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Everything posted by CrowEpistemologist

  1. Cars are done. Nobody cars about performance anymore. I'm personally sad about this. When I was younger I always loved cars and performance and lusted after every extra bit of horsepower and road holding G-force, Then I hit the zenith and was able to get anything I wanted and drove around the highest-performing exotic car you could buy. My eventual emotions could be summed up in the song, "Is That All There Is?". Performance cars are so ridiculously fast and ridiculously perfect these days. I can fly into a corner at whatever speed and the computers will keep me from killing myself every time. And a stick-shift? Ancient history. Now there's no clutch pedal--but my "F1-inspired" transmission shifts in gears a hundred times faster than my legs could ever manage it. Way faster, way more efficient, way more... boring? So I'm sadly ready for the day I don't drive at all. I suppose cowboys, witnessing the end of horses, felt similar emotions. It's progress, my friends. It's all good in aggregate, but that doesn't mean it might not just suck in a more narrow context. Human-driven cars are dangerous and slow compared to the computer-controlled future we're heading toward. Is that better? I'm reminded of the line: "As you fall asleep, the air is pure above the roof of your house, pure as arctic snow—only you wonder how much longer you will care to breathe it." -- Ayn Rand / The Anti-Industrial Revolution Or maybe I'll just get on my Xbox and simulate thrills I never could in a real car? Yes, I guess progress is good, in the widest context...
  2. The laws passed by Congress (establishing the EPA) clearly allow for of Obama's actions. Per our Constitution, Congress may--however ill-advised it may be--give powers to the Executive branch. This is what they did in the 70s with the laws related to the EPA, and in countless other instances. Damn Democrats! They paved the way for this, establishing the EPA in the first place! Oh, wait... Friends, this is why blatant partisan BS like the above (taken directly from recent Fox News talking points [e.g. "Obama is going it alone"]) is an absolutely moronic, pointless exercise that only erodes the cause of liberty...
  3. The Interstate highway system example is a hoot. That thing was driven completely by General Motors graft. Without that corruption (and it's offshoots and smaller brethren) we'd probably have a lot fewer roads and a lot few cars because people would actually need to pay for the roads they drive on. And the US would be less spread out than it is. Etc. (And it would be just fine because that would be the way we'd be used to living). The Internet is a slightly different animal--it was created (initially at least) by the military, which is ultimately a valid function of government. By-products of our investments in defense should clearly be given out the (American) public domain (or sold, or whatever). And the author finishes with the military, which again is a perfectly valid point (and taxation for that is a debate among Objectivists).
  4. You bring up an interesting subject in Schwartz' (typical) attack on Christianity here, which is on my short list of "criticisms of Objectivism". But it's not really a criticism of Objectivism but a criticism of its predominate usage by individuals--which is the core of my technical point. Let me explain. Ayn Rand had a notion I call (and Piekoff called) "Aquinas' Angel". That Thomas Aquinas wrote that angels in heave were perfect, and that perfection made them "automagically" know all of the implications of their basic premises--and that this is exactly what human beings are not. I submit that Ayn Rand herself did not understand the implications of this premise--or at least she didn't practice it. To whit, she attacked any and all followers of Christianity (say) within the implied premise that they all understood the implications of Christianity. In particular, Ayn Rand stretched the very definition of Christianity by heaping her own set of implications on the ideology that most of its followers do not hold. Put it another way, I don't think most Christians give gifts at Christmas out of selflessness. I daresay that "selfish" is a way you can describe the way almost everybody gives out gives on Christmas. It's fun and entertaining for us atheists and its fun for them too. Schwartz' attacks on the "season of giving" doesn't make a valid point to anybody--except perhaps some angels in heaven.
  5. Yeah, trading trillions of dollars and thousands of lives of soldiers for a single American citizen murdered doesn't really garner a serious response. Sorry. You are arguing in the realm of floating abstractions. Let me know when you want to get real.
  6. Well, to take your first premise at its word for a moment, why not? This isn't a numbers game, right? One American death is worth of a full scale invasion of another country, trillions of dollars and thousands of soldiers dead, right?
  7. That too. :-) Whatever you do, don't ever try to imagine the ideal government working in the real world organized among real human beings on the real planet Earth. What fun would that be? It's far easier to imagine that everybody is good (as soon as they are educated in private schools) and foreign policy is a simple matter of invading and occupying the rest of the world until they all do what we say. The great thing about this future is that taxes will be insignificant because being the world's police force doesn't cost very much.
  8. That, my friends, is what a floating abstraction looks like...
  9. And how are we supposed to know, with absolute certainty, that the suspects are "actual terrorists"? Who gets to be judge/jury in this case? Or is it okay to suspend our principles of the rule of law only... when we're scared?
