Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sand Animation

This is a video of an incredibly talented Ukranian girl at sand animation. I've heard of this art form but never observed it till now. She's tells a story with her animation.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Support Anthem Foundation

According to this Detroit News article Chase is giving away $5 million to your favorite local 501(c)3 charities. ARI is not listed but the Anthem Foundation is so I signed up and voted for Anthem. The drive ends in 19 days but you can vote once every day. I think this could be a good opportunity for some positive activism. I posted a notice of this on my facebook page.

Update 11/28/09: The Ayn Rand Institute is on Chase's list so you can vote once for the Anthem foundation and once for ARI. The above is in error in that you can't vote every day for the same charity. Round 1 will be over Dec. 11th. Round 2 voting will begin Jan 15th and end Jan 22nd. It's important to join Facebook if you haven't already and vote for these two charities. The ARI has a program called "Free Books for Teachers" which is well worth the effort of joining Facebook and voting.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pedagogically Correct Newsletter Oct 2009

Here is another edition of Pedagogically Correct because education is so important.

"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


Follow this link for the latest VanDamme Academy Newsletter, which features the following article entitled "VanDamme Academy Presents: Music Appreciation"


Two years ago, Mr. Travers introduced art appreciation into the VanDamme Academy curriculum. Like the name suggests, the purpose of this course was neither to teach students the history of art nor to train them in the production of art. Rather, his goal was to help them learn to deeply, sincerely enjoy or appreciate art.

Toward that end, Mr. Travers teaches students how to look at a painting or sculpture. He demonstrates to them that looking is not automatic-it is actually an active-minded, methodical, purposeful process. Students learn to do a "reading" of a work of art: noticing and cataloguing all the details, making connections and generalizations about what they observe, comparing and contrasting their observations with other, similar pieces, arriving at a basic theme of the work, and finally, connecting that theme to their own lives.

This process integrates perfectly with the VanDamme Academy literature curriculum, for which the process of analysis is much the same. And indeed, Mr. Travers often makes a point of finding artworks that reflect the values and characters presented in the novels students are reading for literature.

This year, Mr. Travers has introduced music appreciation into the junior high curriculum.

In music appreciation, students listen to a short composition with a definite emotional tone and are asked to describe the scene that plays through their mind in connection with the music. I witnessed one of these classes, and the results were remarkable. First, though the scenes they recounted varied greatly from student to student, the commonalities were fascinating to note. Second, the students' writing was delightfully uninhibited-this assignment really allowed them to be creative free spirits. Lastly, I was moved by the variety of ways in which their performance on the assignment reflected their education overall: the compositions were articulate and eloquent, they often related to great scenes from history or literature, and they showed a capacity for a deep and meaningful connection to art. Listening to Mr. Travers read the students' work aloud while the music played, I was moved to tears.

Here are some samples of the students' writing about Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." I recommend that you listen first, and then read.

"A wave comes onto the shore, bringing a man to his home town. He is dead. Memories flash of his life as the procession leads him to his grave: his wedding, his first born son, his captaincy. Nothing is banal any more."

"An army has just defeated their enemy. However, their greatest hero has fallen. It is raining, and everyone is crying, especially the hero's family. The hero had hugged his family right before he was shot. It is pitch black except for one light that is shining on the hero."

"Trees are swaying in the forest as the flowers are slowly blooming. They twirl at the sun's powerful heat. One day, they suddenly shrivel up. Kids are staring down at their once beautiful flowers, depressed and heartbroken. The trees begin to shrivel. The pinecones open up to let new seeds be planted."

"I see a boy walking up to a large building in New York for the first time and he can't believe its size. He is amazed and his mouth is ajar. He goes into it, and he is riding up in the glass elevator. He has reached the top; he looks at the view and yells happily off into the city. He is overwhelmed. He feels like a small sand in the desert."



Calling All LifeLong Learners: Learn Science the VanDamme Academy Way!
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"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.

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With this course you will:
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* 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.


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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."

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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

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Post Follow Up

Pursuant to my last post, here are the details: for quite awhile my house's interior in the kitchen, dinette, living room and hallway had white ceiling, walls and trim. Boring! Now I have a flat white ceiling, beige walls and pure white trim. I must say I really like it. So does the wife.

My sister came to see me and the kids, and their kids, then went to see another brother in S. Carolina. She hadn't seen us in 21 years. Plans are being made to do it again next year. I really loved reconnecting with her. She was the only girl out of the seven of us kids. Yeah, she was spoiled, just a little. It's been raining here in Detroit all day. I guess the clouds are crying because my sister went back to California.

On Sept. 21st, I became a grandpa again. Introducing Allison Rose Neibel:

.

.

Doctor says she's in good health and her older sister Payton, 18 months, seems to be taking it quite well wanting to give lots of kisses.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Back to Blogging

It's been a busy two months what with trying to paint the inside of the house with the ceiling one color, the walls another color and the trim still another. Plus my sister whom I haven't seen in 20 years came for a 6 day visit, a most happy time for me, and I became a grandpa for the fifth time. Her name is Allison Rose.

More on the above soon.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Good News

I see via HBL that an Objectivist organization-Ayn Rand in India-is taking roots in that nation. Right now there are discussion/study groups in three cities, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi. For more information click here.

The spread of Objectivist ideas can't happen fast enough. The Hitler and Stalin wannabes are rising to the top of the political spectrum everywhere and are taking notes on what the current crop of statists are getting and not getting away with. So the spread of rational ideas in India, however modest, is a very good thing.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Blogroll additions Sept. 09

It's time for another blogroll update. I like doing this because the growth of objective, rational blogs pleases me.

First is Erosophia where Jason has posted a link to the essay by Dr. John Lewis at Cap Mag titled "Suppose auto insurance were made to be a right," and where Megan posted on "The emptiness of environmentalism."

Second is Bathtub Gin Brigade where Michael Labeit posts on "Private Factor Ownership and Effective Government."

Third shall be "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" at which Matt posts a 1 1/2 minute video of security guard Cheeks telling protesters this ain't America any more.

Fourth is Rachel at Brass in Pocket who has a good essay on why it's a bad idea to turn to religion in search of justice.

Fifth to be added is Reepicheep's Coracle where Kelly has an insightful look at "Children's Needs and Selfishness."

