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Ed from OC

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  1. As far as other locations, there are safe places in the US, and one can find them through crime rankings like this one. Here is an alphabetical listing of major US cities and their violent crime rates for 2004.
  2. Hi. I haven't posted here in quite a while, but given the subject matter, I'd like to add a few thoughts. 1. If you are in a threatening situation, the goal is to get out of there as soon as possible. Running away may be the best option most of the time. Yelling for help is good, too. 2. The best defense against threatening situations is to avoid them. Changing locations can reduce the odds of them happening. Also, when and how you travel matters. I assume other women face the same hazards, so if and when possible, walking around with a few of them is probably safer than by yourself. Know your neighborhood, too. 3. I don't see anything wrong at all with taking a self-defense course, even learning a bit about a martial art. I recommend Krav Maga, as you can learn the basics quickly, it uses realistic situations for training, and it is effective. Perhaps most importantly, you'll be more confident about protecting yourself, which is the best way to project to a potential attacker that you won't be an easy mark and he should look elsewhere. That alone will help you avoid these situations, too. Note: Martial arts are not a cure-all. Some martial arts are taught more as sports or as martial arts, with less emphasis on self-defense. In real life, an attacker will not be in the right position or attack in the right manner for some of these techniques to be effective. One thing that attracted me to Krav Maga was that it was focused on what actually works, rather than perfecting what looks pretty. Even the best training, though, is no guarantee against injury. What it will do is increase your odds of avoiding assault, or of reducing the harm you suffer if you are attacked. A good self-defense course should teach you techniques for identifying and defusing a threatening situation without having to get into a physical fight, which I think is the best thing for your case.
  3. An idea I forgot to include in my prior posts: try an internship. If you have a few possibilities for careers in mind, an inside look at one of the options over a summer may help you decide. Also, if your school has an engineering program, maybe talking to a prof or two, or even taking a couple elective classes may help as well.
  4. I know two Objectivists who do this. Both are very, very smart guys with PhDs. I've looked into it a bit. It turns out that a lot of the equations used are exactly the same form as some physics equations, such as that for heat diffusion, which is why physics experts are (or were) in demand. To learn more, look into FINANCIAL ENGINEERING. A growing number of schools offer advanced degrees in it.
  5. You can also look for things like "industrial physics" on google. Note, though, that nearly all physics scientific research is done at universities or government research labs. Engineering that involves physics-level work can be found at many private firms. The difference is whether one wants to do science (discovery) or engineering (application). The difference is not a hard line and there is some overlap, but the jobs are primarily one or the other.
  6. I used to be very solidly in the second camp, but lately my interest has grown in the first. However, 2 is a better description of engineering than of experimental physics. Engineering is about applying physics to creating new technology. Experimental physics is about experimenting -- running tests to see what happens under certain conditions, both to verify a theory or to look at some aspect of reality in a new way to see what's there. option 3 would include teaching or writing, where there's a need to understand the well-established parts of physics and then pass along that information to others.
  7. The most important thing about choosing a career is having the passion for the doing of the tasks involved. Ask yourself what about physics you enjoy the most. Is it solving equations? Is it working with cutting-edge technology in the lab? Are there some areas of physics you like more than others? Do you like explaining the concepts and principles? If so, options might be teaching physics in a high school or writing for a periodical like Scientific American, Popular Science, Discover, or industry journals like that for the Optical Society of America or the American Institute of Physics. I picked up a BS in physics 8 years ago and have worked as an engineer since. I've gradually worked my way into jobs that are better than the previous ones, to the point where I'm currently far happier as an engineer than ever. I get to do some conceptual design work on new products, create test equipment, and so on. The work I do requires a conceptual understanding of the technology, which I've picked up from jobs over the years in spades, but it all goes back to theory picked up in college classrooms. I don't derive equations or solve super-complex math. Sometimes I use computer modeling tools, but mostly I rely on rule-of-thumb guidelines. (Other engineers often do deal with more complex equations, FYI.) Re: the comment about "accomplishing something important" -- important to whom? What matters is doing something where the act of doing it makes you happy, not whether what you do revolutionizes the field. Think of Eddie Willers or Mike from The Fountainhead in this regard: good men who loved their work, but didn't have the Earth-shattering abilities to revolutionize their fields. If the standard you now set for yourself is "I must revolutionize whatever field I go in to," I think you'll just set yourself up for disappointment. If you do what you love, and dig into it with both hands, soaking up as much as you can about it like a giant sponge, judging the truth each step of the way, asking questions as you go, and thinking for yourself all the time, I bet you will find more than a few original insights. How revolutionary they are you can't predict, and I wouldn't set that as a standard for choosing a career. Good luck. Hope this helps.
