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Everything posted by jasonlockwood

  1. "No--drop it in the recycle bin!!"

    In Sydney we have separate bins for recycling, but since my rubbish is collected in the alley, there is no way to prove if I've 'violated' the law by throwing cans and bottles in the regular bins. My approach is to bag everything, which is not readily apparent to the collectors and toss an empty bottle in the recycling bin on occasion. I reckon most people do the same and no-one appears to say anything about it. Interestingly, for all the green propaganda one hears in Australia - and it is sometimes more acute than in the US - few people seem to care about it in practice. Australians may not be especially astute politically or philosophically, but they are quite independent. It's pretty tough to push an Aussie around, and I must say it's refreshing coming from the US, where the PC nonsense started to wear me down.
  2. Thought on whether I am wrong

    I've said this elsewhere, but in the spirit of my background as a teacher, I will restate it: when I get to know people, I neither assume they're thinkers on the order that Objectivists are nor do I think of them as lacking good values. What I do is give each one the benefit of the doubt and my involvement with them varies depending on how rational they are, whether they value the things I do and to what degree and if they're honest. If I later find out they don't measure up to my standards overall, then I back away. Often, however, I find value in most everyone I get to know. For example, the couple who run the cafe downstairs from me are lovely people for the most part. They're a little new agey - which is a mild annoyance - but they're honest, hard working and extremely friendly. They have done more for the community I live in to bring people together than any government agency ever could. By offering good food and coffee at reasonable prices and a genial atmosphere that welcomes people from all walks of life, I consider them a great value to me. Are they even remotely Objectivist? No, but they do embody a number of the virtues that make them good people to know. Do I need to persuade them to embrace Objectivism? No, because that isn't their focus. Their focus is the cafe and making it the best they possibly can. They're not intellectual but they aren't unthinking, either. I would consider it extremely rude of me to preach Objectivism to them, UNLESS I detected they might be interested. All this talk of moral depravity makes actual judgment of individual men very difficult, I think. If one goes in with a philosophical chip on one's shoulder, one is unlikely to find allies. If one goes in with a calm and benevolent view, then a great deal is possible. I have seen people come around to ideas that they rejected for YEARS until they started thinking more deeply on a particular issue. When I think about how much I've had to chew very abstract ideas, it makes me realize that if it took ME a long time to integrate, I have to be willing to give other people the same opportunity to chew ideas, too. Few may go all the way and embrace Objectivism, but if some become more rational, then I consider it a win.
  3. Why I admire my wife

    Henrik, You repeat this over and over, and many of us completely disagree, myself included. I maintain that you cannot even KNOW this. Which majority? Where? In Sweden? In North Korea? In the United States? Quite aside from recognizing general cultural traits and trends, it's a fool's exercise, I think, to lump individual men into the arbitrary bucket of 'the majority of men.' I couldn't validly claim the contrary even. So I ask, what benefit is there in making this type of assessment? I am much happier meeting people and figuring out what they're like as individuals. Some are fantastic, some are good, some are acceptable and the rest I ignore.
  4. "Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death!"

    I absolutely LOVED your responses, Bradley. Keep the good stuff coming!
  5. Learning a second language

    Oh yeah, I'm well aware of it. I remember how refreshing it was in Québec that there was no such entity 'governing' the language. There is the Office de la langue française, but it's not a language board as such, more of a service. Quebecers are quite content coming up with their own constructions, some as a result of the influence of English - like 'prendre une marche' which is an obvious literal translation from the English. Others like 'courriel' were coined in Québec and are common there, whereas the Europeans seem to be wedded to using the English e-mail.
  6. Learning a second language

    Interesting you say that, Joss, because I have noticed native French speakers often have difficulty with their own language. I spent so much time perfecting the grammar when I was younger that it's quite easy for me. It sure took effort, though!
  7. Learning a second language

