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Everything posted by Lemuel

  1. ppw, Any relationship, aside from marriage, is a limited one. Your relationship with your boss is based on exchanging trustworthy and valuable labor for money; that's the primary standard by which he should be impressed with you. Of course, it's not all about results: character plays a role, too, but only what the job requires. Cultivate good virtues, and let others think of you what they will; keep close to you those that are impressed by you, and let the others go on their way. You mentioned not being able to know that they're rational people. That's okay - they only have to be rational enough within the context of the relationship; anything else is theirs to deal with "off the clock". Leave out things that don't matter. Who cares if your boss is a Christian, or a bass fishing enthusiast, or Celine Dion fan, or anything else (rational or not) that doesn't matter at work? What matters is: does he treat you well, pay you fairly, and acknowledge your work? Or is he a micromanaging buffoon who sabotages your efforts? Leave out what doesn't matter, and you'll not only be able to focus on the values that will get you ahead in life, but you won't be distracted by your judgments of the unimportant aspects of the lives of those "higher up the chain".
  2. This needs to be unpacked a little ... So far, you're doing fine. This is where things start getting sticky. Objectivism upholds productive, creative work as a higher value than the reward one receives for it. Absolutely, one should be rewarded for one's efforts, and it's great if what you do makes you wealthy as a consequence. But it's not the pursuit of wealth qua wealth that is a virtue; it's the pursuit of wealth by producing something that you have your soul in, such as running a retail store, writing music, accounting, health care, education, etc. Otherwise, there would be a moral justification for fraud, which there is not. In essence, Objectivism is about having the freedom to work, not about "getting rich." And one would be wrong. Popularity is a consequence, not a prime mover, and thus it's a second-handed standard at best. The difference is illustrated in The Fountainhead, but another way to look at it is that a narcotics cartel may be selling a popular product, but it's the legitimate pharmacy that's doing the more virtuous work. Since we've knocked the second-handed standard of "popularity" out of the water, as well as the reversal of cause and effect in the work-wealth relationship, these are not valid defenses of producing pornography. But let's say, for the sake of argument, that you're a photographer or director that is passionate about producing erotic entertainment (regardless of how well it sells) because you have a particular vision to manifest. The issue of sex being an almost exclusively intimate part of one's life, properly conducted within a specific context, becomes an issue, as well as proper forms of art. The issue of producing pornography involves so many issues of morality and esthetics that cannot be ignored because doing so may be merely legal and profitable. To change the object of discussion a little, Objectivists believe the government has no right to engage on a "war on drugs" - but that does not constitute an endorsement of using or selling mind-altering or addictive narcotics. If one is passionate about the science of medicines, then working in a legitimate pharmaceutical enterprise is the moral choice, not working for a narcotics cartel. In short, your premises are flawed, but also the issues are also mixed up some. I think it's possible to produce erotic entertainment that doesn't contradict the nature of sex as a personal and intimate act, and I certainly think there's nothing wrong with nude art or photography (in general) - though I couldn't begin to tell you what would be Objectivist-legitimate or not. To do so would take someone learned in Objectivism, healthy sexuality, and proper art to correctly identify. Those that produced "legitimate" erotic art and did so with vision and passion and creativity would be virtuous; those that indiscriminately have sex (or engage in a number of beastly, deviant sexual acts) on camera with anyone for money would not be at all "noble."
  3. I agree with the first part, but not the second; if they butcher it, any interest in Objectivism will be corrupted. My opinion is that, outside of a 2 to 3 season TV series produced with the involvement of the Ayn Rand Center and a sympathetic director and executive producer, it's not going to be a good representation of the novel, much less Ayn Rand's philosophy.
