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  1. Yesterday
  2. This is from the first night of the '76 lecture series: There are various areas of human endeavor where under certain circumstances it’s practical to accept the advice of an expert, and declare: "he knows best—this is not my field". But you cannot do it in philosophy. And this is so even if you found a certified, completely rational expert. It would be useless, for instance, to turn even to such an expert and say to him, I need a philosophy, you’re an expert, so I’m asking you, should I for instance be selfish? Just tell me, yes or no, so I can act. I haven’t time for discussion and proofs, just give me answer. Now that expert could just say, well that’s easy, just be selfish, and then leave the room, but would that do you any good? After all he told you the truth, but what else would you need? Now, just in pattern, just to give you a taste of what would be involved, just one example. You’d need to know what selfishness is. That would be very helpful. And how do you apply such a wide abstraction in particular in real life situations? And to be selfish, does that mean do whatever you feel? If so, what do you do if your feelings are irrational and clash with other people, and how do you know what’s rational anyway? And who can say how another man should live? Maybe what’s true for the expert, isn’t true for you. Or is truth objective, or what is truth? What is objectivity? And what’s the use? How do you know if you can achieve your goals in this kind of a world, so is there any point to being selfish, or what kind of world is it anyway? And if everyone was selfish, wouldn’t that mean cut-throat competition, and dog-eat-dog, and child labor? And how do you know the answer to all these questions, by what method of knowledge, etc. Now that’s just a taste, a sample of the pattern. The point is you need to know it all—the whole system, not on faith. Faith doesn’t work. It’s useless, even if what you have faith in happens to be true. You need to know it all firsthand with objective proof of each point on strictly practical grounds, to make use of it, to function, to live. In answer to the question: Does one have to create one's own philosophy?, the answer is no. Without validation, however, it is useless.
  3. Not quite. I don't have a reference, but what various Objectivists have said is that you should do your own philosophical thinking (as you should do all thinking) and live by whatever you conclude. You should do this even if the result of your thinking is not Objectivism. If you err, the fact that you erred while reasoning leaves open the possibility of discovering your mistake. If you didn't reason, you have no way to know whether or how your philosophy is wrong.
  4. What do you mean by "create" a philosophy? If the correct philosophy already exists, and one identifies that it is correct, it would be decidedly irrational to set oneself to the task of "creating" a new one. I think the answer you seek, to the question you almost asked, is tied to the concept of "independence" and in particular the independence of judgment and thought (as opposed to second-handedness). As worded, the claim is incorrect and any so-called objectivist making such a claim is making an error.
  5. This is a pretty simple question - did Rand actually say that you should create your own philosophy? If so, where? I've seen Objectivists make the claim, but Google does not turn up a source.
  6. Reblogged:Lucas on Setting New Expectations

    How tardy was the employee? Was there an excuse, and how plausible was it?
  7. This woman is handing out terrible advice. Short of a situation where safety is at stake, insisting on employees being on time every single day, without exception, causes unnecessary conflict (and stress and resentment, which leads to poor job performance). If they evaluated and rewarded their employees based on their overall level of commitment to the job, instead of setting up inflexible rules for them to follow, they would have a more productive business and happier clients.
  8. Years ago, wrapping up a post on Poe's Law, I stated: Past a certain point, Poe's Law doesn't just describe a resemblance between the words of a "fundamentalist" and a jokester, but an identity: Depending on how well a given pronouncement is crafted to "fit in with" the overall mis-integration of a system that incorporates the arbitrary, the only difference between a frank statement and a joke will be in who is making it.Thoughts like this kept going through my mind when I read a Yahoo News report by one Alexandre Grosbois about the upcoming changing-of-the-guard in Cuba. I'd say that the following quote quite well summarizes the facts on the ground over there: "They are changing the government, but it's still the same kind, it's always going to be influenced by the Castros. Even if it's another man, it's always going to be a Castro government," said Ariel Ortiz, an unemployed 24-year-old in Havana.That said, much of the rest of the piece smacks of disgraceful boot licking, coming as it does from someone who is free to write a report any way he pleases. Here's a taste: The outgoing president will remain at the head of the Communist Party until its next congress in 2021 -- when he turns 90 -- time enough to ensure a controlled transition and to watch over his protege when, inevitably, old-guard communists challenge his reforms. Cuban political scientist Esteban Morales said the two would likely work in tandem, with Castro continuing to act as the ideological figurehead, while [Miguel] Diaz-Canel concentrates on the "very complex and difficult" task of running the government. The heir to the Castros will be faced with modernizing the economy at a time when Cuba's key regional ally Venezuela, its source of cheap oil, is stumbling through an acute economic crisis, and amid a resurgence of the US embargo under President Donald Trump.As usual, socialism, the cause of the misery in Cuba and Venezuela, remains unmentioned. Venezuela's "economic crisis" might as well be the result of Donald Trump sticking pins into a voodoo doll of Nicolas Maduro; and in any event, he's being blamed for not saving the skins of that openly hostile regime. That passage is bad enough, but this is the one that reminded me of Poe's Law: However, despite striving for a low-key transition, there's no getting away from the fact that this represents a monumental change in Cuba. It will be the first time in almost six decades that the Cuban president will not be named Castro, will not be part of the "historic" generation of 1959, will not wear a military uniform and will not be the head of the Communist Party. If elected, Diaz-Canel is expected to be able to make up for his lack of revolutionary pedigree with the support of Castro watching benevolently from his perch atop the all-powerful Communist Party.Grosbois forgot to mention that it will also be the first time in six decades that the Cuban president will not have facial hair: Maybe that will make Ariel Ortiz more optimistic about his future employment prospects in the centrally "planned" economy. Image via Wikipedia. Were Grosbois a Cuban reporter, the above passage would rightly read as biting sarcasm, because we would know that he'd need cojones to even think about slipping it past censors, and then again about someone sharper-witted bringing it to Castro's benevolent attention. But Grosbois is in the employ of a Western news agency, so it does not. And were his admiration of Castro not so obvious, and his evasion or ignorance of the difference between slavery and freedom not shared by so many other journalists and intellectuals in the West, it would be a lot easier to laugh about his hunting around for reasons to call this non-event "monumental". -- CAV Link to Original
  9. Last week
  10. Coercive School Photos

