoloHQ – especially the number of times Perigo used to make stupid vicious statements, then apologize the next day with a crack about having imbibed too much, including the whole blow-up afterward), the idea of stupid (dizzy) thinking, and the idea of “height” with “vertigo” and the dizziness one gets from heights. The word plays are obvious in “Total Bashin’ for the Total Hype.” The whole satire points to the hypocrisy of the different crusades, threats, and whatnot this individual normally promotes in public (and of course, via private email campaigns). Instead of pushing an idea, Perigo has consistently engaged in personal attacks against trumped up enemies with some high-sounding rhetoric laced into it. But the rhetoric is hypocrisy if taken at face value. The intent is practically always to smear someone. The extremely long line of “enemies” of this individual proves this. There also is another subtle idea lampooned by Roger. The idea behind Perigo’s “rational passion” is that you can say anything at all, no matter how absurd or insulting, then you can blame it on being in the throes of “passion.” (Perigo is famous for being some kind of emotional retard because of “righteous rages.”) Of course, when you leave that mystical daze, you might have to clean up a bit of a mess, but there is a payoff. You can use this as a technique to see how much you can get away with in public. If people swallow an absurdity without contesting it, well great! You can use this as a sound argument when you are no longer in the bliss of emotional transfiguration. You have more rhetoric for selling hatred. So when Roger says “Total Bashin’ for the Total Hype,” the “hype” also refers to this manner of sneaking in false irrational ideas into rational discourse. The rest of the satire in the thread Roger started lives up to the same standard of word play and exaggeration of weaknesses. I am particularly fond of one I did as a derivation of “Total Bashin’ for the Total Hype.” I changed it to “Total Bashin’ for the Total Parasite.” This refers to the fact that SoloP is going to hold its conference in the vicinity of the TOC Summer Seminar at the same time. Thus it will “lean” on TOC’s structure to generate an audience, sucking and feeding off the host while attacking it. I did a thing with Jason Quintana’s name by calling him Demon Banana. I had a problem with this one, because I wanted to rhyme “Jason” but couldn’t come up with much. I tried “Babycon Banana” (with an allusion to his young age and the parasitical “con game,” but it was too forced and not very funny). The word play between Quintana and Banana is strong enough to carry it. The Demon refers to his hot-headed crusader style and Banana refers to “bananas” as a term to indicate emotional imbalance and craziness (the exaggeration of his weak traits). In short, the thread is full of high-quality satire of this nature. Now let’s turn to how Perigo does satire. He recently wrote a piece called “Objectivists Reeling.” Let’s start with two names. Robert Bidinotto-Robert-Robert and Michael Stuart Kelly Stuart-Stuart. When I saw that, I thought, “Huh?” I didn’t get it. Was this some kind of NZ humor? Where is the word play? Where is the hidden meaning? Where is the charming pun? Where is the talent? Hell, after all the effort and talent I and others have put into our lampoons, I at least thought that something a little more competent than a fizzle would be coming at us. All Perigo did was the equivalent of saying “hoity-toity” and sticking his tongue out. As mocking, it might be OK, but as satire or lampoon, there is nothing of value there. I want to call it poor, but it is just mediocre. It will soon be forgotten. The exaggeration on alcoholics that started Perigo's piece could have been much better, but at least it was in the ball park of satire. However, the word plays were almost nonexistent and the exaggerations were way too obvious. When a joke gets that obvious, it is called “corny.” With a satire, it is just boring. Note that the only people who found it funny were people in Perigo’s “gang.” The general public turned the page and didn’t comment. Even a few regulars popped up and said that the attempt at satire was in poor taste. I could almost feel the mental nag coming through in their posts – the question that doesn’t make it into full consciousness: “What is this garbage doing in the middle of a crusade for a glowing vision of saving the world?” Even the lampoon of ARI thrown in at the end with “Anal Retentive Institute” fell flat, although it was slightly better than the other stuff in terms of word play and exaggerating weaknesses. (It seems like Perigo was aware of the “sour grapes” tone of his humor and tried to balance it.) I could analyze the whole thing phrase by phrase and offer suggestions for far funnier phrases that would make it good satire, but I have my own work to do. Why on earth would I want to fix a mediocre pile of crap like that anyway? The only thing that