  8. He'll be lecturing on "Relgion vs Morality": Wednesday, March 2 at 8PM SGM-123 (Seely G. Mudd) University of Southern California 3667 Mc Clintock Los Angeles CA 90089 Are any other OO Forum members planning to attend? I'd like to go, but I'm quite busy this week, so I might skip it. What would tip my decision towards going is the opportunity to meet some OO Forum members I haven't met before. So let me know if you're planning to go. Thanks, Ed More info here.
  9. Here's a review from Victorhanson.com. "UCLA professor Jared Diamond's journey into academic superstardom was jump-started when President Clinton held up Diamond's 1999 Guns Germs and Steel before the news cameras, after which bestseller status and numerous prizes, including the Pulitzer, followed. Clinton's and the academic establishment's endorsement of Diamond's book is not surprising, for it validates and justifies some cherished received wisdom of liberal intellectuals, ideas that, at a time when the West is under assault by an alternative vision, are woefully misguided." I haven't read the book, but based on this review and others, will continue to avoid doing so, in favor of the great many books out there whose quality vastly outstrips this one.
  10. Shame on NIJamesHughes for this blatant and unjust abuse of moderator privileges. I used to value this forum as much as HBL. I daily looked forward to reading discussions on several fascinating topics, as well as contributing my own thoughts and questions. I enjoyed getting to know so many other Objectivists across the globe. This incident has given me pause to reconsider the terms under which I participate. Will what happened to Stephen befall me as well? I want to see the owners and other moderators of this forum take action to fix this situation. NOBODY should have the ability to modify the posts of others without their consent. It leaves open the possiblity of abuse, in which the words of one person are put in the mouth of another. I don't blame Stephen for leaving. He deserves an apology for what happened, at minimum.
  11. If that's your attitude toward these people, no wonder they think you're talking down to them! That said, in cases like this, they deserve it. Some pretentious wannabe intellectual acting like a know-it-all to justify his false self-esteem deserves to have his confidence shaken and to be taken down a peg or two.
  12. Some questions to consider: Do you ask why they feel like you are talking down to them? What specifically in what you said (or how you said it) are they objecting to? What do they mean by "talking down?" It's possible they are reacting to what you say, how you say it, or both. If you encounter it a lot, I'd think it may have more to do with the style. I've been an Objectivist for 14 years, and I can't recall ever being accused of "talking down to" someone in a philosophical discussion (at least to my face). I recall, though, when I was younger, often launching into lecture mode at the drop of a hat. I was acting as if it were my personal duty to correct any philosophical error I encountered, regardless of the context. Learning to value tact and respecting the context has made my life a lot easier. Now if someone utters some irrational idea, I don't feel the compulsion to lecture them on the fine points of philosophy. It's their problem, not mine, in most cases.
