Mar 082011

For those of you unable to attend the fabulous slew of lectures and workshops this weekend at SnowCon 2011 in person… I’ve got a treat for you!

At SnowCon 2011 this upcoming weekend, I will be webcasting and recording over twelve hours lectures and workshops as March’s OList Webcast. The webcast of SnowCon 2011 will include:

  • Diana Hsieh: “Cultivating Moral Character”
  • Paul Hsieh: “Is It Right to Bear Arms?”
  • Joseph Collins: “The Greatness and Limitations of Publius”
  • “Activism Panel” with Paul Hsieh and Ari Armstrong
  • Atlas Shrugged Reading Group Workshop” with Diana Hsieh and Jeremy Sheetz
  • Jenn Casey and Kelly Elmore: “Effective Communication: How Objectivists Can Use Positive Discipline Tools in Their Adult Relationships”
  • Diana Hsieh: “Live Rationally Selfish Webcast” (hosted at
  • Santiago Valenzuela: “Conservative Follies on Immigration”
  • Piano Recital and Lecture: Hannah Krening: Malevolence and Benevolence in Beethoven’s Piano Music

If you join SnowCon virtually via the live webcast, you’ll be connected to other in-person and virtual audience members via text-based chat. By that chat, you can submit questions to the speaker too.

As with other OList webcasts, one registration emcompasses everyone in your household, meaning that you can share the live webcast and recordings with the people you live with. Also, the webcast is a package: you cannot purchase access to the webcasts of individual lectures or workshops. However, recordings of individual lectures or workshops may be available for sale after SnowCon.

To attend the live webcasts during SnowCon and/or listen to audio recordings afterward, register now! If you register anytime before or during Snowcon, you’ll pay the discounted rate of $65 ($25 for students).

After SnowCon ends on the evening of March 13th, you can purchase access to the recordings for $85 ($45 for students). So save yourself some dough by registering sooner rather than later!

Payment for the SnowCon Webcast is not due until after SnowCon is completed. You will receive an e-mail invoice with instructions for payment; you can pay via PayPal or US Mail.

The Full Schedule

The following lectures and workshops will be webcast live, as well as available for later download, to those who register. (The only exception is the “Activist Writing Workshop,” which will not be broadcast live but only recorded.) All times listed are Mountain Time.

Saturday, March 12th

  • 9:00 to 9:30 am: Welcome: Diana Hsieh
  • 9:30 to 10:15 am: Lecture: Diana Hsieh: “Cultivating Moral Character”
    In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle speaks of cultivating virtues by repeatedly doing certain actions in certain ways. However, he never clearly explains the relationship between a person’s thoughts, emotions, actions, and character. So, we must ask: What is character? How is a person’s character formed? And what is the role of character in a person’s life? This lecture will draw on Diana Hsieh’s dissertation to answer these criticial practical questions of ethics.

    Diana Hsieh received her Ph.D in philosophy from University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. Her dissertation was on the “problem of moral luck,” and it included a substantial defense of moral responsibility for character. She gave a course on “Luck in the Pursuit of Life” at OCON in 2010. She answers questions on practical ethics every Sunday morning in her live Rationally Selfish Webcast.

  • 10:30 am to 11:15 am: Lecture: Paul Hsieh: “Is It Right to Bear Arms?”
    Most Americans correctly believe (and the US Supreme Court recently affirmed), that firearms ownership is an individual right. Hence, many people are now asking whether and how they should exercise that right of owning and/or routinely carrying a firearm.

    Is routinely carrying a firearm appropriate only for those in law enforcement? Or are there practical, psychological, and even spiritual benefits to being an armed civilian? Can carrying a gun help shape your moral character for the better, in addition to keeping you safer against physical threats?

    This talk will cover these and related issues to help you decide for yourself, “Is it right to bear arms?”

    Paul Hsieh, MD, has long been interested in the ethical and practical aspects of firearms ownership. However, he acknowledges that his wife Diana is the more accurate shot.