The sixth addition is The TK Lounge where TK has a post near and dear to my heart, how the press discredits science.

Seventh is MGTutoring where Michael Gold presents a rational perspective on education and has a great painting and a post on the poor philosophy of teacher training.

Number eight is Art, Love & Philosophy at which I liked the acrylic art displayed.

Nine is A is A the blog of cedrac who posts on the "Importance of Amazon's Kindle 2"

Tenth, I want to recommend the site of sculptress Sandra J. Shaw.

Eleventh and last for today is Principled Parent, an Objectivist and blogging mommy.

Happy reading!

Friday, September 04, 2009

On the Other Hand...

I was once told by an acquaintance that a man should always try to be the best in his field. Since I partially disagree with this, since a man should be the best he can be within the context of his ability and education, I decided to challenge his point with a little satirical devil's advocacy. I responded with "Oh no! Don't you know that it's always the second mouse that gets the cheese?"

Anyway, in that light hearted vein I recommend this piece at Live Oaks.

(It certainly shows how ugly spectator sports--and by implication ordinary life--would be.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Attention Students

If you're a student and would like to know more about Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, but there is no Objectivist club on your campus, please be informed that there will soon be a virtual Objectivist club in which you can participate. I recieved this email from Keith Schacht today and reprint it below.
************************************

I helped start the Objectivist Club Network (OCN), an organization dedicated to helping all Objectivist Campus Clubs. OCN is not affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute, although we support them and regularly communicate with them to ensure our respective organizations are not duplicating efforts.


Recently we've expanded our efforts to solve a new problem: there are students interested in joining an Objectivist club where no club exists. Some of these students start their own club, but others don't have time to start a club or do not find enough participants on campus to form a club.

We've created the Virtual Objectivist Club (VOC) for these students -- a phone-based discussion group dedicated to the study of Objectivism. Meetings will be weekly, beginning this September, each moderated by an experienced Objectivist. The group is open to any current students who would like to learn more about Objectivism.


My request: Please help spread the word to any students you know who may be interested in learning more about Objectivism. The deadline for applying to the VOC is August 31st. Students can learn more and apply at: http://www.oclubs.org/voc


Please let me know if you have any questions and we greatly appreciate you sharing this with others!


Keith & the OCN Team

If the link above doesn't work try here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Went to a Tea Party

(To the tune of Rick Nelson's Garden Party)

>I went to another tea party,
>to protest the health care bill,
>to mix with people of like mind and to,
>share in a little good will.

>There were signs saying no to coercion,
>and leave my doctor alone,
>There's no reason for government to be,
>barging into my home.

>Well it's, all wrong now.
>But it's, going to be OK,
>people are beginning to realize that,
>freedom is the way.

>There's Waxman, Reid and Pelosi,
>Obama and Emmanual too,
>they tell us they're going to save the world but they,
>haven't got a clue.

>There are people in academia,
>in the House and Senate of course,
>for us they say they know what's best and will
>get it with physical force.

>Well it's, all wrong now,
>but it's, going to be OK,
>people are beginning to realize that,
>freedom needs to stay.


The scene of this party was outside US Congressman Sander Levin's office here in Roseville, Mi on Saturday 8/23. I estimate about 75 to 85 people were there holding signs protesting Obama's health care plan. Again I was pleasantly surprised at how many people said they read Ayn Rand's books especially Atlas Shrugged. Lots of motorists beeped their horns is support.

The people were mostly blue collar workers and some elderly. Almost all of them were worried about how many 'life years' they'd be allotted once Obama care was enacted.

(Update Aug 28th, edited and added to the above lyrics and corrected a typo.)
(Update Sept 3rd. corrected another typo)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Value of Null Findings

Over at The New Clarion two days ago I posted on the fact that when statistical studies result in a null finding they are rarely published and how misguided this practice really is. I reprint that post below.

The Value of Null Findings

"Sandy Szwarc at JunkfoodScience has an in-depth look at a health science topic. Although it's titled "The Myth About Unhealthy Belly Fat" the article's theme is, 'the importance of null findings', and properly laments the fact that the media seldom reports them. This is very true and also very important. That's because:
"Null findings enable true scientists to know they’re looking in the wrong direction and that it’s time to go back to the drawing board and develop a different hypothesis. They also enable us to stop needlessly worrying about something that doesn’t matter."
Also, many if not most studies that purport to show a health problem actually turn out to be false and these revelations are often not published as well.

Just as knowing that something is a threat to health and life is important, so is knowing when something is not a significant threat, especially when alleged professionals are telling us it is a threat. However, we also know that the media often prefers hype and sensationalism vs boring news about non-threats. So the media has a built in bias that is heavily weighted in favor of fear-hype while a study showing that last month's health scare is actually false will tend not to get printed. This will mislead thousands if not millions of people. As the saying goes 'you can't unring an alarm bell.'

But this situation has other consequences. It creates a fearful citizenry eager to donate their money to NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations, mostly non-profit foundations) who promise to do research (more statistical studies) to find ways to protect them from all the alleged hazards of a modern, technological society.

It sometimes works like this: NGOs fund studies that try to determine what is bad for us. When a study is completed a press release is announced. The media picks up the release and reports the findings which are usually that X (say, fast foods) is bad for us. Politicians then stand on the floor of their chambers, news reports and studies in hand, announcing that congress must address this threat to public health by passing legislation more heavily regulating the use of X. They then stand before us proclaiming how good they are at protecting us from all the harmful Xs out there and therefore we should reelect them. That is what we see.

What we don't readily see is that the funding NGO has been getting large donations from companies that produce products Y and Z (say, treadmills and diet books). Also mostly out of view is the donations by companies Y and Z to the politicians' reelection campaigns. And even further out of sight is the fact that no one looked at the study, not the reporter, the editor nor the politician, to see if the study had any statistical significance or was a null finding being passed off as having significance. This last happens often.

We have to educate ourselves to what is valid science and what is pseudo science because the press isn't doing it. Pseudo science isn't just coming from NGOs either. Government agencies fund lots of it. I recommend reading the entire article and visiting JunkfoodScience often. Her blogroll is a good source for others who actually read these so called scientific studies and then examines them for our benefit."

