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About Montesquieu

  • Birthday 02/06/1984

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    History, Philosophy, and Economics<br /><br />Go Cubs!

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    Alexander Marriott
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  1. George Washington is the best choice for numerous reasons. First of all, this is not to say that the others wouldn't also be preferable to today's leadership, but Washington trumps these other choices. He's the only one, aside from Jackson, with any strategic military experience (Jefferson in contrast nearly got himself captured during the revolution after the British sacked Richmond). He's an incorruptibly honest figure (unlike Jefferson, his main competitor in this election). Washington has an established record as being devoted to his country but uninterested in power. He presided over a nearly non-existant federal government which he only sought to establish as viable and respectable, to say he is less committed than Jefferson to republicanism and limited government is ridiculous. It is important to not confuse Washington and Adams with other Federalists like Hamilton, who was a true devotee of the British constitution and hoped to be able to craft an english-style state under the "shilly-shally thing of mere milk and water" that he called the constitution. Ultimately, I cannot forgive Jefferson for his very duplicitous behavior in the Washington administration and his ultimate failure to deal with slavery in his personal life, unlike Washington. His behavior towards Adams was also despicable, causing that venerable patriot to ignore Jefferson for over a decade. If you ever want to read some righteous indignation take a look at their correspondence and JA's writing in the "not talking to Jefferson" period of his life. This wasn't addressed to me, but as a graduate student studying the early republic I would go with either James Thomas Flexner's "Washington: The Indispensable Man" or Douglas Southall Freeman's "Washington." Both can be bought at nearly any borders or barnes and noble. Though if you can read David Hackett Fischer's "Washington's Crossing" and still vote for Jefferson over Washington, you have problems. (Thanks for the references. I added links to the books in Amazon. - softwareNerd)
  2. Of course hemp should be freed of restrictions that have been placed on it, whether one is smoking it or making rope and clothing out of it. However, I'm not so sure about how it would fare in the market place today, at the time of the revolution cotton textiles were very expensive because they had to be imported from england (which they were less willing to do while we were rebelling). Add to this that short-staple cotton was yet in large supply without the cotton gin revolution. Hemp served to fill the void, whether it could be anything other than a second-rate fiber today is unclear. Speaking for my own field, historians have been very frank about the fact that many of the founders (Washington and Jefferson to name but two) grew hemp on their farms.
  3. Douglass is definitely an inspiration in many respects, but one should remember one thing when dealing with him as a historical source. Douglas was writing for a specific audience under the auspices of William Llyod Garrison and other radical abolitionists, which isn't to say he wrote lies, but realizing this one must be careful with his narrative as a source material. For instance, the passage on religion was essential in the context of Garrison and abolitionists because they were all involved in trying to claim religion for abolitionism. Religion was being used at the time very convincingly in support of slavery, since the bible (particularly the Old Testament) condones and acknowledges slavery many times, so invalidating the religiosity of slave owners was crucial as a way of debunking their ability to use such arguments. This was important as well as a way to undermine southern arguments over the humaneness of their treatment of slaves. Many abolitionists were intensely religious, including Garrison and John Brown. This should not be forgotten while we realize that it was enlightenment rational thought which laid the groundwork for the end of slavery.
  4. Someone suggested that Windu executing Palpatine would have been wrong and counted against the Jedi. Why? Palpatine had a stranglehold on executive power and the courts were in his pocket, he was no different than any other dictator and he had caused a pointless (except for him) war that had killed millions including many Jedi. He deserved death and it would have perfectly acceptable to kill him on the spot, just as it would have been perfectly acceptable to kill Saddam on the spot, armed or not. Windu's attempt to kill Palpatine was the first rational thing the Jedi had done the whole movie since asking Anakin to spy on Palpatine just pushed him into Palpatine's waiting arms further.
