Friday, September 26, 2008

CRA and Government Enforced Altruism

Via a post on HBL I learned of this article written 8 yrs ago and how forboding it was. Regarding the mortgage mess it could have been written yesterday. It takes a detailed look at the history of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and its impact on the housing market.

It also shows how disastrous the morality of altruism and its requirement of sacrifice is so destructive of human values. Being sacrificed were the profits of businessmen, their shareholders and investors. Thanks to the Fed's implicit promise to bail out any company who fails, the homes and futures of thousands of Americans who would lose those homes to foreclosure and whose taxes will pay for the bailouts are now also being sacrificed.

Whenever you hear some congressman or senator or governor make altruistic pleas for sacrificing businessmens' profits, remind him of the housing mess caused by that same intention and that intentions don't mean squat in this world. Facts do. And when their intentions hurt people as they are now, these people need to be opposed.

I agree with Harry Binswanger and Yaron Brook, this collapse is the failure of a regulated economy. It's time for laissez-faire capitalism

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Math Magic

I believe it was Dr. Piekoff who said that the most critical need today is education. So in keeping with that value I repost an email I received from the VanDamme Academy today.


Pedagogically Correct Volume 3, Issue 2
September 24, 2008

"Pedagogy": The art and science of teaching.
:: Calling All LifeLong Learners: Learn Science the VanDamme Academy Way!
:: Recommend Pedagogically Correct to five friends, get Lisa VanDamme's e-book, "Reclaiming Education," for free!
:: Announcement: Pedagogically Correct Blog


Most math curricula are an absolute pedagogical mess.

I have long known that math programs treat children like human calculators, programming them with processes they use to input numbers and churn out results. But this became poignantly clear to me when I tried to teach my daughter long division this summer.

Confronted with a problem such as 2,832 divided by 8, I began my "explanation," hearkening back to the process that had been drilled into me in third grade. "8 goes into 28 how many times? 3. So you write a 3 above the 8. 8 times 3 is 24. Subtract 24 from 28 and you get 4. Then bring down the 3. 8 goes into 43 how many times?..." and so on. At the conclusion of my presentation, she said something simple but telling: "That is going to be a lot for me to remember."

Indeed, it is a lot for her to remember, because she is remembering, and not understanding.

If you want to grasp the poverty of your own education in math, I offer you the following challenge: explain long division. Explain it to a child, to an adult, to yourself—but really explain it. Use words to describe not the process, but the reason for the process: why each number goes where it does; why you subtract, or divide, or bring down; why the process works. It won't be easy. I maintain that if you had been educated properly in math, it would be.

One of the defining principles of the VanDamme method is a concerted effort to ensure that every item of knowledge possessed by the child is true knowledge, to ensure that he understands it thoroughly, independently, conceptually. To realize this goal in math will require a total overhaul of the standard curriculum. It will require that someone strip the program down to essentials, arrange the material with total faithfulness to hierarchy, and design assessments that are true tests of the child's understanding.

Meanwhile, we can take moderate steps in that direction, by requiring, for example, that the children give complete, verbal explanations for all that they do in math.

Mr. Steele, VanDamme Academy math teacher for a group of 7 & 8-year-olds, demands of his students that they not just blurt out answers, or crank through mechanical processes. He makes them explain the processes using the proper terminology and demonstrating that they understand what they are doing and why.

If, for example, he is teaching subtraction with borrowing, and puts a problem on the board such as 2700 – 350, someone in the class will invariably ask, "Can I just tell you the answer?" Mr. Steele's answers are charming—and pedagogically correct.

Sometimes he says, "I don't want you to do 'magic math.' I don't want you stare up at the sky, come up with a number, and blurt it out to the class. That doesn't help us understand, and that doesn't show me that you understand. I want you to explain how you arrived at your answer."

At other times, he says, "Let's play a game called 'Mr. Steele bumped his head and can't remember math.' Don't just give me the answer, teach me the process by which you arrived at your answer."

