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Everything posted by themadkat

  1. Off-topic, I'm sorry to hear about the wife situation, Maximus. But in response to the OP, of course jealously is a proper response. Values are things which you act to gain or keep. If you think you are about to lose something of high value you should react strongly. The question is what you do with that jealously or whether it's constructive. If you see your lover's eye wandering, for instance, an appropriate response would be "I need to make sure I am at my best to retain his affections and maybe need to make sure he values what I think he does." "I'm going to make him sleep on the couch and smack her upside the head," while possibly more satisfying in the short run, doesn't get you anywhere and is childish at best.
  2. I agree with you. A friend forwarded me this article, I read it, and this was my reply to her: "I don't know about this one. It makes sense from an Oist standpoint or to someone well-versed in Oist ethics at least, but it's not going to have an impact with the population at large, as you can see from the comments. It's like starting in the middle. He never justifies why morality is a personal code of conduct and decision making (though it is) and does not explain why subjectivism and hedonism are incompatible with such a code. I guess there wasn't space but I feel like articles like this hurt more than they help." Sometimes I feel like Yaron Brook is to Objectivism as Richard Dawkins is to evolutionary biology. I hope I'm wrong about that.
  3. This thread is depressing me...apparently I'm shredding my vocal chords with every karaoke performance of "Crazy on You" and "Bring Me to Life"...gah.
  4. I had to laugh at this a little. I suggested something similar to this in chat once, evolutionary hypotheses about human behavior, and was called a determinist and all other manner of nasty things. That aside, from what I know of conflict in the social species, including ours, this is the scenario. Social living imposes a cost on the organisms that engage in it, so if it's maintained over time there has to be some benefit(s) that exceed the cost. Defense against predators, warmth, ease of finding a mate, etc. are some of these possible benefits. But the thing is, once a species becomes social, the possibility of receiving aggression from herdmates goes up dramatically. In more cognitively complex species, such as primates, this leads to a rather impressively complicated social milieu of alliances, coalitions, and nasty group conflicts (for example, the matriline structure found in rhesus macaques). To extend this metaphor to humans, we are an obligately social species, but not because of our total inability to cope with natural hazards on our own. Consider that a man can survive out in nature alone if he knows what he's doing and is relatively able-bodied. One can cope with the vagaries of the external world by oneself, if perhaps not very well. What one can't prevent, at least without extreme stealth and the paleolithic equivalent of a castle made out of booby traps, is being ganged up on and killed in one's sleep by a group of other people. In other words, the evolutionary and historical evidence seems to point to collectives primarily arising and being maintained as a defense against other collectives. The ingroup-outgroup dynamic arises because it doesn't matter how you feel towards the outgroup, they are likely to kill you if they can, so your only defense is to have a group yourself that's big enough to handle them. It sucks if your tribemates oppress you, but you need them, because otherwise a different collective will kill you or make you their bitch (I'm not being sarcastic, in the case of females that is often what happens). Rand was perhaps perceptive beyond her time, and certainly beyond the contemporary state of the social sciences, when she said that civilization was mostly the freedom from your neighbors, the freedom to have a private life. Only with an impersonal, institutional state can one finally escape the necessity to band together with one's neighbors to avoid being supplanted by a more well-organized group. Observe the situation today in places without governments. People have to band together by things like common ethnicity, language, customs, etc. just to avoid a bigger, badder gang subjugating them. Also observe the state of international politics. If you look at each sovereign nation as a "person", then world politics seems to approximate a Hobbesian "state of nature". If one wants to do right, one has to have might enough to stand up for it. It wasn't right for Nazi Germany to annex Poland, but what could Poland do about it? Not much. So coalitions form around the strongest states and spheres of influence develop. For all their attendant irrationality, humans are actually darn good at making the correct decisions given their context or immediately past contexts, even if they don't do so consciously or by the proper epistemological methods. It seems "tribal" man can cope with reality in spite of himself. He can just never do it as well as people committed to rationality.
