John Galt League Super Bowl

 Posted by on 31 December 2010 at 2:00 pm  Football, Personal
Dec 312010

I’m pleased to announce that, despite having the worst regular season record of all the playoffs teams of the John Galt (Fantasy NFL) League, my Sedalia Sea Monkeys managed to win the Super Bowl! Yay me! Paul managed a similar surprise win last year with his GeekPress Generals, surprisingly enough.

Paul and I will be playing the NFL’s Playoff Challenge during the playoffs. If you’d like to join us and some other teams from the regular John Galt League, you just need to sign up and join the John Galt League. For this fantasy game, you need to pick not only good players, but good players from teams that are likely to advance in the playoffs. That’s fun — and it’s easy to join, as there’s no draft.

My Year in Review

 Posted by on 31 December 2010 at 10:30 am  Personal, Productivity
Dec 312010

Since it’s the last day of 2010, I wanted to write up the highlights of what I’ve done in 2010. These doings are in rough chronological order.

  • I started 2010 as a half-dead, nearly-senile corpse, thanks to my crash into hypothyroidism in the fall of 2009. I’m not yet fully recovered, although I’m doing darn well and expect to be even better with further increases in my dose of desiccated thyroid. Basically, by diligently working on the problem and opting for unconventional treatments, I’ve returned to life. Everything else that I’ve done this past year depended on that. So… YAYAYAYAYAY!
  • In the spring, I re-organized and re-designed all my web sites due to the forced transition of my blogs from FTP to Google’s hosting. They’re all better for it, although definitely in need of another update now.
  • With much assistance from others, Front Range Objectivism has expand under my leadership. In January, FRO launched its third discussion group: 3FROG. FRO completed its two Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups in March, then created two new FROG discussion groups from them in April. Now FRO has five monthly discussion groups spread out from Longmont to Colorado Springs.
  • I launched Modern Paleo in March. I’m particularly grateful to its blog editor, Christian Wernstedt, and the other contributors to the blog, for their efforts. I have exciting plans in store for the site in 2011.
  • Between January and October, I recorded the remaining 13 podcasts in my set of 20 podcasts on Atlas Shrugged. Those podcasts turned out to be much more work — and much more interesting — than I expected. I’d hoped to start turning those podcasts into a book in 2010, but that got delayed by other projects… but hopefully not for too much longer.
  • In June, I tested out a new method of financing intellectual work by asking people to pledge for a podcast on finding good romantic prospects. That first pledge project was hugely successful, and I’ve funded other work via pledges since then. Oh, and that podcast is still available for sale.
  • In July, I gave a course at OCON entitled Luck in the Pursuit of Life: The Rational Egoist’s Approach to Luck. I was pleased with how that turned out. I had tons of productive fun at OCON in 2010.
  • I launched four new OLists, with the help of their managers. OProducers, OShooters, and OGardeners launched in April, and OHomos launched in July. You can expect a few more OLists in 2011, likely OCrafters and OGeeks.
  • Paul and I adopted our little spitfire, otherwise known as doggie Mae, shortly after OCON. I took her through a fantastic basic obedience class at Come Sit Stay in the fall, where she made huge progress on her fear of strangers. I enjoyed that so much that I did the same class with Conrad a few weeks later. I plan to continue with that obedience training because I enjoy it so much.
  • In September, I interviewed Stephen Bailey, Republican candidate for US House of Representatives for Colorado’s Second District, with the help of Ari Armstrong. Although Bailey lost the race, he ran a good campaign, and I was proud to support a truly free-market candidate.
  • In August, Ari Armstrong and I expanded and updated our “personhood” paper, now titled The ‘Personhood’ Movement Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters that Rights Begin at Birth, Not Conception. It’s the most in-depth defense of abortion rights from an Objectivist perspective written to date — and it would not have been possible without people’s generous pledges.
  • In October, I launched my Rationally Selfish Webcast, answering questions on practical ethics every Sunday morning. I’ve gotten much better at those webcasts, and I’m really happy with the addition of Greg Perkins as the man charged with keeping me in tolerable order. I’m very grateful to everyone who is supporting those by their contributions to our “tip jar.”
  • I bought a new horse — Lila — in late October. In addition to all the riding I’ve done — including cantering along the road through blinding snow yesterday — I’ve done clicker training with her, which is really quite marvelous. I’ve the last few weeks, I’ve made some long-overdue progress in setting up my new barn too.
  • My hypothyroidism destroyed my physical conditioning, but I got into better physical shape than ever thanks to the kick-ass workouts at CIA FIT Gym. Also, I went on my first backpacking trip in September, and I enjoyed three fantastic days of skiing in Breckenridge in December. Of course, I continue to eat paleo, and I’ve enjoyed cooking and eating immensely this year.
  • With much help from others, I launched two new still-ongoing Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups this fall for Front Range Objectivism. And plans for March’s SnowCon are underway!
  • In November, Adam Mossoff gave a fantastic pledge-funded webcast on intellectual property. That’s now become a monthly series of pledge-funded webcasts with Objectivist intellectuals, with Eric Daniels speaking on the foundations of free speech in January.
  • And… last but not least… I enjoyed another stellar year of marriage to my most excellent husband. And I experienced the deep pleasure of friendship with many truly excellent and admirable people.

