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Everything posted by Alexandros

  1. Perhaps he has actually discovered something, and invented a means of making a use of it, but is wrong about exactly what it is he has discovered. This has happened many times throughout scientific history. In many situations, you don't need to understand something completely in order to use it in some way. That being said, it seems a little strange to admit that you aren't educated enough to debunk his claims only to call him a crackpot anyway.
  2. Thanks for the videos and the links. I've e-mailed all of my Congressmen.
  3. I've only listened to the first track of the first album so far and wow! Refreshingly good. Thanks.
  4. When we succeed to remove the stigma from selfishness, we'll have won the battle against altruism. The fact of the matter is that "bad selfishness" doesn't just apply to those things done in one's own interest that happen to unjustly harm other individuals, it also applies to doing something for yourself when there are other individuals in need. So, I'm not just a "selfish" human being because I almost killed that lady who was crossing the street because I have to get to my "big, important job", I'm also a selfish prick for driving a Mercedes when there are starving people in Countries X, Y, and Z. It's this idea that having any more than some "reasonable" amount of luxury makes you "selfish". I think this is why Rand never gave any thought to the idea of picking a word with less or no negative connotation. To take the word back is to have affected great change. The best way to go about getting people to understand is to explain to them what rational self-interest is, and what kind of actions are rationally self-interested. But, to be honest, I think you'd be much better off talking about the rights of the individual. The most headway I make towards getting people to understand is when I talk to them about what it means to advocate socialist measures. I think this is one of the things to be learned from the power of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. People become interested in Objectivism or Libertarian politics after reading about what happens to a world that chooses to enslave itself. After they understand that, you can start in on the philosophy explicitly.
  5. I remember being amazed by that video a couple of years ago, but looking into it further showed that it's not quite what it's made out to be. It's ingenious to say the least, but a replacement for the WiiMote and Kinect it is not. Still, it's a glimpse at how human's will interface with technology in the future, and it's really exciting.
  6. There are no conceivable situations in which any person or group of persons may have the moral justification to confiscate the products of someone's efforts without their consent that do not involve that someone being at fault for some crime, and in those cases the proper route taken is through the courts. The only proper function of government is the protection of the rights of the individual. The only agencies needed to fulfill this function are the police, the military, and the courts. Any other agency can only act as a regulatory body, and its existence will only be possible through the reallocation of funds from the police, military, and courts, taking away from the governments ability to perform its proper function. Furthermore, governmental regulatory bodies can not provide any service that the private sector or the police, military, and courts can not provide. Negligent companies whose products harm their customers are punished in court. Diligent companies are rewarded with certifications and approval from agencies that are in direct competition with each other.
  7. Alexandros

    Food Stamps?

    The argument that "the government has already spent my money and therefore has to steal from people now to pay me now" doesn't hold up. The government confiscates money from me; if they hadn't, then it is possible I could still have the money now (in the form of savings). If I do not deserve to have returned to me now what was taken from me before because government spending already accounts for it, then I do not even deserve to have any of what I have now (even the untaxed portion) because the government's debt already takes that amount into account as well. While it is true that the debt will be paid by taxes taken in the future, the liability exists now, and so too does a portion of the amount needed to pay that liability, in the wallets and bank accounts of every American who works for a living. If I can not take back now what I would already have in a laissez-faire system, then how can I justify keeping what I do already have when its equivalent is already taken into account by debts to be repaid in the future?
  8. Static holographic image lit from above. I'm sure your dream will be a reality some day.
  9. Holography just moved up a few notches on my "List of Things That Are Badass", and Zebra Imaging has moved onto my list of companies to look out for over the next decade. Very inventive and inspiring.
