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JASKN

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  1. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in 2020 election   
    A difference between paying a bribe and paying a fine is that a bribe is conditioned on the recipient performing an action, and charity is not. If I charitably pay your fine, you are free to thank me or not, to vote or not… The term “bribe” is a specific legal term, though it is metaphorically used to describe giving any incentive. Bribery, which is illegal, requires an offer to a public servant, where the offer is not authrized by law, and the intent is to influence an act in the official discretion of the public servant. None of this describes paying a fine for a felon.

    A more apt description is vote-buying, which is a federal felony under 18 USC 597:

     
    That is why the offer has to be an unconditional act of charity. There’s no question that Bloomberg hopes that convicts will vote as a consequence of his charity, and maybe will vote a specific way, but as it stands, his efforts in this direction are legal. Gaetz’s implication is legally inept: “bribery” is in a different paragraph in the pertinent Florida statute from “anything of value”. Still, nothing wrong with a little criminal investigation just to be sure, and maybe even to expand the power of the government to restrict politically-motivated actions (not!).
     
  2. Like
    JASKN reacted to merjet in Correspondence and Coherence blog   
    Coronavirus -- NY Times biased statistic

     
  3. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in Biden is our only hope, says Yaron Brook   
    I meant what I said. In the examples that I gave, his orders clearly violated well-established law, though perhaps you are not happy about with the law on these points. Your response is mostly part directed at a different question, namely whether it is reasonable to ignore the law. Given that the purpose of a president in our republican form of government is to implement the law, Trump is dysfunctional. This is a basic divide within the population of those calling themselves Objectivists: some consider law to be optional, others consider it to be fundamental to living in a civilized society. There’s a really simple explanation for lots of Trump’s behavior: he sees himself as being above the law; the law impedes him getting what he things we need.
  4. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in Government response to Covid is the best case against altruism.   
    It may be that the political rhetoric in Austria is more overtly based on the appeal “we must sacrifice ourselves for that group”, but that is not the rhetoric used in the US. Appeal to “the greatest common good” underlies the government’s response, but “sacrifice” in US political rhetoric refers to “something necessary for an end, but not an immediately desirable end itself”. When soldiers, police and firemen die in the line of duty, or doctors work long hours at personal risk to save lives, it is termed a “sacrifice”, because the immediate outcome is certainly not desirable (taking a risk, working long hours), but the end towards which these people are working is certainly a value. Instead, the covid-related government actions have been justified as being necessary: although “justified” is really a strong term, since the myriad executive declarations simply assert “it is necessary, and I have the power”.
    It is crucial for the covid-facists that issues of scientific fact be kept out of the discussion. Ignorance has been politically weaponized to a stunning level, instead we must trust our elected executive official (unless he’s a Republican), who we assume has sound scientific and economic reasons to believe that these actions are necessary and sufficient for reaching that end. The public perception of “what is necessary” with the further provision that it should be sufficient is totally divorced from science. The science of the problem is, very simply, we don’t know, there are a lot of plausible stories that can be told. It is also vital that we not delve deeply into the question of what that end is – it changes frequently. For a while it was “flattening the curve”. Now it is “masks stop covid”. If you closely watch the media, you can detect the next wave of restrictions, which will result in greater rigidity about the kind of masks and how they are worn. (This is a concern for me because I can’t breathe, and businesses are now prohibited from serving unmasked customers).
    My response to covid-facists is to criticize them for hypocrisy. They demand that I must sacrifice myself for their personal benefit – they are being selfish (we know that is not so, but we’re dealing with rhetorical contradictions). They have no right to restrict my life so that they can continue to enjoy theirs. This is an easy argument to make, because when you ask “Why do you support such-and-such governmental restriction”, 99 times out of 100 it reduces to the emotional assertion “I don’t want X” – I don’t care what you want, what about what I want? Or when the assertion is collectivist “We don’t want X”, I point out that there has been no determination of what “we” want.
  5. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from StrictlyLogical in Seeking advice: Friends with opposing political and philosophical values   
    Implicit in any relationship is a mutually shared philosophy which makes it possible to enjoy/appreciate the value(s) on which the relationship is built. If you both love fishing, you at least agree that life is worth living, that an enjoyable way to do that is to sit and fish, and that we should be allowed to fish. Philosophically, not much else really matters, at least with regard to your fishing excursions.
     
  6. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in Do You Think It Would Be More Helpful If BLM Worked to Intellectually Combat White Supremacist Ideas?   
    Returning to the initial question, I’m going to say “No, it would not be helpful”. It would be helpful to clearly articulate a real problem which in principle could be solved, but that has nothing to do with BLM. The problem is not that Richard Spencer has his ideas, and the propagation of his ideas cause some other problem.  The problem that BLM is addressing is the “rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state” (their words). As they say, “Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities”. Given these fundamentals as a raison d’être, there is no reasonable connection between their purpose, and intellectual engagement over wingnut ideas about race. You do not need to inform Blacks that Spencer is intellectually wrong: that is experientially self-evident. BLM is at its core an anti-intellectual “progressive” ideological movement, which has become the quasi-official spokesperson controlling discussion of a broader issue. Their success as a movement is, very simply, that they connected emotional reactions to poorly-understood problems in race relations in the US with an ideology that most people don’t bother to analyze, using a slogan as the glue.
  7. Like
    JASKN reacted to dream_weaver in Weird online TOS article   
    One of the shining beacons from within the literature of Objectivism is the unknown future of humanity and by extension of human beings brought about by the ability to choose. Its future is up to those who fight for or against it.
  8. Like
    JASKN reacted to Boydstun in Ayn Rand: Her Life, Her Philosophy   
    Atlas Shrugged was published on 10 October 1957. A brief interview with Rand by Lewis Nichols was published in the New York Times three days later. On the writing of Atlas Shrugged she remarked:
    “‘It goes back a long way. I was disappointed in the reaction to The Fountainhead. A good many of the reviewers missed the point. A friend called me to sympathize, and said I should write a non-fiction book about the idea back of The Fountainhead.
    ‘While I was talking, I thought, “I simply don’t want to do this. What if I went on strike?” My husband [Frank O’Connor] and I talked about that all night, and the idea was born then.
    ‘. . . From the first night idea of the thinking people being on strike, it was natural to move to the mind on strike. With this as a theme, I decided to touch on industry, and to use a railroad as the connecting link for the story.
    . . .
    ‘In front of the desk I had a plain railroad map of the country, and marked in the Taggart lines on that. There also was a furnace’s foreman’s manual, which I studied for steel making, and I had one very pleasant ride in the engine cab of a train.’
    ‘. . . The greatest guarantee of a better world is a rational morality . . . the collectivist cause is really dead. The capitalist case never has been clearly presented. . . . The doctrine of Original Sin is a monstrous absurdity, a contradiction in terms. Morals start only when there is a choice. . . .
    ‘The fault of the American system goes back to the Constitution. It is so vague on general welfare that the looters get in.’”
    “Looking into the future a bit, into the new world beyond page 1168 {the last page}, Miss Rand would see the Taggart lines being rebuilt, first between New York and Philadelphia, then, in ten years, across the continent. . . .
    “And Miss Rand herself? She will be sitting still for a long time, now, resting and playing records. Not her invention, the Halley’s Fifth Concerto, which runs like the Third Man Theme through Atlas Shrugged, but Rachmaninoff.”
  9. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in C & C: Coronavirus #4   
    At the very beginning of the outbreak in the US, the death rate in Washington was very high, I believe around 20%. It is now substantially lower. The explanation is that the disease spread first through a specific elder care facility. There was a very strong correlation between “might be tested” and “was a patient at that facility”. This is a reminder that there are lots of unreported variables – facts about being tested, testing positive, and dying are not randomly distributed in the population. If you believe the statistics (my message is, don’t!), Italians recover better than Americans – US recovery rate is 2.5% and Italy’s is 12%. I suspect that it’s not that around 90,000 Americans still have the disease, instead there is a difference in reporting. The highest rates of infection are in Andorra, San Marino, Iceland and Luxembourg: basically, cities elevated to the status of country. The really low incidence of the disease in Africa is explained by the fact that people don’t move around much there. The one case where I think we can reasonably attribute something political to the number of cases is Iran, compared with Afghanistan and Turkey. I think they see this as an opportunity to get sanctions lifted.
  10. Like
    JASKN reacted to Repairman in Some beginner questions about morality and human nature   
    Human, you seem to see things as they are, without considering an optimistic vision of the way things could be. While I commend you for your grasp of the predicament facing Western Civilization, your emphasis on the multitudes of collectivist irrationality, my best counter-argument is that until the worst outcome is manifest, the best within each of us must continue the struggle to achieve the best outcome, by whatever definition you hold as the standard of the "best overcome."
    And so it is true. We make the best use of our freedom to exchange information, to innovate or engineer, and to create our own enterprises.  I recommend to you to try to disregard the masses and their collectivist agenda. When conditions allow, argue the best case for reason to those who know only how to follow. Perhaps they may find new leaders one day. You may never "convert" some people, but if one individual begins to doubt his/her beliefs, you might make them aware of the fact that there are alternatives to mainstream myopia.
    Objectivism celebrates the great achievements of capitalism, and other movements advocating personal prosperity, constructive purpose, and entrepreneurial success are gaining popularity. Using our freedom of communication, you could create a video exposing the absurdity of the socialist agenda.
    This is a very important question: A regular cycle of history, or a Second Dark Age??? So many modern nation-states have experienced the pains of reforming runaway socialist economic systems. If we learn anything from it, I'm fairly confident that the USA will not have to endure the worst privations that have resulted in the failure of other economic systems. If they're unaware of the causes, they will only continue to treat the symptoms. It sure would be a shame, and it'll be wild ride to the bottom. Either way, the men of the mind may go on strike for a period, but eventually a few of them will emerge, and the arch of history marches on.
  11. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from thenelli01 in "Coming out"   
    Imagine a world where conceiving a gay child is a parental consideration not much different than having a boy or a girl -- it's just a fact that may or may not occur, and once known, childrearing is just adjusted somewhat. Being gay would have been in the DNA (so to speak) of your upbringing, totally normal and not with extra consideration of any kind as you grew up. A sit-down talk with anyone about being gay now would be as bizarre as "coming out" as a boy (gender politics aside).
    But, we don't live in that world yet (though it's surprisingly near). You described the current context instead yourself - your parents were/are very uncomfortable with homosexuality, enough so to be vocal about it toward their children for years. Your parents were raised in a society more hostile toward homosexuality even than your upbringing. It's baked into their brains, and now it requires of them conscious, consistent mental processes to undo. Even as a gay person, you may have had to do some of that yourself. And that is not easy, and is a lot to ask of someone, even if it's the "just" thing for them to do.
    So, I would say cut your mother some slack. Having a conversation with you about being gay is probably part of her trying to become OK with the idea of gayness herself, which is a positive step in the right direction. She cares enough about you to try to undo her lifelong viewpoint toward gays, and all of the associated mental habits that went along with it.
  12. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from softwareNerd in "Coming out"   
    Imagine a world where conceiving a gay child is a parental consideration not much different than having a boy or a girl -- it's just a fact that may or may not occur, and once known, childrearing is just adjusted somewhat. Being gay would have been in the DNA (so to speak) of your upbringing, totally normal and not with extra consideration of any kind as you grew up. A sit-down talk with anyone about being gay now would be as bizarre as "coming out" as a boy (gender politics aside).
    But, we don't live in that world yet (though it's surprisingly near). You described the current context instead yourself - your parents were/are very uncomfortable with homosexuality, enough so to be vocal about it toward their children for years. Your parents were raised in a society more hostile toward homosexuality even than your upbringing. It's baked into their brains, and now it requires of them conscious, consistent mental processes to undo. Even as a gay person, you may have had to do some of that yourself. And that is not easy, and is a lot to ask of someone, even if it's the "just" thing for them to do.
    So, I would say cut your mother some slack. Having a conversation with you about being gay is probably part of her trying to become OK with the idea of gayness herself, which is a positive step in the right direction. She cares enough about you to try to undo her lifelong viewpoint toward gays, and all of the associated mental habits that went along with it.
  13. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in Buy gold and silver?   
    The typical advice from financial advisers to clients is to put their money into an index fund, getting a combination of: low commissions and lowered temptation to try an beat the market. In general, this is still good advice. but... 
    ... it is based on a key assumption that the future U.S. performance will be pretty much like the past.  Stocks can be hurt by inflation, but their prices inflate too. And, couple that to an unwritten assumption that statist governments have an incentive to subsidize the most common vehicle of investment. 

    A true hyper-inflation type scenario is different. But, since such  situation has not really occurred in U.S. history, a financial adviser will never advise you to plan for it; not qua financial adviser. A few economists might be willing to predict hyper-inflation in the U.S., but they're basing their advice on a theory that has not been borne out for a century. 
    One can compare the DOW vs. Gold, but looking at the DOW "priced in gold", how many ounces of gold would it take to buy the DOW. 

    Source: https://www.macrotrends.net/1378/dow-to-gold-ratio-100-year-historical-chart
    A big problem with this raw chart is that the price of gold was fixed in the U.S. from the great depression all the way to Nixon. So, the relatively bad performance of the DOW during the 1970s was gold shooting up in price from many years of pent up legal binding.
    Given that legal context, one really ought to look at post-1980 data. Which gives us this portion:

    Since 1980, the only time when one could have bought gold and still be better off than the Dow today was the years between 2000 and 2008. Notice that this is pre-Great recession, pre-housing-crisis, not post. Why? because the factor at play was the DOW rather than gold. It was the DOW that was shooting up. 

    Since 2009, the DOW has shot up again, far beyond its previous highs. Since about 2012, the price of gold has not followed. Consequently, the DOW has risen significantly in gold terms. if you think the DOW is in a new bubble, then that might be an even better (as in history-based) reason to buy gold than a hyper-inflation scenario. 

    However, betting against the stock market averages is something that a typical financial adviser will not recommend because it is usually a way to under-perform.

    My personal view on gold is that if I own it, it will likely under-perform the stock-market over most multi-decade periods. Personally, I don't see a complete break down of the U.S. system during my lifetime. I'm also aware that in a complete breakdown, either the government or some thug is likely to take my gold from me, and to prevent that it may become necessary to hide it and not actually use it... making its value theoretical. But, as I said, I don't expect anything even close to this scenario in my lifetime.
     I think gold is a decent multi-generation asset, if you want to buy some to leave to your grand children. Even here, buying something like a rental property is likely to have better returns, because it is a true investment.

    Finally, if you do buy gold, beware of the scammers out there. Companies that hype the coming inflation etc. are dicey. Many of them  try to convince their customers to buy coins that are not near 100% gold. So, if you do buy physical gold, stick with regular U.S. Gold eagles and the like.
     
     
  14. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in Studying at university and intellectual property   
    In my opinion, the problem of living a rational existence in an irrational social context is the most challenging ethical problem that an Objectivist will face. There is no question that you should not steal another person’s property. Should you receive stolen property? Is it okay if you associate with a thug who breaks into houses and distributes stolen goods to you, if you yourself don’t go into the house? Are you morally cleansed if you denounce (but still accept) the proceeds of such theft? Clearly not. And suppose you really need that stolen stuff to survive (for example, you have no job skills and there are no unskilled job opening in the town), does that make it okay to accept stolen goods? I gave you two options here: gain job skills, or move elsewhere. There is always a choice, and you should always frame your decisions in terms of alternative actions and their consequences.
    One option would be for you to refuse to do the assignment, which b.t.w. would be the worst choice given the alternatives. Assuming that you need a copy of the blueprint to do the assignment, why would you not instead acquire a legal copy? Possible answer: it costs money. Say it costs $1, is that an impossible burden for you to bear? Or $1,000 (and any point in between)? This is a way of quantifying your ethical values. Why should you be concerned with the losses suffered by another, when you are not directly the thief: isn’t that just self-sacrifice? What harm are you doing yourself by silently accepting stolen goods. Again, what else could you do? Privately compensate the rights-holder?
    Incidentally, I don’t entirely accept your claim that the material is being illegally distributed, though for rhetorical purposes here I do. How do you know that the material is being illegally distributed? Is this based on the instructor’s confession? I’m just saying, check your assumptions.
  15. Like
    JASKN reacted to happiness in How do I live in a country this over the top in its evil?   
    I’m in the Cayman Islands now, where I just had my second Regenexx-C procedure with culture-expanded stem cells. I saved for it for two years. We treated almost every joint in my body. The first procedure 20 months ago probably saved my life, and I’m stoked to get even more improvement from this one.
     
  16. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in National Borders   
    Do you take any of those points seriously? People who make those points are either rationalizing or using them to try win an argument. Their real argument is that they don't want more than a certain number of immigrants each year, because it dilutes existing culture and brings competition for jobs.
  17. Like
    JASKN reacted to dream_weaver in Should this quote about your first glance at someone really be in the sidebar?   
    Replaced it with a quote from Howard Roark, rather than Ellsworth Toohey:
    I've always demanded a certain quality in the people I liked. I've always recognized it at once --- and it's the only quality I respect in men. I chose my friends by that. Now I know what it is. A self-sufficient ego. Nothing else matters.
  18. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from William O in Quick Question: What time period was America at it's Best?   
    NOW, obviously. Lifespans are the longest ever, people are more civilized, every single life is a zillion times wealthier, leisure time abounds, knowledge only goes up because all past knowledge is instant and free, ice cream only gets more popular so we have like 500 more choices than ever before, and humanity still has its built-in bullshit meter intact.
    Now, a lot of people just need to realize it's this good not because it always was.
  19. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from Easy Truth in Altruism Revisited   
    If it's useful, is it altruistic?
  20. Thanks
    JASKN got a reaction from Nicky in Where can I buy an Ayn shirt?   
    ??? You aren't a Liberty MANIAC??
  21. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from softwareNerd in A Handmaid's Tale (2017 Series)   
    I'm a sucker for apocalyptic stories, and this one delivers, in both seasons so far. I've heard "liberals" compare it to present-day US, but that's crazy - and I don't get that viewpoint from the show, either. However, I think the show's representation of the US transitioned into a violent Christian dictatorship is convincing.
    Opinions, thoughts, analysis?
     
     
  22. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in Quick Question: What time period was America at it's Best?   
    You cannot analyse Trump's language in this way. I doubt he has a very informed view about the various phases of American history. He detects the emotion of his audience and knows how to reflect the right attitude back. He's reflecting a feeling, among a large number of voters, that things are not right. If they aren't right, but they used to be...that means we must "make America great again".

    Similarly, the typical Trump voter does not have a precise view about the best period in America, or even something like "three best phases". They think of it more generically: that things aren't going the way I thought they would; things are worse than I thought they would be; therefore... they should be better. Since the voter based earlier expectations on something, they want that back. 

    The essential fact is:   post-Great Recession has seen middle and lower class stagnation. "Make America Great Again" just means "stop this stagnation". Mexicans, Muslims and Indian programmers are convenient scapegoats, but the essential issue is an underlying feeling of dejection because they were living a lie and the lie is revealed, and the Democrats are telling them that the answer is more of the same, while Trump is pointing out specific scapegoats and saying he'll make America great again.
  23. Like
    JASKN reacted to Nicky in Quick Question: What time period was America at it's Best?   
    First off, "ordinary American" is demagogy, plain and simple. No point in even addressing it further. So, that aside, Trump is certainly "upholding" a specific segment of the population (not any more or less ordinary than any other segment) at the expense of others. But it's not really the segments you're describing (describing vaguely, on purpose).
    For instance, he's not upholding steel producers at the expense of Leftist intellectual elitists, he's upholding them at the expense of the individual rights of manufacturers who buy steel, all consumers who buy their products, and everyone who suffers from the inevitable retaliation to his tariffs.
    He's not upholding low skill American workers at the expense of college professors and Liberal politicians, he's upholding them at the expense of the rights (and lives) of economic migrants seeking to escape the misery of socialist hell holes. He's not upholding white nationalists at the expense of college professors, he's upholding them at the expense of 99.9% innocent Muslims and Hispanics.
    And so on and so forth. Whenever he "upholds" a neglected group, he does so by introducing laws that violate other people's rights, and almost never by eliminating laws that violate the rights of the people he's "upholding".
  24. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from DavidOdden in Quick Question: What time period was America at it's Best?   
    NOW, obviously. Lifespans are the longest ever, people are more civilized, every single life is a zillion times wealthier, leisure time abounds, knowledge only goes up because all past knowledge is instant and free, ice cream only gets more popular so we have like 500 more choices than ever before, and humanity still has its built-in bullshit meter intact.
    Now, a lot of people just need to realize it's this good not because it always was.
  25. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from softwareNerd in Quick Question: What time period was America at it's Best?   
    NOW, obviously. Lifespans are the longest ever, people are more civilized, every single life is a zillion times wealthier, leisure time abounds, knowledge only goes up because all past knowledge is instant and free, ice cream only gets more popular so we have like 500 more choices than ever before, and humanity still has its built-in bullshit meter intact.
    Now, a lot of people just need to realize it's this good not because it always was.
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