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Robert J. Kolker

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Everything posted by Robert J. Kolker

  1. What I said was I no longer think so, because our government is incompetent to do the job right. We should not undertake something so serious without having the chops and the wits to do so. You will note that the date of that quote was 2007. It is going on three years later now. I have rethought the matter some. I will be perfectly honest. I have no principled objection to wiping our enemies out, man, woman and child. For example, I consider Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945 Good Days for the U.S. But there are practical considerations and consequences, so regardless of how I (or anyone else) feels about the matter, we should not do something that will produce ill results for us. If I had a button to push that would have eliminated the entire Middle East on 9/12/2001, I would have pushed it without hesitation. I would not have lost a wink of sleep. But time has past and one must reconsider things in the light of facts. I have re-thought the matter some. I still feel as angry as ever, but I have some fears of the consequences. I am afraid America does not have the heart, liver and spleen for thorough mass killing. Too many of our people worry about collateral damage. Too many of our people want to be loved. That is unfortunate for us. Now if you wish to flog me for being honest, by all means do. Bob Kolker
  2. What if there is a more pressing need of your time and attention than saving the life of the stranger? What if you were on your way to catch a train to go to a job interview that could be very important to your well being. If you save the stranger, you miss the train, you miss the interview and probably miss the chance of getting that job. Which is more important? The life of the stranger or the job interview (in this hypothetical scenario)? All choices and judgments have a cost. One must weigh the cost versus the benefit. So in deciding whether to try to save the stranger, I would first ask: what do I get if I save the stranger and what do I lose if I don't save the stranger. I run a cost/benefit analysis as quickly as I can. Or at least I should run a cost/benefit analysis. Bob Kolker
  3. I wrote it. I have reluctantly concluded that our government is incapable of doing it right, so we should not try it. If we went the way of the Big G then we have to go all the way. No holding back and god damn the collateral damage to our friends (that means destroying Israel, if we do Genocide on the Middle East). I don't think we have the government for it. I don't think the psychology of the American people is right for it. As a people, Americans are fat dumb happy and un-wise. Only rarely do we collectively get our heads screwed on right and do the job. That last time that happened was in WW2. It is unfortunate, but true. We are incapable of taking the only logical step. Bob Kolker
  4. I am not contrary to Objectivism in the entirety. I differ on one point concerning whether purely optional choices are a matter of moral import. Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not. I fully sympathize with the economic and political thrust of big Oh Objectivism. I am pro-Capitalism down to my toenails. I stopped working for governments back in 1968; that is 42 years ago. How long have you been it? I also detest altruism in all its forms. I consider it a disease as much as a philosophical error. I have seen more of the New Deal and Fair Deal than most of you folks here who were not even born until after FDR died. I have made a sincere and studied effort to become as hard headed and hard-hearted as I can possibly be. I stopped shedding tears for the suffering of stupid mankind decades ago. I have done a good job of purging myself of compassion and pity. I have worked on this for over forty years so I am harder than most of you here. I do not live for the sake of others nor do I expect or require that they live for mine. I reached that conclusion without a bit of help from Ayn Rand. I came across Ayn Rand when I was nearly 25 years old, so I did not have a teen-age infatuation with Rand. I found Atlas Shrugged to be an interesting alternate time-line novel and rather plausible. I note with a kind of amusement that some of the worst of Rand's predictions are now coming true. What was it that Francisco said? Brother you asked for it. Yup. They asked for it, now they are getting it. So, while I am not a member of the Club, neither am I an enemy of the Club. Bob Kolker
  5. Bastiat is the greatest thing to come from France since Louis Pasteur. Bob Kolker
  6. As usual Dr. Hsieh is on the money. We can stop these bastards cold this time or we can finish our terminal decline into Democratic Socialism, the bane of Europe and the disease of Canada. But beware! Even if we do stop them on this occasion they will be back again and again and again. As long as a significant portion of the voting public thinks having Programs and Plans for the People is a Good Idea, this kind of assault on our well being will be chronic. What we need is a mentally tough electorate who do not give a good God damn about the welfare of the miserable and incompetent. We need an America with a working head and a heart as hard as granite. Don't expect to get it any time soon. Bob Kolker
  7. The U.S. has a virtual exclusive on 20 megaton thermonuclear bombs. Our enemies will be smuggling in pieces of small tac-nukes and assembling them here. Then they will bring them into the target cities on 18 wheelers. And who needs full bore nukes? One can easily assemble dirty radioactive material bombs made from the waste of nuclear generating states and hospital fissile material. It is easy to steal. Put a glob of that stuff in an explosive container and it could render parts of Manhattan or Washington D.C. uninhabitable for years. Or who needs radioactive material at all. Load up 18 wheelers with high explosives. Have Abdul, Faisal, Ibrihim and Yussef drive the truck into the Lincoln Tunnel or over the George Washington Bridge at rush hour. Allah'hu'akbar - Boom and New York city is paralyzed for weeks. Or dump botulin toxin in the New York City reservoirs. This stuff is easily obtainable over the internet. Or how about dynamiting high voltage electric lines. They cannot be guarded. The low tech attacks can be as effective as high tech attacks. This country is so damned vulnerable. I am surprised no one has tried it yet. Bob Kolker
  8. I watched about five minutes of the first episode and I came to the conclusion that his was trashola. And not very good trashola, either. The HBO evening soap opera -Rome- was much better into terms of execution and production quality. It seems like the producers of -Spartacus- wanted to do a cheap imitation of -300- complete with spraying blood and stop action. -300- was a hoot, but -Spartacus- is (IMHO) a waste of cable-cast time. Bob Kolker
  9. O.K. When is one obliged to help (in the sense of duty) outside of a contract? When is it immoral not to help? I simply do not see such an instance. If one has no contractual obligation to help, then one can simply choose not to help. On the other hand if there is a substantial interest or consequential benefit in helping out, then it makes good sense to pursue one's interest or benefit. But even when it makes good sense to try to get a benefit, it is not immoral to not get the benefit, provided no harm comes of not pursuing the benefit. In general, there is no substantial interest in helping strangers who have no connection to one's life or situation. Saving the world is, by and large, a futile effort. Bob Kolker
  10. Both New York City and Washington will be either nuked or attacked with dirty bombs eventually. It is just a matter of time. No matter what we do or do not, it will happen. Using "conventional" bombs like the MOAB can cause extensive collateral damages. Using very localized bombs (like JDAM) assumes that the location of the bad guys is known precisely. This is not a justified assumption. The bad guys like random movement so their locations cannot be readily predicted. The surest way of getting the bad guys is to know their location within five square miles and do area bombing. This has one advantage: it kills enough collaterals to thin the ranks of future bad guys. It also has a disadvantage: it gets enough survivors angry enough to join the ranks of the bad guys. It cuts both ways. You can count on the bad guys surrounding themselves with women and children. The death of women and children has propaganda value. Since there is no way to avoid collateral damage one should simply disregard it as an operational factor. We have no vested interested in the health of overseas Muslims (bad ones and not so bad ones). If they all dropped dead tomorrow we would be all the better for it. If we go by our past experience, wiping out entire cities is a very effective way of putting an end to wars. We did it to the Japanese. Within two weeks these fanatics and kamikazes tossed in the towel. Bob Kolker
  11. Is the work of M.C. Escher art? And if it is art, is it objective or non-objective. Bob Kolker
  12. Not necessarily. Suppose one's hobby is also his business? Bob Kolker
  13. That is true, but it does not oblige a person to assist anyone either. If there is no obligation to assist then assisting is purely a matter of preference or choice. Like choosing which flavor of ice cream to have tonight. Except where a contractual obligation to assist is in place, assisting another person is purely optional. Neither choice is immoral or unethical. Where there is a contract in place to render assistance under specified conditions, failure to do so, is a breach of contract which is unethical. Bob Kolker
  14. One needs a scanner to see the contents of the stomach or small intestine. If Abdul swallows a bomb, how is it to be found? Bob Kolker
  15. Jefferson was objecting to raw, unprocessed, majority rule Democracy. That sort of rule is mob rule. The business of the state and a general plan is a doctrine that protects rights from abrogation by the passions of a temporary majority in the Body Politic. Our Constitution is an example of what Jefferson was referring to. Bob Kolker
  16. 1. There is no such thing as a zero cost action. Every action has a cost in energy and time spent. There is also the matter of opportunity cost which is highly contextual. Time spent in one action, deprives one of the time and opportunity to do another action, at that time. This could be (in a context) a significant cost. 2. How do you reconcile you position with the Striker's Oath in -Atlas Shrugged-? Here is my position: If one has a specific contract to perform services of assistance (or rescue) and has taken a valuable consideration for making the contract, one is contractually obliged to help. For example; a life guard, a policeman, a fireman, a soldier. Being in this positions or occupations and being paid for it creates a moral and a legal obligation to render certain types of assistance, depending on the terms of the contract. Bob Kolker
  17. Right has two meanings (at least). One means morally or ethically correct. The other refers to a liberty of action required to be a human being. Such as the right of self defense (for example) or the right to think or believe as one chooses to. We all have the natural right to defend ourselves against harm from others. That is a freedom of action that derives from our nature, not a permission granted by law or custom. We also have a natural right to either kill ourselves outright or to stop maintaining our lives and health. For example, we have the natural right to starve ourselves to death (for example). Normal folk generally do not exercise that right when living is a greater value to them than dying. But the right exists whether it is exercised or not. Just a note here: any right has to be something that it is within our power to do. For example we do not have the right to go to Mars without any kind of physical transport. Why? Because going to Mars without the physical means of transport is not possible for us. We have not the power or ability to do it. So rights have to be liberties of possible actions. The right to x implies x is possible. But the converse is not true. Bob Kolker
  18. Where I come from, that is called good manners. I started learning them as soon as I could talk. Among my earliest words --- thank you and please. Good manners is not a matter of law. One is either brought up with good manners or one is not. We learn a zillion "rules", conventions and customs which enable us to interact with others. Somewhere along the line we pick up (or we ought to pick up) some respect for the feelings of others, so we learn not to insult them gratuitously. It is all part of growing up. Bob Kolker
  19. It is not a matter of law. I have a natural right to preserve my life and I also have a natural right to commit suicide if I so wish. Law has little or nothing to do with the question. Bob Kolker
  20. If the U.N. as an organization is the perpetrator of evil doings, then the U.S. should not be a member of it, contribute to it or enable it any any way. If the U.S. joined in good faith and it was later revealed that the U.N. is up to no good, then the only reasonable course of action is for the U.S. to resign from the U.N. and stop supporting it financially and by word/deed. Bob Kolker
  21. I think I understand where you are coming from. Now please consider this: 1. Each person is the owner of his life and his well being. 2. Since he is the owner, he has the right to destroy his life on diminish his well being. 3. The exercise of a right cannot be immoral. 4. Therefore if a person injures himself by choice, he has not committed an immoral act. Also, please consider this: 1. A person injures himself through an error (say slipping on an unseen patch of ice). 2. Such an error has the same import as an error in arithmetic (for example). 3. An arithmetical error has no moral import qua error, although it may have consequences. There was no intent to make the error (by assumption). When Franscisco slipped while hurling clay at a furnace, did he do anything immoral? (reference to a scene in -Atlas Shrugged-). When a person injures himself he does so either intentionally or by error. We have established that intentional self injury is an exercise of a right therefore cannot be immoral. We have established that an unintentional error, as such, is not immoral. What might be immoral is the refusal to admit an error is an error (i.e. evasion of fact), but the error, per se, is not immoral. Refusal to remedy the consequences of an unintentional error could be immoral. That would be the evasion of responsibility. I think we can both agree that a person bears the responsibility for the consequences of his actions. be they deliberate or inadvertent. So I have concluded that deliberate self injury, as such, is not immoral, since it is an exercise of a right. And injury to one's self through error and inadvertence is not immoral. Foregoing a pleasure (with intent) is at most a deliberate injury or inconvenience. Since one has the right to injure himself or inconvenience himself, doing so is not immoral. Q.E.D. Please criticize the argument for logic and if you would be so kind, point out any error in it. Bob Kolker
  22. Please have a look at this article on technology that could produce smaller, cheaper particle accelerators. Perhaps LHC is a dinosaur. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/04/tinyaccelerator/ Bob Kolker
  23. A very interesting point you make. Is moral ambition a requirement? Bob Kolker
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