Idea Machine

So, something is happening to me lately. Although a lot of you probably think I’m pretty shallow, I’m really not. But like most human beings, I do engage in a lot of shallow thinking rather than sitting around scratching my chin in a coffee shop somewhere. But apparently the Brain Fairy slipped some thinking pills into my Propel because I’ve been deluged by ideas lately – or, more specifically, the desire to share my ideas with others, to open discourse on various topics, to say what I think.

But it’s kind of weird how it’s happening every single day, all of a sudden.

Examples are as follows:

  • Saturday night, over dinner, I plunged headfirst into a discussion about religious symbolism and the preferred ratio of god-to-man in the Christ figure. The problem was that we were all drunk at the time.

    For the record: I find that I prefer to think of Christ as containing a higher ratio of man than most religious people do. I think the entire appeal of the Christ story lies in the idea that the part of him that was not a god was scared, and confused, and wondering what the hell was going on, and feeling like hookers and beer were a much better idea than all this Messiah bullshit. That’s why I liked The Last Temptation of Christ and didn’t find it offensive at all.

  • I also plunged drunkenly into a conversation stemming from evany’s entry about the practice of “vanity sizing” at Banana Republic and, also, an article I read at Salon.com about Abercrombie & Fitch that is really quite interesting, especially since it justifies my hate for that fucking place. (*if you aren’t a Premium member, you can watch an ad to get the day pass to read the article. It’s worth it.)

    For the record: If I can wear two sizes smaller in Banana clothes than I can in another store’s clothes, yes. That will encourage me to buy from Banana, I have to say. And on the Abercrombie issue – I’m a quite liberal person, and haven’t seen the catalog in question, but I hate Abercrombie with a passion, and find the whole idea pretty squicky. And those stores that only carry sizes up to 10 can bite me square on my J.Lo ass.

  • Mike asked this question in his last post, dated approximately ten weeks ago: How does Objectivism reconcile P2P music file sharing? And for some reason I had all these ideas, and I left long comments saying so. He’s probably going to ban my IP address. But anyway. I should preface this “for the record” with two things – first, I do not consider myself a student of philosophy, or a philosopher, and second, I have read none of Ayn Rand’s work and my understanding of Objectivism comes from the intensive research I’ve done in the last 24 hours or so. And when I say I did intensive research I mean that I Googled Objectivism and read a bunch of essays and took notes. There. So.

    For the record: After doing all that research I’ve come up with a couple of possibilities. From this essay at aynrand.org, I found the following quote:

    Man – every man – is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.

    This would suggest to me that in the most simple of terms, objectivists would not place blame on those who do the file-sharing, as they are simply advancing their own rational self-interests. But this advancement might come at the expense of others – namely, the artists producing the work (but really, the record companies). A response to the question of why aynrand.org is a non-profit when Rand was a fierce defender of profit found here states:

    Or: suppose you give a free copy of Atlas Shrugged to someone who might find it convincing. That is a selfish but not financially remunerative activity. And thatís the kind of thing (in principle) we exist to do.

    You might conclude from this admittedly oversimplified analysis that, according to an Objectivist, just because an artist (or record company) doesn’t profit financially from the act of file-sharing doesn’t mean that the artist (or record company) hasn’t profited in another, possibly higher sense. Either way, I think Objectivists wouldn’t be engaging in file-sharing witch hunts.

  • And then, today in an email, the question of public vs. private education was raised, and of course I had to jump into that fray.

    For the record: I believe in public education at the primary/secondary school level and private education at the university level. I think that rather than sending kids to private schools, which is most often done to avoid something about the public school experience (such as quality of education, subjects studied, racial mixing, sports, or anything else), we should work to improve our public schools so that they are on par with private schools. I’m oversimplifying things somewhat for the sake of relative brevity, but this is the very reason I’m not supportive of school voucher programs.

    At the college/university level it’s an entirely different situation, I think. Underprivileged kids from poor backgrounds at rural/urban public schools who are well-prepared in high school have a great shot at getting an excellent education from a private college or university. The current federal/state funding structure for institutions of higher learning favors the private college system for poor kids. As a fundraiser at a private college, I’m not bound by the same problems that state colleges face and we have much more flexibility and freedom in awarding grant-based financial aid packages rather than loan-based packages (which is what you’re stuck with at a public school). I know the upper-middle-class tends to get burned in the whole process (too much income for aid, not enough to afford full tuition) but I also think the upper-middle-class has more options available.

