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    Who here has read the book, by Ian Fleming?

    I've read all of Fleming's James Bond books, and I re-read Casino Royale around the time I saw the movie. The movie followed the book reasonably well, except for the death scene in Venice. I thought the woman's death was bizarre and the sinking Venice building scene unnecessary. The other bizarre scene from the movie was the poison detector Bond had in his car, which he used to save himself after being poisoned during the poker game. That also was not in the book.

    Having said that, I liked the movie a lot. I like this Bond. He seems the most believable of any Bond, in terms of the sheer violence and fearlessness of his personality. I suspect that a real-life secret agent would have the toughness and physical energy of Bond in this movie. On the other hand, my favorite Bond actor remains Sean Connery. He is the most intelligent of all the Bonds, and also in excellent physical shape. He is a man fully capable of winning with his mind as much as with his fists. In fact, if he can avoid a confrontation, he will, as any smart warrior does.

    My favorite Bond movie is Doctor No. I highly recommend it to everyone. (By the way, it most closely follows the book of any of the Bond movies.) My favorite Bond line is not spoken by James Bond, but by his nemesis Auric Goldfinger in the movie Goldfinger. Bond says, "I suppose you expect me to talk." Goldfinger responds, "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to ___." I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen the movie!

  2. The aspect of civil commitment of sex offenders that bothers me is its apparent non-objectivity. The New York Times ran a series on this new trend, and found offenders in some states civilly confined after their prison terms ended for relatively minor crimes and others set free after their prison terms ended for crimes as serious as violent rape.

    Sentences should be objective. The practice of imposing somewhat arbitrary extensions of punishment periods after a sentence has been completed is reminiscent of the non-objective law seen in a dictatorship. On the other hand, these criminals were put in jail after the establishment of guilt at a trial, and the reason for their continuing commitment is a psychological assessment that they represent a continuing threat. As far as I know, civil commitment is only imposed for sex offenders who are presumably beset by serious psychological compulsions to commit their crimes. Civil commitment is not employed for other, more mundane or "rational" (?!) crimes such as murder or robbery that, presumably, do not involve uncontrollable psychological compulsions.

    From the descriptions I read of these sex offenders, some of them sound like rather obvious compulsive deviants. On the other hand, in my mind I also imagine Jack Nicholson in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, someone who is basically normal but goes insane from his confinement.

    The whole debate raises the broader question of the involuntary commitment of the seriously mentally ill, for the safety of society and themselves. Certainly, it can be objectively established that certain individuals are insane and should be confined for the protection of everyone. The question is, is such an objective standard being used for these sex criminals who are being civilly confined after they have served their sentences? Does such an objective standard exist?

  3. Uh, I will retire from this debate with the points I have already made. In the meantime, Gary, I will post your photo with my doorman and keep you away from my coin collection! Someone who thinks looting :pirate: is a rational choice is someone I will do my best to stay away from. <_<

  4. I second this recommendation of Forbes. I will also add another to the list of biased, but widely-read, sources of business news: The New York Times. Like Fortune, the Times constantly harps on several themes: (1) greedy CEOs make too much money; and (2) Wall Street drips with sleaze. Then they throw in some hectoring scolds such as Ben Stein, who tries to make Americans feel guilty for being wealthy and not having fought in World War II (!).

    At the same time, throughout the Times there is fawning coverage of the wealthy -- their apartments, their parties, their play-things. One word sums up both aspects of the Times coverage: envy. The reporters of the paper envy those who have money, and they make no distinction between those who earned it and those who simply have it.

    In contrast, Forbes starts with the premise that money is made by creating values. That is why they take an admiring point of view when they cover business. Their reporting is also very first-handed. I find a lot in Forbes that I don't see rehashed in the other business media.

  5. After watching this discussion go round and round to the point of banality, I believe Mr. Brenner may be more of a skeptic than he gives himself credit for.


    While my colleagues are free to continue the discussion however they please, I would suggest that it is a fool's errand to try to prove anything to someone who accepts a skeptics epistemology (whether they admit to it or not).

    I agree that this is an accurate statement of Gary Brenner's method of thinking as demonstrated on this blog. For instance, when he states that just one example of a "successful" looter is enough to disprove that looting is self-destructive, he clearly is employing a skeptic's (impossible) standard of proof. Such an argument is no more valid than to say that because a particular person ingests strychnine, but does not die, that strychnine is not poisonous.

