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Everything posted by ewv

  1. Edward Snowden

    "No need" for free speech, says the British counterpart to NSA, as it orders journalists to stop writing about the NSA scandal. This is the face -- and the massive boot -- of statism, and the scope and intensity have become stunning. NSA and its British counterpart have become a monster -- an enormous agency given trillions of dollars to secretly collect and decrypt comprehensive information on everyone, in collaboration with major corporations who may or may not be coerced but are being lied to themselves as NSA manipulates markets, standards, and products while secretly running covert spy operations inside the private companies on behalf of what it calls its "political masters" and against consumers it calls its "adversaries" -- as it also lies to Congress and the public and claims to be justified by a secret government court it also lies to. This, or something like it, was inevitable given the kind of raw power that government has appropriated for itself. And given the shear size of and number of people involved in this exploding power it was equally inevitable, despite the hubris of the rulers who believed they could indefinitely keep it secret, that sooner or later someone would inevitably spill the beans. If it hadn't been Snowden and his predecessors like Binney, it would have come out some other way. Fox News/AP: NSA can reportedly break into most encrypted Internet communications Excerpts: Explaining the latest NSA revelations – Q&A with internet privacy experts The Guardian's James Ball and cryptology expert Bruce Schneier answer questions about revelations that spy agencies in the US and UK have cracked internet privacy tools
  2. In Memoriam: Allan Gotthelf

    It was acquired by Cengage, an educational publisher, 6 or 7 years ago, which in turn filed for reorganization under bankruptcy a few months ago. Their website is in shambles, but they are still listing other books in the series. The full list of books in the series which was there a few days ago seems to be missing now, with a dead link. The Wikipedia entry for Allan Gotthelf states that his On Ayn Rand is "still the best-selling book in the Wadsworth Philosophers series", which statement has been in the article since the entry was begun in December 2006.
  3. What Happened on September 2?

    Today's AtlasShruggedMovie.com email lists some of the "September 2" events from the novel (but did not mention why "September 2" was selected for the plot by Ayn Rand or its significance as the beginning of writing): You can search for "September" on Phil's reference CD to see all the occurrences and the full passages. Somewhere in the piles here I have a timeline outline, with page references, which I made of events in the novel selected for the clues on their relative timing within the plot, including all the "September 2"s. It's useful for a better temporal perspective on the plot.
  4. What Happened on September 2?

    Someday "Labor Day" will be a national holiday for the celebration of Atlas Shrugged and all productive creators (start now). According to The Journals of Ayn Rand, she began writing Atlas Shrugged on September 2, 1946, and "although AR had thought of the plot-theme in late 1943, she did not begin to make notes until January 1, 1945, and only began full-time work on the novel in April 1946." The source of the biographical information on "September 2" is the interviews with Ayn Rand in the early 1960s. Harry Binswanger quoted her on this topic from those interviews in his 1992 talk, "The Atlas Shrugged Years: Reminiscences and Recollections" presented in conjunction with Mary Ann Sures. There is no entry in The Journals for September 2, but on August 24, 1946 there is a detailed "Final Chapter Outline" (which was later revised) for before she started writing. There are other detailed notes before that and just before the beginning of writing, including this excerpt from August 31, 1946, the last date with an entry before Sept. 2:
  5. In Memoriam: Allan Gotthelf

    Look carefully and you will see that Amazon isn't selling it directly, they only reference other vendors claimed to have it. The publisher website no longer lists it. Apparently it is out of print.
  6. In Memoriam: Allan Gotthelf

    What has happened to his terrific Wadsworth book On Ayn Rand? It doesn't seem to be on the ARI estore pages. Is Leonard Peikoff still blocking it?
  7. Edward Snowden

    The attempt to separate the motives from an action in this context sounds like a mind-body dichotomy, as if the intent of an action has nothing to do with how you evaluate the person as opposed to the consequences of the action, with a person's character evaluated through a rationalization deduced from what his body did without regard to what he thinks and why he acted. The focus in this thread has been on what he did and the meaning of what he revealed -- which is stunning and thoroughly justifies Leonard Peikoff's conclusions about what it means for this country and government -- and on a warning not to let the statists shift our attention away from that and onto Snowden's "lawbreaking".It's interesting that a lot of prominent Republicans naturally fell into that, missing the whole point as apologists for the government corruption. We are now supposed to believe that 'respect for the law' means unquestioning ''respect', submissiveness and obedience to statism, completely ignoring what laws are properly for and why a government of such laws is to be respected but not its statist opposite. We have seen enough now about Snowden and his apparent sincerity to conclude that his actions are personally heroic and that he ought to be defended as a matter of justice, but the main issue, as he has said himself, is still what the government is doing.
  8. Life and Values

    Even taking into account the odds that the stranger voted for Obama?
  9. Life and Values

    What if the dog were a puppy?
  10. Another source on this:
  11. Alex Jones is quite a nut himself. His choice of website name as "infowars" must have put him at the top of the list. But at least on these articles cited on the Forum he seems to have uncovered real examples of abuse.
  12. DHS Enlists Citizen Spies

