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Everything posted by Hermes

  1. Aphorisms have this zen quality to them, that you can read yourself into a statement and find meaning in it. The I Ching and tarot cards work like that. I know how un-Objectivist those are, but they are no different than flowcharts and entity diagrams, really, just a way to see your own thoughts as you work out a problem. ... at least for me... I do not use them now, have not for 15 years or so, but I explored their potentials and even worked "New Age" shows as a reader. Julian Jaynes presented the theory of "the end of the bicameral mind." Before writing, our brains were more symnetrical, and there was no "self." Writing was a trigger for the creation and development of reflexive consciousness, being aware of being aware. Before that, people did not have voices in their heads. When they did, they did not know where the voices were coming from and identified the source as external to them, as "god" (or a spirit) speaking to them. There is much evidence to support this, but, of course, no "proof" in the Newtonian sense. Even now, you can drive home from work and not remember doing it, as your conscious mind was "someplace else." Joan of Arc heard "voices" that commanded her. This is still a modern phenomenon and it explains much of he world. Not all featherless bipeds are rational animals. Many people today still have no self, which is why they can behave as they do collectively without thought.
  2. PULLED AT THE REQUEST OF PRINCETON UNIVERSITY EXERCISING ITS COPYRIGHT RIGHTS Did you get it? I am not sure where Princeton's "rights" are in this. I never heard of a student assigning copyrights to their college for their work. If the copyright belongs to anyone, it belongs to Elena Kagan, though, in fact, she wrote it in 1981 before the USA joined the Berne Convention. It is possible that under the law of that time, if she did not specifically file a copyright, then there is none. Anyway... It is nice to see that people actually have read her works. On other sites, they just condemn her by reflex. It is true, moreover, that in her "Private Speech Public Purpose Paper" she said that speech (writing, etc.) which serves only an individual purpose is merely "masturbatory" and "low value" and not worthy of protection. But that only underscores what has been clear from the start about her political views and in that, she is not alone. Some Objectivists point to Justice Scalia as an "originalist" but in fact, it is Alito who is the "libertarian." Moreover, Scalia peppered some decisions with allusions from international law, which other consevatives found curious if not distressing. And if you look at Kelo v. New London, you can see that being nominated by a Republican was no guarantee that the justice would support the right to property. All of which is to say that howevermuch you might not like her, Elena Kagan is no less qualified than anyone else serving on the Supreme Court.
  3. Cosgrove, I just finished an associate's, a bachelor's and a master's since 2005. However, I never stopped going to school, actually, and my first freshman year was 1967. I have been to eight colleges and universities, large and small, public and private. It does not matter where you spend your first four years, and I recommend a small liberal arts school in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin or Michigan. Yale and Michigan State and schools like that never deliver what they promise undergraduates. At a small school, you not only have the actual professor teaching the class, rather than a "teaching assistant" a few years ahead of yourself, you stand a good chance of meeting the prof in a bar or restaurant or (at worst) the library after school. Yes, there are exceptions. The big schools have "honors colleges" but you are still one out of many, even within that cohort, but, more to the point, outside of that, no one knows or cares about you. At a smaller school, you can be an honors student or not, you are still visible and important. And this goes also for engineering, etc., where a smaller school is better than a larger one for the first four years. Once you get into graduate through post-doctoral studiens, yes, the school matters based on its present status. You probably know about the scandals in research fraud that periodically rock places like Cornell and Boston University. Those in particular, but all big schools with huge research projects have that problem, so you have to know the news before you apply. You cannot know now where you will get the master's or doctorate. There are many ways to gimmick admissions and they apply to graduate school as well as to college. Schools look for "ocmmunity involvement" and "extra curriculars." I know of people (high school kids as well as college adults) who form clubs just for that purpose, even get their pictures in the yearbook. Heck, form an honor society while you are at it. My last bachelor's major was criminology, which required a lot of sociology. Admissions to college is like admissions to any society. The rules may be "fair" or "unfair" (even or weighted; meritorious or meritricious) but they exist everywhere and always have and always will. In times gone by, you had to come from the right family. It is hard to say that the academic admissions processes were ever "fair." You have to find the school that is best for you. It's a sales job and a shopping venture. Paying attention to everyone else just opens the door to envy and jealousy. Go your own way.