    If there's one thing I'm certain about in all this, it's that it should not involve any lawyers. It's not a legal issue, it's an issue that should be dealt with by people talking to each other.
  11. Coercive School Photos

    I vaguely remember something similar when I was a kid in school, and that was over 50 years ago.
  12. A manager asks "Evil HR Lady" Suzanne Lucas how to remedy a tardiness problem in his office. Her reply, which she essentializes as, "Make them believe you," is applicable in many situations, and is worth thinking about for that reason: Image via Pixabay. [P]resent the employee with two printed copies of the new policy, and ask them to sign both. Keep one for your files, and send the other one home with them. They will not like this. Not one bit. Someone will likely test you out, and here's the critical part: You must follow through. You need to give them the unpaid suspension day, and you might need to fire an employee who pushes a third day, so start searching for new employees before you embark on this process. If you do not do this, your problem will continue because your employees won't believe you. [bold added]Granted, firing isn't always an option, but the basic advice is very good and memorably put. For example, as a parent, you should make sure your kids will believe it when you offer a potential reward or punishment. Conversely, don't make an offer or a threat you can't back up. I have found that, unlike other parents I know, I can take my kids to a store and leave with just what I came to get simply by setting expectations beforehand. (For example: We're here to get something Mom needs for her trip, and that's it.) Lest you think I'm sore from slapping myself on the back, be aware that the real value of the piece for me was that Lucas shows how to create belief in a situation where one doesn't have it for whatever reason. In my case, I've not made keeping the house tidy a priority and I plan to change it now that my son is old enough to understand picking up a mess. I'll clearly need my own version of laying down the law there. Yes, it's helpful to know that my habit of setting expectations and sticking to them is good, once established. But Lucas also helped me see that my intuition is good: I was going to keep mostly quiet about the issue until I knew in more detail what I want and what incentives and punishments I would use. -- CAV Link to Original
  13. Coercive School Photos

    If photographers asked whether parents want photos, for price $ XYZ, they would get less revenue. That's the basic assumption under which they operate. Photographers used to do this at certain tourist destinations too -- though, for the past many years they have not needed to print them out. So, they send them home, assuming that parents will go mushy seeing their kid's photo, and will buy. Very often, the school -- usually the P.T.A. has a motivation too. Since many photographers would like to get this business, the P.T.A. will sometimes do a deal with one of them, and get something from the photographer in exchange. I think a lot of parents buy them because it's a tradition that they had when they were kids. We never bought these for our kid -- maybe the first time, and not after that (memory fades). I think our school asked parents to sign releases, and (presumably, because I always gave permission) kids photos would not appear -even in the year-book as part of a group -- if permission was not granted.
  14. Coercive School Photos

