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Everything posted by necrovore

  1. John Galt spent years looking for it. He crossed oceans, and he crossed deserts, and he went down into forgotten mines, miles under the earth. But he found it on the top of a mountain. It took him ten years to climb that mountain. It broke every bone in his body, it tore the skin off his hands, it made him lose his home, his name, his love. But he climbed it. He found the fountain of youth, which he wanted to bring down to men. Only he never came back -- because he found that it couldn't be brought down. [Atlas Shrugged, Chapter VII]
  2. Actually, if the black hole were large enough, spaghettification wouldn't occur until well after you have passed the event horizon. Passing the event horizon would not seem to be anything special. Outside the event horizon, a black hole has a "photon sphere" where light orbits the black hole. If you were in the photon sphere, with the black hole below, and you looked directly ahead, your line of sight would go clear around the black hole, and you'd see the back of your own space helmet. As far as I can tell, you would be surrounded by an inside-out funhouse-mirror image of yourself. Below, you would see only blackness. (If the black hole is very large, you might still not be able to see yourself. Your image would be a thousand miles away and only as tall as you. It would be a very thin line at the horizon.) Once you are inside the photon sphere, you'd have to look up at a higher and higher angle just to see outside of the black hole. So imagine being surrounded by a funhouse image of yourself, suspended over blackness, and seeing a circle above you with the entire universe inside. It would be very bright close to the "horizon" because at that angle your line of sight spirals around the black hole many times on its way out. All the light from around the black hole would be gathered into a small region of arc. If you looked straight up you would see straight out. It would be darker. The image of the universe would repeat inside the circle, with more and brighter repetitions closer to the edge. As you fell into the hole, the funhouse image of yourself would get closer, and closer. The horizon would get higher up, smaller, and brighter. Maybe the curvature of space would reach a point where you could touch your funhouse image self and feel yourself touching yourself. You are effectively reaching around the black hole! But this image of you would keep getting closer. Eventually the "image" would crush you; you'd be crushed against yourself. That of course assumes you're going in alone. This crushing power would encourage things to stretch out vertically. Your subatomic particles would probably slide above or below each other, but eventually each one would each be crushed against an image of itself.
  3. Forgive this rant, but I don't like the way the whole Net Neutrality issue is being framed, either by its supporters or by its detractors, and I have to say something. I was very frustrated when I found myself having to wait a really long time to download NIN's The Slip -- legally, with the permission of NIN -- using BitTorrent on Comcast. The download did eventually succeed. It was the first time I had used BitTorrent in a year or so; the time before that was to download Fedora Core 6, and that download was not throttled. I don't use BitTorrent to steal. I don't think it's right that I get "punished" for the crimes of others. I don't think it's right that there is a presumption of guilt regarding the use of BitTorrent. Someone (in industry or government) apparently does think it's right. I do not think Comcast is at fault for this. I think the government is at fault -- by allowing a few entertainment companies to bully the ISPs into doing things that ought to be illegal. Indirectly, the government is doing it, simply by allowing it to be done. I don't think the ISPs should be monitoring all my traffic just so they can see whether I am pirating or not (or what sites I am accessing or what protocols I am using). The ISP should not be able to monitor my traffic at all, without a court order -- and they shouldn't have to. If I pirate stuff, the liability is mine, not theirs. Should the phone company listen in to all my calls? After all, the phone system is the phone company's property! What if I'm playing copyrighted CDs over the phone to people? Or making threats? Maybe the phone company should be liable for damages. If they fail to listen in, they're apparently supporting that sort of activity. (That's the kind of theory that supports ISP monitoring.) Do I have the right, when I enter into a contract with an ISP, to see that they hold up their end? Or do their property rights allow them to break the contract without consequence? Do I have any implied rights when I enter into such a contract, such as the right not to have my data searched without a warrant, or the right to know what the rules are before I am accused of breaking them, or the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, or the right to confront my accusers, or the right to compel testimony in my defense? Or do their "property rights" (and the property rights of a few entertainment companies) trump all that? (If the contract states out in the open that you are waiving such a right, then there it is, but otherwise, the assumption should be that they are not waived.) Net neutrality opponents seem to say, no, you have no rights regarding the Internet at all; you are subject to the whims of those in charge, whether they be the ISPs or a few entertainment companies. Net neutrality advocates aren't asking the right questions. They think the problem can be cured by more statism, but with the guns pointed the other way. Net Neutrality is just like that electrical "deregulation" in California that preceded the Enron collapse. There were hundreds of pages of regulations governing the newly "deregulated" electrical grid. Those regulations created problems in California that year, and Enron ended up getting blamed for them. What's needed is real deregulation and a return to individual rights. The entertainment companies have rights. Comcast has rights. Comcast's customers have rights. [The above was written in the heat of the moment, as it were, and may have gaps. I revised it a couple of times to try to clarify things.]
