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Epistemological Engineer

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  1. But I won't be worse off--and that's my starting point. Again, as I said earlier, my primary reason for taking this first step, from cash to metal commodities, is wealth protection given the standard nonoptimistic view on the world economic situation. Again, one of my assumptions is that I'm keeping things simple; understanding the value of a business or the performance of a stock would take me into territory much more complex than that of a simple commodity. So let me ask you a few questions for clarification of your position: 1) In which businesses or stocks do you invest? 2) How do you research and track these companies? Do you read their monthly cashflow statements and their CEOs' letters to shareholders?
  2. Thanks. Here are two of my premises, which I lay out for checking: 1) The only alternative I've set up for myself is cash 2) Gold and silver are going to do better than cash in the long run, and even in the moderately-short run. (Why wouldn't they? dot dot dot) Thus even if we're in a bubble and, say, yesterday's sharp decline continues, I can just wait until their perceived value relative to the USD bounces back.
  3. I'm having them store the metal. There is a small fee associated with that, of course, but it's not much more expensive than renting a safe deposit box at the bank, and it's fully insured against theft, fire, etc. Also, if you change your mind and want them to ship you physical metal, you can do so by paying a "fabrication cost" that's as low as 2.5%. I initially looked into local dealers, but their bid-ask spreads were too high: around 4% for gold and 6.7% for silver. (These spreads are the differences between the price at which you can buy from the dealer and the subsequent price at which you can sell back to him.) The spreads at goldmoney.com, on the other hand, are only about 0.5% for gold and 0.8% for silver. I initially checked out kitco and bullionvault (per recommendations on this forum, actually), but their spreads seemed to be much higher. It's very possible that I didn't find a good local dealer or that I misread the information on the kitco and bullionvault sites. If anyone has any evidence to the contrary (i.e. low spreads for local dealers or for any online companies) I'd love to hear it.
  4. snerd-- I'm looking to buy and hold the metals until their prices skyrocket during the big market crash of 2016. Seriously, though: I want to hold for a while, and fluctuations during the next two years--even gold going to $1500--probably won't make me flinch. Will I sell at $2000/oz? $5000? $10000? It will all depend on the state of the country, the state of the world, and the vicissitudes of my own life at that time. As far as likelihoods over the next two years, please keep in mind that my opinions and decisions are those of an eager new student just beginning a journey of developing practical wisdom. My sources come primarily from the gloom and doom newsreel of GoldSilver.com (they frequently interview this Dr. Doom guy named Marc Faber), so if you want to see some discussion of average-to-worst-case scenarios you can go there. I do have to be honest about my motivations, though: this is, for me, more than just protection against a weakening dollar. I'm in it mainly for the thrill of taking control of my own destiny. Last year I lost 40% of everything I had in a mutual fund, then took another huge loss in a get-rich-quick merger that my optimistic, financially-savvy friend *thought* he had analyzed thoroughly. After that, I vowed never again to invest in something that I did not understand or follow closely. Over the past year I've held cash, as 18-month CDs yielding a quarter percent hardly seemed worth it. Now I'm moving into gold and silver, and I'm keeping my eye on them. Could I take losses? Of course, but the losses would be *mine*--not my fund manager's, not my friend's--and by sinking or swimming on my own judgment I'll be forced to learn and grow. After the metals run their cycle (say, over the next 5-10 years), where will I turn next for investment? Maybe other commodities (if I like learning about them), maybe another kind of investment that captures my interest. I do have a dream of buying a big house, living in the top floor and renting out the rest of the space (thereby producing cashflow as well as providing me with a place to live and an asset I can love and attend to regularly), and I also have ideas for businesses I can start related to things I love. This is starting to digress, so I'll re-state that the main point tying these examples together is to have control over one's wealth, rather than leaving it to the mercy of a money manager, a stock one does not understand, or a government that will ruthlessly inflate away the buying power of your cash by diluting the money supply.
  5. Thanks for the responses, everyone. Earlier this week I (finally) got around to buying gold and silver at $1132/oz and $18.23/oz, respectively, through Goldmoney.com. I'm only putting 40% of my assets into this account (as a partial hedge against my own naivete), and of that I'm going 20% gold and 80% silver. Let's see where this goes...