Overall, 2010 was an excellent year for me… but I’m really looking forward to 2011!

Three Words: Silly Fun

 Posted by on 30 December 2010 at 5:10 pm  Personal
Dec 302010

I saw this little small app of narcissistic self-indulgence useful marketing research last night on twitter, and I couldn’t resist. So… go describe me in three words!

Update: I just realized how to make the page public, so you can see all the responses now.

Objectivist Roundup

 Posted by on 30 December 2010 at 2:00 pm  Objectivist Roundup
Dec 302010

Uncommon Sense hosted this week’s Objectivist Roundup. Go check it out!


I’m pleased to announce a second pledge-funded webcast, this time with Eric Daniels! (Yay! I’m so excited!) I hope to arrange for one of these pledge-funded webcasts each month, hosted by

On January 10th at 7:00 pm MT, historian Eric Daniels will webcast on the foundations of free speech, answering your questions about it.

Here’s Dr. Daniels’ proposal for the webcast:

Freedom of speech and expression forms a vital foundation of a free society. The Founding Fathers established a firm but not unassailable foundation for protecting this freedom in the First Amendment. Over the course of the twentieth century, freedom of speech experienced a patchwork of protection and rejection by the courts. In recent major cases, the US Supreme Court and lower courts have appeared to bolster the protection for speech in areas such as campaign finance, obscenity, and compelled speech. Despite these victories, the foundation of these decisions has relied upon the flawed theories of free speech that have been part of American jurisprudence. Without a proper foundation for freedom of speech, these cases will remain a paper barrier to further assaults on our freedoms.

In this webcast, Dr. Daniels will investigate some interesting recent developments in First Amendment cases (including Citizens United v. FEC, United States v. Stevens, and others). In many of these cases, he will illustrate how the flawed theories that support the correct decisions act to undermine the proper defense of freedom. He will also discuss what a proper defense would look like in each case and suggest ways that we can act to protect freedom of speech into the future by improving its foundations.

For those of you not yet familiar with Eric Daniels as a lecturer, I pity you, because he’s legendary! His courses at OCON are always stellar. I was particularly enthused by his course on Freedom of Speech in American History given in 2008. That, plus my own frustrating encounters with campaign finance laws, are why I invited him to webcast on the topic of free speech.

The structure for this webcast will be slightly different from Adam Mossoff’s November webcast on intellectual property.

First, Eric Daniels will give a 10 minute free “teaser” for the webcast on Monday, January 3rd at 7:00 pm MT. That’s exactly one week before the webcast, and five days from today. You’ll be able to access that on the public web page for this webcast. (Yes, I will post reminders of that.)

Second, every pledger will be welcome to attend the live webcast and participate in the text chat. Every pledger will be able to submit and vote on questions via Google Moderate too. People who pledge more money will be more likely to have their questions addressed, however.

Third, an audio file of the webcast will be available for download. You cannot share that with anyone outside your own household, but you’ll be able to play it from now until doomsday, if you like. You’ll also have access to streaming video of the webcast for about two months.

As before, you’re welcome to pledge any amount. However, please remember that whether the webcast happens or not depends on the total amount of money pledged. The webcast will be green-lit or cancelled, depending on the pledges received by noon on January 6th. (That’s just eight days away!) Also, if the webcast takes place, I’ll post it for sale after the fact for $50.

So… if you want this webcast to take place, if you want to support Dr. Daniels’ work, and if you want to support this new webcast series, please pledge!

Do you want to pledge? I hope so! Please remember that your pledge is a contract to pay for the webcast, if delivered, and you should consider yourself honor-bound to pay that pledge.

If you have any problems with that embedded form, try this form.