  4. Me'Shell NdegéOcello, Comfort Woman
  5. First, loneliness and emotional dysfunction are matters of psychology, not philosophy. Philosophy can provide the intellectual tools to identify these conditions, but it cannot deal with them in particular. Second, there are tremendous differences between the two conditions. Loneliness is an emotional reaction to a lack of identification with others in some important facet of one's life; emotional dysfunction is a broad term that encompasses trauma, underdevelopment, and other deeper conditions which are either experiential or the result of an individual's flawed neurology. Being an Objectivist implies neither condition. If a particular Objectivist is lonely because he has no friends who share his fundamental philosophy, he can still find solace in friends that are made through particular interests. I like science fiction and my friends like science fiction, and that gives us a connection; but that connection can only be so strong because there are fundamental differences in how we view the world and how we live. On the other hand, there are many Objectivists who have Objectivist friends, and they probably share a greater friendship because of that more fundamental connection. I have never been to OCON, but I have read it described by first-timers as an event where they felt almost instantly comfortable and free to be themselves. Only a philosophy that is vicious to the human mind can lead to emotional dysfunction -- the guilt-ridden Catholic, the angry existentialist, and so on -- but that philosophy certainly is not Objectivism. In my own life, I credit Objectivism with dispatching the religious ideas I was brought up with, and as a result my values changed, I was able to achieve self-esteem and confidence (because I discovered them to be virtues), and whatever emotional baggage I was carrying around I was able to leave behind. Objectivism didn't do these things - I did. Objectivism simply gave me the tools to begin.
  6. It's been a few months since I started this topic, and to address some of the responses ... - Yes, I've read Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and other Grand Masters. Obviously Heinlein speaks more to me than the others do. In fact, I just re-read Time Enough for Love, and realized that it could make for a great television serial, that would appeal to not only audiences, but satisfy the values of network programmers (modest budget, semi-arc based stories, etc.). - I'm still a fan of Joss Whedon's work, the Firefly saga being the obvious stand-out. I've enjoyed Dollhouse, too, and the density of metaphysical and epistemological ideas it explores (particularly these last several episodes) will keep me thinking about it for a while longer. - I've been praising the virtues of an independent sci-fi film, The Man From Earth, for many moons now. If you like speculation, history, conversational movies, and Big Idea stuff, you'll like this movie. Do not look up spoilers for the movie - just watch it. (It's available in a streaming format on Netflix.) - I like Star Trek on a surface level, but among all its (many) flaws the one that annoys me (beyond the fantasy physics) is that it promotes collectivism in its subtext. It's not particularly vicious, but it's like ugly wallpaper -- not the focus of attention, but always present, distracting, and everything in the room has to match it. - Back to Netflix, I finally watched what I had originally missed: Farscape. I had asked where Buck Rogers went, and I found him in the character of John Chrichton. While I didn't enjoy them going back to the "digging around John's mind" well so often, I was pleasantly surprised at the essential story ... an adventurous pilot and scientist gets thrown into an alien-saturated part of the galaxy, adapts to it, acts bravely in the face of surreal creatures and situations, fights the tyranny of an interplanetary fascist government, all while pursuing his own goal of returning home to Earth. - - - I realize that science fiction isn't to blame as a genre for being infused with so much junk -- all genres are. I know that, being an Objectivist, the best I can expect from all entertainment is an accidental validation of my ethics. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised, but mostly I'm disappointed and disgusted in the 'fetish-izing' of collectivist and nihilist tropes. If I didn't know that book publishers, film studios, and TV networks remain hostile to values that are implicitly Objectivist (and I didn't already have a greater passion to pursue), I'd start writing ...
  7. I think I'm going to skip Avatar until the Blu-Ray is available from Netflix. I'm interested in the visual effects, of course, but I'm not shelling out an extra dime for yet another "white guilt" movie. I thought along the same lines when I read the setup synopsis. I mean, why go to the trouble of implementing the avatar tech if they're just going to go in guns-a-blazin' anyway? If the corporation is so evil, why not just slaughter the aliens and mine their 'whateverite' willy-nilly? Why send in one of their own to try to persuade the aliens to move, someone who knows their tactics and weaponry? And why is it that the 'whateverite' they need is ONLY available on the aliens' land? Surely such a resource would be abundant enough to warrant an expensive and time-consuming journey through space to acquire it ... Maybe they have plausible answers for these questions in the near 3 hour movie, but the "white guy goes native, learns the ways of the noble savages, and fights his former comrades to save his new friends" story is not only way too played out, but based on a politically-correct revisionist history of American settlement and expansion.
