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dianahsieh

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  1. Dog shaming is funny: it’s a harmless way for dog owners to amuse themselves (or blow off steam) about the naughty behavior of their dogs. It’s harmless because the dogs don’t know that they’re being publicly shamed and mocked. (They can’t read, after all.) Kid shaming is another matter entirely. Here’s one example and here’s another. Such public shaming teaches the worst possible moral lessons — particularly that you can’t trust people who claim to love you and that life will be good so long as you conceal your mistakes and wrongs from the authorities. It’s a betrayal of a child’s trust in a parent, not to mention an unconscionable abuse of parental authority. To see how and why, read this article: Destroying Your Child’s Heart – One FB Picture At A Time. Just imagine if your boss publicly shamed you at the office — or the whole wide world — for your mistakes and wrongs. Really, just imagine that for a moment. Think of your last screw-up, whether large or small. I bet that you’d learn one of the following lessons from the article, just like kids do: Bully your kids and they will learn to fear you. As in be afraid of you. Cringing in your presence and hiding their lives from you. Publicly shame your kids and they will learn the only important character development is to be found in a good public persona and the fool’s gold of value based solely upon outward perception and public approval Mock your children as they struggle and they will learn to never share their struggles with you. Share their weaknesses with the world and they will find the world to be cruel and will put you in the role of the cruelest of all. They will think they are a joke, not to be taken seriously. Their pain the only commodity to sell. They will treat you as you have treated them. Parents, you can do better! Link to Original
  2. On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on justifying punishment, the morality of working less, the morality of price gouging, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 12 January 2014, in our live studio. If you can't listen live, you'll find the podcast on the episode's archive page. This week's questions are: Question 1: Justifying Punishment: What justifies punishing people for committing crimes? In your 2006 graduate paper, "The Scope Problem in Punishment," you criticize utilitarian theories of punishment that aim for deterrence of future crimes on the grounds that they don't punish all and only those who are guilty. Yet why is that a problem? Moreover, why should a criminal be punished if doing so won't have any future benefits, such as deterring future crimes? Doesn't self-interest require that actions have some future benefit – and if so, shouldn't all punishment have some positive future effect like deterrence? Question 2: The Morality of Working Less: Is it moral to live on passive income or just work a "four hour work week"? Would that be compatible with the idea that a person's productive work should be his central purpose? If a person is so productive that he is able to enjoy a great life by only working a few hours per week, would it be wrong for that person to spend the rest of his time on travel, relationships, hobbies, self-improvement, education, and other non-productive interests? Question 3: The Morality of Price Gouging: Is it morally wrong to profit from someone else's distress? People often decry "taking advantage" of other people as cruel and wrong. For example, suppose that a person desperately needs water after a hurricane or other natural disaster. I charge him $1000 for a gallon jug, knowing that he can pay that much if he's really that desperate. Is such price gouging immoral? Is it fundamentally different from other kinds of trade – or just different in degree? Is it morally wrong to profit so handsomely by the distress and scanty options of other people in this way? After that, we'll tackle some impromptu "Rapid Fire Questions." To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat. The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Justifying Punishment, Working Less, Price Gouging, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed: Enhanced M4A Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player Standard MP3 Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics! Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.
  3. Paul sent me this video, know that I’d like it. He was right! I love to see people speaking out against such racist bullying, even when remaining silent would be the easier course. Bullies are cowards at heart. They’ll almost always back down in face of firm opposition, which is part of why it’s so important to say that they’re wrong, clearly and openly. Also, speaking out against a bully helps the victims: they don’t feel alone and under attack from all sides. That’s why I liked the first woman most of all: her immediate focus was to protect the victim from these vicious comments by letting her know that she rejected the bully’s racism. Videos like this one give me hope for the future of American culture. Americans are concerned about justice — and many will not stand idly by while another person is unjustly victimized. We just need to figure out how to reach them with rational principles in ways that make sense to them. Link to Original
  4. I loved some of these stories about coming out in 2013, but I particularly enjoyed the comments of these two men: First, “Chris Cheng, the Season 4 Champion of the History Channel’s Top Shot, came out of the closet in mid-December in an interview with gun magazine Recoil.” He said: I was pleasantly surprised when other competitors found out I was gay. They were either indifferent or accepting. The most common response I received was “Chris, we don’t really care that you’re gay, we care about how well you can shoot…the better we all shoot, the more exciting the competition will be…” I suppose this affected the house dynamics in that I never heard any gay pejoratives during my six weeks there. The shooting community was honestly one of the last places I expected gay acceptance on any level. That really caught me off guard, in a good way. It’s how life should be, where no one cares if you’re gay, straight, or somewhere in between. We should be evaluated and judged based on our skills and accomplishments. While I was hoping to break some stereotypes, some of my own stereotypes regarding the shooting community were also broken. It was an enlightening experience. That’s awesome, and not surprising to me, based on my experience with fellow gun