Health care has become so politicized that one literally has to fact check every alleged harm for oneself. The problem is that grant money is not earned money. It is handed out to applicants on the basis of the applicant's desire to see if there is a problem regarding food X's effect on say, disease Y. The granting agencies are virtually buying problems the government can try to fix with more regulations over you and me. Are we to believe that the applicant's supply of grant money will continue if they produced studies showing 'no problem here' i.e. a null finding?

The solution is to remove government encouragement from the market place especially from education and science. Government control of education is the open door to government control of everything else.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another Activist Day

My congressman Sander Levin D-Mi. held a town hall meeting today at which I arrived late. He had finished his speech and was meeting people one on one. The line was long and I really didn't want to speak to him anyway so I went outside and passed out some literature. I handed out about 30 copies of the essay "It's a Matter of Justice" with the essay "The Significance of Atlas Shrugged" on the back side. I gave out 4 copies of the Ayn Rand Sampler and about 30 copies of a short note I wrote myself with a quote from Amy Ridenhour, with her permission, which is posted below.

Again I was surprised at how many people had read Atlas Shrugged and liked it. There were a few others outside carrying signs saying in essence No to Hr 3200. Here is the other note I handed out.

Two Thoughts

1) Why a public health care system does not work:
To meet budget targets, governments reduce payments to providers and to buy equipment. This reduces the supply of people willing to provide health care services (doctors, nurses, medical staff and support) and the supply of equipment (hospital beds, diagnostic tools, etc.). Shortages develop, and those who are sick or injured, suffer.

They find themselves with health care coverage, but without health care.

By Amy Ridenhour, director National Center for Public Policy Research



2)Dear Fellow Citizen:

I don't want to go under the knife of a doctor who resents my congressman, my senator, my president, telling him, his nurses and his technicians how much money they are permitted to make, how many hours they must work, and how to care for me. Even more troubling is the thought that I may have to go under the knife of a doctor and staff who DON'T resent it.

When there is a transaction between a doctor and a patient a certain cost will be mutually agreed upon. But when a third party, government, interjects itself it too must collect a paycheck and will raise the cost of the transaction for everyone. Remove the third party, government, and the costs will come down.

The proper job of government is to protect our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have made the mistake of allowing the government to provide our happiness, our daily bread. Trouble is, because the government has a legal monopoly on the use of force, it is the government who gets to define and enforce what shall be our happiness and daily bread. I don't want that.

Our country is on the verge of perishing from an orgy of government enforced altruism. There is of course, nothing wrong with individuals helping those in need if one is able. Americans have always been generous to those trying to help themselves. But when the government decides it wants to provide for everyone's needs, it usurps the entire field of morality for itself creating a society where only government officials are considered moral and the citizens are considered immoral, or at best amoral, in need of forceful guidance by their moral leaders. All dictatorships are created by this mindset. Right now our Congress is infected with too many of this mindset. We citizens need to start weeding them out in the next few elections. We can do this by letting our politicians know, if they want our vote, to embrace the concept of individual rights which includes the rights of doctors and patients to make their own decisions.

Citizen Michael Neibel
*************************************************

I just finished listening to a podcast of Alex Epstein and Richard Salsman on Business Talk Radio. Mr. Epstein defended oil companies and Mr. Salsman defended capitalism. They did quite well. You can listen to the podcast here. Click on Aug 13 hour #2. Mr. Epstein's interview starts at about 7:35 into the show and Mr. Salsman's at about 41 min in. Enjoy.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Tea Party Observations pt. 2

As I thought about my post on the tea party of the 4th., I realized I didn't write down all my observations. So here are a few more with some added pictures. It can safely be said that everyone there was willing to participate in some kind of activism however modest. I consider that a very good sign. But there were some who wanted a more agressive activism. One wanted recall campaigns to be started to oust those in office. A few others called for more petitions to be circulated to stop the government spending and intrusion into our lives.

Quite a few people expressed frustration in not being able to do more than just protest at parties like this one. That's when I gave them a copy of two press releases from ARC on the sales of Atlas Shrugged. One release reported that most large bookstores will have floor-displays of Atlas after the 4th. The other release notified that the sales of Atlas have tripled in the first 4 months of 09. My intent was to say or imply 'This is where a lot of people are looking for answers, you should too.' It became obvious to me that a tea party is no place for education or debating. But it can be a good place for guidance toward a certain path. Before people can see the truth, they must be encouraged to look at it. Now a few more pictures.


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Observations on My First Tea Party

I attended my first tea party Saturday July 4th. It was quite small, I'd say the crowd fluctuated between 110 and 140 people for the 2 hours I was there. There were no speakers. Just people talking to each other and holding signs of slogans at road side for passing drivers. A lot of passing cars beeped their horns in support.

What surprised me most was how many of these people were familiar with Rand's writings. One man said he read all her books. A lady said she was reading Atlas for the second time. Another said, from memory, "I've read a lot of her stuff. Sometimes she's over the top but other than that she's right on the money." Another said she would pick up a copy of Atlas on the way home. I only encountered a few people who never heard of Rand or Objectivism. They have now.

I liked walking around and talking to people. It's like taking a sense of life inventory. I passed out 65 copies of the essay "Message to Republicans" from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights." Another Objectivist was passing out some too. When people asked me what is this about? I responded that it's an essay on what the Republicans are doing wrong and what they need to do right. Boy, that struck a few nerves. Several said the Party is trying too hard to look like Democrats. 3 others said the Party's biggest mistake was nominating John McCain for president. "He's not a conservative and he shouldn't even be a Republican" said one. All in all the crowd seemed to be mostly conservatives. Many were also religious but it seemed that their political concerns were on the front burner while the religious ones on the back burner. I only saw 4 anti-abortion signs.

Most attendants were against the current level of government spending, taxation and the growth of controls. But when I asked what were they for, I got a mixture of approximations: smaller, limited government, less spending, fewer controls and more personal freedoms. I thought to myself, this tea party movement needs guidance on how to more explicitly be for something. I think the next time I go to one of these I'll have an essay titled 'Limited Government is Limited to What?' Of course it will be about limiting the government to employing only retaliatory force which means forbidding it to use initiatory force and how the protection of individual rights requires this distinction to be explicit legally.

