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eriatarka

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  1. What about keeping up interest payments on the existing national debt (around $400 billion a year)? Defaulting on it is possible but it would pretty much ruin the economy. You have to decide whether youre just making up blueprints for some theoretical utopian society, or talking about the actual US today. If America was going to move towards a minarchist political system then the existing national debt would be a fairly serious problem and its not clear what could be done about it without causing a disasterous global recession.
  2. Structually simple yes. Theres obviously an extremely high amount of 'local' complexity due to the counterpoint but it doesnt have the complex large-scale forms that you find in (eg) Mahler or even Beethoven. Its not so much relativism as it is realising that different types of music need to be judged by different standards. Comparing Bach to (eg) Scarlatti is one thing, but comparing him to Wagner or Philip Glass makes little sense since they are making completely different types of music.
  3. It's not clear what rating the composers 'objectively' means here, and I think youre using a standard of value which is inherently biased towards Bach. Theres no question that Bach was a more technically gifted composer than Rachmaninov, and possibly the most gifted ever. However its not clear that technically brilliant music is inherently better than more simple music. Rachmaninov was a Romantic and the purpose of Romantic music was generally expression and the communication of emotion/inner states. Therefore by a Romantic standard, the 'best' composer is the one who's work communicates th
  4. The radicalness of Marx often gets underestimated - he didnt support really the sort of things which Obama is proposing. Obama's position is fairly straightforward social democracy, as implemented in pretty much every Western country. It has little to do with socialism/communism/Marx, all of whcih involve a radical transformation of society rather than just raising tax by another few percent and having a couple more social programs. Remember that Obama is still to the right economically of every European country including the UK, and none of them could reasonably be described socialist under i
  5. What caused the first child to be a better block builder than the second? Was he just genetically more intelligent, or was his increased creativity a result of his upbringing and social conditions? What about the child who was building a tower and then had his blocks taken away because his parents needed to sell them to buy food? Obviously children who are more talented (for whatever reason) shouldnt be handicapped to help those who are less talented, but I think that stories like this have the effect of portraying intelligence/creativity as something which is innate (or chosen/willed) rath
  6. Obama's public persona isnt remotely Marxist and anyone who thinks it is has a superficial understanding of Marx and probably hasnt read more than the Communist Manifesto (if even that). Regarding Obama's intelligence, you cant really judge him on his public persona because his speeches exist in a political climate which is geared towards soundbites and anti-intellectualism. No mainstream American politician is going to come across as being intelligent, because intelligence isnt a value which is currently respected in mainstream American politics. I remember reading some accounts of Obama w
  7. Criticizing a set of awards because they often go to people of a different political persuasion than yourself is about as ideological as it gets. Awards in semi-scientific fields like economics are always going to be more influenced by bias than those in pure sciences like physics where it's easier to evaluate theories in a value-free way, but the 'liberal conspiracy' accusations are rooted in far deeper bias than anything the Nobel committee has ever had. It's counter-intuitive but the fact it's went unrefuted for decades is decent evidence that it's correct. Noone has managed to conclusi
  8. what The Nobel peace prize (which Gore won) has nothing to do with any of the academic prizes and using it to discredit the awards as a whole is ridiculous. The efficient market hypothesis is not 'stupid', is largely correct, and had nothing to do with the collapse of LTCM Black-Scholes still has a central place in quantitative finance, and modern portfolio theory is still largely based around models like CAPM which assume efficiency.
  9. This may be heresy but I prefer Shostakovich's first book of preludes and fugues to anything Ive heard by Bach, and to me it carries more emotional range. (these are pretty horrible performances though, Keith Jarrett's interpretation is exceptional and the one I'd recommend. Why are so many composers so bad at performing/interpretating their own work? I'd say the same about Rachmaninov too!).
  10. Its just an applied ethics class as opposed to meta ethics
  11. How so? Ignore the Ayn Rand books and the Reader's list is hardly great - it overrates pop fiction (sci-fi, LoTR, etc) whereas the board's list is more concerned with artistic merit (Lolita, Portrait of an Artist, and so on). I'm not a huge fan of either list (it ignores pretty much all European literature) but if I had to be stuck on a desert island with all the books from one then it would be the board's. They arent that different though, once you remove the sci-fi nerdery. edit: both the non-fiction lists are weird and read like anything with academic merit in its field has been
  12. Just back up your important documents and reformat your computer...
  13. She's wrong about several things, particularly the part about 'sociological studies showing that group consensus is better than individual opinion'. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asch_conformity_experiments http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_of_silence http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_polarization http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink
  14. John told me that we'd be best buddies for life but now he has a new girlfriend and doesnt have time to see me very often, what moral recourse do I have against him for violating the implicit contract of our friendship?
  15. Isnt the Clarion Fund a branch of an Orthodox Jewish organization with strong ties to Israel? It hardly seems the most unbiased source of information on Islam or the Arab world.
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