    I appreciate the time each of you has taken to respond. Writing it out and engaging like this is helping to clarify it in my mind. I can send the 21 photos back without buying, technically it seems like no obligation... the obligation is in the emotional manipulation. The garbage waste of so many printed photos is weird; when I was a kid, having your photo taken was a luxury. A photo of your child is a sentimental treasure, even if he is making a loopy face, it sucks throwing them out. It is awkward confronting the photographer, and the school, the time spent doing so, and my son being in the middle of it. You never know who is someones relative, I shouldn't care, but small town drama sometimes bleeds down to the kids. I also don't mind picture day in general, I am buying him a year book, I just don't like the way they are going about it. If I complain they might not take his photo at all. Thinking of burning them is a symbol of rebellion to the whole situation. Maybe it is a risk the photographer wants to take. I know from working for a couple years reproducing fine art, the material cost is probably $3-$5. They can recoup their cost if 20% of parents are susceptible (or interested) enough to pay, which is easier than raising a stink, especially when you don't have a philosophical foundation to consider. At his last school in Salt Lake City, the photographer had three shots, several backgrounds and a variety of sizes to choose from, they were available for order online before printing. Working to make picture day at school more objective is not as challenging as taking on the big problems of the world... I don't know... maybe I will take him down to the river for a photo shoot and print some good ones out myself.
  15. Coercive School Photos

    You don't say whether the school is trying to obligate you to buy photos, though some of the posters here have taken your statement that way. A straightforward refusal (put it in writing) would probably get around such a claim. Otherwise a lawyer could tell you more. (Save anything the school gave you in writing. It might come in handy.) If the school or the photographer publishes the photo without your permission you probably have a case. Apart from that you're afraid of hurting your son if you don't buy the pictures. Do you know for a fact that your refusal would hurt him? One solution would be to tell him that he's better-looking than the photos show and that's why you don't like them. If that doesn't work you could buy a few to humor him.
  16. Coercive School Photos

    The right of publicity was mentioned. The laws regarding right of publicity vary from state to state, but the right of publicity does not seem to pertain in this case. The right of publicity pertains mainly to a likeness being used for publication or public display in connection with commercial products or services. Most ordinarily, a likeness being used in an advertisement and that kind of thing. Taking a photo and then attempting to sell a print of it to the subject of the photo is not a right of publicity matter.
  17. Coercive School Photos

    Schools have contracted companies to take these types of photographs for at least 20 years, since when I was in grade school. I'm amazed they still do with a smartphone in every pocket. I can't remember if a release was required or not, but if not I doubt they need it, given the length of time they've been at their business racket model. Even in my day, it was not a big deal socially whether a kid kept the photos or not. My brother worked for one of these companies for a short while, and says they tried taking good photos to increase the chance of purchase, but still, non-purchase was about 20%. If the kid is known to be "poor" by his peers, they'd whisper about that being the reason, but maybe that was just my school. If you're the parent who is going to make a stink about photographs without consent, your child may as well get used to it. 😆 If one of your goals is to prevent your child's embarrassment, I'd just forget about that. Parents are inherently embarrassing to some children, and how prone your child is to embarrassment is more or less out of your control. Finally, these school photographs are one of the best things about public school. It's something different/fun-ish for kids to do for part of a day. There is a list of longterm-damaging/horrific things that are inherent with public schools, and this sits at about #178.
  18. Coercive School Photos

    Why not talk to some of the other parents, see what they think? Maybe they agree with you, and you can work together to make sure spending parents' money without asking first doesn't become a habit. But I would definitely pay, this time. There's no reason to embarrass your kid over it. There's also no reason to get upset about it. It's not exactly a big deal. I seriously doubt the guy goes around photographing children out of the blue, and then asking to be paid for it. The school or a teacher obviously contracted him to do this job. In fact they probably went to him, not the other way around. And if you don't pay for the photos, the school (or whichever teacher arranged this) will have to pay for it themselves.
  19. Coercive School Photos

    You should carefully scrutinize your contract with the photographer, in particular the part where you promised to return photos that you didn’t want and pay for the one you did. Oh, wait, there was no such contract. In other words, they took pictures, gave them to your child, and hoped that by handing it to a minor, they could get a binding contract with an adult. It’s not clear to me exactly which part you’re objecting to (there is plenty to object to). Obviously the fact that the pictures were taken can’t be changed, nor can you change the fact that the school allowed / encouraged this activity. If this is a government school, there is no contract between you and the school so no implicit “you agreed”. It is marginally possible that a private school contract would have some clause about school photos and your obligations therein. So you have no legal obligation to return the pictures or to pay for them. Is there anything that you actually want from them? For example, do you want better photos? Do you not want to pay? I suggest that you write a simple letter to the photographer acknowledging receipt of the photos, reminding them that they did not have your permission to take the pictures, and pointing out that you did not agree to return the photos or to pay for them: handing them to a minor child is a risk that they have to assume. It may be worth saying what you do not like about the pictures, though be clear that you are not interested in a retake (if that is the case). You could also mention (if it is true) that you will be separately raising questions with the school board, regarding the legality of taking your child’s picture without permission. You might mention that your understanding is that when one takes a non-public picture of a person for profit, they are legally required to obtain consent from the subject (or the parent, in the case of a minor). This is known as the "right of publicity" or "personality right". Then I would express my objections to the school board, or the state board of education. There may be specific laws surrounding photographing a student on school property (I haven't looking into that for Utah). Bear in mind that you may have unwittingly signed a release form earlier in the year, so they may respond with a copy of a form that you signed that has "school pictures" included in it. Unfortunately, there is nothing effective and immediate that you can do about the juvenile culture that you find yourself embedded in. If schools (at the adult institutional level and at the juvenile student level) “want” everybody to participate, then everybody either participates, or faces social opprobrium for not complying.
  20. Coercive School Photos

