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Everything posted by SkyTrooper

  1. Lost in the "security vs. liberty" debate, is the alternative of abandoning the Fortress America defense in favor of bringing the fight to the enemy. If we fought a real war against radical Islam, signal intelligence would be something that could be limited in scope and targeted to support offensive operations.
  2. Obama loves the birth certificate issue because anyone who takes the bait of buying into the conspiracy immediately brands themselves as a wack job. I think it's fair really, since a 30 second Google search shows there is no credance to the whole thing. Obama held off so long releasing the certificate so that viable rivals would undermine their own campaigns. "Birthers" are not taken seriously in the public discourse and agreeing with Birther ideas only serves to discredit other, legitimate complaints about the President. If you believe in the Birther nonsense, please don't describe yourself in public as Objectivist or as liking Ayn Rand, since all you do is make it that much harder for the rest of us to get rational ideas taken seriously.
  3. Help me respond to this econ professor: His claim: There are "natural monopolies". For example, electric utilities (owners of the power lines at least) can not all run wires to your house. It is reasonable for only one utility to run the wires and therefore they hold a natural monopoly over the delivery of electricity. The production of electricity can therefore be competitive, but not the delivery. You can't have ten sets of wires strung across the city and sticking out of your house. As a consequence, the monopolist can charge as high rates as they like within the range where substitutes would become practical (ie. where you would buy your own generator). Therefore, natural monopolies must have their prices set by the state/ closely regulated. I have all Ayn Rand's fiction and non-fiction if you'd just like to point me to where this has already been addressed by her. Thanks.
  4. A good distinction to make is between love and infatuation. Love is the identification of your highest values in another. Infatuation is the (temporary) projection of your values onto another based on a few positive traits you've observed. You mention her wit, sense of life, etc., but are you sure you arn't projecting some of that based on her looks-- the "halo effect"? There are 3.4 billion women on the planet and I'm guessing this special girl is not as special as you think (unless she reads OPAR *and* models). Keeping that in mind should help you regain a proper relationship to reality. Of course, maybe she is that great (my gf is : ) ), so I'd reccomend asking her out if the context is appropriate. IF THE CONTEXT IS APPROPRIATE (she doesn't work for you, isn't a minor, you are both single, etc, etc). By all means, find out if you are right for each other. Whether it works out or not, failing to sleep with any particular woman doesn't prove the universe is hostile to your existence (malevolent). If anything, the existence of these creatures proves the benevolent universe. Remember that only the concept of failure makes the possiblity of success possible. Can you even project a world where every cupid-struck joe get's the first dream girl to cross his path?
  5. Most Negative Plato Jesus Christ The Prophet Mohammed Ibn Ghazali Timur Kant Marx Lenin Hitler FDR Most Positive Aristotle Avincina Thomas Aquinas John Locke Thomas Paine Thomas Jefferson George Washington W.T. Sherman Abraham Lincoln Ayn Rand I list Plato ahead of Jesus because Jesus didn't really innovate anything.. Christianity is just Platonism stripped of the positive Greek aspects. Christianity did take down the Roman Empire and cause untold destruction, so I list him second. Likewise with Mohammed: not an innovator, but still very bad. Ibn Ghazali deserves a special place in hell for ending the "Golden Age of Islam" which was the Aristotolian tradition rescued by Avincina. If Ghazali hadn't done that the Middle East would probably have produced the John Lockes and Thomas Jeffersons, instead of depending on the west to miraculously save itself from the Dark Ages. Thomas Aquinas deserves credit for ending the Dark Ages, and the rest should be self-explanatory.
  6. Tyco, your stance towards Iran strikes me as extremely niave. This is a nation with a charter to expand Islam through violence. To quote the Iranian consitition, the Iranian military will "be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God's way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God's law throughout the world." Discounting US/NATO intel is fine (if you want to accept the intel community blame for the "Iraq WMD debacle" hook, line, and sinker), but accepting jihadist propaganda as your substitute for intel is something entirely different. As for "supposed" involvement in other conflicts, there is nothing supposed about it. That Iranians help kill American soldiers IS A FACT. We were capturing Iranian stamped AK-47s and other weapons with 2007 manufacturing markings in January of 2007. This is a matter of public record and unless the Mahdi Army is good at stealing from Iranian arms factories it means that Iran was shipping them in by the ton. With respect to the possibility of Iran passing a nuke to one of it's terrorist proxies, my assertion is only that it is possible, and that such a possiblity is unacceptable. Plausible deniability holds water because to get attacked by the US, an enemy can't do anything short of sending it's military to the white house to shoot into oval office. Despite our reputation as cowboys, our foreign policy record is entirely the opposite: the US consistently turns the other cheek. Our leadership is also so concrete bound that connecting the dots from one terrorist group to the country that funds, trains, and arms them has proven to be outside their cognitive capacity. The non-wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have done nothing but further discourage military responses to acts of war. This makes handing over a nuke to some terrorist group for an attack on the "Paper Tiger" an entirely plausible risk for a country whose leaders worship death anyway. If, inshallah, they get away with raining thermonuclear hell on their enemy without reprisal, they win. If Allah wills that they also get destroyed in the process, then they get eternal bliss with 72 virgins, and as far as they are concerned they still win. There is no way to predict if this is definitely what will happen if they get the bomb, but how can you be at all ok with this preventable scenario?
  7. Iranian Quds force (special forces) are very active but they know just how much they can get away with. It turns out they can get away with alot.. including the recent plot to assasinate a Saudi ambassador on US soil, and pushing weapons and training to insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is some indication we even went head-to-head with them during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. The mullahs arn't stupid though, and even though they worship death, they wouldn't use nukes directly. As you note: it would mean the end of their regime. The real threat, as I said, is if they hand a nuclear weapon over to one of their many proxies. Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism. Hezbollah is essentially a huge shadow army that is armed, funded, and trained by Iran. The Mahdi Army is powerful militia and voting bloc in Iraq that takes it's orders from Iran. The Haqqani network in Afghanistan isn't Iranian controlled, but they get weapons from Iran. Iran has used it's proxies to attack both Israel and America before and has gotten away with it without much more than a slap on the wrist. If Iran got the bomb it could hand it over to the Mahdi Army to destroy whatever remains of US forces in Iraq and Kuwait. It could hand it over to the Haqqani network to destroy a major US target in Afghanistan. It could hand it over to Hezbollah to nuke Tel-Aviv. Hezbollah would probably also be the best canidate to smuggle the bomb into the US and take out a major US city, since they are the best organized and already make alot of money off the drug trade in South America. Your analogy to history fails because Iran is in a historically unique position to deliver a nuclear strike with plausible deniability (through proxies) and therefore without risk of retaliation.
  8. The fire bombing of Tokyo, leveling of Dresden, Sherman's march to the sea, Indian wars, etc. are all seen as equally bad as Hiroshima. If self-interest were seen as moral so would the first-use of nukes. If nukes wern't so taboo a good argument could be made tactically for their use in this situation, since open source info on the Anrak and Natanz facilities is that they are buried so deep that "none of our bunker busting bombs can reach them". Of course when the press reports that these facilities are untouchable they are ignoring the existence of our most powerful weapons. Realistically, I'm hoping that covert action (killing Iranian nuclear scientists, sabatoging the facilities, etc.) is able to continue to slow nuclear weapons development in Iran. I don't think this will work for very long, however.
  9. Most dangerous course of action: Iran builds the bomb, then hands it over to one of their many terrorist proxies (Hezbollah, Mahdi Army, etc). The terrorist proxy detonates the nuke in Tel-Aviv, a major US military base in the middle east, or a major US city. The US doesn't retaliate against Iran because Iran has plausible deniabiliy (it wasn't Revolutionary Guards, after all). We launch a police action against the terrorist proxy and build a lame memorial, possibly getting entangled in building sewers and bringing electricity to another underprivelaged country while we're at it.
