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Posts posted by Christopher

  1. Time is the measurement of motion. If time is not objective, how do you measure motion, which presumably is?


    I don't like this approach. If time is the measure of motion, then space is the measure of an object's position. But the problem with either of these definitions is that the object itself becomes the standard from which both time and space are dependent. Meaning, we're taking an object in a system and using that object to justify the existence of the wider system. I'd rather start from some axiom about the time-space system in which objects exist and function.


  2. Here is your fatal premise. You assume that there are things of value out of any human context. You assume that forests, lakes, ice caps, oceans, mud, insects, and animals have some sort of inherent or intrinsic value. But they do not. Things are of value as far as we are concerned to the extent that they contribute to our human survival and flourishing. A mountain is of value because we can enjoy its beauty, climb it for recreation or inspiration, or mine its minerals to make our machines.

    Unfortunately I recognize I am talking to a very biased perspective, but healthy environmentalism is protection of the ecosystem in pursuit of a richer and healthier human life. Humans evolved to live very well in collaboration with the ecosystem. We weren't born to die in nature, we were born to live and thrive in it. Millions of years of evolution ensures this. So the belief that somehow man must "protect" or "separate" himself from nature in a web of self-constructions to better survive is a bogus belief. In fact man's life depends on the natural ecosystem, it does not depend on a man-made "ecosystem". Man is about adaption to and not control over the environment... does Objectivism want to contradict our scientific observations supporting this point?

    We might argue that protection of nature per se can become divorced from human life. But I wonder about that too. A perspective on protecting the natural ecosystem might be implicitly demonstrating the proper way to live in relationship to nature so-as to survive. Protect that which protects life. For example, in India it's immoral to hurt or kill cows. Seems absurd. Then you look at the history of this code, and you find that cows were necessary to ensure survival of human life. So a set of ethics arose that on the surface seem divorced from human life but in which the very existence of those ethics in fact arose precisely because they support human life. The same seems plausible, perhaps even inescapably obvious, with nature.

    Anyway, I think we need some deeper consideration of these issues than simple Rand-like biased statements.

  3. Thanks Adam. I'm open to trusting him, but I need to understand him first. I noted that he claims the crowd size in D.C. was 500k, whereas news reports put it at roughly 87k.

    He's definitely an entertainer with the objective of persuasion. But to trust him, I keep trying to figure out how deep his methods of persuasion go before we hit the "real" stuff that represents himself.

  4. Can anyone tell me if Glenn Beck is authentically (personally) religious? He used some Christian terminology in his speech in D.C. It sounds like the typical redneck/retiree rhetoric used in the Republican party to generate support. It's also not a Libertarian position if I understand Libertarianism correctly.

    I keep asking myself when he states his opinions: is this guy real?

  5. A recent article in the LA Times showed research on educating 5th-grade school children, and the results were the following:

    The difference (in learning) has almost nothing to do with the size of the class, the students or their parents.

    It's their teachers.,0,2695044.story

    Response to this data has varied. Both U.S. Secretary and State Secretary of Education have endorsed the release of this data. However,

    In Los Angeles, the teachers union has called public disclosure of the results "dangerous" and "irresponsible."

    ... Critics, including many teachers unions and some policy experts, say the method is based on flawed tests that don't measure the more intangible benefits of good teaching and lead to a narrow curriculum.

    Interesting. Gotta love the unions! But to the union's credit, use of standardized tests as measurement does have significant flaws, particularly in cross-cultural evaluations of performance.

  6. Ken Wilber does a great argument against the idea that we can use observation of empirical reality as a foundation for faith-oriented issues. I might be misapplying it here, but basically Aquinas was arguing that the spiritual realm was responsible for the material world; determinists can argue the reverse - that the material world is responsible for the spiritual world. Wilber argues that they co-arise and neither can be explained by the other (and does a very handy job at it)

  7. Basically there are two ways to address this problem: Legal & Cultural.

    The legal ramifications of marriage exist, and it is appropriate that either they exist for both hetero & homosexuals or such laws do not exist at all. As pointed out, government benefits that are available to only one group of people are discriminatory against other groups, particularly when such laws are in recognition of human relationships & not sexual-organs. (children are not the issue, otherwise sterile adults would be exempt as well from marriage)

