James Heaps-Nelson

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Everything posted by James Heaps-Nelson

  1. There are some here who are physics experts and some who are not physics experts but who can follow physics mathematically if it is well explained. A board with Dragonfly, Dan Ust, Ellen Stuttle, Stephen Boydstun and others, is the perfect place for Baal's approach. Jim
  2. Competitive seats all around are preferable. We don't need Republicans for life any more than Barney Franks. Ted, I view the 2010 election outcome as necessary insurance against a possible 2012 Obama victory. I don't see the Republicans coming up with a credible presidential candidate. Historically the Democrats have held a 2:1 redistricting advantage which led to a long stretch of Democratic House majorities until 1994. After 2010, the redistricting playing field will be leveled. Historically, Americans favored Democratic domestic policies and Republican approaches to foreign policy and national security. After GWB and Obama this has flip-flopped with the electorate preferring Obama on foreign policy and the Republicans on domestic policy. Jim
  3. A little over 2 months. I'm liking it a lot so far. Jim
  4. How much time, in fact, does a grad student in a typical physics program spend on anything resembling epistemology? Hell, I didn't care for some of the psychology that I was taught in grad school. So what? Robert Campbell Not a lot. I just googled the local physics graduate offerings and it's pretty typical: http://www.physics.ncsu.edu/graduate/grad-courses.html Jim
  5. I think it was a good decision. I think parables and allegory are a shorthand for communicating moral lessons in a way that abstract analysis can't. A lot of the power that Rand had was not only creating visual scenes, but scenes of moral power. The Boy on the Bicycle, Roark and Rearden on the yacht, Hank and Francisco together at the iron smelter. All of the scenes double as parables with a takeaway message. In your parable,the Olympian slowly forgets or loses an important aspect of his humanity or some aspect of his connection to reality. Humans are present-oriented psychologically, we have difficulty projecting the future and the past often fades into the psychological background. Jim
  6. Phil, I think another aspect of what you're trying to get at is a certain recognition of spiritual equality in mentor/acolyte relationships and other human, interpersonal relationships. That's something that many people of status lose along the way. It's also a healthier way to relate to other people. Jim
  7. Rand actually dealt with the Olympian issue with her concept of the pyramid of ability and the trader principle. I also think she knew the loneliness of the Olympian. Every loneliness is a pinnacle... Jim
  8. Phil, This was a very good piece. I think part of the problem from an Objectivist perspective is an attachment to achievement based on social status. The respect gained from achievement or brilliance in a field of endeavor is earned, but should not be the driving force. The difficulty is that excellence in one arena does not necessarily translate into another arena. The marathon Olympian does not necessarily become a shot put Olympian. Many Olympians become used to deference. I think a certain amount of status seeking is baked into human nature. It is a psychological achievement to substitute the psychological high of flow, intrinsic enjoyment of an activity for its own sake for the earned social status that accompanies achievement in a given arena. The present Objectivist controversy is not complicated. One side is obviously right and one side is obviously wrong. It was an attempt for an Olympian (or at least competent practitioner) in one arena to enter another by proxy and still be afforded deference. The loss of perspective when he wasn't was not graceful. The remaining question is: how does an Olympian deal psychologically with a situation in which his stature is not recognized, where he has not earned the respect he thinks he should be afforded. How high achieving people deal with their limits says a lot about their emotional maturity. Do they maintain perspective or does it represent an existential crisis to them? Jim
  9. LOL Neil, I haven't always agreed with what you've had to say or with your emphasis, but I've learned a lot by reading your posts. Jim
  10. Jim, He sure did. I remembered that Nathaniel Branden had written that review. But, even if I hadn't, the evasive footnote 150 would have reminded me. Robert Campbell Of course ARI does what Ayn Rand did not by refusing to give authorship credit to Nathaniel Branden. They can't even adopt Rand's standards when it come to pre-1968 Objectivist writings... Jim
  11. Second, about Brand Blanshard: Anyone want to guess who reviewed Reason and Analysis? Robert Campbell Robert, this stuff is just bush league and the hilarious thing is that ARI could've left it all behind if Peikoff hadn't decided to be mulish about Harriman's book. They could have righted their ship, but now it is taking on serious water. Jim P.S. I'm guessing Nathaniel Branden reviewed Reason and Analysis...
