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Everything posted by oldsalt

  1. Ideological Reeducation

    Rousseau, Kant, Marx and Stalin, all rolled into one. I had no idea that things had gotten this bad. When I read this, I was reminded of We the Living, and what Kira went through. Brrrrrrrr. I think I'll send this article to everyone I know with college age kids (or those close to it), along with a link for Founder's College. Have any of you who have been to college lately any such stories?
  2. Happy Birthday to PhilO

    Isn't it special to get a poem from Brian!? Happy Birthday Phil. I hope yours was all you would have it be. From the oldsalt. Westerly wind so free.
  3. The Price of Gasoline

    And by the way, this was as fine a piece of work identifying the facts as I've seen. Starting with the facts, and going to the principle, is what we are supposed to do. There are those who seem to get this bass-akwards these days. I find value in both summaries. Between you and ewv, the bases are being covered nicely. Thanks to you both for the work and insights.
  4. The Price of Gasoline

    You are right, of course. While I didn't offer up a complete non sequitur, . . . It is just that these days, I can see the little strings flying everywhere, tying all of this into a piece. I'll try to restrain myself.
  5. The Price of Gasoline

    Don't forget to add what is happening to the price of food. The mouthpieces may pooh-pooh everything as "hoarding," but I'd bet they haven't sat down and calculated what happens every time you go through your receipts. The fear is based on reality. I keep hearing Miss Rand say, "You asked for it, brother."
  6. Pledge of Allegiance

    Is a definition a statement of a fact of the essence of reality of a concept, or merely a statement of the way we use words in everyday language? When an Objectivist uses the concept "selfishness" does he mean the same thing as just about everybody else on the planet? I'm glad someone brought up Galt's pledge. It helps to define what a pledge is. This was something taken voluntarily by every adult entering the Gulch. Was it important to the scene to mention that it was exclusive to every adult in the valley? Just because the Pledge to the Flag is treated as a mere social good, doesn't mean that it ought to be. Consider the fact that Miss Rand used the term "selfishness" on purpose, to take back the concept, and that wasn't the only term for which she advocated this method (though I'm not going to rehearse all the instances I know of, as this audience, if they don't already know at least some of them, have the brains to look for themselves. Forgive the brevity, but time is of the essence ). As one who grew up pledging to and saluting the honor of the flag, I was taught to believe that I was saluting and honoring the value of the flag. Does what that flag represent, as it flew against the British in the 1812 war, and all that that battle bought for us, not a value to be honored? That battle is the genesis of of the honor. It is also the genesis of our National Anthem. There is almost everything about the song that owns something objectionable, if we look. But we ignore our own history by doing so, rather than by making corrections to the meaning of the words, or simply changes the song's emphasis. Does this mean that we also toss the justified honor of the Pledge? I know that Dr. Binswanger and others have spoken against the idea of the Pledge. I don't agree, obviously. Since I don't care to look up and go into those arguments, I won't address them. But I am aware of them and have taken them into account. As for the grammatical objections, I find them unpersuasive. Do we no longer allow justified poetic license on the part of the author? I like it Byron. Just as I always love your work.
  7. The Caste System in America

    Well, after all! Who are we to judge? It's a cultural thing.
  8. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Thank you for the Christmas card, Betsy. It was the best on I've received! I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year! And thanks.
  9. Happy Birthday to JRoberts

    Happy 21st! May your days be happy and prosperous.
  10. The Cosby Show (1984)

    I was happy to see you address A N Other's post, which is as fine an example of education at "Indoctrination U" as I've seen. The position taught is thoroughly racist, assuming that there are no Black Americans but those who indulge themselves in the lowest gangsta culture. We can see the same thing happening in the ridiculous statements by some Black "leaders" who say that Obama isn't "black enough," an assertion made against Condolezza Rice, Colin Powell, and every other Black American who doesn't march in lockstep with the rest of a group defined by minority status and victimhood. These people are accused of "acting white," which statement damns young Black Americans to the collectivized mindset of the Left, with its attendant dependency on ... the Left.
  11. Where's the Hurricanes?

