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Everything posted by necrovore

  1. "Tyler Durden" is a pseudonym on Zero Hedge, and is actually the name of a main character in the movie (and book) Fight Club -- which I thought was a very silly movie, and I haven't read the book, but whatever. Also, on Zero Hedge, "Tyler Durden" typically merely introduces information that comes from someone else. True, and yet, "abnormal" results are important in a close race like this, and I'm interested in knowing just how abnormal they are. There are allegations of fraud in certain states, and "abnormalities" in the voting results would tend to support such allegations, although it would not be enough to prove the allegations on its own. I'd pick the swing states as input, not output. A "swing state" in general is is a state that is nearly 50/50 and could go either way, as opposed to a state like Alaska or California where the outcome of the vote is more predictable. Which states are swing states can vary from one election to another, but it isn't a "prophecy" at all. It's an observation. I suppose I'd pick out the states that seemed initially to have Trump leading, but then turned blue as the counting progressed. These states would be Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Carolina. You need a baseline to determine what is "abnormal." For the baseline, I'd select the other 46 states. It should be pretty easy to tell if the four swing states have abnormally high weirdness as compared to the other 46 states. If it's not easy to tell, then there's probably no fraud. All these additional variables such as "number of firearms per resident" merely clutter things up and aren't important here. I would not include them in my model.
  2. The chemtrails thing is different because there's no evidence, and whatever can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. By contrast, the Zero Hedge article presents a little evidence for the statistical anomaly in the election results, although I certainly wouldn't regard it as proved just from that. It's a small amount of evidence, but it is a small amount of evidence. That's why an analysis is necessary in the first place. Intuition and hunches are not automatically correct, but they are not automatically wrong, either. There's nothing wrong with testing them out (by using sense perception and a process of reason) if you think they may be important. If you do not think they are important then you can dismiss them. I think that almost all scientific discoveries started out as hunches which were then confirmed by a process of reason. I'm sure there were also a lot of hunches which, upon further analysis, turned out not to be correct, and so were forgotten. I have to emphasize that an intuition or hunch doesn't prove anything. It's the exercise of reason that proves or disproves it. Reason is authoritative. But, yes, I would say that intuition is a valid basis for coming up with hypotheses. Hypotheses do not prove anything but have to be investigated or tested through a process of reason, and then it is the process of reason, based on the facts, that reveals the truth. I think it's also possible to have an intuition or hunch which is arbitrary. You will find this out when you try to test it with reason and you don't have enough evidence to connect the hunch to reality one way or another. If you think evidence might become available later, you can set the hunch aside until that evidence arrives, but if not, the hunch should be dismissed.
  3. My point in the first post was that this allegation isn't arbitrary; it's specific enough to be either true or false. It's worthy of investigation as opposed to being dismissed out of hand. It is possible to have a hunch about the numbers, that "something is up." You could say that this hunch is based on an informal model, an expectation that the numbers should look a certain way. It would make sense to develop that informal model into a formal model; with the formal model it becomes possible to capture what the assumptions really are and whether and to what extent they are violated. (However, as the famous quote goes, one cannot proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means...) I suppose all I'd need to do is define this "weirdness" function but I don't know how to define it. I might even have to try a few candidate "weirdness" functions until I find one that is both simple and well-behaved not only with the real data but also with some really unlikely test scenarios. I don't think this is arbitrary at all. The function has to be simple. I don't know if I can do the full analysis myself. I almost can. I don't really have time. I don't have all the data (the vote tallies for all 50 states, and besides, these numbers are still changing in some states). But I know it's possible to do. Maybe even with an Excel spreadsheet. As for the Gaussian thing -- I put that in parentheses because I didn't think it was essential to my argument. The weirdness value of an election is a random variable. As such, it would have a probability distribution. The probability distribution characterizes, in a single function, all expectations about the value of the variable, and how improbable they are. The probabilities must add up to 1. If you have the probability distribution of a random variable, and then you get an actual value, you can compute how improbable that value was. You can say things like, "there's only a 5% chance it would be that high," or whatever. One of the most common probability distributions is the Gaussian or "normal" distribution. For Gaussian random variables, you can compute the improbability of a value by measuring how many standard deviations it is from the mean. There's a simple function for that, or you can use tables. But if the variable has a different distribution, then that function does not apply. Suppose your random variable ("weirdness") can only range from -1 to 1. It is then not Gaussian because a Gaussian variable can range from minus infinity to infinity. So you can say that a value of 5 has such and such improbability for a Gaussian variable, because it is so-and-so many standard deviations away from the mean, but if your variable ranges from -1 to 1, then the probability that is has a value of 5 is exactly zero, even though 5 might still only be so-and-so many standard deviations from the mean. So you can't use "standard deviations from the mean" to get the improbability of a non-Gaussian variable. But there are other ways to get the improbability.
