Tuesday, October 31, 2006

To Vote Dem of Repub? Part 2

In my last post on the election "To Vote Dem or Repub" I said another post would be coming. In that first post I linked to Dr. Leonard Piekoff's article at Capitalism Mag. and Gus van Horn's post.

Since then there has been numerous discussions in Objectivist circles. I highly recommend the articles at The Objective Standard blog Principles in Practice by John Lewis and Craig Biddle. Also see Diana Hsieh's in depth article at Noodle Food and for more thoughts, checkout the lengthy comments section.

I haven't modified my original position much. I'm in agreement 99% with Dr. Piekoff and will vote heavily Democratic this election. But beyond that I'll be voting for gridlock. We don't have gridlock now because Republicans control everything. Perhaps things wouldn't be so bad if we had a little more of it. The Repubs however have not earned the right to be re-elected and are bending over backwards to adopt the altruist, collectivist, socialist policies of the liberal Democrats.

I prefer gridlock because I really don't want the Dems to have all the power. With all the power I believe they will immediatly start their censorship schemes one step at a time. There are two issues over which the Dems scare me. One is censorship and the other is nationalization of industry which they will call for as soon as there is a recession while Dems are in control. They will cry that capitalism and free markets have failed and it's time for the government to take control ala FDR and beyond.

It is this kind of evasion and blame game that will not result in the American people putting the blame for Democratic disasters squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats as some think will happen. I'm not so sure. It didn't happen in the 30s. Even though some intellectuals pointed to the facts, the public followed FDR anyway.

So, I will vote for Dems this election to get Repubs out of total control. I might even vote for Dems in 08 for president. But I think gridlock will buy the most time for Objectivism to grow. If anyone can show me how gridlock is a bad idea, well, I will consider it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lil' Science Roundup

Dennis Chamberland at Quantum Limit.com tells of the launching of a new project to develop a diving habitat called Leviathon. It's for diving to about 25 feet and spending the week ends there, or it can be used by professionals.

"The Leviathon is an underwater dwelling that features a command and control center, a sleeping, entertainment room and kitchen as well as a shower, bathroom and wet room. The Leviathan also features a refrigerator, air conditioner, a full suite of interior and exterior lighting enhancements as well as a fully enhanced audio and visual entertainment center."

(But does it get ESPN?)

Dennis also has a post on climate change down under and takes a look at the UN's idea of sustainable development.

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Paul Ashton at the Global Warming is Good site is saying goodby. At least he is going out on a positive, mission acomplished note. He says he started the site to combat GW irrationality, but now thinks the public opinion has turned around and is now moving more toward the rational. I hope he's right.

Anyway, I recommend readers visit his site and read the archives while available.

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While browsing around at the Sierra Times, I found a link to this report on the astonishing fact that if you lose weight you will save gas mileage. A quote:

"Want to spend less at the pump? Lose some weight. That's the implication of a new study that says Americans are burning nearly 1 billion more gallons of gasoline each year than they did in 1960 because of their expanding waistlines. Simply put, more weight in the car means lower gas mileage."

This will no doubt, be the next 'crises' that government will have to step in and solve. The report doesn't say who funded the study but it's a good bet our tax dollers were involved.

New Global Warming Authorities

Simondo at Capitalist Solutions in Hong Kong had a post earlier this month on how Greenpeace is using a consensus of government janitors to support claims of catastrophic global warming. The key quote from Greenpeace campaigner Francis Yeung in the South China Morning Post:

"More proof of global warming's effect on Hong Kong comes from a survey conducted by Greenpeace and the Government Mod 1 Staff General Union last month. Nearly all of the 201 government janitors interviewed for the study reported that it was getting hotter working outdoors. More than 90 per cent said they had suffered dizziness, suffocation and heat exhaustion. Serious cases such as shock and heatstroke were also reported."

Looks like Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger can rest easy now that the global warming debate has finally been settled; the janitor said so.

Monday, October 23, 2006

To Vote Dem of Repub?

Capitalism Magazine has a post by Leonard Peikoff giving his reasoning on how Objectivists should vote this fall. I discovered this via Gus Van Horn who has his own ideas on this.

Evidently, Mr. Peikoff advises everyone to vote for Democrats on the ground that the left has no real power or appeal anymore and is not as dangerous as the religious right which has the appearance of having ideas on its side even though it doesn't. Gus also points to the contrary arguement by Robert Tracinski who advises everyone vote against Democrats and for Republicans. There are links to other sites on this subject as well.

