Objectivist Roundup

Jun 302011

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

Erosophia 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 @ OList.com.

Hsieh PJM OpEd: Why the ‘Unexpected’ Keeps Happening

Jun 302011

The 6/29/2011 edition of PajamasMedia has just published my latest OpEd, “Why the ‘Unexpected’ Keeps Happening“.

Here is the opening:

If an irresponsible teenager repeatedly crashed his car into a tree whenever he had a few beers, we would never say his accidents were “unexpected.” Rather, they would be foreseeable consequences of driving while drinking. Similarly, we shouldn’t let journalists get away with describing as “unexpected” the foreseeable negative consequences of bad government policies.

Blogger Glenn Reynolds recently highlighted numerous examples of the media’s increasingly frequent use of “unexpected” to describe bad economic news. Unemployment “unexpectedly” rose despite federal “stimulus.” Home sales “unexpectedly” fell despite taxpayer bailouts. ER visits unexpectedly rose in Massachusetts despite RomneyCare. Similarly, the Pundit Press blog has rounded-up dozens of examples of such “unexpected” developments since January 2011…

Read the full text of “Why the ‘Unexpected’ Keeps Happening” for the answer!

Preview: Rationally Selfish Webcast

Jun 302011

Come join my next Rationally Selfish Webcast! As always, it’s on Sunday morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. You can watch the webcast and join in the text chat via www.RationallySelfish.com. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers will be my audio co-host, as usual.

Each week, I answer questions on practical ethics and the principles of living well. I select the most popular and interesting questions from the ongoing queue of questions. Please submit your questions, as well as vote and comment on questions that you find interesting!

Here are the questions that I’ll answer this week:

  • Question 1: Moral Obligations of Children to Parents: Do kids have moral obligations to their parents? If so, what obligations and why?
  • Question 2: The Boundaries of Proper Self-Defense: Is it moral to not defend yourself if you will get into legal trouble for doing so? As I understand laws on self-defense, you must be “in immediate danger of death or grievously bodily harm” in order to use lethal force. How is this reconciled with the morality of “shooting before he shoots you” or “hitting before you get hit”? In other words, preemptive attack may be seen as assault, but there might also be a threat of force. Is it moral to not defend yourself to avoid assault charges? In the case of using a gun to defend yourself, this could mean the difference between you dying at the hands of your attacker or living, but going to jail for murder. What should you do?
  • Question 3: Real Life Evil: Are people in real life as evil as in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged? In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand presents almost every bad person as very evil. I understand the purpose of that in the novel, but are their equivalents in real life (meaning the legislators passing similar laws nowadays) as evil as that — or are some of them just misguided or even stupid? In other words, do real-life people act on the death premise and hate the good for being the good? I just can’t imagine that. Am I being too optimistic?
  • Question 4: The Reasons to Donate Blood: What are the personal benefits of being a blood donor (or organ donor)? Is it worth doing under today’s laws, where donors cannot get paid? Should people be able to trade blood and organs in a free market?

After that, I’ll do a round of quick impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions,” like I did last week.

Questions that aren’t answered this week will remain in the question queue for me to answer in upcoming webcasts. So please go vote on questions that you find interesting — and don’t forget to submit your own questions.

You can listen to these webcasts later as audio-only podcasts by subscribing to the NoodleCast RSS feed:

However, I hope that you’ll join the live webcast, because that’s more exciting and lively than the podcast. People chat merrily amongst themselves while watching the webcast. And I love the immediate feedback of a live audience — the funny quips, serious comments, and follow-up questions. So please join the live webcast when you can!

You can support the Rationally Selfish Webcast (and Podcast) contributing to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. If you would prefer to send a check, please send it to “Diana Hsieh; P.O. Box 851; Sedalia, CO 80135.” Please write “RS Webcast” in the memo field.

Even if you’re unable to contribute financially, I’m grateful if you take a moment to help me spread the word about the Rationally Selfish Webcast to anyone you think might be interested. Send an e-mail about the webcast to friends, share the event for the next webcast on Facebook, and “like” the Rationally Selfish Page on Facebook.

I hope to see you on Sunday morning!

Reminder: June 30th Deadline for Pledging for OPeople

Jun 302011

In case you missed the e-mail announcement, I wanted to remind you that today — meaning Thursday, June 30th — at midnight is the deadline for pledging to open OPeople @ OList.com to general off-topic discussion.

Right now, the list is serving just its core function of disseminating announcements about OList social events. However, as I said in the original announcement, I’d like to open the OPeople list to friendly, off-topic chatter, such as movie and art recommendations, discussions of work and hobbies, requests for information and advice, and more.