  10. A religion may have a non-violent ethical stance, but it's epistemology is still one of faith (aka. anti-reason). Therefore, it's ethics will be undermined by it's epistemology. Even in trying to be consistent ethically, it can be shocking how quickly a non-violent ideology can become violent. For example, the ecology movement, which promotes non-violence towards "all of earths creations" has quickly developed into actual violence against humans in order to protect animal "rights" (ie. The Earth Liberation Front, the EPA). It just happens that the ethical code of Islam is the codification of the life of a tribal thug/criminal (Mohammed), and it's epistemological method is faith, which makes for a particularily nasty combination.
  11. ... also (and I'm sure this point has already been made) Islam is known by everyone to be based on faith. Faith and Force were proven by Ayn Rand to be inseperable corallary's. Bin Laden is only the most recent manifistation of this. Once the fact that faith leads to violence is accepted, no specific knowledge of Islam is needed for me to state that UBL is a consistent Muslim for slaughtering thousands of innocents.
  12. I've read the Quran, taken classes on Middle East Studies, read a compilation including every statement made by Osama bin Laden, and lived for over a year in Iraq. Your appeal to authority is specious. The oft quoted "sword verse" is just what came to mind. Here are some more examples of the Quran inciting violence: Cruetly in the Quran, Intolerance in the Quran. Also, if you can judge a religion by the actions of it's followers: List of pre-2001 Islamist Attacks. Not that other religions are neccesarily better, but at least Christianity has been emasculated by a Reformation and the Enlightenment.
  13. I don't care if they would be livid about it. I have worked with and am friends with many "moderate" Muslims, and I am glad they are inconsisent, but if they were following the Quran's guidance to "fight and slay the pagan's wherever you find them" we would not be friends. My definition of a Muslim is someone who "submits" to Allah through their adherance to the Quran and Hadith, but there are certainly people who call themselves Muslims but only follow their religion to a lesser degree. I was exagerating a bit when I said UBL is the most consistent Muslim ever. Timur, who converted hundreds of thousands to Islam by the sword during campaigns that spread rape, slaughter, and atrocities throughout the known world during the 14th century was more consistent. I remember reading that he conquered whole cities and then built walls out of the victims, living and dead.
  14. I was confused on this point too, but after reading Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden I came to the conclusion that bin Laden was absolutely acting in accord with Islam. He knew more about Islam than any Imam, cited references in the Quran and the hadiths for every violent action he took, and given the premise he was operating on (that Mohammed was a super-natural figure and that the Quran, etc, accurately tell how one should live) his reasoning was consistent. "Moderate" clerics ignore the violent parts of the Quran, and often cite common-sense type guidance than sourcing from their holy books. Also remember that, unlike Christianity, there is a means of deconflicting contradictory passages in Islam: that which is written later is authoritative. The later verses are the more intolerant and violent. Osama bin Laden might very well be the most consistent muslim that ever lived.
  15. Thanks for the responses. I am definitely leaning towards LASIK due to the quick and painless recovery that everyone has mentioned. That is basically my reasoning as well. After getting LASIK, I won't be allowed to the Halo free-fall school (along with a few other schools) because the military is still studying the effect of the surgery under these conditions. Some of the Army's restictions on schools will probably be loosened as LASIK is studied better. The doctors have told me that I shouldn't SCUBA within 3 months following it but am good to go after that. PRK doesn't risk any complications under pressure, and the Army doesn't restrict what you can do after the surgery, because the cornea is not cut. I am an Infantry Officer in the Army, about to be assigned to an Air Assault unit (helicopter-borne infantry). The Army allows it, but if done through the service there is a bunch of paperwork and a 6 month waitlist. Also, I don't want Army Doctors to touch my eyes.
  16. Has anyone gotten LASIK or PRK surgery? I've had it as a backburner project for a while but recently had time to get a few consulations, and I think I'm more confused now than when I started. I am only slightly nearsighted (20/40 in both eyes) and for daily activities I don't even wear contacts. However, I'm in the military and think having 20/20 or better vision would give me an edge or even be decisive in certain situations. With glasses, for example, I can shoot "expert" (maximum score) with a rifle on the shooting range, but can barely qualify without them.. and I often won't have my glasses available in a combat zone. I went to Dr. A, a large corporate LASIK specialist, was given a battery of tests, and told I was a good canidate. They even offered to schedule me for surgery the next day if I wanted. The technology is impressive. It takes about 10 minutes: a laser cuts a small flap in my eye which is then lifted so that another laser can reshape the cornea. I was told that they could probably get me to much better than 20/20 using their custom-wavefront technology, which basically takes a digital 3D scan of my eyeballs. Gains are realized imediately following the surgery and recovery takes about 3 hours. I was excited and ready to sign up. Then I went to Dr. B, an Opthamologist who has good credentaials for refractive surgery, but also runs a general practice. He also ran a battery of tests. He said I was a good canidate but that I should get PRK instead, because he wants to protect the "long-term health of my corneas". I was told that I would be down for about 3 days while my eyes healed. Basically the top layer of my eye is burned off so that the cornea underneath can be reshaped, and then the entire eye heals over the course of several months. I also went to a friend's Opthamologist, who it turns out works with Dr. B to perform PRK, and after more scans and tests basically endorsed his reccomendation. Once again, I was convinced and about ready to go with Dr. B. Now I've been reading a bunch of information online, and am finding out PRK healing takes much longer than 3 days. It's more like 7 days where I would barely be able to see at all followed by 6 weeks until I could read again, then months until 20/20 or better gains are realized. It also apparently hurts, alot. So I have to conclude that Dr. B wasn't honest with me about how aweful this procedure is. I also found a few websites devoted to attacking LASIK. The websites claim that my eyes would never fully heal, that it increases risks for certain long-term problems, etc. Of course nowhere can I find actual statistics showing how common any of these problems are. Dr. A didn't explain all of these risks and, for the ones that he did explain, he said they occured in less than 1% of patients. So has anyone been down this road before and reseached LASIK vs. PRK vs. nothing? I think that the attacks on LASIK may just be due to the fact that it is a *gasp* "for-profit medical practice". However, I don't know how to find out what the real risks are.
  17. Quick question: I've heard it said in Objectivist circles (and I think also written by Ayn Rand herself) that FDR outlawed the holding of gold. Now I know he eliminated the gold standard, but I don't know of any laws that make it illegal to own gold. In fact, I own quite a bit of gold myself. What are people refering to when they say that FDR made the holding of gold illegal?
  18. So I'm five months into dating a girl who I've known for about six years. We are very close at this point and I think I'm in love with her (we've told each other as much). My main concern is politics. I knew getting into it she was an ardent democrat but hoping it was not that big a deal for her we made a kind of "truce". Basically we agreed only to talk about politics under very restricted conditions (ie., the bedroom). Things are slowly coming to a head, however, and she doesn't seem capable of not breaking the truce since she tends to slip in political opinions off-hand in conversations. Some particularly disturbing things I've found out is that she worked on Dick Durbin's campaign, and appeared in a commercial for Alexi Giannoulias. Although she has a normal blue-collar job unrelated to politics, this puts her beyond the normal "rank and file". Anyway, I guess my question is was it a mistake to attempt to compartmentalize politics in this way? Also, has anyone had experience working through political differences this drastic? .. and a philosophical question: given the relation between ethics and politics, assuming that ethically her and I would have to be at least somewhat similiar in order to fall for each other in the first place, doesn't this mean that either her political views or my political views have to be inconsistent with our ethics?
  19. The 8/28 “Restoring Honor Rally” was held yesterday, and most estimates place attendance above 80,000. I have some serious concerns about this rally as well as the direction the “tea parties” are headed. Despite being in DC today, I didn’t attend the rally for the following reasons: 1) The purpose of the rally was vague. “Restoring Honor”: honor is a quasi-virtue usually taken to mean acting in such a way to gain respect. Depending on the society you are in this could be a virtue (eg., in 18th century America) or a vice (eg., in Nazi Germany). So I couldn’t really gather the purpose of the event from the name alone. It was also stated that this was a non-political event to honor America’s Heroes. This struck me as a pretext. It is true that some emphasis was placed on respect towards soldiers, but there was clearly more going on with the rally. This was not just another memorial day and everyone in attendance knew that the crowd was the tea party. 2) Glenn Becks stated motivations were religious. He printed T-shirts for the event with the founding fathers above the words “Faith, Hope, and Charity” (one t-shirt for each value), he stated on his show that his “12 values” would be promoted at the event: Honesty, Reverence , Hope , Thrift, Humility, Charity, Sincerity, Moderation, Hard Work, Courage, Personal Responsibility, and Friendship. Also there was some additional rhetoric about the solution to America’s problems being a return to belief in God. 3) Beck said not to bring signs to the event. I saw sinister motivations here: in previous rallies there are so many signs that despite any commentary, it has been impossible for any news viewers to honestly conclude that Tea Parties are about anything other than Freedom. Any honest viewer would have to conclude, regardless of what the speakers said, that the citizens at the rally were there to promote the cause of limited government. Without signs, it would be easy to describe everyone at the rally as being motivated by only what the speaker was communicating. In this case: “The focus of the rally was more explicitly religious than political, with many speakers openly professing their Christian faith, including Beck. At points, it felt like a mixture of old-fashioned tent revival and a special episode of Beck’s show. “ This leads me to conclude that Glenn Beck is attempting to hijack the tea parties in order to promote his own religious agenda. Although I enjoyed talking with the Tea Partiers around DC afterwards, I didn’t want to support Beck by letting him put words into my mouth (which is what would have happened if I was in the crowd at the National Mall with cameras rolling and Beck talking). I’m curious if my assessment is off-base here. What is he really trying to get away with (conciously or subcounciously).. and will it succeed?
  20. I disagree. Being a virgin in your 20's is something worth being legitimately concerned about. Seeking sex-in-itself as a goal is mistaken but this is certainly a cause for introspection. I can see reasons why a rational man may find himself a virgin in his 20's (eg. enviornmental: spending one's school years in boarding school). However, I think that under normal circumstances that if there is otherwise nothing else wrong with your ethical framework (you don't view sex as evil) and you maintain honest and healthy relationships with the other sex then by around the age of 19 pretty much everyone should have been able to find a girl/guy worth sleeping with and the opportunity to do so. There is nothing uncommon about being a virgin in your 20's, I'm sure, but under normal circumstances it does indicate that you are doing something wrong. The list could run to exhaustion: afraid to take risks, shy about feelings, dishonest with oneself/others, rationalist, bad breath, bad shoes, irrational expectations of others, etc. In retrospect the times in my life where I have been desperate to find a girlfriend have been my periods of greatest personal growth simply because I made a commitment to fix everything about myself that I could. The effort has always been 100% worth it in the end.
  21. I'm using the popular usage. From urbandictionary: Clutch, N. Exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. "The other day I was really hungry but thought I had no money on me. Then I found five dollars in my jacket pocket--that was clutch." I always adjust my diction for my audience (in this case, a 20 y.o. college kid trying to get laid). It is part of the art of rhetoric.
  22. Surely there is a girl or two you are physically attracted to? Be yourself and be confident in your own value. Tell her you are into her and see where it goes. If you don't have the courage to tell her you can always just invite her over for a movie (in college, the "movie date" is extremely clutch). Initially you will fail, probably a lot. It sucks but most things worth doing arn't easy. Also I'm not going to say this isn't a big deal because sex is probably one of the greatest pleasures on earth. The Ayn Rand Bookstore has an excellent lecture series titled "The Rational Basis of Romance" and a few others that may help. I could reccomend a dozen other movies, books, etc but bottom line is you need to get out there and get some experience failing before you will succeed.
  23. I thought it was pretty good. The most positive development was the re-writing of Robin Hood from a criminal who "robs from the rich and gives to the poor" to the man trying to get King John to sign a Magna Carta. The 20 minutes of film devoted to this theme was the only part I found moving.
  24. Nick, Are you suggesting that these people have training from Mystery et. al? If so, this would certainly be a new level of depravity for "the community".
  25. High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way was Mentzer's last work before his death, and represents his latest thinking. It is a very solid book and I highly reccomend it. I'm personally trying to figure out the cardio piece now. My run time had gotten pretty terrible without performing much cardio so I decided to take October off from lifting and instead limit my workouts to one intense running day (min time two mile run) every three days. I'd rather have the body of a tri-athelete than a body builder so its just a matter of applying Mentzer's (valid) theories towards that end.
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