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necrovore last won the day on July 20

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About necrovore

  • Birthday 07/04/1975

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    Programming (Scheme, F#, C#, C++, Forth, Java, Assembly), Music (Reason 11.0), Writing (Plot, Literary Theory, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror).

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    I discovered Objectivism in 1997, read all I could about it, and promptly adopted it. However, I don't know if I'm very effective at advocating anything.
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  1. This thread has been like that long fist fight in John Carpenter's They Live. -- "Put on the damn sunglasses!" -- "No!" Decades of dealing with religious people has taught me that some people get the facts correct but then draw incorrect and sometimes "rigged" conclusions from those facts. The correct solution to this is to throw out their "rigged" conclusions and draw one's own conclusions. It is not correct to say that, since their conclusions are wrong, the facts that led to them must also be wrong. That's not how reasoning works. You can't just say "well X is religious so his facts must be wrong; he is just making them up to support his religion." Often, such people are willing to accept the importance of having evidence, which is a point in their favor if you ask me. They will present correct evidence. But then they are using (some) bad abstractions to weigh that evidence, and they don't understand that it is necessary (and possible) to verify whether the abstractions are based on reality. They take their abstractions as givens. Lower than the people "drawing the wrong conclusions" are people like the "mainstream media," who frequently roll out conclusions -- and repeat them over and over -- but they never show any facts at all that allegedly lead to those conclusions. If you ask for such facts you get an argument from intimidation, like, "you couldn't possibly be one of those people who disbelieves us, could you?" For example, I don't know how many times I've heard the phrase "Trump's false claims about the election." That phrase is an evaluation, but they repeat it over and over, word for word. They repeat "ready-made" evaluations like that for a lot of subjects. Where is the evidence for their evaluations? Well, if you don't already know the evidence, you must be one of those people. They smear Ayn Rand in the same way. They echo a lot of ready-made conclusions about her, but they rarely have the quotes from her to back them up (and when they do they are quoting her out of context, which is enough to fool the kind of people who already wouldn't be caught dead reading one of her books because their minds are already made up.) They do the same thing with Trump's speeches. An unsupported "ready-made" evaluation is arbitrary in and of itself, and forces most thinking people to seek out alternative sources of information. It is possible that some of these alternative sources are lying, but if that were the case, it would be easy to show it, with more facts and context. However, the people presenting this information know this; they understand the importance of getting their facts right, even if their abstractions are wrong. The mainstream media is more like "trust us," which is suspicious. So put on the damn sunglasses. p.s. Mostly I stay out of this Russia stuff because I don't trust either side. I've already discussed the US side, which acts like the "mainstream media" above. However, the Russians, being at war, can lie boldly about facts, and then shoot anybody who threatens to expose the truth. That option is not available to the religious people in the US.
  2. Man is the "rational animal." An animal lives or dies on its own; it is not connected to other animals. So it is with Man. We don't extend the concept of "animal" into "unborn animals" and even a chicken's unhatched egg is not an "animal" yet. It's fine to have compassion and all, but emotions are not tools of cognition. If you choose to bring a child into the world, you have a responsibility to raise him (or her) to the point where he can fend for himself, and these days that includes a requirement for a good education, but you don't have a responsibility (e.g., toward all the millions of needy children all over the world) if you don't have a choice. Abortion makes a choice possible where it otherwise might not have been, and in that sense it is a good thing. Of course, whenever you make a choice possible, you make a wrong choice possible, but in a free country other people's wrong choices are not my problem, and even if they are a problem for "God" or for "society," I disagree with the notion of taking those choices away. That path leads to taking away all choices. -- p.s. if you think it's wrong to murder your children by having abortions, why is it okay to murder them by not having sex? ... ok, that was a joke... I guess it's interesting that in the religious mindset, giving birth is not important, having sex ("conception") is the important thing, and any time you have sex and it does not end in a childbirth, it's a sin, and, in their minds, a crime tantamount to murder... p.p.s. Using taxes to pay for someone else's abortion is a bad thing because it takes away their choice of what to do with their money.
  3. My "conspiracy theory" is that people wrote books hundreds or in some cases thousands of years ago, and then died of old age, but many people today are still following those books, and their actions come out to be coordinated even if they do not communicate with each other at all, because they are following the same books. That may not be true for much longer. The environmentalists are now banning nitrogen fertilizer in places. If this becomes widespread, billions of people will starve, and I think the environmentalists would welcome that as "less of a load on the Earth." (Of course Peikoff quoted one of them as saying "we can only hope that the right virus comes along," and along comes COVID-19...) The selfishness of self-defense is a virtue. (I use "selfishness" here in the Ayn Rand sense, which could be described with redundancy as "selfishness without victims.") There is something in Atlas Shrugged (probably from Ragnar Danneskjold) about the killed attacker achieving the only destruction he has any right to achieve -- his own. And I suppose it's okay to regard it as a sad thing if someone commits suicide, perhaps more so if they do it at your hands, as it were... Technically the Left is correct that they are "more Christian than the Christians," in the sense that they are more consistent about self-sacrifice than the Republicans. The Republicans support both freedom and Christianity, even though consistency would make it an either-or choice. A lot of Republicans are too anti-conceptual to see the contradictions, and they don't want to see them. (They sometimes argue that such inconsistencies prove that reason is inadequate by itself and that religion is necessary, but this argument is circular, because it is religion that creates the inconsistencies in the first place.) In the past I have interacted with atheist groups, but was disappointed that they wanted to be "Good without God" which suggests that if you take God out of the Bible you can get something good. Thomas Jefferson also tried that, writing his own Bible with the miracles edited out, or so I've read. But if you secularize Christianity and make it more consistent, you get Communism, as Ayn Rand observed. Thomas Paine ended up a Communist, if I remember correctly... (I don't recall the chronology around this.) Ayn Rand was right to call selfishness (as she defined it) a virtue. American intellectuals have been unwilling to embrace what she said (or even read it I think), but what is left of the originally American sense of life seems to understand it perfectly (without reading Rand or knowing that she provides a logical basis for it). It is this sense of life that the Left seeks to destroy, and they are trying to use Christianity as a tool with which to do it. I hope this is not successful; I would hope it undermines support for Christianity instead, but far too many people would rather give up consistency.
  4. Seems like the Left is running with "we're more Christian than the Christians" by claiming that self-defense is wrong because it's selfish. Apparently Jesus would have turned the other cheek. The DA in New York finally did drop charges against the bodega worker who defended himself (or so I read today), but probably due to public outcry.
  5. Yes, my mistake, I should have said some actions that altruists hold as "selfish."
  6. I think Ayn Rand's point was that, first, whether something is in your self-interest or not is a question of fact, not of one's desires, whims, or feelings, and second, that sacrificing others to oneself is never in one's self-interest -- not if one wants the life appropriate to a rational being. Therefore, there is no package deal to be teased apart here. Actions that altruists hold as "selfish" are actually self-sacrificial, while actions that are actually "selfish" don't hurt anybody else.
  7. Robert Frost used to say that writing poetry without rhyme and meter was like playing tennis without the net. However, I think a poem can succeed well without rhyme and meter -- if, on other measures, it excels enough to make up for it. I used to love poetry when I was in high school -- reading it and writing it -- and I liked some poems that had rhyme and meter, and some poems that did not have it. But I drifted away from it because I didn't really know where to find new poetry. There were only the textbooks, and you could find books by those authors in the library, but nothing else. I didn't know about Poetry magazine so thanks for that. Maybe I can rediscover poetry... Do they allow rhymed and metered poetry, or do they dismiss it without further consideration? ... I think it should be allowed, but I suppose there's also a possible dispute about whether a poem that has to bend grammar rules, and give up on the ideal choice of words, in order to achieve rhyme and meter, is still a good poem. I mean, should it get "points" for achieving rhyme and meter, or is there a judgment that the cost to meaning isn't "worth it"?
  8. I'm guessing that it sorts threads by date of last activity, descending, and then shows the first post in each thread.
  9. If a woman has a right to her own body, then an abortion can be self-defense, regardless of whether the embryo is a "human being" or not. The debate has never really been about whether the embryo is a human being or not. That is a sideshow. The religionists don't actually seem to believe that every miscarriage should be investigated as a possible manslaughter (which would be logically required if an embryo is considered a human being). They don't believe in celebrating every successful conception as if it were a birth, they don't believe in issuing "conception certificates" instead of birth certificates, they don't believe in signing up the unborn for Social Security numbers and such... or even giving every miscarriage a proper funeral and burial! Who owns your body is the real issue. Always has been. As far as religionists are concerned, your body belongs to God, and Congress shall have power to enforce this through appropriate legislation. This is also why religionists support things like drug prohibition (and many would even still support alcohol prohibition), and they want to ban tattoos and body piercing and such, because "your body is God's temple." This is also why they don't believe in investigating miscarriages as possible manslaughter -- because if a miscarriage occurs, it's "God's will." Whereas the Democrats believe your body should belong to the state. They only support abortion as a "women's right," i.e., a collective right -- if they can figure out what a woman is...
  10. I found out later that what I was getting at is called the Cantillon effect and has been known since the 18th century. (I had read descriptions of it before but I didn't know or didn't remember what it was called.) I have not seen anyone saying what I said, which was that the Cantillon effect can affect the culture, too. Actually it can get deeper than publishers by affecting universities...
  11. Maybe because this is a case of bad guys vs. bad guys, like two groups of gangsters in a gang war. Sure, one of them had to start it, and that one (Russia) was wrong for starting it, but that doesn't make the other group of gangsters "good guys." p.s. I do not know if my position here matches that of anybody else in this thread. I just saw that one statement and wanted to respond to it.
  12. I would say that your right to your own body is an unenumerated right, and such rights are protected by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Constitution. Technically a right to production and trade could also be upheld in such a manner (although probably not by this Court.) More explicit amendments wouldn't necessarily do any harm, but I suppose the concern of the Founding Fathers was precisely that it's impossible to enumerate all rights. I think they preferred that the powers of the government be enumerated instead.
  13. Very true. It seems like Newspeak is on the rise. For example, do you have a "right" to a job? If you do, then the government is required to provide you with one, but according to Newspeak, if you do not have a right to a job, then the government can arbitrarily prevent you from having one, even if someone would have hired you voluntarily...
  14. The problem here is that failure to get vaccinated is not an initiation of force. The government exists to protect people from criminals (and invading foreign armies), but not to protect them from natural phenomena such as hurricanes, earthquakes -- or viruses. In a free country, people can organize to protect themselves against such things, and the government is only involved insofar as it prevents crime from occurring. In some circumstances it might be possible to sue someone for negligence if their failure to do something causes a natural phenomenon to be worse for someone else. Generally, however, I think you have to willingly assume a responsibility before you can be held liable for shirking it. Interestingly, the government has granted the manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines "immunity" from liability lawsuits.
  15. The purpose of government is (supposed to be) to protect individual rights. The only way to violate individual rights is by initiation or threat of force. Therefore, the government maintains a monopoly on force to ensure that it is only used in retaliation and only against those who initiate or threaten its use. As such, the only "mandates" from a proper government are negative obligations, e.g., don't murder people, don't defraud people, don't steal from people, don't extort stuff from people, etc. The government can enforce these without ever initiating force. Individual rights are not (supposed to be) subject to vote. Unlimited democracies usually end up tyrannical, as mob rule. As for vaccine mandates, the issue here is whether one has a right to one's own body. I would say so, and therefore I oppose vaccine mandates on the same grounds that I oppose the forced pregnancy and childbirth that result from abortion bans. A vaccine mandate is not the same thing as a vaccine itself, and it's possible to recommend a vaccine without supporting a mandate. I mean, I think everybody should read Atlas Shrugged to "inoculate" themselves against socialism and communism, but I absolutely don't believe that the reading of Atlas Shrugged should be mandated by law.
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