  4. I think they looked at that, and figured that it were the case, these Never-Trump Republicans would still have voted for the Republican senators -- and then Trump would be behind the Republican senators, by about the same amount that Biden was ahead of the Democrat senators. Also, why would these Never-Trump Republicans only appear in battleground states and not in all states? (If they were in all states, then even in places like Alaska where Trump won handily, the Republican senator would have even more votes than Trump, and the Democrat senator would have fewer votes than Biden.) On the other hand if Trump wins due to the Supreme Court ruling that a lot of races had rampant fraud -- the Democrats will howl that the election was "stolen" from them. Still, I think Trump should proceed with his challenge (and I hope he follows all the correct steps and makes no mistakes). I think it's better to fight for freedom than to give it up without a fight. But also, I want to know -- I want it to be properly investigated -- whether these allegations of fraud are actually true. I don't like it that the allegations of fraud are being censored* and swept under the rug. *(Ayn Rand said censorship can only be done by governments, so by her definition, this isn't actually censorship. However, I think it's suspicious that so many big companies delete content according to the same Leftist standards. It makes me wonder if government is responsible for this behind the scenes after all. Who's setting these standards? It's like the mainstream press, they often say the same thing word for word. Who's choosing these words? It would be very easy for some regulator to threaten endless inconclusive but expensive investigations against any company that steps out of line...)
  5. What the Zero Hedge article is alleging is that, when you group votes like this: Biden with Democratic Senator Biden with Republican Senator Biden with no vote for Senator Trump with Democratic Senator Trump with Republican Senator Trump with no vote for Senator ...there is an unusually high number of "Biden with no vote for Senator" votes, as compared with the "Trump with no vote for Senator" votes, but only in battleground states. (Of course we can't really group the votes this way, because we only have the total counts for each candidate from each state, so we're looking at differences between the Presidents and the Senators and then allowing that there may be some differences like what showed up in the Pew Research studies.) In non-battleground states, the number of "Biden with no vote for Senator" votes correlates well with the number of "Trump with no vote for Senator" votes. If somebody is trying to manufacture Biden votes, it's easier and quicker to create a ballot with just a Biden vote and nothing else, than to create one that "simulates a real voter" and thus also has votes for other Democrats (or even sometimes Republicans) on the ballot. That's why this is suspicious. It's possible that people really voted that way, but when I say "the probability that this could have happened by chance" what I mean is that, while most people's real votes are not the product of chance, people don't vote for the statistical properties of the whole vote. The behavior of "real voters" should give rise to certain statistical properties, but "fraudulent votes," if they are not done carefully, will not statistically look like real votes and will give rise to different statistical properties which can then be detected. When you're talking about statistical properties, there's always a chance that real votes could also look fraudulent, but this chance decreases as the number of votes increases. You'd probably have to create a "weirdness score," compute a mean weirdness score for a bunch of elections, and a standard deviation, and then you could calculate how many standard deviations the "weirdness score" for these battleground states differs from the average. If we're talking about one standard deviation, then we could say that this is no big deal, but if it's five or six standard deviations, then it's unlikely to be a fluke, and you can compute exactly how unlikely it is. (Although technically the distribution is not Gaussian so you might need to use something other than the standard deviation.)