    I speak French pretty close to native fluently. I originally began studying it as a teenager in high school, then immediately after went to Belgium for a year exchange program, where I lived with a host family and attended a local high school. I spoke very little English throughout the year and so my learning was much more rapid. One of my teachers took me under his wing and gave me separate lessons to help perfect my writing skills, which was immensely helpful. I always had an extremely easy time with languages, so as tricky as French is to produce well for an English speaker, I was always able to mimic it and without an enormous amount of practice. Once I got to the point of basic fluency, which I take to mean you can actively think in the language as well as speak without hesitation or searching for words. I did my entire degree at Laval University in Québec City, which further solidified my language skills. My accent also shifted from very Belgian sounding to entirely Québécois. I've always enjoyed accents and my goal upon arriving in Québec was to acquire a local accent. I have often told unilingual people that I must rapidly 'switch tracks' to speak one or the other language. A good example of this is several weeks ago I had friends from Québec visiting me in Sydney and so I was speaking French the entire time. When we'd go down to my cafe for coffee and a meal, I would automatically begin ordering in French, and then stop myself and consciously switch my thinking to English. Because I've had more than two decades of experience doing this, it's completely automatized. I also find that my voice is different in French as well as the way I express myself. I wouldn't say my thinking is different per se, but the *style* of my thinking is. My best friend (and one of the visitors a few weeks ago) has noted my voice does sound quite different in French. His does not when he speaks English, but that I believe is because his English is pretty heavily accented. As for learning a language, immersion is always the most efficient means, but if that's not possible, getting a native speaking private tutor is a good alternative. Ultimately you do have to speak to people in order to improve your speaking skills. I found that my confidence increased as I progressed because people would note how I had improved over time. To this day I get comments like: "how on earth did you learn to speak French so well?!" The answer is I have a natural ability AND I was always super focused on perfecting my French. You do have to maintain your language or you lose it gradually. Living in Australia, I have few real opportunities to speak French, so I read a lot in the language, write a fair amount, listen to French music and watch movies and TV shows in French. It's not a complete substitute for speaking it, but it does keep my mind actively thinking in the language.
  8. "Up in the air" George Clooney movie

    This is a really well written essay of exactly what I was thinking about this movie. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it AND it knew it was a character study. Clooney has this way of pulling off characters you wouldn't ordinarily enjoy spending time with, but are fascinating to watch on screen. I cite Michael Clayton as another example of this. That movie had me riveted for the entire two hours.
  9. "We Aren't Lighting The Fires"

    Here here! My story is similar in that I had two parents who pushed me to think for myself and always to question. While I myself did finish high school and university, I did it more on my own terms. I tuned out in most subjects, and excelled at foreign languages, where I could at least learn something of value. This lead me to go live abroad at age 17 for the first time, and then on numerous occasions over the years until I settled in Sydney nearly two years ago. I have noted ironically to people on occasion that my independence and free thinking make me a 'hard sell' in the dating department, and not at all because I suffer from lack of a healthy ego. On the contrary, the number of independent people I could want to date are in such small supply that it's a tricky proposition. I trust this is a common theme among many many Objectivists. Still, I think we all know that our independence and our minds are far too important to give anything up just for companionship. Bravo to you Bradley for forging ahead in your writing so masterfully.
  10. I think it's clear now that Ray is not 'anti-gay' or a bigot of any kind. As someone who intimately understands what military service is, I trust his convictions on the matter, even if I disagree with the views of men who serve today. We have all been so bombarded with 'gay rights' for years now that it becomes difficult to sift through the feel good haze. Let me therefore state without hesitation that I couldn't care less if a gay man never serves in my lifetime. If in 50 years (or whenever) the American culture has become more rational, then it will all be a non-issue anyway.Finally, in my personal life, no one persecutes or abuses me in any way with regard to my sexual orientation TODAY. That is enough for me. I am happy to delegate to men more capable than I the defense of the free countries of the world.
  11. I think I finally grasp where Ray is coming from. It took me a while, but I don't think he's arguing against gays being in military service as such, in some future and more rational culture. He's talking about in combat TODAY, you need fighters willing to kill the enemy without distraction. Yes it may be irrational for men in combat to not want to be around gays and yes they're likely wrong to hold that view, but one cannot at the stroke of a pen FORCE these men to change their views. And besides all that, like gay marriage, we have far bigger fish to fry before it's even remotely important. As a gay man myself, it matters not one whit whether I could serve in the military, as long as we actually defend our nations.This may sound like a reversal on my part, and perhaps it is, but we haven't the luxury to quibble about what gays can and can't do when the fundamental issue of the defense of free nations is at stake.
  12. Joe Stack's IRS Suicide

