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Everything posted by foofalah

  1. I've found that the productivity of my study of OPAR has increased by at least 50% (if it's possible to give a number to it), by doing the following: Take your copy of OPAR to Kinko's. Tell them you want a spiral binding on it. They'll cut off the spine and affix said spiral binding. The book will like flat on your table/desk, and you can thereby use both hands to take notes, eat your breakfast cereal, etc. It helps a lot more than you'd think and costs about $6.00 + tax. I've done this to other books as well and it really does make your study more productive. Have fun!
  2. I used to know the full answer to this, but I forgot. Of course, Peikoff and Binswanger were there. Also, I'm pretty sure that Hospers and Gotthelf were there but I don't remember their letters. I might have this written down somewhere. If I find it I'll post more.
  3. The thing is, merely seeing that an individual is overweight doesn't indicate anything about his moral status. A person's moral status isn't fixed or dictated by any given immoral choices from the past. If a person has made a commitment to reason and morality, say, a year ago and hasn't deviated, he is *moral* (though depending on his past before this commitment, you may be justified in practicing caution in your dealings with him). So when you see an overweight person for the first time, you really have no idea of the context. Maybe he's been trying to lose weight but has dug himself into a metabolic hole that it's hard to dig out of, or contracted a condition that's made weight loss difficult and slow. Maybe he made bad choices in the past, but has actually lost 70 lbs. in the last year and deserves to be treated as a hero, and instead you are judging him as immoral. Hell, maybe he's an actor putting on weight for an upcoming role. The point is you have no idea what the *meaning* of his being fat is, by merely looking at him, and therefore are making an error in assessing his moral character based on scant information. One prominent Objectivist writer used to be quite heavy (and his wife, who is also a writer, still may be), and I would guarantee he (and she) would blow your moral socks off. You'd be depriving yourself of great value by refusing to deal with him, and doing him an injustice by saying that his weight problem trumps his great work as a writer in moral importance.
  4. foofalah


    I make part of my living playing poker. The above definition of gambling seems accurate. However, in some wagering games, your in-game decisions have no bearing on the long-term outcome. In craps or roulette or slots, for example, probability dictates that you are a loser in the long run. Every bet you make has a negative expected value. Say I offer you the proposition: We play a dice game. Every time you roll a six, I pay you $10. Every time you don't roll a 6, you pay me $1. Since each number is expected to come out an equal number of times in the long run, in the end you will win. So say you roll the dice 600 times. ~100 times you'll win $10, and ~500 times you'll lose $1. So you'll win $1000 and lose $500 for $500 profit. Your EV (expected value) per roll is +83 cents. Is that a rational wager for you? Sure as hell it is. So as to whether or not it is rational to gamble, it can be, if you have odds in your favor. For games against the house (craps, roulette, slots, etc.), there is lvirtually nothing that can be done to nullify the house edge (except in blackjack and very possibly in craps). The deck is stacked against you, as it were, and that's how Vegas stays around. For games against other players, by contrast, the decisions you make *matter* and the game requires strict objectivity, calculation, and no room for emotionalism. Even taking into account short term luck, in the end, skillful players will win out over less skillful players. As evidence for this, note that there are professional poker players, but no professional roulette players. You can get *better* at poker by practice and reading books, but there is no way to be a better roulette player. So to my way of thinking, poker isn't *gambling* per se, unless you treat it that way (and if you do treat it that way, you won't win). So, like the answer to most questions...it depends on the context. If you are interested in a good author on gambling topics, try David Sklansky. P.S. As an aside with regard to the lottery example...again it depends on the odds. There have been situations where the size of the jackpot in relation to the cost of the ticket has given the act of buying a ticket a slightly positive EV. You aren't *favored* to win the lottery in this case by simply buying a ticket; what it means is that in the very long run, given the odds and payout and enough trials, you would be slightly ahead overall. (In fact, I heard a story second-hand of a high school math teach who used a real-life example of a positive EV lottery situation for a lottery drawing that was about to occur. He students badgered him into buying a ticket, lest he be a hypocrite. He took this to heart, reluctantly bought some tickets...and he won!)
  5. It's funny, because I've been preparing to pitch a TV show based on that exact premise. Please don't do it before I do. I've been working hard.