It was an interesting experience. There are a few photos below.






Friday, July 03, 2009

Happy 4th of July

I wish all of you a happy 4th of July. I will be attending a tea party in St. Clair Shores tomorrow for about 2 hours then going to my granddaughter's birthday party. She will be 4 on the 4th. Of course she's all excited about it and can't wait. To me, it's beautiful to see the excitement and exuberance she shows while visions of presents and cake dominate her mind. And to think, I am indebted to the Founders who made this possible.

Happy 4th all!
Mike

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lively Imagination

Any parent or grand parent knows that little kids can say the darnedest things. They want so bad to talk like adults and sound grown up. This past Friday my oldest granddaughter, she'll be 4 on July 4th., came into the computer room by me and said "Grandpa, I have to listen to that music every morning". She was talking about her dad's cell phone music which just went off in the living room and on which he uses the alarm function in the morning. "Every morning it plays that music over and over and it gives me a headache. I need some chocolate covered raisins to clear my mind."

I know you're not supposed to laugh when a child is trying to be serious but I couldn't help it.

(Yes, I keep some of those raisins to treat myself now and then.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Captain Grandpa

Once when I was babysitting my youngest granddaughter Payton, I saw a spider crawling on the ceiling right above her bassinet. So I wrote in the log--my kids keep a log of their baby's first few years of life--that Captain Grandpa summoned his super powers and vanquished the intruder. Corny I know, but then my son and daughter in-law decided to get me a baseball cap with the words 'Captain Grandpa' sown on the front and which I now proudly wear.

But I do like the idea of keeping a log for each child in which all the care givers can post all their observations. Things like "You began to crawl today" or "You took your first steps this morning" and so on. Because these logs will be read by the child at a much later age, I decided to add observations from my objectivist perspective. For example when my oldest granddaughter, Taylor, began to speak words, I wrote in essence, "Your conceptual mind is waking up now. You are now integrating percepts into concepts, something no other animal can do." I then wrote a short explanation of the difference between the two.

When Payton, pulled her self up to a standing position for the very first time, she turned around and looked at mom and dad with the biggest, wide eyed smile as if to say 'look what I just did!" I took that opportunity to write in her log "That is what life is all about, achieving one goal after another. Life is not an arduous, joyless journey towards the achievement of some goal which when achieved only then can one be happy. Oh no! The real happiness is in the journey, the enjoyment of each success for its own sake, one after another, no matter how great or small, as part of the journey."

One may wonder why I'm going to such trouble with my grand kids. Well, first, they are my grand kids and I'm very selfish about their well being. Second, if we lived in a completely civilized society with an objective (private) educational system which had a rational curriculum, I wouldn't have to worry about their intellectual development so much. But we don't live in such a society. So I have to be Captain Grandpa in more than just physical ways. I have to fly to their aid in intellectual ways as well. When each one first enters school, I intend to check out the curriculum and talk to the teachers personally. I want to know what parts of the curriculum are rational and what irrational and need to be countered. My own kids know I'll be doing this and seem to be happy about it.

Another of the things I'm doing is putting together a small box for each child with a copy of Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal inside. I will give the boxes to them when I think they are ready for them or if I'm not around then, on their 18th birthday.

But the biggest reason I'm doing all this is because, as mentioned above, I'm selfish. I really enjoy it.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Experimenting

As you can probably see, I'm experimenting with adsense. I'm told I'll have to wait about 48 hours for relevant ads to appear. This may be one of those lessons where one learns what not to do. We'll see.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pedagogically Correct Newsletter May 22 2009

Because education is so important, here is the latest edition of the VanDamme Academy Newsletter.


Pedagogically Correct Volume 3, Issue 6
May 22, 2009

"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


Tell Me Everything You Know

I have invented a new educational game. I call it "Tell Me Everything You Know."

Here is how the game works in my grammar class: I write a sentence on the board, set a time limit, and then have the students write down every grammatical fact they can name about the sentence. When the time is up, I go around the room, asking each student to volunteer one of his observations. If someone else in the class has written the same thing, both must cross it off their lists. If no one else has made the same observation, that student gets a point. Victory goes to the student with the most points.

For example, yesterday I wrote, "When it is Taco Tuesday, we go to the park that is down the street to eat tacos."

Their observations ranged from the simple …


"Tuesday" is a proper noun.

"The" is an article.

The sentence is declarative.

The sentence ends with a period.

to the more esoteric …

"To eat tacos" is an infinitive phrase used as an adverb modifying "go."

"When" is a subordinating conjunction linking the adverb clause to the word it modifies.

"Tacos" is the direct object of the infinitive.

"Park" is the antecedent of the relative pronoun "that," which introduces the adjective clause "that is down the street."

At the conclusion of the allotted time, my 7th and 8th grade students had as many as forty to fifty things to say about the grammar of the sentence.
This game works equally well in other classes. Mr. Black and Mr. Steele have played it in their math classes. With one 3rd-grade level math group, Mr. Steele wrote on the board, "362 ÷ 3," and said, "Tell me everything you know."

These 7- and 8-year olds made comments that ranged from …


The divisor is 3.

The dividend is 362.

The quotient is 120 with a remainder of 2.

to such acute observations as …

The 3 in 362 is in the hundreds' place and stands for 300.

362 is a 3-digit number and an even number.

The divisor, 3, can be subtracted from the dividend, 362, 120 times. (Connecting division to repeated subtraction.)

This game both cashes in on and reinforces the VanDamme Method. All the teachers in all the VDA classes stress conceptual understanding of the material. We work hard to ensure that the students are not taking a rote, thoughtless, pattern-seeking approach to their work, but rather that they fully grasp and can fully explain the concepts they are learning. So when they look at a problem like "362 ÷ 3," we want them to possess a depth of understanding that allows them not just to solve the problem but to thoroughly explain the problem and its solution.
Playing this game also serves as excellent review and reinforcement. It helps the students to probe their own understanding, to dig through their subconscious minds and retrieve all they have learned about a given subject. They listen carefully to others' answers and in doing so are reminded of aspects of the subject they may have forgotten or not readily retrieved. They revisit and focus on aspects of a subject they know but may not have recently brought into conscious awareness.