The students proceed with explanations that demand, among other things, that they use concepts of place value (if they begin the problem above by saying, "0 minus 0 is 0," he says, "That's true," and waits for them to tell him that you put a 0 in the ones' place before he writes a 0 on the board), and that they explain what they are doing when they borrow (if they say, "Cross out the 5 and put a 4, and put a 10 in the tens' place," he will ask, "What does that 10 represent? 10 what? 10 monkeys?" which will make them giggle and offer the correction, "10 tens silly!").

These children are not treated like human calculators, they are treated like thinking beings. And when they truly grasp the concepts they are using, when they can explain them fully and articulately, when they retain them because they are not memorizing, but understanding—that is real math magic.




Calling All LifeLong Learners: Learn Science the VanDamme Academy Way!
Now Anyone Can Understand The Fundamental Principles of Science Better than Most Scientists
"Fundamen tals of Physical Science: A Historical, Inductive Approach"
By David Harriman, Historian and Philosopher of Physics

Learn all about it at our brand new website.

Here's what other Pedagogically Correct Readers are Saying:

"I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in physics, and I was amazed at how much I learned from David Harriman's course. This course stands head and shoulders above any other course or textbook I have encountered."

"It's perfect for someone relatively new to physics like myself; it's perfect for even advanced people who want a deeper historical perspective than is usually taught...I found Mr. Harriman's physics course to be an exciting walk through the fascinating world of physics."

"I think this type of course is needed for everyone, as in my experience, it's so far above the courses I've had throughout my life as far as the actual transmittal of knowledge is concerned...In short, this course has made science and math much more intelligible for me, and was completely worth the time and cost - I highly recommend it."

I was a physics major when I entered college, yet I can easily say that my actual understanding of physics is much greater as a result of this course than I can credit to any other class I've taken.

www.vandammescience.com

With this course you will:
* Finally understand the world around you, the world of science and technology, in a way you never thought possible. (No, you don't have to be a math wiz.)
* Learn the thinking methods of the greatest minds in history.
* Understand what all those physics equations and formulas you once memorized really mean.
* Be inspired by scientists' amazing 2500-year quest to unlock the mysteries of the physical world.
* And have a great time in the process!

All thanks to a one-of-a-kind science teaching methodology available in no other course or textbook.


www.vandammescience.com


Recommend Pedagogically Correct to five friends, get Lisa VanDamme's e-book, "Reclaiming Education," for free!
Lisa VanDamme's educational career began when a group of parents, disillusioned with standard public and private schools, hired her to educate their children. In 1998, she chronicled her successes homeschooling and explained the methods that made them possible in a lecture, "Reclaiming Education." The audience, fascinated by her insights about education, and inspired by the stories she told, gave her a standing ovation. In 1999, she made "Reclaiming Education" available in written form, to the delight of thousands of readers. Since 1999, the essay version of "Reclaiming Education" has been unavailable. Until now.

For the first time in almost 8 years, we will make this remarkable work available. And we are giving it away for FREE as an e-book to those who help us grow Pedagogically Correct by recommending it to their friends. Just send enter the email addresses of at least five friends who might appreciate an invitation to receive PC--along with a brief personal note, or our standard note below. We will not add anyone to our email database without their permission.


Click here to refer five friends and get your copy of "Reclaiming Education."

Announcement: Pedagogically Correct Blog
www.pedagogicallycorrect.com
Check out our 'blog, which will contain much (but not all) of the material we sent out in our newsletters. Spread the word!




VanDamme Academy encourages you to forward our newsletter to your friends or post it on your website or blog. If this newsletter has been forwarded to you, you can sign up to receive Pedagogically Correct for free, at www.vandammeacademy. com.

Happy Learning!