  5. In that instance, perhaps (although intelligence is not the only measure of "complexity"). The point is that for a given organism they may evolve to be more or less intelligent depending on the environment. Also, on balance, it's not correct to say that life as a whole is getting more complex. There are more highly complex lifeforms now than there were 2 billion years ago but that's because there is a "left wall" to the distribution, so to speak. The dominant lifeforms on the planet are still unicellular.
  6. Sounds about right. The appropriate response to scummy record companies is just not to buy from them. It might still be difficult to distinguish whether an artist has retained control over their tracks (thus having the right to say "yes go ahead please download these old demos, etc."
  7. Speaking as an evolutionary biologist who will shortly be teaching evolution to university students, I will say that in my opinion evolution is taught poorly and inadequately, especially at the high school level and before. A lot of people in my class will disbelieve evolution without even ever having known what it IS. The worst part is, a lot of people who DO accept evolution don't understand it either. For example, a lot of people still think evolution involves progress or increasing complexity (it doesn't), or that evolution can somehow be forward-looking (all evolution is backward-looking).
  8. I find the record industry as a whole slimy and loathsome, and I hate to see control of work out of the hands of its original creators. It's true that a lot of times, new bands are not in a position to negotiate for, say, retaining copyright and such over their music, because you're right, they are kind of over a barrel. I like the fact that music seems to be going in the direction of self-promotion, largely because of the internet. New artists can take their music directly to the fans and don't have to rely on corporate marketing to find a broader audience. Recently, a new band called We Are The Fallen did this, releasing a little bit of their music online at a time and letting people download it. They did get signed and put out a full album shortly thereafter, and they probably generated more buzz about themselves because they were able to self-promote first (although they also had an advantage because they have some former Evanescence band members and now there's the whole Evanescence/We Are The Fallen feud to generate additional press). I'm not necessarily saying We Are The Fallen is any good...I'm still trying to figure out if I like their music or not. But I think their example is a good one of how musicians can get their own ball rolling and cut the record companies out in the early stages so that when they DO get a deal, they have a proven following and are in a stronger position to negotiate. I'm not sure that what record execs do is necessarily illegal (not since the 60s anyhow when they were definitely defrauding artists of their work), but in general I just think record label execs are abusive to real artists and push moronic crap on the public. If I hear one more song with "Random Hood Rat" featuring "Random Bling Ho" and the guy's singing with an autotuner it'll make ME wanna "pop a cap in dat azz".
  9. Here's an interesting wrinkle I wonder about. Some artists actually encourage you to download older versions of their work or tracks that were never actually released on an album (Evanescence, I believe, has said as much regarding their pre-Fallen work). However, artists, especially major artists, frequently sign contracts with record labels such that their work is no longer wholly theirs. If an artist says publicly (for example in an interview, or on a blog) that you ought to download older/unreleased work, can you be certain that they really have the ability to authorize that and that the record company won't show up and say something along the lines of, "Hey, that's OUR work now, bitch?" I think it's a little twisted when the original artists no longer have the right of disposal of their work, but I think that's what most record deals are like these days.
  10. Yes, they are in boot camp. However I was under the impression that having all of their privileges removed for the entire weekend (no PX, no electronic devices, etc.) was unusual and could therefore be considered punishment, especially considering that it was likely those who attended the concert maintained their regular privileges as far as I can tell. I think the degree to which religious crap is being forced on our soldiers is extremely location and commander dependent. It was well-known that religious nutters were in firm control of the Air Force Academy for a long time. I have no idea if that is still the case. What I find really appalling is that the guy in charge of all this concert crap was the general himself. EVEN IF you think the soldiers are lying, being crybabies, etc (which I don't), the fact that this concert even OCCURRED, and especially because it was sponsored and promoted through the commanding branch rather than the chaplain branch, is enough to get me foaming.