  12. I think Rowlands should go in for comedy. He does that a lot better than guru-wannabe... Michael When I read that piece on RoR, I burst out laughing. I think that Objectivists show a certain side of themselves on forums. It's not a complete picture and I don't think most intend it as such. I think Joe Rowlands runs his site the way Jimmy Wales used to: he gets bored or busy and spends months to a year away. He occasionally comes back and remembers he owns the site and asserts that prerogative. I hardly think that qualifies him for guru or guruwannabe status. The long technical sparring and dessicated Austrian economics on RoR tends to be out of my intellectual strike zone, but guru tendencies are not something I would associate with that site. There are probably some here whose mileage differs, vive la difference. Jim
  13. I forgot to mention that authoritative rewrites of Ayn Rand and correct scientific revisionism are the sole province of the Serious Scholars TM of the Ayn Rand Institute. Jim Glory be! I copied some text from the website, and there it was: an ® after Miss Rand's name. Not even a TM. Objectivism, however, us not registered. Perhaps it needs an alternate spelling, like Kleenex® instead of Clean-Ex. Obb-Djekti-Vizm®, perhaps? Well Jonathan you obviously haven't looked at the international affiliates like the Ayn Rand Institute Canada which possesses the coveted TM in its logo. Jim
  14. I forgot to mention that authoritative rewrites of Ayn Rand and correct scientific revisionism are the sole province of the Serious Scholars TM of the Ayn Rand Institute. Jim
  15. Well Robert, you do know that that trademark is only for use by Serious Objectivists TM such as Harry Binswanger :-). Jim
  16. Michael, Objectivism has escaped the institutions. Everyone can now enjoy their own mashup of online forums, facebook and other venues. People can now tailor and customize their own Objectivist experience. It's like when network TV switched to cable. Jim
  17. I came across this overview of linguistics by Ted and was reminded of how important new syntheses will be in growing the Objectivist system. In some ways the Harriman work on physics is indicative of the misdirection of Objectivist inquiry. Despite large swaths of modern physics that Orthodox Objectivists are against, physics is now a relatively stable discipline. For a real challenge, take on induction in neurology, complex and chaotic systems and molecular biology. The real trick is not dealing with the known and validating it. It's how we make a useful synthesis from the uncertain, unpredictable and partly known. Objectivism is really taking its first steps into a new and exciting new frontier where knowledge will extend into the probabilistic, economic modeling will say less and capture more and new fields like neuroeconomics will meld together and provide fresh insights. We will shift from a paradigm of what can be proven to what can be said about fields of knowledge where we are just starting our walk into the unknown. Jim
  18. Wait, are you implying that I am not . . . In this respect, no. None of us. Ever try explaining the nuances of the whole O- and OL experience to people at a cocktail party? Instant mutant status--go to the corner, be quiet and pick at your appetizers. Rich, The people at the cocktail party have a sickness too. Their experience consists of only the ordinary and the respectable or the fashionably avant-garde. Objectivism only becomes a problem when the initial excitement of paradigm shift fades into settling for hardened dogma. Jim
  19. You are way too generous. This has always been about controlling other people, with secrecy pledges and loyalty oaths and ostracisms. That has been the norm for decades. The problem is that the occasional sacrifices have been done only at safe intervals. Think about the Onlies in the Star Trek episode Miri. They think that the disease that sends their friends into ostracism and oblivion only happens to some people because it only happens occasionally. But the truth is that the inner circle all have the disease, and unless they leave voluntarily they are all going to come down with a full blown case of irrevocable repudiation sooner or later. No one can be consistently evil. But some people are evil, and the fact that they can dance a jig or kiss a baby or make a good speech by reading a teleprompter, or control the income of an estate doesn't make them good. The central focus of Peikoff and his sycophants for fourty years has been maintaining control. Producing new work has always come second. That's why an open system is a threat. That's why Kelley and Reisman are threats. They don't rely on or submit to control. This has never been about a conflict between virtue and vice. Vice has been in control for a long, long time. Ted, That's part of it, although I think a lot of it involves compartmentalization. I think most Orthodox O'ists really do want to do right in most situations. However, when you deal with a highly abstract system and a highly invested psychological need to be right, whatever is right can easily turn into whatever can be justified. Jim
