Tom Rexton

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Everything posted by Tom Rexton

  1. hmm...could you elaborate on this thought? He is despicable, no doubt, but I'm not so sure his rights are annulled yet.
  2. Intruducing myself :)

    Hi Martin. Welcome to the forums! So you're from Norway, eh? Your English (judging solely from your post) is rather good, so I don't think you'll be handicapped at all. Unless you'll be required to take some English literature classe. God I hate those. They're enough to "handicap" native English speakers. I have to read and analyze so many dense, incomprehensible postmodernist essays concerning multicutural/feminist English literature, all of which reject reason, objectivity, primacy of existence, etc., in other words, the whole of Objectivism. Anyways, don't let that discourage you, though.
  3. There is an interesting article posted today in the Yahoo's front paged called "Officers Plot Exit Strategy" which discusses the rising rate of officers leaving the military, citing mainly the following reasons: 1. the "undefined goals of the war" - on what the articles calls the "uncertainty about what lies ahead in an unconventional war in which victory may never be declared." 2. the "perpetual deployments" in a war could last for decades. One officer asks "What's the end point?" "When do you declare victory?" I think we all expected that the Bush administration's vacillation on the War on Terror and their vague plans, purposes and strategies would have a negative impact on the military. Its mixed purposes of defending America by rooting out the terrorists while strictly avoided civilians and spreading "democracy", and its admission that this war "can't be won" and that it may last for decades is having an understandably dismaying effects on our soldiers. The effects are now here. Endless violence and attacks on the soldiers. Barely any real progress in eliminating the terrorists and their supportive regimes (Iran is still safe). Are we going to see a growing exodus of both officers and NCO's? What effect will this have on our already half-hearted attempt? It's almost too disheartening to contemplate.
  4. Texas leads the way

    I took his statement that "Texas has discarded freedom" quite literally--that 1. Before this law Texas HAD freedom, and 2) this passage of this law "discarded" freedom. That's a radical transition as stated (explicitly one from freedom to statism), not a just--as you say--"another step in the wrong direction". Hence, I called it a "milestone", even though no one here ever claimed it. I certainly could never consider "discarding freedom" as just "simply another step in the wrong direction". It's more like a giant leap in the wrong direction. How am I wrong to interpret it so?
  5. Texas leads the way

    Public schools in Texas are not compulsory? Don't all states required either public school, private school or home-schooling? And since private school is prohibitively expensive and home-schooling stringently regulated, this practically means compulsory public education for most children. I agree in that this compulsory P.E. is nothing new in public schools. Most of them required it out of all children not too long ago. I don't think it's radically more tyrannical than public education in general. The results in compulsory classes where children's minds are brain-washed and incapacitated are far more destructive than PE classes (which are relatively harmless). This law seems nothing more than making the old PE class required for all children attending public schools, and doesn't seem at all out-line with current practices--as all public schools I've attended required some PE (I've attend public schools in Hawaii, Texas, and Washington). I don't see this as anymore than a mere small step forward in the state's encroachment of rights--not a milestone indicating Texas' change from fundamentally free to fascism or theocracy.
  6. Weird Psychological Trick

    First I saw her spin counter-clockwise. Then the next minute she was spinning clockwise. In a couple of minutes I got to the point where I could change perspectives at will by focusing on her foot--the one that she is spinning on. Look at her foot and visualize it as spinning in the direction you want to see it spin and then move your eyes gradually to cover the whole figure. I tried this with her arms but that was too hard.
  7. Math and Physics Books

    I'm not a scholar on Godel's work, but I do know a little bit about his incompleteness theorem. And I believe you misrepresent it by saying that it "invalidates knowledge as such". Quite the contrary, it shows the limitations of the formal axiomatic system that rationalistic mathematicians wanted as the sole structure and basis of mathematics. Godel's theorem implies that there can be no complete and consistent set of axioms that can serve as the basis of any system even as simple as elementary arithmetic. This hardly implies the invalidity or inefficacy of reason, particularly inductive reasoning, which lies outside the theorem's applicability. Many (pseudo) philosophers have latched on to this theorem as "proof" of their skepticism. But that is just bad philosophy and the theorem itself makes no such absurd implications.
  8. Phaeton assembly plant in Dresden

    Oh how alienating all those high-tech machines are to those poor, exploited and overworked proletariats! :)
  9. Elders go global, tribal...