  10. This quote is confusing to me. Peikoff is attempting to prove the universe is non-temporal by appealing to something "outside the universe" which we can't get to. Isn't such an appeal meaningless? Like trying to have a conversation with someone who insists you answer questions like "Where is the universe, then?" The question is meaningless, and therefore no kind of proof can be derived from it. Can you explain how Peikoff has avoided this, or where I am misinterpreting/misunderstanding? "Time is a measurement of motion." Thus, where there is motion, time can be measured. If time is not a property of the universe, then there can be no motion of the universe. But, doesn't this also mean that there can not be motion within the universe? Imagine a box with a ball in it. We can say that the ball exists in the interior of the box. If there is no motion associated with the box, does the ball still exist in the interior of the box? I say no, because the box doesn't exist. I say the box doesn't exist because if there is no motion associated with the box, then it can’t consist of any combination of molecules, atoms, quarks, or bosons, and since this is all there is to consist of, the box must not exist. So, it can be said that the universe must be in motion because we can observe that things do exist within the universe. But, this suggests that there is an outside to the universe, because something in motion must be moving inside of something. If this is the case, does it matter that we "cannot get outside the universe?" If we can logically prove that the universe is contained in something, then time can apply to the universe because there is something to relate it to. (I’m aware this creates an infinite regress, I’m just hoping you’ll point out where I’ve gone wrong.) If time is just a measurement, then isn’t space also just a measurement, and therefore it does not exist either? It seems to fit the same criteria as time. You are there, I am here; we know here is not there because of some measurement of the space between us, as we know now is not then because of some measurement of time between them. If the universe is all there is, then “no standard is applicable” as “you can not get outside the universe”. So, the universe must be non-spatial as well as non-temporal. As you can tell, I don’t think Peikoff’s explanation is sufficient. I wasn’t denying the existence of the concept. I was denying that there exists some time which has not occurred where there are tangible things. There would be a place associated with that time where these tangible things existed. If such a time and place did exist, I can’t think of anything else to call it but “the future”. Sorry for the confusion. [And sorry for the long hiatus. I’ve been face first in my textbooks for a solid month ]
  11. Ahhh, very good. I didn't know that information was available. I agree with you now.
  12. I don't know why that's more likely. I once watched as someone I loved was destroyed by philosophical pursuit. She never tried to justify anything. She learned something that she thought made sense, dug deeper and deeper into the idea until she swallowed a bottle of pills. When I met her, I thought she was the most beautiful person I had ever met. I'm talking about who she was. She loved living. At the time, I wasn't very interested in philosophy and I never spent much time thinking about the big picture. The only answers I had to offer up were things like "But think about everyone who loves you!" or I'd assert that life has meaning without being able to prove it. Thankfully, she didn't die. She found reasons to live, but I'm not sure if they made her happy or not. Last we talked, her personal heroes were guys like Carl Jung, Ram Dass, and Jimmy Carter. It wasn't long before we went our separate ways. I know anecdote is bad form, but I doubt your basing your statements off much more.
  13. Pg. 33, the statement of St. Anselm's argument for the existence of God. That's where the breakdown occurs. If one truly believed that god does not exist, and then could come up with no other way to refute St. Anselm's logic than to conclude that existence is not superior to nonexistence, that person would most likely end up with a gun to their head.
  14. A long time ago, I told my mother that if I were to die before her, she could do whatever she wants with my body. She calls herself a Christian, but she is not particularly religious. She believes in an afterlife, but that doesn't bother me. She is a genuinely good person, and I love her very much. It makes me happy now to know that I can give her something that will help her through my death.
  15. Bringing up Zeno's paradox will not change the fact that you can not possibly reconcile the definitions of "existence" and "future" in a way that allows the future to exist. Inherent in "to exist" is a time. You must deal with this. That being said, I have quite a lot to deal with as well. When I started thinking about Zeno's paradox, my mind wandered away from this conversation and a few things occurred to me that require much pondering. I'll start a thread once I reach a satisfactory conclusion.
  16. If you are finding it difficult to comprehend, I assure you it is not because of any failings in my use of the language. You seem to think that simply by mentioning a concept, I am inherently asserting that it is reflected in reality. This is your problem. By saying that the future doesn't exist, I am simply making use of its definition. Since the concept "future" has no meaning if not related to the concept "time", it can only be shown not to exist if the present is considered. The future is "time that is to be or come hereafter" (this is just a statement of the word's definition). To exist is to be. Now we can see from the definition of "future" and what it means to exist that the future does not exist. Put another way: a time which could be described by the word "future" has not yet occurred, and therefore it does not exist.
  17. I do not consider "existence" and the "universe" to be synonymous. It may or may not be that our universe is all there is to existence. I've stated that time and existence are inseparable. I do not believe that time is a human creation or that there is a point where time ceases to exist or ceases to matter. Where there is a process, there are actions or events taking place after other actions or events. If there is no "after", there can be no processes. If there are no processes, then there can be no life as "Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action" (Ayn Rand). But, clearly there is life. It follows that the universe is finite. If something is infinite, there can be no point in time when it is finite. Put another way, something which is infinite is infinite in the instant. Therefore, something which is infinite must exist in the future because everything is finite in the present. But the existence of free will negates the existence of the future. Also, the definition of "to exist" negates the existence of the future: something which exists exists in the present; the definitions of "future" and "present" contradict each other. There is more I can say, but I think this covers it.
  18. They acknowledge only that given any moment in time, there will likely be a moment that follows it. It does not acknowledge that the future exists. "Future" describes a point in time that comes after the present moment in time. Relative to the present, which is always only an instant in time, the future does not exist. To exist is to be in the present. To say otherwise is to say that whether or not a thing exists is independent of time. Let's put that idea to the test. Actually, let's not. Not because I don't feel like it, but because it is actually impossible not to describe existence without implicitly referencing a time. Try it out: there was a time when the Earth didn't exist; now the Earth does exist. How would you reconcile this fact with a timeless existence? Time is independent of consciousness.
  19. In saying "adequate lifespan" I'm making the assumption that there will be enough time to complete the job, which is an assumption independent of whether or not the future exists.
  20. This is an argument that I came up with a couple of years ago. I've never seen it elsewhere, but I'm sure it's been made before. Over the years, I've whittled it down to something very concise and complete, so far as I'm concerned: Time and existence are inseparable; things exist not only in space, but in time as well. A result of this is that the number of things which exist is a constant at any instant. To put it another way, at any instant, the set containing all things in existence is finite. Therefore, there can not be an infinite amount of things. That's the argument. I think the idea is basic enough that it doesn't need any explanation, but just in case the argument is not as complete as I think, I will expand upon it anyway: 1. The future does not exist. Thus, 2. if an infinite number of things exists, then it exists right now. However, 3. if there is an infinite set, one of it's properties must be that if a person set out to count the elements in the set, that person would be counting for an infinite amount of time. Therefore, 4. There can not be an infinite number of things in existence because a being with an adequate lifespan and the right instruments could count the number of things which exist at any point in time.
  21. I wouldn't bother contemplating scenarios that can only be imagined. And I also wouldn't pay any attention to a person who can only make his point by making use of such scenarios. This is the go-to tactic for any person who wants to make any point that they know can't hold its water in the face of reality. In this case, the author is using an impossible scenario to avoid the fallacy of false dichotomy. If you came to some satisfactory conclusion based on his scenario, you would quickly realize that you wasted your time once you tried to apply it to the real-world and found that at least two other outcomes are possible.
  22. This is the first I've heard of something like this ever being brought to discussion in the American Congress, and it serves as a frightening wake-up call. I feel I've been naive, as this is a level of evil that I didn't think we were close to having to deal with. I thought perhaps one day, but not now. If a bill such as this were to pass, it would mean the end of America as a free society. That a politician could feel safe in bringing this to the table (let alone even whispering it in a dark alley) tells me that the totalitarianism is no longer knocking at our door, but has grown impatient and is taking an axe to it. With the passing of such a bill, the time for intellectual warfare will have ended and the time for armed conflict will have begun. Tell everyone you know. Put it on your blogs, your twitters, your facebooks, and everything else you can think of. The passing of Health Care Reform is evidence enough that this national service bill is (as much as it hurts to say) an actual threat. As individuals, we can not afford to let this bill gain any steam. We must kill it before it ever gets the chance. What follows is a description of the bill and a listing of the parts that were most interesting/important in my mind: On July 15th, Rep. Charles Rangel of New York introduced H.R. 5741, the 'Universal National Service Act'. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.5741: The bill's purpose is "To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, to authorize the induction of persons in the uniformed services during wartime to meet end-strength requirements of the uniformed services, and for other purposes." From Sec. 102 of the Bill: (a) Obligation for Service - It is the obligation of every citizen of the United States, and every other person residing in the United States, who is between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform a period of national service as prescribed in this title unless exempted under the provisions of this title. ( Forms of National Service - The national service obligation under this title shall be performed either-- ---(1) as a member of an active or reserve component of the uniformed services; or ---(2) in a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and service related to homeland security. From Sec. 103 of the Bill: ( Limitation on Induction for Military Service- Persons described in section 102(a) may be inducted to perform military service only if-- ---(1) a declaration of war is in effect; ---(2) the President declares a national emergency, which the President determines necessitates the induction of persons to perform military service, and immediately informs Congress of the reasons for the declaration and the need to induct persons for military service; or ---(3) members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps are engaged in a contingency operation pursuant to a congressional authorization for the use of military force. From Sec. 104 of the Bill: © Early Termination- The period of national service for a person under this title shall be terminated before the end of such period under the following circumstances: ---(1) The voluntary enlistment and active service of the person in an active or reserve component of the uniformed services for a period of at least two years, in which case the period of basic military training and education actually served by the person shall be counted toward the term of enlistment. ---(2) The admission and service of the person as a cadet or midshipman at the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, or the United States Merchant Marine Academy. ---(3) The enrollment and service of the person in an officer candidate program, if the person has signed an agreement to accept a Reserve commission in the appropriate service with an obligation to serve on active duty if such a commission is offered upon completion of the program. ---(4) Such other grounds as the President may establish. From Sec. 105 of the Bill: (a) In General- The President shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to carry out this title. ( Matter To Be Covered by Regulations- Such regulations shall include specification of the following: ---(1) The types of civilian service that may be performed in order for a person to satisfy the person's national service obligation under this title. ---(2) Standards for satisfactory performance of civilian service and of penalties for failure to perform civilian service satisfactorily. ---(3) The manner in which persons shall be selected for induction under this title, including the manner in which those selected will be notified of such selection. ---(4) All other administrative matters in connection with the induction of persons under this title and the registration, examination, and classification of such persons. ---(5) A means to determine questions or claims with respect to inclusion for, or exemption or deferment from induction under this title, including questions of conscientious objection. ---(6) Standards for compensation and benefits for persons performing their national service obligation under this title through civilian service. ---(7) Such other matters as the President determines necessary to carry out this title. From Sec. 109 of the Bill: (a) Claims as Conscientious Objector- Nothing in this title shall be construed to require a person to be subject to combatant training and service in the uniformed services, if that person, by reason of sincerely held moral, ethical, or religious beliefs, is conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form. ( Alternative Noncombatant or Civilian Service- A person who claims exemption from combatant training and service under subsection (a) and whose claim is sustained by the local board shall-- ---(1) be assigned to noncombatant service (as defined by the President), if the person is inducted into the uniformed services; or ---(2) be ordered by the local board, if found to be conscientiously opposed to participation in such noncombatant service, to perform national civilian service for the period specified in section 104(a) and subject to such regulations as the President may prescribe.
  23. It's time to set your TiVo: the series starts April 25th on the History Channel. Trailer here: http://www.history.com/shows/america-the-story-of-us And the mouth-watering description:
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