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Posts posted by Charles

  1. The Chunnel was privately funded, if memory serves, and it's making so much money, there are plans to build a second set of tunnels.


    I can't let this pass - Eurotunnel is 6.4 billion pounds in debt, financially its been a total disaster...there trying to get the banks to wipe some of the debt (more specifically the interest on the loans).

    BBC News: Troubled Eurotunnel in debt talks

    BBC News: Eurotunnel announces 900 job cuts

    Eurotunnel hopeful over debt deal

    Chief executive Jacques Gounon states that unless they can come to an arrangement of the loans, they face bankruptcy. The expected profits were lost to low fares airlines and ferry services.

    To my knowledge there are no plans to build a 2nd set of tunnels, and I would be very surprised if they did.

  2. Here are some amusing Jack Bauer facts along the same lines as Chuck Norris:

    Couple of excerpts:

    - Jack Bauer played Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun and won.

    - Jack Bauer is the leading cause of death in Middle Eastern men.

    - People with amnesia still remember Jack Bauer.

    - Osama bin Laden's recent proposal for truce is a direct result of him finding out that Jack Bauer is, in fact, still alive.

    - Jack Bauer once forgot where he put his keys. He then spent the next half-hour torturing himself until he gave up the location of the keys.

    - Jack Bauer was never addicted to heroin. Heroin was addicted to Jack Bauer.

    - 1.6 billion Chinese are angry with Jack Bauer. Sounds like a fair fight.

    - Superman wears Jack Bauer pyjamas.

  3. Well, I imagine things will really kick off after the Hamas government has settled into power and Israel have had their election. A Netanyahu led Likud vs Hamas does not make for a quiet time.

    I certainly agree with your point Stephen. At my university there are large groups celebrating 'Free Palestine' week, and regular meetings held with Islamic academics orating. Now, they must admit who and what it really is they support...

  4. Tom, I do not doubt for a moment that you are correct in that our failure to act decisively and with devastating force spurs on the despots in China, as well as elsewhere in the world. However, as interesting as your analysis was, no analysis will convince me that China is not a danger when the slave mongers with no respect for life control nuclear weapons that can land where I live.

    No doubt China is a danger, and for a number of reasons, not least of which is that they are party to a sizeable arsenal of nuclear weapons. What I don't understand is whether or not you advocate use of 'devastating force' against them in a historical sense or whether you think it the appropriate course of action now? If the latter, I'd ask you to elaborate on how/why you hold such a view?

  5. Glad you like it. There's a piece, 'Odessa' on Eden Roc that sound not dissimilar to some of the soundtrack to the movie Serenity with its Nomadic violins. At least thats what it reminds me of. I have just sent the CD to a friend in Canada for Christmas!

  6. I first heard this man's music about a year ago, lying awake in the early hours, unable to sleep - and it touched me. I specifically recommend his album Eden Roc - his is not an overly complicated music - but very stirring, very emotional. As he gestured at the end of a live performance I saw at the Royal Festival Hall, London, it is 'from the heart'. Here are some links:



    (Photo link from his website)

  7. Well the Christians hijacked Christmas from Pagans, so I see no reason why Objectivists can't hijack it off Christians :).

    I personally love Christmas - returned to the country home, warm log fire, smell of pine needles from the tree, all the seasonal foods...and lots and lots of mulled wine & mince pies. For me its a time of year for family and food - for enjoying the home enviroment and putting work aside for a few days :)

    On another note...we are actually having a cold winter here in the UK - which hasn't happened for quite some years. Snow & Blizzards in November is a first for me - and Im just about to go on an army cadets excercise for the weekend (-10C wind chill, storm on Sat - great!).

  8. These are regulators of physical processes, not the functional equivalent of thought.  Thinking is a function of conscious processes, not neural processes.

    But are not conscious processes a function of neural processes?

  9. I (and many of my friends) have noted rationalism extraordinarily more often in men than in women. Since thinking processes are presumably gender indifferent, why would rationalism be disproportionately represented in men?

    I think that, in general, young women are taught to look inward to a larger degree than young boys are taught. And, a failure of introspection leads quite naturally to an undercutting of extrospection. Hence, the more abstract the subject matter, the more removed from perceptual reality, and the easier it becomes to overlook both looking inward and looking outward.

    What are yours grounds for presuming thinking processes are gender indifferent? There are numerous examples of sexual dimorphism in the brain, both anatomically and neurochemically - in structures thought to be of great importance with regards higher cognitive functions. Having said this, I think that gender specific learning attitudes and cultural conditioning play the stronger role in biasing a particular way of thinking. I just think its worth due consideration, for the ratio of factors here is an unknown.

  10. I suggest reading the Peter Schwartz articles on this subject in the old issues of The Intellectual Activist, recently re-released in book and soon CD-ROM form. He neatly dispenses with the absurd idea that the U.S. has "enough to destroy the planet many times over."

    I shall look for and read these articles and then comment.

    Given our political and cultural proximity (in the UK) to the US, I still fail to see the need for 20 billion pound upgrade of our entire seabased arsenal. I presume the strategic outlook is that its one big game of nuclear chess and you have to cover all bases.