    Like Al Gore paying for "carbon off-sets" to justify his sprawling mansion, gargantuan SUV's, and frequent jet travels despite preaching that everyone live like an ascetic medieval monk? None of this is new or surprising.
  10. Homosexuality and Natural Selection

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the concept "tabula rasa" means that there are no innate ideas or concepts with which one is born. Sexual attraction, pleasure/pain sensations, emotions, etc. are not ideas. One is certainly born with the capacity to feel them, and will in fact feel them regardless of one's particular ideas and values.
  11. G8 Agrees to Emissions Cuts

    They may not be around by that time, but the thousands of hordes from universities (nowadays indoctrination begins at grade school) in Europe and the US who take environmentalism and global warming more seriously will be, so I wouldn't brush their "desire" aside any time soon. It will likely take longer than 43 years for the generations of people who were raised to take environmentalism seriously to die away, assuming life expectancies continue to lengthen in the future. Of course, if eco-freaks succeed in their de-industrialization schemes they'll drastically reduce world population and likely wipe themselves out! Unfortunately, they'll kill many other innocent people as well.
  12. Amazon tribesman

    Ugh! It may be just a personal taste, but grotesque body piercings and the like disgust me. So when I saw that I image that just felt...
  13. Comprehensive Destroy the Republican Party Bill

    Perhaps it was the wrong choice of word. By "however", I meant that although the employers would not technically be paying below minimum wage, they would save money as if they were paying below minimum wage.
  14. Comprehensive Destroy the Republican Party Bill

    Independent contractors don't get paid "wages"--only employees do. Contractors function essentially as business firms, with their profit/loss as their net income. And I don't think any state guarantees a minimum profit for businesses (Thank God!). This is, in fact, how many firms legally avoid onerous labor laws (which apply only to employees). The IRS actually defines the difference between the two, and the government generally regards only employees as the ones requiring labor laws to prevent "exploitation". Try this IRS page for a start. You can also look at this Dept of Labor FAQ about the minimum wage. Of course, the laws may vary state by state. So to answer your question, employers paying illegal aliens as independent contractors would pay whatever is agreed upon in the contract, and there's no gov't price control on that as far as I know, since it's like any other price for a product or service. So they wouldn't technically be paid "below minimum wage", since the payment is not a wage rate (they are not employees). However, employers would likely save substantial money from such an arrangement.
  15. The Value of Intellectual Property

    I'd also like to add that I did mention in a previous post the thorny fact that many of the defense firms use foreign components and parts, especially Boeing, which has an extremely complex supply chain extending all over the world. This is true to a more or less extent of the US firms that make aircraft carriers and tanks, among other things. This highlights the extreme difficulty one would encounter in today's globalized production process in trying to make essential manufacturing capacity independent of foreign sources. The global economy is far too interconnected nowadays, production too fragmented all over the world. The government would have to do far more intervention than is acceptable to insure such independence, because of the complex nature of the market economy. The only practical policy the US could do now (apart from a laissez-faire policy) would be to use its military might in securing such supply chains and to find and perhaps promote substitute manufacturing base in case of war.
  16. The Value of Intellectual Property

    That China's government is a serious threat in not under question. I don't dispute it and it was never my point. China's manufacturing sector probably would have grown at the expense of America's anyways, even if the US had a laissez-faire economic policy. In fact, a laissez-faire policy may boost China's manufacturing sector, as American labor would be even more productive (and consequently more expensive) and shift towards productive services. Service jobs, particularly managerial, research and administrative work, would offer even more income for their workers, and they don't carry the premium of manufacturing jobs because they're not the manual-physical-repetitive rote work that people prefer less and would be less willing to work in, when they have better alternatives. In consequence, labor costs would rise even higher for manufacturers, who could then either develop better technology or hire cheaper labor abroad. The only possibility I can see is that a laissez-faire policy may promote such a rapid technological progress that cheaper labor abroad would actually be more costly for manufacturers, who could substitute the better, cheaper technology for the more expensive American workers.
  17. The Value of Intellectual Property

