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Everything posted by Jake_Ellison

  1. Saw you're in the "banned" group...hope that's not a permanent thing. I've found your input very helpful on several occasions

  2. You just quoted it. Allowing some religions to be considered in Court, while banning others, is an obvious violation of the Establishment Clause.
  3. The existence of this law would not make it any less impossible for a judge to rule the same exact way. And even if it did (which it doesn't), that would not justify a law that singles out a religion over others, in violation of the Constitution.
  4. So an overthrown decision in Jersey is proof that Muslims in Oklahoma are going to start beating their wives undisturbed from now on? Brilliant.
  5. It's not true that throwing this referendum out would mean men will get to beat their wives or daughters without being punished, in Oklahoma. What are you basing that claim on?
  6. If farmers were allowed to just use any seeds that resulted from any accidental contamination, in any way they see fit, that would effectively remove the control Monsanto has of their intellectual property. They can't stop the wind and the bees, that is a naturally occurring phenomenon. The role of the Courts is to prevent both sides from exploiting it. Having the farmers keep the harvest, but not allowing them to further use the strain for free, is an acceptable solution. It's not true that this means farmers have something stolen from them by Monsanto, or that they are forced to buy the seeds from them. They can simply sell the Monsanto crops they harvested, and use the money to buy non-Monsanto seeds from a neighbor. It's an inevitable inconvenience for the farmers (and for Monsanto too), but it's not initiation of force by either side. As for the legal costs, once the precedents have been set, there is no reason for farmers who can't afford to pay for their own lawyers to challenge them. They can just respect the precedent, and not re-seed the Monsanto crops.
  7. I don't know what "international law" they're referring to. They most certainly can't outlaw treaties and agreements the federal government commits to. As per Article Six of the Const., those supersede local legislation. As for the Sharia thing, they're most definitely not allowed to single out a single religion, in their legislation. That's an obvious violation of the First Amendment. They could of course ban all religions from consideration, but that would for instance also involve banning the Christian definition of marriage, and giving the "activist" judges they so dread another excellent tool in support of gay marriage.
  8. Luck exists, but that's not an example of it. Like OCSL said, the fact that our parents had us was their decision, not luck. Luck is having an event that you knew had only a certain probability of occurring, happen, and benefit you. I think its role in our lives is overblown though (partly because people assign events that aren't lucky at all, to luck). The chances of someone being consistently lucky are very small. More often than not, successful people are not actually lucky, they just have better knowledge of the probabilities of future events, and therefor their choices seem lucky to those who don't have that knowledge, but in fact aren't. Take for instance a card counter at a blackjack table: he's not winning because of luck, but everyone thinks he is. And, unless you know how to count cards yourself, you'll never be able to tell if any player is winning out of luck or if he's a really good card counter, except based on the results. That's how they get caught: not because the casino security went to MIT, but because they know that even though the odds of winning a single hand are very close to 50% (between 49 and 50) no one is lucky enough to come out on top over a long period of time, by playing those odds.
  9. That's what you got out of that ruling? Really? Because it says the exact opposite.
  10. They were either more curious about Politics and Economics than you were, or they were more avid readers, to the point that they were willing to read a thousand page novel just because it came highly recommended. Either way, I don't see what luck has to do with discovering and reading a great, widely published bestseller (Atlas Shrugged), or learning about a prominent figure of the American Right (Ayn Rand). She's probably been mentioned on every political talk show that ever existed, in the past five decades. Of course, if we were talking about some obscure book or author almost no one heard of, then those who stumble across it are not just smart and hard working, they are also lucky. But to find a book constantly near the top of bestseller lists and in the public eye, all you need is curiosity and rationality. You can have the worst luck in the world, and still end up coming across it, if you search for answers hard enough, and are smart enough to recognize its value from other people's reviews (even from certain people's insults).
