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Everything posted by Rockefeller

  1. In an episode of Lost (I don't remember which), a brief scene shows Sawyer reading The Fountainhead. I guess this again amounts to a negative portrayal of Ayn Rand: although Sawyer condemns Jack for running a "commie share-fest", he himself is an anarchist-, anti-law-, and might-is-right-type of a character.
  2. No, you don't get it. What should collapse is not the space between words, but the probability space.
  3. "It is a conspiracy without leader or direction, and the random little thugs of the moment who cash in on the agony of one land or another are chance scum riding the torrent from the broken dam of the sewer of centuries [...] "It is a conspiracy of all those [...] who seek to cut just one small corner of reality and are drawn, by feeling, to all the others who are busy cutting other corners [...]" (Atlas Shrugged, page 958)
  4. At the risk of diverting this thread, I'm posting results from some quick searches I performed on Google Trends, comparing the Google-search popularity of book titles in US and India. Contrary to my previous comment, it does appear that Rand is disproportionately popular in India, compared to other Western authors. Here is a little secret--I too bought my copy of Atlas Shrugged in India (a legitimate one ), but I only started reading it after reaching the US! Below are the rankings and ratio of popularity (in brackets). I mixed Rand, good authors, bad authors, mostly classics, and some contemporaries. Keep in mind the population of the two countries. Ranking P(In)/P(US) US India Atlas Shrugged 1 2 (0.6) The Fountainhead 2 1 (1.1) # Wow, didn't expect that! Anna Karenina 9 - N/A Crime and Punishment 2 7 (0.3) For Whom the Bell Tolls 2 10 (0.6) Alice in Wonderland 2 10 (0.3) Pride and Prejudice 1 8 (0.5) Catcher in the Rye 1 6 (0.2) Mein Kampf - - N/A da Vinci Code - 4 N/A The Kite Runner 3 8 (0.6) The Alchemist 5 2 (1.2) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 6 9 (0.3) - means that the country is not in top 10
  5. From my experience, it's most Western writers--not just Rand--that are popular in India. You'll find as many Mein Kampfs as The Fountainheads in street-vendor displays (in major cities), but few books authored by Indians. Also, keep in mind the huge population of India when you hear about Atlas sales. The percentage of readers of serious literature is very small--mostly comprising of college students.
  6. There seem to be two parts to the article--first, to point out that conventional morality (of faith and collectivism) is incompatible with scientific inquiry and the freedom that lead to industrialization--and second, to offer a fully consistent alternative morality. The first part is well explained in the article by means of several examples. But I think that the second part would be difficult to understand without grasping that morality is an objective necessity for living. Before answering what constitutes a proper morality, one must first understand the purpose of morality. If a reader understands the conflict presented in the first part, that alone may motivate him to try resolving his contradictions. For this reason, and given that it's on CNN, I consider the article pretty good. But if the second part on a revolutionary morality is so daunting, even for honest readers, does the article does more harm than good? I'd say no, because if we keep speaking up, Objectivism is the only place honest readers will eventually end up, even if they first reject it. If it's not possible to present the full Objectivist Ethics to CNN readers, we should at least make them uncomfortable in their present home--so they come out running!
  7. In order to judge government's actions as good or bad, man must study politics. According to Objectivism, the only proper role of government is protection of individual rights. This is the only standard, by which "rational people" evaluate government actions--there is no consideration of "patriotic zeal". A rational man makes his evaluation based on objective facts, i.e. visible actions and consequences of his government; even if he gets misguided by "official propaganda", it would only be temporary. A government that commits aggression against a free country is violating the rights of its own citizens--in particular, their right to freely associate with the citizens of that country as potential traders. Just because this principle has been evaded historically by many governments, does not imply that one should abandon the whole idea of a government. Truly free countries rarely go to war. For evidence, look at the West in the whole of 19th century--an unprecedentedly peaceful period after centuries of barbaric wars. My knowledge of history is not so deep, so I would not comment on the particular wars that you mention. Just look at the armed border guards in North Korea to see if they allow "rational citizens" to easily move out. Just look at the UN or "International Court of Justice" to see how dismally validation-seeking is working out for American self-interest.
  8. Yes, semi-free nations are an "obstacle" to individualism, but not necessarily "more" than being "an aid". Full freedom is favorable, whereas full dictatorship inimical, to the life of an individual. But there is no definable point in the degradation of a country at which it becomes "more an obstacle than an aid". For instance, in present day US, if you want to be a writer, you have all the opportunity to be one; but if you want to be a banker, you will only survive if you have a tough enough skin to comply with countless regulations. A country A with "reasonable respect for the most basic rights" will have no conflict of interest with a similar country B. In the unlikely scenario that A does commit aggression against B, rational citizens from both countries would consider B to be morally justified in acting in retaliation. If any rational citizens from A get killed while B exercises retaliatory force (assuming it's not possible to distinguish them), then their deaths would be the responsibility of irrational government in A (and not of rational citizens in B )--and the rational citizens from A who are getting killed would understand this too! Edit: Removed unintended smiley.
