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Everything posted by DavidV

  1. It's snowing in Shanghai!

  2. ObjectivismOnline was created 10 years ago on 03 February 2003. Here is the first post, in which I described my plans for this website. In 10 years, we've received 270,156 posts from 8,962 members.
  3. I am the sole founder, but there are four people without whom this forum absolutely could not have happened. (I will not reveal real names out of respect for their privacy.) RationalEgoistSG - he helped complete the original vision for the site in 2003. AshRyan - he organized live events and supported the forum through the rapid growth phase in 2005. HaloNoble6 - he helped provided content for the main ObjectivismOnline.com site. softwareNerd - he has been the de-facto leader of this forum since 2006. Also of course none of this would be possible without the admin and moderator team. About me: I am a technical leader working mainly in software development in Shanghai, China. I was born in Ukraine, then lived all over Texas and in New York City before moving to China in 2011. I got married in 2009 and am expecting my firstborn next week :-) My background in Objectivism comes from co-founding the Objectivism Club at Texas A&M University (2000-2004) and participating in the Ayn Rand Institute's OAC (Objectivist Academic Center) 2002-2004. I met some of the leaders of this forum when I was an intern at OCON 2003. In addition to founding Objectivism Online in 2003, I have been the webmaster/technical architect of Mises.org since 2004. I also co-founded the now-defunct Objectivist Club Association.
  4. The PC repair guy wanted $40 to replace the broken DVDRW drive in my MacBook. (I think it costs $200+ at an Apple store) I did it myself for $20. Let's see how well this works.

  5. "One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil." ― Friedrich Nietzsche

  6. People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them. --George Bernard Shaw

  7. "There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things." -- Phil Karlton

  8. "... as I stand here at the door of glory, I look behind me for the last time. I look upon the history of men, which I have learned from the books, and I wonder. It was a long story, and the spirit which moved it was the spirit of man's freedom. But what is freedom? Freedom from what? There is nothing to take a man's freedom away from him, save other men. To be free, a man must be free of his brothers. That is freedom. That and nothing else. At first, man was enslaved by the gods. But he bro...

  9. Any surveys on the percentage of mass shootings that happen in a "gun-free" zone? Just wondering...

  10. Is there any interest in adding area-specific forums? For example, I think a NYC or Orange County forum would be useful to Objectivists in that area. Perhaps those forums would be associated or moderated by officers from the local Objectivist clubs. Anyone?
  11. Although I believe in the individual’s right to own the means to defend himself, I want to say that I do not believe that the reason that there are so many violent shootings in the USA is that too few people own guns. Nor do I believe, that the main problem is that people do not receive enough mental health services. The chief problem is that we are sick to begin with. The main cause of violence in America is that America has a culture of violence. It is everywhere — in our movies, cities, laws, and homes. It is not the weapons themselves nor any admiration for the weapons that is responsible for our worship of violence, but the fact that almost everyone believes that conflicts of interest are inherent to human interaction. Today, violence and destruction are more deeply seeded in our culture than ever before in the history of America. It is instilled in us when we grow up in violent households, go to violent schools, face violent peers, and experience the politics of violence as adults. By “violence” I do refer primarily to crude physical violence, although there is still plenty of that. I refer to the violence done when any parent, schoolyard bully, teacher, policeman, preacher, government bureaucrat, or politician says: “you must do this or else.” I refer specifically to the philosophical worldview implied in that statement: that human values inherently conflict with each other, and therefore men must extract values from each other by force. The only thing necessary for the violence to end is for people to recognize that there is no conflict of interest between rational men. Everyone, from parents to businessmen to judges must accept the fact that men should and can gain values from each other by voluntary exchange rather than force. We must fully accept, integrate, and apply the simple idea that force is not a moral or practical means to gain the cooperation of other people. If we raised our children to believe this for the first few years of their life, the violence in our homes, schools, laws and foreign wars would end. Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TruthJusticeAndTheAmericanWay/~3/4Nbt5j09SFM/
  12. Although I believe in the individual's right to own the means to defend himself, I want to say that I do not believe that the reason that there are so many violent shootings in the USA is that too few people own guns. Nor do I believe, that the main problem is that people do not receive enough mental health services. The chief problem is that we are sick to begin with. The main cause of violence in America is that America has a culture of violence. It is everywhere -- in our movies, citie...

  13. "Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?" -Patrick Henry

  14. My new Galaxy S3 smartphone went flying out of my pocket while running, leaving a tiny scratch in the silver trim. It bugged the hell out of me, so I tried sanding it down - turns out that it's just black plastic underneath. I tried silver nail polish - that just put a glittery blob on it. Now I've ordered several varieties of silver automotive paint. This will probably result with me painting the whole phone to match.

  15. Fact: An ignorant and misinformed response to anything I say is still more likely to lead to creative thinking and new insights than one merely expressing agreement.

