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  2. This kind of makes me think about the time when Peter Keating was talking with Howard Roark and Roark said to him ... “If you want my advice, Peter, you’ve made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don’t you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?” Ayn Rand said that happiness comes from the "...achievement of ones values...". You said that studying abroad was a goal and that it did not make you happy, buy "studying" is a process and not an acheivment. The process is not where hapiness comes. It comes at the end of the process. It comes at the acheivment of your goals. i have seen many people begin a lot fo things and then top inthe process for various reasons and it has lead in frustration. It takes effort to focus on what you really want to accomplish and then upon figuring that out stay with it until the end. It is at the end that you will find happiness. Hapiness is derived from the acheivment of your own goal by your own effort. No one can tell you what to value. You have to do the mental work to figure out what you would make you happy to acheive.
  3. Today
  4. Great article, and I totally agree with its content but I struggle with the very first step, that is, finding my CPL. It seems like Roark and Rand knew from the beginning what their CPL are and they didn't need to find it. I hope you could answer a few of my questions and tell me what your take is on my several thoughts regarding this article. 1. How does one find its CPL? How did Roark find his? Was it because he was born with some natural talents related to architecture like drawing talent, spatial thinking and that? Then it would mean that not we but our qualifications that we are born with determine ourselves, our CPL. Obviously Howard must have come across architecture when he was young, liked it and then decided to pursue it. However, objectively speaking interests are not equal. Shouldn't one find then interest that is the most optimal one (the best interest out of all interests he can successfully pursue)? But then this optimalisation does not lead to genuine interest. However, genuine interest seems to be irrational because it simply means choosing something worse because you associate more positive emotions with it. I don't know there's some vicious cycle here that I cannot escape. "First, it must be objective, that is, drawn logically from the facts of who you are, the nature of the productive activity, and the nature of the world in which you live" I find taking "nature of the world in which we live" into account quite contradictory to objectivism. I thought we should pursue our goals despite certain circumstances not adjust our goals to them. This adjusting leads me to conclusion that what can be our goals is predefined in certain sense and we can only decide whether to pursue fulfilling them. 2. I think my greatest misconception is that I try to find something bigger, deeper that might not even exist instead of accepting shallowness of life. However, thought of doing something that I reasonably like for a living, have a family one day and have enough time and money for leisure and that's it, suffocates me. I don't know where that urge to be unique comes from and how to satisfy it or get rid of it. 3. Maybe I can't find my CPL because I feel I have very strong preference to learning, self-developing over creating. Obviously creating is very developing so I'll use an example to illustrate what I meant. I'd prefer to learn from numerous researches in certain field of study instead of doing my own research. I have always thought that while you are teaching (creating, researching etc.) you cannot get taught, therefore, I have been choosing the latter. 4. I have started doubting whether acting rationally is the right way. Vast majority of people do not act rationally, therefore, people who do, have the edge over them. This edge results in better performance in work or other activities, but what are rationale for work, other activities and living? Whenever I try to be rational about this I cannot overcome the argument that we are all going to die but what is more importantly, we are so irrelevant and tiny in the context of whole universe. So since I am here, yet alive, I'd like to pursue my own happiness, but that absurdity of our life stops me from getting any real happiness. Short-term joy from shallow activities is something that I despise. And at this moment anything but philosophy, aboslute spirit, art is shallow for me.
  5. My only issue with what you are saying is that it is no coherent to begin with a supernatural being as if has equal status in reality. This would seem to be rationalizing without justification. I can only begin with reality (existence, identity, and consciousness) and then see what ideas correspond with them. I see no meaning in suspending reality to allow God to be a starting point. Also, I am not sure I can even coherently say that God is "absent" in the sense that one is absent from a room. This assumes that a person "could be" in a room and just is not at the moment. To be absent is not the same as not existing. What I am proving is similar to proving that there is no giraffe in the room playing chess with an alligator. This idea does not in anyway correspond with reality and is incoherent. Giraffes cannot play chess because they are animals and do not have the ability to form abstractions. Therefore, a chess playing giraffe cannot exist and to try to make an argument for one would be incoherent. I am attempting to prove a negative by showing that what I am denying is a logical impossibility. That is not to say that it is improbable. I am saying that this concept is incoherent and therefore not true. Lastly, I think that your understanding of causation is not accurate. The cause of an action is the identity of the action, not another entity acting upon the entity. It is the law of identity applied to action (Binswanger). It is incoherent to say that a supernatural being "caused" water to turn into wine. One, the cause of water turning into anything is the identity of the water not something outside of the water. Water turns into ice because of its own identity not because it gets freezing temperatures outside. If freezing temperatures where to cause of things turning into "ice" then rocks would turn into ice simply be them being in contact with freezing temperature. Two, my point is that nothing can cause the identity of a thing to change it identity, especially since identity is what makes it the very thing it is to begin with. This is why I am saying that the concept of a being that can do miracles is incoherent.
