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Godless Capitalist

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  1. ^^It's not that clear, which is why I used "seeming." From the release: "the prosecution came nowhere near proving its central allegation that Jeff Skilling engineered a conspiracy to defraud investors." "... Skilling ... destroyed no documents, nor did anything else resembling a criminal cover-up." "conviction for a phantom conspiracy" So the ARI writer seems to be claiming not just that the prosecution failed to prove guilt, but that there was no conspiracy or coverup at all. That certainly sounds like a claim that he was innocent.
  2. Thanks, softwareNerd. I'm still curious about the details of the case and the evidence (or lack thereof) on the specific cases. Megan: Interesting question. Which is the bigger crime, stealing an unattended purse with $100 in it, or causing an an investor to lose $100,000 by deliberately misrepresenting the state of a company's finances? Both seem criminal to me.
  3. Dr. Montessori did not copyright the name "Montessori" so anyone can use it. AMI schools have to meet more rigorous standards than AMS schools. But ultimately parents judging a school should learn about the method themselves and observe a few classes to see how well the method is followed. This thread has more info: http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=1726
  4. One more thing: a Catholic school specifically may be better academically than a public school or even other private schools. Catholicism has a long tradition of intellectual rigor that carries over into many Catholic schools. Whatever religious doctrine the child may be exposed to at such a school will probably be no worse than the environmentalism and socialism they will get at most other schools.
  5. There is also this thread: http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=1726 For those considering Montessori, try to find an AMI rather than AMS school. (AMI adheres better to Montessori's philosophy.) I agree with posts above that a private school may not be any better than a public one. We will be doing AMI Montessori through Gr 6, then probably public with lots of parental supplementation.
  6. I recently got a press release from ARI seeming to claim that Skilling was innocent. Does anyone have a link to more details on this? Ayn Rand Institute Press Release The Media's Mistreatment of Jeff Skilling October 23, 2006 Irvine, CA--Upon hearing the news that former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling was sentenced to 24 years, most Americans, trusting the newspaper articles and books they have read on Enron, think that justice has been served. But, said Alex Epstein, a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, "Jeff Skilling has not gotten justice, and the media bear a major portion of the blame. "Few Americans know that during Skilling's trial, the prosecution came nowhere near proving its central allegation that Jeff Skilling engineered a conspiracy to defraud investors. Few know that Skilling, upon leaving Enron five months before its collapse, destroyed no documents, nor did anything else resembling a criminal cover-up. Few know that the prosecution, unable to prove a conspiracy, spent huge swaths of the trial taking pot-shots at Skilling with issues not even mentioned in the indictment, such as the failure of Skilling, a multi-millionaire many times over, to disclose a failed $50,000 investment to Enron's board. "The media's misportrayal of the case against Skilling long predates the trial. Ever since the fall of Enron, most of the media have treated as fact every conceivable smear against Skilling made by ax-grinding prosecutors or ex-Enron employees, while treating as absurd Skilling's claim that he neither engineered a conspiracy nor lied to investors. "There can be no doubt that the media's treatment of Skilling contributed to his conviction for a phantom conspiracy--and to the outrageous 24-year sentence that he has now received. And the mistreatment of Skilling is part of a broader trend: the trend of treating businessmen as guilty until proven innocent. Our journalists and intellectuals, accepting the idea that the pursuit of profit is morally tainted, assume that whenever anything goes wrong in business, it is the result of crooked behavior by greedy, rich CEOs--and slant their coverage accordingly. This practice is putting numerous innocent men in jail, and instilling terror throughout corporate America. "During Skilling's appeal, let us call for the media to start treating Skilling--and all businessmen--fairly."
  7. I think there is one way you can connect things like symmetry to objective standards. A lack of symmetry in a human face and/or body, or a serious skin problem, is usually a result of a disease or genetic disorder and thus shows that the person's body is not in ideal health. Similarly, a person who is extremely thin or fat is also not in ideal health. There is an objective reason to find unhealthy bodies unattractive. (In some cultures, however fatter people are considered more attractive, but that is because in that culture fatness is an indication that the person is economically successful and can afford excess food.) So it makes sense objectively to consider someone with a healthy body more attractive than someone with a less healthy body. Things like eye or hair color, however, are just personal taste.
