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MisterSwig

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Everything posted by MisterSwig

  1. We discuss rhetoric and persuasion in this latest episode of our podcast. What exactly is rhetoric and what are some important principles of persuasion? We answer these and other related questions. Check it out!
  2. Gennady Stolyarov II, chairman of the Transhumanist Party and an Ayn Rand fan, joined us this time on the podcast. We discussed the life extension movement and his efforts to unite like-minded people in a political party devoted to overcoming the problem of aging and death. Check it out!
  3. We welcomed on the show Dave Goodman, a fellow Rand fan from Facebook discussions, to debate Yaron Brook's leadership in the Objectivist movement. We also get into some ideas for spreading Rand's philosophy and working with non-Objectivists like Dennis Prager. Check it out!
  4. We had Robert Bidinotto on the podcast. He was an investigative journalist and active in the Objectivist movement for many years. He now writes vigilante thriller novels centered around his hero Dylan Hunter. The first part of this episode focuses on his history in the nonfiction world of journalism and Objectivism, while the second half (52:00) is about his fiction writing and thoughts on justice. Check it out!
  5. At what point does an insane person become an objective threat to the society in general? And when should the insane be quarantined, like those with a contagious virus are quarantined to preserve the general welfare?
  6. In this new episode we look at urban farming. Kimbal Musk has a company called Square Roots which uses converted shipping containers to grow crops year-round in Brooklyn and Grand Rapids. How important is this industry and what sort of impact might it have on our lives? Check it out!
  7. Scott and I have a small debate over the issue of open versus closed Objectivism. Everyone seems to agree that "open" and "closed" are metaphors which need literal explanations. I propose that "open" refers to Objectivism as a common noun, i.e., a class of Objectivist philosophies; while "closed" refers to Objectivism as a proper noun, i.e., the specific philosophy of Ayn Rand. Take a listen!
  8. Lev and I conclude our series on UFOs by discussing the Pentagon report and Mick West's debunking videos. Check it out!
  9. That's not the sort of social contract I'm talking about. The value would be based on its objective relationship to the particular society, so if you value your society, you should rationally value that which is good for it. If building a navy is objectively good for your nation, let's say, and you value your nation, you would be obliged under your social contract to contribute to that cause when and however possible. I understand that this gets real messy when societies value things that are bad for society, and the social contract is more like a social bondage. But here I'm trying to present a principle for creating the ideal sort of social contract. I'm not trying to detail what we have now in America or elsewhere, which, like the economy, is very mixed up. Technically wouldn't that be a virtue? You fulfill or honor your obligation in order to gain the value of citizenship in that society. When you become an adult and choose to remain in society and be a good citizen who obeys the laws, this is you accepting the agreement.
  10. Cool idea for a thread! The Shining And the sequel, Doctor Sleep. Based on excellent Stephen King novels, these are well-done adaptations, considering the movies both have different endings from the books.
  11. Why must the social values be intrinsic? Can't they be objective, based on their relation to a particular society? For example, a navy might be critical for the survival of an island nation, yet a complete waste of production for a landlocked one. Also, an obligation or "duty" under a social contract wouldn't be something you were born with, it's something you're born into, assuming your parents live in a society. Yet, you can still reject the contract and try to live outside society or outside the law. This of course can be difficult to do, as man is a social animal and has populated the world with various societies.
  12. We interviewed Richard Salsman in the latest episode. He is a bit unique in the Objectivist movement, having at some point associated or worked with ARI, TOS as well as TAS now. We go over his long history in the movement, his thoughts on schisms involving Peikoff, Kelley, McCaskey, Brook, Biddle, and Barney. We also discuss his latest book, Where Have All the Capitalists Gone?, and Rand's definition of "capitalism." Check it out!
  13. Yes, but why is it wrong? My point about the surgery was that there is a distinction between initiating the use of force and applying the use of force. I think the two things get conflated. As for a child running into the street or a man leaping off a bridge, these hopefully are not normal conditions. These are emergencies where immediate action is necessary to prevent potential disaster, and the law should allow for the initiation of the use of force in such cases, under the assumption that the subject would grant consent were it possible to do so, because he wants to live. If someone is trying to commit suicide, however, then that assumption might be wrong, but the law should favor those who try to save a life in emergency situations. If a man really wants to kill himself, he should do it when nobody is around to stop him. This is why I am a fan of a social contract theory. When we agree to be part of a community or society, we agree to accept the normal interactions and risks involved with communing and socializing. Certainly we accept the fact that many people wear perfumes and colognes in public areas, and if they make you sneeze, you don't have a right to sue over such a trifle assault on your person. Rational people should be able to sort that out without government involvement. As for being infected by diseases, I think this is also something we must accept as part of the social contract--to a certain degree. We accept it as a natural risk of interacting with other living organisms in society. If, however, malicious intent or reckless behavior can indeed be proven, then I think a case could be made for a violation of rights. I don't think any social contract should accept purposeful infliction of harm against others.
  14. The relevant word is "surgery," as it constitutes an application of physical force on the patient. The OP seems to be talking about applying physical force rather than initiating its use. If you consent to a surgery, then you are the one initiating the use of physical force by requesting the surgery. The doctor is merely applying the force that you initiated through your consent to its use. Rand limits her conception of the initiation of the use of physical force to that which forces someone to act against their own judgment. So it doesn't apply to cases where someone consents to being physically forced.
