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William Scott Scherk

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About William Scott Scherk

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    Junior Member
  • Birthday 01/24/58

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    http://www.marciadamon.com/images/wss/thebestofWSSc1703-WIDE-glitterboy.jpg
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  • Yahoo
    wsscberk

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Interests
    Interests and hobbies are dang dilettantish, web design, cycling, psychologizing
    Passions/Interests: Argument re; human nature; good government; comprehension; current events/history; urban transport and urban design; emotion; pseudoscience, pseudophilosoply
    Favorite Movies: none but the worst, Evil Dead, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, crappy Mexican horror/wrestling movies, early Spanish gore movies, etc
    Favorite Books: Science within Reason [Susan Haack]
    Favorite Music: demented pop, Dusty Springfield, Cure, Anne Murray, Dead Kennedys, Los Popularos, classic Cuban
    Favorite Food: Cantonese
    Favorite Works of art: Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X [Francis Bacon]
    Other Favorites: My geekish side loves learning XML/PHP/MySQL and AJAX. My geekier side like Google Earth. My ultra geekish side thinks databases are neat. My normal side is fascinated by the obverse to norms.
    Pet Peeves: Forced-choice questions, pseudoscience, crap psychology, heartless cruelty.


    Philosophy: Non-Objectivist
    Ayn Rand Fiction read : Atlas Shrugged
    Ayn Rand Non-Fiction read: Virtue of Selfishness, Romantic Manifesto

    Personality: Myers-Briggs Personality Type: Aqua

    Body Type: Average
    Height: 6'2" (187 cm)
    Eye Color: blue
    Hair Color: brown with distinguished grey

Previous Fields

  • Country
    Canada
  • State (US/Canadian)
    BritishColumbia
  • Chat Nick
    wsscherk
  • Interested in meeting
    Intelligence ...
  • Relationship status
    Single
  • Sexual orientation
    Gay / Lesbian
  • Real Name
    William Scott Scherk
  • Copyright
    Copyrighted
  • Biography/Intro
    WSS has been: Poet/HR manager of a year-round silviculture company in the great white north, - webmaster, data base admin - singer. songwriter, frontman - painter - sculptor - reporter - cook - janitor - editor - filmmaker - actor - amateur psychologist - web maven May he be all these things
  • Experience with Objectivism
    Six years of grinding up against the parts of Objectivism that I object to. This has sharpened my mind and arguments, and allowed me friendships with people I disagree with.
  • School or University
    College of New Caledonia
  • Occupation
    Consultant, Editor, Volunteer, Caterer, Multiculturalist, Gadfly, Critic

Recent Profile Visitors

1690 profile views
  1. Like you claimed me? I am friendly, but no nothing about you. Nice to have a friend showing up in my profile ...

    8)

  2. French objectivist novel banned in its own country.

    I'm not by any means an Objectivist, brother. An interested bystander, perhaps, and one with a great sympathy for folks 'up against the machine,' but not an adherent. Good luck with the sales of your book. When I was in France I was surprised at the 'tightness' of what I could see of that culture. I remember being surprised at gardens in the suburbs of Paris -- so pruned and bollarded and crimped and gated and forced into conformity that it seemed the householders were angry with the poor shrubbery. It wasn't till I spent some time in the Sauterne that I realized Paris wasn't France . . .
  3. French objectivist novel banned in its own country.

    Thanks for the links, Dominique. One question occurs to me . . . why do you use 'the author of Grandoria' and 'Dominique Raymond Poirier himself" rather than 'me'? I don't know what to say, except to quote from a terrible/wonderful scene between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in the movie Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. The Davis character had been systematically tormenting her sister, and now attempts to reason with her . . . Crawford: You wouldn't be able to do these awful things to me if I wasn't still in this chair! Davis: But you are, Blanche! You are in that chair!
  4. French objectivist novel banned in its own country.