enthusiasts. Here’s another tidbit from him: While it’s something my friends and family have known for years, I believe now that I have become a television personality and public figure, it is important to be honest and upfront about who Chris Cheng is. Thankfully, tolerance and acceptance are contagious. Being gay is no longer something to hide…One reason why I chose to come out publicly is that I’m a gay guy in a gun world. Hunters, sport shooting enthusiasts, and collectors are too often stereotyped as part of efforts to politicize guns as we witnessed last week on the anniversary of the horrific Newtown tragedy. Take it from someone who in a single package is not only gay, but Chinese, Japanese, California-born, a college graduate, a tech geek who worked on cool Google projects, a gun enthusiast and a passionate 2nd Amendment advocate. Our community is as diverse as anyone’s. Second, “Irish actor Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty in the BBC1 series Sherlock alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, spoke publicly about his sexuality for the first time in November when asked about Legacy, a BBC2 drama about spying between the UK and USSR during the Cold War years.” He said: There isn’t a huge amount of footage of Russians speaking English as a second language, so I started looking at Vladimir Putin videos on YouTube. But then Putin introduced anti-gay legislation this summer – so, being a gay person, I switched to Rudolf Nureyev videos instead. It was another Nureyev defection of sorts! … Mercifully, these days people don’t see being gay as a character flaw. But nor is it a virtue, like kindness. Or a talent, like playing the banjo. It’s just a fact. Of course, it’s part of my make-up, but I don’t want to trade on it. I am a private person; I think that’s important if you’re an actor. But there’s a difference between privacy and secrecy, and I’m not a secretive person. Really I just want to get on with my job, which is to pretend to be lots of different people. Simple as that. Hear, hear! Link to Original
  5. Recently, I ran across this list of 25 Manners Every Kid Should Know By Age 9. It’s not a great list in many ways, but some of the proposed rules are fine. Kids should learn to make polite requests, including saying “please” and “thank-you.” Obviously, that’s part of being a decent adult too. However, I have a strong aversion to the rules designed just for kids, such as #3: Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking. Really? Adults interrupt each other all the time. Can’t kids be taught those mores — or how to do that politely? Surely, this rule seems to imply that any conversation among adults, no matter how trivial, is more important than any concern of the child, except life-and-death. That’s not good! Also, #6: The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults. Dislikes are important! Knowing what you dislike is part of knowing what you like. A kid who can introspect and explain his dislikes is going to be better equipped to pursue his values, both as a kid and as an adult. He will be able to assert himself, including against bullies and exploiters. Yes, dislikes can be expressed in rude or otherwise inappropriate ways. However, merely expressing dislikes is far from rude in and of itself. That’s why adults express dislikes routinely. (Alas, part of the problem here is that parents often don’t take the likes and dislikes of their children seriously.) Oh, and #13: Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant. To that, I will only say: Speak for yourself, jerkwad! Obviously, I’m not opposed to all rules designed for kids. Kids aren’t just small adults, so any rules should consider their ignorance, lack of self-control, clumsiness, weakness, and other relevant facts. So definitely don’t let the two-year-old run around the house with the kitchen knives. However, when teaching social graces, kids need practice at polite methods of accomplishing their aims. Simply demanding that kids never interrupt, keep silent about what they dislike, and never curse doesn’t do that. Such bans leave kids without guidance and without practice — and likely with some resentment of their parents for being hypocritical and oppressive. Parents, you can do better than that! Link to Original
  6. On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on the morality of elective abortion, liability for injuries on the job, guilt over self-sacrifice, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 5 January 2014, in our live studio. If you can't listen live, you'll find the podcast on the episode's archive page. This week's questions are: Question 1: The Morality of Elective Abortion: Is elective abortion morally wrong? Some conservatives support abortion in the cases of rape or incest, as well as in cases of serious medical problems with the fetus or the pregnancy. However, they regard the termination of a normal, healthy pregnancy as morally wrong, particularly as irresponsible. Are such abortions wrong? Does the judgment change if the couple used birth control or not? Question 2: Liability for Injuries on the Job: Should employers be required to warn employees of possible harms on the job? Discovery Channel's TV show Gold Rush depicted a South American gold miner using mercury in the mining process because mercury binds to gold and makes extraction from a "sluice." Mercury, being heavier, falls below the surface and is collected at the bottom of a "sluice box." The episode (titled "The Jungle") depicts workers using their bare hands in the sluice where I'm assuming they are in direct physical contact with the toxic mercury. In a free society, should employers be allowed to expose their employees to such dangers? Should employers be obliged to warn employees of those dangers or to take precautions? Or are workers responsible for the risks of their job? Question 3: Guilt over Self-Sacrifice: Should a person feel guilty for not acting selfishly enough? According to rational egoism, a person ought to act selfishly – not in the sense of hurting others, but in the sense of pursuing his own good. If a person fails to do that, should he feel guilty for failing to act morally? After that, we'll tackle some impromptu "Rapid Fire Questions." To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat. The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Morality of Abortion, Injuries on the Job, Self-Sacrifice, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed: Enhanced M4A Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player Standard MP3 Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics! Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.
