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Everything posted by oldsalt

  1. Founders College Psychology Program

    Scott, this is a bit off-topic, but I was wondering if this means that you won't be around the FORUM. I understand that you will be very busy, but I hope that doesn't mean that you can't find time to post. Though I can't speak for the others, I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that I very much value your insights and would miss you.
  2. Founders College Psychology Program

    Congratulations! Every time I read any part of the curriculum at Flounders, my mouth waters. I would have loved to have had these kinds of classes when I was in nursing classes. I was in school in the late 60s. People just can't imagine how bad the psych classes were, and the rotation to the psych floor was just horrible.
  3. Conservatives and Liberals on Ayn Rand

    I understand the tendency to look at the mess around us and feel pessimistic. But it has always been thus, to the great suffering of people everywhere. But this is what makes Ayn Rand so important. The reactions to the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Atlas has been instructive. Without exception, the criticism has been by those who are obviously uninformed or by the vicious. In both cases, I've read replies that called the authors on their ignorance and viciousness, most of which have been articulate and right in their defense of Miss Rand, the book, and Objectivism. Many of them said they didn't agree fully, but the things they chose to agree with are important, and a beginning. Consider that people are talking about this book 50 years after it was published! And consider that the ideas have only been out there for 50 years, with the more technical works and applications out there for less time. And it isn't just the intellectuals, but Joe Schmo on the street, which is stunning when you think of the normal course of ideas. Remember, too, that the spread of her ideas isn't confined to America, or even the English speaking world! When I get discouraged, I remind myself of the entire context, all of man's history, within which we are operating. That perspective gives me an appreciation for how far her ideas have come. There is ARI, and their school. There is Lisa Van Damm's academy, and the very important work she has done in theories of education. There is the brand new Founder's College. These entities, Founders excepted only because it is new, are graduating students. There are Objectivist professors teaching in major universities. Frankly, Phil, I would never have thought that such accomplishments would have been possible so soon after Objectivism was introduced to the world. I see these things and my pessimism vanishes. I don't expect Galt's Gulch in my lifetime. But I am confident that reason will prevail. Impatience aside, I know I can't ask for more from my fellow human beings, not and claim that I understand and respect the requirements of the reasoning mind.
  4. The fact that the approval rating for Congress has now hit 11% is encouraging. The problem is that people will accept the censorship of a company's freedom of speech without understanding how it leads to the kind of overt attempts by government to censor political speech. McCain-Feingold is one of the crudest examples of this--and it is now an accomplished law, signed by Bush and given a pass by the Supreme Court. Who is left to protect our rights? While Hillary Clinton is one of the people behind Media Matters, the real power--and money--making that entity (and others like it) possible is George Soros. Does anyone else think of Toohey (on steroids) when they hear that name?
  5. Conservatives and Liberals on Ayn Rand

    I haven't heard of many (or any, really) Objectivists who do not understand the dangers from any philosophy based on faith. Nor do I know any who do not understand the evils of altruism. The question isn't one of understanding the underlying philosophic errors and their consequences, but whether this country is in imminent danger of becoming a theocracy. My understanding of Dr. Peikoff's position is that it is. And he isn't just using a few polls and articles out of the NYTs. I think he believes that what is happening in the universities, where religion is resurging in response to the gross nihilism of Post Modernism, etal, poses the biggest danger. This is a valid concern. I certainly don't want to see the Left's relativist moral teaching be replaced by an absolutist religious moral teaching. Pendulums swing in this country, and it is swinging towards religion because the Left is bankrupt intellectually and young people see this. They take what is offered, for the most part. However, much of what we've seen on the religious right is a direct reaction, not just to the immorality of Leftist teaching, but to an attack on religion that, with few exceptions, consists of little more than childish pointing and laughing. The way to battle it is to get our own people into the universities. This is being done, thankfully, by ARI. The theocracy that disturbs Dr. Peikoff, however, is far from imminent, unless we suffer from something so catastrophic that the whole country--and the government--is in chaos. There is simply no mechanism for Christians to take over the country, and as others have pointed out, most Christians are decent, if misguided, people. Christianity has its lunatic fringe, just as the Left has theirs, but they are a small danger at this point. It would take a civil war to install a theocracy, in my opinion, and while I think that is always a possibility, I think we are no where near such a thing happening. In his excellent History of Western Philosophy courses, Dr. Peikoff stated that religion was dying in America and that you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would stand up for the literal interpretation of the Bible, even in the Bible Belt. When I heard that, I thought that, while that may be true in academia, it wasn't true in the population. I have lived in Oklahoma, Texas and Florida and my experience is that there are plenty of people who are still true believers. The important point, however, is that in the universities, religion was becoming less influential. I think that, given a proper rational philosophy, religion would eventually die a natural death. I also want to say a word about altruism: It is an undoubted evil. However, it is an evil that has ruled all of man's history, and it is still ruling, or is the moral basis of every culture today, religious or secular. It is dangerous to life, as it has always been. Dr. Peikoff is absolutely right about that. BUT. I don't understand how he thinks that siding with the nihilists, just because they are arguing against an absolutist religion, but not against altruism, just because the nihilists are bankrupt and the faithful are absolutists, will further the cause of reason and egoism. Personally, I think it makes us look a bit ridiculous in the eyes of those who are still capable of listening to reason. We are not in an easy battle. We represent something new and at odds with a very long tradition in thinking about ethics. It isn't going to die out overnight or easily. If we are irrational, or rationalistic about what we are advocating, it will take even longer.
  6. How the Government Taught Me to Hate Ladybugs

