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Everything posted by softwareNerd

  1. Great to hear, that they got this traction. You're always going to find such groups are a mix. After all, you have just average folk, with average (and mostly implicit philosophies) trying to make a case. If not for a physical condition, they would likely be arguing the opposite side of the case. Nevertheless, in pressure group warfare, other things matter: how many people in the group, how much noise they can make to their individual Congressmen, how good an emotionally moving a story they can weave, how they choose their battles (e.g. finding some legislators who can use them to make his arguments, as much as they can use him to make them in the right venue). Indeed, if one takes the title of this thread literally as "how does one live in a country that bans something that is important to you, the two main answers are: Find a way to get that thing anyhow (outside the country, or illegally inside the country) Find a way to change the law: which typically means forming a pressure group to advocate for change
  2. I'm glad you can do this. Are there patient groups, or patient forums, of people who have a shared interest in changing the law here.?Fighting against vested interests is hard, but organizing -- like labor unions do -- is one of the approaches that has a chance.
  3. Neuromarketing and choice

    With the popularity of "behavioral economics", there are some good books on the "non-rational" factors that go into decision-making. I'd start there, before going into neuroscience -- which would be the next level of detail...if you want to delve further. Influence - by Cialdini, (very short and sweet read) and Thinking Fast and Slow - Kahneman (more academic)
  4. Is the procedure allowed in Europe, or elsewhere?
  5. The context would be just your average citizen or legal immigrant: so, no serious disabilities. I suppose one should add the caveat that the context would be someone who has most of their life before them: to learn and earn. To be clear, the U.S. is not the only country where the average person can have a fairly comfortable life, Most of Western Europe would qualify, as would Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The recently-Third world is a bit different. There are still very large proportions of their populations that are very destitute and have few mechanism to change that. Still, even in places like China and India (per capita GDP of $8K and $2K respectively, the upper middle class -- at per capita still below the U.S. -- are able to lead comfortable and happy lives.
  6. I know you have mentioned your personal context in other topics, but it is hard for people to keep track. You should have reminded us of your personal context in the opening post. Otherwise a question like "How do I live in a country..this evil?" will be interpreted in a general "average person" context: particularly if the concrete being highlighted impacts a small portion of the population. In your context, since you are within that portion, the issue is critical to you. Best to make that context clear. It is totally coherent that a particular country may be the best country to live in, from the context of one person, and a pretty lousy country to live in for another. A slave (with internet access) in 1777 could have asked: "How can I live in a country that is so evil as to make me a slave"? Some immigrants also face such heavily context-based questions. The same for you. This topic probably needs a re-boot, as: "How do I live in a country that denies me a chance to medical treatments that could hugely benefit my life?" If the law absolutely denies access to some supposed cure, then it is clearly evil. One cannot point to it's more plausible intent to "protect patents". Anyone who wanted to protect patients would different laws. They may enact laws about what warnings have to be in place, and enact laws to ensure that patient consent is genuine and informed. What are laws like, regarding adult stem cell therapy? As a patient, are there some specific treatments that you would like to try, but to which you are denied access, absolutely, regardless of any right-to-sue etc. that you are willing to sign away?
  7. Are we on the edge of the Peter Schiff dollar collapse?

    Yes. In the context of the OP, "doomsday" probably means something like German pre-WW2 hyper-inflation.
  8. Where is this debate and news? When I turn on the TV, channels are reporting that a Trump staffer was a wife beater. But, not just that: that is only background. The bulk of the discussion is about whether the White House knew and how they acted on the knowledge. But, even there, a lot is about what they knew and how they spun the story in public. Switch from the Democratic channel to the Republican channel and it is more of the same. Occasionally, you have things like taxes or immigration make it back to TV news. The thing to remember on these topics is that rhetoric is not the same as action. Trump says he'll build a border wall, but it is in his political advantage to come up for re-election saying the Democrats obstructed him, and if you elect him one more time -- along with a few more Republicans (or "better" Republicans) -- he will build it the next time around. You can really rest comfortably in the knowledge that after both sides have staked out this position or that, the actual ship will move in one direction or the other, but not too much. Paying close attention does not have any utility: it's just a modern day genre of soap-opera. (The exception is when something targets you directly: e.g. if you are an immigrant and have to make decisions, and need to figure out the precise details of what is playing out.) When it comes to news watching and debate following, my advice would be to do less of it. Give yourself some objective rule: like no news and debate of certain days of the week, or whatever works. Instead, pick up an actual long-form book and read it. Even if you choose a book about crises (lol), odds are it will still pay off more than paying attention to things you will not remember happened a few years from now, and won't impact your life too much more than the average impacts you can expect anyhow.
  9. Are we on the edge of the Peter Schiff dollar collapse?

    Two points here: If all you have is a theory of why something ought to work out a certain way, it's very weak. You need to have historical evidence of how there have been repeated episodes where the theory was shown to be true. This still does not prove the theory, but it is a basic requirement for taking it seriously 10 years is not enough. You have a lifetime to live, so you should look at a few lifetimes worth of historical evidence. Visualize yourself during the Great depression: Roosevelt is confiscating gold, enacting social-security, imposing all sorts of ridiculous rules on businesses. Finally, you are making decisions within the context of your lifetime. Imagine you see some causal factor that created some end result reliably, from the Roman empire down to today. But, imagine it took 400 years to play our from cause to effect, and in your judgement you are in year 90 of such an episode. How much does it really impact the decisions you should be making in the context of your lifetime? Gold should not be considered an "investment" in a core sense. Of course, if market values of productive assets are too high (in your judgement), then it makes sense to "park" your assets in a "store of value'. Doomsday scenarios sell, but your best bet is that they will not take place. Of course spending beyond one's means is bound to cause a problem some day in the future, but that's abstract enough to be useless as a decision-making tool. You have to flesh it out with concretes. Someone spending a small percent more than they take in is in a different position that someone more profligate. Both will eventually hit rock bottom, but time-horizons vary. Also, possible solutions vary. In a mixed-economy, when shit hits the fan, the democracy will typically take assets from those who did not get too hard, and redistribute it to those who were screwed. Consider what the Saudi king just did. He needed money, so he arrested a bunch of the richest guys in the kingdom, and told them they have to give the government money. probably raised about $100 billion in a few months. Democracies do these things with politeness and a softer glove. To be clear, history would say we should expect booms and busts, with occasional panics at a rate of (say) a couple in each investor's lifetime. But, that's different from doomsday scenarios.
  10. Isn't it true that if a country let one little bit of statism inform its principles, then it is statist in principle? Analogously for a person. It sounds like you're saying all existing countries are evil, and most people are evil too? But, more importantly, you seem to imply that there's no gradation of evil? Is that what you're saying? That gradations are either incoherent or useless?
  11. Innate ideas and animals

    The way to tackle this question is: as a biologist. E.g. what is an instinct, in manifestation? what is our hypothesis of the mechanism that gives rise to them? how are they distinguished from non-instinctual behaviors in non-humans?
  12. Top 10 Life Tips for the Young You

    Many of Petersen's rules are things an Objectivist could get behind, at least for the most part. Indeed, much of his advice has been said by various other self-help authors. A few days ago, a centrist-Democrat friend (Hillary voter, who originally thought Obama was a bit too much to the left, but later thought he'd mostly stayed centrist), was praising Petersen. I knew this was someone who had not learnt of Petersen via his politics. Even though Petersen came to Youtube popularity on the back of his fight for free-speech in Canada, and even though he has been championed by "the right" and by "libertarian left rebels", politics is not his strength. He's best when he has his psychologist's hat on. I think there's a lesson here for future Objectivist intellectuals. To break through to a wide audience, one has to speak to how people can lead better, more fulfilled, lives as individuals. Put free-markets on the back burner, not as an unmentionable or anything like that. Rather, stress what is really important and is much more easily possible to all individuals: to lead happier lives in this world in which they find themselves. Since the context of such advice is typically western societies, or even countries like India (and dare I say, China), where individual success and happiness is accessible to most... this is a more productive place to focus. Anyway, if anyone is interested, here is Petersen, introducing his book.
  13. What essay or book/chapter are you referring to here?
  14. Top 10 Life Tips for the Young You

    Partly true, but "forewarned is forearmed", Having an intellectual, but slightly floating appreciation, can help recognize when a relevant situation comes up. And, then, one has a canned solution. Think driver education: you're told certain things about checking mirrors, or an over-shoulder look, or some such thing. But, you only get an appreciation while driving. Still, it's good to have a little theory instead of trying to figure out solutions as if you're the first one encountering the need for them.
  15. Top 10 Life Tips for the Young You

    Just saw a summary of Jordan Petersen's 12 rules for life: https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/jan/21/jordan-peterson-self-help-author-12-steps-interview (some just for fun, but the first 10 are good advice) Rule 1 Stand up straight with your shoulders back Rule 2 Treat yourself like you would someone you are responsible for helping Rule 3 Make friends with people who want the best for you Rule 4 Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today Rule 5 Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them Rule 6 Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world Rule 7 Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient) Rule 8 Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie Rule 9 Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t Rule 10 Be precise in your speech Rule 11 Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding Rule 12 Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
  16. Objective Black and White Ideals

    This moves out of the philosophy and into biology. In fact, obliquely, this illustrates the point I made in my post: that one does not starts with some abstract principle and reason one's way to concretes.
  17. Donald Trump

    Now Trump is setting up a special department to police employer's against whom Christians make civil rights complaints. The GOP somehow has this image of being against the government imposing itself on people's decisions, but I think that's mostly because the Democrats use that image as a way to critique the GOP. So, the GOP gets away with wanting the government to be big and intrusive, just because the Democrats want it to go further. Who'd have thought that a basically secular centrist like Trump would end up being the champion of the religious right. Not surprising, ofcourse, because he is pragmatist first and everything else way, way later. For more info on the types of laws this new department will police, with their threats of jail, and guns and violence: https://www.hhs.gov/conscience/conscience-protections/index.html What's next? Trump going gang-busters appointing judges. Probably picking a few idiots like this, if if gets him some votes: http://www.statesman.com/news/crime--law/texas-judge-interrupts-jury-says-god-told-him-defendant-not-guilty/ZRdGbT7xPu7lc6kMMPeWKL/
  18. Using geometry to fight gerrymandering

    The counter to that definition is the argument that there is no objective way to draw the boundaries. So, the definition above speaks to outcomes, but a good definition would be something like: drawing the boundaries in violation of this principle ... . But, then, what is that principle against which we can measure, to know if we have gerry mandering? One principle could be that the distribution of legislators in a state (or whatever other larger geographical unit) should reflect the distribution of their support in the overall population. If that's the principle, some European countries have that already, in the form of proportional representation. There are countries where voters specify their first, second and third choices -- again based on some principle about the outcomes of a good voting system. One has to start with some principle about the good system before " gerrymandering" becomes a useful concept. If you start with the principle of geographic representation: i.e. where voters are grouped together by geography and where that combined geographical group makes some decisions as a group, then you would need to add on some second principle to distinguish between better and worse geographic slicing. Just looking at flat space, none of these three divisions of an area into flat space is better than the other, unless we can add some other principle to determine that.
  19. Objective Black and White Ideals

    Good question. Most people are cool with Reason/Rationality: it seems too obvious -- it is even implicit in asking for reasons in the first place. (Self-esteem/Pride is usually the tricky one to grasp.) Context - life and the pursuit of happiness: Before addressing purpose/productiveness, one has to remind oneself of the larger context: why are we asking about Ethics in the first place? We would start with a non-mystical assumption: in other words, we throw God and other superstitious causes out of the window as a starting point, and think of it as a naturalistic/biological issue. That starting point eventually leads us to conclude that our rules of what we should pursue should be based on asking what makes our lives good, fulfilling and happy. This would also include considering the social context: the value and happiness we get from friends, family, etc. This too is part of the basic biological context in which we live and can flourish or not. Thinking about values: If these are good things, they should further our life. Not just make us live a few more years, but should make the years we do live into better, happier years. One can go about figuring this out in two ways. The obvious way seems to be by asking : "what are the things that can improve my life?" A second possible approach is to ask: "What makes me happy?" The objection to the second approach is: just because something makes you happy, it does not necessarily mean it is good. For all you know, it could be killing you on the inside! Reason/rationality are the tools we ought to use. Rand says "emotions are not tools of cognition", but this is a poor formulation. Yes, of course, emotions won't tell you if something is really good or bad for you, but they're typically the catalyst to the question. We might try something and either love it or hate it. If we love it, we still do need to think about whether it is good for us in the long term. Maybe it is great now, but will reduce the quality of our lives for decades, when its ill-effects kick in. Or, we might hate something, but we recognize that if we go through with it, it will improve our lives for years. We are animals, and being animals, we have to resist the "more animalistic" follow-through. Or, more accurately, we should use our brains -- the "rational" part of being "rational animals" -- and not be driven purely by emotion. Still, without the emotion, we would never be asking the questions and looking for answers. An analogy to astronomy: We can do the math, and realize that a planet (Uranus) must exist at a certain place in the solar-system. Or we can scan the skies looking for planets. Indeed, the math of the first approach would not be possible if we did not have a lot of data in the first place. So, the same with asking what will make us happy in the long term: start by asking what makes you happy. Then, ask what makes other people happy -- just as a biologist's opening presumption is that what sustains one amoeba would sustain another. That's a super-long intro But, it is really necessary if you want to grasp the idea with both body and soul. Purpose/Productiveness: Put on your scientist's lab-coat and looking for observations look all around you, and across the world for examples of people getting happiness from some purpose and from productiveness. If you know actual people to think about -- dead or alive -- that's ideal. Maybe you know someone who was very driven and purposeful in his work, and seemed to enjoy it. And, another person who worked a lot, but the work depressed him. Why?What was different? Were either of them pursuing purpose and productiveness? Or, think of simpler examples: a kids and his parents are at the bottom of a hill, and there's a long stairway leading to the top. Tourists climb up and and get a great view. Taking the child's hand, one parent says: "let's count the steps", and up they go. All that effort for a view the kid does not even care about, and is just a few minutes for the parents. Yet, if they come back in a few years, they might happily do it again! Why? What triggers the emotion? As a scientist from Mars, can you see a link between this and their flourishing as a species? Or, even consider something that seems to be completely unproductive: a kid sitting in his room all day, playing video games. One can ask if that';s the choice that will make him most happy in the long term. But, just as interesting is to ask: why does this make him happy, in the first place? And, more specifically, what is it about this video game, compared to others that makes him happy? Even within the same genre, what is it about this good game and this other boring one? Even if the purpose and output from a game is "not real", it can give one clues to the link between purpose and productiveness (in this virtual world, that would be the achievement of the goals of the game) on the one hand, and happiness on the other. Also, look at what other philosophers and self-help folk say about happiness: Pastor Rick Warren uses "purpose-driven life" as his catch-phrase, and it clicks with a lot of people. Are they, and Dale Carnegie fans on to something? Regardless of what you think of their overall message, have they identified some truth about human life? Those are some places to start, but as you ask these questions, try noticing the pairings of purposefulness and happiness all around you. Maybe a cousin is telling you that he is so happy that he quit his corporate job and joined the peace corp two years ago. If you take that at face value, how would an alien scientist reason about that? One can only really understand the value of this via induction: by starting with a lot of data and reasoning from there. Otherwise, any little chapter on why -- in abstract -- having a purpose and being productive will make you happy is not going to be convincing.
  20. Objective Black and White Ideals

    Objectivism doesn't name anything so concrete. If you want a broad list of Objectivist principles, there are four points listed on this page (scroll down a bit): https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1962/01/01/introducing-objectivism If you limit the question just to "what we should value", then here's a quote from Rand: See a little more here: http://wiki.objectivismonline.net/Virtues
  21. What is an Adult

    Philosophy -- as such -- won't give you an answer in terms of specific age.That would be a task for Biology.. Legal philosophy can recognize the fact that there are relevant differences in children and adults. Legal philosophy can say that these differences are relevant in law. But, once we lay down what it is we are looking for, in terms of abilities, it is still Biology that can tell us what age we're talking about. Also, any age you name will suffer from the "borderline problem".People do not wake up on their 18th or 21st birthdays, completely changed from the night before. And, further, different people hit biological milestones at different times. So, any age named in law is a ball park, that starts by looking at the average age, and then goes up or down from there. Personally, I think the legal drinking age is way too high at 21. Unsupervised, it should probably be closer to 16. To have it above 18 is gross stupidity. And, supervised , there really should not be any age at all. I think the voting age should be raised to 21, and maybe higher -- though I don't think there's much impact one way or the other. What's the age of consent for sex? Is it under 16 that it becomes statutory rape? That's probably too old. And, I think the laws that take into account age-differences in deciding whether consensual sex is statutory rape are fine (though I know there are some on the forum who vehemently disagree) Work: I don't see why there should be any age limit there in general, if the parents etc. are acting as legal guardians, checking the terms of employment.
  22. walling people into their own property

    Yup, people tend to see "property rights" as meaning nearly 100% rights to do whatever on, and control all that happens on, a physical piece of land (and in some amount of space above it). That's how the question about walling people in arises.
  23. Using geometry to fight gerrymandering

    Why don't you clarify why you think it is bad? Maybe that will be a start. I'm really curious why we should stop this. Or, better yet, define what it is: objectively. That would be a huge step forward in this "conversation".
  24. Using geometry to fight gerrymandering

    To me it is so marginal an issue that I don't care one way or the other. Is there a reason to change it?
  25. Using geometry to fight gerrymandering

    A little bit of geometry would work well, to limit the crazier cases. Proportional representation is another way to tackle the same issue. I guess the bigger question is: does one want to stop gerrymandering?