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Everything posted by Dante

  1. I'm guessing that if you put a segment from a piece of literature up against a short story written by a first grader, most people could tell the difference there. That would seem a more apt comparison to this exercise.
  2. Frankly, I think that this video, and her performance at the VMAs, are immature and rather pathetic. It's obvious to me that she's just desperately trying to shed her previous Disney channel, teenage idol persona. She's trying to announce to the world that she's 'all grown up' now and having sex, and it just makes it that much more obvious how immature the attempt is. It reminds me of a college freshman who hasn't been allowed to drink before, and thinks that binge drinking in college makes him 'an adult.' That's not how adults treat alcohol, and this isn't how adults treat sex.
  3. I heard a rather strong version of this argument on The Daily Show a few days ago, that the main cause of violence in the region has been the arbitrary country borders drawn by Westerners after WWII. It's stuff we've all heard before, and I'd always thought that this argument was fairly common sense, but after thinking on it a little I'm not so sure. Do we really think that the sectarian violence between different religious and ethnic groups that has happened over there would have been much better if each group had its own country? Look at one case where country division by religious beliefs actually occurred: India and Pakistan. We'll never know what it would have looked like over there had they remained one country, but one thing we can say for sure: it hasn't exactly been peaceful between the two nations. I'm not convinced that giving each cultural group its own country and government wouldn't have just resulted in basically the same thing we have now: different ethnic and religious groups that hate each other engaging in conflict after conflict. Perhaps it would be the same violence, just categorized differently by us: as inter-country conflicts rather than sectarian violence within a country. Maybe allowing breakups of countries would help, but I'm really not sure by how much. I think the reason that this argument has gained so much traction is not because it stands up to scrutiny particularly well, but rather that it furthers a favorite pastime of Western intellectuals: blaming Western ignorance for global problems.
  4. I understand your point, but that article wasn't talking about oversight of the curricula of charter schools, but rather financial oversight of their balance sheets in order to prevent fraud. This form of oversight is one that schools (and all other companies) should be subject to. Of course, in a free market, this oversight would be demanded by customers and investors rather than required by law, but the fact remains that this type of oversight is perfectly valid and necessary. The second half of the article discusses disciplinary policies set by schools, which is more clearly something that should be left up to each school individually. However, nowhere does the author discuss oversight of the curricula of charter schools, which is what charter schools and school choice advocates should actually be afraid of.
  5. The Objective Standard, an Objectivist publication, made this exact argument in 2011; article here. They argue that education tax credits represent the true transition to more of a free market education, while school vouchers are simply a tool to eventually extend government control over the curricula of private as well as public schools.
  6. In my view, absolutely it is. It is important to take a wider context than simply one instance in order to address issues like this, where you are not consciously making a wrong choice, but rather your 'default' setting or level of attention leads you astray. (If this is really just an isolated incident, and you're usually very attentive to stuff like this, then the rest of my post isn't really relevant to your situation in particular. However, this is an issue that I've given some thought to, so either way I'd like to lay it out.) I'll give you some examples from my life to make this a little more concrete. I have a tendency to fail to look for opportunities to show those that I care about just how valuable they are to me. Far too often, when other people tell me about something they did for a friend or loved one, I find myself chiding myself for not thinking of that, or for not doing something similar when I had the chance. For example, it just didn't occur to me to call my sister after her first day or few days of college, to see how it was going. I haven't seen my grandparents in quite a while, and I didn't even think that it might be a good idea to visit them until my sister mentioned that she was flying out there to see them. For a more mundane example, I'm sure you know those people that, when they go shopping, are constantly finding gifts to buy that their friends or family would appreciate. I'm kind of the opposite. I could be looking at something that would be perfect as a gift for someone I care about, and I probably wouldn't even realize it; it wouldn't even occur to me to buy it for them. I'll stop embarrassing myself with examples of my failings, but my point is this: even though none of these are bad choices that I consciously made, the end result is that, if I follow my 'default' setting with things like this, I end up neglecting people that I care about and whom I definitely don't want to neglect. In my case, I need to find ways to consciously and actively seek out these opportunities, because they don't just 'occur' to me like they often do with others around me. I may not mean to miss out on these opportunities, but the fact is that I do, and I really don't want to. The solution is for me to take responsibility for what my 'default' setting is, and find ways to counteract it and eventually shift it more towards were I would like it to be. Presumably in the future you want to avoid forgetful mistakes that inconvenience your mother (or others around you). Actually achieving that goal requires not hiding behind the explanation of 'well, I didn't mean to' and taking a longer viewpoint, where you are able to change how forgetful you are, to some extent at least. But again, if you're generally much better about this sort of thing, I don't mean to offend.