My own incling is to do both. That is, to vote for some of each in order to achieve some degree of gridlock in the hope that neither side will achieve enough power to ram its agenda down our throats. The left can't wait to bring censorship to this country and will do so if given the power even if only peacemeal. They need censorship in order to mute the religious right and conservative ideas. In my opinion, the right would oppose this but only up to a point. They would be willing to compromise because they want censorship for their own reasons.

It's hard to predict which poison is most fatal. Both sides are appealing to different receptors. The left appeals to the public's feelings under the guise of an unprincipled practicality, pragmatism, which means, it's intelligent to rely on one's feelings to guide one's actions instead of principles. The right appeals to both the mind and the feelings by pointing out that a morality is a set of principles (which it is) which is derived from an all knowing and all powerful god, which means, if you join my religion you can't go wrong.

So the left says you must sacrifice yourself to the whims of the common good as a matter of practicality. The right says you must sacrifice yourself to the whims of god as a matter of principle. In this light, I would have to say that for Objectivists, the religious right is the more formidable foe and Peikoff is right--Objectivists should not be voting for Republicans.

Peikoff is saying that the Democratic poison may be toxic but the Republican poison will be fatal. In a sense we are building the ovens into which we will be required to leap when the inevitable sacrifices are demanded. Therefore we must elect the least competent builders we can find and hope that allows enough time for the medicine, Objectivism, to work. The least competent of course are Democrats.

Naturally, I leave it to my readers to sort this out for themselves. But I hope the links above and my two cents have helped in some way.

Another post on this subject will be forthcomming.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Diversity, An Anti-Concept

The Detroit free Press had pro and con guest op-eds on 10/17/06 regarding the issue of Afirmative Action. The pro arguement is by Scott E. Page, professor of complex systems, political science and economics at the University of Michigan and author of a book promoting Diversity in all aspects of society.

After Mr. Page tells us how we value individual ability, he then says:

"An employer who wants boxes packed should hire people who are good at packing boxes.

But that logic does not hold for most jobs in the modern economy. Suppose, for instance, that our employee will help design a car or develop a vaccine. These are hard problems, and when a team confronts a hard problem, it needs people with different ways of thinking. Hence, the team's performance depends as much on its members' cognitive differences as it does on their individual abilities. Put simply, effective groups and teams need cognitive diversity. Ability alone is not enough."

First of all, what are cognitive differences? He doesn't explain. He just says "different ways of thinking." To me, that means different psycho-epistomologies, and it is true that everyone has their own psycho-epistomology or method of thinking. However, if you have say one white man and you add another you will have cognitive diversity. If you have one black (or Hispanic or Asian) man and you add another, you will have cognitive diversity. But cognitive diversity is not what Afirmative Action is or was about. Afirmative Action is about racial and gender diversity not cognitive. (Or there'd be a bunch of conservatives in every university.)

So, what he seems to be saying is that cognitive diversity depends on racial and gender diversity, which means that the content of one's mind is determined by race and gender. While such things may influence one's opinion on certain aspects of reality, they should not have much of a cognitive effect. Discovering that 2+2=4 or E=MC2 requires the same cognitive process regardless of race or gender.

Notice how he was first talking about a repetitive manual labor job of packing boxes, and now he is talking about creative jobs like designing cars and developing vaccines. Well, there are a lot more people employed in making and selling cars and working in hospitals and clinics than there are designing those cars and developing vaccines. Claiming that "most jobs" in our economy are of a creative nature is just plain false. Anyway, he still hasn't explained how the pigment of your skin or your gender will help you develop vaccines. But he tries:

"Capturing a person's cognitive ability with a single number (or even two) should strike us as odd -- "this is my son; he's a 116." Better that we think of people as collections of cognitive tools -- as bundles of ways of seeing, interpreting and solving. Better that we see them in their fullness.

Thinking of people as possessing bundles of tools doesn't deny the concept of ability. An individual's IQ score depends on the number and types of tools a person possesses. If Sarah has 60 tools and Kevin has 53, she probably outscores him on an IQ test. Nevertheless, when we put Sarah and Kevin in a group, what matters is not how many tools each has, but what unique tools each brings to the group."

What are "bundles of tools"? I would agree that an IQ score doesn't tell you much about a person's ability to think, but I cannot think of a better description of the cognitive content of many of today's intellectuals--a contextless, haphazard "bundle of tools."

But how do race and gender affect these "bundles"?

"If diversity is good, how do we find it? One source is experience. The person who grew up on a farm sees the world differently than a suburbanite. Other sources include schooling and training -- mathematics is a tool, as is knowledge of how to bore a cylinder -- as well as our cultures and identities. Our identities shape how we see the world, what analogies we draw, and what rules we apply in a given situation."

"Our identities shape how we see the world..." In other words, the color of our skin and our gender determines how we use reason. Reason then is a "tool" that doesn't have a specific nature whose rules and requirements must be learned and followed. Reason comes in "bundles" of different sizes and and types.

