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Everything posted by JMeganSnow

  1. Actually, no, because concepts like matter and energy belong to the specific sciences, not philosophy. Dealing with these terms in a philosophical treatise would be rampantly anti-hierarchical and produce nothing but confusion.
  2. Just curious, why is this in the Questions forum? It's not a question.
  3. Actually, Harry Binswanger already wrote quite a lengthy treaties on this called The Biological Basis of Telelogical Concepts (which I should really get around to reading sometime).
  4. Jenni: I currently have no friends at all and would love to have people in my life (my real, physical, real-world life) that I can share and discuss my values (objectivism and capitalism) with. What can I do to find such friends in real life? I live on the east side of Indianapolis. Closely related: I have been studying economics on my own and have been thinking I should major in it since I enjoy learning about it so much and it might put me in touch with other pro-capitalist people. On the other hand, given the schools that dominate the econ departments today, I'm thinking it might be a mistake to do that. --Chris These aren't really philosophical questions per se, so the only real way to go about answering them is to use my own past experience with life. So the answers are probably going to seem a bit unscientific. In essence, the answer to the first question is that if you want to meet people, you need to go where the people are. I don't mean move--I live in Ohio myself, and I know for a fact that there are a fair number of Objectivists and/or fellow travelers in the local area. Some I've even met via this forum. There usually aren't enough in a small geographical area to form an actual "club", and for friendship it's really not enough that you both be interested in Objectivism or Capitalism, odd as that may sound. Friendships generally form around a shared interest in DOING things, not just talking about them. So you need to go to where people are doing things together. This has the added benefit that if you don't hit it off with anyone particularly well, hey, at least you got to enjoy the activity. Almost every group of people that is enthusiastic about an activity is looking for more people to join them, so it's pretty easy to find the equivalent of a "beginner's class" for just about anything, if you just look. While it's great to have people around who agree with you on politics and philosophy, I think you'll find that for genuine friendship and companionship this isn't really all that necessary (or sufficient, for that matter). I actually know plenty of people that I agree very strongly with on many issues, yet I cannot STAND them, personally. I know many people that I disagree with on a large number of issues, but we're quite close. And every possible degree of shading in between. I've found in my own life that it's not so much specific shared values that drive the closeness of a relationship (although that's usually how the relationship gets started and how you maintain it, by sharing activities), but a similar APPROACH to those values. Pretty much all the things that get lumped under the vague heading of "personality" or "sense of life". So, really, that's it--you'll have more success with meeting people if you . . . go out and meet people. Yeah, it's a tautology. But it really does work. As for your economics studies . . . I am going to give you what is probably going to sound like completely insane advice. It is not the advice that pretty much anyone else will give you regarding college, but this is based on some HORRIBLE experiences of my own and those of many of my friends, so LISTEN UP. DO NOT pick your major in college based on what you enjoy learning/reading about. If you don't have a particular educational goal in mind re: college, DON'T GO AT ALL. Get a job, ANY job, instead, and cultivate your JOB SKILLS. Meet people who are successful in their positions and cultivate your relationship with them. I don't mean be a suckup. I mean, talk to them, learn what they know that lets them do what they do, study their personal behavior. It doesn't hurt to be friendly because they may be able to give you a line on an opportunity or three, but don't depend on that. Once you have some kind of notion of what you do and don't want to do CAREER-wise, THEN it's time to start looking at educational opportunities, and it's very important to keep in mind that what you are making here is a FINANCIAL INVESTMENT. You are looking to get value out of this, and most college courses are INSANELY overpriced at present. Don't disdain vocational training or local community colleges--the value they offer for the amount of money you have to spend is often much, much better than anything else you'll find. Don't spend more money than you have to and pay cash if you can. If you can manage to live with your parents or a roommate or otherwise save money on housing and other living expenses, do so. You're not being a "parasite", you are building your future. The more money you can save in the beginning, the better off you will be later on. Borrowing money at this stage in your life is like putting an anchor on a leaky rowboat. You're not even all that sure you can float your own weight, much less that great heavy mass. Ultimately my educational advice is that if you're going to be spending money on it, you need to be absolutely as cold-blooded as Midas Mulligan in how you treat the transaction. Be a total hardass and DEMAND your money's worth, because this stuff is EXPENSIVE. Aside from a house, a college education is probably the most expensive single thing you'll ever buy in your life (and maybe even MORE expensive than that house, in some cases). Would you buy a house based on liking the looks of it? No. Would you buy a car because it has a nice paint job? Heck no. Don't stumble into an educational decision. And don't listen to the educational advisors who insist that "you can change majors later". Sure, you can, but remember that their job is to SELL YOU COLLEGE. Treat them like what they are, salespeople, and question whether you need what they're selling AT ALL. Then be prepared to walk away from that deal if you aren't sure what you want or aren't getting it. You will save yourself SO much grief later on in life. And also, once you're firm in your mind about what you want to get out of college, you will have the motivation you need to sweat it out even if the program is filled with poncy twits. So, if the thought of poncy twits in your program is worrying you, that's a good sign that it's not something you want to plunge into right now. You have other options. College is not some kind of way of putting off adulthood. It is jumping in head-first without bothering to check how deep the water is.
