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  1. Today
  2. Notable Commentary Before the fire had even been extinguished, close to $1 billion was pledged to rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris. The overwhelming majority of these funds came from non-government sources. (Image by LeLaisserPasserA38, via Wikipedia, license.)"Using taxes to preserve history is a violation of the rights of those who don't want to be forced to pay for that preservation." -- Bob Stubblefield, in "Letter: Preserving History Is Not a Function of Government" at The Aiken Standard. "Unfortunately, warning only that socialism is impractical has proved ... impractical ... as its advocates rely on moral grounds." -- Gus Van Horn, in "Why Is the American Right So Reluctant to Defend Capitalism?" at RealClear Markets. "As politicians start to debate the merits of 'Medicare for all,' Americans would be wise to remember how things turned out the last time the government attempted to transform the US health system." -- Paul Hsieh, in "How Government Policies Created the Current Disaster of Electronic Health Records" at Forbes. "[M]ore and more debt is required to add what looks like less and less profit..." -- Keith Weiner, in "Debt and Profit in Russell 2000 Firms" at SNB & CHF. -- CAV Link to Original
  3. Yesterday
  4. The point is: the politician may support late-term abortions to get primary votes. However, a key segment of those primary voters support it on principle. (As do I, btw)
  5. Okay, perhaps. I go back to politics: the 'rightful principle' of late abortion which some politicians are proposing. A "principle" which is a meaningless gesture few need to use, going by what statistics say, is impractical - and (if one acknowledges viability) is irrational- amoral. When promoted (by pols, especially) such a principle surely has to be un-principled, detached from reality.
  6. If by rational one means, what suits one best at this time, irrespective of denying one's (once, supposedly) greater value for a lesser - I can't see it as being a rational reason, but hedonistic or pragmatic. E.g. my husband has just left me, does not qualify as sufficient grounds, I think. Rationality also places emphasis on one's own consciousness. There needs be, hierarchically, a great objective dis-value to overturn one's initially greater value. Outside a medically essential cause, such justifications are rare, seems to me. Speaking with women, a big agreement is that next to nothing would stop them giving birth to the baby after the fetus had grown to an advanced stage. That resolve is rational, committed to reality. They mostly express repugnance at the idea of having that intimately-connected, much anticipated, life crushed and sucked from their bodies. Men's reactions are similar.
  7. Yet another article that never mentions the s-word -- this one by Reuters -- chronicles the already long-incredible yet ever-increasing misery that socialism is causing for Venezuelans. This article details the predicament of refugees who flee into Brazil, but can't afford bus fare to travel any further to find employment. Specifically, some are working as scavengers in the dump of a border town, and the following quote comes from one of these unfortunate souls: "He is so wrong. Look at us here in this dump," [23-year-old mother Rosemary Tovar] said. "If Maduro does not leave Venezuela, I will never return there."The problem, socialism -- the system that makes a Maduro possible in the first place -- is bigger than one man, but think about the rest of the above statement, too. This clip, from inside Venezuela, recently went viral. The fact that a mother would rather toil away in a dump than return to her home should give fans of Bernie Sanders and his ilk pause, at least based on the questionable assumption they value their own well-being. -- CAV Link to Original
  8. Last week
  9. CBS News on Canada's climate change IRS pinches middle and lower income self-employed Bird eggs
  10. I suppose in every endeavor of his life he generally had been able to size up the competition, adapt, and respond as need be, or at least understand. Here he must have felt a little in the dark. Knowing Dagny's past lovers might give him just a little more insight into who she is, what makes her tick, what she likes, and who, in her memory, he may be in competition with, whether she is conscious of that comparison or not. Being strong and confident generally means a man knows his worth, but working out how a woman responds to him and whether that is consistent with his self view or whether he needs to update it, himself, or her view, is still an exercise worth doing. Please note that Hank was not perfect by any standard... he was always on a personal journey. and in any case being reflective and introspective as well as sensitive to a very close relationship could only help in his goal to understand and improve himself and likewise understand and improve his relationship with Dagny. So asking about past lovers as such is not always a sign of weakness, it depends much on the motivation for doing so, both emotional and cognitive.
  11. ... So Reluctant to Defend Capitalism? Image by wdreblow0, via Pixabay, license.Which "political belief are you scared to share with friends?" So asks a March survey at FiveThirtyEight. What a strange question -- particularly in a prosperous nation born out of coffeehouse debates and political pamphleteering. I can't imagine why any thoughtful adult would be reluctant to share their politics with a true friend. Furthermore, since opinion shapes politics through voting, we should want to discuss our opinions. However, that poll question doesn't hold a candle to the reluctance of many pundits and political figures on the right to speak up for capitalism on moral grounds. With socialism en vogue on the American left even as its latest iteration is obliterating Venezuela, this is an ideal time to make the case for the only system that justly rewards creativity and hard work, while simultaneously making us richer. Granted, Trump said, "We will never be a socialist country," during his State of the Union; and Mitch McConnell defeated the Green New Deal 57-0 in the Senate. But how persuasive was Trump's taunt, or the Senate debate? Mike Lee's (R-UT) remarks were possibly the best. He rightly noted that the Green New Deal is unserious, but ... To continue reading my latest column, please proceed to RealClear Markets. I would like to thank my wife and Steve D. for their comments on earlier versions of this piece. -- CAV Link to Original
  12. I'm willing to bet that 99% of the women getting late term abortions are acting morally and rationally in that respect.
