September 29, 2007

Tough Choices

I've been at my current job for over 18 months now. When I started, I actually only intended to be here for a year as the role I'm in is not exactly what I enjoy or want to be doing. I took the job knowing this, but there was a certain strategic advantage to the job, namely it got me into an agency.

The marketing and advertising industry is very incestuous -- for lack of a better term. Once you've established yourself, you make connections and you move forward by leveraging those connections and -- of course -- working on successful projects. (I don't want to make it sound like good work isn't rewarded.) If you have not established yourself, you start at the bottom.

The bottom of the marketing industry, from what I've seen, is a thankless, tedious place to be. You start doing the grunt work. The hours are long. The pay is low. Recognition is sparse. Only people fresh out of college usually accept these roles.

There are good reasons why marketing and advertising work this way. Marketing is a very appealing industry to people. Advertising in particular is rather glamorous and it attracts a lot of people without serious interest in the business. I don't mean to be uncharitable, but the ratio of competent marketers to lackluster hangers on is really appalling and the insular nature of the industry helps the good people rise to the top by insisting they work hard and work smart to get through all the clutter.

I am well past the point where I could start at the bottom, so I've been trying to wedge my way into the industry using my existing background. This tactic is not really all that unusual, but it's not the norm and it has worked this far. I'm in an agency. Woo!

I'd like to spend some time in the agency world -- perhaps the next five years -- and then I'd like to move into a brand and continue my career from there. I plan to work my way up to the C-level of a company through the marketing and client services side of the organization.

That's my strategy anyway.

The next step in my career plan requires building more client experience around directly managing marketing programs and broadening my channel experience. A company's marketing efforts are mixed in varying levels across differing "channels" like media, outdoor, print, and digital. The divisions get more granular from there. I work in the digital channel. I need to learn more about managing marketing campaigns in other channels and I think working in the agency world for a while will give me that opportunity in addition to exposing me to the marketing needs of businesses in varying industry verticals.

The question now is a tactical one. I work in an agency now, but it is an interactive agency, which means we only work in one channel. So, do I stay in this agency and move to a different team in order to gain a different type of experience in this channel or do I change agencies and hope to get that sort of experience combined with the opportunity to work in other channels?

Option 1 is pretty easy. Option 2 has far more risk.

Let's say that I decide to stay in my current company and move to a different team. First, it may take some time to move because they won't want me to move until they're ready for me to move. Once moved, I would be obliged to stay in the position for at least another year before I could consider moving to another agency so that I avoid burning any bridges with a move. The clear advantage is that staying longer would allow me to build more contacts here and it would balance my resume very well in preparation for the next move.

Option 2 will mean attempting to move into a position where my experience does not quite match. Potential employers will realize this and if they do opt to hire me, they will likely mitigate their risk by paying me less than I would like. I can accept that for the right position, but finding it will take much longer.

My annual review is coming up on Tuesday and if I decide to stay and choose to move to another team, my plan is to tell my boss then. I'm just not sure if that's what I want to do.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 12:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Civil Rights and the Jena 6

I really don't understand the protests from last week over the Jena 6. CNN kept saying that there was a civil rights march going on, but then they said it was in support of some hoodlums who beat some person within an inch of his life.

I am pretty sure that no part of our "rights" civil or otherwise entitle us to rousting a bunch of of friends and mauling hapless strangers.

So, I went and looked up on Wikipedia where we can always turn to complete, unbiased information on any topic:

The Jena Six refers to a group of six black teenagers who have been charged with the beating of a white teenager at Jena High School in Jena, Louisiana, on December 4, 2006. The beating followed a series of racially-charged incidents in the town. The six black students were initially charged with attempted second degree murder and conspiracy to commit attempted second degree murder.

The Jena Six case has sparked protests by those who believe that the arrests and the subsequent charges were excessive and racially discriminatory, alleging a lack of arrests and serious charges against white youths in Jena in earlier incidents in the town. U.S. Attorney Donald Washington—an African American and a Bush appointee — who led an investigation into events in the town, has concluded that there is no evidence of unfair prosecution.

Yes, it is relevant to this article to point out that a certain judge is both black and a Bush appointee. Nope, not bias there!

Anyway, the Wikipedia article, in spite of its additional information, does make clear the racial confusion going on in the town.

But what I understand from the article is that the protesters weren't there really in support of the Jena 6. They were protesting the alleged disproportionate charges against the Jena 6. From my very limited perspective on the matter, people don't seem to be protesting the idea that charges are brought against these characters.

This is certainly not the most apparent or egregious example of rights violation I've ever heard of.

If the charges are disproportionate, you challenge them in court. There are mechanisms for this sort of thing.

The argument is that the court system is biased against the defendants based on their race.

Even if we accept that the people in that area and the people in those particular courts are biased against the defendants, it doesn't follow that our entire legal system is racist. There are mechanisms for appeal. There are mechanisms for getting the case reviewed.

I am not inclined to go to the primary sources and review this case. But I don't see why no one has gone and done that, but taken out all of the references to race, just to see if the charges make sense.

What I am irritated about is the civil rights protest and, more than that, the idiotic attitudes about race that seem so popular. It's as if as an individual, I am expected to choose between the white supremacist racists or the non-white supremacist racists on the other side.

Ideas about race in the US are idiotic and I do think it is because of this whole multiculturalism thing that is so popular. As if the color of a person's skin gives them some particular insight into... well, anything. It's like that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine is dating a man that she thinks is black and he thinks she's Spanish, and they're both really thrilled about being in an interracial relationship, but it turns out that they're both regular, old white people.

Ok. I'm done with that. I do want to ask this: why are Spanish people considered non-white? I thought that was a country... a western European country, too. I know they were occupied by the Moors (See? It's not like they've never done it themselves.) and all that, but still. "Spanish" isn't a good adjective for a particular ethnicity.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:23 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 28, 2007

Book Review: Kinfolks

I finished reading Lisa Alther's Kinfolks the other day and I'm only just now getting around to writing my review. The full title of the book is a mouthful: Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree - The Search for My Melungeon Ancestors

And also, "Lisa" is pronounced "lee-za." In spite of what you may have heard elsewhere, Lisa with an S goes "zzz" not "sss" sometimes.

Kinfolks is a thoughtful book about the author's attempts to trace her genetic heritage in hopes of finding a personal identity.

If you're not familiar with the term Melungeon, Kinfolks will illuminate the muddy waters for you. I grew up in Georgia and I only have the faintest of memories of having encountered the word. I associate it with an image of scary circus folk, but Miss Alther reveals that there is a whole lot more to it. (After reading the book, I think there's a pretty good chance that your blonde-haired, blue-eyed blogger here has melungeon relatives himself!)

While the story is told with remarkably gentle, good humor and significant effort is described as the author strives for insight into her heritage, I found the book actually lacking in depth, but not in an unpleasant way. I'm not sure other people's relatives are all that interesting in the first place, but Miss Alther does succeed in painting a colorful, fun portrait of her kith and kin. In fact, the best parts of the book are those that focus on the specific actions and reactions of her relatives as she goes on this journey of personal discovery. I actually wish I could hang out with her dad. He sounds like a hoot!

The book talks a lot about race and what people think about race. It gently explores changing ideas about race and racial identity and does probe those ideas as far as I would care to read about someone doing such probing.

All in all, it's an ok book. I gave it three stars on my Good Reads list because it's just ok. I didn't hate it. I found parts of it very amusing, especially parts in the beginning that, like I said, focus on specific events associated with people in her family. It reminds me of David Sedaris but without so much melancholy and therefore not as much insight. I don't have any big criticisms of the book, but I don't have anything really great to say, either.

Would I recommend it to you? Probably not. It's not a very remarkable book.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 06:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gays Spot Legal Problem, Propose Flaboyantly Idiotic Response Passage of Historic Hate Crimes Act Hailed, Bush Veto Feared

The passage today of the Matthew Shepard Act by the U.S. Senate is being hailed as a "historic moment for equality" by gay rights organizations across the country. However, President George W. Bush has threatened a veto of the legislation, which the White House contends is unnecessary as existing law already covers the issue.

I am against hate crime legislation.

First of all, it's already illegal to kidnap people, drag them to the country, tie them to a fence post, beat them, and leave them for dead. I think this is probably one of the first laws ever made by people wishing to organize themselves into a state.

Among the other things that are illegal and rightly so:
- Vandalizing property that does not belong to you
- Hitting people without their permission
- Killing people without their permission
- Threatening people
- Menacing people
- Following someone around yelling foul things at them while they are trying to mind their own business and you're being a nuisance

It is stupid to pass a law that says that not only are you not allowed to do that, but you're ESPECIALLY not allowed to do it to someone because you don't like them because you're a bigot.

I don't know what your being a bigot has to do with anything, really.

Some people argue that these so-called hate crimes are worse than regular crimes because they function like terrorism. Say some gay person is beaten up for being gay, then all gay people get scared.

Someone should write a letter. It should go something like this:

Dear Straight People:

I hope this letter finds you well and that you are enjoying your regular sex. Sodomy is great; it's pretty much the same as since it was invented a bajillion years ago and going strong.

So, I heard from a friend of mine that there are some maniacs among you and not the good kind that remain confined to the floor. It is alleged that there are people among you who beat people up.


If you're not terrified of this, you're the maniac in question. Please turn yourself in. We have you surrounded.


Gay people.

P.S. Hope you like the sodomy as much as we do.

In all seriousness, I'm terrified by the idea that there is someone out there robbing banks. I'm not a banker, but I regard that as a pretty serious problem. One that should be resolved by a high-speed chase, and ass-whuppin', and speedy and public trial, and a lengthy jail sentence. I'm sure the bankers in the audience would agree.

My point is that everyone is being terrorized when a crime is committed. As a friend of mine puts it: every crime is a hate crime.

The whole idea that your criminals get worse punishments for their crimes because they have particularly odious ideas is antithetical to the notion of freedom of thought, freedom of speech, or freedom in general.

I say, let's punish our criminals. Hard.

And then be done with it. George Bush should veto that Matthew Shepherd thing and also stop being just a homophobe, too.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 06:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Naegleria fowleri

Yahoo! News: 6 die from brain-eating amoeba in lakes

PHOENIX - It sounds like science fiction but it's true: A killer amoeba living in lakes enters the body through the nose and attacks the brain where it feeds until you die.

Even though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it's killed six boys and young men this year. The spike in cases has health officials concerned, and they are predicting more cases in the future.


According to the CDC, the amoeba called Naegleria fowleri (nuh-GLEER-ee-uh FOWL'-erh-eye) killed 23 people in the United States, from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials noticed a spike with six cases — three in Florida, two in Texas and one in Arizona. The CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.


Beach said people become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. If someone allows water to shoot up the nose — say, by doing a somersault in chest-deep water — the amoeba can latch onto the olfactory nerve.

The amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up into the brain, where it continues the damage, "basically feeding on the brain cells," Beach said.

People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers. In the later stages, they'll show signs of brain damage such as hallucinations and behavioral changes, he said.

Once infected, most people have little chance of survival. Some drugs have stopped the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been attacked rarely survive, Beach said.

"Usually, from initial exposure it's fatal within two weeks," he said.

What a horrible and terrifying thing!

Read the article and spot the subtle endorsement of global warming.

Thanks to Orb McQuilkin for the article.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 03:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Did You Watch the Office Last Night?

Holy cow, that is some funny stuff!

I love:
- That Michael hit Merideth with his car.
- That Merideth got to be in this episode so much.
- That Dwight put Blonde Lady's cat, Sprinkles, in the freezer
- That Jan has totally flipped her wig.

I hope:
- We get to see more of Creed.
- We get to see more Merideth, because I love her.

I like the Ryan is a total douche now, but I don't like how the writers have associated that with his reading of "Ann Rand" in the online clip of what he did over the summer.

I'm also not sold on the new tech guy they introduced.

But we'll see.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:08 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Actividades Bancarias de la Inversión y Trabajos en la Física Nuclear

I've been thinking more about the "discussion" that is going on around immigration.

In my last post on this topic, I said, "People are fussing and fussing about what to do with the illegal immigrants, those people who sneak into our country and get subversive jobs like picking fruit, flipping hamburgers, cleaning houses, investment banking, nuclear physics, or whatever else it is that doesn't pay enough money to lure unsuspecting Americans into sustaining the near constant verbal abuse and assault from Naomi Campbell's or Russell Crowe's flying phones."

I was being silly and hyperbolic, of course, but I was in the shower thinking about this and I realized that I have heard people use part of that as an argument supporting looser immigration policies.

They say things like, "Why should we stop people who want to come into this company and do jobs that Americans don't want to do?" The implication here is that it's OK so long as they're doing jobs Americans want to do, but if they suddenly started getting cushy jobs like web developer, QA analyst, client engineer, governor of California, or whatever, then it would NOT be OK.

The problem with the immigration policy isn't that it's keeping people from picking oranges or splitting atoms for us. The problem is that it is keeping people from exercising and experiencing freedom. There are lots of things like that around here.

It's my business if I want to hire someone to work for me. And if they want to accept low wages for it, that is their business. If they don't want to accept what I want to pay them, they don't have to accept the pay or do the work. That's how business works. And it doesn't matter what the job is -- assuming it's a non-criminal activity, of course. It's my right as an American to do that.

Naturally, our government is not here to protect the rights of Byelorussians, Danes, or South Africans. But neither should it be acting to violate the rights of those people or any other. The American government is here to protect the individual rights of Americans, but in setting up these tortuous immigration policies, it is preventing me from exercising my rights. Further, it is taking active steps to violate the rights of other individuals.

Who sits around thinking up these obnoxious plans for our government? I bet it's Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2007


In the frenzy of activity that has been my work lately, I missed that National Punctuation Day was two days ago!!!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 05:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Truth is True

In case you haven't seen it, episode 5 of Planet Unicorn has been out for a while now. Check it out! Heeeey!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 05:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

This I Do Not Understand

Chocolate rain? What?

