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  1. 1 point
    As I've mentioned elsewhere, I am making a YouTube video about Sonic The Hedgehog and why the character remains so popular, despite decades of declining game sales. I tie this in to the Objectivist conception of good vs. evil, and how that is such a powerful idea conveyed by Sonic and how he acts within the world of his games. Most Sonic fans understand this conception at a subconscious level, as this conception resonates deeply with them, but it has never been stated outright on the internet in these terms. My script for the video is available below; please provide any feedback that you think might make it better. ===== Why Is Sonic the Hedgehog Such a Popular Character? Sonic the Hedgehog has always been one of my favorite fictional characters, and I’m not alone. Sonic has maintained a persistent popularity among internet fans, especially compared to long-time rival Mario. Look at the number of fanfics that have been written about Sonic the Hedgehog on Fanfiction.net. Absolutely dwarfs Mario, with 38k Sonic fanfics compared to 9k for Mario. The number of Sonic deviations is over 2 and 1/2 times as many as Mario deviations on DeviantArt. Sonic AMVs on YouTube are 1.5 million strong, almost neck and neck with Mario AMVs, which number 1.51 million. This is despite decades of declining game sales. No Sonic game has sold more than five million copies since 1994. Compare this to Mario, Sonic’s longtime rival, during the same time period. Mario games still sell like hotcakes, with New Super Mario Bros. Wii selling 30 million copies in 2009, one of the best-selling games of all time. And he’s still going strong to this day. Despite declining game sales, Sonic fans still love him as a character. Something about Sonic as a character is so appealing that his fans are inspired to create thousands and thousands of works of the mind that Mario fans simply don't make. Something about Sonic strikes his fans at a much deeper level than Mario strikes his fans. Maybe it's Sonic's coolness. Sonic is fast, he’s got attitude, he’s like a living sports car. That makes Sonic cool, right? Well, to answer that question, we must first establish what “coolness” is. Coolness is an admiration that people have for a person or object, based upon certain traits which they celebrate as superior to other traits. Cool is relative, and can only exist in a certain context. Smoking used to be cool back in the 1950’s. It was sleek, glamorous, and cigarettes tasted smooth. Society saw models and actors who smoked as better than ones who didn’t. But then the health consequences of smoking were discovered, and over the next few decades, smoking’s perception among the public changed. Smoking went from being a cool, sexy, and badass habit to a nasty, stinky, and dirty habit. I still smoke, though. Sorry Sonic, I know you told me not to. In the same way as cigarettes were once seen as cool, Sonic might have been seen by the gaming public as cool back in the 1990’s. But cool doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and the declining game quality in Sonic is legendary. In this decade? He’s unfortunately gone from being cool, to being an internet joke. Fans of Sonic don’t seem to care, though. Despite Sonic and his fandom being ridiculed online, they continue to produce creative works praising their beloved mascot. He might not be cool to the internet or to most gamers anymore, but he’s still cool to the fandom. Why? Does the answer lie in-universe? Is Sonic cool within the context of his own games, comics, and shows? Admittedly I haven’t seen every piece of Sonic media, or played every Sonic games, and I’ll leave the deeper nuances for YouTube commenters who might know a little more to answer this question than I do. Even if I did know more, Sonic is often portrayed differently depending on the games, the plots of which often are incomprehensible even to diehard Sonic fans. Nevertheless, I believe I have enough of a basis to answer the cool-in-universe question…. let’s begin. Cool is relative, so we must judge Sonic’s coolness in his own universe by comparing him to other characters in universe. Sonic is always the fastest character in the games, enabling him to enhance his powers with rings and chaos emeralds. His self-proclaimed “girlfriend” Amy is attracted to his power and speed. Sonic is orders more powerful than the defenseless woodland creatures or clueless humans that he saves from destruction in the games. Sonic also has attitude, but never in a condescending way like his friend Knuckles often has. His attitude arises from his confidence in himself, his abilities, and his smarts... compare that to the insecure Tails who looks up to Sonic. Sonic isn’t a genius like Tails, but he’s certainly on the smart end, and I would say has more common sense than most of his friends, who look to him in a leadership role. The Sonic games all reward inquisitiveness and exploration, and many of them reward the ability to solve puzzles… or just the ability to try out “self-evident” solutions. Most