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Author: Jim (page 2 of 29)

Friendly Discrimination

Listening to a Mixergy’s interview with Gabriel Machuret of InternetNinja, his reference to the Time Doctor application caused me to reface the fact that I spend too much time unproductively on Facebook.  I am not saying that Facebook is unproductive, because I find a lot of rich value in it.  Yet, I had not been using it efficiently and effectively.

For me, the newsfeed is an unwieldy beast that hides more than it shows.  Previously, I had tried organizing my friends into “circle like” lists, but that did not work for me as some list still hid more than they showed.

So the other night, I decided to take a decidedly selfish approach to organizing my list of friends based upon their individual value to me.

Repurposing the First Things First approach to tasks, I assigned each of my Facebook friends to one of four lists: A, B, C, and Newbies.  When I assigned a friend to a list, I removed them from my newsfeed, so that I would eliminate duplication.  For my convenience, I added each of these lists to by Favorites list on Facebook.

The A list contains friends from whom I did not want to miss a single post.  Not only would these get more of my time, attention, and responses, but these were the ones that I wanted to hear from first.

The B list contains friends from whom it was import to me to see each day.  While I would not want to miss any of their posts, in the context of everything else, I would be less diligent and timely than the A listers.  I found that this resulted in a list of Facebook friends that I valued highly and wanted to consciously enhance our relationship.

The C list (yes, I think mainframe whenever I reference that) contains friends whom are more acquaintances…I know them, enjoy them, and could become closer to them if I find more value in our interactions.  These include people I knew pre-Facebook (but would probably not be seeing without it), and individuals with whom I had some interaction and who I met through Facebook, YouTube, or other online interactions.  It is a list of developing and yet unrealized opportunity.

The Newbies are individuals who invited me to Facebook friendship and with whom I shared important values, but I do not really interact with them.  After segregating my friends, I found that the newsfeed had previously given these friends an oversized share of by attention.  While I could simply unfriend them, I would then lose the value that I was finding with them.   By being discriminating with them, I can also be discriminating with my time, attention, and priorities.

Experimenting with this for a few day, I have found: (1) I could focus on the posts that are more important to me, (2) I get through all of my friends’ posts without limiting it to a cursory effort, and (3) I could enjoy interacting on Facebook instead of reducing it to a slog.

If you would like to try this experiment for yourself, as you go through your regular newsfeed process, start assigning friends to the A, B, C, and Newbie lists, then remove them from your newsfeed.  To do so within the newsfeed, (1) put your cursor over your friend’s name, (2) put your cursor within the popup over the “Friend” button,  and (3) use the resulting list box to change list assignments.  I expect that you will find that by being discriminating according to your values that you will be able to make your friends on Facebook the priority that they deserve to be.

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Three Suicides

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7TPAPiCNEE”]

In my life, there are been three suicides that have been personally meaningful to me.  While each offered particular evidence and insights regarding life, in sum they communicated life lessons to be heeded.

First, when I was about 10, my close relative committed a suicide most heinous.  In the moment, and with the aid of reflection and hindsight, my first experience with another’s death reflected poorly upon the philosophy of Christianity, and religion in general.  By her own confession, a belief in a false alternate supernatural dimension caused her to destroy actual life in actual reality, because she held the erroneous premise of a better alternate reality on the other side of death.  The revealed truths of her faith denied this abandoned wife of an adulterous husband the divorce needed to restart her life, and effectively made her guilty and punished for his sin.  While she was destitute, indebted, and abandoned, the charitable institutions of her hypocritical congregation and faith turned their backs upon her and denied her aid, promised by their moral code, because of their contempt for her family’s prior good fortune.

This case sensitized me to the plight of abandoned, or otherwise abused, wives and children who require legal protections of their individual rights…which did not exist then as they do today.