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 04:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

OMG. I'm So Bizzy!

I really shouldn't be taking this time to blog right now.

Short story: I saw Martha Stewart. It was a very interesting discussion but the interviewer was kind of lame. I love Martha so much! She's a powerhouse and an extremely smart and passionate businesswoman.

Several of my projects are going bonkers right now, but my boss has insisted that I put them on autopilot to attend some more Advertising Week events.

Ad Week is very, very cool. There really isn't much to talk about that's interesting to non-marketing/non-advertising people. It's mostly marketing/brand strategy and execution talks. Shop talk.

Because of my workload, I've missed several cool celebrity appearances like a performance by Chaka Khan at the branded music discussion yesterday. *le sigh*

Anywhoodles, I gotta run. I'll try to tell you all more later.

(No, I don't have pictures. They don't like when you do that in some of these panel discussions.)

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:20 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

OBloggers Carnival: Bizzy Day in which I Saw Martha Edition!

Rational Jenn is hosting this week's Oblogger's carnival!

Nelson Khan presents Five Myths About Selfish People posted at The Clear Path.

Stella presents Cancer Treatment Pricing Awareness Month posted at ReasonPharm, saying, "In which I respond to the usual charges leveled during cancer awareness months that pharmaceutical companies must be forced to provide less expensive cancer treatments through price controls." This one is well-worth reading.

Flibbert presents Movie Review: Helvetica posted at Flibbertigibbet, saying, "I spent most of the week fussing with that weasel McGinn, and while some of the points are interesting, they're kind of a buzzkill. Instead, I'm posting a link to my review of the movie Helvetica. It's actually an interesting presentation about the history of the typeface, Helvetica. Those with an interest in design will likely enjoy this film." I never thought a movie about a font would interest me, but Flibbert has me very intrigued.

Monica presents Sexual Conflict and Deception posted at Spark A Synapse, saying, "Gender bender warfare!" I'll say!

CORGIGUY presents THE AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY posted at CORGIGUY, saying, "This post takes a look at a study done in 1998 and the recent book Conservatives Without Conscience by John Dean from Watergate fame, it highlights the traits of authoritarian followers."

Darren Cauthon presents The essence of the webcaster's argument posted at Darren Cauthon, saying, "This post includes fancy computer graphics." Indeed, it does!

Rational Jenn presents Probably WAY More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About The NEA posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "The National Education Association has published its 2007-08 Resolutions! I reviewed the homeschooling resolution and the first 30 or so pages of the document. There's something in there for everyone, the color-blind, southpaws, and more! If you have ever wondered what the NEA's stance on genocide is, don't miss this post!" I've been feeling snarky this week.

Click! Go! Read!

(I saw Martha!! Eeeee!)

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 26, 2007

Assimilation Nation

So, you all remember that I went to Miami for my birthday. While there, Mister Bookworm and our friends went to the gay section of South Beach.

"Just a section?" you ask. "I thought it was the whole thing!" And you wouldn't be completely wrong.

But we went to the gay section which was the length of a city block. My friends lamented the erosion of the gay section, though. They said that in past years, the gay section used to extend for several blocks -- perhaps as many as ten.

Meanwhile, gay specialty magazines like Out and Advocate have taken huge hits in readership and advertising over the past years. The drop in advertising and readership this has been sufficiently explained away by Tanya Irwin in her latest column for Magazine Rack, but I still have to wonder if her original optimistic hypothesis doesn't have some merit to it.

It wasn't so long ago that Joe.My.God. noted the decline of gay bars in Orlando. ORLANDO! Gays practically invented Disneyland, people. This is just too shocking for words.

Well, for more words than I am using right now.

Or the amount of words used by Joe.

Ok. It's not too shocking for words, but it's pretty shocking. It's upsetting! (But not enough to ruin my mascara. I am not a barbarian.)

And big gay bars and clubs elsewhere, like NYC, San Fransisco, DC... have been closing, too. Of course, there are other explanations available there, too, and Joe talks about those.

But still I wonder.

Is it possible that the gays are being assimilated? Would that be a good thing or a bad thing in terms of our fight for equal recognition under the law?

I can see it being a good thing because it would mean people are realizing that gay people aren't a threat to civilization. We're not trying to destroy your marriages or molest your children. We're just trying to mind our own business and experience the freedom of property that everyone else enjoys when they enter into marriage arrangements.

I could also see it being a bad thing because it would also mean our visibility is disappearing.

I don't really think the gays are getting blended into the giant American daiquiri, but it's an amusing thought that has crossed my mind a couple of times in recent history.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 04:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

My Hero

I'm going to get to go see Martha Stewart delivery a talk about marketing tomorrow!


Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 01:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

From Mister Bookworm

"This headline is five nouns!"

Those zany Brits!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Immigration Madness

The news is full of talk about immigration... again/still. People are fussing and fussing about what to do with the illegal immigrants, those people who sneak into our country and get subversive jobs like picking fruit, flipping hamburgers, cleaning houses, investment banking, nuclear physics, or whatever else it is that doesn't pay enough money to lure unsuspecting Americans into sustaining the near constant verbal abuse and assault from Naomi Campbell's or Russell Crowe's flying phones.

Republicans seem to be flipping out over the word "amnesty." I don't understand, but I can't control other people's blood pressure. They're also complaining that these people would have gotten away with breaking the law.

I dare say that we all break the law from time to time and it doesn't matter if you're Republican or a particularly nimble maid. The reason is because the law sucks. I need a new paragraph for emphasis here.

If you can't mind your own damn and not break the law, then the law is wrong.

These Canadians who come scooting in here trying to rhyme 'house' and 'coast' and 'about' and 'boot,' they're largely harmless. If you don't like their poems or dirty limericks, this is America. You can stage a burning of all your Canadian poetry books if you want. In your own yard. With a permit.

And these other people with rich, tan skin and dark, wavy hair and rippling muscles that glisten in the sun...


Yeah! So there!

I want to talk about the horrible, horrible mess we put our LEGAL immigrants through. It's no wonder some people prefer to do like Dig-Dug to get here rather than suffer all the paper cuts from the bureaucracy that is INS. I want to tell you a story about someone I work with.

M is a super nice lady. She's pleasant, very smart, meticulous, super productive, and overall a joy to work with. She's a developer and when she works on my projects, they rock the house from coast to coast.

Well, she and her husband are foreigners hailing from a certain country with an excess of monkeys and cobras. And they're both working here under his visa. Apparently, he HAD a visa that would allow him and his spouse to work here. Some time ago, they found out that his corporate sponsor was changing the sponsorship to be just an H1 visa which only allows one person to work under it.

So, they both had to apply for H1 visas. And apparently there was some kind of lottery or something, I don't know, but he got one and she didn't.

This means that Friday is M's last day with our company.

She is trying to be a law-abiding, contributing member of society, but due to our ridiculous immigration policies and processes, she is mandated BY LAW to sit at home all day. Oh, she can still make use of the various public services that we provide to people here in this country, but she's not allowed to contribute to supporting those services.

This is utterly and completely absurd. She is a skilled worker and an above-average performer. Her efforts generate lots and lots of wealth for our company. But she is, starting Friday, forbidden to work in this country under penalty of law.

We've been brainstorming all sorts of hair-brained ideas about how to circumvent the law, but she doesn't want to do that. If she does break the law, it could put her husband's visa at risk and her future chances for visas and/or citizenship. She also dislikes the idea of being dishonest.

It's confounding and frustrating.

Update: I mentioned INS above, but it turns out that it's not INS. It's the Department of Homeland Security. Hmph!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 08:32 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 25, 2007

Just Say No (To People On Drugs)

I sometimes wonder if my clients are on drugs. I will provide them with a timeline that says, "If you give me X it will take Y days to deliver Z." They then say, "Oh, that means if I give X to him today, I'll have it by Q day!" Then, they wait a week and send me X and ask me if I will still be able to delivery Z by Q day.

So, I was rolling when I read this over at QA Hates You:

Remember, Project Managers, No is an unlimited resource; you can use it as often as you like to deal with timeline compression and feature creep, and you will always have more for the next time.

What I REALLY love, though, is the crackhead who commented in response:

Reminder to Managers outsourcing IT Work: Remember that a company’s attitude often reflects their abilities and confidence. The more you hear “no,” the more you need to wonder if they have an interest in seeing your project succeed. The best partners find a way to deliver what you need them to deliver. Be prepared to place your John Hancock on change orders and revised estimates - but do not take “No” for an answer. A “can-do” attitude is but one attribute of a successful relationship. Some companies will work with you to “find the way,” and others will force you into their way, or nothing. The company repeating “No” is the company passing on the complaints of uninspired and unmotivated employees. Like plenty of fathers have said in the past: “Can’t means won’t.”

That commenter sounds like some of my worst clients who think that it is a matter of "attitude" when it comes to the laws of physics.

What people do not realize is that there are two types of labor resources: skilled and unskilled. If you have a task that requires unskilled labor, then you can just throw more people at it and it will get done faster. If you have a task that requires skilled labor, though, there's a good chance that more people will only make things worse. It takes as long as it takes you need to relax. As I tell my client managers, "The client has to get glad in the same pants they got mad in."

If you are a client, you need to listen to the people you hire. Yes, they might be lying, but you cannot assume that. If you do assume they're lying, then you will set up a very adversarial relationship. Instead, assume they are always telling the truth. If your needs aren't being met, leave. This is business, not romance.

If you want to build trust with the people who work with and for you, make sure that you explain what you're trying to accomplish. This goes for clients/vendors/and internal resources alike. If you have to rush something, explain why it has to be rushed. What business situation lead to the need for the rush? Even if the cause of the rush is that you dropped the ball, explain that you dropped the ball and you need a rush.

You should not expect that just because you are open and honest and trusting with someone that all the answers to your every request will be "yes." That would be idiotic to say the least.

So, whether you're the client or the vendor or some schmuck approaching an internal department with a request, don't be a person on drugs.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 06:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I Just Noticed...

My underwear is on inside-out.

I was wondering why the ruffles were scratching my tush.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 06:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

My New Stalker: Colin McGinn

Just at the moment when I am ready to be done with Colin McGinn, he begins wooing me in earnest. I got an email just this morning that said:

Sometimes people have to be called by their proper name and put in their place. You never know, you might even benefit from it. Stupidity is never harmless.

You'll note that this not a response in the traditional sense to the last note that I sent him. It's like he's just sitting there trying to think of degrading things to say to me. It's kind of sad, really.

So, of course, I responded to him.

I've named you a liar and a coward publicly. I've given the reasons why I came to my conclusions.

You, again, are asserting a position without any supporting argumentation. You hide by deleting comments from your blog and sending private emails. And now you're simply spews insulting emails over the internet. This isn't even a proper conversation. I'm asking you questions and providing you with arguments and you're just hitting reply and banging out insulting non sequiturs.

Not only are you dishonest, cowardly, irrational, and churlish, you're behaving now like a juvenile with a bruised ego

You should note that I have been publishing our exchanges to my own blog so that others might also benefit.

I'd like to discontinue this exchange, so please do not email me again.

His insults are so boring, too!

They're utterly devoid of any content that can be addressed. If he said, "I think you're a pompous fool because yadda yadda yadda," then I could say, "As usual, you seem to have misplaced your dictionary because blah blah blah. Further, you're a liar because you said X when you know that Y is the case." And, of course, we could lace these notes with all sorts of colorful invectives.

That might be entertaining for a little bit. But nooooo... His emails are the email equivalent of "LA! LA! LA! LA! LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU! YOU ARE STUPID! LA! LA! LA! LA!"

I guess I have an unreasonable expectation that even exchanges of insults will progress as with any other conversation. I've spent a little too much time reading British literature, too, I think, because my expectations of their insults is quite a bit higher than anything he's managed to deliver so far. Like I said, boring.

Maybe he's in love with me and he's been driven insane with jealousy because I have a boyfriend already.

Update 1: McGinn responded to my last email. He wrote, "Excellent!"

I won't reply to this one because I am taking that to mean that he is going to stop emailing me, although if he hadn't responded I would have understood the same thing.

Given how petty he has behaved over the duration, I take this email to be one of those I-have-to-have-the-last-word things.

Update 2: In rapid succession, McGinn wrote again to say:

And perhaps you would be so kind as not to contribute further to my blog.

I responded with this:

Sorry. I can't commit to that.

You're more than welcome to comment on my blog for as long as I don't block you, though.

I've been debating whether or not I should post links to my blog with our exchanges on his site. I'm not sure if it's worthwhile since it might invite his trolls over here. Of course, I do love getting lots of comments and traffic, so I'm kind of conflicted over that.

Update 3: If I were to post links to my posts on his blog, it would look something like this:

Hey, McGinn!

I've been publishing our email exchanges on my blog. Perhaps your other readers might be interested in how you conduct yourself when no one is looking.

This is about you deleting comments: It's Like Picking a Scab

And here are some that include our email exchanges in which you bombard me with insults as apparent retribution for your bruise ego.

I'm Through

My New Stalker: Colin McGinn

I really doubt I will, though, because at this point I doubt anyone really cares. McGinn's conduct speaks for itself and his toady commenters lack an ability to be objective.

But I'll keep that handy just in case I see some sudden inspiration to expose McGinn on his own blog for the rotten little weasel he is.

Update 4: McGinn declined my invitation to comment on my blog saying, "No thanks" and I explained to him:

Well, it's a forum that is open to a majority of the public including you (for the moment), should you feel the need to unburden your conscience or engage me in someway. I don't invite the sort of foolishness you've demonstrated here or on your blog, but it is presently at your disposal. Otherwise, you have your own blog which may be used to issue statements to or about me.

I don't want to engage you in private discussions, however, because you've demonstrated that you are too cowardly and dishonest to be trusted to maintain any sort of rational standard of discourse even casually and at least in public others can see you for what you are and judge for themselves.