  5. Dear Jenni I am a Norwegian High-School student, and would like to apply for an international program course (International Baccalaureate) my second and third High-School year. The Norwegian government is very restrictive and heavily regulates the Norwegian school system (the quality is thereafter), and this is one of the few opportunities I actually have to escape from their system. To do so I have to apply and my grades are most important in this regard. My grade in English is, obviously, most important since I am applying to an international school program. It is often possible to cheat on the English test of term (you find the test online and write a “perfect” draft before the actual test), the test your grade heavily relays on, and I would like to know whether this could be justified or not. On the one hand, it is possible to argue that to cheat is a form of self-preservation, considering that the government forces you to choose among a few program with low quality. On the other hand, it is possible to argue that if I cheat to get into the program I will cheat to gain a value, I value many aspects of the program tremendously. What is the moral, and ultimately the practical, thing to do? --Chris Well, Chris, let me tell you first off--if you ever find yourself asking whether it's possible to justify doing something, this is a big ol' smackin' clue that it's a bad idea. Granted, that doesn't mean it's easy to determine why it's a bad idea, so let's go into that by doing a little hypothetical here: What if you were to cheat on the exam? Well, first off, there are a lot of ways this could go wrong. For one, you could get caught and potentially wreck a large number of future opportunities for yourself. Or, let's say that you don't get caught and you do go to the international program, where you find that your skill with English just isn't quite up to the necessary work and you find yourself struggling, getting much worse results than if you'd stuck with a native-language program, and maybe even fail out of it, winding up in debt and other problems and with a lot of wasted time to boot. I'm not saying either of those WILL happen and that's WHY you shouldn't cheat, I'm just pointing out that there is potentially a big risk here. So if the kind of justification one was looking at was along the lines of "there's no real downside", well, there is, at least potentially. So that's one clue as to the nature of this kind of action. Next--let's say that nothing bad happens directly as a result of the cheating. Let's say that the test graders are lazy, this exam thing really is purely a formality, and your English is perfectly fine to excel at the coursework. So why isn't it a good idea now? Well, for a number of reasons. Why do you want to attend this program in the first place? I'm assuming it's not an end-in-itself but a step to a further goal. Are you going to cheat on your exams at the program? No? Why not? It worked for you before, right? Cheating is much easier than actually learning the material, particularly if it's hard. Maybe only one class, because you're really bad at that one. And, do you KNOW for a FACT that this program WILL result in better opportunities for you? Maybe it's all a bunch of prestigious hot air that you won't be able to stomach and you'll wind up being labeled a "problem student" and shunted into WORSE opportunities than you might be able to get if you simply decided to squeeze every last dang bit you got out of the Norwegian program and your ability to learn on your own. A good degree doesn't guarantee a good job. Now, the thing with all these hypothetical questions is that I am NOT trying to illustrate to you how things could go belly up and thus scare you into "proper" behavior. (Haha, I'm more subtle than that.) What I'm actually trying to illustrate here is that once you abandon the principled approach to action (in this case, the principle of Honesty), these sorts of questions multiply ENDLESSLY and you wind up having no real way to answer ANY of them short of finding a legitimate oracle who can see the future. And I'm pretty sure those don't exist. As humans, our range is limited. Proper principles eliminate the need to endlessly debate possible futures because they make sure we stay grounded on rock and pointed in the right direction as much as we can be in a world where none of us know or CAN know the future. It is always, ultimately, futile to try and scare people out of a course of action because something bad might happen, or that some mystical force like "their conscience" will make them feel bad sometime down the road. The real question you have to ask yourself is not "will I get caught/feel bad". That is a trap that disguises the issue. The real issues is this: is it better to stand on solid ground, or to be lost at sea with an endless ream of unanswerable questions, reacting blindly to some dominant stimulus of the immediate moment? Because once you abandon principles--even if you only tell yourself it's going to be this one time--you've jumped overboard. Now, one further thing--some might say that the Norwegian gov't is responsible for this situation, and you don't "owe it to them" to respect their testing methods, in fact, that you owe it to yourself to escape by any means necessary. I have this to say about that: Meh. Personally, I think this is a cop-out and an excuse only. Yes, the Norwegian system may not be fantastic--but that doesn't mean it's the same as a totalitarian prison, either. Nor is there any perfect place in the world for you to escape TO. So the solution to this one is simple: it's not about them and what they do (up until the point where you really are facing an "escape or die" kind of scenario instead of something more along the lines of "escape or maybe go to a crappier school"). This is about you, and your adherence to principles or not. Now, you may not be convinced, even so (although I think from your wording that you're willing to be convinced). This particular issue, while it probably seems like a little, simple one, is probably THE TOUGHEST one in all philosophy. Getting a handle not just on the metaphorical "list of Objectivist principles" but WHY you should adhere to principles in the first place is super-complex and difficult, so I doubt that my little discussion of it here, that BARELY touches on the high points, is going to get you anywhere if you have no real understanding of the issue to build on. I'd recommend that you listen to Dr. Peikoff's lecture Why Should One Act On Principle? for starters. It's a great lecture and very helpful.