  6. Yesterday
  7. Due to rationality, I gave up on studying art and philosophy because even though I really enjoy it, it does not mean I am to become artist or philosopher. I could imagine myself struggling to make a good living. So since it was so risky I thought It would be rational to pursue profitable career and by achieving significant financial independence relatively early I can then focus fully on art and philosophy or finding other purpose. Before that I treat art and philosophy as hobbies. My career goals are more like milestones which will allow me achieve that financial independence. So I basically postponed current happiness to provide myself future one. That future career seems like something I will like because it is competitive and requires outperforming others both of which match my personality. Apart from that I like a mind game that I am playing quite a lot. However, my rational thoughts are that either of these things cannot be my purpose and me liking them is just a sign of immaturity and still low level of self-development because they are just shallow and meaningless, they don't make me any closer to finding fundamentals of reality, pure consciousness or fullness of meaning. On the other hand, perspective of me reading all books and learning to achieve full potential of my intelligence seems like dead-end job and does not make my outlook look very happy.
  8. Reality cannot be proof of non-reality. If anything, it is the absence of God that "proves" its non-existence. What you're doing is mistaking a supernatural law (miracle) for a natural one (identity). If you begin with a supernatural being (God), then there is no logical error in claiming a supernatural cause (miracle) for its action (turning water into wine). The error is in the acceptance of the arbitrary, not in the reasoning process. It is a problem with choice. Faith is the rejection of reality in favor of fantasy.
  9. Just to clarify, when I say physical x is metaphysical, I mean it in the sense I would say a crow is an animal.
  10. I concur with the distinction Merlin draws between physical and formal necessity in the preceding post. That’s a good example from mathematics, and I should note additionally that (i) it is a fact—ascertained in the way one does for mathematics—that there are some continuous functions that are nowhere differentiable, and it remains a fact even if it is the case that there simply is nothing physical to which some such function applies and that (ii) we find great success in technology and in extending comprehension of the physical by applying many functions, each one both continuous and differentiable, to electricity, to fluids, and to solids, yet understanding perfectly well that such things are discontinuous at small enough scales. SL, I should not want to equate the physical with the metaphysical. When Rand claims that only living things can have values or when philosophers from time immemorial say nothing comes from nothing, those claims are consonant with modern physical science, but the claims are made in what I’d call a metaphysical perspective, not a scientific one. In his 1967 essay “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” Peikoff has a section on the traditional distinction within metaphysics between necessary and contingent facts (and how this feeds into the A-S distinction). The meaning of metaphysical necessary/contingent has changed over the centuries, but there is family-descendant resemblance under the continuing distinction. Peikoff did not think such a distinction is correct to make within metaphysics. However, he there drew a distinction between the metaphysical and the manmade (in tune with Rand’s later elaboration). Human free will is the root fact for this distinction. Unfortunately, Peikoff and Rand thought that the rule of Identity in metaphysics entailed complete determinism throughout metaphysics as contrasted with the realm of free will. Furthermore, Rand thought that such metaphysics rightly constrains (a bit) what physical science might find, but that the reverse flow does not soundly occur. That is, she thought metaphysical fundamentals could not be changed in light of advances in science. So for example, the development of chaos theory in the classical regime of physics (starting in the 1970’s as I recall) and the distinction within physics between a classical system in its regular regime as opposed to being in its chaotic regime could not suggest any reformation of general metaphysics. Really, the total determinism that Rand-Peikoff attached to metaphysics under identity was an inheritance from modern physics (Laplace et al.) and is not properly part of right metaphysics, rather should be left open for physics to settle. In his book OPAR, Peikoff does acknowledge that when it comes to value theory, biology supplies the characterized phenomena, pertinent for philosophical fundamentals concerning value. In his dissertation, Merlin, Peikoff included Blanshard’s books The Nature