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  1. 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.
  2. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from softwareNerd in Intentionally Changing Sexual Orientation to Straight?   
    In parts of the world still today, homosexuals are literally thrown off of roofs to their deaths. Though the US has come leaps and bounds in just a couple of short decades, many homosexual youths still grow up terrified that their social circle will discover their true sexual desires. Personally, the first half of my teen years were spent desperately trying to will myself to be attracted to females, trying to pray the gay away, and finally accepting my inner fate while still deciding I would just have to marry a woman anyway. Though not explained scientifically, there are enough individuals with stories like this to give reason to believe it is not possible to change one's sexual orientation, at least not with today's understanding of the human mind/body. Why would so many people choose a way of life that guarantees that they will be ostracized, or even murdered?
  3. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from StrictlyLogical in Intentionally Changing Sexual Orientation to Straight?   
    In parts of the world still today, homosexuals are literally thrown off of roofs to their deaths. Though the US has come leaps and bounds in just a couple of short decades, many homosexual youths still grow up terrified that their social circle will discover their true sexual desires. Personally, the first half of my teen years were spent desperately trying to will myself to be attracted to females, trying to pray the gay away, and finally accepting my inner fate while still deciding I would just have to marry a woman anyway. Though not explained scientifically, there are enough individuals with stories like this to give reason to believe it is not possible to change one's sexual orientation, at least not with today's understanding of the human mind/body. Why would so many people choose a way of life that guarantees that they will be ostracized, or even murdered?
  4. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in How does Objectivism handle public interactions   
    Most people do or believe something that I wish they wouldn’t do or believe, and this includes being irrational even when it doesn’t directly affect me (e.g. people who just can’t stand the color yellow). I would like to live in a world where everybody is as rational as I am. Most of the time, however, it would be irrational for me to rant about other people’s irrationality, primarily because most people don’t actually have the rational response “Oh my God, was I really that irrational!? I’ve gotta change my ways”, when confronted with their irrationality. In other words, getting up in people’s face about their irrationality as a way of encouraging rationality is itself irrational.
    I am not suggesting that irrationality should be tolerated, instead, particular instances of irrationality have to be judged on their demerits, so you have to decide whether it’s worth getting a divorce because your spouse doesn’t like your favorite musician. “Tolerance” implies a complete lack of judgment, whereas “temperance” means that you have judged and decided that the costs outweigh the benefit (“breaking point” likewise implies a judgment, and in this case the benefit outweighs the cost).
    Let’s take a clearer case, such as a person publically advocating a racist and statist Nazi agenda: it would be well worth countering this person. How can you counter them? Shooting them, for one: but that’s clearly irrational; so is throwing rotten tomatoes, or threatening their life. So is trying to shout them down. In fact, prancing around with counter-protest signs saying “Say No To Nazis!” is at best a minimally rational response.
    The rational response is to argue against them, perhaps in the hopes of changing their mind (as though they had somehow been misled by some factual error), or more likely, to persuade someone in the audience who is undecided. Throwing tomatoes might “persuade” a member of the audience, and you don’t want to appeal to such irrrational low-lives, so always take the high road.
    Strolling in public in the nude, in the hope of offending some person, is not a rational response. It does not appeal to reason, it appeals to emotion, and what you will most likely do is simply anger the anti-nudity person, and possibly embarrass others who might be more or less on your side. It is actually perfectly reasonable to have an ideology about nudity where it is a highly personal and intimate thing, as sex is. If your goal is to educate society, use your mind, and not your naked butt.
    There is zero debate among Objectivists over whether it is okay to be naked at home (it is), or to be naked at someone else’s home (it is not unless you have permission). The only discussion is over the problematic notion of public nudity, that is, projecting your nakedity at others, against their will, when (a) you’re on a dispassionate third party’s property – a business – and that property owner sets the rules; or (b) when you’re on government property, e.g. a government park. But as you know, the government shouldn’t be running a park service. There is one final problem area, namely the case where A and B have adjacent lots, and A like to prance nude on his property, where B can see him from his porch while enjoying the sunset. If B is offended at seeing A, does B’s interest (in not seeing A nude) create a duty for A to erect a screen? Or should B erect a screen on his property, to shield himself from seeing A. Indeed, what if A is offended at B seeing him? Does A’s offendedness impose a duty on B?
