Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by aturner

  1. I can understand the constraints of young children - I have three daughters. In addition to weekly meetings, we also occasionally have weekend gatherings for more social purposes. When these occur, perhaps you would be interested in attending. If so, send me your contact information and I'll put you on our email list.
  2. My wife and I run a discussion group on Ayn Rand's philosophy: Objectivism. Our group (currently four regular members) meets weekly in the evening in Southbury. Our discussions range from philosophical topics, (including metaphysics, epistemology, politics, aesthetics) to purely social exchanges. We seek to further the integration of Objectivism into our daily lives through exchanging experiences, perspectives, and occasionally correcting our errors. We range in age from 30's to 50's. Our meeting structure is very informal, and regular attendance is not required. If you are interested in attending one or more of our discussions, please contact us through one of the following methods: [email protected] (203)267-5383 (Home number) (203)797-6430 (Work number) In our many experiences with other Objectivists, we have found great pleasure in the realization that we are not alone. Aaron Turner Connecticut Objectivism Discussion Group
  3. No, Aurelia, you didn't miss my point at all. Your definition matches my understanding quite well. As for the practicalities mentioned, I recognize the biology connection, but for the other sciences I think any connection is either non-existent or no longer relevant. Of course, there are the legal phrases that are still in Latin, and if you are a European lawyer you may want to have a good understanding of Latin to consult older texts. What I'm still interested in fully understanding is the feeling by Free Capitalist (and perhaps Aurelia) that Objectivists "should" be studying the classics. I can see the interest in studying Aristotle certainly, and perhaps some other ancient Greeks. On the other hand, I've found most of the other material I've read to be less of interest to an Objectivist per se. I have a general interest in history and in understanding the errors of other philosophical schools of thought, but I view this more as a "hobby" of mine, rather than an activity that directly assists in my life. And so this is my question - is the study of the classics (lets say other than the study of ancient Greek philosophers) a healthy "hobby", or is it important to you in understanding the philosophy that you are living? I should also mention, for Aurelia's benefit, that I just completed reading Meditations about 3 months ago. I found Marcus to be an excellent student of Stoicism. Very intelligent, insightful, able to connect his life experiences to his chosen philosophy, and ignorant of that philosophy's errors (which is not to damn him, but rather to recognize his lack of knowledge). The brutish nature of the era comes through as well, but I liken his writing to that of some of our better presidents, in their attempts to expound upon the meaning of current events, within their chosen philosophies (not that they were Stoics, however). Jefferson comes to mind.
  4. Aurelia, I just posted a topic in the Culture forum for you to answer regarding the "classics". I'll be looking forward to hearing your answer.
  5. Aurelia's introduction has left me wondering what she and Free Capitalist mean by the "classics". When I hear this phrase, I associate it with ancient Greek and Roman literature. My understanding is that in the generations preceding my own (I'm 40), studying the "classics" was presumed necessary to qualify as an educated individual. Clearly by my generation, this had all but vanished (I recall Latin being offered in my high school, but not seriously promoted). In addition to the definition, I am also wondering why an education in the "classics" would necessarily require a knowledge of Greek and/or Latin. I myself have read quite a volume of literature translated from ancient Greek and Latin (Aristotle, Plato, Thucydides, most of the extant Greek tragedy, Pliny, some of Cicero, and several others), but without any knowledge of the original languages. I'm currently reading Decline and Fall by Gibbons, and have been working my way through Durant's History of Civilization - certainly not "classics" in the sense used here, but very thorough studies of the history involved (even with their factual errors). Have I missed that much due to errors or inability to translate? I have recently had a slight interest in learning Latin, but honestly only because it becomes somewhat tiring to skip over the Latin phrases in some of the various material I find myself reading. Is there a "practical" reason for learning Latin or Greek? There *is* a practical reason for studying philosophy - of that I have no doubt and have seen the positive effects in my own life. But is a study of the "classics" (other than the philosophical writings) and of these languages at all practical, beyond understanding the history of human thought? Can either of you further explain the nature of your adoration of the "classics"? Thanks!
  6. I am surprised anyone is surprised. If we polled Americans, just what percentage of the under 35 crowd would recognize Aushwicz? Perhaps more than 40%, but I wouldn't bet on it. Modern history is presented in our public schools only in high school, and even then "ugly" modern history is only seriously discussed in Junior and Senior year, and then only in the "advanced placement" classes. How many minutes are spent discussing the Holocaust? I'm going to guess less than an hour, and unless the message was driven home by a film, a long writing assignment, or a field trip, I doubt the information is retained for more than a semester. As for picking up historical knowledge outside of formal education, the vast majority of Americans don't read regularly, and are unlikely to watch documentaries of events that occurred 60 years ago. Sorry to come across so negatively, and I do hope I am very mistaken.