of Thoughtand Reason and Analysis. He does not cite the former in his text or notes. He cites and makes specific explicit use of the latter from its pages 252–54 and 271–75. The former stretch lays out the traditional view that necessity (the one, as it happens, to be most often sainted by philosophers traditionally) arises only at the level of universals and essences; discerned at the level of conception, not perception. The latter stretch concerns conventionalist theories of logic. Merlin, I’ve inclined to the view of logic put forth by Rand (1957) and Branden (c. 1968) and Peikoff (1967, 1991) in their orientation towards logic as tool for successful thinking. (I reject Rand’s definition of logic in its differentia. I expect she was misled by a remark in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, which seems oblivious to his great achievement, theory of the syllogism, in Prior Analytics.) It has seemed plain that on the Objectivist orientation towards logic, material implication should not be incorporated. A lot of other thinkers have thought material implication off the mark for deficiency in the relevance factor, as had Blanshard. They developed Relevance Logic (also called Relevant Logic) as replacement for classical modern logic, and I think that the way to go and a way consonant with Objectivism also. I have books telling the history, concerns, and purposes that brought on material implication, but I’ll have to open them. I’ll let you know on your blog what I find.
  11. What are your career goals? Why are they your goals? If you want to know who you are, ask yourself. Look at what you're doing. Maybe you actually want to know whom you should become. It sounds like you want to pursue art and philosophy, so is that what you're doing in school?
  12. I hope something clicks for Peterson. He's asking the right questions, but he's stuck on suffering and mythology. His focus is still on feelings and fantasy over reason and reality. But you can almost see him trying to switch.
  13. Proving that God does not exist. Can someone evaluate my reasoning here. Axiom: Law of Identity Observation: Self Evident Claim: There is a being that can do the miraculous. Definition of Mircale: an event that is not explicable according to natural laws, but super (above) nature. Violation: Law of Identity If someone claims that there is a being that can alter eixstence in a way that violates the law of identity then can’t it be said that it would be impossible for that being to exist? Why is this not a plain and simple proof that there is no God that meets this criterion and is therefore incoherent as an asserition that God (this kind of god) exist. A true miracle would be to turn water into wine. It would not be miraculous of water on its own to turn to wine if it could do this by the means of natural process. The notion of a miracle is “super” natural inexplicable according to natural laws. This assumes that the identity of win is different the natural identity of water. To make this happen there would have to be a violation of the Law of Identity. That is to say, that water would not really have identity in the first place. To have identity is to be something specific. Water cannot be water and also wine at the same time according to its identity. Hence, for someone to say that there is a being that could do such an act is to prove that such a being is incoherent and cannot said to exist in reality. Reality itself is the proof that God does not exist. Hence either God exists (which is incoherent) or reality exists. You cannot have your cake and eat it to.
  14. You might find this blog post useful for figuring out a purpose for your life: http://aristotleadventure.blogspot.com/2008/05/what-is-central-purpose-in-life.html
  15. The distinction I have in mind is different, but not incompatible with that. Physical necessity is about physical things. Logical necessity is broader, and includes the sort of necessity one can grasp in, say, higher mathematics. For example, this consequence is logically implied by this theorem. For example, this function is differentiable, therefore continuous. The reverse may be true, too, but not always.
  16. The weed-vine example strikes home to anyone who has tried it. In the example, a flowering vine, in the garden, pole beans, cucumber, to a lesser extent squash and pumpkin. Pulling the weed-vine meant being able to distinguish without being able to see, or where finding a viewing angle was just downright awkward. I took the physical-logical necessity as a neat example of ontologically based logic.
  17. My integrative and conceptual powers applied to a lifetime of experience still leave me scratching my head. Is this distinction an academic and historical characterization of what philosophers thought or think or is a first hand distinction of a proper philosophy? Is the distinction as follows: physical necessity IS metaphysical i.e. identity, and logical necessity IS epistemological i.e. non-contradiction?
