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Everything posted by DavidV

  1. I'll be there :-) I know one other person going (Gena from OAC) -- she's leaving for an month-long internship at ARI this week -- how's that for a summer?
  2. Invision is very simple to use and configure -which is why I picked it. I've made you an admin, so you can browse and change the settings yourself. This forum kind of died out for a while, so anyone who is willing to participate and promote the site is welcome to do so. Complete backups are made 3x a week, so don't worry about messing something up.
  3. I just took a test in my database design class. I certainly know what you're talking about, but right now I don't feel like thinking about normalization forms and many-many relations :-)
  4. I can do that. If you want, I can give you full admin access, since I am always looking for voluneers to help with the site.
  5. The Gallery is back. I'll work on moving the postnuke site to a better server soon.
  6. When I first announced ObjectivismOnline, I got an email from a college CS major who warned me against using Open Source software because (a.) the leader of the movement is a dirty marxist, and (b.) free software in general is anti-profit, and this anti-capitalism. After doing some (very little) research, I indeed found out that Richard Stallman, the founder of GNU is a pretty sick character, who rants against self-interest and capitalism. (Not to be confused with Richard Salsman, who writes great articles.)Understandably then, I had to give a lot of thought to using free software, which is mostly released under the anti-IP GNU GPL license. There are other free software licenses such as the Creative Commons license, which features a dollar sign with an line through it as a logo, and the simple BSD license. (BSD="Berkeley Software Distribution") Not all free software is hostile to profits however. ImageMagik, a popular graphics library, starts out with John Galt's pledge, and simply asks for postcards in exchange for using it. So is using and making free software consistent with supporting intellectual property and profits? I think so. The advantages of open source software have already been covered at length, but I think the widespread usage of open source projects like linux, apache, php, and MySQL in commercial enterprises speaks for itself. For companies, open source projects are especially useful for creating standard platforms that they don't have to develop on their own, and that their customers don't feel chained to. From a personal standpoint, working on free software offers opportunities to develop new skills, work with a team on important projects, and show off your abilities. None of this is to say that there's something wrong with closed software development. Both have their own niche, and I think that one should decide what kind of software to use based on their individual merit, rather than on ideological grounds. What do you think?
  7. Hi Sir Llama What's ICS? And if I may ask, how did you find out about this forum?
  8. When I first heard of it, I was as opposed to TIPS as anyone else, but this article changed my mind. IF we can get rid of the bloated FBI/CIA/Defense Dept bureacracy and replace it with a decentralized, part-citizen watchguard program, I think we would have a much cheaper and more effective security agency. What do you think?
  9. Hi Adrian! Check out the position's I've outlined here. I don't urgently need any more features (unless you want suggest some) -- but the website certainly needs more people, so I'm looking with all the help I can get with promoting it. In case you have any ideas, I'm not satisfied with the hosting solution . The website is running on my own desktop, which seems to be fine as far as acces is concerned, but it's running on port 8080 in apache because WinXP IIS will only support up to 10 people at a time. This means that the website has to run withing a frame to prevent people from seeing "http://www.rationalmind.net:8080/forum/index.php?act=Post&CODE=02&f=9&t=23" as the real URL. I would get rid of IIS, but I also host several sites in ASP and my homepage in .Net, so I can't really switch everything to Apache. Ideas? Or do you think it's fine the way it is?
  10. I've been meaing to read more Mises myself. I got into his "Human Action" a bit and it's great.
  11. Here is the headline from today's MSNBC science story: "A growing number of scientists say President Bush's administration is distorting the scientific advisory process by appointing conservative ideologues to panels that are supposed to be impartial. They fear the appointments are politically motivated and meant to delay decision-making affecting controversial areas such as the environment, abortion and workplace safety. Administration officials say they are merely looking for diverse views and accuse the critics themselves of playing politics." It is never mentioned that this is the inevitable results of government funding scientific research. When tax dollars rather than private investment funds research, political ideology by scientific amateur (politicians) determines which direction the research heads in. The inevitable result is that popularity and pull determine what area gets research funds, while the unpopular yet most promising areas are left behind. Just notice how AIDS is kills very few American's versus heart disease or cancer yet gets significantly higher research funds than the two major killers. The article does not mention what standard politicians are supposed to use to determine which scientific and medical projects show the most promise, other than "diverse views." Clearly, this is not an adequate standard - imagine NASA hiring both engineers and UFO-nuts to foster "diverse views." Popularity is also not a suitable standard, since the popular scientists are the champions of the big discoveries of the past, not the future. Unfortunately, when your own investment money is not at stake, the only remaining standard to guide research dollars is political pull, which is exactly what happens in Washington. What do you think?