  9. FYI, I started my first blog: Wit Lab. The blog will "provide insight into scientific and social trends from an Objectivist perspective". For more details, read my introductory (blog) post: Introducing Wit Lab.
  10. I have not read the details, or thought about all the implications. But on the first look, this seems like a step in the right direction. After all, the big three ("monopolized" by the SEC) played a huge role in the financial crisis. Removing constraints on public "companies" and (essentially) private sector to follow credit ratings issued by these certified agencies would allow better rating agencies (and standards) to enter the market. Once that happens, market players will be able to do better assess risk while purchasing CDS.
  11. In India, the word "secular" has been distorted to mean religious egalitarianism. Its most common translation in Hindi is a two-part word (Dharma-nirpekshta) where the parts separated by hyphen stand for "religion" and "non preference". So, I think it will literally translate to English as "no preference towards religions". In political context, courts and lawmakers use the word to mean equal government favors to all religious groups. See this post of mine for evidence.
  12. In India, the word "secular" has been distorted to mean religious egalitarianism. In political context, courts and law use the word to mean equal government favors to all religious groups. Some examples I could find of government action taken in the name of "secularism": 1. Censorship of media that criticizes a religion. e.g. this and this. Also see this. 2. Granting special "rights" to religious groups. e.g. this, this and this (also see this). 3. Reservation of seats in jobs and educational institutes (public and sometimes even private). e.g. this and this 4. Nationalization of temples (you read it right!), government donations to religious leaders, and eminent domain for temples. e.g. this 5. Ban on practices that offend any religion, such as, ban on beef and slaughter of cows. e.g. this. Note: I actually wrote above to post here, but soon realized that it's too detailed for that topic. So, I started a new thread.
  13. Can man become perfect if he tries? If yes, then a philosophy that guides him in this pursuit will be a "perfect" philosophy. By being perfect, I don't mean being omniscient. Ayn Rand described Objectivism as a philosophy for living on earth, which means as a philosophy that guides man according to his nature, as a rational being who is able to choose properly and achieve them. On the other hand, a philosophy that alleges to provide man with mystic, omniscient knowledge and unlimited power is not just imperfect, but impossible. It will be better if you do not raise these issues in your introductory thread, but as a new topic under "Questions about Objectivism". But first it is always better to search previous threads on those topics using the forum Search or Google.
  14. How reason (conceptualization) evolved in humans or their ancestors is currently not known. This means that the environmental factors that guided natural selection towards development of reason are not understood. But given the theory of evolution and prehistoric-archeological discoveries, it is certain that there was a time when our descendants did not have conceptualization. Having said that, some scientists and philosophers argue that reason developed in conjunction with language. This may not surprise you if you are familiar with Ayn Rand's theory of concepts. Audio/visual symbols (words) are the means by which man is able to hold concepts. The idea that language is intricately linked with reason actually goes back to Aristotle. This section of a Wikipedia article on "Language" might be helpful in this regard: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language#Hist...gin_of_language Why should it be without interference? Interference is the basis of evolution. For an example of how quickly environmental factors can affect physiological characteristics in birds, see "The Beak of the Finch" (Amazon - I haven't read it but know it's central idea.)
  15. I don't know the OP (original poster) but this is no way to talk to someone who is new to Objectivism, and has joined this forum to gain more knowledge about it. Sure, OP has some mistaken premises as is evident from her (or his?) posts. But she could very well be here to "understand some of the main pillars of objectivism [sic]" (as she puts it). Rather than helping her in identifying the errors, you are blaming her for those errors. Just compare your response to Jake's or sN's.
  16. The key here is to judge whether that "disagreement" is honest or not. In case of philosophers, it cannot be honest. This is because philosophers get ample opportunities to check their premises. They are (supposed to be) constantly drawing broadest abstractions from reality. Thus, it is only by conscious effort that they can evade significant facts of reality. Consider this: Is is even possible that Kant honestly never saw his gigantic rationalizations in his attempts to preserve faith? You can easily see his undeclared intentions. (Sorry, I don't know much about Russel.) Add to that the fact that he also spread his evil around. Now, I am not saying that pizza delivery guys who believe in government handouts are always less immoral than such philosophers, but that the latter are necessarily immoral. They are like Robert Stadlers who had the means to know better but didn't. You may be right in that some of his premises are in accordance with reality. But that would be irrelevant if, as in case of Kant, his gigantic rationalizations in his philosophical works serve as sufficient evidence for his conscious evasion (immorality). The moral judgement in such cases would pertain only to his evasions with regard to his philosophical work. His personal life would have no bearing on this judgement.