    This statement:

    The purpose of gay "marriage" is not to protect the rights of homosexuals. It is to force at gunpoint private parties such as insurers and landlords to treat homosexual couples the same as heterosexual couples.
    is overly emotional against gays. Already those insurance companies spoken of have "a gun pointed at them" by straight couples. It is Objectively inaccurate to say that it's ok for some people to receive benefits and not others, and I think we see that. So equality is not "gun pointing" by the group requesting equality; there is a bias when presented as such.

    Addendum: An analogy to marriage benefits would be like this - if union workers received government-subsidized unemployment payments, but no one else received such benefits, Ted would prefer to have the union workers continue to receive benefits than "equalize" benefits across the population. I don't agree with this perspective. However, we both agree that no benefits should be given in the first place.

    Regarding the cultural issue, which is truly what proponents of prop 8 are fighting for, that is the topic I addressed in my post.

  8. A federal judge recently struck down Proposition 8 in California as unconstitutional, a proposition which prevented gays from marrying. The proposition had been previously voter-approved in a popular election.

    The judge ruled that while the proposition did harm gays, the absence of the proposition did not harm those against same-sex marriage. However, the defendants' argued that proposition 8 is necessary "to avoid confusion and irreparable injury that would flow from the creation of a class of purported same-sex marriages."

    I think this is a beautiful example of why constitutional law and Objectivism are so important when determining whether laws should be enacted. Although the marriage law does not influence the defendants directly, it influences the institution from which they derive the meaning of marriage, and therefore causes dis-ease within their psychology. This argument is perhaps the most vicious of all arguments, for it requires that the behavior of others be regulated in order to appease a sense of "rightness" within the actors. It is inline with all historical religious and ideological arguments that have been used to subjugate or enslave a people under an institutional body.

    Two cultures will not share the same meaning structures. Therefore, the options are either to have both meaning structures co-exist (traditional marriage and love-focused marriage), or to eliminate one culture in order to protect the "purity" of the other culture. What's your choice?

  9. I thought this was an interesting article that I was inspired to read after the "Authoritarian Science" post:

    Afghanistan war logs: Story behind biggest leak in intelligence history

    US authorities have known for weeks that they have suffered a haemorrhage of secret information on a scale which makes even the leaking of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam war look limited by comparison.

    The Afghan war logs, from which the Guardian reports today, consist of 92,201 internal records of actions by the US military in Afghanistan between January 2004 and December 2009 – threat reports from intelligence agencies, plans and accounts of coalition operations, descriptions of enemy attacks and roadside bombs, records of meetings with local politicians, most of them classified secret. ...

    I'm quite critical of any news regarding the government supposed "leaks" or otherwise, since the government has a PR team that rivals Apple. However, in the case of this article, I actually see a bright side to internet news and a bit of honesty in the mix.

    As I commented on an earlier topic yesterday, the more people with access to government secrets, the better for citizens. Transparency is the only vehicle by which our limited democracy can survive.

  10. NPR was up in arms a while back about Croatia's dozen or so presidential-security bureaucracies. But how much have they questioned the 1271 government-security bureaucracies in America?

    I didn't get the chance to watch the video since I'm downloading a gig of info in the background (too slow to load anything else), but I can say that I'd rather many people know secrets than a few people know. The government should have a minimum number of secrets, that's the key to transparency.

    Now as for the bureaucracy behind so many people knowing, well... the statistics argue that roughly 25% of all employed Americans work for the government. They have great job security, pensions, etc. That means for every three of us on this forum not working for the government, we are supporting through taxes a 4th worker in government. And when he retires, well... we have to keep on paying taxes to support his retirement.