  13. I think it is interesting to look at why conspiracy theories are as popular as they are. I don't have a complete answer, but as a first step I submit the following: First, what are conspiracy theories? Look at specific examples and see what they have in common. Three off the top of my head: government coverup of UFO activities; the many versions of assassination plots against JFK (in which someone else is ultimately responsible for his death and got away with it); and the many, many claims of sabotage put out by the USSR. Some key elements: - lack of evidence. If any particular case actually had evidence for such a theory, it could be dealt with rationally, and would not be associated with the others. (IOW, the theories are arbitrary.) - the omnipotent "Them". The conspirators are able to do amazing things, and keep the details secret. "Somehow" is the common refrain, when believers are pressed to explain how some of these conspirators do what believers claim. What is the appeal of these theories for those who really buy into them (as opposed to plain-old liars)? I suspect it could be several things. It could be a by-product of a concrete-bound mentality's inability to deal with principles. For example, when Soviet factories could not meet production quotas, sabotage was a common charge. Instead of checking their premise that communism could increase production, which would require questioning the ideology thrust on them at the point of a gun, this would be an out: "someone" "somehow" was disloyal. Grab a scapegoat, and the ideology is safe once again for the moment -- until the next failure. Moreover, for the concrete-bound mentality, the idea of challenging a principle is untenable. They just accept the platitudes given to them. When confronted with a contradiction between their accepted "principles" and concrete reality, their mind would be unable to challenge the accepted principle; it would be accepted as a metaphysical given, outside the scope of rational justification or exception. So there must be another concrete intermediary -- something prevented the theory from working in reality, and if we just get that thing out of the way, then the theory would be free to succeed. For those committed to an irrational principle, regardless of facts or reason, something must be made to explain the contradiction -- and it damn well can't be their sacred, unquestionable principle. I'm sure there are additional explanations for the appeal of conspiracy theories, but this psycho-epistemological element is the most interesting aspect of the subject to me.
  14. This article claims "U.S. Conducting Secret Missions Inside Iran." From the article: "The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible." One former high-level intelligence official told The New Yorker, "This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign." Boy oh boy how I hope this is true...
  15. Ed from OC


    In a few cases. For instance, a child needs to learn morality just like he has to learn anything else. There are cases, too, in which the issues are sufficiently complex that a man may act in a way he believes is the moral course, only to later find out that the consequences were not in his best interests. One can't require omniscience, so it would be wrong to condemn such a person. In judging anything, including morality, context must be kept. Not all of them. Be careful about what you consider an error of knowledge, and the extent of the leniency you give to someone on that basis. Also, not having an explicitly defined, proven and integrated code of moral conduct is not an excuse. One can't get away with lying, for example, by claiming that they don't agree with the Objectivist ethics, or that "everybody else does it." A lack of knowledge about ethical principles is not an excuse for not acting ethically. It is objectively true that lying is unethical -- regardless of whether one wishes otherwise.
  16. For the record, that is not the case. Anyone interested can look at my earlier posts and see for themselves. I have no interest in persuading "The Durande" or dealing with him further. But for others on this thread, I don't want my views confused with his. The essence of the thread is: does the universe have mass -- and what is meant by that question? My view is: based on different meanings of that statement, the answer differs. 1. "Does the universe, taken as a whole, have mass?" No. "Mass" is defined in relation to an external force. There cannot be a force external to the universe to act on it. Therefore, the universe has no mass. (Edit: In other words, the concept of "mass" does not apply.) 2. "Are there things in the universe that have mass?" Yes. This is not in dispute. 3. "Does the sum total of things in the universe have a net mass?" I don't know. I speculate that one possible answer is that their masses effectively cancel out. This was what I spelled out in post #8. This is, in my opinion, a question for physics to answer, not philosophy. Also note that the answers depend on the meaning of the term "mass." "The Durande" has claimed many times that the universe must have mass. Clearly that is not the same view as mine.
  17. Well, you convinced me. I mean, really, who needs to bother with logic or defining one's terms (such as "mass") when you can yell and stamp your foot like a five-year-old?
  18. Objectivism rejects all forms of mysticism, religion, and the supernatural -- which includes ghosts. So someone can't be an Objectivist and believe in ghosts. If someone wants to believe in ghosts, that's their choice. It's no different than believing in the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, gremlins, psychics, ESP, God, palm reading, alien abductions, and so on. The supernatural is literally a rejection of reality. ("Supernatural" means something beyond nature -- that is, outside of reality.) One possible question: how do they determine which they believe in and which not to? If it's ok to accept one of these on faith, why not all of them? And if they do that, what do they do when two of the ideas contradict each other? (It's usually just a matter of emotion: they believe what they want because they want to. Well, what does their belief give them?) What's your goal in discussing the issue? If you're trying to convince them to change their minds on the issue, realize that the burden of proof is on them. What do they mean by "ghosts?" Where's the proof? Why ascribe a supernatural explanation for some event? It could have a perfectly rational explanation or be the product of a lying eyewitness (or one who just doesn't know the cause). I suspect nobody will give a very clear idea of what exactly a ghost is. For some reason most believers (in ghosts or in God) are perfectly willing leaving the concept as a floating abstraction, without understanding in terms of specific details. In one sense they have to leave it as a fuzzy, ill-defined concept -- because it doesn't exist, there's literally nothing there to analyze. But the rational thing to do is reject the claim, not accept it. If you have a copy of OPAR, check out the entries for "supernaturalism" in the index, and see the section entitled "The Arbitrary as Neither True nor False" in chapter 5.