made Perigo’s attempt stand out was the shock value of the obscenity. This is a technique people use to get attention when all else fails. In Brazil, they say "ele está apelando" (meaning, he's overdoing it, but usually stated when a person has lost his audience or attention and resorts to ridiculous antics to call attention to himself). When you don’t have the talent to pull off an idea with competence, you start putting things like "Eat shit, dickhead" in Nathaniel Branden’s mouth or “I figure the least I can do is give him some head" in Robert Bidinotto’s mouth. You also make gestures like a monkey. I don’t mind being lampooned, but dayaamm! I wish it could be done with some talent. This thing was just plain lousy – pure mediocrity. I wonder how Ayn Rand would have rated this piece on its literary merits? I wonder if she would have wanted this person to keep “fighting” for her ideas? Her history is pretty clear and if the same values are used, it indicates a resounding, “No!” Let us turn to another terrible piece of writing. This is one that prompted the present rant. I happened to come across a piece called “The Ghost of Thomas Jefferson” by Ross Elliot. It was recently posted, but apparently had been published before on the old SoloHQ and in The Free Radical. The plot is that the President of the USA has stopped at night for silent contemplation at the Jefferson Memorial. He is apparently bothered because he will be presented with a 33rd Amendment the next morning that will grant him the power to suspend the Constitution. The ghost of Thomas Jefferson comes out and talks to him about a lot of libertarian rhetoric (the vast bulk of the story). He announces the next day that he is using his new power to revoke that same power and the crowd goes wild. That’s all, folks. No conflict. No character development. No symbolism. Frankly, I’ve seen high-school students write better things than this. I won’t analyze the full extent of the awfulness of this rubbish, but let’s look for moment at character development and forget the weak contrived plot and bland style (but inflated with political jingoes). What is the only thing in the story that lets the reader know that the President is bothered? Merely the fact that he stopped to think – nothing more. As the story develops (actually “develops” is too strong a word for the lack of plot, something more like “as the political rhetoric is bounced back and forth between him and the ghost” would be a better way to phrase it), we are constantly being told that the “politician” comes to the fore in the President’s character as he ponders the ghost’s pronouncements. That is all that is given in terms of character description. This piece reminds me of Soviet art, where happy farm workers were portrayed by ballet dancers pirouetting around tractors or the movie, The Song of Russia (which qua art, at least, was art – bad art, but art) or that kind of thing. Elliot’s piece is nothing but political propaganda. As art, it is crap – mediocre crap. If you want an eye-opening exercise in literary values, compare this piece of garbage with any section where there is a political speech in Atlas Shrugged and see the difference for yourself. The mediocrity is astounding. Elliot should stick to obscene posts and smarmy comments and leave writing fiction alone. He does the underbelly grunge routine with a whole lot more competence. The last item of mediocrity I want to examine is one of the loudmouth college students (those dignitaries who are loudly proclaimed to be “ARI representatives”) that Robert Campbell just finished unmasking for poor scholarship on a thread called “Is This What They Teach at the Ayn Rand Institute?” Robert gives facts and asks hard questions. He is met with assertions that he is dishonest, refusal to read the material being debated, grandstand statements – anything but solid scholarship. What I want to mention, though, is a parallel issue that arose with one of the loudest of the loudmouth college students, Diana Hsieh, and her treatment of Reginald Firehammer on her blog. I have to make a small detour to get to the mediocrity. I have serious disagreements with Regi, especially with respect to the Brandens and a few other issues. That is why I never registered on his site as a poster. I have no wish to debate those topics with him or Cass. Firehammer is highly intelligent, though, and well read. He is an extremely sore point with Perigo for his outspoken views against homosexuality. After he was banned from SoloHQ, he promoted long acrimonious threads on The Autonomist (his website) that were mostly name-calling. Thus he became an object for ridicule – and a hated one. There is another consideration. The Autonomist was one of the first places to offer a positive review of PARC (written by Cass), way before anyone else did. The problem is that The Autonomist is a low traffic site, so its value in terms of sales and promotion is negligible. Back when Valliant was starting to