  13. I recall a part of Atlas Shrugged where Hank presses Dagny to tell him who her previous lover was. Why would he care if he was a strong, confident man?
  14. Without evidence, referring to women who get late-term abortions that you are judging as irrational or making bad decisions. I wasn't referring to discussing viability of the fetus.
  15. It seems I was the only one who has even posed the option of *adoption*. Given that, why would one choose abortion (at late stage)? Nope, I can only infer that it is the "principle" that matters: the right, abortion on demand at the time "I" demand it. (All *despite* the fact that most women refuse to take advantage of that). Well, I can and will query the morality of that principle - while accepting anybody's rights to do whatever they please. Freedom from self- responsibility, is nothing to build individual rights upon in a society, and won't last. Is this libertarian? And I have several times said that there are rational reasons for (late-term) abortion, and they could be medical, physical or psychological . "Sexism and judgments". You understand the Objectivist morality. Then you also understand that morally, gender is immaterial - for me, anyway? "Without evidence"? What evidence? That a fetus will survive, by replacing its mother's nourishment for nutrients supplied, ex utero? That is the evidence I need.
  16. That's not what I'm pointing out. I'm pointing out that is perfectly possible to have a late term abortion for rational reasons. I don't see why it matters to say that a woman should have done it sooner. It doesn't make a difference. Of course it's usually better to get a medical procedure early rather than later, but that's it. By looking for a middle ground, finding moral rather than legal fault in women who have late-term abortions, you only ended up bringing in in sexism and judgments without evidence. Sexism, because you are making a claim specific to women, with standards and questions that aren't posed for other medical procedures of similar risk. If you agree that abortion should be legal, then there is no reason to treat it differently than another medical procedure. Waiting a while for a medical procedure sometimes is the most rational thing to do. As far as abortion, the only moral concern is why wasn't better contraception used initially. Argue as much as you want about late-term abortions, it makes sense to discuss. But it's not just or fair to discuss presumed irrationality of getting a late-term abortion without even one example. Consistency is not generally something people in society seek out. It's relatively uncommon. But anyway, that's beside the point.
  17. "...then would conception become the new birth?". Let's examine this, reductio ad absurdum as it may seem at first. A "fertilized" egg in lab conditions, given the right conditions and nourishment, can end up as a fully-formed human infant - some day. Where and how does one draw the line? But a line there has to be. He/she/it, certainly is not birthed the normal way, or birthed by normal Cesarean section, but at ~some~ point, +/- 6-9 months in the future must be considered a human being. So--if this developed human were to have its life-support extinguished and allowed to perish, could that be ethical? I believe not. Obviously, even a newborn infant requires ongoing sustenance; the nutrients and oxygen the mother's body supplied it in utero "sustained" its life, and essential nourishment, shelter, etc. doesn't end with birth, going on until its teens. But, essentially the mother is a bystander to its growth and life. Life, a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action - doesn't mean that any organism goes out to find its sustenance (no more than a plant which either has water, sunlight and soil in its vicinity, or dies), the human 'organism' is dependent early on upon its environment too, whether womb or 'test-tube'. Much later, can a individual sustain his own life. We know this "self-sustaining and self-generated action", for an organism, an animal - and man - to be the fundamental justification for rational selfishness. I mention that to bring up the "Objectivist ethics [which] holds man's life as the standard of value..." I hasten to add, this isn't a direct argument against abortion on a late-term fetus' life. It is once again a moral argument applied to whomever (e.g. mother, but not only her) chooses the action. "Man's life" is the standard of value. Not, each individual's "life" (nor especially an individual fetus' continued existence). Instead, that is a highly abstract principle that serves as a guide and "gauge" to each, for living life "proper" to man. I suggest the fundamental moral argument against late-term abortion on a fully-formed, viable fetus which can continue life outside the uterus, is that the act is not proper to man; therefore improper for the individual ; therefore, for a society. "Life begins at birth" is being overtaken by medical discoveries, with more to come. Clearly Objectivism is uniquely invaluable to inform science and politics, ethically and otherwise, so to avoid and refute the prevailing subjectivity and mysticism.