  7. Before 2013 comes to a close, I want to post a quick year-end report, thank my contributors of 2013, and ask for your support in 2014. In 2013, I produced 80 episodes of Philosophy in Action Radio. 50 were Q&As, in which I answered 169 questions. 29 were interviews, and just one was a podcast. (Later, I’ll work on compiling a list of some of my favorites.) As for listening statistics: I had 152,507 listens via BlogTalkRadio, with 6,110 of those being live. That’s an increase of nearly 45% over last year’s total of 105,380. I had 219,114 downloads from my podcast archives. (That’s 152,402 downloads from my old host podbean and 66,712 downloads from my new host libsyn.) That’s an increase of nearly 60% over last year’s total of 137,350. That’s 371,621 listens from all sources — an increase of over 50% from last year’s total of 242,730. Wowee, that’s even better than I expected! That growth makes me darn happy… and I hope to do even better in 2014! In addition to those radio shows, I published my first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame. That was far, far more work than I expected, but I’m so glad to have that work out in the world. I’m particularly grateful to all the people who made that work — and more — possible by their financial support. That’s what makes what I do possible, and it keeps me motivated to work even harder on new projects. Here are some of the comments that I’ve received recently from some of those contributors: I want to thank you for the great podcasts. I’ve been listening since September of 2009, and they just keep getting better! I’m a monthly contributor, and it’s worth every cent. Diana, Thanks for your webcast, and all your reasoning analyses! I don’t have a good question to accompany this donation, but I may remind you of it when I do submit a question. -) Have a great new year! I want to say i love your show. I really do enjoy the works and ideas of Ayn Rand, and I considered myself a total objectivist right up until I came in contact with the objectivist community online. Its refreshing to listen to your show and see that rationality is alive and well somewhere. I have become a regular weekly listener to your show and I have started a regular $5 a month contribution to your tip jar. I know that this isn’t a huge amount but its all i can do for now. I hope that it does help and will continue to promote the show to my more than 1300 twitter followers just as often as I can. I really enjoyed your recent podcast. You and Paul managed to convince me that personality theory is not just some foo-foo fluff stuff made up by academics, but can actually be quite valuable when formulated and applied in a certain way. This will be very useful for my career, and I think personal relationships as well. I’d be interested in hearing more about personality theory from you in the future. Keep up the great work, and thanks so much!!! Oh, I love this comment that I just received on a last-minute order of a signed copy of Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame. I’ve been listening to your Sunday broadcast for about three years now, and have greatly enjoyed the variety of thought-provoking ideas you touch upon. While I’ve always been interested in ethics, I’ve never had a chance to examine moral luck, and am looking forward to reading your book. Remember, today is the last day to order a signed copy, at least until April! It’s also the last day to contribute to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar in 2013! Remember… Link to Original
  8. This video asks: The answer might surprise you! (H/T to Howard) Link to Original
  9. On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on progress on long-term goals, claims of white privilege, guilt over self-sacrifice, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 29 December 2013, in our live studio. If you can't listen live, you'll find the podcast on the episode's archive page. This week's questions are: Question 1: Progress on Long-Term Goals: How can I make better progress on my long-term goals? I have the curious affliction of stagnating, often for very long periods of time, on long term goals. That happens even when those goals pertain to pursuits I enjoy. This pattern has me confused and somewhat alarmed, because I know that these long term goals I have set for myself will be the most meaningful for me to accomplish. Although I see the great value in skill-building for a new career, learning to play the piano, learning a new language, and so on, I cannot seem to get myself to take the daily, repeated action required for more than a week or two. That happens, despite my applying GTD and breaking down the larger task into manageable pieces. My neophile personality simply takes interest in something else, and I miss a day (then two, then three) of taking action, preventing me from ever establishing an activity as a habit. How can I break this cycle of mediocrity, so that I can really start making progress on long term goals? Question 2: Claims of White Privilege: What is the individualist response to claims about "white privilege"? In May 2013, you published a blog entry entitled, "Personal Motives for Benevolence" where you introduced the idea that prejudice is often formed by favoritism and not overt bigotry. Clearly, favoritism can extend to race too, in the same way it extended to your example of "professor" vs "quilter." So what is the proper response to advocates of "white privilege awareness" such as David Wise and David Sirota? In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, David Sirota wrote a Salon article entitled "Let's hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American" where he argued that culturally,"white terrorists" are treated as lone wolves, whereas Islamists are treated as existential threats. David Wise wrote an article called "Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness" where he claims "White privilege is knowing that even if the Boston Marathon bomber turns out to be white, his or her identity will not result in white folks generally being singled out for suspicion by law enforcement, or the TSA, or the FBI." What is the individualist answer to this collectivist viewpoint? Question 3: Guilt over Self-Sacrifice: Should a person feel guilty for not acting selfishly enough? According to rational egoism, a person ought to act selfishly – not in the sense of hurting others, but in the sense of pursuing his own good. If a person fails to do that, should he feel guilty for failing to act morally? After that, we'll tackle some impromptu "Rapid Fire Questions." To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat. The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Progress on Goals, White Privilege, Self-Sacrifice, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed: Enhanced M4A Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player Standard MP3 Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics! Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.
