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Nicky

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  1. What are you listening at the moment?

    I've been into Johnny Cash' American Recordings, the last few weeks. Especially "Help Me", off his final album. It's a very religious collection of songs, this one especially...but just so ridiculously, brilliantly touching, from a man mourning his soulmate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv4i4t2hj2I It's one of his many Kris Kristofferson covers. I think Kris wrote most of his truly great songs. But John made them eternal...especially this song would've been totally forgotten.
  2. How Valuable Is Your Attention?

    I don't think Objectivism is about focused attention. It's about a mind that is focused on reality, certainly, but that doesn't mean you have to always carefully consider the specific aspects of reality you focus on. Honestly, always consciously willing your attention has its drawbacks. You can miss out on a lot you might gain by letting it wonder. Obviously, when you're trying to get something done, you want to eliminate distractions, and focus on that specific, pre-planned thing...even if it's just watching a movie, rather than work related. But, a lot of the time, it might be good to not plan out what you pay attention to, and just focus on experiencing the world around you, whatever it may be, and let your subconscious curiosity take your attention, your interactions with others, and even your physical location, in whatever direction it happens to take them. Doesn't mean volition isn't at all times tied to attention. If you are mindful of your values, that will impact what you find interesting, and as a result what you end up paying attention to, even if you aren't consciously directing it.
  3. Meh. It "looks" to Nazis the way 24 "looked" to terrorists. A movie that actually looks at why the ideology attracts young followers is American History X. I do think Shot Caller was a good movie though. Enjoyed the acting and the film making, a lot. But I didn't find the message insightful. It was extremely unrealistic, as well.
  4. You don't have to. Words come with definitions. It's kind of a package deal: Rudeness is a display of disrespect by not complying with the social norms or etiquette of a group or culture. These norms have been established as the essential boundaries of normally accepted behaviour. Rudeness has nothing to do with being abusive towards a person. There's a great movie quote by Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter, to his tied up, disfigured victim: " Now you're being rude, and I hate rude people." I think it really helps illuminate what the word means: killing and eating people alive isn't rude...the victim using bad words, as it's happening, is. So it's not so much a question of "is there an excuse to be rude?", as it is "is there a need for an excuse to be rude?". Is being rude a bad thing? Or should rudeness be your default setting, and restraint/polite behavior the setting you need a special reason for? Personally, I think it's the latter: if you're looking to fit in with a group, especially in a very serious professional setting, you should probably follow etiquette. For the most part. On the other hand, if you're looking to challenge, surprise, amuse, intrigue, etc. a person or a group of people...breaking with social norms is not a bad way to do that. It's why most comedians say shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits a lot (hm... light bulb just went on: maybe I should highlight these...bet more people will read my post...which in turn will make my point...clicks on edit...how do you make something red? I don't think I ever used this feature before ). It's probably also why a certain politician (who already has way too many threads about him, so let's not get into it here too) is so rude, though of course he's doing it in what should be that serious professional setting I mentioned earlier. P.S. Even in a professional setting, you probably don't want to be 100% compliant with etiquette. You ARE still allowed to be a non-conformist, you just have to be more cognizant of the effect it has on others, because, unlike in your private life or at a comedy show, they're not hanging out with you by choice. If you make them uncomfortable, they can't just leave. That's when it goes from being rude and crosses into being abusive. Rudeness is not just for professional comedians, either. I would hate to have friends who are always polite. It's boring and dishonest. And I find that most people feel the same way. They might not want to have to deal with "too much personality" from co-workers or clients they can't shut out if it's not to their taste, but outside the workplace, compliance with most etiquette becomes and obstacle to efficient communication. And it's not by accident, either: most etiquette is designed to stop people from easily finding sex partners. That's why so much of it is about regulating men's behavior "especially when ladies are present", and vice-versa. It also extends to family: I will teach my children to be polite, of course (in the presence of my own parents, for instance, because that's how I was raised, and why stir that hornet's nest...and, of course, at school), but I will not require them to be polite in my presence. Wanna be the cutest five year old ever? Go ahead and swear to your heart's delight. Fart too. Eat with your hands, and talk with your mouth full. Do all four at the same time.
  5. Donald Trump

    There was a story the other day about a Mexican family who supported him. They took him at his word that he's only after criminals...changed their minds after the father was deported.
  6. Donald Trump

    Language! Still, darn well put
  7. No one accused you of owning any slaves. Just of associating with neo-nazis, by spreading their memes. It's also not about "left vs. right". I doubt MisterSwig is a socialist. He could be, I don't know him, but he sound like an Objectivist, to me. So you might want to consider the possibility that this is a case of "Objectivism vs right". And you're not on the Objectivism side.
  8. Not sure why that would be. Personally, I don't see the upside in getting killed by a bear (or a bacteria) instead of a person. But sure, maybe evil humans are more scary on a primal level. Still, if we just look at killings caused by malicious intent...Islamic terror is still a several orders of magnitude smaller threat, in the US, than all kinds of categories of threats that get neglected. I think a better explanation for why collectivists focus on this threat over others is that this is perceived to be an external threat. An internal threat is seen as a threat to individuals. An external threat, even if the damage it causes is small compared to internal threats, is seen as a threat to something far more important than individual victims: it is seen as a threat to the group as a whole. And, of course, the "solution" to external threats is far more appealing to the collectivist mindset, because it allows them to view the world as two clearly defined collectives pitted against each other. With internal threats, you have to be rational, figure out exactly which individual is responsible for the crime, etc. etc. It's tedious, unimportant work. There can be 20 murders in a city, in a weekend, and it barely even makes the news. Forget doing something to prevent it, they solve what, 50% of murder cases, in the US? So half the people responsible don't even get caught. And no one cares. Meanwhile, eight people killed by a Muslim immigrant in NYC: we get to really do something about it. We get to put millions of "them" on terrorist watch lists, tens of thousands on no fly lists, and ban entry from entire countries.
  9. What's important to remember, at times like this, is that your life is under greater threat from at least 100 different things, than it is from Islam. Thousands of different things, if you break down big categories like "poisoning" into smaller, more specific ones. Some, you probably aren't even aware of...and no one on the news has ever mentioned them to you. Like here's a good one: tetanus. Nasty little bacteria. Should be significantly more scary to the average westerner than Islam.
  10. Making Freedom: A Proposal