VanDamme Academy--Experience the Power of a Real Education



VanDamme Academy
email: custserv@vandammeacademy.com
phone: 949-581-1881
web: http://www.vandammeacademy.com

Monday, September 22, 2008

Obama Supporter Advises: Dumb it Down

The anti-conceptual nature of the left has been obvious for some time. But the Obama supporters in the media not only support such a mindset, they advocate it. The 9/19/08 editorial page of the Detroit News carries an op-ed by Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page titled "Obama must learn to give short, forceful answers." Notice the headline does not say correct or right answers but 'forceful' ones. The appeal here is not to reason but to emotion. The concern is not what Obama says but how he says it. He starts:
"As we enter the season of highest political advice, here's my advice to the Democrats: Dumb it down."
Why? Because it works for Republicans.
"I don't need to give that advice to the Republicans. They've been dumbing it down for years. That's why they keep winning."
So Dems need to stop being so intellectual and be more crass and mundane?
"Do I sound condescending? No way. It takes smarts to dumb the issues down well enough to help people to make an intelligent choice."
Huh? So to make an intelligent choice, the data must have a certain amount of dumbness? If an objectivist were to write that paragraph, it would say something like "It takes intelligence to deduce from a principle a concrete example of what that principle would look like in reality, or to infer from a concrete issue the principle on which it is based." But Mr. Page doesn't speak or think in those terms. What he's really complaining about is that Republican conservatives have been using (some) concretization over the years while Dems have been avoiding it like the plague preferring fog, obfuscation, and altruistic platitudes. So when Republicans use concrete examples, speak in plain English, they are dumbing down their communications. So us eloquent, educated people must dumb down our rhetoric so the simpleton masses can understand us like they do the Republicans. But there's more:
"Elite is a dirty word these days. It sounds too much like "elitist," which to most people is the same as a snob. Nobody likes snobs. Not even snobs."
Notice he is not discussing the relationship of elite to elitist so that we may understand it. He is concerned about how it 'sounds.' He's operating on the sensory/perceptual level. Also, the idea that snobs don't like snobs is false else Manhattan would be at war with itself.

After telling us how Reagan 'smiled' his way to two election victories--no examples of Reagan's dumbed down rhetoric, he just smiled his way into office--he says that Republicans have a chance to win because:
"A big reason, as everyone seems to know these days, is how McCain-Palin has outmatched Obama's elegant charisma in winning the support of working-class white voters."
How did Mc/P out match Obama? With more charisma? No answer. Notice the nudge phrase 'as everyone seems to know these days'--therefore you should know it too.... So why can't the Dems win these voters?
"It's not that Democrats don't share the values of ordinary hard-working Americans. It's just that their candidates sometimes have a hard time expressing those values."
Now that's very true but why do they have such a hard time? Could it be that the Dems in fact don't share those middle class values at all? Ayn Rand was right when, talking about the erosion of the American sense of life, she said that
"This is prevalent among the two groups that are the main supporters of the statist trend: the very rich and the very poor--the first, because they want to rule; the second because they want to be ruled. (The leaders of the trend are the intellectuals, who want to do both.)"*
This is true. Notice how today's intellectuals want to tell everyone else how to live, and get the government to enforce it, but also want to be led by 'charismatic' leaders like Obama. It is the middle class to whom the liberals cannot relate. So what does Mr. Page suggest Obama do about it?
"That makes the upcoming debates an acid test for Obama. He has shown great eloquence at speeches but uneven performances in past debates. He does not speak in bumper stickers. His speech often hesitates and ponders too much -- like someone who is still reconsidering their views. Debates are a time to speak not just eloquently but strategically. Even when you're uncertain, try to sound certain."
In other words, fake it. Notice too that Obama doesn't have bad performances, only uneven ones. And when he hesitates (stumbles, stammers and stutters), it's because he's too deep in thought (pondering). {So that's what Bush has been doing all these years!}

The last two paragraphs give a glimpse of the elitist mentality of our intellectuals:
That vision came to mind as I watched Governor Palin try to answer ABC's Charles Gibson's question about "the Bush doctrine." She obviously didn't know much about what Gibson was talking about, but she gave a decent boilerplate version of Bush's foreign policy. Synopsis: We got to get them terrorists.