So, those are the only two channels through which I care to engage you or be engaged by you -- if at all.

Update 5: McGinn replied, "I, for my part, simply want you to go away."

So I said, "Then go away. What's stopping you?"

So silly.

Update 6: McGinn answered my rhetorical question saying, "The fact that you insist on contributing to my blog, obviously."

That isn't really all that obvious to me, but I responded:

Ah. So, you're emailing me because I commented on your website? That comment really didn't require a response, but you did speak your mind on that, I think. I haven't commented on your website since yesterday, so why do you keep emailing me now?

What's to stop you from just ignoring me anyway?

Also, may I suggest a change in your blogging software? Many packages do offer IP banning which allows you to block people from commenting on your site if they really annoy you or something. Word Press and Movable Type both offer this. I use MT and I would ban you if you started being "obnoxious junk" on my website.

Now, do stop harassing me by email. Be a propper blogger and write snotty things about me on your blog or something.

Update 7: McGinn's webmater has posted a new policy about posting comments on McGinn's blog.

I have to laugh because much of this new policy is inspired by McGinn's frustrations in dealing with me. But the part that really tickles me is the introduction which describes him as "an eminent philosopher [...], who has generously agreed to write and participate in this public forum."

What a pompous jackass he is!

The new rules for his blog are:

1) Comments are welcome but will be deleted if they are disrespectful or intentionally antagonistic towards either Professor McGinn or other participants. And just like in baseball, an IP address will be blocked after the deletion of three comments.

Again, nothing is mentioned about the standard they will use to make this determination. I submit that McGinn's own standards are inconsistent and capricious. He and those arguing on his behalf both engaged in antagonistic, disrespectful commentary toward the opposition, but their comments remained.

Also, although I'm not a sports buff, the last time I heard no one was punished in baseball by having their IP address blocked.

2) E-mail inquiries sent through the Contact Me window are also welcome but if the e-mail is a personal attack or deemed inappropriate by Professor McGinn or myself, the IP address will be automatically blocked.

I'm not sure if this is an accurate statement. If you use Yahoo! or Google mail, will they blog Yahoo! and Google's IP addresses? Strange. But again we're confronted with McGinn's double standards here.

3) One instance of defamatory, injurious, or slanderous comments posted on another site will automatically result in a blocked IP address.

This I know is directed toward me because I've documented every exchange (minus one comment that he deleted before I could save it) he and I have had.

I should state for the record that all of these rules are perfectly within his rights. McGinn's blog is McGinn's blog and in spite of what he says, it is not my property to manage.

I can, however, criticize the way he does manage his property. But I am pleased to see that he is taking my advice and making use of IP blocking instead of harassing people via email. I think his poor little ego will avoid much bruising with this policy in place.

Well, I think this whole silly thing is winding down. I hope not to hear from McGinn again and I dare say he hopes not to hear from me.

Update 8: One last thing! I was poking around on McGinn's blog to see what else he was saying on other topics really quick before I let him go completely and I spotted another instance of him being sneaky.

In his post on Utilitarianism, he comments on his own post saying:

The texts I'm using in my class are: Ethics: The Fundamentals, by Julia Driver; The Dimensions of Ethics, by Wilfrid Waluchow; Ethical Theory: A Concise Anthology, eds. Geirsson and Holmgren. You will find everything I've said about relativism, divine command theory, egoism and utilitarianism amply and perspicuously discussed in these books. Nothing I have said here has been original. My usage of key terms is entirely in conformity with the usage in these texts, e.g. "altruism". I invite you to have a look and see. Generally speaking, I find it boring to repeat arguments and points that can be found in any undergraduate text on the subject in question. On the question of altruism, in particular, be very careful about distinguishing the obligatory from the supererogatory, and bear in mind that altruism comes in degrees.

NOW he presents his sources. And that doesn't change the fact that his formulations in the discussion do not agree with other sources relevant to the topic.

Further, his focus on altruism in this comment seem to be clearly directed to much of the fuss made in the egoism discussion about his use of the term, which makes us wonder why he hid the remark under a post about Utilitarianism instead of just coming right out with it.

Further, he's moving the goalposts again. In his post on egoism, he acts as if he has thoroughly debunked the philosophy. Here he says that he don't care to address certain arguments that he deems beneath him.

The man is a weasel.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 24, 2007

QA Hates You

Brian Noggle has started a new blog! It's QA Hates You!

It's kind of true. Our QA department hates me. They're always so helpful, but I know they hate me because I am always asking them to hurry up and I never give them everything they need to do their job. I'm kind of their worst nightmare.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

New Heroes!

The second season of Heroes premiered this evening. WOOHOO!

I was really excited about this because most of the first season was such a delight. I hope that this season is as much fun, although I have to say that it's off to a slow, but intriguingly mysterious start.

The cheerleader lives in California now and she is being befriended by a new person with powers. He looks kind of weird to me. I am SO excited to see Veronica Mars show up with powers!

Mohinder is trying to infiltrate the bad guy company with the help of Bad Daddy and Cutie Cop Guy.

There are a couple of Mexican twins, one of which apparently causes some kind of massive, fatal hemorrhaging. (I've peeked at some of the teaser information and know that there is more to it than we've seen so far.)

Peter Nathan Patrelli is moping around over the apparent death of his brother. The end of the episode shows us that his brother, Peter, isn't dead, but just has amnesia and is in a shipping container in Ireland. By the way, his brother is SUPER cute with his short haircut.

Hiro is way back in the 17th century with his childhood hero, Takezo Kensei, who turns out to be a mercenary and a bit of a cad.

George Takei and Ando are waiting around in New York for Hiro to return. It's been four months, but George says he's patient. He's really old. Then he finds a picture of himself with that crazy symbol on it and he decides that a hit has been put out on his life. He's right and by the end of the episode George Takei is dead and we don't know who did it or why. Very mysterious!

Evil mom has a hit out on her, too, but we don't see what happens to her.

We didn't get to see stupid lady with the evil twin or her phase shifting husband and technopathic son. (They'll be here later.)

We also haven't seen Sylar. Sylar's off-Heroes career is taking off. He's been in all kinds of magazines lately.

So, that's about the sum of it.

I'm watching Journeyman now because I haven't bothered to change the channel. So far it seems ok, but I don't know if I'll watch it because it's kind of weird. I don't like when people accidentally start time traveling.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:20 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

I'm Through

I've finally lost the steam to continue to pester that git Colin McGinn.

In his latest comments he remarks:

Let me make it clear that I haven't said a word against Rand. In fact, I've never read anything by her. The kind of egoism I was commenting on is the kind espoused by Glaucon in Plato's Republic and Thomas Hobbes. How Rand's views correspond to this I have no idea. However, what has been said here by "Randians" has not inclined me to take the plunge.

And then:

Wrong and confused again. Not Plato, Glaucon--Socrates rejects his egoism. I refuted a vew that is well defined and well established in the philosophical literature. Whether Rand holds exactly this view I don't know. In any case, I didn't have her in mind.

I couldn't resist one bland parting remark:

No one thinks that you did say anything about Rand directly, McGinn. But everyone can clearly see that it was your hope to address ethical egoism at large, a category of ethical arguments under which the Objectivist argument is subsumed.

Your attempt to formulate a system of ethics that balances both egoism and altruism would benefit from researching the topic further.

Those who argued along side McGinn may not realize it, but he has insulted them as well with this juvenile attempt to move the goalposts on his own argument.

I can't really dispute his assertion that he's presented a well-established presentation of ethical egoism. Clearly defined may be a different issue, I wouldn't know, but the Objectivist argument is certainly under-represented in philosophical circles.

I am actually astonished at the obvious foolishness of McGinn's argument, though. Look at it again:

The topic this week was ethical egoism. What a terrible theory it is! An action is right if and only if it's in your own self interest. That means that helping others, with no benefit to self, is immoral. Rubbish. Particularly pathetic is the argument that apparently atruistic actions are really egoistic, since you get pleasure from doing good. This just conflates the object of a want with its consequences. You might as well argue that economic actions, like buying a television, are really altruistic, because someone else benefits, namely the people you buy it from. Motives are of several kinds: egoistic, altruistic, malicious, and self-destructive.

So far this term I've dispatched the three most popular ethical theories in America today--relativism, divine command theory, and egoism. It wasn't difficult work.

Look at it. Seriously, look at it. It's so vapid and presupposing! I really am shocked by it.

The first statement is: an action is right if and only if it's in your own self interest.

The next logical step from there is: helping others, with no benefit to self, is immoral.

I am actually one of these people who holds that all actions are either moral or immoral. I've not really given much thought about what the logical implications are of arguing that some actions may not have any moral value at all, neither good nor bad, so I wouldn't take that tack.

But McGinn responds to statements one and two with his conclusion: Rubbish! There is no explanation why and where you would expect some illucidation, McGinn proceeds to address an argument that we all agree is one of the weakest arguments for egoism presented.

A commenter on this very blog cited a "principle of charity" that I agree with:

There is a principle in informal logic called the Principle of Charity [...] the principle saying that you should interpret an opponent's argument in the strongest way possible, adding extra premises, reworking order and logical structure, fixing up definitions, anything possible without contradiction. Before you refute your enemy, you must try to prove them correct first.

You don't just say something is rubbish and then turn to the weakest argument you can think of to prove your case. Not only does that fail to prove anything, it shouldn't even be regarded as starting to make your case.

Now, I realize that McGinn isn't presenting any extensive philosophical treatises on his blog. (I hope none of your are expecting that of me!) But we do have to expect more substance than this.

We go from observing his not only pitiful representation to his absolutely shameful conduct throughout the discussion.

At first, my address to him and his mob was passionate but in general good humor. When the began insulting me and the other Objectivists, I lost my sense of humor, but remained within the bounds of civility. When my comments started getting deleted, righteous rage is what I felt and I let McGinn know that he was the cause.

People tend to regard emotional responses as being weak or out of control. You may or may not be aware of this but I have a terrible temper and there have been times when it has gotten the better of me. But this time I was actually really impressed with my ability to both experience the fullness of that emotion and retain most of the clarity of thought with fixed attention to the proper cause. Although McGinn's blog fixed my attention for a while, I was also pleased at the lack of transference.

Without getting into too much detail, I'm extremely pleased with the flow of my subconscious throughout. Sadly, I can't claim that the actual debate came to a satisfying conclusion.

His most recent comments are simply cowardly. I don't know any other word for it. Not only is he willing to confront challengers to his own position directly, he even remarks that he is unwilling to challenge his own premises.

I think that was the last straw for me.

Update 1: I just got an email from Mr. McGinn which said simply:

What a pompous fool you are.

I responded, of course.

More name-calling? Really?

Seriously, professor, I'm not sure which is in worse shape: your manners, your logic, or your integrity.

Update 2: It continues.

There are a lot of fools in the world. The internet has given them a voice they wouldn't otherwise have. You are a particularly egregious example of the type. I am simply stating the facts.

So, I responded with a bit more length:

The same could be said of intellectual cowards and their university posts particularly in the case of philosophy departments.

Has it occurred to you that you're engaging a complete stranger -- one you've deemed to be obnoxious junk and a pompous fool -- with petty insults? You seem to do so without any sense of irony about it. Compounding the irony is the fact that you are again hiding your shameful behavior from others. If your conclusion is so factual, why didn't you just post an additional comment to your blog calling me a pompous fool?

I've told you why I think you're a shameful and dishonest, not to mention condescending and rude, but as usual you haven't provided any citations or examples to support your conclusions. No, you've simply ejaculated your opinion into this medium and expected others to slaver over it. To use another's phrase, it's a bukkake of stupid with you.

You disgust me.

I'm starting to wonder what the head of the philosophy department or the dean of humanities at the University of Miami would think about his extracurricular online activities.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:49 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Chillingly Laughable

Readers of my blog know that I pretty much hate the present Iranian President. I think he's a whacko. (Some readers of my blog do contend -- rightly, I think -- that even though he's a whacko, he's done less harm to Americans than our own whacko, Dubya.) Well, he gave a speech at Columbia U today.

When they announced that they were going to allow him to speak, lots of people were upset by this. I think they're right to be upset.

I also think that so long as the American government allows dictators to visit our shores as they do, Columbia is within its legal rights to allow him to speak. I point this out to be clear that the question here is not a political one but moral one.

Briefly on the political question: I don't think leaders like Ahmadinejad should be allowed in the country. If I were president, I would not meet with people like him except perhaps as a plot to kill him. Of course, if I were president, policies foreign and domestic would be radically different and I would have more leisure time in which to plan the assassination of dictators. Those scenarios are obvious fantasies.

On to the moral question.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has nothing of value to communicate to any rational person. The notion that any good can come of allowing him to prattle on to Americans is an insult and, frankly, I can only imagine that it is out of morbid curiosity (and perhaps journalistic assignment) that any person in their right mind attended the speech. By the furor that many raised over his presence at Columbia, I also assume that others have made similar observations.

Even still, Columbia allowed him to speak and it was that furor that led Columbia University president Lee Bollinger to heavily qualify the presentation. Not to put too fine a point on it, he called Ahmadinejad a "petty and cruel dictator." True enough, but then he followed it with the perplexing assertion that "We do not honor the dishonorable when we open our public forum to their voices."

Now, I am assuming that the government did not in any way influence Columbia University's decision to allow Ahmadinejad to speak. In spite of receiving state funding, this was a private decision made by individuals on a quest to present the students of Columbia the broadest possible opportunities for a superb education.

I return to my point above that Ahmadinejad hasn't anything of value to teach us. He's a madman, so it begs the question of what this sideshow could possibly due to contribute to anyone's education. Surely we can get close enough to madmen through reports on CNN and descriptions in text books.

So, the claim is that it isn't an honor to address Columbia students to the benefit of their education. This is a bald contradiction.

Either presenting Ahmadinejad is of value or it isn't.

I suspect that Mister Bollinger suffers from the deplorable line of thinking that leads one to believe that everyone's point of view is worth consideration in itself simply by virtue of being someone's point of view.

