On Thursday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on jury nullification, moral judgments of sexuality, dishonesty in a manager, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Whole Podcast: 29 May 2014

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The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.

Podcast Segments: 29 May 2014

You can download or listen to my answers to individual questions from this episode below.


My News of the Week: It’s been a short week, but Paul and I had a great time at ATLOSCon… and I bought a horse while I was there too!

Question 1: Jury Nullification

Question: Should juries nullify bad laws by refusing to convict? Imagine a criminal case of drug possession, tax evasion, or prostitution – meaning, where the law is wrong because the outlawed activity doesn’t violate rights. Should (or might) a juror concerned with individual rights refuse to find the defendant guilty? Does a juror exercise a rightful check on government power by refusing to convict? Or would acquitting the defendant be contrary to the rule of law and even anarchistic? Basically, should the juror use his own mind not merely to judge the evidence, but also to judge the morality of the law?

My Answer, In Brief: Jury nullification is not a form of anarchy, but rather a widely-recognized check on the government’s potential to abuse its powers of law-making and prosecution and a way to protect the rights of innocent people. It may (and perhaps should) be used when rights-respecting people would be convicted and sentenced to prison.

Listen or Download:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 2: Moral Judgments of Sexuality

Question: Does the morality of homosexuality depend on it being unchosen? It seems that the advocates of gay rights and gay acceptance are obsessed with proving that homosexuality is never a choice. I find this confusing as it doesn’t seem to be the best argument. Even if sexual orientation were chosen, I don’t see why there would be anything better or worse about preferences for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality. Rather, I think that if I were able to pick, I would choose to be bisexual, as being straight limits my expression of admiration towards men who may represent the “highest values one can find in a human being” simply due to their genitals. Is that right? Or does the case for rights for and acceptance of gays depend in some way on sexual orientation being unchosen?

My Answer, In Brief: The “argument from lack of choice” in defense of gay rights and gay acceptance can help people come to understand that homosexuality isn’t immoral. However, it isn’t a compelling argument by itself: it fails to recognize the distinction between gay desires and gay acts. The morality of homosexuality must be argued for on more direct grounds.

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To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Question 3: Dishonesty in a Manager

Question: What should I do about the dishonesty of my new project manager? One of the project managers at my job recently lied when evaluating my co-worker. We are evaluated yearly, but aren’t supposed to share the results of the reviews with others. However, my co-worker shared her review with me. It painted her in an extremely negative light via false accusations, and her yearly raise was affected by it. She wasn’t given any warning about the accusations either. I’ve taken over her duties, which include working under the accuser. I’m afraid my review next year will be unjustly and perhaps even dishonestly negative, but I wasn’t supposed to see her review in the first place. What should I do? Is there something I should do about my co-worker’s false negative review? How can I protect myself from this dishonest project manager?

My Answer, In Brief: You cannot control your boss or force him to be honest. However, you can make your interactions (including his lies) transparent by documenting your interactions and soliciting his feedback on your job performance early and often.

Listen or Download:

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Rapid Fire Questions


  • Any special plans for episode #300?
  • Contracts are considered invalid if their terms involve the violation of rights. If a politician gets elected when he promises to violate rights, should his claim to office be considered invalid?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 1:00:45
  • Duration: 6:04
  • Download: MP3 Segment

To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.


Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!

  • Start Time: 1:06:49

About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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Happy 12th Anniversary, NoodleFood!

 Posted by on 18 March 2014 at 8:00 am  NoodleFood
Mar 182014

Whoops! I failed to post this on March 4th, as I ought to have. Sorry! (Obviously, the note about Sunday’s broadcast is obsolete.)

Happy 12th Anniversary, NoodleFood! We’ve come a long way since this first post!

Right now, I’m home for just a few days between Aiken and SnowCon. So regular blogging will resume sometime next week. Also, due to SnowCon, Philosophy in Action Radio won’t broadcast this week.

NoodleFood Authors, Now Fixed

 Posted by on 3 December 2013 at 2:00 pm  NoodleFood, Personal, Technology
Dec 032013

This weekend, I fixed the only major lingering headache from the process of converting NoodleFood from Blogger to WordPress. During that conversion, the author data was lost, such that “Diana Hsieh” was listed as the author of every post, even though just over 1,000 of NoodleFood’s more than 6,000 posts were written by someone else, mostly Paul.

I’d procrastinated on the task of fixing that for over a year and half because I feared that I’d have to update every post not written by me by hand. That would have been mighty, mighty unpleasant work.

However, I’m pleased to report that my technical skills — particularly my regex geekery — came in handy, such that I was able to automate the update by spending a few hours massaging the data. I had to:

  1. Extract data about posts authored by people other than me from Blogger’s exported XML file

  2. Integrate that with htaccess redirections so as to obtain a unique WordPress post ID for each of those posts

  3. Create and issue appropriate commands to SQL to update the relevant 1000 entries in the posts table with the correct author id

Much to my delight, that worked just fine, despite a few hiccups and setbacks.

I’m so grateful for my prior existence as a web programmer and sysadmin. I’ve been able to do so much with Philosophy in Action as a result of those skills. Even now, I surprise myself with what I can do! Heck, now that I’ve mucked around in SQL again for the first time in a few years, I might make use of that for some future projects and upgrades. That would make much of Philosophy in Action’s backend so much cleaner and easier to manage, I think.

Happy 10th Anniversary, NoodleFood!

 Posted by on 4 March 2012 at 4:00 pm  NoodleFood
Mar 042012

Wow… today is the 10th anniversary of NoodleFood! 5524 posts is a heck of a lot, if I do say so myself. It’s remarkable how much my life has changed in that time period, and how much has remained the same too.