    I cannot prove something to a skeptic any more than I can "disprove" the belief of a religionist. In my posts and others on this thread, the case has been objectively made that looting is not in man's rational self-interest (even if not every single looter is "destroyed"). I retire from this fool's errand, unless something changes to make it no longer a fool's errand.

  6. I do not dispute the idea that reason is necessary for one’s survival. What has yet to be proven is the argument that the producer is reasonable and the predator is unreasonable.

    The answer is that man survives through production. His values must be produced, and that requires reason. Reason is even required, indirectly, for the looter. The looter requires that some people using reason produce the values that he steals. That is why looting is a parasitical activity, and not a primary on its own.

    The fact that man requires values which are produced using reason is an objective fact of man's nature. You can claim disagreement with it, but that does not change its validity.

    Looting is not practical as a social principle. The only way for large-scale production to occur is if property rights are protected and looting is forbidden. For anyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of abundant production, he will want to live in a capitalist society governed by strict protection of individual rights. That means he will choose out of self-interest to live in a society where looting is forbidden by law.

    If you want to live on a pirate island, or in a gang's lair, or in fear in your own home over when your scam or crime will be uncovered and you will be arrested, or if you want to live on the run or in hiding, be a looter. Or, if you want to try to be dictator of a country and hope that you are the "lucky" one who gets to rule for a while, not one of the many thousands who try and end up in jail or dead trying to take over, go ahead.

    It's your choice, your personal choice, Gary Brenner. You can choose to be a looter, but you cannot argue that it is in man's rational self-interest to be one.

    An analogy would be to say that food is an objective requirement of man's survival. You can choose to eat poison, or even eat food that sometimes contains poison. You may even say you like it. That does not change the fact that you are threatening your well-being. It is contrary to your rational self-interest to ingest poison or even risk ingesting it. The same applies to looting, a parasitical activity that subjects you to serious risk of death and suffering.

    For my argument more fully stated, I refer you back to my post #23. Those arguments still stand.

  7. Very nicely put. :thumbsup:

    I echo this comment regarding Sophia's post. I think that explains why Americans are so charitable compared with peoples elsewhere. Sure, a good part of it is motivated by Christian altruism and even tax considerations, but it is also heavily motivated by goodwill, a goodwill that is the consequence of living egoistically and with enjoying the tremendous wealth that is the result of living in the system based on egoism, namely, capitalism.

    Wealthy Americans can fund great libraries, great medical research institutions, or even give a dollar to a beggar in the name of the potential all free people have. I recall the scene in Atlas Shrugged where Dagny buys dinner for a bum on her train. She saw the intelligence in his eyes and in the name of that potential, helped him out. Interestingly, he told her the key story behind the riddle that tormented her, "Who is John Galt?"

  8. I once helped beta-test a voice recognition system for a financial services firm I worked for in 2000. It worked remarkably well. Simply by speaking clearly and at a measured pace, it nearly perfectly transcribed my voice. Our firm had intended to use it to speed up production of research reports, but decided not to, probably for cost reasons given the market downturn that began that year.

    I am very impressed that Microsoft is driving this technology down to the mass-consumption level by incorporating it into Vista. Along with handwriting recognition, these technologies are making computers into the futuristic robotic-type assistants we see only in science fiction. Science fiction is not so; it is fact that we enjoy more and more every day.

    Innovations like these make me enjoy being alive in today's world, despite all the problems it does have. I also cheer Microsoft who doggedly innovates despite the Lilliputian bindings cast about its giant's body.

  9. Shall we conclude that their sloppiness, lack of foresight and naivete in preparing for this expedition is representative of the degree of care they apply to their global warming research??

    To me, it sounds like bringing body suits for swimming in the globally warmed Arctic pools of water was more of a publicity stunt than anything else. If so, it was highly successful, just not in the way they intended! :lol:

  10. Well, this debate is making me hungry enough at this early morning hour to order a pizza. :) The tip I give depends on where I order the pizza from. There is Due Amici which has good pizza and is about 75 feet away from the front door of my building, and then there is Lombardy's, which is about a mile away downtown near Little Italy. Lombardy's is the self-proclaimed first pizzeria in America and, in my opinion, has just about the best pizza I ever tasted. My block is just within the northern edge of their delivery zone.

