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Jay P

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Everything posted by Jay P

  1. If somebody really doesn't care about man's nature and epistemology (that is, he doesn't care to understand how he can know what is true) then I don't think there's much you can do to reach him. He has tossed out his tool of survival - his mind, and will believe anything he feels like believing. Why would he be willing to consider any argument somebody made? If he has thrown out epistemology - no matter what you'd say to him, his response would just be some variant of "but I feel you're wrong." Others here have given a good summary of what's wrong with accepting Pascal's wager. That is:
  2. ARI is doing a great job spreading Objectivism and, most importantly, educating future Objectivist intellectuals. Today there are many books written by Objectivists who have been educated in ARI's academic programs; there are many high-school students reading Ayn Rand's books due to ARI's efforts; there are frequent Objectivist op-eds, TV and radio appearances; and then there are long-term projects like preserving all of Ayn Rand's papers. Best of all, they're doing all of this without watering down or compromising Objectivism; they're remaining absolutely true to the philosophy. For in
  3. But it sounds like these 1-3% taxes are levied against assets, as opposed to income - since it says they were levied against land, homes and slaves, for instance. This, then, would be more analogous to a property tax in today's culture, and not an income tax. And given that the value of an asset is much higher than the value of the income it produces typically, then a low percentage property tax is just as onerous as a higher percentage tax levied against income. And indeed, I think a 3% property tax would be regarded as quite high in the US today. Also, if a tax like this was levied
  4. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, other Republican candidates, and prominent conservatives, have to say about Huckabee's desire to modify the constitution to make it compatible with Christianity. Will they criticize him, and speak out in favor of church-state separation? Or will these people just not say anything, perhaps out of fear of antagonizing potential voters? Also, how will these words affect Huckabee's popularity? Will he now gain, or lose supporters? That such a statement would be made today by one of the leading contenders for the Republican nomination is a big
  5. If this plan passes, then this is exactly what will happen: private health insurance will become unavailable in California. A similar thing happened in Washington. For a while, it was the law in that state that a private insurance company could not refuse anybody coverage because of, or for, "pre-existing conditions." So if somebody who was already sick applied for a new policy, the company had to issue it. Finally, the insurance companies shrugged. It was either that or go out of business, for no company can make money if it's forced to insure for events that have already happened.
  6. Good - I hadn't thought it would necessarily be easily available after all these years. As I remember, I found out about the book because it was offered by an Objectivist book service many years ago, so I decided to buy it. Otherwise, I would never have heard of it. (That's yet another benefit of being an Objectivist - finding out about new values.)
  7. Oh yes! There is a book written about this anti-Nazi group: A Noble Treason - The Revolt of the Munich Students Against Hitler by Richard Hanser, 1979. I read it over 20 years ago and have never forgotten their story. I highly recommend it. I was quite moved that this group of students had the courage to do what so few people did in Germany: speak out against the Nazis. When asked why they had taken their actions to distribute these leaflets during their "trial" (by the Nazis), one of them (I think Sophie Scholl) replied "Somebody, after all, had to say something." (I might not have t
  8. Where is "God" mentioned in the Constitution? I'm pretty sure it is not, which is a fact that undoubtedly bothered Christians when the Constitution was created. I agree that the religious connection to Xmas is non-essential. It has never been a religious holiday for me, and it is celebrated by many people I know who don't believe in a God, and by many others who do not in any way take religion seriously as a guide to their lives.
  9. Not only that, but many times, unions and their members initiate force (through violence) against their employers and against non-union replacement workers, and the government does nothing about it. For instance, striking workers often will block the entrances to a plant so that replacement workers can not come to work. I've also known of cases in which union workers on strike destroyed company property and shot at replacement workers and vandalized their cars, yet no action was taken against the striking thugs. In fact, I read once that a court had ruled that some kinds of union violen
  10. It's indeed a good idea to be thinking about weather; marathons in hot weather are much more of a stress than when it's cool and cloudy. I remember that in the 2004 Athens Olympics, it was so hot in the women's marathon that a few of the top competitors ended up not finishing the race. (But the top American ran a good race and finished third.) And in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the temperature was over 90 degrees. So some people can do well when it's that hot, but I think most runners would much prefer cooler weather. Anyway, best of luck.
  11. Thanks for posting that. Indeed, I remember Ron Paul's favorable comments on Without a Prayer, and also his disparaging of Objectivism because it is atheistic, but I didn't have the quotations handy. I'm very glad that Ron Paul has no chance of being President of the United States.
  12. Of course there's no need for a government central bank. In fact, the unit of money should be left completely to the free market; government has no business doing anything to manage or manipulate the supply of money. Recall also, that the United States had no central bank from about 1837 to 1913. That was a period of rapid economic growth; it was also a period during which money had a stable value.
  13. When applied to people, I associate the adjective "cool" with being second-handed. In my experience, people who are always worried about how "cool" they are, are very concerned with what other people will think of them - to the point that they'll dress and act in a particular way because they think it will be approved of by others. This is like Peter Keating always trying to be what other people wanted him to be.
  14. If these are proven reserves, then to the extent they are owned by private oil companies, they're likely to be very conservative. First, a private company (assuming it has publicly traded stock) reports its reserves in its periodic financial reports, which are audited statements, publicly available. There are standard, accepted ways to calculate these reserves. If a company lied in order to inflate its reserves, it would be open to charges of fraud. Second, if a company owns a producing oil field, then of course that field will contain proven reserves. Suppose they have proven reserve
  15. Good for you! Running for miles and miles when you feel like quitting is a real accomplishment, any day. A marathon is long enough that it depletes one's reserves pretty thoroughly. Any plans to run another one?
  16. Good for you! I don't remember exactly what I wrote to get into graduate school, but I'm sure I didn't put any extracurricular junk on it; I just stuck to the facts that were relevant to convincing them that I would be a good student who would do well in their department. For employment, I've always kept my resume short, and described the essentials of my work experience. I've heard advice that job seekers should exaggerate past achievements, using big words to make it look like they accomplished more than they really did; I think this is terrible advice and have never followed it.
  17. I don't think The Feminine Mystique belongs on a list of harmful books. It's been a good ten years since I read it, but what I remember is that it asks (and answers) the question of why, comparing 1920's to the 1950's, women in America were less likely to pursue a career or higher learning. (For instance, the proportion of college students that were women declined, and more women were quitting college early go get married.) And also where did the idea that women are less suited to things like "quantititative thinking" and "innovation" come from? Where did people get the idea (widespread app
  18. Here are some books that are well enough written that they could be profitably studied without the aid of a class: Calculus by Ross Finney and George Thomas. I have the 1991 revised printing. It covers about 3 or 4 semesters-worth of material. Molecular Biology of the Cell by Bruce Alberts & others. It would be best to have at least a little knowledge of chemistry to understand this one. A technical book can be a big investment, and it's hard to know before you read it if 1) it's any good and 2) it's level is appropriate for the knowledge you already have. For these reasons, I
  19. Jay P