  6. Also, it's perfectly all right to occasionally experience negative emotions about growing old and dying. In my experience, the goal is not to perfectly eradicate all bad feelings (which may be impossible and induce unnecessary guilt), but to master them so that they don't come to dominate and squelch the good ones.
  7. Time for another question! "How can I best deal with friends or even romantic partners with low self-esteem who are still a positive value? The type of low self-esteem I'm talking about is where the person has periods of reclusiveness and are difficult for me to talk to, and express reasons that look like low self-esteem." -- Louie So, if I'm understanding this correctly, you're talking about someone who talks down about themselves or is excessively self-deprecating, and that annoys you and otherwise undermines what would be a positive relationship? Well, like the previous question, there are a couple of things to consider here. So, let's make a list: Firstly, in order to deal with other people the very first thing it's necessary to realize is what does and doesn't fall under your, I guess, sphere of authority. Self-esteem issues are emotional issues, and it's not anybody's place to even attempt to dictate to their friends or romantic partners what they should feel about ANYTHING, much less something as complex as how they should feel about THEMSELVES. I reinforce this point not because I think you're trying to be a dictator, but because the only way for YOU to deal rationally and kindly with this problem is for YOU to understand, all the way down to your bones, that it is NOT your business or responsibility in ANY way. You may love them to pieces and wish them all the happiness in the world; it may drive you absolutely friggin' insane to watch them churning over this nonsense, but that means SQUAT. You are not the authority here. I've found that this is a problem for a lot of people, particularly for those of the young and male persuasions, who also have a tendency to declare "I can't fix it, huh? So I should just give up and dump them as a hopeless sad sack not worth my time?" NO. You should just realize that it's not ON you to fix it. Think of it like visiting a friend with lower standards of tidiness than yours. You wouldn't go on some kind of holier-than-thou crusade and try to force them to wash their dishes--that would be both disrespectful and unkind. If someone genuinely has low self-esteem, you can't guilt them or argue them out of it, anyway. It'll just be that much more fuel on the fire. So focus on being respectful and kind and don't worry about the rest. Number Two (heh), it's possible that this person or persons is/are simply of an introverted personality type. Goodness knows I may as well be an expert on that (and it's probably the only thing I AM an expert on). Social burnout is a very real problem and it's not uncommon for people to experience it as a kind of anxiety and depression that leads them to sound extremely low on themselves when they simply need some alone time. In that case, giving them some space is all you really need to do. That doesn't mean you have to stop inviting them to be part of your life, by all means, invite away--you never know when they'll suddenly decide that Social Butterfly sounds like a great activity. I'm well aware that it gets annoying as heck for people to invite and invite and invite and hear nothing but no no no or (also typical) yes followed by a last-minute cancellation. You start to feel like you're the only one doing any dang work in this relationship, grumble grumble. And you're not wrong--if you're the more extroverted one, you will probably wind up doing the lion's share of the work/planning toward the goal of actually spending time with your more introverted friend. Is that fair? Not really. All you can really do is just decide not to let it bother you and just keep on periodically announcing "hey, I'm over here, ready for social interaction!" at periodic intervals. And Third, here's the bit where you can actually DO something. Hope it was worth the wait. If someone GENUINELY does have a real self-esteem problem, one thing you CAN do to help them out without trying to launch some version of a mental takeover is to simply be scrupulously honest with them at all times. This is a great habit to get into because it's good for you, as well. If they do something praiseworthy, praise them. If they do something that annoys or upset you, just tell them "I'm annoyed/upset". Don't try to overwhelm them with the evidence of your emotions--trust me, just saying "I'm annoyed" in a calm, level way is MORE than enough. One of the biggest issues with low self-esteem is that most of us are surrounded by people who are always desperate to fix us so we lose all ability to even guess at our legitimate claims to worth/worthlessness. We can't judge ourselves properly, and the people around us are always LYING and either telling us (falsely) that we are awesome or loading us down with guilt until we can barely stand, because they think that this "tough love" is going to make us get off our butts and do something productive. Just BE HONEST. Be secure in yourself, focus on yourself, judge them with calm rationality, don't treat praise and blame like the tools you use to reform a poor sinner. They may surprise you.