    Well done! Thanks for the link, Rose Lake. If you haven't done so, I recommend reading John Lewis' essays. He is an interesting, and very readable, writer of history. The points he makes in favor of an aggressive war against Islamofascism, based on historical pretexts, are some of the best I've read.
  7. US Handling of Turkey and Iran

    Not in my book. It's the cumulative effect of their various strategies that bring me to that conclusion. I do not see this as something innocent, no matter how much Turkey needs to acknowledge the Armenian genocide (which I agree is a good idea, sans a resolution from us right now). Why haven't we seen a similar call for Japan to admit their atrocities--which were just as bad as the Germans? How about the Chinese and the "Great Leap Forward (and all the rest)? Most of all, how about the Russians? When I hear the Left calling for Russia to apologize to the Ukranians for deliberately causing mass starvation, I'll accept that maybe there is something else behind this resolution besides another attempt to sabotage our efforts in this war.
  8. Conservatives and Liberals on Ayn Rand

    I agree with this. The only caveat is that the danger from the Left involves more than the enviromentalists. Unfortunately, environmentalism involves those in both parties, though those on the Left are usually the worst of the bunch. (I do like the designation I've heard describing leftist viros: watermelons--green on the outside and red on the inside. )
  9. Conservatives and Liberals on Ayn Rand

    This country has not become a theocracy because of the constitution and traditions of the country's founding. Both of those have been slowly degraded, but I do not think anyone pushing a theocracy would or could make it, even considering the state of affairs as they stand right now. There is still our history, and the remnants of the American sense of life that, thankfully, that stands in the way, not to mention the salient fact that the constitution (as badly mauled as it is) is still the law of the land. There is also the fact that many of the faithful are against any such thing, even as they advocate forcing their morality into the law of the land. One of the things that I find fascinating as I read what Christians of all stripes have to say about the war with Islam is that this is a reminder of Christianity's own history. For some, it seems to have brought home, once again, what happens when faith and force are combined in a political system. The fact that the various sects within Islam itself are fighting each other for supremacy (especially the Shi'i and Sunni) is a goad to many, reminding them of what happened when Christianity did bloody battle with itself. The fact of those wars is something that Christian Americans, pointing out that this is a Christian country, cannot help but take note of, considering that the northeastern US was settled by those fleeing religious persecution. I think the real danger is the continued erosion of fundamental liberties, such as freedom of speech and property rights. This is a problem coming from both parties. To offer just one example, it was John McCain who stated flat out that he wasn't concerned about the First Amendment as much as he was corruption. Of course, if that were true, he would have battled to take the power to corrupt every area of our lives from Congress. It is the Democrats who are fighting to reinstate the fairness doctrine, in order to negate the power of the Right's use of the radio. Local governments of both parties regularly step all over property rights, whether to hand the land over to someone else to increase revenue (and the power that the revenue brings), or by enviromentalists who want to take the property out of productive use all together. It was a Democrat, Clinton, who changed welfare for the better, and a Republican, Bush, who increased the burden of health care through the prescription plan he instituted. With things in such a state, claiming that voting a straight ticket in either party, without reference to the individual candidates, makes no sense to me.
  10. Conservatives and Liberals on Ayn Rand