  8. A couple of lines of script could have taken care of that ... "The ship's pilots were a more intelligent breed, but when they died, the ship found itself on Earth, and the 'worker bees' without guidance or leadership. But, 'life finds a way,' and that superior breed of prawn was needed by the 'hive' ..." which could have explained Christopher Johnson and his lab partner, clearly more individualistic than the rest of their race. Hey, I'm not saying it's a good excuse, and it's certainly not that scientific, but it's as good as you're going to get in a science fiction film. Especially one that takes anti-grav suspension so lightly. - - - My review of it is short -- the best sci-fi movie this summer, but that's not really saying much; enjoyable for it NOT spoon-feeding everything to the viewer, seemingly intentionally leaving plot holes open for sci-fi fans to fill (which we love doing); technically marvelous; interesting story; emotionally engaging beyond the "wow, the CGI stunts are GREAT!". I give it a strong A-, not perfect, but one I'll enjoy revisiting on BluRay. On a side note, it has restored a lot of what Knowing killed in terms of my sci-fi fandom ...
  9. I just got done watching Knowing, the Nicolas Cage movie billed as a mystery concerning prophecies of disasters. The film ends with ... I recently watched the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, in which an alien arrives on Earth to warn Mankind to stop its evil plundering ways, lest the aliens pass judgment and destroy all of civilization. Predictably ... Despite its many flaws, I was a fan of Battlestar Galactica, which ended with ... Even Wall-E, made by the same team that brought us the marvelous The Incredibles ... And it's not just the movies. Science fiction novels regularly feature variations of anti-Man, anti-progress, anti-technology, anti-civilization messages. You can't find a sci-fi novel on the shelves whose premise doesn't involve: A. an inevitable environmental cataclysm, B. the mystic "singularity", or C. transhumanism, in which Man is basically no longer Man. Where is Buck Rogers? Where is Flash Gordon? Or Luke Skywalker? Where are the heroes who triumph over evil? Why must every technology manifest the destruction or enslavement of Man? Why must every superhero be filled with angst and flaws in order to be plausible? Why must the only "positive" visions of the future involve people living in some saccharin socialist utopia, a la Star Trek? I've been a fan of science fiction since I understood what it was. I enjoyed grand ideas, and reality-challenging premises. I liked heroes that won against unimaginable odds. I liked technology, and visions of a future liberated from many of the irrational ills that plague or culture. Even after I developed a value system, I was able to overlook a lot of what I disapproved of in science fiction because there was always something that could excite my imagination. No more, it seems. Every book disgusts me, every movie disappoints, and I'm finding less and less to enjoy in science fiction. Perhaps I'm not reading/watching the right things. Perhaps I've finally outgrown the genre. Perhaps Knowing was just so bad I don't want anything more to remind me of it. I'm sure there's a point in here somewhere, but I'm just too disappointed right now to articulate it.
  10. I gotta say I'm not crazy about a Hitchens atheism movie. Hitchens and other atheists in the media come with two problems, both of which are very counterproductive: 1. If they try to replace Christian morality with anything, it's the same old materialist angle they've been preaching for years, "altruism for the society's sake, not God's"; and ... 2. They're incredibly RUDE about their atheism. Anyone who calls religious devotion a "mental disorder" who's not a trained psychologist is issuing that judgment as a tacit insult, and Christians know it. This does nothing to penetrate their deep, multilayered faith, and it makes atheists look smug, arrogant, and outright mean. Those may not be accurate assessments, but when you attack someone's lifelong religious beliefs, they're going to take it personally, and they're going to respond emotionally. Sensitivity and tact are needed, not ballistic insults. Objectivism demonstrates that atheism is a consequence of accepting a universe that operates on natural law. If Christianity or other forms of religious mysticism are to be defeated as social movements, the discussions need to be focused on those issues which undercut each area of belief, and each mystic is different in this regard. You may find that some -- many, in fact -- don't really believe in all that, but they go along with it because of social pressures. Others may be well-versed in religious thought, and are prepared for any and every atheist argument ever muttered. But insulting people, or giving what they see as a "different take" on historical events, or taking any kind of attack stance -- all these accomplish is strengthening a mystic's faith; they do little, if anything, not break it.