  4. There's an enormous difference between greed for the earned and greed for the unearned. Calling them both "greed" and then trying to draw conclusions about that "greed" is only going to lead to problems.
  5. I think there are two reasons. One reason is a failure to understand the philosophy. Some people read a lot about Objectivism, but don't read enough to know how the whole philosophy fits together. So they call themselves Objectivists while filling in the gaps in their understanding with parts of other philosophies. Later they find that it doesn't fit together after all. (I bet this sort of misunderstanding was a lot more common before OPAR made it possible to see the whole philosophy laid out hierarchically in a single book.) The other reason some people give up Objectivism is that being an Objectivist can be pretty lonely, and some people cannot stand that. I am pretty lonely -- but I have been a lonely type of person ever since childhood, long before I discovered Objectivism, so I know that Objectivism is not the cause. I also know that giving up Objectivism would not help. I don't think laziness is a factor. Objectivism doesn't require you to do anything except live through the honest use of your mind. In particular, Objectivism does not require its adherents to be activists. I also am not sure that being demoralized is a factor. Sure, the country is going lemming-like off the cliff, and probably dragging us along with it. But how will giving up Objectivism help that?
  6. necrovore

    Copied DVD's

    I tell you what I'd do, I'd toss the burned DVDs into the fireplace and light it up. Or break them into a million pieces and throw them away. What is your mother going to do, call the cops on you? The important thing to remember about copyright is that it is the means by which the producers of creative works get paid for producing the stuff. If you want people to continue to make movies, you want them to get paid. Freeloading deprives them of income. There is no free lunch; while you are getting something for nothing, the producers are stuck in the situation of receiving nothing for what they have produced. It is not fair to them, and it does not help them stay in business. (I do not agree with every arbitrary means of enforcing copyright, but that's a different subject.) Some people complain about the fact that they have to pay before they get to see for themselves how good the movie is. This is true, but it is offset by the fact that movies are sold by word of mouth, and it is not a copyright violation to tell people what you thought of the film and why. You can reward or punish the producers of a movie you like or hate by telling all your friends to see it or avoid it.
  7. K-Mac, one possibility is that, while you are writing your post, someone else who writes faster than you, or less than you, might get a post in between you and the immediately preceding post. This could cause your post to appear in an entirely different context than you intended. Then again, I suppose you can just name the person to whom you are replying, as I did here.
  8. My own view is that you should not be able to patent something unless, by withholding your idea, you could have prevented society from having it, at least in the geographical area that the patent applies to, and for the duration of the patent. In other words, you aren't John Galt if you can't go on strike. It doesn't make any difference to me whether a proposed patent is "software" or not. The essential issue, which separates the good patents from the bad ones, is whether the proposed patent could have been withheld. If an idea cannot be withheld, I think no patent should be granted.
  9. When I think of a "world ban on nuclear weapons" I think of a ban that prohibits governments from owning them. I think that is a bad idea because the sole proper purpose of a government is to defend its people from the initiation of force, and a government should be able to do that using whatever means are necessary, including, if it comes to it, nuclear. I would support a ban on improper governments owning nuclear weapons, because they would use them to intimidate innocent people. A government that uses its weapons to intimidate innocent people should lose not only its right to possess weapons, but its right to exist. I would support a ban on individuals owning nuclear weapons; but on nuclear explosives other than weapons I don't think I can support an outright ban. Nuclear explosives can be used for mining, propulsion, or energy production. They are dangerous, and I think there should be laws governing their handling and storage, just as there are laws governing the handling and storage of other types of explosives. But an outright ban can, and already does, rule out useful industry. An individual has the right to defend himself, but he delegates that right to the government. He retains the ability to own small arms to defend himself in cases before the police can arrive. But if he were attacked in any sort of way where his defense would require a nuclear weapon, I'm sure a proper government would already be able and willing to defend him. I doubt that allowing privately owned nuclear weapons would help to deter a government from infringing the rights of its own citizens. Bigger weapons only serve to make such situations more destructive. When it comes right down to it, it is bad philosophy that causes governments to infringe the rights of their own citizens, and a government under the influence of bad philosophy will use whatever force is necessary to infringe rights if it thinks they should be infringed. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, a nuclear weapon is not an argument. Only a proper philosophy can defend individuals from their own government.
