October 2010

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Last year, when I’d ask Sammy what work she did at school that day, she’d say things like, POLISHING, METAL INSETS, CLEANING THE CHAIR.

This year, when I ask the same question, she says things like, PHONOGRAMS, SCIENCE EXPERIMENT, READING.

ARI is sponsoring a new contest:  the Atlas Shrugged Video Contest!

You have until December 8 to make a 3 minute video on “how Ayn Rand’s epic story relates to current issues in society or in your own life.”

Awesome!  I can’t wait to see the winners.

Welcome to the October 14, 2010 edition of The Objectivist Round Up, a blog carnival of posts written by individuals who are advocates of Objectivism, the philosophy developed and defined by Ayn Rand.

For anyone new to Ayn Rand and Objectivism, here is my favorite quote summing up her views:

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

Ayn Rand, “About the Author,” Atlas Shrugged

Sense of life, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, all in one sentence.  You might notice that politics is not mentioned explicitly in this passage.  If you only know about Ayn Rand because of her political views, you owe it to yourself to read her fiction, especially The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, where you will find heroic men, pursuing their happiness through the use of reason in inspiring tales of productive achievement.

And now, on to the Round Up:

Burgess Laughlin presents Best approach to disputes in a movement? posted at Making Progress, saying, “Every movement faces disputes among its members. Having a reasoned approach to such internal disputes reduces the stress of continuing to work for one’s activist goals under those conditions. This article asks questions as a first step in a reasoned approach.”

Roberto Sarrionandia presents The Cognitive Function of Art posted at Roberto Sarrionandia, saying, “The important cognitive function that is served by art”

John McVey presents Historical data in the fractional reserve banking debate posted at John J McVey, saying, “This is a response to Publius from Objectivist Answers, plus partially remedies some of the defects of Part Two.”

Roderick Fitts presents Bacon’s Theory of Induction as Presented in the Novum Organum Part 1 of 2 posted at Inductive Quest, saying, “it’s my technical summary of Bacon’s magnum opus, the Novum Organum. This part covers what we need to consider before we can understand his theory of induction. So exciting!”

Roderick Fitts presents Bacon’s Theory of Induction as Presented in his Novum Organum, Part 2 of 2 posted at Inductive Quest, saying, “The final part of my summary of Bacon’s Novum Organum, detailing his theory of forms and his theory of the inductive method. Long live induction!”

Kelly Valenzuela presents The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010: A Disgrace! posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, “Santiago Valenzuela weighs in on proposed immigration legislation.”

Kelly Valenzuela presents How Should the US Reform its Immigration Policy? posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, “Guest blogger, Santiago Valenzuela, proposes solutions to our country’s immigration problems.”

Kelly Valenzuela presents Oh Life – A Super Easy Online Journal Tool posted at Rant from the Rock, saying, “For those of you who forget to journal, this website could be a big help.”

Ari Armstrong presents Colorado Ballot: Free Colorado News posted at Free Colorado, saying, “I interview Mike Krause about CO Am. 63, “Health Care Choice,” and discuss my CO ballot.”

Joshua John M. Lipana presents An Interview with Dr. Paul Hsieh posted at This is Joshua Speaking.

Joshua John M. Lipana presents Free Enterprise Vol. 1 Issue. 2 2010 posted at This is Joshua Speaking, saying, “A philippine-based Pro-Objectivist Pro-Free Market periodical produced by Joshua Lipana”

Rational Jenn presents It’s Johnny’s Birthday. . . posted at Rational Jenn, saying, “This post about my love of The Beatles was written in honor of John Lennon’s 70th birthday.”

Danielle Morrill presents Who’s Actually Getting Read in Objectivism (Online) posted at Danielle Morrill.

Diana Hsieh presents The Resignation of John McCaskey: The Facts posted at NoodleFood, saying, “Paul’s and my survey of the facts surrounding John McCaskey’s resignation from the boards of the Anthem Foundation and the Ayn Rand Institute.”

Kelly Elmore presents What I Have Read, What I’m Reading, and What’s on Deck posted at Reepicheep’s Coracle, saying, “A list of and comments about the books I read in September, books I’m reading right now, and books that I have waiting on my shelf. List is filled with adult and young adult fiction, non-fiction of many varieties, Middle English, and a parenting or homeschooling resource or two. Something for everyone, just like the Sears Catalog.”

Jeff Montgomery presents Buchanan/Pawnee Pass Loop Run posted at Fun With Gravity, saying, “A long post about a long, hard run in the Indian Peaks, with photos.”

Michael Labeit presents Don’t Call Them Progressives posted at Michael Labeit at EconomicPolicyJournal.com.

