1049: "Bookshelf"

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hdhale
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby hdhale » Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:38 pm UTC

The novel was popular, but not universally loved by critics when it was released. The fact that we're still arguing about it, immediately calls attention to the fact that you owe to yourself to read it, even if you might disagree with some of its conclusions. You read it for the same reason you read "The Prince", not because you want to know how to properly run a 15th century principality in Italy, but because there are universal truths and insights contained in it that challenge your comfortable view of the world.

Randall is free to think the book sucks overall. But if that is all he got out of it, then he didn't get out of it what he should have.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby sanjavalen » Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:46 pm UTC

Howdy,

I'm new (obviously) and registered in response to this latest comic.

Take a breath. I'm not going on an angry rant.

It did make me a little sad, though, as I am happily married, involved in my local community and have a beautiful baby girl on the way. It felt very...wrong, to see the philosophy I do my best to live by summarized as "be an asshole to everyone." Its humor, I know, and caricature is just part of how any humor comic rolls. But it seemed rather unfair to be the target of it in a way that doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to what I live by or how I act. I see that a lot online (and almost never in person,) and it comes with a sort of pervasive drumbeat that can get a man down at times; so I often simply ignore it. But I like this comic a lot and I thought I'd at least speak up. Not to demand, indignantly, that Randall change what he thinks or what he drew in his comic, but just to register that there are people out there who are Objectivists and not assholes.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby bmonk » Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:56 pm UTC

I agree with the sentiment of the strip today, and would add that I have similar problems with other writers, including James Redfield's Celestine Prophecy, as well as Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth books. The early principles in each case seem evident enough, but about midway they get more and more difficult to accept, and the author gets more and more preachy about what we must believe and how the world works. There are others, but these two come to mind at the moment.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby SirMustapha » Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:58 pm UTC

Karilyn wrote:One of the core differences here is that it's a single comic criticizing Ayn Rand, while you come to criticize Randal every week for some reason. The repetitiveness of your actions is what gets to people. Especially when Randal happens to produce a comic which by most standards would be considered at least above-average in quality, and you still stretch to find criticisms of it, many of which feel as if they were pulled out of thin air. It starts to give the impression that it would be soul crushing to you to admit that one or any of Randal's comics could have at least one redeeming quality.


Why do you think that? I think I made positive comments in every comic that I genuinely enjoyed, and there have been a handful of them. The last one was for "Skynet".

Besides, I think you're simply wrong. I am constantly seeing people responding to me in the harshest ways, and only after that seeing my older posts and realising that I criticise often. This leads me to believe that it's not only the repetition that bothers people, but simply a divergent opinion.

Karilyn wrote:At this point, a person who is not even a fan of Randal, would be justified in coming in and saying "Don't you have better things to do with your time?" Randal could be the absolute worst webcomic artist in the world. Randal could be so bad that he makes Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff look like a work of art on comparison with the greatest works of the Renaissance. And even then it would be hard to justify the time you dedicate to criticizing Randal on a weekly basis for years on end. Is this really something that is worth dedicating years of your life to?


I have said this before, but considering that xkcd haunts me every where I go, simply because I am a software developer, then yes, it's worth it.

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CorruptUser
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:34 pm UTC

blowfishhootie wrote:
thelastholdout wrote:
lly wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:If you think Randall is doing a terrible job, make your own webcomic and do a better job.


If you think Twilight is terrible, why don't you become a published novelist and show how it should be done?


I don't get this whole attitude that one must be talented in a field in order to be able to criticize a work in that field.

Case in point: I'm a terrible singer, and I can't play worth a damn, but I know an awful band when I hear them. And I am entitled to rage at the injustice when an awful band is pushed as a good band.


Yes, that particular mindlessly stupid criticism ("like you could do better!") only holds if the person saying it ALSO thinks you have to be an expert in a field in order to offer praise. And that wouldn't make it any less shockingly stupid, but at least it would be consistent.


This isn't a car or a ship, where I'm saying "if you think the F-22 raptor is poorly designed then make a better one in your garage out of garbage cans and toothpaste". This is a webcomic, one with stick figures at that. This isn't a orchestra piece that takes years of experience to master the instruments. Almost anyone can make something and post it online. You are using a computer right now, so you can learn HTML and make a webpage if you wanted. This webcomic started as Randall just posting some doodles on the web. There isn't an overall story arch connecting the comic, with loads of characters and character development.

That isn't to say XKCD isn't good, or that Randall makes a lot of funny observations, or the charts aren't awesome. Just that it's something that almost anyone can do, and Randall does it well. And you can do it too, and if you think Randall is sloppy then you try it.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby eran_rathan » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:40 pm UTC

bmonk wrote:I agree with the sentiment of the strip today, and would add that I have similar problems with other writers, including James Redfield's Celestine Prophecy, as well as Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth books. The early principles in each case seem evident enough, but about midway they get more and more difficult to accept, and the author gets more and more preachy about what we must believe and how the world works. There are others, but these two come to mind at the moment.