  10. On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on explaining egoistic benevolence, claims of white privilege, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 22 December 2013, in our live studio. If you can't listen live, you'll find the podcast on the episode's archive page. This week's questions are: Question 1: Explaining Egoistic Benevolence: How can we better explain how helping others can be egoistic? In your October 7, 2013 radio show, you observed that people often don't understand how acting kindly and generously towards friends is self-interested. Instead, they think that being benevolent toward anyone is "other-regarding" and hence, altruistic. How can we egoists untangle this seeming conflict for people? Question 2: Claims of White Privilege: What is the individualist response to claims about "white privilege"? In May 2013, you published a blog entry entitled, "Personal Motives for Benevolence" where you introduced the idea that prejudice is often formed by favoritism and not overt bigotry. Clearly, favoritism can extend to race too, in the same way it extended to your example of "professor" vs "quilter." So what is the proper response to advocates of "white privilege awareness" such as David Wise and David Sirota? In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, David Sirota wrote a Salon article entitled "Let's hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American" where he argued that culturally,"white terrorists" are treated as lone wolves, whereas Islamists are treated as existential threats. David Wise wrote an article called "Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness" where he claims "White privilege is knowing that even if the Boston Marathon bomber turns out to be white, his or her identity will not result in white folks generally being singled out for suspicion by law enforcement, or the TSA, or the FBI." What is the individualist answer to this collectivist viewpoint? After that, we'll tackle some impromptu "Rapid Fire Questions." To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat. The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Egoistic Benevolence, White Privilege, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed: Enhanced M4A Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player Standard MP3 Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics! Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.
  11. If you’ve been interested in my podcast on finding good prospects for romance and friendship, now’s the time to buy it! It’s on sale for half price — just $10 — until January 20th. You can find more information about the podcast below, as well as order it. If it’s a gift, just let me know that (and the email address of the recipient) in the comments field on the order form. About the Podcast Many people lament the difficulty of finding good prospects for a lasting, deep, and happy romance. Others have trouble finding worthwhile friends. Yet most people who bemoan the lack of prospects could be doing much more than they are to increase their odds of success. Too many people don’t adopt a purposeful approach but instead wait passively… and complain. This 90-minute podcast discusses how to make yourself a good prospect — and how to find good prospects — for romance and friendship. The structure of podcast: Opening remarks A bit of theory: Types of social relationships, visualized as a target Major axes of compatibility in relationships Practical advice: Make yourself a good prospect Expand your social network Engage with other people Cultivate your social skills Questions and answers from pledgers: How can a person get better at evaluating other people’s characters when meeting them? When should I reveal a psychological problem like bipolar disorder to someone I’m dating? Closing remarks Remember, the podcast doesn’t just concern finding good prospects for romance but also for friendship. So even if you’re happily attached, you’ll likely find the techniques of use. Purchase the Podcast This podcast was originally funded by pledges, and it’s now available for purchase. Its regular price is $20, but it’s on sale for half-price — just $10 — until January 20th. If you’d like to download and listen to the podcast, please fill out the form below, then send your payment of $10. You can pay via PayPal, Dwolla, Chase QuickPay, Square, or US Mail. You’ll receive the URL to the download the podcast once your payment has been received. Please note that you’re welcome to share the podcast files with members of your household — but no one else. Step 1: Complete the Form Step 2: Submit Your Payment Pay Via PayPal Pay Via Dwolla Pay Via Chase Pay Via Square To pay via check or money order, please mail $10 to: Diana Hsieh P.O. Box 851 Sedalia, CO 80135 Please write “Romance Podcast” in the memo field. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me. If you’ve already purchased this podcast, you can access it via its private page with your login and password. If you have forgotten that, just e-mail me. Link to Original
  12. This story — Drug Warriors Kidnap and Sexually Assault a Woman After Getting Permission From a Dog — is appalling in its own right: In a case eerily similar to David Eckert’s humiliating ordeal at the hands of cops in Deming, New Mexico, a federal lawsuit charges U.S. Border Patrol agents with subjecting a U.S. citizen to six hours of degrading and fruitless body cavity searches based on an alleged alert by a drug-sniffing dog. However, what’s really noteworthy, I think, is the complicity of the doctors and medical staff: First the agents strip-searched the plaintiff, examining her anus and vagina with a flashlight. Finding nothing, they took her to the University Medical Center of El Paso, where they forced her to take a laxative and produce a bowel movement in their presence. Again they found no evidence of contraband. At this point one of their accomplices, a physician named Christopher Cabanillas, ordered an X-ray, which likewise found nothing suspicious. Then the plaintiff “endured a forced gynecological exam” and rectal probing at the hands of another doctor, Michael Parsa. Still nothing. Finally, Cabanillas ordered a CT scan of the plaintiff’s abdomen and pelvis, which found no sign of illegal drugs. “After the CT scan,” the complaint says, “a CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] agent presented Ms. Doe with a choice: she could either sign a medical consent form, despite the fact that she had not consented, in which case CBP would pay for the cost of the searches; or if she refused to sign the consent form, she would be billed for the cost of the searches.” She refused, and later the hospital sent her a bill for $5,000, apparently the going rate for sexual assault and gratuitous radiological bombardment. As the article says, this case “illustrates the appalling complicity of doctors in waging the war on drugs, even when it involves utterly unethical participation in dehumanizing pseudomedical procedures performed on involuntary and audibly protesting ‘patients.’” In my view, civil damages are an insufficient remedy in such cases. Assuming that the doctors and staff knew that the woman did not consent to these warrantless searches, then they are guilty of the crime of sexual assault. They should be arrested and prosecuted for that. Perhaps then doctors would think twice before passively doing whatever government agents demand. Alas, that seems unlikely. Hopefully, some justice will be served by this civil suit. Link to Original