  11. This is the silliest thing I've heard in a while. Someone please tell me the OK Legislature is laughing this woman out of Chambers ...
  12. The history, traditions, and rituals that belong to the church are indeed powerful aspects of practicing religious faith, and I can understand how one can miss those. What I "miss" is choral music -- there are almost no secular chorales in existence, yet I'm attracted to the use of human voices as musical instruments outside of opera. What I recommend is looking at these various aspects in a general way, and evaluating what they satisfied in you, then seeking rational means to pursue those values. If it's the architecture, then study it as an aesthetic value, and learn to appreciate rational approaches to it. It's not easy to do with something specific like choral music, but it is rational to take from it what is good, and ignore what is bad, so long as in doing so you're not overtly promoting vicious philosophies. (Buying a CD of Rachmaninov's "Vespers"? Not a problem. Performing it in a Christmas Mass? Problem.) If it's the ritual, then you value that which regularly reinforces your philosophy -- so find new rituals. But instead of blindly practicing them as a matter of faith or duty, put them to use in your life. Take that time to pursue a productive hobby, or learn a new skill; it doesn't have to be becoming a virtuoso violinist -- something as simple as learning to cook is fine. Whatever it is, make it something that is productive, life-affirming, enjoyable, and in accordance with your individual values. Really miss genuflecting? Take a martial arts class. Or learn the basics of orchestra conducting (it's a great alternative to dancing, if you're like me and don't enjoy doing so). A few years ago, I read a blog from an Objectivist who had once taken Bible study seriously, and spent Sundays in church and Bible study. When he became an Objectivist, he replaced those with re-reading portions of Ayn Rand's fiction and non-fiction, and writing essays on them every Sunday. He satisfied that desire for regularly-scheduled reflection, but was now doing so in a productive and rational manner. Define what those extra aspects of your religious faith brought to your life, eradicate the concrete forms of those values, and replace them with conscious, rational, and productive hobbies or chores, and you'll get to where you don't miss all those things one bit.
  13. Welcome to the forum, Damon1212. Probably not, otherwise it would be widely known from the publication of her journals. This is probably a good question for Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand's long time friend and intellectual heir. To my knowledge she never wrote about Shostakovich. I'm aware of the subversive undercurrents in his music. He's one of my favorite composers, but there's only a portion of his music I like, such as his piano concertos, a couple of symphonies, and "Festive Overture". Nice. There are a few musicians that are regulars here. What do you play?
  14. I think that it's neither possible, nor desirable, to have an "airtight" constitution, regardless of the form of government it defines. 1. Any constitution's terms must be objectively defined, and its language parsed meticulously to avoid misinterpretation. America's Founders attempted this, yet changes in meaning have exposed 'holes' in the Constitution that Congress has driven expansionist legislation through. Written today, the issue of electronic eavesdropping would give many pause when it came to broad search & seizure protections. Such a problem was totally unimaginable at the time the USA Constitution was written. 2. Any constitution must be amendable. Even the greatest philosophical-political minds in history cannot predict the future, thus there must be some opening for future legislators to add new laws or limitations on government power. The Founders could not have envisioned our world; what will our grandchildren's grandchildren be dealing with in the 23rd century that we can't imagine now? 3. Checks and balances within government only go so far; the people must be the ultimate check against the expansion of government power. Without the vigilance of voters, no matter how "airtight" the constitution is, the government will spill out of its boundaries. What's to stop them from writing another constitution, one that gives them unlimited powers? You and me and 300 million others, that's who, and no Constitutional Amendment can assure that we maintain that vigilance. 4. No matter how simple a concept, no matter how universally agreed-upon the meaning of a word, no matter how clearly a legal concept can be drafted and interpreted, somewhere there's a lawyer or politician capable of hairsplitting it beyond the point of reasonable doubt. - - - Words on paper are nice, but the real Constitution is the people who keep their government in its place.