I don’t know where all of this has been coming from lately, but I thought I’d share it and see what you guys might think about any of it. I’m an idea machine. Damn.

Comments 16

  • you're a brainhead.

  • But what about me? Am I a brainhead?

  • you're a caffeinehead.

  • no time now for reading – skimming had me want to post this in response to the comment that Os would have no issue with engaging in file-swapping (vis a vis “they're simply advancing their own rational self-interests. *a stretch, I think.)

    Well, I'd like to point this out from the same dotorg source, and I mentioned it before but Mike let the ball drop so I'll put it again here: (posting full quote) (cont.)

  • “Learn to distinguish the difference between errors of knowledge and breaches of morality. An error of knowledge is not a moral flaw, provided you are willing to correct it; only a mystic would judge human beings by the standard of an impossible, automatic omniscience. But a breach of morality is the conscious choice of an action you know to be evil, or a willful evasion of knowledge, a suspension of sight and of thought. That which you do not know, is not a moral charge against you; but that which you refuse to know, is an account of infamy growing in your soul.”

    So, again I say, if an Objectionist cannot say, “I know this is not wrong and on this I am absolutely clear” then I believe it falls on the person to follow through until s/he can say that without referrencing another's actions in defense of his/hers. To skip out on this step is to purposefully (sp?) “evade knowledge.” …the very plea to, “sppon feed me” is telling of an objectivist in the very beginning stages and most romantic level of Objectivism.

    Hope that's clear, I know I go in circles sometimes. I'm rushed.

  • damn you and your gender-friendly prose.

  • by the way, the objectivist perspective interested me because the philosophy is so rooted in capitalism. and since the people who rally so strongly against file sharing purport to be capitalists, i thought it would be a good acid test. i guess the verbiage on the subject these past few days would prove me right, in that respect.

  • …acid test for what again?

    that is, I don't see how any of the verbiage has spoken to the question of file-swapping vs. capalists. I don't even believe you framed the question that way. Now I don't even believe you meant what you asked.

    Here, I dunno if this could help but it might be a more direct way to test your acid.
    http://business.aynrand.org/essays.html

    I mean, I'm not an objectivist but I'll do the research and answer as directly as I can. I suppose I'm just bothered by the fact that discussion got going but most from presenting ideas to you – the one asking questions and you just left it alone, only hitting us with a “fitty.” So – that's me. It's my own fault.

  • – l. please delete repeated comment.

    -m. “verbiage” – you mean what we've quoted and not what we've said, that wasn't clear to me. Everything else stands.

  • at your service, mr. double-take.

  • well i posted on thursday and replied to comments last week. then everything blew up on monday, comments-wise, and i just didn't have time to reply in detail.

  • ..not that you've gone unloved…

    beside, I'm only interested in the meaty discussions – and why are we hashing this out at lories? -sorry Lorie. I also support the idea of free university but I don't think it fits the US model at all. I'll never be at a rally for it.

  • Quick review of Acid Tests, for those of you who need it.

    http://www.galileo.edu/wp/display/67/69.wimpy

  • On file sharing: We have had a government run program for years where the public has full access to creative pieces of work that the artists get absolutly no money for. They are called libraries, and they are a good thing. File sharing should be as well.

  • Gumphood – I like that. However, that's all on a loan system. What's the policy on copying all the pages of the book and making yourself a duplicate so then that which you borrowed becomes your own? File-swaping is not a “loan” system. Again, I do it but I'm under no illusion of whether the area is murky. I know there are certain bands I won't burn music of because somehow my respect precludes me from doing that which might keep me from supporting them with my money. On the other hand, I've discovered other bands, attended shows and purchased merchandise (which I never did before) mainly because I felt I needed to put a bit back toward what I felt I'd already Stolen from them.

  • re: the essence of Jesus, you are again asking insightful questions. Jesus brought a message about love, but the message became lost and somehow many now focus on dogmatic aspects of his purported divinity. Yet, we can see that he made many mistakes (though I don't agree with all what is stated in this link);
    http://tinyurl.com/z23y

    What did he really seem to want? There are many verses that seem to guarantee his full humanity, but this one stands out as being most representative;
    John 15:13-15

    (13) “No one has greater love than this, to lay down oneís life for oneís friends. (14) You are my friends if you do what I have taught you. (15) I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.”

    Thomas Jefferson had the following sage advice to his nephew Peter Carr on the subject (para 4);
    http://tinyurl.com/z23j

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