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Everything posted by Hermes

  1. If you do a little googling you will find that three of the ten richest suburbs in America today are outside Washington DC. Moreover, if search a bit more, you will find that state capitals such as Albany, Augusta, and Austin are at least not so bad off as the rest of the nation or experiencing actual booms. (Lansing is not so good.) The situation was developing for decades. It is a logical and inevitable consequence. Truth to tell, it is not so much that government employees are well paid, but that they have secure jobs. Typically, government pay is good for manual workers (maintenance; gardening) and routine clericals, about twice the market rate, $15 per hour for them. But above that, and all the way to the top, government compensation is in retirement, healthcare, and other benefits. The real money in government is in lobbying and consulting. Again, with the googling, you might find that many unrelated organizations have the same address. They are businesses run by professional association companies that identify and nurture markets in influence. Again, we saw this coming since 1957 -- and it was not new then. I realize that you probably have enough to do in your life, but library boards are often elected and competition is usually light. You could run for the library board. Democracy in action and all that. Any other rational folk in your burg?
  2. That is an interesting reply. You learned in public school (parochial school; nominally "private" school staffed with state-licensed teachers) that discussion is debate; that the road to truth is the hegelian dialectic of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. Your school might have had a debate club where kids competed against other schools as in a zero-sum game like football - "Resolved: capital punishment should be abolished. Speaking for the affirmative..." So we have forums like these where someone says something and all those agree say nothing in reply. Instead, you might reply with a case in point from your own experience verifying the initial claim. You might point to a logical conclusion, known to be truth, that follows independently from the original claim. My primary hobby, and a source of income for me, is numismatics. It is an unregulated market where people buy and sell money. Yet, I often meet numismatists who are ignorant of economics. They never learned it in school, for sure. For example, it is commonly assumed that the government is not just the actual source of money today, but morally, the only source. In the hobby of numismatics, in order to sell a "coin" the object must meet certain criteria, issuance from a government being primary. Anything else -- anything less -- is a token. The print publications will not take an advertisement that "misrepresents" tokens as coins: coins of Major League Baseball; coins of Disneyland; NFL Referee's Coin; etc. I have been arguing the point for 15 years. It is just another example of how public education has made us idiots. We are like the characters in Anthem, grateful to the collective for candles. What bright spots exist come from the actual (though accidental) application of objective morality. Perhaps the primary reason that American universities attract scholars and researchers from all over the world is that we have no national system of university education: Michigan State University competes against Ohio State University and they both compete against Stanford and Harvard and so on. The crisis in the lower grades K-12 comes from the lack of competition. But external competition is not a silver bullet. Schools should be "education malls" where teachers lease classrooms and other services and sell their teaching in open competition. At root, perhaps, is the very idea that children are incapable of productive work and, (perhaps the seed) that they should be protected from it.
  3. We talk about being dumbed down. We talk about ideology and propaganda presented as fact. But the specifics never come to the fore because we think that it does not apply to us. Most people will admit that public education is in a crisis in America. And most people will say that their public schools are all right. I live in Ann Arbor. We think we are tops. Education thrives here. Just look at the U of M. Reality, of course, is different than that. Ask "If you could send your child to any university in the world, what country would it be in?" America's universities really are superior, exactly the reasons that primary and secondary systems are not. Beyond that, as an Objectivist, you have expectations that simply are not met at any level by public education. By definition, the funding is tax-based. The teachers are unionized. The consequences of that are as inevitable and immutable as Newton's Laws. Reality is real. Human action cannot evade the necessities of existence. Good teachers are internally motivated, but not externally compensated for their superiority. Moreoever, when comparing "America's" schools to those of other nations, the scales developed and implemented by UNICEF and similar collectivists (including the White House) simply fail to identify the true measures of success. Rote memorization has its place -- and abandoning it has consequences -- but international, cross-cultural measures of creativity, independence, insight, integration, and integrity are rare. When considering the schools of "China" the actual figures are only for Hong Kong and Macau as isolated entities. Denmark, Iceland, Slovenia, and Slovakia may be "nations" but they are as small as - and smaller than - our states. Regardless of state requirements, mandates, laws, unions, and boards, education in America is at the local level. Japan has a national school system. America does not. All of that lays the groundwork for asking you how you measure your education. One experience for me was gathering editions of two standard textbooks: University Physics by Francis W. Sears and Calculus by George B. Thomas. Over the decades, these books became noticeably less rigorous, but more colorful. Neither evolved under the influence of an objective theory of epistemology.