  15. Good advice! I always check here -- www.hotelcoupons.com -- before heading out of town. Some savings are only okay, but every now & then you can score big. One time I was able to get a $100 room for about $40. Even though it was for 3 nights only, and I needed 4, I booked the room anyway, then asked the desk clerk if I could keep the room for a fourth night at the same rate; he said yes, and I saved a bundle.
  16. I agree with others that it's probably for a variety of reasons, but let me offer another one: Objectivism doesn't tell you how to live your life specifically. You can learn logic, reason, a morality of rational self-interest, etc., but none of that gives you specifics, such as what kind of personality you have, what your values are in life, what to seek in a romantic partner, what kind of career to pursue, etc. Objectivism gives you the faculty of evaluating your options in those regards, but it's up to you to make the choices and act on them on your own. This is really hard to do, particularly when so much of what you encounter in a day is hostile to your values. People make irrational decisions, believe in silly things, rationalize bad behavior, transfer their insecurities onto others, and so forth. Entertainment and the arts rarely present the kind of emotional fuel an Objectivist desires. This leaves very little validation in the real world, forcing you to pick & choose and compartmentalize in a manner that often feels like trying to take the eggs out of a cake. Without any external validation, it can be a very lonely path to forge. Some choose to endure it. Others choose not to, compromise on their values, and eventually "grow" out of Objectivism. This is why I want to go to OCON one day; I know this is all "real", but I really need a 3D experience -- something outside of books and the internet. I don't think I'm in danger of leaving Objectivism behind, but there's a spiritual boost that I know I need. In spirit, I've felt for a long, long time like I'm sort of a pre-Galt's-Gulch Dagny Taggart.
  17. Same difference, although the objective truth has to be carefully worded. Even assuming that one is claiming that there is a physically-provable entity which could be "God", such as some fantastically-advanced alien life form, the onus of proof is still on the one making the claim. The objective truth is: Nothing has been proven to exist that meets the qualifications of "God". Until such proof is provided -- i.e. scientific evidence that it cannot be anything else -- it's safe to conclude that no such entity actually exists. But, it's wasteful speculation to think there could be a "God" that isn't "supernatural". God is by definition supernatural. Yet everything that exists exists in nature. Since there is nothing "supernatural" (which is the logical corollary of "everything that exists exists in nature"), "God" as defined as a "supernatural being" can't exist. To claim some newly-discovered and unique entity is "God" would be to automatically invalidate that being as "God", and identify is as something else ... such as a fantastically-advanced alien life form.
  18. I agree, but are there better shows? Not that Beck is the best, but is there any show in the mainstream media that is run by a pro-reason host? They're all conservatives or liberals of varying degrees. I wonder if the reason why Binswanger, Ghate, Brook and others go on these shows is that they're the only ones that invite Objectivists. It's better to have these men interviewed on TV for a couple of minutes -- even though the show's host is intellectually misaligned with Obejctivism -- than for the Institute not to have any TV exposure at all. I've noticed that the issues and opinions in ARC press releases are largely favored by conservatives: economy, foreign policy, etc. What would be nice would be to see Objectivist scholars get a chance to call out conservatism on these issues. I like it when Brook goes on TV and is allowed to express a pro-capitalist opinion, but it's annoying that he can't get in a "conservatives are guilty, too" statement. I doubt it will ever happen, though; these partisan talk show hosts largely have guests who will validate their opinions, not challenge them in any meaningful way.
