Thursday, December 31, 2015

Evil is not consistent and does not want to be consistent

"Evil is not consistent and does not want to be consistent. What it wants is to inject itself into the life-sustaining process sometimes—short-range, out-of-context, at whim. To achieve this end, it needs only a single concession by the good: a concession of the principle involved, a concession that evil is proper “sometimes.” such a compromise is evil’s charter of liberty. Thereafter the irrational is free to set the terms and spread by further whim, until the good—and man—is destroyed."

~ Dr Leonard Peikoff in the essay 'Virtue', in 'Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand'

Must Watch: Climatologist Breaks the Silence on Global Warming Groupthink

Tim Minchin's Storm the Animated Movie

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Springer have made a bunch of books available for free, here are the direct links

Objectivist position in three words

"The Objectivist position can be indicated in three words. The ultimate value is life. The primary virtue is rationality. The proper beneficiary is oneself."

~ Dr. Leonard Peikoff in essay "Good" in "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand"

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Who are the Rightists?

"Since, today, there are no clear definitions of political terms, I use the word “rightist” to denote the views of those who are predominantly in favor of individual freedom and capitalism—and the word “leftist” to denote the views of those who are predominantly in favor of government controls and socialism. As to the middle or “center,” I take it to mean “zero,” i.e., no dominant position, i.e., a pendulum swinging from side to side, moment by moment."

~ Ayn Rand in the essay “The Disfranchisement of the Right”

Saturday, December 26, 2015

If (by Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

On Mysticism & Skepticism

"If mysticism advocates the promiscuous acceptance of ideas, skepticism advocates their promiscuous doubt. The mystic “just knows” whatever he wants to believe; the skeptic “just doesn't know” whatever he wants not to believe. The operative term and guiding force here is “wants,” i.e., feeling. Both viewpoints reduce to emotionalism; both represent the reliance on feeling as a cognitive guide. Both represent a denial of man’s need of logic and an enshrinement of the arbitrary."

~ Dr. Leonard Peikoff in OPAR (Essay on Reason)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Thinking by Walter D. Wintle

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you like to win, but think you can’t
It’s almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are
You’ve got to think high to rise
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man
But soon or late the person who wins
Is the one who thinks “I can.”

Sunday, December 20, 2015

High cost of freebies...

"Lots of things were free in the USSR. Sooner or later, nothing costs society as much as things that are free." ~ Garry Kasparov

Friday, December 18, 2015

What is Meritocracy?

“Meritocracy” is an old anti-concept and one of the most contemptible package deals. By means of nothing more than its last five letters, that word obliterates the difference between mind and force: it equates the men of ability with political rulers, and the power of their creative achievements with political power. There is no difference, the word suggests, between freedom and tyranny: an “aristocracy” is tyranny by a politically established elite, a “democracy” is tyranny by the majority—and when a government protects individual rights, the result is tyranny by talent or “merit” (and since “to merit” means “to deserve,” a free society is ruled by the tyranny of justice).

~ Ayn Rand in Philosophy Who Needs It

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Unscrambling the Rubik's Cube

Quotes that make your day

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir, "said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."
- Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."
-Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."
-William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."
-Moses Hades

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."
-Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."
-Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one."
-George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one."
-Winston Churchill, in response

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here."
- Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator."
- John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."
- Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others."
- Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."
- Paul Keating

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."
- Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."
- Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?"
- Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."
- Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."
- Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination."
- Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."
- Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But I'm afraid this wasn't it."
- Groucho Marx

Monday, December 14, 2015

Peikoff on Existentialism

"…the Existentialism of the fifties and the sixties, held that reality is absurd and that irrational passion is the only means of knowledge. In such a world, said Sartre, man is the controller of his destiny, except that he cannot control it because his mind is helpless; so freedom is a “curse,” and man’s fate is fear, trembling, nausea—from which there s “no exit,” since thought is self-deception, system-building is self-deception, a rational ethics is self-deception. All one can do, therefore, is make a blind, activist commitment to some course, or join the Zen Buddhists in merging with a superior dimension, or praise Fidel Castro as the hero of the century, or do something else, anything else, whatever anyone chooses to feel. This is what Existentialists describe as “individualism.”