The Sword of Truth = ripoff of the Wheel of Time, with more preaching.

Also, the Wheel of Time was terrible. Any time I find myself hoping the Dark Lord of Evil(TM) triumphs because the heroes all suck, I usually put the book down.
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Karilyn
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Karilyn » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:46 pm UTC

bmonk wrote:I agree with the sentiment of the strip today, and would add that I have similar problems with other writers, including James Redfield's Celestine Prophecy, as well as Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth books. The early principles in each case seem evident enough, but about midway they get more and more difficult to accept, and the author gets more and more preachy about what we must believe and how the world works. There are others, but these two come to mind at the moment.

I had issues with the Sword of Truth novels, though I think the issue is somewhat different than Atlas Shrugged.

The problem with the Sword of Truth novels, is that they started as fantasy. Whatever the author says about his love of Ayn Rand, and his desire to be the Ayn Rand of the modern era, there was virtually nothing in his first book which was political. Nor really in the second, and even not that much in the third. Terry Goodkind realized, several books into his series, that he was really popular, and he could say things, and that people would listen to him, because he already had a massive soapbox which he had built in the Sword of Truth novels, and all he had to do was climb up on the box and start preaching. This is most egregious in The Pillars of Creation, which is where I basically said "fuck it" and stopped reading his series, despite my interest in seeing the conclusion to the plot.

He took a perfectly good fantasy plot, and discarded it in favor of trying to convert it midway through into Atlas Shrugged. And the worst part about it? The entire time through Pillars of Creation I was like "Yeah. I agree with you. You're talking common sense. 1+1=2. Red+Blue=Purple. Water is wet. Fire is hot. Now shut the fuck up, and let's go back to the story about Richard and Kahlan." Then 800 pages later, I was ready to burn the book. I didn't disagree with any of his philosophies, I was just sick and fucking tired of him spewing them at me through badly designed strawmen, because Terry Goodkind obviously is not educated enough to actually support his position beyond "Communism is bad, because it is bad, that's what my mommy told me." (It's ironic because I'm strawmanning him). If you need strawmen to defend your position, whether it is in favor of capitalism or in favor of socialism, you need to just shut the fuck up and back out of the conversation, because you clearly aren't educated well enough in the nuances of either to actually be able to seriously discuss the merits of eithe rsystem.

Reading Terry Goodkind go on and on and on and on about the merits of capitalism made me feel like I'm listening to a 5 year old child try to explain why the earth revolves around the sun. He just doesn't have the education necessary to explain his position, even if I'm not necessarily disagreeing with it, and listening to him yell at me for hours on end, simply isn't good literature.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby kozure » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:47 pm UTC

This is the single greatest comic ever!

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Karilyn
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Karilyn » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:59 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:Why do you think that? I think I made positive comments in every comic that I genuinely enjoyed, and there have been a handful of them. The last one was for "Skynet".
My apologies. I did not check the forums for "Skynet." Skynet did very little for me; I really don't care about stoner humor. I have yet to see a positive comment from you though. Perhaps it is because I only come to the forums for comics that I like, and since we apparently have very different interests. And if you like something different than me, there's nothing wrong with that. But I would note that I don't come to the forum and bitch about the comics that I found lackluster. I just shrug and move on. It only took 10 seconds to read, why spend 30 minutes talking about how bad it was on the forum, and prolonging my lack of enjoyment?

SirMustapha wrote:Besides, I think you're simply wrong. I am constantly seeing people responding to me in the harshest ways, and only after that seeing my older posts and realising that I criticise often. This leads me to believe that it's not only the repetition that bothers people, but simply a divergent opinion
There are possibilities besides A and B. You are missing possibility C. That it is people are experiencing the feeling of you coming in and pissing all over their enjoyment of a comic. I imagine that most people only find maybe 50% of xkcd's comics good. Actually I find that true of most webcomics I read. But that doesn't mean I think people are stupid for not enjoying it, and I definitely don't go on the forum, and rant for an extended period of time about how bad today's comic was. The way you present your comic criticism is in a form which makes it sound like "If you don't agree with me that this comic was bad, then you're an idiot." And who isn't going to respond negatively to that? Especially when the overwhelming number of people who chose to post on that comic, were ones who greatly enjoyed it, and so they wanted to prolong their enjoyment by discussing it, instead of moving on immediately.

SirMustapha wrote:I have said this before, but considering that xkcd haunts me every where I go, simply because I am a software developer, then yes, it's worth it.
Rule 1 of Karilyn: Things which bring enjoyment are worth it, and should be sought to be prolonged.
Rule 2 of Karilyn: Things which bring unhappiness are not worth it, and should be sought to be not prolonged.