    I might tip the Due Amici guy a dollar because he's so close, but one thing is for sure. If I order from Lombardy's, I am giving him a good tip. I am a repeat customer there and I want to make damn sure my pizza is delivered quickly, rain or shine!

    Whew, now I can address this topic, maybe for the last time! There are a number of interesting aspects to this discussion that have been raised.

    BaseballGenius #1

    They keep one copy and I bring the other back to the store. But on the one I bring to the store, there is a line indicating where to leave the tip. The stiffers leave this line blank. So would it be immoral for me to fill this line in despite their consent, and write in $1.00(for my tip)? Legal, no. But moral?

    I finally went back to this original post. I agree with the other posters on this one that it would be immoral to write in a tip. Viewing this discussion in light of this scenario, tipping is clearly not an obligation in the legal sense.

    But in the practical sense, do you want good service? If the answer is yes, you should tip, out of self-interest, which was my intention in describing my pizza scenario above. I never tip out of a guilty sense of obligation that I have to help the "little guy" because they are "underpaid". That is an objection to tipping raised by several posters. That is a red herring argument. If someone is tipping for that reason, they should stop immediately, unless they simply view it as a charitable act. I tip because I want a hot pizza or I want great restaurant service. For those of you who tip, don't you do it for that reason??


    The custom [of tipping] is completely arbitrary in the supply-demand equation for wages. If everyone pays more as you advocate, your employer will simply pay less, and vice versa.

    But tipping is an individual act. This statement is true on a broad, economic level, but on an individual level if you don't tip someone, he is going to feel stiffed, regardless of whether tipping is something you should do or not. It will take a lot of stiffing over time to change the wages one employer pays his waiters, let alone employers across the entire economy.


    Custom provides a mental shortcut to a suggested practice, but I can't see anyway that it creates an obligation, other than out of a desire not to "appear" rude, which I would think is second handed.

    It is not second-handed not to want to be rude. If tipping is an acceptable social custom, then not tipping in the customary manner is rude. If your point is that it is second-handed to tip when one does not think it is rude, but does it anyway because he is concerned about appearances, then I agree with you.

    Moebius #33:

    By the way I just got a job as a stock broker. And when my clients call me up asking me to place an order, I don't expect a tip, despite the fact that I'm providing a service. To me it's pretty much the same concept.

    There was another comment which I can't find which distinguishes why tipping exists in a personal service industry like restaurants versus the situation Moebius describes. The point was that the nature of the personal service provided by a waiter is such that the customer is in the best position to evaluate a significant part of the waiter's work. That is why the customer effectively pays part of the waiter's wages. This is not true in the situation Moebius describes where the service provided is clear-cut. When I buy a product from a store, the service is clear-cut and I pay a fixed price. When I get a haircut or a restaurant meal, the service provided is highly personal to me and there are clearly many subtle, almost intangible factors that I alone am in the best position to appreciate. It seems almost silly to mention some examples, because I think this point should be clear, but I will mention a few anyway. For example, the barber trims your sideburns just right, the waitress cheerfully brings that extra water you asked for quickly, or that pizza arrived piping hot despite the snowstorm outside.

    I would contend that from an economic point of view, it is the degree of personalization of service that answers why the custom of tipping emerged and why it applies to one endeavor and not others. There is nothing irrational in this. It is a custom that emerged for sound economic reasons. That does not mean that all tipping customs are rational. Those that aren't will die out or never truly take hold across the population. (Is pizza delivery one of those activities? Hell, I don't know. I will let a pizza economist write a doctoral dissertation on that one! :lol: I just know I don't have a problem with this custom.)

    To further validate my economic hypothesis as to the origin of tipping, consider what it would be like if tipping did not happen. Let us assume that a restaurant manager declares that he is paying his waiters more to compensate for the lack of tips; tipping is forbidden at his restaurant. What would motivate the waiter to provide that extra measure of good service that you, alone, as the diner are in the best position to evaluate? In this situation, the waiter only has to show the boss he is providing good service. The boss does not observe all of the waiter-customer interactions going on. He simply sees his waiters efficiently bringing food back and forth from the kitchen to the tables. He doesn't hear the customer ask for water that is not being provided quickly. He doesn't hear the waiter listlessly recite the day's specials. He doesn't experience the joyless waiter who is a downer to the diners who are trying to enjoy their meal. Who is in the best position to evaluate these subtle aspects of waiter service? You, the diner! That is why you tip.

    Now, to answer a few subsidiary questions that should be addressed by my hypothesis:

    If I am correct, why is tipping ordinarily given at nearly every meal? Why shouldn't it be given only when there is exceptional service, with the employer paying the waiters more to cover the cost of the ordinary tips? My hypothesis answer is that the threat of not getting a tip is a highly effective method of motivating the waiter to provide the extra personal service I describe. Tipping really is a carrot and stick motivator, with the stick being a big part of the motivation. Since the customer has no legal obligation to tip, and can tip nothing at all, the waiter is motivated to provide decent service to avoid that outcome. Of course, on the carrot side, the waiter, if he is ambitious and energetic, will seek the extra large tip by providing exceptional service. (On a side note, there are stories in New York of regular patrons at some very expensive restaurants who have actually tipped their favorite waiters cars. I am not kidding. Now, I am not mentioning this to start up a thread on the morality of tipping cars to waiters!! :lol: )

    The other question is, why is tipping customary in the United States but not so in many other countries (perhaps even most countries)? I think this is simply a matter of culture, and is not a particularly important issue. Take Japan, for example. It could be because their culture has a history of subservient service where peasants served feudal lords. Therefore, the typical Japanese enthusiastically provides good service. An analogous argument might apply to Europe. From my travels, I recall that in many of these countries, diners would simply leave excess change that didn't amount to much, but they would tip more for an extraordinary meal.

    Regardless, as Americans we live in the culture we live in. Perhaps Americans aren't quite as used to "serving" as Europeans or Japanese are, and they need a little extra incentive. That is where tipping comes in. That leads me to my final thought. What happens if tipping dies out here? Does that mean the end of individualism and the onset of feudal subservience in America? :lol:

    When I start asking questions like that, I know I am tired. I probably missed something here. Where's that pizza??!!

  11. Kendall, I agree with you until the last sentence. Tipping is not arbitrary. Custom dictates a tip for standard good service in the, say, 15%-20% range. This precludes not tipping when there is good service. The only thing that is arbitrary is that tipping emerged as a custom in America but not in Japan. That reflects cultural/historical differences.

    Tipping standards can continue to change. Already, tipping standards seem to be changing, with emerging practices such as the Starbucks tipping jar. Perhaps, in 10 years this will become widespread to the point where it will be an aberration not to tip. I doubt it, for the reason I mentioned in my prior post, and suspect it will not catch on and become customary.

    Here in New York, it is customary to tip doormen and other building staff. In the same manner that I tip out of self-interest at restaurants, I do that with the building superintendent and doormen. These people receive my packages, greet my guests and hall away my garbage. I want them to look after my packages, guests (and garbage?) well, so I tip them. And if they go out of their way to be extra helpful during the year, as some of them have, I tip them more. Interestingly, as in restaurants, the tip comes after the service is performed, since I tip them at the end of the year, at Christmas.

    I tip my hair cutter for the same reason. I hope he provides that little extra service that can make the difference between a good and bad hair day. :thumbsup:

    If you are saying that the person getting the tip should not view it as something they must receive, I agree with you. I like the voluntary aspect of tipping, even if it is widespread and customary. At the same time, not to tip is foolish from a selfish point of view. Furthermore, in situations where it is customary to give a tip, it's bad manners not to tip if good service has been provided.

    In sum, you are not obligated to tip, you decide the amount but if you just had an enjoyable, well-served meal, it "should" be in the 15%-20% range (or something similar, according to your preference). :)

  12. GaryBrenner, your arguments appear to boil down to the idea that some looters seem to enjoy what they do and can get away with it. So, why not do it?