In the second case, Argentine Dr. Rene Favaloro, who had performed the world’s first heart bypass operation in 1967, committed suicide during a collapse of the Argentine economy and the financial failure of his own clinic.  Incensed by the suicide of a once tremendous achiever, I translated articles from Spanish to learn more about the cause of his death.  For a full summary of my finding, see my YT video couplet on my autopsy of Dr. Favaloro, which has been surprisingly popular in Argentina.  Cutting to the conclusion, I found that Favaloro was complicit in the economic collapse that led to his suicide, which was caused by his own altruism—literally otherism, or the moral doctrine of putting the welfare of strangers before that of yourself and those that you love.   By Favaloro’s own confession, which was published in the American Heart Association’s cardiatric  journal Circulation, it was his college that taught him the false altruistic ethical principles that led to his suicide and the economic collapse of his country.

From Dr. Favaloro’s suicide, I committed myself for my our selfish satisfaction to going back to school to finish my degree, to being more of an intellectual activist as a requirement of my life, and eventually to abandon my substantial contribution to financing higher education in the United States prior to our recent economic free fall.

The third case, which was particularly jarring to me, was the suicide of historian Iris Chang.  Perhaps, you know her from her books The Thread of the Silkworm, The Rape of Nanking, and The Chinese in America.  The abuse and death threats that she suffered from Japanese ultranationalists, over her exposing Japan’s WWII atrocities in China, demonstrated that she was a woman of admirable courage and integrity.  Frankly, if you have not read The Rape of Nanking, you cannot appreciate this woman’s capacity for facing the brutal facts of reality, no matter how utterly horrific; but to suggest a small taste, I will point to her reporting the Japanese having organized and official competitions to determine which of their soldiers could chop off the most heads of defenseless Chinese civilians with a sword.  Frankly, compared to the Japanese atrocities that she reported, the current crop of Muslim terrorists are pikers.  Her last and unfinished project was interviewing the brutalized survivors of the Bataan death march.

Reportedly, she suffered from serious mental health issues at the time of her suicide; however, my takeaway from her experience was the need to break away from a continuous focus on evil so as to appreciate the good in life.  At that time, of her death, I was already low from focusing on my study of incentive system within terrorist organizations (the topic of my thesis for a more effective counterterrorism strategy) and dealing with what I euphemistically called a “domestic terrorism” situation.  Recognizing the danger of focusing too much on evil, the weekend after her death, I went to the Corcoran Gallery to see Daniel Chester French’s sculpture “Immortal Love” to get fuel for my soul; art as a selective representation of reality and experiencing one’s struggles successfully achieved before they have been actually realized in reality.

In total, what lessons do these three suicides contribute?  Most importantly, life is a choice, and an affirmative one that I recommend to those NOT painfully suffering from irreversible terminal, or totally debilitating, illnesses.  Secondarily, those that commit suicide have negative fallout on those at they care about that is less significant than the positive contributions made by their lives.  Third, by choice, including the correction of false ideas, individuals, who see life as helpless, can change their lives for the better over time without death.

I choose life.  If you are thinking about choosing your own death, please consider re-evaluation for your own selfish sake, including your selfish consideration for those whom you love.  You have resources: friends and family who want to help, and who value you.  This is the only life that you get and in this country even that which seems impossible in a dark moment may be resolved by your choice and conscious effort over time so that you can pursue your own purpose and achieve your values.

Finally, ideas and philosophy are critical in human life and adhering to false ones leads directly to death, so be introspective and conscious of the ideas/philosophies that you have chosen to guide your life.

Related Posts

Death by Altruism – An Autopsy of Dr. Rene Favaloro
Immortal Love – Photos by art historian Lee Sandstead

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State of Vice

In the current General Assembly session, Del. David Englin (D-Alexdria) had introduced legislation in Virginia to study granting the state government a monopoly in the legal sale of marijuana.

The distribution would be executed by the state owned liquor stores.  Englin notes that, instead of giving their money to criminals, the pot users would be giving it to the government.