  6. I'm curious what people think of this... I'd like to see a list of all the states this is happening in, and I'd like to know the probability that it could happen by chance. I mean, regardless of what you may think of the source... these are actual numbers, and it should be possible to check them... right?
  7. I define the government's mission more narrowly: its purpose is to protect our rights from the initiation of force (or indirect forms such as fraud or threats or theft etc.) by other people. Toward this end, the government provides police, courts, and a military. Being struck by lightning could end your life, but you don't have a "right" not to be struck by lightning. The police can't arrest a lightning bolt, you can't sue it, and the military can't fight a war against it. Of course, if someone had the ability to cause you to be struck by lightning, you'd have the right to prevent them from doing that, and then the police or the military would be there to help you. (But if this person has no intention of using that ability, and he is not being careless, then nobody needs to do anything.) Similarly, you have the freedom to do whatever you think is appropriate to reduce your risk of being struck by lightning, as long as it doesn't involve initiating force against anyone else. For example, if there's a big thunderstorm, you're free to stay inside. (If some contract requires you to go out into the lightning, then, well, you would have to have signed it, or else it wouldn't apply to you.) If it were proved that you could save yourself from lightning strikes by carrying a special umbrella, you don't have the right to force anyone to provide you with that special umbrella. You can buy one, if you can afford it, or you can take your chances without it, which is the same thing you would have to do if no one else were around. There is no right to enslave anybody else, even partially, no matter how advanced their knowledge is.
  8. I agree with you here, since Peikoff does say in OPAR: "If one attempts to combine reason and emotionalism, the principle of reason cannot be his guide, the element that defines the terms of the compromise, because reason does not permit subjective feeling to have any voice in cognitive issues. Subjective feeling, therefore, which permits anyone anything he wants, must set the terms; it must be the element that decides the role and limits of reason. Thus the ruling principle of the epistemological middle-of-the-roader is: 'I will consult facts and obey the rules of evidence sometimes -- when I feel like it.'" I still think, however, that this is the kind of mistake that can be called out and ultimately corrected. The person who makes this mistake is not necessarily as far gone as the kind of person who "has abandoned reason and cannot be dealt with any further." If he's willing to concede that reason works "sometimes" then maybe he can be led a little farther in its direction. In OPAR, Peikoff wrote about the difference between a primitive who "ha(s) no way to adhere to the axioms consistently and typically fall(s) into some form of contradicting the self-evident" and "subject(s) himself to an undeclared epistemological civil war," versus the "even lower ... men of advanced civilization" who have a "declared inner war -- i.e., deliberate, systematic self-contradiction" (italics are Peikoff's). I think Trump is an example of the former, and Biden is an example of the latter.
  9. A mixture of truth and lies like that would be inconsistent, and it could be attacked on that basis. Voting Biden into office is not a propaganda move, it's an action move. It means letting Biden put his ideas into action. I don't think that's the case. Trump believes he creates his own reality -- but he doesn't believe this consistently or across-the-board. Sometimes he does use reason and sometimes he doesn't -- and either way it's like the choice is by accident without him realizing what he is doing. He's pre-philosophical in this regard, and so he's more like an Aristotle with all of Aristotle's mistakes than like a Kant running a complete and systematic war against reason. I don't see Trump wanting to "crush reason." It seems he uses reason when he understands how to use it, which is much less often than would be ideal. But he does seem to at least partially accept its validity. That's the impression I get, anyway. Sometimes he has failed to use reason correctly, sometimes he has failed to use it at all, and sometimes, when his enemies have falsely claimed to be using reason, he has failed to call them out on it (and this contributes to the notion that reason is on the side of his enemies). However, his failures in this regard are not unique to him and are not historically new. In some cases these kinds of failures are leading to disastrous errors, such as regulating speech on the Internet -- but even Aristotle's mistakes have led to disastrous errors. Biden, on the other hand, pays lip service to "science" but, in his view, science is a function of government, not of the individual mind. Biden does not believe in reason and attacks its necessary roots, such as the idea that reason is an attribute of the individual, and the idea that an individual uses reason to make his own choices (which is anathema to the idea that all the important choices should be made by the government and that the people should bend to its will). (Edit: in case it isn't clear, I really wish that there were someone better than Trump who could become President. But I have to play the hand that I'm dealt...)