  4. I will clean up and organize my review over time. I assembled four different sets of notes and presented them in toto on my own website. My goal is to place formal reviews elsewhere. In fact, after posting here, I changed that review a couple of times, adding and removing illustrations. It is stable now. The illustrations from Adler say it all. As for the ellipse and the parabola, no one so far has identified the essential correlation. No matter what the ellipse and no matter what the parabola, you can always fit some of the apex of the parabola congruent to either of the apices of the ellipse. (That is true for either half of a hyperbola, also.) Just as two points define a straight line, three points determine a conic section. Given any convenient geometry of scale, if you toss a baseball, any three points near the apex can be fitted to an ellipse (or a hyperbola). If you (or Newton or Galileo) begin with the (rationalist) understanding of central force motion, then you would choose the ellipse for the path of the baseball. The arithmetic of the parabola is easier. It is not two parametric equations, as for the ellipse. So, it is easier to teach and the measurements of many points on either side of a human scale path do not stray far from the ellipse. However, if we accept this unconditionally, then, we are saying that the Earth is round, but we can consider it flat. ... or that the Earth is flat unless you need to consider orbital motion. We know that public education follows the Soviet agriculture model. We know that education is dumbed down. Teaching that the path of a baseball is a parabola is part of that. Collect college physics books from the 1950s and 60s and 70s and so on. See for yourself how it is taught now versus how it was taught. All of that and the long discussion of it on my website is only to underscore the fact that Harriman did not define his audience. He glossed over much.
  5. I added my review of The Logical Leap to my website.
  6. I think that the original question points to some complications not addressed. The OP spoke for voluntary socialism. Ceteris paribus when people agree to do a thing of their own free will, it usually works better. A family unit, even if both parents are Objectivists, must operate in some communal ways, though, I know from experience myself that narrowly defining those seems best for all concerned. Over the years, we belonged to several food co-operatives and I served on the board of one. They are broadly no different from corporations. One difference however is the culture of the organization. Co-operatives attract communists and communists hate their bosses, their jobs, work for hire, and the customers who make them work. It is not always that way and when we were at ELFCO, most of the workers were mostly motivated to doing well. That said, the co-op ran ahead of its costs and eventually faced closure for insolvency. Founded in 1970-something, it continues today and the problems are in the past. Here in Ann Arbor, we gird our loins to do battle with the clerks. That said, one day, my "Enjoy Capitalism" t-shirt got a favorable nod from another right-libertarian stocking shelves. Ourselves, our viewpoint is that as members, we own the co-op and here the AAPF pays dividends in years when they clear a profit. But co-ops here in America compete in the market for customers and for workers and for members. People can come and go as they please. Voluntarism works. That said, having served on the Board and the Finance Committee of one, it was an uphill struggle to argue for the need to make a profit in order that we might "serve the community." Putting service to others ahead of profit to self is the short road to doom. But the arguments went from economics to ethics to metaphysics -- how can you be sure? -- in a heartbeat... every time...
  7. Hermes

    Employment Contracts

    So, you are working as a computer systems engineer and planning to open a ice cream store; say your son and daughter will run it at a resort during the May-Septmeber season. At 10:45 AM, you get an idea for the store. Who owns it? That night you wake up at 2:45 AM with an idea for the software. Who owns it? The problem with IP is that it involves the content of your mind. How tightly can you control what you think about? Physical property has perceptible boundaries. My land is not your land. My pencil is not your pencil. If you hire me to paint your living room, I do not fix the plumbing. You are working in software and come up with an idea for firmware or for hardware. There are seven layers from data to transport to presentation. Are they limitable? You are working for a conglomerate like ITT that has so many irons in the fire everything you think about could be a product or service they offer. I think that there are answers and they are objectively knowable. They just are not easy and they depend on context.
  8. Hermes

    Employment Contracts

    As a computer programmer and technical writer, I did this several times from 1978 - 2001. (Working as a security guard since 2002, the issue never came up.) Also, working as an employment recruiter, I signed non-compete contracts, promising not to go into that business within 50 or 100 miles within one year. Ironically, I signed the same sort of an agreement working as a forklift operator through a temporary agency. When work was plentiful, I did turn down at least one job because the contract was too restrictive, demanding all work of any nature etc., etc., at their place or any other, etc., etc. Usually, I do not give such covenants much thought. Funny thing though, I wrote two books for Loompanics and the contract gave over all media rights. Though I was working as a programmer for others as well as for them, it never occured to me that that could be serious. A few years later, Kurt Saxon, Desert and other were producing videos. Loompanics asked me about producing a software diskette to go with The Code Book, but nothing came of that because in the early 1980s cross-compatibility just did not exist: I felt that the program listings in the book were sufficient. So, I never got to that quantum level of surprise, a new context that voids previous assumptions. But I think that it depends mostly on who you are dealing with. Hewlett Packard was famous for their openness. Steve Wozniak had no problem borrowing equipment to work on his product. On the other hand, as the international editor for Coin World, I signed a non-compete agreement that was pretty mild in its language and draconian in its enforcement. They really did not want me to write anything for anyone else. At one point, one of the other Amos editors (not my publication), drew me aside after work. He said that as far as the company was concerned if you can go home after eight hours and write, you must have been holding back on the job. I think that one reason that engineers (and others) find themselves in moral quagmires is that they never studied philosophy at any level. They just grew up with the values of their families, went to school, got hired, and eventually ran into something they were not prepared for. You do not need to have all the answers, but you should at least know what the questions are.