Freedom of speech doesn't mean that anyone has to listen. So, do I think they should have given him a forum to speak? No. Do I think they should be charged with a crime? No.

I didn't mean to get on that rant. I really just wanted to point out this funny thing that I heard from Joe.My.God. he said.

In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I do not know who has told you that we have it.

Joe rightly responds with this:

Of course, what Ahmandinejad didn't say was that he keeps Iran free of homosexuals by killing them.

That Mahmoud kills me.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 06:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

9 of the Most Repulsive Buildings on Earth

9 of the Most Repulsive Buildings on Earth from Deputy Dog.

He's not kidding. The Westin is near my work in New York and it's really strange looking in an eye-sore sort of way. It even looks out of place in Times Square if you ask me.

Thanks to Johndavid for this link!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:53 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Movie Review: Death to Supermodels

Mister Bookworm and I pulled Death to Supermodels up from On Demand thinking that it might be a really funny satire of the modeling industry, perhaps like Zoolander.

I think Jaime Pressly is hilarious on My Name is Earl, so I was expecting it to be similarly hysterical.

The plot is beyond improbable; it's inexplicable, inconsistent, and meandering. The humor shows a sophomoric obsession with sex, farting, and body odor. The acting is simply strange and Jaime Pressly's character is surprisingly bland.

Disappointment turned to frustration and we turned the movie off.

Do not watch this movie. Period.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Movie Review: Helvetica

helvetica.jpgMister Bookworm and I went down to the IFC Center and watched Helvetica, which is a movie, you've probably guessed, about the typeface, Helvetica.

The movie goes over the history of the type, who made it, why they made it, how it got used, how it gets used today, and the various design ideas about the font. From the site:

Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which will celebrate its 50th birthday in 2007) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. The film is an exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type.

The font arose out of the modernist design movement in the late 50's, swept the world in corporate rebranding efforts in the 60's and 70's and even found its way into GUI design for OS's. It's used everywhere and numerous designers in the film refer to the font as "air" or "gravity" because it is so ubiquitous in design.

I really appreciate the structure of the film which starts with history and moves seamlessly into the older designers, Swiss designers, who really adore the typeface. From there it segues nicely into the growth of the font from being regarded as archetypically modern to being archetypically, well, typical. Then, the film talks to designers who hate the typeface and rebel against it. Throughout everyone, regardless of their preferences for or against it, acknowledge the strength and timeless utility of Helvetica.

My only criticism of the movie was that I found the conclusion to be somewhat weak, in fact, my mind wandered during the last ten minutes and I don't even know what they were talking about.

Overall, though, I found the film to be really fascinating. It was well done and the cinematography definitely showed a designer's eye for composition. If you're a designer or at all interested in design, I would recommend this film to you.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The God Delusion: My Review

Over the weekend, I finally finished reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and I have to say: I can't figure out why they made the cover look that way.

Overall the book is pretty good. Dawkins has filled the books with interesting quotations and stories and he does make some very strong arguments about the Bible/Koran and morality and the generally deleterious effects of abandoning reason.

As I've discussed at great length, I disagree with his metaphysical analysis of the anti-concept "God" in the Muslim-Judeo-Christian-Bahai-whatever tradition.

Dawkins reminds me a lot of Sagan. I know they were buddies and they were/are both scientists so that their approach and thinking on this topic is similar comes as no surprise to me. To be perfectly honest, what I've read from the two of them is generally pretty enjoyable. I think I prefer Sagan's style a little more, but Dawkins hides his limousine leftist politics a bit more cleverly.

I especially enjoyed Dawkins's discussion of the ill-effect that religion has on children. I think he has a strong point there, that giving children a religious education is akin to neglect at best and child abuse if we're honest about it. I also really liked his commentary on the morality reflected in the Bible and the Koran. His commentary there is hilarious to say the least. And because he is a scientist of some sort (evolutionary biologist says Wikipedia) I enjoyed his discussion of evolution. The discussion of cosmology was a bit afield of my own scientific interests and understanding. Oh! And I also liked his talk about the American founding fathers and their religion. There's a whole lot of hay being made over seemingly theist remarks made by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and others, but the facts do not support the argument that America was in any significant sense "a Christian nation." AND! I like his discussion about the evolution and development of the bicameral mind in relation to the advent of theistic hypotheses/religions in civilization. (Apparently, people used to not understand that the voice they hear in their head is their own mind.)

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I probably would recommend it to people who are interested in the topic of atheism because in spite of its flaws, it is good to go over the discussion.

Ultimately, I do not think folks like Dawkins, Sagan, Pinker, and Dennett will be successful in wiping out theism and the anti-science mysticism that do seem to dominate popular thinking today. And it is because of the flaws like accepting the possibility that God exists that they will fail.

The optimist in me hastens to say that there is a certain mainstream appeal to folks like Dawkins. He's a cute old man with a keen wit and a positively vicious sense of humor. As an American, I think his accent is adorable, too. He's been on the Colbert Report, a sure sign of his appeal to the really cool people out there. So, I really hope he is successful in steering things away from faith and more toward reason.

But I was pointing this out to Mister Bookworm yesterday afternoon. Dawkins and Sagan both (my exposure to Dennett and Pinker is through secondary sources) concede the possibility of God's existence and proceed directly to the fact that there is absolutely no evidence to support the claim. Their conclusion, therefore, is that one ought not believe in God because there isn't a reason to. For those deeply committed to science-based thinking, this seems logical and indeed I think it is the best method for understanding nature.

Science, however, is not philosophy. Science begins only after one has established some understand about the nature of existence (metaphysics) and truth (epistemology).

Unfortunately, people like Dawkins and Sagan write as if science is where we start. (They are very intelligent men, so I wouldn't presume to say that they actually believe this, but what I've read of that work might lead someone to think that they do.) It is through this tiny door that the mystics creep.

In Dawkins book he tries desperately to pin down the mystics and "prove" that they haven't a leg to stand on. God, he says, maybe might could exist but it is extreeeeeeeeemly unlikely that he does. So the mystics respond with specious arguments like, "Well, until you can prove that he doesn't I will just go on believing." Every rational person understands this response to be idiotic at best but it does remain extremely persuasive to many intelligent people. I'm not kidding. It really does.

I believe that until the atheist "movement," if it can be called that, adopts a rational approach to metaphysics and epistemology, they will be playing a game of whack-a-mole during their philosophical parlor games. Basically, they need Objectivism.

Science needs philosophy first so that our great minds do not spend time on questions like this. God does not and cannot exist. There is absolutely no question on the matter.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:44 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 21, 2007

Dollars to Pounds

I don't write about the US economic situation too much because, frankly, I don't know or don't follow the macroeconomic stuff very closely. But it's impossible for a person to miss some mention of the things going on today.

- The Fed dropped interest rates by a half percent.
- The dollar is being devalued all over the place (inflation).
- The Canadian dollar just reached a 1:1 exchange rate with our dollars. (It used to be less)
- The British pound is 2:1. (It's been stronger for a long time, but now it's REALLY strong.)
- Gold recently reached a 28-year high.
- Housing prices are falling dramatically.

None of these things are good for the American consumer.

The money guys on teevee the other night were yelling that if you have any savings, you should convert it to a good foreign currency like pounds or euros. They say it's really easy to do that.

Sadly, you can't say no one saw it coming. Even more sadly, there is a lot of varied theories on how to make this stop and reverse course.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 07:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Lines in the Head

NYT Headline: Fund-Raiser Is Held Without Bail

Makes you wonder what the story is about, huh?

Click here to see.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 03:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Do Not Click This Link

I know it's a little kid, but it's still not ok. It's child abuse and terrorism at the same time.

(If you ignored my advice and you clicked the link, be sure to turn your speakers way, way up so everyone around you can enjoy it, too.)

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 03:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stop It, Verizon!

Last night I saw a Verizon commercial in which the announcer said, "Now, Brett can send message unlimitedly!"

Send messages unlimitedly.


Just stop.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 12:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

As Usual, Tyra Says What We're All Thinking

This is awesome.

It's awesome because:

1) That is exactly what someone needs to say to Britney. And also, "Where did you put your hairbrush and panties?"

2) If you didn't know, this video is pieced together from Britney's interview with Matt Lauer in which she (dressed herself) described herself as "country" and an episode of America's Next Top Model in which Tyra Banks flipped out on a contestant that she thought was flippant about her participation in the show, both of which were awesome for different reasons.

This video is totally made of win.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 12:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

They're Probably Egoists, You Know

BBC News: Police defend drowning death case

Police chiefs have defended two community support officers (PCSOs) who stood by as a 10-year-old boy drowned in a pond.

Jordon Lyon leapt into the water in Wigan, Greater Manchester, after his eight-year-old stepsister Bethany got into difficulties on 3 May.

Two anglers jumped in and saved Bethany but Jordon became submerged.

The inquest into his death heard the PCSOs did not rescue him as they were not trained to deal with the incident.

Mister Bookworm sent this article to me in light of recent discussions that have contained lengthy diatribes about drowning little children.

This case is very difficult to judge since I wasn't there and I do not know these Public Safety people or their swimming skills. Once upon a time I was a certified life guard, though, and the dangers of unskilled people leaping into unknown water are well-documented and clear.

What a horrible, horrible thing for a parent. And it is doubly frustrating to know that there were people present who had judged the situation such that they could not save the child.

This is certainly a tragedy.

But to those unfamiliar with the arguments here, I want to be clear that the title of this post is sarcastic; this incident cannot be judged as supporting or refuting ethical egoism.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 12:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It Doesn't Stop

McGinn's mob has made a couple of remarks about Objectivism (which they keep referring to as "Randism") today and the compare it to a religion. I responded:

That is a grotesque misrepresentation of Rand's philosophy.

You said, "Rand's philosophy can be likened to religion because modern human beings find themselves in a new world of nature, namely politics and economics. The guiding Randian ethic in this new world is not physical survival as it was for Adam and Eve but rather psychological survival or happiness. "

That's not even what it means for a system of ideas to be a religion -- at least not as the term "religion" may be defined for any meaningful discussion.

On a very basic level, Rand's ethics are predicated on metaphysical and epistemological arguments which may be summed as describing human beings as "rational animals." To promote happiness at the expense of survival would be an obvious contradiction given that one cannot be happily dead. Further, achieving happiness requires a continued exploration of existence and promoting a greater understanding of the facts of reality -- an observation Rand repeatedly made and described in her discussions of the role of scientists in human existence.

McGinn, I actually agree with you here.

There are many popular misconceptions about the nature of capitalism and even the mechanisms of economic development that it properly uses and especially what constitutes rational business/economic decisions in a free or semi-free market environment. Many supposed egoists in business have frighteningly short-range views of their activities.

The NYT published an article recently that interviewed various business people about the influence of Ayn Rand on their careers and they displayed a shocking misunderstanding of the ideas she was promoting. One lady even equated them with Buddhism!

But my agreement is cautious because you mention "the consequences of rampant capitalism on the general good." I don't know what you mean by that (although I could probably guess) and I wouldn't presume to describe your political philosophy to you. I will simply say that while it is tempting to see what you describe, we should resist that temptation given the overt misunderstandings of Objectivism by people in business.

I really grant that man too much benefit of the doubt.

Update 1: Thanks to a reminded from Monica, I added another comment over there.

Also, I'd like to submit a term for the mob's use and approval: Randroid

I've seen it elsewhere among those who wish to denigrate Objectivists. Personally, I think it's a hoot and a half, so I'm just throwing it out there.

I guess Drake hadn't heard of it when he called me a robot earlier.

Fun fact: no one has ever referred to me directly as a "randroid" and I'm kind of jealous of those who have.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:58 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Dancing on Graves


As you've probably heard, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad AKA DJ Mack Mood AKA Lick Madinejad the Mad Thrillah AKA That whacko over there has asked to be allowed to visit the World Trade Center construction site.

Everyone has said no.

No. No. No.

Even Hilary Clinton announced that she recognizes it as unacceptable.

Of course, I agree, but part of me wants someone to figure out how would could drop a building on him when he's down in there. Or not a building, but a huge pile of American dollars. Enough to crush him, of course. Or maybe pour a large vat of boiling transfats on him while he's down there celebrating the death of Americans.

That man is vile.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:19 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Sort of.

I've been SUPER CRAZY bizzy at work over the past few weeks.

Of course, regular bizzy for me entails still having time to take a nap during lunch and write on this here blog thingie when I'm between tasks.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my peers left the company. I got assigned all of his customers and project. He had the most annoying customers ever. I hate them.

But still, the addition of his customers raised my productivity level from what I think other people are usually maintaining in their work lives. (I've discovered that their level of effort and apparent activity does not actually correlate to their level of productivity. I work with noisy people.) And I told my boss that I could not be assigned more clients and still maintain my usual standards of quality and responsiveness.

Even still, I was assigned two more huge projects and my boss asked, "Do you have the bandwidth to handle these?"

"No, but it all has to get done, right? If no one will volunteer to take it, you have to assign it to someone. My primary constraint is time. Things will take longer and people just need to be aware of that."

This is something of a revolution because I never say 'no' to my boss. If anyone above me asks if I can do something, my general policy is to respond with an enthusiastic 'yes.'

So, I got two way big projects.

And then one of my peers when on paternity leave and I was assigned all but his two largest clients.

That took me from regular bizzy to SUPER CRAZY bizzy. I've barely had time to obsess over those lunatics on the McGinn blog!!!

The McGinn blog discussion seems to have stopped and started going in another -- extremely pedantic -- direction. They've ignored Ergo's remarks. They sighed at my most recent remarks and then started mocking me. (Typical of their poor manners.)

Weekends aren't good for blogging for me because my time there is happily occupied with entertaining Mister Bookworm.

Yeah, so anyway, I hope to get back to my usual blogging in the next week.

Or maybe the week after. It's hard to tell.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 20, 2007

What You Got in That Bag?