  19. Off-topic, but look at this point Arnold makes: Why are increasing government revenues a good thing? This is a euphemism for more stolen money. It is a measure, also, of the increasing cost of government. This is the bill the California population has to pay for government services. Arnold's no statist, but he is (like most people) operating on mistaken premises. What is revenue for the state politicians is a cost for its citizens. It's the same premise underlying the discussion of the "need to pay for tax cuts" -- as if tax money were primarily the property of the state, to be "given back" to the citizens. The context of the debate needs to change to one in which the property rights of individuals are the given, and from that point we can discuss tax cuts, the size of government, the role of government, and so on.
  20. Look again. Both quotes are from the same post by "elder punk of zion."
  21. There was a group of about 12 of us that went out for dinner after. I only knew 2 or 3 of them before that evening. Lots of fun. It's frustrating, though, that no debate I've seen involving an experienced Objectivist intellectual has any real opponent. It's as if nobody but Objectivists take ideas seriously. It shows just how empty our opponents are: they have to resort to slander and obfuscation. The debate was, to say the least, quite one-sided.
  22. Whether people submit to religion voluntarily or by force is not the issue. The issue is whether religion is good for man. Religion as such is a pox on humanity. Our very survival depends on reason, while religion upholds the denial of reason (i.e., faith) as the highest virtue. What could be more inhuman than blessing a death sentence on man? Ignorant? What the hell do you know about me, pal? You're not qualified to judge my level of knowledge about anything. The examples pick out just a few of the very real consequences of taking religion seriously, literally, and as consistently as possible. Many people (like most Americans) embrace a mix of religion and reason. They don't integrate their lives, living by one standard on Sunday mornings and by another during the rest of the week. So one cannot look to their happiness (if such is the case) as evidence that religion leads to happiness. I could just as easily argue (and with far more merit) that to the extent someone is truly happy, they are not religious. What is "religion in general", if we can't look at real examples? I'll tell you: it's a fantasy, a wish, an abstract idea divorced from reality. You call my examples "pathetic"; is that your idea of an argument? Name calling just shows how feeble your position really is. You may not like those examples, but they are very real. Incidentally, "happiness" is not the blank stare of an Eastern mystic contemplating Nirvana. It is a state that has to be earned through hard work, across the length and breadth of one's life. It can only be achieved through a committment to dealing with reality, to acting according to one's best judgement of the facts -- in a word, through reason.
  23. Oh yes. Like those burned at the stake. Those stoned to death. Those who are told masturbation and sex are sins. Those who live in fear of random smitings from the sky. Those who "enjoy" lack of sanitation, medicine, science. Those victims of human sacrifice to appease gods of the sky. Those who worship cows. Get real. I smell flamebait.
  24. On a personal note, I early on looked into a number of supposed arguments against Objectivism, and nearly all quickly turned out to be simple smears. The "better" arguments were based on confused understandings of Ayn Rand's positions. My motivation was not to generate doubts in my mind, but rather grew out of the acknowledgement that I was not the most knowledgable scholar of the history of philosophy. My question was: do the experts in the field have any refutations of Objectivism? Did some philosophers in the past refute some position of Ayn Rand's? And the answer is no. If such existed, then objectivity would demand I accept the truth. But until such time, I remain a convinced Objectivist, with no expectation that some aspect of Objectivism will be refuted. So I certainly would not condemn someone for looking for counterarguments. Any revolutionary idea shold be investigated thoroughly before accepting it as true, and Objectivism is no exception to that rule.
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