  18. Four Things Next week, the Van Horns will be on a family vacation. I should be able to pop in from time to time to monitor comments and possibly post once or twice, but I won't guarantee it. In light of the circumstances, it seems fitting to leave you with a post about the kids. 1. When I told my daughter I liked her under-sea sketch so much I wrote about it, she asked why I didn't also post her flower sketch. I explained that I liked both, but preferred the one. In any event, here's the other, at right. 2. For me, the "killer app" of the Amazon Echo was, for the longest time, its weather report. Now it's the music player. Ever since we got bunk beds for the kids, I have had to replace my old morning wake-up tactic of last resort: I can't easily pick up either one from their beds now, so I play music. Fishbone, the B-52s, and (surprisingly) Gregorian chant are particularly effective. As an amusing bonus, I usually get an audible indication of success in the form of one of them shouting, "Alexa, stop!" 3. Question: What does a five-year-old boy do at home after he wins about a dozen rubber ducks from a claw game at the arcade? Answer: He takes off his shoes and socks, and jams about eight into one of the socks. Duh. 4. As the kids get older, the intensity of their different responses to me coming to pick them up from after-school care is beginning to wane, so I will note them now. My son, who will be six the next time I write about him, smiles and runs over for a hug. My daughter, soon to be eight, gets upset, especially if she is caught up in something that interests her. (She is like me in that she intensely hates to be disturbed while concentrating.) The memories of each that stand out the most are: (1) I was once slightly off-balance when I crouched to hug my son, and got knocked over. I had a mild ankle injury after that one. (2) My daughter once angrily asked why she never gets to be the last one to be picked up. This was on a day I was running late and had only about ten minutes to spare. -- CAV Link to Original
  19. Jordan Peterson interviewed Objectivist philosopher Stephen Hicks almost two years ago. In March he did so again. Links: video of first interview audio of second interview They are long, about 1.5 hours each.
  20. Thank you for that, Stephen, especially for the distinction between logical necessity and physical necessity. Also, I liked your comments about John Locke. I have began a series on my blog about inference and necessity. Here is the first: Blanshard on Implication and Necessity #1. More to come.
  21. Hi, I came across Ayn Rand in high school. It helped me organise my life back then and gave a lot of motivation to achieve my goal which was studying abroad. Now I’m at university but it didn’t really make me happy. Probably because my expectations were too big. I mean it’s alright but I started doubting in my future career related goals and got trapped in some sort of nihilistic mood. I can’t find anything that makes my truly happy or values that are worth living. Don’t get me wrong, there are many things that give me joy, probably too many but this is short term unsustained happiness which I consider very immature and irrational, nothing to do with true happiness. The only happiness that I could think of now is spending all time on art and Philosophy and sharing thoughts with like-minded people that I have big problems to find. How can man find his values? I admire people who know who they are. I feel like I can be anyone but I don’t know who I want to be therefore I’m no one. Whenever I think I overcame that nihilism of mine with some solution then there’s always another “why” that I can’t find answer. Does being an objectivist mean that you have everything figured out in your head?
