Friday, March 30, 2007

Hostages of Iran

Elan Journo of ARI put out a good news release on the subject of the latest Iranian attack on the West and of our habitually spineless non-response. Here are the closing paragraphs, but be sure to read the whole thing.
"What underlies this unconscionably weak response? Fundamentally, it is the corrupt moral principle that dominates the West, the principle that regards selflessness as a virtue and self-assertion in pursuit, and defense, of one's interests as immoral. To punish Iran militarily for its many acts of war would be wrong, it would flout the will of the 'international community,' it would, on this premise, be 'selfish.' It is this premise that inhibits, and thus disarms, the West in the face of the enemy--and, as a result, spurs our enemy.

"While the British may hope that their timid, deferential approach will avoid inflaming the crisis and antagonizing Iran, they are accomplishing the opposite. The spectacle of Western nations bowing in submission is an encouragement to Iran and Islamic totalitarians worldwide.

"Iran and other evil regimes grow stronger and more threatening precisely because the morally good nations, who should defeat Iran's regime, are cowardly, apologetic, and meek."

IEA - Global Warming False Alarms

I've only skimmed through this, but so far it looks worthwhile. HT Not PC

Thursday, March 29, 2007

UN Watch via LGF

In case you needed more evidence to lobby for immediate US withdrawal from the United Nations.

Dendrobium Jaquelyn Thomas 'Uniwai Prince'


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine

Via Noodlefood comes this announcement of a new organization to protect individual rights in medicine. I haven't yet had time to look into it, but wanted to pass it along based on all the good work I've seen Lin Zinser do in the past.

Singer on GW

This is a good one page summary of the reasons to reject the scaremongers' calls to "fight" global warming. But to end the litany of arbitrary and/or fraudulent claims made by the man-hating environmentalists will take a new morality and the rediscovery of a rational epistemology.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I've almost finished the second-year course (SARPO) at the OAC, and would highly recommend it to anyone, Objectivist or not, who is genuinely interested in philosophy. Diana has previously compared the course to other portions of her philosophy education, and since I'm not a full time philosophy student, I'll simply defer to her on that topic.

But I will add that what I've found to be the best aspects of the course are the way that it highlights the systematic nature of Objectivism and of philosophy in general, as well as the integrations and connections which Onkar draws out across a broad spectrum of seemingly disparate issues. Similarly, the course provides much historical context, explaining why certain problems arose, sketching previous attempts to answer them and then detailing Objectivism's response. I also found that concurrently taking a course on Plato's Republic definitely was beneficial in my understanding of these contrasts, and I'm sure I would have similarly benefited from knowing more of Descartes, Hobbes, Hume, Locke, Rousseau and Kant.

The course is available for auditing, so even if you don't have time for the whole curriculum, you might consider taking the second year class on its own.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Excerpts from Plato's Republic

Last quarter I audited a class on Plato’s Republic at UCI. I found it very interesting, not least as a background and foil to my OAC classes. Of course there are many things to recommend in Plato (e.g. his identification of many of the basic issues in philosophy and his attempts to answer them systematically) and much to criticize (almost every one of his proposed answers). This has been done extensively over the past two millennia, and I obviously haven’t the knowledge to add to the discussion. Instead, I thought I’d just excerpt a couple of passages which I found insightful and which I think can be seen in light of Objectivism’s views on 1. the soul of the second-hander and 2. the idea that evil leads neither to long term success nor to happiness. (For ease of readability, I’ve deleted some of Socrates’ listeners’ agreement in the quotes below.)

From “How the Philosophic Natures are Corrupted” (Book VI)
Then let me crave your assent also to a further observation.

What are you going to say?

Why, that all those mercenary individuals, whom the many call Sophists and whom they deem to be their adversaries, do, in fact, teach nothing but the opinion of the many, that is to say, the opinions of their assemblies; and this is their wisdom. I might compare them to a man who should study the tempers and desires of a mighty strong beast who is fed by him — he would learn how to approach and handle him, also at what times and from what causes he is dangerous or the reverse, and what is the meaning of his several cries, and by what sounds, when another utters them, he is soothed or infuriated; and you may suppose further, that when, by continually attending upon him, he has become perfect in all this, he calls his knowledge wisdom, and makes of it a system or art, which he proceeds to teach, although he has no real notion of what he means by the principles or passions of which he is speaking, but calls this honourable and that dishonourable, or good or evil, or just or unjust, all in accordance with the tastes and tempers of the great brute. Good he pronounces to be that in which the beast delights and evil to be that which he dislikes; and he can give no other account of them except that the just and noble are the necessary, having never himself seen, and having no power of explaining to others the nature of either, or the difference between them, which is immense. By heaven, would not such an one be a rare educator?

Indeed, he would.

And in what way does he who thinks that wisdom is the discernment of the tempers and tastes of the motley multitude, whether in painting or music, or, finally, in politics, differ from him whom I have been describing For when a man consorts with the many, and exhibits to them his poem or other work of art or the service which he has done the State, making them his judges when he is not obliged, the so-called necessity of Diomede will oblige him to produce whatever they praise. And yet the reasons are utterly ludicrous which they give in confirmation of their own notions about the honourable and good. Did you ever hear any of them which were not?

From “Portrait of a Tyrant” (Book VIII)
And now let us consider the happiness of the man, and also of the State in which a creature like him is generated.

At first, in the early days of his power, he is full of smiles, and he salutes every one whom he meets; — he to be called a tyrant, who is making promises in public and also in private! liberating debtors, and distributing land to the people and his followers, and wanting to be so kind and good to every one!

But when he has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.

Has he not also another object, which is that they may be impoverished by payment of taxes, and thus compelled to devote themselves to their daily wants and therefore less likely to conspire against him?