  13. I’m delighted to announce SnowCon 2014 — the fourth informal conference of snow sports, lectures, relaxation, and socializing held in the snowy Colorado Rockies for fans of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. SnowCon 2014 will run from Wednesday, March 5th to Sunday, March 9th, entirely in Frisco, Colorado. It costs only $50 (or $15 per day) to attend. During the day, we’ll ski, snowboard, snowshoe, soak in the hot tubs, chat, and relax. In the evenings, we’ll dine together, then chat and play games on the weekdays. On Friday and Saturday evening, we’ll enjoy presentations after dinner on topics to be determined. (If you’re interested in presenting, email me a proposal with a title, an abstract, and bio. Just to warn you though, I’m going to do my best to avoid political topics!) For more details and to register, visit the web page for SnowCon 2014. If you might attend SnowCon 2014, be sure to subscribe to the SnowCon e-mail list for SnowCon-related announcements. Link to Original
  14. On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on explaining egoistic benevolence, public shamings, problems with an aggressive dog, photography as art, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 15 December 2013, in our live studio. If you can't listen live, you'll find the podcast on the episode's archive page. This week's questions are: Question 1: Explaining Egoistic Benevolence: Can actions done for the sake of others be egoistic? In your October 7, 2013 radio show, you mentioned that people have a difficult time understanding how exercising benevolence towards one's friends is egoistic and self-interested. Instead, they think that being benevolent toward anyone is "other-regarding" and hence, altruistic. How can we untangle this seeming conflict between egoism and benevolent action? Question 2: Public Shamings: Are public shamings morally justifiable? I often read of judges handing down sentences designed to humiliate the offender, such as standing at a busy intersection wearing a sandwich board apologizing for their offense. Many people favor these kinds of punishments in lieu of jail time because they consume less resources of the penal system. They may be more effective too. Does that justify such shamings? Moreover, what's the morality of similar shamings by parents and businesses? A bodega in my neighborhood posts surveillance camera footage of shoplifters, usually with some snarky comment about their theft. I find this practice amusing, but is that moral? Is it akin to vigilantism? Question 3: Problems with an Aggressive Dog: What should a person do about a neighbor's aggressive dog? My husband was attacked (but barely injured) by a neighbor's dog. No one else was in the room at the time. Our children often play at this person's house, and the dog has always been friendly in the past. How do you suggest handling the situation? Should we allow our children to play with the dog, as we always have in the past? What should the owner do about the dog? Question 4: Photography as Art: Does photography qualify as art? I've always viewed photography as a legitimate form of art. However, many people I disagree: Ayn Rand argued that it's a technical rather than a creative skill. However, I regard photography as a technical and creative skill, just like painting. So does photography qualify as art? If not, does that mean that photography doesn't have value – or has less value than proper art forms like painting? If photography has value nonetheless, what is the source of that value? After that, we'll tackle some impromptu "Rapid Fire Questions." To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat. The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Egoistic Benevolence, Public Shamings, Photography, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed: Enhanced M4A Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player Standard MP3 Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics! Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.
  15. David Smith tweeted: “Mind = blown. These two blocks are exactly the same shade of grey. Hold your finger over the seam and check.” I’d like to do some more thinking on perceptual illusions. I don’t think that the grays look different due to any conceptual inference. The grays look very different, until the seam is covered, and then they look the same. Yet I don’t think that these are “perceptual errors.” Rather, this is exactly how our perceptual system is supposed to work, perhaps because such mechanisms enable us to properly judge shades and depth in the real world. However, particular with computer images, we can reveal these oddities and limits in our perceptual systems in a stark way. Notably, these kinds of cases are very different from many traditional illusions like a stick bent in water, which are a function of the medium of perception (i.e. air versus water). Still, I don’t think that they reveal that our senses aren’t reliable or valid: they just reveal, in yet another stark way, that the diaphanous model of perception is wrong. Thoughts? Link to Original
  16. This week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine): 8 Dec: Adalja Blog: Tracking Zebra by Paul Hsieh 6 Dec: Coming Next: “Doc Shock” by Paul Hsieh 5 Dec: Inappropriate “Appropriateness” by Paul Hsieh 4 Dec: Current Legal Challenges to ObamaCare by Paul Hsieh 3 Dec: Benjamin Rush Institute Debate on Markets and Health Care, Dec 4 by Paul Hsieh 2 Dec: Forcing Doctors To See Obamacare Patients? by Paul Hsieh Follow FIRM on Facebook and Twitter. This week on The Blog of The Objective Standard: 8 Dec: The Libertarian Case for Legalized Plunder by Craig Biddle 8 Dec: Help TOS Defend Your Values by Craig Biddle 7 Dec: Court Violates Cake Baker’s Right Not to Serve Gay Weddings by Ari Armstrong 5 Dec: Thank You, Frackers, For Keeping Me from Freezing by Ari Armstrong 5 Dec: Contra ObamaCare Supporter, a Civilized Society Bans Coercion by Ari Armstrong 4 Dec: Frackers Heroically Draw Enormous Wealth from the Ground by David Biederman 3 Dec: Gun Ownership and Feckless Libertarian Arguments by Ari Armstrong 2 Dec: Voters Have No Right to Violate Right to Frack by Ari Armstrong Follow The Objective Standard on Facebook and Twitter. This week on The Blog of Modern Paleo: 7 Dec: Philosophy Weekend: News from Philosophy in Action by Diana Hsieh 6 Dec: The Paleo Rodeo #191 by Diana Hsieh Follow Modern Paleo on Facebook and Twitter. Link to Original