  6. I am currently looking to take a full position in gold and silver (physical), as a protection against loss during the hard times that may be ahead of us. Before I do so, though, I am seeking to better understand the reasons behind their inherent, objective value. The sources I've consulted thus far are Michael Maloney of goldsilver.com (precious metals advisor to Robert Kiyosaki, the "Rich Dad" guy) and Greenspan's 1966 article "Gold and Economic Freedom" in C:TUI. Here is what I have gleaned from Greenspan's article: For the most part, that seems like a decent explanation of gold's value. As a supplement to that, Maloney's book "Guide to Investing in Gold and Silver" gives brief historical accounts of the ascendancy of gold in tandem with the decline of various empires after they sink into enormous debt and start pumping out fiat currency (e.g. Athens, Rome, U.S. following WWI.) Clearly, then, governments and populations place high value on gold as a medium of exchange. What I still want to know, though, is: 1) How did this get started (e.g. back in ancient Greece, did one merchant say to another "I'll trade you these nice, shiny, rare, malleable bars for your cattle," or did one government say to another "I'll trade you these nice, shiny, rare, malleable bars for your grain stores," or was the evolution of gold as money more subtle and complicated than that) 2) How can I teach myself, through books and experience, to keep a well-trained eye on the value goverments and markets place on gold, silver, and on other commodities or media that might compete with these precious metals for the position of "sole" or most popular medium of exchange. In other words (concerning #2): although people have always placed high value on precious metals, how will can I feel secure that things will continue this way? Or, if another medium is threatening to replace these, how can I understand the forces behind the new trend? I'm not expecting a pat answer to this, of course; rather, I'm embarking on a journey of long-term education, and I was wondering where might be a good place to continue from here, having read the Maloney book and the Greenspan article.
  7. Thomas, Your reply focuses more on Roark and Wynand. While what you say may be true, I'm more interested in trying to understand Dominique's mindset.
  8. The examination of evil is not itself inherently evil. :-) I included this quote because I thought it was an apt observation on human psychology. I can't actually remember where he wrote this. All I know is I read it many years back and it really stuck with me.
  9. I'm looking at what's behind the whole exchange; the bolded part serves to summarize the tension between the different emotional states. I was always curious why--even at the end of the book, when the hero and heroine of the novel had gained all the wisdom to proceed with living the lives they had always wanted--one would choose to hold on to spite for the rest of her life while the other would forgive and free his soul from what could have been an everlasting hatred. (Not essential, but still worth exploring at times.)
  10. Thank you for your replies. I agree with the analyses put forth here. I had always been curious if Ayn Rand herself believed that some depths of evil truly could "contaminate the observer," or if that was just Rearden's current mindset.
  11. Roark: "Dominique, wait till he [Wynand] recovers." Dominique: "You know he won't recover." R: Have a little pity on him. D: Don't speak their language. R: He had no choice. D: He could have closed the paper. R: It was his life. D: This is mine. "He did not know that Wyand had once said all love is exception-making; and Wynand would not know that Roark had loved him enough to make his greatest exception, one moment when he had tried to compromise." (FH, 50th anniversary edition, p.668.) I never fully understood why Roark and Dominique differed on this issue--of whether or not to forgive Gail Wynand--to the end. Even after three readings, the sexist side of me still cries "Hell hath no fury...", and I grit my teeth and see this as indication of fundamental differences between the male and female psyches.
  12. "What does Objectivism say about circumcision?" Jesus Christ on a Cross. Don't you have anything better to do with your time and intellectual energy? This issue is third-level derivative, at best--certainly far from fundamental in a philosophical sense.
  13. From Hank Rearden's thoughts, upon hearing about the "Equalization of Opportunity Bill": (AS, 35th Anniversary Ed., p.215, where 215=6x6x6 -1, Part I, ch. VII "The Exploiters and The Exploited.) Was this the emotional reflex of Rearden's pure, naive innocence, or did Rand intend this as a general admonition to all readers? I think Nietzsche was right on when he said something along the lines of "The first thing a man thinks when he hears 'Thou Shalt Not' is, 'What if I do'? " Indeed, Rand herself undertook a serious study of the depths of human evil long before writing (or even conceiving) Atlas Shrugged--she read Dostoevsky and Tolstoy in her youth (not to mention having first-hand experiences with the evils of twentieth-century Soviet regimes.) In spite of Nietzsche's undeniably accurate insight, though, I often wonder if curiosity should be suppressed and the exploration of certain depths of human evil should not even be begun.