  11. I'm wondering why somebody would be asking these questions on a forum guided by Objectivism.

    The proper functions of the government (which include the military of course) should be paid for voluntarily.  However, today our government is paid for using taxes, and a military is most definitely a proper function of the government, and this includes whatever weapons are likely to be necessary in fighting a war, or in convincing others not to attack us.  In other words, at least our military, including nuclear weapons is a proper function of government.

    Well, interestingly Jay, Tommy doesn't seem to mind where these government billions would come from - given the paramount importance he places on miltary defence. Perhaps, Tommy, you could explain whether or not you view military spending as an exception as far as taxation goes. Is that sort of money really going to be raised voluntarily - when its for an programme people by no means universally back? Perhaps these aren't such absurd questions for a forum guided by Objectivism.

    And I reject completely the premise in your last question that it would somehow be a "good opportunity" to let our weapons degrade.  I do not accept the idea that the numbers of our nuclear weapons need to be cut to "sensible" proportions.

    The US Military currently operates approx. 500 Land based ICBMs with 800 complementary Nuclear Warheads, 15 Ohio class Submarines with 24 Trident Nuclear Missiles each, 850 gravity nukes to be dropped from bombers and an additional 320 Tomahawk Nuclear missiles on standby for use in attack submarines*. That doesn't even include those in the 1000+ strong destroyer fleets. Overkill anyone? This array is enough to destroy the planet many times over. I do not suggest elimination of Nuclear forces for a minute, but a serious reconsideration of numbers and deployment, and diplomacy to match I do support. How many times over do we have to be able to destroy everything to take each other seriously as nations?

    And Jay, stating you dont accept the idea doesn't add anything if you dont explain why not and why you think massive nuclear arsenals and concurrent public spending is a good thing?

    *cited from this Wiki

  12. A couple of questions for Forum members:

    Do you think Nuclear Forces/the military should be maintained using taxpayers money?/Do you think having a privately operated Nuclear deterrent service for the public good is a realistic/good idea?

    And furthermore: To the extent that governments do spend public money on defence do you think it is in any way necesary or sensible to spend billions of pounds/dollars on upgrading older systems? Is not the time-driven degradation of older technology a good opportunity to cut down nuclear stockpiles to sensible proportions?

    I'd give a link to the newspaper article that set me thinking about this, but you have to be a paid and registered member, and I generally do not read nor recommend the paper. Since reading it though, I have come across similar articles in papers I regularly read.

    A further angle for consideration as a Brit is whether or not we in particular really need to upgrade (proprosed 20 billion pound Trident upgrades) - the nature of our defence is such that any nuclear actions are liable to be done with respect (read: total submission) to US policy.

  13. Sometime ago I heard of a project in Texas where the government was planning on providing free wireless broadband access from a solar powered blimp hover near Houston. I dont know what came of that, but I have since heard of a number of other technologically innovative mass broadband ideas - in the UK they have been testing possible ways of using the power lines as information highways. Then tonight I read *this* on the BBC news website, about a muncipal internet system being built in Philadelphia. Having read the article and some of the reponses to it, Im curious to know what people here think of publicly provided internet? Some of the schemes projected are apparently relatively low cost, putting relatively low burden on the taxpayer, compared to the plethora of other public services. My quick reply to the comment section of New debate was this:

    Is electricity free for all? Is gas free for all? No, we still have to pay our bills to the utility companies. Now the technology exists for the internet to be as ubiquitous as the electicity supply the ISP business model will have to change, much to the chagrin of broadband providers. Sure, at the extreme end the state could provide some basic service for free to a whole city for very little cost, but for large capacity, high transfer rate networks there remains the potential for a highly competitive market willing to pay high prices for new and innovative ideas.

    The following question occurs to me: When your talking about potentially unlimited access to information at low cost to the entire population - inclusive of all its most disadvantaged members, is it simply pig headed to insist upon private provision only? Understanding the principled stance of Obejectivists on the role of the state, I'm guessing the answer would be that any such free mass provision must be funded by charity and not the state. Still, I'm interested to hear what peoples thoughts on this are...

  14. Take a million PhDs in mathematics and ask them what 2 + 2 is. 100% of the them will answer 4. That to me is deterministic. Not every problem and decision we make in life is that cut and dry. We all know that ... and we all know that people make mistakes ... but it is equally clear that some decisions are deterministic--the more rational and logical we are the deterministic we become; the more irrational we are the less deterministic we are. 

    If it makes it any easier, I am not trying to prove that humans do not have volition, I am instead trying to illustrate that volition is not always, "non-deterministic and non-random."

    Given: the more rational and logical we become the more predictable our decisions in specific situations will be. But we determine our level of rationality; the fact that I am the sort of person who can be expected to react in a certain way is a result of my past decisions & actions - that doesn't make my expected action deterministic. What I don't deny is that there are survival instincts/reflexes, that although can be overcome by freewill, will often take a person down a course of action without his choosing (eg. ducking an object coming at your head) or just plain innate behaviour ( babies WILL cry for attention - they don't think about it, its just a predetermined biological fact). In conclusion there are no times when a volitional consciousness is deterministic; there are only instances where previous acts of volition determine likely response to future actions; an action is only determinsitic when it is non volitional, in, for example, evasion, reflex or innate behaviour.