  4. You asked a good question, but you got no good answers. Wealth is the ability to make money. That was the definition offered to me 40 years ago by Bill Bradford. Better known as the late founder of Liberty magazine, Bill first owned Liberty Coin Service of East Lansing. If anyone knew money, he did. Bill said that even von Mises was incomplete on this and certainly the mainstream economists did not understand money or wealth. Just now, in response to your question, I checked both Human Action and Samuelson's undergraduate text and both are unclear on this. I also looked the words up in other languages and then reversed the search to check their cognates. Basically, we do not have clear ideas on this. Perhaps if commercial universities had employed capitalist philosophers a hundred years ago, we would be further down the road on this. I invest much thought to money. Not that I have an abundance of it, but I have been granted several literary awards for writing about it. I have to agree with what I first learned: wealth is the ability to make money. We are limiting our thoughts to Modern English, attempting to differentiate two closely related concepts. Words are tools. The words "wealth" and "money" have different roots and came to be related only recently and only in modern English. In other languages, "wealth" is "richness" but you have to understand "rich" as "reach" that which is within your grasp. Wealth is well-being. Someone with a lot of money is well-off because they have a lot within their reach. We commonly have no clear ideas on this -- not even Ayn Rand -- because philosophers of money ("economists") have not identified the facts of reality. Allow me to suggest that if you save money, your accumulation is wealth because it has the potential to make more money through investment or enterprise. If you have a brilliant marketable idea, you are wealthy, as well, albeit without any ready cash. Wealth is like potential energy and money is like kinetic energy. As neither Ludwig von Mises nor Paul Samuelson differentiated wealth from money in a consistent, unambiguous presentation, you might not bother worrying about it. If you care to, then I offer Bill Bradford's distinction. He was an Objectivist. He was a millionaire. He made his money buying and selling money. I figure he knew what he was talking about.
  5. This is a complicated issue ... and a simple one. I have no easy answer here. (The other quickies posted did little to illuminate the problem.) First of all, we all have a "violence gene" if you want to call it that. Smile into the mirror and consider those incisors and canines. Also, alcohol impairs judgment and lowers inhibitions. Therefore, how you act when you are drunk is how you really are, not an exception to your true self. As I was completing an associate's in criminal justice, I wrote a paper for a seminar class on the subject of "Genes and Crime." I did not make up my mind before I wrote the paper. I did not even have a better frame for the question. My research revealed (no surprise) that several significant national studies by highly qualified academics over the past 150 years attempted to identify the relationship between heredity and criminality. There is no consensus, but there are many compelling facts. The fundamental problem with all such studies is that they look at populations, not individuals. Individuals are intractable. Sigmund Freud opened the door to rational investigation of motive. He provided few quantifiable questions and I daresay no answers. However, he did launch the inquiries that bring the common acknowledgement that a person may not know "why" they act as they do. Compulsions, obsessions, phobias, and other problems are rooted in the subconscious mind. Nathaniel Branden came to understand this between his first book and his third. His goal in therapy became to bring the subject to full focus and rational understanding of those areas clouded by evasion and repression. But your self-awareness is not (or may not be) measurable from the outside. Bank robber Willie Sutton may or may not have been completely honest with us or himself when he said that he robbed banks because "that's where the money is." Did he have a "robber gene"? (Don't we all?) As a child, was he abused or unloved or ignored or abandoned or whatever? (Who was not? Do you think it was esy being young Franklin D. Roosevelt?) Completing a bachelor of science degree in criminology, I created a presentation for my senior seminar based on Ayn Rand's theory of evasion, the blank-out. This time, my mind was made up before I began. Among my visual aids was the chapter on Evasion from "John Galt Speaks" from YouTube. Now that I have completed a master's, I still believe that the jury must accept the accused as they find him, without speculating about his psyche. You cannot open it up and look. You can only judge the actor by his actions. (That said, I grant fully also, that many so-called "mentally ill" could be easily treated with nutrition and many others might never be treatable at all. That is yet another problem.) As for that so-called "violent gene" the so-called "warrior gene" is given expression by real warriors. While warfare itself a problem to be solved, the easy fact remains that one man joins the army and another man kills his wife. If there is any remediation possible for that second man (or the first, really), it is beyond the scope of criminal law. There are deep questions here. I trust that this sheds some light on the immediate topic.