Rachel Miner presents Birthday Gems posted at The Playful Spirit, saying, “I share some key thoughts on making a birthday party successful. I’m still putting away the new toys, doing laundry, and all the other post party/visitor things, but I wanted to share these thoughts on what made this party the smoothest one for us so far.”

Mike Zemack presents Extremists vs. the Moderates: Why the Left Keeps Winning, and the Right has been Powerless to Stop It posted at Principled Perspectives, saying, “The Republicans need ideological backbone to give meaning to their coming electoral rout of the Democrats.”

Amy Mossoff presents Don’t Be a Plastic Bashing Luddite! posted at The Little Things, saying, “Plastic is a good thing. Why did I let the Luddites infect my thinking for so long? (Warning: this post is a rant, and only a rant.)”

Trey Givens presents A Tutorial for Outlook Users Who Wish to Avoid Annoying Me posted at Trey Givens, saying, “OMG! What is UP with these people who send emails marked “urgent” that contain stupid, mundane, very-not-urgent content!?!? Well, in the spirit of assuming people are more stupid than they are malicious, I created this tutorial.”

Jason Stotts presents On Polysexuality Overview posted at Erosophia, saying, “Is polysexuality (non-monogamy) natural? Can it be moral? Find out in my new series of essays on the subject.”

A. Chambers presents Prohibition Déjà vu posted at The Undercurrent Blog, saying, “How does drug prohibition affect current violence in the U.S. and Mexico?”

Edward Cline presents Of Federaphobia and Islamophobia posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, “Dark propinquity governs the attacks on freedom of speech coming from two principal quarters: The Democrats, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Their ideological hostility to freedom of speech is mutual and certainly proximate.”

That concludes this edition.  Submit your blog article to the next edition of The Objectivist Round Up using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Last night I spent a half hour cleaning 15 pumpkin stickers off of Sam’s wood table that I purchased for her Montessori work four months ago.  The finish of the table is ruined, and I have something to say:

Wood is not better than plastic.

If you’re a new parent, you hear it everywhere: how horrible it is that all children’s toys are plastic, and how we should get them things made of natural materials.  Why?  Well, I’ve seen some good arguments about how important it is to expose babies to a lot of different textures and materials.  And of course, children need to learn what wood is and what it feels like and how it can be used.

So go ahead a get a set of wooden alphabet blocks.  But bemoaning the fact that so many children’s toys and products are made of plastic smacks of anti-technology primitivism.  Compared to wood, plastic is cheaper, more durable, more versatile, more colorful, more lightweight, and does less damage when bashed into a wall (or a face).  Plastic is an amazing material in many ways, but it is especially great for children’s products.

If I want to show Samantha something natural, I’ll take her outside to look at the trees.  Next time, I’m buying the plastic table.

Good Stuff

I had a most excellent holiday weekend, the highlight of which was Luc Travers’ Art Tour at the National Gallery.  I have a lot to say about that, but not enough time right now because I’m completely behind on things like paying the bills, doing laundry, and picking up the house in preparation for maid day tomorrow.  Oh, and sleeping.  I really need to catch up on that.

Besides the Art Tour, I took Sam to a pumpkin patch, attended a baby shower, had two nice dinners with good friends, drank lots of wine and beer, and got my hair done.  That doesn’t really sound like a lot, but it felt like a lot.  And now I’ve been sitting here for a half hour trying to find some clever way to wrap up this boring post, but all I can think about is that pumpkin pie I promised Sam we would make together.

Bye!

Here I go again.  I have two more links today.  Neither is political, but both are ideological.

First we have The Objectivist Round Up, hosted by Sacred Ego.

Next, I would like to make a brief statement:

The Ayn Rand Institute is of great value to me, and so I’ve donated a little bit extra this month.  I am doing so (and making this public statement) after carefully thinking about an issue that has arisen in the Objectivist “movement,” and specifically, thinking about it in these terms (including my husband’s comments).

Update:  I realize now that I should have clarified that this is not about the McCaskey/Harriman issue.  And as long as I’m at it, it is not about the mosque debate either.

Schedules

One part of parenting that has been a bit more difficult for me than for some others is my family’s constantly shifting schedule.  Not only did we move four times in Samantha’s first two years of life, but my husband is a professor, tied to the academic calendar.

Don’t get me wrong – being a professor is a career that is very compatible with involved parenting!  We are so lucky that Adam can mostly set his own hours and spend more time with Samantha than many other working parents.  We are also able to travel more, and the pay is good enough to allow me not to work for an income.  And none of those benefits cover the fact that Adam loves his work so much.  Our situation is as close to ideal as I can imagine.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges, and the big one for me is that Adam’s schedule changes three times each year, depending on his teaching schedule.  He might have to teach a night class one semester, and an early morning class the next.  He doesn’t teach every day, so that makes each weekday a little bit different.  Of course, teaching is only one aspect of his work, but it is the one that requires specific hours in “the office.”