  6. If you speak with confidence and self-assuredness, make absolute statements, and don't submit to today's 'complexity worship' and its accompanying qualifications, haziness, and intellectual humility, many will think you are "talking down" to them. That's our culture and welcome to it. While it's not fair and you shouldn't have to compromise, we still want our message to get across. My method is to listen carefully to give them the feeling of having been listened to (people appreciate that) and to extract a full statement of their views and their validation (if any). By asking, in a friendly way, some questions, I then lead them through a Socratic process of showing how their view is inconsistent within the context of everything else they believe. People don't feel like I'm attacking them so much as I am curious. I then state what I think is the truth on the matter and how it resolves or avoids the inconsistency they have expressed. Also, I make jokes and buy them drinks. This way, you don't compromise; you make the other person feel listened to and, therefore, receptive to your ideas; and sometimes you get her phone number.
  7. An axiom is an item of knowledge that identifies, in very broad terms, a fundamental fact about reality or our perception of it. As an item of knowledge, an axiom serves an epistemological role as a uniter of all our knowledge. Therefore, an axiom specifies an item of knowledge that is epistemologically prior (in some sense) to a big chunk of our other specific knowledge of the world. In a metaphysical sense, however, 'A is A"'has no extra "factuality" than "Water boils, in most contexts, at 100 degrees centigrade". All facts, whether identified by axioms or by the most high-falutin' abstraction are metaphysically simulataneous. So, the way I understand things...Axioms are principles that serve a particular role in our knowledge (that of being fundamental and all-encompassing) but the facts axioms point to have no more metaphysical priority than any garden-variety "empirical" observation (assuming it's a valid one). Axioms are epistemological, in that they point out which knowledge "comes before" (a notion deserving a whole separate discussion) the rest of our knowledge, and the facts that axioms point out (plus some of their immediate corollaries) comprise the field of metaphysics. So, axioms are both metaphysical and epistemological in the senses specified above. (Note: In the above, by "axiom" I mean "philosophical axiom", as opposed to the axioms of various sub-fields of knowledge, the axioms of which, within the context of any given discipline are considered "the given" but which in the broader context of knowledge definitely require outside validation...but that's just nitpicking.) That's my understanding anyway, for what it's worth. P.S. I know that my first sentence is not a definition of 'axiom'. Rather it is a true characterization of axioms slanted to set up my elaboration. I very well familar with her definition and believe that the above is implied by it and included in it.
  8. I laugh at "Objectivists" who try to rationalize stealing music on the basis that since they aren't taking a physical thing, it isn't stealing. See, they say that what they are taking is *nothing*. Yet it is still a value to them, a *something*. But if the value you are seeking doesn't exist, how can it still be a value? In their minds, downloaded music both exists and doesn't. It exists because it is a value that will give them enjoyment. It doesn't exist because "it isn't physical". You can't have it both ways. But these people think you can. When it gives them pleasure, it's a value, an existent. When they defend their prerogative to take it for free, it's a nothing. There's no valid philosophical argument that can justify that contradiction. Aristotle says: give it up. If you want to be a materialist and a hedonist...fantastic, have a nice trip. Just don't pretend to be an Objectivist.
  9. ARI, by law, is required to maintain a board of directors. That's corporate structure.
  10. Also...blank lines between paragraphs would be a bonus.
  11. Commitment doesn't mean "I'll be with you no matter what." It simply means a commitment not to bolt out the door at the sign of any minor problem. If I'm in a non-committed relationship (i.e. dating) and I notice a continuing, though minor, problem (maybe she refuses to wax her ear hair or something), I feel comfortable leaving, with no explanation, and on the assumption that it is only a casual relationship and there are plenty of other women who I might like better and who don't present this problem. A committed relationship is founded on the presumption that a person provides so much value to you that you both regard it as worth the effort to work through minor troubles. The above, I contend, is what most people actually mean when they speak of 'unconditional love'. It's an unfortunate choice of words, but I think all they want is some confidence that you aren't going stop loving them after a bad haircut. (Of course, some people really desire a love that is literally unconditional..and that's just stupid.) And there is always competition in committed relationships. The second that problems severely outweigh the benefits, and you have given up hope of amelioration, you figure on getting out of it. Also, if you and your mate don't continue to do things to attract each other, you'll eventually get bored and leave. Committed couples break up all the time. If you don't feel *comfortable* with a committed relationship, that's a different issue. Just don't try and rationalize it with psuedo-philosophical chicanery. EDITED TO ADD: Just an afterthought. How good would you feel about a relationship in which your girlfriend said to you, "Honey I slept with a guy from work because he bought me flowers today and you didn't. That's cool right? Also, I know we had plans to go to Outback Steakhouse tonight, but this guy on the bus offered to bring me to Chez Louis. So either up your offer or I'll be in his bed tonight." Is that really what you want? And not to be impertinent, but do you really want to stand naked in a lineup with 4 other guys with your girlfriend wielding a ruler and a clipboard? That's really what your post means.