  19. Lemuel

    Eagle Scout

    No one else can really answer for you. The questions you have to ask yourself are: - Are the values you agree with more important to you than the values you disagree with? - Is the achievement more important than giving up on it in protest of those disagreeable values? - Are the consequent benefits available in equal opportunity without achieving this goal? I don't like that the Boy Scouts are backed by religious organizations, but aside from its religious aspects, I think the Boy Scouts is a virtuous organization. Confidence, self-reliance, the value of developing skills, the importance of achievement, employing a merit system, etc. are all values that both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts promote. You certainly won't find those taught in a lot of public schools. I, too, have heard that the religion thing is gathering some momentum -- but so are those that are protesting it. There are many former Scouts that are gay or atheist that, while now outside the organization, proudly associate themselves with the Scouts because of the positive things they derived from it, and are vocally critical of the organization's discriminations.
  20. I saw this a few months ago. It's a really informative documentary, and absolutely heart-breaking.
  21. Wait ... didn't they go back and re-film a lot of the movie because kids were crying at the test screenings?
  22. I read what turned out to be a completely incorrect spoiler, but it would have been an interesting development: The false spoiler 'revealed' that Daniel was father to twins Kara Thrace and Gaius Baltar, and that Daniel's been guiding them to their destiny ("our" Earth) since the Fall of the Colonies using Cylon projection. It would have made sense given the projecting, Angel Six & Angel Baltar, and the whole destiny angle. It wouldn't have explained Kara's death and resurrection, though, and it would have invalidated Hera as being the first human/Cylon hybrid. Flawed still, but it would have taken the wind out of the God sails with the "angels" actually being angels. I don't mind mysticism in science fiction if it's something that can be counted on as a vital part of the story, like the Force in Star Wars. Galactica treated religion like a set decoration, something background to the characters, which got put center stage in the last moment. Greek tragedies do this - the gods drop into a convoluted plot and magically make everything okay - forgivable for them, but Ron Moore should have known better.
  23. Moore was stupid for even mentioning Daniel so close to the end of a heavily mythology-based series with many questions left still unanswered. I can't believe that someone in the writers' circle didn't say "um, these are science fiction fans - don't you think they'll kind of fixate on this?" Regarding the finale, I don't have any complaints about it that don't apply to the rest of the show, but I'm with a number of others in this thread -- the show's moral ambiguity, contrived character flaws, and mysticism didn't sit well with me, but it wasn't so out of place given the culture of entertainment. The part I didn't like was the very end, with the Baltar & Six angels discussing whether man was moral enough to prevent his own destruction, given the rampant excess and commercialism that surrounded them. It was cheesy (especially the Moore cameo), clunky in execution, and emptied me of any sentiment I experienced in the previous two hours. If someone had told me a year ago that Galactica would end with footage of Japanese toy robots dancing to "All Along the Watchtower," while Balter and Six talk about morality (!) I'd have believed them to be mad. Kudos, though, to Bear McCreary for the wonderful soundtrack, and to the special effects and development teams for their technical expertise on the series. Galactica was feature film quality from beginning to end, and everything seemed like it was thoroughly noodled before committed to paper or film. And I also appreciate the Sci Fi Channel taking a chance on the series -- heavily flawed though it was, I was entertained and intrigued the whole time.
  24. McBama doesn't concern me - I'm writing in Thomas Jefferson for President. Local elections are more important to me - for instance, I'm voting for the challenger to the House seat in my District here in FL. I emailed him the day after the House first voted on the bailout package, asking him how he would have voted. WIth no prompting, he said he'd have voted against it because the government can't fix the problem they created, and that taxpayers shouldn't be forced to foot the bill for badly-run companies. He's got my vote. Also, an amendment that will give the state more discriminatory power over homosexuals is on the ballot, so that's getting a Nay vote from me.
  25. I have bad memories of spending days upon days constructing my "perfect" spaceship from Legos, only to return from school to find that my 4-year-old sister had dismantled it. I could never put it together the right way again. Now I'm all grown up and live on my own, and make more money than my chore allowance ever made me, so I'm reoppening the Lemuel Orbital Lego Shipyards someday soon!
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