  10. I disagree, because it's much easier to show the error in committing evil, when it's for reasons that have nothing to do with core beliefs, because in that case you can use the core beliefs to show why it's evil. This comes back to supporting an inconsistent good over a consistent evil. Consistency is a value when you're talking about ideas that are already good, but it is not a value in and of itself. Nothing is a value "in and of itself." To claim that "consistency is always better than inconsistency" is to evaluate "consistency" out of context. Making an evil idea more consistent makes it worse.
  11. You wrote: Are you saying I shouldn't pick sides? "One side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil." Haven't you been watching the news? ... They could if they looked at the full context. But also, I was responding to a half-remembered statement from EasyTruth who said: I disagree and think the worst outcome is actually communism, especially if it wins without a fight. I don't really want a civil war. Is it too much to hope that the far left would lose the election, get discouraged, and just go home and cry themselves to sleep? I would prefer that... Back to you: No, that's not my position at all. The key to understanding my position here is fundamentality. Trump has a lot of views. Some of them are mutually contradictory. And some of them are more fundamental than others. Anyone's views about reality are more fundamental than their views about freedom, which in turn are more fundamental than their views about abortion, which in turn are more fundamental than their views about third-trimester abortions, and so forth. So if somebody holds two contradictory views, but one of them is more fundamental than the other, then it should be easier for the more fundamental one to win out. In other words, they can possibly be persuaded to "flip" on the less fundamental view. If somebody already believes that freedom is good then they probably have a lot of reasons for that. But then if they believe that allowing abortion is bad, then they are contradicting themselves because they are contradicting the notion that freedom is good. So you could try convincing them that abortion is good because freedom is good -- and in that case you have "ammo" coming from all the other reasons why freedom is good -- and you can show how a belief that abortion is bad contradicts all of those reasons. Or someone could try convincing them that freedom is bad because abortion is bad, but that is more difficult, because now all that "ammo" is working against them. Similarly if somebody already believes that freedom is bad, then they probably have a lot of reasons for that. (These reasons would have to be false in this case, but the person would still have them.) If they also believe that prosperity is good, then they have a contradiction, but their belief about freedom is more fundamental. So trying to convince them that freedom is good because prosperity is good, would be an uphill battle, because all their "reasons" for freedom being bad would seem to contradict such a notion. On the other hand, it would be easy to talk them into believing that prosperity is actually bad because freedom is bad, because all their "reasons" for believing that freedom is bad could be used as ammo against prosperity, too. It's pretty unlikely that anyone could change the views of Trump himself -- but there are open-minded people out there who might currently agree with Trump, but be unsure of their agreement, because of the contradictions. Their views could possibly be made more correct than they already are, and thus, cultural change could be accomplished. I suppose that it would be possible to argue that Trump has a false belief which is more fundamental than freedom, such as a false view about reality itself. You would also have to argue that his fundamental belief about reality contradicts his belief about freedom. In that case, someone could turn him against freedom by using his own beliefs about reality. This would be possible, for example, if he were a staunch religionist, if he believed in God instead of reality. Then someone could point out all of the "reasons" for his belief in God and how those all contradict the notion that freedom is good. No, freedom is bad, they would say, because it permits disobedience to God. I don't think that will be a problem, because Trump is not a religionist. He does pay lip service to religion, but I think he is just pandering for votes, and in fact, many religious people think that, too. Biden is a religionist, though: his religion is government. In the cases of both Trump and Biden, there is no contradiction between their beliefs about reality and their beliefs about freedom. It has been said that this election is about "two conflicting realities." However, Trump at least uses reality when it suits him, and it does suit him sometimes; Biden rejects reality entirely [edit: well almost entirely], in favor of a "deeper truth." (This is what the leftists mean when they say that Trump is against "the truth." As far as they are concerned, communism is "the truth," and they do not think it should even be up for debate.) I'll concede that Trump's view of reality is probably the primacy of consciousness variant that he "creates his own reality." He is not consistent in this regard. His view of reality is not a solid support for freedom, and it helps to make possible the evils that he does do, but it's probably easier to "rebase" a positive appraisal of freedom onto objective reality, than to try to persuade somebody like Biden to embrace an objective reality that contradicts everything he believes...