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 03:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I'm Out of My Mind

The conversation over at McGinn's struggles onward. Last night, McGinn took to purging all of my comments because he regards anything I say as "junk."

Nevertheless, he had a commenter, Nicholas, who put a basic egoist argument together in some fairly plain language. And I couldn't help but respond to him. It was a herculean task for me to restrain myself from snarking on McGinn's woeful conduct in the discussion.

Nicholas, there's a certain irony to your comments, but I'm not certain from which perspective it's intended or intended at all. :o)

If you read higher up, people mention something called "psychological egoism" which basically posits that anything a person does choose to do does benefit them. I'm not sure if you're familiar with this, but part of what you've said seems to echo that idea. The problem is that it is descriptive and can't really be disproven. How are we to know that person A is doing X to his benefit or not? It also doesn't provide us with any sense of criteria for what is good or bad since each person might pick any standard they please for their benefit.

The original intent of McGinn's post was to examine the proposition the following proposition: "An action is right if and only if it's in your own self interest. That means that helping others, with no benefit to self, is immoral." The contrasting version of egoism is a normative one. It's called "ethical egoism" and attempts to tell us how we ought to behave. And that quotation is how he has defined it for this discussion -- that is not to say that his definition is accepted, but such is a constraint he established.

We set the bar rather high because we all agree with McGinn's criticism of the argument that it's silly to claim that if one finds altruism pleasurable then one is actually an egoist.

By contrast to the egoist, McGinn also states that "altruism requires only that one gives some weight to the interests of others" and that the reason for doing so is for the sake of other's interests in themselves. Again, this is the definition McGinn has provided for us, but it is not necessarily the definition others here accept for the term.

Proceeding from there, various examples have been posited in which some individual does something and it is asserted that there is absolutely no benefit to that individual at all, meaning whatever that individual's interests are, they are not served by the action in question.

If we accept all these definitions as provided, then as I've stated in previous comments, we have no choice but to accept the conclusion that whatever the action is that is given, if it provides no benefit to the individual, then it is to be condemned.

The objection to ethical egoism that follows is that it would allow people to do things that most people would describe mildly as objectionable. These are things like raping, murdering, allowing babies to drown, defaulting on loans, etc.

But the egoists in this discussion reject the conclusion on several grounds, some of which you've highlighted. In short-form, here are a few of the objections posed:

- That there is/was a confusion between psychological and ethical egoism.
- That the standard of good used to discredit egoism assumes the premise of the counter-argument, namely altruism.
- That the range of benefit is unfairly constrained to restrict egoists from their rational faculty or a long-view of what constitutes a benefit reducing them to shabby hedonists.
- That the scenarios given all assume conditions that do not and cannot exist in reality.

Without going on about it at too much length, when Rand formulated her argument for ethical egoism, she started in a similar way that you did by asking what the purpose of ethics and morality is. "If we are to discover the proper way to behave on Earth..." She asserted that such a discovery is predicated by rational thought and assumed it in her discussions of the topic. In fact, she took pains to describe and reiterate the requirement of rationality in her discussions and based her arguments on the nature of human beings as "rational animals." (I believe McGinn has dedicated some of his energy to this very topic, but I doubt he'd like to turn this discussion in that direction at the moment.)

The impasse in this discussion is a bit of a mystery to me. The charge that the objections raised by the egoists are patently offensive, ill-reasoned, or whatever is a bit strange. But best wishes to you in sorting through all of this. I hope these comments assist you or at least give you some food for thought -- if these comments survive McGinn's delete button.

I really need to let this thing go. McGinn has demonstrated that he is irredeemably committed to irrationality and poor manners.

I think I may write a lengthy post addressing some of the typical arguments I saw over there and restating the Objectivist position on the matter. Maybe that will get it out of my blood.

Update 1: So far I haven't been deleted and others are commenting on the post. Another commenter remarked on Rand, so I felt the need to respond to that as well:

Rand rejected the notion of psychological egoism whereby we might ascribe egoist motives to any action an individual might undertake. Alcoholics, adulterers, and the rest may believe they're pursuing happiness, but if they are they're most likely doing so irrationally. In most situations such activities would be regarded as immoral.

Interestingly and to explain why I had to heavily qualify the above statement, Rand did present a case of an innocent alcoholic in her book We the Living in the character of Leo who turned to alcoholism to escape the torment of living in Soviet Russia. The story is a tragedy and all the heroic figures are eventually destroyed in order to highlight the theme of the necessity of freedom for human beings to live and thrive.

This goes to your statement above about "a civilized society," I think. Rand rejected the practice of ascribing intrinsic moral value on any particular action, but instead described abstract values, like rationality, productivity, and pride, that one must hold in order to pursue one's happiness, which is to say more simply: context matters.

Update 2: One of the more obnoxious commentors returned and objected to my comments saying:

One more time.

On the description of ethical egoism given by the self-ascribed egoists in this thread, ethical egoism requires -- call it whatever else you want -- paradigmatically altruistic behavior. (Cf. egoist responses to the case of Al the hermit.)

But to reconceive paradigmatically altruistic acts as "selfish" in this way is a patently vacuous move: A theory of selfishness that characterizes saving babies as "selfish" truly provides no guideline as to what could count as selfish and what could not.

To wit, if a baby-hating hermit's saving a baby is "selfish," then nothing isn't.

And I responded simply:

Per the terms outlined, saving the baby would be a contradiction and would be immoral for Al the hermit.

The egoists on this thread do not agree with the terms given, though. I listed numerous reasons why above.

Update 3: A commenter called into question the idea of standards -- a question I had challenged the group with repeatedly.

Which is precisely why the standard of good/bad is relevant to this discussion. The Objectivist egoists in this discussion have pointed to the standard they accept repeatedly and it is only within that standard that this discussion can fruitfully proceed toward a mutually agreed upon conclusion.

Otherwise, we're but playing word games with drowning babies and dancing hermits.

Update 4: The guy with the silly hermit sighed at my reply about not agreeing with his terms. I asked:

If you don't address the strongest argument for the proposition, how can you claim to have dispelled it?

Update 5: They're now stooping to open mockery.

Update 6: Uh oh. Ergo has joined the discussion. They're in trouble now because Ergo's responses are far more exhaustive than mine, but he's at least as tenacious -- although he probably won't commit himself to excoriating McGinn's character the way that I would.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:23 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

OBloggers Carnival

Ergo of Ergo Sum is the host of this week's Objectivist Bloggers Carnival.

I've been super busy this week and neglected to submit a post myself, but there are other entries for you to enjoy!

CORGIGUY presents LOSING MY RELIGION - R.E.M posted at CORGIGUY, saying, “Here’s a post i did about existential crisis and the song Loosing my religion”

Myrhaf presents Ironic Provincialism posted at Myrhaf.

Darren Cauthon presents A Net in Neutral? posted at Darren Cauthon, saying, “I don’t know if this subject matter is what this round-up is about, but if you’re looking for posts by Objectivists I guess this counts. :)”

Kendall Justiniano presents EU to Microsoft: “You’re too good” posted at The Crucible & Column, saying, “Post on the injustice of the recent upholding of anti-trust judgments against Microsoft.”

John Drake presents Popular misconceptions posted at Try Reason!, saying, “A comment on an interview with Founder’s College CEO Fuller”

Rational Jenn presents Some NCLB Info posted at Rational Jenn, saying, “There is new language in the draft of NCLB that suggests, among other things, that schools help parents monitor television viewing in their homes. Naturally that means schools (and the government) would then be monitoring the parents.”

Diana Hsieh presents Colin McGinn on Egoism posted at NoodleFood, saying, “Philosopher Colin McGinn claims to refute egoism with a quick argument. I strenuously disagree.”

Marc and Angel presents Abortion: There are Two Sides to Every Story posted at Marc and Angel, saying, “Abortion is one of the touchiest subjects of our time primarily due to widely varying beliefs concerning the exact moment at which “life” actually begins. My best friend once told me, “There are two sides to every story.”

Ergo presents Moral Dilemmas posted at Leitmotif, saying, “How does Objectivism approach hypothetical moral dilemmas?”

To link to these posts, visit Ergo's blog, Leitmotif!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 08:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 19, 2007

Top Chef

I hate Hung and the producers are setting him up to be the bad guy in the final rounds.

Cute girl is awesome. I love her so much and her food looks DELICIOUS.

I think they're the top two.

Soul Patch is pretty good, but next to invisible in this show. What the hell is that neon green cow pie he made? I kind of want to taste it, though.

Greasy Girl, you're killing me. You were a favorite of mine for a while and now it's like you're not even showing up. Undercooking, underspiced chicken? Are you kidding me?

Mohawk, sorry. You kind of suck. I halfway want to root for you, but you're coming off as too inexperienced, too flighty, too silly to win this.

My prediction for the final three: Hung, Cute Girl, Soul Patch. Greasy Girl, you're getting cut tonight. Mohawk, you're next.

Let's watch, shall we?

Update: No surprise that Hung won. His dish was the best from concept to execution. I love Cute Girl and I love coq au vin, but I suspect that it's not edgy enough to really impress unless executed to perfection.

I was right about Greasy Girl. She's out. Mohawk, you only BARELY made it to the finale. You're still going to lose.

Ok. I need to rant about Mohawk's duet for a second. Why would you use the same puree in both dishes unless it is a theme? Even with the sauce he forgot to put on, the concept of a duet in my mind requires carefully balance counterpoints. I don't even know where he was going with that.

See you next week, Tom Colicchio! Smooches!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sexy Sacrilege

Thanks to Joe.My.God. I have learned that there is now a gay porn version of the Jesus story called Passio (NSFW).

On one hand, this sounds horrible. You may recall that the Christ story culminates in a horrible, prolonged torture and execution process where the spiritual suffering of the main character actually exceeds the physical suffering. This is difficult to imagine because the torture is so extreme.

And people wonder why I refuse to see that Mel Gibson production.

On the other hand, there's this hot guy traveling, hanging out on the beach, fishing, camping, and drinking with 12 swarthy friends who sometimes run into military men. Porn isn't really known for its fulfilling plot development, so maybe they can avoid the whole hurting and dying thing.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I've been tinkering with my blog a lot lately and things have been stacking up on the left side.

Per some reader feedback (Inspector) I've increased the 'recent comments' box to show the last 20 comments. But now that column is REAAALLY long. You have to scroll a ways to get to the other archives.

Our wonderful administrator, Pixy, has been saying that we're going to migrate to new blogging software in a while. At that time our templates are going to break, I think.

That said, I think I might do a whole new redesign. While I like the general idea of this one a lot, it's a little too low contrast for my tastes. I want things to be snappier and easier to read and scan. (The transparency bit on the blog posts is particularly irritating to me.)

I want to add advertising and some of those widgets like digg and all that.

PLUS, my old posts have yet to be imported. I hate that they aren't available to you or me for reference. (Can you believe I've actually been blogging since 2003?)

Anyway, I'm prattling on for no good reason. Just some thoughts I had about the direction of my blog. I just wanted to warn you about coming changes.

If there is something in particular you'd like to see on the site, let me know. I will try to look into it when I get some time. (Rachel, I haven't forgotten the RSS feed for comments. I just haven't thought of a way to do that easily.)

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It's Like the Robot, But on Drugs

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

And the Rivers Ran Red with Poison Blood

Cracked: The 5 Most Kick-Ass Apocalyptic Prophecies

That's like, whoa.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 04:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It's Like Picking a Scab

I just can't pull myself away from this altruism/egoism debate that is going on over at Colin McGinn's.

The altruists' energy seems to be flagging, but they do not seem to understand what it means to beg the question. To challenge them to reveal their underlying philosophical prejudice, I asked them to answer the following:

Why is a drowning baby is a bad thing?
Why is giving a dollar to a beggar a good thing?

Update: hahahahaaaaa... It's official! I've had comments deleted from the McGinn blog. He said, "I am now deleting all comments on this subject I judge to be offensive, ill-considered or hopelessly confused."

I wish I had saved my earlier, longer comment that explained what lead to the questions above.

Even still, I replied to McGinn's comment with this:

By what standard are you using to make that determination?

If you consider yourself any sort of thinker, it should not offend you to consider honest questions that lie squarely within your field of expertise.

What standard are you using to decide that things like giving to beggars is good or saving babies from drowning? Given the clear implication that this is the case, what is the answer?

Update 2: It looks like McGinn is trying to close the discussion. I just wrote to him:

I don't think you deleted those comments with regret at all. The comments that you've deleted have been documented on the respective blogs of those who posted them and they have not been "irresponsible" or "offensive, ill-considered or hopelessly confused."

The worst part of this is that you've been fueling the "unruliness" of the discussion with your patronizing comments about cults and ideologues.

Instead of addressing the calmly presented arguments of your opponents with reason and clarity, you've responded repeatedly with insults and bullying. If you honestly hope that anyone has profited from this discussion after the way you've been leading it, I would suggest that your hope is absurdly misplaced.

Update 3: Users have been posting comments for and against his deleting comments and about ending the discussion. I commented:

It would be uncharitable to assume that McGinn is completely irrational, so we assume that it was out of self-interest that he started this blog and propagated the "ranting and raving."

I definitely support McGinn's right to delete comments from his blog for any reason at all, but don't let's all buy into his dishonesty about the nature of the comments he deleted. As some say in the south, "Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining."

I wonder if "piss" is as offensive to him as reading from the dictionary.

Update 4: Colin McGinn responded to my comment:

I deleted them for one simple reason: so that my site would not be overrun with junk. I used the same criterion I use when I grade student papers--intellectual quality. After thirty years as a philosophy professor, I'm well able to distinguish views I disagree with from shoddy work. Those were D postings. What I regret is having to deal with and eliminate drivel. And yes, if it seems to me like I cult I'll call it one. Scientology anyone?

And I continue to berate him:

One of the comments you deleted and implied was "irresponsible" and you now characterize as "shoddy" was a simple, civil, and direct challenge to your assertion about the consensus on a definition of philosophical terms. It cited the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy and clearly laid out one of the essential terms for this discussion. It even provided a common philosophical example of the term as an illustration.

The other two comments of mine you deleted were direct rebuttals to two of the examples that have been repeated throughout. Strangely, you deleted them even though I accepted the arbitrary stipulation you yourself placed on that argument, only I pointed out why it was an arbitrary stipulation that contradicted the accepted meaning of the other philosophical term we've been debating. I then pressed again for a clarification of your standard to which you and others on your side of the discussion were making -- something you have yet to do. The only apparent difference is that I was willing to allow you all to be as grotesque as you cared to be. Had you answered my question, it would have illustrated that your argument does beg the question.

If redefining terms to suit you and lacing the discussion with insults isn't the mark of low intellectual quality and shoddy work, I think you should consult the meaning of the word "junk" in order to reassess the character of this blog. You disappoint the expectations 30 years of experience sets for you.

Update 5: I just posted two more comments. Let's see what happens to them.


Judging from your own conduct, I couldn't tell that you appreciated civility. But your appreciation of the remark is telling.

Dave's comment is very nice, but it doesn't really debate any of the issues, but glosses lightly over the top of this particular topic. I doubt anyone really agrees with him whole cloth, but I think few would find the points of disagreement compelling enough to engage. What is most striking is the flattery he deals to you.

By contrast, in my comments, I ignored your specious jabs and condescension and made few to no remarks about the quality of your character or intellectual capacity until you started deleting comments.

and then:

By the way, you've shifted the definition of altruism AGAIN, but this time you're getting closer to answering the question I've been asking of you. What standard are you using? You said that in part, you are using the interests of others "FOR THEIR OWN SAKE," but you haven't said why.

Why should we respect the interests of others for their own sake as opposed to respecting our own interests. I see that you expect a person to sometimes choose between one standard and the other, but you haven't given a reason why or how one should do that.

What do you suppose is the purpose of having ethics at all?

Update 6 He deleted those comments, too. I'm going to try one last parting shot:

Now you're just deleting all comments from people who rankle you?

Again, I support your right to do that, but it is telling.

Update 7: One of Colin's other readers, Dave, has engaged me. I responded with this:

I don't doubt your sincerity, I question McGinn's character based upon his observed behavior. His ego apparently cannot stand direct critique but he has no problems casting aspersions on others. I will have to decline your invitation to study any of his other work, on the same in addition to the quality of his discourse here.

I'm not sure why you think I'm missing the broader issue. As I mentioned in one of my deleted comments, I've minded my manners and conducted this discussion in general good humor in spite of the insults. It is only now that my comments are all being categorically deleted that I've allowed good humor to fall by the wayside. The reason being that I do think the world can benefit from a steady progression toward reason instead of away from it.

It does seem unlikely that a majority of people will become Objectivist any time soon, but there's no reason they couldn't.

I'll take your word for it that McGinn is "moving somewhat in an 'Objectivist' direction," but this discussion reveals him to be quite far away from Objectivism, rational thought, and his manners

Update 8: I got an email from McGinn himself!

I'm deleting all comments from you in particular--exercising my right to expunge what I regard as obnoxious junk.

I responded:

That is your business.

Your conduct has been absolutely shameful. You should not be surprised when insulted persons respond to you with hostility. At least I have the honesty to be open and direct about it.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 01:43 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

ARRRRR! Avast Ye Dead Man's Chest of Rum! Thar!! ARRRR!

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

AARRRRRR!!! Get ye with it, mateys!!

Update: Paul Hsieh of Geekpress informed me that real pirate bloggers use this keyboard.

Rrrrrrrr! Rrr! Rrrrr! Rrrrr! Rrr! Rrrrrrrr! Rrrrr!

That sounds like Talk Like Your Battery is Dead Day. ARRR!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 18, 2007

A Digression in the Extreme

I'm not sure how much longer McGinn will allow me to continue to post on his site and I have to say that I'm getting a little tired of the discussion. But one commentor on the chain is obsessed with this egoistic hermit named Al who lets babies drown.

Al lives in a cabin in the woods, surviving off the land and the fruits of his own labor. He has no desire for solidarity with others, and his existence is not dependent on any interaction with society. He loves his life, works hard for his own survival, and has never been the least bit of a burden to anyone. And he's a marvelous dancer. But he doesn't much care for people, or babies, and in his only encounter with one (our unfortunate hypothetical baby from above), he opts to let it drown.

Here's my question: can you think of a situation in which a rational person would opt to be a hermit given a pluralistic society such as the one we have in the United States and barring some psychological/emotional injury?

Maybe I lack imagination, but I can't think why a psychologically normal person in our society would impose exile upon himself in the way described.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:35 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

I'll Have the Cult Cult Cult Cult with Cult Cult Sandwich and a bit of Cult Cult Cult Cult on the Side

Well, the altruists over on Colin McGinn's website have finally reached the point where they are referring to Objectivism as a cult or being cult-like.

This is fairly typical of these sorts of debates, so I can't claim surprise.

I posted two new challenging comments and then headed over to Diana's site where I found out that Mr. McGinn deleted two of Diana's comments without warrant. She reprinted her comments in the comments section of her site.

I'm particularly tickled that she challenged him on an issue that I almost brought up but didn't because I didn't have a handy citation, which is his proposed definition of the term "altruism." Instead, I implied the challenge in my remark about James Rachels's work on the matter. I'd like to highlight Diana's comment on this point:

Colin said: "As philosophers use the term, altruism requires only that one gives some weight to the interests of others, as opposed to oneself; its opposite is egoism, which takes account only of one's own interests in decision-making."

That's a sloppy characterization of egoism and altruism. The question is not whether the egoist can take account of the interests of others: he obviously can and should, if and to the extent that the welfare of others matters to his own welfare. The key point is that the egoist regards his own welfare as the ultimate justification for his actions. The altruist, in contrast, regards the welfare of others as the ultimate moral justification of his actions.

Moreover, altruism is understood to require the sacrifice of oneself. That's why the widow is morally superior to the rich men in the story of the Widow's Mite: she sacrificed more, even though she gave less. That's also why the surgeon who performs life-saving surgery is not regarded as an altruist (or moral praiseworthy) if he's paid for his life-saving work as he deserves.

As for what philosophers think, in the _Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy_, altruism is defined as "disinterested concern for the welfare of another, as an end in itself." In other words, altruism (like egoism) is about ultimate justification in ethics, not whether the interests of others are considered in decision-making.

I don't know if I'm quite through following the discussion over on his blog, but I do find his conduct to be unjust and dishonest. (Dishonest in that he implies that Diana's remarks are "irresponsible." Equating intellectuals with dictionaries with children with handguns is a new one to me.) I don't think I'll follow the debate much further.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 04:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

It's Not Right, But It's AWESOME

Reuters: Man stripped, shaved for posting ads

BEIJING (Reuters) - Security guards in a southern Chinese city stripped and shaved the head of a man they found illegally posting advertisements on walls to earn a bit of money, a domestic newspaper reported Tuesday.

The victim, Xiao Liu, a 17-year-old migrant worker from the impoverished central province of Henan, was stripped to his underwear by about 10 men in Dongguan in the southern province of Guangdong, the Beijing News said.

Obviously, I do not want to be beaten and have my head shaved, but I can't tell you the number of times I've wanted to police to come tear my clothes off. I mean, in my mind it's usually just one or two. I don't have the imagination to project ten policemen doing that, I guess.

Who says China is a draconian backwater nation that perverts justice?

I don't know either, but I will keep an eye out for the video.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 03:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to Talk Without Saying Anything

JohnDavid sent me a link to Hilary Clinton's website today. Specifically, he linked me to the page that contains her plan for revolutionizing the American Healthcare system.

I'd like the point out that there are a lot of words on this page. There is a fair amount of copy dedicated to her "American Health Choices Plan" and there are lots of words sort of describing it and they definitely tell us that it's a good thing, and yet I don't see any details about what this plan is, exactly.

Hillary's American Health Choices Plan covers all Americans and improves health care by lowering costs and improving quality. It speaks to American values, American families, and American jobs.

It puts the consumer in the driver's seat by offering more choices and lowering costs. If you're one of the tens of million Americans without coverage or if you don't like the coverage you have, you will have a choice of plans to pick from and that coverage will be affordable. Of course, if you like the plan you have, you can keep it.

* Affordable: Unlike the current health system where insurance premiums send people into bankruptcy, the plan provides tax credits for working families to help them cover their costs. The tax credits will ensure that working families never have to pay more than a limited percentage of their income for health care.

* Available: No discrimination. The insurance companies can't deny you coverage if you have a pre-existing condition.

* Reliable: It's portable. If you change or lose your job, you keep your health care.

How does it do all of this? Blank-out.

Who pays for all of this care? Blank-out.

If the direct consumer does not pay for the costs incurred, how can this plan possibly reduce the costs of medical care? Blank-out.

In the spirit of... well, masochism, I downloaded the PDF description of her plan to see if I could glean any details from there.

I can't see anything in it that would reduce medical costs. I do see lots of things that will send our health care system spiraling into the abyss of socialistic degradation and decay.

Here's a short list of things that immediately pissed me off. It's by no means comprehensive, but it is illustrative of the economic ignorance inherent in her proposal:
Without creating new bureaucracy, the Menu will be part of the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP)...
I'm so happy that Americans won't have to shoulder the burden of another bureaucracy. That was obviously my first concern when I realized that my income was about to start dropping to support free-loaders and the nearly-dearly departed.

Eliminating Insurance Discrimination
"Discrimination" in this proposal means restricting insurance companies from mitigating crippling costs brought on by high-risk individuals. Apparently, Clinton believes that insurance companies have been capriciously raising their premiums above market value (such as the market is) to support their runaway profit margins and wild marketing campaigns. When was the last time you saw a really awesome commercial for insurance?

Limiting Premium Payments to a Percentage of Income
This is code for price controls. Please review the history of price controls before I throttle my keyboard.

Promoting Shared Responsibility for Large Employers
Let's seeeee... the price of offering medical insurance to employees is going to rise. What could possibly go wrong with that? I'm glad you asked.

Companies offer you medical insurance not because they like you but because it's presently cheaper to pay for medical insurance for their employees than it is for those employees to pay for it themselves.

Let's say that it costs me $5 to pay for my insurance by myself. That means I will ask my company to raise my salary by $5 to cover medical care. But if my company goes to my insurance company and says, "We have 100 people who want care." The insurance company will extend a group discount where it only costs my company $3 to pay for the same insurance for me. In effect, by offering me insurance, my company is paying me only $3 more but I get $5 value out of it.

If companies are obliged to pay more for insurance, then the value of providing medical insurance to employees becomes less attractive. If this plan were adopted, I would expect many companies to drop coverage and opt to pay employees a margin more in their salaries to take up the government coverage plan. I wonder if that has ever happened anywhere before?

If this plan is adopted in part or in whole it will be a disaster for patients, tax payers, businesses, doctors, and insurance companies alike. It took a staggering level of stupidity to write that proposal. The sad part is that from a marketing perspective it's written so well that it will be difficult for most people to see how idiotic it is -- even if they can figure out what the proposal actually says.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 02:50 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

They Say the Camera Adds Ten Inches

So, the other night I was at home by myself perusing an adult website with pictures of people, shall we say, in flagrante delicto. And I noticed this one guy with a peculiar tattoo that seemed really familiar.

At first, I thought maybe he was very active in his *ahem* industry, but to be frank his *ummm* qualifications were not what one would expect of *ahhhh* a real mover-and-shaker.

And then I remembered: he goes to my gym.

Naturally, I forwarded a link to the web page directly to my personal trainer. Part of me hopes that he's in the gym tonight so that my trainer and I can point and giggle but then part of me wants to put down plastic in the locker room before I touch anything. Although, judging from what I've seen, plastic may have the reverse effect that I desire.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 02:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Let's Meet for Coffee!

Thanks to Get Trio, I have discovered this website:

When you want to meet your friends in the middle, this website uses Googley maps to help you find spots for things like coffee or dinner.

And it works for places outside of NYC, too! I found out that there are some cute little coffee places in North Carolina should I want to meet up with my mom for a chat.

Super cool!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 17, 2007

Not Worth the Shower Rape

ETOnline: Hit Ordered on Kevin Federline?

ET has several reliable sources that the FBI and LAPD are investigating legitimate leads on a contract hit on KEVIN FEDERLINE's life.

Multiple sources tell ET that the FBI made attempts to contact Federline to inform him of the potential danger.

Sources within the FBI tell ET that this is the bureau's standard operating procedure when someone's life is threatened.

ET has been working this story for the past two months. When contacted, the FBI told us that the bureau cannot confirm or deny an investigation.

There are so many more people that I'd like to see dead before Kevin Federline, so I find myself stumped trying to imagine the life of the individual who would want him dead badly enough to actually put a hit out on him. That kind of thing costs money, you know!

Did someone come back from a vacation in the Bahamas and just snap when they saw one more stupid-looking white person with cornrows in their hair? Was it someone who fell within earshot of his Popozão?

I really just don't understand this.

Secondly, why did the FBI have such a hard time reaching him? I know he has a cellphone because Britney told him she wanted a divorce by way of text messages and judging from his reaction, he takes text messaging seriously. Does the Federal BI not know how to send text messages?

yo k afawct sum sumbich wan u ded call me @ 911 4 deets

Finally, why is ET just now telling me about this? This is the whole reason they exist and it took them two months to break the news that someone wanted to snuff the Fedster?

You know what? I'll bet it was either Cheetoh or Redbull. I know Brit-brit isn't the best mom, but I'll bet that when they were threatened with the possibility of having to go live with daddy K-Fed, they turned to desperate measures. All we have to do now is find the hit man with spit-up on his shirt and we have our man!

Update: I was informed by a friend of mine that his turned out to be an exaggerated claim.

San Jose Mercury: Police close K-Fed threat probe

LOS ANGELES—Police investigated a possible threat against Kevin Federline earlier this year, but closed the case because of insufficient evidence, authorities said Monday. The Los Angeles Police Department probed the allegations in June, but later determined there was not enough information to keep the investigation active, LAPD spokeswoman Norma Eisenman said.

"There is no current investigation," Eisenman said.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 01:52 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hide Your Women! The Altruists Aren't Raping People Again!

Colin McGinn has a post up on his blog which he believes decisively refutes ethical egoism as a rational system of ethics.

His argument consists of saying that ethical egoism is "rubbish." That sort of argument would never have passed in any of the philosophy classes I've taken, so it's needless to say that those of us who support ethical egoism are left unsatisfied with his ill-founded self-satisfaction.

Diana has been calling him to the mat on the discussion. I threw a tiny comment in there, too.

Impressively, it seems like most of the discussion pretty civil --although some of the comments are really quite ridiculous -- which is more than can be said of most of these sorts of exchanges that I see on the global intarwebs.

Update: In case you're confused, the title of this post refers to the shockingly common strawman that altruists often throw up -- Mr. McGinn does not fail -- that if it weren't for the morality of altruism, people would just go about raping people as it suits them. It frightens me to consider what might happen if these people wake up one day realizing how specious altruistic ethics are.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 01:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Bad Teeth

During my last dental checkup, my dentist noticed an increase in bacteria and damage to my gums and teeth. He expressed obvious concern and I had admittedly not been flossing as much as I should and we're not talking about lots of decay, but the amount of damage was really strange to me.

If you ask most people who know me, they will tell you that I have reasonably good teeth. Every dentist I've ever had has asked if I had braces when I was younger because my teeth are nice and straight. My teeth are also generally very clean and white. Really, I have good teeth and I take pretty good care of them.

Good dental hygiene can help you stay strong and healthy. Bad hygiene can make you susceptible to disease and according to some shorten your lifespan.

So, anyway, I was both disappointed and surprised to get such a bad report at my dental check up and I was convinced that merely reducing my flossing back to just 3 - 5 times a week could not account for this.

Then I realized the problem: Orange Juice.

I started drinking orange juice during the day almost exclusively about 6 - 9 months ago. My company supplies us with orange juice, so my thought was, "Hey! It's free, it tastes great, and it's got vitamin C, so it's good for you."

Yes, vitamin C is good for you and orange juice also contains goodly amounts of potassium, so it can help with sore muscles. OJ even counts as a serving of fruit for the food guide pyramid that some people go on about so much.

But orange juice also contains LOTS and LOTS of sugar.

Basically, I've been feeding my mouth bacteria quite heartily for the past 9 months or so, to the detriment of my smile. Granted, this is just a hypothesis, but the idea is given more strength by considering what I stopped drinking for the sake of the OJ: tap water. Water is good for you, but tap water also contains things like fluoride, which help teeth.

So, anyway, I'm limiting myself to one glass of OJ, tops, and consuming tap water again in its place.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:31 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

You Know What I Think Would Be Cool?

I think it would be cool, if there were a wrist watch that could scan/photo things and use that image as the background for the watch face. Then, you could have your own face as the face on your watch! Or you could scan your shirt and then your watch face would match your outfit perfectly!

Take it a step further. I think it would be cool if you had articles of clothing that could do the same thing, except also allow you to modify the hue/saturation/brightness/contrast on the captured image. Then, you could have a tie with an interesting pattern and a perfect match to the rest of your outfit. Or cufflinks. Or whatever.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Anthropic Principle

I'm cruising through The God Delusion and expect to finish it this week at which point I will present you with my final review. Right now, however, I wanted to discuss and item that Ergo mentioned some interest in: the anthropic principle.

I gotta say: I don't really understand this.

Dawkins stresses that the Anthropic Principle is an alternative explanation for things like the origin of life in contrast to theistic assertions that God did it. The exact definition of the principle escapes me, but Dawkins describes it in a planetary context this way:

Two main explanations have been offered for our planet's peculiar friendliness to life. The design theory says that God made the world, places in the Goldilocks zone, and deliberately set up all the details for our benefit. The Anthropic approach is very different, and it has a faintly Darwinian feel. The great majority of planets in the universe are not in the Goldilocks zones of their respective stars, and not suitable for life. None of that majority has life. However small the minority of planets with just the right conditions for life may be, we necessarily have to be on one of that minority, because here we are thinking about it. (p 136)

This is confusing to me because it doesn't seem like the Anthropic Principle explains anything, really. Let me try to create an example.

Let's say I bought a lottery ticket and I won the lottery. I might ask myself, "Did anyone else win the lottery? It is extremely improbable that I would have won. How could I have won?"

If I understand the Anthropic Principle correctly, it simply states that even though it is improbable that I would win, I did in fact win, therefore whatever the mechanism for choosing numbers was (ping-pong balls in a mixer, randomly generated by a computer, a gang of monkeys flinging poo at a bingo card, whatever) it was of the sort that would generate numbers matching those on my lottery ticket.

This is not an explanation in any sense of the word that I understand.

Seeking greater clarity about the importance of this supposed principle, I went to my favorite source of completely and totally reliable sixth hand information on all subjects, Wikipedia.

Carter's Weak anthropic principle (WAP): "we must be prepared to take account of the fact that our location in the universe is necessarily privileged to the extent of being compatible with our existence as observers." Note that for Carter, "location" is a space-time position.

Carter's Strong anthropic principle (SAP): "the Universe (and hence the fundamental parameters on which it depends) must be such as to admit the creation of observers within it at some stage. To paraphrase Descartes, 'cogito ergo mundus talis est'." The Latin tag ("I think, therefore the world is such [as it is]") makes it clear that "must" indicates a deduction from the fact of our existence; the statement is thus a truism.

One man's truism is another man's tautology, it would seem.

Apart from the fact that those using the Anthropic Principle seem to imply naturalistic causes, I can't see how this can be regarded as an alternative to creationistic causes. Might not a creationist say, "It is evident that God put us in the 'Goldilocks zone' and this is evident by the fact that we are in the Goldilocks zone?' "

I would welcome some clarification on this.

Meanwhile, the part that impresses me about the Anthropic Principle is that it echoes not so much Darwin, which is what Dawkins likes, but that it has faint echoes of Rand in the axiom of Consciousness.

A consciousness consists of the sum of those things of which one is conscious, which includes percepts, concepts, and abstractions as well as thoughts, fantasies, internal dialogue, etc. Contrary to what many mystics would have you believe, consciousness is a part of and derived from existence. The aspect of this that makes consciousness axiomatic is because in order to discuss anything at all, you must assume consciousness, just as you must assume consciousness and the non-contradictory identity of anything actually in existence.

Axiomatic concepts do have the appearance of tautologies, but they are actually critical premises that are inherent in all discussions (rational or not) and provide the essential foundation for those discussions. Perhaps the Anthropic Principle functions as a sort-of axiom for cosmological scientific theory.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:53 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

September 16, 2007

Tell Me All Your Thoughts on God

It occurred to me to that that I don't think God likes being called "omniscient." "omnipotent." That word is clearly the ugly face of discrimination showing up in our holy places.

This must stop.

From now on, God should be referred to as "differently abled."

I feel confident that if you do, blessings will be headed your way. Or you might wind up with a lot of milk and honey all over the place. It's hard to tell with these things.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 08:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2007

Fiddle Fiddle Fiddle...

I'm tinkering with my templates at the moment. Things might act weird for you. Just chill. Thanks!

Update: OK. I hope nothing is broken. The site is still rebuilding, but what I've seen so far looks fine.

I basically added another site traffic thingie and made my archive entries look more like the front page.

I can't wait for it to stop running because Mister Bookworm is right downstairs waiting on me, so I am going to stop what I'm doing and go see him.

Y'all have a great weekend!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 06:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Make It Work!

Manhattan User's Guide has a handy set of productivity tools in today's post.

I'm going to try to look at:

30 Boxes

I'll let you know what I think.

Update: Mister Bookworm is the one who directed me to MUG, by the way.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 02:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 13, 2007


A most unfortunate product name.

Update: I pasted the wrong embed code! Fixed! Thanks, Qwertz!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 06:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


You can always tell that someone is unfamiliar or even hostile to Objectivism when they describe Objectivist philosophy with the adjective "Randian."

It's like when someone calls me at home and mispronounces my name, I know that they're a telemarketer.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 02:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bloggy Goodness

Hey, Readers!

I was just looking at my stats and noticed that my average visits per day is over 150! GOOD JOB!

And I was looking at the trend over the past 30 days and it looks like visits are on the rise. You guys rock!

Ok. Our next goal is to get that average up over 200.


Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I Should Be Getting Ready for Work

I'm really dragging this morning, so of course I sat down to surf the internet instead of getting dressed for work.

Well, I'm going to do that in just a minute. I wanted to show you a cool website first. It's Signal Map! It maps out signal strength for cell phone companies.

Cool, right?

Hat tip: Thrillist

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 08:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Objectivist Carnival

Rational Jenn presents Indentured Servitude posted at Rational Jenn. She says, "This is pretty much why I hate TIME Magazine."

Monica presents Human Collages posted at Spark A Synapse.

Ergo presents Richard Dawkins is not an Atheist posted at Leitmotif. He says, "By his own admission, Richard Dawkins is not an atheist--at least not a "strong" one. I point out how this philosophic shortcoming is a logical outcome of his empiricism. Only Objectivism offers the most robust framework for rejecting the supernatural and upholding the primacy of existence."

And finally, I (Flibbert) submitted Cities: Capitalist Paradise or Socialist Hives? posted at Flibbertigibbet. My comment: "A lively discussion about the economic advantages of suburbs versus cities ensued from this post. One thing we can all agree on is this: Collectivism sucks!!"


Objectivists! The carnival is a weekly event of link love and traffic sharing! (Or is it link sharing and traffic love? I can't remember.)

Anyway, you should submit your links weekly and volunteer to host. By submitting links, you have a weekly opportunity to catch the eye of new readers via other people's blogs. And when you host, your blog becomes the go-to site for new, interesting posts from the world of Objectivism.

Feed your mind and spirit by reading the carnival! Feed your blog by participating!


We also had one posting from a Libertarian. I want to point out that I do not endorse the Libertarian Party or their loosey-goosey ideas about "freedom." I've said as much multiple times and I would also point out that Ayn Rand herself denounced the LP. Suffice it to say that the Libertarian Party and its associated political philosophy however poorly defined is not consistent with Objectivism. Therefore, Libertarian posts are not welcome in the carnival.

I am pointing this out to make it clear that Libertarians are not invited to join our carnival.

However, Stephen Littau, submitted something and he seems to be a Libertarian who has spent a little time reading about Objectivism. I don't think he submitted his link out of any malicious or subversive motivation whatsoever. It's more likely to me that he isn't aware of Objectivism's objections to the LP. I want to encourage him in pursuing Objectivism, so I've decided to link to his blog of my own accord and not as part of the carnival, nor do I endorse this as being reflective of Objectivism.

Stephen Littau presents Tradition—The Most Dangerous Fallacy of All posted at Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds.

Hosts of the carnival, myself included, reserve the right not to include any links submitted to the carnival for any reasons they care to apply.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 12:02 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 12, 2007


Since blasphemy is so popular these days, I'd like to say something: I have yet to have any pizza in New York that I would call "good."

I've had pizza in Little Italy, too. I've had pizza from several places with Italian names and several who claim to the THE original Famous Ray's.

All of it is been bland, overcooked, and greasy.

I did have a bit of pizza named "florentine" that didn't completely offend me a couple of weeks ago, but I don't see myself asking to go for pizza any time soon.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Morality from Religion

I've still not made much of a dent into The God Delusion, but it has sparked lots of interesting thoughts. On my train ride home this evening, I was reading about what Dawkins refers to as the NOMA God, where NOMA stands for Non-Overlapping Magisteria. Never mind what that means exactly, it got me to thinking.

I've heard lots of people say something to the effect of "I don't really believe in God, but I do think that religions like Christianity do have something good to offer us in terms of ethics and morality. They teach people to love one another." Ignoring the fact that this is ridiculously untrue, something else struck me.

The metaphysical philosophy of religion involves mysticism and the supernatural. After my ranting earlier, I'm just going to assume for the sake of brevity that you agree that such ideas are so ridiculously primitive that they can't be considered anything but laughably idiotic.

The epistemology of religion involves faith. Faith is the opposite of rational thought. Remember when I was talking about certainty, probability, possibility and the arbitrary? Well, faith involves the arbitrary exclusively. If you have any evidence at all to believe something, then you don't need faith. So, faith is really for those things that are completely made up and/or utterly impossible. I don't have to point out how stupid THAT is.

Ok. I just wanted to recap the first two fundamental branches of philosophy to make sure we're all on the same page before we talk about ethics.

See, ethics is the branch of philosophy dealing with right and wrong and how people should behave in their lives. Your ethical philosophy is founded on your metaphysical and epistemological views.

This begs the question: if religion gets metaphysics and epistemology wrong, how can we trust it on ethics at all?

Now and then, a mystic will say something that makes a little bit of sense, like, "Baby Jesus doesn't like it when people steal" or "The Goddess frowns on pedophilia." I do agree that stealing and pedophilia are morally reprehensible, but I didn't come to that conclusion by babysitting for Mary, stinking up the place with burning sage, or whatever it is those people do to find out about this stuff. Since they used completely foolish means of coming to those conclusions, I think the most generous thing we can say is that they were right in those instances completely by accident.

You wouldn't trust your doctor to work his way through heart surgery by accident, so why would you entrust your lifetime of happiness to it?

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wigs for Canine Americans

Knowing how much I love dogs wearing clothes, Mister Bookworm also sent me a link to Wiggles Dog Wigs. It's a website that sells WIGS for DOGS.


I KNOW! RIGHT!!! This is so awesome.