The critical dates for this webcast can be found on the OList Calendar. To sum up:

  • Monday, January 3rd, 7 pm MT: Free Teaser Webcast
  • Thursday, January 6th, 12 pm MT: Pledge Deadline
  • Monday, January 10th, 7 pm MT: Private Webcast for Pledgers

OList Webcast Pledge FAQ

How much should I pledge?

That’s entirely up to you. You should pledge whatever the webcast is worth to you, knowing that if enough people don’t pledge enough money, the webcast will be cancelled. In that case, all pledges will be void. Also, you should pledge more if you have questions that you’d really like answered.

Will anyone know what I’ve pledged?

No one except the webcast organizers and webcaster will know how much you’ve pledged. Nothing about your pledge will be made public.

What if I don’t pay what I’ve pledged?

If you’re not satisfied with the quality of the webcast, I will grant a refund, provided that you explain your reasons. However, if you simply welch on your pledge, you’re a schmuck. In that case, you will not be welcome to pledge on any future projects until you pay me the money you owe me, including a hefty penalty for being a schmuck.

What if I want to alter my pledge?

If you wish to increase your pledge, you can always pledge more by e-mailing me your new pledge amount. If you make a mistake in your pledge, you can e-mail me before the pledge deadline to adjust it.

How will I submit questions for the webcast?

You’ll submit questions for the webcast via Google Moderator. I’ll send you the link to that forum shortly after I receive your pledge.

How will I get access to the live webcast?

A few days before the webcast, I’ll e-mail you the url, login, and password for the live webcast. After the webcast, you’ll be able to use the same url, login, and password to view the streaming recorded video or download the audio file.

Can I share the webcast with anyone else?

You may only share it with other members of your household. If you’d like to give the webcast to someone else as a gift, you can do that by submitting an additional pledge. If you distribute the private link or audio file, you will not be welcome to pledge on any future projects until you compensate me for the theft of that property, even if accidental.

How do I pay you?

After the webcast, you’ll receive payment instructions in the invoice I’ll send you. My preferred method of payment is PayPal, but you’re welcome to sent me a check or money order, if that’s what you prefer.

What if I’m not satisfied with the webcast?

If you’re not satisfied with the quality of the webcast, I will grant a refund (or void your pledge), provided that you e-mail me to explain your reasons.

If I don’t pledge, will I be able to purchase the webcast later?

The webcast will be available for sale for $50.

What do I do if I have some other question?

Please e-mail me at [email protected].

Open Thread #229

 Posted by on 29 December 2010 at 12:00 pm  Open Thread
Dec 292010

Here’s yet another Open Thread for your thoughts:

For anyone in the fiery grip of a random question, comment, joke, or link they’d like to share with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. Please refrain from posting personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

Dec 282010

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on altruism and sacrifice, celebrating Festivus, what to do about Wikileaks, eating pets, topics for first dates, black and white thinking, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

Whole Podcast: 26 December 2010

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

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: 26 December 2010

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


My News of the Week: Let’s get started!

Question 1: Altruism and Sacrifice

Question: Why does altruism measure virtue by the depth of a person’s self-sacrifice, rather than the amount of good actually done for others? Altruism demands every person promote the welfare of others as his ultimate value. Despite that, however, altruistic virtue is not measured by the actual good done for others, but rather by the depth of the person’s self-sacrifice. Why is that?

My Answer, In Brief: Altruism is not inconsistent to measure virtue by depth of a person’s self-sacrifice. It must do that – or acknowledge that mankind’s greatest benefactors are not people doling out charity, but rather people who produce and trade for their own selfish gain.

Listen or Download:

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

Question 2: Celebrating Festivus

Question: Would you recommend your fellow Objectivists to celebrate Festivus? If so, how should we celebrate it?

My Answer, In Brief: It’s just as wrong to be contrarian as to be conformist. Instead, use rituals and holidays to reflect your values.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 3: What To Do about Wikileaks

Question: What should the US government do about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange? In particular, can and should the US government go after him, given that he is not an American citizen and he apparently committed his bad acts outside of US territory?

My Answer, In Brief: Wikileaks is a major problem, but it’s wrong for the US to claim power to prosecute anyone anywhere.

Listen or Download:

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

Question 4: Eating Pets

Question: Would you kill your pets for food? Why and why not?

My Answer, In Brief: Our deep feelings for our pets are wonderful, but those feelings shouldn’t get in the way of being sensible, selfish pet owners.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 5: Topics for First Dates

Question: What are some good topics to discuss on a first or second date? Also, what topics should be avoided?

