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Everything posted by Tyco

  1. Interesting prediction here: http://philosophicaleconomics.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/the-single-greatest-predictor-of-future-stock-market-returns/
  2. The laws against bootlegging were immoral, but I think there's some suggestion that Gatsby's parties are a way for the mobsters to engage in corruption and scams with high society. Anyway, when Nick says 'you're worth the whole damn lot of them' it's never quite washed with me. Some readers think Nick is infatuated with Gatsby so that is one possible explanation.
  3. I think it's a bit murkier than that though, because most of Gatsby's wealth on display is just a front for someone else's criminal empire. He may have had admirable qualities of self-improvement but he goes astray somewhere along the line. Values the wrong things.
  4. Well, to the original question, I would point out that it's not really just a few eggheads trying to topple the fiat money system with their own currency. Bitcoin has harnessed the awesome power of the internet. It's a matter of the different pieces falling into place: cryptography, P2P networks, online transactions. The internet has brought upon us a paradigm shift and it's not outlandish to think that once powerful agencies can be disrupted. Think how Twitter makes a mockery of all the press injunctions the British courts have been trying to impose.
  5. Nicky, I found your replies slightly objectionable... and all too typical of replies in Objectivist forums. Tbj2102 said he did not find the quantification (ie. counting, which is a common and legitimate sense of the word) of profit (through money) was worth obsessing over, and that he would rather cultivate goodwill through his social interactions or services. Further, exchange of money may be objective in some respects but it's not the final arbiter of how 'profitable' or rewarding (and hence worth pursuing) an activity is to an individual. This is not a very controversial point - someone could much prefer winning the Field medal in mathematics with its million dollar prize* than to winning the Euromillions Lottery with its 50 million Euro prize. I think if you'd employed the 'principle of charity' or whatever then you could have acknowledged these points instead of telling Tbj to go 'look things up' or 'ask questions', which is the behaviour I find objectionable... @Tbj2102, I think you might be on to something. Direct exchange of services is definitely one way to avoid taxes, and your services can be rewarded in different ways. It's interesting that you find this preferable in terms of your happiness. I have often thought along similar lines. One problem I foresee though is that without accumulation of income, you will find it difficult to plan ahead and achieve longer-term goals/projects, and will also will be less prepared for a 'rainy day' when it comes along. Yes, your cultivation of goodwill shall count for something, but you surely can't rely on that as you could rely on a bank account. Arguably it is irresponsible of you to neglect money in this way, as you are jeopardising your independence and your long-term progress. *can't remember if there is prize money for the Field Medal, or how much it is, or if I was thinking of another prize, but you get my point
  6. Nas - Life is Good His most enjoyable album since Illmatic IMO. Lyrically and vocally he'd been back on top form for the lSt few albums, but thus one really delivered with the beats and content where the others weren't quite my cup of tea.
  7. Yeah, Catwoman and her romance with BW don't stand up to much scrutiny. Thankfully it didn't ruin the rest of the movie, like Gordon Gecko's daughter in Wall Street 2.
  8. Wayne Enterprises had an Applied Science division... not an Applied Philosophy one. (just wanted to say that)
  9. I think Bane paid lip-service to anti-capitalism with his trials etc, but like someone else pointed out ultimately he planned to nuke the place so that could not be his end goal. However he did explicitly state that he was fulfilling the goals of [the Batman Begins villain], which was to destroy Gotham city because it had become amoral and corrupt. And that's a leaf straight out of the Islamic fundamentalists' book - their hatred of the Western way of life and its materialism, greed etc. Also with a tinge of those eco-nutcases who think mankind is an aberration and a threat to the rest of nature.
  10. But Batman's not ultimately on a moral crusade, he's just cleaning up the streets. On a bigger scale this time, with bad guys who have a fundamentalist tint to make them slightly more interesting, but in the end it's just a physical struggle. On a slightly deeper level it's about how much Bruce Wayne values the lives of ordinary, decent people and how this motivates him to pursue the, uh, vigilante lifestyle. But high level philosophical debate... Just doesn't come into it IMO.