  7. Robert Tracinski, an Objectivist political columnist over at RealClearPolitics, has just written a defense of intervention in Syria. Personally, I think we should not intervene, but I respect Tracinski's views, and I think he makes a strong case for intervention (one that would be of interest to this thread). The link to his article is above, key excerpt here:
  8. The desegregation case seems to be simply the legal pretense for trying to prevent this from happening. I think the main reason the suit is being brought is that the teachers' unions (significant supporters of President Obama and Democrats in general) oppose the program.
  9. Reading comprehension's not so good, huh? The Industrial Revolution is an illustration of the productive power of man's mind under a relatively free system, not a proof. Rand's derivation of her ethical system is clearly spelled out in her work; the fact that she was inspired by historical examples does not eliminate the derivation that she put down in writing for her ethics. The inspiration for Einstein's theory of relativity was his imagination of what it would be like to ride on the crest of a light wave. By your logic, that must have been all the support his theory had.
  10. Quite simply, because this isn't a "proof from first principles" kind of question. This can only be answered by the empirical record of relatively free economies versus that of controlled economies. Rand herself said that it would have been nearly impossible to come to the conclusions that she did prior to the industrial revolution; i.e. prior to the first major empirical demonstration of the productive power of the human mind in a (relatively) free context. This is a historical and empirical question, and the case for capitalism's ability to generate prosperity has been aptly made by many different economists and historians (and not simply Objectivists).
  11. Well it should be obvious to them that you're thinking about relocating anyways; otherwise, you wouldn't be sending your resume to them. I really don't see any reason not to send your actual resume. You might very well get a job prospect, or at least some kind of connection, out of it, and you don't want that to be based on falsehoods.
  12. This is not how economic theories are tested. The field of econometrics exists because economists have to test their models against purely historical data, without the conditions that would be present in an actual experiment.
  13. Let's be clear that you're talking about undergraduate textbooks here, not graduate books. Keynesianism (and monetarism) are useful for giving undergraduates a working knowledge of a few big-picture economic questions, and helping them to understand political debates over economic questions. However, graduate macro textbooks generally do not teach Keynesian economics. Some Keynesian insights, such as sticky prices, are introduced as possible modeling choices, but none of the economics that Keynes actually did is really relevant anymore in terms of training future economists. As to undergraduate economics textbooks, I taught a macro course recently, and decided not to use Mankiw's book mainly because I thought it was too dry. I went with Baumol and Blinder's Macroeconomics instead, which is a very good book that does a good job of bringing in recent U.S. experiences and tying economic questions to the political debates of the day.
  14. Robert Tracinski, an advocate of Rand's ideas and a contributor at RealClearPolitics, has become one of the writers associated with libertarian populism, and has commented on it several times in his running column "The Daily Debate." See, for example, his comments about Paul Krugman's dismissal of libertarian populism. Personally, I tend to agree with Tracinski that libertarian populism represents an important facet in the case for liberty. In particular, the fact that 'populism' is commonly associated with redistributionism points to one of the key messages of libertarian populism: that government handouts are not the only thing that a populist political movement could ever offer to the poor. Another type of populism is possible, one that advocates capitalism as the ideal political system for everyone, not just for wealthy business owners.
  15. I think you should seriously think about what this relationship brings in to your life, because I'm willing to bet that it brings a lot more value than simply avoiding the guilt of abandoning her. I don't have children, and I understand that having a kid is incredibly demanding, but I also understand that it is incredibly rewarding. At least, that's what I anticipate for myself when I do have them. I'm willing to bet that if you choose to abandon her to avoid occasional contact with your ex and some adolescent temper tantrums, you will come to deeply regret that decision.
  16. It's funny, I'm sure environmentalists love Obama's announcement of increased regulation and ultimate phasing out of coal (for example, Al Gore loves it). These same environmentalists have been trying non-stop to halt all hydraulic fracturing (fracking), but cheap natural gas from fracking is the only reason we can even consider cracking down further on coal.
  17. Let's not go too far here. Kevin's advice is bad for most of the reasons given in this thread and others, but absolutely there are special actions that you should take on a date that you wouldn't take for one of your guy friends or just some random stranger. You treat your date as special because he or she is special, to you. She isn't special because she's a woman, she's special for all the reasons that led you to ask her out. Now how you express that is more open; you could go along with social conventions like holding the door and paying for her meal (assuming you set up the date), or not. If she finds those sexist, that's fine, the point isn't to follow some rulebook, but just to communicate that she is special to you, not because she's a woman but just because you like who she is. Treat your date like a 'special case' because she is. That means going beyond just courtesy stuff that you'd do for a stranger, because she means more to you than a stranger does. I'm speaking from the male perspective, but this goes for both sides of the date. Now, some of the stuff recommended above can be used to convey to your date that she's special, and others I just don't see. Picking the table, for instance, seems like a pure dominance move. In the broader sense, taking the time and the initiative to plan out a date and set it up beforehand is a nice thing to do for your date (man or woman), but picking the table first? I just don't see that, or the "no touching in public" thing. Wow. Now, not ignoring your date during the meal, having a two-sided conversation, and opening the door for her (if she doesn't mind that) all seem like sound advice; not because of some leading man framework, but because of both common courtesy and the fact that you should go beyond common courtesy on a date.
  18. My girlfriend and I saw the movie in theaters and then she bought his album Cold Fact. The music is quite good, and the story of the documentary is fascinating. I didn't think it had too much of a slant; it certainly shows the gratifying elements of fame and success with his arrival in SA and the reception he gets there. I quite enjoyed the movie.
  19. Uhh.. you understand that hurting yourself is what Rand meant by anti-life, right? Anti-life doesn't mean you're killing yourself instantly, it means that whatever you're doing is working against your own life... aka hurting yourself... like smoking.
  20. There is a big difference, that you seem to be glossing over, between arguing for reason and arguing for reason and everything Objectivists think reason entails, and the latter is a ridiculous requirement. To illustrate why, let me simply continue your list of what we both agree reason entails: free market capitalism, ethical egoism, and atheism. You're never going to find a religious scholar that agrees with Objectivists about what reason entails, for obvious reasons: then they wouldn't be religious in the first place. I'm talking about Islamic scholars who affirm the fundamental importance of reason and embrace the basics of Western society: religious freedom, gender equality, freedom of speech, rule of law. That said, finding one example took me about 30 seconds on Google: Fathi Osman Sample quote: '“We have to realize that God’s law is not an alternative to the human mind, nor is it supposed to put it out of action,” Dr. Osman wrote in an essay on Islam and human rights. “Openness is life, while being closed off and isolated is suicidal.”' And why do you think secularism was able to prevail in what were still majority Christian countries? Precisely because Christians themselves came to accept the compatibility of Christianity with a secular society. This occurred partly because scholars, like Thomas Aquinas, reinterpreted the religious texts as compatible with reason and secular society. It bears noting here that a similar move towards reason and secularism occurred in Islam's history, through thinkers like Avicenna. Unfortunately, these thinkers did not ultimately exert the kind of lasting influence on Islam that similar Christian theologians did on Christianity. Thus, the theocratic nature of Islam throughout much of the world.
  21. Thanks for the link. I'd be interested to see the numbers for Muslims in America too. For this link, it's worth noting that the percentages being charted are percentages out of only those Muslims that support Sharia law in the first place. This causes big problems with the way they've drawn their graph. For example, although Iraq and Lebanon look similar in the numbers of how many people support killing apostates (42% and 46%), they aren't. In Iraq, 91% of respondents support the basic premise of imposing sharia law, so the percentage given for killing apostates just about represents all Muslims (42% of 91% yielding 38% overall). In Lebanon, only 29% of Muslims even agree with the imposition of sharia law in the first place, so the number that support killing apostates is 46% of 29%, or 13% overall. Either way, clearly the majority of Muslims in many parts of the world do not agree with even basic requirements of Western values such as religious freedom. Islam in these regions is still stuck in its own Dark Ages.
  22. And? Islam is not compatible with itself! Its holy book contradicts itself numerous times, much like the Bible. In virtue of this, I fail to see why Islamic scholars who accept western values are being more contradictory than your extremists. They are all picking and choosing verses they like, interpreting away those they don't, in order to glean a consistent worldview out of contradictory source material. I see no reason to accept the idea that one set of them is 'more serious' about ideas or about their own religion than the other. And that's certainly not why we would label one group 'extremist.'
  23. So Muslim scholars that devote their lives to arguing for the compatibility of Islam with Western values aren't taking their religion seriously? Really? 'Extremist' Muslims aren't labeled extremist because they're the only ones that take their religion seriously. They're labeled extremist because they're willing to kill for their interpretation of Islam.
  24. Well I think part of what makes the example of the novel so compelling is that the amount of specificity in the product is very high. So much so that there's practically no chance of an "independent writer" who hasn't already read some published novel replicating the exact same novel with enough detail to infringe on the copyright. Perhaps most of the conflicts between independent inventors vs novelists being 'screwed' would be resolved by having very high requirements for the specificity of some patent or copyright. Certainly our current system, where Apple can sue Samsung for making products that 'look' too much like their own, has much too generous an interpretation of intellectual property. Being able to patent a highly specific formula for a new complex chemical compound seems highly unlikely to conflict with an independent inventor's product; being able to patent the shape of a curve at the corner of a smartphone almost certainly will. Certainly we still need some procedure for dealing with the very few independent inventors in such a system, but by and large this issue would not arise.
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