Parkour Academy

 Posted by on 30 April 2011 at 7:00 am  Cool, Sports
Apr 302011

Here’s an awesome video of an amazing stream of parkour at the newly-opened Tempest Academy in Los Angeles:

On the one hand, I’ve love to be able to do that. On the other hand, I know that if I tried, I’d fall on my head, repeatedly.


As you might recall from this post, I’ve suffered under the regulatory yoke of campaign finance law. Now I have a real chance to strike back… and I need your help… by Tuesday!

First, here’s the basic story of why I’ve been subject to campaign finance laws.

In the fall of last year, Ari Armstrong and I published The ‘Personhood’ Movement Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters that Rights Begin at Birth, Not Conception under the auspices of my Coalition for Secular Government. That work was made possible by 63 pledges ranging from $4 to $300 from individuals who support our fight against the “personhood” movement. We did that work because anti-abortion zealots got another “personhood” amendment on the ballot — Amendment 62. Our purpose was to reveal the full range of horrific consequences of this measure, as well as provide a solid moral foundation for abortion rights. That’s something that the traditional leftist defenders of abortion rights can’t and won’t do, not even with all their millions of donor dollars.

Unfortunately, Colorado law does not permit people to speak freely in elections. I was forced, by Colorado’s campaign finance laws, to report all donations and expenditures over $20. For expenditures, I had to report names and addresses of businesses, as well as what I’d purchased. For donations, I had to report the names and addresses of donors, as well as places of work for donations over $100. The reporting was a huge drain on my time, and I was petrified of doing something wrong, and thereby incurring fines of $50 per day. In addition, I was appalled that the state required the publication of private information about donors, particularly given the harassment and violence often perpetrated by anti-abortionists against defenders of abortion rights.

Now, fast-forward to today. Colorado’s Secretary of State must revise its regulations on campaign finance as applied to “issue committees” due a fabulous victory for free speech won by the Institute for Justice in the Parker North case. Basically, the Colorado Supreme Court didn’t abolish campaign finance for issue committees, but they indicated that contributions and expenditures in the $2000 range should be regarded as “well below” the threshold for reporting. So what has the Secretary of State proposed in response? Well, they’re going to have the exact same system, except that the trigger for reporting will be $5,000 in contributions or expenditures, rather than the existing $200 threshold. You can read all the details in in this four-page PDF.

Yikes! I was hoping for something much better, something that would actually enable ordinary citizens to speak out in elections without concern for government regulations. Yet $5000 is still a very, very low threshold, likely to be exceeded by ordinary citizens attempting grassroots activism on some ballot measure. Moreover, once that threshold is met, those ordinary citizens (and their donors) will be subject to the same burdensome and invasive reporting requirements as they are now.

So… what can we do? Alas, we cannot hope to abolish these unjust campaign finance regulations. Colorado’s state constitution requires them, and for now, they stand. Here’s what our constitution says:

The people of the state of Colorado hereby find and declare . . . that large campaign contributions made to influence election outcomes allow wealthy individuals, corporations, and special interest groups to exercise a disproportionate level of influence over the political process . . . that political contributions from corporate treasuries are not an indication of popular support for the corporation’s political ideas and can unfairly influence the outcome of Colorado elections; and that the interests of the public are best served by . . . providing for full and timely disclosure of campaign contributions, independent expenditures, and funding of electioneering communications, and strong enforcement of campaign finance requirements.

That’s truly awful, and I hope that IJ’s work on free speech will soon abolish all such campaign finance regulations. In the meantime, you can help me advocate for the minimal possible speech regulations consistent with our state constitution. How so?

The Secretary of State of Colorado will hold a hearing in Denver on Tuesday, May 3rd about these proposed regulations, and they’re soliciting comments from interested parties. I’ll be submitting comments, as well as attending in person to speak. (Ari will do so too.) First and foremost, I will condemn campaign finance laws as inherently a violation of free speech rights. Then, recognizing that such regulations are required by our state constitution, I will argue that those regulations should be made as little burdensome as possible. I will propose that only individual contributions and individual expenditures above a certain high threshold — say $5000 — should be reported. In addition, only the name and city of donors should be reported, not their home addresses and/or places of work. Such regulations — although still wrong and evil — would satisfy the demands of the state constitution while eliminating most of the burden of advocating for or against a ballot measure.

