jeffrey smith

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About jeffrey smith

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    history, classic literature, classical music and opera, philosophy and religion

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  1. I believe that all these stories end in the triumphant heroes "settl[ing] down to a life of despair" because the thrust of the victory over evil tend to be that this is only temporary and the characters seem to be aware that the universe is a much darker place. I wasn't as impressed with "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," but it's been a long time since I read it. If I were forced to choose among his stories -- and I don't think of him as a great writer or his stories as great writing, but some of that might be more due to my preferences than any objective criteria I could muster -- I'd proba
  2. Obviously not the Sixth or Ninth Symphonies, Fidelio, the Choral Fantasy, most of the string quartets and piano sonatas.... If she thought Beethoven's music expressed the "Malevolent universe" idea, then what was her reaction to Mahler? Run screaming from the room? Jeffrey S.
  3. Aaron, you have just pointed out why I don't think anyone will try another hijacking for a while. Nobody is going to assume that it is just a "joyride to Cuba." There is one culprit that is still forgotten, however. That culprit is government disarmament of innocent people. Wherever it happens, whenever some nutjob starts killing a bunch of people, you can bet that he is doing it in someplace where "the law" has disarmed the victims. It could be Columbine or Virginia Tech. It could be an airplane hijacking. Whenever I read similar comments, I start to wonder why people don't realize that's ac
  4. I hope the author of that article has received the treatment he needs for his obvious paranoid schizophrenia. It departs so severely from reality in places that it seems to describe an alternate universe. Jeffrey S.
  5. Who was George Gilder and why did he earn the ire of Ayn, the wrath of Rand? Jeffrey S.
  6. Very good essay. The only criticism I would make of it is that in at least some of the stories, "the good guys" win out, even if some of them, or some of the innocent, die before victory is won: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Dunwich Horror, Lurking Fear are good examples of this--and in each of them, it's a scientist or a group of scientists--researchers using reason and the scientific method to analyze the data--who defeat the evil. I actually read very little horror, but I would nominate The Case of Charles Dexter Ward as one of the best written stories in American literature, horror and
  7. I disagree in regards to evolution. I think Christian fundamentalists -- I did not introduce "Creationist" here; you did -- have done their best to keep evolution out of the classroom. (Putting Creationism in is another story and one I didn't raise here.) Granted, had they not done so, it's likely government schools across America would still be teaching watered down, decades old theories about evolution -- the equivalent of how physics is taught at that level. I would suggest this is not a new problem. I was in elementary school in the middle and late sixties, and middle/high school in the
  8. [quote name='George H. Smith' date='14 April 2010 - 11:59 I tell you what: Watch this YouTube video that I made a long time ago, "Bad Jokes and Good Jazz," and tell me what you think I am denying the metaphysical importance of. <object width="445" height="364"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-7IVXG9dKw&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1"></param><param'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-7IVXG9dKw&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param na
  9. Near the beginning of Woody Allen's "Manhattan," there is a scene where a woman is discussing sex with some people at a cocktail party. She says, "I recently had my first orgasm, but my psychiatrist told me it was the wrong kind." Allen's character replies, "That's funny; all my orgasms have been right on the money." I laugh at this line every time I watch the movie, but I don't believe I am denying the metaphysical importance of orgasms. On the contrary, orgasms rank near the top of my metaphysical "to do" list. 8-) Ghs But isn't the Allen joke aimed at psychiatrists and people being undeser
  10. This is a straw man argument. If a crime is occurring and I am in a position to do something about it, I am going to do something. However, there is nothing I can do if a rape is occurring 1000 miles away or even 100 miles away. I am not Superman, nor do I have a transporter like the one on Star Trek. In fact, there is no way for me to know when and where rapes are occurring if they are not within immediate sight and earshot. There is no point in worrying about things that I can not control. I do not have the power to render nuclear weapons harmless. I can't even stop bullets, so I can hardly
  11. This could a separate discussion -- and a long one at that. The Fermi Paradox rests on the seeming lack of other intelligent life (i.e., humans has not discovered intelligent life elsewhere yet despite the dozens of postcards we sent) coupled with the seeming presence of conditions all over the place for such to evolve. Regarding humans only be able to get to the Moon -- as far as manned spaceflight -- the problem is that you're generalizing from one data point to the whole universe. (Of course, this one example is the problem for all Fermi Paradox speculation. Imagine if you had to similarly
  12. How you could possibly arrive at this conclusion escapes me. The second sentence of the passage quoted above from Galt's Speech: if you read it as a precise expression of her ideas, it implies that the self is not a "something" since consciousness must be aware of "something"s yet can't be aware of itself. As I said above, this is a somewhat absurd implication given everything else Rand said. The only other way I can read that sentence is to imply that consciousness is awareness of something which is not our own self. IOW, we become aware of entity A and as part of that awareness, we realiz
  13. The problem with your approach is that you are assuming that consciousness is inextricably linked with physical bodies, and your only evidence to support this assumption is that we don't know of any such. Unfortunately for you, not knowing of any is not, in logic, the equivalent of there are none such (unless you have omniscience, of course). Your assumption is a simple assertion, and your basic argument evaporates. As for your final point that a non-embodied consciousness would not have anything to be aware of, it would in fact have at least one thing to be aware of: itself. (Obviously,I ch
  14. This could a separate discussion -- and a long one at that. The Fermi Paradox rests on the seeming lack of other intelligent life (i.e., humans has not discovered intelligent life elsewhere yet despite the dozens of postcards we sent) coupled with the seeming presence of conditions all over the place for such to evolve. Regarding humans only be able to get to the Moon -- as far as manned spaceflight -- the problem is that you're generalizing from one data point to the whole universe. (Of course, this one example is the problem for all Fermi Paradox speculation. Imagine if you had to similarly
  15. I don't think the position is too absurd. If someone doesn't understand (at least intuitively) the way logic works, then they will be unable to recognize when a syllogism is true, or why. In other words, for them, if P then Q would be as "valid" a syllogism as if P then not Q. Of course, this assumes that this is what the ARIans intended in making that claim. Jeffrey S.