  22. Last week
  23. PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject– Conventionalism III To set myself the task “weed this patch of periwinkles” I may need to use language. The two popular weeds there at this season are dog violets and a native vine I don’t know the name of. Getting to the nub of that weed-vine among the thicket of periwinkle vines and pulling out the former without pulling out the latter is a challenge. Names and language do not seem to be enlisted in executing the task; they enable only my report of this work. The weed-vine and the periwinkle are of different leaf shape and color. Tug gently on the end of the weed-vine reaching for the sun. You won’t be able to see the weed-vine you’re tugging but a few inches before it disappears (leafless in this portion of it) among the thicket of periwinkle vines hugging the earth and putting down their roots continually along their way. But as you tug on the weed-vine, you’ll be able to find with your other hand that single vine being tugged. It is tightly tensed and in synchrony with any rhythm of tugs you apply with the other hand. Repeat from there, and eventually you arrive at the nub of the weed-vine and pull out that vine by the root. Pause at a step in which you have the single obscured weed-vine in each hand. Pull with the one hand, feel the pull in the other. That is a perceived connection between two distinct events. At this point, philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Hume and Kant stick up their noses. Not Locke. That applied force can be conveyed along a vine is a physical necessity. That different things in general (as example, weed-vines and periwinkle vines) are not same things is another type of necessity, logical necessity, however neatly it coincides with physical necessity. Logical necessity holds unconditionally and in all contexts. What I’ve called physical necessity is traditionally taken to be necessity under some sort of limiting conditions, and this necessity has been called a contingent connection, reserving necessary connectionfor logical (and other formal) necessity. The real distinction, I think contrariwise, should be in what aspects of things we are accessing and the different ways these two aspects are accessed. Peikoff 1964 points out that Locke avoided the contingent/necessaryterminology. Locke instead applied probable/certainto the division. We have seen in my section Aristotle II that Locke maintained we have by sensory perception instances of the general fact that different things are not same things and that a thing is never both A and not A at the same time and in the same respect. Philosophers, including Peikoff in 1964, are correct to fault Locke’s blurring under probable/certaina clear understanding that ampliative inductive generalizations over perceived instances do not suffice to land the absolute necessity in general principles of logic or pure mathematics. Peikoff notes on page 218 the parallel criticism in Hume’s famous dictum that we do not find in sense perception any necessary connection between distinct events (distinct impressions,in Hume’s own parlance and perspective). Countering Hume’s quandary, Kant attempted a radical subject-sided formulation of necessities such as the necessity in a principle of causality, a reformulation in which Kant would have objective temporal order of distinct events get the necessity of that order from a necessity of causal structure demanded by human mind. (Cf. Peikoff 2012, 32–33.) Locke had fogged up by his softening of the distinction between (i) the physical necessities one can sense and manipulate with the weed-vine in one’s hands and (ii) formal and metaphysical necessities. Nevertheless, I maintain Locke right in taking (i) to be the driver of (ii) and not the other way around, as philosophers from Plato to Kant and beyond would have it. British empiricism has its good sense even if it was never good enough. Locke was not really of one mind in this. Peikoff lays out an opposite strand also inAn Essay Concerning Human Understanding: IV 3.31, 4.6, 4.8, 9.1, 11.13–14. “What is Locke doing in such passages as these? He is now contrastingeternal truths and existential truths. The former are to be discovered only by ‘the examining of our own ideas’, and ‘concern not existence’ . . .” (222). Peikoff points out that the likes of platonist Cudworth or Leibniz had also maintained such a division, but for them consideration of our own ideas accesses the eternal truths as immutable relations in the divine understanding. Eternal truths such as the laws of identity and noncontradiction, as well as the essences of existing things, are givens to the human mind, independently of our self-examinations accessing them. But for an empiricist such as Locke, rejecting that rationalism, and joining considerable nominalism (the conceptualist wing of nominalism) concerning universal ideas to the empiricism, the divide between matters of fact and the eternal, formal truths can make conventionalism concerning the ground of logic “almost inevitable” (223). The leading German spokesman for conventionalism in science, geometry, and logic in the early years of the twentieth century was Hugo Dingler: “The application of the law of contradiction rests on my free will. . . and this is just what is called a stipulation [Festsetzung]” (1919, 14-15; quoted in Carus 2007, 120n14). “There is no other way to guarantee the general validity of a law other than its stipulation by the will” (1919, 13; Carus 119). Peikoff would not likely have known much about this history in 1964, much beyond, that is, what Popper wrote against it in his 1934 The Logic of Scientific Discovery. I want to point it out because although Dingler rejected as unfounded Kant’s basis of the necessity in geometry as arising from synthetic a priori judgments and Kant’s picture of how certain laws are a priori conditions of the possibility of any experience (Wolters 1988). Dingler is nonetheless a redo of Kant, of the first Critique,with conscious choice (of alleged conventions) replacing Kant’s mandatory structure in any sensory intuition and in any conceptualization of things external to mind. Though crucial, fundamental organization of mind on Dingler’s view is voluntary, and although Kant would shake his head over such free play as that, it remains that the organization is an a priori condition for the possibility of any experience or knowledge. Carnap will resist such radical conventionalism in the 20’s and 30’s. I’ll return in the next installment to the course of Logical Empiricism and the role of (still overextended) conventionalism in their characterization of logic and in the characterization by Dewey and by C. I. Lewis. I expect to yet dig into the fate of conventionalism concerning logic to the present day. Jumping out of chronological order, just now I want to be sure to mention—to show that conventionalism in logic remains a current and a concern in philosophy today—the section 6.5 “Logical Conventionalism” in Theodore Sider’s Writing the Book of the World (2011 Oxford). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Carus, A. W. 2007. Carnap and Twentieth-Century Thought – Explication as Enlightenment.Cambridge. Dingler, H. 1919. The Foundations of Physics: Synthetic Principles of Mathematical Natural Philosophy.Union for Scientific Publishing, Berlin and Leipzig. (In German.) Peikoff, L. 2012. The DIM Hypothesis.New American Library. Wolters, G. 1988. Hugo Dingler. Science in Context2(2):359–67.