  6. Coin dealers and collectors were warned that any purchase or sale over $600 will require the filing of a 1099. $600 Sale? Get Ready for Tax Form By David L. Ganz, Numismatic News June 29, 2010 Ganz is a practicing attorney and former president of the American Numismatic Association. -- Hermes
  7. Read the words. If you are unclear, then the fault may be mine for not writing well. My point was that according to the canonical essay on "competing governments" (so-called), private forces would of necessity go to war over the theft of a wallet. Clearly, that is not necessary. Many historical counter-examples disprove the claim. That is what I meant: Objectivist theory denies the possibility of competing protection agencies (not "governments") working peacefully together. On the other hand, Mafia gangs in days past and ghetto gangs today -- MS-13, Crips, Mighty Latins -- do go to war against each other and against the police. The Second Congo War took more lives than World War II as eight armies from five nations threw in with one or another or none of the sides in a local conflict. So, there is no doubt that some people are aggressive. The mere presence of government does not prevent them from warring. Government is just one way to realize law. Law comes first and law is based on tradition. William Graham Sumner outlined the structures of folkways, customs and laws over 100 years ago, but today's "conservatives" (libertarians, Objectivists) deny the value in sociology and have given the field to the Marxists and post-modernists. Instead of identifying the facts of human action, the "libertarians" (Objectivists) invent false propaganda about "warring defense agenies" and the inability to find a common arbitrator. And granted, if you do not want to come to terms, you will not. Vander Sloot promises to fight the Peruvian government all the way to the top. Clearly, the presence of government in Aruba did little for Natalee Holloway. It is a metaphysical fact that governments act on the past, attempting to correct an injustice, whereas businesses offering protection mechanisms act for the future to prevent losses.
  8. Hermes


    Thanks. I needed that. It is always nice to hear from someone who enjoys working hard, smart, and well. (We did the ladybugs a few years ago, also. Then, their Asian cousins invaded the midwest and we really had them. They are interesting.)
  9. I first heard the term used in a coin store about the year 2000 or so. I did not understand what was meant and the clerk said that it was a new phrase heard on convention floors. I agree that there was a tone of resignation when I heard it spoken: the coin cannot be made better. You have to understand the context. You can use a standard like The Red Book to grade a coin, sure, but a rarity will bring much more money in even slightly better grade. Beyond Mint State 60 (nominally Uncirculated) there are 10 more grades to Perfect 70. So, there is a lot of incentive to have a coin judged better. (Many famous American rarities have been upgraded over the years.) "It is what it is" means that this one will not be judged any better ... or any worse... Because since then I heard the statement meant that way, as well: as a floor under the downside. Taken together, the two mean that A is A. But numismatics might be different in nuance than sports.
  10. The fact is that in retail, 47% of your losses come from employees, 37% come from theft, 10% is shrinkage and error and the rest is being ripped off by your suppliers. That last is smallest because trade depends on trust. Employees steal because we live in a criminogenic society ruled by a kleptocracy. You cannot do anything about that larger problem, but I know how you can protect yourself.

  11. Over on Rebirth of Reason, in the Dissent forum, I have several topics, including "Police Forces and Courts of Law..." and "In a World Without Government." In the first, I cite obvious known failures of public police (the Soviet Agriculture model of safety), and also the known alternatives. Those known alternatives come from the real world. Ford Motor Company and General Motors have had large private police forces in a competing market geographically close and continguous and not fired a shot at each other in 100 years. Wells-Fargo, Burns, Pinkerton and the others never went to war against each other -- or against the government, for that matter. Today, G4S ("G-Force") and Securitas AB operate huge transnational agencies in competition and, again, no armed conflict between them. So, the real world includes many examples denied as possible by Objectivist theory. (Perhaps it is only denied by some people's interpretation of Objectivist theory.) The reason why is that these businesses accept a culture of law based on self-interest. Absent that, you have war, the essence of government. As for the FDA, the "Terry Stop" is a lawful engagement in which a police officer has reason to pat down a suspect. In the Terry case, the police officer saw a known felon loitering by a jewelry store. Do the police have the right to protect life and property by taking reaonsable preventive action? If so, then, by the same standard the FDA can be a lawful agency which prevents fraud in the marketplace. That applies to many other enforcement agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission. All I am saying is that your assumption that independent testing of goods and services by government agencies is not proper is a reflexive conservative or libertarian belief, not derived from objective principles. If the police can act to prevent crime, then the FDA can be appropriate.
  12. You are right: I am not arguing for bigger government, but only showing that the assertion that a consitutionally limited government restricted to army, police, and courts can be huge, as long as its officials have the will to expand it.