  • 11:30 am to 12:15 pm: Lecture: Joseph Collins: “The Greatness and Limitations of Publius”
    In the 1780s, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton collaborated under the nom de plume Publius to defend the proposed Constitution as the greatest work of political liberty the world had ever seen, the pride of the Enlightenment. The morality of individualism as a political ideal was expressed in the Declaration of Independence and formed into the world’s first Constitution grounded in consent of the governed, representation, and limited government. As much as history taught Publius that free states devolve into what Madison called “majority tyranny”, when collectivism replaces individualism, nevertheless he believed that the people have the capacity to live free. Publius was aware that for the experiment to work, the power of the people must be limited. They looked upon the horrors of democracy in fear in the pages of the Federalist. Those to whom power derives, the people, have the free will to live up to or against the founding ideals. For it all to work, Madison believed, the people must be the guardians of their own liberties.

    While Madison understood the danger of special interest politics, the fact remains that the modern mixed economy and progressive state has its roots in the founding. Interpretation of original intent was inevitable and the Constitution was under assault within a century of its writing because the errors were not identified and corrected. Our challenge today is to live up to Publius by thinking, fighting for the right ideas, and by climbing atop the shoulders of the giants of ’76. Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism is the philosophic solution to the Publius problem. Yet the question remains whether or not an enlightened citizenry can emerge in today’s culture.

    Joseph E. Collins is a 2010 Colorado James Madison Fellow who resides in Fort Collins, Colorado where he is a teacher at Ridgeview Classical Schools and curricula adviser and consultant for the Ridgeview Institute.

  • 2:00 pm to 2:45 pm: “Activism Panel” with Paul Hsieh and Ari Armstrong
    America faces many problems today, ranging from ever-tightening state control of the economy, to the rise of mysticism and irrationality in culture, to a suicidal foreign policy. Many individuals want to “get involved” in some way to oppose these bad trends and instead fight for positive alternatives. However, this task can often seem overwhelming.

    In this panel, Paul Hsieh and Ari Armstrong will discuss how to fight for your values through principled activism, practical tips on how to get started, how to be effective, how to stay motivated, how to incorporate activism into you own busy lives, and how to enjoy yourself in the process.

    Paul Hsieh, MD, is co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM). He has published numerous articles and op-eds on free-market health care reform in the Christian Science Monitor, Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Denver Post, PajamasMedia, and The Objective Standard.

    Ari Armstrong, the 2009 winner of the Modern Day Sam Adams Award, has written for numerous publications. He moderates Liberty In the Books, a monthly discussion group, as well as a regional activist email group. Ari has created independent media campaigns and worked with nonprofits for political reforms.

  • 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm: “Atlas Shrugged Reading Group Workshop” with Diana Hsieh and Jeremy Sheetz
    In 2008, Diana Hsieh created a working and successful model of a new kind of Objectivism study group: Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups (ASRGs). ASRGs consist of twenty weekly discussions for fans of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged to discuss the characters, events, and ideas of the novel in depth. The schedule, questions, and podcasts for these meetings can be found on Explore Atlas Shrugged. These groups serve as an excellent introduction to Objectivism for fans of Ayn Rand’s fiction, and they can serve as the basis for founding an Objectivist community group.

    Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups are currently ongoing in Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, St. Louis, and elsewhere.

    In this workshop, Diana Hsieh and Jeremy Sheetz will lead a sample session with the audience (or a subset thereof), then discuss how you can create a successful Atlas Shrugged Reading Group in your city.

    The chapters of Atlas Shrugged to be discussed in the workshop are Part 1, Chapter 1 (“The Theme”) and Part 3: Chapter 6 (“The Concerto of Deliverance”). Participants should re-read those chapters before the workshop.

    Diana Hsieh (Ph.D, Philosophy) oversees Front Range Objectivism’s Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups, and is currently leading her third such group through the novel.

    Jeremy Sheetz is an Aerospace Production/Liaison Engineer with a BSME from University of Wisconsin Madison. Since leaving Denver for St. Louis, he’s created two Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups in St. Louis, and he plans to start another as well as a monthly Objectivist discussion group soon.