Simple eh? Okay fine, I have a lot more rules of that, but it's a pretty good standard of rules to use. Of course, you also have to factor in long term happiness, not just short term happiness, which a lot of people forget, but it's still good rules to live by. And the question is, does all the unhappiness that you are prolonging by posting about this comic every week, come to a value which can be equal to the long term goal (which is likely impossible) of everybody realizing xkcd sucks, and no longer having to see it referenced at your place of work? It's unlikely that most other people will realize that xkcd is horrible like you do. That's an unrealistic goal.

The conclusion would be that this is a greatly imbalanced investment, which has a very high risk of losing your investment, AND even if you don't lose your investment, the gains would be minimal. That's would generally be considered a poor investment.
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San Fran Sam
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby San Fran Sam » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:06 pm UTC

Gedankenwelt wrote:
Djehutynakht wrote:I'm confused. In the last panel, is he putting it back and escaping the critical room, or is someone else on the other side locking him in the room in a BHG-esque attempt at getting rid of everyone who doesn't share his literary tastes?

EDIT: Due to the lack of another "rumble", I'm inclined towards the second.

This should be a fun bookstore. I wonder what happens if someone picks up Twilight...

My interpretation is that a second person with a "terrible taste" shows up, and will get trapped while freeing the first person. Not sure if that makes sense, though...


Put...the...candle...back!

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby bigchiefbc » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:20 pm UTC

It seems to me that the "you have bad taste" comment seems to be more of a comment on the writing than on her philosophy. And I have to say, to say nothing about whether I agree with her philosophy or not, I found Atlas Shrugged to be a terribly written book. The characters are simplistic, one-dimensional monolithic caricatures, she is repetitive as shit and subtle as a brick over the head. And anytime you find yourself writing a book, and decide to let a character's speech go on for SIXTY FUCKING PAGES, then just ... stop. You obviously care more about beating the shit out of a dead horse than about the enjoyment of your readers.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby boriquajake » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:34 pm UTC

I"m a neo-con/libertarian/finder of hippies and hipsters distasteful/avid reader, and I couldn't get all the way through that terrible book. Bookshelf was hilarious no matter your political stripe.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Karilyn » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:42 pm UTC

Aurini wrote:Ayn Rand? What an idiot! I'm glad we ignored her advice. Don't you know that it's demand that drives the economy, not production? Bah! These Randroids would try and say that Obama's WORSTENING the crisis by bailing out the bankers! I'm with IceBrain on this; my only beef with the left, is that they're stalling after socializing medicine. Food is far more more important than medicine, and heck, there's already some soviet blueprints laying around for how we can do it.

[attachment=0]Historical RGDP.png[attachment]
[attachment=1]were screwed.jpg[attachment]
Source: http://captaincapitalism.blogspot.ca/2012/04/what-could-have-been.html

Anti-capitalism, pro-socialism opening paragraphs. Followed by two pro-capitalism graphs, and a link to a pro-capitalist blog. Wut? I can't figure out if you're trying to be sarcastic/ironic, or if you didn't realize what you were citing? I kept, trying to read over it, and am actually afraid I'm somehow missing the obvious, but quite frankly dear, I'm baffled. If that was sarcasm, it didn't read well as sarcasm, cause I'm still reading it and it sounds like you're being serious. Impressive parody if it was indeed parody. If it wasn't parody, I must say your choice of sources is embarrassing.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Trickster » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:52 pm UTC

I have three things to add to the downward spiral:

1) The most prominent members of Ayn Rand organizations rail against the "rewriting of history", because they claim this fictionalizes history and suggests causal relationships which are false. They feel this way because Ayn wrote several books of fictionalized history in order to make her case.

2) Taking five different and unrelated philosophies and gluing them together does not a single philosophy make. Capitalism and atheism and the aesthetic rejection of postmodern art are totally unrelated concepts. It takes more gymnastic apologetics to relate them than it does to explain the Trinity.

3) Objectivism is a religion. (See points 1 and 2.)

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby ender_wiggum » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:59 pm UTC

Okay. Funny comic. Keep it up, Randall.

Though I'll admit that I'm hurt (a bit). For the record, I'm an objectivist, and usually not an asshole.

The obligation to "be a huge asshole to everyone" seems to be a conclusion that many reach about Rand's philosophy. I never read that part, I guess. I think that line of thought spawns from the common notion that we should love _everyone_. Somehow Rand comes across as the inverse? Rand certainly rejects "universal love", but hardly advocates organized assholery; only organized getting-the-fuck-outta-here.

Lighten up, and read some Heinlein instead.

I got from Rand what I already knew: TANSTAAFL!!! ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanstaafl )

You don't owe most humans anything, but many will try and get something from you. Choose your comrades carefully, and guard them selfishly. Ignore the rest if possible.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby toadpipe » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:59 pm UTC

Seems that it's true, animals outline their territories with their excretions, humans outline their territories by typing excretions on forums.

