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Posts posted by Charles

  1. I also appreciate that other factors besides time can determine the route one takes. In London I often get off at Embankment tube station instead of Waterloo (from which I catch a train home) and walk to Waterloo across a footbridge traversing the River Thames. In the process I get to see the full London skyline - including all the new skyscrapers that are shooting up - and the Royal Festival Hall. The image is not unlike my profile picture. There are usually a couple of Jazz musicians busking as well which makes for a pleasant crossing. Better all that then 4 minutes crammed into a sweaty tube train and a further 5 moving up escalators.

  2. The world has lost a renaissance man. Didn't know Stephen personally, read a lot of what he wrote in these forums - learned a lot from him, was regularly inspired and had my views challenged. Haven't been to the forum in a while, just found out.

    To Betsy, my condolences and best wishes.



  3. I wondered if your thoroughly integrated war vet noticed the absence of Israeli planes as he was "smiling with delight at his half-somalian grandchild." Integration as the "pinnacle of human civilization," indeed. ;)

    I don't want to give the impression I think integration is the yard stick by which to measure civilization and I certainly never said it was the "pinnacle of human civilisation" - we were discussing cities and what factors contribute to their greatness. My point being that perhaps integration factored in, that it was a certainly a reflection of civilization beyond a certain point, the unfortunate state of abject racism many parts of the world live in. Your clearly peeved at the British for geopolitical reasons. I wasn't looking to get into a debate about the Israeli conflict.

    Have you heard of the Henry Jackson Society? If your interested in people advancing that sort of agenda they're the closest thing to PNAC (Project for a New American Century) in the UK.

  4. I was having a chat with a friend last night by the river Thames in central London and we were admiring the skyline - many new skyscrapers shooting up and other amibitious projects besides. My friend commented that 'This is amazing, but it's just not on the same scale as American cities' - namely New York, and spoke of how streets lined with buildings towering above you. I've never been. The notion being discussed was roughly - what is the greatest city in the world - the pinnacle of human civilization?

    I challenged him - what about cohesion and integration - you look at France with its urban ghettos and Germany, where the idea that a brown skinned man of Asian descent being accepted as German is laughable. London is surely the most integrated city on the planet? I vividly described my journey out that evening where I'd seen an old white man - presumably a war vet, sitting on the tube and smiling with delight at his half-somalian grandchild bouncing on his knee. Not an uncommon sight - we have a very large, increasing mixed race population.

    These people generally have as much a sense of national identity as the next man does. I live on a street with a thorough mix of white, brown, black, yellow and all shades in between and besides the friendships and businesses that form roughly on lines of ancestral language/culture, there is no racial grouping - certainly not overtly. There are, however, districts in London with a heavy concentration of one group - though usually along religious lines - the orthodox Jewish community in seven sisters and strong, insular Muslim communities from which, it saddens me to say, our homegrown suicide bombers hail (the labour government is finally doing a U-turn on multiculturalism I'm glad to report).

    So what about America? I've heard of the Ghettos and I'm aware of a division of communities in places - certainly that there are large swathes of the south where interracial marriages are frowned upon. I haven't been though, I haven't seen it - my knowledge comes from the experiences of friends and family and from what I have read in the media/literature. My friend had travelled there and very much confirmed the picture - you had Italian Americans, African Americans (not so sure about Arab-Americans?) , and such groups readily identified as American first and their distant roots second, but you still had racial groups living in their own communities and not mixing half as much they did here - even in the big blue cities. (Perhaps San Francisco or Los Angeles are exceptions?).

    At any rate, I'd be interested to hear people's thought on integration - the degree you think it's happening in the US, whether it matters and what it reflects. Also, which city is the pinnacle of human civilization? Washington DC - Colbert's chocolate city with a marshmallow center & a gram-cracker crust of corruption! ;) ?

    (I certainly think a degree of cultural grouping adds a bit of spice to a city - I'd miss China town! But racial/culture/religion?)

  5. What do you mean by "noble"?

    I meant it in the sense that I think it a worthwhile cause. I think describing an act as 'Noble' connotates a generally undisputable sense of dignity. I would describe his actions here as noble as he goes out of his way to promote life in general through technological advancement, without getting too involved in the politics of it. I think apolitical (typically technological) actions that function to preserve life in general are pretty undisputably worthwhile. Arguably he has quite purposefully avoided the politics of it, probably - a) because he knows aid through government/direct contact with states is totally ineffective and :P he either doesn't have a solid political philosophy to spread, or he believes enough is being done to spread his already.