That's the kind of answer voters tend to like. Short and strong. It sounds resolute, even if it lacks the nuance or flexibility that virtues like wisdom and experience bring.
Observe that Mr. Page is still on the emotional level; answers that are short and strong are the kind voters--not understand--but like. Their value lies in the fact that they sound resolute. Observe further that speaking in 'bumper stickers' or dumbed down rhetoric--Republican speak I suppose, lacks "...the nuance and flexibility that virtues like wisdom and experience[which liberal Dems like Obama-ME] bring." If you re-read that op-ed looking for nuance and flexibility, for slanting words and nudge phrases, you will find lots of them. But the theme of the op-ed is that the essence of successful political campaigns is to be as anti-conceptual and concrete bound as one can get. Such advice is doomed to fail though. Today's intellectuals can't go back and forth from what they see as their conceptual level, one of eternal nuance and flexibility, to the concrete, precise level of objective conceptualization which they see as only the dumbed down perceptual level of the masses. It is this op-ed that is an example of dumbed down conceptual level.


*(The above Rand quote is from her essay "Don't Let It Go" in the book "Philosophy-Who Needs It" which can be purchased here. A deal at $6.95.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Spotted By Mike's Eyes Sept. 08

Donald Luskin at Conspiricy to Keep You Poor and Stupid ( Isn't that a fair description of all political campaigns?) posts on the truth of all the pessimistic, it's worse than the great depression, cries of Obama, his MSM, and even McCain with some interesting facts. One example:
"The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) database, which allows rigorous apples-to-apples comparisons, only goes back to 1979. It shows that today's delinquency rate is only a little higher than the level seen in 1985. As to the foreclosure rate, it was setting records for the day -- the highest since the Great Depression, one supposes -- in 1999, at the peak of the Clinton-era prosperity that Obama celebrated in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention late last month. I don't recall hearing any Democratic politicians complaining back then."

*****************************************************

Next is a Monday Sept 15th Detroit News article "Hospitals gave $2.6B for care."
Last year, hospitals provided:

• $2.1 billion in un-reimbursed medical care to state residents, including $209 million in charity care for low-income patients who qualify for free services and $605 million written off as bad debt for unpaid patient bills.

• $94.5 million on voluntary programs and services such as free clinics, health screenings, immunizations and prescription drugs.

• $331.5 million for research, education and in-kind contributions.

• 224,000 free visits to hospital- and community-based health clinics at a value of $35 million.
And:
The spending break down on this year's report is similar to new reporting requirements set to go into effect in 2009 on tax forms filed by nonprofit hospitals. The new forms will require health systems to report detailed data about their community contributions to justify their tax-exempt status to the Internal Revenue Service.
So they have to buy their tax-exempt status with sacrifices to the 'community.' Government altruism always means forced sacrifices, and higher prices.
Caroline Sallee, a consultant and health care researcher with the Anderson Economic Group in Lansing, said the report puts a dollar figure on these community contributions.

However, it fails to point out that many of these hospital programs are also supported through taxpayer funding in the form of state and federal grants, she said. And many hospitals tend to raise rates for privately insured and uninsured patients to offset some of the losses incurred by bad debt.

"It's not that this is all free," Sallee said. "This isn't the sort of thing the hospitals are taking a hit. They have to make the money some way."
I'm reminded of Rand's phrase "How? Somehow."
*******************************************

A tiny bit of good news: "Budget shortfall cuts spots in Peace Corps." Same edition of Det. News.
At a time when both presidential candidates have pledged to promote and expand national service, the popular humanitarian assistance program that sends thousands of Americans abroad annually is now planning to cut 400 volunteer positions in the face of an unexpected multimillion-dollar budget shortfall. With fewer spots, an increasing number of Peace Corps nominees who were expecting to begin service this fall have seen their deployments delayed at least until next year -- and in some cases indefinitely.
Should be permanently. Now there's a program that needs to be shut down.
*******************************************

J. Kendall has a post titled "How NOT to Teach China a Lesson" at Crucible and Column. When other countries see things like the mortgage crises they will conclude that capitalism doesn't work and a planned economy is best. It will be because of capitalism's defenders. Sad.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Announcing VanDamme Academy Newsletter

I have posted notices and letters from the VanDamme Academy before and will continue to do so. But now Lisa VanDamme is announcing a new newsletter:
Pedagogically Correct Volume 3, Issue 1
September 15, 2008


Dear "Pedagogically Correct" Subscribers,

The new school year is underway, and an exciting year of curriculum lies ahead, including: Ancient history, physical science, and classic literature from D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths in the elementary classrooms to Antigone and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in junior high.

This year, I will be sending a monthly newsletter to parents, telling stories from the classroom, highlighting aspects of the VanDamme method, and answering parents' questions about the school's philosophy and curriculum. Follow the link for the first issue of this new newsletter.

VDA Newsletter

Sincerely,

Lisa VanDamme
Head of School
VanDamme Academy
The rest of her notice is below but I recommend checking out her newsletter. I for one am looking forward to her next one.
Calling All LifeLong Learners: Learn Science the VanDamme Academy Way!
Now Anyone Can Understand The Fundamental Principles of Science Better than Most Scientists
"Fundamen tals of Physical Science: A Historical, Inductive Approach"
By David Harriman, Historian and Philosopher of Physics

Learn all about it at our brand new website.

Here's what other Pedagogically Correct Readers are Saying:

"I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in physics, and I was amazed at how much I learned from David Harriman's course. This course stands head and shoulders above any other course or textbook I have encountered."

"It's perfect for someone relatively new to physics like myself; it's perfect for even advanced people who want a deeper historical perspective than is usually taught...I found Mr. Harriman's physics course to be an exciting walk through the fascinating world of physics."

"I think this type of course is needed for everyone, as in my experience, it's so far above the courses I've had throughout my life as far as the actual transmittal of knowledge is concerned...In short, this course has made science and math much more intelligible for me, and was completely worth the time and cost - I highly recommend it."

I was a physics major when I entered college, yet I can easily say that my actual understanding of physics is much greater as a result of this course than I can credit to any other class I've taken.

www.vandammescience.com

With this course you will:
* Finally understand the world around you, the world of science and technology, in a way you never thought possible. (No, you don't have to be a math wiz.)
* Learn the thinking methods of the greatest minds in history.
* Understand what all those physics equations and formulas you once memorized really mean.
* Be inspired by scientists' amazing 2500-year quest to unlock the mysteries of the physical world.
* And have a great time in the process!

All thanks to a one-of-a-kind science teaching methodology available in no other course or textbook.


www.vandammescience.com


Recommend Pedagogically Correct to five friends, get Lisa VanDamme's e-book, "Reclaiming Education," for free!
Lisa VanDamme's educational career began when a group of parents, disillusioned with standard public and private schools, hired her to educate their children. In 1998, she chronicled her successes homeschooling and explained the methods that made them possible in a lecture, "Reclaiming Education." The audience, fascinated by her insights about education, and inspired by the stories she told, gave her a standing ovation. In 1999, she made "Reclaiming Education" available in written form, to the delight of thousands of readers. Since 1999, the essay version of "Reclaiming Education" has been unavailable. Until now.

For the first time in almost 8 years, we will make this remarkable work available. And we are giving it away for FREE as an e-book to those who help us grow Pedagogically Correct by recommending it to their friends. Just send enter the email addresses of at least five friends who might appreciate an invitation to receive PC--along with a brief personal note, or our standard note below. We will not add anyone to our email database without their permission.


Click here to refer five friends and get your copy of "Reclaiming Education."

Announcement: Pedagogically Correct Blog
www.pedagogicallycorrect.com
Check out our 'blog, which will contain much (but not all) of the material we sent out in our newsletters. Spread the word!




VanDamme Academy encourages you to forward our newsletter to your friends or post it on your website or blog. If this newsletter has been forwarded to you, you can sign up to receive Pedagogically Correct for free, at www.vandammeacademy. com.

Happy Learning!

VanDamme Academy--Experience the Power of a Real Education



VanDamme Academy
email: custserv@vandammeacademy.com
phone: 949-581-1881
web: http://www.vandammeacademy.com

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Blogroll Additions

After recently updating my blogroll with objectivist additions, I'm happy to add even more. The first two of these are oversights on my part, the rest I discovered this week.

First is Armchair Intellectual hosted by Gideon Reich. His last post laments the shamefully low level of intelligence of the educated class manifested by its refusal to identity our real enemy, instead calling it "war on terrorism."