  12. Given the choice between an inconsistent good and a consistent evil, I'd go for the good side, even though it's inconsistent. Prior to Ayn Rand, the Platonistic philosophies led the way in (internal) consistency, compared to the Aristotelian ones. It's a good thing that Ayn Rand preferred Aristotelianism (which was more consistent with reality) and it's good that she was also able to correct its inconsistencies. I think we should follow her example in that. To my mind, this would mean voting for Trump in spite of all of his problems. This does not mean pretending his problems don't exist or don't matter; quite the contrary; these problems need to be called out -- and the proper solutions need to be explained to the public, at least on paper. You may be asking why I hold that Trump, rather than Biden, is the "inconsistent good." Trump does support quite a few evil policies, such as infringing the rights of people in the US who wish to hire immigrants, and infringing the rights of women "who are pregnant or might become pregnant" you could say, and he does sometimes support policies that would dangerously increase the power of government, but I think the difference is that the evils he supports do not follow logically from his core position, which is pro-freedom on a sense of life level -- whereas the evil policies that Biden supports do flow from his core position, which I think is government over freedom. It should be easy to tell Trump that, if he really wants to support freedom, he should do X instead of Y. Even if Trump doesn't listen, others might, and that clears the way for Trump's mistakes to be corrected by others. You can't do that sort of thing for Biden because his evil is much more fundamental; he doesn't really want to support freedom. You could try to appeal to Biden's desire for prosperity, I suppose, but I think if anyone actually persuaded Biden that prosperity doesn't flow from government, he wouldn't support prosperity anymore. I don't think Biden himself is a far leftist, but the far leftists share his fundamental ideas, and are more consistent about them than he is. (Edit: So Biden isn't quite the "consistent evil" I was describing at the top, because he's inconsistent, too. But a decision between an inconsistent good and an inconsistent evil ought to be easier... and I am worried about the people riding his coattails.) What the far leftists object to most about Trump is not any particular policy or mistake -- it's the American desire for freedom itself; that is what they regard as Trump's greatest evil. They regard freedom as "racist" and so forth. Freedom is Trump's core position; freedom is what he is appealing to when he campaigns. Another thing. Given the choice between communism and civil war -- given that the civil war would be about communism -- I think it would be better to fight communism than to give in to it, so if it came to it, I'd actually prefer civil war. Some people think we can just split the United States into two countries, but that won't work because socialism and communism are parasitic in nature. You would have one country that needs to enslave the other, and that would lead to war, anyway. The communists of course would prefer willing slaves over the kind of people who would fight to the death for their freedom. The communists need willing slaves in order to survive. If the communists don't have slaves, they will die off even if they win a civil war. That's probably what scares them the most.
  13. It's part of human nature that we all learn the language around us while we are children, and then only later learn grammar, and what "nouns" and "verbs" are, and stuff like that. When we do learn grammar, we become able to make better, more sophisticated, and more precise use of the language. Conceptualization is similar in the sense that we are already doing it before we understand what we are doing, but if we do understand it, we can do a much better job of it. (Conceptualization is also related to language acquisition because you can't really learn language without also understanding the concepts that go with the words, and that requires some conceptualization.) (In fact, "philosophizing" itself is something many people do without being aware that they are doing it -- and the study of philosophy as an explicit subject can definitely help people do a better job of it! ...) So it is entirely likely that you have already picked up some philosophical concepts just from everyday life. This certainly does not mean study is a waste of time, though -- it is possible for people to have incorrect philosophical concepts (just as children can sometimes have incorrect ideas about the grammar of their own language), and even if your concepts are essentially correct, they can still possibly be clarified. In many cases this amounts to adding the "depth of understanding" I mentioned, although you may also learn some new concepts. Depth of understanding isn't confined to stuff that is non-essential, either -- it can also include essential information. For example, if you learn a new concept, you may have to revise your mental definitions of concepts you already knew, in order to keep them distinct from the new concept.
  14. [In response to Jonathan's original post] I don't think one can learn philosophy in the same way that one learns a foreign language. When you learn a foreign language, you are mostly learning new words (and grammatical constructions) for concepts that you already know, such as learning that the Japanese word テレビ is "television" and so forth. You don't learn anything new about televisions by learning the word テレビ. That's a fundamentally different process from the one you would use to learn entirely new concepts, and it's also different from the process you would use to add "depth of understanding" to concepts you already know. These are the processes in play when you learn a philosophy. For these, it seems like the important thing is being able to give examples of a concept, and being able to identify the concept from examples of it. It might also be important to be able to identify that some things are not examples of a concept, and why they are not. Knowing how to define the concept will help a great deal with this. (Recall, the "definition" of a concept serves to distinguish the concept from other concepts, and is usually written as "genus" and "differentia.") I think reduction can also be helpful, but I'm not sure it's fundamental. For learning a new concept, consider how you would explain "television" to someone who had never seen one before. For adding "depth of understanding," consider how your understanding of "television" would change if you learned how to build one. p.s. On further thought, I want to recommend Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology as a good book to read through.
  15. Just a note (I'm not replying to your whole post yet): When I say "smash" I'm talking about D2s specifically. The DIM Hypothesis groups philosophies according to their attitude toward integration; the D2 attitude (which comes from Kant) is that integration as such, and the products of integration, should be destroyed. This was not the attitude of the Founding Fathers or of the Enlightenment period they lived in -- they were trying to replace a bad government with a better one, not merely smash for the sake of smashing. The rioters out there now, the Antifa people and such, aren't really in favor of anything. "Defund the police" is not a practical way to run any kind of society, it's not any kind of positive thing, it's just destruction for destruction's sake. (Isn't it interesting that they don't just confine themselves to "police brutality" but want to abolish the police altogether?) I certainly don't agree with religion and I do think it's a threat. However, I don't think it's an immediate threat. I think the Left would be able to establish dictatorship much more quickly because of their willingness to destroy the existing system, whereas the Republicans would try to work through that system, and it would take longer. That would make Republicans the lesser evil, albeit still evil.
  16. I end up disagreeing with Yaron Brook here... I was recently re-reading The DIM Hypothesis to help clarify my thinking about these issues. I did come up with a few ideas. The famous quote from Kant, interpreted in DIM terms, is, "I find it necessary to deny reason" (D2) "to make room for faith" (M2)... Interestingly, even though towards the end of The DIM Hypothesis, Peikoff is warning about the rising tide of religion, his big examples of modern M2 thought come from Communism. It is true that Christianity is M2, but so is Communism. I think that Kant's quote above is a roadmap, and the Democrats / Communists are following it. They have a playbook, after all, which has worked to establish Communism in other countries, and now they are merely using it in the USA. The general idea is, use the D2 people to smash the old system, and then establish a new M2 system. Trump does not strike me as having the kind of personality necessary to establish a dictatorship. He is not really even religious. A while ago, when Iranians destroyed a drone and the U.S. military wanted to respond with force, Trump backed away from that because he didn't want to kill Iranians over a drone. I suppose it could be argued that the religious people are in the background, trying to manipulate Trump into doing what they want, but he is not always cooperating (although he is sometimes), and this lack of cooperation is what is leading to books like The Room Where It Happened. However, my experience is that the religious people are "mystics of spirit" and do not care much about the real world. The religious people I know (who, I admit, are not high-ranking government officials) are not saying "Let's establish a dictatorship to get rid of these rioters" but rather are saying "There's nothing we can do about this, it's all part of God's plan, and God will take care of us." In a word, passivity. Even in the more extreme cases, they do not seem to be willing to smash the current system. The Left, on the other hand, are "mystics of muscle" and have no qualms whatever about doing so. They want to smash, and establish a dictatorship afterward. Giving the Left a victory in this election would only allow them to establish their dictatorship more quickly (even though it might quell the rioting in the short term). Biden is much more of a puppet than Trump, so he'll be controlled by the far Left, or he might be removed via the 25th Amendment due to mental incompetency. He has pretty much committed to picking a far Leftist as a Vice President, and that person would then become President. It would be much better if America effectively told the Left that their rioting and looting are useless and counter-productive. A Trump victory in the election, especially if it is decisive, would do that, and would buy a little more time. (The mainstream and social media won't see it coming because they've basically created an echo chamber by "de-platforming" people who disagree. De-platformed people can still vote...) If Trump does win, I think there will be another effort to impeach him (he may be vulnerable concerning the Emoluments Clause), and it may even be the case that some Republicans actually try to help an impeachment along. They will do it because they don't think Trump is religious enough, but they probably won't say that publicly. I wonder if Mike Pence would be an M2 dictator or not -- but impeachments take time, and again, the Republican M2s don't have an army of rioters ready to smash the current system, so they would end up working more slowly even if they won.