In my experience, because the students are well prepared for the rigors of this game, because it is a fruitful review, and because it is benevolently competitive—they love it. Students share their insights eagerly and are delighted when others cleverly dig up obscure facts that hadn't occurred to them.

I had to boast about having invented the game because I have to confess to having lost the game. Though I am the self-proclaimed grammar guru, I was bested by 11-year-old Melissa McWilliams. Well, as Leonardo Da Vinci said, "Pity the student who does not surpass his master."




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, May 08, 2009

Blogroll Addition May of 09

It time for another blogroll update.

First is the blog of "Brad Harper" where his latest post shows the evil of eminent domain in a particularly egregious case. Evidently, the park service wants to build a monument and park at the site where Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11. Trouble is that land is owned by 7 owners who don't want to sell. So the Park Service wants to invoke eminent domain to condemn their property, seize it and build a monument. I wonder what the people who died on that fateful flight would say if they knew their deaths would be used to violate the property rights of 7 of their fellow citizens just to build a monument? I think they'd be outraged.
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Next is Benpercent who has a book review of "Walt Disney: A Triumph of American Imagination" which he calls the story of a real American hero.
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The third addition is Reality Talk where Brian reports that a college student saved lives by owning a gun. He has a two minute video of the news report but also points out how the media insists on slanting the news so as to deny any self-interested motive. He did it for others!
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Fourth is "Objective Extrospection" where Rajesh reports on Objectivism, Ayn Rand, Tech and Defense. He now notes that the Enigma machine used by the Nazis to send secret codes is now for sale.
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Fifth is Aristotle the Geek where he has a letter to Obama (via Cafe Hayek) by a money manager who dares to speak out.
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Sixth will be Just Add Rationality where host Francis Luong has a retort for an article that says individualists must give up their disdain for mass movements.
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Seventh is Ron Pisaturo's Blog at which Ron posts on the fact that 'The Leader Desires Work and Peace" and how that speech reminds him of someone else 70 some years ago.
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Number eight shall be Life on Marrs where Gaia looks at the difference between Obama's proposed $100 million budget cuts and his 3.69 trillion dollar spending.
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Ninth is 'The Nearby Pen' where Daniel informs that Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead has been translated into Vietnamese. Good News for sure.
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Tenth is Exalted Moments which takes a look at all such moments found in Ayn Rand's writings. I highly recommend it.

That's it for now. But I would like to inform any new visitors to this site that I publish all my political and cultural posts at The New Clarion. Enjoyable reading all.

Update: corrected link to Brad Harper blog

Friday, April 17, 2009

Objectivism's Benefit to Me #5

Another one of the many things I had to relearn was the idea of certainty. I had bought into the notion that certainty was not possible, that our knowledge can only be probable, never certain. It never occurred to me to ask if something doesn't exist, like certainty, how can you have degrees (probability) of it? Of course you can't. So certainty must exist but how? How can one tell when one can claim certainty?

In studying the philosophy of Objectivism, I learned that existence exists and that it is governed by the laws of identity and causality. The law of identity, A is A, things are what they are, means that all things have a specific nature and will behave according to that nature and that this nature represents the context in which it exists. What I understand from this then is that reality itself is contextual.

Since reality is contextual, this in turn means that our knowledge of reality, to be true, that is, to correspond to reality, must also be contextual.
"Concepts are not and cannot be formed in a vacuum; they are formed in a context; the process of conceptualization consists of observing the differences and similarities of the existents within the field of one’s awareness (and organizing them into concepts accordingly). From a child’s grasp of the simplest concept integrating a group of perceptually given concretes, to a scientist’s grasp of the most complex abstractions integrating long conceptual chains—all conceptualization is a contextual process; the context is the entire field of a mind’s awareness or knowledge at any level of its cognitive development." (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology p.55)
This understanding has helped me to see that out of context statements cannot be trusted as knowledge. For example, 'All swans are white' is an out of context proposition and is refuted with the discovery of a colored swan. But the statement 'All swans known to me (within my field of awareness) are white' is contextual and is not refuted with the discovery of a colored swan. In this case the context of my knowledge has expanded to include colored swans. This new expanded knowledge does not contradict or refute my former knowledge that 'All swans known to me are white.' Expansion of previous knowledge is not a contradiction of it.

In terms of certainty then, it was proper for me to be certain of both of my propositions since they both met the requirement of contextuality. Context however, is not the only requirement for certainty. Just as in the categories of 'possible' and 'probable' knowledge, there must be some evidence in support of the proposition, so it is with certainty. but with certainty, all the available evidence must be in support of the proposition. There can be no contrary evidence. If there is some contrary evidence then certainty cannot be claimed.

There is the argument that as long as it's possible to be wrong one cannot claim certainty. But Objectivism has helped me to understand that this is the argument from infallibility and is false. The possibility of error is not evidence of it. Such an argument is just another example of the arbitrary which, per post #4, is always meaningless and is to be dismissed out of hand.

So, this then is something I can add to my always allow list, at least for consideration, 'propositions that are contextual' and the fifth way that Objectivism has benefited me.

Friday, April 03, 2009

March VDA Newsletter

Because education is so important, here is the latest newsletter from the VanDamme Academy. After reading it I strongly urge readers to click on the words 'Follow this link' for more interesting articles.



"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


Follow this link for the latest VanDamme Academy Newsletter, which features the following article entitled "Does My Child Know Grammar Better Than Me?"


I would say that a debate is raging in our culture over whether or not we need to preserve the formal rules of grammar, but the sad truth is that there are too few defenders of grammar for a debate to rage. I am lonely in my fervency. Nevertheless, a few recent books and articles have brought the dispute between grammar snobs and grammar slobs to the fore.

Pundit of punctuation Lynne Truss tried to rally readers to her "zero tolerance approach to punctuation" with her bestseller Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. Alas, Birmingham, England didn't heed the call. In January, the city council abolished apostrophes from street signs, inviting criticism from pro-grammar organizations like the "Apostrophe Protection Society," and from our own students at VanDamme Academy, who condemned the decision in a paper written for Mrs. Battaglia's (or "Mrs. Battaglias," if we follow the Birmingham precedent) writing class. "If children grow up there, they will learn not to put apostrophes in possessive words," said 8-year-old Greta. "Usually kids learn from their surroundings."