promote his book, he took what he could get and made wide use of the endorsement. I do not think he ever believed that Perigo would fall out with Barbara Branden and then endorse his book. As it turned out, the improbable did happen. What used to be a gratefully accepted tribute from The Autonomist became a point of embarrassing contention with his new soapbox. Tricky, tricky, tricky. Now Hsieh is a relative newcomer to Perigo’s gang. Her prior endorsement of PARC and hatred of the Brandens is the crucial point cementing their relationship. Everything was going along really hunky-dory in long Branden bashing and TOC bashing threads by the “anointed few,” high-fiving each other’s hatred, until one fine day a couple of weeks ago (maybe a little longer) Firehammer popped up out of nowhere on Hsieh’s site and applauded her for something or the other – I believe it was uhm… Branden bashing or TOC bashing. Cass chimed in shortly thereafter. I could almost hear the mental cogs screeching as the monkey-wrench hit the gears. How on earth do you get rid of this guy? He’s going to screw up everything. Perigo hates him. On a sojourn to The Autonomist, I saw that Firehammer had been banned from posting on Noodelfood (Hsieh’s blog). Dayaamm! Now this would be a wonderful opportunity to get ornery and post some kind of endorsement. But my mental gears did a screech too. I figured it would be a good idea to read what all the shouting was about before I spoke up. After all, I do disagree with much of what Firehammer writes. The hubbub was over an article called “Saving the World, Alternate Views.” Cool. He started out linking to the “save the world” messages published on five Objectivist websites: Noodlefood, Rebirth of Reason, Solo Passion, TOC and ARI, and then started unfolding his thesis. Then came the boom. Hsieh had posted about an environmentalist, Dr. Pianka, who allegedly advocated exterminating 90% of the world’s population as a cure for environmental issues. Firehammer wrote about it in his article. Was he outraged? No. He considered extermination as a viable possibility, then went on to make an analysis of how true individuals would rebuild humanity. He ended his article with the following pessimistic statement: I started thinking (shaking my head), “Regi, Regi, Regi. You didn’t just say that. Tell me you didn’t just say that. You just said today’s human society ain’t worth saving and called exterminating 90% of the population “Dr. Pianka's method” for saving the good part. Tell me it ain’t true! Dayaamm!” Well, he did just say that. He made a disclaimer earlier that no sane man would want that, but hell, after his pessimistic ending, you want to tell him, “You start. You be the first to die.” Still, this is an example of very poor writing, not an example of preaching mass destruction. Firehammer has written far better stuff than this, so this essay is just one more of the mediocre Objectivist things piling up. But the mediocrity didn’t stop there. Hsieh, seeing her chance to get rid of the monkey-wrench gumming up her Perigo works, banned Firehammer and Cass from posting on her site. That’s her prerogative, of course. But in her haste, did she give honest reasons? After all, this is a public forum open to all to read. Nope. She lied. She categorically stated the following in this post: Ahem… Regi “advocates the mass extinction of humanity”? Under the banner of Objectivism? Where on earth did he advocate that? He wrote really, really poorly about the possibility of mass extermination happening due to a pandemic, he called it some dude’s method, but did he advocate that? Sorry. No cigar. That was not only wrong, that was a purposeful lie. So where’s the mediocrity here? That kind of lie is immoral, not mediocre. Right? Wrong. It’s just bickering. It’s not really worth the moral attention of an honest man. What is mediocre about it is both the bickering and the concept of “rational passion” that is dragged through the mud. Hsieh can always say later that she was so outraged that she accidentally misstated Regi’s position or whatever. She can have her cake and eat it too. But in terms of reflecting on mass extinction, has Hsieh, qua Objectivist, forgotten about Atlas Shrugged? Humanity was dying at the end of that story, including good guys like Eddie Willers. Do starvation, mass illness and gang warfare count? That was what was going on at the end of the book. Then the rugged individualist producers went back to save the world. So why the double standard? Why does Rand get to make money off of reflecting on mass extinction and even create a philosophy by dramatizing it and Firehammer is not even allowed to write a dreadful article about it? Well, for one thing, Rand was never Perigo’s ally. Hsieh is. The mediocrity here – the mediocrity of spirit – is that the “moral outrage” Hsieh staged in public is nothing more than political bullshit to get rid of an inconvenient poster. Valliant, of course, chimed in to ride piggy-back