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bob_hayden last won the day on October 6 2018

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About bob_hayden

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    Robert W. Hayden
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    retired college professor
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    classical, some folk
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    looking for female

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  1. Re that book from the 1850s -- I'm sure you could find publications from that era citing the horrible dangers of masturbation or premarital sex as well. The fact that someon3e made a claim back then does not mean what they said was/is an established fact. I think Rand saw all such claims as anti-pleasure. anti-life Puritan pronouncements which she abhorred. Discussion of the effects of smoking as a scientific, rather than moralistic, issue dates from 1950. Rand questioned this research because it was based on obsrervational studies in which other possible causes had not been ruled out. In this she agreed with R. A. Fisher, the father of statistics as we know it today (and who also smoked;-) While they raised a valid point, it is one that pertains to nearly all knowledge of human beings, as it is rarely possible to randomly assign patients to things like smoking, gender, homosexuality, etc. Nor is it usually possible to control all extraneous variables. Their position makes human health and behavior unknowable. Fisher pioneered the design and analysis of experiments, and Hill, a leading opponent of smoking, was the first to apply those methods in medicine. But Hill was also a pioneer in figuring out how to do the best we can with what we have. With human subjects, we often have to be satisfied with weighing the evidence pro and con while accepting that "proof" is not possible. In medicine today, clinical trials are considered the gold standard, but these typically control NO extraneous variables, and would be considered laughable in physics. (For example, we may compare two oral medications, but we cannot measure or control genetics, diet, exercise, etc. of the subjects.) Were I to fault Rand on this issue it would be over her tendency to make up her mind and not consider new information, and her tendency to rely on abstract reasoning over empirical evidence.
  2. I would agree with those who say that Rand's aesthetics do not cover everything. OTOH I also think that one source of puzzlement is that Rand (as usual) traces things back to their roots, and rarely speaks of proximate causes. The closest I come to art is photography, and that might be a particularly simple example. What determines what I chose to take a picture of? I think that goes back ultimately to the kind of things Rand talks about, but I am not conscious of that as I take the picture. If you asked me at the moment I might say that I loved the way the new mown hay looked in the late afternoon sun, but why that appealed to me is probably far below the conscious level. A lot of my photo work records the history of the American Industrial Revolution. Some of it is just a record of the past, but some of it has an artistic element. Why is it that when I go to these dying cities that were once centers of industry I record the mills and factories rather than the winos in the alleyways? I think it reflects a judgment of what is important.
  3. I'm not sure better Liberal Arts education would help. In any case, though I am an MIT grad. I know little about climatology. I do know a fair bit about statistics, and often I think the climatologists are at least talking the language of science, while the doubters often talk the language of ignorance. But I am also all too aware of the hubris in the science community. In self-defense, I have had to learn a lot about medicine in my old age, and experienced "experts" unwilling to listen to patients or common sense.
  4. I think it a mistake to focus on the science which few of us are able to judge. Regardless of the science, the political question is whether this provides justification for a massive concentration of wealth and power in Washington, DC. Even if things do heat up, I doubt the government will respond in a more efficient and economical manner than will leaving people to sort this out for themselves. About the only regulation I would support would be a stiff tax on hot air from politicians.
  5. Here is an editorial I wrote 3.5 years ago. I am not a climatologist, but I do think of myself as a scientist. With that in mind, I find it helpful to look at the issue in layers. The simplest layer is just the factual question of whether the earth has warmed up in recent years. This I am inclined to believe, based mainly on the years I spent living within walking distance of Canada. There I heard constant reports of the dislocation of native peoples in the north. Areas that had been solid for as long as written records and native legends go back are now mud or open sea. For the people who used to live in these areas, climate change is obvious. You can see a map of the changes in this article from The Economist. Then there is the question of whether that warming will continue. (Some claim it has already stopped.) Here I find it helpful to think about predicting the stock market. There we have the same issue of sorting out short term from long term trends. The market has been going up for several years as I write this. Will it continue? If the market went down last week, does that prove the long term trend is not up? I also find it helpful to think about how well we are able to forecast the weather, for, say, five days. Are we sure we can do much better when the time frame is five decades? At the next layer, the reason people feel they can predict climate change is that they have a theory about its causes. (There are as many theories about the stock market as there are investors or Presidents.) I would be willing to call that theory our current best guess. There has been no experimental confirmation, and limited empirical evidence to support it. And even if it explains the past, there is a big leap of faith involved in assuming the future will be the same as the past. Finally we come to the political debate. On one side we seem to have the creationists and flat-earth folks who consider science irrelevant any time they don't like its conclusions. I would hate to see Objectivists associated with this group. Except for the fact that the other side is even worse. To me the most important thing to be said about the politics of climate change is that is represents an opportunity that is just too good to be true for those who wish to concentrate more money and more power in the national government. It offers the potential for limitless regulation and limitless spending, but the beauty