  16. You probably don’t know how to squat. In fact, you are probably not capable of squatting for any period of time, even though it is one of the basic human positions, just like standing and lying. Why does it matter? Because, as I recently discovered, squatting is the optimal position for all sorts of things — eating, working, defecating, exercising, and especially giving birth. Learning to squat can even prevent cancer! The full, resting squat position I first learned about squatting through “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” book. Squatting is one of the exercises the book recommends to build muscles for birth as well as an alternative birthing position. What most people knows as “squatting” is the partial squat — where only the ball of the foot touches the ground. This position cannot be held for long because it requires continual muscle tension. For the full “resting” squat, you must plant your feet flat on the ground with your buttocks resting on the backs of the calves. Try it. You feel off-balance, right? That’s because a life of sitting on chairs and wearing shoes with heels (including most men’s shoes) has shortened your Achilles tendons and left many muscles underdeveloped. While “civilized” people who have office jobs and read blogs rarely squat, it is still very common in the developing world. In China (where I live), you will often see people squatting while working or eating. The majority of people across the world also squat on the toilet. Is that just because they don’t have money to pay for western-style toilets and chairs? Squatting for health: from http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/04/why-you-should-squat-to-poop/ Actually, it turns out squatting offers numerous health advantages for all kinds of activities. First, you must realize that human beings did not evolve to sit on chairs and toilets. This matters because the unnatural position we use while eating and defecating sitting down cause all kinds of health problems including: Appendicitis Bladder Incontinence Colitis and Crohn’s Disease Colon Cancer Constipation Contamination of the Small Intestine Diverticulosis Gynecological Disorders Endometriosis Hysterectomy Pelvic Organ Prolapse Rectocele Uterine Fibroids Heart Attacks Hemorrhoids Hiatus Hernia and GERD Pregnancy and Childbirth Issues Prostate Disorders Sexual Dysfunction Yeah. Squatting for birth: Squatting also happens to be the ideal position for birth. Lying down to give birth is a very recent “innovation” due to the replacement of midwives with doctors in the last century. Lying flat for birth reduces blood flow to baby and placenta, increasing the risk of fetal distress, whereas maximizes the spaces between the pelvic bones and puts pressure on the cervix. Unfortunately, after a life time of sitting and wearing heels, most women cannot maintain a squat without extensive exercise. Squatting for back pain: About a year ago, I went to a social event which required me to stand while talking to people for several hours. Although no exercise was involved, the effort of just standing for an extended time caused such a strain in my back that I was in pain for weeks. Most adults have experiences some sort of back pain and assume that this one of the costs for the privilege of walking upright. In fact, the reason back pain is so common in the West is because we spend most of our time sitting or reclining rather than walking and squatting. Farewell to the chair? While some Western ideas about birthing position and toilet design are unequivocally bad, I’m not so sure about chairs. Chairs for common use (rather than as thrones) only because common with the European Renaissance. Asian cultures certainly saw no need for them until the introduction of Western ideas. I’m not a doctor or expert in ergonomics, but I suppose that sitting in a chair certainly has ergonomic and practical benefits. It allows for a better of the surroundings, better access to operate machinery, and probably requires less calories. Are these benefits relevant to the modern office work? I don’t know. The important thing is not to rely exclusively on the chair (or couch or bed) to support one’s body. Every now and then, you must let your muscles and tendons train for the job they were designed for. Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TruthJusticeAndTheAmericanWay/~3/fvEwwq6sz3E/
  17. “Mais où est Dieu dans tout cela?” “[sire,] je n’ai pas eu besoin de cette hypothèse.” - Pierre-Simon Laplace If you ask a pre-modern, pre-scientific person why he believes in God, he would probably mention the need to explain some natural phenomena, living or geological, or perhaps offer some ontological justification. If you ask a modern person, you are likely to get an explanation in terms of social goals – the need to justify or discourage various kinds of actions and attitudes. If you ask a pre-modern, pre-democratic person why there needs to be a State, he would probably mention some specific purpose such as the need for defense against foreign threats. If you ask a modern person about the need for a government, he would probably first mention the need to enforce certain socially desirable activities and prohibit undesirable ones. It seems to be that the justifications offered for religion and the State today are essentially the same. People believe that (1) an agent is needed to create and enforce the desired “natural” order and (2) that this agent is immune or excluded from the conditions giving rise to this need. For example, it is believed that all entities require a creator, but the creator is excluded from this requirement. Likewise it is believed that people cannot peacefully coexist without a monopoly on the use of force, but that the States themselves can coexist without a single ruler over themselves. If you offer a religious person a naturalistic basis for ethical behavior, or a natural explanation of the universe they will usually not try to disprove your argument on an empirical basis, but ask you to refute their arbitrary claims. For example, they will say that life itself is not a valid basis for a moral theory because it does not include a justification for their ethical doctrine (sacrifice, altruism, etc). Likewise, the instability of nothingness due to vacuum energy cannot be a justification for the universe because it does not explain their version of “theological” nothingness. Arbitrary claims like this are impossible to disprove by any empirical evidence. If you explain to someone who supports the State how a non-monopolistic, private agency could better accomplish some state-run function, they will usually not refute the argument directly, but ask you to refute their arbitrary assumption that only a coercive, monopolistic agency can full-fill that role. For example, if you explain why a private education would function better, they would not address the evidence directly, but ask how those who have neither funds nor charitable support could obtain an education – as if the State-run system is funded by magic, without either funds or electoral support. Their basic assumption is that voluntary cooperation is not possible to human beings in meeting certain kinds of values – but that the State is exempt from that same requirements. The purpose of the above is not to convert the uninitiated but simply to point out how two popular memes have adapted to the Age of Reason by evolving from empirical to non-empirical, non-testable justifications. Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TruthJusticeAndTheAmericanWay/~3/sN_0Jk2tuhE/
  18. We are animals not far removed from the jungle. Genetically, we are identical to primitive man. Our bodies have been shaped by our environment to make the best of the resources available to us. Our genotype (the DNA) only develops a healthy phenotype (our body and mind) in response to the environmental inputs it evolved to thrive in. The trouble with our modern, industrial lifestyle is that it is very different from the environment our bodies evolved to thrive in. As a result, most of us are plagued by chronic illnesses that our ancestors never dealt with. If they survived childhood illnesses and accidents, our primitive ancestors could expect to live almost as long as us without the help of any modern comforts. What are the sins of the modern lifestyle? We eat terrible, non-human food: our bodies are adapted to handle a diet of mainly whole animal carcasses, leafy greens,nuts & berries, whereas modern man eats a diet full of grains and starches – full of carbohydrates that were a rare delicacy for primitive man. We evolved to eat whatever food is available and to handle occasional fasts no to gorge ourselves multiple times a day on substances engineered to directly trigger our pleasure hormones. We evolved to tone our bodies with hours of daily activity, but today we fight every exertion with door to door transportation. Most people who try exercise programs follow stressful, repetitive and boring workouts which can be counter-productive and do not match the natural workouts our bodies adapted to. We evolved to handle occasional intense stresses (chasing prey and escaping predators) but we are overwhelmed with constantly stressful modern workplaces and hectic schedules. The substitution of a physiologically proper diet with highly processed modern foods and toxic, synthetic sweeteners has destroyed our health as well as our sense of taste: we can no longer taste or appreciate the natural sugars and flavors in many foods. So, why Paleo? Eat stuff your body is adapted to thrive with Rediscover the natural taste of foods Get the athletic body your ancestors had Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TruthJusticeAndTheAmericanWay/~3/h8kyxGGG7nc/
  19. There are two ways to measure life expectancy: objective (wall clock) time and subjective time: life as we experience and remember it. A long boring life is subjectively shorter than a short, exciting life that is full of memories. The best way to live longer may be to maximize the quantity of memorable life experiences.

  20. Conservatism: the philosophical position that one should oppose new ideas and practices. Moderatism: the idea that one’s pursuit of truth should never conflict with the majority opinion — too much. Extremism: the belief that one should adopt beliefs opposed to the majority. In relation to reality, in any given society, conservatives, moderates and extremists have similar ideas, since they have no epistemological method by which to come to believe anything else. Radicalism: the idea that one should reach conclusions based solely on the evidence without regard for other people’s opinion. In other words, radicalism is intellectual honesty consistently followed to ultimate conclusions. Most people who have made a difference in history have been radicals. True radicals tend to be opposed by conservatives, moderates, and extremists, since they are the farthest removed from the consensus. I don’t know of a single perfectly consistent radical, either personally or in history. Everyone whom I have known or studied has compromised when the facts became too uncomfortable or inconvenient. It is not a matter of intelligence. To be absolutely honest with oneself and interested in the truth is the hardest thing there is. What are the facts? Again and again and again — what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” — what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts! – Robert A. Heinlein Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TruthJusticeAndTheAmericanWay/~3/OM6-GJcYb68/
  21. "Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws- always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: Please pass this so that I won't be able to so something I know I should stop. Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them for their own good." -- Robert A. Heinlein (points if you...

  22. One of the few downsides to losing 40+ pounds eating Paleo has been that all my shirts became too big. I've been shedding clothing for the last two years, and I was about to get rid of four of my favorite shirts, but Sarah suggested that the tailor could resize them. It was 20RMB ($3) per shirt and they turned out really great. Picking clothing in the morning used be sort of a hunt to find things that weren't too ill fitting, old fashioned, or worn out. My standards would lower as my laun...

  23. Honestly, the number one thing I miss about living in Dallas is having Costco, Wall-mart, and an Apple store practically next door to me. There is an Apple store nearby, but in China the prices are 30% higher and all the new products are many months delayed.

  24. Basically my wardrobe is down to four outfits: 1) Dress pants, shirts, jacket, and nice shoes for work 2) Athletic shirt, shorts and FiveFingers for running 3) Jeans, casual shirt, casual shoes for weekends 4) Pajamas for winter evenings/nights I'm getting rid of everything else, especially anything I don't wear on a regular basis. My closet hasn't been this light since college.

  25. "Twin and family research show that sexual orientation is 50% genetic, but it is unknown which genes are responsible. The other 50% derives from the development in the womb. Girls with higher testosterone levels in the womb have higher odds of being homosexual, and the chance of homosexuality with boys rises with the number of boys that came before them. Stress during pregnancy also increases the odds of homosexuality, through the influence of the mother's cortisol on the hormones of the chil...