    No-one said Michael was being mild. What he's doing - and what I do myself - is share my values and methods with people I know. Leaving aside vicious and irrational people, I find most people respond very well to reason, when presented in a way that isn't pushy. There is no hope whatsoever of persuading a mind by being a blowhard. If you show people THAT reason works and HOW it works in your own daily life, I think you'll see some good success. I certainly have.
  13. I've Had It!

    So the issue here is not that you are incapable of persuading others, but that you have had many disappointments in life. Now you have seemingly reached a point of no return. With all due respect, everyone I know, Objectivist or not, has suffered big disappointments, some of them emotionally crushing, like the loss of a loved one, a debilitating disease, financial ruin, etc. It is true that intelligence plays a role in one's success (or failure), but as Phil points out, you are clearly of above average intelligence. I also know plenty of people less intelligent than I who have nonetheless lead successful lives, to the degree that they were able. Successful people also have false starts and failures along the way. Just recently, my boss was fired for entirely political reasons, so now I have to lose my commissions to go back to consulting work. I'm not happy about it, but because I cultivated many skills over the years, I know I have fallback positions that will enable me to continue being productive WHILE I consider my next move. I run the risk of losing my visa before my permanent residency is approved, which would mean everything I've acquired in Australia over the past two years will go away immediately. Now, I don't think that will actually happen, but it COULD. I'm not offering the above as advice, but simply as an observation that there is much within a man's control, but a great deal of effort is required. I doubt this point is lost on you, but since you have gone to great effort to describe your situation, I only wonder what it is you're after.
  14. I've Had It!

    I never had success when my focus was political. A good friend of mine (with whom I disagree on politics often enough) noted recently that politics are so emotionally charged with most people that it's effectively impossible to talk about rationally. I agree with that view and also that it's so abstract and a lot of people just don't have the conceptual faculties to deal in politics very well if it's a conversation.Have you had the same problems when talking about personal values? When I switched my focus to values and ethics, I found I could have great conversations with many different types of people. Considering that I'm an immigrant in Australia, there is still lots that I'm discovering here, which makes for good conversations without getting too political.
  15. I've Had It!

    I'll convey the impact of having a good philosophy and outlook on life: people notice. I rarely say what the source of my views is in mixed company. Most of my friends and neighbors here in Sydney have no notion of Ayn Rand or Objectivism, but they notice my purposeful life and my active approach to solving the challenges that come my way. They ask my advice and they appear to listen. One of my good friends who lives down the street from me has read my blog and noted to me several times how she had NEVER read anything that insightful. Now, I don't put myself in a category of being an intellectual. I'm a well read and well travelled guy. I speak two languages fluently. I'm adventurous. Those things get me far, especially amongst people who don't see that kind of consistency often. I don't lecture people and I rarely talk about politics. I focus on personal values (which is the focus of my blog) and from there some excellent points can be scored.
  16. Of course, but to use the word choice is misleading in this context. I did definitely choose to accept my own orientation and to take steps to learn how to become romantically involved, but I didn't choose my orientation as such.
  17. Whatever its origins, it cannot be a choice in the way we think of choices in life. While I didn't realize fully I was gay until a bit later (in my 20s), never once was it some kind of choice to take this course of action or that based on a deliberate process. I came to realize that I was attracted sexually and romantically to the same sex and decided not to pretend I could change that. Effectively it IS outside the realm of morality BECAUSE sexual orientation occurs at a level not open to conscious decisions.As for gays in the military, I often wonder why people think gay men (or women) would be any less dedicated to defeating an enemy that they were willing to risk discharge for conduct unbecoming? Let's be honest about rational gay men and women: they don't go around making romantic passes where nothing but disappointment can result - or worse. It is less difficult being gay today by far, but it is still tricky. Most of my own gay friends understand the boundaries and stick to them. We don't go around trying to "persuade" non-gays to "give it a try," or any such thing. I would venture to say a gay man or woman in a military context would be far less likely to push the envelope, sexually speaking, than in civilian life. As for two gay men or women BECOMING romantically involved WHILE in the military together, I don't see how that would be any different from a man and woman in the military from doing the same. To be clear, I have never served in the military myself, so I would welcome criticism as to how behavior might be different in that context.
  18. Did Ayn Rand remain fluent or often speak in French?