  12. (this is in reply to http://bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=15206) Greetings, Far be it from me to attack an argument for a war with Iraq, but your piece did not use the terms "theory," “evidence," and most importantly, "belief" properly. The proper approach to determining facts, whether it is the theory of evolution or Saddam's possession of WMD’s is to apply the scientific process in order to reach conclusions -- not relying on "faith" or "refusing to believe" something. In general, the proper method of reaching conclusions is by induction -- making observations about a large number of instances (concrete examples) and then forming a hypothesis (abstract idea) based on those observations. Based on the hypothesis, we make predictions about what the concretes should be, and once again apply that hypothesis to numerous concretes. If the predictions hold, one formulates a theory, if not, one tries another hypothesis. Given enough correct hypotheses, one forms a scientific model, and if the model is supported by a significant body of evidence, one forms a scientific theory. Why do I bring this up? Well, the fact is that the great majority of people do not understand how this process works, and do not apply it to the various junk-science out there today. Take the common phrase regarding evolution: "it's only a theory." Well, so are the facts that the earth is round, revolves around the sun, and that volcanoes are not caused by angry gods. Like all knowledge, these facts are conclusions reached by forming conclusions (theories) based on observations. The distinction between facts and theories is important to recognize. As Stephen J. Gould explains: "facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don't go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them." This fact has important implications for some of the "pseudo-sciences" out there, like creationism and environmentalism. The difference between these pseudo-scientists and real scientists is that they pervert the scientific method by rejecting the need for evidence. No argument will sway their position because their beliefs rest on faith, not evidence. For creationists, the Bible is the absolute authority, and all scientific evidence to contrary is rejected or ignored. For environmentalists, their interpretation of what is bad for man (technology) is an absolute -- ignoring that it is in fact often the lack thereof that causes more suffering. Because no amount of evidence will convince someone who holds his beliefs on faith, we can reject their claims as soundly (and on the same basis) as the flat-earthers. Please consider this next time you say “It’s only a theory!” Sincerely, --David Veksler
  13. It seems like every single blogger on the internet has an ode of some sort to the downed space shuttle. Not all are positive -- my friend Laurel (http://www.rationalmind.net/economistress) things that it's time to privatize (i.e. close) NASA because it's a waste of taxpayer's money. I think it's important not to confuse the spirit of discovery that allowed man to go to space, and the particular method by which that is being done today. The International Space Station, (whose massive cost overruns may well have caused maintenance failures that caused Columbia to blow up) is a perfect example of the wrong approach to take to space exploration. The ISS is a typical result of multinational bureaucracies trying to make a political statement (under a scientific cover) and I could have told you with near certainty when this plan was just an idea that the true cost of the ISS was wildly underestimated. In an age when space tourism has become practical (as the Russians have shown) and commercial satellites are launched on a regular basis, a government-run space agency should stick to military applications, and leave the space exploration to businessmen. Skeptics will complain that there is not enough research money for a private version of the ISS, but I bet if the government allowed private enterprise to decide which areas research should go to I am sure that the results would be much better, even if a private ISS takes longer to build.
  14. I'm curious to know how fast the website loads for all the users. I can't tell myself because it runs on my own pc and all my other internet connections are broadband anyway. It's probably too early for this question now, but I'd like to know how it loads when there are a number of people using it at the same time... What about the objectivismonline.net front page? Do the images take forever to show up?
  15. The forum's URL is: http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/
  16. The Aggie Objectivist club organized a debate on Iraq last week, and the news story on the front page of the school paper the next day was somewhat interesting:
  17. I'm working on setting up caching using jpcache to speed up the page load. I installed it at http://ObjectivismOnline.com/index2.php though I'm not sure how well it works yet. This would probably be useful when the site is under heavy load even if I don't run it by default.
  18. To start off, mine is GreedyCapitalist
  19. Feb 03: Added 70 quotes to the homepage. For full list of 300 go here.
  20. I'm using "Reason, Rights, Reality" as a placeholder for now, but your suggestions are welcome.
  21. Feb 02: -- Created Forum: http://www.rationalmind.net/forum -- Set up Postnuke: Site: Beta -- Installed Wiki, but it's currently broken...(if you know how to fix it, let me know!) The Wiki and Gallery modules are currently not working. I can't figure out how to configure Wiki for Postnuke (though it's been done) and Gallery needs ImageMagik, which is missing from this server. Edit: Gallery now works! Edit2: Gallery now broken :-(
  22. Since I started an Objectivism Club at my university a year ago with some fellow students, our club has been very active in promoting Ayn Rand's ideas in campus and off. In the process of hosting speakers, coming up with "lesson plans" for meetings, writing presentations and designing many, many fliers, I¡¦ve found it a challenge to effectively communicate with like-minded individual and other Objectivist campus clubs. The Ayn Rand Institute has been very helpful with material support, speakers, and literature, but without a peer-based website, it cannot really form an online community for college students like me. I believe that a new a new site oriented specifically towards university students and campus Objectivist clubs could be very helpful in increasing communication among rational students, sharing materials, encouraging writing, sharing strategies and success stories, and facilitating active discussion in philosophy to increase student¡¦s interest in Objectivism. The website will be dynamic and multi-user, allowing members, rather than a single webmaster to manage the site, so that each day will bring new content. There are a number of primary features that I have in mind: A discussion forum with a variety of categories of interest to casual and in-depth students of Objectivist. A section to allow the submission of essays and editorials for constructive criticism by peers. I believe that writing about your ideas is the most effective way to learn to communicate them effectively, and this website will provide a forum for beginning writers to present their work while they build up their skill and confidence. A "propaganda" section to share fliers, lesson plans, meeting agendas and ideas, and other promotional materials. Photo albums of meetings, speeches, debates, etc (general and per club) A "swap" section, for buying and selling used books, tapes, videos and other materials that may be hard to find or expensive to get new. A live chat, perhaps featuring scheduled chats with prominent Objectivists, or just pre-arranged topics. Hosted websites¡V free hosting of club pages with templates provided for keeping documents, calendars, and membership lists and generally making professional-looking sites. An "objectivists near you" section to find whether other like-minded students go to your university (and perhaps a personals section at some later date.) The website will be designed with one of the popular open-source content-management systems, probably written in php/mysql. The name is still in the air -- newintellectual.net is just a working title. I believe that there will definitely arise a need for such a site as Objectivism grows in popularity (if we intent to change direction of academia 180%), and I¡¦d rather create this website too early rather than too late.
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