    You can't count on hurricanes, so they've decided that the yearly fires in California are more profitable.
  12. Venezuelens Experience Justice

    Senor Chevez probably thinks that oil makes him immune from what has happened to Senor Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
  13. On-Topic and Off-Topic Issues

    I'm not sure I agree with this. I'll have to think about it. But I am happy to see that you've included it. It makes me think we might make progress after all.
  14. On-Topic and Off-Topic Issues

    Once again, I agree that it is important to stay focused on the subject being discussed. But the subject is being discussed by people. People are giving their opinions. If they are here, I assume that they are putting those opinions out there for the purposes of discussion, not merely making flat statements expecting automatic agreement. It is because man is neither infallible nor omniscient, and, especially because knowledge is contextual, that I engage in discussions with others. I may very well have made an error in my thinking because my knowledge is limited, something that another person with more, or different, knowledge can point out to me. But benevolence is a two way street, requiring both parties to show respect for each other's mind. With this in mind, I don't easily take offense because something I've said is under contention. Unless I have ample and overt evidence that I'm being personally attacked and insulted, I give the benefit of the doubt to the speaker, recognizing that some people have a way of speaking that can be off-putting. I try to focus on what is being said, not how it is being said. I think this is especially important in a context where all we have to go on are another's written words. It sometimes takes a special effort, which I'm not always in the mood to make, in which case, I don't engage. The part I emphasized in your statement above, however, seems to say that I'm supposed to consider the fact that no matter how careful I am in framing my point, I have behaved improperly if someone takes exception and feels insulted--"even if the offense was only in the eye of the beholder and not intended by the speaker." With this onus, how is anyone to feel comfortable saying anything? I don't mind making my meaning clear if someone has misunderstood me, but I could never enter a discussion knowing that any perceived insult by any one involved means that I am behaving improperly.
  15. On-Topic and Off-Topic Issues

    Dead crows describes my epistemological state very well. It is why I keep trying to find the essence of what this argument is about. Trying to find some kind of coherence in all of the discrete statements has become almost impossible for me.
  16. Yes, that's what I got. And I loved watching it, incongruity and all.
  17. Well, let's hear it for the frivolous! I thought both machines were great. I don't know anything about the Euro-fighter. Is it as advertised in the video?
  18. On-Topic and Off-Topic Issues

    As I understand it, some are saying that the form of a person's argument is irrelevant to whether the conclusions are valid (or right, or true, or correct--any form you use as a standard), and that one need only check the facts of reality in judging a particular statement. By this standard of argument, it is said that who is making an argument (or statement) isn't important, and that it is off topic to discuss anything but the ideas expressed. At least, this is the gist of what I've gotten from the many different posts. Is it true that the form of an argument (or statement), and what the form tells you about how that person came to the conclusions in his argument, is irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of the conclusion? I comment on certain blogs that I enjoy for varying reasons. Most of the time it amounts to nothing more than chit-chat. There are times, e.g., about the war and the way it is being conducted, when I am very serious and point out something crucial. Other commenters will genuinely agree with what I've said, and in the next breath express their admiration and appreciation for the self-sacrifice of our troops--sometimes stating explicitly that it is the self-sacrifice that makes heroes. This is because they understand that the facts they observe prove my point--and they agree for the wrong reasons. Wrong metaphysical premises, valid conclusion in reality. This is a logical fallacy, the consequences of which are evident all around us. It is at the base of what is wrong with conservatives of all stripes. Even those who understand logic, and use it explicitly, end up getting it wrong because their premises are false, and even when they manage to come to a valid conclusion, they are helpless to apply the principle involved across their thinking. Do the consequences in reality say anything important about the nature and value of logic? The depth of the fallacies committed by an individual who agrees that we ought to allow our forces to protect themselves first, and also thinks that the principle of self-sacrifice is moral, is great and requires a careful explication to bring the principle involved to bear in a serious discussion. The same may be said about someone who asserts that, while they agree in principle, but think that the principle is impractical in practice. Since we deal with individual minds in any discussion, it means that we are discussing that individual's way of thinking. I can only speak to what I personally get out of this site. Above the fact that I don't have to "begin at the beginning," I value the conversation because I value the quality of the individual minds I engage here. This engagement is of a special category. All I have are your words and how your mind uses those words to form ideas. This is true no matter the subject being discussed, or the level of gravity given to the subject. Because I am talking to an individual mind, I cannot separate what is said from the mind that conceived it. I think of it as a part of the way I show my respect for the individual mind. Another part of showing my respect is to assume that the individual I'm talking to is honest and rational, and therefore, capable of being persuaded. If I judge that this is not the case, I don't waste my time or mental effort in the attempt. For example, I said earlier that there is a good discussion on this thread about the nature and value of logic. If it were not for that, we'd be left with nothing but contentious quarreling and I, for one, would not still be here. As for the quarreling, I find no real difference between Brian's insistence that others conform to his standards for discussion, and those who demand that Brian conform to theirs. Yes, I know that it involves more (in particular, objective rules for discussion on the FORUM), but because of the personalities involved, people have become frustrated, angry, and sarcastic in presenting their arguments. I commend Betsy and Brian, as well as the rest who have contributed to the substantives in the argument while "in the heat of battle." It is what makes this thread valuable to me.
  19. The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group returned to San Diego last Saturday, bringing home some 2200 members of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Iraq, where they've spent the last 7 months fighting the insurgency in Anbar province. If you've kept up with the news, you know how successful they were. Returning with the Amphibious Assault Ship, USS Bonhomme Richard, were the USS Denver and the USS Rushmore. Altogether, we welcomed home almost 5,000 Sailors and Marines. Yeah! It was something to watch the Marines disembark by helicopters and boats, while the three amphibious assault ships sat offshore by Camp Pendleton. Anyway, I've been busy doing my very little bit. But I couldn't let Thanksgiving arrive without wishing you all a very happy day and give you my thanks for making my life so much fuller. (One little example: the discussion on logic, and all that has grown out of it, has sent me back to books, articles, and lectures I haven't read or listened to for a while. When things slow down enough, I'll be back and try to catch up, but the experience has been stimulating, to say the least. For that I thank everyone who has participated.) There are times when just touching base here gives me a boost! So, thanks to you all for the value you add to my life, just by being your worthy selves. Betsy, I send a special thanks to you for keeping THE FORUM going, and for being a mentor and inspiration by the example of how you live your life. No disagreement could change the way you've touched my life. I hope you and Matt have a good day. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
  20. My world is burning