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Trickster
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Trickster » Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:04 pm UTC

toadpipe wrote:Seems that it's true, animals outline their territories with their excretions, humans outline their territories by typing excretions on forums.

http://bit.ly/vbxgu6

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Le_Forgeron » Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:29 pm UTC

Any philosophical/societal global solution should be evaluated for its answer to the Poo in the Pool.

How would the system handle a young "citizen" dropping its/her/his poo in the swimming pool.

It seems that Ayn Rand's world would just have no swimming pool (on a selfish approach, no one is strong enough alone to make one: you can have your own bathtub, not an olympic pool).
Dictatorship have the easy solution, with either a shooting guard or something similar.
A middle ground might be more confortable, but it's the mud most societies are swimming in since the beginning of the world.

And to ponder with the Myth of the Cavern, prozelits should be shoot on sight. All of them.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby sanjavalen » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:12 pm UTC

ender_wiggum wrote:Okay. Funny comic. Keep it up, Randall.

Though I'll admit that I'm hurt (a bit). For the record, I'm an objectivist, and usually not an asshole.

The obligation to "be a huge asshole to everyone" seems to be a conclusion that many reach about Rand's philosophy. I never read that part, I guess. I think that line of thought spawns from the common notion that we should love _everyone_. Somehow Rand comes across as the inverse? Rand certainly rejects "universal love", but hardly advocates organized assholery; only organized getting-the-fuck-outta-here.

Lighten up, and read some Heinlein instead.

I got from Rand what I already knew: TANSTAAFL!!! ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanstaafl )

You don't owe most humans anything, but many will try and get something from you. Choose your comrades carefully, and guard them selfishly. Ignore the rest if possible.


That's an interesting approach, and certainly within the realm of the acceptable, but I don't think that encompasses Objectivism in totality.

I mean, I am active, nice, I run a community group, I do business with people every day. The overwhelming impression I get is that people are nice, benevolent and willing to extend a hand out to help if needed. I don't think that's a bad thing, either. To me Objectivism's main message isn't to leave other people alone, its sort of a refocusing of why you interact with other people; they aren't just an end in themselves, but they are varying amounts of useful and pleasurable to be around. Part of why I love the philosophy is that it helps to keep that in mind; I have lots of friends and I talk to customers and new people every day, but keeping in mind that its a value-exchange (even if the value is non-physical, like my admiration for their character or other personality traits) helps me to focus my relationships. And it reminds me that I, too, need to bring something to the relationship for it to be fair.

Quoting myself, because since it was my first post it got dumped a bit farther up than I'd like:

Me wrote:Howdy,

I'm new (obviously) and registered in response to this latest comic.

Take a breath. I'm not going on an angry rant.

It did make me a little sad, though, as I am happily married, involved in my local community and have a beautiful baby girl on the way. It felt very...wrong, to see the philosophy I do my best to live by summarized as "be an asshole to everyone." Its humor, I know, and caricature is just part of how any humor comic rolls. But it seemed rather unfair to be the target of it in a way that doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to what I live by or how I act. I see that a lot online (and almost never in person,) and it comes with a sort of pervasive drumbeat that can get a man down at times; so I often simply ignore it. But I like this comic a lot and I thought I'd at least speak up. Not to demand that Randall change what he thinks or what he drew in his comic, but just to register that there are people out there who are Objectivists and not assholes.


And lastly:

Le_Forgeron wrote:
Any philosophical/societal global solution should be evaluated for its answer to the Poo in the Pool.

How would the system handle a young "citizen" dropping its/her/his poo in the swimming pool.

It seems that Ayn Rand's world would just have no swimming pool (on a selfish approach, no one is strong enough alone to make one: you can have your own bathtub, not an olympic pool).


That's...not at all accurate. I mean, I understand where it comes from - the predominance of "analysis" of Rand's ethical system is full of caricatures and strawmen, and in that way much worse than today's comic, which doesn't pretend to be serious discussion - but no, it doesn't advocate that at all.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby CaptainSpectacular » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:13 pm UTC

Flynn777 wrote:Randall, I defy you to name another philosopher that you agree with 90% of the time. If you reply "Aristotle" then you haven't read enough of his material.


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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Kaylakaze » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:21 pm UTC

ANY Randroid I've ever heard questioned on their philosophy usually gets to "I've got mine and if you don't have yours, it's your own fault and you should f off and die." Sure they pretend to be nice and all about "personal responsibility" but that's an easy position to take from a privileged standpoint. It's probably not a coincidence almost every Randroid I've ever heard from (that didn't prove to be a hypocrite) was a white male.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby SirMustapha » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:25 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:This isn't a car or a ship, where I'm saying "if you think the F-22 raptor is poorly designed then make a better one in your garage out of garbage cans and toothpaste". This is a webcomic, one with stick figures at that. This isn't a orchestra piece that takes years of experience to master the instruments. Almost anyone can make something and post it online. You are using a computer right now, so you can learn HTML and make a webpage if you wanted. This webcomic started as Randall just posting some doodles on the web. There isn't an overall story arch connecting the comic, with loads of characters and character development.

