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Invictus2017 last won the day on November 4

Invictus2017 had the most liked content!

About Invictus2017

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    I move a lot.
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    computers, Objectivism, and starting an Objectivism-based society

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  • Experience with Objectivism
    Extensive, since 1983. I've read most, maybe all, of the important books and periodicals published before the mid 90's.

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  1. "Shot Caller" Looks At Nazis In Prison

    The movie is wrong. Prisoners can run the prison without the aid of an external gang,. It's the inadequate and indifferent staff -- and the public's indifference to these things -- that make it possible (and, actually, necessary) that the prisoners run the prison. And the "shot caller" is a prisoner, not someone on the outside. Nope. These gangs are only a tiny part of the problem.
  2. "Shot Caller" Looks At Nazis In Prison

    There is a fundamental paradox inherent in any exercise of power over another. In order to coerce you, I have to, at least temporarily, place my purposes above your existence. But you are an end in yourself, not a means to any other person's end. Whether I am a prison guard controlling prisoners or a man defending himself from a would-be murderer, the person I act on is, at least temporarily, not-human in my eyes. This is not a big deal in the case of self-defense; few people are corrupted by a single episode of ignoring the humanity of another. But a prison guard (or a politician) does this day in and day out. Only a person who has been inoculated against this sort of corruption and who practices a rigorous mental hygiene has any hope of avoiding this sort of corruption. Everyone else will eventually come to regard those who he has power over as not-human and will act accordingly. This is above and beyond mere venality, as in a guard paid to overlook prison rules, or fear, as in a guard acting under threat. Even if these last two things could be eliminated, there would still be the problem that guards will cease to see those they guard as human. Once they do, they will mistreat prisoners, improperly supervise rehabilitation programs, and routinely fail to understand what is happening in prison and the nature of the prisoners they deal with. The real solution, as I said, is to be found in a redesign of the justice system; merely addressing the guards' failings won't really help. I haven't thought this all the way through, but my redesign goes something like this: A person's trial (and there would always be a trial, even if it is just a defendant standing up in front of a jury and admitting to facts that prove his guilt) would be concerned with whether he had violated someone's rights and what he must do in restitution. This would be, in effect, a civil proceeding. A finding of guilt would trigger a second proceeding, akin to sentencing, but with a different purpose. The purpose of this second proceeding would be a determination of whether the person should have his rights restricted for the purpose of reducing the chance that he will violate someone's rights again. This would be, in effect, a criminal proceeding, with its heightened proof requirements. (You'll note that I do not address retribution. I see no point, and much harm, in merely hurting someone to get back at him for something he did.) Prison would be reserved for those people who are so dangerous that nothing outside of prison would serve to protect others from their predations. Lesser offenders would be separated from opportunities to cause further rights violations and would be closely monitored, but not imprisoned. In all cases, the end of these sanctions would be dependent on the person proving himself no longer a danger to others' rights. NB: You may have noticed that I dropped the terminology relating to criminality. While the nature of any sanctions, beyond restitution, would depend on whether the person acted out of criminality or (say) because he was psychotic, the goal is always the protection of others' rights. The thoroughly evil would get prison, the insane would get a psych hospital, neither would be allowed back on the streets while their condition was unchanged. Within this sort of system, its a lot clearer what must happen in a prison. First, prisoners would always be those adjudicated as dangerous to others. It would be entirely appropriate for them to be confined individually, as is presently done in supermax prisons. Those prisoners desiring a return to society would have to move themselves through an extended procedure to teach them to respect rights and to verify that they've learned their lessons. Such a tightly controlled system would be much safer for the guards, with less opportunity for the prisoners to do them harm or to harm other prisoners. To ensure that the guards aren't corrupted by their duties, their actions in the prison would be monitored, and they would undergo periodic evaluations, a failure of which would require them to enter what amounts to therapy in order to regain their objectivity before they're allowed to go back to guarding.
  3. "Shot Caller" Looks At Nazis In Prison

    I rather suspect that I'm unique here in that I actually know something about prisons, having spent over a decade imprisoned in them. First off, anything any academic, government person, or prison employee says about prisons is almost certainly nonsense. Most of these people are ignorant. The rest, dishonest. Stuff coming from current and former prisoners generally isn't much better. Real prison reform is an impossibility. Why? First, because of the prisoners. Second, because of prison staff. Many prisoners are, frankly, unfit for human society. They believe in violence, direct or indirect, as the foundation of all relationships. These people run the prisons precisely because they are willing to use violence to achieve their ends. (NB: Prison violence is generally rare -- but the threat of violence is not.) Why don't prison staff stop them? One critical reason is simply the prisoner/guard ratio. In the low security prison I spent much time in, it was over 360 men in a unit with one, count 'em one, guard -- who sat in his office almost all the time, generally leaving only to do rounds, once an hour. More secure prisons have more guards, but we're still talking many tens to one. (NB: Prisons have other staff than guards, but it is the guards who are, in effect, the policemen.) But the big problem is a failure of objectivity caused by the nature of being prison staff. "Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely". Those who must exercise power daily over others can avoid corruption only by a concerted effort to spot and rectify it. No such effort is being made, so the people running prisons are almost entirely unable to perceive the nature of prisons or of prisoners. That alone makes prison reform impossible. Changing these facts would require a complete redesign of the criminal justice system -- actually, a creation of a criminal justice system, since the one we have no longer serves justice.
  4. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    I've got too much on my plate right now. I am still nitpicking "The Objectivist Ethics" and hope to have a new post sometime before Hell freezes over. I think I will have to write something to restart the discussion about my proposed city, since everyone seems to have deserted it at the same time. And the immigration discussion has prompted me to start an essay on immigration in an Objectivist society. (Which I can justify to myself on the ground that I will have to examine the topic sooner or later because it will be an issue with my proposed city.) I just don't have time for another serious discussion. I wouldn't have posted here, except I just couldn't remain silent in the face of the unwarranted verbal abuse going on. As a general proposition, I would say that it's better to say that someone has failed to grasp a particular point of reasoning than to say that he was evading it. In Objectivist circles, "evasion" is just too loaded to use casually. And I'd suggest that any such comments should always be made privately, for much the same reason.
  5. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    I think we are agreed on what constitutes prejudice: an ungrounded belief about a person based on group membership. In this sense, it doesn't matter whether the group is defined by hair color or skin color, age or sex, because the essence is "ungrounded". (A grounded belief, such as the proposition that racists are immoral, would not be prejudice.) I think I see where our difference lies. If I am judging people based on whether they are prejudiced, the difference between the person who won't date redheads, believing them to have a temper, and the person who would legally consign Blacks to the back of the bus, believing them to be subhuman, is one of degree rather than of kind. In this case, it makes no sense to distinguish between what I called "mere prejudice" and racism, however defined. It is a different matter if I am concerned with the social consequences of prejudice. The guy who won't date redheads only harms himself, but the guy who would legally consign Blacks to the back of the bus intends or desires to violate the rights of Blacks. In this case, the difference is not merely one of degree but of kind. So, whether there are subordinate concepts to "prejudice" depends on one's purpose -- as it should. You're more concerned with judging the individual, I'm more concerned with the social consequence. From your point of view, all -ists are essentially the same, because they share the same moral fault. From mine, I want terms to distinguish the -ists who would violate rights from those who would not, because of how their shared moral fault differs in its impact on society. (And I'm still open to a better term than "racist'. "Tribalist"?) In other words, except in the matter of word choices, we're both right. I see no mud slinging. Contrast our discussion with the ad hominems floating about. When someone claims that another person is "evading" (to take a single example) , he is not merely asserting that the other person has failed to take something into account, he is asserting that the other person is immoral. Even if that were true, such an observation is not useful -- except possibly to explain why he won't continue the discussion. It has no place in a discussion.
  6. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    I mean a rejection of the proposition that someone is in fact a human being. Generally, today, this isn't explicit. Racists rarely say, "Blacks aren't really people". Instead, they might say that Blacks are genetically disposed to do bad things, thus rejecting the idea that Blacks have free will, an essential aspect of being a human being. Does that clarify what I mean? Likely. But they're still focusing on some irrelevancy, something that has nothing to do with whether Blacks are really people. I think we're disagreeing more on terminology than substance. I use the word "racist" because I really don't want to have umpteen different words for what is essentially the same phenomenon. What people do when they deny the humanity of Blacks is racist. Of women, sexist. Of adolescents -- there is no name for it, but it's equally evil. So what word covers all of these things? If you have a better word than racist, by all means toss it my way! So, understanding that I'm grouping all these -ists (and many more) under the rubric of racist, I would identify two different concepts. A racist rejects the humanity of some group of human beings. He typically demonstrates this rejection by denying rights to people in that group. A person who is prejudiced holds unfounded notions about some group, without denying their humanity. He typically demonstrates his prejudice through his associational decisions. (A person might not deny another's humanity, but nevertheless deny rights to that person. I would also call that racist, because that denial of rights amounts to a denial of humanity, even if the racist consciously affirms the humanity of those whose rights he would violate.) The two things I described are not the same. Using the words as I just described: The prejudiced person does not deny the humanity of those against whom he is prejudiced. The racist does. Associational decisions are not a legal matter. Denying rights is. Prejudice is, in general, merely stupid. Racism is always reprehensible. I thinks those differences are enough to make it worthwhile to have two separate concepts. Well, it's certainly true that racism and prejudice (as I'm using the terms) have a lot in common. Both involve unfounded negative beliefs about people of some group. Perhaps we might resolve this by describing both phenomena as "prejudice", and calling what I labeled "prejudice" as "mere prejudice", as opposed to its nastier brother "racism". That is, the upper level concept, subsuming all sorts of unfounded negative beliefs about groups, is "prejudice". It has two sub-concepts, differentiated by whether those unfounded beliefs amount to a denial of humanity. When they don't, it's "mere prejudice"; when they do, it's "racism". (I'm still using "racism" here to include every variety of negative -ist.) The thing is, I really can't lump together those with mere prejudice, even when it's against a historically abused group, with people who deny another's humanity or trample on their rights. There is a world of difference between the guy who won't date redheads because of their reputed temper, and the guy who thinks that Blacks can be relegated to the back of the bus or even bought and sold. It has nothing to do with the fact that redheads aren't a race and Blacks (supposedly) are. The important distinction is that the former does not deny the humanity of redheads and would not deny their rights, but the latter would.
  7. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    I responded to you because I wanted to nix the idea that my silence in any way amounted to an endorsement of the evil ideas being bandied about. I did not mean to suggest that you were among those slinging mud. It is possible. I can't say because once the mud started flying, I stopped paying serious attention. In any case, here is my take on racism (you'll note that I'm addressing the idea, not the character of anyone in this discussion): Let me first define what I mean by "racism": The denial of essential humanity to a person on a ground that they possess some irrelevant characteristic such as skin color. This denial is typically manifested by a racist forwarding the proposition that a person possessing the characteristic should be denied some or all of the rights accorded to the racist's preferred group. There is this folklore that redheads have more of a temper than other people. Now, suppose I decide that I don't care for women who have a temper and so refuse to date redheads. Am I a racist? No. Because I have not denied essential humanity to redheads, nor does my refusal to date them deny them of anything they have a right to. This would be as true if I refused to serve redheads at a restaurant I owned, or if the irrelevant characteristic I acted on was dark skin color. I would be stupid to act this way, denying myself the benefits of association with redheads or people with dark colored skin, but I wouldn't deserve the tag "racist". Conversely, if I decided that temper was a Bad Thing and that, as it was heritable with hair color, redheads should not be allowed to reproduce, I would be a racist, and deserving of vehement condemnation. Ditto if I decided that dark skinned people -- or transgendered people -- should be denied the right to use public bathrooms that were appropriate to their plumbing. So what would I make of someone who argues that Blacks in Africa were less intelligent than Whites in Europe and thus could not have developed capitalism? I would think they're ignorant and prone to get their information from unreliable sources. I would not think they're racist. I might killfile them, on the ground that I don't want to waste my time on someone so ill-informed, but that's as far as I'd be willing to go. I am aware that many people will not make the distinction I make, between people who rely on inappropriate characteristics to decide who to associate with and people who rely on inappropriate characteristics to decide who is truly human. But that this is an important distinction should be evident, and I'm simply not willing to lump together both sorts of people and claim them equally evil. I'm more sympathetic to the view that people who rely on inappropriate characteristics to decide on whom they associate with might enable the true racists and thereby promote racism. This is, in fact, why advancing the notion that redheads have more temper than most isn't as big a deal as advancing the notion that Blacks on average have lower IQ's. The former can be treated as merely silly; the latter could play right into the narratives of true racists, and might properly be denounced on that ground -- but not as racist per se. (Watch Invictus duck for cover, expecting mud from certain quarters....sigh.)
  8. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    Initially, I stayed out of the discussion because I'm busy and the topic seemed silly. Then the discussion degenerated to ad hominem, and that was that as far as I'm concerned. I will not get involved when people decide to throw mud at one another. That just makes me dirty, to no benefit. The benevolence I mentioned was not for the evil ideas allegedly held by certain people. Those ideas deserve condemnation. It is for the people accused. Do people here really think we have cross-burning racists here? Is the evidence sufficiently strong as to justify the condemnations being made? I don't think so. I personally think some people here have some pretty idiotic ideas. But I attribute those ideas to ignorance, pigheadedness, and other venal sins that we all -- including me -- are capable of, not to some major evil in the people holding them, and will continue to do so until the evidence demands that I conclude otherwise. That is what I mean by benevolence, in this context.
  9. How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars

    Is there a way to completely cut a topic out of this site's display? This topic is revolting me, with what I presume are ordinarily rational people behaving like trolls and worse. Remember benevolence, people, and don't be so quick to assume that a difference of opinion proves evil.
  10. I have added CartsBeforeHorses to my ignore list.  I cannot allow my time to be wasted by people who won't use their reason.

  11. I get notified when quoted.... The burden is on you to explain why lone-wolf terrorism should be treated specially. By the evidence, it needs no special treatment; ordinary police work is sufficient.
  12. I did my bit for perspective and sanity, and I have nothing material to add. As for this terrorist, I prefer Roark's answer to Toohey: "But I don't think of you." Evil is not important, not unless it happens to significantly affect my life, and neither this scum nor his brothers-in-murder are likely to affect my life even a little. Unless, of course, public hysteria about terrorism is used as an excuse to tighten up the American police state. But whose fault would that be? All of which is a long-winded way of saying, "I'm outta here". I need to return my attention to where it belongs, on ways of making a better future.
  13. Every religion has this potential. And mostly they do it to those they regard as their own. You are in essentially no danger from any Muslim, unless he is a common criminal who happens to be Muslim. On the other hand, you'll lose half of your productive effort to Christian-inspired taxation. (I'm not defending this guy, or even Islam. But rationality demands perspective. And this focus on a tiny number of terrorists, in the face of overwhelmingly greater threats, is anything but rational.)
  14. Nope. But.... The Northern Ireland mess resulted in 3,568 deaths in 1969-2010, slightly less than the total number of terrorism deaths in the US over a slightly shorter period. And Northern Ireland is rather smaller than the US.... Christians. Another religion of peace. Yeah for peace! Blame religions and pseudo-religions (like communism) for mass murder if you will. But don't single out any particular one of them.
  15. Facts are such pesky things. In the United States: Total number of murders in 2016: 17,250 Total number of alcohol related traffic deaths in 2016: 10,497 Total number of terrorist deaths in 2016: 68 In 2008-2016, There were 90 deaths from Islamic terrorists, 79 from right wing terrorists, and 7 from left wing terrorists. In the years 1970-2016, terrorists killed 3,663 people, most on 9/11. Terrorism isn't even close to being the biggest evil in the world, and all the hysteria in the world will not change that.