    I am a bilingual Canuckistani and followed the links to Facebook and to the two forums noted. There is some apparent suspicion that a newbie poster is actually the author (/a brother or friend of the author) of Children of Grandoria, and so suspicion that the newbie is indulging in a bit of (hidden) self-promotion. These are huge forums with very large readership. As far as I can tell there is no banning or 'censoring' of discussion, just a rather dire dismissiveness and suspicious/supercilious attitudes. In the context of French literary squabbles, this is not particularly notable -- not to take a swing at 'The French' or anything, but the world of literature is taken much much more seriously in France than the average North American can comprehend . . . and the ability to be scornful and dismissive and arch has been taken to a level that is breathtaking at times. Perhaps the author (RichardP) can give some direct links to the worst of the commentary to illustrate the kind of reception his book has received? I would be happy to translate.
  5. According to a message sent to readers/members at her Facebook page "Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller," and also posted to her Wordpress blog, the author of "Ayn Rand and the World She Made" is shortly to visit the Archives as a registered user. She invites research questions via email (questions based on her book or other reputable sources) and writes that she will report on her visit later this month.
  6. Intro with video and links

    Via Youtube, a highlight from the upcoming documentary film Bloodied But Unbowed. This highlight clip is me in the flesh nowadays talking about sex and status and community and a wave of nostalgia. Wscherk, me, was once Bill Shirt, frontman for a couple of Vancouver bands. In the promo clip you can see some vintage footage of the callow youth cavorting on stage and singing the 1979 anthem "Nothing Holding You." Strange to have the old days return in Vancouver. We were once 300 brave villagers battling the swampy, shitty music landscape of the time, banding together for mutual protection and plentiful libations. Those days are gone, but for better or worse, Vancouver's punk-era nostalgia boom continues unabated. The film premieres at DOXA festival on May 13. I am so excited. I am wearing my new pink sombrero (only those who know me on Facebook will get the in-joke). I post this here so OOites who have only seen my snarkouts here can snark right back. ___________
  7. Food and drug industry regulation

    Jake answers my query: "Objectivism would allow US Marshals to seize and destroy products such as these, or if Objectivism might allow a law against adulteration, and allow policing of such scams." Well, if under Objectivism, a law against adulteration might exist, and a law that allows policing of such scams might exists, I am left wondering just how this would work. If Stiff Nights is investigated, and its product found to be adulterated, who does the investigating? Or rather, what part or arm or agency of the government would be charged with these tasks? Here's what I don't quite get: there is and will be a Fraud Squad, one that has powers to obtain search warrants, and so on. If a customer/consumer contacts the Fraud Squad and says Zyprexa is mislabeled and mismarketed, what next? A corollary is the question of what the detecting/investigating agency would do if it was alerted that a whole type of Stiffy-type supplements probably contain a powerful blood pressure reducer. Would they investigate all those products? How does the detective differentiate between the innocent Stiffies and the adulterated Stiffies? What is the crime to be detected, in actuality? It isn't simply a generic fraud, it is selling a drug as a so-called dietary supplement. If an Objectivist government has the right/power to police such things, how will this power be constituted? Will it be pro-active and investigate widely, or only respond to particular, individual complaints? How would you want the tissue banks to be policed, Jake -- as a potential customer, right now?
  8. Food and drug industry regulation