This debate has also been given center stage unwittingly by President Obama. Obama, widely praised as a consummate intellectual, has been criticized by advocates of grammar for committing such common blunders as the inversion of "me" and "I."

In a February New York Times op-ed, Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman echoed the sentiments of many Americans when they defended President Obama against the "grammar junkies," claiming that the rules for pronouns are 19th-century creations that have no necessity in reality.

Really?

To illustrate my answer, I brought the following example into my Room 4 grammar class. Rather than the innocuous, "President Bush graciously invited Michelle and I," what if President Obama had said, "Michelle likes President Bush better than I." Is this a mere difference of opinion about the former President, or a scandal? The ambiguity is resolved with a universal understanding of the rules of grammar.

"Michelle likes him better than I," as my grammar students can tell you, contains an elliptical adverb clause with "I" as the subject, and means, "Michelle likes him better than I like him." On the other hand, "Michelle likes him better than me," contains an elliptical clause with "me" as the direct object, and means, "Michelle likes him better than she likes me."

So, if you whose children are gaining a thorough mastery of the rules of grammar have ever asked yourselves, "Does my child know grammar better than me?" the answer is no, he should know you better. And by the time he graduates, he will know better than to ask the question like that.



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

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spotted By Mike's Eyes Mar 27th

A while ago I sent an email to my Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin urging them not to support the stimulus bill. Yesterday, 3/26, I got an email reply from Sen Stabenow extolling the virtues of the bill and how much good it will accomplish. In response to that I sent her another email stating:
Dear Senator Stabenow:

Thanks for responding to my letter about the stimulus bill. It is good that you wish to create jobs here in America, but unless you are a businessperson you cannot create any productive jobs, that is, wealth creating jobs, unless that is, you fight to get government rights violating regulations and taxes out of the way. The only jobs that can be created by government are non-productive make work jobs which consume wealth not produce it.

You correctly talked about changing from the failed economic policies of the past. But ever since the New Deal the economic policies that have been failing are policies of government regulation of the market. Government interference in the market are the policies of the past. You are not trying to change any of them. Instead you are advocating more of the same but on a massively destructive scale.

The government regulated policies of the past have failed because they are based on false premises the biggest of which is the notion that consumption is what drives an economy. It is production that creates wealth and jobs. The cause of production is not money but freedom. Freedom from what? To put it bluntly, freedom from you, that is, freedom from anyone who seeks to use initiatory force against the producers.

If you really want to create prosperity, get the the government out of the way of the producers of wealth by pushing for a discovery of laissez-faire capitalism in Washington and, there-in, a ruthless loyalty to inalienable individual rights.

Respectfully,

Michael Neibel
Today I received another copy of the same email I got yesterday. A form letter. Sigh.
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Speaking of letters,the Detroit News of Friday 3/27/09 carried in its letters to the editor section an LTE by Richard Ralston, Executive Editor Americans for Free Choice in Medicine which said in part:
"It is easy for the government to spend health care money on other things. This has been notoriously done by many states that spend most of the money from tobacco taxes and settlements on anything except anti-smoking programs and health care for smokers. We should all be skeptical of big tax increases proposed by the president to establish a "reserve" for health care."
Pols are probably already licking their chops at the thought of another 'fund' they can raid to buy votes.
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Also in the same editorial section is a commentary by Deroy Murdock of Scripps Howard News Service titled "Treasury leader undermines U.S. currency". The paragraph I focused on:
"While addressing a jam-packed meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, Geithner answered Standard Chartered Bank's Doug Smith, who wanted the secretary's thoughts on "the Chinese government proposal about a global currency." People's Bank of China governor Zhao Xiaochuan would shift Earth's reserve currency from the dollar to "Special Drawing Rights," combining the dollar, Britain's pound, Japan's yen and the euro. Call it the international "globo.""
Hmmm, I wonder how that would sound. "I'm down to my last globo." or "Do you have change for a globo?" or "It all boils down to globos and cents." Nahh, it just doesn't have any ring to it.

Update; changed typo in title, was May should be Mar.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Objectivism's Benefit to Me #4

So far, Objectivism has helped me to do away with the unknowable, beliefs and faith in my thinking. Little did I know that this was just the tip of the iceberg; that I had much more to learn about what is knowledge and what isn't. (I'm still learning.)

About knowledge Rand wrote "'Knowledge' is 'a grasp of a fact(s) of reality, reached either by perceptual observation or by a process of reason based on perceptual observation.'" (From the Lexicon) So knowledge then must be based on observation either directly or indirectly. If a claim to knowledge isn't based on some observational evidence, it is not knowledge. Such claims can be some form of revelation, intuition, instinct, feelings or some kind of automatic knowing. All of these can be subsumed I think under the concept of arbitrary which means made up or not grounded in observational evidence.

Objectivism holds that the arbitrary is always meaningless.
"Let me elaborate this point. An arbitrary claim has no cognitive status whatever. According to Objectivism, such a claim is not to be regarded as true or as false. If it is arbitrary, it is entitled to no epistemological assessment at all; it is simply to be dismissed as though it hadn’t come up . . . . The truth is established by reference to a body of evidence and within a context; the false is pronounced false because it contradicts the evidence. The arbitrary, however, has no relation to evidence, facts, or context. It is the human equivalent of [noises produced by] a parrot . . . sounds without any tie to reality, without content or significance."(Again from the Lexicon)
So now I liken what I allow into my store of knowledge to the 'always allow or block' function on my computer. I can 'always block' or 'always allow' other computers access to mine. Thus, under 'always block' from my knowledge are listed
>the unknowable
>believing (instead of knowing)
>faith (instead of confidence)
>the arbitrary

Under the 'always allow' is listed
>any cognition which has some corresponding evidence in reality.

Needless to say the above still leaves much to be added or updated to these lists. For example, I think the Logical Fallacies should be added to the always block list after one becomes adept at spotting them. As mentioned at the beginning, this is just a brief mention of how Objectivism has helped clear my thinking regarding what should be considered true and what false. For a more in-depth, technical study I recommend Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (ITOE) and Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand (OPAR).