    I couldn't agree more. In a side point, when Australians sometimes cite the factoid that fewer than x% of Americans have passports, my first reply is: maybe Americans have reasons they don't travel abroad as much as Australians or others. And then I clarify that as much as I love Australia - and I do for sure - America is an incredibly vast and rich country to explore. Nearly all of its 50 states have big cities teeming with activity and culture, whereas Australia has three or four major cities. A drive across America is an adventure that is impossible in any other nation in the world, regardless of its physical size. I will state that most Australians I know are lovely people full of adventurous spirit themselves, but they too can fall prey to the nonsense repeated ad nauseum in the MSM. I consider it my job (though not my duty) to let them know that the America I grew up in is not what is portrayed by the naysayers.
  19. Did Ayn Rand remain fluent or often speak in French?

    I always felt a bit of a kindred spirit with Ayn Rand and her knowledge of French. I became fluent as a teenager and have maintained my French over the past 26 years. Unlike Miss Rand, I had an easy time learning to pronounce and speak like a native. I love French as a language and certain aspects of the culture, though definitely not the politics. English is obviously the richer of the two languages, but there is a poetic quality to the French language that I don't get from English. Like Miss Rand, I have found my thinking was aided immeasurably by knowing another language fluently. Because I've also studied several others to varying degrees, and even learned Slovak reasonably well when I was a teacher in Slovakia, I have a very easy time picking up languages in general. I don't fault Americans for being uni-lingual, though, because it's not a necessity for the most part. I think of it as a nice to have, but not a requirement.
  20. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    I get exit stamps quite routinely, but not as frequently from the US as from other countries. Just an FYI.
  21. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    You do need a passport to exit the US, but you don't need a passport if you don't travel abroad. This is true in just about every Western country I've lived in, including Australia now.
  22. Glee (2009)

    Glee is a show unlike any other and when it's good, it puts a smile on my face for the entire hour. A number of the song selections fall too much into the R & B/rap style for my tastes, but when the songs are good, it's inspired. I also REALLY like the unreality of it all. No high school kid can sing and dance like the kids on the show do. I highly doubt that the evil of the Sue Sylvester character (played to humorous perfection by Jane Lynch) is how actual teachers act. Come to think of it, all of the situations on the show are stylized. Often they work for me, but sometimes they don't. There is a bit of PC nonsense in the show, but that's to be expected. More surprising to me is that it DOESN'T sneak in the little smears that so many other shows do. Even though it's light entertainment, it takes serious the theme of going after one's goals regardless of what others think. I found the last episode before the hiatus particularly good on that count. To me, Glee is a little breath of fresh air and I enjoy it a lot.
  23. In memory of Lady Brin

    Here here! She will definitely be missed.
  24. Dave Barry's Year in Review - 2009

    Pure gold!
  25. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    I don't know about working much longer hours, but I do have to work much smarter down here. For example, an RFP (Request for Proposal) typically requires a lot more time to complete here because prospective customers in Australia/New Zealand have higher technical standards than back in the US. Fortunately, we deal with the time zone as best we can. In my field (enterprise software), there is always a time zone working, so by being smarter about things, we can get heaps done. For example, if I know I need answers from my American colleagues, I write my e-mails in the evenings, knowing they're asleep and will then see my messages when they start work in the morning. VOIP and other technologies have made the world shrink for me, too. Finally, I am no stranger to long haul flights when necessary. The best thing I did for my life and career was moving to Australia. I don't regret it for a minute. Oh and Aussies know how to make excellent coffee!