MikeMarotta

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  1. Returning to his alma mater at the University of Texas, on December 3, 2013, Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute spoke to a packed lecture room at the McCombs School of Business. Contrasting Bill Gates with LeBron James and Mother Teresa, he said that we accept huge salaries for sports heroes because we can conceptualize what they do. “We all shoot baskets, and we know how bad we are at it.” Public opinion is that corporate officers do not deserve their rewards because few people actually operate businesses. Moreover, our culture has a dominant morality of altruism and unselfishness; and business is all about self-interest. He then engaged the audience to identify the virtues required by the marketplace. Hard work honesty, discipline, persistence, long-range thinking, and justice were offered; and he expanded on each. He summed them up with the virtue of passion. “Business is all about self-interest,” he said. In the popular mind, Brook said, the worst thing about Bill Gates is that he enjoys charity. “We would prefer that he give it all away, live in a tent, and if he could bleed a little, that would be perfect.” On the other hand, Mother Teresa is considered moral not only because her work was for others, but also because she did not enjoy it. Brook also identified guilt as a dominant motivator for charity. Pointing to the Occupy movement, he agreed with their condemnation of crony capitalism. However, he drew from the earlier discussion to point out that few people can conceptualize what investment bankers do. We shoot baskets, so we understand LeBron James. We own computers, so we “get” Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. In order to appreciate investment capitalism, “people must be conceptual and must think about it right.” He added that in the hierarchy of production, bankers are responsible for the greatest range of value creation. Brook urged the UT business majors to reject the morality of selflessness and to adopt a philosophy of self-interest, egoism, rationality, productivity and achievement. During the Q&A he cited The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization, by Arthur Herman. Brook identified education as the only way to reverse the trend of statism and decline. He asked his audience to think ahead to the year 2050. “It’s going to take a generation or two or three.”
  2. If you enter "Atlas Shrugged Part 3 kickstarter" in your search engine, you will find that the mass media bloggers from Time to Salon and beyond are having a great time not stating the facts. The goal of the kickstarter was to put $250,000 into the advertising budget of the movie. The purpose of the campaign was to let people get involved. The producers did not need the quarter million dollars -- but money is always nice to have. What they offered was a hierarchy of values based on your willingness and ability to buy into the process. For $35 you get a special T-shirt. For $1000 you get your name listed in the roll-up of the credits at the end of the movie. You can buy a signed film cell, or a specially endorsed DVD, and several other mementos. These are vanity gifts, indeed, and if you want one, you can still buy one. The deadline is October 23.
  3. Truth about the Atlas Shrugged Part 3 Kickstarter

    Over 3500 people contributed $446,907 toward a $250,000 goal to fund the advertising budget for Atlas Shrugged, Part III: "Who is John Galt?" If you go to the site and make the effort to load the full list, you can see all the names. You may recognize people you know from this board or others. I found no easy way to read the full roll of contributors until I loaded it with repetitive keystrokes. The list is in chronological order. Consequently, at at the top is the roster of early supporters who themselves have kickstarted tens, even hundreds, of other projects, including this one though they may not be Objectivist or even "objectivish" at all. I am there near the bottom. I took it to the last minute while I worked to bring home a contract that would let me sign up for the $1000 commitment. As it was, I bought the t-shirt. If you sign on the Galt's Gulch site as a Producer for $3.95 per month billed to your card, you will have access to the "Producers Lounge" where you can access special features, such as Frank Lloyd Wright's design for Ayn Rand's home. The most recent is a video made in 1993 to promote investment in the movie. That advertisement includes encouragement and support from Leonard Peikoff.