Actually, the concept of diversity has no meaning outside the context of that which one seeks to diversify. Diversity could be a bad thing. My car could have a diversity of breakdowns. Low imunity could lead to an attack by a diversity of pathogens. The USA is hated by a diversity of irrational ideologies.

The concept diversity is used today as an anti-concept. An anti-concept is an invalid concept used to destroy a valid one and smuggle into the mind of listeners an invalid meaning. In the context of afirmative action 'diversity' is used to destroy individual merit by holding that one's "bundle of tools" is determined by external influences like culture, race, gender, and other "experiences." See what's missing here? Individual merit. When Mr. Page says "Thinking of people as possessing bundles of tools doesn't deny the concept of ability.," he's right, it doesn't. But it does make ability take a back seat to the intrinsic theory of values known as racism. In short, diversity says a person's value is determined by how different he is from others. That's racism.

Homogeneous societies like China and Japan and others have existed for centuries without any serious diversity. Presumably then, these cultures are evil and immoral.
Of course they are not evil (at least for that reason). To point to the lack of diversity as a bad thing in America, the most diverse society on the planet, is asinine.

Dr. King said he wanted his children to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Diversity is the attempt to make sure that kind of judgement doesn't happen.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Laugh and a Smile

A Laugh...
On Friday the 13th I was watching TV and decided to give my thumb a rest by watching the TV Guide channel to see what's on. As you know the TV Guide channel likes to show game shows and self-help and other shorts above the scroll of what is on now.

They then went to a commercial which you may have seen, but if not, it showed a man dressed in what might be a toga. He spots a small critter (I forgot what kind) out of its natural surroundings. He scoops it up with his hands and places it back in its habitat. He then sees a goldfish flopping around out of water so he picks it up, again with his hands, and places it back in a body of water. Next is a spider crawling along the floor. He gets the spider to crawl up on a piece of paper then goes outside and deposits the arachnid on a bush.

Now he goes into the house to get a tissue I think to blow his nose. As he takes a sheet from the top of the Kleenex box his eyes open wide as he reads in big bold letters "KILLS 99.9%" while a voiceover says "Thats right! KILLS 99.9% of germs, and that's a good thing too."

I laughed out loud at that commercial and have decided to send Kleenex an email praising that ad.

But, I pondered, what would be the right moral of the story?
Saving some critters is a good thing but killing others is a good thing too?
Buying Kleenex will help you save the right kind (and kill the right kind) of critters?
Enviromentalism tempered with reason?

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and a Smile,

Driving home Saturday 10/14/06 morning from a local mall, I was listening to a black, conservative, Detroit radio talk show called Joshua's Trail on WDTK AM. I've only heard this show about 5 times so far but the two gentlemen who host it are religious for sure. Anyway, they sometimes have a unique way of making a point.

On this day they wanted to take a moment to give credit to President Bush for his amazing powers. You see, last year Bush was responsible for the number and intensity of all the hurricanes and the resulting damage. So this year they wanted to give Mr. Bush credit for making sure not one hurricane threatened the USA. What a man!

Friday, October 13, 2006

My Favorite Search Engines

Andy at The Charlotte Capitalist posts on a USA Today article about the search engine Ask.com. which used to be Ask Jeeves I guess. Andy says he uses Ask.com as his primary engine. I got to thinking maybe I should let my readers know what my favorite search engines are.

Although it isn't my favorite, I sometimes use Ask.com too. I prefer their map service to Map Quest which I no longer use.

I also have been known to use Snap.com and have no complaints with it.

But my favorite lately has been Goodsearch.com which is powered by Yahoo. This engine will donate half its profits to your favorite charity which amounts to about a penny per search. The home page has two boxes. The top box is the search box and the bottom box is for your favorite charity. When I emailed them asking if the Ayn Rand Institute was listed, they sent me a comfirming email which also said in part:

"Did you know…….

The Elephant Sanctuary has already earned more than $1400 just by using GoodSearch!

The Bubel Aiken Foundation has earned nearly $700 just by using GoodSearch!

As you know, GoodSearch is a Yahoo-powered search engine with a unique social mission. We give 50% of our advertising revenue to the nonprofits and schools that our users choose. You and your supporters can make a difference in the lives of many just by changing the way you search the Internet!

Here's an example of how much your organization can earn:

· 100 supporters search the internet just twice a day = $730/year

· 1,000 supporters search the internet just twice a day = $7300/year

Spread the Word!

While the press has done a great job in featuring GoodSearch, in order for your cause to earn as much money as possible, it’s important that you spread the word to your supporters.