  8. So, time to kick off this Advice thing. If you have a question for me--specific and personal are best--throw it out there and I'll answer it as best I can (eventually). I don't pretend to be an expert on anything in particular, so what's the point of this exercise, you may ask? It's really for me to do my best to show *how* I arrive at my notions. Why is this instructive or of any value? Because the hardest part of answering any particular issue about life is in deciding what is and isn't *essential*. You have to go from the particular (your problem) to the abstract (the essential principles involved) to the particular (the application of that principle). This is a process that must be practiced. A lot. It is CRUCIAL to understanding and applying Objectivism because the connection between the particular and the abstract is THE fundamental, defining factor of the philosophy. So the purpose, as I see it, of this advice forum is NOT the value of the SPECIFIC advice (although I do hope that anybody asking a question does at least get SOMETHING out of it), but by trying to illustrate this process of concretization and abstraction as much as possible. So, our first question: Dear Jenni This year I turned 30, and loved it. Every year I feel better about myself and happier to keep on living. Each passing year seems to open up the world in broader ways than the year before -- I learn more, and inevitably recognize more how little I actually know, which has the effect of making the world seem more full of opportunity. But, starting around age 28, my body began making me notice it. Jump off a 3ft.-something, and there's a sharp pain back there, which doesn't go away for four days. Aren't sleeping tonight? Good luck recovering from that in less than a week. Wtf is this splitting pain in my skull? Oh, sure glad that went away as mysteriously as it appeared... six weeks later. Etc. Now I have this conflict and dichotomy where I'm increasingly excited about living, while growing more and more uneasy (legitimately afraid?) about my apparent impending body breakdown. Ironically, I was born with a gimp heart which needed two operations. But, it never impeded my life, so I never thought of myself as deficient -- until The Pains started coming two years ago. Is my fear realistic? Should I accept or even be glad for my uneasiness about it? I don't feel glad about it. I think there's something I'm missing in my view of mortality, or something else? --JASKN So, to start us off, I'm going to summarize this question as essentially asking: "This aging and death thing, how should one feel about it?" In my experience, everyone has awareness of mortality more or less forced on them at some point in their lives. How exactly this happens (heart operations, physical pains, in my case a horrible movie I saw when I was 11) may have some personal importance but isn't really essential to the overall issue at hand, which amounts to a realization that the decay and end of one's existence, while inevitable, isn't exactly something that anyone could realistically anticipate with any enjoyment. This is an interesting question (and, I think, a good one to kick this off) because fear or dread of mortality is something that I have a rich (if that term applies to something so unpleasant) and varied experience with. I'll get to my more poetic expressions that I find the most helpful in dark moments in favor of a more analytical approach at first, in keeping with my ideas for this "Ask Jenni" business. So, the very first thing to do when applying one's analytical powers to a subject should always be to ask, what are the facts of the matter? Which is always a great excuse to produce a list. Note that this is not intended to be an *exhaustive* list, just an *illustrative* one. So, some facts on aging/death (which JASKN has pretty much already supplied): 1. It's inevitable. 2. It diminishes or even completely removes one's capacities for action. 