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Everything posted by DavidV

  1. Human beings naturally group people into those we identify with and “others.” We understand and empathize with “our” kind of people, but simplify others into stereotyped models. We treat our family, school, city, country, race, sport team, political or sexual identity, or whatever with various degrees of familiarity. And then perhaps we travel to another city or country or social circle and meet some people who are different. Perhaps we get to know some of them. And when we return to our old grounds and see someone from the new group we have gotten to know, perhaps we feel a little different and a little less “otherness” about them. Perhaps we repeat this process a few more times. Everyone does this to some extent. I think some people always feel a need to categorize other human beings into “us” and “them.” But travel allows some of us to make a generalization about human beings: there is no “us” and “them.” There are only human beings, and we all have dreams and fears and hopes. You can call that awareness empathy — the intellectual and emotional integration of the knowledge that other beings have a consciousness just as you are conscious. Even animals and plants, in their own ways. Maybe for some people this is natural, but I think for the vast majority it is something that has to be learned. This is one of the virtues of travel. Unfortunately, I think many people are never really aware of their own consciousness, so cannot see it in others. They see only the meaningless, superficial traits of physical appearance and cultural trivia. I think once you see parts of yourself in others, it changes how you treat people. If you come to learn that you are flawed and believe in and love the good in you nonetheless, you will love it in others. You still see the good and the bad — without expecting the same understanding in return. You will not feel hate or anger because they are different from you. You will celebrate their values just as you celebrate yours and maybe feel some sadness when you see the consequences of bad ideas, but only in the sense of a lost opportunity, not as a wall between you or a fault which you must correct. To accept the values of others as inherently justified is to accept other people as ends in themselves, just as your life is an end in itself. Accepting that others are ends in themselves means accepting self-ownership, and this is the key to peaceful, non-violent coexistence. To recognize the commonality of life is also a means come to terms with mortality. Your life is important and unique, but it is just one combination of many. That particular combination will never exist again, but many other sets containing the same values and ideas will. The meaning of life is creating an aesthetic and authentic expression of elements, not mere survival. Does the idea of universal empathy seem like a utopian dream? It’s an ideal — not a destination, but a direction. But I think it’s a path which contains some truth and practical usefulness. Self-understanding is a requirement for other-understanding. We build models of other people’s consciousness by applying our self-image to them. At the same time, we form our own self-image by observing and interacting with other people. It’s necessarily synergistic process. As we come to know others, we discover ourselves. As we discover our own nature, we better understand the actions of others. And if we learn to love ourselves (and I believe that value is a necessary facet of all knowledge), we learn to love others — all others. When I speak of universal love, I do not mean an abstract, unconditional, and ignorant kind of love, but of love which comes from understanding and seeing our ideas and values in others. And not just a few values which our conscious mind labels as important, but all values — values as such. Not that thin slice which is a shared background, but everything that makes us — us. We may disagree with ideas on the abstract level but still appreciate the broad base we all share. The taste of our favorite foods, and the hugs of those we love, and the reason we go to work every day, and the hero-worship and the starry nights and taste of the water we drink. To see and to value this in all people on a deep intellectual-emotional level is an essential part of self-understanding. Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TruthJusticeAndTheAmericanWay/~3/LjqPAOTGdMI/
  2. Men, here are the three very basic rules for getting clothing that fits you: *If your pants need a belt to stay on, they're too big *If your shirt billows rather than contour your torso, it's too big *Your shoes should have thin soles and taper in the front

  3. Thinking of taking my barefoot style to the next level with homemade huaraches sandals to replace my FiveFingers.

  4. When a totalitarian government says that some major undertaking was built by "volunteers" what they really mean is "slave labor."

  5. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Gover...

  6. Two essays I'd like to see written: radicalism as an epistemological heuristic and the ultimate causes of political vs private corruption.

  7. "Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods." - H. L. Mencken

  8. 99% of treatises about how politics corrupts science (or anything else) advocate more politics to fix the problem.

  9. "Laura turned her head away again to take in more of the view below."It really works, doesn't it," she said thoughtfully after a while. "What does?" "Science. It works." ... "It's just that . . . well, everything I've seen since we came here . . . it's all too incredible to be real, but it is. Whatever people had to learn to build something like this, they had to get it right. Know what I mean, there's no room to fool yourself when you take on this kind of thing. There are so many other 'olog...