  9. The "High End Sex Dolls Case" in this forum hinges on a non-compete/non-disclose contract. In the Culture forums under Intellectuals and the Media is a film for the Atlas Shrugged Competition about a man who destroys his invention, despite his having signed a contract. I thought of Einstein, Hahn, and the other physicists of the Solvay Conferences faced with World War II. They enjoyed livelihoods courtesy of their governments. That was true moreso in Europe than here because our university system is different, but the essentials of the problem are not changed. Certainly, once war was declared -- first in Europe, then here -- there could be no mistaking the fact that the context had changed in a way not anticipated by the physicists. They now had the opportunity to deliver a class of weapons wholly different from anything previously known. Realize that even Jules Verne's story of a trip to the Moon began with a competition between armor and artillery, pretty mundane stuff. The Nautilus ran on electricity, but was made out of pressed paper, and suffered damage when struck by cannonballs. Atomic energy was truly a quantum leap. At Trinity, Oppenheimer wondered if the chain reaction would continue indefinitely. True, warfare is destruction by definition and ultimately, every government exists to make war. Certainly, the physicists of the 20th century knew that, even if they did not know the works of Max Weber. (Weber elucidated the theory that government holds a monopoly on force. That was different than the theories of Montesquieu and Pufendorf, Locke and Hobbes, Aristotle and Plato. For Weber, the monopoly on force was the essential distinguishing characteristic, an assumption accepted now across the political spectrum.) They saw it in World War I - airplane, poison gas, ersatz food. So, it is easy for us here to look back and judge their willful ignorance. But hindsight is always 20-20. When an engineer signs with an employer, there can be no doubt that every day can bring new ideas, now owned by the company. It has been said that George Westinghouse could have had hundreds of patents in his own name, if he had followed Edison's example of demanding the rights to the inventions of his employees. This is an old problem. Today, no one with a college education can claim surprise. And yet that is why we call them surprises.
  10. I was not able to vote. I would have selected one Yes only, recommending the film. However, the software demanded that I vote on all questions. I found some questions to be false dichotomies. For others, I did not have enough information. I was impressed with the production. I had no problem hearing the narrator. The editing was competent, giving depth to the action and narration. The director had a clear idea and carried it through. It is pretty easy to argue philosophy. Making a movie is a bit harder. Criticizing the work the artist did not make is unfair. In Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden apparently gave his patent to the nation which provided him with opportunity, though the omniscient author provided the reader with more information. In this story, set 25 years in the future, we have no way to judge the context beyond the presentation. The writer/director may be an Objectivist or a Communist. It is obvious that the artist is a realist, not an impressionist or expressionist. One purpose of art is to make you stop and think. In fact, for me, that is the primary purpose of art. This three-minute vignette delivered much to think about. It is the story of a man who destroys his life work and risks death rather than let his creation be used by evil others.