    It's not just nine people though. The Supreme Court has a lot of man power and resources in their employment, beyond just the nine Justices. That's beyond the reach of any Oist organization. I just can't agree with setting the bar that high for Objectivist activists. What you seem to be suggesting is the equivalent of running a shadow government. Not the silly kind opposition parties tend to run in some European countries (which just consist of "shadow ministers" second guessing government decisions), but replicating the work of a full time legislature and court system. And the work of a government is not linear. They don't just craft their laws one at a time, in a row, until they're finished. It's incremental and continuous: laws built on previous laws, case law built on those laws, case law built on case law, addressing more and more specific areas of need, resolving more and more obscure questions and disagreements, as they are raised by the citizenry, over the course of decades and even centuries. So even if the financial and intellectual resources existed to replicate the work of a government, and this shadow government would start building its laws and precedents on real cases, their work would incrementally grow more and more removed from real events (because Oist laws and case laws would be so different from existing laws, they would quickly run out of real life cases that are relevant to their alternative legislation), and lose its relevance. In other words, they would run out of the third category of resources, needed to build a justice system: the citizenry...real people, with real disagreements they seek resolution to. So we will never have a magical hat to reach into, that can give us concrete answers to any question, objection, or purported contradiction a critic of Objectivist politics might raise. We will always have to hope that people have the vision to look past the fact that we don't have all the answers. And we will always (well, until if/when there's an Objectivist government some place) have to settle for offering concretes that essentially go along the lines of us pointing out how a government act violates a high level principle. We will never be able to offer an alternative to a specific, low level law or precedent, that fits neatly (free of contradiction or blank spaces) into an alternative, hypothetical legal system. P.S. I might be misunderstanding you. If you could explain the difference between your suggestion and my description of it above, I'd appreciate it (and I apologize if you already have, and I missed it).
  11. I would argue that satisfaction, for a rational person, comes from living a good life. Just to explain what it is I'm nitpicking about: "being successful" implies the achievement of a final, set benchmark (or at least crossing a set threshold). Living a good life implies continuity. You can only derive so much satisfaction from "being successful". But you can derive endless satisfaction from continuously living well. And you don't have to wait before you're satisfied. You can be satisfied with what you did today, even if you're not yet "successful".
  12. Making Freedom: A Proposal

    I don't understand what you mean. Why are all those details a requirement? Why wouldn't a more abstract argument (describing individual rights) be sufficiently convincing? After all, it convinced you and me. Are we different from other people?
  13. Making Freedom: A Proposal

    Just two questions: 1. What are the things I would be able to do or accomplish, in this new country, that I'm not able to now? 2. What are the things I wouldn't be able to do or accomplish, that I'm able to now? Answer those, and then I'll decide if going along with your idea would make me more or less free.
  14. I don't think philosophy is all that dissimilar to other ideas through history: man made flight, electricity, combustion engine etc., etc. All these ideas became popular because they resulted in worthwhile concretes. They weren't ideas the general public could've successfully been presented with, in theory alone. There was a need for concrete achievements, to go along with the ideas themselves. So that's the key: to go along with all the activism, people who like the ideas should live good lives, and that achievement will cause interest in the ideas that shaped that life. That doesn't mean activism is useless, but activists need to be conscious of the full range of their communication: both the intended and the unintended messages. For instance, an Oist activist focused on pointing out the flaws of the political system may think he's just communicating political ideas, but, in reality, to the average person, he projects a sense of isolation and even fatalism (us vs. them, as SN put it). When there's a contradiction between a more concrete and a more abstract message, people (rightfully) give more weight to the former. So that activist is hurting more than he's helping. To effectively control the message, and only communicate what he intends to, an activist needs to be well versed in communication and dedicated to the work full time. Even if you're naturally charismatic and an effective leader in your day job, it's not enough. Your message, no matter how convincing, can still be presented selectively, or misrepresented, by others (both in the traditional media and on social media). So you still have to be deliberate about everything you do and discerning about who you talk to...and that takes a lot of expertise and tedious research. Just to be clear: you don't have to be "fun", charming, or even nice and friendly, to be an effective communicator. Trump's an effective communicator...I doubt even his minions would ever accuse him of any of those four things. But you need to be aware of the times when you might be perceived as unhappy or a pessimist (as well as of the many other unintended messages we send out on a daily basis).
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