    That's an interesting point I haven't heard from Ayn Rand. I'm not so sure about it, though. I don't think it's necessary for a country to maintain it's own manufacturing base, especially if it has to be forced. The government would have to provide substantial subsidies to domestic manufacturers and severely curtail trade with some countries. We'd have to have an embargo with China because it's all but impossible to beat their low, unskilled wages without reducing Americans' real income. It's a matter of fact that more productive individuals are more expensive to hire, especially when they face many other well-paying alternatives with better conditions (who wants to work in an assembly line all day?). Chinese laborers fresh off the peasant farms in the country face little competition for their (less productive) labor, and also have to compete against millions of other Chinese for low-paying factory jobs. For America to maintain a manufacturing base, it would have to produce robots and machines that would cost lower to operate (along with a few human workers) than cheap Chinese laborers. It couldn't do it by reducing wages to a point where people prefer assembly-line work to managerial, research, and administrative work. Such a reallocation of labor from high-value added services to manufacturing would necessarily force real incomes down. In any case, America has hardly lost its manufacturing capacity. The manufacturing sector has changed composition; it's output has actually grown in line with the overall economy and its productivity growth over the last three decades has actually been faster than the economy overall. Not surprisingly, employment in manufacturing has gone down as robots and other machinery take over the factory. Many complex, high-tech manufactured goods are still actually produced in the US, such as Boeing jets and G.E. MRI scanners, in addition to being designed and developed here. Many other manufactured goods that would seem to be China's forte, such as gigantic construction equipments, are also manufactured here. Look at the fortunes of Boeing, G.E. and Caterpillar. They are hardly in the same muck that GM, Ford and Chrysler are mired in. Many manufactured goods in China (50% according to The Economist) use inputs, parts and materials imported from other countries, and they're woefully short of domestic supplies of commodities like oil. A total war would also force them to seek foreign suppliers. Furthermore, America's capacity to manufacture aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, fighter jets, tanks and other military vehicles are hardly compromised, as the government actually provides subsidies to such firms to keep them in business. The newest and largest aircraft carrier (USS George H.W. Bush) was just finished last year at a shipyard in Virginia, and orders for more advanced ones are on the way. Boeing, who makes the fighter jets, is hardly struggling, to say the least. The defense industry may justifiably require subsidies (in the form government contracts) to develop and maintain their expertise and productive capacity, but to what extent? Because their products are the combination of millions of parts and components, many of which are produced in foreign countries (not just China). Should those firms in the US directly competing against such foreign producers of said parts also be subsidized? What about the firms that makes parts for the firms that make parts for the defense industry? And so on, down the production chain? If such firms are at a cost-disadvantage compared to foreign producers because of the nature of the US economy (relatively higher costs), should they all be subsidized? In other words, must the defense industry's vertical supply chain be located entirely within the US? I don't think so, but that's my tentative conjecture for now. I think only the defense industry, which is a small subset of the manufacturing sector, requires subsidies and trade protection, and nothing beyond that as long as essential parts and components are manufactured in friendly countries or other countries whose capacity can be secured in total war (Mexico?).
  18. An "Inconvenient" Sequel

    Indeed. What an unwittingly ironic yet true title!
  19. New Strategy For Winning In Iraq

    It's worse than that. Despite standing in place doing nothing while being slowly killed, the whole world--including Americans--denounce him for being an "imperialistic warmonger" who is too aggressive and unilateral, with no respect for human rights. (!) The politicians forbid the military from doing anything effective, and then accuse them of being unbridled and uncontrolled. How much worse could it be?
  20. Is the concept of cardinality of infinite sets valid? In my math course our last unit covers cardinality, and we prove basic theorems about set cardinalities. I'm having trouble determining whether it is valid to apply the concept of "equinumerosity" to infinite sets; that is, set A is "equinumerous" with set B if there is a bijective function from A to B. This definition is used to prove such theorems as R is "more infinite" than N, Z or Q, or formally |R|>|Z|=aleph-null. (All the proofs we've done rest on the validity of constructing a bijection from Z+ to some other infinite set, and showing whether it is possible or impossible to do so, and thereby prove that it is equinumerous to or "more infinite" than Z+.) Perhaps there's a valid way of thinking about infinite cardinalities of different sizes? Or does it depend on the invalid assumption of an actual infinity?
  21. Oops, I stated a contradictory conclusion. I meant to conclude: Therefore, reason cannot be the basis of science. QED
  22. I have discovered a false assumption in your perfectly valid argument: "reason is the basis of science". Quantum mechanics (the basis of physics--the most fundamental science) proves that cats inside boxes can be both dead and alive at the same time until you peek inside the box! But reason certainly says otherwise. A contradiction! Therefore, science cannot be the basis of science. QED
  23. Britain's Tony Blair is resigning

    Developed market economies can be very robust and resilient in the face of bad politicians. Look at the US economy during Clinton's administration--the longest expansion ever, the fastest productivity growth in decades, the lowest unemployment, inflation, etc. Even now, it's amazing how we've managed given the burden of the war, the government's increasing regulations (especially environmental), the Fed's inflationary policies, etc. As long as the fundamentals of capitalism are there, and there is no systematic violations of individual rights, rational selfish individuals can still achieve so much! The government's policies with respect to private property (taxes, regulations, trade, etc.), as bad as they are in the US and Commonwealth countries, are still superior to Continental Europe's and particularly third world countries'. As long as this holds, it's not so hard to have superior economic growth. Australia, Britain, Canada and America have had some the best economic performance over the last 20 years among the developed countries.
  24. Falling Flat Panel TV Prices

    The Luddites are unfortunately here to stay, and it always annoys me whenever some ignoramus bewails the "job loses" from technological progress, especially if it's a "liberal economist" (as the article labels him). The article's writer is obviously biased, given the ending note. But bring on the cheap plasma TV's!
  25. Willful Blindness

    How so? If the "hardship" is accompanied by an understanding of the cause of economic depressions then it wouldn't happen in the first place! Moreover, the Great Depression brought us the federal bureaucracy, eliminated the gold standard, and instituted a web of regulations that to this day continues to entangle and hamper productive firms and individuals. If anything, capitalism would take the blame for another "significant economic hardship". No crisis can bring about the correct response without the right ideas having some dominance. Only if the right ideas are in place do crises (whether war or depression) generate the right reaction and accelerate the penetration of said ideas.