  11. I only said "may" as a conditional: "While you may have had a comfortable flight, you did arrive two hours late." No may about it; the flight was comfortable. Nonetheless, it arrived behind schedule. I did not mean to question your perceptions. I accepted that immediately. To stay close to the topic, the early history of computing was reflected in your choices as well as in the 1982 and 2010 movies. The Apple Macintosh, the Atari-ST, and the Commodore Amiga were all superior to the IBM-PC line. But IBM-PC clones were purchased by the millions by business managers who knew "you can't get fired for recommending IBM." They were the Peter Keatings of commerce. The problem with Tron was that the writers failed to deliver the Howard Roark reply to "You want to make money, don't you?" What we got then was the usual anti-business propaganda. At the end of Tron I, Flynn (and Alan, presumably) have the company with Dillinger indicted. How young Edward Dillinger came in and got on the board was not explained. So, we could expect but did not enjoy some entrepreneurial successes with great engineering, wonderful consumer acceptance, etc. But, instead, we have to the same old guys doing the same old things. I confess that I stayed with the PC. I just got a Mac two years ago. This is being written on an HP running Windows. But I did so for technical reasons. I am a command line kind of guy. I had a couple good projects working in DEBUG. I wrote a fortune cookie in 22 bytes. When I worked in robotics, it was all low-level programming. Flynn's pal was, after all, Alan Bradley (Allen Bradley). With the robots, our work was on a Macintoshes because we were documentation and training. And I figured out how to wire the Intel 80x robots to my Mac to capture processes for documentation. That's the kind of programming I enjoy. My friends who adoped the Mac early were musicians. For all of that, in terms of pure technology, the IBM-PC was behind the curve. But the clone makers won out over Atari and Commodore; and Apple was forced into a distant second. I think Dillinger won that round. Here and now, I'm not sure where we are.
  12. Exactly, in my paper (on my website), I cite examples from the Visigoths, Cheyenne and Eskimos. Restorative justice is traditional justice. It is also commercial justice. When businesses arbitrate their disputes, the goal is to keep the parties together in a profitable relationship. Adversarial law comes from trial by combat, thus you have an "at tourney" to champion your cause: one winner; one loser; no middle ground. Restorative justice can include retributive punishment. Among the Visigoths of Spain, a woman whose claim of rape was acknowledged could flog her assailant herself, if she chose. The goal of restorative justice is to restore both the victim and the perpetrator. Neither claim is true. Restorative justice is found within the ethics of Objectivism. According to Ayn Rand, objective law must be clearly stated so that all can know it and understand it. And, to be objective law must be enforced according to context. On its own, as a mechanism, restorative justice does not violate either of those. Restoration is also consonant with the fundamental principles of justice in contexts and by means that mere retribution never can be. Indeed, there is something wrong with the person who willfully harms others, who violates another person or their property. Slapping the offender upside the head will get their attention: it will not get them to think through the problem. That takes more work. That is not true at all. In fact, if you think about it, retribution is actually that model: We, society, will take care of the offender for years and years: food, clothing, shelter. We, society, failed, so we society will bear the responsibility for incarceration. It is true that rehabilitating the offender is a goal of justice. We seek to avoid a repetition of the problem. Retribution fails to do anything for the offender, so they re-offend. My county prosecutor once said to me, "Every business depends on repeat customers." Restoring the perpetrator prevents recidivism. That restoration process begins with acknowledging the harm they caused, admitting the wrong they committed, identifying the losses suffered by the victim. In identifying the facts of reality, the offender gains an objective understanding of the context. The offender who blames others is not participating in restorative justice. Exactly, the offender thinks not at all of other people or the consequences of their actions. In fact, they think hardly at all, sometimes not all. So, just flogging them, branding them, chopping their hands off, putting their eyes out, or incarcerating them achieves nothing -- and nothing for the victim, either, of course. Restorative justice invests no more total effort in bringing the offender to the table to identify the harms they committed and losses they caused than the retributive system wastes in sheer cruelty. When you cannot stop at an intersection because you were driving faster than the speed limit, and you have a damage accident, the problem is public schools, or your family? I think the problem is with you. You need to admit that you made a series of mistakes, meet with your victims and thereby restore them to their previous state (to the extent possible) and reintegrate yourself into the community of lawful motorists. Nothing in the works of Ayn Rand supports the assertion that justice is concerned entirely with retribution. Most people who are not involved in objective crimes -- different from the transgressions we capitalists would excuse, justify, or even commend -- have no clear idea of what crime really is. They get their ideas from television, movies, print, the internet. It is a "mass mediated hyper-reality" an abstracted abstraction that feeds on and feeds to illusions that crimes are committed by poor people and people of minority races who murder, rape, and loot each other, or by corporate executives who murder each other to cover up pollution or pyramid schemes. Indeed, those do exist. However, it is a plain statement at for any police department, 80% of your problems come from 20% of your addresses, rich, poor, middle class; white. blue, or green; Catholics, Objectivists, or Scientologists. People are people because A is A. Uncles molest their nieces; employees steal from work; kids shoot out street lights. Retribution is based on the theory that the State is an Instrumentality of Divine Punishment: struck by lightening, turned into a pillar of salt, hung by your hair from a tree... And it is an absolute fact that there are some perpetrators for whom no amount of restorative justice will ever change their internal states, give them ideas, help them think, or let them perceive the people around them. Some criminals are genetic sociopaths. But punishment does nothing for them, either.
