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Everything posted by Reidy

  1. Ayn Rand's official public notice

    There were at least two more of these, one in The Objectivist Newsletter, by Branden, in the spring of 65 and one in The Objectivist, by Rand, at the time of the Great Kibosh, the latter noting that Branden's publications to date were OK but that they had no control over what he might say subsequently. In the earlier one, Branden anathemized one of those let's-found-an-island groups, which was showing up at LA NBI to troll for recruits. When I moved to the area shortly thereafter I knew some people who had briefly gone along with it.
  2. In the passage you quote (p 70 in my copy), Peikoff says that volition and validation are hierarchically connected but not that they are etymologically connected. "Volition" comes from a verb for willing or wishing, and "validation" from an adjective for strength or power.
  3. When André Gide got back from the USSR in the 30s, he recounted a conversation with a writer he'd met. He'd submitted a story for official approval and was told to change the roads to paved - they're sure to be in by next year.
  4. In the news

    Rand did a series of interviews on the Columbia University radio station ca. 1962, though I don't know who ran the show. Most of them featured her and student questioners (to whom she could be quite nasty at the slightest provocation). NB, BB and Hospers and Gotthelf were in some of them. The station sold audiotapes many years ago, which is how i came to hear them. i don't know if they survive or not.
  5. Reblogged:The Limitations of CYA

    The moral you draw is sound, but I'll at least have to see some names (the new hire, the CTO and the company) before I believe it.
  6. French elections 2017

    Here in California I've met a number of French expatriates whom I wouldn't call entrepreneurs, among them a real-estate agent, a custom woodworker and several in IT. The only one I'd call an entrepreneur, and a successful one (online French foods), occasionally spends a Sunday morning selling charcuterie at the farmers' market, and I know him only in that capacity. I wish everybody the best, though what I've read about Macro doesn't lead me to share Yes's optimism.
  7. French elections 2017

    Interesting commentary in WSJ. The author says that Macron won because the French brain drain removed the competition; anyone who might have run against him has left the country. To skip the pay wall, if you move quickly enough, go to Real Clear Politics and click Where Has All the French Talent Gone.
  8. Classical music

    We already know who Leo was. I don't remember the last name, but the ARI people published an illustrated Rand biography several years ago with a photo of him; no need to conjecture. He went the way of Leo in the book and was executed in the 1930s, long after Rand emigrated.
  9. Wittgenstein ranks high in the Objectivist demonology, but Rand's readers might get a pleasant surprise from On Certainty. It mounts a polemic against hard-core skepticism and presents a theory something like Rand's ideas of contextual certainty.
  10. We've heard this before. State lotteries were going to bring in enough money to balance the states' budgets. Increasing prosperity would lead to greater tax revenues that would balance the federal budget (Reagan did not say this, contrary to what some have asserted, but some people did.). Just one more tax increase and we'll have all the money we need. If everybody paid his taxes honestly we could balance the budged. The reason such predictions always fail is that, as more money comes in, governments simply increase their spending. That's what would happen here, too. As to who might buy mineral assets, national parks and the like, I can foresee a division of functions such as we see in commercial real estate. The land and buildings typically belong to insurers, banks, endowments and pension funds, while the end users rent from them. As far as I can see, nothing precludes such a solution for formerly-federal oil fields.
  11. True or not, that's an odd remark two days after Trump suffered a major defeat the first time he tried to move a piece of legislation. That may be even odder.
  12. The thinking here seems to be that money is the only rational motivator and that a rational actor would consider this and nothing else. This looks like a good case where this would not be true. Being kind to animals is also a motive. The question would rarely come up anyway; gratuitously painful slaughtering methods would probably not be economically prudent. On the other hand, people hold snails to starve in order to empty out their digestive tracts. The Japanese (I've read) appreciate sashimi from fish butchered live at the table; feeling the reflexive death twitches on the tongue is part of the experience.
  13. Who was Ayn Rand's gay friend?

    The Wikipedia article is almost entirely accurate. Rand never called Peikoff her intellectual heir. If you follow up on footnote 5, it attributes the "especially good mood" remark to BB, not to Binswanger. (An omission rather than an inaccuracy) NB was quite as enthusiastic a verbal/intellectual fag-basher as Rand, for as long as he was associated with her and for years thereafter (though he finally reversed himself). Since the topic was more in his line and since he dealt more with the public, he had more occasion than Rand to speak his mind.
  14. Who was Ayn Rand's gay friend?

    I've seen the fashion show clip somewhere before. One story is that Kilbourn (1:38) later committed suicide because of the Objectivist deities' anti-gay message. I wonder if the wedding dress (3:22) was a coded message and, if it was, whether anybody there that night caught on.
  15. Who was Ayn Rand's gay friend?

    I'd never heard of this change in her thinking. Do you have a citation for it? The friend might be John Hospers. The trouble with that, though, is that her friendship with him was in the years around 1960 (kiboshed and shunned in 1963), and she issued her widely-quoted fire-breathing moral denunciation of homosexuality in 1971. That would seem to argue that Hospers had no effect on her thought in the matter. I don't know if she knew he was gay or not. Frank's brother Nick, a favorite of hers who died in the 1940s, was also gay. The BB and Heller biographies suggest that she didn't know this. That's hard to believe today, but people were much more circumspect (and naive) back then.
  16. Atlas Shrugged: An English newbie's review.