  10. Guys, again, context. The Founders imagined war powers to be given to the president when our entire existence was threatened, not when some criminals figure out how to kill exactly 1/10,000th of our population all at once, every 25 years. Terrorism is in no way worthy of a war declaration, nor was Iraq.
  11. So a cold-blooded murderer has some grudging respect for the law. Okay. Got it. And these opinions and judgement calls are not Objectivism. LP and YB are not magical priests with a special connection to God, they are people with opinions and judgement calls just like everybody here.
  12. Um, dude, what does "Objectivist" have to do with anything in this conversation? Anyhow, going even further than we did in Iraq to WWII proportions to fight terrorism is even more idiotic than Iraq was...
  13. And I'll add that the world is not that simple. "Nuke them all" is as idiotic as doing nothing at all. The bizarre-looking mix of strategies we've employed over the last few decades certainly hasn't always been the right mix, but a mix of some kind is the right strategy. That mix can include bribes in every form, public relations, shady alliances, economic pressure, and a host of other things--whatever minimizes our costs and maximizes our safety (within moral bounds of course). The ongoing debacle in Iraq showed just how impossible a full-frontal-assault can be.
  14. Last year there were 16,238 US citizen deaths from murder. How is that "being stopped by conventional law enforcement"? (Terrorist deaths were probably under 10 btw). War against nations that protect criminals might be justified, but that has nothing to do with torture of suspects. Also, the word "suspects" means somebody who is accused of a crime, not proven and/or convicted. There's also the legal matter of making the punishment fit the crime. Should we have tortured and executed every single citizen of Germany after WWII? Men, women and children? Of course not. Some were more culpable than others and many weren't very culpable at all, and many were themselves victims of the regime.
  15. One thing that's often lost in the terrorism debate--and torture for instance--is the context. In particular, whereas terrorism is a bad thing, and something we should try to fight, it's not a threat to our whole existence and for that matter it's not even that much of a threat at all as compared to virtually any of the run-of-the-mill domestic crimes. In other words, if torture for suspected terrorists is justified, then torture for murder suspects would be a hundreds times more justified.
  16. Fortunately this hair-splitting doesn't matter since torture is wrong on principle.
  17. And add, that the CIA has every reason to lie. As a witness, they just aren't credible. The Demos on the other hand have the Whitehouse to lock up and you can make the case that this might be part of a strategy therein, but I think McCain's support sucks the air out of those sails. Many of the torture victims were later found to be innocent. This strikes at the heart of our standing as a nation. This "downside threat" is wholly existential and there's absolutely nothing that can possibly justify it short of imminent nuclear annihilation.
  18. Did anybody else watch the movie, Zero Dark Thirty and conclude the same thing I concluded after I watched it, which is that, given the trade-off between killing Bin Laden and doing what they needed to do in order to do it, we would have been better off not doing it? Sure, we got a bad guy, but at what cost to our principles? If you can make the case that the occasional school shooting and slaughter of innocent American children doesn't justify a forced prohibition of guns, then you have to agree that the occasional 9/11 is not worth the principles of our democracy.
  19. You accused the writer of "floating abstractions" which I usually take to mean somebody who makes very broad statements with no facts to back them up. You said he "had been reading too much Rothbard" without citing what he said relates to Rothbard or what that even means (since the statement alone is meaningless). You attack his position in vague terms--floating abstractions, to be sure. And now you are accusing us of responding out of context. Irony much?
  20. Um, I just repeated myself after you misquoted me--emphasizing a critical word you seem to have missed. I thought that was obvious. I guess not.
  21. Intent absolutely can and often is established by the context. Sometimes there's not enough knowledge about the context to establish certainty, but often there is. Defendants often lie about their intent and thus it needs to be extrapolated by other knowledge. Law enforcement is ultimately based on judgement calls based on non-godlike information, which is why we have judges and juries. It's also why innocent people are sometimes convicted and guilty people sometimes go free.
  22. A government that only provides a "system of laws to protect individual rights" and doesn't have, say, an army and a police force and courts etc. etc, isn't going to protect anybody's individual rights...
  23. For what it's worth, you haven't provided any detail either. Also, a government that only provides a "system of laws to protect individual rights" and doesn't have, say, an army and a police force and courts etc. etc, isn't going to protect anybody's individual rights...
  24. I'm late to this discussion, but a good rule of thumb for handling spurious arguments like that is to ask the person, "and why would you care if we were?". Make them explain in detail why this would be bad. Then you get a nice context to work within, which tends to force the argument to come back down to Earth, and eliminates hypothetical escalations.
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