on Hsieh’s “moral outrage” to disassociate himself from Firehammer for good. Funny. That is how you do show business in Brazil – you step on people who have helped you once you get into a better position, all the while pretending you are pious. Valliant has performed that role to perfection. Ah me! The mediocrity is killing me! What a sick joke played on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of productive competence and integrity! Hysterical scapegoating, obscene fifth-rate ranting masqueraded as satire, fifth-rate political propaganda pawned off as a short story, piss-poor scholarship, contemplation of mass extermination of the human race as a “method” for saving the world and dirty politics as usual cloaked as “moral outrage” – this is today’s online Objectivism. There are tons more of this kind of crap out there, too. I simply don’t have the patience or stomach to dissect it. What a downer! What a real downer! After this voyage through the intellectual slums, hypocrisy, lack of talent, mediocrity and moral filth of the current online Objectivist movement, it is time to read some Rand and other giants of humanity and take a shower. Now that the bile from some of the more vile mediocre dung has been purged out of my system, it is time to go back to building. I need to keep remembering that all those crummy little folks stay in a spiritual pigsty because they can’t do any better – or they won’t. The world is beautiful and worth doing my share in it. There is much more out there than the bad. I am also among competent people. Intelligent people. Good people. Friends and intimates I love dearly. We are individuals of honor who can and want to do better – always. Time to look up again – look up at the stars… Michael
  16. Here is an easy way to find the number of the post you wish to use. There is a "quote" button at the top. If you click it, you get the number at the end of the URL. For example, when I click the "quote" button in Kat's post above, I get the following URL: http://wheelerdesignworks.netfirms.com/Objectivism/nfphpbb/posting.php?mode=quote&p=3070 So her post is No. 3070 You don't need to edit or use anything in her post, so you can then click the "Back" button of the browser (usually in the top left hand corner). Then you take the magic formula: http://wheelerdesignworks.netfirms.com/Objectivism/nfphpbb/viewtopic.php?p=****&highlight=#**** Insert the number 3070 in both places where there are four asterikses, and it will look like the following: http://wheelerdesignworks.netfirms.com/Objectivism/nfphpbb/viewtopic.php?p=3070&highlight=#3070 Now I will add the "url" command to it (BBCode - you select the whole thing and click the "url" button) and get the link. It should take you directly to Kat's post above this one. http://wheelerdesignworks.netfirms.com/Obj...highlight=#3070 Or you do that nifty little thing where you add all that stuff to an "=" sign in the first url command around a word. For example: Kat's Post I select it and click on the "url" button, so it looks like the following: [url]Kat's Post[/url] The I add the "=" sign [url=]Kat's Post[/url] and then I add the post's url itself right after the "=" sign so it looks like the following: [url=http://wheelerdesignworks.netfirms.com/Objectivism/nfphpbb/viewtopic.php?p=3070&highlight=#3070]Kat's Post[/url] All that's in the "Message Body" field. When you click "Preview" or "Submit" it will look like the following and will take you to Kat's post: Kat's Post Michael
  17. Robert, I cracked up with this from you post: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL... I fear you may be asking the impossible, though. The whole manner of reasoning of people with a scapegoating "us against them" agenda is to quote you out of context so he can then "trounce" you. This guy may surprise me and start concentrating on the issues and facts, since he does display some intelligence at times, but he obviously is still young and full of piss and vinegar. Congratulations on showing solid facts and scholarship through all the hostile rhetoric over there. One good thing about reason and facts, they do sink in over time to the audience. Michael
  18. Robert, I saw the thread. Only after you called attention to the issue was it discussed. Meanwhile some of the most amazing reasoning was presented: (1) Randroid meant only ARI people, (2) The real issue was a about some kind of attack on ARI, and (3) If you look at it correctly, the TOC people are overly judgmental, rude, etc. (Then I think they went off into blaming some kids or something, I stopped reading.) Still, soon we might be hearing about Tocroids... Thus an easily observable prejudice-type mentality get assigned to one organization or another, or one class of people or another. That's so typical of that kind of mentality - always seeking a scapegoat. Michael