And if any of them are suspected by him of having notions of freedom, and of resistance to his authority, he will have a good pretext for destroying them by placing them at the mercy of the enemy; and for all these reasons the tyrant must be always getting up a war.

Now he begins to grow unpopular.

Then some of those who joined in setting him up, and who are in power, speak their minds to him and to one another, and the more courageous of them cast in his teeth what is being done.

And the tyrant, if he means to rule, must get rid of them; he cannot stop while he has a friend or an enemy who is good for anything.

And therefore he must look about him and see who is valiant, who is high-minded, who is wise, who is wealthy; happy man, he is the enemy of them all, and must seek occasion against them whether he will or no, until he has made a purgation of the State.

Yes, he said, and a rare purgation.

Yes, I said, not the sort of purgation which the physicians make of the body; for they take away the worse and leave the better part, but he does the reverse.

If he is to rule, I suppose that he cannot help himself.

What a blessed alternative, I said: — to be compelled to dwell only with the many bad, and to be by them hated, or not to live at all!

Yes, that is the alternative.

PS We used the Cornford translation in my class, which I prefer to the above, but I couldn’t find a link to an online version of it. The titles for the two excerpts are, however, from Cornford's section headings.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Inconsistency Has No Appeal

As much as I sympathize with anyone trying to stand up to the rabid Islamists, in watching the videos of these "moderate" muslims, I was struck by how hopeless their position truly is. That is, they accept all the claims of the fundamentalist muslims, but then ask that one not take the ideas too seriously. Or to look at it another way, the fundamentalists can better be classified as "consistent" muslims, while the "moderates" are more accurately described as "inconsistent" muslims.

Who is going to be swayed by a call to inconsistency?

The only hope any opposition has of challenging the fundamentalist is to disavow his ideas at their root and then offer different (better) ones. Trying to have it both ways (we believe the teachings and the method but don't want to go to "extremes") has no logical or emotional appeal and so can't win. Of course the fundamentalists don't even see this -- as they are beyond any type of reasoning -- so, predictably, they've responded with death threats.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Alan Caruba's Conversion

In my effort to better understand how philosophy, education, and ideas in general can change a culture, I'm always on the lookout for stories describing people who have radically changed their beliefs (particularly those who do it well into adulthood). And while this particular story focuses mainly on the lies, fraud and irrationality of the environmentalist movement, it also suggests that if the essence of capitalism were taught in schools, many people would embrace it. (That is, the problem isn't really that most people disagree with the ideas underlying capitalism -- but that they are totally ignorant of them thanks to our current educational system, media bias, and intellectual leadership.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Subprime and Alt-A Loans

These two articles (and their links) provide a good background on the situation: 1 2.
See also this post.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Encyclia Radiata


Real Science is Hard

This is a good technical post on some of the science and engineering necessary simply to collect accurate global temperature data -- data without which one can't even begin to try to understand and unravel the highly complex systems causing them. And it contains some excellent links to the (pseudo)subject of global warming as a whole. But I'm mostly posting it because I like the rejoinder to environmentalists half way through the post: Real science is hard!

Friday, March 16, 2007


There have been several comments and questions recently to which I haven't yet responded due to other commitments. I hope to have wrapped up a few projects by the end of next week and then will catch up with the comments on the following weekend. Sorry for the delay.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Government "Science"

Cox and Forkum capture the essence of the problem:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Too Stupid for Words

If it weren't so dangerous you'd have to laugh: now they're not even "saving" a living planet, but rather are "rescuing climate" (maybe they'll put "climate" in a vacuum for safe-keeping?). And it's comforting to know that all faiths can partake in this bit of idiocy.
On Friday, the Interfaith Walk for Climate Rescue will leave Northampton, Mass.

Pragmatic Mentality

I've always thought Cramer to be a bit of an idiot, but after seeing this video I think it's more accurate to classify him as possessing an incredibly short-term mentality (which I think is much more dangerous than someone who just lacks intelligence).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Global Warming Expedition Cancelled Due to Frostbite

Via Mike's Eyes comes this latest bit of irony.

Environmental Jihadists

I like Gus Van Horn's term "environmental jihadist" since it connotes both the religious (i.e. dogmatic) nature of the environmentalists and their willingness to use force to suppress any arguments against them. Moreover, the story to which he refers again highlights: that the battle is much deeper than just a question of science and that it is literally an issue of life or death -- not a quaint discussion among "well-meaning" participants as many would have us believe.

(PS I realize that Gus uses the word warming, but I think it applies to all the environmentalists; whether they're promoting malaria by banning DDT, promoting middle-east killers by shutting down domestic nukes, promoting fires by outlawing asbestos, etc., etc.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Morality Underlies Politics

Though debunking the bogus “science” behind the environmentalist movement is important, an editorial in today’s NY Times illustrates that, as with so many social/political issues, it is at the moral level that the battle truly must be fought. And in this sense, Objectivism is the only system that can offer a true (i.e. scientific) defense of man and his place on earth.

From the editorial:
Whether or not you agree with them about, say, homosexuality and abortion — and we emphatically do not — it is antiquated to limit the definition of morality to the way humans behave among humans.

Those days have been over ever since it became apparent that humans — busy thinking only about their own lives — had the power to destroy huge numbers of species, whole landscapes of habitat and, in fact, the balance of life on earth. The greatest moral issue of our time is our responsibility to the planet and to all its inhabitants.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Fly on Wallstreet

For anyone who trades stocks and enjoys a bit of gratuitous profanity, this site might be for you. (It definitely cracks me up.)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Atlas Lecture

I thought Onk's talk last night rocked! Check the ARI site in a few days for a recorded version of it (though probably without the Q&A which was also very good).

Update: Though it doesn't show on the linked page above, the lecture is available to registered users here.