  11. Well he was linked to the villains from Batman Begins and was promising to fulfil their objectives. They seemed to be driven by a sort of anti-Western, anti-materialism dogma, which in reality we usually associate with Sayyid Qutb and his disciples. The storyline also mixed in a sort of Occupy-Wallstreet-inspired anti-capitalism, making good on the otherwise empty threats to put the wealthy on trial for their 'crimes' and tear down the 'system' for a new start. People throw those ideas about but everyone realises that only a bloody revolution would achieve them, so they reside in the territory of fundamentalist coups. Bane is just a mix of anti-Western and anti-Capitalist fundamentalism, two things which are hot-topics these last few years. The point is not to explore these ideologies in any detail, it's just a little bit of shading to make the villains more believable.
  12. I think these types of films have a fairly simple formula to them: bad guy hatches plan to destroy [some part of] civilisation, owing to some 'fundamentalist' belief. The fundamentalism make the character more interesting, as they're not just randomly mischievous but driven by some ideology (which they usually abandon towards the end, as the film seeks to morally bankrupt them). I suspect this all stems from public awareness of Al Queda. Fundamentalists are the movie-threat *du jour* since the Cold War ended, and mafia types became cool. In other words, fundamentalism as a choice for villainry in movies isn't worth dwelling on too much. Whether it's Eco-terrorism or anti-capitalism or rogue patriotism or religious fanaticism it doesn't really matter, it's just a formula. Bad guys have to be more than just bank robbers these days. It's not symbolism over substance, it's formula over substance.
  13. I'm not 100% sure that there's not a circular argument involved with the 'survival of man qua man' idea which says that because man must use reason to survive, he can derive all his values by identifying what lets him survive/thrive as a rational being. Man must do what is rational, which is defined as what allows his continued existence as a rational being.
  14. Well, any serious investor ought to be sufficiently diversified, as it greatly reduces the risk of losing all your money/equity. So that means you need to keep tabs on 30+ companies, in order to avoid operational/custodial risk (ie. the fact that you could lose a lot of money because you weren't paying enough attention, for instance if you did not fill out a form to claim your cash dividend or whatever). If you invest into an equities fund, they do all that for you. Also, say you have strong convictions about investing, but not granular enough to pick individual stocks. Like if you believe a certain industry sector is going to generally perform well. Instead of guessing what stocks are sensitive to this sector, you can just put your money in a fund whose managers share your convictions. So the appeal of fund managers is not hard to see. This still leaves the unsettling statistic of funds under performing the market after fees. I suppose one answer might be that the 'market average' is skewed upwards by highly volatile stocks which have rocketed in price. Portfolio managers would tend to avoid these types of stock because generally they want to keep the risk/volatility of their portfolios low, to remove the chance of complete disaster. Maybe if you picked a bunch of stocks at random from within 1 or 2 standard deviations of the market median price, then compared their performance against the returns from equity funds, the funds would look better. Another thing to consider is that if you removed all equity fund managers from the market, the market itself would change. Hedge funds etc. do a lot of research into the companies they invest in (or short), essentially acting as critics/judges on the quality of companies and their management. They then affect the price of those stocks through their buying and selling, ultimately ensuring that stocks in general are priced more and more accurately. If this wasn't the case, then solo investors would fall victim to overvalued prices more easily.
  15. So there's no point arguing whether or not existence exists, i.e. whether there is an objective reality. What you do is accept that as a starting point, and then consider the process of concept-formation as our way of integrating our perceptions of reality into discrete units. This doesn't depend on language (just on 'measurement'), but language enhances it greatly and allows us to share concepts easily. Of course the concept of a 'tree' does not exist tangibly, it's just a parcel of measurements and attributes, but that hardly makes it arbitrary. We can follow the same process of concept formation as others do, and we can corroborate our concepts by, you know, interaction with reality and sharing observations. Have you ever heard of a post-modern scientist? I guess they'd say stuff like 'it doesn't matter how many independent experiments people do, we can never know the boiling point of water at sea level.'
  16. Tyco


    The exchange rate value of BitCoin did collapse a while ago, after speculators had driven it very high. The currency is still in its infancy so it's understandably volatile. Eventually, when the computational bit-coin limit is reached, there will be literally zero monetary inflation. Economies and currencies are always affected by outside forces though, so there could still be 'price inflation' as they call it, and variances in exchange rate.