  17. On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on Objectivism versus secular humanism, moral judgment of European colonizers, the right time to declare love, problems with an aggressive dog, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 8 December 2013, in our live studio. If you can't listen live, you'll find the podcast on the episode's archive page. This week's questions are: Question 1: Objectivism Versus Secular Humanism: What are the similarities and differences between Objectivism and secular humanism? Objectivism and secular humanism are two secular worldviews. What are their basic points? Are they hopelessly at odds? Or do they share some or even many attributes? Question 2: Moral Judgment of European Colonizers: How should European colonizers be judged for their treatment of Native Americans? Some people, especially conservatives, give blanket praise to Columbus and European colonizers, notwithstanding their conquest and displacement of native populations. Those Native Americans are sometimes denigrated as ignorant, brutal, and/or lacking any concept of property – and hence, as unworthy of the protection of rights. Many others consider the Native Americans either noble savages or at least the rightful owners of the land. They condemn European colonization as unethical conquest or even genocide. Are either of those approaches correct? What counts as a fair judgment of European colonizers in their behavior toward Native Americans? How should European colonizers have treated native persons? Question 3: The Right Time to Declare Love: When should a person declare his love for another? What is an appropriate amount of time to wait before saying "I love you" in a new relationship? New relationships often start out strong, but then the feelings of eros dissipate after a few months. When you meet someone who you share the same values and ideals (and you are super-attracted to him or her) when should you say those three little words? Question 4: Problems with an Aggressive Dog: What should a person do about a neighbor's aggressive dog? My husband was attacked (but barely injured) by a neighbor's dog. No one else was in the room at the time. Our children often play at this person's house, and the dog has always been friendly in the past. How do you suggest handling the situation? Should we allow our children to play with the dog, as we always have in the past? What should the owner do about the dog? After that, we'll tackle some impromptu "Rapid Fire Questions." To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat. The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Secular Humanism, European Colonizers, Dangerous Dogs, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed: Enhanced M4A Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player Standard MP3 Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics! Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.
  18. When I first read the whole Bible a few years ago, I wondered when all those Bible-focused Christians would rediscover the very clear command that women cover their heads in church in 1 Corinthians 11: I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head–it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone is disposed to be contentious–we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. And… it’s happened, as you can see for yourself at the web site of The Head Covering Movement. (The site looks of recent origin, and the domain was only registered earlier this year.) Of course, feminism is to blame: The wearing of fabric head coverings in worship was universally the practice of Christian women until the twentieth century. What happened? Did we suddenly find some biblical truth to which the saints for thousands of years were blind? Or were our biblical views of women gradually eroded by the modern feminist movement that has infiltrated the Church…? – R.C. Sproul On a bright note, I’d much prefer that Christians resume the biblical practice of covering or not covering their heads during church than that they resume the practice of stoning people like rebellious sons, suspected witches, and blasphemers! Link to Original
  19. I love this brave and thoughtful Salon essay by Caitlin Seida so very much: My embarrassing picture went viral. It begins: I logged onto my Facebook one morning to find a message from a girlfriend. “You’re internet famous!” it read. She sent a link to a very public page whose sole purpose was posting images that mock people’s appearances. There I was in full glory — a picture of me dressed as my hero Lara Croft: Tomb Raider for Halloween — but written over the image were the words “Fridge Raider.” Initially, she wasn’t angry, but then she saw some of the comments: “What a waste of space,” read one. Another: “Heifers like her should be put down.” Yet another said I should just kill myself “and spare everyone’s eyes.” Hundreds of hateful messages, most of them saying that I was a worthless human being and shaming me for having the audacity to go in public dressed as a sexy video game character. How dare I dress up and have a good time! We all know the awful humiliation of a person laughing at you. But that feeling increases tenfold when it seems like everyone is laughing at you. Scrolling through the comments, the world imploded — and took my heart with it. In addition to issuing takedown requests to various web sites — which she was able to do because the photo was hers — she also confronted people directly about their nasty comments: …Facebook made it easy to find people who had commented on the images. By now, the picture had metastasized through reposts on Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, 9Gag, FailBlog. But looking through the Facebook “like” function, I could track down the most offensive commenters. Most of them were women. Shocked? I wasn’t. Anyone who’s survived high school can tell you how women slice each other up to make ourselves feel better. I sent several of those women a message. “You’re being an asshole,” the note said. “Why don’t you just do the