OATHBREAKERS: YOU’RE ON A LIST!

OathbreakersArticle by Mark I Rasskazov, Editor in Chief.

NOTE (1032 29 MARCH 2013): The interview I conducted with Chief Kessler is now available for public consumption on YouTube HERE.

This evening, I had the pleasure of speaking with one Mark Kessler, Police Chief of Gilberton, PA for about an hour.  It was a recorded interview, which will be available for public consumption, soon.  In the meantime, I want to bring your attention to his website: [www.OathBreakers.US].  This is a website based on an idea which I find simultaneously awesome, hilarious, and empowering: that, just as patriots are put on lists for being pro-individual rights, and pro-constitutionalist, we, the people, will now start keeping a list of politicians that violate their oaths to the constitution.

During our interview, one of the things we discussed was the fact that the very first thing an elected official of the United States does upon getting elected is to swear an oath on the Bible to the Constitution.  If an elected official swears an oath to defend the constitution, and then does the opposite, then that person is unfit for office.

We need to start keeping a record of when our leaders break their oaths.  I encourage you all to go check out OathBreakers, and join the pro-freedom intelligence network.

The more powerful the people are, the more fit they will be to be free, and the more they will demand and exercise that freedom.

Long live the Republic.

Реклама

SOME PEOPLE JUST LIKE UGLY

Some People Just Like Ugly

Article by Barbara Cornell.

Syndicated from Barbara Cornell’s personal blog.

My mother took me out to buy shoes when I was I was maybe 9 years old, and while we were out I observed that there were a great many shoes that were functional, plain, ordinary but perfectly adequate, there were a few that were functional and pretty. And then there were a pair that were just astoundingly, inexplicably unattractive and dysfunctional as well.  As I recall they were some species of spike-heeled, platform wedge (yes, they were both), lace-up-the-side sneakers in a rainbow of baby-feces colors.  A lot of times, I can see something that I don’t especially like but I can, if I try, see how someone else might like it.  Maybe the color is not what I would choose or it’s more clunky or less practical than I like, but I can see how someone else might put less value on those qualities, but these shoes were just inexcusably unattractive, impractical and tortuously uncomfortable (yeah, I tried them on; I just could not wrap my head around them) to the point that I couldn’t even reason my way to how someone else could possibly find them desirable.  I showed them to my mother who said some of the most profound words I can ever recall hearing, «Some people just like ugly.»

I’m sure she was just expressing the thought that passed through her mind and never thought about it again, but I’ve thought about this innumerable times in the years since and they’ve explained so many things in so many situations.

Translation: «Some things that people believe simply cannot be explained in terms that make any sense.»

There are two issues that consistently get batted about that fall solidly into this categories: gun control and culturing uselessness among our citizens through redistribution.

make-models-in-ugly-clothesI’ll leave you with another pithy tome: A few years ago, I was the Controller for a logistics company whose safety coordinator was dead-set on purchasing «bump caps» for the forklift operators in the company as well as plexi-glass cages for the tops of the lifts.  This plan represented an outlay of capital in the neighborhood of twice the company’s best-prospect income for next three years.  I was strongly opposed to this «investment», not because I was more in favor of profits than the safety of our employees but because it was a complete waste of resources and actually increased the likelihood of injury compared to doing nothing.  The identified danger to our operators was in objects falling from the tops of their loads onto the forklifts.  It was an extremely unlikely hazard (there had never been even a near-miss in a million man-hours), but it was possible.  The average weight and height of something that could fall off the tops of the loads would easily break through plexi-glass and cause head damage to the employee, the «bump caps» and plexi-glass actually made accidents more likely, and increased the chance of injury.  We could have purchased actual hardhats and installed a different arrangement on the tops of the forklifts, but our study determined the cost would be quadruple the bump-cap and plexi-glass investment and would decrease the visibility and range of motion of the employees to the point that there would not be any improvement in safety.  I believed we should either bite the bullet and do it right or do nothing, because either option would be better for both the company and the employees than the middling proposal.  The safety coordinator was nearly in tears when she explained her reasoning: «Well, at least we can feel like we did something!»

She was perfectly clear that her plan served no purpose other than to make herself feel better when a jar of pickles crashed through the top of the forklift and crushed the skull of a forklift operator.  And, ya know, at least the guy could see it coming through the plexi.  I guess.