    Do any of you think it is necessary to "convert" Christians to every aspect of Objectivism in order to turn this country around? I understand the danger that altruism plays, but there was a time in this country when the danger from Christian altruists didn't come from socialist type government programs, but from the idea that Christians has the moral authority to tell everybody else how to live. Prohibition is a good example of this; what the tee-totalers accomplished however, was an America that drank illegally on principle. What has changed is the mixing of Christianity and their explicitly hated socialist ideals. No matter how much the Christian supposedly hated all forms of socialism, they did so only because Marxism denies the existence of God. Christian altruism left them vulnerable to ideas of "social justice," especially as the ideas of Individualism waned in the late 19th century. Personally, I find the idea that plunging this country into the unadulterated nihilism of the left in order to stun the population into reason to be hopelessly naive. The decline of a civilization is usually a long, drawn out affair, just as we can easily see by reading our own history. Ayn Rand gave us the curative, but it takes time. I would rather take the side of those with whom I have some basis for agreement. If I have to argue for a principle over every intrusion into my freedom, and why it is wrong, then at least I'm talking with someone who is open to that particular argument and I win something even if they are unable to apply the principle across the board. How does one manage even that much with someone who not only denies principles, but sees them as dangerous "ideologies" to be eschewed at all costs? Also, I would draw one's attention to the fact that the left is now riding the religion train, and there are plenty of the faithful who agree with them. We are not going to save ourselves from the ravages of religious thought by choosing one political party over another (as such), and we certainly aren't going to do so by siding with the absolute worst among them. As far as I can tell, that is accepting their premises in spades and in reality. Just because one actually disagrees 100% doesn't change the effect on our civilization of hastening the collapse. Unless, of course, your purpose is to bring this country to its knees ala Atlas Shrugged. How we are to bring Objectivism to a world deliberately thrown into a dark age, I don't pretend to know. I do know that people don't suddenly "see the light" because things get bad, especially when those people believe that the world is rotten anyway and suffering is God's way of teaching us all a lesson, or when they see human beings as a cancer destroying Mother Earth. Miss Rand gave us an accelerated version of the fall, and brilliantly explicated the causes. Unfortunately, it won't happen like that. There is no John Galt talking the most productive into hiding. A better example of what happens to the most productive in actuality is what happened in Russia, where they were deprived, enslaved, starved and murdered--on an unbelievable scale. (Unfortunately, that is just one example.)
  11. Happy Birthday to dondigitalia

    Happy Birthday, Dave! Have a wonderful day. (Brian, you're a treat.)
  12. US Handling of Turkey and Iran

    Even though some local politicians with a largish Armenian population have passed similar resolutions, Pelosi and Co. have chosen their timing with an obvious ulterior motive. Having failed to end the war with overt demands for immediate troop withdrawal, or Murtha's "slow bleed", etal, all of which were immediately withdrawn because of the reactions of the electorate, they are now attempting to do so by proxy. This resolution would accomplish two things: it would put an end to American access to a Turkish base that is crucial for our logistics in the area, and it would weaken our ability to keep Turkey out of Iraq. Their motive is not make a humanitarian statement, but a crude back door attempt to take over foreign policy. The absolute least one can say about this move now is that it is impolitic. One of the most telling statements from Pelosi on this matter: when confronted with the reaction from Turkey, that they would deny American access to an important base, Pelosi said that it was merely "hypothetical." Sound familiar? Saddam not only gassed the Kurds, he did so with an agent that has had horrific genetic consequences. Children born to those who managed to survive the attacks have a myriad of health problems, not the least of which are physical deformations that make life impossible. Thank god that monster is dead.
  13. Gore and UN Share Nobel Peace Prize