3. Much of one's joie de vivre is dependent upon one's capacity for action. Well, put that way, it sounds kind of grim, but I want to submit a fourth (and, I think, significant) fact for your consideration: 4. Fretting oneself about things one can't change only has the effect of destroying the capacities and enjoyments one still has, making one grumpy, crotchety, miserable, unpleasant, and possibly even hastening said inevitable decay and demise. So, in short, the principle this falls under is basically: "you can't do anything (ultimately) about it, fretting makes it worse, so the only thing to do is to toss it out of your list of things to worry about and get on with your life". So, there's the analytical bit taken care of. Clearly I have fixed everything. Well, no, because an important factor remains that affects one's life but that the analytical bit *doesn't* dispense with, because fretting about something is an *emotional* response, and like all emotional responses cannot simply be turned off--not even if you know they're ridiculous. Maybe even especially if you know they're ridiculous. You can toss it out again and again (getting madder and madder at yourself each time), but until you resolve the underlying conflict it's going to pop right back up again. Of course, this is also where things start getting kind of fuzzy. But here's (some of) my perspective, and I hope it helps: I suspect this kind of anxiety ultimately derives from a subtle mental habit of viewing life and death (or youth and age) as a trade-off, as if they were options on a bargaining table. If you're viewing them (even very slightly) in that way, getting older seems like one heck of a lousy deal. Youth gets all the good stuff, and old age gets maybe that wisdom thing. Unless, of course you go senile. In reality, though, that is *not* the trade that life offers to you. It's not a question of "I can be young and awesome, or I can be old and suck", but between "I can get older and enjoy it as best I can, or I can just die now and miss out on something awesome". Staying young isn't on the table. Not dying at all isn't on the table. To view things with equanimity, whenever that feeling of worry or dread comes up, remember the deal that is *really* on the table, not the one you would *like* to be on the table. It won't fix everything instantly. You may never *entirely* reach some kind of Buddha-like state where the anxiety never impinges on you again, but what happens is that you develop practice at facing the fear head-on, seeing it for what it really is, and letting it go so you can hurry up and get back to the awesome. And, like anything, practice makes it easier.
  9. Heya folks, I just finished editing a new novel by an Objectivist Author entitled Jason Crane: Bridge of Bones. It's a Sleepy Hollow/Headless Horseman mythology novel and it was so much fun to work on that I just want to share it with everybody! If you're a fan of fantasy/ghost stories, please check it out, you'll be supporting a fellow Objectivist who is just getting started on his novel-writing career: Book 1 link Book 2 link
  10. Here's one that was submitted to me: "How can I best deal with friends or even romantic partners with low self-esteem who are still a positive value? The type of low self-esteem I'm talking about is where the person has periods of reclusiveness and are difficult for me to talk to, and express reasons that look like low self-esteem."
  11. JMeganSnow


    Yeah, I've been busy with stuff so I haven't been active on the forum in quite a while. Time to fix that!
  12. It's axiomatic--you can't prove it in the sense of deriving it logically from something else (because the process of logical identification depends on it), but you can validate it, in the sense of pointing out the things that lead to the recognition of it existing. You have to be pretty naive to think that volition means the ability to choose free from any constraints. Of course there are constraints. The existence of constraints doesn't mean that you lack the ability to direct your consciousness within those constraints, though.
  13. Personally, I consider this sort of thing to be locking the barn door after the horse was stolen--too late, and missing the point. Nothing can fix human nature, and ultimately nothing can create or preserve a good culture but a good philosophy. Draconian voting rules will neither help create it nor retard its decay. Politics is a derivative, not a primary, and thus can't be fundamentally manipulated via a top-down enforced approach. There's a reason why "grassroots" is such a big deal--once there is a popular movement about something, attempts to fight it are doomed. I grant that my personal sphere is pretty small, but from what I've seen in many areas we're living in the lag time between a growing cultural change and the political adoption of that change. (Of course, you could probably say that about any time.) I suspect it's probably also true that there's more than one cultural change going on at a given time and which one will ultimately win cannot be known. But I still think that while the political trend is bad, that doesn't always mean that the cultural trend is equally bad or even the same as the political trend.