  17. Would it be possible to change this site to use https instead of http? Some ISPs insert ads and other junk into http connections. Also, I think search engines are preferring https now. It is possible to get a free certificate from https://letsencrypt.org/, but some technical work would have to be done. The free certificates expire frequently, so it is preferable to get new certificates automatically, which requires setting up the automation.
  18. There is such a thing as subjecting people to greater-than-usual risks without their consent. It makes sense to illegalize that. This is why I cannot keep large amounts of plutonium in my garage. This is why I cannot play Russian Roulette with someone else's head instead of my own. DUI also subjects other people on the road to greater-than-usual risks, and so it is proper for the government to ban it on the same basis. Under a system of private road ownership, a private road owner could choose to allow DUI on his roads, but he would have to specifically inform drivers of the added risk so that they could consent to it. In today's government, DUI is a political football, and some modern-day prohibitionists are altering its definition beyond what is objectively defensible. For example: The BAL is continuously being decreased. The standard was 0.1% for a long time, now in some states 0.02% is sufficient to get you in trouble, even though there is very little impairment at such a low BAL. In some states you can be arrested for DUI just for leaving a bar with car keys in your pocket. In many states you cannot sleep it off in your car. Being in your car is a DUI, even if the engine isn't running. There was a case in Texas where a man tried to sleep it off in a car that wasn't even operable. He was still convicted of DUI. A lot of the government's non-objectivity is due to the precautionary principle, which Gus Van Horn has written about a few times. The "precautionary principle" advises deliberate over-reaction to risks. This is why people can be arrested for making ice bombs.
  19. A free system would rule out zoning laws. You do have the right to use your property as you see fit. However, there is such a thing as subjecting a person or his property to undue risk (i.e., without his informed consent), and that would probably make a good civil tort. They could sue you. An undue risk is a nuisance, just like playing your stereo really loud or filling the air with smoke. Therefore, if you were handling explosives in your garage that had the potential to explode and kill your neighbors, your neighbors could sue you for subjecting them to an undue risk of death or property damage without their consent, and then you'd have to show that you are doing what you can to prevent such explosions. You might be able to address some risk by buying an insurance policy that will pay your neighbors if their property is destroyed. The underwriters would probably either charge really high rates or else insist on the right to inspect your operation before they insure it. This might not be enough when lives are at stake, though. In order to win the suit you'd have to demonstrate that you were following safety procedures in order to minimize the risks, and that the newly minimized risks were about as low as if you weren't doing anything. The safety procedures would have to be based on the nature of the risk involved. If you cannot develop appropriate safety procedures, then you have to carry out the risky activity somewhere else. Industrial plants would be subject to the same kinds of requirements. That is one reason why they are usually located far away from homes.