The next post will be about how Objectivism taught me that knowledge can be certain provided it is contextual.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Blogroll Additions March 09

I'm taking a short break in my Objectivism Benefit series to add more good sites to my blogroll.

The first shall be Ramen and Rand where Miranda, who is a photographer, photographed the Vagina Monologues and put them on her photo blog.

Next is Dark Waters Blogs hosted by Doug A. His Mar 4th post is about how Obama rejects absolute truth.

Third is seine ramblings who takes a humorous look at water exports and a more serious take on the concept of jobs.

Fourth in line is Haight Speech where Kyle observes the contradiction between what greens want and what Obama wants.

Fifth will be Words by Woods where Jim posts on how our current crisis is not an emergency but an attempted suicide.

Sixth is Uncommon Sense by Zip and Zhucydides. Now Zip reports on a native man who got so drunk that he let his two baby daughters freeze to death. This man wasn't the only one with no love for human life. His tribe doesn't seem to have any either.

Seventh is The Dirty Kuffar where Ryan's slogan is No Gods or Kings...Only Man.

That's it for March. I want Objectivist blogs to become so numerous that to go on line will mean virtually tripping over one.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Objectivism's Benefit to Me #3

Related to the issue of believing vs knowing is the issue of faith vs confidence. The confusion between these two is actually a corollary of believing vs knowing. If one decides something to be true without evidence, one is believing. If one decides something to be true because evidence supports it, one is knowing.

This understanding seems precisely clear to me and that's the way I like it. Nevertheless, I see mass confusion between faith vs confidence all the time. I've been told things like "I have faith in my religion just as you have faith in your philosophy" at which time I usually interject something on the order of "No, I have confidence, not faith, in my philosophy because it is derived from the facts of reality." That's when I usually state explicitly the precise meaning of faith and confidence and then urge the listener not to confuse the two concepts because they have different meanings.

In my last post I said that I have been purging beliefs from my world view. Of necessity then, the use of faith as a means of knowledge must also be purged.

What this means for me is that I stop using words like believe and faith. This hasn't been easy in the sense that old bad habits can be hard to break. I still find myself wanting to say things like "I believe the Detroit Tigers will do better this year because of the off season trades they made" or "I believe President Obama's stimulus package will fail because it is based on false economic principles". In both cases I should have used words like 'I estimate', 'I judge', 'I predict' or 'I know.' I just have to get into the habit of using these and other words instead of belief and faith.

Objectivism benefit #3 then is that with beliefs and faith gone, I'm left with a knowable universe and the confidence that my mind is capable of knowing any part of it I desire to know. And that will be the focus of the next post in this series: what I have learned about knowledge from Objectivism. Still, knowing where I'm starting from, my relationship to existence; that an other-world deity isn't going to turn my computer into a frog or a demon any moment now, does provide a mental comfort zone.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Objectivism's Benefit for Me #2

In my last post I indicated that my new world view contained no more unknowables. So, it probably should have occurred to me that since I no longer had to deal with a partially unknowable universe, I no longer needed the mental process of believing things to be true on faith, I could now enjoy the comfort of knowing something to be true or false based on at least some evidence.

But this did not occur to me. As I continued to study Objectivism I learned that I had adopted from the culture around me certain conceptual confusions. Two of these stood as barriers to my clear understanding of this knowable world: the difference between knowing vs believing and faith vs confidence.

For now, I'll just focus on knowing vs believing even though a precise understanding of faith vs confidence is also involved.

To know something to be true in a knowable reality, there must be at least some evidence for it in that reality. For example, I see the table, touch the table, put my glass on the table. The table exists. I don't believe the table exists. I know it does. To know something then requires evidence. Believing on faith does not require evidence.

Yet despite this clear identification, I still hear people using the terms interchangeably as if they meant the same thing. For example, 'I know the planets revolve around the sun', 'I believe the planets revolve around the sun.' But this shouldn't be so. Words have meanings. Objectivism holds that reality is very precise. This means then that our knowledge of reality, to be true, that is, correspond to reality, must therefore also be precise. So if I'm dealing with a precisely knowable reality, it makes no sense to adopt a method of thinking that includes believing on faith. To do so would be to ignore reality. Ignoring reality for any organism is suicidal.

So I have spent the better part of recent years identifying then purging beliefs from my world view. I now try to deal only with knowledge that can be placed in file folders labeled 'possible', 'probable' or 'certain' all of which require evidence.

Objectivism benefit #2 then is a mental process of reason devoted to knowing reality. Let me add that it's been my experience that the more one uses one's mind to understand reality, the better at it one becomes and that provides its own comfort zone known as self confidence. Thoughts on that in the next post.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Some Benefits of Objectivism for Me

I have decided to occasionally post on how the philosophy of Objectivism by Ayn Rand has improved my life and provided a certain peace of mind. This is not meant to be an in-depth analysis of philosophic principles, but only a brief mention of how some of them have helped me personally.

Perhaps the biggest thing it did was give me a complete, wholly integrated view of existence and my place in it as a human being. Everyone needs an overall view of reality. For most people, including me, this was provided by religion. But for me, religion left too many things that didn't make sense.

One of these was the idea of the unknowable, that which cannot be known. Now I had been raised Catholic and attended a catholic school. Some of the teachings were that god, heaven, hell and things in between were unknowable to us in this world. These and other teachings had to be accepted on faith. We would learn or understand them only when we left this world.

Objectivism taught me that while there is much in the universe that is unknown, there is nothing that is unknowable. The idea that all of existence is knowable and man's mind is capable of understanding any part of it, appealed to me. It made sense. It offered me a world view that was a sensible whole, a frame of reference against which I could clearly see my relationship to it.

Religion offered a world view that had too many unknowables. It was a frame of reference against which I could not clearly know my place in it. How can a person identify relationships between himself and things that are unknowable, i.e. can't be identified? Obviously one can't. To me its like a house with holes in it, but holes that cannot be patched, but which one can understand the why of this only when one steps out of the house and no longer needs it. This I rejected after I learned of Objectivism.

For me, there is a peace of mind that comes with knowing my place in reality rather than having to believe in one on faith. In fact this will be the subject of my next post: the difference between knowing something to be true and believing something on faith and why the former is much more satisfying.

