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Everything posted by Tyco

  1. Rand had only recently fled from the tyranny of Soviet Russia and arrived in a country with no friends or family around her, so it might not be surprising that her worldview was rather pessimistic at this point. But if you read the whole Hickman journal entry, you can see that she hadn't yet identified altruism as the ethical system that poisons everything. Therefore her judgement of people and their actions maybe sounds more severe than what an older Rand would said. Bear in mind that these notes are preparation for a dystopian novel, where all the evils would be purposefully exaggerated etc. to make a point. I think this sort of pessimism is quite common among people who think there is something 'wrong' with the world (be it polluting, or materialism, or secularism, or capitalism, or 3rd world poverty) but can't quite explain it fully: they are nice enough to individual acquaintances, but are incredibly scathing when they talk about humanity in general, about 'the way things are going,' and so on
  2. Hmm, well it appears that in this part Rand may have been referring to these events (overly-indignant, 'virtuous' mobs baying for justice) in general, and not this specific case. For instance when some famous person gets caught evading taxes, or having an affair, or insider trading, or taking a bribe, and the heartfelt consternation that somewhat unconvincingly follows. Cause otherwise it's a ridiculous statement that implies only great, exceptional men have the right to loathe/despise a child-murderer.
  3. If there is a decent explanation for this rather disturbing statement by Rand (that the average person has worst sins in their life than child-murder) I expect somebody would have stated it clearly by now. As such I chalk this up to a bad mistake by Rand that fortunately does not seem to have tainted/influenced her later writings. Nobody is above making a mistake, especially in thought/writing. But what is more worrying is that seemingly few members of this forum are willing to admit there is any problem (and yes one that should invoke an 'emotional response' in any well adjusted person).
  4. The thing about Stallman is he respects copyright enough to refrain from piracy or unauthorised use - he simply refuses to buy any software that is not open/free in it's licensing, and therefore doesn't use it at all. The hacker community who support things like Jailbreaking can only go so far. Most software runs from machine code that is inpenetrable to human understanding - sometimes it can be reverse engineered but only to a very limited degree. To truly control and manipulate a program you need access to it's source code, which may be kept secret from users or even lost completely. What Stallman fears essentially is a guild where technocrats can lock everyone else out and control the distribution and development of software, and then ultimately control of peoples' information. But I agree with you that market forces and political freedom prevent that sort of situation from getting out of hand. However I respect his decision to avoid proprietary software and promote Free Software. There's a hint of independent thinking or libertarianism to it.
  5. Yes but they probably know a mechanic who could work on their car if required. Whereas if a program doesn't work to your satisfaction, unless it's open-source then there's no local or 3rd party coder who can fix it for you - you're dependant on the original publishers. I don't agree with Stallman but he does have a point (which I didn't grasp initially). IMO it's based on a misunderstanding of power and economics, but it's somewhat akin to saying we shouldn't accept any government systems/institutions which are not transparent. It's about keeping power in the hands of the consumers / general public.
  6. I don't think Stallman's 'Free Software' means free as in zero-cost, it means free as in 'liberated.' Basically he thinks users should demand more control over software they install on their computers. We should only buy programs where the source-code can be examined and then altered to our satisfaction. By letting proprietary licences lock us out of the contents of our own computers, we're handing over part of our liberty to corporations (apparently).
  7. He settled with a number of people. The Winklevii initially contacted him to program a social networking site for them, and he accepted. However, he had no intention of building their site, he merely wanted to stall them until he could release his own. That was obviously wrong, but they also say he took some of their ideas. Anyways ultimately they were awarded $65 million in Facebook stock in a settlement. Another dude sued recently claiming he owned 85% of Facebook because he had a contract with Zuckerberg that was breached, don't know what happened there I think it went nowhere because too much time had passed. Another dude sued and settled for an undisclosed amount, saying I think that some of the Facebook tech was stolen from him (the guy ran a site at harvard called houseSYSTEM that had a whole lot of student facilities, including one called Ultimate Face Book or something, and later a social network called FaceNet). The two were actually friends (this guy, Aaron somebody, ran the entrepreneurship club and gave Mark advice) but now he feels Zuckerberg just used him and gave no credit. I think Zuckerberg clearly did some untoward things but it's hard to tell how much of this is just people coming out of the woodwork to claim a piece of the pie (mixed metaphors ftw). I mean you can't sit around doing nothing cause you think someone else may have contributed to your idea that isn't even worth anything yet. Certainly, the settlements they received from Facebook are probably far greater than what their own implementations would have been worth. So it's kind of a 'win win'.