    If you've tuned into the news today, you've probably seen that San Diego County is burning. As of this morning, more than 250,000 have been evacuated. There is a terrible pall of smoke hanging over the whole city. We are sitting under a rain of ash. Many of our major expressways are closed, as the fires jump . We are suffering hurricane force Santa Ana winds, which is making fighting the multiple fires almost impossible. Only a few helicopters are occasionally flying; it is too windy for the more efficient fixed-wing aircraft to fly. They don't expect the winds to end until Thursday. My husband's boss has brought his family, and his horse, down to the marina. Their boat is a couple of docks away from ours. They had gone to a hotel last night, but that area was subsequently evacuated as well. We have several people who have had to leave their homes, and are thankful to have a boat to come to. They are the lucky ones. I do have a point in writing about this. I want to commend our city and county government. They are doing a magnificent job of handling this crisis. When I compare their work with what happened during the terrible hurricanes of two years ago, especially in Louisiana, it is like night and day. Thankfully.
  21. On-Topic and Off-Topic Issues

    I am beginning to feel as though I'm standing in the middle of a personal argument. Perhaps this is a reason to keep attribution out of a discussion, regardless of the status of its logical validity: to keep personalities out of a discussion and keep the peace.
  22. Question About Logic

    Children have no choice in the use of their conceptual faculty because that is the nature of human consciousness. Children use words, their first words being those that relate directly to reality. Concepts are built as they learn that "table," for instance, means more than this or that particular table. They are able to do this because the rational faculty is at the base of a conceptual consciousness. They automatically attempt to apply rational rules to what they are learning. The attempt can be seen when a child attempts to apply implicit rules of grammar to his conversation. For instance, it took some doing to explain to my nephew that, yes, you plug something in, but the proper way of expressing the opposite isn't "plugging it out," but "unplugging" it. In other words, implicit logic was used before it was formally defined because that is the nature of man's mind. The problem with leaving this "common sense" without a formal definition and understanding is that a man leaves himself open to false conclusions. The closer this false conclusion is to reality, the greater his error becomes as he abstracts from abstractions (this is why if your premises are wrong, what follows will be wrong, regardless of whatever correct observations you use*). What suffices for a child, who has adults around him to protect him from his inexperience and false conclusions, does not suffice for an adult who is dealing with more complex abstractions which are further from reality. This is why Objectivism teaches that one must not only start with reality, but must reduce his abstractions back to reality. Since none of these higher functions of a conceptual consciousness are automatic, man requires a method of checking the validity of his thinking all along the way. Knowing kinda sorta how to do this, i.e., utilizing the implicit, or crude logic of common sense, may suffice for one's thinking about subjects close to reality, but as you abstract further from from perceptible reality, mistakes become more pronounced and it becomes very difficult to apply common sense with any confidence. If you doubt this, read the editorial pages of any newspaper, or listen to any political speech, where this kind of thinking leads to very dangerous, real life situations. * I'm not satisfied with this formulation as it stands and can only hope you get my drift. Consider it an example.
  23. On-Topic and Off-Topic Issues

    1. What do you mean by "decently rational?" 2. How, using what means, is person able to identify and explain that something is illogical "just fine?" Forget discussing a particular topic with someone else for a moment. How do you validate your own thinking on any subject? Do you "just know?" Have a gut feeling? Does it just seem right to you? Based on what?