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Everything posted by Dante

  1. First ask him to define altruism, because I get the feeling he doesn't have the same concept in mind that Rand criticized in her works. She wasn't criticizing benevolence and good will when she argued against altruism, in fact she felt her morality of self-interest provided the foundation for both of these things.
  2. Total surplus is A through F, it includes producer surplus.
  3. Except the things I'm proposing can be done by a competent filmmaker. In the case of the speech, I provided a concrete example of precisely how it could be done in a visual format. Scriptwriters and directors are able to invoke these sort of judgments about characters from the audience all the time; it simply wasn't done here. Changing plot points, dropping scenes, etc, all that is vital to adapting a book, and was certainly utilized here, but it wasn't used effectively in many cases.
  4. <p>I thought parts of it were incredibly amateurish. Opening a movie with expository text is almost always a bad idea, and here it was messy and completely unnecessary. Literally, they could have just removed it flat out, put nothing else in, and made the movie much better. Within the first 2 minutes, we see a billboard with $40 gas displayed on it, we see beggars littering the streets... we don't need some horrid expository text to get the picture of what the world looks like, or to understand why trains are back.<br /> <br /> I really liked opening the movie with Dagny in the plane. It functions extremely well as a hook, and to give the movie the sense of coming 'full circle' around to John Galt by the end, and making the viewer feel that this quest is important. However, Dagny's delivery of her desperate "Who is John Galt" as the plane goes down was comically bad. That's really the best take that they got?<br /> <br /> A few other elements just jumped out as amateurish and made me cringe. The slow walk of board members into the board room was awful. John Galt's delivery of "Are you ready, Mr. So-and-so" right before he disappears them was bad. "Who is John Galt" was overused and got really repetitive.<br /> <br /> The filmmakers also definitely took the easy road when it comes to Lillian Rearden. You can feel that they are desperate to get the viewer to sympathize with Hank, especially after we've seen that he's cheating on his wife, but we haven't seen how bad the marriage is, so they do that in one scene with Lillian basically saying that she knows that Hank has been miserable their entire marriage (a fact she is obviously indifferent to, shown through her mannerisms). We do indeed sympathize completely with Hank at this point, but its done by turning Lillian into a garden-variety terrible spouse, which completely misses the progression of Hank and his family throughout the book. It's not enough to hate Lillian the character, invoking that in the audience is useless without better tying it to family obligation separated from love, which is what Hank has to learn to throw off. It gets the characters but misses the theme. They took a similar easy road with Jim Taggart, with his "make sure they know who it's from" line displaying his insincere and pathetic nature abundantly clear.<br /> <br /> I also would have done the two speeches a bit differently, particularly Francisco's. The blood, whips, and chains vs dollars line felt like an offhand remark; I would have had him build up a little more to it and deliver it with more intensity. The camera work didn't help; how about a longer, uninterrupted shot of Francisco building up to the end of his speech, with the camera slowly zooming, to draw the viewer more into the speech and build intensity. It sounds kind of cheesy when I describe it, but it can be really effective. Just one example from the geniuses over at Breaking Bad:<br /> <br /> <br /> Hank's speech could have benefited from a similar strategy, although that one had some more intensity to it at least.<br /> <br /> Overall, I thought the movie was not too bad, with some incredibly amateurish and cringe-worthy moves thrown in. The movie did do a very good job of using humor to show the ridiculousness of some of the statements and ideas held by altruists. It was actually very funny, and in a good way that contributed to the themes, rather than distracting from them. Dagny's "I'm the man" line was great. However, there were more than a few times where I felt that the filmmakers just didn't know what they were doing, and couldn't tell that some of their decisions didn't play well at all.</p>
  5. There's a faulty premise here that it's vital to recognize when voicing opposition for policies such as this. Consider this quote: '"Work should be done at school, rather than at home,” in order to foster educational equality for those students who do not have support at home., he added.' The egalitarian rationalization present there is appealing to lots of people, precisely because of this faulty assumption. The underlying premise is that if some of the children get an extra step up (here, support outside of home), then this is a bad thing for the kids that don't get it. The reasoning is that homework is only effective when paired with this support structure in the home, and if some kids don't have this support, they are made worse off by other kids having it. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. It relies on the premise that individuals' interests are fundamentally at odds with one another, that life is a zero sum game. Applied to this context, the underlying idea is that there are only a fixed number of jobs for highly educated people, and if the wealthy and middle-class kids take them all because they had better educational opportunities (here, support for their homework), there won't be any left for the underprivileged. In actuality, people are made better off if those around them are well-educated. Education is not a zero sum game, it is a shining example of a situation where I'm made better off if the people around me get a quality education, even if I don't. In fact, this is the reasoning that most economists will give for why we publicly fund education, the fact that it has 'positive externalities.' The more educated people we have, the more new economic opportunities will be opened up for others. This is the fundamental argument that has to be made against policies like this, the idea that has to be corrected, and followers of Ayn Rand should be the first ones doing it.