  8. It really was a superb film in almost every way. It was like Citizen Kane in more ways than one - the plot (derived from a true story) of friends creating something great then fighting over it, and the quality evident in almost every scene. The underlying theme though, as you might guess from the title, was social circles/networks - ie the REAL social networks that define 'college-life' or opportunity in silicon valley, what parties you get invited to etc. I'm not sure how much Rand would have approved. It's really an exercise in realism*, the writer (very skillfully) portrayed the messiness of the final situation, but to his credit at least suggested that such messiness (double-crossing colleagues, betraying friends, disrespecting women) comes at a high personal price. Zuckerberg (in the film) is no Roark, he's part brilliant, part Madoff. I have to admire the way almost all the characters had a point, a certain logic and justification to their actions, even though they were all conflicting interests. Ironically though they probably all ended up richer than they'd ever expected probably because they fought each other so much. *of course, it IS based on a non-fiction book
  9. $75 per annum for fire service? Hmm. Let's say there was only one big fire service for a city, and the city had 1 million homes. That means they'd be taking 75 million dollars per year to run the fire department. I don't know much about fire departments. Say they had a 100 staff earning 50k each. That eats up 5 million dollars. Say they have 20 engines costing 50k each, that's another million (nevermind for now that they don't buy a whole new fleet every year). Say they blow a few more 100k on equipment and supplies. And a million on training and recruitment. Some more millions on insurance and pensions and payouts. We're still waaaay off the 75 million mark. What am I missing here?
  10. Tyco


    The Faber Book Of Utopias would be a good book for you to seek out. Note: in case you didn't know, 'utopia' just means 'no place,' meaning a fictional society/city/nation, and contrary to popular belief is a neutral term. Dystopia obviously implies dysfunction, but technically is a type of utopia, not the opposite of utopia. Maybe they should invent a word for happy utopias like Galt's Gulch... 'Blisstopia?' Lord of the Flies is a classic, although i guess it's not a full-blown utopia (read Coral Island along with it for some extra fun). Someone else mentioned Fahrenheit 451 - that along with 1984 and Brave New World and Darkness at Noon were sort of my literary awakening when I was 13 or so. If you were to read the whole Dune series there's some interesting dystopian elements from the 4th novel onwards when the 'God-Emperor' sets his 'golden path' in motion (he has a plan for the long, LONGterm survival of humanity but it necessitates a tough love approach). That's a lot of reading to do if that's the only payoff you're after though. And it's not exactly Objectivist... The Time Machine is a short book that fits the bill, as does Animal Farm. Gulliver's Travels has lots of utopian/dystopian episodes. The Forever War is a cracking sci-fi take on utopia - very amusing as well as thought provoking.
  11. Not having read the whole thread/discussion, I'd just like to say... sexual desire (or worse unrequited love, which I suppose is related) can be one of the most distracting and debilitating things imaginable. Your asexuality is not altogether unenviable, from an Objectivist perspective (you have more freedom to focus on other things that are important to you).
  12. It's usually something people mention to make an argument then act like no further explanation is needed. Like saying 'this policy will help "the economy" '.