  20. I'm with ToyoHabu on this one. (Edit: ToyoHabu posted about ten items back; I forgot things are in reverse order.) Unions would be able to exist in a capitalist system, but without coercion, they would have to be more like businesses. "Your business should buy our labor," they would advertise, "because it's high quality and consistent and we take administrative matters off your hands." They would then try to get contracts with companies that need a lot of laborers. If a business tried to break the contract, or if the business was unwilling to offer acceptable terms, the union would refuse to work for that business. To workers, they would have to say, "Join our union, be one of us, and we'll give you pay and benefits consistent with your performance, we'll work to ensure a more safe and pleasant work environment, and we'll help you build your skills." Some unions might be able to offer workers the chance to work at a variety of companies. Unions would then have to compete against individuals who went directly to companies and against companies that go straight to individuals. However, a company could easily hire both types of workers. Competition doesn't necessarily mean price competition. The union could charge a higher price but offer higher quality (or additional services). In a capitalist system, unions would be unable to violate the rights of businessmen, and businessmen would be unable to violate the rights of union or non-union workers. So all the bad aspects of unions would go away. John Galt never coerced anyone into dealing with his union. What his union did was offer value.
  21. The state does not use force to compel attorneys to represent you. The attorneys must volunteer, such as by becoming public defenders, by representing you pro bono, or by accepting payment from you in exchange for their services. Even a public defender can decline to represent you. There might be a valid reason; for example, if a company accuses you of stealing its property, and the public defender is a shareholder in that company, he might wish to avoid being accused of a conflict of interest. If the public defender declines, then the state has to find you another public defender (or hire you an attorney on the open market), even if this means delaying your trial. The state could also choose to drop the charges. Or, if you don't like the delay, you can choose to waive your right to an attorney. The reason you have a right to an attorney is so that there is a check against state action. If the state does not accuse you of any crime, you do not have the right to an attorney. Getting sick or hurt is not (properly speaking) a state action. So there is no need for the state to provide a check against it.
  22. I'm a longtime Jacksonville resident, and a UNF alumnus. (Graduated with a Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering in 1997.) Welcome to the forum!
  23. I find myself getting into arguments more often than I want to. I hate arguments. But I suppose I suffer from an irresistible desire to defend my ideas and opinions from all attackers. It starts out simply enough. I'll state my opinion on something. Then someone else will come along and say, "Oh, no, that's wrong, because of these reasons!" And they'll state the reasons. Uh-oh. My reaction varies. Sometimes I think the other person is completely wrong. Sometimes I think that his position has merit and that I should investigate further. Sometimes I think my opponent is producing a brilliant, insightful debunking of a view that I do not actually hold. Sometimes I realize that he failed to see something because I accidentally failed to explain it. Sometimes he is right and I have to post a retraction. Sometimes I will then be accused of contradicting myself... I can post my reply but sometimes it seems like at this point I have already lost: if I "win" the argument I end up embarrassing the other person and this is not good for fostering friendship and open communication. If I am wrong, I have to endure a loss of face, but this is almost preferable because I have the power to "fix" things just by accepting that responsibility. But I can't let my opponent win if my argument is actually correct: I think it's wrong to cede the argument when I'm actually right, because then the truth itself is a casualty. At the same time I don't like embarrassing people who might be right about everything else and thus be valuable to me in other respects. I don't want to force (or to have the facts force) my opponent to accept a loss of face. I prefer win-win scenarios, but I am not sure how to create one in an argument, or how to prevent arguments before they occur. Galt's speech says that with reality as the standard in a dispute, "One of us will lose, but both will profit." That's true, but sometimes reality is distant enough that the argument can rage for quite a while without being resolved by reality. Or it can stop, but with both parties dissatisfied, because nothing has really been answered. Sometimes there is an uncontrolled variable that affects the answer. Whether the Bugatti Veyron is a good car to buy or not may depend a great deal on who is doing the buying, the shape of his finances, and so forth, but if this is ignored the argument can rage forever. "It's too expensive to be practical!" "Nonsense, it's worth every penny!" and so forth. (Of course as soon as someone proposes a solution to the problem of arguing, someone else will dispute it and an argument will start. I can hardly wait. )
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