  13. Well, inflation is a tax on the future, so there is that. The government can always borrow on its own credit, create its own currency any number of ways. The traditional mode is to reduce the size and fineness of coins, but modern methods such as financial derivatives ("patriotism futures") are even more effective. Libertarians and Objectivists endorse the lottery concept. We know about the suggestion for "contract insurance" but that raises other issues. (All contracts would come to include the contract tax as a surcharge. On a deeper level, Ayn Rand specified that protecting contracts was a fundamental responsibility of government, so how could it be specially charged for?) Could the government charge for admission to courts or the legislatures? How about charging for admission to the National Archives? Or renting out the Declaration of Independence: in your home for a million dollars a year. Or for only $40,000 you could rent the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. Or how much would you pay for the Gettysburg Address? Could it be sold outright? Why not? Who owns it? Sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom has been a money-maker before. The governnment could sell Days the way an NPR radio station does. For a million or a billion, you could be President Pro Tem of the Senate for a day, or have the National Orchestra play your favorite songs on the National Radio Station. (Back to the original post: if the government can print the daily journal, then it can own other media as well.) Also, it could accept advertising not only on The Government Channel but in the pages of the Congressional Record. In short, there is no way to limit the money that the government can get or create once the motivation is engaged. Ya think?
  14. Yes, "normally" that is the history. Within that though there have always been exceptions. Moreover, Federal office buildings were long guarded by hired agencies, rather than federal police. Pinkerton's was purchased over a decade ago by Securitas AB, a Swedish firm. Securitas acquired Pinkerton, Burns, and Loomis, the largest American firms. Wackenhut is now owned by G4S ("G-Force") of the UK. G4S and Securitas vie for the claim of being the largest private security firm in the world: revenues, manpower, installations, etc., whatever metric works best, but the broader point is made. US military bases are guarded by foreign firms, though Allied Barton and Guardsmark remain Amerian-owned. That all being said, a constitutionally "limited" government could still fill the rosters with its own employees, however convenient contractors may be.
  15. When he met Ayn Rand and asked for her autograph, instead of Atlas Shrugged, he offered Introduction to the Objectivist Epistemology, for which she commended him.
  16. You can imagine yeoman farmers and village merchants in tricornered hats, but the word "police" appears nowhere in the US Constitution. This claim only goes back as far as John Stuart Mill's On Liberty (1869) because the first police force was London's in 1827. This idea was given fullest expression in an essay by German sociologist Max Weber in "Politics as a Vocation" (1920). »Jeder Staat wird auf Gewalt gegründet«, sagte seinerzeit TROTZKIJ in Brest-Litowsk. Das ist in der Tat richtig. Wenn nur soziale Gebilde beständen, denen die Gewaltsamkeit als Mittel unbekannt wäre, dann würde der Begriff »Staat« fortgefallen sein, dann wäre eingetreten, was man in diesem besonderen Sinne des Wortes als »Anarchie« bezeichnen würde. Gewaltsamkeit ist natürlich nicht etwa das normale oder einzige Mittel des Staates: – davon ist keine Rede –, wohl aber: das ihm spezifische. Gerade heute ist die Beziehung des Staates zur Gewaltsamkeit besonders intim. In der Vergangenheit haben die verschiedensten Verbände – von der Sippe angefangen – physische Gewaltsamkeit als ganz normales Mittel gekannt. Heute dagegen werden wir sagen müssen: Staat ist diejenige menschliche Gemeinschaft, welche innerhalb eines bestimmten Gebietes – dies: das »Gebiet« gehört zum Merkmal – das Monopol legitimer physischer Gewaltsamkeit für sich (mit Erfolg) beansprucht. Denn das der Gegenwart Spezifische ist: dass man allen anderen Verbänden oder Einzelpersonen das Recht zur physischen Gewaltsamkeit nur so weit zuschreibt, als der Staat sie von ihrer Seite zulässt: er gilt als alleinige Quelle des »Rechts« auf Gewaltsamkeit.