  13. I hate rationalist utopia arguments. Stuart K. Hayashi wrote what I consider a classic work, "The Argument from Arbitrary Metaphysics." You can find it on Objectivist Living here and Rebirth of Reason here. We can review real cases and evaluate the extent to which they did, or did not, enact objective law. That said, realize that for Ayn Rand, objective law was written down for all to know, not subject to whimsy and interpretation, so that even bad laws, if clearly stated and uniformly applied would be objective. I think that you are looking for something else. You might consider "Quentin Daniels, Dagny Taggart, and the Motor." He did not want to take her money unless he was successful and she did not ask for a Non-Compete Non-Disclose Contract. That speaks to Rand's assumption that there are no conflicts of interest among rational people. In the real world, I would point to Massachusetts with MIT and Harvard and strict Non-compete Contracts and California with Silicon Valley and nearly no such laws. Both had high tech computer hacking cultures in the 1960s, but California clearly went lightyears beyond Massachusetts in the products created by the entrpreneurs there. In this TED Talk, Johanna Blakley demonstrates with dollars that the lack of intellectual property in fashions makes the fashion industry orders of magnitude more profitable than printing and publishing. (Larry Lessig argues for Remix on TED here.) I am not arguing against intellectual property rights in an absolute way, but suggesting that objective law for IP would be more like California and less like Massachusetts.
  14. In addition to Google, I use www.Exalead.com/search and Bing but also Ask and Yahoo. In every case, I searched on employment contract law non-compete non-disclose. Exalead/search was the least useful. (It is a bit unusual as search engine.) Bing brought up a lot of lawyer advice websites. As you might expect, Google did the best over all job. Not surprisingly, the Wikipedia article was a good introduction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Non-compete_clause. But note this under the Discussion tab: Via Google, I found this article on a lawyer advice website called HG.org: As with all contracts, restrictive covenants require an exchange of consideration to be enforceable. The law defines consideration as a "bargained-for exchange between the parties," in other words, something each side wants and promises to give to the other side. This is why restrictive covenants should be signed at the beginning of the employment relationship: There is no consideration when the employer promises the employee something he is already giving him (a job and salary). So NDAs signed mid-employment should be bought for something extra, like a bonus or a promotion, to be enforceable. As you can see, there is a lot to this and much depends on the State of the Union with competent jurisdiction because amid the free advice is the assertion that claims across states are not enforceable. Basically, if you sign a non-compete in Massachusetts (strong law) and go to California to start a competing business, your employer has no claim. But, I am not a lawyer, and if I were, I would not give advice free online. (A thousand years ago, I went to my mother's lawyer for help, and he said that a bright kid like me could read the books and figure it out. So, I did. Since then, with more to lose, my counselors have warned me against "practicing hornbook law.") What research have you done so far?
  15. My university library search engine placed the "Sticking Tongue Out" emoticon on the results of a search for a book on private security. To serve and protect rivatization and community in criminal ... This is not the first time I ran into this. Both ® and © are annoyances when trying to cite a document produced in outline format. Probably not right up there with the corporate income tax...
  16. The correct answers here need no special amendments. This sex dolls case just a single example of something worked out long ago. Engineers and scientists and others have long been parties to such non-compete/non-disclose contracts. That said, some courts (Minneapolis federal district court, I believe) did state that a workman has a right to practice his craft and such agreements were intended to limit only special employees, not all employees as a general condition. I believe that this ruling is flawed, but it does speak to the problem: what can be limited? Generally, having followed this with casual interest since 1978 myself, the courts consider it more consequential for the VP of Marketing to take the customer list, than for an engineer to take his knowledge. We know that Silicon Valley was created with the "Fairchildren" abandoned Shockley and Fairchild and from them came more spin-offs and ever more. It is hard to imagine that there were not such contracts in place. But it did little good. An improvement, an innovation, a method not employed earlier, they make it a new thing. And so very few contract suits were successful. You are really asking two questions: what is US law today; and what would objective law look like. The second is harder to answer and begs a different topic. BTW, I did not know about the new generation of sex dolls from Sinthetics. I'm impressed. Can they talk? I worked in robotics for two years, and let me tell you... (well, not now...)