  18. Modern logic concerns itself with both syntax (which is purely formal) and semantics (meanings of the expressions). / 'valid' may mean different things in context (varying among different authors in modern logic). But usually, 'valid' does not refer merely to whether the expression is obtained according to the syntax rules (the expression is well formed), but rather to whether the expression is a formula that is true in all interpretations of the language. So the notion you are referring to is more usually known as 'well-formedness', while the notion of ''validity' refers to semantics.
  19. Sorry. I can't answer that, since I haven't read Veatch's book. I have ordered it via inter-library loan.
  20. Ordinarily it is not said that a conclusion preserves truth, but rather that an inference rule does or does not preserve truth. An inference rule is truth preserving if and only if whenever the rule is applied to true premises it yields a true conclusion. Those inference rules that preserve truth are are said to be valid. Or, more generally, we may say that an argument is truth preserving (valid) if and only if the conclusion is a logical consequence of the premises.
  21. There is vastly more that distinguishes languages besides “how the languages sound”. Mandarin grammar and Latin grammar as pretty close to opposites on the structural spectrum. There are rational individual reasons for preferring one language over another that aren’t just aesthetics. If I plan to do business in France, it would be more sensible for me to learn French than to learn Russian: and vice versa. I personally like languages that exploit consonants more than vowels and that have a strong rhythmic pattern, on aesthetic grounds. But that’s just language as object of entertainment – it doesn’t determine which languages I will study, where the choice is based on practical utility to me (it turns out that the “pleasing” languages are not professionally so useful to me). Another aesthetic basis for distinguishing languages is the logic of its structure (meaning that you have to actually understand the logic of the language’s structure). Of course, you also need a basis for making a judgement – should you value arbitrary quirkiness, or symmetry and regularity? I value languages which have the superficial appearance of irregularity and complexity whose logical structure is in fact simple and regular, but involves the interaction of rules. There is a competing aesthetic that values transparency: simple rules that don’t involve thinking about the context where the rules apply. My preference for the former is based on what it reveals about cognition, and not whether I might effortlessly learn a language so that I can negotiate contracts. Because the efficiency argument is used widely in discussions of “best language”, I have to point out that counting words and sentences is not the right way to view efficiency. Word can be extremely short or extremely long, and correspondingly, in some languages a single word can frequently convey an entire proposition (example: Greenlandic), but in some languages virtually all propositions require multiple words (example: Vietnamese). Greenlandic words can be very long, Vietnamese words are very short. Efficiency is about effort expended to do something, so what effort is expended in uttering a sentence, or three? You have to move your articulators; you have to compute the structure of the utterance (there is more, but start there). We still have no idea how to objectively measure the cost of uttering or computing a sentence. A slightly better metric would be the number of articulatory units needed to express a proposition (it does not matter how many sentences or words) – the fewer, the better. If it takes 10 minutes to ask for a sandwich, or a ride to the airport, then maybe the language is truly inefficient. My experience is that such a situation when it arises is not a result of the language, it is the result of social norms in that society (don’t just bluntly ask for a ride, circumlocute and get to the point after 10 minutes). So again, a language cannot be evaluated as a floating abstraction, it has to be in the context of a specific purpose. You learning a language will be different from me learning a language. Experiencing sound-aesthetics is something else; analyzing the logical structure of a language is a third thing. Communicating with others is a fourth. The context of you as evaluator matters hugely: do you only speak English and are you picking up a language so that you can do business in Japan? Or are you trying to deepen your understanding of man by learning more about this vital tool of thought?