importantly, though, Sonic is a good guy. He pursues his own ends and goals as a good guy should, never using underhanded methods to get them like Dr. Eggman does. Sonic is also friendly, and inspires loyalty among his friends because they all have each others’ backs. Sonic always rescues his friends when they’re in a bind, and they come to his aid when he needs them. Sonic’s friendships, from his point of view, are based on mutual exchange of value. I won’t get into all of Sonic’s friends, but suffice it to say that Sonic is a confident and capable ring leader. Heh. For all of these reasons, I think it’s safe to say that Sonic is cool within universe. Is being cool and having a large cast of friends enough to inspire such loyalty amongst Sonic fans? Not by itself, no. Sonic is not just cool, he’s also a heroic character. Sonic is fast, smart, and has a can-do attitude. Compare that to his evil nemesis, the slow, lumbering, incompetent Eggman, or Robotnik as he was once known. While Sonic inspires loyalty and friendship, Dr. Eggman can inspire nothing. His goal of “roboticizing” everything by force and bringing about “Eggtopia” are laughable. Thus, Eggman must resort to enslaving small woodland creatures to fight for him. Eggman’s own creations like Metal Sonic often rebel against him and his bizarre goals, as do many of his former partners including Knuckles and the Deadly Six. For these reasons, Eggman has come to hate Sonic over the years… solely because he’s the good guy, and Eggman’s obsession over destroying Sonic often leads to his own defeat. Sonic, though, has no similar hate towards Eggman. If anything, he views him as a minor nuisance. As the good guy, Sonic realizes how competent and excellent he is, and how weak and pathetic Eggman is. Defeating Eggman is still challenging for him (and the player), but it’s a challenge that he always knows that he can win, and his confidence and indomitable spirit takes him and you, the player, to eventual victory. Sonic knows that, if he’s ever in a bind, he can count on his friends like Tails and Knuckles—to name just a few. In the original trilogy at least, Sonic fights Eggman not to rescue some princess like Mario. Not blindly guided by prophecy like Link. Not for unearned gain like the evil GTA “protagonists.” Sonic feels no cumbersome duty to fight Eggman… he fights Eggman because it’s fun for him! Sonic is such a powerful figure because he teaches us something about life in a way that other video games simply don’t. This giant contrast in the Sonic games between good’s competence and evil’s impotence strikes the hearts of fans more than anything else. Most fans might only grasp this at a subconscious level, and a lot of Sonic fans don't even know why they like Sonic. But the contrast resonates with them because it’s true to life. Sonic’s can-do attitude demonstrates that no matter what evil you observe in your surroundings, you must never accept it as normal or permanent. You’ve got to fight against whatever evil you find in your life. We don’t have super speed like Sonic. We can’t turn invincible and fly. What we do have is the internet, which enables us to spread our good ideas at lightspeed around the world. Your mind matters. Your reason matters. Your ideas matter. Your words matter. Many governments and religious fanatics around the world have a vested interest in suppressing your speech. Corrupt, evil politicians hide their theft and graft in the darkest of corners; they hide their evil plans to trample, enslave, and replace their own people, to terrorize them. They jail, tax, and even kill those who speak out against them. Standing up to them is not, and will not be easy. But just like Sonic, our ideas are true, our motives are pure, and we will win. All Sonic needs is one ring to survive, and so long as he keeps picking it up, he’s invincible. All freedom needs is one person who refuses to accept evil’s dominance, and he can spread his ideas far faster than censorship or oppression can contain him. We need Sonic as a culture, because he condenses this long speech I just gave into a simple idea. A powerful good guy against a bad guy who at first seems intimidating, but in the end is revealed for the paper tiger he always was… that all evil men are. Once you know that, fighting evil can become as fun for you as it is for Sonic and the players of the Sonic games. I leave you all with one of my favorite songs in the world… the song “Sonic Boom” by Pastiche and Spenser Nielsen. These four didn’t care or know about Sonic before being commissioned by Sega to write this song. They were probably just told to write a song expressing the triumph of good over evil, how fighting evil is fun once good guys realize their own power. In that, they succeeded. ===== So, what does Objectivism Online think? Have I clearly enough tied the concept of the impotence of evil, and its subconscious adoption by Sonic fans, to his disproportionately large popularity as a character? Does this strike you as a reasonable explanation, or have I missed something? Eager to hear everybody's thoughts.
