For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with other 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.

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  • Katarina G. Carpenter

    Private aerospace company SpaceX finished a third resupply mission to the ISS.

    Details and photos available here:

    • GetIronic

      If by private you mean, “accepted large subsidies from the government” then yes, “private”.

      • Katarina G. Carpenter

        Do pay ments for services redndered to the government count as subsidies? Granted the government has no business operating a space program. But for someone trying to develop manned space flight, the ISS resupply is a reasonable existing customer. The thing to do now is ease government out of space.

        • Anthony

          Surely the government should be involved in space. Spy satellites, communications satellites, GPS satellites… These are all needed for military purposes.

          • Anthony

            The international space station, probably not. The Mars rover, definitely not. The moon, almost certainly not. But the US military does need to maintain some space program.

  • William H Stoddard

    Those of you who read fantasy might be interested in a novel I just finished: Mary Gentle’s The Black Opera. This is set in an alternative history where music has supernatural power: sung high masses have worked miracles, and so have operas. Subsidiary alterations are Darwin’s having published decades earlier, and Napoleon’s having managed a negotiated truce at Waterloo that left him ruler of France. The hero, a librettist and freethinker, gets recruited by the king of the Two Sicilies to help write a magically potent opera as a countermeasure against another such opera being written by a secret political and religious conspiracy, the Prince’s Men.

    What I find striking about this novel is the boldness of its plotting. It has no less than three climaxes: one artistic, one political, and one overtly fantastic, each building on the ones preceding. It has a complex love story that’s interwoven with all three. It has characters with strong and conflicting motives. It is, in a word, operatic; Gentle seems to love larger-than-life drama and presents it without apologizing for it. It’s quite a romantic novel, in Ayn Rand’s sense, and I wanted to pass the word along.

  • Mike R. Smith

    I came across this critique of Ayn Rand’s ethics which appears very powerful. Does anyone know of a response?

  • bildanielson

    George H. Smith is penning an important series of articles on Ayn Rand and Altruism.

    I found Part 1(link) to be a nice introduction, and in Part 2(link) (published today) he knifes in on an important distinction which he introduces by stating:

    “Facile critics of Rand—and they are legion—would probably answer my question by accusing Rand of inconsistency. Of course, these are the same critics who do not take Rand seriously as a philosopher and so refuse to take the time and effort needed to understand her theory of egoism and how her theory is inextricably intertwined with her condemnation of both altruism and the “traditional concepts” of egoism. A good deal of my series on “Ayn Rand and Altruism” will be devoted to this issue.”

    The above clearly describes, for example, President Obama who, in his Rolling Stone interview(link), clearly displayed facile criticism of Ayn Rand. One can only guess whether or not Obama has studied Ayn Rand’s work at any length, but assuming he has then his reply is precisely to be expected by what Smith states at the outset of Part 1:

    “On 4 July 1943, Ayn Rand wrote to John C. Gall, a conservative attorney and fan of The Fountainhead:

    ‘A great many Republicans would be scared to death to recognize that altruism is the curse of the world and that as long as we go on screaming “service” and “self-sacrifice” louder than the New Deal we will never have a chance. In any encounter with collectivists it is always the acceptance of altruism as an ideal not to be questioned that defeats us. I wrote The Fountainhead to show, in human terms, just what that ideal actually means and where we must stand if we want to win. If we can make the word “altruism” become a shameful term, which it actually is, instead of the automatic trademark of virtue which people think it to be—we will get the Tooheys out of Washington someday.’”

    Clearly, Obama epitomizes to a degree the defender of altruism as Ayn Rand saw it. In this case, he attempts to marginalize her ideas by clearly misrepresenting them as somehow intellectually sophmoric. The message I took was that he definitely will not be recommending his daughters read Ayn Rand, nor would he want teens or others to read it either. Gee, I wonder what the real reason is!

    George’s is very attentive to history and writes with a certain humorous zip coupled with plenty of intellectual meat. I highly recommended this particular series as he has an extensive working knowledge of Objectivism (although he does not consider himself to be an Objectivist as far as I know). Moreover, precision of thought and building a working understanding of her actual ideas is important if you desire to defend them. I find articles such as these to be that sort of material.. Of course, I don’t know what the rest of the series will bring. What I can say is: so far, so good.

  • Sajid Anjum

    Great Article on the problem with “price gouging” controls from slate also showing that the moral is the practical. I was never a fan of allowing price gouging but this article makes a good case:

    “Consider the case of poor Thakur Gas of Branchville, N.J., which was hit with a $50,000 fine in late September for price gouging charges arising out of Tropical Storm Irene. Christie specifically cited the case over the weekend as a cautionary tale of what awaits New Jersey retailers who try to adjust prices to shifting supply and demand conditions. Thakur’s crime, according to court papers, was raising the prices 17 percent when the storm hit, causing the store’s gross margins to spike.

    This seems like a straightforward violation of New Jersey law, but what Thakur did also make perfect business sense. If there’s elevated demand for your product, you try to sell more of it. But if you can’t sell more volume because supplies have been disrupted by a storm, you raise prices. Customers aren’t going to like it (and the need to maintain good will with your customers should be a factor in any business’s decision-making) but they’re also not going to like it if you run out of gasoline by 2 p.m. because it has all been bought up by earlier, stockpiling drivers.”

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