Second is Ari Armstrong who reports that "Kristi Burton, sponsor of Amendment 48, which would define a fertilized egg as a person in Colorado's constitution, intentionally obfuscates the facts of the measure."

Third is Adam Reed's blog Born to Identify at which he addresses "The Church's preposterously dishonest abuse of biology." The dishonesty is in the Church's claim "While ancient thinkers had little verifiable knowledge to help them answer this question, today embryology textbooks confirm that a new human life begins at conception... The Catholic Church does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact." Obviously, the Church is counting on its flock not understanding the concept 'fact' or 'rights' or 'objective.'

Fourth is Applying Philosophy to Life at which KM posts on "Property Rights and Philosophy-Applied philosophy 2."

Fifth to be added is Ragnar Danneskjold whose last post "Taboo" looks at some grotesquely irrational and primitive superstitions.

Sixth is a Canadian blog Paul McKeever of the Canadian Freedom Party. I liked his post on "Freedom vs Freedumb"

Seventh and last for today is Adventures in Existence hosted by Renee Katz. Sometimes today's accepted beliefs are so obviously irrational they need to be ridiculed, made fun of, treated with the disrespect they deserve. Renee does a good job of that with her cartoons in addition to her well reasoned posts and comments.

I know there are other objectivist blogs out there but I haven't had time to peruse them. I'm working on it though.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Undercurrent Announcement

The Undercurrent (TU) is an independent, student-run Objectivist newsletter distributed twice a year to college campuses across America. TU is currently looking for distributors and donors for its fall edition, and will stop taking orders on or about September 22, 2008.
If you would like to distribute, please visit http://the-undercurrent.com/subscribe/ and buy your copies of TU today. If money is an issue, please contact Guy Barnett, our head of distribution, at guy@the-undercurrent.com. There is limited funding from donors for students who want to buy and distribute TU but cannot afford to do so. If you're part of an Objectivist campus club, you may want to see if your college will fund distribution of TU as a club activity.

If you would like to donate, please visit http://the-undercurrent/donate/ and contribute directly using PayPal. If you have any questions about donating, please contact Guy Barnett, our head of distribution, at guy@the-undercurrent.com.

Spreading rational ideas on college campuses is critical to making this world a better place. Your assistance is necessary for the achievement of that goal.

Thank you for your support.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Asinine!

My comcast news page also reports that a mass killer is too unstable to be executed!! With judgements like this, America is in deep trouble.

Yea! Rah Rah! and Three Cheers!

I'm probably a little late with this but my comcast news page reports that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews have been demoted from anchoring the debates to commentators. Couldn't happen to a more deserving pair! Evidently, their style was abrasive to the "..,impartial newsgatherers at NBC." Of course!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Thoughts on Conceptualization and Perception

Back in May I posted an observation that my granddaughter had not yet grasped the concept of number; that she was treating number as if it were a kind of name and thus when a thing was given a number such as '3' that thing was always a three. Fast forward to July 4th when she turned 3. When told that a cousin will turn 2 next month, she said "I don't want to give him my 2. I want to give it to..." (another cousin). She still wasn't getting it. Fast forward again to last week when we were sitting her at our house. We had cooked and sliced up a hot dog for her. She stabbed two pieces with her fork but before she could eat them I asked "How many slices are on your fork?" She replied 'two'. I said 'How do you know?' She then pointed at them and counted 'one, two.' "Good job!" I commented. She is now grasping that numbers refer to quantities.

One of the things I enjoy as I babysit my four grandchildren, the oldest of which is 3 yrs, is watching them play and perceive reality around them. I've often wondered what those little percepts looked like in their little minds. Babies can perceive entities directly. That's simple enough to understand. But how do they perceive actions and relationships since they cannot conceptualize them as such? It seems to me that the baby would have to treat all attributes, actions and relationships as properties of the entity involved. This possession of attributes, actions and relationships by entities means that Rand's identification that "... (Attributes cannot exist by themselves, they are merely the characteristics of entities; motions are motions of entities; relationships are relationships among entities.)" is being perceived, right from these early stages of awareness. When the child's conceptual faculty awakens, he will reclassify these properties as attributes, actions and relationships.