  14. I know a number of world-class people who are quite crude in their language, and I vastly prefer them to uptight concrete-bound prudes. Better advice would be "don't date close-minded women with radically different standards". I know a number of men who see this kind of behavior on the woman's part as inevitable, something they have to cater to in order to get laid. It's not. Nor should this kind of behavior be catered to. I also know a fair number of guys who associate being a concrete-bound uptight prude with being "feminine", so they're actually not happy with a female who doesn't behave in this way. But they're not happy when she wants them to stop associating with their buddies, either. The proper response is not to become a misogynist (as many guys do), but to resolve the internal contradiction. You can't have it both ways. If a female is supposed to be a pure, delicate Madonna, then she's going to want you to abandon your indelicate "masculine" pursuits. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior actually springs from a semi-good romantic motivation on the man's part. Being "romantically dominant" does, in some respects, seem to involve catering to the woman, because while the man is active, this means the woman has the power in the relationship. In a consensual relationship, the "submissive" always has the power. It's the "dominant" partner's job to wrack their brain and strain their creativity keeping the "sub" happy. It's incredibly hard work and often isn't that rewarding for the guy, because one of the archetypal cases of a woman who *really* craves this kind of relationship is: Lillian Rearden. Is it appropriate for a romantic man to offer his excellence to his chosen woman? Sure. But he also needs to pay attention to what she does with it. That's what this idea of "keeping it simple" really entails--it means knowing what kind of power you're willing to allow the other person to exercise and not letting them push you outside those boundaries. It applies mostly to men because, from what I've seen, the woman is often the one wielding the power in the relationship. (Power, not authority--the man can do all the talking and decision-making yet the woman is still the one exercising the power.) You may allow your partner the power to be pleased or not pleased by your offerings (which will accordingly please or not please you), but that doesn't mean you allow them the power to demean you via those offerings. You may allow requests, but not demands. Keeping it simple involves communicating "I'm not allowing you to be demeaning towards me" or "this demand needs to be properly rephrased as a request". Things like that.
  15. Erm . . . that's an excessive generalization. I know heterosexual women who don't have this particular type of craving. It may be a *common* value but it's not *universal*. As for the whole "do women test men or not" thing . . . of course we do. Not necessarily in a manipulative way, it's just a matter of course. If you're in new a relationship with someone, you're going to have to react to tons of new situations, and if you react badly, yes, the woman will negatively evaluate you for it. If one of your friends makes an obscene comment in her hearing and she totally goes off on him, you won't negatively evaluate HER for THAT? Of course you will. Does it therefore mean you're being manipulative if you introduce your new girlfriend to your crude buddies? No, you're being polite, offering her an opportunity to see more of your life, etc. It'd be manipulation if you introduced her to your crude buddies in the hope that they'd be rude to her so you could then present yourself as extra-reasonable in contrast. Doing this sort of thing will only lead to conflicts down the road, because she won't understand why a "reasonable" guy like you still enjoys hanging out with those crude jerks. And you, conversely, will think she's being a harpy when she doesn't want your asshole buddies in the house. Would have been better to find a woman who finds your buddies amusing, if they're so important to you.
  16. I wouldn't consider this a practical way to get rid of an annoyance (or an actual threat). There's a very high risk that the dude would keep his job and only be required to go to rehab, and also that he might discover the source of the tip that got him in trouble. That would only serve to escalate the situation and possibly bring harm back upon yourself. The proper solution is more along the lines of what my brother did when other kids were harassing him on the bus. He recorded their behavior and then showed them the recording. They never bothered him again. If someone is really a threat to you instead of just an annoyance, get yourself a recorder or camera, catch them in the act, and then take THAT to the authorities instead of a drug charge. That is both the practical AND moral solution to your dilemma--and it pertains whether improper laws exist or not.
  17. This is hugely inaccurate. The point is not that it's desirable to live in total isolation. The point is that no company under laissez-faire capitalism, even one with no direct competitor, has the power to "force" you to deal with them. If the power rates that were offered were truly too high--i.e. you valued what else you could do with that money far more than having electric power--then you can live without the power and spend your money on what you consider to be more valuable. If, however, you actually consider the electric power to be more valuable than the money, then where does this whining that the rates are "too high" come from? Too high compared to what? Are they higher than what you might prefer? Well of course--because what you'd *prefer* would be to get everything for free. People very often get this weird idea that there's a "correct" price for things. There is not. There is only what people are willing to pay because, in their judgment, the purchase is worth the price. This pertains whether there is one company selling the product or one thousand. Competition in itself doesn't mean that prices will be lower, instead, it drives a process that tends to lower prices over time because it encourages improvements in efficiency, which lowers costs and allows for prices to go down. It even drives lower prices in areas without direct competition because when the unit price of something decreases, you sell more of it. Companies drive to bring products to the mass market at a much lower price than their initial offering because they actually make MORE money that way. That doesn't mean the market is some kind of perfect Platonic system, far from it. It is a huge, messy complexity that is always changing and rearranging. The way to deal with it is to be an active participant. To weigh your purchases carefully and, yes, be willing to live without some things if you decide the price is too high. Nobody owes it to you to tell you what the price "ought" to be. Do you tell potential employers the cheapest conceivable rate they could get your labor for? No, you charge all they're willing to bear. Why is this fine for labor prices but not fine for other prices?