  11. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/us-soldiers-punished-for-_b_687051.html This is such bullshit. Generally speaking I am pro-military and I am glad we have such a special volunteer force to defend us but it sickens me the number of religious fundies we have hiding in the higher ranks who are more than happy to turn our actions in the Middle East into the next Crusade.
  12. Tell your girlfriend it could be worse. She could be an ecologist, like me. Seriously, I feel that any productive career can be moral and Rand would probably agree. It really comes down to your motivations for doing what you do. If you have a genuine love for your work, and do it because it contributes to your own life, I don't see how the choice of career itself is damning so long as you exchange value for value.
  13. Why David, you wound me. I haven't even published yet! At least wait until I've got some articles out before we see what the reductio ad absurdum of my framework is! Kat
  14. One thing that I think might have been mentioned above, by one poster or other (my apologies for not looking up the quote), is that if nothing else the OP cheated himself and sacrificed his precious time, not the state. If I was sentenced to 100 hours of community service (which I agree with DO and others is a rather reasonable, light sentence), I would at least have the self-respect to choose something I would enjoy/care about, like working at the animal shelter or telling stories to old people or helping coach a kids' ball team, things like that. In my opinion, even IF we grant the OP every premise of his (that his sentence was unjust and that he owed nothing to his volunteer supervisor), his actions in this tale say nothing good about his character. It wasn't cute and it wasn't funny, it was just a childish and stupid waste of your OWN time not to follow through on your commitment. You also do come off as a bit of a whiner. I'm not going to wag my finger at you and say "bad, bad boy" but honestly perhaps you should consider just growing up a bit.
  15. Legal? Absolutely. Morally acceptable? Perhaps not. My question to you is this...why on earth wouldn't the old lady just get a cheaper plumber? If she's mentally incompetent then no agreements she would make would stand anyhow and she'd be under guardianship. Presumably her guardian would find a cheaper plumber.
  16. And if you read my post I'm trying to demonstrate your equivocation on the concept of "nature". You wanted to argue the biological route so I'm showing you where that leads. All of the behaviors I described are capable of increasing a person's fitness by increasing their numbers of surviving offspring and suppressing their competitors in said enterprise. From the standpoint of "nature", that is all that matters. If I leave more descendents than you, in evolutionary terms I "win". Now, that has absolutely no bearing on whether I will live a happy, fulfilling, purposeful life. That is an entirely separate concern and that is why we have philosophy. By the way, the biological functions are not separable from their behavioral uses, which is something I believe you agree with but are trying to have it both ways at the same time by saying that the construction of our bits implies certain behaviors to be proper but then other behaviors that you find distasteful but are equally "natural" are not proper. I hate to pile on but there are several other posters' questions here you haven't answered. Please stop flinging jargon like "Kantian malevolent universe premise" and such and actually address the arguments being made and you will get more respect. By the way for other folks who are wondering why he continually quotes the Firehammer book to support his side, I am not certain but if I had to guess it is because Firehammer attacks Chris Matthew Sciabarra's scholarship of Rand and Sciabarra is either gay or holds Oism as being sympathetic to being gay or something. I believe Sciabarra is also a libertarian but please take that with a grain of salt as I haven't read him much.
  17. A lot of things which are "natural" to humans, such as rape, killing of the "other", and looting for nepotism, are quite immoral, yet they are omnipresent in our history and to a large extent occur because of selective pressures. Do you really want to argue that all of those things are OK, nay mandatory, because they are "natural"? You are losing the distinction between the most basic features that unite all members of the class "human" (hence, human nature in the strictest sense) and those things which "come naturally" to humans which are not at all exclusively moral. This is the same reason why the argument from moral intuition fails. Yes, we have moral intuitions, and they were probably shaped by natural selection, but that doesn't make them RIGHT. Only a critical, reasoning mind can determine right.
  18. Good luck dude. Other gay male friends of mine have reported similar concerns. I'm sure you can find someone out there who's not a player or a head case.
  19. Not Another Objectivist Sex Thread! Cripes, we just can't ever seem to put this topic to bed (pun completely intended). While I don't agree with JASKN, I do respect that he is doing more than just quoting Rand and saying that stands alone. Other guys here, I may agree with you but we've all read Rand here and I think it's best to use your own thoughts and words when possible, or at least formulate the ideas your own way. I'm gonna take a crack at it. I really think the two sides are talking past each other here. What I'm going to do, to ease this confusion, is start by saying explicitly what position I am defending. I believe in being selective about a sex partner, but not just selective for its own sake. The goal is not to acontextually reduce the lifetime number of sex partners to some magic number asymptotically approaching 1. But I do think that sex should be reserved for either a) a love relationship (that may or may not become a lifetime partnership), or a relationship that you are seriously open to the possibility of it being a love relationship and would like to take it in that direction (this is particularly for young folks finding their way in the world of sex and romance). You should care deeply for the other person and value who they are (which involves you KNOWING who they are!!!), not just on a purely physical or erotic level either. I do NOT believe that it is somehow specially virtuous to have only one sexual partner over a lifetime (which is interesting because that is precisely my situation, one serious, long-term romantic relationship which is pretty much a marriage at this point). For most people, that is just not realistic. I do not think that it is appropriate to paralyze yourself into never having sex because this person may not be "the one". Sometimes in order to KNOW that you need to "take the plunge" (again, pun intended). But having a short-term relationship because you had strong feelings but realized it wouldn't work out and parted before serious problems arise is WORLDS apart from having a short-term relationship/casual fling knowing that is only what it will ever be from the start. Similarly, there is nothing intrinsically wrong (because it is intrincisism that is most harmful to the "selectivity is good" position) with sleeping with somebody one time, but it all comes down to CONTEXT. Say you are overseas and have fallen desperately in love with someone and are just about to go home, and you know due to practical matters you will never see this person again but you love them with all your heart. I do not see anything wrong with sleeping with them as an affirmation of that love and then leaving, because you "mean it", so to speak. We all (hopefully) agree that sex is good here, and that it should not be an object of guilt or shame. But that does not then mean that ALL sex is good devoid of context. So what the proper topic of discussion ought to be here is the context in which sex is good and why that context holds (I think this is the burden of proof JASKN is asking for, and it is a wholly appropriate question). I realize now that I am down to 5 minutes at my internet cafe, so a fleshing-out of this concept might have to wait, but the thrust of my argument (these puns are getting ridiculous now) is that you CAN separate higher values from sex, but you SHOULDN'T for various reasons I shall have to elaborate later. And I will chime in and say that from personal experience, sex done from love of the deepest kind is amazing on all levels, especially the physical, because of the supreme amount of trust and confidence you can have in that situation. I'm not sure if one is still capable of having sex on that level after a string of casual partners, especially if one retains the view of sex (psychologically) that allows you to HAVE a casual partner in the first place. Out of time for now, apologies, more later perhaps. Darn intertubes!
  20. Protip: BIOLOGY DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY. I frequently hear a lot made of the "biological differences" between men and women. Yes, the latter have innies and the former have outies, and this results in different hormonal soup and consequent physical development. HOWEVER, you are implying that there is MAN and there is WOMAN, and that is just not the case even in the strictest scientific sense. The vast majority of traits fall along a continuum, a distribution if you will, and the distribution of traits in men and in women has substantial overlap for almost anything you pick that isn't "penis y/n". And that is exactly the way evolution "intended" it (not to imply that evolution is some kind of conscious process). Human adaptability lies in our variability, and that includes gender roles/gender expression. For what it's worth, both of my parents had pretty standard gender roles, unless you consider my mom working to be a "deviation". My dad might be a bit sensitive but only in the "sensitive his way right into a lady's pants" sense. I happen to be a rather butch, muscular lady who favors camo attire of all types and enjoys setting things on fire and playing with pointy objects. I have played more nasty contact sports than I can rattle off at the moment. I also like men and have been in a 10+ year relationship with a lovely (stereotypically masculine, if you must know) fellow that is basically marriage without the rings and the paper...they call it "living in sin", do they not? Other than the douchebaggery of other people's reactions, I do not see how being a "gender deviant" has had a negative impact on my life in any way. In fact, I see it as largely positive because I possess character traits favorable to my chosen line of work. My question to you would be this...are my future biological children (presuming my guy and I do not have any "plumbing" issues) going to be harmed by the lack of a "feminine" role model at home? How? Can you explain it to me? Source? If you can't source it I wouldn't use it. Methodology is everything in these kinds of studies, and I say that with regards to problems on both "sides". Single-parent homes and gay parents are not comparable unless the gay parent is single. I will agree with you that single-parent homes are not usually in the best interests of the children, and I have seen this effect in high-income as well as low-income single-parent families. But a gay COUPLE seeking to adopt has nothing to do with that. Look, bottom line is, all children need and deserve a loving home. If you really care about kids, and I believe you do, you would be advocating for the streamlining and simplifying of the adoption process, making private adoption easier and reducing corruption in the system, than questioning the merits of gay adoption. If you want to go more in depth into the reasons your arguments from biology are wrong, feel free to hit me back. That's sort of my "thing", bio-type discussions.
  21. Maybe the US should take a lesson from the Chinese after all... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10565868
  22. I interpreted it as meaning "anyone who touched her meaning harm" instead of "anyone who touched her out of sexual interest", but I might have been giving him the benefit of the doubt. I don't think there's anything irrational about getting stronger to be able to protect your loved ones, but doing it in order to control/possess them is definitely a no-no.
  23. If this is something you value, why should it be contradictory? It sounds as if the value of children getting a fair opportunity, even if they are the children of strangers, is important to you, it seems the irrational thing to do is NOT contribute.
  24. Seconded. Why shouldn't you be careful about something that is of a high value to you? I think this is an unfair dichotomy. I personally would be turned off by an "easy" guy. Who wants to be someone's fiftieth notch on the bedpost? Not me.
  25. Are you referring to "born on third thinks he hit a triple"? I know what you're talking about. Look, a lot of people say a lot of stupid things, and being rich (especially born rich) is no guarantee of being insightful or disciplined in thought. In fact I often find big differences in character between people who "made it" themselves and people who have always had nice things but never really saw how those nice things came about (this is of course a generalization). I think one thing you might want to consider is that making a moral judgment about someone is not just about what or how much they produce. A person's worth is not literally measured by how much money they have. Ayn Rand never advocated that and Objectivism is not about that. I agree with you that a lot of advantaged and privileged people use a given philosophy, including something that superficially resembles Objectivism, to justify why they have so much more than everyone else when they may or may not have earned it and may or may not be of good character otherwise. It is important to remember, and I think this is what RationalBiker was getting at, is that in the grand scheme of things what other people have doesn't and shouldn't matter to you. But this does not keep you from making a moral evaluation of someone that he doesn't "get it", because you're probably correct. Here's some other food for thought, though. A lot of the privileged don't preach personal responsibility. Instead they dedicate their lives to making sure everyone else is "taken care of" even as they stack the business environment in favor of the status quo, which clearly benefits them, using government policy. These people often fall on the so-called "progressive" side of the spectrum, although a certain breed of conservative do it too. For myself, I'm somewhere in the middle. My parents paid for college at Dartmouth which was not cheap, but I also left with some loans which I have since paid off completely, partly through working and partly with my grandmother's help. I am now completely self-supported and am working my way through a PhD program with my funding in jeopardy due to budget cuts. So I have had a bit of a push but I am now completely on my own and proud of it. I wonder at how proud your friend must be of himself with his parents footing his cell bill at age 28. My personal opinion is that he ought to be more independent than that and graciously tell his parents, "I really appreciate what you've done for me but I need to start standing on my own two feet." That he hasn't says something about his character to me.
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