  13. Got the new Crowded House album. Got rave reviews on iTunes from the fans ('best album since Revolver'), but I don't think it's as good as their last one. Still pretty strong though. The melodies are great, but I think the riffs and countermelodies are in short supply. Saturday Sun, Archers Arrow, and Even If are great tracks though. In fact they're all high quality except tracks 7 and 8, but there's only ten tracks total. Been listening to lots of Prince tracks. Made up a top 100 on Spotify. He doesn't have too many first tier classics like Little Red Corvette and The Beautiful Ones, but he's got a heck of a lot of 2nd tier hits and gems like Uptown or Sometimes It Snows in April or The Cross, and they're impressively spread across a few different genres (rock, pop, soul, funk).
  14. Consider the choices open to the director with the last shot of the film. He could show the top coming to a rest, somehow indicate that it will not stop, or simply omit it completely and let us assume this was reality. Or he could cut to the credits before we know how the top is behaving, leaving everything in doubt. The first 3 choices involve the director essentially deciding in an arbitrary fashion whether or not this was base reality. There's no justification, no logic, just the storyteller exercising his power. 'Because I said so.' Instead, he cuts the shot early and forces us to search for answers elsewhere. This does not mean they don't exist in the film, just that they are supplied in a more compelling, meaningful way, albeit not quite as immediate. So: analyse the film, the themes. What was the climactic scene, what happened in the ultimate confrontation/revelation? The climax was quite clearly when the protagonist met the projection of his wife and told her about the inception and then told her that no matter how closely she resembled his real wife, he could not love her, because the projection could never match the reality. So apply this knowledge to the ending: he knows the difference between reality and projection (or rather, projection is not enough for him now), and he is going back to his kids. Thus, his kids are real, not projections. Thus, the scene at the very end with the spinning top is 'the real world,' he is not dreaming any more, there are no further layers. Nolan did not use the spinning top just to mess with us (that would lessen the film). He used it to induce a more thorough understanding of the film. No easy way out.
  15. The risk they willingly take, IMO, is that you'll see their ad but be unaffected by it. That's different from the risk which adblockers introduce - that users might not see the ad at all. As noted elsewhere, they could make it an explicit breach of the TOS, in which case the adblocking viewer would be immoral through breach of contract, but in this age of unfettered piracy, it's futile. That doesn't mean we shouldn't play ball and show content providers some respect.
  16. I'd hazard a guess that almost all Internet users feel the same way, but that's not what the advertisers are counting on. They still value the 'eyeball' of you seeing their ad, even If you think it's irrelevant. If that's all they want, why deny them? I've never used an adblocker (although sometimes I recode the page with the webkit inspector to disable any particularly obnoxious ads specifically) but I imagine they just show an empty box where the advert was supposed to be, preserving the rest of the layout.
  17. Ah, pop-ups, I think they're a different matter because there's valid security/usability reasons to disable them, and yes I imagine most people/browsers do (by default even). What I had in mind was browser plug-ins that strip all adverts from the page itself, ie. ones that appear alongside the text you're reading. I think the percentage of users with the savvy/motivation to install those adblocking plugins must be quite low, and those are the ones I consider disrespectful. Plus with the pop-up blockers, at least the website businesses have a chance to channel that advertising into a different place. With all out ad-blockers, they have no chance at all.
  18. I just think of it as a matter of respect. It's disrespectful to enjoy someone's intellectual property in a manner that contravenes the way they intended it to be distributed/accessed. Sure they could put a notice on top of every page saying adblocking is prohibited under TOS but it would make the site ugly and only a tiny percentage of users would adblock anyway. It's kind if common sense that if they're giving away content for free then the idea is visitors see the advertisements which companies pay for. Same goes for piracy and copyright violations - just show respect to the owner/creator. Would you pirate your best-friends music? Although I've got to admit, browsing on the iPad with its inability to display Flash ads is a godsend ;-)
  19. I think if you watch some individual players who you admire play in the same team, then 'cheering' the team is proper (as long as you realize it's just cheering, just fun, nothing more). But the nationalism/sectarianism that tends to surface at these sporting events is ridiculous, and it's not surprising because even civilized fans tend to embrace a sort of crude, irrational collectivism when it comes to supporting their team. I find the whole thing very offputting, especially when you see people who've let their long-term emotional state and their general behaviour be affected by sports-entertainment. Other undesirable traits like intense jealousy of successful athletes and second-hand vicarious living through heroes are also apparent. (i'm talking basically about soccer here, mind you. i can't really attest to other sports, although they tend to be more civilized)
  20. Your observation about the machine's value going obviously unrecognized by the company is a good explanation. I can't remember exactly but perhaps Dagny and Hank had already been primed to expect a single inventor? They already know that one exceptionally bright engineer walked out of the company. Another explanation could be that the design bore a strong signature of indivual taste. Similar to how at the start of The Fountainhead the unusual drawings of Howard are described as 'pure, unmistakable Roark' or something.