  • 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm: Keynote Lecture: Jenn Casey and Kelly Elmore: “Effective Communication: How Objectivists Can Use Positive Discipline Tools in Their Adult Relationships”
    In our talk, we will present a set of parenting principles called “Positive Discipline” that is compatible with teaching our children to use the Objectivist virtues while behaving virtuously ourselves. Positive Discipline techniques include respectful communication, problem-solving skills, and limit-setting that is both kind and firm. Positive Discipline techniques do not include reward systems, praise, punishments, behavior modification techniques, emotional manipulation, shaming, or logical consequences.

    The focus of the talk will be on the communication and problem-solving tools used in Positive Discipline, tools that are essential not only to parenting but to all healthy relationships, at work, at home, with friends, with romantic partners, and on the phone with the customer service representative at your credit card company. The talk will be dynamic and interactive, and you will walk out with at least one new skill to try the next time you are in a difficult situation with your spouse, your coworker, or your child.

    Kelly Elmore and Jenn Casey have been talking and writing about Positive Discipline for years, and they practice it on their kids, their significant others, and each other. Last year, they launched Cultivating the Virtues, a business offering a podcast, a blog, and classes primarily for Objectivist parents. They also run the Atlanta Objectivist Society (ATLOS), are CrossFit buddies, and boss each other’s children in their spare time.

    Kelly teaches gymnastics pedagogy to future P.E. teachers, studies rhetoric and composition in graduate school, homeschools seven-year-old Livy, and blogs at Reepicheep’s Coracle. For fun, she reads Jane Austen, watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and diagrams sentences.

    Jenn homeschools eight-year-old Ryan, five-year-old Morgan, and two-year-old Sean, manages a rental property in North Georgia, and blogs at Rational Jenn. She is the administrator of the Objectivist Round Up blog carnival and moderates the [email protected] discussion list. She has recently become obsessed with knitting, dreams of performing stand-up comedy, and has given up all hope that her house will ever be clean.

    Listen to Kelly Elmore and Jenn Casey’s 11-minute podcast preview of this lecture:

    11:33 minutes

Sunday, March 13th

  • 9:00 am to 10:00 am: Diana Hsieh: Live Rationally Selfish Webcast

    Note: This webcast will be available to the general public, and hosted at

    Every Sunday morning at 9 am, I answer questions on practical ethics and the principles of living well in a live Rationally Selfish Webcast with Ari Armstrong filling in for Greg Perkins. This episode will be broadcast over the web with its usual text-based chat, but we’ll also have a live SnowCon audience! As usual, I’ll choose six of the most popular and interesting questions to answer from my queue of questions on Idea Informer.

    Diana Hsieh received her Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. She began her Rationally Selfish Webcast in late October.

  • 11:30 am to 12:15 pm: Lecture: Santiago Valenzuela: “Conservative Follies on Immigration”
    Conservatives routinely make arguments against the expansion of the immigration quota system. Many argue for the reduction of legal immigration combined with a strict crackdown on unauthorized immigrants in the USA. In this talk, I will expose the faulty philosophical roots of these notions. I will explain the facts about immigration’s (legal and illegal) effect on the US economy. Lastly, I will present the proper direction for immigration reform.

    Santiago Valenzuela is an Objectivist immigration activist. He blogs regularly on the subject at Mother of Exiles. He is scheduled to appear in front of the Colorado State Legislature on immigration-related law soon.

  • 1:15 pm to 3:00 pm: Piano Recital and Lecture: Hannah Krening: Malevolence and Benevolence in Beethoven’s Piano Music

    Note: I will try to webcast and record this event, but I can’t make any promises that it will turn out well.

    Hannah Krening will give observations with musical illustrations on two contrasting piano works by Beethoven, looking at the musical content of each and showing how each expresses a sense of life. The first, Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata, Op. 57, is known for its dark mood, and the second, his Waldstein Sonata, Op. 53, is known for its more sunny and positive nature. A closer looks reveals some surprises, particularly in the Appasionata. Focus will primarily be on the first movements of these two Sonatas, each of which will be looked at in some detail and then performed as a whole.

    Hannah Krening is a classical pianist and private piano teacher, with undergraduate and master’s degrees in piano performance.

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