  17. You got too many rambling phillipics from confessed non-historians. Allow me to answer briefly as a published author of histories[1] and as an Objectivist. It may be that every society has had traders and merchants. Certainly, every civilization has. However, capitalism was impossible until the Age of Reason. I am fully aware of powerful roots in the Middle Ages, but two explicit formulations were necessary: the arithmetic of risk; and natural rights. Before Fermat and Pascal rationalized chance, risk was in the hands of the Fates or the gods or God. Once risk was calculable, it could be bought and sold. (See Against the Gods: the Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter L. Bernstein; Wiley, 1998.) That alone was not sufficient. Good arithmetic alone could not make capitalism without political equality based on common rights. You often hear people say "a jury of your peers" but that phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution, nor could it because we have no peerage. Capitalism was impossible until everyone was equal under law. That required an understanding of natural rights. Where you look for the origin of capitalism depends on what you define as an essential event. The English Bill of Rights of 1689 (Avalon here) is a strong statement. Locke's Second Treatise on Government would be a philosophical foundation for that. Myself, I like the fact that The Wealth of Nations and the Declaration of Independence were both published in 1776. That's where capitalism begins... though, without the arithmetic of risk, we would have had little more than self-sufficient yeoman farmers in some kind of Jeffersonian Tolkein fantasy, rather than the complex and vibrant civilization of invention and improvement. [1] My curriculum vitae includes about 20 works such as these: “Champagne: The Athens of the Middle Ages, The Celator, Vol. 25. No. 11, November 2009. “Michigan in Three Financial Panics: 1837, 1857, and 1933,” The Mich-Matist Volume XLII No.4, Fall 2006. “Copper Owls : The Emergency Coinage of Athens 406 BC,” The Celator, Vol. 19, no. 10 (October 2005), p. 6-16. “Sir Isaac Newton: Warden and Master of the Mint,” The Numismatist, Vol. 114, no. 11 (November 2001), p. 1302-1308, 1363 : ill., port. “Dyrrachium: Rome's Gateway to Greece,” The Celator, Vol 11 no. 4, April 1997 “A Penny Earned: the Wages of Work,” The Numismatist, Vol. 109, no. 11 (November 996), p. 1320-1321, ill. “Some Questions on the Origins of Coinage,” Classical Numismatic Review, Vol. 19, no. 3, p. 3. “The Purse of Eratosthenes: the Coinage and Commerce of Cyrene,” The Celator, Vol. 8, no 1, (January 1994), p 18-20., ill
  18. We just saw it. When I asked my wife if she thought that if we leave now, we could get our money back, I woke her up. It was horribly cliched on every level. It came nowhere close to the first TRON for originality or morality or character development or cybernetic theory or special effects. The Radio Shack CoCo (Color Computer) may indeed have had the TRON/TROFF command but the TRS-80 was a different computer entirely. Though marketed as a "TRS-80 Color Computer" the CoCo ran on the Motorola 6809E processor, not the Intel 8080. (See Wikipedia here.) Operationally, the TRS-80 Models I, II, III, and IV were a different line entirely, with the II being an incompatible offshoot (8-inch floppy drives). Compared to what computers were in 1981 and what computers are today and what the movie Tron was in 1981 and Tron today, the inability to get ahead of the technology curve was disappointing. Also disappointing was the lack of Cheryl Morgan (Lora/Yuri). When they said that Sam Flynn's mother was dead, it was a lowpoint early on. I came home to check and see that Cindy Morgan is alive and well. In the original, the program analogs were more congruent. Here, beyond the obvious main characters, I was not sure who was who or if anybody was. In particular, I thought that Young Dillinger was the sycophantic program "Jarvis" -- and apparently, he was not... As for the theft of intelllectual property, in the original movie, Dillinger stole Tron and Space Paranoids from Kevin Flynn. In this movie, young Sam Flynn puts Enron's OS12 out for free on the Internet. Details aside, this movie was a waste of money, our $15 and the $300,000,000 that Disney spent.