  11. I like Joel's assertion - that it is questionable whether hard-core Muslim Terrorists are actually motivated by "Islam" rather than some other factor - an emotion of anger at poor living conditions, for example. Any and every terrorist will attempt to justify his/her actions according to some virtuous doctrine (nobody claims to be a murderer per se), but it's not uncommon to find a simple motivation such as despair or a sense of injustice fueling the fire behind the words. After all, it takes a lot of energy and integrity to actually adhere to a value system rather than simple emotions, and from what I've seen of terrorists, there is very little foundation for value-behavior. Since we are talking about ideas (I agree that there can be no war on Islam, the thought is absurd especially in a free country), perhaps Muslims living in the US represent good examples of the religion at its best, and the Muslims I know here are awesome people.

    But all that aside, I once spoke to a bunch of Objectivists who felt collateral damage was ok in killing terrorists, but they wouldn't accept the idea that it's ok to take out an apartment complex in New York where a murderer is hiding. Silly inconsistency.

  12. I dont really understand what Mr.Paul is saying


    He basically said that if you have guns on board a ship, you can shoot pirates when they attack you. If you don't have guns on board, you can't shoot pirates when they attack you.


    Why not pay security guards and stimulate the economy?

    Depends. Aside from the decrease in freedom and increase in government regulation, there is another reason.

    It costs the boat money to hire the security guards, so the money spent on security now can't spent on a new suit, tie, or car for the crew. In this way, spending on security doesn't stimulate the economy, it just changes the direction of cash flow from crew goods to crew security. If instead the money is saved in banks, then it gets re-invested into the economy and is used to produce new goods and jobs, which in turn does stimulate the economy.

  13. Ken Wilber called the democratic party an "unhealthy green" and the republican party a "healthy blue" in reference to his categories of human development. Green is hierarchically above blue and represents allowance for freedom of perspectives among people. Blue is based on having stable organizations (like Catholicism, which is considered structurally "blue").

    I think his point was that democrats want to treat everyone equally, but they do so in a neurotic manner of trying to equalize income, benefits, etc. that end up cheating a lot people. Conversely, republicans actually want a solid state, an organization in which one participates and is patriotic towards.

    But as MSK put it: cat shit, dog shit.

  14. I think the premises are fine. It's the elaborations and explications that get screwy. True critical thinking was never emphasized as that is at automatic conflict with a dogmatic presentation. Interestingly, Ayn Rand didn't like to have her picture taken except, perhaps, under controlled conditions. It's as if everything, even her personal appearance for posterity, had to be just so. No one was to see the twisting, conflicting humanity underneath it all, especially under Atlas Shrugged, no matter how much naturally a part of the human condition. That was private, to be withheld from the world. Thus no one helped her. Thus Frank was a Randian hero. Thus Nathaniel was John Galt with "a few blemishes." Thus an over-emphasis on philosophy and overly burdening philosophy continuing to this very day, it seems, with a book on "physics" with only four equations and an introduction by Leonard Peikoff. She looked around and saw the horrible state of the world and blamed it all on Kant. The necessary great philosopher for the great troubles. Never mind envy, tribalism and even power lust or the intelligence limits of the human brain generally speaking or the need for humanity to collectively evolve over time to a better place having been educated by war, blood, poverty and disease. Never mind the bifurcated nature of her favorite nation: state power vs individual rights basically settled by the Constitutional Convention and sealed by the bloody war between the states. What has come since has been the inertia of statism goosed by democratic taking from Peter to pay more and more Pauls devolving into outright insolvency and fascism. "I pledge allegiance to the"--what?


    That's quite a nice post. I was especially caught by the observation of Rand's control on everything. Yes, I did the same when I started reading her philosophy. Twist out the humanity in order to fit with some imagined ideal. Seems almost military-esque in the need for self-discipline. When can you laugh, play, and let go? Maybe children aren't born human, they need to be trained and disciplined to be perfect. And when the adult arises, the child must die. (ok, I'm going too far here, but it fits)

  15. One of the most disturbing reports mentioned on the web is that Obama supported the Jones Act to prevent foreign aid from assisting in oil spill cleanup efforts and protect maritime unions. Link 1 , Link 2 ...