That isn't to say XKCD isn't good, or that Randall makes a lot of funny observations, or the charts aren't awesome. Just that it's something that almost anyone can do, and Randall does it well. And you can do it too, and if you think Randall is sloppy then you try it.


Yes, because you know objectively that "almost anyone can do" a webcomic, yet it's über-difficult to play an orchestra piece (whatever that is). How did you conclude that? How can you know exactly what is easy and what is hard to do? I say that because comedy is a pretty challenging to do: it takes effort, a sharp mind and a lot of training to do it right, maybe just as much training as it takes to play an "orchestra piece"; otherwise we would have millions of George Carlins in the world, after all, it's very easy, isn't it?

But that's beside the point: the thing is that making a piece of art and enjoying a piece of art are two completely different activities. To make a webcomic, you need training, studying, maybe a couple of tutorials, plenty of criticism, and willingness to grow and improve; to enjoy a webcomic, you need eyesight. That's all. It doesn't take years of training in order to look at a comic strip and decide "I like it" or "I don't like it". Everybody is able to make a judgement, and everybody is FREE to formulate an opinion and express it. Anyone can think, and thinking is all it takes to come up with a criticism against xkcd.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Sprocket » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:26 pm UTC

I feel like there are two kind of people, those who get pushed around, or a abused, and decide to learn from that to not do that to other people, and the kind who get pushed around or abused and decide the solution is TO do that to other people. Ayn Rand is one of the later. "The Nazis think they're the master race, so they pushed a bunch of people around. I survived, so clearly I'm better than the people who died, so now I'm gonna push people around who are weaker than me too."
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby sanjavalen » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:29 pm UTC

Kaylakaze wrote:ANY Randroid I've ever heard questioned on their philosophy usually gets to "I've got mine and if you don't have yours, it's your own fault and you should f off and die." Sure they pretend to be nice and all about "personal responsibility" but that's an easy position to take from a privileged standpoint. It's probably not a coincidence almost every Randroid I've ever heard from (that didn't prove to be a hypocrite) was a white male.


You know, Santiago is a really bad name for a white male. And my wife definitely isn't male (at least, not that I've noticed.)

Its easy to caricature and just call people "Randroids," but maybe you've had the misfortune of talking to arrogant assholes on the internet? I know it might be surprising but Objectivism isn't immune to assholes adopting all or parts of the philosophy and then loudly proclaiming rude or cruel things to others. And, like with anything else, they make their voices heard on the internet much louder than people who simply wish to live quiet, happy lives, away from people who open up an interaction with them by calling them names and telling them how they are.

Sprocket wrote:I feel like there are two kind of people, those who get pushed around, or a abused, and decide to learn from that to not do that to other people, and the kind who get pushed around or abused and decide the solution is TO do that to other people. Ayn Rand is one of the later. "The Nazis think they're the master race, so they pushed a bunch of people around. I survived, so clearly I'm better than the people who died, so now I'm gonna push people around who are weaker than me too."


Pushing people around is precisely why Ayn Rand condemned the Nazis, and the Soviets, and any other, smaller-scale bully, and is not something that any Objectivist should be okay with. I'm sorry if people who call themselves Objectivists have given you a different impression, but it simply isn't so.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby CaptainSpectacular » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:35 pm UTC

People Ayn Rand hated: The poor ("If you're poor you deserve to be and why the hell should anyone help you? Also charity is evil."), women ("Women should want to be raped!"), and anyone who thinks people should help one another.

People Ayn Rand admired: William Hickman, who murdered and dismembered a twelve year old girl.

Ayn Rand also advocated terrorism and piracy against anyone who wasn't taking active effort to let the poor starve to death.

Ayn Rand: Basically a cartoon villain.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby endolith » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:36 pm UTC

sanjavalen wrote:Pushing people around is precisely why Ayn Rand condemned the Nazis, and the Soviets, and any other, smaller-scale bully, and is not something that any Objectivist should be okay with. I'm sorry if people who call themselves Objectivists have given you a different impression, but it simply isn't so.


You must have missed the quote about native Americans

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby CaptainSpectacular » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:41 pm UTC

endolith wrote:You must have missed the quote about native Americans


Ayn Rand was super, super racist and it makes me laugh that anyone takes her seriously.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby sanjavalen » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:44 pm UTC

endolith wrote:
sanjavalen wrote:Pushing people around is precisely why Ayn Rand condemned the Nazis, and the Soviets, and any other, smaller-scale bully, and is not something that any Objectivist should be okay with. I'm sorry if people who call themselves Objectivists have given you a different impression, but it simply isn't so.