  19. This post is an aside about the Walker book, The Ayn Rand Cult. I just finished reading the chapters on NB, Peikoff and Alan Greenspan. Dayaamm! I didn't think is was possible to talk worse about NB in a book than Valliant did, but Walker managed to do so. Valliant paints NB as highly competent but immoral. Walker paints him as both immoral and a less-than intelligent and less-than talented piker. (Neither view reflects my thinking, though, which is more attuned to NB's achievements and how he came out of the crises.) Walker's insinuation that Peikoff, with whom I admit to not having much sympathy, was a closet gay (in order to highlight what the Randian hero looks like in real life) is just too much to swallow. There's bias and there's bias, but that's the pure thing. LOLOLOLOLOL... There is a chapter on Greenspan with lots of talk about indexes, crises etc., and not one mention about the dot-com explosion being a cause for part of the stock market woes. He managed to say that Greenspan was a failure because he followed Rand's views, and he was a failure because he didn't follow Rand's views all in the same breath. However, it was the Greenspan chapter that made something jump out at me. I translated a total of about 35,000 pages of text in Brazil. Much of this was public bids in telecommunications, but there were also long legal papers, technical manuals in all kinds of areas, laws, etc. What happens with long technical texts is that a single work usually has several authors, each taking a chapter or two. When you translate as much as I did, you get a feel for different writing styles in the same work. That really jumped out to me in the Greenspan chapter. You get the impression that suddenly you are reading a textbook on economics. I would have to do a survey of typical expressions, etc., but there it is. I'm not saying that Walker didn't do the final writing, but I would stake my reputation on the fact that he copy-pasted much from different research assistants (instructed to write with a specific slant), then added a phrase here and there and a few paragraphs. That is one of the things that has been bothering me about this book without being able to put my finger on it. Thus there was probably an assistant for Greenspan, another for NB, another for Peikoff, and others for specific areas of expertise. (Now I am fully aware that I have even felt a change in style in mid-chapter when going from one topic to another. What was a nagging feeling now has been identified - and this should help make reading the rest of the book easier.) Michael
  20. Here is an interesting thought on the terminology. I posted this on RoR today. Even if we accept the idea of a proper noun, we can go even further , using Rand's own definitions. Here's an interesting quote from ITOE, 2nd Edition, p. 11: Thus using this system, we can arrive at Objectivism (only what Rand wrote and endorsed), ARI Objectivism, TOC Objectivism, etc., where Objectivism would be the genus and the school of thought developing on it would be the differentia. Some people use neo-Objectivism in this manner, except they usually include ARI Objectivism in the term "Objectivism." I like my little formulation here, as it meets the requirements of both proper name and school of thought. Michael
  21. Jenna, You might be interested to know that before an article is published in JARS, it has to be accepted through a double blind peer review. That is one of the reasons JARS has been accepted so widely in the academic world. JARS also has quietly been meeting other strict academic requirements. I don't remember offhand the names of the organizations that sanction academic standing for periodicals, but recently JARS was included in one of the world's top ones and is already in several. This was posted on Chris's Notablog. Chris & Co. have been doing marvelous work in putting Ayn Rand on the academic map. Michael
  22. Jenna, To start with, let's take the first. Rand states this, but she calls the act of considering similarities "differentiation," "isolation" and "process of abstraction." Then the word "conceptualized" in the above statement is "integration" in Rand's terms. Here is a quote from ITOE (p. 10), but presupposing the idea of "unit," which I believe is implicit in your quote because it talks about "objects." I see the first observation from The Cambridge Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning being perfectly in line with Rand's theory, merely using different words. (More coming as I get time.) Michael
  23. Er... A slight correction to my previous comment. Now the annointed few are bitching about me and Dragonfly too! (Thank goodness. I was feeling left out...) Dayaamm! Michael
  24. Let Kat and I also toast you folks. You are making this site a wonderful place to be. KLINK!!!! (slurrrrrrrrrrp) Thank you all very much. ... ......... :D/ Michael and Kat
  25. Robert, I just read through the article and the thread. All I want to say about that thread is, "What an amazing amount of bitching against you and TOC by so few!" Well, they have have to save the world, I guess... Michael