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Posts posted by Alexandros

  1. Some of what has been said in this thread has been surprising, given that the people participating are supposedly rationally minded. Reidy has the right of it, and has explained it well, so not much else needs to be said. Still, I'd like to share my personal experiences, with the hope that someone might better understand how choosing volunteer work can be one of the most incredibly selfish things a person can do.

    I was born to dysfunctional parents, who divorced when I was 3 years old. My father disappeared, leaving my brother and I to be raised solely by an emotionally unstable mother who would later bring an abusive, drug dealing, adulterous father-figure into our lives. When the two of them would leave us (getting drugged out of their minds, reappearing days later) with our alcoholic grandfather, we were lucky enough that he despised us so much that we were encouraged to play outside a lot (We were put outside early in the morning, and the door was locked. We would wander the area, playing with whoever could come out that day. He would whistle at lunch time, we'd go eat, and then we were put outside again, and the door was locked until sunset. Sometimes, we'd wander for miles, get lost, and have to beg for change so we could use the payphone to call him. Then, we'd wait several hours until he was sober enough to drive.), which taught me a great deal about the world at a very young age. Luckier still, when we came in at night, he'd sit us down, give us a book, and tell us to read. I doubt I have to tell anyone the kind of hope books can give to people.

    As for my teenage years, I'll be brief, so as to not bore you with a story you've probably heard over and over again: I spent my teenage years stoned or rolling on ecstasy, in and out of jail (shoplifting, assault, serving time for warrants granted because I never showed up to court), and had resigned myself to the life of my mother, and her father, and his father before him (normally, this type of dysfunction is passed down as dysfunction breeds dysfunction breeds dysfunction).

    The reason I say I was lucky to have the alcoholic grandfather that I had is because most of my friends were not fortunate enough to have someone in their life who forced them to read for hours on end, and it's the reading that gave me the tools to change my life. Reading taught me that there was more out there, that there were happy people in the world, and that I didn't have to be so unhappy. I just didn't realize it until I hit rock bottom. I began spending most of my days thinking about the best way to kill myself and about how sorry everyone would be when I was gone. And then I came across a book (http://www.amazon.co...s/dp/0932194532) that changed my life. I got into therapy and then into college, where I met the love of my life. I'm still in therapy now, but I won't need it for much longer. Through therapy, I've been able to acquire the skills and tools that people born into health families take for granted, but are absolutely necessary for a successful and happy life, and I am happy most days. It's been a hard road, but I'm almost at the end of it.

    I haven't told this story so that I can appeal to anyone's emotions. I don't want to make anyone feel bad. But I do want the full impact of what I'm about to say to be felt: my story is not rare; what is rare is becoming happy and productive in spite of it. It's no wonder that I find incredible happiness in volunteering to help children who are in similar circumstances. These children are frightened, incredibly suspicious, and, a lot of the time, hostile towards anyone who attempts to help them. I doubt I have to discuss the difference it makes when I, having actually been in their shoes, tell them my story and then tell them that I want to help them. It is a unique gift that I have to offer, and I can't imagine being happy without being there for these kids. That's why I volunteer.

    Edit: I forgot to respond to the initial claim, that volunteering hurts the poor.

    It isn't just their families that have failed them, but also their schools. Unless something external (e.g., a volunteer) comes into their lives, they will never learn skills and mental tools that are essential to them having a successful and happy life. It is not, contrary to what so many people believe, simply a matter of adults just getting their lives together and doing what they need to do. You can't build a house without the right tools; the same goes for being happy. The tools I'm talking about are learned and internalized during childhood, and there are a lot of kids who will never acquire them unless someone volunteers to help them. These are the facts.

    I hope I've been able to clear some things up.

  2. I've been updating my Facebook page today, and while listing my favorite things in the info section, I noticed there was no Objectivism Online page.

