Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
The Climatic Research Unit e-mail hacking incident, referred to by some in the media as "Climategate", began in November 2009 with the hacking of a server used by theClimatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England, in the United Kingdom. The unknown hacker copied and anonymously disseminated over a thousand e-mails and other documents.
The university confirmed that the security breach took place, but could not confirm the authenticity of the material at short notice, and expressed concern "that personal information about individuals may have been compromised." Details of the incident have been reported to the police, who are investigating. Later, Phil Jones, Director of theUEA-CRU, confirmed that all of the leaked emails that had provoked heated debate appeared to be genuine.
Climate change skeptics have asserted that the e-mails show collusion by climate scientists to withhold scientific information. Other prominent climate scientists, such asRichard Somerville, have called the incident a smear campaign. Among those who wrote the released e-mails and documents, Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, called charges that the emails involve any "untoward" activity "ludicrous", and  Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research stated that the sceptics have selectively quoted words and phrases out of context in an attempt to sabotage the Copenhagen global climate summit in December.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Is this the best use of Facebook possible from these feeble little minds? Listen, you little fucks, Cartman is NOT a role-model.
In Calabasas, Calif., police think a Facebook posting declaring Friday as "Kick A Ginger Day" led to a red-haired 12-year-old getting attacked by 14 other students. ("Ginger" is a nickname / slur for people with red hair, light skin and freckles. It became especially popular a few years ago after a "South Park" episode.)
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Interesting tidbit about this movie:
Roland Emmerich is willing to murder billions of people in his films, blow up the planet, and end life as we know it; but there’s one thing that stops him cold: Islam. Emmerich tells Sci-Fi that he’d originally planned to include a scene in his new disaster movie 2012 where the Kaaba was destroyed. It’s a cubed shaped building in Mecca and one of Islaam’s holiest sites.It's obvious the Christians and Buddhists don't set Emmerich shaking. Whatever that says about Emmerich, it says more about the nature of Islam, Jihad, and the P.C. tendency to apologize (see the latest denials, like the Fort Wayne Massacre...).
So why’d he back off? You know why. Because he’s afraid of Muslims. Emmerich says, “my co-writer Harald said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie.” Bear in mind that in this same movie he utterly demolishes the Vatican while wiping out a bunch of Buddhist monks and no one seems to care. I’m not sure this is so much a feather in the cap of the Pope as it is a check mark on my list of reasons not to read the Qur’an.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
First order of business is to incorporate my blog Orpheus Remembered, a blog dedicated to the the musical debates of the Objectivist persuasion. (That was fast! Already archived here under their original publish dates.) That blog was started as a personal labor of love, being that I am a musician myself. It covered everything from Rand's formulations on music, her questionable comments on Beethoven, the debates of rock music versus classical versus jazz and the speculations on those who love and loathe such genres, as well as my own speculations on the future of music. I pretty much concluded that blog months ago, taking it as far as I could, though I have one more post to add, if I ever get around to it...anyway, the posts will be here, as well, so that the full fury of the musical invective can live on...
...you might get some information or some leads from it. But on the whole, I think the potential harm intellectual you get from such groups is greater than the values you put out unless you're very selective and careful in what topics you decide to take part in and how you take your part.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
by Joseph C. Maurone
The criticism that Rand's work primarily appeals to adolescents stems, I believe, from her celebration of the ego. This is perhaps most explicit in Anthem, where the plot revolves around the re-discovery of the word "I." Rand was aware of the link between heroism and its crucial significance in the psychological development of the individual. The role of ego in the formation of the self is also a crucial aspect of the hero cycle of mythology and religion, and both Jungian psychology and Objectivism take up the relation in their work, defending the ego against its negative connotations in common usage.
As Objectivist Leonard Peikoff states, "…[E]goism has been advocated through the centuries mainly by subjectivists. The result is several corrupt versions of egoism, which most people now regard as the self-evident meaning of the concept. ... Objectivism upholds objectivity and therefore rejects all these versions…. We reject the notion that selfishness means 'doing what you feel like doing.'"
Jungian analysists would agree. As Mary Ann Matoon states, "The ego of Jungian psychology should not be confused with the ego of common parlance. The latter, often is used to denote selfishness or conceit, is used to mean 'egocentric' or 'big ego.' However, such an ego is not big; rather it is underdeveloped, insecure, and in need of protection . The healthy ego of which Jung wrote does not need protection; it can tolerate criticism from other people as well as from within." And according to William Doty, "Within the Jungian system there is a strong emphasis upon individuation, the process by which selfhood is attained by an individual. The transpersonal or archetypal self is considered to be manifested though an individual, and there is a strong bias toward the attainment of an integrated and creative individuality ... "
In addition, Robert A. Segal writes that for Jungians, "the key feat of the first half of life is the establishment of a measure of independence from the unconscious." Compare this to Peikoff's take on Rand's use of ego: "Each individual must choose his values and actions by the standards of man's life in order to achieve the purpose of maintaining and enjoying his own life. Thus Objectivism advocates egoism-the pursuit of self-interest-the policy of selfishness."
But a problem arises when comparing Jung's and Rand's usage of the word ego. Both thinkers affirm the ego, but Jung saw it as part of a larger whole, the Self, while Rand identifies it as the Self. In Nathaniel Branden's words, "A man's ego is his mind, his faculty of awareness, his ability to think-the faculty that perceives reality, preserves the inner continuity of his own existence, and generates his sense of personal identity. 'Ego' and 'mind' denote the same fact of reality, the same attributes of man; the difference, in the use of these terms pertains to an issue of perspective: I use the term 'ego' to designate man's power of awareness as he experiences it."
Branden identifies the ego as awareness and thought, but does not mention here the relation of the ego to the rest of the psyche, or what is often termed the unconscious or subconscious, suggesting that it is the whole of the self. His next statement confirms this: "Any threat to man's ego -anything which he experiences as a danger to his mind's efficacy and control—is a potential source of pathological anxiety. The pain of this anxiety is the most terrible that man can know—because the value at stake is, necessarily, the most crucial of all his values."
This, Jung might say, is the source of ego-inflation which cause the hero to become tyrannical, creating a need for the hero to be sacrificed. According to Jung, the ego that sees itself as the whole self runs the risk of inflation with its own importance. In mythology, this is illustrated by the hero replacing the defeated tyrant with his own variant of tyranny. He usually starts out with good intentions; the hero acts as a benevolent dictator who knows best for the community. But when the populace doesn't act in the manner that he thinks they should, he decides that it is in their best interest to make the decisions for them. So, the cycle of tyranny continues.
This would normally be the part of the hero cycle where a new hero arises, which usually results in the downfall or the redemption of the former hero. If the former hero is not slayed, he is otherwise sacrificed. But this is not a sacrifice in an altruistic sense, for the heroic sacrifice signifies the submission of the ego to the larger realm of the Self, of which the ego is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Segal writes that "The feat of the second half [of the hero cycle] is, almost paradoxically, the restoration of contact with the unconscious." But Rand's fiction does not include this aspect. As Joseph Campbell states, "If one or another of the basic elements of the archetypal pattern is omitted from a given fairy tale, legend, ritual, or myth, it is bound to be somehow or other implied-and the omission itself can speak volumes for history and pathology of the example…".
A study of Rand's literary and political influences can shed light on the significance of this omission, in her work, and may offer more insight to the criticisms against her work for appealing to adolescents.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Riggenbach goes another step, however, arguing that the boomers embodied a spirit of decadence in contradiction to "conventional wisdom;" not simply decay, but the decay of authority, and that decadence historically has led to vitality in various fields. This is a tempting theory for any liberty-minded person to embrace. But then Riggenbach then takes this to make his case for anarcho-capitalism, arguing for "spontaneous order" over "central planning." Basing his arguments on the theory of natural law described by Adam Smith as "the invisible hand," Riggenbach celebrates the "welcoming attitude" of the baby boomers towards "diversity and eclecticism," or "doing your own thing." This is where Riggenbach's argument crashes into Ayn Rand, who he both damns and praises, and her philosophy of Objectivism, which argues against totalitarianism but rejects the celebration of the eclecticism and hedonism associated with the "vitality" of the hippy lifestyle. Riggenbach argues that there were two perceptions of Rand, the minarchist and the anarchist, that influenced the boomers (an argument mirrored in the 2009 biography Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right). This is just a microcosm of the larger schism of minarchism and anarchism and the claims by Rand that Libertarianism is a plagiarization of her ideas in a pragmatic pursuit of political short-cuts.
But confined to its own arguments, the praise of "decadence" fails to convince on its own terms. In the absence of an integrated philosophical system, the "spontaneous order" of eclecticism and anarchism did not lead to the "Dionysian" utopia of Woodstock but to the "Orphic dismemberment" of Altamont. It's notable that Riggenbach has to condemn certain aspects of the eclecticism and hedonism associated with the Sixties generation while admitting that the "conventional wisdom" of authority is often there for good REASON. In doing so, Riggenbach is in danger of making Rand's arguments against eclecticism (Rand anticipated the hippies with her portrayal of the "pseudo-individuals" portrayed in The Fountainhead.)
But what place is there for reason in Riggenbach's argument? Quoting Hayek, who defined "spontaneous order" as "the product of human action but not of human design," Riggenbach seems to argue from a teleological viewpoint of final causation: "the natural order of human society, with which rulers and planners tinker at their peril." This simply replaces the authority of "God" or "the State" with the dictates of "human nature" (an "ecological" conception.) While there is the maxim that "nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed," Hayek's formulation eliminates the reasoning mind with blind action, which is no guarantee of freedom. (A full analysis of Hayek's nuanced views on reason are beyond the scope of this review, but one notable comparison between Hayek and Rand and their view of reason is found in Chris Matthew Sciabarra's Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical.) And although Riggenbach celebrates human creativity and technology, "human action without human design" does not lead to innovation, but to the retrogression found in Rand's analysis of the New Left's "Anti-Industrial Revolution."
To use Riggenbach's own arguments demonstrates the limitations of "spontaneous order" in human relations. I give Riggenbach credit for his historical identification of the various makeup of the baby boomer generation, and his insight into his targets that would inhibit freedom and creativity. (His argument against centralized government and the danger of unchecked statist growth is a constant thorn in the minarchist/Objectivist side, and for good reason: "Who watches the watcher?" The very question has created something of a "Mobius Strip" in the issue, preventing neither side from claiming total victory in the argument.) It is his philosophical underpinnings FOR freedom that I find weak; his arguments against oppressive authority were better met by Ayn Rand, who provided a way to navigate through creative matters without the perils of decadence. And a specific parallel to Riggenbach's thesis can be found in Leonard Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels, which, in contrast, identifies the decadence and philosophy of Berlin and the Weimar Republic in relation to the rise of the Third Reich, and the similarities found in the United States that have led to the current economic and political turmoil.