    If you mean how would a laissez-faire approach to supplements work in the real world, I suggest you have a gander at some of the watchdog sites that monitor the scammers and fraudsters in the supplement industry, such as Supplement Genius There are some toe-curling stories of truly venal operations. My favourite is the Stiff Nights 'all natural' male-enhancement pill sold until recently . . . the secret in the mix was an analogue to the active ingredient in Viagra. Remember that Viagra's erectile properties were discovered in testing a blood-pressure reduction medication. So, taking Stiff Nights means you can lower your blood pressure. Good thing to have on the label, right? Well, not for the manufacturer. The FDA got wind of this fraud via customer complaints. My question concerns those Stiff Nights customers. In the absence of an FDA, who would the customer complain to -- the police? the neighbours? the courts? What is the recourse to someone damaged by a mislabeled or otherwise fraudulent product? Is the customer's only choice in a laissez-faire world to bring civil suit after the fact? Me, I don't see the horror in an investigatory regime funded by the public purse that has the power to intervene before death and damage occur. I made the comparison earlier between traffic regulation and the rules of the road. I wonder if a laissez-faire approach to road safety would show the same dividends of a laissez-faire approach to food and drug safety. Laws of the road, or standard rules and regulations might be rationally justified under Objectivism. Why not laws on food and drugs (and supplements)? Perhaps a completely rational society infused with Objectivism would get by with a simple "Be Safe, Everyone!" JMegan suggests "You can go all over the place and get tons of information about supplements." No dispute there. But where do you go to find out that Stiff Nights contains an active ingredient that is not on the label? In the case of Stiff Nights, you can go to their website . . . Stiffnights.com, and discover that the ingredient list does not contain the active ingredient . . . and then? Well, one can find warnings from the . . . that's right, FDA. What will replace the FDA testing and exposure of this scam under Objectivism? JMegan suggests "a lot of people don't seem to value their health and well-being enough to be really proactive in evaluating supplements." This statement would seem to mean that someone damaged by StiffNights should have investigated. Fair enough, but where and how? Who but the FDA will be likely to test the substance and publish a warning? I just don't get that supplement producers can lie and peddle dangerous 'all natural' and the consumer must somehow be charged with finding out the fraud on his or her own . . . I note that the FDA is likely gearing up to stamp out Stiff Nights as it has seized and destroyed other products: "they seized more than 14,000 dosages of products known as Shangai Regular, Shangai Ultra, Super Shangai, Naturalë Super Plus, and Lady Shangai. [ . . . ] In July 2008, the Marshals seized specific lots of illegal Xiadafil VIP tablets distributed by SEI Pharmaceuticals Inc. (SEI) of Miami, Fla. The total worth of the seized tablets neared $74,000. In both cases, the firms prompted FDA enforcement by failing to act after being notified of the potential adverse health risks posed by the products. It could be that under Objectivism, there would be no FDA. But I wonder if Objectivism would allow US Marshals to seize and destroy products such as these, or if Objectivism might allow a law against adulteration, and allow policing of such scams. For more sad/funny/chilling tales of supplement scams, see Supplement Genius's 25 Top Worst Supplement Scans of 2009
  9. Food and drug industry regulation

    JMeganSnow reports on the American Association of Tissue Banks, a voluntary agency that sets standards for its members. Yes, something to think about. I tried to find out how JMegan came up with the SIX, count them, SIX tissue banks in the US, without success. I note that Ohio alone has 72 tissue banks registered with the FDA. According to a report by Harvard law student Mary Wang, in 2002 68 tissue banks were accredited by the AATB. I note that the AATB processes and procedures form the bulk of the industry standards that FDA regulations enforce. I see no way to conclude that trade in human tissues is an UNCOMPETITIVE industry. What compels the industry to sell its products? One might imagine that the AATB strictures and policies are altruistic (in the sense of a Public Interest), but note that hundreds of companies do not belong to the AATB. For those who wonder what the issues are that might rationally require strict oversight (whether from AATB or FDA), there is a decent 2002 article from the New York Times, Lack of oversight in tissue donations raising concerns It's a kind of creepy, interesting world of human tissue markets/industries. I'm one of those people who wants the highest, most rational standards applied to the harvesting and sales of the products. What is most interesting to me is that in an entirely unregulated food and drug industry, some stuffs can reach the market that are tainted or otherwise dangerous in themselves.
  10. Food and drug industry regulation

    JMeganSnow replies to my disagreement that it is much cheaper to lie than to comply with FDA requirements. JMegan had suggested by way of an example that it is "MUCH cheaper to LIE about your compliance and throw a few hundred thousand dollars at lawyers to keep the regulatory agencies off your back than to actually go through the byzantine process of compliance." I wrote that Eli Lilly lied, and paid the big price. My disagreement was that it was not cheaper for Lilly to lie than to comply. In any case, JMegan's totals are wrong. Lilly's lies to the FDA cost them much more than that 1.42 billion criminal fine. There was a separate settlement of 1.2 billion, as well as continuing legal fees and suits, including suits from Lilly's insurance companies who charge fraud, seeking $6.8 billion in damages. BNet reports that Lilly 'burned through' 6% of its revenues since 2006 on payouts for its Zyprexa follies. Lilly hasn't finished paying out on this file. BNet notes a figure of $3,914,400 and counting. That's a big price for lying, to my eyes. If JMegan might assert that 4 billion dollars is cheaper than compliance, I just don't see the reasoning.
  11. Food and drug industry regulation