  17. Just a quick follow-up. The working producers were Ridley and Tony Scott. This blog is from Keith Devlin of the Mathematics Association of America. The first cases were based on real events involving forensic mathematicians. This blog is from the mathematics department of Northeastern University where Prof. Mark Bridger tracked each episode with comments, praises and criticisms. (Prof. Bridger is a progressive whose anti-businsess bias was taken out on Wolfram Research... especially after Bridger and his wife lost their contract as consultant for the show... nonetheless interesting, insightful and informative.) The www.numb3rs.org fan website is less interesting and fell off before the show ended, but if you are a "fish" for the show, you might find some pearls here. (I did not not.) This Cornell University Math Department site also commented with additional material on the mathematics of the first five seasons. These endorsements far surpass anything found for other "CSI" type shows. Numb3rs had reality. While the show had its share of chases -- which Professor Bridger bemoaned, and not without some justification -- and no shortage of physical danger to the heroes -- overall the show worked on intellect, not firepower and generally, our viewpoint characters, the mathematicians Charlie Eppes and Amita Ramanujan -- were Newtonian forces, acting at a distance, via their ponderous mentalities.
  18. Tricornered hats atop yeoman farmers and harbor town merchants come easily to mind. But the word "police" appears nowhere in the US Constitution. In John Locke's Second Treatise, the three branches of government were legislative, executive, and diplomatic. The courts were not a branch of government, but an institution of the local community to protect people from government: the king's men needed to get orders, writs and warrants from the court; and the actions required might be carried out not by them, but by other officers sworn to the court. Today, the police, the judges, the prosecutors, the public defenders, and pay for the jury (when there is one; 90% of criminal cases are pleaded out) all are in and of the government. We would like to privatize the post office, but does the government have no right to transmit its own messages? If the government can publish legislative minutes and proposed laws and notes of enforcement and judicial proceedings, then can the government not own its printing presses, television and radio stations, websites and other communications media? What mandate is there that the government must pay private contractors to provide any or all of its services? Should the police only be contracted, not employed directly? Should judges and legislators be hired from competing talent agencies? If not, then, why should the government not be allowed to operate its own police and army training academies, law schools, legislative seminaries, and bureau or agency colleges? The legislatures, courts, police stations, army posts, air bases, naval docks, all are the only responsibility of government. Today, many military bases are guarded by hired security. Why? Why not have government facilities guarded by government defenders? Over 8,000 privately contracted plainclothes police guard our federal courts. Why not have this work done by government employees, trained at government schools, clothed from government factories, fed from government farms? What mandate is there that government employees cannot as part of their modest compensation be given homes? What prevents the govrnment from constructing them, using government trained skilled trades workers from government craft programs? How are such facilities to be built and maintained? Military academies train military engineers. Why would the government not have other schools for training civil, mechanical, electrical, etc., engineers and scientists? What prevents this, given that the only proper functions are those listed atop? Who maintains the facilities, including these academies? Surely, with sensitive responsibilities for information security and physical confidentiality with police, army, and courts, only trained maintenance workers should be allowed to care for these buildings. Who paints the walls and who trims the grass and who clears the snow and ice? (See above about skilled craft training.) If these building are not to be insults, they must be decorative, and thus we can imagine government schools of art and design. What prevents the existence of government craft manufacturers to make the things created by the designers and artists for use in government facilities? If the legislature decided that its work could be better engaged listening to music, could there not be a government orchestra? After all, the military has its bands and orchestras, why not the courts and police? Courts need support, of course, from recorders, bailiffs, and clerks. The police need dispatchers, clerks, receptionists. The military feeds itself. What prevents the police and courts from having their own internal departments for food production and preparation? Who produces the pots and pans and stoves and refrigerators? You think that this is going too far - or went too far some paragraphs back - but this all derives from the assumption that the only purposes of governments are the ones listed by Ayn Rand: police, army, and courts. If they cannot produce their own paper and pens, if they cannot produce their own guns, then what do you have? Would the only allowable alternative be that a constituted "government" (so-called) must deliver services via competive bid for monopoly award? Private police agencies vie on the basis of cost-benefit by contract and one just one wins a monopoly contract? For how long? A year? A century? How do you decide? On the basis of what standard? Before Eli Whitney demonstrated interchangeable parts for military firearms, it was assumed by all that the government would operate its own arsenals. Should the government not be allowed to have such manufacturies, and the mines and farms that provide them with raw materials? We like to see private providers bidding for work, but, ultimately, we have to admit that the procurement model has problems of graft and corruption. Not the least of them is that businesses becaome dependent on such contracts with inevitable consequences of failure and foreclosure as the best lobbyists beat the best engineers. But how could a limited government grow so large as to have its own music schools, mines and farms? Every society has the government it deserves. When a significant fraction of the people have an explicitly objective personal philosophy, the rest will follow logically and inevitably.