right thing and delete the post and stop sharing it?” The most common response was not remorse or defensiveness but surprise. They were startled that I could hear what they’d been saying. Their Facebook pages were set to private, after all. Most didn’t realize that when you post to a public page through your Facebook account, it doesn’t matter that your own content is restricted: The whole world can read your words anyway. And of course, they hadn’t really thought of me as a person. Why should they? These images are throwaways, little bursts of amusement to get through a long workday. You look, you chuckle, you get some ridicule off your chest and move on to the next source of distraction. No one thought about the possibility that I might read those words. Far less, that I would talk back. Read that last paragraph again. Personally, I’m going to be more careful about the funny things I share. I don’t want to be even a small part of any social media wave that makes a decent person’s life miserable. Of particular concern, I think, are seemingly hilarious commentaries on the supposedly bad behavior of other people, such as this one by Elan Gale: This Man Is Hilariously Live-Tweeting His Flight-and-Feud With The Woman in #7A. I thought it mildly funny until I read the other side of the story: Bullying at 35 thousand feet. Of course, I have no way to determine the veracity of either story: both might be inventions. Yet the incident is instructive, I think. As I posted to Facebook: It seems high time for everyone (including me!) to be suspicious of reports of god-awful behavior by random strangers. Perhaps the story is fabricated or embellished — or perhaps the circumstances aren’t quite what they seem — or perhaps the person who “schooled” the jerk just enjoys feeling like a self-righteous, sanctimonious prick. Surely, any truly awful person isn’t going to reform due to being the laughingstock of the internet… and it’s too likely that a good person will be unjustly vilified instead. I love laughter, I really do… but there’s plenty of funny in the world without being unjust or malicious. Link to Original
  20. This article — What International Air Travel Was Like in the 1930s — fascinates me. If you just look at the pictures, like this one… … it’s easy to think, “Oh, people had it so much better in the past! Now we’re all cramped in planes like sardines!” But once you read the text, you’ll surely change your tune. Consider this, for example: Imperial Airways appealed to the consumer who desired the most luxurious way to travel. But it wasn’t always very pleasant, despite the most advanced technology of the time. People would often get sick, and bowls were discreetly placed under the seats to ensure that passengers had a place to throw up. The widespread pressurization of cabins wouldn’t occur until the 1950s, so altitude sickness often meant that people needed to receive oxygen. The temperature inside the cabin was also a major consideration, since horror stories of incredibly cold flights were common in the late 1920s. And: Nearly 50,000 people would fly Imperial Airways from 1930 until 1939. But these passengers paid incredibly high prices to hop around the world. The longest flights could span over 12,000 miles and cost as much as $20,000 when adjusted for inflation. A flight from London to Brisbane, Australia, for instance, (the longest route available in 1938) took 11 days and included over two dozen scheduled stops. Today, people can make that journey in just 22 hours, with a single layover in Hong Kong, and pay less than $2,000 for a round trip ticket. See what I mean? Link to Original
  21. On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on rational suicide, deep-down atheism, responsibility for another's medical emergencies, education in a free society, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 1 December 2013, in our live studio. If you can't listen live, you'll find the podcast on the episode's archive page. This week's questions are: Question 1: Rational Suicide: When would suicide be rational? What conditions make suicide a proper choice? Are there situations other than a terminal illness or living in a dictatorship – such as the inability to achieve sufficient values to lead a happy life – that justify the act of suicide? Question 2: Deep-Down Atheism: How can I convince myself, deep-down, that God does not exist? I was raised Catholic, although I was never deeply religious. Now, many years later, a friend is showing me Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. I can see its benefits, but my religious upbringing still lingers in the back of my head. So part of me still thinks that God exists, even though I don't really believe that any longer. It was just engrained in me from such a young age that I can't seem to let it go. Can I change that? If so, how? Question 3: Responsibility for Another's Medical Emergencies: Is it wrong to walk away from a person who suffers from repeated medical emergencies due to their own irresponsibility? Over a year ago, I was the tenant of a type-1 diabetic who refused to eat properly. As a result, I regularly had to call the ambulance for her, as she would allow her blood-sugar to drop to dangerous levels, such that she couldn't think or move for herself. She never learned anything from these experiences. She never put emergency food within reach, for example. So a few days or weeks later, I would have to call the ambulance again. I believe that I was being forced – literally – to take care of her. I feared that I'd face manslaughter or other criminal charges if I left her alone in that state. Would it have been morally proper for me to leave her in that state without any advance warning? Should that be legally permissible? Question 4: Education in a Free Society: What would a rational educational system look like in a free society? Everyone knows that government education is flawed in many ways. Many private schools aren't terribly different from public schools in their basic format and teachings. How might a school based on rational principles function? What would it teach – and by what style? Apart from questions of funding, how would it differ from current government schools? After that, we'll tackle some impromptu "Rapid Fire Questions." To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat. The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Suicide, Atheism, Irrational People, Rational Education, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed: Enhanced M4A Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player Standard MP3 Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics! Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.