Sometime this upcoming week, NoodleFood will be moving to WordPress on Philosophy in Action. I’ll post an announcement when that happens, and all posts and comments will be automagically redirected.

I’m excited to consolidate NoodleFood with Philosophy in Action, as that’s the first step in my planned expansion of Philosophy in Action. I’m also excited about all the features available in WordPress. To port over the archives and design the template has been a huge task, and I still have a bit more to do. I hope that you’ll be as pleased with the results as I am!

The Comments

 Posted by on 7 February 2012 at 3:00 pm  NoodleFood
Feb 072012

For many moons now, I’ve neglected the NoodleFood comments. However, I’ve seen the error of my ways! Over the past few weeks, I’ve been making an effort to remedy that, simply by replying more often. I plan to continue doing the same.

You can…

Notably, if you register with Disqus and post with that account, you can edit your comments — and thereby fix any formatting problems, typos, or other minor errors.

Jun 292010

Due to the debate about the NYC Mosque, the comments have been unusually busy these past few days. I’ve been unusually busy too, such that I’ve not had time to do more than skim many comments. That’s not going to change for the foreseeable future, so I wanted to clarify my position vis-à-vis the comments, not just the comments here, but also on my Facebook page. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m satisfied with everything that’s being said — because I’m not.

Ordinarily, I screen the comments for personal attacks, albeit in a loose way. I’m not so concerned if people posting in the comments lob the occasional insult at each other, provided that the discussion stays reasonably civil overall. However, I don’t want people launching personal grenades aimed at Objectivist intellectuals not involved in the discussion. That’s unfair to them. In general, I want people to argue the issues, not to attack their opponents.

(For the record, I made some mistakes in that regard early in this debate, for which I’ve apologized in the relevant venues. I’m not immune from error, but I’m trying hard to stay above the fray.)

Right now, I don’t have time to screen the comments, although I’ve seen much that I’ve found objectionable. Rather than shut down the comments entirely, I’m operating them on a “judge, and prepare to be judged” policy for the next few weeks. Basically, unless the sight of another comment from you makes me want to puke my guts and tear my hair out, I’m going to allow it. You’re welcome to judge other people for their comments — and be judged for your comments in turn. I would ask, however, that you keep those judgments out of the comments. If you don’t … well … you can expect to be judged for that.

Personally, I’m disheartened to see some personal attacks on Leonard Peikoff in these comments. I respect Leonard Peikoff hugely, despite this disagreement. He’s an honorable man in my book, whatever his anger toward people who hold my views. He cares about the future of this country deeply — and he’s fought for decades to save it. He deserves better than to be casually dismissed, as if he’s not thought about his views, even if you think his position utterly wrong.

If I can keep that context — even though I’m deeply, personally hurt by some of his remarks in his podcast and distressed by the unjust attacks on me by some people unleashed as a result — then you can too. Please, make an effort.

Also, please remember that you’re to wrap up any discussion of this topic by the end of today.

Comment Problems

 Posted by on 17 June 2010 at 11:40 am  NoodleFood
Jun 172010

The Disqus comments are having some kind of problem, such that some people aren’t able to post. Disqus says they’re undergoing maintenance, so I hope the problem will be resolved soon. In the meantime, don’t despair!

Update: Yay! The comments seem to be working again. Feel free to try posting test comments on this thread.

Great Blogger Migration, Take Two

 Posted by on 30 April 2010 at 11:00 am  NoodleFood
Apr 302010

Later today, I hope to do the Great Blogger Migration for NoodleFood. It has to get done pronto, as FTP publishing will be discontinued tomorrow. So… if NoodleFood goes all wonky for you today, just come back later. By Monday, everything should be straight. If you encounter anything amiss on Monday, please drop me an e-mail.

Unfortunately, the Migration is seriously hampered right now by the fact that we don’t have power in the house due to some major electrical problems in the line between the pedestal and the house. My DSL modem and laptop are running on battery for now, but my web development files are all on my iMac desktop. That’s a problem!

If I get desperate, I might have to move my iMac down to the barn! (That runs on a separate line.)

Happy Belated Blogiversary!

 Posted by on 11 March 2010 at 5:00 pm  NoodleFood
Mar 112010

Last week, I totally blew past the NoodleFood blogiversary. As of March 4th, 2010, I’d been blogging for eight years. (EIGHT YEARS!!!) In that time, NoodleFood has published 4,125 posts. (4,125 POSTS!!!) That’s pretty awesome.

Hooray for me! Hooray for my co-bloggers! Hooray for my commenters! Hooray for my readers!

The Great Blogger Migration

 Posted by on 21 February 2010 at 5:00 pm  NoodleFood
Feb 212010

Blogger has decided — for seemingly good reasons — to stop allowing publication of blogs via FTP. Hence, I need to migrate NoodleFood and my other blogs to Google “custom domains.” My blogs will still use their existing domain names (i.e. not blogspot.com), but they’ll be at subdomains hosted by Google. NoodleFood, for example, will be at blog.dianahsieh.com.

You won’t need to change your bookmarks or update your feed: everything will be redirected. However, you’ll notice a change in the template, as now I’ll be able to take advantage of Blogger’s “Layouts,” including its various cool widgets. Also, I’m going to switch the comments to some new system — probably Disqus — as that’s something that I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time.

I’ve already done the transfer for some of my blogs, and that’s gone well. However, I’m a bit worried about NoodleFood. I have over 4,000 (!!) posts to transfer, and some of my comments scripts will be partially broken.

So here’s what’s going to happen. I’ve already posted Sunday’s posts. I’m going to work on the migration tonight (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday). I hope to have everything — except perhaps the comments — up and running on the new Google domain by Monday.

If something seems really broken, you can always e-mail me at [email protected]. But … please don’t do that until Monday.

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