GoodSearch.com is a new search engine that donates half its revenue, about a penny per search, to the charities its users designate. You use it just as you would any search engine, and it’s powered by Yahoo!, so you get great results.

Just go to www.goodsearch.com and be sure to enter (my charity) as the charity you want to support. Just 500 of us searching four times a day will raise about $7300 in a year without anyone spending a dime! And, be sure to spread the word!

Put a logo and link to GoodSearch on your website
http://www.goodsearch.com/Logo.aspx

Encourage everyone you know to download the GoodSearch toolbar.
http://www.goodsearch.com/toolbar/

Make GoodSearch the homepage on all of the computers in your company or school.
http://www.goodsearch.com/MakeHomepage.aspx"

Write about GoodSearch on blogs and message boards.

You can see examples of what some other organizations have done at: http://www.goodsearch.com/About.aspx#faq16 "

With Goodsearch I now use Google rarely.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Detroit Tiger Correction

Earlier this year I said I didn't think the Detroit Tigers had the talent or skill to hang with the big boys. They could not beat the Yankees and had trouble beating the White Sox. I said they would be at or below 500 for the season.

Well, I have never enjoyed being this wrong before. Even if the Tigers don't beat Oakland for the AL Pennant and fail to go to the World Series, they have still proven they can hang with the big boys, probably because they are now one of the big boys.

I happily stand corrected.

Go Tigers!!!!!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Afirmative Action and the New Segregation

There have been some Public Service Announcements on TV here in Michigan recently campaigning against the Afirmative Action Initiative on the Nov. ballot. The Initiative would ban the use of racial and gender discrimination in the hiring and selection processes. These PSAs show people who have ostensibly benefited from afirmative action laws. They testify that now that they have these laws, "We are not going back."

What these people are really saying is "In a free society where people deal with each other on a voluntary basis, I did not have access to some things I wanted access to, but I did have access to governmental force through the afirmative action laws. These laws enabled the government to force other people to give me access to the things I wanted. Now that I have this power, I'm not giving it up." (The real meaning of "We are not going back.") Nice people.

Unable--or unwilling--to think in terms of principles, these people fail to realize that if discrimination is wrong, it is wrong not only when practiced against certain people, but when practiced for certain people as well. To practice discrimination for certain people is to practice it against all others.

Actually, discrimination is a normal cognitive function and should not be outlawed as such. We discriminate every time we go to the store to buy goods like food or clothing. The process of evaluation requires discrimination. When buying tomatos we may discriminate in favor of the ripest ones and against those not yet ripe or for the cheapest ones against the more expensive ones.

This process of discrimination is always done according to some standard of value. What then was the standard of value being used to determine justice during the civil rights movement? Our Constitution gave us that standard when it recognized that each person has an unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, i.e. individual rights.

But that was not the standard being applied to black people back in the 60s. I witnessed that era and I knew the issue wasn't being framed in the proper context to achieve justice. Few were talking about protecting black peoples' constitutional rights.

White racists had been telling blacks that as an individual they had little or no value because of their race. White civil rights activists were telling blacks they did have value but only because of their race, and that the solution to discriminating against blacks and other minorities lies in passing laws that discriminate for those minorities. In other words, the standard of value was still the collective (race) and not the individual. This allowed the white liberals to remain loyal to their core philosophy--collectivism--of which racism is a form.

Staying loyal to collectivism was absolutely essential. It laid the groundwork for getting blacks, and whites for that matter, to accept the next twist on collectivism--diversity--the New Segregation.

Diversity teaches people not to focus on their individual traits, but on their collective differences. Thus it becomes virtuous for schools to have seperate cafeterias, seperate dorms, seperate graduating ceremonies and who knows what else is coming? White southern racists might very well be rolling over in their graves today saying "Damn, why didn't we think of that"?

Americans have been betrayed by their intellectual leaders who have abondoned individualism in favor of collectivism. Adolf Hitler once said "Du bist nichts, dein volk ist alles", "You are nothing, your race is everything"--from Mein Kampf. A lot of real, living, breathing individuals died in his ovens because they did not belong to the right collective.

Dr. Martin Luther King said in his "I have a dream" speech that he wanted his children to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. While Dr. King did not come right out and say "individualism" he nevertheless was focused on its manifestation: respect for the individual on his own merits and not those of his collective.

If racism is to be ended, it is it's source--collectivism--that must be rejected. But this will require the American people to demand our universities purge themselves of the multicultural and diversity dogmas. I think that alumni refusing to donate until universities abandon their collectivist curriculum and begin to study individualism anew, would be a good start.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Busy Week

I have been very busy this week. Blogging will resume probably by Friday. Hopefully.