  7. Interesting, I just listened to the Galt speech using Audible (from New Intellectual) and it came to about 3 hours at the point in the speech where he says (paraphrasing) "now that you've listened for three hours". I found this rather revelatory of the detail to which Ayn must have gone in producing this work - obviously she or someone else read it out loud and timed it. Then again, watching Ayn deliver impromptu dissertations, maybe she dictated the speech
  8. I also received the trilogy DVD set. Generally, I've not liked the "improvements" - I'm of the opinion that art should not "evolve" after it has been released by its creator (yes, even if the creator is the one doing the evolving). However, I would have welcome a demuppetfication of the final movie. Teddy Bears just don't make convincing war heroes. My five-year-old daughter is simply entranced by the entire triology - but I don't need her to develop a fear of stuffed animals (well, at least not yet).
  9. Well, I stand corrected, and quite surprised.
  10. Actually 99% of cruise control systems just read the signal feeding the speedometer to determine the vehicle's speed, which is based in turn on a mechanical measure of how quickly the wheels are turning. Adaptive cruise control, which is virtually non-existent in a statistical sense, relies on radar, but I would assume it does not use doppler radar to determine the relative velocity of vehicles ahead of the equipped vehicle, just distance as a function of time. "Check your premises" -A.
  11. I've spent my career to date working in optical engineering for the company that produced the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra Observatory, and has been involved in a several other major NASA contracts. Our primary market is the US Defense Department (along with some foreign militaries). My understanding of the ethics of working in such an environment is along the lines that Stephen has mentioned above - this is a pre-existing condition of the country, and that my rational self-interest is best served by producing in an environment in which I excel. That being said, as I have risen to a level of importance in my company, I have not been silent about my views on NASA contracts, and on NASA's very existence. At every relevant occasion, particularly during the quotation process, I have pointed out that performing large contracts for NASA never makes good business sense. NASA has no interest in providing a company with a profit. Typically the larger contracts are of the "cost plus fixed fee" variety, meaning that NASA will pay whatever it costs to produce the system, plus a profit "fee" (of about 15%). During the quotation process, competitors produce bids on what they expect the contract to cost. However, what ends up happening in reality is that the job is given to a bidder who bids well below the actual cost, and although this is technically illegal, it is typically done with both NASA and the vendor fully aware of the shortfall. Then, as the contractor runs into trouble with meeting the bid, a negotiation begins in which the company supports the contract with internal funds (usually indirectly to avoid more illegalities), while NASA pays a portion of the cost growth. By the end of the contract, the contractor is lucky to have broken even. The only "profit" obtained is the ability to use the involvement with NASA as a marketing tool. In my opinion (particularly with the Hubble) this is a very questionable benefit. It is quite notable that in our Defense contracts, of which the larger, more exploratory contracts are also cost-plus fixed fee, the customer always delivers funding covering both the full cost and the fee, and quotes are typically much more honest. I have always seen this dichotomy between NASA and Defense as a mark of their legitimacy.
  12. I've also read the book, and found it "interesting". I cannot find an immediate reason to reject the hypothesis, though it must be seen as an unprovable hypothesis, and more a subject of history than of psychology. But my real question for you is based on the quote from your original post. Why are you hesistant to ready something controversial? If you are hesistant because of the potential waste of money / waste of your time, then that is understandable; however, to be hesistant based only on the commentary of others is not ethical.
  13. Stephen - thanks for the corrections on the topic of relativity. I admit I used this opportunity to draw out your general opinion on the solidity of that theory. And I would welcome a (short) list of references to experimental verifications of the premise of special relativity. As for experimental verification of the general theory, I am awaiting the results of the Gravity-B experiment, as well as those from the various gravity wave detectors currently under construction (I have some familiarity with the LIGO project as a supplier of test masses, and of Gravity-B as the supplier of some detector windows).