    I appreciate it's not a word easily reclaimed from the cold dead fingers of altruism :D. If you can, please offer me a better defined philosophically compatible one.

    I have to say with regards Africa's widespread socio-economic problems and bad government, that I think the natural pressure to tame government and develop mature institutions that comes from increased economic activity is being heavily stymied by the protectionist policies of much of the developed world. Europe in particular.

    NB. I don't know the specifics of it, but the Gates foundation is also running a number of educational programs in the US. Building model schools as oppose to making general but minor improvements to them all. Interestingly he doesn't take business plans/requests for donations with regards his domestic educational agenda - implying he has some firm ideas about what to do/how to do it.

  6. 20, seems about right. Couple of interesting questions about imagination there.

    Nice example of severe autistic childs inability to imagine/empath in the following situation: three boxes and a ball in front of two children - one is autistic. A man puts the ball in one box, and asks the children to tell him which box the other child thinks the balls in. Each child is then asked to leave the room whilst the other stays and watches the man take the ball out of one box and put it in another. The child is then asked where the child coming back in the room thinks the ball is. The normal child points at the box the ball was originally in, the autistic child points at the box the ball was put in when the other child left - unable to comphrehend what the situation must look like from the other childs perspective.

  7. Ayn Rand defines altruism as the principle "that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue, and value.''

    In this sense I am strongly against altruism. However, I see nothing wrong in conscious benevolence - the personal decision to help people because you see value in doing so, you see value in them. You don't have to help, you choose to.

    Bill Gates & Warren Buffett may or may not be using language that plays to the dogmatic altruistic vein. I don't know - I've only read some of what they've said in speeches pertaining to this recent donation (including Gates presentation of an early copy of 'The Wealth of Nations' to Warren Buffett). I have, however, had a good look at the various programs the Gates foundation's money is going into and whilst I disagree wilth some, and would have to be convinced of others the general strategy seems good to me: They are focusing on funding technological advances.

    Intentionally, the advances they're pursuing disproportionately favour the poor and diseased in undeveloped parts of the world, but that's their perogative and I think it noble. They have admitted that if they tried to address the education and health problems of developing African nations their billions would just be a drop in the ocean and be of no guaranteed benefit (possibly worsening the situation if misused). In that respect solutions are very much in the hand of the people of those lands.

    Now, I have no doubt at all that the members of this forum think that money could be used to much greater effect and I don't disagree with you. But it's their money and their businessmen - not philosophers - if their overarching strategy was to hand blank cheques to African despots I'd be shooting the venture out of the sky. But their not, they want to help and by focusing on technological initiatives they do so without causing any cultural or philosophical damage.

    That doesn't mean I don't see a need for winning a cultural war against the undeveloped world - we certainly do, and it would be good to see Gates/Buffett putting some money into appropriate political/philosophical value orientated organizations (perhaps they are aside from this?).

    (I'd be interested to hear a response - particularly if you are dead set against the Gates foundation - it's just I can't possibly imagine why?!)

  8. One thing I would mention is sleep. A good nights sleep can make the world of difference - and a bad nights sleep can leave you irritable, with low energy reserves for the next day - particularly if its a habit.

    For this I would recommend darkening your room as much as possible, not eating anything sugary immediately before bed, take measures to reduce ambient noise and perhaps even take some herbal sleeping aid such as Valerian Root. The latter is supposed to bring on sleep quicker, deepen it and allow you to wake up without grogginess the following day in a way prescribed medication doesn't. Perhaps invent some sort of a wind down ritual at the end of the day.

  9. A man died and found himself in hell. A guide meets him at the entrance.

    "You have a choice; you can go to Capitalist Hell or Communist Hell."

    Being a shrewd chap, he decided to survey both before deciding.

    He met the Capitalist Devil first, all suited up, hair greased back, and asked: "So what goes on inside Capitalist Hell?"

    "Ahh, well we like to boil people in oil, ram them with spikes and flail them alive."

    "What?! Right, that's it - I'm off to Communist Hell."

    Once there, he meets a Karls Marx type devil, ushering him towards the gates...

    "Hey, I'm not in yet - tell me, what goes on in Communist Hell?"

    The Marx Devil scratches his beard and says: "Well, we like to boil people in oil, ram spikes through their bodies and flail them alive."