    This statement is incorrect, given the real world example of Zyprexa. Lilly lied, and paid the big price.
  12. Food and drug industry regulation

    Under Objectivism, there will be no FDA as a strong arm of The Government. To your example -- if a person purchases a drug (perhaps by prescription, perhaps not) and its use results in that person's death, a few more bits of information need to be known before your question can be answered reasonably. Since it is a hypothetical, I will try to draw in more bits of information with as much reality as possible: The drug is prescribed by a doctor. The patient asks the doctor about side-effects. Can I die from this medication? he asks. The doctor says that in rare cases. the drug has led to death, and gives the patient the pages of information about side effects that the drug manufacturer made available. It looks like the drug is not indicated for folks with high blood pressure or problems with circulation or compromised lung function. The patient has neither of these three conditions, but notes that the information shows several deaths. How did they test this drug? he asks the doctor. Well, this company is completely unregulated, of course, but they do publish research. Let's look online. Here . . . is all the testing that the company did. It is not that easy to interpret, but it has been through the industry standard of three stage testing: animal testing, preliminary human testing, and double-blind controlled testing. That means that this drug has probably been tested by the most stringent standards around. There is a possibility with any drug of unforeseen consequences, but of any drug on the market for your condition, this is the best. The choice is in your hands. The person takes the drug and dies, and the cause of death was, in reality, a reaction to the drug. The police investigate all suspicious deaths, of course, but in this case, they don't suspect murder or manslaughter or anything untoward. The wife and family are convinced that the death was a direct result of the drug. They hire a lawyer. Of course, anyone could fill in the rest of the bits of information, and sway the answers to your example in any direction. -- That there could be a mysterious fatal drug reaction was contained in the information provided by the manufacturer. -- That there could be a fatal reaction as experienced in our example was know to the manufacturer, but not included in the information. -- That there were definite contra-indications contained in the information that corresponded to the patient's state of health. Any and all of these qualifiers could be true. But the truth would not be known in the absence of an investigation. The police don't have a mandate to investigate, as there is nothing in the statutes for them to find a crime, we see -- it's a consumer affair. If a harm has actually befallen our consumer that can be clearly and rationally laid at the feet of the manufacturer's product, his survivors can take their complaint to court. Will the court hear a case about a suspected fatal drug reaction? Certainly they would now. Wrongful death. Would a company be protected from wrongful death suits? I don't see why . . . if there was actual harm that the company did. Give a couple of outcomes to a lengthy wrongful death suit, shall I? -- the company was found to have not actually followed the procedures of its own policies on safety testing and drug warning information. Fraud. -- the company was found to have fully informed the consumer and followed the strictest industry standards. That's business. Sorry, dumbass. -- the doctor did not read page fifty six of the company handout. Uh oh, hope doctor has malpractice insurance. -- the company actually did a rush to market and hadn't rationally vetted its product. So what. Buyer beware. Case closed. Next. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ -- perhaps the best way to approach your global query is to figure out what the FDA does that still would need to be done, rationally, in a world without an FDA. That's big job! If you posit that a govenment remit includes regulating the food and drug industries and most industries related to public health and safety, you won't find a lot of support among the objectivish. If you believe that the average consumer (of items under FDA oversight) does not have the tools needed to determine the safety and quality of these particular products on their own, you would be right (in my humble opinion). That said, how would safety and quality be assured in particular products under Objectivism? Nobody knows. As I noted, the raft of actions, processes and procedures, tests and certifications might include some very rational items that should be performed in the absence of an FDA. Perhaps testing would be performed by an independent, industry-funded body. Perhaps safety inspections would be part of a guild-type contract. Maybe drugs would not get an industry 'kiss of approval' until they satisfied some criteria that could be independently assessed. I am with you if you believe that the part of government which concerns itself with public health needs some kind of enforcement. That policing the shared byways of the world requires preventive and regulatory methods (as with traffic laws, pure food laws), there is now a welter of guide posts that say "this way, not that way" and "test fully for purity, safety and efficacy before marketing. Tell the whole truth about your product." Some of these are fully rational, even moral precepts, some are finicky and seemingly crazy (registering autos, insuring autos, not parking in a load zone, not selling pure honey that actually contains botulism). Some are, shall we say -- in the Objectivist sense -- wrong, unethical. Should there then be a law/regulation on the loading zone, the botulism, or can we kind of clear up the whole mess of regulation and law with one sweep of the broom? If we can sweep it all away except for the pure rational core, what is left? If it makes sense to an Objectivist to have a No Parking In Load Zone sign subjecting every single motor vehicle operator to the exact same sanction, with an enforcement mechanism in place to ensure compliance, should there be a similar sign on the marketing byway that says Do Not Adulterate Foodstuffs? Should there be a traffic policemen on the street? Should there be a traffic policemen who can stop traffic in dangerous drugs? Can a policeman enforce the rules and fine your ass? Some would say no. A substantial portion of the FDA regulation might stem from a common-sense need: scientific testing of claims, prevention of adulterated and/or otherwise tainted products being sold to consumers. In a perfect world, no producer of a drug would want to put anything on the market that had not been thoroughly vetted to the highest rational standards. Do we need something like an FDA to be manage the welter of products that can poison or otherwise harm people? Is an individual well-served by a regime (even entirely industry-ran) that commits those in the market to rational standards of testing, labeling, warning, etc, that is accountable? If yes, and the regime is privately-managed, what is the recourse for the crazed drivers of the drug world -- what about the manufacturers who obey no traffic precepts, no matter how moral and just? Do they get ticketed? By whom . . . ? I say yes. I would go further and say that such concepts as "public health" are a legitimate interest of government. What kind of government is a separate question -- whether traffic is regulated by a non-state actor, whether the production of drugs is governed by industry standards that are enforced within the industry (a levy on each producer to pay for the inspection and vetting of its agreed-upon standards). Some transactions are governed by trust. "Here's your car. Off you go. Be safe and responsible. Don't kill anybody. Good luck." It could be argued that government per se (meaning an administration, management, oversight, publicly accessible and accountable) -- a governing body or bodies to coordinate the most rational processes and practices -- can be established without being part of the state. In some cases (fire protection, disaster response, emergency mobilization, health and safety practices, drinking water, and a few other items) I am not at all certain that a modern industrial society can prosper without management by an independent, rational set of principles and procedures. I don't believe that a laissez-faire works on the roads, nor in our rivers, our skies, and not in the marketing of drugs powerful enough to kill me. But then, I am not an Objectivist.
  13. Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature

    Nerd, forgive me if I seem like a knob, but I don't follow your reasoning. If I truncate the quote and ignore its referents, it looks like you could be arguing for the following: He who finds knowledge to be a priori finds discussion pointless. Now, in French, this reads much better: Qui trouve la connaissance fixé en avant, sans expérience, ne sauriez qu'y en discuter soit sans but. And, voila! you find yourself on my 'ignore' list. Have a happy Xmas.
  14. Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature

    Will the ARCHN author heed criticism? Maybe not, but he certainly entertains it on the blog devoted to the book. The input and comments generally run at a higher rate of intellectual RPM than cranky anti-Rand sites and hit-and-run pieces. What I mean is that the folks who argue on the side of Nyquist and his book have actually read Rand, continue to read Rand (and Randian texts, discussions, journals, etc) and are open to strong challenges. For example, one of the latest blog entries has a hundred comments . . . and the commentary is useful for students of Objectivism insofar as the critics's arguments are laid out in detail. For those who are more advanced, of course the whole point of Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature is irrelevant. What I mean is, if Rand was right about human nature, then Nyquist is wrong, and no amount of discussion can alter the facts. If Rand was mostly right, or if Rand was almost entirely right, or if Rand and Randian orthodoxy is not the nec plus ultra, then discussion can be fruitful. Many of the more intelligent contributors to ARCHN's blog are, of course, fans of Rand, and celebrants of her literary gifts and general cultural influence. Many consider themselves deeply committed to the same values that generally undergird Randian projects and Objectivist principles . . . I think it is easy to dismiss the ARCHN blog as typical of or exemplary of 'anti-Rand' blunders and dogma, then. It might be a fief of Rand skeptics, but unless all criticism of Rand's conclusions on Human Nature should be dismissed a priori, then engaging with the heathens/gentiles/apostates is surely salutory.
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