    If you're interested in getting more exposure for this site (which deserves it, imo) starting up an FB page is one of the best free ways to go about getting it. Setting it up will take probably no more than an hour, then it's only a matter of posting the link here for the member of this site to "Like". I imagine most of us have FB pages and that a lot of us are involved in the Objectivist FB community. The great thing about FB is that when someone chooses to "Like" something, it's broadcast to everyone on their friends list. I can't think of a better way to get some free publicity and bring in some new members.


  3. "The reality, again, being we are here to survive as a species and group, not just as individuals. We are a family."

    Let me rephrase that because you are partially right here.

    A more accurate sentence would be: Our self interests and survival are best ensured through cooperative sharing of resources.

    If this is what you mean, then talk of lions and cavemen is useless. You should be able to, without mentioning others species or time periods, provide logical argument for why it is in our best interests to 'cooperatively share'. Anecdote and history is fine for making your arguments more effective, but are not arguments themselves. So far, you've provided nothing more than "we once picked apples off trees for free" and "lions are awesome". This can hardly be considered argument, as you are dropping all context to relate different time periods and different species.

    So, in all of this, you have only really said one thing: "Our self interests and survival are best ensured through cooperative sharing of resources." And you have provided no argument to support that claim.

    I'm surprised you've been taken so seriously here, and by some members who I have much respect for.

  4. "The reality, again, being we are here to survive as a species and group, not just as individuals. We are a family."

    What do you mean by this? "We are here to..." implies purpose. This could be written as, "We are meant to..." Who or what means for us to do something? Humans are the only species that can attribute meaning to anything or be aware of the meaning behind something. For example, turning a sound into a word by giving it a definition (the former), or deducing the meaning of a hug between two people who care for each other.

    So, you see, I'm confused. Are you suggesting that humans, as the only being capable of such a thing, have created this purpose for ourselves? Then how could it be anything but arbitrary? Or, are you suggesting that there is something supernatural that has given us this purpose?

    I don't see any point in any further discussion until this issue is addressed, especially because it seems to strike at the core of your entire argument. Your philosophy, so far as I can tell, requires that you answer yes to one of the questions I posed above. Unfortunately for you, you can't possibly provide a logical argument in favor of either position.

  5. I always love a tale of a washed up loner becoming more virtuous as he comes to find value in life, so I thought the movie was good for that reason alone. That being said, Bridges let me down as Cogburn. Even when he was sober, the gravel in his throat made him unintelligible at times. Also, the Coen bros. stripped down heavily the character of Cogburn, making him a man that was only good at hunting and killing. I prefer John Wayne's Cogburn, a character with a sharp tongue and quick wit.

    I give it a B+. Definitely worth the $10 ticket.

  6. This is definitely bad news. Living in Texas, I was proud that the nationwide recession hardly affected the industry around where I live. My neck of the woods is currently growing and progressing faster than it ever has; what was twenty years ago unclaimed countryside is now a small city, and is on its way to becoming a large city (with a waterpark!) to which new businesses seem drawn like flies to honey. This outreach of the long arm of federal law is a serious damper on the upward momentum my home city has earned for itself, and I can only imagine how many other growing cities in this great state will be likewise affected. In fact, this warrants a personal letter to the administrator of the EPA. If there are any Texans on this forum who think the same way on this and would like to group-sign my letter once it's written, and maybe even look over it and add a thing or two, I think we might be able to come up with an effectively persuasive message. At the very least, we'd be making our opinions heard.

    The picture I included is the new toll highway that's being extended right behind my neighborhood (paid for by the tolls I willingly and proudly paid) that I use every day to get to and from school. This highway has brought with it a concert center, movie theatre, shopping complex, athletic center, dozens of brand new businesses (one of which I was happily employed with for three seasons), and soon the newest Schlitterbahn in the state. This kind of productivity makes me happy to get out of bed and on the road every morning, and to think it might be stifled at the will of a few buffoons on capitol hill is frustrating to say the least.