  17. Thanks. I think you are right. Strange though, because I've been using Chrome almost since it was released. But didn't have this problem until I reinstalled it recently.
  18. Over the last 10-15 days, I am having some trouble with Search and "View New Posts". Quite often, even when it's long past the 15-sec wait time, I still receive the "flood control" error. And I always receive this error right after I open the forum and click on "View New Posts". I recently reinstalled my browser (Chrome, but I am not sure if this has anything to do with that. I use Windows 7 (32-bit) on Intel T6500.
  19. Oh, by "scenarios of this kind would be impossible", I was not referring to the CO2-global mean temperature relationship. Being a meteorologist, I am already familiar with the falsehoods perpetrated by the alarmists. Rather, what I was trying to ask is: is it physically possible (in general) to have a scenario where seemingly harmless actions of some individuals are suddenly proven to be contributors to a trigger for global catastrophe? If yes, then under such circumstances, would it be moral for the government to use force to curb such actions? I agree that rational men will act in accordance with reality. But the very function of the government is to protect the rational from physical threats by the irrational. That is why in my hypothetical scenario I compared smokestacks to WMDs. Thanks for responding.
  20. I am trying to think about a similar hypothetical scenario: Say, it becomes objectively certain that if CO2 increases by 20 ppm, earth will irretrievably become a snowball within 10 years (hardly any time to "adapt"). Would it then be moral for the government to treat smokestacks as WMDs? If no, then does my confusion lie in misapplication of the concept "adapt"? I raised this issue again because I noticed that Brian's scenario was only partially addressed. ('fletch' was the last one to respond, but I think he was off-target). Please don't respond by saying that my scenario is highly unlikely (I know that it is). However, if you would like to argue that scenarios of this kind would be impossible, I'll more than welcome that.
  21. If GNP growth is what you are comparing, then Bhutan - which just by virtue of turning from an absolute monarchy to a slightly lesser evil form - is ranking on top with 21.4% growth (list). Similarly, the recent growth in India and China is due to the lifting on restrictions on small manufacturing businesses, imports and foreign investment. China's government may be exerting more economic controls than US on it's economy but it's the small change in right direction that caused the growth. What you may want to compare is the actual GNP, although even that is not an ideal statistic to illustrate effects of the controls by government.
  22. I see one problem with this argument: there is some evidence that centennial climate variability is not chaotic. Chaos is not an irreducible primary, as many scientists (unfortunately) believe. One way in which chaos arises is by the interaction between multiple modes of the system. This is known as non-linear dynamics. The timescale of chaos, thus, has a strong dependence on the time-scale of system-modes. (Timescale of lower-order chaos is generally double or quadruple than the time-scale of system modes). What is the longest timescale of earth's ocean-atmospheric modes? The longest "natural" variability known is El Nino - Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which has 3-5 year irregular period. ("Natural" means without any external forcing - solar, volcanic, CO2 etc.) An important question in this regard is: what is the longest possible timescale for ocean-atmospheric modes? If we look at ENSO, one likely hypothesis is that its timescale is determined by the time it takes for oceanic (Rossby) waves to cross the Pacific. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that wave-adjustment is the mechanism by which large-scale ocean-atmosphere system adjusts (from one state to another). Thus, the timescale of ocean-atmospheric modes may have an upper limit determined by (i) size of the earth, and (ii) propagation speed of slowest waves. A simple calculation implies that this number could not be larger than 15 years. Thus, the timescale of chaos resulting from the (non-linear) interaction of these slowest modes could not be greater than 30 years. If this calculation is right, climate trends over longer timescales could only be due to external forcing (solar, volcanic, CO2 etc.). Since, earth's climate does not have an internal source of energy, this means that over longer timescales, it is necessarily a damped system sustained by external forcing. Simplest example is the hemispherical winter-time cooling due to decrease in solar forcing. In this case, chaos does not play a role because inter-hemispherical modes cannot interact due to earth's rotation. (I tried to convey this previously and got something in return from Zip ) The question for climate science is: is CO2 large-enough forcing for centennial climate variability? I agree with you that the models are basically useless. The reason, however, I think is not chaos. Rather, it is the extremely uncertain cloud and water vapor feedbacks, magnitude of air-sea exchange fluxes and inaccurate convective parameterization schemes. (Note: Some would argue that Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is the longest (20-30 year period) and not ENSO. However, I am unsure whether PDO is a real dynamical oscillation or is just a residual left from irregular ENSO, or even worse, a manifestation of changes in observational technology and coverage.)
  23. Quotes about Kapitalist Partiet from Sebulba's newspaper article: Cirno is our man! Do you think an honest reader will be able to look past the misrepresentations? The good thing is that he provides the link to the Wikipedia entry for Ayn Rand. Some comments also mention the Kapitalist Partiet.
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