  8. I don't know the answer to the original question but it does seem to be a scientific question rather than a philosophical one. It could be of philosophical relevance if it were discovered that an animal species had conceptual abilities similar to those of humans, and in particular the ability to reason. We would then have to consider what rights such a species might have; possibly the same as humans.
  9. Ha ha. Computers have been around long enough that even old codgers like me (42) know how to use them. More likely the reason is that college age is when most people discover Objectivism and are most actively involved in it. That's how it was for me, only we didn't have online forums then. (I learned how to type on a manual typewriter, how to calculate on a sliderule, and how to program using Fortran coded onto Hollerith cards. Growing up, hi-tech was color TV and touchtone phones.)
  10. good opinion piece from TIME: Essay Liberty, Equality, Mediocrity The strangest revolution the French have ever produced By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER Apr. 17, 2006 The French are justly proud of their revolutionary tradition. After all, 1789 begat 1848 and 1871 and indeed inspired just about every revolution for a century, up to and including the Russian Revolution of 1917. Say what you will about the outcomes, but the origins were quite glorious: defiant, courageous, bloody, romantic uprisings against all that was fixed and immovable and oppressive: kings, czars, churches, oligarchies, tyrannies of every kind. And now, in a new act of revolutionary creativity, the French are at it again. Millions of young people and trade unionists, joined by some underclass opportunists looking for a good night out, have taken to the streets again. To rise up against what? In massive protest against a law that would allow employers to fire an employee less than 26 years old in the first two years of his contract. That's a very long way from liberty, equality, fraternity. The spirit of this revolution is embodied most perfectly in the slogan on many placards: CONTRE LA PRÉCARITÉ, or "Against Precariousness." The precariousness of being subject to being fired. The precariousness of the untenured life, even if the work is boring and the boss no longer wants you. And ultimately, the precariousness of life itself, any weakening of the government guarantee of safety, conformity, regularity. That is something very new. And it is not just a long way from the ideals of 1789. It is the very antithesis. It represents an escape from freedom, a demand for an arbitrary powerful state in whose bosom you can settle for life. Nor are the current riots about equality. On the contrary. Their effect would be to enforce inequality. The unemployment rate in France is 10%. For young people under 26 it is 23%, and almost 1 in 10 kids who leave high school don't have a job five years after taking the baccalaureate. Much of that unemployment encompasses those of the alienated immigrant underclass, who are less educated, less acculturated and less likely ever to be hired than the mostly native student rioters. And these young rioters want to keep things just that way--to rely not just on their advantages of class, education and ethnicity but also on an absolute guarantee from the state that their very first job will be for life, with no one to challenge them for it. Ironically, the better imitation of the spirit of 1789 came from precisely those immigrant challengers kept locked away in France's satellite suburbs. It is those poor ambitious huddled masses who late last year lit up the country for three weeks with nights of burning cars. Those underclass riots were politically inchoate, but they did represent the fury of people desperate to escape the marginality imposed on them by their ethnicity and the rigidity of the French bureaucratic state. Those immigrant riots, which had an equal touch of the existential anarchy of the student revolution of 1968, were, if anything, a revolt for precariousness--for risk, danger, upheaval. Against precariousness? The vibrancy of a society can almost be measured by its precariousness. Free markets correlate not just with prosperity and wealth but also with dynamism. The classic example is China today, an economic and social Wild West with entire classes, regions, families and individuals rising and falling in ways that must terrify today's young demonstrators in Paris. In France not a single enterprise founded in the past 40 years has managed to break into the ranks of the nation's 25 biggest companies. Precariousness is an essential element in the life of the entrepreneur, a French word now more associated with the much despised Anglo-Saxon "liberalism" and its merciless dog-eat-dog capitalism. But these days the best examples of the entrepreneurial spirit are hardly Anglo-Saxon: China, India, Korea, Chile, all rising and growing, even as France and much of Europe decline. Against precariousness? That is perhaps to be expected in a country where 76% of 15-to-30-year-olds say they aspire to civil service jobs from which it's almost impossible to be fired. This flight from risk is not just a sign of civilizational senescence. It is a parody of the welfare state. Yes, the old should be protected from precariousness because they are exhausted; the sick, because they are too weak. But privileged students under the age of 26? They cannot endure 24 months of precariousness at the prime of life, the height of their energy? There have, I suppose, been other peoples in other places who yearned for a life of mediocrity. But leave it to the French to make a revolution in its name.