It’s long past time that we cease to labor under the delusion that arguing gun control and letting people earn their own living with logic, sense and facts will ever make so much as a dent in the problem and admit that those in favor of disarming the populace, paying to destroy peoples’ hopes and bankrupting the greatest nation in the history of the world have no honest belief that passing their legislation has anything whatsoever to do with crime prevention, protecting innocents or improving the lives of children.  It’s difficult to accept that there are otherwise reasonable people who will reduce their own safety, abandon their own freedoms and destroy their own homes simply so that they can feel like they did SOMEthing, even if that something simply puts a bulldozer to digging our own graves rather than slaving away with a shovel.  It will only be after we lay down our own self-deception that we can begin to see the reasonable courses of action.

Until then, we are as guilty of doing «something» just so we can feel like we didn’t do nothing as those who have given themselves over to the hysterics of «but what about the CHILLLLLDRRREEEENNNN!!!!»

FILM REVIEW: THE MASTER

220px-TheMaster2012PosterArticle by Barbara Cornell.

Syndicated from Barbara Cornell’s personal blog.

The 2012 movie The Master was not the worst movie I ever watched. It absolutely was not the most egregious method I ever used to squander two or more irreplaceable hours of my life. It definitely was not the most pretentious piece of art house, inbred, self-congratulating, hippie, Hollywood swill ever to emerge from the entertainment industry.

But it was close.

In the immortal words of Opus, «Bad beyond any previous understanding of badness. Well. Maybe not that bad. But, Lord, it wasn’t good

If you watch only one movie this year, be absolutely certain it isn’t this one.

Watch Argo instead. Excellently done movie.

THE AGE OF ENTITLEMENT

douchebagsEditorial by Barbara Cornell.

Syndicated from Barbara Cornell’s personal blog.

Suppose you have a friend who who makes $45k a year who owes $50k in credit card debt — not mortgages, not car loans, not loans that build equity, just simple living-beyond-his-means consumer debt — and expects to owe $100k in credit card debt by the end of next year because of things he’s already bought but hasn’t received the bills for yet. Now this friend asks you, «Do you think I should buy season tickets to the Mets or should I install a third swimming pool at my 2nd beach house?»

What do you tell your friend?

The US Congress is that friend.

Our current federal debt ($14 trillion) exceeds our gross domestic product (approx $13 trillion) and the federal debt is expected to double in the next few years*

congressTranslation: The federal government could confiscate 100% of everything everyone in the entire country produces this year and still not pay off what we owe on what we’ve already spent, and we’ve already made agreements to double this problem before we have any opportunity to «counsel» (with our votes) the people in government who are currently in office.

Taxation has no hope of fixing anything (unless you and everybody you know is prepared to work for the next two years without pay to bail out the country). So, discussions of whether we should tax the rich people more or corporations more, or whether we should have tax credits for production or tax credits for working poor are pointless. The time when we had any choice of what we should pay for and what we should not has come and gone. Soon we will not be able to borrow enough to meet basic human needs (clean water, police protection, defense of our national borders, sewage pumped somewhere besides the middle of the streets).

48tGY1It no longer matters which project you believe deserves to be paid for by the US taxpayer.

The Age of Entitlement must end.

That isn’t a political imperative. That is a simple, emotionless statement of fact.

Let me put it another way:

The Age of Entitlement will end.

Whether you believe that it should or not, whether you believe that it ever existed or not, whether you think it’s fair to use the term or not, it will end.

The only choice we have now is whether we can prevent this nation from becoming the next third world.

____________________

*For skeptics: depends on whom you talk to. The White House official budget publicity release says both that the budgets over the next 3 years will incur deficits of over $6 trillion and that they will reduce the debt by $1.1 trillion. I’m not sure whom they think they’re fooling with their double talk. However, estimates that include expected reduction in the amount that social security will contribute to the federal budget place the deficits much higher even than their worst-case admissions.

AN UNFORTUNATE ENCOUNTER WITH OBJECTIVIST DR. DIANA HSIEH

0Article by Mark I Rasskazov, editor in chief.

UPDATE (2347 26 MARCH 2013): I offered the olive branch to Dr. Hsieh, but it seems we have irreconcilable differences.  Such is life.  We all live in glass houses.  Those who throw stones at mine tend to find it’s made of thicker glass than most.

TENTATIVE RETRACTION (1717 15 MARCH 2013): Dr. Hsieh has explained her response, and it seems reasonable, so my comments about her character may be false.  Also, her lack of comments may be more a function of the fact that her attention is taken elsewhere, than a reflection on her personality.  My comments about her career; some scholars pursue academics; others pursue activism.  Perhaps she is the latter.  My comments about the nature of Objectivism, I stand by; I’ve read most of the main items written by Ayn Rand, and have given them a lot of thought.  My comments about Rand’s personality, I stand by; I’ve met a lot of elderly Russian women, and based on video clips, her writing style, and accounts about her behavior, I would say that she was very much a Russian woman of her time and place in many ways.