  5. My favorite part about Obi Wan's "Only a Sith speaks in absolutes" remark is that ten minutes later in the movie, during the fight between Vader and Obi Wan is that he switches from relativist to absolutist when Anakin moans that from his perspective, Obi Wan and the Jedi are evil. To which Obi Wan replies that Anakin is truely lost, which could never be known without an absolute definition of good and evil. Another piece of garbage Lucas put in to the detriment of the film was in the scrolled writing in the beginning where he said there were heroes on both sides of the Clone Wars. How is this possible? One side was populated by the epitomes of good (to Lucas) Jedi warriors leading an army of clones while the other was a load of robots, Count Dooku, General Grievous, Lord Sidious, etc. How can the representative of evil, looking to destroy civilization have anything heroic associated with it whatsoever? More importantly, what heroes are depicted in the movies from the separatist side? The only real hero of any of the Star Wars movies was and still is Han Solo, his inclusion in the original trilogy was what offered a refreshing alternative to all the Jedi nonsense. This prequel trilogy offers no such alternative and is thus less effective. All that being said, I have yet to decide which film of the three new ones is the best. I cannot say that Episode III is the best by itself because there is no triumph of heroes, the civilized world has effectively fallen apart. If there were no more films then the result of watching it would be depression. The guy who played the Chancellor/Emperor was great by the way. I would say that Episode I is probably at the top of my list right now. I will have to reevaluate when I can sit down and watch them all together. Episode IV is the only true film because there was no guarantee of sequels when Lucas made it, and therefore it is the best by default as the only self-contained single episode. V and VI go together as do I-III. I liked the Peter Cushing clone at the end on the bridge with the Emperor and Vader, made me think of those great Dracula movies he and Christopher Lee were in.
  6. I think you need to read some objective histories of Kennedy (perhaps Reeves' A Question of Character), the presidency had been a shambles long before him and he added to it a bit. His ability to get out of the Cuban Missile Crisis (which has been greatly distorted by efforts like his corrupt brother's Thirteen Days and the subsequent movie) had more to do with luck, and the fact that the Soviets weren't crazy nutjobs willing to get themselves killed over Cuba.
  7. Do not forget that even if the banker and the depositors agree to adopt a fractional reserve system, they are still screwing over people not involved with the bank due to money multiplier inflation. If I deposit $100,000 with the understanding that the bank will loan out $90,000 I've effectively "created" an extra $90,000 in the money supply and sellers will adjust their prices accordingly. For people not using the banks this situation brings on inflation they had no part of. Bank interest payments are merely compensation, and poor ones at that, for money multiplier inflation caused when they engage in fractional reserve banking. Banks as storage houses to protect your money and not lend it out were very valuable in the days of the gold standard because carting around all of your gold or trying to protect it at your own house was risky, cumbersome, and sometimes dangerous. A bank could offer protection for your money and they could offer you paper promissory notes for your deposited gold. The bank could then charge a fee for the protection and a fee for the notes. The money the bank made from fees could then be properly lent out to the benefit of the bank and the loan recipient. This way we suffer no money multiplier inflation. I see no reason why, under a proper economic system where the money is a commodity that is worth something (as opposed to worthless ink and paper), that people would want their bank to loan out their money with no guarantee of getting it back, to create inflation for which they aren't properly compensated (and cannot be properly compensated).
  8. I'm not sure how great his dad was, but compared to his dopey sons, Michael and Ron Jr., he was a magnificent specimen.
  9. Movie would be much better if it was made with a different premise, namely how many days would he have to eat nothing but McDonald's until he died?
  10. Oh yeah, it's all coming back now. Yeah, I don't know what the deal was with that guy.
  11. Perhaps this was already mentioned but I always fell apart with laughter at the Captain Planet song: Captain Planet! He's a hero! Gonna bring pollution down to zero! The show was unbearable to watch except in a Full House way, where you watch it with others just to make fun of it and crack up at other people's jokes on the horrible writing and storylines and characters, etc. Duck Tales was a great cartoon, the only reason that goofy duck superhero came on in the last season was to launch the new show with that duck as the main character I think. Darkwing Duck?... I think Batman and Superman were damaged by re-writing of their situations and their enemies. For instance, Batman has been re-painted recently as almost villainous and so brooding over his parents deaths that he almost seems crazy. Lex Luthor, the Superman nemesis, was re-written in the 80's as an evil businessman by the douchebags running DC at the time from the evil scientist he had been since his creation. Plus Batman was so dandified by the TV Show and the subsequent cartoon depictions of him in that guise that the writers must feel they have to overcompensate for that period by making him a psycho. I still think the first Batman movie, aside from the annoying Prince songs, was the best video depiction of the caped crusader. The subsequent films just got worse and worse, and I'm not too hopeful for the new movie with that guy from American Psycho (which is by the way, a terrible movie).