~ Dr Leonard Peikoff (The Ominous Parallels)

Feminist worldview...

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A summation of leftist philosophy...

These lines from Atlas Shrugged (spoken by the villain character called Dr. Floyd Ferris) adequately sum up the leftist philosophy:

"Thought is a primitive superstition. Reason is an irrational idea. The childish notion that we are able to think has been mankind's costliest error."

"What you think you think is an illusion created by your glands, your emotions and, in the last analysis, by the content of your stomach."

"That gray matter you're so proud of is like a mirror in an amusement park which transmits to you nothing but distorted signals from a reality forever beyond your grasp."

"The more certain you feel of your rational conclusions, the more certain you are to be wrong. Your brain being an instrument of distortion, the more active the brain the greater the distortion."

"The giants of the intellect, whom you admire so much, once taught you that the earth was flat and that the atom was the smallest particle of matter. The entire history of science is a progression of exploded fallacies, not of achievements."

"The more we know, the more we learn that we know nothing."

"Only the crassest ignoramus can still hold to the old-fashioned notion that seeing is believing. That which you see is the first thing to disbelieve."

"A scientist knows that a stone is not a stone at all. It is, in fact, identical with a feather pillow. Both are only a cloud formation of the same invisible, whirling particles. But, you say, you can't use a stone for a pillow? Well, that merely proves your helplessness in the face of actual reality."

"The latest scientific discoveries—such as the tremendous achievements of Dr. Robert Stadler—have demonstrated conclusively that our reason is incapable of dealing with the nature of the universe. These discoveries have led scientists to contradictions which are impossible, according to the human mind, but which exist in reality nonetheless. If you have not yet heard it, my dear old-fashioned friends, it has now been proved that the rational is the insane."

"Do not expect consistency. Everything is a contradiction of everything else. Nothing exists but contradictions."

"Do not look for 'common sense.' To demand 'sense' is the hallmark of nonsense. Nature does not make sense. Nothing makes sense. The only crusaders for 'sense' are the studious type of adolescent old maid who can't find a boy friend, and the old-fashioned shopkeeper who thinks that the universe is as simple as his neat little inventory and beloved cash register."

"Let us break the chains of the prejudice called Logic. Are we going to be stopped by a syllogism?"

"So you think you're sure of your opinions? You cannot be sure of anything. Are you going to endanger the harmony of your community, your fellowship with your neighbors, your standing, reputation, good name and financial security—for the sake of an illusion? For the sake of the mirage of thinking that you think? Are you going to run risks and court disasters—at a precarious time like ours—by opposing the existing social order in the name of those imaginary notions of yours which you call your convictions? You say that you're sure you're right? Nobody is right, or ever can be. You feel that the world around you is wrong? You have no means to know it."

"Everything is wrong in human eyes—so why fight it? Don't argue. Accept. Adjust yourself. Obey."

Springtime for Hitler

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Man For All Seasons - Giving the Devil the Benefit of Law

Orwell on Doublethink

George Orwell created the word doublethink in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). This is what doublethink means according to the novel:

DOUBLETHINK means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of DOUBLETHINK he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. DOUBLETHINK lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word DOUBLETHINK it is necessary to exercise DOUBLETHINK. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of DOUBLETHINK one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. Ultimately it is by means of DOUBLETHINK that the Party has been able — and may, for all we know, continue to be able for thousands of years — to arrest the course of history.

All past oligarchies have fallen from power either because they ossified or because they grew soft. Either they became stupid and arrogant, failed to adjust themselves to changing circumstances, and were overthrown; or they became liberal and cowardly, made concessions when they should have used force, and once again were overthrown. They fell, that is to say, either through consciousness or through unconsciousness. It is the achievement of the Party to have produced a system of thought in which both conditions can exist simultaneously. And upon no other intellectual basis could the dominion of the Party be made permanent. If one is to rule, and to continue ruling, one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality. For the secret of rulership is to combine a belief in one’s own infallibility with the Power to learn from past mistakes.

It need hardly be said that the subtlest practitioners of DOUBLETHINK are those who invented DOUBLETHINK and know that it is a vast system of mental cheating. In our society, those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is. In general, the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion; the more intelligent, the less sane. One clear illustration of this is the fact that war hysteria increases in intensity as one rises in the social scale. Those whose attitude towards the war is most nearly rational are the subject peoples of the disputed territories. To these people the war is simply a continuous calamity which sweeps to and fro over their bodies like a tidal wave. Which side is winning is a matter of complete indifference to them. They are aware that a change of overlordship means simply that they will be doing the same work as before for new masters who treat them in the same manner as the old ones. The slightly more favoured workers whom we call ‘the proles’ are only intermittently conscious of the war. When it is necessary they can be prodded into frenzies of fear and hatred, but when left to themselves they are capable of forgetting for long periods that the war is happening. It is in the ranks of the Party, and above all of the Inner Party, that the true war enthusiasm is found. World-conquest is believed in most firmly by those who know it to be impossible. This peculiar linking-together of opposites — knowledge with ignorance, cynicism with fanaticism — is one of the chief distinguishing marks of Oceanic society. The official ideology abounds with contradictions even when there is no practical reason for them. Thus, the Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism. It preaches a contempt for the working class unexampled for centuries past, and it dresses its members in a uniform which was at one time peculiar to manual workers and was adopted for that reason. It systematically undermines the solidarity of the family, and it calls its leader by a name which is a direct appeal to the sentiment of family loyalty. Even the names of the four Ministries by which we are governed exhibit a sort of impudence in their deliberate reversal of the facts. The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in DOUBLETHINK. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely. In no other way could the ancient cycle be broken. If human equality is to be for ever averted — if the High, as we have called them, are to keep their places permanently — then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Historic Rocket Landing

The Unmindful

“Those unmindful when they hear, for all they make of their intelligence, may be regarded as the walking dead.” ~ Heraclitus

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Call it the universe... an Apollo astronaut

“When the sunlight shines through the blackness of space it’s black, but I was in sunlight and I was able to look at this blackness! And what are you looking at? Call it the universe, but it’s the infinity of space and the infinity of time. I’m looking at something called space that had no end and at time that has no meaning. You can really focus on it because you’ve got this planet out there, this star called Earth, which itself is in this blackness, but it is lit up because the sunlight strikes on an object, strikes on something called Earth. And it’s not a hostile blackness. Maybe it’s not hostile because of the beauty of the Earth that sort of gives it light.” ~ an Apollo astronaut

Nietzsche - on the echo of the newspapers

"Our age is an agitate one, and precisely for that reason, not an age of passion; it heats itself up continuously, because it feels that it is not warm -- basically it is freezing.... In our time it is merely by means of an echo that events acquire their `greatness' -- the echo of the newspapers”

~ Nietzsche, 1882

Monday, December 7, 2015

Isochronic Map

This map published in 1914 is colored to indicate the amount of time it takes to reach these different locations when beginning in England.

Source: Cato Institute

The Matrix Lobby Scene High Quality

Sunday, December 6, 2015

"Let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around." ~ Orwell

Politics and the English Language

George Orwell (1946) 

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.

In age of Google, you don't need to climb the mountain...

Forgotten Thinkers: Cicero

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What caused Bhopal gas tragedy?

The estimated death toll from the 1984 Bhopal disaster is about 15,000 people. But what caused the tragedy? This is excerpt from Robert James Bidinotto's essay, "Bhopal: The Fruit of Industrial Policy," July 19, 1985:

'Not all of the many multinationals in India were willing to tolerate such exploitation (and that is, for once, the perfect word). Under pressure to transfer control to Indians, IBM and Coca-Cola, for instance, left the country in the late 1970s rather than relinquish their independence.

'But Union Carbide India, Ltd., which had been operating in India for decades, chose to remain. . . .

'As many of the most skilled and experienced workers saw the handwriting on the wall and left, local management replaced them with less skilled novices. MIC operator positions, which had once required college science degrees, were filled by high school graduates. Managers used to working with MIC were replaced by less qualified people, sometimes from Carbide's low-technology battery factories. Meanwhile, outright incompetence was legally protected: Indian law forbids the firing of workers, except for very serious infractions. The factory, following the pattern of socialized nations everywhere, was experiencing a "brain drain."

'Until 1982, U.S. supervisory and training personnel were still at the plant. But under Indian law, those Americans were licensed for fixed periods and had to leave once their Indian replacements were trained. At this point, Carbide visits to the site all but ended, and headquarters relied mainly on reports issued from Bhopal.

In June 1982, representatives from U.S. headquarters did conduct one final safety inspection, based upon which they filed a critical report. But safety was now the responsibility of local management.'

The article ends with these lines:

'After tea, Suman Dey noticed that the temperature gauge for tank 610 had climbed off the top of the scale, and that the pressure gauge was rising toward 40 p.s.i., at which point an emergency relief valve burst. . . . "There was a tremendous sound, a messy boiling sound, underneath the slab," he recalled. The slab began to shake, and Dey ran. There was a loud noise behind him, and a giant crack appeared in the concrete. There came a blast of intense heat. When he heard the loud hissing sound, he looked up and saw huge amounts of MIC gas billowing out of the pipe 120 feet above the tank. Like an ominous white specter, it began to drift away from the plant.

'It was the toxic waste of industrial policy.

'Years before, these had condensed as acidic downpourings of laws and regulations, stifling and smothering business enterprise.

'Years before, those responsible could have spared the people of Bhopal.

'By 12:45 a.m. on December 3, 1984, it was too late. . . .'

Source: The Intellectual Activist (Vol. 4, No. 2)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Nicolas Maduro threatens Venezuelans before elections

The choice is clear: Thug Socialism v. Freedom and Prosperity

Why did some nations develop, while others did not?

“If concern for human poverty and suffering were one’s primary motive, one would seek to discover their cause. One would not fail to ask: Why did some nations develop, while others did not? Why have some nations achieved material abundance, while others have remained stagnant in subhuman misery? History and, specifically, the unprecedented prosperity-explosion of the nineteenth century, would give an immediate answer: capitalism is the only system that enables men to produce abundance—and the key to capitalism is individual freedom.” ~ Ayn Rand in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Thursday, December 3, 2015

In Defense of Ayn Rand - Freedomain Radio Sunday Show

Smart thinking....

St. Thomas Aquinas on whether sinners should be killed or heretics tolerated

[In the excerpts below from Summa Theologica (written 1265-1274), St. Thomas Aquinas takes up two questions: Whether it is lawful to kill sinners? and Whether heretics ought to be tolerated? A PDF version of this text is here.]

Whether it is lawful to kill sinners?

Objection 1. It would seem unlawful to kill men who have sinned. For our Lord in the parable (Mt. 13) forbade the uprooting of the cockle which denotes wicked men according to a gloss. Now whatever is forbidden by God is a sin. Therefore it is a sin to kill a sinner.

Objection 2. Further, human justice is conformed to Divine justice. Now according to Divine justice sinners are kept back for repentance, according to Ezech. 33:11, “I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Therefore it seems altogether unjust to kill sinners.

Objection 3. Further, it is not lawful, for any good end whatever, to do that which is evil in itself, according to Augustine (Contra Mendac. vii) and the Philosopher (Ethic. ii, 6). Now to kill a man is evil in itself, since we are bound to have charity towards all men, and “we wish our friends to live and to exist,” according to Ethic. ix, 4. Therefore it is nowise lawful to kill a man who has sinned.

On the contrary, It is written (Ex. 22:18): “Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live”; and (Ps. 100:8): “In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Ritual of Climate Talks

Are we Wrongfully Interpreting Quantum Mechanics

At the Solvay conference, Einstein objected to a probabilistic universe, quipping, “God does not play dice,” but he seemed ambivalent about de Broglie’s alternative. Bohr told Einstein to “stop telling God what to do,” and (for reasons that remain in dispute) he won the day. By 1932, when the Hungarian-American mathematician John von Neumann claimed to have proven that the probabilistic wave equation in quantum mechanics could have no “hidden variables” (that is, missing components, such as de Broglie’s particle with its well-defined trajectory), pilot-wave theory was so poorly regarded that most physicists believed von Neumann’s proof without even reading a translation.