    Refuse the photos, burn them even. If anyone complains, ask them to produce the signed contract where you agreed to having those photos taken. They'll try to bullshit you. Stand firm and remember that you're protecting your child and yourself against predators.
  21. David Harsanyi raises some good arguments to the effect that the Zuckerberg hearings are a case against regulating Facebook: "Once untrustworthy, always restricted," as they put it of individuals in China. We once said that of government here. (Image via Wikipedia.)[T]he rent-seeking Facebook desires more regulation. For one, it would make the state partially responsible for many of the company's problems -- meting out "fairness," writing its user agreements, and policing speech -- but more importantly for Zuckerberg, it would add regulatory costs that Facebook could afford but upstart competition almost certainly could not. It's a long-standing myth that corporate giants are averse to "regulations," or that those regulations always help consumers. We've already seen the hyper-regulation of health care "markets" create monopolies and undermine choice. We've seen the hyper-regulation of the banking industry inhibit competition and innovation. Politicians, often both ignorant of specifics and ideologically pliable, tend to fall sway to the largest companies, which end up dictating their own regulatory schedules. I mean, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., actually asked a compliant Zuckerberg to submit a list of government interferences he might embrace.None of this is good, but I part ways with Harsanyi at two points: First, I regard any government role other than protection of individual rights to be improper, which rules out even the light regulation Harsanyi allows for. And second, he opens with the observation that many politicians aren't technologically savvy. This may be true, but it wouldn't make regulation okay if they were. Having said that, Harsanyi is correct that the solution to any problem with Facebook (which he rightly observes can't make anyone join or share data) is "to let Facebook fix itself or go the way of Myspace." Those last two points, combined with the obvious opportunity rent-seeking represents to cronies, become quite obvious when we look across the Pacific to China, which is imposing a "social credit system." The government will use that to dole out penalties like restricting access to public transport on the basis of such behavior as jaywalking, gaming more than some official might like, or online shopping habits deemed bad by the regime. At least it's obvious to me that allowing people to abuse government force is bad enough without supplying a continuous stream of convenient excuses for them to appear justified in doing so. Unfortunately, it may not be so obvious, for example, to members of the Sun, who call China's system creepy, but don't bat an eye at the idea of the Leviathan state regulating "big" media companies. -- CAV Link to Original
  22. Coercive School Photos

    If I remember right, our school would usually send a note beforehand, telling parents that a certain day was picture day. The idea being that the kids should dress accordingly. The main thing you're going to address here is your son's embarrassment at not doing what his classmates are doing,.
  23. My kid came home with a package of school photos. There is a note with a price list that says: choose the photos you want, and send a check, and send back what you don't want. The package includes a calendar, book marks, key chains with my son's picture on them, 21 photos all together for $36. I don't like the photos, the photographer doesn't do a good job. My kid doesn't understand why I am upset, he is taking it personally, and will be embarrassed to return to school with them, saying his mom doesn't want photos of him. I didn't give them permission to do this. I also don't want to send the photos back, because I don't want them having photos of my kid. What are they going to do with them? Its such a waste and I just want to burn them. We take natural fun photos with our phones all the time, we don't need these. Should doing business this way be illegal? I would appreciate any recommendations on what I ought to say to the photographer, the school, or a higher official.
  24. Depression

    True. Psychologists hate to admit this but we're personal trainers. Instead of getting the patients body to handle heavier weight, we get them to handle heavier emotion. Biologically, the process is similar. A barbell and emotion are both neurological strain.
  25. Depression

    I am very physiologically affected by emotion, my own and the emotion of others. I don't want to change that about myself because I think it teaches me something. My mind returns to difficult emotions because I want to understand human nature. Objectivism helps me bring emotion into conscious terms. Ayn Rand once said "I very rarely had an emotion that took me more than a couple days to get to the bottom of." I am seeing more objectively the way emotions can be manipulated by or blamed on others. I was listening to an audiobook last year that was interesting. There is a space between what you experience, and how you react. In that space is the story you tell yourself. I can't remember the title.
  26. Depression

    A good psychologist wouldn't take on the role of some spiritual advisor. Meditation is very important to do for dealing with depression symptoms, but some people then take that step to do a full dive into Buddhism and discover egoless-ness. A good psychologist will give you strategies on how to deal with emotions. It's like hiring a personal trainer for working out. Sometimes you'll get good advice, but other times you might not learn anything new.
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