  14. I'll add a third physics-based, accepted, contradiction: the so-called "Twin Paradox" resulting from special relativity. I am a bit concerned that this is not a logical contradiction, but I'll await commentary from others in this forum on that issue. We have twins A & B. B is an astronaut, who leaves Earth at a high fraction of the speed of light (lets say 99% of that speed). Due to the relativity effect of time dilation (slowing of the rate of time seen by a "stationary" observer watching a moving clock), B ages at a much slower rate than A, according to A. Hence, after 1 year in A's life, B appears to have aged only 51 days. The paradox (and potential contradiction) enters when we consider what B observes of A. A key principle of relativity is the non-existence of an absolute, or preferred frame of reference. Hence, B observes that A has aged only 51 days after 1 year of B's life. (In A's frame of reference, A will have aged about 7 years when B appears to age 1 year). Because we conventionally accept an "absolute frame of reference", this example appears contradictory, though if the conditions of the relativity theory are accepted, there is no basis for the contradiction, because that absolute clock is discarded as non-existent. To further consider the validity of the "paradox", one should consider that the entire basis of the special relativity theory is the *axiomatic* statement that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant in all frames of reference. To my knowledge, there has never been a direct experimental observation of this accepted "fact". -A
  15. It should be pointed out that the wave/particle contradiction you mention is not the same as the equally pervasive Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle in quantum mechanics. Although the Heisenburg principle is the simplest to state (essentially putting limits on one's ability to know the position and motion [momentum] of an object simultaneously), it is the development of this principle into the much more complicated Schrodinger Wave Equation that brings this fundamental contradiction to fruition. The wave equation describes the probability distribution of an object's position at a point in time. There are various interpretations of the "meaning" of this expression; however I recall learning two dominant interpretations. In one interpretation, the object is said to exist in no position prior to its being observed, at which point the probability wave "collapses" into a discrete result, with the statistical probability described by the wave itself. At the time of my education (1984-6) this was the most accepted interpretation. Another alternative is the Many Worlds interpretation. In this case, the object exists in ALL possible locations, each occuring in a separate universe. Which universe we are in is only revealed at the point of the observation of the object in a particular location, which is where it belongs in that universe. At any rate, I dimly recall the existence of other interpretations, but these currently elude me. Stephen, of course, will be able to fill in the blanks here.
  16. I have a difference of opinion on Stephen being a uniquely morphed name. Apparently, Aaron = Erin = Aron = Arron. And believe me, that first mispelling eventually gets on one's nerves. Aaron Turner
  17. Terribly sorry about the misspelling, Stephen, I actually caught the error after posting and considered sending a correction. Should have, apparently.
  18. And there are at least four Objectivists in optics. My wife (Kimberly Mcneill) works with me at Goodrich, and one of our optical designers (Malcomb MacFarlane) is, well, a pseudo-Objectivist - he has the Kelley/Libertarian disease, I'm afraid.
  19. Since you brought it up, Stephen, what is your current take on the Theory of Elementary Waves [TEW, Lewis Little]? I had read some of the material when it was first distributed, which struck me as more whining than theory, and then dropped it. Some time later, I recall hearing through various Objectivist forums (HBL for instance) that the theory had been discredited. Care to comment (briefly)?
  20. We're in Danbury, Connecticut. The company originally was Perkin Elmer, then purchased by Hughes Electronics, then Hughes was purchased by General Motors, then we were sold to Raytheon, and most recently (two years now), purchased by Goodrich. So, if you're in Southern California, we may have worked for the same company (Hughes or Raytheon) at one time or another. In fact, you may even be a current customer. -A
  21. Not to trump the original questioner, but lets make the problem a bit more descriptive, and perhaps more complicated. Lets take a box in which is placed a pair of mirrors, between which a monochromatic beam of light is oscillating (to make it easier to visualize for physicists, lets say its a laser cavity). In the middle of this beam, place a semi-transparent mirror, which redirects some of the light out the side of the (transparent) box, so that an observer external to the box can receive the light. Lets call this redirected light the sample beam. With the box at rest with respect to the observer, record the frequency (or wavelength) of the light. Lets say it is 530 nanometers (a favorite of mine). Now, accelerate the box to a relativistic speed. What does the observer see? Using a single semi-transparent mirror, only the light traveling in one direction will be directed toward the observer (the other direction will be directed out the other side of the box). If the semi-transparent mirror is oriented such that the light travelling against the direction of motion is seen by the observer, is the light red-shifted? Is it blue-shifted if the light travelling in the same direction is directed to the observer? As a subtle but important complication, the orientation of the mirror must continually change to keep the sample beam directed toward the observer as the box moves past him. This is the cleanest way in which I can restate the problem. Otherwise, how can an external observer "see" the light in the box at all? And therein lies the solution to the question. Because I have to redirect the light to travel toward the observer, everything depends not only on the relative velocity of the box to the observer, but also upon the viewing angle. If the observer is looking perpendicular to the direction of the motion of the box, so the sample beam is at 90 degrees to the laser cavity beam, the redirected light will have no frequency shift, as there is no motion of the source in the viewing direction. As the box travels past the observer, the viewing angle will decrease from 90 degrees, and the light will become increasingly redshifted. The key to untangling the original question lies in understanding that in order to measure the observed frequency of the light in the box, the light itself needs to travel to the observer. In so doing, its frequency properties will change, since it will be redirected relative to the motion of the box. What do you think, Steven? Have I got this right? Although I'm an optical engineer by profession, I haven't needed to use relativistic mechanics for about 18 years now.
