Saturday morning ramble, 25 Nov
More offcuts this morning from the 'virtual desk' of this blogger. Here's what didn't or won't make it into its own post this week or next, but which I picked up and kicked around and aime to write about at length but didn't, or won't.
- Jason Quintana reflects that as the world becomes more advanced technologically, scientifically and economically -- in other words, as we become more a world primarily of mind instead of muscle -- the education for that world will of necessity take longer and maturity will come later, and those most suited for that world will be those least suited to be penned up for so long in factory schools being 'socialised' while awaiting their chance to soar. I give you: Why Nerds Are Unpopular.
- What role does philosophy play in history? According to standard Objectivist theory, it is ideas that move history. But Robert Tracinski, the editor of magazine The Intellectual Activist, challenges that view in a three-part series that has attracted much attention, and much of that negative. The three parts can be found here: Part 1: What Went Right? The Non-Collapse of Civilization; Part 2: What Went Right? The Implosion of the Population Bomb; and Part 3: What Went Right? Pajama Epistemology. Author Ed Cline takes up the cudgels on behalf of the opposing point in The Intellectual Activist's Lost Guide. His main point is this:
[Honest hard-working] men are today working in a philosophical vacuum. Unless a philosophy of reason salvages our culture and civilization, civilization cannot move forward and the work of such men will be for nought. Their work will constitute the rubble of a civilization that committed suicide because it rejected a fully consistent philosophy of reason.
- Tibor Machan reflects on them old Market Blues: "The free market economy is the most suited to human commercial affairs, there is no reasonable doubt about this. But a free market leaves some people with various laments that then tempt them to undermine this great institution..." Why? Read on for a new take on those who make the perfect the enemy of the good, and their whims the enemy of markets. 'Market failure?' No, says Tibor, just people doing what people value.
- Why will people intervene to help the victims of violence, except when the thugs are wearing police uniforms? That's the question posed in Police = Man by Vigesimal Pundit, who suggests we're still to fully outgrow our attraction to kings, emperors and Nanny-knows-best government.
- Milton Friedman videos abounded this week: here's another in which the late Uncle Milt expounds on libertarianism, beginning by contrasting his own utilitarian libertarianism with the more principled 'libertarianism' of Ayn Rand. (For her own part, Rand repudiated the label 'libertarian,' and described Friedman's "value-free" economics as giving the game away.) Uncommon Knowledge: What is a Libertarian? - with Milton Friedman.
- Meanwhile, Ed Younkins's survey of the intellectual history of liberty and a free society is worth some investigation to see the intellectual stream in which Rand and Friedman sit. It is a broad stream going back to Aristotle and Lao Tzu, and continuing today with thinkers such as the late Robert Nozick, Michael Novak and Thomas Sowell. Younkins's survey allows you to see these thinkers in context, with both strengths and errors magnified by comparison to other thinkers. Revisiting the Intellectual History of a Free Society. [Broken link fixed.]
- And speaking of videos and the intellectual tradition of liberty, Marcus Bachler has discovered a video interview with the author of a new book, The Age of Rand – Imagining an Objectivist Future World. Notes Marcus, "The author claims that there will be an 'Age of Rand' 50-100 years from now." "If only!" we might say. Watch it yourself to see if this is wishful thinking on the author's part, or something else: The Age of Rand – Imagining an Objectivist Future World [video].
- Stephen Hicks links to a "an excellent series of reflections by Marsha Enright at the College of the United States’s website, reflecting chiefly on "What makes a great teacher great?" Highly recommended. Her answer: First We Must Inspire, Not Just Inform.
- And Stephen uncovers another gem: Two pieces by Kathy Sierra explain "why creative people shouldn’t wait for the muse to show up"; or, how deadlines help your creativity. Don't Wait for the Muse, and How to Make Something Amazing, Right Now.
- Borat. I confess, I'm a fan. But sundry others aren't. The LA Times has a story on the people suing Borat and making lawyers rich-- from the drunken frat boys pillloried in the film to some of the Romanian villagers of Glod, in which some scenes were filmed and numerous attractive Kazakhstani women were featured. And goats. Villagers to Sue Borat. Meanwhile, the Kazakhstani ambassador to Britain gets the joke, but wishes he didn't have to. He begins:
LET ME admit it: we Kazakhs owe Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat’s creator, a debt. Not only is he capable of making many of us — myself included — laugh out loud, but his spoof documentary Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, has resulted in the kind of media attention of which previously I could only dream...
- Cactus Kate looks at Nicky Hager and sees at once a hollow man and a peddler of the bleeding obvious. Somewhat cynically (and who can blame her) she makes the point: Politicians lie? Big deal. "It's called politics you stupid little man. It's their JOB. Whole industries are created on this... Next he will be publishing a tell-all book on how the tax consulting industry is profiting from IRD policy. The next book really should be about Nicky Hager himself. Maybe a job for Ian Wishart. Oh. That's right. He's busy."
- Architectural drawing is an art all its own. Have a look at this year's winners of the KRob Architectural Drawing Competition, the sort of stuff you have to do if winning architectural competitions is your thing. I have to confess that too often the slickness of so much architectural drawing is intended simply to obscure the banality of the architecture delineated, and my own preference for architectural drawings are those that are clear, explanatory and still delightful in their own right -- and there are very few of the latter to be found here. There's an example on the right. The 32nd Annual Ken Roberts Architectural Delineation Competition.
- Now to Tonga. An interesting letter appeared on the Matangi Tonga website, castigating the leaders of the so-called pro-democracy movement for their involvement in the recent and ongoing violence. Mobocracy at work is the view of the author, one Inoke Fotu Huakau.
One of the worst forms of social incompetence reared its ugly head that day, apathy in its worst form. The helpless owners and employees of businesses that were looted and burned, right in front of a church-going public, with only a few daring to lend a helping hand. A public severed of their social responsibility and altruistic values through years of mindless propaganda of hatred and the principle of “them and us” in the name of democracy. But above all that, is the total failure of our Police force to plan for such social occurrence, and to protect the property and rights of the business sector that has been the target of hate campaign by the leaders of the pack ‘Akilisi Pohiva and ‘Uliti Uata... The government has been trying to appease the Pangai Si’i Mob in a number of ways, but with the irrationally intoxicated mind of the pack leaders, they take any indecision by government as a weakness of leadership and it fueled their arrogance by the day.Strong stuff. PRs [ie., MPs] Who Instigate Terrorism Should Resign
- Strong stuff too from Amy Brooke at The Critical Review, who has been Sickened by the Media and what the media have done to Don Brash. She occasionally misses the point (her objection to cheap Chinese imports for example, and some of her choices of reading material) but this long and angry post is worth reflecting on.
As thick as two planks - but bloated on self-esteem - the verdict on too many of our media reporters and interviewers.
The climate of unpleasantness the media systematically built up around Don Brash in recent months, intensifying because of the contemptible act of his emails being stolen, will be a pyrrhic victory for the fourth estate. It is already regarded as among the lowest of professions in this country. It will now be reckoned as the lowest. But it never seems to strike home why this is the case.
And finally here's a neat website that you can play with yourself to show which countries you've travelled in. Really useful for ... adding colour to blog posts on a Saturday morning, as I've done with mine, above. Enjoy adding your own. Create your own visited countries map. I'm sure you can improve on mine.