So what can you do? If you live in Colorado, I’d love for you to attend the hearing with me, to speak out in person for greater freedom of speech, and hence, against these proposed regulations. It’s 2 pm on Tuesday May, 3 in the Blue Spruce Room (Second Floor) of 1700 Broadway in Denver.

Whether you’re able to attend or not, please submit written comments! I’d particularly urge you to do so if you’re a resident of Colorado — or if you contributed to Ari’s and my “personhood” paper. Please submit them by 12 pm MT on Tuesday, May 2nd to Andrea Gyger at [email protected]. Please reference “8 CCR 1505-6″ — and the “Proposed Revisions and Amendments to the Secretary of State’s ‘Rules Concerning Campaign and Political Finance’.” Also, please cc me!

You need not write anything complicated or long. You only need say (1) that you’re opposed to campaign finance laws, including for so-called “issue committees” and (2) that you think that any regulations mandated by the state constitution should be made as minimally invasive and burdensome as possible. If you wish to include further details in support of my proposal, that would be great, but certainly not required. If you’ve donated to the “personhood” paper, please include that fact, since then you’re an “interested party,” even if you live outside Colorado.

Thank you, thank you to everyone who chooses to write! If we can make these campaign finance rules less onerous, that won’t just be a small victory for free speech in Colorado… it will also eliminate a major exercise of unjust government force against me, personally. And for that, I will be so grateful.

Apr 282011

The Objectivist Roundup is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

John J McVey hosted this week’s Objectivist Roundup. Go take a look!

You can submit your blog article to the next edition of The Objectivist Roundup using this submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found here. If you’re an Objectivist blogger, you can get weekly reminders to submit to the carnival by subscribing to OBloggers @

Also, Sunday morning’s Rationally Selfish Webcast will soon be upon us! Sometime tomorrow, I’ll select the six questions that I’ll answer. Please review and vote on the questions that you’d most like me to answer. Then join the live fun on Sunday at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET.

Here are the ten most recent additions to the question queue for Rationally Selfish:

Parent Versus Child on Sex

 Posted by on 28 April 2011 at 7:00 am  Funny, Love/Sex, Parenting
Apr 282011

Julia Sweeney unwittingly introduces her eight-year-old daughter to internet porn and gay sex. The result? Completely hilarious!

Via Trey and Shea.

Open Thread #263

 Posted by on 27 April 2011 at 11:00 am  Open Thread
Apr 272011

Oil Derrick

For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

NoodleFood’s Wednesday and Sunday Open Threads feature creative commons photographs from Flickr that I find interesting. I hope that you enjoy them!

Apr 262011

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the basis of manners, brutal honesty, right to legal counsel, government medical insurance, promoting Objectivism, the morality of sadism and masochism, 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: 24 April 2011

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: 24 April 2011

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


My News of the Week: Please support my pledge-funded update to Explore Atlas Shrugged!

Question 1: The Basis of Manners

Question: How do you objectively define manners? Is that even possible? What makes some action rude or polite? Is it purely subjective or based on personal values? For example, some people think that guests ought to take off their shoes in another person’s house, while others don’t care or even prefer shoes to remain on the feet. And some people think that putting elbows on the dinner table or feet on the coffee table is barbaric, while others regard that as fine. Since manners vary from person to person, how do you “mind your manners” when interacting with other people? Or should you not bother with that, and instead do what you please?

My Answer, In Brief: Manners are neither cultural whims, nor intrinsically good. When based on fact, they are social customs aimed at smoothing social interactions beyond demands of law and morality.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 2: Brutal Honesty

Question: Is it rationally selfish to be brutally honest in some contexts? Often, you need to tell a person some hard truth, and you can do so either tactfully or brutally. In many instances, you might want to be brutally honest because you fear that the person will not understand what you say if you’re tactful. So which approach is better?

My Answer, In Brief: A person should be frank and straightforward in his communications with others, neither concealing unpleasant truths nor pummeling the other person with them.

Listen or Download:

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

Question 3: Right to Legal Counsel

Question: Why is receiving the counsel of an attorney a right while receiving health care is not? In both cases, you would receive something that you need for free from the state. So what’s the difference, if any? Why should a repeat offender have access to free legal counsel at taxpayer expense while an innocent, law-abiding sick person shouldn’t receive life-saving medication or treatment at taxpayer expense? In the former case, the criminal might lose his liberty, but in the latter case the sick person might die. So what I am missing?

My Answer, In Brief: Check your premises! A person does not have a right to legal counsel at taxpayer expense but rather only the right to consult his own counsel in any legal proceeding, whether purchased by his own funds or freely-given charity.