  22. Please see my reply to "Another Attack On Private Property Rights" in the current events forum. I'd really like to see other's perspectives on the choice to shrug, not react, or "attack" the evil in the world.
  23. I agree that this is a terrible misuse of democratic power. As you have said, it is disgusting. This bears some resemblance to the "Right to Roam" acts of Britain, which have been recently restated in that country. However, I want to use this as an example to ask a broader question. How do we react to such news? Clearly, if you own property in King's County, you have the moral right - perhaps even the moral responsibility - to fight against enactment of the law. [Certainly I think we would agree that it would be immoral for you to act in favor of the law if you own such property]. And I think as Objectivists we would all support those in Kings County who fight against the law's enactment (and later, its enforcement). However, my assumption is that most of us are not directly affected by this news. How do we choose to react? I can describe three alternatives, based on characters from Ayn's novels: We may choose to actively fight against the law. We may organize letter writing campaigns, send in letters to the editor to Kings County newspapers, organize and contribute to a legal defense fund for landowners in Kings County, use this as an example in columns or letters to national media, or even refuse to trade with Kings County - based firms (or their customers). This, in a weak sense, I will call the "Dagny Taggart" response. I see Dagny as one willing to fight for change within the existing System, though I admit this example and the actiions listed don't quite fit her character. On the other hand, what would Howard Roark do? Nothing, I suppose, since this doesn't affect him directly. He doesn't worry about insignificant others, doesn't obsess on indirect threats to his values. Even if he owned property in Kings County, I suspect he would ignore the law (even if enacted) until he was brought into court for its violation. Then he could use a similar defense to that he has previously used, merely changing some of the details. Thus, the Howard Roark response. There remains the John Galt response. John Galt would probably first respond with a bitter laugh (and inner sadness). Then, he would use this fact to hasten the collapse of the system of contradictions. I see him quietly visiting the largest, most productive, landowners of Kings County and convincing them to join him in the Gulch. Of course this he would only do if someone like Gates happens to be such a landowner. The John Galt response, therefore, is to shrug and accelerate the natural consequence of such actions. I do not venture to pass judgement on any of the options - I find elements of validity in each. I am very interested in better understanding the value and morality of these responses. And so I ask you - how do YOU decide what to do when confronted with your emotional disgust over news such as this? Which of these responses to you believe to have the most value, and why? Is there an Objective standard to be considered here, or is the answer fully contextual? Or, is this an invalid question to consider?
  24. We manufacture highly advanced optical systems (telescopes, cameras), mostly for the military and NASA. Our company (under different ownership) produced the Hubble space telescope (yes, we're the ones who screwed up the main mirror). We also made the much more successful Chandra X-ray space telescope. One of the larger items we've made recently is the SOAR telescope - a ground-based astronomical telescope that is being installed in Chile. In addition, we make a variety of smaller optical systems for satellites, including many reconnaisance systems. We also make systems that go on various aircraft, for both reconnaisance and target identification, as well as laser-warning receivers that warn the pilot that he is being tracked by an enemy unit. We have maintainence contracts for the U2 and even the B-52 fleet. We also produce a wide variety of very small optics, such as are found in rifle sights and night vision systems. My role in the company is the steady advancement of our technologies in manufacturing the extremely precise optical surfaces needed in these systems. Specifically, I am responsible for proposing new methods, and overseeing their development, as well as promoting the ideas of other engineers in our team. I also write most of the modelling and optimization software used to grind and polish the mirrors and lenses. Recently, I've further expanded my activities to include systems engineering [design and problem solving within the optical system as a whole]. Sorry for the long-winded reply, but as you may guess, I *really* love my job! [i also greatly enjoy my three children, and my Objectivist wife. I know the question was not about family life, but I couldn't leave them out of the picture!].
  25. I've been looking at this site for about a week, and find it very well designed, informative, indeed one of the best Objectivism sites I've experienced. I've considered myself an Objectivist for about 18 years now, having first read Rand during college. My profession, I am an optical engineer working for Goodrich Aerospace in their electro-optics and space division. My wife and I host a small Objectivism discussion group. I am wondering where within this site is a good place to post an "advertisement" for our group? -Thanks, Aaron Turner
  • Create New...