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Everything posted by Hermes

  1. It can be the difference between life and death here and now if you are ever caught outside the city with a failed vehicle. Which way is north? One of the direct applications of astronomy in the 18th and 19th centuries was establishing local lines of latitude and longitude in order to draw the borders on maps. Here and now, any certified training in surveying for real estate begins with knowing how to establish your local position without a pre-existing map. Again, the practical applications are secondary to your own eudaimonic gains. All of these arguments apply also to that other
  2. The easy answer is that it does not need to have any other justification than that it makes your life better. If you find life-affirming enjoyment in the discovery and understanding then that is all that is required. On a deeper level, consider the simple fact that a modest telescope like a 4-inch refractor or a 5-inch reflector, even a 70mm National Geographic "department store" telescope will reveal that many stars perceived as solitary objects to the naked eye are pairs and multiples. For thousands of years - even 200 years after Galileo - we always assumed that the stars were individu
  3. [1] Yeah, they call it "seeing," the clarity of the atmosphere. It is more important than the nominal "power" of the instrument. The first night we went to "Moun Bonell" a bit a rise in the land in the city and we did not see it. A few days laters we went up into the hill country outside of town - still the suburbs - and I picked it out with binoculars. A woman at the same lookout off the highway said that she could see it naked eye, but I could not. [2] AAVSO - the American Association of Variable Star Observers - is a long-standing international group with a strong history of amateur-pr
  4. [7] That's an important reward for me: revisiting the paths of the pioneers. Jupiter and Galileo are top of the list there. But very many other sites are out there if you read the histories and follow the skies. [1] [2] Your Bushnell 50mm x 1200 mm is a good beginner scope. It does take work getting used to them, no different than shooting a rifle or handgun, or shooting pool or bowling for that matter. Do you remember learning how to drive a car? I have a 10-inch x 2500 mm telescope in the garage on loan from my local club -- an option you might consider -- and it is going back to the e
  5. It is easy to "like" astronomy. But that is not the same thing as being active in it. Astronomy is one of the few hobbies in which amateurs and professionals collaborate. A continuing thread in the history of astronomy is that it was generally a private pursuit, privately funded either personally or through non-governmental organizations. In the 20th century that began to change. But amateurs developed radio astronomy as a spin-off of ham radio; and they quickly jumped in on photography and eventually spectroscopy. Most amateurs are backyard observers. Some do have distant, remote-contro
  6. Hermes