    Unfortunately, not a single source reporting seems to have any popular or official legitimacy. Conspiracy? Unlikely. These unofficial sources seem to even confuse themselves. For example, the Daily Caller wrote about Obama supporting the Jones Act here, but then wrote another article here, suggesting that the Jones Act may not be having a significant impact on the whole issue. If you follow the citations from article to article, you see that the sources are circular, citing each other.

    So did Obama significantly hinder the oil spill cleanup efforts in order to protect unions? The evidence is definitely not strong enough yet to support this assertion. If anyone has more solid evidence, I'd be interested to read it. Otherwise, wow, internet gossip.

  16. There are no angels in that clusterf*** in the Middle East. I'd like to know which side is being conned worse.

    How many suicide bombers do the Israelis send over to the other side? While the Israelis are not "angels" they are not insane religious fanatics, by and large. The gung ho Orthodox types are in a tiny minority and they are kept under strong control by the Israeli government.

    Let me know when you hear about Jews hijacking airplanes and flying them into tall buildings filled with non-combatants. Or when Jewish crazies strap on bombs and blow themselves up in supermarkets and pizza parlors.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

    Right, and likewise I've heard of Israeli soldiers bulldozing homes and shooting citizens in Gaza.

    No doubt there have been heinous crimes by fanatics on both sides that deserve no sympathy, whether through terrorism or state-condoned behavior. Ultimately though, structuring our vision into the dualism good/evil is about the most useless perspective someone can take towards resolving the conflict. I'm not saying I don't have a preference, but at least I don't have the imagination that one side is angelic while the other demonic.

  17. Thank you for the feedback, I did not realize I was being so obtuse. In fact, I had in mind a previous thread, but I'm failing to find it.

    Assertion: we label psychological experiences based on their "feel," but the feel does not necessarily describe the objectivity of experience.

    Example (all my examples pertain to dyadic relationships):

    1. A man experiences what he labels as "feeling emotional dependent" on a woman. The woman opens him to a set of experiences that he would otherwise not have... I assert that this "dependency" may not be in conflict with autonomy.

    2. A man cheats on a woman, the woman is left feeling helpless, hurt, anxious, and loss. These experiences make her feel like the bottom of a shoe, like "less-than" the man. I propose that these feelings are not necessarily indicators that the woman lacks independence or self-esteem; rather, these experiences can be healthy and normal in response to the loss of intimacy and connection.

    3. A lover sacrifices her own needs to help her partner. She does not do this because she wants to continue the relationship, she does not do this because she might need her partner to do something for her in the future. She does this merely out of a sense of empathy.

    Driving off the 3rd example, we come to the experience of "sacrifice." What we might label as feeling like a "sacrifice" (e.g. I sacrificed my happiness to help people I don't know) may not be a sacrifice as it is defined objectively (choosing a lesser value for a higher value). In other words, even if something feels like a sacrifice and therefore an Objectivist would not be motivated to take such action, I assert that the feeling is not necessarily an indicator of whether the action is an objective sacrifice.

  18. No matter the degree of our conviction regarding a belief about the universe, our belief may be correct or incorrect.

    This is fairly simple to understand as it applies to the external world, yet I see this idea consistently misunderstood as it applies to our own psychology.

    No matter the degree our conviction regarding beliefs about our own psychology, our beliefs may be correct or incorrect. In application, this means that even when we apprehend a psychological state as independent and healthy, it may in fact be reactive and unhealthy. Or, what I observe is the ultimate struggle for Objectivists, we may experience a state of consciousness and related behavior as "selfless" (e.g. empathy), yet in absolute terms this selfless-experienced may be objectively selfish.

    The internal identification of an experience is not the truth of what that experience necessarily represents. So don't feel scared to feel helpless or selfless, that may be the most healthy and independent experience you can have in the moment!

  19. But in what specific ways? Also, this is far different than the usual view offered up of innate ideas. I also wouldn't use it merely to explain away aspects of a given thinker you disagree with or for faults you find in a given system.

    You're responding to the post out of context to the thread. I merely expanded on the suggestion that Rand had her ideas before she had her logic, which suggests that her ideas motivated the logic that support her premises. There is nothing unusual about this and I don't want to make it a big discussion. Sometimes people post comments as comments, not as the beginning of dissertations