Adam isn’t the kind of person to keep regular hours.  He’s a night owl, for one thing, and he’s also not a planner.  He works in irregular spurts, which is also part of the nature of his work.  I can’t count the number of times that he has jumped out of bed in the middle of the night to write down a brilliant flash of insight he just had.  And when he does so, it usually means hours of work.  He may or may not go into the office the next day, or he might go in late.  In the past, he would also just stay at the office until he felt like he was done working, which might be early or late at night.

The nature of the professor’s work schedule actually suits Adam’s temperament very well, but it does not suit mine.  I’m a planner and a scheduler.  I like regularity in the day-to-day aspects of life such as meals, bedtime, and the like.  Anyone with kids knows that it is also extremely important to have a regular daily schedule to help them regulate themselves, and that it makes the logistics of parenting much easier.  Over the years, Adam and I have been able to work out a system that allows him his flexibility and still gives Sam and me a way to plan our days.

  • Each semester, Adam decides what time he will be home at night, every night.  If he has a night class (which is usually just once a week), that night is an exception.  And of course, there are exceptions for working dinners and events that he has to attend quite often.  But on a normal workday, he must commit to being home by a particular time, regardless of his class schedule or whether he is in the middle of writing something earth-shattering.
  • The previous requirement is mostly in service of this one: We have dinner together as a family every night that it is possible.  Dinner is at a fixed time each night.  This is our sacred family time.  Exceptions happen, but they happen within the fixed framework.  There was a point when Sam was little that I had to call Adam every single day to find out when I should have dinner ready.  As Sam got older this quickly became a big problem, and we solved it this way.
  • When Adam has to travel for work on weekends, he needs to make some extra time at home during the week.  His travel often occurs on weekends, and I had become frustrated that that time always was subtracted from family-time, not work-time.  We don’t have a firm rule about exactly how much time will be exchanged.  Maybe he’ll be gone on a Saturday and just come home early on Monday.  A lot depends on what is going on with him at the time.  The point is only that his weekends need to be viewed as family-time, so anything that interferes with that is an exception.
  • Finally – and Adam had to work on this for more than a year to get it down since it goes against his nature – Adam must be primarily responsible for creating his semester schedule, and doing it right away at the beginning of the semester.  Even after he agreed to the other points, he thought it was ok to take a few weeks to nail down the schedule, or to expect me to track his time and tell him when he needed to be home.  There were times when I was unaware of his travel plans until the last minute.  This was a huge source of conflict between us, but in the past semester or two, we’ve had no issues.

This system allows Adam to go into work at whatever time suits him.  He can still utilize his middle-of-the-night flashes of insight, or work at home in the evenings if necessary.  He really just has to focus on a time to be home for dinner, and he does a great job at that.  We still have a lot of irregularity in our lives because of all the exceptions, but the fact that we do have a framework makes all the difference in the world for me.

We set up a new schedule that works for both of us each semester. For example, last spring, Adam taught a night class on Tuesdays and couldn’t be home for dinner.  So Sam and I had “girls night out” where we went out to dinner each Tuesday.  It was a lot of fun, and we never would have done it otherwise.  Over the summer (which requires its own schedule), Adam discovered that if he left work an hour later than usual, his commute was reduced from 45-50 minutes to only 20-25 minutes.  This means he gets home at 7pm instead of 6:30, but it saves him so much time that we decided to try it this semester.  We now have dinner at 7pm and Sam gets to bed a bit later, but she’s old enough to handle it.  And to make up for lost time in the evenings, Adam drives Sam to school three mornings each week, which is a great thing for all of us.

Next semester, Adam doesn’t teach at all, and we’ll have to come up with a whole new plan.  And as long as I know that we will have a daily/weekly schedule, I don’t mind the uncertainty of that.  In fact, I kind of like it.  Who knows what benefits it will bring?  Maybe Adam will make his “weekends” Sunday and Monday, allowing us to do all kinds of touristy things on a weekday when they are less crowded.  Maybe he’ll drive Sam to school every day.  Or maybe he’ll take her to swim lessons.  I’m all for spontaneity, as long as it is well-planned!

I have two good links for you today.  (My blog seems to be very political this week.  Don’t worry – it won’t last.)