  24. Writing at Study Hacks, Cal Newport draws an interesting distinction that can help clarify thinking about productivity. In "Habits vs. Workflows," he writes: Image by Drew Beamer, via Unsplash, license.When most people talk about personal productivity, they tend to focus on improving the habits they deploy to wrangle their work. For example, batching email, or deploying time blocking to control the flow of their day (which, as longtime readers know, I highly recommend). There is, however, another relevant layer: the underlying workflows that dictate what you work on and how this work is executed. For example, if you're a project manager at a consulting firm, and you spend much of your day emailing back and forth with your team members to get answers to questions from your clients, this behavior is an implicit workflow that dictates that asynchronous, unstructured messaging is your preferred method for extracting relevant information from your team. [italics in original, link omitted]Newport indicates that these workflows could be more important than your habits in aiding or hindering your ability do "deep work" (i.e., concentrate on a problem uninterrupted for significant lengths of time). In his manager example, he notes that a couple of short meetings each day could greatly reduce the switching costs inherent in his current method of communicating. This is a valuable point for two reasons. First, some workflows (like having to check email frequently) look like or can affect habits, and second, control or mitigation of problems caused by workflow might be very different from changing one's habits. Assuming your email habits are good, how you deal with an office workflow that entails lots of email will depend on your ability to change the workflow. If you're the manager, you can change to meetings, but if you're not, you'll have to resort to other strategies. (One of them might be to get someone in charge to try that strategy. Another might be to hide schedule meetings or appointments with oneself (Item 4) for deep work.) -- CAV Link to Original
  25. Thank you for the helpful information and advice.
  26. Fannie and Freddie trying to make another housing bubble? Another bubble and collapse
  27. Pharma blogger Derek Lowe excerpts a paper from Nature, a preeminent science journal: Image by Lucas Vasquez, via Unsplash>, license.n two decades, we will look back on the past 60 years -- particularly in biomedical science -- and marvel at how much time and money has been wasted on flawed research... ...many researchers persist in working in a way almost guaranteed not to deliver meaningful results. They ride with what I refer to as the four horsemen of the reproducibility apocalypse: publication bias, low statistical power, P-value hacking and HARKing (hypothesizing after results are known). My generation and the one before us have done little to rein these in. The "publication bias ... against negative results," reminds me of a lost year of my life as a postdoc long ago. The PI ended up having his right hand man run the same experiments I was running as a pilot for obvious reasons. He also got negative results. This vindicated me, but netted me a grand total of ... zero publications ... for all that work. Lowe also mentions something that will seem comical at first: P-hacking is another scourge. And sadly, it's my impression that while some people realize that they're doing it, others just think that they're, y'know, doing science and that's how it's done. They think that they're looking for the valuable part of their results, when they're actually trying to turn an honest negative result into a deceptively positive one (at best) or just kicking through the trash looking for something shiny (at worst). I wasn't aware of the example that Bishop cites of a paper that helped blow the whistle on this in psychology. Its authors showed that what were considered perfectly ordinary approaches to one's data could be used to show that (among other things) listening to Beatles songs made the study participants younger. And I mean "statistically significantly younger". As they drily termed it, "undisclosed flexibility" in handing the data lets you prove pretty much anything you want. [links omitted] This is funny ... for the few seconds before you consider the cost in human lives in at least the following forms: the time spent earning the money, often taken as taxes to pay for it; the time of the scientists involved; the time wasted in the attempt to apply such "results;" and -- when the government sees a regulatory interest -- time wasted by anyone coerced into following a law or regulation excused by such "results." What Lowe reports is a travesty, but it isn't the half of it. -- CAVLink to Original