    Light Pollution

    I serve as vice president of our local astronomy club. We received a general inquiry from a reporter for a culture magazine. My comrades on the executive committee were all in favor of taking this opportunity to speak out against light pollution. I started a reply, but did not send it because there was nothing I could gain from the engagement. However, the questions are worth considering. ------------------------- We do not have the same perceptions with light that we do with sound. You can close your eyes. You cannot close your ears. So, we have laws against noise. We do need a rat
  7. Dave, you speak an Indo-European language, but your language has 6000 years of new meanings reflected in the many nuances of simple words and the very many new words that did not exist 4000 BCE. Yet, all of our words evolved from those. I especially liked this: "Then what is the mental fodder for reasoning which leads to this chain of conclusions?" "Fodder for reasoning" is highly symbolic. It is analogy, of course, perhaps also metaphor. "Analogy" and "metaphor" are Greek words, of course. There is a hobby of using old English. Look up "Star Wyes." Astronomy would be "heavenlore" and fic
  8. I have several to match the clothes I wear. I have one with red-white-and-blue when I am in old GI clothes. I have one with constellations for when I have on an astronomy-theme T-shirt. I have one with a corporate logo that goes with the corporate polo shirts. We should have been doing this all along, but we accepted it as normal that people could come to work sick and pass their germs along to others. In the old days before connectivity, that might have been an excuse: we have to show up at work and work is important to our livelihood and the clients and their customers. But even if that
  9. When I was able to get both planets in the same view with my telescopes, I drew proportional sketches of the conjunction. With a field-of-view, for example, of 2.42 degrees, I used circles of 2.4 and 4.8 cm. I developed a personal technique of being able to view with both eyes open so that I can hold a centimeter scale at a convenient distance to guage separations. I have used this for binary stars, also. ' Images are reversed right and left. Saturn was to the West (Left) of Jupiter. That is an artifact of the refracting telescopes. We correct that with prism
  10. I launched my blog on 2 January 2011. The title was inspired by Gregory Browne’s Necessary Factual Truths (University Press of America, 2001). I met Dr. Browne at Eastern Michigan University in the fall semester 2007. Waiting for a class in police operations, I was walking the halls and heard him lecturing. It was obviously a philosophy class and he sounded reasonable. I looked in and saw “Ayn Rand” on the blackboard closing an array of philosophers in historical sequence. A couple of weeks later, I heard him actually mention Ayn Rand. So, I introduced myself. And I bought the book format
  11. Free Will—Right away they teach you, NAVY stands for Never Again Volunteer Yourself. Every branch boot camp does it their own way. The lure is often an easy-sounding assignment that turns in to a minor hell. Do not take the easy way out. The lesson is not that you should hang back and let other people do your work. The lesson is really to not throw yourself away. Think about it before you take up a challenge. Choose your battles. When you confront the organization at large, or a superior at rank, your buddy will ask, “Is this the hill you want to die on?” You decide. Independence—“W
  12. At first inspection, the rational individualism of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism seems contrary to the requirements of military service. Everyone dressing alike is the most visible fact. Following orders without question is the deeper problem, of course, especially as that can lead to your own death. Groups are sacrificed in feints and gambits. The military shares well with other institutions the vice of inertial conservativism. Innovators such as Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell and Adm. William Sowden Sims were perfect examples of those whose heroism was not in standing tall against dead
  13. Murray Rothbard was a fraud and a faker. A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II by Murray N. Rothbard, Von Mises Institute, 2002. Pages 119-122 on the Suffolk System. Rothbard begins: “But Dr. George Tivoli, whose excellent monograph, The Suffolk System, we rely on in this study …” Where does Tivoli's work end? On page 120 is a footnote 102 to John Jay Knox's A History of Banking in the United States in support of a quote. Then follows more narrative. Is this a continued paraphrasing of Tivoli? And where is the publication citation for
  14. Saving Mr. Banks may be a new invention in modern cinema: a Romanticist biography. It is the story of conflict between Walt Disney and P. J. Traverse, author of the Mary Poppins books. At the end of her writing career, she is out of money. For 20 years, Disney has been offering her a lot of it. But she will not give up final rights to the artistic control of the movie. She says at least twice that Mary Poppins is like family to her. We see why in flashbacks. Talking to his writers, Disney says that he understands her well: at one point, when "I was just a kid from Missouri," he had been offere
  15. Returning to his alma mater at the University of Texas, Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute spoke to a packed lecture room at the McCombs School of Business, on December 3, 2013. Contrasting Bill Gates with LeBron James and Mother Teresa, he said that we accept huge salaries for sports heroes because we can conceptualize what they do. “We all shoot baskets, and we know how bad we are at it.” Public opinion is that corporate officers do not deserve their rewards because few people actually operate businesses. Moreover, our culture has a dominant morality of altruism and unselfishness; a
  16. Over 3500 people contributed $446,907 toward a $250,000 goal to fund the advertising budget for Atlas Shrugged, Part III: "Who is John Galt?" If you go to the site and make the effort to load the full list, you can see all the names. I found no easy way to read the full roll of contributors until I loaded it with repetitive keystrokes. The list is in chronological order. Consequently, at at the top is the roster of early supporters who themselves have kickstarted tens, even hundreds, of other projects, including this one though they may not be Objectivist or even "objectivish" at all. I a
  17. If you enter "Atlas Shrugged Part 3 kickstarter" in your search engine, you will find that the mass media bloggers from Time to Salon and beyond are having a great time not stating the facts. The goal of the kickstarter was to put $250,000 into the advertising budget of the movie. The purpose of the campaign was to let people get involved. The producers did not need the quarter million dollars -- but money is always nice to have. What they offered was a hierarchy of values based on your willingness and ability to buy into the process. For $35 you get a special T-shirt. For $1000
  18. Our ideas about intellectual property are rooted in medieval law about real estate. Patents are given to the “first” inventor (which is defined differently by different laws) and deny the reality of independent invention. Rational law would recognize that all independent inventors have the rights to the products of their own minds. Also, rather than expiring, intellectual property would continue forever, like any other kind of property. Johanna Blakely of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California has a TED Talk about the importance of copying to the multi-trillion dol
  19. The best of all possible worlds… At least that is what the progressives claimed when their hidden Administration finally bankrupted the national governments of Earth in the construction of huge Domes into which humanity was bottled up. This is the world of 2084. For about 60 years, everyone has known only a planned and monitored life of balanced nutrition, daily exercise, and public transportation within a sealed environment. Travel is possible for those who are assigned to it. Among them is Elliot Fintch: he has been assigned to Mars. Fintch is an “eductor.” Identified as a child as
  20. Doctors know that patients die despite everything being done to help them live. When infants die in that manner, it is called "failure to thrive." The the so-called "choice" to live is actually a meta-choice, the denial of choice, a blanking out, a retreat, the surrender of will.
  21. A speech at the American Numismatic Association convention. #076 THE PUZZLING ORIGIN OF THE DOLLAR SIGN ($) (Chicago, 1991) by Eric P. Newman. The origin of the symbol and the date of the first use of the dollar sign ($) in written form is explained. 1.0 hrs. "The dollar sign : its written and printed origin" by Eric P. Newman. In: Kleeberg, John M., ed. Coinage of the Americas Conference. Proceedings No. 9. America's silver dollars, New York: American Numismatic Society,c1995 p. 1-49 pp. 5-16 Vol. 70, No. 2 (Feb. 1957), pp. 137-147. Basically, the dollar sign evolved from a ligatu
  22. It is a fact that the average "first offender" has committed something like 35 felonies before first being sentenced to jail or prison. That is the deeper problem you identify. However, it is also true at 20% of the goods on the market have no clear title. We Objectivists too easy glide "fraud" along with "force." We can say that your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins. Whether, when, and to what extent you have misinformed me about the fitness of use or merchantability of your product is less readily defined. As for force, people are given to it. It is a fact of
  23. OK, what is N? Why 3 and not 1 or 4 or 12? How do you objectively decide that number? Case 1: Brooklyn Burrough, New York City. A common street scam is for one member of a gang to sell one dollar "raffle tickets" for "big giveway" inside this storefront, a $1000 flatscreen or whatever. When enough people are inside, a different guy comes out from the back and says there's only a few of you here and I'm going to draw one ticket, but we thought we'd sell 1000 tickets and we need to sell them, so who wants to buy more chances at a dollar each to win this $1000 flatscreen. And he sells 10
  24. What if you went into a convenience store and behind the counter, a sign said "Death to Americans." It is the business owner's right, is it not? And you would be offended, of course, and never shop there again. What if the sign was a cartoon making fun of an ethnic group? Would you be so offended as to never shop there again, or would you figure that the goods and services were worth the price, as long as you are not personally offended? What if the sign said, "I hate fags." Or "Marriage is one man and one woman in the sight of God." Or "Vote Yes to Raise the Sales Tax." A rational p
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