While I support decriminalization of pot, and in fact all abused drugs, Englin’s is a poor idea.  Do not get me wrong; while I find potheads and other drug abusers to be mistaken and vile, I see no rights violation and therefore no criminality in their immoral use of drugs.

My point is that Virginia has an illegitimate habit of creating state monopolies for controlling and regulating vice.  All of our overpriced liquor stores (to become pot stores) are state owned, and Governor McDonnell has proposed privatizing them.  In Virginia, we have a rapacious state run lottery, when private for-profit lotteries are forbidden.  Facilities for betting on horses are licensed and monitored by the state in such a manner that they are best described as state-granted monopolies.

The purpose of our state government is to protect individual rights from violations by another individual, not to peddle and regulate vice.  Drugs, liquor, and gambling do not violate individual rights, even if some consumers are choosing to harm themselves.  The state should not only get out of these “businesses”, but should also stop regulating the behavior of all individuals, because some are self-destructive.

Threats of government force cannot protect an individual from the consequences of their own choices, and we should stop hoping that it can.

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Democrat Liu Says Blacks Should Have to Earn American Citizenship?

Writing in the Atlantic, Eric Liu describes a reconception of American citizenship based upon duty (from the grave, the German grandfather of fascism and communism, Immanuel Kant gives him a high five).  A former Clinton speechwriter and domestic policy advisor, Liu marries his altruistic welfare statist collectivism to the neoconfederate attack on the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to our Constitution.

This duty based conservatism is a vile and dangerous misconception, as described in the piece.

Look at some of the concretes it supports, and in some cases recently advocated by Democratic legislators, that have been discontinued or opposed as a violation of individual rights in the context of an actual history of such abuses:  the military draft, disenfranchisement, compulsory community service, citizenship for an individual varying over time based upon the dictates of the party in power, and citizenship granted as process rights by the state as a reward for political obedience.

This is the kind of idea that could lead to civil war, and in fact it did; see Taney’s opinion in Dred Scott.

While Liu claims some jest in his gauche modest proposal, I see no humor in it and refuse to grant him the fig leaf as some of these violations of individual rights are truly advocated by him and leaders of his party.

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U.S. Troops in Uganda? Blame Congress, Not Obama

Last October, when our President announced that the U.S. would be sending about 100 of our troops to Uganda, I heard a lot of people asking, “What is the President thinking?  How was this in U.S. interest?”

As easy as it is to find fault with our President, Obama was simply following the law.  That is right!  While Congress has not authorized the use of the U.S. military against Iran, Congress commanded the President to use military forces in Uganda as part of an effort to quash the Christian terrorist organization known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Thanks to Sen. Russ Feingold, Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, the unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate, and an unrecorded voice vote in the U.S. House, the Congress directed the President to come up with a plan to use the U.S. military in Uganda (see the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009).

So if you have questions about why U.S. troops are in Uganda instead of Iran, I suggest that you pose those questions to your Senators, who gave unanimous agreement to this policy.

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An Open Letter to Gary Johnson, Libertard for President

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw4o4wSbKxQ]

Mr. Johnson,

I write to explain how your quixotic presidential campaign could become consequential in American history.

To be clear, I did not support your Republican bid; I judged you to be too inexperienced. However, now that you have surrendered serious contention by running as a Libertarian, I offer some advice at the cost of you checking your premises about your potential role in this election. If you missed it, I recommend that you see or listen to C-SPAN’s recent series “The Contenders”; in which, historians discussed the long term historical impacts of failed presidential candidates.

First, I recommend that you take a page from the once almost viable Ross Perot by making the actual ending of deficit spending the focus of your campaign. To adapt Carville, the slogan would be “It’s the federal spending, Stupid!” Given popular disbelief that real spending cuts are possible in reality, you should promise to follow Jefferson’s example and appoint a modern Albert Gallatin (our nation’s longest serving Sec. of Treasury) to discipline federal spending with a focus upon eliminating programs and positions. Gallatin roots your program to historically proven debt reduction and ties it to the Revolution of 1800, a shift in national party power. A deficit focus draws in the Tea Party, the memory of the Reform movement, and deficit hawks from both parties, while giving you the opportunity to challenge bipartisan failure, out of control Congresses from both parties, and weak Presidents from both parties.

Second, following the examples of presidential contenders of consequence, you need to develop a populist message to challenge the status quo. Instead of past irrational emotionalism, I recommend that you appeal to morality and the American sense of life by naming and challenging political corruption. The term to use to brand your corrupt opponents is the “New Spoils System”, which will focus on how the major parties rob the federal Treasury to pay off their pet special interests for electoral financing and support, and how the parties use federal regulation and executive power as a protection racket for sale. I like the bipartisanship of the term as it invokes Jacksonian abuses and Garfield’s bloody shirt while modernizing the emphasis from patronage to appropriations, regulations, waivers, and an administrative process exempt from court review (see Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council).

Third, to have a significant and ongoing influence on our political discourse, you need to champion a differentiating idea that resolves the contradictions created by your opponents’ Gordian rhetoric. In the present context, that idea is the restoration of civil society in America. Americans identify the ongoing rancor in our polity, which results from 50% plus 1 attempting to impose intrusive uniform solutions by law in ever growing areas of our lives. The idea that “we” must do something has been misappropriated to mean that government must do something, which is advocated at the expense of freedom of association and civil society, the collection of non-governmental institutions and groups acting independently, freely, and organized to achieve specific shared goals. In our foreign policy, America champions the development of civil society as the cure to tyranny, but our leading parties vote and act to strangle civil society domestically.

Fourth, at the risk of sharing an idea that could help you actually win, you need to recognize the electoral support of our major parties as coalitions of conflicted interests, which is some cases champion the protection of individual rights and in others the use of government power to violate individual rights. To break the parties’ electoral stranglehold, you need to forge a new middle that focuses exclusively upon the government’s role of protecting individual rights; this not only puts you into a position to challenge for portions of their bases, but also allows you to be the beneficiary of the two major contenders’ attacks upon one another to disaffect their opponent’s base. Further, it potentially repositions your opponents as the fringe candidates by positioning them to speak in defense of the rights-violating fringe of their base (a.k.a. the religious right, the nativists, the progressives, the environmentalists). As an example of using concrete political issues to challenge for an opponent’s base, illustrate a broader theme, and influence future policy, I recommend the recent campaign of Ontario’s Freedom Party.

As a specific example of applying this tactic in this campaign by targeting a core of the Democrats’ new electoral coalition: “President Obama, a confessed user of illegal drugs, asks the young of this country for their votes while simultaneously acceding to federal policy to criminalize these franchised citizens drinking a beer. If this is your first election and you agree that you should be prosecuted and your future encumbered by sanctions for drinking a beer, then vote for President Obama. If you reject federal paternalism in your life choices, then vote for me.” Framed so that he cannot have it both ways, who is Obama going to throw under the bus, MADD or the youth vote? If he attempts to use his office to change the policy, then your campaign has directed the policy agenda.

Finally, while previous influential presidential contenders shaped the direction of their party and its agenda, you do not have a real party to influence. Thus, the focus of your influence should be shifting the positions of congressional candidates from both parties. One reason for using Perot’s deficit elimination as a core issue to your campaign is that he was able to attract a significant enough portion of the vote to influence the outcomes of congressional elections. To win, congressional candidates should be put into a position to require your supporters, in addition to those of their party’s standard bearer. In order to attract your supporters, they will need to take strong positions for restoring civil society, and against deficit spending and corruption, while running to the middle and away from the fringe factions of their party. Congress, and not the President, will set the path for reform or further decay after the next election; should that be a Congress guided by the values outlined above? Should the next President (one of your opponents), winning a plurality instead of a majority, be positioned to become a catalyst for these changes so as to avoid becoming an instant lame duck?

While you will not win the office, through the conduct of your campaign, you could still set the policy agenda and win the future for our American republic.

Sincerely,

Jim Woods

 

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Gingrich Pledges to Violate Constitution as President

    “It is time to insist on judges who understand the history and meaning of America as a country endowed by God.”  –Newt Gingrich, Winning the Future, p. 45

This statement goes far to exemplify a critical aspect of Newt Gingrich that makes him unfit to be an American leader.

On its face and without being isolated for focus, this statement is easy to gloss over and neglect the radical nature of his idea, which is to violate a core principle of our original and existing U.S. Constitution.  Consider:

    “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”  U.S. Constitution, Article VI

If you read the whole sentence from the Constitution, it includes the charge that a President Gingrich would have to swear an oath to support the Constitution.

Does Newt Gingrich support the Constitution or not?  His own words impeach him and invalidate his candidacy.

Cross Posted from Conceding the Future

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Draft: Description for Discussion of The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest

Join us for a discussion of America’s interests in foreign policy. The book is The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest: A Moral Ideal for America by Peter Schwartz; only 61 pages to chew and savor.

The content of this ARI publication will be supplemented and contrasted with two brief official government statements on America’s interest, which are found in: (1) A National Security Strategy for a Global Age (White House, December 2000; pp. 4-5), and (2) Leading Through Civilian Power: The First Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) (U.S. State Dept., 2010, pp. 9-10).

Objectivists, Democrats, and Republicans all agree that our foreign policy should be rooted in America’s interests, but we do not agree on what American interests and values are.

A recent example of different definitions for the same concepts subverting a public discussion on foreign policy would be the recent US involvement in Libya.  According the official articulation of America’s interests found in the QDDR, American intervention in Libya was consistent with American interests, even if President Obama failed to articulate why that was the case.

In the discussion, we will examine:

1) Schwartz’s articulation of self-interest as the basis for understanding America’s interests.

2) How does Schwartz’s position compare to the bipartisan understanding of America’s interest as found in the 2000 National Security Strategy with its hierarchy of vital, important, and other/humanitarian interests?

3) How does Schwartz’s position compare to the Obama Administration’s four fundamental American interests as found in the QDDR?

4) Does the Obama Administration’s four fundamental American interests represent a substantially different understanding of America interests when compared to the bipartisan hierarchy?

5) How could the Objectivist understanding of self-interest influence foreign policy discussions in the presidential election?

6) Is there an opportunity to influence future American foreign policy by correcting the official statement of America’s interests during the development of the 2nd QDDR, to be published in 2014?

DCOS member Jim Woods will be leading the discussion.

Previously savored copies of Schwartz’s The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest may be found on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0962533661/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&qid=1325380951&sr=8-1&condition=used

New copies of Schwarz are available at the Ayn Rand Bookstore:

http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/prodinfo.asp?number=HS25B

A National Security Strategy for a Global Age (see section entitled “Guiding Principles of Engagement”) is available for free on-line at:

http://osdhistory.defense.gov/docs/nss2000.pdf

The QDDR is available for free on-line at:

http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/153142.pdf

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The Heath Shuler Rule

I heard today from a commentator on TV that Redskins’ Coach Mike Shanahan was looking forward to turning their bad record into getting “his” QB in the draft next year.  Although TV commentators are often full of it, I still need to throw a flag on that call by invoking the memory of Heath Shuler, a mistake that has haunted the franchise.

Consider the draft selection position of the Redskin QBs who started after 6th rounder Mark Rypien led the Redskins to Super Bowl victory.  There are a number of early picks there that brought no trophies to the Redskins.  While there are some early picks who led other teams to Super Bowls before becoming Redskins, there are just as many later round picks that led other teams to Super Bowls after leaving the Redskins.

