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Everything posted by Charles

  1. Some Dupes are Just Plain Dopes

    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?
  2. Some Dupes are Just Plain Dopes

    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.
  3. 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.
  4. Stephen's Health

    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. Sincerely, Charles
  5. 'If'

    If If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or, being hated, don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise; If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with triumph and disaster And treat those two imposters just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools; If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breath a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on"; If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run - Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
  6. Racial Integration & Cities

    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?)
  7. Racial Integration & Cities

    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.
  8. Firefly (2002)

    Give me seven series of Firefly over Buffy anyday!
  9. Test your Autism Spectrum Quotient

    can't argue with that
  10. Test your Autism Spectrum Quotient

    I think the experimenter would have said something to the children a long the lines of 'Don't try to be clever - it probably seems as if Im stating the obvious, just answer the question anyway!'.
  11. First Gates -- Now Buffett is giving away his fortune

    the cool smiley is suppose to be a 'b'!
  12. First Gates -- Now Buffett is giving away his fortune

    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 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 . 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.
  13. Test your Autism Spectrum Quotient

    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.
  14. First Gates -- Now Buffett is giving away his fortune

    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?!)
  15. Iran declares war?

    NB Amir Taheri "is a former Executive Editor of Kayhan, Iran's largest daily newspaper, but now lives in Europe"
  16. Iran declares war?

    The full article can be found here: Telegraph Link It's quite an eye opener, explaining what most Westerners fail to comprehend - how it is Muslim hardliners believe they can beat the West. And thanks Janet, for that succinct appraisal of the situation - it really puts it all in context.
  17. 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.
  18. Jokes

    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."
  19. Happy Birthday to Charles

    The honorable Baroness Thatcher...
  20. Happy Birthday to Charles

    Hehe, thanks Stephen! Long live Maggie!
  21. Some Dupes are Just Plain Dopes

    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?
  22. Some Dupes are Just Plain Dopes

    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.
  23. Some Dupes are Just Plain Dopes

    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.
  24. Some Dupes are Just Plain Dopes

    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?
  25. Some Dupes are Just Plain Dopes

    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...