You must have missed the quote about native Americans


I didn't. I disagree with her there, but its a specific application of political theory - esp regarding property rights when you don't, uhm, do anything but sort of travel through in a transient manner, as in the plains indians. That is an actual problem (like if you landed on a moon and declared it belonged to you in totality, despite doing nothing but cruising around on your moon rover,) but I think its one for political scientists to haggle over as its pretty specialized. Other cultures (the Cherokee in particular) were more permanent and also adopted a lot of good ideas from the Europeans, and frankly got screwed out of what rightfully belonged to them. My ancestry goes (a little) in that direction, so the topic was interesting enough to me to do some research.

In a very long and prolific career of writing and speaking, I've only heard of Rand misspeaking on a subject I don't think she knew enough about to really give an opinion a few times; this is one of them.

This is part of the reason, actually, why I hate that so many people approach Objectivism as primarily a political philosophy. Rand's advocacy of laissez-faire capitalism gets all the press, but to me any conversation about Objectivism has to start with the ethics or you're putting the cart before the horse. And in that area there is no ambiguity; its not just impractical but evil to take what belongs to others. If you see an apparent contradiction between that and her statement about the Indians (which I do,) then the statement about Indians can be dismissed as non-essential to the philosophy, because specific stances on specific (and complicated) political issues are not the defining essence of a comprehensive philosophy.

Does that make sense?

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:03 pm UTC

I'm hesitant to get involved in this conversation, but the one comment I'm willing to make thus far is this:

Ayn Rand is not a philosopher, any more than Robert Heinlein or L. Ron Hubbard. They are all fiction writers, whose characters and plots push viewpoints on philosophical subjects, which the authors frequently agree with, and which are taken with various degrees of seriousness by their fans (from "food for thought" with Heinlein fans to "divine prophecy" with Scientologists, with Randroids somewhere in the middle). They are all writing about people dealing with vaguely philosophical problems, but unless they are making clearly reasoned arguments in their own words, which can be debated with other clearly reasoned arguments, then they are not actually doing philosophy.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby sanjavalen » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:06 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I'm hesitant to get involved in this conversation, but the one comment I'm willing to make thus far is this:

Ayn Rand is not a philosopher, any more than Robert Heinlein or L. Ron Hubbard. They are all fiction writers, whose characters and plots push viewpoints on philosophical subjects, which the authors frequently agree with, and which are taken with various degrees of seriousness by their fans (from "food for thought" with Heinlein fans to "divine prophecy" with Scientologists, with Randroids somewhere in the middle). They are all writing about people dealing with vaguely philosophical problems, but unless they are making clearly reasoned arguments in their own words, which can be debated with other clearly reasoned arguments, then they are not actually doing philosophy.


Rand had a lot of nonfiction under her belt by the time she died where she laid down her thoughts on various issues of philosophy (mostly on the practical side, but also venturing into the technical aspects of philosophy as well on a regular basis.)

I mean, if you don't agree with her philosophy, that's fine, but it is there and fairly systematically laid down. And fiction is a great way to present philosophy is a digestible manner to a lay person (see: the Bible.)

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby SamSam » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:08 pm UTC

Flynn777 wrote:
blowfishhootie wrote:"Agreeing with 90 percent of every sentence" is not the same thing as "agreeing 90 percent of the time."


It's not? Then what, pray tell, is it the same thing as?


I don't know if some people are still confused by this, but agreeing with 90% of someone's sentences and then disagreeing with their conclusions is definitely not the same thing as agreeing with them 90% of the time. At least not in the general sense where "agreeing with 90% of the time" implies you generally agree with a person.

1. All men are mortals
2. Socrates is a man
3. Therefore, be an asshole to everyone

You probably agree with 66% of my sentences there, but you would definitely not agree with my logic or my conclusions. While you might say "I agree with 66% of SamSam's sentences," you would not say that you generally agree with me.

That was Radall's (quite obvious) point.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby whatwhat22 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:11 pm UTC

Your comics used to be funny, interesting views on things. Now they're just opinionated drawings. Come on, look at that alt text. Xkcd just isn't what it used to be, and neither is the author. I'm disappointed but all good things come to an end.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby eran_rathan » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:12 pm UTC

sanjavalen wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:I'm hesitant to get involved in this conversation, but the one comment I'm willing to make thus far is this:

Ayn Rand is not a philosopher, any more than Robert Heinlein or L. Ron Hubbard. They are all fiction writers, whose characters and plots push viewpoints on philosophical subjects, which the authors frequently agree with, and which are taken with various degrees of seriousness by their fans (from "food for thought" with Heinlein fans to "divine prophecy" with Scientologists, with Randroids somewhere in the middle). They are all writing about people dealing with vaguely philosophical problems, but unless they are making clearly reasoned arguments in their own words, which can be debated with other clearly reasoned arguments, then they are not actually doing philosophy.