  19. Numb3rs is one our top shows and the number one crime show for us. The characters are credible and easy to relate to. The plots are good for television, some of them excellent, all of them cerebral to some extent. The mathematics is real enough for TV. We do not watch television, but we do follow up on recommendations from friends. When I was working on an associate's in criminal justice, my classmates begged to be let out early to watch "24" a show highly touted by Objectivists. We rented some disks. I found it visceral, at best, stupid at worst, unrealistic and unbelievable, ultimately mockable. We found CSI and CSI:Someplace shallow and lame. (We also rejected The Sopranos and Sex in the City, and several more recommendations.) Another patroller showed me Numb3rs one slow night; and over the course of that second season, we found reasons to duck into a viewing room for lunch breaks, making nearby rounds on the commercials. He already had his BS in criminology and was in an academy from which he went federal. I learned a lot from him. This year (2009-2010) we borrowed disks of previous seasons from the library, rented others from neighborhood stores, and watched a few on TV. Some of the nights we missed, we caught again on computer at www.CBS.com where you can still watch a couple of episodes and lots of scenes. The show was cancelled in April 2010. After completing a bachelor of science in criminology, I earned a master of arts in social science by constructing a curriculum in global crime. One of my professors for geography said that he liked NUMB3RS because so much of the mathematics involved mapping. Indeed it did. Numb3rs had technical support from Wolfram Research. If you goto to their website here and enter NUMB3RS in the search box, you will find hundreds of hits, including this blog entry. They also had technical support from Dr. Gary Lorden who earned his BA at Cal Tech. Understandably, Cal Tech's public relations department has made much of that. See here and here, for example. He co-authored a book, Solving Crime with Mathematics: the Numbers behind Numb3rs, with NPR math reporter Keith Devlin. The show offers some irony. Dylan Bruno plays agent Colby Granger. He's the jock. "Colby, go down the elevator shaft... Colby, climb the bridge..." Funny thing is Dylan Bruno has a BS in environmental engineering from MIT. So, he is the one guy on the set most likely to actually understand the mathematics. That said, co-star Navi Rawat (grad student and then professor Amita Ramanujan) came up to speed, telling a fan site that she googles the concepts before shooting so that she can speak her lines with deeper meaning. David Krumholtz (Prof. Charles Eppes) confessed to never liking mathematics in school. His skill is acting. Judd Hirsch plays his father (retired city planner Alan Eppes) and the two worked together as father and son in a Broadway play, "Conversations with My Father." Rob Morrow completes the family as Donald Eppes, the FBI SAIC. The original pilot had two others for the sons, and the show was set in Boston (for MIT). However, the creators (Nicolas Falacci and Cheryl Heuton, also writers and producers), were tasked with producing a new pilot set in LA with new actors. Of the supporting actors, Diana Farr (agent Megan Reeves) does the best job of actually acting like an FBI agent. She got some training acting as a fireman in the show "Rescue Me." She confessed that that role was physically demanding and the new desk assignment was more to her liking. Rob Morrow also carries his role well. I had criminology classes where there was a guy who looked like that. He's a "type" and it works well for the show. All in all, Numb3rs far surpasses the other shows that revolve around science in the solution of crimes. For all of that, television writing is what it is: a shooting schedule; a production run. Not every show evidences all of the virtues. Over time, cast members came and went. Diana Farr had a baby. Peter McNicol (physicist Dr. Larry Fleinnhardt) worked on "24." The new girls were exotic and interesting, but not compelling. Sophina Brown did well enough as the tough former LAPD Nikki Betancourt now learning to be an FBI agent. Lastly, watching the disks, we can stop and review the math. One episode was "Black Swan" based on Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book by that name, which I am reading now.
  20. My answer is, "I don't know what you should do." It is complicated. The problems that led to and lead from intellectual property and the laws to protect it are multifaceted, often historical rather than objective. Most often the laws resulted from who held political power, rather than who discovered objective truth. If you go to a concert and hear a new work, can you hum it to yourself? Can you play in on your own instrument? Can you play it for others? Charging for the performance is irrelevant. You would agree that you do not have the right to take someone else's physical property -- land; home; computer; car -- and give it away. At what level have you taken the property of the performer? When you hummed it to yourself? You cannot prevent someone from knowing what they know. Thus, copyright laws protect the form, but not the content, i.e., the book, but not the ideas. You cannot reproduce and distribute The Virtue of Selfishness, but you can discuss Objectivism. Originally, the goal of intellectual property laws was to protect the creator. Thus, laws were specific and limited in time. The creator gained the advantage of their invention, while at the same time, everyone else was admitted to now know what they know. Now, however, the Mickey Mouse Copyright Law extends far beyond the lifetime of the creator. Perhaps that could be an example of objective law, as corporations are eternal, also. But that has not been proved (to me) and the corporation itself rests on the state. Nothing in the marketplace previoulsly allowed corporations. So that is a separate argument. As I said, it is complicated. You asked a question, so, on the one hand, you are also unsure. On the other hand, you asked because it bothers you. That, too, speaks to the problem. Your intuition based on experience is that this is wrong. I have to ask back: Upon what premises and assumptions do you base your dislike? Is the problem not so much the nature of copyrights laws, as the nature of your friends?
  21. Yes, indeed. It is not either-or, but both and others as well, included. Unintentionally contradictory of Joseph Schumpeter's "creative destruction," writing in The Economy of Cities, Jane Jacobs pointed out that old technologies are not replaced, but only transformed. Her example was that the makers of brass fittings for horse tack went into other lines of work as the industrial revolution grew out. So, too, here. We still have religion... and fascism... and brave new world entertainments... and more besides... It is not a matter of either-or. That would be too easy. Besides, what difference does it make? If Brave New World distracts the distractable, that is also free will, is it not... assuming that such creatures actually have will in the first place. Julian Jaynes theorized that not all featherless bipeds are rational animals. Some people -- apparently many -- truly have no self.
  22. Some Objectivists have a crush on Glenn Beck because he "educates millions of people." Actually, he only tells millions of television viewers what they already believe, what they expect to hear, what they know they will agree with. Yes, he had Yaron Brooke on his show: April 30, 2009: View here February 17, 2009 May 6, 2008 I see that this has been brought up here before in a Thread in This Topic. What has Glenn Beck ever said about reason? Does he understand that the law of identity invalidates his God? His recommended reading list touts Federalism. He glorifies the Founders as exemplars of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Who benefits from compromise? Did the Ayn Rand Institute gain subscribers, or did Glenn Beck gain viewers -- and could it be any other way?
  23. Understanding the phenomenon of misconduct in scientific research should begin with positives, rather than with negatives. We worry about wrongdoing without defining what it means to do right. We post the Periodic Table in our classrooms and laboratories, but we do not display the “Guidelines for Professional Conduct” of the American Physical Society. Moreover, the APS webpage for that has links to the ethics statements of the American Chemical Society, American Mathematical Society, the Association for Computing Machinery and the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Those are all very short statements. The ethics code of the American Counseling Association runs 18 pages. On the other hand, a standard first year textbook for physics majors requires about 400 pages. But all physics problems come down to the conservation of energy. So, why not just teach physics as one page of important points and leave the rest to interpretation? Morality and ethics[6] in science should be at least a one semester class in solving problems, on par with any other science course, with three or four hours per week of engagement. [6]I believe that I can prove that morality is an objective requirement of individual survival, e.g., the Greek idea of the good life, whereas ethics is conformance to social expectations, such as when on a city bus, a gentleman gives his seat to a woman. An example of an arguable ethic in science is the problem of whether and when to keep findings unreported versus your right to control your intellectual property or versus your obligation to protect others from immoral application of your work by third parties. This paper cannot address all of that, but those would be some of the lemmas and dilemmas in a 400-page Ethical Problems textbook. From "Procedural Misconduct By Scientists: Prevention And Remedies," by Michael E. Marotta, in partial requirement for completion of Physics 406: Ethical Issues In Physics, Dr. Patrick L. Koehn, Eastern Michigan University, Winter 2010.
  24. Pick your favorite professional organizations. I looked at the American Physical Society, the American Geographers Association, the American Counseling Association, and several others. They usually have some short, bulleted list of Dos and Dont's, which they call a code of ethics. Generally, morality is taken to be personal (and subjective). Cheating on your wife is immoral; cheating your clients is unethical. One exception from above is the American Counseling Association, whose code of conduct run 18 pages. They recognize the existence of ethical dilemmas. None of these societies suggests a code of morals. As for what ethics "means" or how morality is "defined" my point here is that this is ambiguous. We tend to use the words interchangeably and yet there are times when we do not, when we mean different things by them. That ambivalent ambiguity is the source of much confusion, and not just in this discussion.
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