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.
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.