So, benefit #1: no more unknowables.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Updating the Update

I know I just did a blogroll update on the 31st of Jan but no sooner than I posted it I learned of a new site called 'simply capitalism' which I recommend.

I'm also adding another science site 'Climate Audit' hosted by Steve McIntyre. Mr. McIntyre gained fame when he and Ross McKitrick exposed the nonsense that was the 'hockey stick' that the IPCC used to show unprecedented warming. This site is for those who like the nitty gritty of climate science.

Update Feb 11th 09:
I'm have trbl keeping up with new blogs. I just learned that the Ayn Rand Center now has its own blog "Voices for Reason" and it should have postings from an Objectivist perspective every day.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blogroll Additions Jan 09

It's time to update my blogroll again with the addition of more informative and thought provoking blogs.

First will be The Imaginary Philosophy hosted by Tom Stelene. His post of Jan 28th asks "How religion insults us and we don't even know it."

Second is Tito's Blog where Roberto "Tito" Sarrionandia discusses whether one should support a party which is the lesser of two evils or concentrate on a philosophical revolution.

Third is the blog of Scott Holleran where he informs that "Penguin has announced that it will publish a trade paperback for We the Living by Ayn Rand." And..."The powerful We the Living, one of my favorite novels, is the last of Ayn Rand’s four novels to be reprinted in the larger trade paperback format. Publicity materials also make reference to a biography of Ayn Rand (1905-1982) that’s slated for sale next month." Now that's good news.

Fourth is The Little Things hosted by Amy Mossoff. Hers is a positive and uplifting blog. On Jan 30 she has as part of her three good things, a video of a concert --- harmonica? Sure enough. Enjoy.

Fifth will be the Philosophical Mortician who asks the question, what is a mortgage?

Sixth is Zigory who gives his views of Rush Limbaugh.

Seventh will be Heroes of Capitalism a multi-contributor site which now looks at Friedrich August von Hayek.

Eighth is Flibbertigibbet who looks at how much money he's spending on groceries.

Ninth is the blog of Dr. Monica Hughes FA/RM or Free Agriculture, Restore Markets. Her last post addresses the nonsense of the British contention: "People should not be allowed to eat eggs."

Tenth shall be FreeColorado.com, another blog by Ari Armstrong. Today he looks at the prospect of New Tariff Wars.

Eleventh is Co2science Magazine hosted by the Idso family. They are not Objectivists but have a love of facts and are loyal to them. They have a new posting every Wednesday. I should have added them a long time ago.

I'm still looking at a few others and may add them on my next update.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Objectivist Psychology

While visiting other sites I noticed a few questions about Objectivist psychology. So I thought I would draw my readers attention to three sites that are on my blogroll.

First is Dr. Michael J. Hurd Ph.D. who now post his Daily Dose of Reason for all to read.

Second is Dr. Ellen Kenner Ph.D. who has her own radio show titled "The Rational Basis of Happiness". You can listen to some of her past shows via pod casts or even listen in on a live one. Her show is carried on 44 stations in North America and 2 in Canada.

Third is Fire Fly Sun hosted by Dr. Scott J. Adams Ph.D. This is an interesting and large site to explore. You'll also see contributions by both the above Dr. Hurd and Dr. Kenner as well as others.

Soon I'll be updating my blogroll again and will add 'psychology' to their names on the roll so future visitors will know what kind of doctors they are.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pedagogically Correct Newsletter, January 13, 2009

In keeping with the fact that education is of critical importance today, here is another newsletter from Pedagogically Correct.

Pedagogically Correct Volume 3, Issue 4
January 13, 2009

"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

The following is an interview with Evan Storms, a VanDamme Academy graduate currently in the process of applying to college. Perhaps my favorite part of the interview was his answer to my request for the interview itself: "Considering what I gained from your school, I would write a doctoral thesis for you if you needed it; but I can settle for the interview."

When did you attend VanDamme Academy?

I attended VanDamme Academy for two-and-a-half years from 2003 to 2005, from sixth to eighth grade.


Where had you gone to school prior to that, and how did your experience there differ from your time at VDA?

Before VanDamme Academy, I attended a reputedly exceptional public elementary school in Laguna Hills. My education there differed from my experience at VanDamme fundamentally. Where VanDamme offered a logically-structured, ordered curriculum, my elementary education consisted of unconnected lessons seemingly chosen at random; science would cover volcanoes one week, and the anatomy of a frog the next.


Where do you attend high school, and what have been the strengths and weaknesses of your experience there?

I attend Fairmont Preparatory Academy in Anaheim. Academically, the school is, to the best of my knowledge, the strongest in the area. Fairmont offers a wide range of AP and otherwise advanced courses, generally taught by knowledgeable teachers who present their material clearly and logically.

Moreover, the school allows considerable academic freedom; it has, for example, allowed me to create my own independent study philosophy course, and has created two new math classes so that I can continue to advance. The number of intellectually ambitious students at the school, however, is small. And despite the strengths of the higher level courses, the curriculum in general emphasizes memorization over understanding, with the widespread use of multiple-choice testing and the heavy reliance on textbooks.


What have been some of your most important achievements since your time at VanDamme Academy?

Since attending VanDamme Academy, I have excelled in every facet of my academics: I have earned nearly perfect grades, taken and earned fives on eight AP exams, and been recognized as a national merit scholarship finalist.


Where have you applied to college, and why?

Though I applied to many schools, I am only sincerely interested in attending two: Duke and Stanford University. Both schools offer strong general academic programs, so that, whichever course of study I ultimately choose, I will be able to study under a first-class department.


How do you think your experience at VanDamme Academy shaped you?

At VanDamme Academy, I gained the foundations of an independent mind. I learned that ideas have consequences, are important, and are worth pursuing. I learned to think logically, to allow myself no half-formed knowledge or superficial understanding. I learned to appreciate great literature, to analyze facts scientifically, to write with clarity. And I learned that the sublime is possible to the man who thinks.





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

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Looking Ahead

This new year I have decided to make two resolutions. One is to increase efforts to lose more weight, about 25 pounds and the other is to increase promotion of Objectivism with an uptic in my activism. While those are things I'd like to do in 09, over at The New Clarion I have posted on some headlines I'd also like to see this new year.