    "What?! But that's just the same as Capitalist Hell?! Wait....why is there a queue?"

    "Ah,'ve run out of oil, there's no more spikes and the flail's broken."

  10. Are you seriously saying that Israel should occupy the whole territory if Hamas doesn't mend its ways? Didn't Israel do that in 1967? And then what happens? The Arabs scream that it's occupied territory, and Israel has no right to it and must vacate immediately or face suicide attacks; and a majority of the UN member "governments" concur. What then?

    I agree that if Hamas doesn't mend its ways the situation you describe does seem likely. I guess it depends whether Israel would then cave into international pressure and vacate the lands, and what the various members of the international community would do if it didn't.

    What would you like to see done with regards to Hamas Mr Grabowski?

  11. Whether something is commonly accepted or not is not relevant to the truth of a statement. Do you think that any gang the controls the means of using force in society is a government?

    No, like I said, its relative to your position, besides did Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany and Red China not have governments in your eyes?? You took an Objectivist Research CD Rom definition of government, not the commonly accepted one at all:

    QUOTE(AR @ The Nature of Government, CUI, Obj. Research CD)

    A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws.

    My Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "Body or Successive bodies of persons governing a state"

    It defines Govern as "Rule with authority, conduct the policy, actions and affairs of (State, Subjects) either despotically or constitutionally"

    Yours is a particular view of what government should exist for.

    Since the year 2000, there have been 1,098 Israelis killed by terrorists ( Ratioing that from the 6,300,000 Israelis to 300,000,000 Americans, thats 52,286 dead Americans. About what was lost in each of the Korean and Vietnam wars. Now, do you really think that taking action against an organization that had killed 52,000 plus Americans is "unwise?" Multiply those numbers by 6 for all those injured.

    Funny, the BBC must have missed the 52,000 Americans killed by Hamas since 2000. Honestly, and I pay the license fee!

    The exact same thing can be said about Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Red China, (probably not North Korea or Cuba - except for baseball players).

    They are NOT a potential threat. They are an ACTUAL threat. Exactly what do you think peace is? Peace is not some state where you pick fruit from the tree and the sun shines all day. Peace exists when your enemies have been militarily defeated. That has been true throughout history.

    Peace exists when your enemies have been militarily defeated...hmmm well my dictionary has it that it's when you and your enemy aren't fighting (a cessation of hostilities) or there's no fighting to be had, but thats a moot point. I'm more concerned with how you define China an enemy of the USA? Is Dubai? Is Quatar? Oman? Oh wait, no - we have significant investments in Dubai, and Oman is the UKs chief Oil provider... do you believe in some sort of perpertual war doctrine? Last man standing until every one thats entirely complicit with American interests is left, until your Utopian society rules the world? Does it occur to you that attacking people sometimes creates more enemies than it kills? That people who potentially could have gone either way end up fighting you for what they see as grossly unjustified action? I don't doubt American military power - I'm questioning your reasoning, you'd rather crassly characterize a nation in the negative, wipe them off the map and be done with it...

    I've just had a glance at PhilO's post where he says this:

    I am not a multiculturist who believes that you only need to play nice with people intent on annihilating Western civilization.

    Neither am I! Iran has expressed that very wish and I support military action against them (preferably airstrikes against their Nuclear Facilities), I do not believe all cultures are equal - I believe there are value systems that are better than others, and I work towards seeing the fruition of decent values whereever previously they were absent. I've had letters published to that effect: Telegraph (1st letter under Common Values)

    Appeasement of Iran could be a dangerous mistake - but Palestine doesn't pose any threat on that scale - I say withdraw funding, encourage Hamas to change, negotiate with Israel - if it doesn't, Palestine is going to be a whole lot worse off than it already is (without the support). If Hamas, the closest thing to a governing body, then actively pursues a course of violence in their own name - no one can have any reasonable qualms with Israel moving in and occupying the whole territory. Its tantamount to a declaration of war now they're in charge.

  12. Charles: Or are you one of the people who thinks we should just give up on the entire Arab world and wipe them of the face of the earth?
    And the value of Stone Age mentalities to civilized men would be ...?

    There are 23 Arab nations (or one Arab nation with 23 governments as some of them perceive it) with varying political structures, cultural identities, many of which are very wealthy and produce highly educated individuals and entrepreneurs. As I recall the Arabs were the first to translate Aristotle from the original Greek. Certainly they have a rich intellectual history. Now just because you have serious qualms with some of their professed values, their religion and the abuses caused by them in specific parts of that world, does that warrant the entire civilizations obliteration? Your just turn your back on an entire civilization with all its potential, because its easier to destroy a potential threat than try and work together and work for your values to spread across that region? You call yourself civilized?