  10. Evasion is not the same thing as ignoring something. The first choice is whether to focus or not; the second is what to focus on. Focus means paying attention to one thing at the expense of all others. It is possible to focus on something broad, or to focus some particular detail. It is possible to focus mentally on objects that are not physically present (which means ignoring objects that are physically present). Focusing on one thing necessarily involves ignoring other things. But one still knows that the ignored things exist, and one retains the ability to focus on them in case of need. Evasion is not merely an absence of focus, it is a willful refusal to focus, typically directed at some particular piece of reality that the evader wishes to pretend isn't present. Evasion is a form of pretense. That makes it different from merely ignoring something. It is difficult to evade a piece of reality that is right in front of your face (although it can be done); it is much easier to evade things that are not immediately present, and easier still to evade abstract concepts and the connections between them. I don't think it's possible to do it by accident, though. Evasion requires a deliberate denial of reality. The judgment of evasion as evil isn't epistemological, it's ethical. Evasion is evil because it's hazardous to human life; it's like driving a car with your eyes closed. In chapter 2 of OPAR, I'm pretty sure the evil of evasion had been mentioned, but not proved; OPAR does have a few forward references. On the subject of unrequited love, if a man loves a woman and she doesn't love him in return (the other cases are similar), it would be evasion for him to lie to himself and say he doesn't really love her. It would also be evasion for him to pretend that she likes or wants his company when she doesn't. It would not be evasion for him to go to work or school as he usually would, even if doing so requires him to ignore his emotions for a time. One thing he could do in such a case, without evasion, is to acknowledge (to himself) his love for the woman, figure out what he loves about her, and then look for those qualities in other women, one of whom might love him in return.
  11. Dr. Michael Hurd, an Objectivist psychologist, has done a good job exposing the ADD scam in his book Grow Up America (ISBN 978-0967421803).
  12. There is a third possibility: you can acquire property by trade, or receive it as a gift. Other than those omissions, everything looks correct to me, although I am not infallible in making these sorts of determinations. [Added Later] David Odden is correct that owning a weapon is not a claim on the rights of anyone else. See, I said I wasn't infallible.
  13. As for fire, I think people would still want to buy fire insurance for their homes and businesses. If the government didn't have firefighters, the insurance companies would have a strong financial incentive to create their own groups of firefighters, because it would help them reduce damages caused by fires and therefore reduce the premiums they charge their customers, reduce the payouts they have to make, and increase profits. Insurance companies might also even help to put out the fires of people who didn't buy their policies, in order to prevent such fires from spreading to the homes and businesses they do insure. Just a thought...
  14. I just read this and I don't know whether to laugh or cry: apparently quantum physicists are now saying that man is destroying the universe by observing it. Is this the climax of Kant's philosophy? Apparently it's not bad enough that a means of awareness forever cuts us off from reality -- a means of awareness also has to degrade and destroy reality, besides. I would laugh at the sheer absurdity of this idea, but what a horror it will be if it is taken seriously! ...
  15. I submit that "atheism" is an anti-concept. This is not evident from its definition -- an atheist is "not a theist" -- but a concept is more than its definition. The concept purports that there is a system of beliefs called "atheism," but there is no such thing. The term "atheism" groups people together on the basis of a non-essential, namely, that they do not believe in God. It leaves open the question of what, if anything, they do believe in. It groups Objectivists with Communists, subjectivists, and nihilists. Currently Dinesh D'Souza is exploiting the "atheism" anti-concept to the hilt, saying that since some Communists who committed atrocities, such as Mao, are atheists, "atheism" is responsible for those atrocities. Ridiculous. I find myself reluctant to describe myself as an "atheist." When you look at atheism purely in terms of its definition, it doesn't say enough about what I believe; when you look at the kinds of people who all fall into that category, it says the wrong things. I am reluctant to let myself be tossed into the same bin as Christopher Hitchens (about whom I know little), to say nothing of Mao. If you go by the definition only, it is technically correct to say that Objectivism is atheistic or that Objectivists are atheists; however, Objectivism should certainly not be thought of as a type of atheism. It would be better to think and speak of it as a type of Aristotelianism. Kant and religion and Communism can then all be described as types of Platonism. Only a religionist would split things up into "theistic" and "atheistic" and think that is useful. [Edit: On second thought it seems useful to know whether a metaphysics is theistic or not...]
  16. Actually I was thinking about this and it occurred to me that it might be okay, instead of making a list of commandments, to make a list of "The Ten Facts" from which people can draw their own conclusions. These would be the facts that other philosophies and religions seek to evade. It is not terribly important that there be ten of them, but it would be neat to see them all listed in one place. This list of facts would include such things as: Existence, identity, and consciousness are axioms; they have to be asserted even in any attempt to deny them. Existence behaves according to its identity, independently of anyone's conscious desires. Concepts are man-made, but they have to conform to reality in order to be valid. There is no general way to ascertain the truth or falsehood of arbitrary statements. Such statements are disconnected from reality and have no standing in reason. Man's life is conditional; if he wants to live he has to do certain things and refrain from doing certain other things. This is what gives rise to the need for morality. Man survives by means of reason. It is reason, and only reason, that allows him to alter his environment to produce the values his life requires. Therefore, a threat to a man's ability to reason is a threat to his existence. Throughout history, the countries that have done most to free men from the coercion of other men have always been the most prosperous. I wonder what else could be added. I wonder how short such a list could be and still cover everything essential.