My Answer, In Brief: Focus on the positive, and ask questions that reveal your own and your date’s personality and values.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 6: Black and White Thinking

Question: Isn’t it wrong to be a “black and white” thinker? To a lot of people that is not a good trait. Life isn’t black and white. Black and white thinking limits you. It closes doors instead of opening them and it also closes minds. In the case of gray, you can give and take. Why is black and white thinking a necessary part of Objectivism? Shouldn’t common contradicting viewpoints be welcome in a healthy discussion?

My Answer, In Brief: We should seek the clarity of a black and white world, but that doesn’t mean that we should pretend to know more than we do, ignore complicating factors, or treat people like morons.

Listen or Download:

To comment on this question or my answer, 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: 57:14

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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Theft of Intellectual Property

 Posted by on 27 December 2010 at 4:00 pm  Intellectual Property
Dec 272010

For those following the Atlas Shrugged Video Contest, I want to mention that one of the entries, “Sixth Sense” is now embroiled in a most unfortunate dispute over ownership. Jerry Johnson — who I’ve known online as an upright, thoughtful guy for many years — wrote a clear post post explaining the events: Abhay Kumar Steals Credit to Atlas Shrugged Video Contest Entry. My best wishes to Jerry; I can only hope that matters are resolved to his satisfaction.


Inspired by the Atlanta Objectivist Society’s July MiniCon, Colorado’s Front Range Objectivism will be hosting its own MiniCon — aptly named “SnowCon” — from Wednesday, March 9th to Sunday, March 13th, 2010. Come join us for some winter play in the mountains, then a weekend of stimulating lectures and other events in Denver!

The Tentative Schedule

The following SnowCon schedule is currently very tentative. If you fill out the interest form below, you will be alerted as plans are made firm. Also, the weekdays in the mountains are completely optional, meaning that you can choose to attend only the weekend events in Denver, if that suits your schedule and interests better.

Wednesday, March 9th to Friday, March 11th: Fun in the Mountains

We will be snowshoeing and skiing in the Colorado Rockies, from Breckenridge, on these weekdays. Join Paul and me — on your own schedule, at your own pace — for any or all of these three days. We’ll meet for dinner and discussion every evening. These days in the mountains will likely be less structured than the weekend days. (See the bottom of this post for a few pictures from our most recent trip to Breckenridge.)

Saturday, March 12th and Sunday, March 13th: Fun in the City

On Saturday, we’ll have a full day of informal lectures, presentations, and other delights. We’ll cap off the day with our keynote event — a FROST Supper Talk with Jenn Casey and Kelly Elmore of Cultivating the Virtues.

On Sunday, we’ll enjoy a delicious brunch and other events in the morning and early afternoon before people head to the airport.

Costs and Other Details

FRO will keep the costs for the SnowCon itself as low as possible. Given the cost of the FROST Supper Talk ($60) and other fees, SnowCon will likely cost around $150. We will offer some à la carte pricing options too.

SnowCon attendees will be responsible for their own lodging, transportation, meals, and other expenses during SnowCon, unless otherwise indicated. FRO will help attendees find accommodations within their budget, including sharing rides and rooms.

SnowCon welcomes all friendly people with a serious interest in or honest curiosity about Ayn Rand’s philosophy, regardless of their level of knowledge. We recommend people read Atlas Shrugged at least once before attending, however. Also, supervised children and teenagers will be welcome at most SnowCon events. Every person at SnowCon is expected to be respectful and considerate of others.

If you have questions or requests, please contact me at [email protected].

FRO SnowCon Interest Form

Please help us gauge interest in Front Range Objectivism’s March 2010 SnowCon by filling out this form if you think you might attend. You are not obliged to attend by doing so, but you will be subscribed to FRO’s “SnowCon” e-mail list to be kept informed about SnowCon plans. (You can unsubscribe at any time.)

Pictures from Breckenridge

Here are a few pictures from our recent skiing and snowshoeing trip to Breckenridge.

A wonderfully peaceful section of the Sawmill trail in Breckenridge.

The view while snowshoeing outside of Frisco.

Paul Hsieh taking a break from snowshoeing.

Activism Recap

 Posted by on 26 December 2010 at 10:50 pm  Activism Recap
Dec 262010

This week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine):

This week on Politics without God, the blog of Coalition for Secular Government:

This week on Modern Paleo Blog, the blog of Modern Paleo:

Finally, I have been remiss in not including Mother of Exiles in my weekly activism recap. I will be doing so in the future, and for now, here’s a good month’s worth of posts to check out.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha