Monthly Archives: May 2003

I finally registered for my

I finally registered for my first classes of graduate school today on my way to a masters in MIS. I will be taking VB.net and Database Design the first summer semester and taking off the second to go to California. Getting into grad school turned out to be a big fiasco becuase my recomendation letters were somehow lost by the admissions office, and my application nearly got lost in the "incomplete" pile. Apparently the address given on the application downloaded from the website was old or inaccurate. Well either way, I should be out of here in a year if everything goes well and I take a full load.

By the way, I saw The Pianist last night, and the movie really sucked, despite by best expectations. Growing up Jewish, I saw dozens of movies about the Holocaust and grew terribly sick of them when I realized that nobody had a clue of what caused it or even attempted to answer why. More often than not, it was portrayed as a natural disaster, not to be understood and learned from, but merely blindly countered with "never again" without knowing what was the evil thing that should not be repeated. I know now of course, which is why I was all the more angered when I saw the same attitude towards 9/11.

Anyway, I thought the movie would have much more piano playing and less drawn out and impresonal history of the Warsaw ghetto and several scenes which reminded me of how I sometimes scrounge around my apartment looking for leftoover food. The only part I liked was the smuggling of the guns, which reminded me of a flier I saw some time ago (shown below). The Nazis, Chinese and Soviets never banned all guns — they just made sure that they were controlled tightly enough so that no "subversives" could get their hands on them. By this standard, gun laws in England and parts of the US (like NYC) are already equal to or worse than those under the Nazi’s and Soviets.

If you’re wondering why all the interest in guns all of a sudden, it’s becuase I decided to get one a while back and started doing research on both the legal and psychological aspects of gun control. I found that the gun-control movement exists as a natural extension of the collectrivist-liberal philosophy — in this case, intrincisim (guns are inherently evil becuase men are unevitably unstable and amoral), determinism (violence is inevitable, we can only choose to take away the weapons), Statism (the State owns the people) and malevolence (a desire for criminals to have an advantage over honest citizens). The last seemed shocking to me too, but it is easy to see in explicit terms when one looks at the pacifist’s foreign policy agenda in areas like terrorism, the UN, and Israel.

Some psychologists have looked at the anti-gun mentality as a passsive-agressive mental disorder, but I see it as a typically irrational reflection of the subjectivist’s own mentality. Lacking values themselves, the liberals/subjectivists/posmodernists seek to destroy value out of pure envy. Their tolerance is actually an intolerance of principle, and they seek to riducule and destroy the concept of value itself (hence subjectivism disquised as "tolerance" and "diversity"). A principled and moral man flies in the face of the degrading collectivist view of human nature and cannot be taken on directly, so they seek to eat away at his principles by deterministic nanny-state policies such as welfare and gun control. For the great majority of liberals, the connection between their philosophy and its political outcome is subconscious, which means that rational challenges to their views can be that much more powerful by contrast. Unfortunately, the philosophy of rights, reason, and reality is so lacking these days that both sides muddle on without really knowing what issues they are debating. Liberty is lost in the end because the bureaucracy is inherently unstable and politicians always power hungry, so that one side is always pushing for slavery while the other can only respond "not so fast!" as they give up their lives one regulation at a time.

monopoly

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Update

David firing a gun

After going shooting this weekend, I was inspired to write an essay titled Guns and Abortions: Two Sides of the Same Coin. I just finished the first draft, and I’m looking for comments and suggestions. If you were inspired by the essay and want to learn more from groups and individuals that that support the Constitution and don’t compromise on principles, I suggest going here and here for gun rights, and here and here for abortion rights. Update: an interesting article on Hitler’s disarming of the Jews.

On a related note, Michael Moore’s website was hacked yesterday. Here is all the hacked page said:

This message is meant to be apolitical. Mr. Moore, your documentary “Bowling for Columbine” is fictitious, not factual. David Hardy’s Truth About Bowling is simply damning. You deliberately deceive your viewers, who are only expecting a slightly biased factual report. Mr. Moore, my personal hope is that you publicly apologize, not for your ideas, but for dubbing your lies the truth. Please see revoketheoscar.com Love always, NHA Crew.

I normally disapprove of hacking, but for I’ll make an exception for blatant frauds and liars. According to my sources, this lazy liberal hasn’t updated his server software in at least a year.

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Guns and Abortions: Two Sides of the Same Coin

About

I have an unusual proposition to make: gun-control and abortion are two sides of the same issue. Both are opposed by the same erroneous logic, and even worse, both are defended on the wrong philosophical principles. A proper understanding of individual rights is not only a requirement for an understanding of both issues, but leads to the same conclusion in both cases. The traditional conservative and liberal rejection of the right to have an abortion and own arms, respectively, is based on a rejection of the individual’s right to his own life and a confusion of the potential versus the actual. A proper understanding of both issues will show that both rights must be unconditionally protected if individual rights are to be respected. Legally, the primary difference between the right to own a gun and the right to have an abortion is that the first is explicitly protected under the Constitution of the United States, while the other is protected by virtue the power to regulate abortion not being granted to the government, and thus being reserved to the people. The legal issue is complex and can be argued at length, but I am concerned here with what the law should be, rather than any particular legal system.

The traditional conservative argument against the right to an abortion is that a fetus has the moral and legal status of a human being. It claims that all men have a God-given right to their own life from the moment of their conception. Because no person has the right to have their life unjustly taken, a fetus, which is a potential human being, must be protected from voluntary harm by its own mother. The last point is significant because even the great majority of anti-abortionists realize on some level that the killing of a fetus is not quite the same as the killing of a grown human: they realize that the practice of abortion is not quite the same level as the mass murder of Jews in Nazi Germany. If I did in fact believe that an abortion was the moral equivalent of the killing of an innocent Jew, I would feel as a failure of a human being if I did not use any means, no matter how extreme or dangerous, to destroy anyone who perpetrated such crimes. Thus, those who do not recognize on some level that an abortion is not the exact equivalent of the murder of an innocent human being are either actively trying to kill or maim those who perform abortions or self-delusional hypocrites. Since the first belong in prison and the second are spineless hypocrites who betray their own principles, this essay is only intended for those who recognize on some level that murder is not morally equivalent to abortion.

The traditional liberal argument against the right to own a gun is that it is inherently a dangerous weapon, and can be used to kill or maim innocent people. Even when owned by an upstanding and righteous individual, it can easily be lost, stolen, misused, or sold, placing it in the hands of a violent criminal or a child who is liable to harm himself or others. Some believe that guns are inherently dangerous and ought to be banned outright, while other hold that some level or precautions and restrictions allows enough security to keep them in the right hands. Additionally, some people believe that people are shaped mostly or entirely by their genes, peers, family, or society: thus they believe that the potential for violence is beyond any particular individuals self-control and must be limited by the State.

Common traditional liberal defenses of abortion are that the life of a child will be immeasurably better off if it is born to a family that wants it, that the mother resort to “coat hangers” or other dangerous methods that risk her life, and that society will be better off without unwanted children who are likely to grow up in bad families, resort to crime, etc, etc. When defending gun rights, conservatives sometimes mention that they are useful tools for both self-defense and recreation, but the most common argument is that firearms are not inherently dangerous and are deeply rooted in America’s culture.

The arguments used against both abortion and gun rights make a major flaw: they confuse the actual with the potential. Conservatives believe that a potential human life has rights because an actual human life has rights: but the potential is not the actual, and a lump of cells does not equal a human being. Likewise, every weapon can potentially be used to harm innocents: but just because I can potentially use my gun for evil does not mean that I will. Conservatives and liberals fail to recognize the difference between potential and actual harm because they fail to recognize the essential characteristics of human nature: individuality and free will. Man is a rational, independent being who must use his mind to create the values necessary for his life. In order to pursue his life and happiness, man must be treated as an end in himself, not a slave of his society. The function of government is thus to protect the individuals inherent rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Women cannot be free to pursue their happiness when they are made slaves to potential humans and made responsible for children they did not desire. Gun owners cannot protect their life and happiness if their primary means if defending themselves is taken from them. It is true that children may grow up to be productive and righteous citizens and that guns may be used against them – but that potential is not an actual and does not give the State a claim against the life or the mother or the gun-owner. The essential characteristic of man is his independence and free will – and when the State makes a grievous error when it recognizes them in a fetus but fails to recognize them in a human being.

There is another similarity between those who oppose abortion and gun rights. Liberals who are well known for being anti-nationalistic and skeptical of all governments as well as famous defenders of the press are often the first to argue for completely disarming the citizenry and giving the government a monopoly on arms. The freedom to keep and bear arms was held precious by the founders because of a long history of governments who disarmed their citizenry before perpetrating horrible atrocities on them. A few of the more prominent ones include Nazi Germany, Nationalist and Red China, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge and Rwanda. These governments have have killed over 100 million of their own people in the 20th century alone. (See the JPFO for more.) Liberals who argue that I will never need an assault weapon for hunting forget that the primary need for an assault weapon is so that I won’t need it. They trust government to implement their social and economic views but forget what happens when politicians get drunk with power and come after the same intellectuals who argue for those powers. They let “reformed” rapists out of prison and refuse to let women carry have the guns to protect themselves. However conservatives cannot take the moral high ground either: they also wish to have the government replace their own volition and moral principles in enforcing morality. They believe that they can give the politicians power to enforce their particular religious views while ignoring all the governments in history who perpetrated atrocities against minorities. History provides ample evidence of the bloodshed that follows when one group after another tries to enforce it’s religion on the populace. The tradition of the separation of church and state in America comes mainly from the experience of one after another monarch trying to force his version of Catholicism or Protestantism on the populace in England. Both liberals and conservatives wish to give politicians the power to enforce their particular ideology as long as they are in the majority – but they forget that everyone is in the minority sooner or later.

Unfortunately, both liberals and conservatives today contradict their own position and fail to consistently defend their position on a moral basis. Liberals argue that legal abortions best serve the interests of the State in preserving the mothers’ health and the potential child’s quality of life rather than arguing for abortion as an unconditional right of the mother to determine the course of her own life. Conservatives compromise with gun control activists, and instead of arguing for the right to keep and bear arms as essential to individual liberty, they defend their ability to own guns as a hobby and cultural icon. The only proper defense of either right must be based on a defense of individual rights rather than confused and contradictory symbols of their own ideologies.

always keep a loaded....gun by your bedside

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! Wanted ! (part 1 of 2)

Thanks to Laurel for finding this liberal version of the infamous "playing cards." I’m going to rant about it, but before I start, let me say that this is not just another liberal bashing or space-filler for my blog. (well, maybe) My point is not that liberals suck (which they do) or that conservatives rock (they also suck) or that we should all become libertarians (they’re plain losers.) In fact, the only people that don’t suck are those who agree with me, which is why you better pay attention.

My message today brethren, is that politicians today stand for just one thing: nothing. They are nihilists whose guiding rule is pragmatism, based on primitive emotionalism and collectivism. The old saying went like this: liberals want to take your money, and conservatives want your freedoms. Lately however, I’ve found that neither side knows what they want, so they take away both while proudly waving American flags (as long as there aren’t any foreigners around) and claiming to support liberty and "hardworking Americans." On the balance however, I support conservatives: they usually betray their principles, but at least they have principles to betray. To make my point, let’s look at offenses that conservatives have committed to earn a spot on the playing cards:

§ Looting Social Security trust funds

§ Taking the country to war under false pretenses

§ Ripping up the safety net

§ Eviscerating democracy

§ Strangling civil rights

§ Assaulting the New Deal

§ Being a partisan hack

§ Peddling economic snake oil

§ Perverting the Fourth Estate

Let’s reduce the accusations down to the essentials:

§ Going to war for selfish reasons

§ Supporting capitalism and individual rights

§ Having principles (i.e. being "extremists" and "partisan hacks")

The so-called evils of the conservatives are actually their virtues, but sadly, the accusations are entirely underserved. I must run off to my weekend exploits now, but stay tuned for the exciting conclusion where I ponder about how great it would be if conservatives actually lived up to the liberals’ accusations.

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PETA Madness

OK, first PETA compared the murder of the Jews in the Holocaust to the killing of cows and chickens. If that weren’t crazy enough, the’re now on a campaign against IAMS (the pet food company) for get this, conducting nutrition trials on pets. Apparently unlike humans, who frequently experiment with different diets, animals aren’t able to consent to nutrition testing! The irony of course is that animas don’t have rights for the precise reason that as non-rational beings, they don’t have the ability to engage in consensual/transactional interactions with humans. Meanwhile PETA is essentially a terrorist group bent on wiping out humanity – or at least everything that differentiates us from animals.

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World News Update, Photo Edition

In today’s obligatory Islamic fundamentalism section, here is a protest attended by up to 2000 "peace loving" Palestinians. Can’t you just feel all the love and goodwill for his Israeli neighbors the little boy in the center is learning from his big brothers? Awww, almost makes you wanna puke.

Palestinian gunmen of the Al Aqsa martyrs brigade

Next we have the predictable result of shoddy construction leading to mass casualties whenever even the slightest natural disaster hits oppressive third world regimes. Citizens of developed countries who have spent their hard-earned money not to live in buildings made out of cards suddenly find their incomes being confiscated to clean up after the failures of one or another socialist regime. Meanwhile, their populace votes for the same Statist regulations that keep the evil capitalists from building any buildings that can stand up to the slightest tremor, flood, or hurricane.

Algerian soldiers and French rescuers look for

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Lessons from the Matrix

I saw the Matrix sequel recently and found it to be about what I expected: a combination of mediocre philosophy thrown in at random and kick-ass digitized kung-fu (aka wire-fu) scenes. While the original was more interesting in terms of "deep thoughts," both movies raise a great number of interesting philosophical questions that can serve as a good introduction to philosophy to those fazed by the empty void of postmodernism. To help with the process, the Matrix website has a handy philosophy section featuring over a dozen different essays with all sorts of perspectives. Some of them are quite interesting and thought provoking, while others are hopelessly muddled in their own subjectivism. (Ex: "I think that even if I am in a matrix, my world is perfectly real.") I suggest reading the introduction to skip to the most interesting essays.