  12. Haha, I like that you used the word odd against me, it was rather ironic. However, what did I really say that was odd? Erandror seems to echo my thoughts on the subject. I make it continually clear, I don't think homosexuals immoral, nothing they do necessarily endagangers their life, except that homosexual promiscuity seems to make one more susceptiple to deadly diseases, but that can also be said of promiscuity in general. However, commenting that their lifestyle is odd is certainly not a controversial view, any rational homosexual would have to concur with that view. So please, what is being said that is so odd? What WAY am I expressing a rather inoffensive seemingly obvious idea that makes it odd? The main topic has already been concluded amicably due to lack of further information, so I wouldn't worry about at least answering my few queries on this topic.
  13. The problem is that we know the source and what message the artists wanted to be sent. Namely, that trying to find communists in the government (an effort largely vindicated by serious historians in recent years) was an irrational, almost mystical, and certainly evil effort comparable to the Salem Witch Trials. This is an utter absurdity and we should not forget this when judging any work of art that was produced for similar reasons. I don't think the Crucible deals with religious absolutism or paranoia effectively at all because there is no reason, anywhere in the play (that I can remember, and I don't have a copy so I beg pardon in advance and thank whoeverso corrects me in advance) why we should feel sorry for the convicted witches. Where is the opposition in the play? Who mounts a defense of the witches and shows that the premises of the trials are invalid? I recall peripheral points being made about the ease with which people could be accused and the ridiculous rules of evidence, but not the actual premise of the trials, namely that witches exist and should be punished. Miller didn't write the play to show (or, more importantly, to explain) the perils of religious paranoia, but to show that efforts to protect the government and people of the United States from a real threat, communist spies paid by the Soviet Union, were as irrational, if not more, as the pursuit of phantom witches in Salem in the 1690's. The play was a veiled, very thinly, attempt to make this point without getting himself in trouble, which I am actually sympathetic to, I don't think he should have had to worry about congress threatening him for being a communist sympathizer. Out of this context the play is of little import and would not have been a success I think without the backdrop of McCarthyism.
  14. I was referring to biological dead ends, in that an organism in which all individuals were homosexual would die off in one generation, thus dead-ending. Birth control isn't a dead-end, because a man and a woman could always procreate without birth control, but have decided that they don't want to, however it's easily reversiable and isn't intrinsically built into their lifestyle. As to religion, that is an irrational behavior that can cause big problems, and if taken to extremes by a large number of people, can seriously stymie or even destroy a culture, but man can choose to think and therefore undo the effects of bad ideas, so to the extent that religion and other irrational ideas are a dead-end, they can be gotten out of, which is not the case with homosexual procreation, which is impossible. Perhaps this was directed at me? I don't care what homosexuals do with each other, they don't bother me. I don't care if they marry or do anything else anyone else does, but that doesn't change reality, and the reality is, their preferences aren't self-sustaining, but since only a miniscule percentage of people are homosexuals it makes no difference at all. I can't speak for Catholic friends you have and I don't care if people consider the facts of reality as related by modern biology or cow to "general opinion" whatever that means. Reality is not changed by whether people choose to accept it or not. Anyway, this issue only came up because erandror said something about homosexuals being excommunicated in the 1950's as compared to now in the period after the sexual revolution. I thought this amusing because of his choice of the word excommunicated, usually associated with Catholicism and which I would consider to be a blessing (pardon the word). And because homosexuals are still treated differently by most people, in part to the antithetical nature of their lifestyle. This does not mean that denying homosexuals the same rights as everyone else is justified in any way, but in the private sphere people can interact with and judge whomever they want for whatever they want, even if irrationally, as this is part of being free. Seeing as homosexuals are such a small minority and as I have said their lifestyle is odd (and I hope this has been defined both negatively and positively enough by now) and even threatening to the insecure or the paranoid, I think they should see a certain amount of ostracism from parts of society as part of norm at least in the short term, whether Dr. Kinsey was around or not. I think that the treatment of homosexuals in the past century, while far from perfect, has been exemplary if you compare it to any other hundred year period in history, except maybe certain Greek city-states.
  15. I will concede that if you separate out the context in which it was written and the author's declared intentions, The Crucible can have a good message. But only in a broad superficial way in that Mr. Miller tied his allegory to a real event and could therefore not portray a heroic struggle to put an end to a witch trial, but instead had the evil of Salem win out as it did historically until it was ended by higher political authorities.
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