    My answer, which is similar to some of the other posts on this thread, is that productive work is an objective requirement of man's life, for all men, both the producers and the looters. For something to be enjoyed, or stolen, it first has to be produced. Objectively, for men to be able to prosper in a society (i.e., for values to be created and prosperity to result), individual rights must be protected so that those who choose to work productively, can work productively without interference from their fellow men. For this reason, governments are instituted to enforce rights. This means that governments exist to put looters in jail, so that the productive are free to rationally pursue their values.

    One can choose to be a looter, but the productive are free to set up a government that will put the looters in jail.

    As to whether one should be productive, that is the only way to create values. It is only through the achievement of values, not stealing, that one can truly be happy. I gave some examples of that in my post (the scientist, the businessman, the barber, etc.). Those are valid examples.

    I also gave examples of the psychological terror that has to underlie a typical looter's psychology. A looter lives in perpetual fear of being put in jail or worse. Those are also valid examples.

    Ultimately, you and everyone else are free to choose the life you want to lead. You can choose to be a looter, if you are willing to face the consequences. However, objectively, it is only through productive achievement that enduring values and their consequence, happiness, can be achieved. Gang members, thieves, murderers, con artists, and dictators generally lead miserable lives. The exceptions (the rare thief or dictator who seems to get away with his crimes) do not prove the rule. They are simply exceptions.

  13. Well, I find waiter service to be generally very good in New York (and in most other cities I've visited). I am glad to tip the waiters. I don't have a problem with this custom. I don't feel that I am doing it to be nice, or to help out a "working" person (as if only blue collar people work), or any similar reason. I am tipping to recognize and motivate good service.

    Kendall, you seem to be suggesting that the custom is bad and that it should change. You apparently don't have a problem with being a "change-agent" to accomplish same. I don't have a problem with that. Hell, that is how certain practices become customary in the first place. First a few people do something and then a lot of people do something and, before you know it, it is customary. Certainly, no tipping (or rare tipping) works out as a policy in Japan and other countries. There is no reason why it can't work out here for the reasons you cite regarding motivation.

    I will say that I nearly never tip at Starbucks or places like that where there is a tip jar placed near the cash register. I don't think there is much service to justify a tip in those situations, and I prefer to pay for the service that is provided as part of the cash price for the coffee drink I am getting. So, in those instances I am a change-agent for the status quo ante, before the tip jars appeared.

    If I have lousy service, I don't tip. In reading the posts some of you have provided, I keep getting the sneaking suspicion that many of you get lousy waiter service at the restaurants you go to. Maybe you're going to the wrong restaurants!

    I will retract my position that tipping is an obligation. I say, to each his own. For me, I will gladly continue to tip for the good waiter service I am getting!

    Here's to enjoyable restaurant meals!

  14. What implied agreement? When I go to a restaurant, I have the option of tipping. If it were an agreement, tipping would not be optional...as it is not when a waiter has to serve more than a certain number of people (I think the number is usually around eight per party). Then the tip is added automatically.

    If the tip is not added automatically, then the "agreement" is left up to the person being served. He does not have to walk into the restaurant (or when having his pizza delivered), wanting to tip anybody. If the waiter does a good job and the customer feels he deserves extra pay for this, then he can tip. But I recognize no "implied agreement."

    I expect decent service...otherwise I wouldn't be eating there. If I receive more than decent service (frequent refills, excellent presentation, quick delivery, etc), then I tip.

    Essentially everyone I know and observe in restaurants tips at nearly every meal. Of course, that in itself doesn't mean it is an obligation, but if my observation is representative it is as at least customary. However, I do believe there is an implied agreement to tip, for the reasons I stated in my earlier post.

    In other countries it is not customary to tip. For example, if I recall correctly, it is not customary in Japan. I suspect restaurant owners there proportionately pay their waiters more to make up the difference. Perhaps Japanese do tip on occasion, but only when service is truly outstanding. However, that is not the custom here, where tipping for standard good service is customary, and no tipping is for poor service.

    Speaking personally, I do not mind tipping. I have always considered it a variable and voluntary payment for service, but a payment I would forgo only if the service was lousy. I feel that I benefit from the custom of tipping, because it's purpose is To Insure Promptness, i.e., to motivate good service.

    Regarding the mandatory inclusion of tips when there are large parties, a restaurant manager once told me why they do it is because large groups often don't leave tips for whatever reason, so he adds it as an automatic add-on. From the restaurant manager's perspective, I did not get the impression that he thought tipping only applied to large groups. On the contrary, the implication was that tipping was customary for all diners, and it was added to large groups only because people weren't doing it.

  15. Obligations must be created by the obligee, not society. Since in fact I don't have an obligation to tip (the proof is that there is no law obligating me to tip), your perception of society is in error.It's not only right to "stiff", it's immoral to tip unless the pizza boy provides exceptional service, i.e. actually has earned from you any special consideration. Not that I'm accusing apeman of being immoral, just, well, I dunno, incautious in his morality, or giving in to fashion. That, or he has really great pizza delivery in his neighborhood.

    I have only skimmed this thread, so if I am misconstruing the debate, my apologies. However, I just have to say that my understanding of tipping is that it is customarily given unless service is poor. An exceptionally large tip can be given if service is very good. Certainly at restaurants, one should tip. To not do so is a violation of an unstated, but implied agreement between the customer, the restaurant owner and the waiter. Just because the agreement is one that arises through custom does not mean that an agreement is not there. Yes, one could choose not to tip a waiter who did a good job. That goes against custom and essentially you are taking a service you have not paid for. Yes, legally you can do it, because the agreement is one of custom, not law, but that doesn't mean it is right to do so.

    The fact that one is not legally obligated to tip is why it works as an effective method To Insure Promptness (TIP) in the provision of personal services, such as waitering. The waiter works hard to provide good service knowing that if he does not the customer may not tip him. At the same time, he can try to provide exceptional service in the hope of gaining a larger-than-typical tip. If you dine out and get waiter service, you are benefiting from this customary, albeit not legally-binding arrangement. You should pay for it.

  16. You have to evaluate the situation selfishly. If it is your child, presumably it would be worth considerable risk to attempt to save the child. If it is a stranger's child, the risk you would be willing to take would be less. If you find yourself in such a situation, you would have to evaluate it quickly given your personal context.

  17. On a related topic, has anyone seen the new television commercials for Citgo? Citgo was an American oil company that Venezuela's national oil company bought in 1990. Just as the state-owned Venezuelan oil company has become a tool of Chavez to purchase favor from the "proletariat", so has Citgo. Domestically, Chavez uses oil revenues to purchase favor from the poor masses by providing subsidized food, medical care, soccer stadiums, etc. (He directs this aid toward those who support him and denies it to those who oppose him. As the economy becomes more poor through his policies, such aid becomes a life-and-death weapon not just to curry favor from his supporters, but also to cudgel his opponents.)

    Citgo is advertising on television that it is providing below-market fuel oil to some 400,000 poor Americans in 16 states. The ads feature the "downtrodden" Americans who express thanks that they are receiving such wonderful aid from Venezuela. It is disgusting. This began in 2005 when Chavez gave low-cost fuel oil to 45,000 people in Massachusetts. A U.S. congressman, Representative Delahunt, and Joseph P. Kennedy II, CEO of Citizens Energy, which distributes the fuel oil, pandered for the deal and publicly thanked Chavez for this aid. Delahunt has been a pro-Chavez ally in Congress. Money does buy votes, and "hearts and minds."

    Given the success of the Massachussetts trial-run, it only makes sense that Citgo/Chavez expanded the program.

    More Americans should do this when offered the Venezuelan fuel oil.

  18. I agree with you, TheUnbroken. Bush is being consistent, though. As Kendall said, he is a "compassionate conservative." He accepts essentially all of Chavez's stated premises about helping the poor, except that Bush waters it down with insincere, hypocritical and half-hearted support of capitalist principles. People see through that, and it makes Bush look like a hypocrite. So, when Bush says he will give $X dollars of aid for the poor in this or that backwater country, the intellectuals correctly see it as throwing trifles at the poor.

    What is sad about the whole thing is that Bush, if he had different principles, could have overthrown Chavez with minimal effort. In fact, Chavez was overthrown several years ago. The Venezuelan democrats who overthrew him asked for a moral stamp of approval from the United States, but the United States turned its back on them, thereby easing the way for Chavez to re-assert power. In the meantime, the United States has done nothing, in words or deed, to express its outrage as Chavez nationalizes industries and tyrannizes the Venezuelan people, Cuban style.

    The Bush presidency is a case study on the need for correct moral principles. Sadly, Bush has been consistent with adherence to his principles, as consistent as a Christian conservative can be. Because Christianity is not a morality for living on this earth, the result is a dissatisfying hypocrisy that appears cynical. Whether he is cynical or not, his actions appear that way. (The little I know of Bush's advisor Karl Rove, I would say that he is a cynical, hypocritical man.)

    As for all those (not on this forum!) who contend that Christianity supplies the moral base for a capitalist America, observe the self-destructive failures of his altruistic foreign policy across the globe (and domestically), and tell me that it is so.

  19. My first reaction was that whoever wrote this is a disgruntled wannabe intellectual who spends his days working at Blockbusters and his nights resenting everyone around him who makes more money than he is making. The entire diatribe sounds like a lament that the world does not acknowledge his right to be lazy.

    As for the method, it is clearly dishonest. Just the fact of using Nazi metaphors and imagery is an appeal to emotion. On an emotional level, he connects everyone who values work to being someone who runs a concentration camp. That sort of emotional juxtaposition is not an argument.

    His essay is a series of these emotional juxtapositions. I did not detect any real argument except for a series of these plaintive appeals to emotion.

  20. Those are well-designed babies, indeed, Kendall. I say, humans should design their babies, thereby directing man-made "evolution" that will take humans to an even higher level. For example, increase the number of spindle neurons (see this thread) to make man conceptualize better, make him taller, more beautiful and more disease-resistant.

    I agree with a comment made in a prior post that human reproductive choices are acts of genetic selection. Why not make those selections in the lab dish? In the lab genetic preferences can be precisely targeted, not just generalities such as "wide hips, big eyes and a hell of a mind."

    One of my favorite shows as a child was The Six Million Dollar Man. In the opening sequence, the astronaut-hero Steve Austin suffers a plane crash, and then the doctors operate on him, implanting cutting edge bionic technology into his body. As the narrator says:

    "Steve Austin: astronaut. A man barely alive. We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better...stronger...faster."

    You see him lifting cars with his bionic arm, leaping to the tops of buildings and running faster than cars.

    Of course, I always wondered why his bionic arm never pulled out of his shoulder socket, since only his arm was bionic, not the rest of his body. ??

    But if we can genetically engineer a man "better than he was before, better, stronger, faster," I say, "Why not?"

  21. Thank you, Mimpy, for pointing out the "Conservapedia." It is a very useful summary of religious conservatives' views on various topics. I pulled up the articles on Objectivism and evolution. The articles are a good summary of the views of religious conservatives on these topics. If you need to see a summary of the religious conservative view on any issue, Conservapedia looks like a good source.

    Another benefit of it is that it keeps the religious conservatives penning away on their own forum, and away from corrupting broader forums such as Wikipedia.

    For the record, I find Wikipedia extremely valuable, the articles generally very well written, and generally unbiased. All of that surprises me given the collaborative way Wikipedia articles are produced. Where there are biases, they are usually not hard to spot and often appear as self-contained sections within the larger article. One can treat them appropriately.

    Conservapedia is a good source to learn what Christian conservatives think on things.

    Wikipedia is a good source, period.

    I would like to see some Muslims start up a Muslim wiki, so we can have a handy reference to their irrational beliefs!

  22. All this discussion aside, as an ape who has been participating on this forum for close to a year, I am insulted that the cognitive capability, rationality and entitlement to rights of my species has yet again been called into question. Over the past few years, gorillas have been successful in many capitalist ventures including day trading, adhesives and fitness centers. Some gorillas have even made contributions to the visual arts. U.S. Representative Koko and Ambassador Willie B will surely hear about this.

    Just look into the eyes of these apes and tell me that you do not see intelligence.

    My favorite apes are Dr. Zira and Cornelius who live on the Planet of the Apes.

    Isn't Dr. Zira hot? :wub:


  23. Quite interesting comments, especially from Sophia and Kendall.

    I can't add to the discussion of the science of genetic selection, but as for the morality of it, I see no problem with it. I agree with the comments that adding positive genetic features such as height, intelligence, etc., is really akin to removing negative genetic features, such as genetic predispositions to disease. Why wouldn't a parent want to have the best possible child, both for the child's sake and his own? Why shouldn't that include giving that child greater intelligence or more beautiful physical features as much as removing from him the gene for Down's syndrome or multiple sclerosis?