  22. "You say industry can regulate itself? Prove it," thunders the title of a recent editorial in the New York Times, before making great hay of a implied failure of a government pilot program to change how hogs are inspected in slaughterhouses. So, for starters, we aren't actually talking about industrial self-policing, aka deregulation. Now, let's look at the standard of proof we are to adopt before we change or jettison an inspection regime the Grey Lady admits is "out of date:" Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images, via Pixabay, license. The system of slaughterhouse regulation is out of date. The industry has succeeded over time in sharply reducing the kinds of problems visible from the slaughterhouse floor -- the government says its health inspectors increasingly are policing aesthetic issues -- but the incidence of some illnesses caused by pork consumption has stopped falling. ... The Clinton administration agreed in 1997 to let five hog plants adopt the inspection system that the Trump administration wants to embrace for the whole industry. In 2013, the Agriculture Department's inspector general reported that the pilot program had not demonstrably improved food safety. In response, the government defended the new system as no worse than the old one. [links omitted, bold added]But there is "some evidence of increased risk:" During a span of four years, the five processing plants in the program were cited 22 times in total for failing to remove caracasses from production that could cause food poisoning. That averages out to just over one hog per plant per year. The piece does not cite a comparable statistic for the rest of the industry for the reader to gauge for himself whether there is truly an "increased risk," due to expanding the pilot program; or, if so, whether it is an acceptable increase; or of the nature of the risk. Certainly, some federal inspectors are at "risk" of losing government jobs and having to seek employment in the private sector, if the pilot program is expanded. In any event, there is no information for the reader to use to determine if the end of the decrease in instances of foodborne illness is due to a technological limit or some other factor. Instead, we are left to assume that even more federal inspectors would surely lead us to the nirvana of zero instances of illness due to bad carcasses. But I favor eventually getting the government completely out of the business of quality control, given that there are great incentives for keeping customers alive so they can keep buying sausage. That said, it will not necessarily be a simple matter to back out of regulation. For one thing, as this piece shows, there is, in some quarters, a great failure to appreciate the power of the profit motive. This failure is both due to a suspicion of selfishness and to the idea, part assumption and part self-fulfilling prophecy, that businessmen are out to make a quick killing, and so don't think long-range. Decreased vigilance by the public, based on the assumption that the government is watching everything accounts for that second factor. On top of the hand-waving arguments against the small reduction in personnel Trump inspecting the meat industry, this article does a great disservice regarding the whole debate about regulation, with a big assist from the President: It is using a small, unprincipled step towards apparently less regulation as a convenient straw man to ensure that people remain ignorant of what actual deregulation is, and whether it might do a better job than the government is doing of ensuring the safety of our food supply. -- CAVLink to Original
  23. What are you talking about? It's pretty common knowledge that Latin was the language of ancient Rome. Not to mention that the Latin used during the Renaissance was very different than the kind used during the Roman Republic. The common Latin became what was known as the vulgar Latin, the Latin spoken by the average person. There isn't much to say that is special about Latin as a language. So no, you can't even infer that its characteristics reflected some sort of rationality. I find Mandarin relatively nice, and Cantonese more so. The apparent crispness of Latin compared to Mandarin is because Mandarin is a tonal language. People who speak non-tonal languages generally have a much more difficult time grasping the crispness of a tonal language - it requires a different kind of skill. I know a very basic amount of Cantonese, but once I learned that, Cantonese itself sounded a lot more beautiful to me. When it comes to linguistic flexibility, which I think is the most important aspect of language (both cognitively and aesthetically), we might be able to make fair judgments. Sort of like what Swig is saying. Latin partly became so widespread because it could adapt with many other cultures around it during Roman conquest. It could effectively adopt words from other languages, which also aided with artistic developments, and philosophical developments. But perhaps all languages could attain this? Or maybe languages become flexible when more cultures are taken into that language. Not to mention that it is so easy to come up with new words in English. Trying to create new words in Japanese is very difficult - and not surprisingly, instead of making a new Japanese word, the Japanese people just used the English word. I think it comes down to the way a language is used and for what end, not the features of the language. At least, when it comes to modern languages.
  24. As Eiuol said, the Democratic push to allow more freedom than the average voter is asking for is a question of principle. You're right that it has cost Democrats votes and even seats. However, the way the system of primaries works, every now and then one of the parties will push its candidate into a stance that appeals to those who are politically active within their own party, at the cost of losing the actual election. I disagree with the assumption that this topic is somewhat settled around the Roe v. Wade line. The GOP tries way harder than the Democrats to move the line. And, at the state level, the GOP has managed to rob lots of of their rights. With Trump moving the SCOTUS balance even more Christian than before, the risk to rights have become more real. Since Trump has good odds of winning the next election, the threat is serious. Of course one ought not judge the rightness of something by percentages. If, 1% of women have their rights denied, that is big deal. Nevertheless, if the country can hold the line at Roe v. Wade, that's probably better than the alternative that the GOP seems likely to push upon us.
  25. Basically we're asking which language has the most words. Oxford Dictionaries thinks it's English. The quality and usefulness of those words is a different question, though. There's a lot of junk in the English language. Of course, a language must serve the needs and abilities of the particular people who speak it. Even their environment might affect the language they develop. But, essentially, a language must communicate the things that exist in reality. So the more of reality observed and identified, including one's own mental phenomena, the better one's language must be. I therefore don't think that it's a coincidence that English, Hindi, Spanish, French and Chinese are some of the top spoken languages, given the history of exploration, conquest, migration, and spiritual investigation of their native speakers. Users of these languages, or the languages from which they sprang, have been some of the great explorers and thinkers of mankind. So, in considering the best language, they should be at the top of the list. I'm naturally biased toward English, but I think it should score bonus points for being the first language spoken on the moon, and for being the language in which Objectivism was first articulated.
  26. That would be an aesthetic preference; I would prefer it as well.
  27. I disagree. So if I need 3 sentences and 100 words to convey something in L1 and only 1 sentence and 25 words to convey the same meaning (with as much accuracy) in L2, then L2 is the better language... it is more powerful and efficient to communicate, express, and/or record (for posterity) complex ideas. (That said L2 would be harder to learn than L1, and would likely also have a larger dictionary)
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