  20. It seems it happened last week, and there was dirty work afoot. Meet the newest unperson: http://blog.shealevy.com/2010/11/07/my-treatment-in-last-tuesdays-oac-call/ A couple of the comments suggest that Comrade Sonia has also been unpersoned. It's quite literally like the game of telephone. I bet a recording will emerge, and become available through backchannels. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again... Jim
  21. The 2010 landslide was even more catastrophic for Democrats than it appears. This is a Census year and Republicans control the congressional redistricting process in the major states gaining population: Florida, Texas and Utah. Republicans also control the redistricting process in the major states losing population: Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Redistricting could give Republicans a permanent 10-20 seat boost in every House election until 2020. Couple that with 23 Democratic Senate seats vs. 9 Republican seats up for election in the Senate in 2012 and you have the recipe for a lasting congressional GOP majority. Jim
  22. George, Classic! If you write long essays about why John McCaskey might not deserve a rung in Hell, but Leonard Peikoff deserves the benefit of the doubt for putting him there, you might be an Objectivist. If science stops at 1900, you might be an Objectivist. If there is a context which always seems to confirm your point of view, you might be an Objectivist. If ethics means constructing long-winded, abstract arguments encapsulating your judgments of other people, you might be an Objectivist. If you belong to the Brahmins of New York or Irvine and never associate with assorted untouchables, you might be an Objectivist. If you check your premises more often than your rear view mirror and chew on them until they form a perfectly consistent noncontradictory whole, you just might an Objectivist. If you reject all of the above and think for yourself, you might be #@&% instead of a $$$$$. Jim
  23. Ed, Congrats! Bringing Atlas Shrugged to the screen has been a long time coming. Jim
  24. Beautiful, Ted. I love it. “Penn can’t be a nihilist because he is kind to his mother, blah-blah-blah….” I have no intention of wasting my time spelling it out to you, Adam. You’re obviously too busy yukking it up to give a damn. Dennis, I just think Penn is incredibly superficial. There is a brand of libertarian that really does believe in liberty that doesn't really care deep down about human greatness. I put Nick Gillespie in that category, too. They are libertarians because they want to be able to carry guns and ride motorcycles without helmets, but when it comes to really caring about human achievement, it doesn't reach them at some level. If they did a segment on Einstein, they'd get hung up on his wild hair or make jokes about marrying cousins. Of course he'd think Rand was a whack job, she was too busy writing great novels and building a philosophical system to go to a comedy club and listen to crass jokes about things the comedian really should care about. The comedian is too cool not to get in a cheap laugh at the first opportunity. Jim
  25. Penn's connection to Rands ideas is, upon information and belief, his take and belief that she is a radical for individualism and capitalism. My guess it stops there. He is very supportive of the Bill of Rights because they protect individuals and stop government from intrusion in our personal lives. I would place him as a radical libertarian and possibly an anarcho-capitalist. He is a big second amendment advocate. He has seriously argued, quite well for liberty. His argument that you should have the right to carry a gun on an airplane is fascinating. I for one think that a well armed citizenry would seriously retard violent crime after a nasty six (6) month shake down period. More guns, less crime. Adam Adam, So I might agree with certain positions Penn Jillette takes and I don't think he's a nihilist. I can understand how someone can satirize Ayn Rand, she had foibles and some of them could be the object of humor. However, what Penn Jillette is doing here is making fun of her genius and doing it by bait and switch. He's taking every easy personal potshot and passing it off as a humorous commentary on the making of the Atlas Shrugged movie and her book in general. Jim