of it all is that it is all to prevent some disaster in the far future -- long after those who get the money and power are gone. They can only be proven wrong after it's too late. There are also some practicalities. Nations like India and China seem little interested in curtailing their economic growth to avoid climate change. So we do face the possibility of having the United States bear most of the costs of a likely failure. But note that attempt does further the goal of more money and power for U.S. politicians! "If you wish to understand a folly, ask what it accomplishes." One clue of the insincerity of the climate opportunists is that they mention only possible bad effects of climate change. The article cited above from The Economist is a rare exception. Here in New Hampshire, where I live, a warmer climate would be hard on the ski resorts and snowmobile sales (and I am sure they will be putting in for subsidies). Warming might be good for NH agriculture, and a boon to those of us who stay here and heat our homes in winter. In fact, the climate change doomsayers seem to be basing their program on what Nathaniel Branden called "The Divine Right of Stagnation." (His essay by that title in included in The Virtue of Selfishness anthology.) The fans of climate change can't weigh the good changes against the bad changes because they are opposed to change in principle. In a free market, there would be no response to climate change until somebody was sure enough of it to bet their own money, perhaps by moving their ski resort 200 miles north. They would be rewarded if their prediction was accurate, but only after they were shown to be correct. The climate warmers want to force everyone to bet on their one possible scenario for the future. They want a big cut on all those bets, to accrue to them whether they are right or wrong, and long before the race is run.
  6. Meanwhile the pope is planning to visit Ireland -- the first such visit in decades. Much has changed since then, what with the creepy clerics and the referenda on same sex marriage and abortion.There is all manner of silliness appearing to welcome the pope. Though I have enjoyed being a lapsed Catholic for close to 60 years, I do wish the Holy Father had consulted me about these candies. Given the recent history of the Church, I fear too much symbolic meaning may be attached to encouraging millions of young lads to take the pope into their mouths.
  7. The "Manager" quote in the box at the top reminds me of Deming, the statistician who preached quality control after WWII to deaf ears in the US, so he went to Japan and made that country a world leader in quality automobiles and electronics. While this was based in part on statistics, it also included much about management practices. I think the common thread is the question of whether the management task is to make things work or to assign blame when they don't. This and three of Jonathan's points make me think of the management of the apartment building where I have been living for two years. As one example, in the fall we get a condescending letter of advance blame reminding us not to open our windows in the winter and thereby let the apartment get so cold the radiators freeze. The first question is, "Who would be dumb enough to do that in New Hampshire?" Unmentioned is the fact that the second floor here is so hot that I never have to turn the heat on all year, and, indeed, do have to open windows in the dead of winter. To solve the problem one would need to figure out what is wrong with the heating or ventilation system, but it's much easier to blame the victim.
  8. I thought the priesthood was what Catholic societies did with their homosexuals. (Hey, who else would be happy to forgo sex with women?-) I would not have a problem with that except that they preach against homosexuality. But what percentage of priests actually practice child abuse? I think cases get a lot of publicity because people are shocked. And I think priests tend to cover up child abuse because they are already covering up their homosexuality, and the fact the victims are so often boys would tend to blow their cover on that count.
  9. The couple of years the Atlas Summit was in NH I heard talks by a couple of therapists who I think studied with NB. I don't remember their names but the program -- maybe even the talks -- were online.
  10. NB once asked AR how she visualized Dagny. "Like the young Katharine Hepburn."
  11. Thanks. I have no opinion of her but some of the issues people have raised do not bother me. For example, while AR may have stopped calling herself "Alice" long ago, relatives might have already grown used to calling her that, and continued to do so.
  12. Peter, a couple of the victims I know DID tell adults but were not believed. So, we can work on the adults to at least consider what children say, and to educate them. For example, adults need to know that most abusers are trusted people close to home, not big wigs in the entertainment industry that their children will never meet, or old guys in the park wearing raincoats on a sunny day. . Also, if parents give their children more guidance on where to draw lines, the children will feel more confident in identifying and reporting transgressions, and may see trouble before it becomes big trouble. I'd want to say something about "secrets" too though I'm not sure what. Those create huge conflicts for victims, and a home with secrets is a scary place. AFAIK I have only met one abuser. I only found out years later, but before that I thought that he seemed really good with children, but not with adult women, nor did he have many adult friends. This seems consistent with something MSK said about abusers learning to be really good with children so they could get close. So it seems that one thing we might be wary of is people whose human relationships are very skewed toward children.
  13. Even if we do not need to work many hours to take care of basic needs, adults may share a child's infinite desire for toys;-) Someone mentioned more people spending their free time on art, but this will increase demand for art supplies. All this says nothing of the human tendency to spend to enhance one's self image. I work with high school statistics teachers who often do polls of their classes. One question that has become popular is, "How many pairs of shoes do you own?" This turns up lots of girls with astronomical numbers of shoes. No doubt there are marketing people right now trying to figure out how to further "feminize" boys so they buy similar quantities of shoes. Online entities like Google and Facebook are getting fabulously rich from advertising. But that is a zero-sum game. They need to create (perceived) needs for this to remain profitable. One can get people to switch brands of laundry detergent but it is not so easy to increase total demand for laundry detergent.