  17. I try to follow an Objective code of ethics.
  18. Isn't there such a thing as fear at first sight? Or hate at first sight? If so, why can't there be love at first sight? A first-sight emotion is probably not reliable, considering how little data it is based on, but sometimes when you learn more, you learn nothing that would cause that first emotion to change, so it turns out to have been right.
  19. You have my sympathy. I have a friend who is going through something similar right now (and I just told him these same sorts of things). I've been through it myself, too, but I don't talk about it much. In the short term, you have to find something else to occupy your mind. You will not think it can possibly work, but it will, even though only a little at first. In the long term, if the man you want is unavailable to you, you will have to find someone else; it can be hard to do, especially if you are very selective (as you should be), but it can be done. I have to admit there is something poetic about the idea that Francisco and Rearden would have loved Dagny too much to ever find other women, but at the same time I kind of doubt that would be the case. I'm sure they, too, would have eventually warmed to the idea of finding someone else. But it might have taken a year or so, and it would have been beyond the scope of the novel. You will be all right.
  20. Just for reference, I didn't put it up because I thought it was "the worst movie ever made." Actually I thought it was pretty good for a low-budget film, although it was unintentionally funny in spots, and I think that (the unintentional funniness) was why it got the reputation it got. Not having been to film school, I have probably missed half the things that people laugh at this film for doing. I liked some of the unintentionally funny lines. Perhaps strangely, I was actually sad at the ending though...
  21. OK, I'll put this one up, even though: It's not You-Tube, it's Google Video It's feature-length (1 hr 18 min) The copyright has expired Here it is.
  22. One man dedicating his life to a purpose is far more effective than a thousand men bumbling around randomly. This is why the professional soldier, who knows what he is doing and why, and who can be intelligent and creative with that knowledge, is far more dangerous to his enemies than a bunch of mindless and hastily-trained draftees would be. Conscious direction in general is far more influential than chance (such as the odds that you will get run over crossing the street) because chance is noise rather than signal, and over the long term, averaged over many people, chance cancels out. Chance can sometimes be used, but that requires conscious direction. It is true that the defeat of a dictatorship requires more than refraining from visiting its tourist sites. It requires an identification, and a refutation, of the ideas that make dictatorship possible. That, too, is a task for professionals. If you choose a good purpose for yourself, you will find that it is not helped by contributing to evil, or by being passive. A good purpose is not helped by anyone being passive. Evil, on the other hand, only requires that good men do nothing, although those who seek to accomplish evil deliberately accomplish it far more effectively...
  23. For some reason this reminds me of a thought I had some time ago. I doubt I am the first to have had this thought, either. OPAR describes three variants of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, and each variant has its own political party. God (primacy of a cosmic consciousness) - Republicans Social (one man can't bend reality to his desires, but a group is irresistible) - Democrats Personal (each consciousness creates and inhabits its own private universe) - Libertarians There is no party that represents the primacy of existence. Yet.
  24. For the record, I think I was the one who said that, and I had only played a little bit in the first two levels, and up to that point there really were no Objectivist overtones, except for a few disconnected slogans and elements. It was just a game, I was running around shooting at things and getting killed. Now, however, I have reached the point where , and I am not done yet. What a plot twist! At first I thought . I am trying to reserve judgment until the end of the game... I am bothered, however, by the number of "reviews" out there that seem to be written by people who haven't even bothered to play the game but instead wish to use it as an opportunity for Rand-bashing or Objectivism-bashing. Apparently this sort of thing would happen regardless of the content of the game... I hope I am not disappointed by the game's ending.
  25. Hello moogle525. I will only answer a couple of your questions. Objectivism starts with axioms; an axiom is a self-evidency which you must assert even in an attempt to deny it. The first of these is that existence exists. The second is that you are conscious. The third is the law of identity -- that every existent is something specific, has a nature and acts accordingly ("A is A"). It is this third one that explains why logic works. To put it simply, you don't have to know everything (i.e., be omniscient) to know what you do know (i.e., to possess knowledge). When you do make a generalization you have to ensure that it is the product of everything that has been observed up to that point; that's the best that anybody can be rationally expected to do. If new evidence comes along, it will have to be taken into account; this is how people learn -- but until it does, you use what you have. As an aside, you may enjoy reading Dr. Leonard Peikoff's book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (also known as OPAR), Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, and Philosophy: Who Needs it (also by Ayn Rand). These books deal with these and similar questions in greater depth. [minor edits]
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