Listen or Download:

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

Question 4: Government Medical Insurance

Question: Should a person with a pre-existing medical condition that disqualifies him from most major medical insurance plans sign up for a state-sponsored high-risk insurance pool? I’m a 1099 independent software contractor, and I’m responsible for my own health insurance. I have a pre-existing condition that disqualifies me from most of the major medical insurers. My current insurer offers few benefits, and the company is notorious for trying to deny claims. I was also diagnosed with a malignant tumor in my cheek. That’s being treated, but I’ll be all the more uninsurable in the future. However, the state where I live has a high-risk insurance pool available. Financially, this plan would be a much better deal than I have with my current insurance company. I would have to pay premiums, deductibles, and co-insurance, so this plan is not complete welfare. However, I’m obviously wary of becoming dependent on the government for such a plan, and I don’t want to contribute to the continued socialization of the health-care system. I have some other options, like trying to find a job that offers benefits, but I love my current job. Am I trying to eat my cake and have it too by signing up for the state plan, which would allow me to stay in my current job without the worry of a major medical issue ruining me and my family financially?

My Answer, In Brief: For a person to accept government money as restitution for funds taken by force from him and/or due to government destruction of private markets is not wrong, provided that the person continues to oppose all such government welfare on principle.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 5: Promoting Objectivism

Question: How should one promote Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism? What are some right and wrong ways to do that? What are some good methods and target audiences?

My Answer, In Brief: Study, understand, and live the philosophy – then find ways of promoting the ideas that you’re passionate about.

Listen or Download:


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

Question 6: The Morality of Sadism and Masochism

Question: Objectivism regards harming yourself or allowing others to harm you is immoral, but how does that apply to sex, particularly sadism and masochism? Should S&M acts be illegal?

My Answer, In Brief: Consensual S&M should be legal. However, S&M that’s more than merely rough sex – when a person desires to hurt, dominate, humiliate his sexual partner (or to receive such) – reveals a self-destructive psychology.

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: 1:06:37

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Inflatable You

 Posted by on 25 April 2011 at 2:00 pm  Funny, Love/Sex
Apr 252011

Tim Minchin performs Inflatable You:


Hsieh PJM OpEd on Rationing and IPAB

 Posted by on 25 April 2011 at 7:00 am  Activism, Health Care
Apr 252011

The 4/22/2011 edition of PajamasMedia published my latest health care OpEd, “We Call It ‘Rationing,’ Obama Calls It ‘Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board’“.

The basic theme is that we shouldn’t let either Obama’s IPAB or Congress control our health care.

Here is an excerpt:

Suppose Congress asked Americans: which government officials should decide what foods you would be allowed to eat and what prices you had to pay at the grocery store — Congress, or an unelected board of nutritional experts appointed by the president?

Most Americans would immediately reply, “Neither!” But that’s precisely the debate between Congress and the White House regarding President Obama’s proposed Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board…

Although the Obama administration stated that the IPAB would not ration medical care, its power to set payments to doctors and hospitals would give it de facto rationing power.

If the IPAB sets the reimbursement rate for services below the cost of providing it, then hospitals and doctors could no longer afford to offer such services — even if the services are medically best for their patients. Life-saving medical procedures we currently take for granted, such as PET scans to detect early cancers or minimally invasive methods to safely open up blocked vital blood vessels without risky surgery, might no longer be available. Although those services might still theoretically be “covered” by Medicare, in practice doctors would no longer offer them, and their patients would no longer be able to receive them…

(Read the full text of “We Call It ‘Rationing,’ Obama Calls It ‘Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board’“.)

Americans would never stand for the following false alternative: “Who should decide what foods you are allowed to eat—a panel of unelected bureaucrats or your elected Congressmen?”

We should similarly reject the same false alternative for our health care.

(PJM lightly edited my piece and changed the title, but left the basic meaning intact.)

Activism Recap

 Posted by on 24 April 2011 at 12:00 pm  Activism Recap
Apr 242011

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 the Coalition for Secular Government:

This week on Mother of Exiles:

This week on the blog of Modern Paleo:

Open Thread #262

 Posted by on 24 April 2011 at 11:00 am  Open Thread
Apr 242011

¿Que me ves? / What!?

For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

NoodleFood’s Wednesday and Sunday Open Threads feature creative commons photographs from Flickr that I find interesting. I hope that you enjoy them!

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha