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Everything posted by Dormin111

  1. In a free society, how strong should the domestic police be? What weapons and hardware should they posses? Should they possess any firearms? Military grade equipment? This is a very hot-button issue amongst libertarians today, especially in light of the events in Ferguson. The claim is that local police across the US have undergone a process of "militarization" by requisitioning military hardware such as assault rifles, sniper rifles, military tactical vests, APCs (armored personnel carriers), etc. It is said that by strengthening the police force to such a degree, the police are encouraged to act more violently towards the population since fewer people have the ability to resist them. Here are a list of articles on Reason Magazine pertaining to the issue: http://reason.com/tags/militarization-of-police EDIT: Here is a book which brought the issue to the forefront of libertarian politics recently. I haven't read it myself but I've heard it is excellent: http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Warrior-Cop-Militarization-Americas/dp/1610392116
  2. Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend. Have fun.
  3. Does that mean Jaskn is having an irrational thought when he finds it funny?
  4. How does this square with Rand's theory of rights? If I get the principle behind these statements, you are saying that if an animal has certain values qua its nature, then humans should be legally obligated to respect those rights. If we take that to its logical conclusion, shouldn't all animals have the right to life since all animals try to survive? Furthermore, what about reciprocity? I could theoretically respect a wolf's right to life, but he sure as hell won't respect mine. I've always been partial to Murray Rothbard's statement (paraphrasing here), "we should give animals rights when they ask for them."
  5. I call using "Sagging Dorsal Fins" for an indie rock band.
  6. In Objectivism, "value" is not usually used descriptively to refer to any thing which an individual pursues, but rather prescriptively to refer to what an individual rationally should pursue in accordance with his nature. In this case, we need to identify the rational values and costs pertaining to animal torture. It can be ethical to torture animals if one is pursuing and gaining a rational value (wealth, research, etc.). However, I think the very act of hurting an animal should be considered a cost in and of itself, since no rational person would enjoy or be indifferent to the act of inflicting pain upon a creature. Thus the question is contextual and concerns pay offs. Is it rational to hurt an animal in this particular instance to attain a particular value? To give two extreme contextual examples: - Would you electrocute a puppy for a week to receive a modest sum of money from a sadist? - Would you administer a painful injection into a lab rat to attain scientific results which can be used to produce valuable pharmaceuticals? If Blackfish's argument is true, then I would consider holding or watching captive orcas to be immoral since it consists of causing an animal a tremendous amount of pain for the sake of mere amusement. I would even go a step farther and add that amusement and pain are at odds with one another, and I don't think I could ever enjoy an activity which I knew was causing pain, even if the amusement was great and the pain was minor.
  7. What do you mean by "material/monetary"? Why is it put in a separate category from psychological, emotional, or spiritual? Ayn Rand subsumed all of these concepts under "value."
  8. There is no distinction between an action being "unethical" and "not being worthwhile for an individual." They are one in the same. In that vein, there are ethical reasons to torture animals, such as to perform experiments which yield valuable scientific information.
  9. I have seen Blackfish and have some reservations about the arguments presented in the documentary, but CptnChan is not describing the movie's point accurately. Blackfish asserts that the biological and psychological nature of orcas is such that all forms of orca captivity are a form of physical and psychological torture. The wilting dorsal fin is one example of this presented in the film, other examples include: - An orca mother and her child were captured and then separated in captivity. For months, the orca mother weeped inconsolably and cried out for her child with long range frequencies non-stop. She eventually gave up and became borderline-catatonic. - Some scientists claim that the life spans of orcas in captivity are about a fifth of their life spans in the wild (Sea World and other scientists dispute this claim). - The movie follows the life of Tilicum, an orca captured in the wild who would end up brutally murdering three of its trainers. The film argues that Tilicum was literally driven to insanity by his captivity. Even if we are all on the same page that animals do not have rights and therefore orca captivity should be legal, that doesn't follow that we should ethically support animal torture for the sake of amusement.