    "Protect the State" is a revealing choice of words.
  13. Remember the controversy at the beginning of the Patriot Act over government collaboration with libraries to watch what books people read? We have heard a lot about their monitoring big internet companies like Google and Verizon, but all this raises more questions about what they are doing with companies like amazon and any other such website you explore or buy from. Have you been perusing "extremist" books on amazon -- daring to save a "wish list" there? Remember how government officials have been telling us that individualists and advocates of freedom are "extremists" and "potential terrorists"? How often have we been told by leftist "narrative" that opposition to their statism and collectivism is "anarchy"? And what about the new internet sales tax they are trying to impose by demanding that companies all over the country collect taxes demanded by other states and continuously report back to them? State tax agencies are among the worst in violating civil rights because they are unconstrained by constitutional limitations on what they can do to those accused or suspected of criminal activity -- the punitive taxes imposed on you are not regarded as punishment for a crime, resulting in laws allowing tax agencies to "estimate" whatever they want and threaten you with "penalties" if you don't shut up and quickly comply along with the legal requirement that you have to prove your innocence. They routinely collaborate with the IRS and often have less restrictions on them than even the IRS.
  14. Edward Snowden

    Leonard Peikoff's Aug 23, 2013 podcast on the NSA scandal and Snowden.
  15. Life and Values

    Bill O'Reilly on Fox just addressed the question of this thread (8/21/13). He pronounced that since we are "Judeo Christian", which holds that every human being has a "soul", we have a have to (i.e., have a duty to) save the person regardless of the value of the pet to its owner.
  16. "A is A", not "A = A"

    The issue is whether "=" could have been substituted in the law of identity formulation of the axiomatic concept, not in "all cases", which it cannot. If Ayn Rand had used "=" in the sense of "the same as", but explained the law and its meaning in exactly the same way, we would now be hearing the same kind of a-philosophical linguistic analysis objections to using "is", still ignoring what she meant and why, and still ignoring what the unspecified "others" intend who he is complaining about. I agree with Ayn Rand that "is" was the better choice of wording, but reject the current a-philosophical analysis ignoring the meaning of the law and its formulation of an axiomatic concept -- and ignoring what the unspecified "others" mean by it and whether they understand it. It is highly unlikely they are talking about numbers. But linguistic analysis doesn't bother to ask someone to elaborate on what he meant when he said something.
  17. Without principles why should they care about an 18th century document that has no meaning to them to be a fundamental, unbreachable guide to government? Those conservatives who do appeal to the Constitution take it as an unquestionable primary, not giving anyone a reason to care about it. "Democracy" is now the catchall slogan under which everything is up for grabs by any group that can muscle up enough "votes" to take power under a concept of 'government' that is itself up for grabs without recognizing what it is supposed to be for and why. Why let something like restrictions in a constitution get in the way of government if you don't know what it or a constitution means and why?
  18. The Supreme Court, including conservative justices, recently decided they can collect DNA without a warrant and without consent. They are building an intrusive, comprehensive database to go with along with the NSA surveillance sweep and all the other government agencies collecting information on people. There is no end to the rationalizations purporting to justify this, including the recently popularized bizarre appeal to the notion of so-called "meta-data", which of course is a kind of information and not the non-information they claim it is while simultaneously insisting how important it is for the government to have. This is a post-constitutional era, becoming worse for decades. It's the same story from eminent domain to DNA. The Constitution is no longer regarded as a principled document limiting the powers of government to protect the rights of the individual, but only a shadowy elastic tradition of "precedents" and slogans open to whatever interpretations they can 'pragmatically' rationalize for whatever they want, until they no longer bother with that formality either.
  19. "A is A", not "A = A"

    We already know what the law of identity is and why it and rationality are important. That does not make your linguistic analysis of "the meaning of is" as a substitute for the meaning of the axiomatic concept, together with all the speculations about what unspecified others mean (why don't you ask them?), a matter of life and death.
  20. "A is A", not "A = A"

    I wrote that it "is not a 'law of identity question'". Why that is the case has been explained several times, which you have ignored while you repeat linguistic analysis, which is not "life or death".
  21. "A is A", not "A = A"

    That is not a "law of identity question". The response "it's really big" did not answer the original question.
  22. "A is A", not "A = A"

    Why is that an "application" of the law of identity? If someone says "Roark equals an architect" he means, though awkwardly, that he is an architect. Other examples might be more ambiguous regarding characteristics versus quantity as a kind of characteristic. But specific identifications are not the purpose of the law of identity as a philosophic axiom formally stating the axiomatic concept.
  23. "A is A", not "A = A"

    That is true, although "equality" can be used the same way, but that does not address the fundamental nature of the axioms as opposed to arguing over "equals" versus "is" and particular identification versus identifying particular quantities with no idea of what the unspecified people he refers to mean by either and without knowing if they understand the law of identity and its significance (chapter 5 in IOE).
  24. "A is A", not "A = A"

    The axioms are very abstract, the widest abstractions possible. We assume that the chapter in IOE on axiomatic concepts, referred to above, is understood. The error is in trying to trying to reduce it to statements about identifying particulars, then making assumptions about someone else means by "equals".
  25. "A is A", not "A = A"

    The law of identity concerns the fundamental nature of everything that is and is implicit in all knowledge, it not about either specific "identification" or "measurement" as a form of identification.