  19. Well, it was just a Newtonmas Greeting. Numismatist Michael Hodder once said that I make my bones off the works of others, i.e, that I write reviews and summaries, as opposed to doing original work, like he does. Fair enough, it is true. My biography of Newton's tenure as warden and master of the Mint (Numismatist, November 2001) came largely from the works of Sir John Craig. Sir John Craig, Newton at the Mint (Cambridge 1946). “Isaac Newton and the Counterfeiters” by Sir John Craig, Notes and Records, London: The Royal Society, December 1, 1963, pages 136-145. I also read the recent biographies by Berlinski, Westfall, and White: Berlinski, David. Newton's Gift: How Sir Isaac Newton Unlocked the System of the World. New York: Free Press, Simon and Schuster, 2000. Westfall, Richard S. Never at Rest: a Biography of Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980. White, Michael. Isaac Newton: The Last Sorceror. Reading, Mass.: Helix Books, Perseus Books, 1997. When Levenson's book came out (Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist by Thomas Levenson; Boston;New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), I revisited those and then found “Isaac Newton--Crime Investigator” by John Craig. Nature 182 (1958). So, I know Newton fairly well. I agree that if you ran some kind of "person on the street" questionaire, you would find that "most" people would say that "Newton discovered gravity" or something like that. When I cited his three laws of motion, I was, in fact, thinking of the Second: "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." It comes up in Little League Baseball; it is fundamental to firearms training; ice skaters know that first, and then much more about conservation of energy on a frictionless surface. Reading The Logical Leap, I went through all of that yet again. Newton's telescope worked just fine, even though he was just plain wrong about light. You wisely wrote, "... and the realization that 'white' light is a broad spectrum (mixture) of all colors." Close enough, but that is not exactly correct, as, in truth, it only takes three colors (not the full spectrum) to fool our brains into seeing the nonexistent wavelenght of "white." (Unless you think "white" is out there somewhere beyond blue because the word "color" literally means "heat" and comes directly from our experience with iron: heat an iron rod and goes from red to white. Linguists have a rule of thumb that no language invents words for "brown" and "purple" until after the differentiation of "blue" from "green." Seriously. Our Indo-European languages are only about 6,000 years old, with increasingly rapid development. Try reading Aristotle in the original Greek and you will not be impressed: compared to Ayn Rand, he's Fred Flintstone -- he lacks concepts, even though the Greeks were inventing new words all the time. "The Greeks have a word for it," is a cliche from Roman times. In The Logical Leap, Harriman uses vernacular about color and about projectile motion. So, he never states explicitly that waves reflect as do particles with the angle of incidence equal to the angle of reflection; but waves refract according to Descartes' Law (Snell's Law to us): sin(i)/sin® = k. That disproves Newton's corpuscular theory. The pressure of light can be demonstrated and that experiment casts doubt on the wave theory because the "pressure" of a wave is perpendicular to its direction of motion. Well, atheism was known before Newton - Francis Bacon alluded to it - and, again, in hacking through The Logical Leap, I discovered via other books that medieval astronomy was robust, a long sweep from the 800s through the 1400s, attempting to bring theory and measurement in to alignment. The Church was very supportive of astronomy (called "astrology" then) because getting Easter right required predicting the phases of the Moon relative to the position of the Sun -- the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of Spring. There was one observatory in Gorze in Germany founded in 953 by a group of men and women who had been studying astrology at a school or monastary of some kind in Metz. So, I try to get past For the New Intellectual when speculating about who thought what in the Middle Ages. But, be all that as it may, it is true that Newton's work made the Enlightenment possible: he brought theory and practice together in a clearly demonstrable set of principles.
  20. This week, I added an essay on the history of money as the technology of ritual exchange.
  21. Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night; God said, 'Let Newton be' and all was light. Alexander Pope Sir Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day 1642 (Old Style) which was modernized to 4 January 1643. However, we still like to note that Newton was born in the year that Galileo died, 1642. For most people, Newton is famous for his Three Laws of Motiion. Beyond that, those with additional education know him for inventing the Calculus to prove his theories of celestial and terrestrial mechanics. In addition Newton invented the reflecting telescope as a result of his experiments with light. And he also proved the general case for the Binomial Theorem ("Pascal's Triangle"). We tend to ignore his religious writings, the extent of which actually eclipsed his scientific production. His Arian beliefs foreshadowed modern Unitarianism, but he swore under oath to be a Trinitarian so that he could teach at Cambridge. Few people except numismatists know him to have been the Warden and Master of the British Royal Mint. In 2001, I wrote a biography of Newton for the ANA's Numismatist magazine. Last year, I was happy to be able to place several reviews of Thomas Levenson's new book, Newton and the Counterfeiter, a gripping narrative of Newton as an investigator and prosecutor. We here know that politics rests on epistemology and metaphysics. Newton's work in physics and mathematics was the starter -- the battery, induction coin, and motor -- for the Enlightenment of the 18th century. His Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) united theory and practice, logic and experiment, reason and evidence. Newton demonstrated that truths are necessary facts. MERRY NEWTONMAS TO YOU! Michael
  22. Orwellian doubletalk about "internet freedom" means as little as the Statue of Liberty on the bonds given to Hank Rearden. Start here, follow the links... for as much as you can stand ... http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/web/12/20/fcc.net.neutrality/index.html?hpt=T1
  23. I added some essays to my website, Washtenaw Justice, ahead of creating a blog. For Objectivists, the entries under Morality and Ethics include a paper on the Objectivist Ethics in Business. If you like money, you might find something interesting under Numismatics. I am still working on a couple of new features to add to that area. I also serve as webmaster for the Michigan State Numismatic Society and the designs are obviously similar. Before I start the blog, though, I need to write a few more entries so as not to run out of ideas too painfully early.