  12. I would start by watching TV: Queer Eye For the Straight Guy on Bravo and What Not To Wear on TLC. They will give you a great overview of what clothes work for what types of people and why. And they are fun and will get you excited and motivated about improving your look, by showing you that is possible to go from zero to sixty by making just a few small changes. Some books: Color For Men by Carole Jackson. A lot of this book is outdated, but the guidelines for determining which colors best complement your skin tone are timeless. The book is out of print, but your library or used book store probably have copies. Off the Cuff by Carson Kressley. He's the "Fashion Savant" on the aforemention Queer Eye show. It's an irreverant and up-to-date guide to finding the clothes that best match your body, personality, and lifestyle. A two button rag of a shirt might work for college-Roark, but it might not work for you. There are other "classic" books that you'll see recommended on men's clothing, like Style and the Man for example. It's worth reading, but some of it is a bit outdated and the bulk of it irrelevant to most men, unless you wear a suit every day to work and get to shop for the latest couture in Milan and London (it actually has a directory of the best places to get clothing in Europe's poshest cities...like I have that opportunity). Read men's style-oriented magazines like GQ, Esquire and the like. Cut out pictures of things you like from the magazines and bring them with you when you go shopping, so you can find looks that match the pictures. Don't tell yourself "I could never wear that." That's just self-limiting defeatism. You are worthy of looking great. Notice other people whom you consider snappy dressers and ask yourself what makes you evaluate them that way. More often than not, it's two things (among others): their clothes actually fit them right, and they have cool accessories. Another tip: Actually GO SHOPPING. And not always at Wal-Mart or JC Penny but at the expensive mall clothing stores. Doesn't mean you have to buy anything, but get a feel for what is out there and what you like. And very important: TRY THINGS ON. Even if you only marginally like something, grab it and try it on anyway. You might be surprised at what looks good on you. Be more of an empiricist than a rationalist. You can talk yourself out of a piece of clothing, but you really don't know if it works for you unless you have actual experiences trying it on. Have fun with it. Within the constraints of your budget, buy the best quality garments you can afford. It's a much better investment of your money to buy something that is classic, timeless, well-constructed, well-fitting and will last you... as opposed to some piece of junk that you'll have to replace in six months because it's coming apart. Hope this helps. P.S. It is also a plus if you have a fantastic credit limit and little abandon. :-P P.P.S. Also, throwing away all your pleated casual pants would be a great start. :-)
  13. Following (and setting) clothing fashion and trends is not necessarily, or even predominantly, second-handed or some sort of "fitting in" or "belonging" or accepting the standards of others over one's own. Man's need (yes, *need*) of fashion is entirely valid and redounds on a psycho-epistemological need--man's need of differentiation. Just as a word sounds stupid if you say or hear it over and over again (until it degenerates into a laughing fit of babble), a predominant style of dress looks stupid if you see it over and over again. It's like you have an internal monologue that says "stirrup pants, stirrup pants, stirrup pants, stirrup pants...ok that looks stupid now. Now let's wear capri pants." There is nothing at all invalid or second-handed about fashion trends unless they are blantantly irrational (examples of which I can't come up with, though I'm sure there are 'inherently evil cargo pants' or something.) Objectivists shouldn't reject being style-conscious just because it partly involves how others perceive you. One's body image and how one is physically perceived is an important psychological factor in a man's self-concept. Plus, we might get women to like us for reasons more visceral than our stunning intellects. :-P
  14. In my experience, and in the experience of several of my friends who have dealt with depression and anxiety, medication is very helpful. Medication isn't a cure, for sure. But often, the very nature of depression and anxiety disorders makes it very difficult to initiate and sustain the action and focus required to eliminate them. They can undercut your attempts by asserting themselves while you are doing the things (introspection and exposure) that are supposed to mitigate against them. In this regard medication can be invaluable. Simply to take medication in perpetuity and in absence of any cognitive work is not a cure--as soon as you go off the medication, you will be depressed and anxious again. By lessening the magnitude of depressive and anxious episodes, however, medication can create a context that makes your cognitive activities more effective. It is naive and rationalistic (and boy did I used to believe it) to reason that since depression is a mood disorder, and moods are emotions, and emotions are caused by premises, therefore no physical or chemical means can be used to affect mood. The mind and body interact and affect each other all the time. I will (an act of consciousness) to move my hand and (a physical