Rand had a lot of nonfiction under her belt by the time she died where she laid down her thoughts on various issues of philosophy (mostly on the practical side, but also venturing into the technical aspects of philosophy as well on a regular basis.)

I mean, if you don't agree with her philosophy, that's fine, but it is there and fairly systematically laid down. And fiction is a great way to present philosophy is a digestible manner to a lay person (see: the Bible.)


number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals: 0
number of philosophical criticisms: 0
etc.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby sanjavalen » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:17 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
sanjavalen wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:I'm hesitant to get involved in this conversation, but the one comment I'm willing to make thus far is this:

Ayn Rand is not a philosopher, any more than Robert Heinlein or L. Ron Hubbard. They are all fiction writers, whose characters and plots push viewpoints on philosophical subjects, which the authors frequently agree with, and which are taken with various degrees of seriousness by their fans (from "food for thought" with Heinlein fans to "divine prophecy" with Scientologists, with Randroids somewhere in the middle). They are all writing about people dealing with vaguely philosophical problems, but unless they are making clearly reasoned arguments in their own words, which can be debated with other clearly reasoned arguments, then they are not actually doing philosophy.


Rand had a lot of nonfiction under her belt by the time she died where she laid down her thoughts on various issues of philosophy (mostly on the practical side, but also venturing into the technical aspects of philosophy as well on a regular basis.)

I mean, if you don't agree with her philosophy, that's fine, but it is there and fairly systematically laid down. And fiction is a great way to present philosophy is a digestible manner to a lay person (see: the Bible.)


number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals: 0
number of philosophical criticisms: 0
etc.


Uhm, okay? Isn't it a bit argument from authority to claim that nothing she wrote could be worthwhile if it wasn't in a peer-reviewed journal?

If you want that, Tara Smith is an Objectivist philosopher and instructor in Texas; she has peer-reviewed stuff out if you are determined to stick to that. There are a few dozen Objectivist philosopher PhDs active right now, iirc - and they are all, or almost all, published. There's also a great dissertation put out by a friend of mine on Moral Responsibility and Luck which is also come at from an Objectivist perspective.

It just seems silly and sort of ad hominem to approach it from that standpoint, but besides that, there's peer-reviewed work done by Objectivists out there. Just because Rand didn't feel the need or want to do that doesn't invalidate anything she said, and doesn't make her philosophy non-academic in the sense that academics aren't out there who believe in it.

Edit: As well, it seems utterly besides the point to me. Objectivism has been of great practical help to me in living a happy life - with a career I am very excited about, a wife I love, friends I am close to and a baby girl to be born later this year and who I already love like crazy. Surely that is more important than the number of peer-reviewed articles Rand had? I am very interested in living a happy life; if Objectivism helps with that, its great to me, in a way that no other peer-reviewed philosopher/y is.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby mtnrunner2 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:18 pm UTC

I'd focus on re-reading first-hand sources with an open independent mind, rather than worrying about what certain errant self-described experts in the subject are doing (pro or con).

99% of the time when I come across criticisms of Rand they are not actually criticisms of Rand, but of someone's misconceptions of someone else's misconceptions of someone else's misconceptions. In fact, peoples' ideas about Rand are often the exact opposite of what she said, especially on hot button issues like "selfishness".

Of course somehow, critics never bring up subjects like her three cardinal moral values: reason, purpose and self-esteem. I guess those don't play as well on HuffPost or Salon.com.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby nccn » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 pm UTC

Yay rebuttal time! :) (No seriously I do enjoy these debates)

*I should engage in rational self-interest.
*Accidents happen, and I may become one of the non-producers at any moment.
*Therefore, I should hedge my bets by saving for the future, or joining an independent organization that provides insurance/protection."


Yeah, except accidents happen to young people as well. Disease strikes everyone. As was noted in the Republican primary, the most unlikely to carry insurance are upper-20s lower-30s people. They have not saved enough to survive upon for the rest of their lives. What are you going to do, let them die? Even if you take the compassion out of it, does a society survive when it spends large sums of money to feed and educate someone and then lets them die? Let's put it in a more timely example: You can either force an ambulance to take, and a hospital to treat, everyone who needs it (welfare) or you could insist that everyone prove they have a method of pay beforehand. Ignoring the fact that the poor would obviously revolt over the latter Rand-like choice, how do you practically go about doing it? Everyone with insurance must carry a card? What if they have a heart attack while swimming, or their wallet or purse is lost or burned in a crash? What if you're super rich and self-insure? How do you go about proving that? What if what you think is enough money to self-insure isn't what society or the hospital thinks is enough?