At present, $120 has been pledged. $200 is required. If the difference of $80 isn’t pledged in time, that’s fine: the list will simply forever remain an announcement-only list. However, if you’d like to help open it to discussion, you can do so by pledging with this form.

If you’d like to subscribe to OPeople, please review the subscription requirements, then request a subscription.

Like on Facebook

Jun 292011

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve created Facebook pages for my ongoing projects. So if you support them, please hit the “like” button to help spread the word about them on Facebook.



Rationally Selfish Webcast:


OList Webcasts:

Modern Paleo:

FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine:

Explore Atlas Shrugged:

Coalition for Secular Government:

Again, if you support any or all of these projects, please “like” them!

Open Thread #278

Jun 292011

Tropical City Streets at Night

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!

Video: Parents, Teach Your Kids About Your Guns!

Jun 292011

In Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast, I answered the following question about kids and guns:

Should people give up their guns when they have kids? Many people think that having guns in the house with kids is terribly risky, if not child endangerment. They say that the kids might get to the guns, even if locked away, and injure or even kill themselves in an accidental discharge. Is that right? If parents choose to keep their guns in the house, what should they do to minimize the risk of injury?

Here’s my answer, now posted to YouTube:

In essence: Don’t try to kid-proof guns, but instead, gun-proof your kids by training them in the principles of gun safety.

Links mentioned in the webcast include:

My Latest Reads on Audible

Jun 282011

As I’ve blogged before, I’ve had a subscription with Audible for many years. I listen to audiobooks in my car, as well as while doing mindless chores and gardening. I’ve found that I much prefer to listen to fiction than to read it, because a good reader adds a rich layer of color to the text.

With my super-fancy “Platinum Annual Membership,” I receive 24 books per year for just under $10 per book. For the less devoted, you can try Audible for free, then choose your preferred type of subscription.

Audible is part of the advertising network to which I belong. By using any of these links to purchase a subscription, you support my work without costing yourself an extra cent.

Here are the audiobooks that I’ve read lately:

  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy: Painfully naturalistic and malevolent, yet also epic and unforgettable.
  • The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather: Also naturalistic, although more benevolent, but ultimately lacking in needed psychological depth.
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: Compelling dystopia written for young adults, with shining and complex heroes.
  • The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot: Compelling but heart-wrenching, definitely recommended to fellow fans of Jane Austen.

Judge Orders God To Break Up Into Smaller Deities

Jun 282011

Finally, an antitrust action that I can support! Judge Orders God To Break Up Into Smaller Deities:

Calling the theological giant’s stranglehold on the religion industry “blatantly anti-competitive,” a U.S. district judge ruled Monday that God is in violation of anti-monopoly laws and ordered Him to be broken up into several less powerful deities.

“The evidence introduced in this trial has convinced me that the deity known as God has willfully and actively thwarted competition from other deities and demigods, promoting His worship with such unfair scare tactics as threatening non-believers with eternal damnation,” wrote District Judge Charles Elliot Schofield in his decision. “In the process, He has carved out for Himself an illegal monotheopoly.”

The suit, brought against God by the Justice Department on behalf of a coalition of “lesser deities” and polytheistic mortals, alleged that He violated antitrust laws by claiming in the Holy Bible that He was the sole creator of the universe, and by strictly prohibiting the worship of what He termed “false idols.”

“God clearly commands that there shall be no other gods before Him, and He frequently employs the phrase ‘I AM the Lord’ to intimidate potential deserters,” prosecuting attorney Geoffrey Albert said. “God uses other questionable strongarm tactics to secure and maintain humanity’s devotion, demanding, among other things, that people sanctify their firstborn to Him and obtain circumcisions as a show of faith. There have also been documented examples of Him smiting those caught worshipping graven images.”

Attorneys for God did not deny such charges. They did, however, note that God offers followers “unbeatable incentives” in return for their loyalty, including eternal salvation, protection from harm, and “fruitfulness.”

Go read the whole thing… from The Onion, of course.

Apparently, order was issued back in 2002, and obviously, God hasn’t complied with it yet. Maybe he’s in appeals court?

More Tim Minchin

Jun 272011

On Sunday, I went on another Tim Minchin viewing spree. Once again, I loved them all.


I Love Jesus:

My Neighbor’s Ass:

The Good Book:

Fat Children:

Fuck the Poor:

If I Didn’t Have You:

I’m now determined to see him live at some point. That would be a blast!

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