    And that has been my only consolation in all of this muck. This has got to be like that worm that enters the ear and eats the brain for Bill Clinton. If you are listing outrages to one's sense of right over who has received the Peace Prize, don't forget to list Le Doc Toh and Kissinger for the "Peace Accords" that led to years of death, reeducation camps, and boat people--and an "honorable" withdrawal of troops from Viet Nam for the U.S. Der Spiegel dubbed Gore a political super-star that was now too good for the American presidency. Maybe Hillary could name him as her running-mate. He has job experience.
  14. I got a chuckle out of this article from the New York Post. Heh.
  15. Thank you for the report. I'll sit on pins and needles until the movie comes out. I'm still celebrating! I'm a bit late saying my Happy Birthdays here, but not in my life. I've read everything I could find about the anniversary--the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's been interesting. For one thing, I never knew there were so many different ideas about Miss Rand and her philosophy, held by those who claim to admire her. I found a lot of "yeah buts," especially among religious people. The level of misunderstanding is astounding. The Hobbesian view of brutal selfishness is so ingrained that the moment self-interest is mentioned, people make the most ridiculous, knee-jerk, extrapolations. One would think Miss Rand advocated the eating of poor, helpless orphans and the ravishing of widows.
  16. Rob Tracinski on the Mike Rosen Radio Show

    I enjoyed both the article and the interview. Tracinski places his emphasis a bit differently from others I've read or heard, but he leaves nothing out and he said a couple of things that made me think. I always laugh when I hear people say that Atlas is shallow, two-dimensional, with comic book characters. It tells me that they are shallow, two-dimensional, and possess a reading comprehend on a comic book level. After almost 40 years of reading and thinking about that book, I still learn from it, and the depth of her understanding still amazes me.
  17. Difficulties in Understanding Objectivism

    I agree with what others have said, and I'll add two things. I would hazard to say that none of us have had the good fortune to have grown up within a rational society. We've all grown up in a society that is saturated with altruism and conflicting principles ruling most people, people who implicitly accept and integrate contradictions from their earliest childhood. As a result, we not only must learn what ought to have been taught throughout our lives, but we must constantly go back and clean out all the contradictions we hold implicitly, and upon which we sometimes act without realizing it. While I knew that Miss Rand was right--and felt an enormous elation from the discovery--it has taken most of my life to ferret out false premises, contradictions, etc., that still sometimes pop up. It is much easier now, of course, both to recognize a problem and correcting it. A bit of advice from Dr. Peikoff helped me tremendously: Remember that you are not one of Aquinas' angels; i.e., you are not by nature perfect. (Short version: Aquinas posited that each angel was its own species and had perfect knowledge.) When you feel frustrated, or that you have failed to understand something before you were able to actually understand it (I should have know that!), remember that you are a man, not one of Aquinas' angels.
  18. Happy Birthday! Thank you for all you are, and all you do.
  19. Happy Birthday to Jack Wakeland

    May you enjoy the happiest of birthdays, Jack. Your's is an interesting mind; you consistently give me something to think about. To Betsy's "A guy who isn't afraid to tell you exactly what he thinks," I would add: and will defend it! For that, you have my thanks.
  20. R.I.P. Ulrich Muhe

    How unfortunate, not just for Ulrich Muhe, but for all of us. The world needs every voice against tyranny it has. Unfortunately, too many of these voices are coming from the former Soviet satellites instead of the supposedly liberal (in the original sense) West.
  21. Cox & Forkum bow out

    Well, this is sad news. I regularly sent their cartoons to friends and family. I will miss them. Nobody caught A'jad like they did. They made the best statements.
  22. 3-D Digital Art

    Congratulations! That is a fascinating site. I like your creation, too. Just this last weekend, I started wondering about creations like this and whether they meet the criterion for art. Thoughts?
  23. From an article in Australia's ABC News (I had a link, but it isn't working now): "Zimbabwe's indigenisation and empowerment minister. . . ." What's wrong with that phrase?
  24. A reintroduction of sorts

    I look forward to your increased participation. Welcome back!
  25. Perhaps the admiral was instructed to keep 'em guessing. I suppose that's someone's idea of a strategy, but it isn't mine. I'd prefer it if he had told Al Jeez "Yep, they've attacked Americans, and we're going to blow them out of the water." That's just me, of course. I would vote for Giuliani on the health-care issue, if nothing else. Everyone else seems to be rushing as fast as their robot brains can manage to enslave us all. That he backs my own Iran strategy is a plus.