  14. The author of the article is advocating a return to problem solving and Socratic-style teaching (in some cases) to re-kindle a love for mathematics by inducing students to reason rather than pounding rote formulas into their heads. "Formula-pounding" might be appropriate for a college-level engineering course, but certainly not for elementary school. Here is evidence for my claim: p.9 Now I will address your post: CITATION NEEDED CITATION NEEDED CITATION NEEDED. Here is the next paragraph from the essay: Ranger, you're obviously very angry about something. I suggest you take a long, deep breath before responding, if you're considering doing so.
  15. Oh, right. Which reminds me: could you guys--Thales, Roark, etc.--please take your fight outside? Not that it's any of my bidness [ducks incoming beer bottle], but I'm sure the mods will appreciate it, as your discussion appears to be more about general aesthetic theory and less (or not at all) about the specific artist MM. Or just reread pp. 55-6 of Romantic Manifesto and then duck out, as I often do when discussions about music reach the point of "unsalvageable." Getting back to my discussion with IA (and anyone else who cares to follow): here is some detailed explanation regarding my opinion on "We're From America." You are correct to point out that Manson is using this piece to expose hypocricies in the current right-wing-Christian culture of our country. The problem is that it isn't a "song" so much as a list of accusations simply spouted in series, with the eponymous phrase thrown in for rhythm. Let's lay them out and take a closer look. "We're from America," therefore: 1) We eat our young 2) It's where Jesus was born 3) They let you come on their faces (<--"Hey! Look! I made a funny! Guys? Guys? ...) 4) We don't believe in credibility, because we're fucking incredible ("Ooh! Wasn't that clever of me!") 5) I wanna be a martyr, I don't wanna be a victim 6) Be a killer with a god, so they call me a hero. [Ok, he gets props for this one, but...um...hasn't he said all this before? Wasn't this the fundamental motivating theme behind Holywood?] 7) God is an excuse [oh, in case they didn't hear me...Ima say this seven times] 8) We don't like to kill our unborn/we need them to grow up and fight our wars [yeah, I'll give him props for this one, no strings attached.] 9) We believe in everything we say, and we say it because we believe it [ok, it actually makes sense to repeat this one. More genuine props.] 10) etc. So the song is bouncy and fun. The content and layout of the lyrics doesn't meet with my approval (e.g. reminds me of the crap one hears in System of a Down and the general decline in quality of modern "metal"), and that's why I thought it was a poor choice for the "debut" song--the one he made available for free download a month before the album's release. But I think I've said enough for now. I'll just skip it when it comes on (unless I'm in a weird mood/altered state) and move on with my life.
  16. Thanks for the mediation, necessitated in part by my initial omission of the "facetious" smiley or equivalent indication of jest. However, I think IA and I are cool now. There's always that delightfully subjectivist quote from the Romantic Manifesto. Oh, and this: Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go come on someone's face. This is America, after all.
  17. Huh. Well, I did notice "Disposable Teens" on a karaoke list somewhere (if you don't mind publicly repeating said phrase ad nauseum, especially with the high, pinched part at the end.) Oh, and "Tainted Love" is a great one for getting the gothically-inclined chicks out on the dance floor in a bar that otherwise features off-key renditions of pop country-frat songs. Absolutely. I was doing pushups and crunches in my room one day with my music on shuffle all, when "Vodevil" came on. I was, like, "Hey, it's a new Manson song!", and then I was, like, "Wait...how did a new Manson song sneak onto my hard drive?", and then I was, like, "Sweet! Rediscovery!", as the effect was the exact same as a new song's *actually* having been released.
  18. Haha, ok. I listened to We're From America again, and it's actually pretty funny. My problem with Manson qua lyricist is not what he says so much as how he says it. The purpose of poetry is to say things in ways that use metaphor, suggestion, and imagery--NOT directly. For example, let's go back in time to Mechanical Animals and take a close look at "User Friendly." The melody, beat, and verses are badass, but the main chorus? Really, Manson? Really? I rarely see that track to the end: having the same bland line pounded into my head again and again quickly grates on my nerves. Another example of this bad habit--which he seems to have inherited from Trent Reznor--would be the main chorus of "The Red Carpet Grave." There are more out there, but that's just off the top of my head. Getting back to High End of Low: I really liked "Four Rusted Horses" and will probably put it on my hypnotic playlist. Thus far I feel only so-so about the album as a whole, but some of the songs have potential to grow on me. That's what happened with a number of the songs on Eat Me, Drink Me, Golden Age...well, ok, most of the albums had songs that I always skipped at first, only to rediscover and truly enjoy later. -The last three tracks ("I have to look up just to see hell," "Into the Fire," and untitled) were beautiful and would make great background music for a movie. -The instrumentation on "Wow" was pretty cool. It made me think of a twisted funhouse, for some reason. The lyrics seemed a little on the childish side, though. -I really didn't get "I wanna kill you like they do in the movies." It just seemed to meander. From the length of the song (and all the hype Manson was giving it) I was expecting a buildup to an intense climax, not a dissonant fizzle. Initial impressions. Will listen to again later during long trips on the open road.
  19. Ookay...getting back to the topic at hand...[hints at topic split for Mozart & Rach] "We're from America" is without a doubt the most puerile garbage I've EVER heard come out of this guy's mouth. You should be ashamed of yourself. ... That said, as a lifetime member of the Manson fan club (albeit with waning enthusiasm), I'm going to go get a copy of the album right now. It has to have at least two tracks that are good for listening to while working out, and I intend to find them. If his claim that he "has his fire back" is accurate, then I'm hoping for a return of the more-"fun"-less-self-pitying feel that was characteristic of Golden Age (and, to some extent, Portrait.)
  20. Well...sort of, but not really. Basically, lately I've had a few disappointing medical issues, and I've lost a lot of money in investments. None of these are life-threatening or crushing; rather, they are reminders that life isn't always steady forward progress and that my body is a machine subject to wear and decay. All things considered, I'm at a good place in life and I'm active. It just seems that the BUP is something I have continually strive to hold. Snerd, thank you for the reminder of this prayer. The question it poses is central to this issue, though the real art of it is developing that wisdom without "God." I'd forgotten that there was a whole essay about it in PWNI--I'm going to go reread it right now.
  21. The issue is not what to think about when bad things happen, but how to deal with uncertainty--uncertainty about economic/financial situations, about career paths, about health. I think what I'm mainly interested in here is how to integrate the BUP, and I don't mean by just reading through OPAR. The success story I'm looking for might be titled "How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Benevolent Universe."
  22. Religious people have God and various beliefs; Discordians and embrace the chaos. What do Objectivists have? To the extent that my question, as stated, has an answer, I believe it is the Benevolent Universe principle: "If Man does adapt to the universe, then it is 'benevolent' in another sense: auspicious to human life. If a man does recognize and adhere to reality, then he can achieve his values in reality; he can and, other things being equal, he will." If this is the case, does anyone have advice for how to integrate this principle into one's life--not just rationally/epistemologically, but experientially? I mildly envy religious traditions for their extensive literature and practices that help their practitioners reaffirm the premises that give them spiritual fuel. Perhaps the great reward of Objectivism's BUP (acronym) demands a great struggle of figuring out (mostly) for yourself how to integrate it into your own life. The BUP is a beautiful idea, but specific literature on the subject seems to be scarce.
  23. I see C&P as an exploration of the disease of rationalizing and the way it can torment and nearly destroy a man's soul. It simply cannot be understood by a reader who has never himself engaged in serious rationalizing, and is thus not for everyone. I am shocked that the novel is sometimes assigned as high school reading, as the average teenager will not have the psychological maturity or self-awareness required to mine its depths. I'm exaggerating a little for effect here, of course. Reading this book--suffering through the nauseating and initially inexplicable contradictions of Raskolnikov's inner monologues--is quite an ordeal, and nothing I would wish to inflict on those not ready (or not needing) to walk the fine, tense line of the protagonist's pathology. But the ending--the beautiful ending--makes it all worthwhile. "Life had taken the place of dialectics, and something else had to work itself out in his mind..." The dark clouds yield to rays of sunshine illuminating fertile ground for psychological healing, in the original sense of the word.
  24. The Neverending Story. I own copies of all of Ende's novels, but the most famous is rightly the best.
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