    Steve Hanks

    Thanks for posting these! I have admired Steve Hanks's artwork for many years, but there are some paintings here I had not seen before. He is truly a master of capturing emotion in his art. Inexpensive prints of his paintings have been available for a while; I've found many for sale in local shopping malls. (I finally ran short of wall space to hang them on, so I had to cut back on my purchases.) The book The Art of Steve Hanks - Poised Between Heartbeats has over 100 pages of color reproductions of his work, and also the story of his development as an artist and how he came to decide
  20. I was sorry to hear that it might not be available in the future, but at least now I know I need to buy one for myself before next March. (I already bought one as a gift to a friend, and have heard good comments from satisfied users of this CD; just never got around to buying one for myself...)
  21. I don't think that most religious conservatives would do this, however, especially if Hillary gets the nomination. Conservatives are so afraid of her being president that I think they'd vote for just about anybody in order to defeat her - even a pro-choice Republican. I'm very interested in seeing how Giuliani's candidacy progresses; I'd very much like to see a pro-choice candidate get the Republican nomination, as I agree it would empower more Republicans to not go along with the religious right. So I'm encouraged that he's the current front-runner. However, it's also the case right now
  22. Jay P

    "Infidel"

    I enthusiastically second the recommendation of Infidel. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a remarkable woman. First, growing up in an Islamic culture, she was able to, on her own, figure out what's wrong with Islam, and then follow her mind wherever her thoughts led her. Few people have the courage to do this: question beliefs they've been brought up with (and have been taught that disobedience will lead to horrible consequences), and figure out the answers on their own. And then, to speak the truth, openly, when people who do this against Islam are reguarly threatened and worse, is a rare and admirab
  23. Really? The latter I find very hard to believe. Sweden's population is only about 9,000,000 - and he's saying 500,000 copies of Moore's book were sold there?? That seems way too high, especially considering that the number of people who read a book is much higher than the number of people who buy it. As for Moore's Stupid White Men, it does not seem to be holding its value very well in the US. This past year I was at a library book sale in Seattle (a liberal city if ever there was one) and saw five hardcover copies of this book for sale. The several-day sale was almost over, and nobody
  24. First: if they wanted to explore for or drill for oil in Alaska, they had no choice but to deal with the government. They're only willing participants in the sense that they're paying the government protection money in order to survive. (This is like the property taxes I pay on my house. When I bought it, I agreed, as a condition of getting the loan, to pay the property taxes. I'm only willing to pay these taxes because I have no choice in the matter.) And as far as the environmental restrictions that stop the construction of new oil refineries, do you have any evidence that the oil compa
  25. The rightful owners of natural resources are those who create value with them. So in the case of oil or mineral resources, the one who finds and develops them is the rightful owner. (Just as in the Mideast, before the oil was discovered and developed, that land had no value. The value was created when the oil companies spent their money discovering the oil fields and putting them into production. It's rightfully theirs.) But in this scheme, the citizens of Alaska are getting money from a value they had absolutely nothing to do with creating. They have done nothing to earn it. (For e
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