  2. 1 point
    It'd start out with some kid (let's call him "Will") eating breakfast with his mom and dad. He'd listen to them talk about the weather or bills (etc.) and they'd ask if he was excited for his first day at school and he'd give a non-committal kinda "yes", and after about a minute they'd all get up, throw their dishes in the incinerator and go outside. Outside there would be flying cars, massive buildings that don't seem possible, androids walking down the street and just a few blocks away a skyscraper, stretching far beyond the clouds and making some loud sort of ascending noise. His dad would make a mildly displeased comment about missing the 7:25 before his parents walked him down into the skyscraper and inside of something that looked like a Subway car standing on one end, strapped him into a seat between two other children and kissed him goodbye. After a few seconds he'd introduce himself to the other kids and they'd talk for a while about their parents' jobs before being interrupted by a countdown over the intercom, followed by that loud ascending noise and lots of vibrations. One kid would try to make a joke about it (which everyone would pretend to laugh at) and as the interior of the skyscraper sped past the windows they'd all fall silent. Over the course of about thirty seconds you'd see beams and girders flying past at a steadily-accelerating rate and then suddenly there'd be nothing out the window except bluish-white, slowly fading to black. A bit later the noise and vibrations would stop, the voice on the intercom would give them permission to unbuckle themselves and they'd all do so. A game of zero-G tag would probably ensue. Then their teacher would come in, welcome them all to the orbital ring, give them a few tips on moving around without gravity and invite them to follow him to the classroom. As they filed out of the space elevator some benevolent and overly-chivalrous kid would be holding the hatch open for everyone, but accidentally release it onto Will's fingers. He'd yell and cradle his hand for a minute (obviously determined not to cry in front of girls), the poor kid who'd dropped the hatch on him would be on the verge of open blubbering, the teacher would investigate and make sure everything was okay before rubbing a "topical anesthetic" on his hand. After a brief pause Will would marvel at that, openly; asking how it worked. This would prompt an explanation of nerves, for a while, back in the classroom. The teacher would demonstrate that knee-jerk reflex test on the jokester (he volunteered), explaining how the brain is where thinking happens and how some efferent nerves are built straight into the spinal cord but most of them won't fire without an impulse from the brain, itself: "which is why your arms and legs can't move themselves unless you think them to - which is a very good thing, indeed!" And they'd learn how certain kinds of stuffs (like anesthetics and chocolate) can do very funny things to neurons. He'd briefly mention that the human brain is completely made out of neurons and that the human brain is the most complicated and amazing thing we've ever found before. A somewhat grubby-looking girl, in clothes clearly inferior to the others', would've been floating by a window and looking down on the Earth this whole time. She'd sigh wistfully, then, and say: "this place is pretty amazing to me. How is any of this even possible?" Hearing that, the teacher would chuckle: "What makes it possible? My dear, it's all a matter of figuring out what things are. What any thing is ... and what it could be..." She'd spin around to face him with an astonished "what?!?!!" to which he'd respond "oh, my! It's time for lunch!" Lunch would include a musical number (by Phil Collins, of course) Every episode would center around a different member of the class. If I ever see this on TV, without my permission - good for you! The world needs more of it!!! I'll be here all week! P.S: Yes, there is an excellent reason to put a school on an orbital ring: because it would be fucking awesome.
  3. 1 point
    A Knight's Tale is the medieval story of a peasant boy who wants to be a knight. It's theme is underscored periodically with the recurring question: "can a man change his stars?"
  4. 1 point
    Benjamin Franklin wanted to achieve moral perfection so he wrote in a journal and marked in his journal everytime he violated one of his virtues... I believe this is one of the reasons he achieved such great success. I want to do something similar but with the Objectivist virtues and instead of using a journal I will be using Habitica.com. I need more examples of instances in which I can mark when I have practiced a virtue and instances I can mark when I have violated a virtue... Can you think of anymore? Here is the list I have so far: Productivity/Purposefulness Doing items on my to-do list Going to work Going to work on time Violations of Productivity/Purposefulness Spending more than 30 minutes pottering around when I have better things to do Not working on a project for more than 3 days in a row because it didn't excite me as much as it did at the beginning. Honesty Telling the truth when it's hard Violations of Honesty Lying Justice Listening to people who deserve it Apologizing when I have done someone wrong in some way Disagreeing with someone who disparages views that I agree with Violations of Justice Remaining silent when someone disparages my views Independence Paying my bills Looking at my bank account Violations of independence Buying something I can't afford __________________________________________ I can't think of any unique example for rationality and integrity, since rationality and integrity encompasses every example I just listed. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!
