Exploit the Earth or Die

Aug 312007

The Objective Standard now offers “Exploit the Earth or Die” t-shirts and mugs! Fun!

Exploit the Earth or die. It’s not a threat. It’s a fact. Either man takes the Earth’s raw materials—such as trees, petroleum, aluminum, and atoms—and transforms them into the requirements of his life, or he dies. To live, man must produce the goods on which his life depends; he must produce homes, automobiles, computers, electricity, and the like; he must seize nature and use it to his advantage. There is no escaping this fact. Even the allegedly “noble” savage must pick or perish. Indeed, even if a person produces nothing, insofar as he remains alive he indirectly exploits the Earth by parasitically surviving off the exploitative efforts of others.

The fact annoys some people. But it shouldn’t: Hence our “Exploit the Earth or Die” campaign.

No, I won’t be wearing the shirt in Boulder, at least not while I’m teaching. (That would be somewhat less than professional.)

Thinking – The Silent Disease

Aug 302007


It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then — just to loosen up. Inevitably, though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker. I began to think alone — “to relax,” I told myself — but I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

That was when things began to sour at home. One evening, I turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother’s.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t help myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau, Muir, Confucius, and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, “What is it exactly we are doing here?”

One day, the boss called me in. He said, “Listen, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking on the job, you’ll have to find another job.”

This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. “Honey,” I confessed, “I’ve been thinking…”

“I know you’ve been thinking,” she said, “and I want a divorce!”

“But Honey, surely it’s not that serious.”

“It is serious,” she said, lower lip aquiver. “You think as much as a college professor and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking, we won’t have any money!”

“That’s a faulty syllogism,” I said impatiently.

She exploded in tears of rage and frustration, but I was in no mood to deal with the emotional drama.

“I’m going to the library,” I snarled as I stomped out the door. I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche. I roared into the parking lot with a social reportage on the radio and ran up to the big glass doors. They didn’t open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night. Leaning on the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye: “Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?” it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinkers Anonymous poster. This is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was Porky’s. Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed… easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking. The road to recovery is now nearly complete for me.

Today I took the final step. I joined the (Republican / Democratic / Libertarian / Green / Socialist / Whatever) Party.

More On Miss Teen South Carolina

Aug 302007

For what it’s worth, she did win 3rd Runner Up in the pageant. From the NBC piece mentioned by “dgp”, she must have impressed the judges with other positive qualities, which may or may not have included how she looks in a bikini:

Miss Stupid USA

Aug 292007

When I asked Paul what I might possibly say about this video, he said that it speaks for itself. And so it — or rather, she — does!

End of Summer

Aug 282007

My summer ended today when I taught the first class of my “Introduction to Philosophy” course at 12:30 pm.

I’m pleased to report that my work on my dissertation went quite well over the summer. I’ve worked at least two hours each day, six days per week, all summer. I’ve never worked so steadily before while on summer break. It has worked wonders. I’ve made good progress without any of the backsliding and refreshing that comes with my usual hit-or-miss schedule. So since late May, I’ve developed my arguments in some depth, although I still have work on my outline to do. I’ve surveyed the whole of my initial hefty stack of literature on my topic of moral luck, such that I have good notes on 84 (!!) articles. I’ll have more to read on related topics later, but the literature on moral luck is well-chewed. My prospectus will be completed in the later half of September. Once that is approved by my committee, I’ll be writing the dissertation in earnest. Most surprising of all, I’m actually enjoying my work, even if only modestly, for the first time in about three years. That’s beyond fantastic.

I’ve found that dissertation work has some unexpected side effects, some possibly relevant to readers of this blog. Mostly, I’ve found that all of my philosophical energies are devoted to the dissertation. I’ve found that I’m not interested in any other philosophic or intellectual issues, at least not in any significant way. I won’t spend any time studying them, nor I am particularly interested in discussing them. My brain is simply too wrapped up in the dissertation for such distractions. The only significant exception is matters pertaining to the course I’m teaching this fall.

That’s a very significant change for me, as I’ve always enjoyed a wide range of philosophic interests. For the time being, however, my intellectual horizon has shrunk. I’m not quite sure what that’ll mean for NoodeFood. Probably, it just means more of what I’ve been doing this summer, namely nothing more than occasional philosophic tidbits. I’ll keep posting so long as it doesn’t interfere with my work, but beyond that, I make no promises. I’d actually like to blog on some of the philosophic issues of moral responsibility pertaining to my dissertation, so long as I can do that with minimal extra work.

Also, my focus on my dissertation means that I have no time whatsoever for e-mail correspondence. I’ve implemented the GTD policy of “inbox zero,” with the provision that if I don’t have time to reply to an e-mail that very day with just a few lines, then it probably won’t be replied to at all. I’ve allowed e-mail to suck up too much of my time for years, but now I just can’t afford that. Also, I’ve found it immensely liberating to have an empty inbox: those waiting messages were always something of a psychological burden. (I hope to write a bit more about my experience with “inbox zero” later.) Of course, I do want to keep up with friends, but that’s far easier to do over the phone than by e-mail.

Even offline, I’ve become something of a recluse. I’m perfectly happy working, eating, and sleeping at home, day in and day out, with only Paul and the beasts for company. I aim for one social engagement once per week, but no more. One is a fun change of pace; more is draining.

In short, I’ve become much, much more choosy about how I spend my time. I’m delighted by that change, as I think it’s long overdue. Speaking of which, I’ve spent too long writing this blog post. It’s time for me to get back to work!

Freshman Student Stabbed by Crazy Guy at CU Boulder

Aug 272007

Well, I’m rather glad that I’m not on campus for the first day of classes today: CU student stabbed at UMC on first day of classes. (I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I’m not on campus on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays. I’m often in and around the UMC though.)