  13. B. "they're in Government." No they're not. They are in a terrorist organization. Hamas does not do that. They are thugs. Imaine Al Capone as Mayor of Chicago.

    QUOTE(AR @ The Nature of Government, CUI, Obj. Research CD)

    A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws.

    That is your ideal of what government is suppost to be, not the commonly accepted definition nor the public perception. Recognition of a government representing a nation is done relative to agendas - in the case of the Palestinian people - they've elected Hamas to lead them, in the international community its whether states choose to recognise Hamas as a political entity representing the views of the Palestianian people. As i've already said - I would hope my country (UK) and yours take the stance that until they prove otherwise, Hamas is not, as a political organisation, to be taken seriously - and hence we should withdraw funding. However, we can still encourage them to adopt more responsible positions, and hold them to it.

    C. "is it not best to work on transforming them at least until obvious cause for intervention exists?" You mean previous actions, founding organizational documents, explicit public pronouncements are not causes to act upon?

    Again, what you consider cause for intervention is not what the international community, or even most American Senators/Americans consider cause for that sort of intervention. Any specific foreign policy must be contextual to wider national interests - the environment such direct action would create for American interests would, to my mind & most, make such action unwise.

  14. It has been many years since I have read about them, but didn't many Germans in the mid-1930s say essentially the same thing about the recently elected Nazis? Now that they are in positions of responsibility, surely they will stop being thugs.

    I would liken the Palestine situation more to Northern Ireland than the third reich. On one hand you have a well greased military machine with the capacity to take over most of Europe, on the other a sectarian group of people fighting for independance/nationhood through the limited means available to them.

    Consider Palestinians can't even muster the logistical strength to carry out bomb attacks without blowing themselves up! I think the burden of responsibility placed on the Hamas leaders may well cause them to acknowledge the state of Israel, perhaps even pledge towards peace in time, when they consider the no-win situation they're in (assuming we do withdraw funding, otherwise we're literally funding an organisation with a history of terrorism who have no motive to change - our actions demonstrating we're perfectly happy for them to continue living in a sort of limbo - receiving money at a political level and fighting a guerilla war against the Israelis on the ground level).

    Clarification please? Do you mean, what should be the policy of the government of the U. S. or Britain toward Israel and the Palestinians? Or do you mean, what should be the policy of Israel toward Palestinians?

    I meant policy of the US government. What do you think they should do?

    As for Paul's here's comments, I'll just ask him to confirm that he means the US to invade Palestine (to the sum of 10-20,000 dead etc) or Israel with US political support? Either way - you've completely alienated the entire Middle East - lost all Arab support (be that commercial or political), possibily brought other Arab nations in a war against you, and who knows what the rest of the worlds reaction is - strategically extremely unpredictable situation. Or are you one of the people who thinks we should just give up on the entire Arab world and wipe them of the face of the earth?

    Addendum: Although, for that matter I'd be interesting to hear any thoughts on what people consider ideal Israeli policy to be.

  15. Surely that's what we're seeking them to demonstrate - reason in their policy towards Israel...this should be encouraged - Hamas today is not what it was 10 years ago, and will not be the same in another 10 years. I don't mean to excuse them from the acts of violence they have perpetrated, but I look at this in a similar light to Northern Ireland - when the political wing of the IRA started making headway, the IRA became less an army of terrorists, and more a group of violent gangsters, now the political republican movement is more or less disentangled even from the remaining organized crime circles.

    Don't get me wrong - I support the withdrawal of all funding from Palestine, but beyond it being cutting ties to terrorists I see it as a means of encouraging change in Hamas's policy. If they start taking us seriously (when the money simply isn't forthcoming), they have to change to make us take them seriously - if and when that happens there will have to be a clear distinction between Hamas and fundamentalist nuts who want to 'drive the jews into the sea'.

    Incidently, Stephen, what would your ideal Israel/Palestine policy be?

  16. Well, if the threat of regional instability doesn't allow you to confront Hamas militarily (which most take as a given, but Objectivists aren't most!), and they're in Government, is it not best to work on transforming them, at least until obvious cause for intervention exists? Now they're wearing suits and have governmental buildings I wonder if they're so keen on blowing everything up...