  28. A few days ago, I mentioned in passing comedienne Julia Sweeney's one-woman show, "Letting Go of God." I found this soulful, humorous, and thought-provoking monologue about her intellectual journey well worth the time. (It's a little over two hours long, though. I found it helpful to download it and listen to it in chunks during a day full of errands.) For the curious, there is a shorter talk which is also worthwhile, that might give you an idea of what to expect, "The Gifts of Not Believing in God." I particularly like a point Sweeney makes in the middle portion of the latter, where she states the profound truth that being free of religion helps one appreciate how precious life is. In keeping with Sweeney's thoughts about helping children understand the psychological and cultural force of religion, I plan to recommend the longer show to my children at some appropriate future time. My own journey towards a better life started around seventh or eighth grade when, as a student at a Catholic school in Mississippi, I privately questioned the existence of God. (I recall admitting as much during Confession.) But for several years, I gave religion the benefit of the doubt. In part, this was because, like Sweeney, I was happy with my upbringing. In addition, I figured, Faith is just a stop-gap for my current educational level: They'll explain everything in college. They didn't, so I quit religion and let go in my own way. Theology class and a fundamentalist roommate served me in the same way that reading the Bible helped Sweeney: The vast difference between the benevolent imaginary friend that my God was and the neurotic monster I was supposed to accept on faith helped me understand that I was making the right choice. -- CAVLink to Original
  29. The typical advice from financial advisers to clients is to put their money into an index fund, getting a combination of: low commissions and lowered temptation to try an beat the market. In general, this is still good advice. but... ... it is based on a key assumption that the future U.S. performance will be pretty much like the past. Stocks can be hurt by inflation, but their prices inflate too. And, couple that to an unwritten assumption that statist governments have an incentive to subsidize the most common vehicle of investment. A true hyper-inflation type scenario is different. But, since such situation has not really occurred in U.S. history, a financial adviser will never advise you to plan for it; not qua financial adviser. A few economists might be willing to predict hyper-inflation in the U.S., but they're basing their advice on a theory that has not been borne out for a century. One can compare the DOW vs. Gold, but looking at the DOW "priced in gold", how many ounces of gold would it take to buy the DOW. Source: https://www.macrotrends.net/1378/dow-to-gold-ratio-100-year-historical-chart A big problem with this raw chart is that the price of gold was fixed in the U.S. from the great depression all the way to Nixon. So, the relatively bad performance of the DOW during the 1970s was gold shooting up in price from many years of pent up legal binding. Given that legal context, one really ought to look at post-1980 data. Which gives us this portion: Since 1980, the only time when one could have bought gold and still be better off than the Dow today was the years between 2000 and 2008. Notice that this is pre-Great recession, pre-housing-crisis, not post. Why? because the factor at play was the DOW rather than gold. It was the DOW that was shooting up. Since 2009, the DOW has shot up again, far beyond its previous highs. Since about 2012, the price of gold has not followed. Consequently, the DOW has risen significantly in gold terms. if you think the DOW is in a new bubble, then that might be an even better (as in history-based) reason to buy gold than a hyper-inflation scenario. However, betting against the stock market averages is something that a typical financial adviser will not recommend because it is usually a way to under-perform. My personal view on gold is that if I own it, it will likely under-perform the stock-market over most multi-decade periods. Personally, I don't see a complete break down of the U.S. system during my lifetime. I'm also aware that in a complete breakdown, either the government or some thug is likely to take my gold from me, and to prevent that it may become necessary to hide it and not actually use it... making its value theoretical. But, as I said, I don't expect anything even close to this scenario in my lifetime. I think gold is a decent multi-generation asset, if you want to buy some to leave to your grand children. Even here, buying something like a rental property is likely to have better returns, because it is a true investment. Finally, if you do buy gold, beware of the scammers out there. Companies that hype the coming inflation etc. are dicey. Many of them try to convince their customers to buy coins that are not near 100% gold. So, if you do buy physical gold, stick with regular U.S. Gold eagles and the like.
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