  18. And this has what to do with Capitalism? This is government action, not the action of a company on a free market.
  19. Dude, your attitude is awesome. By all means, go on thinking that it's ridiculous. It is. BTW, I'm verging on outrageously tall for a female (5'10"), and all my relationships have been with guys shorter than me. Short guys are awesome. So are tall guys. I'm just in favor of guys. So if someone rejects you do to height, that's on them. You are AWESOME.
  20. Perfectionism can be a huge problem in this area, because it will crush any motivation you can find to make improvements by telling you "I can't be perfect so why should I make any effort at all!? *Sob*". Perfectionism is a jerk. A loud, obnoxious, buzzkilling JERK. So, it may help that if you find yourself dwelling on your failure to be perfect, tell Mr. P to STFU. Jerk. Then be proud of yourself for doing the right thing. It may not make you feel better about whatever you imagine is wrong with your chin, but at least you'll feel good for doing the right thing and telling Mr. P to STFU. Edit: P.S. I find it helps to deal with perfectionism problems by making jokes about it. Nothing decreases the impact of a bad mental habit like turning it into a joke.
  21. If you're self-conscious enough to be aware that there's such a thing as creepy, devastating obsession, you're probably not in any real danger. If you want, I can give you an example so you can laugh at me and feel better about yourself--I'm infatuated with a video game character. No, I won't tell you which one. Harrumph. If you want to talk about pointless, go-nowhere infatuations, I got you beat, at least your crush EXISTS. If anything, this is a good opportunity for you to further identify consciously what you like about this person and thus two further things: a.) what you're looking for in a partner, and b.) what you will need to do in order to attract that sort of partner. There's no harm in talking to her, you can use her reactions to gauge how much work you need to do on yourself in the future. So it's not all doom and gloom.
  22. I used to feel this way a lot (still do, sometimes, but not nearly as much). It's a generalization that you're drawing from the only data you have around--the way you feel about your own activities. You're waiting for the activities to give you a feeling of purpose or satisfaction, and when they don't, you conclude that there is no purpose or satisfaction to be had, and it's all pointless. The truth is, activities won't give you purpose or satisfaction, so suggestions on the nature of "go do something!" are, in a sense, futile. However, they do have positive effects in that they can help you find your own purpose and satisfaction in a secondary sort of way. A lot of people, when they try to determine what interests them, do this sort of self-meditation where they wrack their brains trying to find some a priori voice that'll tell them, "I love soccer!" or similar. The thing is, you aren't born with interests that are stuffed somewhere in your brain. You *develop* interests by doing things, enjoying them, doing them again, enjoying them more, etc. Most people generally do all of this while they're still young enough that they aren't consciously aware of the process, so when they get to the questioning stage (late teens early twenties), they already know what they like and what they want to pursue, so it's just a matter of examining their mental contents in an orderly fashion to decide which interest is the top interest. Everyone isn't like that, though. Some people, due to shyness, a compliant personality, whatever, arrive in their late teens early twenties still pretty much unformed. When they start examining themselves, all they find is a void waiting to be filled. They think there's something wrong with them. There's nothing wrong with you, it's just that you hit the self-conscious phase before you had enough material to work with to form interests. So now, instead of having it happen more-or-less automatically as you grew, you're going to have to build them manually for yourself. I found that a helpful first step is to say "my purpose, is to find a purpose". It won't fix things for you right away, but it does help to know that feeling no deep attachment to your few interests isn't some kind of hideous psychological flaw. But this statement that you have a purpose even if it isn't a single directed one can help you straighten yourself out. So, step two is to figure out what will help you find a purpose. Well, clearly if you're going to develop strong interests, you need material to work with. So you need to go and consciously try things. Pursuing more of the interests you already have is good, but don't be afraid to try other things as well. Don't sabotage yourself by over-evaluating and trying to search for some kind of emotional spark WHILE you are doing them, though. You already have a mental habit of suppressing or repressing your emotional connections to people/things. The only thing that will happen if you try to analyze while you're doing is that you will suppress or repress whatever emotional reaction you DO have. So just concentrate on doing it instead of dwelling on how you feel about it. Later, after you've done it a few times, you'll start feeling either that you want to keep doing it, or that you'd prefer to stop. THAT's when you pull out the analysis. But it shouldn't just be a "what am I feeling about this" analysis, you need to ask yourself, "what about this is causing me to feel X"? Maybe you joined a band, you really like playing the music, but you just HATE the bass player so you find you don't want to go to practice any more because that jerk will be there harshing your groove. It's not that you don't "actually" love playing the music--it's that you