  10. http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/07/craig-biddles-chart-on-essential-moral-theories-objectivist-strawmen/ Is there any validity to the author's claim that Rand strawmanned other philosophies?
  11. I will most likely be in NYC during the summer, and would be interested in going.
  12. http://www.atlassociety.org/sites/default/files/The_Contested_Legacy_of_Ayn_Rand.pdf That is the expanded version of his original essay in its entirety. I'm not sure if I can find the original, shorter version.
  13. To clarify, my professor did not say that consciousness affects reality, but he did say that time-space is metaphysically indeterminate for subatomic particles, and he explicitly referenced the Copenhagen theory.
  14. I am currently taking an introductory Astrophysics course at the University of Chicago, and we are taught that the Copenhagen Interpretation is correct.
  15. How about, if public spaces must exist, the authorities should attempt to manage it according to the normal standards of the population. The population's standards are usually anti-public nudity, so the government should follow along.
  16. Oh my god... http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/decline-debate-sequel_787041.html "The debate centered around a resolution asking whether or not the president’s war powers should be restricted. The contest was won by the duo from Towson State University, Ameena Ruffin and Korey Johnson, who chose to argue the side of .  .  . well .  .  . it’s hard to say. Here’s the Atlantic’s formulation: “Rather than address the resolution straight on, Ruffin and Johnson, along with other teams of African-Americans, attacked its premise. The more pressing issue, they argued, is how the U.S. government is at war with poor black communities.”" "Over four hours, the two teams engaged in a heated discussion of concepts like “nigga authenticity” and performed hip-hop and spoken-word poetry in the traditional timed format. At one point during Lee’s rebuttal, the clock ran out but he refused to yield the floor. “F— the time!” he yelled. His partner Campbell, who won the top speaker award at the National Debate Tournament two weeks later, had been unfairly targeted by the police at the debate venue just days before, and cited this personal trauma as evidence for his case against the government’s treatment of poor African-Americans." The above references the debate from the first video. It's sad how incredibly dishonest the two girls are in describing their "victory."
  17. The following essay was written for the Objectivist Academic Center Core Program: Video Games: The Next Great Aesthetic Medium For decades, video games have been thought of as toys. Pong, Tetris, and other games were virtual extensions of reflex and puzzle-based games that we could play in person. An individual could go outside in the glaring sunlight and play an exhausting round of tennis with a friend, or he could stay inside and simulate the experience with Pong. Likewise, he could try to work with a slow and unwieldy puzzle, or play Tetris. Unsurprisingly, video games were considered objects of simple amusement and relegated to the status of hoola hoops and board games. But this categorization has eroded over time, and currently we are in the midst of a crucial transition period. Video games will always be toys is some sense, but now they are also becoming art. And why not? Nearly all video games represent (in the words of Ayn Rand) “a selective recreation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value judgments.” For a standard video game, the creator must choose a story, a setting, characters, character arcs, an atmosphere, and nearly every other component which contributes to the creation of a self-contained reality found within literature or movies. Furthermore, these components interlock in an enormously complex presentation which takes into account not just the aesthetic elements found in other mediums, but the actual gameplay as well. But to describe the aesthetic value of video games as merely “movies combined with toys” doesn’t do the medium justice. Video games present an enormous aesthetic opportunity for artists, which, after thousands of years of artistic production, is still barely explored. Video games uniquely possess the aesthetic quality of interactivity. When you look at a painting, read a book, or watch a movie, the experience is inherently passive. That is not to say the audience does nothing; he can still engage his emotions, evaluate the display, and in the case of reading, even do some heavy conceptual integration to make sense of it all. But fundamentally, the experience of the audience is heavily controlled by the artist, who must guide the audience through his artistic vision. On the other hand, video games are built on the basis of interactivity. The artist may design the parameters of the audience’s display, but it is the player who crafts the experience. This limits the artist’s control over his creation and forces him to factor player choice into his designs. The potential