  22. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I have much to be grateful for, but since I’m feeling a bit too high in spirits for such a serious post, I’ll leave you with this gem… Link to Original
  23. I don’t know anything about Amanda Palmer or her music, but I really enjoyed on funding her music through crowdsourcing. “Asking makes you vulnerable.” Indeed. So much of this resonates so much for me personally — most obviously given that Philosophy in Action Radio is available for free, but supported by contributions from fans. That does give me a great sense of trust and vulnerability… and immense gratitude too. Link to Original
  24. On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I will answer questions on positive change in Islam, self-esteem and appearance, rational suicide, deep-down atheism, and more. This episode of internet radio airs at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 24 November 2013, in our live studio. If you can't listen live, you'll find the podcast on the episode's archive page. This week's questions are: Question 1: Positive Change in Islam: Can Islam change for the better? Many critics of Islam claim that the religion is inherently totalitarian, violent, and repressive – and hence, that change for the better is utterly impossible. An Islamic reformation or enlightenment will never happen, they say. Is that true? More generally, what are the limits of a religion's ties to its own scriptures? Question 2: Self-Esteem and Appearance: How is a person's appearance related to self-esteem? Should a rational person care much about his body – including height, weight, musculature, beauty, and so on? Is that second-handed somehow? How much effort should a person exert to make himself look the way he wants to look? Should a person's looks affect his self-esteem? Do a person's looks reveal his character or self-esteem to others? Question 3: Rational Suicide: When would suicide be rational? What conditions make suicide a proper choice? Are there situations other than a terminal illness or living in a dictatorship – such as the inability to achieve sufficient values to lead a happy life – that justify the act of suicide? Question 4: Deep-Down Atheism: How can I convince myself, deep-down, that God does not exist? I was raised Catholic, although I was never deeply religious. Now, many years later, a friend is showing me Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. I can see its benefits, but my religious upbringing still lingers in the back of my head. So part of me still thinks that God exists, even though I don't really believe that any longer. It was just engrained in me from such a young age that I can't seem to let it go. Can I change that? If so, how? After that, we'll tackle some impromptu "Rapid Fire Questions." To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat. The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: Q&A: Change in Islam, Appearance, Suicide, Atheism, and More. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed: Enhanced M4A Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player Standard MP3 Feed: Subscribe via iTunes or another podcast player I hope you join us for the live show or enjoy the podcast later. Also, please share this announcement with any friends interested in these topics! Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.
  25. Forbes has published my latest OpEd, “The Only Obamacare Fix Is For Obama To Legalize Real Health Insurance“. My basic theme is that we need to legalize real “catastrophic-only” insurance, free of government mandates. More broadly, instead of debating which new government entitlements to create, we should be vigorously debating which freedoms to restore. Here is the opening: The President has proposed a one-year “fix” to deal with the political fallout from his broken promise (or lie), “If you like your insurance plan, you will keep it.” Now it’s, “If you like your plan, you can keep it until after the 2014 mid-term elections. Maybe.” But the problems with ObamaCare go much deeper than cancelled insurance. As surprising as it sounds, most Americans never had real health insurance to begin with — and were not allowed to by law. And the only cure for our current health insurance mess is to legalize real health insurance… I discuss the history of how we got into our current mess and some concrete free-market reforms that would move us in the right direction. These include: 1. Eliminate the tax disparity between employer-provided health insurance and individually-purchased health insurance. 2. Eliminate all mandated benefits. Insurers should be free to offer to willing consumers inexpensive policies covering only catastrophic accidents and illnesses. 3. Allow insurers to sell policies across state lines. (For more details, read the full text of “The Only Obamacare Fix Is For Obama To Legalize Real Health Insurance“.) If you like these ideas, please feel free to circulate the column to friends, family members, etc. You can also send your elected officials a quick e-mail. Please feel free to use and/or modify the template below: Dear [Congressman or Senator]: As the current problems of the Affordable Care Act are becoming more apparent to Americans, we need to consider genuine free-market reforms. I like the ideas in this recent Forbes article, “ The Only Obamacare Fix Is For Obama To Legalize Real Health Insurance“, including the following: Eliminate the tax disparity between employer-provided health insurance and individually-purchased health insurance. This would uncouple health insurance from employment and restore a level playing field to the individual insurance market. Individuals could then purchase policies that they kept even when they changed jobs (just as they already do with their car and homeowners insurance). Eliminate all mandated benefits. Insurers should be free to offer to willing consumers inexpensive policies covering only catastrophic accidents and illnesses. Insurers would remain free to offer richer policies that covered varying levels of elective procedures (but cost correspondingly more). Customers could purchase whatever levels of coverage they wished from willing insurers based on their own individual needs and circumstances. Allow insurers to sell policies across state lines. State mandates create 50 separate state markets rather than a single national market. A family insurance plan costing $3,000 in Wisconsin might cost $10,000 in New Jersey because of state regulatory barriers. Allowing interstate competition would quickly drive down prices and help many working families on a tight budget. I hope Congress can discuss and debate these ideas as a way to truly fix our health care system. [signed your name, address, etc.] Link to Original
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