want a different band. But, if he WASN'T there, you'd totally love to go play your music. Voila, you've discovered your full musical interest! NOW FIND A NEW BAND. So, yes, you do need to make yourself do stuff. Don't ride yourself too much if you find it difficult, and definitely reward yourself for even the tiniest positive steps. Don't listen to people who tell you what you "ought" to be doing--if you don't know, yourself, they sure as hell can't know. And don't hassle yourself for being different or somehow less worthy than people who happened to pick up their interests more or less by accident when they were younger and not self-critical yet. Yeah, that way sure seems like it would have been a lot nicer, but at least this way you get to form your interests consciously. You won't have a mid-life crisis where you suddenly begin to question what the source of your interests really is. In a way, you're sorting out your mid-life crisis NOW. And don't fuss yourself over not having friends or people to connect with. The problem is largely that you are currently lacking the kind of material that forms connections. The friends will come once you build up the material. There may not be many, but they'll be much better than the kind of friends you just fall into in high school. It's also not a sin to withdraw from your family. You're busy. You got stuff to build, and sometimes they try to "help" and don't help at all. So if you find them oppressive, tell them, as respectfully as you can manage, that they need to back off and let you do your buildin'. It'll probably be the nastiest, most awkward conversation EVAR, but they'll appreciate it that you told them what was up with you and you'll feel better about your relationship with them. And they may even back off. (Don't expect an instant fix--stay respectful and polite. Stick to your guns, but don't fire.)
  23. It is not true that "monopolies are bad for consumers". Monopoly or near-monopoly is actually an important stage in economic development, and they contribute enormous gains in standardization and efficiency. Nor is it always true that the price would be lower if there were more competitors on the market--the economies of scale available to a monopoly may serve to keep costs significantly lower than they were otherwise. The truly abusive monopolies that have existed in the past were all government-enforced monopolies. That's not to say that non-coercive monopolies can't occasionally be a bit cheesy, as with Microsoft's behavior when they were first marketing the DOS operating system. However, all of Microsoft's efforts still didn't suffice to keep Apple off the market. The biggest company in the world can't force you to deal with them, though. You may not have a choice IF you want to use some particular service, but you can always forego that service. Electric power is a terrific convenience and improvement. But it's not necessary to human life. And, if you REALLY dislike the power company, you can always buy a generator. Build a windmill in your backyard. Install one of those treadmill things in your kitchen. The reason most people choose not to do this is because it is enormously more expensive and inconvenient than paying the local power company. Yet they still complain, totally without context, that the power company's rates are "too high". Too high compared to what?
  24. This is not psycho-epistemology, it's just psychology. But, in any case, you are correct, there's no contradiction implied by someone deriving psychological pleasure from physical or emotional pain. Heck, it doesn't even have to be a disorder. How many times have you heard someone say something like "woo, great workout! I'm sore all over!" or "that confrontation was awful, but it's such a relief to get our issues out in the open". What makes it a disorder is that the masochist pursues self-destructive acts, whereas the psychologically healthy person accepts a certain amount of pain as a necessary precondition of accomplishing the goals which make them happy.
  25. That is a list, not an explanation. It's an okay list, but it doesn't describe how the rights are derived or how to apply them, which are really the fundamentally important issues. For instance, he says he has a "right to life". Does this mean that you have the right to have your life be supported by the assistance of others if you fail to support it yourself? Many liberals believe this. Does this right to liberty mean that you are free to walk in to your neighbor's house and take food out of his fridge? Many anarchists believe this. Does the right to property mean that you can take anything you want as long as you can defend it? Many warlords believe this. Important to understanding the Objectivist viewpoint is that the entire framework of rights only functions if they are applied universally, to everyone. This means that the rights are basically negative in their application. The right to life means that other people have no right to kill you. It does not mean you have a right to live at their expense. The right to liberty means that other people have no right to enslave you, not that you can do whatever you feel like doing. The right to property means that other people have no right to take what you have produced, not that you have the right to keep whatever you can steal and then defend. Multiple governments operating in the same territory cannot protect rights in this fashion because they would lack any kind of authority over law-breakers. If the citizens can simply cancel the government's authority over them on a whim the way they can cancel their relationship with Time Warner, then there is no government authority or power and no justice. The result is gang warfare, as Dormin and I have both stated.
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