First, check out Adam’s latest publication:  How the ‘New GM’ Can Steal from Toyota. From the abstract:

This essay explains how a 2006 court decision arising from the manufacture of the F-22 Raptor fighter jet paves the way for government-owned General Motors to steal intellectual property. In Zoltek v. U.S., the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that a loophole in the Tucker Act (28 U.S.C. § 1498) prevented owners of patented processes from suing the federal government for certain types of unauthorized uses of their patents. The Zoltek court also held that patents are not secured as constitutional “private property” under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. At the time, many judges and lawyers thought that these statutory and constitutional loopholes for patent-owners were insignificant; at worst, they argued, this benefits only military contractors and the like.

Fast forward four years and the federal government now owns the “new GM.” It was inconceivable in 2006 that Uncle Sam soon would be in the business of making cars, not to mention in the businesses of banking and insurance, setting salaries of CEOs, purchasing mortgages, etc., etc.

The only part of that I would take issue with is the word “inconceivable.”  I do not think that word means what he think it means (heh!).  Ayn Rand certainly conceived of it.  But seriously, if the idea of reading an article in a law journal scares you, give this one a chance – it’s short and easy to read.  (Click “one-click-download” at the top of the screen to get the full article.)

Next, we have Harry Binswanger‘s excellent article on the Tea Party Movement.  This is the best statement I’ve read anywhere about the Tea Party because Dr. Binswanger does the opposite of what most journalists do: he essentializes.  I’ve been struggling to get to the heart of the Tea Party myself, and this article helped to clarify my thinking a great deal.  (It also includes a great list of the best Tea Party demonstration signs!)  I’ve come to agree with Dr. Binswanger that:

… Objectivists should recognize and value what is a startling, unprecedented phenomenon: the rise, in an eyeblink, of a pro-freedom, pro-American, avowedly *individualistic* political movement–a movement friendly to Ayn Rand, favorable to Atlas Shrugged, and popularizing the phrase “Who is John Galt?”

Diana Hsieh and Ari Armstrong have written a policy paper opposing Colorado’s Amendment 62, a ballot initiative seeking to legally define “personhood” as beginning at the moment of conception.  You can find the paper, entitled The ‘Personhood’ Movement Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters that Rights Begin at Birth, Not Conception, at the web site of the Coalition for Secular Government.

If Amendment 62 were the law of the land, I would be a murderer for aborting a severely deformed fetus.  Despite the fact that I have put myself through the hell of six pregnancies with only one child as a result in the attempt to bring new life into the world, I would also be barred from pursuing that value by Amendment 62, which would effectively criminalize in vitro fertilization.  (Congratulations and thanks to Robert Edwards, who just won the Nobel Prize in medicine for developing IVF.)

I never felt very strongly about the abortion issue until it became real to me because of my own personal experience.   Now I understand why this is one of the biggest political issues of our day.  At a theoretical level, it cuts to the heart of what individual rights are.  If you don’t ground rights in man’s nature as a rational being, you can only default to the intrinsicism of religion or the abandonment of rights as a principle.  And precisely because of this importance in theory, we have a massive conflict in practice.

I am a living person with rights, seeking my own happiness.  Those in favor of Amendment 62 would condemn me for that very fact, in the name of the potential that I am trying to actualize.  It’s bizarre.  Those people can keep their goddamn imaginary world of heaven, hell, and mystical souls of the unborn, but they’d better leave this world to me.

Please read this paper and consider forwarding it, linking to it, or publicizing it in any way that you can.

So I’ve begun my quest to figure out whether or not I have lupus.

Here is the short version of the story: I talked to my aunt who has lupus to find out what her early symptoms were and how she was diagnosed.  She had more severe symptoms than I do, but the nature of the pain she had is remarkably similar to mine.  I’ve seen two doctors, and they are both willing to empirically treat me for lupus, but I want to wait to see a rheumatologist in mid-October before I make that decision.

In the meantime, I’m on a new NSAID for the pain and it is actually working!  I feel great.  I can pick up a glass of water with my right hand again, I can check my blind spot while driving, I can walk without being in agony, and I have enough energy to get through the day.  I don’t know why no doctor has given me this drug before.  It’s interesting that, without the pain, I also don’t have the fatigue or the stress that I had before.  Those symptoms usually go along with pain in these hard-to-diagnose cases, but it seems to be assumed that the stress causes or exacerbates the pain, and that the fatigue is a separate symptom.  I wonder if the pain is actually the cause of both of the others.

Then yesterday I finally got the results of the genetic analysis of the fetus from my last miscarriage.  It was trisomy 15.  Out of four miscarriages, we know for sure that two were genetic abnormalities.  This argues against lupus being any part of the miscarriage problem, which means that lupus is less likely overall.  Whatever happens with the lupus investigation, I have to deal with the miscarriages separately.  I could have more than one problem going on here, but since there is no real evidence of that, I’m leaning more and more towards being hopeful about donor egg.

To be continued…

Here it is!  This week’s Round Up can be found at Rational Jenn’s blog.

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