    I'd be happy to sign and even help you proofread your letter, but it's going to take much more than a letter from even a thousand rational members of an online community to affect change. The EPA has been granted such powers for the expressed purposes of circumventing the legislative process. For the president, and the former Democrat Congress, AGW is a fact of reality, and is so pressing an issue that they are completely backing a "whether they like it or not" approach to dealing with it.

    I recommend letters to our representatives at the state and federal levels. They are the ones that must stand up to the EPA on our behalf. By this point, the EPA probably has a permanent shred policy for every letter coming from a red state.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

  12. That's amazing. I'm not an architect, but I'll be in construction management soon, and I can already see how awesome that would be on site or in head office combined with the ability to update in real time the design according to new specs and integrate data from BIM or project schedule and cost control software. Add in touch screen or motion sensors to be able to manipulate the image...

    Or am I mistaken and that is a static holographic image lighted by a bulb overhead?

    Static holographic image lit from above. I'm sure your dream will be a reality some day. ;)
  13. Oh...Alex..Alex. This seems to be pretty problematic.

    Firstly things do not "exist in time". What is time? Well I am going to quote Mr Peikoff here, as I just happen to agree with this quote:

    "Time is a measurement of motion; as such, it is a type of relationship. Time applies only within the universe, when you define a standard—such as the motion of the earth around the sun. If you take that as a unit, you can say: “This person has a certain relationship to that motion; he has existed for three revolutions; he is three years old.” But when you get to the universe as a whole, obviously no standard is applicable. You cannot get outside the universe. The universe is eternal in the literal sense: non-temporal, out of time." - Leonard Peikoff, “The Philosophy of Objectivism”.

    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.)

    So I am not entirely sure why you would assert that things exist "in time" as well as "in space" ( to paraphrase you a little). Despite what physics might assert, time is not a dimension or a property of space, or anything besides what it is described as above. So unless I miss something, your claim of existence "in time" does not make a lot of sense.

    You proceed as though you actually do consider time to be something else (what exactly I am not sure). What evidence do you have for this? Do not try to bother claiming Relativity or such proves such things, it does not. I dont know if you planned to do that, but just in case you were : Dont waste your effort

    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.

    "Future" is a concept which pertains to events which are yet to happen or to facts which will we wish to identify will hold at a time or date after the present moment. It is also nothing more than this. How does it make sense to claim that it does not exist? Are we to believe that the concept has no referents? This is not the case, the referents would be whichever events we wish to consider which have not occured or the facts we wish to consider.

    So how does it make any sense to deny that the future exists? Does it have a tangible existence? No, it is a concept. Do things exist "in the future" ? Well in a sense it could be said they do. What this statement identifies is that at a later time and / or date, that a certain existent / existents will continue to exist. What is the issue here? I see none.

    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 :P]

  14. He bought the website suicidenote.info in April 2008 according to WHOIS (if I'm reading it correctly), so he would have at least had to have his suicide note completed by then, no? He couldn't have simply been researching philosophy at that point, correct? Yet his bibliography lists at least 4 sources that didn't exist at that time. And his PDF wasn't compiled until September 17th.

    The book could certainly have been the result of earlier scribblings, in which case you could very well be right. I would expect that if someone *happened upon* the conclusion that "I should kill myself", after lengthy investigation, he would want to check/re-check/re-re-check his conclusions and investigate further, especially if his life was otherwise a happy one. The fact that he seems so certain of his conclusions indicates that his life was not going well otherwise, and that may in fact have been the source of his suicidal tendencies, which he simply later justified through his lengthy writings.

    They could have occurred simultaneously, with his philosophical investigations driving his view of the worthlessness of humanity, which made him more depressed and antisocial, and drove his nihilism deeper, etc, like a feedback loop. But what is likely to have started it all?

    Ahhh, very good. I didn't know that information was available. I agree with you now.
  15. It's more likely that he wanted to kill himself the whole time, and tried to justify/rationalize it through crap like this, than that he simply concluded incorrectly and acted upon those conclusions.

    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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

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