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About Laure

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  1. Laure

    Prosletyzing versus good food

    Well, if they've got good food, I'd continue going there. It's nothing compared to the "Vegetarian House" in San Jose! Check this out: *LINK* You get to watch videos of the Supreme Master Ching Hai while enjoying their food. It's pretty bizarre. But I've been back, and brought people there. The food is good, and it's actually kind of an entertaining experience! Learn more about the Supreme Master at her website, GodsDirectContact.com (I kid you not!) Apparently she's a very successful entrepreneurial philanthropist, very good at hobnobbing with folks with money. So, you see, a few bible verses on the menu is pretty tame stuff.
  2. I agree with turboimpala, and I see what slacker00 is saying. Rand was trying to reclaim the word "selfishness", but maybe we should concentrate on the larger battle. After all, nobody's trying to reclaim the word "gay" to mean "happy" - it's gone! Maybe the approach we could take is to mainly use the term "rational self-interest" and then explain as an aside that the root of the word "selfish" is "self", and that that word has had a negative connotation tacked on to its meaning which we reject.
  3. Laure

    Financial Risk Czar in the works

    Wow, it's going to take someone really smart to run the economy! Smarter even than Obama. I've heard there's this guy in North Korea who's supposed to be the smartest guy on earth, maybe we could get him.
  4. Laure

    Was Ayn Rand an altruist?

    Slacker00, let me expound on my views here, because I disagree with you about compulsion being "the root of what Rand is really talking about." In my view, opposition to compulsion is where it all started for Rand, but it's not "the root." She saw the horrors of communism as a young person in Russia, and her soul cried out, "NO!" She then came to the realization that the moral code of altruism is what MADE this compulsory system of government possible. She then came to the realization that the root cause of that moral code is irrationality. It's like when you discover a theorem in math. You look around, you work some examples, you convince yourself that the supposed theorem is probably true. Then, to prove it, you can either work forward from axioms and known theorems, or you can work backward to connect the theorem to the axioms. We often use our intuition in the discovery of theorems, but then connect them to the fundamentals to prove them right. So, I would say that being against compulsion may have been where Rand started intuitively, but she identified that the real fundamental issue is irrationality. Also, when you say that "Ayn Rand was simply an evangelical atheist hell bent on philosophically destroying theism" -- I'm not sure if you're representing your own views or someone else's -- I disagree entirely. She was far from an evangelical atheist. She saw religion as a symptom of irrationality, which is why she opposed it, but she was never a strident atheist like Madelyn Murray O'Hair, railing against "In God We Trust" on coinage, or the like. She had "bigger fish to fry." You say, "I think Ayn Rand's biggest misunderstanding was that altruism was a defining life philosophy for many people." You need to look at the premises that people hold, not just at their behavior. The fact that altruism as a moral code is at odds with normal human behavior is part of what makes it dangerous in the hands of leaders. They hold up altruism as an ideal, and then when people "fall short" because they are naturally interested in self-preservation, GUILT is held over them to control them. So yeah, I agree that most people don't behave as altruists. But lots and lots of people believe as altruists. If people accepted a moral code of rational self-interest, we would not see stories in the news every week of the President scolding people for their selfishness. Heck, if the President accepted a moral code of rational self-interest, you wouldn't see him scolding people for being irrational or acting against their interests probably, either, because if that happens, it's the irrational person that suffers - unless he's actually violating someone's rights, which is the only time the government should have anything to say about it.
  5. Laure

    Was Ayn Rand an altruist?

    In my view, Rand opposed altruism as a principle because she saw where it leads. As soon as the idea that morality consists of sacrificing yourself to others is accepted, people in government will jump on that, and then you become compelled to do things that are not in your own best interest, for the alleged "good of society." And because you've accepted altruism as a moral ideal, you are disarmed! You can't say, "Hey, wait a minute! That's not fair!" because then "you're just being selfish." Just look at current events. The Chrysler bondholders tried to protest that their interests legally come before the interests of the union, but I think to some extent the administration's attempts to disarm them on the basis of altruism is working, unfortunately (although bullying & threats are also part of the strategy...). They're being told, "don't be selfish, everyone else is sacrificing, who are you to place your interests above the 'greater good'?" I think that is the crux of Rand's opposition to altruism. Although she would also counsel people to take care of their own interests, I think the political context is much more important than the personal, psychological, "self-help"context. If you want to learn more about Ayn Rand as a person, I recommend the book "Letters of Ayn Rand." In it, you can see many examples of Rand helping people in a non-altruistic way.
  6. Laure

    What is your favorite love song?