Happily, the student doesn’t seem to be seriously injured. He’s definitely in better shape all-around than the crazy guy who stabbed himself multiple times after stabbing the student.

Loving Christians?

Aug 272007

Today’s fundamentalist Christianity definitely has a militant streak, well-supported by scripture and history. So I’m not surprised by this news:

Until this month, “imprecatory prayer” was not in many people’s vocabularies. But then the Rev. Wiley Drake, pastor of First Baptist Church of Buena Park, Calif., urged his supporters to use Psalm 109 to focus prayers directed at the “enemies of God” — including the leaders of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Drake was urging the use of imprecatory prayer — prayers for another’s misfortune or for vengeance against God’s enemies. Now such prayer is the talk of blogs and letters to the editor.

The controversy flared Aug. 14, the day the Washington, D.C.-based church-state group asked the Internal Revenue Service to probe the tax- exempt status of Drake’s congregation. Churches, as tax-exempt, are prohibited from campaigning for candidates. Drake earlier had issued a statement on church letterhead endorsing former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate. Drake told his supporters that he attempted to talk to Americans United for the Separation of Church and State about the issue. He cited a verse from the Gospel of Matthew that says, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.” Drake said his efforts were rebuffed.

“Now that all efforts have been exhausted, we must begin our Imprecatory Prayer, at the key points of the parliamentary role in the earth where we live,” Drake wrote. Under the heading, “HOW TO PRAY,” he listed all 31 verses of Psalm 109, in which King David appeals to divine justice. Drake provided his congregation the King James Version of the psalm, including Verse 9, which says: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.” On the advice of his attorneys, Drake has declined to be interviewed.

Happily, this story should bring the generally good work of Americans United for Separation of Church and State to the attention of those who don’t wish to live in a nation run from pulpits.

Self-Referential Writing Advice

Aug 262007

These self-referential writing tips that violate the very rule at hand are quite clever:

  1. Always avoid alliteration.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. Avoid cliches like the plague–they’re old hat.
  4. Employ the vernacular.
  5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  7. Parenthetical words however must be enclosed in commas.
  8. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  9. Contractions aren’t necessary.
  10. Do not use a foreign word when there is an adequate English quid pro quo.
  11. One should never generalize.
  12. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  13. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  14. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  15. It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
  16. Avoid archaeic spellings too.
  17. Understatement is always best.
  18. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  19. One-word sentences? Eliminate. Always!
  20. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  21. The passive voice should not be used.
  22. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  23. Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
  24. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  25. Don’t use commas, that, are not, necessary.
  26. Do not use hyperbole; not one in a million can do it effectively.
  27. Never use a big word when a diminutive alternative would suffice.
  28. Subject and verb always has to agree.
  29. Be more or less specific.
  30. Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
  31. Use youre spell chekker to avoid mispeling and to catch typograhpical errers.
  32. Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
  33. Don’t be redundant.
  34. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
  35. Don’t never use no double negatives.
  36. Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  37. Hopefully, you will use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  38. Eschew obfuscation.
  39. No sentence fragments.
  40. Don’t indulge in sesquipedalian lexicological constructions.
  41. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  42. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
  43. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
  44. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  45. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  46. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  47. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  48. Always pick on the correct idiom.
  49. The adverb always follows the verb.
  50. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  51. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
  52. And always be sure to finish what

Galt’s Speech Dissected and Discounted

Aug 252007

Onkar Ghate’s excellent course A Study of Galt’s Speech is currently half price from the Ayn Rand Bookstore. It’s part of their big fire sale on audiocassettes. (I love cheap!)

Romancing Opiates

Aug 242007

I just began reading Theodore Dalrymple’s recent book Romancing Opiates. So far, it’s excellent. Most surprising is the fact that — contrary to all popular belief, fictional portrayals, and media reports — the symptoms of physical withdrawal from heroin are extremely mild. The addict is not in any danger of dying whatsoever, as with serious alcohol withdrawal. He’s not even in any real physical distress.

The distress that addicts do feel is based solely on their beliefs about the withdrawal of the drug: it’s purely psychological. Studies have shown that addicts aren’t able to tell whether they’ve been given morphine or placebo, such that symptoms like nervousness and restlessness came and went based on what they were told about the contents of their injection (28).

However, addicts are extremely adept at faking such distress in the hopes of wheedling a prescription from the often-gullible doctor. Most doctors accept the standard view that withdrawal from opiates is a terrible ordeal, despite substantial evidence to the contrary, such as the addicts displaying no great signs of distress when secretly watched by the doctor. So the doctors routinely prescribe the addict drugs like methadone.

In contrast, when the addict is confronted with a doctor like Dalrymple, who refuses such prescriptions and clearly explains his reasons why, some will not only cease their performance of distress, but even “smile and admit with a laugh that anyone who says that cold turkey is a terrible ordeal is lying and more than likely trying to bluff his way to a prescription” (25). Once that is done, other addicts in the ward don’t even bother with the attempted deception.

In recent years, doctors have tried to alleviate the non-existent horror of opiate withdrawal by “ultra-short opiate detoxification.” (If I recall correctly, this method was featured on House.) Basically, the addict is administered “an opiate antagonist, naloxone, under general anesthesia, followed by continued administration of naloxone for a further forty-eight hours. This [method] … turns a trivial medical condition, namely ‘natural’ withdrawal from opiates, into a potentially fatal one, since quite a number of deaths are known to have occurred as a result of it, some clinics that use it having recorded as many as ten deaths” (29). Yikes!

The failure to consider the obvious implications of perceptual observations can have serious consequences in any area of life. In this case, that failure on the part of those in the business of addiction treatment means that a voluntary psychological dysfunction is treated with ineffective, counterproductive, and even life-threatening methods. Lovely, no?

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