implications for interactivity are immense. Already we are seeing video game creators experiment with the degree of interactivity offered to the player. A game like Fallout 3 drops the player into a post-apocalyptic open world sand box world and lets him do almost anything he pleases. The player is free take the role of anyone from a benevolent wanderer who deals with other people with trade and respect, to a genocidal maniac who lives by violence and treachery. Meanwhile The Last of Us presents a tightly crafted experience where the player is led down a very specific path, and choices are limited to minute events like how to handle specific combat situations. Likewise, developers are testing out the concept of narrative interactivity. Most video games still follow a linear narrative path like any (non-“choose your own adventure”) book or movie, but games like Mass Effect and Heavy Rain are testing just how much narrative control can be relinquished from the artist, and given to the player. Such games are developing labyrinthine plot structures where every choice prompts two more choices, and no two players will end the game in the same place. Another potentially groundbreaking component of interactivity is player-character integration. When reading a book or watching a movie, the audience follows a character through the plot. The artist always tries to make the audience connect with the character by making the character interesting or relatable, but ultimately the reader or viewer is merely observing another entity. But in video games, the player is the character. That is, the player literally controls the character’s actions, at least within a given range of activity. This enables a much greater, and more easily attainable sense of connection with a character than can be provided in other artistic mediums. Consider a game like Metal Gear Solid 4, which features a protagonist who is an old, dying soldier in the midst of his final combat mission. A key component of the plot is that the protagonist is no longer physically fit for combat, and thus his body slowly breaks down throughout the story. The player not only experiences this through in-game cinematics, but also in the actual gameplay. For instance, the player has a “stress meter” which increases during bouts of extreme combat or in harsh climates. If the meter gets too high, the character’s abilities suffer in form of decreased weapon accuracy, slower movement, and even fainting. This gameplay element connects the psychological and physical degradation of the character with the player. Therefore, the player and the character are actually sharing the same experience in some sense. No book or movie is able to attain quite the same sense of connection. These examples and dimensions of interactivity are just the tip of the ice berg. Video games are in their youth as an artistic medium, and are just beginning to explore their full aesthetic range. The last few years have seen the rise of many new bold experiments in interactive aesthetics, but the video game medium is still waiting for its Canterbury Tales, or Citizen Kane, or The Sopranos to establish itself as a fully realized art form. Decades from now, we may look at video games as equally or more artistically significant than the mediums which have dominated aesthetics for centuries.
  18. Here is a picture of supermodel, Adriana Lima. Question - Is Adriana Lima physically attractive? Answer - That's impossible to know, unless she states her core philosophical values.
  19. To be fair, corporate subsidies and tax breaks pose a significant threat because of the market distortions they create. Even if corporate taxes are immoral and counterproductive, having some companies pay more than others as a percentage of profits creates many more ill effects. Same with the relatively paltry sum of subsidies. $92 billion isn't much for the US federal government, but it's a hell of a lot for any corporation.
  20. http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa592.pdf That's a 2007 Cato study which puts the number at $92 billion, out of $2.7 trillion revenue, or 3.6%. I agree with the study's methodology and definition of "corporate welfare" with the exception of the inclusion of government contracting. But contracting looks like a pretty small portion of the total. I like that it does not count tax breaks as corporate welfare.
  21. What does it mean to say "human are inherently irrational"? Are a majority of all decisions made by all individuals irrational? If that were the case, we would all be dead. Does it mean that human beings aren't always 100% rational? If so, then that's bad terminology.
  22. Did Diddy and Dixie each invent the concept of peeling bananas? Or is it assumed that in this scenario, the patent office would accept literally anything? Could Diddy have patented breathing or chewing food?
  23. The current trend of focusing on "privilege" and ethnic/religious/racial/gender identity above all else is their most recent, and possibly most successful attempt.
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