    Tsprat, Satriani's http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yc8xyL0Xxo, seconded! My link is to a live version that I like even better than the video; he plays it slower and, I think, more perfectly. Such a gorgeous song, and so obviously a love song even without any words. On this video, take a look at Joe's face at around 2:50. He's a man in love -- not sure if it's with a girl, his guitar, his music, or his life; maybe all of the above.
  7. Laure

    AIG Bonuses

    This is the "right answer," of course. But I voted "no" on the reasoning that if AIG had properly been allowed to go bankrupt, those bonuses probably would not have been given.
  8. I think that was the era in which talk shows started undergoing a shift from being a respectful forum for the guest to express his opinions to the Dr. Phil (the other Phil!) mode of talk show, the purpose of which is to put an object on the stage and give the audience a forum to tell that object what his or her "problem" is. As Ifat and knast have pointed out, there was no question asked! It was just a woman standing up and spouting off her opinion of Ayn Rand. Rand's response was basically, "I didn't come here to be insulted", which I think was a correct response.
  9. Laure

    Spaceplayer-Earth in the Balance

    Joe, I'm not quite ready to give up "hope" (!) on Obama yet, although so far it's not looking so promising. But, everybody, have a listen to the song!! It is REALLY good.
  10. Let me throw another idea into the pot. Couldn't we say that the "goals" that living things have are basically fighting against entropy? What would you say a star's "goal" would be? To keep shining, or to go out? If it's to go out, that's going towards entropy. If it's to keep shining, that's sort of a static thing - you're saying the goal is to, basically, make time stand still, which it can't do anyway. In contrast, a plant's "goal" is to grow and reproduce, not to decay. It goes against entropy.
  11. Agreed! Our only difference is a niggling one, over whether plants have "goals" or not. Rand (as I understand her) distinguishes "goal" from "purpose" and says all living things have "goals" but only conscious organisms have "purposes".
  12. I don't think this is a reasonable discussion, Jake. 1) It is not reasonable for a person to demand to know the author of a dictionary definition. They don't do it that way. The definitions are written by professional lexicographers, whose job it is to create definitions for dictionaries. 2) It is not reasonable to say that any dictionary definition must be assumed to be "subjective" (or indeed any statement is assumed to be "subjective") and that it is up to me to show that it is objective. It's in the dictionary, for goodness sake! How much more objective do you want it? (I'm not saying that it's impossible for dictionaries to contain poorly written entries, but I think most of them are fine, and I don't see anything wrong with the "goal" definition above.) 3) It is not reasonable to bring Ayn Rand into the discussion in the manner in which you are doing it. You are saying, "Who are you to value some anonymous lexicographer's opinion over that of Ayn Rand's?" when the fact is that I'm not doing that and I don't see any contradiction at all between Ayn Rand's ideas on goals and purpose and what's in the dictionary. I'm not sure why I'm even on this thread, other than the "Someone is wrong on the Internet" motivation. ;-) Just to summarize my position: Ayn Rand was right; Stars are not alive; Non-living things cannot have goals; Plants are living things; Plants have goals, but plants do not have volition.
  13. I don't see how you can call a dictionary definition subjective and ambiguous. And if you want a reference, here you go: Dictionary.com, "goal," in Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Source location: Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/goal. Available: http://dictionary.reference.com. Accessed: January 15, 2009.
  14. Just a brief note: I do not think that Rand intended "life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action" to be a definition of the concept "life." It is just a description, just like "I am a left-handed person" describes me but does not define me. I think it is for biologists to define life. But I know that living things grow, eat, reproduce, and eliminate waste, and they die when they fail to sustain themselves. As stated by others, viruses are a borderline case. They are very primitive life, relying on a host, but it is possible to kill them, so they are considered living things. Only living things have goals, by the definition of "goals."
  15. Laure

    Chuck that map and floor it!

    Good post. When I heard Bush's statement, a similar analogy came to my mind: you find yourself thrown overboard at sea, and decide it's a good time to chuck all the principles of water survival you had learned, and just flail around wildly instead.