    Let he who is offended build the screen on his property, in conformity with his values.
  5. Like
    JASKN reacted to Grames in Is there any Objectivist literature reconciling free will with physics?   
    Flat no.  No author of 'Objectivist literature' would see the need, it is literally a blind spot.  By 'the need' I mean a purely pedagogical need to address those who first come to understand math and physics and only later Objectivism or philosophy in general, and so fall into a common and near unavoidable trap in their thinking. 
    For example here is Peikoff in OPAR
    This is a rationalist argumentation style, it does not address the premises that lead one to believe that the determinism of nature directly and naively applies to man.  That volition is axiomatic, that axioms cannot be coherently contradicted is all well and good as a shortcut for those of us who have cleared the hurdle of understanding and accepting what Rand considered axiomatic but most people that are determinists have not cleared that hurdle and so any version of that shortcut is incomprehensible or deeply unsatisfying.
  6. Thanks
    JASKN got a reaction from happiness in Does Objectivism have a premise on sleeping with co-workers?   
    If you're not extremely adept at seeing this kind of thing through from start to aftermath, run, do not engage! There's nothing tricker from a management perspective than a romance gone bad, and you're going to get the brunt of any negativity (even if only perceived), not the company if they can help it.
  7. Like
    JASKN reacted to 2046 in Rand and Sartre (Objectivism vs Existentialism)   
    There's a bunch of odd similarities between them, for one they were both in open relationships, the both wrote novels to convey philosophy, they both used amphetamines, were heavy smokers and died of lung disease.
    According to Nathaniel Branden, early in her career (perhaps owing to her earlier Nietzchean influences) she one considered naming her philosophy existentialism, but decided against it.
    They both have a very minimalist ontology, limited to a few broad descriptive categories. They both uphold the primacy of existence and a kind of conscious intentionality, that is, that consciousness is awareness of objects, and not simply awareness of itself, and both reject the prior certainty of consciousness and the cogito.
    Sartre, however, is a phenomenalist in the tradition of Hegel and Heusserl and so upholds a kind of Kantian thing vs thing in itself distinction, though he does believe in the validity of sense perception, although sorta kinda, because the fact that sense perception is limited and fallible counts against them for him and not for Rand. Plus Sartre days a bunch of incomprehensible gibberish like, "consciousness is nothingness," which Rand denies the possibility of.
    Apart from that they both stridently believe in free will, but Sartre's is a kind of indeterminist and acausal agency that overrides and literally cancels out the causal reality that underlies it("nihilation".) Rand's is compatible with the law of causality and is a naturalistic faculty at one with biological identity. They both also draw different conclusions, for Rand volition is the startig point of human value achievement, and so undergirds her heroic and optimistic ethical egoism, whereas Sartre pessimistically laments free will, which "condemns" us to make choices and face suffering and failure and navigate a nauseous array of subjective values.
    Sartre, in general agrees that reason and science are valid and efficacious, but are cold impersonal, only giving us formal knowledge, but not meaning and purpose in life. But they're both atheists and are searching for meaning and purpose and want to substitute a kind of secular humanism in the place of religion.
    Sartre has a lot (more) to say about psychology as well, but I'll cut it short there.
  8. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in Race Realism   
    As you think about this topic, I suggest that you keep in mind the possibility that “race” is simply a mistaken concept, a mis-identification. It’s not like “gremlin”, “unicorn” of “free lunch”, being purely fictitious, but is is sufficiently detached from reality that it needs to be consigned to the intellectual trash heap that also contains phlogiston and epicycles. In its place would be some concept pertaining to human evolution and genetics.
    The genetic concept of “haplogroup” is based in objectively measurable fact, and the study of Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups has produced some interesting results pertaining to population genetics. (The reason for these 2 groups is that they do not recombine, so Y-DNA gives you good information about the patrilineal line and mtDNA is about the maternal line). In tracing shared mutations, you can come up with something resembling a “family tree” of humans.