NOTE: This is a tough love piece.  I am not down on Objectivists in general like so many out there are.  If there are Objectivists reading this, please have the intellectual courage to read it in its entirety and judge it objectively.

Dr. Diana Hsieh is one of the top figures within the current Objectivist movement.  My perception is that there’s Dr. Leonard Peikoff, Dr. Yaron Brooke, and Dr. Diana Hsieh — in that order.  She’s pretty high up on the Objectivist totem pole.

Now, I like Objectivism as a philosophy.  I don’t agree with it 100% — but I would say that I do agree with it about 90%.  Their politics are usually on point.  Their ethics are usually very close to the truth (if a little narrow, at times).  Their epistemological system is nearly flawless — although I have not encountered any Objectivist writings on cognitive philosophy.  The fundamentals of their metaphysics are sound (things are what they are), with the exception that they don’t seem to have a satisfactory answer to the mind-dualism problem.  Their Aesthetic is like a shot-gun blast — not very subtle, and not very accurate, but it gets the job done (their conclusions are on the right track, although they need to take a closer look at their premises in this field).

All of that having been said, I did encounter Dr. Hsieh online, and I am sorry to say it did not go well.

Now, Dr. Hsieh has a radio show podcast, and she has a blog.  I visited her blog, «Noodlefood.»  What I find interesting is that, whereas she is very prominent in the world of Objectivism, and whereas her blog has over 6,000 posts, intellectual interactions on her site are very sparse.  I commented on her second most recent blog post.  There are 8 posts between that one and the next one with any comments (2 comments — one of them hers — on that one; followed by two more posts with empty comment sections).  Now, the value of a blog’s content is not necessarily measured in the number of comments it generates, however, if a blog has been around as long and as prolifically as that one has, one would expect a little more interest in the content.

To give you an idea, this WordPress powered online newspaper and philosophy forum (the TDJ, that is), which has been around for about month gets comments almost every post, now; sometimes 6-7 comments per post.  Compared to Dr. Hsieh, I am a nobody.  How am I able to generate so much more interest in my writings than she is?

That’s not the only thing.

On her blog, she’s always asking for handouts; «tip your philosopher,» etc., whereas, I don’t see any advertising on her site.  Now, I am not, in principle, opposed to asking for donations, but I would expect a proponent of Capitalism to be just a little more savvy.  Why would she ask for donations?  She’s a prominent Objectivist.  It’s embarrassing!  How about providing a product for peoples’ money instead of trying to guilt them into donations?  WWJGD (What Would John Galt Do)?  I’m betting he’d sell t-shirts, coffee mugs, and books, and get sponsors — not grovel and guilt-trip for donations.  Jussayin.

Now, here is how she describes herself on her site:

«Dr. Diana Hsieh is a philosopher specializing in practical ethics. She received her Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. Her dissertation argued that Thomas Nagel’s «problem of moral luck» can be resolved by an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility. She began podcasting in 2009, then webcasting in 2010. She switched to internet radio in 2012.

Diana blogs at NoodleFood and podcasts at NoodleCast. Her other active projects include Explore Atlas Shrugged, Modern Paleo, and OList.com. She also contributes to Front Range Objectivism, the Coalition for Secular Government, and Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine. Diana lives with her husband Paul Hsieh and a small menagerie of beasts in Sedalia, Colorado.»

No books?  No teaching career?  Her major accomplishment as a philosopher is a dissertation about another philosopher’s work?  Kinda thin resume, considering her status in the Objectivist world.

This is Dr. Diana Hsieh.  Now, all of this having been said, I don’t judge someone on the basis of tokens of accomplishment — the substance of one’s work matters far more than the generation of tokens of accomplishment, and I did not make any premature judgments about this person prior to talking to her — in fact, I was hoping to establish a friendly, collegial relationship with her — I do not ascribe to the philosophy of Objectivism, but I do have a lot of respect for it.  I am an «Objectivist sympathizer,»  As Dr. Peikoff has put it, in the past.  However, while I approached her with an open mind, hoping for a meeting of the minds, I say all of this to point out that an accomplished thinker will usually have more to show for himself/herself than what has been described above.

The exchange that took place between us can be seen here, and is republished below:

Rasskazivats (me): Huh!  I published an article by Barbara Cornell about a «regretful parent» myself, recently: [http://transegoism.us/snake-mom].  Cheers!

Diana Hsieh: Playing (annoying) music automatically on opening a web page?!? AUGH. I can’t imagine any better way to drive people away from a web site.