  4. Life on the Mars colonies of 2084 has been punctuated by occasional murders, bloody, gruesome and hideous. The Administration of Earth sends an “eductor” to solve the problem. As a child, Elliot Fintch was identified as “COT: Capable of Thought.” That gave him a privileged, middle class life, a nice apartment in the Phoenix Dome, an assigned wife, and meaningful work. He solves problems with intuition, insight, and flexible thinking not found in many other people. He enjoys his work. He does not enjoy home life so much. He tries to love his wife of 25 years, but without children, home life has been lacking. Still, the artificial intelligences in his home, office, and car keep him from making mistakes by reminding him of the rules. Those same programs overheard the Fintches’ last argument, old and worn, nominally about nothing important yet coming back to their never having had children. The next morning, while Elliot is in the shower, his wife is removed, arrested for disloyalty. They tell him that she left of her own accord and filed for divorce. Sad as it leaves him, it was a long time coming. Flexible in his thinking, he adjusts as best he can while he wrestles with this new problem. Allan J. Ashinoff’s dystopia is somewhere between Brave New World and 1984. In the middle third of the 21st century, the Administration came out of hiding to take over from the bankrupted nation states. Humanity was placed in huge Domes for the good of the planet. Now, diets are regulated; exercise is mandated. Public transportation might be by private vehicle for privileged people, but public it is nonetheless. Hopping into your own car to go cruising through the wilderness is unthinkable. You go where you are programmed to be, even if it is in the nominal privacy of a single cab, attended, as always, by a program that serves you on behalf of the Administration. For those who fall aside by a chance comment or rash action, the Administration has invested special resources in reprogramming the old person into a new one. As Elliot Fintch rises off planet, his wife falls into ever lower status. Ashinoff’s writing style is clear, concise, and lively. He invests a lot description and narration in the technology of the times. This is expected in the genre, and it does not detract. It is all very real and plausible given what we know we could accomplish today. Of course, as technology changes, people remain constant. And people – not technology - committed the murders on Mars. This novel stands on its own; but it also rests on a set of short stories, Fallacies of Vision, set closer to our own time. Both are available as Kindle downloads on Amazon. (Shadows costs $4.99; Fallacies is 99 cents.) Not a Kindle person myself, I found it easy to put the software on my Macintosh and enjoy the reads. Ashinoff is clearly and consciously a political conservative. (We met on the “Galt’s Gulch” website of the Atlas Shrugged movie producers.) The opening story in Fallacies of Vision, “Erosion” won him undeserved condemnation from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  5. What did you think of the Atlas Shrugged Part II movie?

    The theater was packed and many of the audience knew each other. Laurel and I attended the first Friday night showing at a theater in Austin. Four cinemas are offering it; and we intended to go to an earlier screening on the south side. As it finally worked out, we went to a later showing on the north side. On the way in, I saw two people I knew from a group reading Dr. Leonard Peikoff's Understanding Objectivism. We each and all had some reservations, but generally, the movie received positive reviews; and generally it was judged better than Part I. The character of Jeff Allen, played by Jeff Yagher was well-received. Yagher has a long string of credits, and is accomplished in several aspects of the craft, especially make-up. Read his IMDB biography here.
  6. The Secret of the League

    Ernest Bramah Smith (March 20, 1868 - June 27, 1942) [see, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Bramah] wrote action and detective stories such as "The Transmutation of Ling", The Story of Yung Chang", and Max Carrados (stories about a blind detective). The Secret of the League: The Story of a Social War also appeared as What Might Have Been: The Story of a Social War. In the words of the fan website http://ernestbramah.com/ Written in 1907, and set about a decade later, the story does have personal aviation via mechanical wings as a feature. It also offers telefax, electric automobiles and a cryptographic typewriter, all of them plausible for the technology of 1907, looking a short distance into the future. It is a "weak forecast" only because the better classes did not revolt when Labour first came to its fullest power. In this story, they do. Led by the mysterious "George Salt" the Unity League invests two years planning the downfall of the Socialist clique. Anyone can join the League for the sum of five pounds, about a month's wages for a worker. In terms of gold, that would be one and a quarter ounces. Figure the advance of technology against inflation and this is $1500 at least and perhaps $3000 in today's money. At first, they have about 500,000 members. Eventually, they gain ten times that. For two years, the League has no agenda except to defeat Labour and oust the Socialists from government. Then, they move. Members of the Unity League refuse to buy coal. The secondary effects cascade. In about six months, the government falls. The new constitution replaces "one man one vote" with voting shares at 10 pounds each, with multiple shares being expected in the new order. Certain elements of this story will be unavoidably familiar to fans of Ayn Rand. The Socialist cabal includes many familiar characters. George Salt is captured and rescued and then he flies to rescue the person we meet first, Irene Lisle, a sensible and insightful middle class girl who is holding the fort at the abandoned League headquarters while a howling mob of the unemployed attempts to burn it down. But this is a dime novel. Early on, the Labour cabinet is bearded in its den by one "Brother Ambrose" and a ragged mob of lumpenproletarians. It is easy to expect this rabble to push at the stodgy Labourites -- in the 60s Labour's slogan was not really "sod you, Jack, I've got mine" -- but that's pretty close. However, Brother Ambrose never comes back. The Socialist cabinet does turn over, but the key posts of Prime Minister and Home Secretary remain. So, the two years of increased taxation and regulation pass quickly and quietly. Also, as the Exchequer is drained, the government never hits on the expedient of paper money. They just cut welfare benefits. The League has stockpiled oil for its own members to see them through the hardest winter in memory. The government never seeks to seize it, but only demurs from protecting it from a mob. Finally, the fact that the Secret of the League has been revealed to the Socialists comes by way of an excruciatingly long passage involving League president Sir John Hampden's being a member of another secret guild, The Order of St. Martin, a cabal devoted to anonymous charity. On the other hand, among the capitalist class is at least one character whose egotism was earned rising from the coal pits to owning a collier. He still employs his brother at miner's wages 1500 feet down. Would that there had been more like him to meet. For all their good graces, the ruling class is rather thin of character and thinner of actual presence. Only George Salt, Sir John Hampden and a few others are drawn well. Next to George Salt, Irene Lisle is the most animated. I placed a different view at Rebirth of Reason, here. The story runs about 300 octavo pages of 11 point roman old style. It took about five hours to read. If you know Atlas Shrugged quite well, you will find many similarities in the plot element. that Ayn Rand's work is more deft and adept will be obvious. That this came 50 years earlier is also true.
  7. Practical results of socialism

    This is an old story. SNOPES, the Urban Legends site tracks it back about 15 years to "Bible colleges." However, I was probably in high school in the mid-1960s, when the analogy was first offered. http://www.snopes.com/college/exam/socialism.asp I tried a couple of framing phrases and drilled down 10, 20, 30+ pages, but eventually only came to one citation from 2006 http://www.thehighroad.us/showthread.php?t=416086 Everything else was 2009 and 2010. Apparently, this has exploded all over the Internet since the election of President Obama.
  8. Dolphins as “Non-Human Persons”

    Central Nervous System of the Porpoise tursiops truncatus Author(s): Orthello R. Langworthy Source: Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Nov., 1931), pp. 381-389 Tursiops as an Experimental Subject Author(s): Barbara Lawrence and William E. Schevill Source: Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 35, No. 2 (May, 1954), pp. 225-232 An Experimental Demonstration of Echo-Location Behavior in the Porpoise, Tursiops truncatus (Montagu) Author(s): Kenneth S. Norris, John H. Prescott, Paul V. Asa-Dorian, Paul Perkins Source: Biological Bulletin, Vol. 120, No. 2 (Apr., 1961), pp. 163-176 Sea Intelligence: The Dolphin Barbara Tufty The Science News-Letter, Vol. 86, No. 9 (Aug. 29, 1964), pp. 138-139 Two Levels of Alliance Formation Among Male Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops sp.) Author(s): Richard C. Connor, Rachel A. Smolker, Andrew F. Richards Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 89, No. 3 (Feb. 1, 1992), pp. 987-990 Behavioral Development in Wild Bottlenose Dolphin Newborns (Tursiops sp.) Author(s): Janet Mann and Barbara Smuts Source: Behaviour, Vol. 136, No. 5 (Jun., 1999), pp. 529-566 Alliance Membership and Kinship in Wild Male Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) of Southeastern Australia Author(s): Luciana M. Moller, Luciano B. Beheregaray, Robert G. Harcourt, Michael Krutzen Source: Proceedings: Biological Sciences, Vol. 268, No. 1479 (Sep. 22, 2001), pp. 1941-1947 A Division of Labour with Role Specialization in Group-Hunting Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) off Cedar Key, Florida Author(s): Stefanie K. Gazda, Richard C. Connor, Robert K. Edgar, Frank Cox Source: Proceedings: Biological Sciences, Vol. 272, No. 1559 (Jan. 22, 2005), pp. 135-140 See, the problem with dolphins is that they communicate among themselves at ranges that we do not hear, so we have to transduce their vocalizations, or else get them to respond to our preferred ranges, like getting the piccolo to play with the double bass. This is as close as we have come to communicating with an alien species. Given that, the facts are fairly well established. The above citations are from the mainstream of academic research, all peer-reviewed and conservative and nonetheless compelling. Long ago, when asked if Martians could have rights, Nathaniel Branden pointed out that any rational creature, any volitional being, regardless of their specific modes of perception, would have rights, given that they met the criteria for free will and reason. Whether dolphins -- whales, simians of this or that species, etc., etc., -- meet those standards requires first defining the criteria and then establishing the tests for them. Arguing post hoc does not establish empirical evidence.
  9. Did Ayn Rand remain fluent or often speak in French?

    The earlier you learn a language, the more it sticks with you. I grew up with Hungarian. I started "high school" German, the summer before 7th grade at a university demonstration school for teaching teachers. I took German through my junior year of college. My German SAT scores were higher than my English achievement numbers. In college, I had a hard time finding classes becauser I started at the 300-level. As an adult, I had two college classes in Japanese for business and two community ed classes in Italian for tourists. I taught myself classical Greek and Tibetan and have published using both. Working in security on a college campus, I learned enough Farsi to get myself invited to dinner at the Persian Poetry Club ... though they thought I was a Turk because of my accent.... All of which is to say that if Ayn Rand learned French as a child at home, she probably learned it pretty good, eh? What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual. What do you call someone who speaks one language? American. I grew up expecting to learn as many languages as I would need for business, science or education or for travel or recreation... It was not unusual in my neighborhood for the old ladies to gossip in three languages... Did Ayn Rand know three-and-a-half languages? Yeah... only because she lived most of her life in America or she would have learned six and a half like any other educated European....
  10. Domestic Prison Camps

    Here is how I put it together... In the movie THE KEEP, the one German soldier said that he studied fortifications all over Europe and there is something wrong with this one. The walls slant the wrong way. It is not meant to keep something out, but to keep something in. That stayed with me.... because I noticed that the regional postal substation is built that way. It is not to protect the mails from thieves and intruders, but to keep in anything locked in. The barbed wire points the wrong way: in. Years later.... I enjoyed Jurassic Park. Again, the park was designed to keep the animals in. Years later... I drove through "Alligator Alley" across southern Florida and again, the barriers do not keep people from getting in to the wilds, but to keep the wilds from getting out to the people on the highway. So, I think about that regional postal substation with its barbed wire pointing in.
  11. Have any of you watched Pat Condell?

    If you goto YouTube and enter "Pat Condell" in the search box, the menu on the right shows them in reverse chronological order.
  12. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    Maybe not Derrida, but Richard Rorty was David Kelley's doctoral advisor at Columbia. Good ideas (often out of context) are where you find them. Michel Faoucault's idea of the "panopticon society" is one such. Foucault pointed out that in times past, the law was about punishment. However, we now have law as control. The purpose of prison is not (only) to punish the perpetrator, but the methodology of prison is to control every aspect of the prisoner's life. That sounds like life "on the outiside" today. We have cameras everywhere at street level, spy in the sky satellites. In a Simpson's skit, Lisa buys a copy of Al Gore's book and from the supermarket scanner to the supersecret government agency, the Vice President gets the good word that someone actually bought a copy of his book. Cute, but the point is made. We are under constant surveillance and constant control. Now, you cannot leave the country without a passport. We live in a prison with a big yard.
  13. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    I just finished a bachelor's in criminology in 2008 and in April, I complete a master's in social science. For that, on a core of criminology and sociology, I added cognates in international finance and multinational enterprises in order to give context to a focus on transnational crime. I will be closing with two classes in geography: Earth Resource Monitoring and Geographical Information Systems. Again, my interest is to add depth to the concept of the "panopticon society" i.e., Big Brother always watching. One of our local papers prints a weekly crime map. I'd like to get those and collate them into an animation. Last semester, for an elective in US Foreign Policy, I read an 800-page Pulitzer Prize winner, one of six books of assigned reading for that class. Graduate school is not conceptually harder, but they do give us more work. As it was, on my own, among the books I read was CITY by Max Weber. Weber's description of the rise of the medieval city -- as distinct from other cities before -- underscored many of the elements of American political society. Our nation was founded very much as a large, middle class, urban society: elective councils, citizen militias, clock towers, law that was made not handed down, fundamental equality of station (no nobles or peasants). I am now on my second read of ON LIBERTY by John Stuart Mill. And among the writing that I sell often are book reviews for numismatic publishers. I could go on at length about the falsehoods (counterfactuals) about the nature of money that are accepted by libertarians and Objectivists. Just to bring this to the problem at hand. ... American government regulation of airline security have the same effect on commerce as tariffs and subsidies. True cost accounting would show deep losses across the economy. I am not sure that it is necessary to "respond" to terrorism. I grant that Lieutenant Bannon took the problem back to the doorstep at Tripoli, thus resolving that issue. However, in 1812, the New England merchants who were suffering losses were on the verge of secession from the Union because they saw war as the greater loss.
  14. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    I have none better. As I said, as a member of ASIS, I got magazines and other information. My wife is in computer security, so we both belong to INFO-GARD, sort of like "Neighborhood Watch" for computers, run by the FBI. As vetted users of their very public information, we found "interesting" stories and reports but nothing that made a difference in operations. Again, working in security, most offices have a slew of these magazines from different organizations. The real stuff is Need to Know, and we don't, really. I mean, you can gather your own intel, of course, and not share that. The warnings are important in a general sense. Like, when your computer is on, but you are doing nothing, and the disk drive light is flashing, what's that about? How do you know that your computer is not acting as a zombie for a "Russian" or "Chinese" attack? So, it is better to have information coming in, than not. I just never was motivated to spend that kind of money for Stratfor, but then, again, I probably do not see the higher level intel that you do. I just get their emails.
  15. Cool photos of earth from space

    Yes, thanks! Way cool, all of them. And yes, the resolution at magnification is amazing. Make you want to go outside and wave up.
  16. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    First of all, no one’s rights are being violated. That loose talk is out of place on a board for Objectivists. Like all minor problems, jihadi are consequential of philosophy, not antecedent to it. In other words, there will always be crazies, but we live in a world where they are socially ascendant, the new barbarians of our twilight empire. We can reignite reason and marginalize them back into random acts. That, however, is a deeper problem. That we live in irrational times is the source of the inconveniences on the airlines. These airlines do not accept responsibility for your safety. They want the government to do that. The airlines are only serving the perceived demands and expectations of their customers. People put up with this. No one is any smarter than you are and they are all mentally hobbled by their irrational beliefs, contradictory premises and untested assertions. The present situation is only the result of Soviet Agriculture applied to mass transportation. In a vibrant, dynamic market society, not only would airlines be run differently, we would have luxury bus lines, lighter-than-air cruisers and transoceanic speedboats, to say nothing of our favorite: Taggart Art Deco Maglev. Don’t hold your breath for the bright futures your leaders promised you. Three of the ten wealthiest suburbs in America are outside Washington DC where think tanks and lobbyists pay high salaries to otherwise bright people who do absolutely nothing productive. What did you expect? What other outcome could have been possible, given the premise? That said... To take the last point first, yes, these barbarians would like to see us reduced to the physical savagery resulting from their chosen ignorance. We must remain clear on that and what it means. If you read back on the history of airline hijackings, the 1960s were a time when crazies took planes to Cuba. In fact, the first case of an airline hijacking was supported by the USA. In 1950, a group of dissidents from Czechoslovakia seized a plane and demanded asylum. The USA prevented Interpol from issuing red flag warrants on the grounds that this was a “political” problem, not a crime. Since 1972, the situation has escalated to normality. Going home for the holidays in 1975 or so, I have prevented from carrying Christmas wrapped toys in my carry-on. This is not just a result of 9/11. Passive response to threats is not just the mode of government -- though there is that -- it is the mindset of our age. Michael Crichton’s State of Fear was not “about” global warming. It was “about” the way we are whipsawed by manufactured events and manufactured responses to them. Again, these hijackings go back over 50 years, yet you act like this something new. You have been cudgeled into confusion. You are now easier to control. “Soft intelligence” is an appropriate term. Government agencies do not pay a lot in wages. They offer vacations and healthcare. They promote by civil service. This is the Soviet Agriculture model of intelligence. What do you expect. You put private money for profit into this, and you will get a different outcome. rtg24 subscribes to STRATFOR. I do not, but I recognize them. Which intelligence services do you pay for? You want free, public intelligence from the government. That’s what you got. What did you expect? As I noted above, the airlines do not want to pay for security. The flying public wants cheap airfare and they are willing to be packed like eggs in crates to get it. In a rational world, instead of competing with price alone, you would have high-value services. Even the very production of airliners has been frozen by govern-mentality. The physicality of the infrastructure limits the outcomes. Don’t fly. Or hire a plane, charter it. It is just a matter of carpooling, really, and you can do it if you want.... but... it’s not worth it... too much hassle... not your problem.... OK, so live with the mass produced answer.
  17. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    Again, yesterday’s news... First of all, law enforcement has long used “criminal profiling.” That is what a pretext stop is. Someone looks suspicious and you pull them over on something or other like having a dangly hanging from their mirror, which is an obstruction. Then, you see how they act. Also, David Ben Gurion Airport is exactly the kind of place where the external (“racial”) profiling could not work and was never used. Like typical Americans, you seem to think that “Arabs” are “dark.” Racialist thinking is so prevalent that you cannot get around it. It is known from empirical tests that people see what they expect to see. You see people from western and southern Asia on TV in news on the street and yet you fall into American racialist stereotypes. At David Ben Gurion Airport they have always been a bit smarter than that and they profile by actions. So far, so good. This is nothing new. Again, you have been thrashed into a “state of fear” that leaves you stupid. Sorry, but it is true. You “know” everything I have pointed out. You just “forgot” it because you are being spun in a blind man’s bluff of current events.
  18. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    I never read anything in STRATFOR that did not come from CNN. For three years, I was a member of ASIS: the American Society for Industrial Security, I read all the emails, read all the magazines, and really (1) crime is eternal; it never changes and (2) if these guys were smart, they would not be emulating Soviet Agriculture so (3), I have to agree that Ayn Rand was right: don’t join groups. In the words of Rudyard Kipling: Down to Gahenna or up to the Throne, he travels the fastest who travels alone.
  19. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    Well known, long investigated, reported on like 1979 or 1981 by 60 Minutes. No surprise. These people are screened and passed, of course. Also, no check is perfect. (Police candidates go through extensive background checks and still turn dirty. It cannot be helped, but something is better than nothing.) Also, if you track the news (not just hear it when it scares you), then you know that airliners go down often, but when the losses are Africans, no one here cares. Put “airliner crash Africa” and equivalents into your search engine. See for instance here. Africa is politically unstable. You do not know about Africa. Read about The Second Congo War. It was worse than World War II in many ways. You are upset because your own world is declining to that level of barbarism. What did you expect?
  20. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    Yes, I agree. There are many alternatives to airliners. You can fly. You can drive. Take a bus. Travel is what it is: travail means work and even suffering. We want Star Trek transporters, but it is no surprise that we seem to be short of Vulcan scientists these days.
  21. Sherlock Holmes (2009)

    We are going to wait for it to come out on DVD, rather than spend the money on the theater, because the trailers we saw suggested a less than satisfactory experience. That said, I do agree that Sherlock Holmes is not understood as intended. I am not a big Holmes fan, never wrote to 6B Baker Street to get a reply, etc., etc., but I did read several of these stories several years ago. First, Holmes is mischaracterized as a great logician. He is, indeed, logical, but his method is based on empirical evidence, not abstract thinking. When the stories begin Holmes has memorized an inventory of tobacco ashes. That said, the complete truth is that Holmes is not "an empiriicist" or "a rationalist" but truly an objectivist (lowercase o). Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a medical doctor. That is why the narrator is Watson. Holmes displays both conditions of the search for truth. We see him investigating a crime scene with a magnifying class. Watson says that Holmes was casting about the floor like a bloodhound. We also see Holmes eschewing food lest it slow his brain, smoking strong tobacco, and sitting in his chair thinking far into the night. I never found him "ungentlemanly" in the broader sense, but I agree, that he was not aristocratic and was clearly his own man in a class-based society. That is easy to interpret as the product of the author's life. Doyle and Holmes have both been analyzed and interpreted over past 100 years. Make of them as you will. Note that the works are still held in copyright by "the estate." The story is more convoluted than anything Sherlock Holmes had to deal with. http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/
  22. Criminalizing airflight passengers

    Paul, there are few easy answers. Believe me, I give this a lot of thought and I have never published anything on it. First of all, an airliner travels through an environment more like outer space than like the surface of Earth. You cannot just pull over, open the door, and let someone out, or bring the police onboard. Anything can be a weapon. Over 20 years ago, Loompanics carried an article by Brad Steiner, "How to Use this Catalog as a Weapon." (Steiner wrote Subway Survival.) We would all be much safer if we all assumed responsibility for our outcomes, rather than being herded into flying cattlecars. Howeever, economics -- and consumer tolerance, if not consumer preference -- packs us all in like eggs with no room to manoever. We are all pretty much helpless while on board. I have no problem being naked, especially if everyone else is. I think that we ought to crank up the thermostats a few more degrees and go about mostly, if not entirely, unclothed indoors. (You would carry your own towel to sit on. Eventually park benches, restaurants, etc., would all be automatically self-facilitating, one step more complex than the busser putting down a new tablecloth. But, I digress...) That would certainly make concealed weapons a different problem, entirely. Electro-magnetic scanning only works so well. Baggage handlers have missed many items and many more can be hidden in plain sight as something else. Therefore, we could not bring containers of liquid for a while, causing grief for mothers, et al., until that was worked out. Technically, given the absolute range of choices to a business, roads really do not need speed limits. (Look at the Autobahn.) Similarly, as long as a driver does not cause a collision, DUI DWI are really subject to question. Who cares if you drive drunk as long as you don't hurt anyone? Why slow down for a school zone? An interesting experiment in Belgium and the Netherlands removed traffic lights at some intersections and found that accidents declined. Why have driving laws at all? Obviously, the answer is that public safety overrides individual choice. So, too, here. Any breech of the airliner's hull can be considered catastrophic, even if it does not result in total integrity failure. So, the bullets of the weapons of sky marshalls disintegrate on impact. On the ground, how many people can be killed by a stray bullet? One? Two? Airliners carry hundreds of people. They are soft targets for hardhearted aggressors. As Objectivists, we believe that the proper roll of government is to provide police and armed forces to protect us. I personally believe that I have sound empirical evidence and rational theory for a better outcome than that, but the fact remains that you are dependent on the government to figure this out. So, you must allow that process to work. It may be slow and may seem silly or stupid, but it is the system that (nearly) everyone agreed to and agrees on. If it bothers you that much, don't fly. Or learn to fly and fly yourself. Or hire your own flight, either directly or by contract ("charter") with a group. Many options are open to you. Personally, I would like to see a return to oceanliners and passenger rail. Dirigibles have great potential. We did not exploit any of those well before governments got into the jetliner business (or subsidized it). Of course, the 2004 Madrid train station bombing (and the continous aggression by ETA) speaks to the dangers there. In the long run, it may be that governments simply cannot protect their citizens any more than the castles of the barons could withstand cannonfire. We may be living on the verge of a new way of life.