*I should engage in rational self-interest.
*People with no money and little hope of getting money tend to commit crimes, even violent crimes.
*While a police force can protect me, they tend to be most effective only after-the-fact.
*A perhaps more effective method of curbing crime, and a better use of my money, is to simply purchase a security system / buy a gun and shoot the criminals / learn self-defense / etc.."


Those are certainly options, my question is what happens when it would cost a few hundred dollars to placate a would-be robber versus a few thousand to run a security system. When it becomes rationally smart to just pay because it is cheaper than resist. Another timely example: You are on the street and grabbed and pulled into an alley. "Your money or your life" he says. Now on one hand, a true Randian would be forced to fight, because they don't give in to parasites. But on the other hand, a true Randian is rationally self-interested, and knows that fighting increases your odds of dying greatly. It's self-conflicting. You are absolutely crazy if you think this is not what we do all the time. Not only is it done in our foreign affairs, but even amongst Americans. You just don't think it because you don't view our civil court system as playing a role here, or homeless shelters playing a role here. You don't think it because often the people who stick us up are oil companies and medical establishments. I see I put this phrase largely in the personal crime aspect but I meant corporate crime too.

*I should engage in rational self-interest.
*Capitalism is the best method for self-interest to find expression.
*Capitalism only functions when there is a small but substantial pool of unemployed to provide mobility in the workforce, so that jobs can shift as needed"


That's right, so the question is: What keeps these people from picking up their ball and going home? You have a system that, when it is working perfectly, prevents 4-5% of the population from holding the one thing that keeps them alive. You cannot systematically rotate these people (that destroys the system) so what do you do to the ones that are chronically not chosen for work? Ignoring the simple fairness that since your system is screwing them over it probably ought to take care of them, how do you propose to keep them in the game? If they were to quit looking, turn to crime, or die, the rest of the system would fall apart, and yet those are the most likely outcomes. Put yourself in the position of the chronically unemployed. The system needs you. Without you the lower rungs don't work hard. If they don't work hard the middle rungs don't work hard. The whole system fails. And yet, some would say these people get nothing. What is your incentive to keep looking for work rather than say, stealing? If you steal and succeed, yay money. If you lose, yay food and shelter. (Or are you suggesting we do away with prisons and just kill everyone guilty of any crime?) What is in his rational self-interest? What is his carrot to keep playing, and who pays for it?

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby sanjavalen » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:31 pm UTC

nccn wrote:Yay rebuttal time! :)


Who are you rebutting, exactly? I didn't see any of this up there.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby nccn » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:47 pm UTC

Re:capitalism, we've never had it pure, but lets run the following comparisons. North and South Korea. East and West Germany (heck, even east and west Berlin). Communist China and free-market Hong Kong. The industrial, capitalist union, and the feudal, slave-owning, non-capitalist confederacy.

In all cases more capitalism ~ better place to live. In every instance where we have the ability to do a direct comparison (please spare me any rubbish about comparing Sweden (today) with 19th century America).


That is an irrelevant point. The fact that the Earth is closer to the sun than say Saturn makes it more welcoming for human life and human expression, that doesn't mean we'd be even better off on Mercury.

Besides you wouldn't want us to run say, China for the past five years versus the US for the past five years, cause that would destroy your argument right? You wouldn't even want us to run the America from 1900 to the America of today, simply on the anti-trust measures. (Or do you think that the people who built the railroads should also get to run every related business?)

The fact of the matter is that "free markets" are only designed to function within certain rules. One of the rules is a low barrier to entry and a low barrier of exit. This allows a bloated sector to shake off inefficient and useless people. And it's fine when you're talking about, say, wheat. It's less fine when you're talking about oil drilling or airline transportation. That's why it costs so much money to fly. There are a limited number of players, the sector doesn't support more players, and the current players know that nobody could run a startup to compete with them. This removes their incentive to compete against each other and simply raise prices to the point where they fear either (a) a government takeover or extreme regulation or (b) a substitute industry, like driving, instead.

Besides if you had a true free market economy, your wife would be able to hire a hitman to kill you. I mean sure, she would have to pay money, and he would end up in jail, but it seems like they would both be happy with the situation. You, less so.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Princess Marzipan » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:51 pm UTC

Karilyn wrote:Strictly speaking, people who are fans of Atlas Shrugged tend to do extremely well financially, and function very well in the real world. Of course, this is likely correlation, not causation, but the point still remains.
Actually, the point you're trying to make DOESN'T remain without proof of causation. The correlation can just as easily be explained by how palatable a philosophy Objectivism tends to be for people who do extremely well financially. It allows them to believe they are solely responsible for their success and that people worse off ("parasites" and "looters") aren't discarded or forgotten parts of a system without which the Objectivist would be just as poorly off.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Marscaleb » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:55 pm UTC

This comic made me laugh out loud.


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