NOTE: It is in poor taste to address someone you’ve never even spoke to before, and who is approaching you in a friendly, professional manner in this way.  However, rather express offense at this, I chose to remain friendly and professional by providing her with an alternate means of reading my content, without having to endure the «annoying» music on my site.

Rasskazivats: Here’s my RSS feed: [http://transegoism.us/feed/].

Dr. Hsieh has not condescended to resume our conversation.  The only thing I can figure is that she is offended that I did not immediately apologize to her for not running my site in such a way that she finds tasteful, and immediately complying with her tastes.  Now, that music was created by a good friend of mine.  I enjoy it.  I’ve received compliments elsewhere about it.  Beyond that, if it really were in bad taste to have music playing automatically, there’s a right way and a wrong way to bring that up.  Insulting me at a first encounter when I am projecting a friendly demeanor, is the wrong way.  I didn’t ask her what she thought about my site, yet I did provide her with a music-free alternative — and for the record, my month old site seems to be doing substantially better than hers.  With a personality as charming as her’s I can’t imagine why.

NOTE: A passage from The Fountainhead comes to mind; when Peter Keating asks Howard Roark for advice on his work, Roark, at first, balks, and says something to the effect of «Why would you even ask for my advice?»  Dr. Hsieh, with respect, I did not ask for your advice.

Which brings me to another point — Ayn Rand was a brilliant philosopher, but a flawed person.  Her main fault (so far as I can tell from reading about her) was that she was an extremely abrasive person.  Now, people seem to think that her abrasiveness is somehow a necessary function of her philosophy.  Her personality surely influenced the presentation of her work, although I think it has little to do with the content.  What most people don’t understand is that abrasiveness is a personality trait that is very common among Russian women — particularly women of her age (women who survived one or both of the world wars, and/or the Russian civil war).  People view her personality as being an integral aspect of her beliefs, whereas it has more to do with the Russian culture (which is not at all Objectivist, by and large) than with the belief system she created.  Yet, unfortunately, she managed to impress the worst aspects of her personality upon everyone who was associated with her — to a lesser or greater extent.

Dr. Hsieh, I find it to be a sign of weakness that you have failed to develop your own personality and have adopted the worst aspects of Rand’s character.

I am disappointed.

TAKING EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE

beautiful-sunriseArticle by Barbara Cornell.

Syndicated from Barbara Cornell’s personal blog.

I’ve often thought that intelligence is a double-edged sword. Being smart probably gives a person greater opportunity for success (defined in this instance as «happiness»), but at the same time it raises the threshold for happiness. The smarter you are, the more chances you have to attain the things that will make you happy, but you have to attain more of them in order to be happy.

One of the reasons this is true is becoming more apparent to me the older I get, because unlimited mental capacity seems to be one of the first things to suffer. When I was 23, there was literally nothing anyone could say to me that I couldn’t grasp immediately (faster than they could say it) and there was no line of reasoning that I couldn’t leap-frog to the end of faster than the intermediary steps could be specified.

These things are no longer true.

For example, just today I encountered the concept of «prions.»

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prion)

I never heard of these dudes before today, but they are basically proteins responsible for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (like mad-cow disease). Somehow these things aren’t … alive … exactly … (which is why they cannot be killed via normal sterilization procedures such as heat or radiation) but neither are they strictly chemical … exactly … (which is why they can be affected by vaccines similar to those which prevent viral infections, even if none has to date been developed that is completely effective.)

Now there was a time when I would have chased that rabbit down its hole until I cornered it and claimed that sucker as mine. But now, I know that such might be possible but it probably isn’t worth the effort. Now I’m content to say, «It’s something that isn’t exactly alive but isn’t exactly not alive either.»

With age comes wisdom that it’s better not to concern myself with it. Maybe I could «claim» those things, but I have other issues that are better uses of my resources.

It seems that wisdom dictates this is true of a lot of things.

You know these things. They are «the things I cannot change» for which I strive to have «the serenity to accept.»

«Accepting» things doesn’t necessarily mean finding in yourself the ability to say they are right. It’s directing your thoughts to things that are better uses of your energy.

Take every thought captive, allow only those which are good for you to roam your mind.

«I trusted him, and he wronged me, and it makes me so mad.» But you’ve decided he is still your friend, and he’s asked forgiveness (or he never admitted he was wrong). Let it go. Stop it in its tracks before it gets started.

«But if that happens, then this will happen and then … I dunno what then, but it will be bad.» You’ve done everything you can to prevent it, and now it’s just wait and see. Take it captive. Give it no quarter in your heart or your mind.

Whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, excellent. Think on these things.