I think that when a child perceives a pushed ball rolling he perceives that the ball possess pushability, the sofa does not. He perceives that the ball has rollability but the sofa does not. He will also perceive that pushability must precede rollability. Later when he learns to speak in full sentences he will eventually reclassify not the action of the ball, but the sequence of which action must come first, as cause and effect and will assign this concept to all such sequences he later encounters.

Another past example I want to relate. When my youngest grandson was about 6 months old he could sit up but not yet crawl. I would place him on a blanket on the floor and place some of his favorite toys around him, mostly stuffed animals. He would routinely toss them out of reach. Unable to reach them he would cry in frustration and grampa would come to the rescue. One day though, a toy was out of reach and he tried several times to grab it. Then he paused for a few short seconds, grabbed the blanket and pulled it toward him bringing the toy within reach. I was amazed. "How did he know to do that?" I wondered. He can't possibly conceptualise a thought process of 'if this then that' can he? No. He's too young for that. What kind of perceptual dots did he connect to perceive that something he didn't want-the blanket-could bring him what he did want, the toy?

There had to be some antecedent perceptual knowledge at work here I thought. But what kind? Anyone who ever raised or sat a baby knows that if you put something in the baby's hand, he will grab it with his fingers and, with his arm, pull it toward him, usually right to his mouth. So the baby knows from past perceptual repetitions that his hand has graspability and his arm has moveability and will bring whatever is in his hand closer. So sitting there looking at his out of reach toy, he must have perceived that the blanket, like his arm, also has moveability, and if he grasped it, he could bring it closer. Then he acted on that perception.

One last anecdote. When my oldest boy was around 6 months old, he would sometimes jabber himself to sleep at night. One night however, he was jabbering then he stopped. There was silence. Then a sound. Then silence. Then another sound but this one was followed by laughter. Then a louder sound followed by louder laughter. This went on for a few more minutes. The wife and I looked at each other and I commented "He's just discovered that it is he who is making those sounds and that's making him happy." I never experienced this with any other child or grandchild, just him.

For me, observing such experiences is priceless.

(The above Rand quote is from "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology".)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Blogroll Additions

The time has come to update my blogroll with the addition of more quality Objectivist blogs. First is 'Try Reason!' moderated by John Drake. In his latest post he provides more evidence showing why the U.S. was not founded on Christian principles. He starts with a quote from the Tripoli Treaty of 1797
"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;..."
I had the pleasure of meeting John in person at a meeting of a study group called The Great Lakes Objectivists or GLO of which I am a member. It is the second site I'm adding to the roll. It's a good way to study the philosophic principles of Objectivism.

(I belong to a few other study groups as well and may be adding their sites soon.)

Third is Aesthetic Capitalist. The blog's theme is
Supporting art with capitalism, glorifying capitalism with art, and defending both with philosophy.
Sounds like a well integrated aproach.

Fourth is Morality War, The hosted by Rob whose theme is
Politics is an effect: morality is the cause
The clash of civilizations observed from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
After pointing out that the conflict today is between selfishness and altruism, he proudly declares:
For the record, I side with selfishness.


Fifth is The Rational Capitalist hosted by Doug Reich. In his last post he talks about how the religious left is getting front row seats at the Dems convention.

Sixth will be Rational Passion whose recent post discusses keeping and/or aborting a fetus with Downs Syndrome. Thought provoking.

The seventh addition is Leonard Peikoff. He has a podcast of his radio show where he takes questions from listeners and applies the principles of objectivism to them. He's been getting so many questions that he's gone from posting a podcast every other Monday to every Monday.

The eighth site is Powell History Recommends by Scott Powell. I highly recommend this site for anyone seeking a rational history.

The ninth and last addition for today is Cogito's Thoughts which is hosted by a young student of Objectivism, Shea Levy. Objectivism needs to spread among the young and Shea's site looks very promising.

That's it for today. I've been very busy this summer what with cleaning the garage, fixing up the house, babysitting my 4th grand child and trying to do an occasionsal post inter alia. So, my blogroll updating has been neglected. I am happy though to see Objectivist blogs spreading like this. I hope it keeps up.