  11. I think I see where you're coming from here. If a man, when realizing his life, lived by his own values, is over anyway, decides to end it on his own terms rather than prolong it in a way that isn't his chosen life anymore, that is a life affirming choice, based on one's values, aimed at capping off an entire existence by making the last few minutes noble. He chooses this instead of the alternative: making the last few years painful and worthless at the expense of those last few minutes spent pursuing his values, and at the expense of having spent his entire life (shortened as it is) in accordance with rational principles. That death is also chosen based on one's values (his love of freedom), just like dying for the sake of a loved one. It's just different values, but the issue is the same. I've now turned around and accepted that they are both moral choices, though.
  12. You shouldn't be using 'predict the future' and 'determine probabilities' interchangeably. No, Statistics doesn't predict the future. And I wasn't predicting your future either, I was giving you your odds of dying because of your habit. Predicting the future would mean telling you that you are going to die from it. That is what you did, by the way (you predicted that smoking will take 5-10 years off the end of your life), and that's what started this discussion. It is wrong to assume cures for ailments caused by smoking are more likely to be developed than cures for other ailments. So that possibility doesn't affect the odds of you dying because of smoking in any way. Sure, it could happen. But there is a very significant chance that it won't. That's not a prediction, it is a factual statement about our current knowledge. All (mathematically sound) estimates of the probabilities of future events are. That's not context, that's a false analogy.
  13. I have two separate points, one regarding the actual argument, the other the Objectivist position on the issue. I'm interested in both, but they are two separate issues, so I'll address them one at a time: 1. I believe you that you're quite confident of all that, but you can't conclude something hurts my life without explaining how exactly it hurts my life. That "therefore" in the middle sound like an inference, but it's not really, your premise is the same statement as your conclusion, just phrased differently. So, what's your actual argument? How does the occasional buzz, at times when I have made sure I won't be required to work or make important decisions, hurt my life? Are you alleging it permanently affects my mind and rationality? 2. Your statements are not an accurate characterization of Objectivism, and the two quotes certainly don't amount to what you are saying. There is a significant difference between having a buzz and what Ayn Rand is talking about in the quote (an unconscious mind, in fact she's probably talking about a permanently unconscious mind). Just because someone has a buzz, that does not make them unconscious or unaware of reality. No one here is saying that drinking oneself into unconsciousness is fine. Do you have a quote of Ayn Rand addressing the specific issue of relaxing one's mind, with alcohol (which I know she did), as opposed to drinking until you're unconscious? I don't, but I do remember Dr. Peikoff talk about it, and say that it is perfectly acceptable. No one can be fully focused at all time, we all need rest beyond just the time we spend sleeping, and he found nothing wrong with people who choose to relax with the help of a substance, because they find it easier and more enjoyable. Deal with what? Ze Germans?
  14. Where are you getting this from? Of course they do, that's the only reason why anyone does statistical analysis. No one ever does anything that's poisonous and without benefit? That's not a very sound premise for your inference there.
  15. No, it's not. I am applying the statistical evidence to a random smoker's chances of survival correctly, after you mis-applied them in your previous post to conclude smoking will take 5-10 years off your life. In the context of my knowledge about you (all I know is that you are a middle aged smoker), that is the accurate estimation of your chances of dying from it. If I was your doctor and had some more facts (about your medical condition, history of illness in your family, etc.) I could maybe give you a more accurate estimate. (meaning that 50% chance that you'll die because of your smoking, instead of some other cause, would either go up or down to some extent - I doubt it could ever, given our current medical knowledge, go down enough to allow someone to rationally choose long term smoking) But, based on my current knowledge about you, that 0.5 is an accurate number for the probability of you dying from smoking, and so are all the other figures. Can you present any evidence to suggest your chances of survival are better than that? Based on only statistics? Of course not. Based on only statistics, it would also be possible that smoking only kills some humans, and has no effect on others. But that's not the case. Based on the rest of our knowledge about the effects of smoking on the human body in general, coupled with those statistics, I absolutely can say that they are harmful for any person in the context you provided (of yourself).
  16. That's alright, I remember the discussion from back then. Your explanation contains a contradiction (improving one's life can be done by trading it for a value) that cannot be eliminated, except by recognizing that there is one choice beyond Ethics: to live or die. Ayn Rand put it this way: "Life or death is man’s only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice." When one should choose to not live (which was the choice being discussed) is not going to be determined by those principles of action. In fact, in the example discussed, the very reason the person chose to not live was because there was no way to live with his values intact. That rational ethics could not be applied to implement his choice to live, the choice to live became unsustainable.