  24. When the movie first came out, I posted to RoR. Robert Malcom directed us to the sources that Edward Gibbon relied on to tell this story. Interpretations of the past are always about the present. That is true of science fiction as well. It is always about us, here and now. Should Hypatia have been played by Helen Mirren instead of Rachel Weisz? What is essential?
  25. I am currently reading The Logical Leap by David Harriman, a book much discussed. I recommend it highly, not so much for the things people argue about, but for what is not up for discussion: objectivism is rational empiricism. (Note the lowercase letters.) Whether your mathematics suggests an empirical test or your experience suggests a rational explanation, the two must come together for your assertions to be valid -- and that cannot contradict anything else already proved to be true. (Unless we go back and refute the earlier proof.) My point is that so far, almost everything that has been offered are rationalist claims without empirical context. One post -- from Iowa -- mentioned school furniture made at prisons. Here in Michigan, we used to do that, also, have the prisons make the office furniture for the state government. But Grand Rapids has a lot of companies making furniture and they always objected, eventually successfully. Prisons making furniture for public school presupposes public schools, of course, a different problem entirely. For a while, they had prisoners making workboots for the state police, but when the workers found out where the product of their effort was going, the result was like something out of Atlas Shrugged. Rather than argue this or that detail without context, you have to start with empirically valid generalizations. My bachelor's is in criminology with a concentration in administration. My master's is in social science with a criminology concentration in global crime. In criminology we speak of the "mass mediated hyper-reality of crime" a bit of post-modernist jargon sorry to say but nonetheless properly identifying the fact that most people get their ideas about crime from television, newspapers, movies, and the Internet. You do not sit in courts all day long. You do not patrol the streets. You do not work with offenders on probation or parole. You do not counsel victims. Basically, you have no idea what crime is, so you have no idea what prisons are. It is absolutely true that the purpose of prison is pain. Reform of the offender was one minority experiment in Philadelphia in the 18th century. The method for that was solitary confinement to allow the offender to come to terms with God. Letting prisoners work in shops just lets them make weapons, but at least they are occupied and therefore easier to control. Most people -- even offenders -- are social animals. Solitary confinement is so severe that it is torture by definition. So, we have populations of prisoners in prison societies, working in the laundry, playing baseball, and otherwise not going crazier than they must seeing as how they are isolated from family, friends, and society at large -- the first level of pain we inflict. Generally, people who harm others were harmed themselves. Remediate their damage and you prevent future crimes. It is also true that some perpetrators have chemical imbalances that can be corrected. Some predators are predisposed by genetics and sometimes they can find socially-acceptable outlets, for instance in the military. (In Alduous Huxley's utopian novel, Island, the burly guys were sent into the forests to chop trees.) Finally, some predators are so genetically defined that they will never be changed by externalities. What do you with them? Prison is exile. It is a matter of topology. Instead of sending them outside the city walls, you wall them up away from the city: same result. The historical example of Australia (and the USA, in fact, also), suggests that a larger dumping ground with fewer internal controls is one way to solve the problem: just have someplace the size of Wyoming with deadly walls around and put all your problems there: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. But watch out... Sociologist Robert King Merton analyzed anomie, first identified by Emile Durkheim. Merton's typology of deviance is explained at the bottom of the Wikipedia biography here. Deviants (so-called) may be innovators and rebels. If you only reward people who sit down, shut up, and do as they are told, you will not make much material progress. (Merton's full essay is here.) Like all mid-range social theories, it has limitations of explanation for phenomena beyond its scope, spousal abuse, for example. We idealize the 19th century and in that, we blank out on inconvenient truths: on the unsettled frontier, in the boom towns, gold rushes, and landgrabs, life was more brutal. We are kinder and gentler. (In Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee, Hank Morgan is sent on his fantastic journey after being hit on the head with a wrench. We don't allow violence in the workplace. Back then, it was normal. Prisons and the retributionist theories that created and maintain them are a zombie from that more primitive time, forced-fed our lifeblood by political conservatives. It costs about $60,000 per year to incarcerate someone. How much would you pay not to imprison someone? How much would you pay for community corrections, reintegrative shaming, reconciliation tribunals, negotiation, arbitration, and adjudication, alternative sentencing, and restorative justice -- just some of the many alternatives to prison. In the final analysis, would you be willing just to write off a loss rather than to throw good money after bad trying to change the past?
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