  11. ^^ lol Well, actually it seems that there wasn't good evidence that there were WMD, or any clear connection between Saddam and 9/11. I still don't think Bush lied, and I don't think we have any need to apologize for deposing a viscious dictator, but the case for invading Iraq in order to protect the US is very shaky.
  12. ^^Agree. Open immigration should not even be considered until governments stop handing out free services like education and health care. Why work within the system? Because what is important is not just your innocence, but that your innocence can be demonstrated by some open and objective process. If everyone just does what they think is right, and ignores the objective legal system, the result is anarchy (even if each person's judgement is in fact rational). On the drugs question, I generally agree with you. The friend might break the drug laws, but is no more likely to break other laws.
  13. I'm not thinking "genetic" and I don't think anyone else here is. I'm thinking your second meaning. The core ideas of Objectivism already exist in Western culture; it's not surprising that many people learn them from parents, books, etc. before seeing them in Objectivist literature.
  14. ^^I think the answer to this depends on the nature of the government you live under. In the US, or other Western country with a relatively fair legal system, you should work within the system to appeal your conviction and prove your innocence. If you are in a corrupt or dictatorial country with no chance of fair treatment, I think it would be moral to escape if possible. As for rule of law, the problem in our society is that the choice is between following all laws as written, or acting, at least slightly, as an anarchist. As the speeding example shows, most of us choose to be partial anarchists. Neither situation--slavish obedience even to bad laws, or widespread civil disobedience--is very good. Good article, and I agree with it. This point is why I think we need to be tough on illegal immigrants: "Entry into the U.S. should ultimately be free for any foreigner, with the exception of criminals, would-be terrorists, and those carrying infectious diseases." We need to be able to screen who enters to make sure they are not criminals or terrorists. (The disease issue is fairly minor.) So regardless of our immigration policy, we still need to protect our borders so people cannot just come in whenever they feel like it, with no scrutiny or background checks. There is another issue that Dr Binswanger does not address: open immigration could flood the US with people who do not share US values. Europe is already having this problem with Muslim immigrants.
  15. ^^Not to mention that Iraq did in fact still have the capacity and intent to restart their weapons programs once the inspections were eased. Wow! So I guess you believe Iran's claim that the enriched uranium is just for power plants, despite the fact that Iran has loads of oil and thus no need for nuclear power, and despite Iran's explicit and aggressive rhetoric against the US and Isreal? Regardless of what one thinks about Iraq, Iran is far more clearcut.
  16. lol The moon bit was a joke; I don't want to live there either. The point was just that our society will be quite different by then. It also occurs to me that some countries have already developed methods of dealing with higher sea levels. 1/4 of the Netherlands is below sea level and protected by dikes; engineers from there are consulting on plans to protect New Orleans. Prosperous, technologically advanced countries should have no trouble dealing with gradual sea level rise. (interesting country btw; only 16 million people, one of the world's most densely populated countries, but still the world’s eighth largest exporter of goods and capital and the world’s third largest exporter of food)
  17. I would consider my wife and myself "natural" Objectivists as well. I discovered Objectivism in college, and already agreed with most of the basic ideas. My wife has never read any Objectivist works, yet generally comes to the "right" conclusion on most issues by herself. I don't think its really that unusual. Agree. Don't forget John Locke as well! Objectivism did not spring out of nowhere; it is part of the general pro-reason "classical liberal" trend in western culture. Ayn Rand did add many new ideas of course, and tie things together, but foundation was already there.