    There are geographical correlates of haplogroups, where for example haplogroup A appears in parts of Africa especially among the San, who have probably been hanging on in the same spot for tens of thousands of years. Haplogroup A represents the “original situation”, lacking any of the subsequent Y-DNA mutations. And then you start adding mutations, and you check the geographical distribution of that mutation. (Geographical distributions have to be controlled by knowledge of history, for example the Siddi in India were transported from East Africa about 1500 years ago; obviously, Europeans only appeared in the New World a few hundred years ago). There are some surprises there, for example haplogroup B is high frequency in Africa, but also among the Hazaras of Afghanistan, which is surprising since usual racial classifications would have them be Mongoloid. Eventually you will get to haplogroup L-M20 which has high frequency among Tamils and I assume Malayali. It is also frequent (though not as frequent) among Pashtuns. Again, Dravidians can be racially classified in lots of ways, depending on what morphological features you’re attending to; Pashtuns are pretty much standardly classified as Caucasian.
    So the problem is that there is a physical reality (a genetic fact, which refers to your ancestry) which however doesn’t match well with any extant theory of “race”. The reason is, simply, that the theory of “race” is based on a false premise of absolute and instantaneous separation of humans – as though God split the human race into 6? groups and instantly transported them to their ancestoral homelands. Instead of race, we have a better concept of haplogroup, which is actually related to genetics. There are very many haplogrops: it is a hierarchical concept.
  9. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in How do I live in a country this over the top in its evil?   
    The key lesson Objectivism gives me is that I should prioritize creating a better life for myself much higher than creating a better world. And, creating a better world is a priority only to the extent that it creates a better life for myself. 
    The "mystics and collectivists" create the laws and culture. So, of course it has an impact on us. Nevertheless, certain aspects impact certain people. A law denying a person access to try a new drug (the topic of the OP) impacts that person, but does not impact many others in the same, direct way. I should be concerned too, because I could need some such medicine tomorrow; but, I cannot be concerned in the same way as someone who is actually suffering from some illness. The impact on their life is way more than it is on mine.
    One needs a hierarchy of concerns. Of all the bad cultural and legal things in our world, some are more direct concerns while others are more remote. Of the direct ones, some may be annoyances, while others may be major. Some may cost you a bit of extra time and money, others may cost you a lot. How do you live in a irrational world? You start by understanding that hierarchy of concerns and figuring out what's really important to you.
    Then, you come up with plans to manage around the high impact ones. Sometimes, that's not possible. For example, if you're thrown in jail under some bad law, you may not have any good solution. Or if, like the OP, you are denied an important treatment, you may have to spend a lot of time and money flying abroad to get it. So, yes: sometimes the bad culture or laws will be a huge barrier. There are so many girls in Saudi Arabia who would love to be free to get out of the situation they find themselves in: about to be married to a cousin who is a strict Muslim, while they themselves are not; to someone who will not allow them to work or drive -- and the law won't give them recourse. Where they will be stopped at the airport if they try to leave and other countries won;t accept them if they manage to get out anyway. A whole lot of people, all over the world, face huge constraints on their freedom of action.
    Still, if one lives in any of the relatively modern countries in Europe or Asia, one has a lot of freedom of action, unless one hits a specific situation like the OP did.
  10. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in How do I live in a country this over the top in its evil?   
    I don’t think “pay or die” is a realistic summary of the medical profession’s actions: rather, it is “don’t worry about the details, we will take care of you”. That is, they offer something, but you have to agree to it. If you don’t agree to it, you may die (this much is the informed consent part). You know that agreeing to what they offer means that someone will pay. The real-world issue, IMO, is that a patient does not and cannot know what they have agreed to.
    There is a real question as to whether patients actually have a properly-formed contract with a hospital, in the typical case. Their theory is that if you pick up a electro-pen and sign on a box when told to, this signifies agreement to something (they may print a copy if you request it). Classically, in contract law, a person signs the actual piece of paper where it is clear what the terms are that they have agreed to. The agreement is more than just some list of statements on a server somewhere, it also includes representations by agents. If an agent says “your insurance covers this”, that is a representation that you can rely on.
    A fundamental doctrine of contract law is that the terms of the contract have to be reasonable, in the sense that a reasonable person, made aware of the terms, would agree to those terms. Open-ended liability is not a reasonable contract term, meaning that your liability to pay may be mitigated by an objective estimation of whether or not you would have agreed if you had known the actual cost of the product. Put simply, your intuition “I would have never agreed to that hangnail treatment if I had known you were going to charge me $100,000” is correct, and a contract with such a consequence would not be enforceable. I don't know about cancer treatment, I'm just identifying a general principle. The full set of contract terms are usually vague and/or ambiguous: as a principle of law, these communicative defects are construed against the maker of the contract in contracts of adhesion ("pay or die", non-negotiable agreements).
    There are relevant legal provisions regarding auto repairs in most states, and while they often involve improper intrusions of government into business, they also do also encode proper concepts regarding the concept of “agreement”, effectively saying that while you don’t have to give a precise commitment as to the cost of a repair, you have to be within a certain range and receive further consent if you go over that range (the shop cannot recover beyond a certain degree of overage). Again, the question is: is it reasonable to think that a person would agree to this, if they understood the facts? This same concept is applicable, in principle, to all agreements: it recognizes that agreeing to one implied price does not entail agreeing to any price. In a market-based health system, limits on customer liability would be quite prominent. in these agreements.
  11. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in Race Realism   
    I think you’re missing the point, in speaking of “self-evident racial differences”. The only self-evident differences are, in fact, skin color and a few similar morphological differences. IMO the number one scientific problem with the concept is that there are no objective criteria for racial classification. That is, there are neither necessary nor sufficient criteria for being classified as “white” versus something else. We do not know how many “races” there are. Being “black” is epiphenomenal, and it has independently arisen in Africa, Greater Australia, and Southern India. An analogous question would be, how many breeds of dog are there? What breed is the offspring of a German Shephard and a Collie?
    In order to have a rational discussion of race, you have to be able to say what you are talking about in objective terms. This is why broad racial concepts have given way to somewhat better historico-geographic concepts that have some real connection to genetics: the ancestors of African-Americans historically came from Africa (this is still very course granularity, but it’s an improvement). Reasonable research is being done on the geographical distribution of various alleles, and  this can be used in various ways to generate a probability of a certain ancestory (the Duffy Null allele occurs about 100% of the time in sub-Saharan Africans and infrequently elsewhere, likewise the earwax-type gene correlates with ancestoral geography, dry earwax having developed in North and East Asia). In other words, race isn’t even a scientifically useful concept: we have better concepts based in genetics and history.
    The main problem with attempts to impute a correlation between behavior and race is the failure to control variables, which is a fatal flaw in scientific research.
  12. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in Sex and Trade   
    As a general rule, sex has a psychological component, not just a physical one. 
    For instance, while having sex, one's partner may be saying something, or moaning, or showing a certain enthusiasm in their eyes ... various things that do not directly physically impact the other person's body. And, this changes the pleasure of sex. This explains why prostitutes have a thing called "the girlfriend experience",  with a premium price-tag. 
    Consider also various sexual acts that are considered kinky, conventionally. It could be role-playing, or more. These have little to do with the physical aspects of how the two (or more) human bodies interact. It is more about the fantasy that is made a little more concrete by acting it out. And it does not have to be loving; violent sex has the same quality of enacting some theme. 
    So, that's just a general fact about sex... without considering specific contexts. That's why, when a partner is performing sex not because he/she wants to, but rather as a purely physical act, it is more like being masturbated by someone else. It's qualitatively different. That's why having sex for a reason other than wanting to have sex changes the nature of the act.
    Human beings evaluate things within broader contexts than the one act itself., weighing long-term versus short term consequences. If sex between two partners is routinely reduced to something less than even a paid-for "girlfriend experience", there's a good chance that it will qualitatively effect the sex between the couple more widely.
    With all that said... there may be nothing wrong with the conversation you you describe... if one adds certain specific context and tweak the language to be less clinical and more loving.
  13. Like
    JASKN reacted to Nicky in Sex and Trade   
    Sex is a trade, but the price is steeper than a trip to the store. You're trading in virtues of the highest order, not in small favors.
    Your virtues make people love and desire you. If you don't have them, you will only be able to buy sex from people who lack them too.
  14. Like
    JASKN reacted to William O in What kinds of posts fall under the Courtesy Rule here?   
    Okay, thank you.
  15. Like
    JASKN reacted to William O in What kinds of posts fall under the Courtesy Rule here?   
    From the Guidelines:
    What kind of post falls under these rules? I've seen fairly rude posts here that weren't moderated.
  16. Like
    JASKN reacted to Eiuol in What kinds of posts fall under the Courtesy Rule here?   