  17. This sounds a little like Objectivism (because of the whole focused mind thing), but it isn't. Objectivism advocates for a focused mind as the means of achieving one's goals, making hard choices, creating great things, etc. However, that does not mean it calls for always lying in wait, like a damn deer or some kind of martial arts guru, ready to focus one's mind just in case something happens. In fact Rand drank to get buzzed, so did the people in her circle of friends. Plenty of people (like Miss Rand) have jobs that allow them to not worry about having to perform at full capacity 24/7. They can get off work and make the safe assumption that they can enjoy a good buzz without any negative consequences whatsoever. Smoking pot has never caused me to have even a single hallucination. So, if you're calling the people in this thread, who are saying there's nothing wrong with that practice, advocates for the use of hallucinogenics, you are factually and demonstrably wrong. Yes, in their purest form and taken excessively substances contained in pot are hallucinogenic, but that does not mean a joint is also hallucinogenic. Something that doesn't cause hallucinations isn't hallucinogenic.
  18. That equation is wrong. People who smoke a pack or more a day die ten years early on average (not 5-10, by the way, but 10). That doesn't mean you're guaranteed 25 good years, far from it. You could die (or get a debilitating disease) from smoking next year. The actual equation is that smoking doubles mortality rates in both middle and old age. About half of smokers die because of their habit, the other half don't. But out of those who die, half (duh!) die even earlier than that 10 year average. So if you continue smoking, your odds of dying more than ten years before your time are 25%, and your odds of dying during middle age are two times greater than mine. If you quit before the age of 50, the chances of dying, from that point on, from your previous smoking are cut by at least half, but a lot more the faster you quit. (for instance, if you quit before the age of 30, you're almost completely safe). The above facts are one of two reasons why I quit (the other was that smoking was affecting my appetite and physical condition). Looking back on it, I also realize that one of the arguments I used to come up with for smoking (that it relaxes me, and helps me think and work) was in fact dead wrong. I was comparing my mental state while smoking not with the state of a non-smoker, but rather with my mental state during times of withdrawal (whenever I was stuck in a place where I couldn't light up). Of course you can't think while going through withdrawal. But that says nothing about your ability to think once you've quit. There is no evidence to suggest those who stop smoking are negatively impacted as far as their ability to focus and make good decisions. If anything, I'm more functional and calm now, that I quit (since I'm never going through withdrawal).
  19. The occasional use of relatively mild drugs like pot and alcohol doesn't have a significant, lasting effect on someone's rational faculty. As evidenced by all the successful, productive pot smokers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRyLbsW3wZE
  20. Someone who answers yes to "Should the government be entirely secular?", I presume.
  21. I'm pretty sure Rand defined sacrifice long before dictionary.com.
  22. Every viable plan to achieve something great begins with the smallest of steps. For instance, Rearden didn't get a job because working as a day laborer made him happy, but because it was the first step in his long term plan. And he was content doing his menial job because he knew it was a part of something important. That meant it wasn't menial at all. You're right, you shouldn't get a shitty McDs job to try and make yourself happy, and such a job should not make any Objectivist happy. You should get a shitty job as the first step in a plan to achieve something worthwhile with your life, in the long run. You don't even have to know exactly what that something is for now, because no matter what it is, it requires you to take this first step. You should think about what exactly you wish to accomplish, eventually, but that certainly shouldn't be your priority. The one important thing you need to understand is this simple fact: every great human achievement necessarily starts with one small step. That is the only way to start yours. Your mistake is that you are trying to come up with a first step that's as important as possible. You should do the exact opposite: come up with a first step that is as easy as possible. I'm not 100% sure what it should be, but based on what you wrote, I would suggest considering getting a very basic job. Don't worry about it being a good job, just take whatever job is the easiest to get. The significance of having taken the first step makes the quality of the job irrelevant: the job is not your primary goal, taking the first step is.
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