    Rand was a storyteller. This requires compressing time and amping up the drama. That's why events go by more quickly on screen or stage than in real life, and it's why Rand fits so many events into, e.g. the Twentieth Century Motor Company story. According to Barbara Branden's biography, Rand first flew in 1963, several years after Atlas Shrugged. I once had a friend who was a pilot, and he told me that she got her flying lore from Lingbergh's The Spirit of St. Louis, including one technical inaccuracy.
  17. Morality on food waste

    To begin at the beginning, I don't understand what you mean by "immoral". My limited but still extensive observation of the O-web tells me that it means "with the permission of the Objectivist authorities" - Rand, Peikoff and (to some tastes but not others) Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. As far as I know, none of the deities has ever pronounced on the question. An independent, heroic, scrupulously rational person would conclude from this that we do not have that permission and that only a hatred-eaten mystic would feel free to waste food. An intellectual thug, by contrast, might believe that what is what is not explicitly forbidden is permitted and would thus accept the rule-of-thumb "when in doubt, throw it out". Which are you? (Side question: what do you mean by "waste"? Does it mean throwing food away? I should think that this is just the right course of action with food that is perishable and that you don't want.)
  18. Textbooks on logic are easy to find. With help, you can discover what follows or not from a set of statements, and from there you can go on to apply it to the statements you come across in conversation or in the news. David Kelley is an Objectivist, so his textbook might be a good place to start. A technique I've learned (but can't really teach) is to ask, when somebody makes an asserition (typically about ethics or politics), what the principle behind it is. If your interlocutor can't or won't, then the assertion isn't worth taking seriously. If he does, use your book learning to spin out the consequences.
  19. Is-Ought - solved by Rand?

    Not to stick to your outline: I'm not convinced that it's a problem. Hume, who raised the issue, said that no number of non-evaluative premises (is-statments) could ever yield an evaluative conclusion (ought-statement). To say that a set of premises can't entail what's not implicit in the premises is a tautology. A more interesting question is whether evaluative statements can be. like is-statements, i.e. claims of fact that are either true or false. In more modern terminology such statements are natural statements, and the question is whether or not ought-statements can be natural. Early in the twentieth century, G.E. Moore convinced many philosophers that oughts cannot be natural and that to treat them as such was to commit the "naturalistic fallacy". Many followed up on Moore with explanation of what oughts might be instead: exhortations, commands, emotional self-reports and so on, utterances that look like declarative sentences but really aren't. Yes, I think that Rand's account shows successfully that oughts can be statements of fact. That living organisms can be helped or harmed is the matter of fact that non-naturalists said you couldn't find. Rand wasn't the only one to hit on this, though. It all traces back to Aristotle. (Yes, she admired him in other respects, but she said expressly, in The Objectivist Ethics, that he didn't have much of value to offer in ethics. Branden agreed in his NBI basic course, dismissing his writings as "little more than a manual of etiquette".) In the twentieth century, Philippa Foot, a mainstream academic if ever there was, followed a similar line, starting at about the same time as Rand, though I'm confident neither had heard of the other when they first hit on these insights. Foot's last book, Natural Goodness, cites several others who've followed the line. She later came to know of Rand; Tibor Machan, who knew her personally, called the book "a carbon copy of the Objectivist ethics"; he also said she was an intellectual snob, freely acknowledging the insights of her academic colleagues but not Rand's.
  20. "I wish someone would shoot you"

    Everybody on Facebook or Twitter is there voluntarily. If these providers want to set some standards and exclude people who don't meet them, that is their business. If you complain and somebody is excluded, you have not violated anybody's rights, and neither has the provider. Under some circumstances a threat might be a violation of criminal law. I doubt that any online posting would be close enough to the real act to come under such laws. Threats to the president might qualify more easily as crimes.
  21. Hello.

    I agree that Rand's books are the best place to learn about Objectivism, but the request was for a place to learn about Objectivist reactions to Trump. For that I recommend Steve Simpson's commentary at the ARI site.
  22. I wonder what AR would think if she could see where India has gone in recent decades under free market reforms, and if she knew that she has a sizable following there. Objectivism and India Sexualty and Society (same speaker)
  23. Conspiracy Theories

    My policy is to give the conspiracy people three years to come up with proof. This was enough for the Watergate crimes and for the Clintons' crooked real estate deals. Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination and 9-11 (which was simply a replay of the Pearl Harbor stories) failed the test.
  24. You'd do well to point out that white supremicism, Jim Crow, whites-only voting and all the rest of it came from the Populists and Progressives. The locus classicus for this is The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward, a scholarly history that came out in 1954 and won a Pulitzer and which has been perennial in college history classes ever since. The author starts by refuting the common notion that blacks made progress after the Civil War only as long as military occupation prevailed. He shows that progress went on until the 1890s, when the Populists squelched it. (Shorter sample of Woodward) In the class where I read Woodward's book we also read excerpts from Slavery Defended. In one of the essays, as I recall, a mid-19th-century Marxist argues that a plantation with slaves is the perfect each-according-to-ability-etc commune; the master just happens to have greater needs. More recent and more partisan sources are Liberal Fascism by Goldberg and Wrong on Race by Bartlett. They document a long history of complicity between racism and welfare statism. Some of this history has come back into the news in the past few years in connection with Woodrow Wilson, famous progressive and famous white supremacist. For example, he issued executive orders requiring segregation in the Capitol visitors' galleries and in Washington government offices. The people who wanted to take Wilson's name off the school at Princeton (where he was a history prof and university president) have apparently just discovered what libertarians have known for decades. It went on for much longer than that. George Wallace was a big-government type and an early (pre-nomination) supporter of JFK; William Fulbright, founder of the Fulbrght fellowships and early mentor of Bill Clinton) and Albert Gore the elder are some more cases in point. Another topic worth taking up is the ways in which the welfare state has hurt the poor regardless of race. Thomas Sowell's and Charles Murray's writings are the usual places to start.
  25. RealClearPolitics has some of the features you describe, linking to op-ed pieces and brief news stories. It isn't partisan, but I notice that where they offer opposing views, they usually list the libertarian or conservative second, thus giving him the last word.