    Use the report function. Rudeness per se isn't a violation, and it's not clear cut when posts are merely "not nice". But reporting helps. The most egregious ones are removed quickly, though.
  17. Like
    JASKN reacted to Nicky in Donald Trump   
    No it doesn't. US regulatory policies are a huge barrier of entry for Chinese products. China answers with regulations of their own (Elon Musk is complaining about swimming in lead shoes, as his companies receive massive benefits from environmental regulations, government subsidies, federal contracts, etc., etc.).
    The rational answer to the problem of competing regulations would be to reduce regulations, in exchange for China doing the same...which is something they'd be very much interested in.
    Problem is, that wouldn't address the trade deficit...because the trade deficit is a natural consequence of China moving from socialism towards capitalism. Of course a country that does that will increase its productivity faster than a country that doesn't change. And increased productivity clearly results in imbalanced trade.
    And that is not a bad thing for the US. The trade deficit is not a problem for productive Americans, it's only a problem for politicians who are staking their careers on promises of curving it. The only way it could possibly be curved is if China stops moving towards capitalism...so Trump's goal is directly opposed to the cause of freedom.
  18. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from Nicky in Determinism and free will   
  19. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in Neuromarketing and choice   
    Three terms here need to be closely scrutinized. The most egregious is “impose”. It retreats from the clearly false claim of “force”, while retaining the negative connotations of “force”. Here is a usage that gets to the core of imposing: “I don’t want to impose, but would you be able to drive me to the airport?”. The requester has a goal, the requestee probably does not share that goal, and the requester’s plan of action is to get the other to accept his goal. Imposing and persuading differ in the extent to which the requestee opposes accepting that goal. If he is neutral or only mildly opposed, we say that you persuade him to accept the goal. When force is not involved, imposing is just a way of negatively characterizing persuasion (the self-deprecating use of “impose” in the example manipulates the other party into denying that he opposes the goal, a denial manifested as a ride to the airport). In the context of the advertising discussion, it is redundant rhetoric, conveying nothing not already contained in “what people want”.

    “Want” is a basic emotional relation to a thing. The ideology that you are arguing against has an implicit premise that people’s actions should be caused by their emotions, so you should engage in trade only if you have a particular emotional connection to the thing in question. And furthermore, since advertising is stipulated to be bad, that emotional state must exist before exposure to the advertising (since advertising is held to improperly influence one’s emotional state). So, does exposure to advertising create the requisite emotional state (directly or indirectly)? It certainly can. My initial emotional state was that I wanted (indeed, needed) a new cell phone. By exposure to advertising, my emotional state was changed, indirectly, to the point that I wanted a specific cell phone so much that I bought it. That emotional state was the byproduct of a rational change of state: I became aware of the properties of that phone, in comparison to others, and I concluded that it was the proper choice, given my requirements. The important thing is that initially, I did not want that phone. There was a lack of emotion: no attraction or repulsion, because I was unaware that the phone existed. Advertising expanded my knowledge, and secondarily created a desire. I didn’t want it initially, I came to want it.

    “Advertising” is a tricky concept. Obviously, when a company provides information about its goods and services, that is advertising. The same goes for information provided by third parties; and it need not just be goods and services – political advertising abounds. Not just electoral advertising, but ideological advertising (you will see full page ideological ads in the New York Times every so often: you see ideological advertising on people’s front laws, car bumpers, lapels, and email signatures). When a person takes out an ad in the paper, intending to influence people’s beliefs, that is a kind of advertising. Giving a speech in public can have the same effect: is that really different from advertising? The essence of advertising is “communicating something, in the hopes of achieving an end”.

    I surmise from they way you present your opponents, that there are claiming that “neuromarketing” methods have been scientifically proven to override rational decision-making (and this is evil, though maybe they are claiming that this is good). I would respond by challenging the premise that “neuromarketing” has a scientific foundation. My reading of Fisher, Chin & Klitzman “Defining Neuromarketing: Practices and Professional Challenges” is that the practice verges on junk science (it is a popular medium phenomenon, not a systematic body of peer-reviewed experimental results). They surely must be familiar with this article, if they know the literature. (That's "if" number 1). In a few cases where there is some supposed support for some vaguely related idea, for example McClure, Li, Tomlin, Cypert, Montague & Montague “Neural Correlates of Behavioral Preference for Culturally Familiar Drinks”,

    the results are pretty simple and unsurprising. Subjects may prefer Coke, or they may prefer Pepsi, and that preference can be observed in the brain using fMRI. Subjects are also able to visually identify Coke vs. Pepsi cans; and you might be able to trick people into thinking that they got Coke if they get Pepsi but see a picture of a Coke can.