  10. Another State Science Institute debacle. Government and science don't mix! http://ksj.mit.edu/tracker/2012/10/did-texas-cancer-research-institute-medd

  11. "No one saves us but ourselves, no one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path but Buddhas [enlightened ones] clearly show the way." - Gautama Buddha, from the Dhammapada

  12. Elections are basically a debate about whether the State ought to rape and pillage group A or pillage and rape group B. It doesn't matter who you vote for because politicians will just rape and pillage whomever they want. But they desperately need your vote because it gives sanction to the State's mass violence. The ceremony of elections breeds a sense of distance from moral responsibility for the State's theft and murder and a sense of duty to be enslaved or destroyed in turn when it is...

  13. “Milk doesn’t really “do a body good.” Objections include lactose, casein, hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, and high-temperature processing methods, while the calcium benefits are overstated.” - Mark Sisson I haven't had milk in 2-3 years and don't miss it at all. I do eat minimally-processed fermented milk - cheese and yogurt - every day.

  14. DavidV

    Slow Site

    How about now?
  15. 8km in 40 minutes 20 seconds today. 7 days to go.

  16. Ugh, election season. That annoying time when everyone thinks that they have a right to impose their opinions on others at gunpoint, that the mass use of violence will make everyone better off if enough people agree on the choice of victim, that there is any difference between their pet candidates, and that their vote makes any difference. If only I could filter the idiocy from my news feeds.

  17. Words are a very imperfect means of conveying our thoughts. The original idea is distorted by a vague and stereotyped vocabulary, ambiguous grammar and meaning. And then it is distorted again by the different definitions and mental models of the recipient. Meaning is in people. Words are very imperfect symbols for communicating an idea. When we speak, we take an enormous set of abstractions linked with sensorial associations in our mind, distill them down to a short set of symbolic associations which are then re-linked with an entirely different set of associations in someone else. It is a lot to ask of an animal brain evolved to convey data about a hunting and gathering lifestyle to fit all the complexity of modernity into that medium. Sometimes we can accompany our words with body language and pictorial imagery, but the modern civilized lifestyle demands more and more abstract and hypothetical thinking. It stretches the limits of verbal communication. It is possible for two people to have a conversation about art or theology or politics with both thinking that they had a meaningful interaction without a single idea ever being shared. Two brains expressing, but never really communicating. It is for this reason that I like science, engineering, and programming. When we repeat experimental results, or implement a blueprint, or collaborate on software, the result is unambiguous. The unity of a shared reality confirms the tie between our minds. Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TruthJusticeAndTheAmericanWay/~3/0xGObxVAQNs/
  18. Here is a radical idea I have been thinking about: Judicial systems should be based on the concept of restorative rather than retributive justice. It should not be the job of the court to punish criminals, deter future crime, or to issue a moral judgment about their actions. The only legitimate role of the court should be to attempt to provide restitution to the injured parties. Its job is therefore to determine the extent to which a particular interaction was not voluntary, and then assign a debt proportionate to the scope of the injury. The victim, offender, and the court can then determine how and to what extent the debt may be settled - by monetary compensation, labor service, or some other course of action satisfactory to the victim. I think that a retributive (punishment-based) legal system is unjust because courts do not have a right to seize assets or to coerce either offenders or victims of crimes to pursue any kind of social objectives, such as punishing or reforming criminals. The court may not profit from the criminal's labor because it is not a victim of his crime – except to the extent that such compensation is necessary to pay for his prosecution. If the court fails to convict a suspect, then it should in turn be liable for the defendant’s lost time and legal expenses. The modern retributive judicial system is unjust to the victim because it make no attempt to compensate him, to the criminal because it considers factors other than the injury he has inflicted on the victim, and to the public at large, which it forces to pay for the criminal's prosecution and incarceration. Edit: A major benefit of a restorative criminal justice system is that it makes it very difficult to prosecute victimless crimes. What do you think?
  19. DavidV

    Forum software updated

    The forum software has been updated. Let me know if you find any issues.
  20. I need several assistants to help me record audio and video for the Shanghai Austrian Economics Summit this weekend. If you are interested, contact me.

  21. Installing Windows XP 32bit because apparently it's too much to ask for Windows 7-64 1394 drivers for a Canon MiniDV video camera.

    1. Dániel Boros

      Dániel Boros

      Why not use virtualbox?

  22. I'm going to Thailand for two whole weeks in September!

  23. In China, reasonably-priced nice shoes are harder to come by. After I started using shoe glue (a kit of three compounds), cleaners, waxes, and waterproofers, I've managed to keep my old pairs going way longer than I thought possible.

  24. Trying to design a heatsink for my NEX5 digital camera to extend video recording time using RAM heatsink and thermal tape.