** Subsequent Failed Redskin QBs (round/overall choice)**

Jeff George    1/1
Donovan McNabb    1/2
Heath Shuler    1/3
Rex Grossman    1/22
Jason Campbell    1/25
Patrick Ramsey    1/32
John Beck    2/40
Tony Banks    2/42
Todd Collins    2/45
Jeff Hostetler    3/59
Cary Conklin    4/86
Rich Gannon    4/98
Danny Wuerffel    4/99
Mark Brunell    5/118
John Friesz    6/138
Gus Frerotte    7/197
Trent Green    8/222
Brad Johnson    9/227
Tim Hasselbeck    Undrafted
Shane Mattews    Undrafted

Meanwhile, consider the Redskin’s Super Bowl winning QBs.

** Super Bowl Winning Redskin QBs (round/overall choice)**

Mark Rypien    6/146 [drafted by Skins]
Doug Williams    1/17  [drafted by Bucs, free agent to Skins]
Joe Theisman    4/99  [drafted by Dolphins, acquired from CFL]

Regarding the coach, CBS Sportsline chronicled Shanahan’s QB acquisitions.  Beyond bringing McNabb, Grossman, and Beck to the Redskins, he acquired former Redskins Gus “I hit the wall with my head” Frerotte for Denver and Jay Schroeder to the Raiders.  The most notable QB’s Shanahan acquired into his system were Steve Beuerlin, Bubby Brister, Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, and Jay Culter.  That list does not inspire confidence in his drafting a panacea QB early next year.

The Redskins focus for the next draft should not be replacing their current experienced QBs with an inexperienced one; instead, the Redskins should focus on positions where the Cowboys and Eagles have been able to exploit them (while 2-3 in division is an improvement, it needs to be better to see the offseason).

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The Prometheus Inquiry Concept

The following is a draft for an elevator speech.  At 3.5 minutes, it is probably too long:

Education in this country sucks; it wastes time and money without really adding proportional value.

Schools are in a repetitive and unsuccessful loop of reform, yet: college students require remedial classes, the problems of drop outs and illiteracy have been unresolved, ineffective public school education traps the poor in poverty, and unchallenged students complain that lessons are not relevant to real life.

Students and parents should have better options available; especially those stuck in public schools, which should be called “welfare schools.”

Yet technology today provides the means to overcome constraints.

Great teachers and curriculum exist, but they DO NOT scale. Most students suffer under the direction of inferior teachers and methods, when better exists and could be available to them with the click of a mouse.

The path to enhanced compensation to the best teachers is not merit pay in the public schools, but greater productivity…teaching more students by scaling through technology.

Truly today, a student’s ability to learn is limited by the time wasted on public school assignments and the parental wealth destroyed through taxation. But that limited time and those limited funds available could be leveraged to bring enhanced results; like a flywheel, slowly building momentum to ever increasing learning.

Having worked in postsecondary education finance, I am aware that no honest partnership is possible between a private company and public education; as the public will parasitically drain the capital from the private company. Unfortunately, most private education ventures seek to leverage the public schools as their market; in the long run, that will diminish the shareholders for the sake of the “stakeholders”.

Therefore, the foundation the Prometheus Inquiry proof of concept is to start by creating on-line courseware to supplement the education of students wherever they may be. By using the correct conceptual approach to education, students and parents can access on-line courseware to remediate, maintain, and enhance the students’ educational development at a fraction of the present cost in time and funds. Contrary to the Japanese model of rote and memorization, the Prometheus Inquiry scales by leveraging the student’s ability to think conceptually and independently instead of them becoming a parrot or automaton. Starting with supplemental education for children and adults, this bootstrapped enterprise will expand to provide multiple educational solution channels at multiple price points, including eventually brick and mortar classrooms, focused upon enhancing the ability of individual students (children and adults) based upon the resources available for student time and private financing.

Re-posted from The Prometheus Inquiry.

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