  23. This is my second marriage, 32 years this week. My first wife and I dated for three years, were married for five, had no kids and went our ways, and remained friends. My current wife and I have both worked for my ex, sort like something out of Atlas Shrugged, which all of us have read, though my first is still into it in many ways that my current wife considers overboard. (I just sent my ex a present: a "good luck" piece from the Chicago Century of Progress 1934, made of aluminum and in the names of ALCOA, Pullman and Union Pacific with an art deco engine.) So, while my wife is not technically an Objectivist, we do share basic values, not so much about politics or the specifics of ideology, but deeper than that about independence, respect for ourselves and fulfillment through work. Achievement and competency are important to both of us and I am constantly and continuously impressed by her workmanship. Each of us finds the other creative. We both do many things. Laurel has edited over a 100 books for Bantam-Doubleday and probably 20 or 30 more for other publishers. I write. I have published over 100 newspaper and magazine articles. Sometimes she checks my work. We both worked in computering and we have had a business name since the first year were married. (Different names for different phases.) Now, we both work in security. Laurel is in computer assurance. I am a criminologist. So, there is that. We have had classes together and we compete. She beat me in Evidence & Procedure but for Terrorism, I got an A+ on my final paper. When I worked in campus safety, I would get to her classroom before it opened and put our initials in a heart in a corner of the blackboard. Now that we are older, we don't push the button for Global Thermonuclear War (calling for divorce) as often, but, we both value our living space and for the past 20 years, as soon as we could afford it, we always bought or rented more home than we needed. With three bedrooms, two are offices. Right now, she's in hers; I'm in mine. It's almost time for bed. We are working our way through NUMB3RS dvds from the library. Our daughter is 30 and living on her own since she was 20. I still have most of my hair. I complain that it is thin, but no one offers me any sympathy.
  24. The "Context Card"

    This is why different people come to Objectivism and do not find agreement. Aspects of the philosophy resonate with the inner self but what rings true for you will be different than for someone else, though, indeed, people do share thoughts and feelings in communication. Objectivism, like Christianity and Communism, places a very high value on free will, that we can choose to be "anything we want." When a person reads The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged and finds it revealing, the case is often that "this is what I always believed." But the "this" and "what" is complex and complicated within each of us as individuals. The old line says that you cannot logically argue someone out of a position that they were not logically argued into in the first place. Ayn Rand said that reason is not an absolute, i.e., a person has to be open to reason in the first place. Much of who and what we are is subconscious and unaddressed. A little introspection can undo a lot of childhood, and a lot of brainwashing can remake a person, but, at root, we stay pretty much the same. My brother and I were raised by our grandparents. As boys we never did housework. But we watched it being done by someone who lived it. A couple of times over the years, we were in the kitchen together for the holidays, and it was pretty funny you know because we did the same things in the same way even though we spent lifetimes on our own with our own wives and children. When the automatic reflexes were called for (draining the vegetables; whatever), the learning was way deep. Again, among, Objectivists, I find it perfectly understandable and unarguable when someone who was physically punished as a child claims that it did him no harm, and yes, we need to nuke Teheran. For me, the discipline was more routine: the alarm went off the same time every morning. We got out of bed the same time, left the house at the same time, walked the same 4 short blocks to school, and returned for lunch at the same time. Today, 50 years later, when I come home from work, whether the factory, office or school, I always change into house clothes. So, for me, freedom - total absolute ungoverned laissez faire anarcho-chaos - could never mean running wild in the streets setting fires and shooting guns in every direction. Yet, here, and now, in our world, there are many people for whom that is exactly what it means. And no ideas suggesting an alternative will affect their minds.