  15. Yes, otherwise no doctor in his right mind would perform a risky surgery on you.
  16. Typically a sexual affair is kept secret from the spouses, but that's not part of the definitions I've seen. There is such a thing as an open affair.
  17. If it's in plain view, can you point to it? Where does she say or do something irrational? I want to see what you mean. I've watched both Donahue interviews, and I didn't see anything that was obviously irrational. Which course? Peikoff is evidence that Objectivist are in control of such behavior, since he quit when he developed emphysema. We agree then that he was not a worthless criminal.
  18. I don't know how you got that impression. I certainly accept that we can be overwhelmed by emotions. But keep in mind this ordeal took place over a long period of time. It's not like they made these critical decisions in the heat of emotions. Prevalent? I hope not, but I don't know the statistics. I haven't done a survey of Objectivist smokers. But I'd be surprised if they weren't in control of such behavior. Even if they are addicted, they should know there are ways to wean themselves off the substance. You're not pointing to what was irrational about Rand's behavior and arguing why it was irrational. You're saying that someone in her situation would be irrational ... because human. What did she do that was irrational? And why was it irrational? Are you saying that Rand was irrational because she had an authoritarian personality that kicked people out of the movement for minor vices? What was so small about Branden's offense?
  19. Yes, I'm mostly referring to his reliance on deception and manipulation. As far as his capacity for self-criticism and regret, I think he also scores low on that test. While he accepts responsibility for violating his principles, he spends way too much energy playing the victim of Rand. Then he does something weird in the epilogue. Several years after the break, he calls Rand in 1976. Not because he hopes to resume a relationship, but to remake the ending of it. He wants "a better ending--one with more honesty and dignity between us." (p. 419) And when she hangs up on him, he laughs and dances around his hotel room. Yes, it seems that getting hung up on is something to celebrate. After all, he has manipulated her once again, this time into giving him a different ending for his story, one in which he finally overcomes his fear of telling Rand the truth. Only he didn't get to tell her the truth, so really it was the fear of trying to tell her.
  20. Perhaps they're different sides of the same coin. I was thinking that his choice to deceive and manipulate Ayn was powerlust, while his fear of losing his Objectivist status/career was a lack of self-esteem. But I suppose the two could be related. He describes in one scene where he's walking around the NATHANIEL BRANDEN INSTITUTE, how he wants everything. He wants to remain the leader of the Objectivist movement, he wants to remain friends with Ayn, and he wants to be open about his romance with Patrecia. Yet he seems to think that the best course to achieving this utopia is by lying to and manipulating the creator of the philosophy he advocates. It's truly absurd. It's like his actual goal was to utterly erode her trust and confidence in him as an upright man. He literally reduced himself to the mental state of a caged animal. He became a self-imposed prisoner of his own jacked-up psychology. Then he seemingly tried to blame Rand for his own pathetic choices. That's about as softly as I can put it. To put it plainly, I believe him when he says he felt like a caged animal. But, whether Rand threatened to cut him out of her life if he stopped loving her, that seems manufactured, especially now that we have the evidence of Rand's own diary. But Branden might have felt trapped because he feared that Rand would cut him out and he couldn't imagine his life without being Mr. Objectivism. But ultimately she didn't exile him until she discovered the extent of his deceptions, and ironically this he brought on himself. If he had only been forthright and just with Rand in the beginning of his affair with Patrecia, he might have succeeded with Rand. It is perfectly understandable that age would become an issue between them, and even in Branden's book he admits that Rand expressed understanding of this problem. Yet he refused to believe that she would ultimately accept romantic rejection on this basis. He puts words in her mouth to this effect: First of all, I don't trust Branden's recall of Rand's words. So there's that. But, secondly, assuming he's quoting her accurately, if in "calmer times" she showed willingness to accept rejection, then why didn't he answer her honestly when she would say things like, "Is it my age? I could accept that." I don't buy his excuse that whenever he tried to hint at it she would explode in wrath. Maybe she just expected him to be straight with her and to not Mickey Mouse around with lame hints and innuendos. So, yes, I think his main motive was powerlust perhaps associated with his fear of losing professional status/position in life. The conflict was between his moral principles and his desire to gain/keep power through deception and manipulation. He let his fear rule the day and didn't reason out his situation. Reason should have led him to honesty in this situation because he was dealing with a great value not a vicious enemy. Rather than treating Rand as someone capable of seeing reason, he treated her like an emotional basket case who needed to be deceived and manipulated into his viewpoint.
  21. What makes you so sure about that? Besides, I didn't say he was a sociopath. I said how he described himself in that situation sounded sociopathic. He did keep his affair with Patrecia a secret. It was Barbara who, guilt-ridden, eventually told Ayn the truth. I doubt he was solely motivated by powerlust. He also feared losing his leadership status in the movement.
  22. He writes on page 362: That's how he described himself at the time he had formed the plan to manipulate Rand into accepting Patrecia and getting her to tell him that age had become an insurmountable barrier. Frankly this sounds more like a sociopathic self than a survivor self. But, in the end, it is his excuse, or one of them. On page 368 he says: There and elsewhere he tried to make the case that he felt trapped in the relationship, like an animal in a cage. So he mistreated Rand because he felt trapped by her or because he needed time to manipulate her to his secret viewpoint, or perhaps some combination of both factors. In either case I don't think it's the excuse of a reasonable man. I believe he was attempting to rationalize his powerlust. Ultimately Rand saw through his BS.
  23. I'm so glad that "our mission to degrade the terrorist threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan ... was a success." (16:57)
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