  18. ^^Good find, Tommy! Here is a typical article about the worst-case scenario: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/20...andicemelt.html excerpts, followed by comments: "Scientists have previously calculated that if the annual average temperature in Greenland increases by almost 3° Celsius (5.4° Fahrenheit), its ice sheet will begin to melt. Many experts believe the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will have reached levels around the year 2100 that would cause the temperature to rise that much." So the melting, and thus sea-level rise, is not even predicted to begin for 100 years. We have 100 yrs to figure out how to deal with this potential problem. Think about how much progress has occurred in the past 100 yrs and how much more could occur in the next 100. "Even a partial melting of the ice sheet could have catastrophic consequences for low-lying countries like Bangladesh and the Maldives. "A one-meter [three-foot] sea level rise would submerge a substantial amount of Bangladesh," Jonathan Gregory, the study's lead author and a climate scientist at the University of Reading in England, said in a telephone interview." So the initial effects will be felt mostly in a few countries that are only marginally habitable anyway. (Bangladesh is regularly flooded by hurricanes.) "Greenland's massive ice sheet could begin to melt this century and may disappear completely within the next thousand years if global warming continues at its present rate. According to a new climate change study, the melting of Greenland's ice sheet would raise the oceans by seven meters (23 feet), threatening to submerge cities located at sea level, from London to Los Angeles." So we would have up to 1000 yrs to adapt to the actual rise, if it occurred. 1000 yrs! Again, think about how much progress has occurred in the past 1000 yrs and how much more could occur in the next 1000. We could all be living on the moon by then! Even assuming the predictions in this article are valid, it's not as if New York is suddenly going to be flooded tomorrow. Whatever changes occur will do so very gradually, with plenty of time to adapt.
  19. All good points. However: -Often the original "cutting-edge" paper is the one that makes it onto the front page of the newspapers (often in oversimplified and even more sensationalist form), while the paper refuting it is buried on p. 47 or not reported on at all -Most scientists would rather do their own researcch thaan double-check other peoples' work, so correction smay take a long time. Overall I agree with you and with Monica. Global warming is a scientific question, and it is irrational to reject the idea outright for a priori ideological reasons. My own position is that we probably are experiencing some warming, and that it is partly anthropogenic, but that it would be easier and cheaper to adapt to it than to try to counteract it.
  20. Primary sources are not as reliable as many people think. My wife is a scientist and both publishes papers and reviews other papers. Her opinion is that many published papers, including in Science and Nature, get only cursory reviews and are of questionable validity. Nature in particular in known for publishing "cutting-edge" papers that later turn out to be wrong.
  21. I think we are still on topic. The core of this issue is what masculinity and femininity are. Once we understand that, we can understand the proper nature of male-female romantic relationships and then consider whether same-sex romantic relationships might be proper.
  22. It doesn't matter whether we can create a cell or not. What matters is whether cells could have evolved by purely natural processes. If ID supporters could show that some form of concsious design was required, then they would have a point. But they can't, and they don't. True. I should have been more clear. What I meant was that some combination of physical constants must "win," not that a life-sustaining combination must "win."
  23. Being a model is productive, since one is paid for it. Being a "trophy wife" isn't. So now you seem to be basically saying marriage should be a form of prostitution, or at least that a wife's primary role should be decorative. For me (and my wife) productive work is not a specifically masculine virtue; it is something all rational people should engage in. I would have no interest in marrying a woman who did not want to do something productive with her time; in fact it would be a huge turnoff as it would suggest a serious character flaw. Ayn Rand addressed this issue specifically in her Playboy interview by the way: PLAYBOY: Do you believe that women as well as men should organize their lives around work--and if so, what kind of work? RAND: Of course. I believe that women are human beings. What is proper for a man is proper for a woman. ... There is no particular work that is specifically feminine. ... (Playboy, March 1964, reprinted as a pamphlet by The Intellectual Activist) As for the difference in views of male and female roles in different countries, I think the split is mostly between the "liberal" parts of western countries (including the US, Canada, UK, France, etc) and everyone else. I think the liberals got this one mostly right and the conservatives mostly wrong.
  24. CF: Touche! lol My point was just that the the experience of actually being married is somewhat different from the romantic fantasies people sometimes have. (not that there is anything wrong with romance!) BD: I think my answer is clear. I agree with Shane; who earns what and pays for what really doesn't matter much. I find it interesting that CF and BD are both from outside the US. Is it possible that your "traditional" attitudes on this issue (and Ayn Rand's as well) have little to do with Objectivism and much more to do with the societies and families in which you were raised?
  25. ID can easily be shown to be religion, not science. If the creator in ID is some sort of aliens, then the same problem occurs: who created the aliens? If not, then the creator must be supernatural, eg religion not science. There is a much easier solution to this problem than postulating some bizarre idea of infinite parallel universes. Think of it like a lottery. There are millions of tickets (possible combinations of values of physical constants) but only one person can win (our universe). From the point of view of the lottery winner, it seems very unlikely that they would have won. But from the point of view of the whole lottery, there is a 100% chance that someone will win. It just happened to be us (our universe). If it hadn't been, we would not be here to worry about it.
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