  21. I think it's not a bad idea but it'd need a major rewrite of the story, since AS is told mainly from Dagny's perspective (and a few other perspectives) and Eddie is not always involved. Any idea how to solve that? The synopsis I posted, I've tried to condense the story into a standard 3-act format (like most movies) and distill the essence of AS rather than reproduce the whole thing. Act I: introduce Taggart Transcontinental and Rearden Steal, the state of the economy, Hank meets Dagny Act II: the looters step up their antics, the construction of the bridge becomes the focus of the struggle, discovery of Galt's unfinished engine Act III: bridge is completed and the heroes attempt to ride the first train across it i think AS is so epic and episodic that it'd wind up longer than Lawrence of Arabia. For a movie it's not enough just to trim it, take out the long speeches and suchlike, but whole episodes of the story need to be pruned until there's a single story arc IMO
  22. Keating's problem is that he takes credit for things that Roark did for him. He starts to live a lie, presenting to the world that he's a brilliant architect who succeeds due to his talent, but in reality his success comes from the work of others or shady deals. He thinks doing this will bring him fame and fortune - and it does - but it also slowly eats away at his self-esteem which in the end is far too high a price. Sure, it didn't help that he was always the sort of person who wanted attention more than achievement or wanted to be popular or wanted others to think highly of him at all costs... but those are relatively minor flaws, his fatal flaw was taking credit when it wasn't due. Unless you are perpetuating some similar type of fraud then really you are nothing like Keating. Almost everyone has a degree of vanity and self-deception.
  23. I've thought about how Atlas Shrugged could adapted into a move many a time. It's a huge challenge. What I keep coming back to in my mind is the early part of the book when it's all about Rearden Metal and the railway business. It's such a compelling story at that point, even before the reader has grasped the true meaning of events. I think the millions of people who read AS, even the ones that end up hating it, are fairly enraptured by the heroic industrialists and their struggle early on - the disagreements come later. IMO the best way to make a movie would be to focus only on that part. Leave out Galt's gulch and the collapse of society and Ragnar and the epic speeches, Stadler, Project X etc. All that stuff explicitly stated/narrated in the book would need to be symbolically/implicitly handled in the film. Leaving the 'who is John Galt' mystery unsettled could also be effective (it would be memorably, and lead viewers to do further research) And maybe, in fact, call the movie 'Who is John Galt?' rather than 'Atlas Shrugged' (owing to the fact that a full adaptation is extremely impractical) So, say the synopsis was something like this: Hank Rearden has invented a new type of metal - stronger, lighter, cheaper than all alternatives (this could be the opening scene. a shot of one rod of Rearden metal bending under a stress test, symbolizing the strain of socialism on industry, with the testers excitedly counting the units of pressure/stress until it breaks the record and they realize they've 'done it') Dagny Taggart is running a once mighty rail network that is collapsing under the weight of regulation/unfair competition Taggart becomes interested in purchasing Rearden metal, even though rival suppliers are smearing it and the government is casting its evil eye on Rearden's property As events advance, it becomes clear that Rearden metal is VITAL to the survival of Taggart Transcontinental. They need it to build a bridge of great strategic/trade value, something that could transform fortunes The Rearden metal bridge takes on additional symbolic meaning (think the marlin in The Old Man and the Sea), as rivals, enemies, government bodies throw all sorts of obstacles in the way, but Dagny and Hank will get it built, everything else be damned. Meanwhile, as 'things get bad' in the economy, the phrase 'Who is John Galt' keeps popping up. Dagny learns by chance that Galt was an engineer at 20th Century Motors who was working on a revolutionary engine. She decides to track this down (could turn out to be as vital as Rearden metal, she thinks). She and Hank eventually find the factory ruins, maybe hear the microcosmic history of the motor company's downfall, and discover the broken remains of Galt's engine. They