    These results can reasonably be interpreted to mean that existing “wishes” may have physical correlates in the brain. Correlation is distinct from causation: the fact that an existing mental state can be physically quantified does not mean that we can directly manipulate the brain to bring about that mental state. I haven't touched the glaring statistical problem. You will notice in the Coke paper that there is zero discussion of subject demographics. This is not surprising for medical research, but it is fairly shocking for behavioral research like this (with a thin veneer of medical slapped over it). What is the "population" that these subjects were drawn from? Assuredly, not "humans" – it's a very restricted subset of humans. I've seen these ads, where an experimenter recruits subjects for e.g. a taste test that takes an hour (or whatever) and there is some reward. People who respond to these ads are not a random sample of humans – they live in Houston, have free time and an inclination, and do not self-filter, thinking "What kind of craziness is this?". Whatever those 67 people did, there isn't a lot of reason to infer anything about humans in general from that study.
    Arming yourself with this kind of background is useful in case you plan to interact with these people again on this topic. Unfortunately, the world is full of cranks who will randomly assert falsehoods, pretending that there is underlying science. The response "I'm not your teacher; look it up yourself" is a clear give-away that they don't control the technical literature.



  20. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in Neuromarketing and choice   
    Be careful using the word "force". The government frequently forces me to do things that I don't want to do. Arguments of this type often weasel in the word "force" when they mean "get", like "I forced him to see that his argument was silly, by reducing it to an absurdity" – meaning, I got him to do so, though he was reluctant. Advertising most certainly can influence our choices, and many people are indeed suckered in by the implications of slick advertising – they focus on the pretty face and hip music, ignoring all of the important technical questions that they ought to ask about the product. I presume that you do not believe that all people are swayed only by rational product-info facts. So then what exactly are you trying to argue against?
    Next time, I would concentrate on where the word "force" is first used. Stop the conversation when someone says "They don't have any choice" – where exactly is the science that shows that people are incapable of making a choice when... under what conditions? Scrutinize the science critically.
    The best response to the "go look it up" challenge is "give me a citation". I always demand a legitimate vetted scientific publication. Not a blog post, a propaganda website, but a real scientific journal. This is mildly risky, because often the claim proffered in a publication can't be evaluated without knowing the jargon of the field (especially in the behavioral sciences), and it does mean yo need to be able to access journals typically behind a paywall. "Give me a citation", i.e. "put your money where your mouth is", often generates an outraged response like "Everybody knows this", so at least you will know whether you're dealing with ideologues or scientists with bad ideology.
  21. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in Are we on the edge of the Peter Schiff dollar collapse?   
    Two points here:
    If all you have is a theory  of why something ought to work out a certain way, it's very weak. You need to have historical evidence of how there have been repeated episodes where the theory was shown to be true. This still does not prove the theory, but it is a basic requirement for taking it seriously 10 years is not enough. You have a lifetime to live, so you should look at a few lifetimes worth of historical evidence. Visualize yourself during the Great depression: Roosevelt is confiscating gold, enacting social-security, imposing all sorts of ridiculous rules on businesses.  Finally, you are making decisions within the context of your lifetime. Imagine you see some causal factor that created some end result reliably, from the Roman empire down to today. But, imagine it took 400 years to play our from cause to effect, and in your judgement you are in year 90 of such an episode. How much does it really impact the decisions you should be making in the context of your lifetime?
    Gold should not be considered an "investment" in a core sense. Of course, if market values of productive assets are too high (in your judgement), then it makes sense to "park" your assets in a "store of value'.
    Doomsday scenarios sell, but your best bet is that they will not take place. Of course spending beyond one's means is bound to cause a problem some day in the future, but that's abstract enough to be useless as a decision-making tool. You have to flesh it out with concretes. Someone spending a small percent more than they take in is in a different position that someone more profligate. Both will eventually hit rock bottom, but time-horizons vary. Also, possible solutions vary. 
    In a mixed-economy, when shit hits the fan, the democracy will typically take assets from those who did not get too hard, and redistribute it to those who were screwed. Consider what the Saudi king just did. He needed money, so he arrested a bunch of the richest guys in the kingdom, and told them they have to give the government money.  probably raised about $100 billion in a few months. Democracies do these things with politeness and a softer glove.
    To be clear, history would say we should expect booms and busts, with occasional panics at a rate of (say) a couple in each investor's lifetime. But, that's different from doomsday scenarios.
  22. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in How do I live in a country this over the top in its evil?   
    Where is this debate and news? When I turn on the TV, channels are reporting that a Trump staffer was a wife beater. But, not just that: that is only background. The bulk of the discussion is about whether the White House knew and how they acted on the knowledge. But, even there, a lot is about what they knew and how they spun the story in public. 
    Switch from the Democratic channel to the Republican channel and it is more of the same. 
    Occasionally, you have things like taxes or immigration make it back to TV news. The thing to remember on these topics is that rhetoric is not the same as action. Trump says he'll build a border wall, but it is in his political advantage to come up for re-election saying the Democrats obstructed him, and if you elect him one more time -- along with a few more Republicans (or "better" Republicans) -- he will build it the next time around. You can really rest comfortably in the knowledge that after both sides have staked out this position or that, the actual ship will move in one direction or the other, but not too much. Paying close attention does not have any utility: it's just a modern day genre of soap-opera. (The exception is when something targets you directly: e.g. if you are an immigrant and have to make decisions, and need to figure out the precise details of what is playing out.)
    When it comes to news watching and debate following, my advice would be to do less of it. Give yourself some objective rule: like no news and debate of certain days of the week, or whatever works. 
    Instead, pick up an actual long-form book and read it. Even if you choose a book about crises (lol), odds are it will still pay off more than paying attention to things you will not remember happened a few years from now, and won't impact your life too much more than the average impacts you can expect anyhow.
  23. Haha
    JASKN reacted to Nicky in How do I live in a country this over the top in its evil?   
    Pro tip: you should leave the alligators out of the sales pitch.
  24. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from splitprimary in How do I live in a country this over the top in its evil?   
    Is America really over-the-top evil? Think about the people you interact with on a daily basis. Would you classify the majority as evil? What line needs to be crossed for a person to be "evil"? Humans are complicated and are always changing. In a reality where most around you truly are evil, such as an ISIS camp, or in prison, I can see a realistic desire to stop dealing with it all, for good. No prospects, little to look forward to now or ever. Is that daily living in America?
    NO, it isn't. America is essentially a free country, still, with all its regulations and government intrusions. I can still get on the internet and badmouth any branch of the government. The American judicial system still offers the best recourse against humans who don't respect my rights. The American people are still work harder than the rest of the world. American business es are still world-class innovators. America's freedom-focused intellectuals still outnumber the rest of the world.
    Here's a phrase that comes in handy when pondering life: "What's the alternative?" In a world of mixed humans (which will always be the world, as David noted) where Atlas Shrugged exists only as an illustrative construct, you can choose to focus on evil and live a mad or sad life, or you can choose to focus on every positive thing you can find or create, and live the best possible life before you're dead. There's no point in focusing on negativity past identifying it as something to move beyond.
  25. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from jonathanconway in When to take time off   
    Why can't you do both? Software can't be taking up all of your time. Why not do other things after you're finished with the regular job? Why not keep your full time job, and do the other interests part time, at least for now?
    You may find out you're not really all that interested in writing symphonies with the majority of your time. You may find out a solid stream of income is worth more to you than you'd thought. Setting company goals is someone's full time job somewhere, and you might discover you don't really like having that responsibility, even while still appreciating the goals/purpose being set.
    You'll wind up discovering loads of facets to your other interests you didn't even know existed, along with how you like those facets, and the interests will inevitably become different things to you entirely than how you think about them now - maybe better, maybe worse. Fidgeting with those interests part time can show you those facets without you needing to devote time (and possible heartache) to worrying about a livelihood.
    In my opinion, a life "plunge" is only good when you have some realistic idea of a good outcome, whatever that means to you. But, that's from a guy who has never done a plunge and never intends to. I like the try-before-you-buy method. But definitely try. What's the point of living if you don't do the living? If you think a plunge is for you, do it. There's truth to "if it don't kill you..."
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