action) it moves. Something pricks (a physical action) my finger and I experience displeasure (an act of consciousness). I drink beer (a physical object) and I get lethargic and goofy (an act of consciousness). We don't know, and Oists shouldn't presume to know, all the aspects of mood disorder. We're getting there, but we shouldn't re-write reality to make the phenomenon of mood disorder fit our idea of what it "should be". We must let our observations--not our commitment to our previous principles and definitions--generate the general principles, and our use our principles to interpret their meaning. A quick note on therapy: In my case and in the case of people I know, cognitive therapy proper works as in-the-moment mood management. Which is great. Some cognitive therapists and some who write books discount the value of delving deeply into and exploring one's childhood, in favor of exclusively dealing with your current moods and problems and finding coping skills to manage them. In my case, going back to re-visit old issues was vital. I mean, where did my emotional problems generate if not in my youth before I had the cognitive tools to interpret my experiences properly? So I found it helpful to undo the false generalizations I came to in childhood. Some cognitive therapists don't do this, and some do. So I would advise you to make sure to interview any potential therapists and see what they think of that. Another note: No therapy or medication--by itself--is going to cure anyone's depression or anxiety issues. To my mind, the primary cure is testing and discrediting your old erroneous beliefs by means of action in reality. What therapy and medication can do is give you tools to put you in the right frame of mind to overcome your aversions to testing your erroneous beliefs. (e.g. "Boy, I should go to that dance tonight...but I'm ugly and boring, so I'm not going to go." If you go the dance you'll necessary generate situations that will challenge your poor self-concept...which makes it an easy choice to not go.) When you act against your thought that, say, nobody can love you or that you are ugly...and then you see on repeated occasions--in reality--that these thoughts are false and maladaptive, well, that has more weight than 1000 hours of trying merely to talk yourself out of them, devoid of action (some psychologists call this process 'exposure'). Hope this helps.
  15. How is it 'cheating' someone to take back your stuff from people who are cheating you?
  16. I'm sorry. I just don't buy that those remarks about those books are recommendations. The more I read them, the more I am convinced that they are subtly mocking people who think those methods are ok. Doesn't the whole tone belie that? I think so. Is subtlety lost on you people? And I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that Objectivists are morally obligated to resign themselves to the structures of the mixed economy without a little self-serving subversion. It is *moral* to recieve restitution--even if the current political system make laws to protect its self-perpetuation. Avoiding library fines isn't violence, and it isn't the initiation of physical force or fraud. Any more than evading taxes is. It might not be the wisest thing in the world--the potential punishment, for example--but is it out and out immoral? I have a hard time seeing that. Does respecting the rule of law mean you can't go over the speed limit, or drink some wine under the legal age, or take a tax deduction you can't document? Life is for the living, not for kowtowing to the arbitrary demands of a mixed-economy welfare state that is hell-bent on staying that way. I'm not defending the book thing of course. People should get what they deserve. But I don't think some humorous mocking article is evidence of immorality. My .02.
  17. I dunno, I find the following to be pretty persuasive: "A statement: I don't advocate stealing or cheating anyone out of anything that is rightfully his. Libraries are typically owned by governments. Their materials are paid for with money taken from you without your consent and spent on items that you wouldn't necessarily buy. Thus, I don't really consider this stealing or cheating. I regard this as a way of getting back something that is rightfully yours, not of "putting one over" on someone. This technique may apply to cetain commerical entities, but it would be immoral and wrong to use it with private business ventures." And if you really read the reviews, is he *really* saying that these books are ok? "Yes, a whole world of opportunites awaits those who discard those old-fashioned, impractical notions of morality, consequences, and long-term thinking." "[This book] will tell you how to spend more than 34 cents worth of your time to save 34 cents." "Particularly charming is the section on getting the whole family involved--using your children as pawns in your quest for that elusive free Bloomin' Onion." "He'd also know all the crucial rationalizations to justify why it's OK to do all this--all in the convience of a portable 63 page book." Sounds pretty dismissive of people who'd read these books. It's subtle, I grant you. Reminds me of those sly articles Dominique Francon wrote, saying one thing superficially but implying another to the careful reader. Say what you want about the unshipped book thing, but I don't think this library fines article is damning, and I find it all actually pretty funny.
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