    As for the potential of genetic selection causing some sort of genetic risk to mankind, an imagined potential risk is not the same thing as an actual risk. Imagining potential harms is exactly the tactic of those who would regulate all human innovations so that, unless something is expressly permitted by the regulator, it is forbidden. What if that new drug has an unknown problem? What if that financial innovation destabilizes the system? What if...

    Any new idea or technology or medical procedure that is good should be tried. If it turns out that there is an unforeseen negative consequence of deploying it, deal with it at that time. The self-interest of the entrepreneur, innovator, inventor and his financial backers and customers ensures that the outcome of these innovations is beneficial the vast majority of the time. That is why, even though some businesses fail, new drugs harm, bridges collapse, etc., our standard of living keeps rising so dramatically as all these new ideas are put into action.

    The bottom line is that it is rational to presume that an innovation will be beneficial unless there is concrete, specific evidence that it will not be.

  24. A looter is not a self-sustaining individual. By definition, he must depend on the work of others. He needs their loot since he chooses not to produce his own "loot" himself (if he produces it, it no longer is "loot"; it is just "goods"). So, the looter is dependent on others in a specific way. He depends on others' weakness (if he conquers them) or stupidity/naivete/ignorance (if he defrauds them) or wrongheaded moral views (if his victim is a willing slave).

    Contrast the dependence of a looter with the independence of a producer. A producer's primary frame of reference is not on the weaknesses of his fellow men, but ultimately on theirs and his grasp of reality. If he chooses to properly and accurately identify the nature of reality, he is able to create his means of sustenance and trade with those who have done the same. His means of survival fundamentally is within his control, whereas the looter's means of survival fundamentally is not within his control. The producer, if he rationally appraises the opportunities reality provides him, creates his means of sustenance. In contrast, the looter is entirely dependent on the availability of victims. What if there are no victims, or the victims rebel, or they shrug? Then the looter has no means of survival. The loot is gone.

    As a human, which way would you rather live? Sure, some looters get away with their crimes, but a larger number do not. Think of the many dictators who face the firing squad as another dictator overthrows them, or faces an angry mob as the revolution comes his way? For a more mundane looter, think of the many criminals of various stripes who die early deaths in gang violence or who get arrested and have to endure brutalities in prison. Sure, some gang members, a very small number, "retire" from their lives of gang violence and they live to be old men. How many are there? Where are they?

    On a different level, consider the psychological state of a looter versus a producer. The looter lives in constant fear that a fellow gang member, or a member of the politburo, or a leader of an enemy country, will murder him. A thief, who loots individuals for a "living", lives in constant terror of getting caught by police, or killed by an angry victim. The producer, on the other hand, experiences the profound joy of creating values. A scientist knows this when he discovers something new in his lab. A businessman knows this when he makes a profitable deal. A carpenter knows this when his handcrafted work is executed flawlessly. A barber knows this when he skillfully cuts a head of hair.

    It is not an accident that a producer experiences happiness as his fundamental psychological state, and a looter experiences a fundamental state of terror. Yes, there are times when the producer is unhappy, and there are times when a looter experiences a stolen moment of elation. But does this change the essential and enduring nature of their psychological states?

    It is not an accident that the mental states of the producer versus the looter differ in this way because production benefits man. It improves his life; it aids his survival. As a manifestation of the integration of mind and body, is it any wonder that a producer when he is creating the values that sustain his life experiences happiness? In comparison, is it any wonder that a looter, who simply steals values from others, feels terror (the terror of getting caught)?

    Considering the physical and psychological requirements of man's survival, I have no doubt that a productive life is infinitely preferable to the life of a looter.

    As an aside, my post here briefly describes some of the psychology of a "successful" jewel thief who stole millions of dollars over the course of his life. He was one of the few thieves who "made it". Although he went to jail several times, ultimately he kept most of the loot he stole. If he is an example of looting at its "best", is this an ideal to strive for? Consider also that for every one of him, there are thousands of petty looters living miserable lives on the margins of society and in jail.

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