  5. 1 point
    I don't disagree. And if the primacy of existence, the necessity (and exact nature) of reason or that of acting in my own self-interest are ever legitimately disproven, I will not call whatever result I convert to "Objectivism" (nor any prefixed or suffixed variation of it). However, considering that she was the very first philosopher in history to define and consistently uphold these fundamentals, I'd give her namesake to any philosophy which uses them as the foundation from which to consistently* derive the rest. I think it's a conceptual thing. It's not about the specific word "Objectivism" (that would just be silly); it's about whether slightly-divergent views can still be fundamentally the same as those of Ayn Rand or whether any disagreement, of any size and over any issue at all, constitutes a full break with "reality, reason, egoism, Capitalism, Romanticism". *Within the context of everything we know, so far. There can only be one ultimately "true" form of Objectivism, but that doesn't mean that whichever form that is will be obvious to us (or even the greatest minds among us) anytime soon. Andeven if it were I'd still grant that title to reasonable, level-headed newcomers, while they come to grasp it for themselves.
  6. 1 point
    One can agree with Objectivism 100% and still think Rand modified her views over time. I assume you do not see a contradiction in that. Similarly, one can agree with Objectivism 100% and still think that Rand was wrong on some conclusions, even where she used her philosophy of Objectivism as part of reaching those wrong conclusions.
  7. 1 point
    Integrate everything you do into a seamless whole. David Allen's GTD methodology is a great way to do this. Amy Peikoff did an interview with Dave Allen, if you're interested you can listen to it here. Always set specific work goals, such as: 'I want to find out how to do X in less time and with better results'. Not lying to yourself about where you are in relation to your goals. If applicable, don't be afraid to say 'I'm not where I want to be', or 'I have a long way to go'. Don't pretend to like things that you don't. For example, if a friend wants to discuss a movie you dislike, simply tell him that it's not your kind of thing, and change the topic. Strive to achieve a real understanding of the principles that you practice regularly, even if they were learned from other people. You can't make full use of a piece of information unless you know exactly what it refers to and why it's true. Form principles for your work, your romantic life, your thinking etc. and follow them. This virtue refers to all principles, not just moral ones. Check this post to learn how to form good principles. Stick to rational principles, even when it's hard. Weakness of will is weakness of vision; if you don't feel like respecting a principle that you know is true, remind yourself of the consequences that will follow if you break it. "I'm not brave enough to be a coward" - Ayn Rand Pride Don't create unearned guilt by blaming yourself for unintentional mistakes. Learn from them & move on. The Ben Franklin exercise that you mentioned. Seek the best in anything. Make a list of values (work, love, art, food, health etc.) and go over it daily/weekly. As yourself, 'how can I improve the quality of this area?'. In art, it might mean creating a reading list or a watchlist. In love, picking out some special lingerie for your kindred soul. In health, choosing to use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  8. 1 point
    Introduction and chapter 1 "The Objectivist Ethics" I suggest pondering first what is meant (don't get side tracked with criticism or disagreement in your own mind) i.e. identify what is meant and why first ... without deciding whether you agree as that can be very distracting if not disastrous during the process of understanding. For motivation: I suggest you can never figure out whether you agree with something unless you can first understand fully what that something is. I know it isn't easy but try to understand "the what" and "the why" first, then identify why things are an issue with your current knowledge.
  9. 1 point
    New Buddha

    Beyond Morality

    "When we call altruism "evil" what makes that assertion conceivable,...." "....can anyone actually live amorally?" When Rand uses the terms "altruism" and "amorality" (taken from other philosophies, not hers), you need to understand that, in her mind, they are "floating abstractions" which cannot be practiced. They are not "options" . She is demonstrating the logical fallacy of the concepts.
  10. 0 points
    Mine is. I do not form my opinions about Rand or her philosophy based on anything other than what Rand wrote herself, and what I know factually about her life. I certainly would not rely on anything her philosophical enemies write about her which many of those referenced in the links you provided are, perhaps the worst are those from ARI. Why not form your own ideas using your own reason examining what Rand herself wrote, instead of accepting other's opinions about her second-hand? Thanks for the comment, Kyary. (Is that right?) Randy
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