Anyway, there are several interesting points raised the essays that echo some things I’ve been arguing for years. One is that morality is as applicable to entities living in the matrix as it is to the flesh and blood variant. Because morality is based on the practical necessities of a rational entity’s life, it applies equally to all rational entities, including the vat-enclosed, artificial, and virtual kinds. Check out the essay "Artificial Ethics" on the site for more.

Another interesting issue is brought up by Kevin Warwick in the essay "The Matrix – Our Future?" who ponders the plausibility of humanity ending up in a real-life Matrix. (Dr. Warwick is actually the first ever cyborg, implemented not once, but twice with silicon chips. The second was a neural implant that allowed him to remotely interface with a robot arm over the net, record and play back sensory perceptions, and even communicate emotions to a similar chip implanted in his wife. He is actively working on developing the technology to make telepathy a reality, and at this rate, it may well become a reality in his or my lifetime.) Anyway, I have long shared Dr Warwick’s hypothesis, only I take it one step further: I believe that in the long run, the biological human race is doomed. The status quo is inherently unstable, and there are only three possible outcomes in the long run: (a) humanity is destroyed by internal or external factors (b) humanity evolves into non-biological entities or (c) artificially created (but not necessarily intelligent) entities wipe out humanity. This is a philosophical conclusion rather than simply a technological one because it is based on the basic relationship between humanity and technology rather than any particular trend or development. It requires a lengthy explanation, so if you’re up to it, go on to read my theory.

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Judging Science Fiction

Due to my recent graduation, I have had time to do read several books that I have been putting off, and it got me thinking about the plot elements that a good fiction novel must have. In general, I would list them in this order: adventure, social commentary, and sex.

By "adventure," I mean the excitement that drives the story, whether it is a mystery story, a western, or a sci-fi novel. By "social commentary" I mean the way the author chooses to present reality, whether he chooses to create a new one or recreate past or present history. Because art is necessarily a selective representation of reality, the world the author shapes is always a reflection of his views of human nature. Furthermore, I think that good writers consciously make an effort to present a particular view of man’s existence. Think of existentialist writers like Dostoyevsky and Camus versus individualists like Heinlein, L. Neil Smith, and Ayn Rand. (Who else would you add?) This is the "social commentary" element, and while all novels have it, I think that science fiction offers some of the best opportunities to pass judgment on the status quo and propose improvements.

While the average sci-fi reader may like mind controlling/eating aliens and sexy androids, the main virtue of science fiction lies in its power as social commentary — and the relation of technology to man is just one of the issues it can consider. Great science fiction should explore philosophical issues explicitly by putting characters in situations where they must discuss and make tough choices with outcomes that reflect the author’s particular worldview. Examples of such writing (which is not to say that I agree with their particular philosophies) can be found in the writing sci-fi masters such as Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clark. Perhaps this is why I have never liked fantasy – it can certainly be a form of social commentary, but it presents a world that operates by very different rules than our own — limiting the scope of its conclusions.

Most recently, I just finished reading Friday by Robert A. Heinlein – a book that expertly balances all three elements and presents a philosophy similar to my own. (Not recommended for children — but a book that proposes to re-create reality can hardly leave out the sexual aspects of human nature.) Here is an interesting question about another book that masters the three elements – is Atlas Shrugged science fiction? As this review points out, according to Rand, "science fiction is valid only if the scientific aspect is integral and necessary to tell the story." Clearly, the motor is both a fictional invention and integral to the story, but does that make the book science fiction?

What do you think?

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Have you seen the cool

Have you seen the cool new Honda commercial? It may be originally inspired by Rube Goldberg, who designed many such contraptions. In any case, the most suprising thing about it is that the entire 2-minute sequence is 100% live and unedited. If there is a Guinness record for patience, I think these guys should win it. (See the original at the Honda website)

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Comments on "Liquidising goldfish 'not a crime'"

Comments on “Liquidising goldfish ‘not a crime’“:

A. Animals don’t have rights.
B. Fish are not capable of neither suffering nor caring whether their death is “cruel” or “humane.”
C. Putting goldfish in a blender does not constitute art.
D. Neither does it “force people to do battle with their conscience” or “protest against what is going on in the world, against this cynicism, this brutality that impregnates the world in which we live.”
E. In fact, it does exactly the opposite — it’s a nihilistic and idiotic muddling of the distinction between (a) rational entities that have rights and non-rational entities that do not and (b) the immoral versus the disgusting and wasteful.
F. Primary responsibility for a crime goes to the perpetrator, not the creator of the weapon (if anyone, the guy that pushed that button rather than the museum director should have been fined.)
G. A college frat induction would have been a far more productive use for the goldfish. Fortunately for the goldfish, their brains are not capable of caring whether they are slowly eaten away by stomach acids or instantly made into chop suey.

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