  17. Tyco


    [Mod's note: merged with an earlier thread. - sN] For those who do not know, BitCoin is a 'digital currency' which is 'backed' by nothing except a totally decentralised peer2peer network. There is no government to back the currency, nor any gold, nor any company acting as an authority (in fact, the inventor is unknown). What it offers is near 100% confidence that a transaction cannot be reversed and that there can be no 'double spending' or counterfeiting of bit-coins. You can read the technical details in the original paper http://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf. Note that although a Japanese man is listed as the author, it's a pseudonym. As I understand it, each bit-coin has an anonymous 'transaction chain' associated with it, which every computer on the peer2peer network keeps track of (and anyone can join the network if they install the software). This transaction history consists of complex mathematical calculations mapping one transaction to the next, and to fake that transaction history would be computationally impractical. The currency also has a built-in plan to expand the money supply for the sake of circulation, but it also has a built in maximum number of bit coins which will eventually be reached. The peer2peer network functions because people can use their computers to support the transaction processing/computation, and in turn they are rewarded with new bit-coins, or with transaction fees. So anyway, this completely removes any government's ability to control the money supply, and will eventually stop inflation. That may not seem too radical to some, but you could argue that those things very much underpin or current economic system and have a huge effect on how we are governed and how free we are to pursue individual goals on a mass scale. The internet brought decentralisation to computing and has transformed many things, but a decentralised currency could have even more profound effects. It's also interesting to think what other things we could change with a 'peer2peer' approach.
  18. I find it objectionable too and the problem is quite clear in my eyes. Objectivists, and many other people besides, believe in the principle of equality between men - that is, everyone should have the same rights and you should treat people as individuals regardless of their ethnicity/whatever. When you mention the idea of privilege, it's basically saying you (as a white person in this case) are opting in to a system of inequality. In the same way that when you join a golf club, you are knowingly gaining access to privileges open only to club members, and you agree with the system that perpetuates that (i.e. you're paying fees, or whatever membership requires). But the thing is, although ethnic minorities may be the victims of racism, even very pervasive racism, that does not mean you as a white person have 'opted in' to some sort of system that perpetuates your 'privilege' (the privilege of not being discriminated against). It's not a 'privilege' to not suffer from discrimination. Enjoying a privilege at the expense of other people is something you should feel guilty about, but it's not what's happening here. I have no respect for racist beliefs, period. But framing the issue in terms of 'privilege' rather than in terms of discrimination is a borderline infuriating habit of sociologists.
  19. Yeah small talk is pretty dull but on the other hand you can learn more from the exchange if you also think about the person's demeanour and expression and body language. It can indicate whether it'd be worth building your acquaintance until you can launch into more meaningful/interesting conversations. Just think of it as a necessary 'handshake' protocol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handshaking
  20. Well the best thing would just be to ask Peikoff to clarify what he went. But from his choice of words, like 'when he purported to do something', I get the feeling he's talking about whether the woman could retrospectively claim that the advance was unwarranted, although he could have phrased it better.
  21. Regardless of what she then says - to whom? What she says to the man as he continues his sexual advance (rape), or what she says to the police when she explains she went to his hotel room in the middle of the night but at no point had she invited a sexual advancement?
  22. I think actually he just meant that for a man to make a sexual advance on a woman in such a situation could not be construed as attempted rape, as she has given every indication (without explicitly saying) that that's what she wants. However if, despite this, the woman then said 'stop' and the man continued, then that is mostly definitely rape (or attempted rape) and reprehensible. It would be idiotic to think otherwise.
  23. Well it's easy to suggest dozens of reasons, but it's very hard to verify how much truth is in any of those suppositions. Eg. - programming is a 'male way of thinking' (a female former maths teacher actually said this to me in one of my programming classes, which she was struggling with) - smart women have better options in other careers that pay more e.g. medicine, law - computing is a boys club and females will have to endure immature behaviour, condescension and insensitivity - men on average have better abstract thinking and visualisation skills - womens 'soft skills' are not as useful in computing as they are in other fields - girls feel more socially pressured to fall in line with the crowd, so while they can be smart during high school, it's bad for them if they embrace any activities considered 'geeky' - girls don't play computer games as much, maybe because they're not as competitive or something, or people would think it was strange, and so there are few girl gamers to graduate into programmers - the solitude required to program is less appealing to women - the overtime required of programmers (due to the notorious scope creep of IT projects) is at loggerheads with the desire to go home and be with the children - could be that computing is simply one of the last-standing subjects to change after society abandoned the idea that intellectual professions were for men - lack or female role models in the field - lack of female role models in entertainment (eg. characters like Chloe in 24) - ... But i've got no idea if any of those are actually correct. I think to solve the problem parents must take a more active role in encouraging their daughters to tinker with computers. And its neat when programming can tie into some other fun activity, like how it has for boys with gaming.
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