think for a while about about what the engine would mean if working and what sort of mind could have created it, then Dagny has it shipped back to her engineering division for inspection. Unbeknownst to Dagny and the audience, John Galt actually works as an engineer at TT. He's been in the film already, talking to Eddie about the state of the company etc (maybe somehow 'off camera' like in the book, but inconspicuously). Galt receives the engine and files a report not revealing his true understanding of its properties. The bridge is finally competed but the looters have conspired to make actually running a train over it almost impossible. Public is convinced that the metal is unsafe, the bridge will collapse, and Dagny cannot even source a working diesel/engine for the 'maiden voyage.' This is where Galt steps in and hooks up his motor to one of the engines in for repair. Nobody realizes this until Galt arrives with the locomotive (miraculously running without emitting steam/smoke) and finally introduces himself to Dagny and Hank (who are about to 'defy death' and ride the train across the bridge themselves). While the gathered media watch in amazement, Dagny has no time to wonder and presses ahead with the schedule. So the scene from the book follows until they are halfway across the bridge, at which point something goes wrong and the train grinds to a halt with the national media watching (though the bridge holds up, which in itself proves the stability). Galt has disengaged his motor, detached it, and proceeds to tuft it over the side into the canyon below, before disappearing from the scene. Takes a while for the others to realize what's happened. Dagny and Hank and the rest of the crew make their way back on foot, the bridge and the train a frozen monument to technological progress. They are met by clamouring observers and reporters who are amazed that the metal is safe and even more amazed at the motor and its destruction. They demand to know who the saboteur was. Dagny tells them it was the man who designed the motor. They demand to know his name. Hank Rearden smiles and says 'who is John Galt?' A reporter puts two-and-two together and says 'Wait, you mean that was John Galt? The John Galt?' Dagny nods, to widespread astonishment. They start walking off, but another reporter manages to ask 'But who is this John Galt, exactly? Why's he so important?' Dagny stops and says '... He was Prometheus who changed his mind.' (or whatever the line in the book is) Camera pulls back, THE END, credits roll. ---------- Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto would be a good choice of music (for the whole movie, even, not just the end) Galt's fellow strikers could make little cameo appearances and be identified by dollar sign cigarettes. D'Anconio could do a shortened version of his money speech at some point. Little easter eggs for the fans here and there. Galt's last line as he escapes from the scene past the crowd could be 'get the hell out of my way.' The important thing is to show the looters in a negative light and the industrialists in a heroic light, but they cannot triumph completely. Rather, Galt's action at the end reveals the whole dynamic of 'the strike,' and communicates it effectively to the entire nation. Rearden's family and James Taggart and other industry/political undesirables can be major characters. The Hank/Dagny romance can happen, culminating on the train. Perhaps Rearden's court case. Other events (ie. strikes) can be mentioned or hinted at. The story of the 20th Century Motor Company should allow a fairly explicit statement of the overall message of Atlas Shrugged. I think this makes for a clear, focussed plot with plenty of suspense/conflict; AND a good mystery to make the ending memorable (with Galt finally showing up). Thoughts, anyone?
  24. I think the deeper issue though is - what if BP cannot afford to pay full compensation? Or even a fraction of compensation for damages? Because then you wonder should such activity that might cause catastrophic environmental damage be legal. And then you wonder, if it were illegal, what would we be missing out on. That's what I'd like to see discussion about.
  25. I remember a few weeks ago she was ridiculed by bloggers for saying Google has a problem in that its only known for search (obviously she was speaking in terms of where they actually make profit/revenue). Its funny how internet people always think they know better than a CEO whose tripled her company's profits in 12 months...
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