  6. My point was not that he's wrong to use MSK to generalize, but simply that a forum's content is its posts, and thus it is the posters who contribute the content. MSK contributes the most content by virtue of the fact that he posts the most, not by virtue of the fact that he owns it (ownership certainly increases the incentive to post, but does not directly contribute to the sites content, other than through posting). It's a simple statement about the nature of an online forum vs. (for example) an organization's website. The straw man is that because I'm saying that one can separately identify MSK's contributions as a poster and his contributions as an owner, that I believe in some sort of magical separation. My experience is that whenever someone uses "magically" in summing up another's argument, there's probably some misrepresentation going on. EDIT: It's not a particularly interesting or mind-blowing topic, and I wouldn't normally have stepped into it at all, but saying that owners rather than posters contribute content, and supporting that by citing someone's number of posts... just had to point out the flaw in that.
  7. Only took one reply for the straw men to appear.
  8. You seem to have no issues with generalizing a positive character trait (being anti bad ideas and behavior) from individual members to the general forum. If we're going to judge individual posters as individuals, then let's do that. Also, this is an implicit concession that the content of a forum comes from its posters, not its owners. Your argument to the contrary cites the amount of material that MSK qua poster has contributed, not in his role as an owner, which undermines your own point.
  9. But this helps to prove DonAthos' point, not yours. Because surely the guest owns his own mouth, which he is using to make racist jokes. So in asking him to leave, the homeowner is saying, "You cannot use your own property (your mouth) on my property any way you want. It's your mouth, but it's my house, so if you want to spout racism with it, get out." The roadowner could surely say the same thing to the driver about how he uses his car. Everywhere I go, I am encased in a sphere of my own property - my body. That doesn't mean I can do anything with it. The same goes if I am further encased in my vehicle.
  10. Productivity at its core is about taking personal responsibility for achieving the values you desire, and this should be interpreted much more widely than simply the values that a career provides. It's about being an active creator of values, not only in the professional realm, but also in the areas of personal relationships, romantic love, and leisure time and hobbies. It's about being a value-achiever, and this might mean forcing yourself to go out and meet new people (when focusing on the values of personal relationships), or working on your communication in a relationship, or even forcing yourself to set aside work and enjoy the value of some downtime. In this last case, taking responsibility for achieving the values of peace and relaxation might require doing nothing (even when this is difficult for you), or purposefully finding a mindless way to pass the time. If those are the values you feel a particular need to focus on, productiveness means that it's up to you to figure out how to attain them.
  11. His root mistake is thinking that clinging to government benefits is a selfish course of action, or that refusing to vote oneself more benefits is "selfless." His vision of the selfish man is clearly someone who accumulates money at all costs, from all sources, rather than someone who refuses to use the government to transfer money from others to himself. The people that he called "selfish," i.e. citizens who would drive the country off the fiscal cliff in order to get their government check, are indeed condemnable; they're condemnable for not being properly selfish. His point was right, but his language was wrong, and that's not an uncommon mistake at all in America's confused ethical landscape. When he says we all need to "share in the sacrifice," what he was talking about was that we all need to stop begging the government for a check, and allow politicians to cut spending. He's right; we should do that, but it won't be a sacrifice. ADDED ON EDIT: There's a fundamental difference between a politician asking citizens to "sacrifice" by giving up their government benefits, and a politician asking citizens to sacrifice by paying more of their own income to the government. Only in the second case is the person giving up something that actually belongs to them.
  12. Okay, but you're still using the law here, even if you aren't using the police directly. Without the immoral law, your blackmail has no bite. There are obviously advantages and disadvantages to each strategy (if you send him to jail, he gets out one day, whereas if he gives in to the blackmail, you always have something on him to keep him away in the future; but blackmailing probably requires confrontation, which could turn violent, whereas the cops will do that for you in the other scenario). However, I fail to see that one course is unambiguously better than the other, for principled reasons.
  13. Dante

    Is bribe immoral?

    You have yet to show that self-deception is inherent in the act of paying a bribe. You won't even consider the case where a businessman knows exactly what his bribe is and is not buying him. Obviously a single bribe doesn't buy permanent protection, and the bribe-taker can break his word at any time. Duh. You think people who decide to pay bribes can't figure this stuff out, and are therefore deceiving themselves about what a bribe can buy? I doubt it.
  14. This is exactly the same kind of thing that Democrats have been doing when they turn a blind eye to every time that Obama has continued one of Bush's policies that the Democrats heavily criticized him for. Suddenly Obama gets into office, and all the interventionist foreign policy is cool now. Nevermind that he raids medical marijuana dispensaries, or extends executive power through executive orders, or rewrites and reinterprets laws after they've been passed, or that his administration warps economic statistics like unemployment to make it look like he's doing better than he is. Democrats and liberals in the media are reticent to comment on such issues, because of the exact same thing you're criticizing the Republicans for, which is party loyalty. Both sides have it, and it makes them say stupid things, defend things they shouldn't, and remain silent when they should speak up. It's a problem with politics on both sides.
  15. Okay, here's one. You and your family (wife and a kid, maybe) have a tenant upstairs who uses drugs. He also pays the rent late, and gets later and later and then stops. You decide to have a forceful talk with him about it, and he starts shouting and verbally threatens you (strongly), maybe smashes a lamp or something. You report the threat to the police, but it's your word against his, and you have no demonstrable physical evidence that he poses a threat. You know the eviction process would take about 6 months to get him out, but you could get him out and away from your family tomorrow by tipping off the cops about the drugs in his place. You wouldn't even consider it? The guy could clearly become violent, and he has a key to your house. The point is, it's not that "the legal institutions don’t agree[that he initiated force], or you would be able to seek redress that way," as you later say, but rather simply that you have no physical evidence to substantiate your claim of a verbal threat. You do, however, have physical evidence of drug use. Or consider the example of getting Al Capone off the streets with tax evasion (assuming we both think forcible taxation is immoral). There's a case where the cops knew, but couldn't prove, that he was a gangster and a murderer, but they could prove something else. I understand your concern with utilizing bad laws, but I don't think it's as simple as "If the law is morally illegitimate, never use or invoke it."
  16. Here you've included several elements on top of the original scenario, like Roark planting the drugs himself instead of simply using Toohey's actual drug use, and Roark being a habitual drug user himself, thus making him fraudulent and a hypocrite. Clearly these elements alone put him in the wrong. My question is, if your previous argument concerning the original post is so clearly correct, why are these here?
  17. Simply sitting back and letting entitlement spending balloon is damage enough. From where I'm standing, the Romney/Ryan ticket is more likely to slow that growth, particularly if Republicans (and Tea Party Republicans particularly) retake the Senate as well.
  18. Wow, did you really just not watch the last 20 minutes of the movie?
  19. I sincerely doubt that was the goal of the filmmakers. Evaluate it for what it is.
  20. The trilogy has made it clear that for Wayne, this isn't a sacrifice. We've seen what his city means to him on a personal level, from his childhood there and his parents' involvement in it, up to the present and his continuous battle for its citizens. Everything and everyone that he cares about is there. He's invested much of himself into Gotham and its people, and in fact the only reason he can gather the strength to rise from the pit is the desire to save it one last time. The actions he takes for Gotham aren't some impersonal sacrifice undertaken for duty's sake, they are a response to his deeply personal connection to his city. It's his city, and he's not going to see it destroyed, no matter what. If you want a strictly Objectivist comparison, it's reminiscent of Dagny's connection to her railroad, and all that she goes through to save it.
  21. Christian. That was easy. He has never said anything to indicate that he's an Objectivist, only that he agrees with Rand's views on moral individualism and capitalism, and that she expressed those views particularly well.
  22. They are most certainly not "quite familiar" with her. Look what happened when the first movie came out. Unexpectedly high ticket sales the first weekend, as fans of Rand flocked to the theaters, and then... sharply falling ticket sales immediately. Rand fans came in droves, and the wider public completely ignored it. That's exactly what happens with these Ryan-Rand stories too. They get talked about ad nauseum on Objectivist forums, and ignored in the wider world in favor of other issues. Actually, the thing that will keep coming up in regards to his budget will be its sound rejection by the Catholic establishment. He has gone to great lengths to reconcile his economic and social policies with Catholic teachings, and those rationalizations have been harshly criticized by prominent representatives of Catholicism. Him being criticized as not Catholic enough is much bigger news in terms of voters than him not being Objectivist enough. It isn't even a contest.
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