Buddy Braids is definitely my favorite.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 04:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Maps of Strange

Mister Bookworm sent me this link to Maps of Strange this afternoon.

rooftopairstrip.jpgI thought the rooftop airstrip in Manhattan was kind of a stretch, but I looked it up in regular Google Maps and it's there! WTF? Can someone explain this to me?

Matt Chancellor, if you're reading this, what little plane do you know that could manage this? Does this seem real to you?

My coworker and I are skeptical of the idea of a plane scooting around Manhattan landing on a rooftop, particularly in light of the highly publicized plane crash that killed Corey Lidle last year.

Ok. My picture is really long, so I have to figure out ways to make this post longer.

I also like
- the crop circles advertising
- the Welcome to Cleveland sign that is on a rooftop in Milwaukee.

A couple of them are just people who don't understand Google Maps, like the tipped building entry is a result of piecing the maps together from multiple photos. Because the satellite took the picture from different locations, the lines of perspective don't always work well together. Cities with lots of tall buildings illustrate this "problem" best.

Also, a couple of them seem to me like the satellite caught a reflection of the sun on the surface of the ocean, but the readers of that site seem to think there are UFOs.

There are several other photos where people just don't seem to know how Google Maps are made. But it's a super cool site!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 04:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Pet Peeve: People Who Can't Mind Their Own Business

I was looking up who Lewis Black is because he is going to be performing in New York as part of Advertising Week. In his Wikipedia entry, it says:

Black describes his political affiliation as such: "I'm a socialist, so that puts me totally outside any concept ... the Canadians get it. But seriously, most people don't get it. The idea of capping people's income just scares people. 'Oh, you're taking money from the rich.' Ooh, what a horrifying thing. These people really need $200 million".

Yes, I DO really need $200 million. In fact, I really need a whole lot more than that. Just keep sending me money and I will tell you when my need has been fulfilled.

It irritates me when people, socialists, presume to tell me what I do and do not need in my life. The impertinence is galling.

I do not need socialists in my life, that's for damn sure.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 02:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

One Complaint about Richard Dawkins

My biggest complaint about Richard Dawkins is that he is one of these modern skeptics who believes that certainty is not possible to humanity. He holds the strange position that unless one is omniscient, then one cannot be "absolutely certain" about anything.

Dawkins provides us with the example of seeing color to illustrate his point. In The God Delusion he writes:

An example might be that philosophical chestnut, the question whether you see red as I do. Maybe your red is my green, or something completely different from any colour that I can imagine. Philosophers cite this question as one that can never be answered, no matter what new evidence might one day become available. (p.47-48)

Dawkins goes on to outline seven different judgments about the existence of God, which fall along a gradient from certainty that God does exist (1) to certainty that he does not (7). Dawkins describes himself as a 6 because God's existence is "undisprovable."

Dawkins even says that he's a 6 about the existence of fairies in his garden. Telling.

The color example is invalid and I'll explain why.

"The perception of green is evoked by light having a spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 520–570 nm." Wikipedia.

"Red is any of a number of similar colors evoked by light consisting predominantly of the longest wavelengths of light discernible by the human eye, in the wavelength range of roughly 625–750 nm." Also Wikipedia.

Regardless of your ability to perceive it, if a bit of light has a wavelength of 550nm, then it is green. If it has a wavelength of 650nm, then it is red. If it has a wavelength of 900nm, then it is neither red nor green. This is because "green" and "red" describe light at their respective ranges of wavelength.

There are methods of measuring the wavelength of light which do not involve using your eyes.

When you perceive a certain color, cells in your eye are stimulated which send a signal to your brain which your brain then interprets as being a certain color. Your eyes or brain (or both) may be broken, however, and you may come to the conclusion that light of one wavelength is actually of a different wavelength.

Given sufficient knowledge and understanding of human eyes and brains, we could scan you and tell you how you perceive color. We can't stop you from lying, but we could see how things are.

Thus, we could, in fact, tell whether or not the red you perceive is the red I perceive. All facts of existence are this way. Anything you want to discover about reality is actually discoverable.

I stress "about reality" in the sentence above, because if something is not a part of reality, which is to say that it doesn't exist, then there isn't anything for you to discover about it.

In science, it is appropriate to describe conclusions using probability. "We are X% sure that Y is the case." This is because we are looking at reality and we are aware of the fact that we lack additional, relevant information. Additional experiments with predicted outcomes add to the probability that something is the case.

At some point, with sufficient information gathering, we become certain of the conclusion because there is no evidence to the contrary and no niggling doubts about it. Saying that you aren't omniscient is not a doubt, but a fact that isn't really relevant to the description of your newly established knowledge.

When all the evidence supports a given conclusion, that is certainty. Assertions to the contrary which are unsupported by any evidence are not knowledge and should be regarded as arbitrary. Similarly, if there is no evidence for a particular conclusion and no evidence against it, it is also regarded as arbitrary. You, literally, know nothing with regard to that particular statement.

Dawkins cites an example given by Bertrand Russel in which it is suggested that there is a teapot orbiting the sun somewhere between Earth and Mars and it is too small to be seen by our most powerful telescopes. That suggestion is arbitrary, but Dawkins regards it as having some probability by the mere fact that it is possible. There is absolutely no evidence to support such a claim. It has no probability.

The term "possible" is not properly applied to things for which there is supporting evidence. It only describes things that do not contradict our understanding of reality. For example, it is possible that there is a teapot orbiting the sun between Mars and Earth. We have absolutely no reason to think that there is, but if there were, it would not make us question our sanity or anything in particular about the rest of reality. (Hang onto that thought because I'm coming back to it.)

Some people, like Richard Dawkins probably, think that "certainty" means that you know everything and therefore know that a particular statement is false. They are usually only willing to apply certainty to things like math. 2 + 2 is CERTAINLY 4.

But what if I had two apples and then I got two more apples? Is there any doubt that I would have four apples at the end?

But if the only situations in which "certainty" is possible are cases where we know everything means that the term "certain" is rendered utterly useless and ridiculous. Given that we don't know everything, might we not discover a case in which two apples plus two more apples results in some amount other than four? How do you know it won't? You don't know everything. So, certainty doesn't even apply to math.

All of our knowledge and learning is derived from reality including math and all the branches of science. This also means that all of our knowledge, including mathematical proofs, is interrelated. It also builds upon itself.

If you discover something that contradicts your previous knowledge, then all the conclusions you drew based on the thing you just disproved would be called into question. This actually happens in science from time to time. The more fundamental a premise that is contradicted by newer evidence, the more revolutionary the new discovery is.

If someone discovered some evidence that contradicted some obscure notion in quantum physics, some people might be upset, but daily life would probably continue unfazed. If someone discovered that 1 + 2 = 4, all hell would break loose. Actually, I think we'd all be dead. That's how crazy that is.

With certainty, I can tell you that no one will ever discover that 1 + 2 = 4.

This is also the case with God. There is no evidence for the existence of God and for that reason alone, you might be an atheist (lack a belief in God) or call yourself an agnostic (claim no knowledge of God). But I don't stop there.

God cannot exist any more than someone might uncover an ancient tablet somewhere that proves that 1 + 2 = 4.

Either a thing exists or it doesn't. But when people talk about the supernatural, they're talking about something other than existing or not existing. They hope to create a third case, some sort of mysterious higher plane than mere existence. They don't stop to ponder the logical problem with something existing that isn't a part of the set of things that exist.

I would never ask a scientist to do some research into all the cases where 1 + 2 = 4 and I would never ask a scientist to write about the biology of Richard Dawkins garden fairies. They do not and cannot exist.

But Richard Dawkins leaves the door open to the theists suggesting that evidence for these things, including God, is possible even if improbable. A commentor recently made a remark to that effect, to which I responded:

I do want to point out that impossibility does preclude improbability; impossibility describes absolute improbability, actually, so to suggest that the impossible is probable at all is to contradict the first premise that something is impossible.

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I don't know why cops sometimes have such bad attitudes. I've been pulled over before and had cops yell at me for simply asking, "What seems to be the problem, officer?" It's very not cool. This guy takes the cake.

I saw this last night after I followed a link on Billy Beck's blog.

The story was on CNN Headline News this morning with Robin Mead (Good morning, Sunshine!) and they reported that there is an investigation into this and the officer in the video has been suspended without pay.

What's crazy to me is that this isn't the first time that kid has had police officers in the course of performing their duty as police officer violate his rights and treat him with utter disrespect. And he had cameras set up in his car. It makes me wonder if he's doing something to make them act like that.

But judging from the videos, he doesn't seem to be doing anything wrong. He's just finding a bunch of bad cops.

It's kind of interesting, the idea of citizens setting up stings for police who are being criminals.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I Am that Individual

Stand back. I got this.


Update: If you want to see your name on that website (and delude yourself) you just have to take this url and put your name in the proper place:

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 11, 2007

And Did You Know...

Britney went out without her panties on AGAIN! Right after the VMAs.

Access Hollywood: Britney's Post-VMA Party: No Panties Required!

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (September 10, 2007) – Hours after Sarah Silverman made a joke about Britney Spears’ waxed genitalia on stage at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, the singer was caught with out her panties, hitting the strip.

Silverman made a joke about the birth of Spears’ children during her opening VMA monologue saying, “...they are so cute. They are as cute as the hairless vagina they came out of.”

The comedienne’s joke appeared to reference an incident last fall, when following her split with Kevin Federline, Britney ventured out in Los Angeles where photographers caught her without underwear.

The photos, which surfaced today on gossip blogs including Dlisted, were taken last night in Vegas as Spears partied with her brother following her opening set at the VMAs.


That girl. I don't know what it's going to take for me to be just through with her. She's such a mess, but I still want to give her a hug, give her some panties, brush her hair, wipe the cheetohs off her face, sit her down and explain that she needs to act like a big girl now.

And then, I want to show her pictures of Reese Witherspoon and say, "Sweetheart, when you aren't on stage, you need to look and act like her."

THEN, I would demand that she hand over her pocketbook so that I can hire her a publicist, a nanny, and a full-time stylist and I'd explain, "Britney, you are a pop diva. You are not a domestic diva, so leave the child rearing to the professionals. You are also not a fashion oracle, so leave dressing yourself to the professionals. And I hate to say it, but when it comes to public speaking I actually trust George Bush (!!!) to speak extemporaneously more than I trust you. To address this, your publicist and I will handle the press and we will coach you on how to answer the questions. You may not speak to anyone in the press without speaking to us first."

Then, I would lead her over to the big, blue, bouncey ball of doom and say, "Hon, you are not fat, but you are not in the shape you were in when you made us all love you. Sit." And then I would show her all of her old music videos, paying close attention to the midriff baring outfit she was wearing in "Oops! I Did it Again." And then I would say, "Brit-brit, do you know the difference between you there and you here? 1,000 crunches a day and a rigorous dance schedule. We'll start slow. Give me three sets of 25 crunches on the ball. Make it quick, because I've booked you some time in the dance studio with your backup dancers and choreographer."

On the way to the dance studio, I would turn to her and put my hand on her knee and look deep into her brown (or are they blue today?) eyes and say, "I need you to understand something: there is an army of people working behind the scenes. We are Team Britney. Do not EVER insult, demean, or rage at Team Britney, least of all the person who is doing your hair. I don't know what you said to him last time, but after your workout this evening, we're going to dinner with him. Just you, me, him, and the publicist I hired. We're going to a nice restaurant and we have a cute, classy new dress for you and some nice panties. The press will love it and you'll love it even though cheetohs and red bull is nowhere on the menu. But, do you understand? Don't be mean to the help. We're the help because we're here to help. If you have a problem, tell me or tell your publicist. We will fix it."

But that will never happen. I heard a rumor a while back that she was going to have some kind of reality show where she was going to hire an assistant to help her get her career back on track, but obviously that never materialized.

I think Britney is over. She's white trash and she's somehow got it into her mind that she doesn't have to listen to anyone. So, now, everyone can see the mess that should be a completely private matter.

Maybe I can adopt Kylie Minogue instead. Her worst problems involve dressing like a European. A German one.

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Little Miss Sunshine All Grown Up

Hat tip: Two--Four

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Kathy Griffin Offends the Almighty, Gets Applause

I'm slow on the uptake on this one, folks, but I have to get it out there.

Yahoo! News: Griffin's Emmy remarks to be censored

LOS ANGELES - Before Kathy Griffin won a creative arts Emmy last weekend for her reality show, "My Life on the D-List," she joked that an award would move her to the C-list.

She was right: "C" as in censored. The TV academy said her raucous acceptance speech will be edited when the event, which was taped, is shown Saturday on the E! channel. The main prime-time Emmy Awards air the next night on Fox.

"Kathy Griffin's offensive remarks will not be part of the E! telecast on Saturday night," the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said in a statement Monday.

Her exact quote according to Towleroad was:

A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus...Suck it, Jesus. This award is my God now.

Griffin is a self-described militant atheist and she has built her reputation on being offensive and edgy, so these remarks aren't really a surprise.

I disagree with Yahoo!'s use of the word "censored" to describe the actions of private concerns because it calls to mind and confuses the action with that of the government to suppress free speech. Let's do be clear: Kathy Griffin's right to free speech has not been violated. E! and the TV Academy are within their rights to not air her comment.

In response to Miss Griffin's remarks, Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, has demanded an apology and threatened her with the scarlet letter B for Bigotry if she doesn't comply.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences reacted responsibly to our criticism of Kathy Griffin’s verbal assault on 85 percent of the U.S. population. The ball is now in Griffin’s court. The self-described ‘complete militant atheist’ needs to make a swift and unequivocal apology to Christians. If she does, she will get this issue behind her. If she does not, she will be remembered as a foul-mouthed bigot for the rest of her life.

Since the word is bandied about so, I took the liberty of looking up "bigot" to see if it is something I should be worried about.

big·ot (bĭg'ət)
n. One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.

Sweet baby Jebus' dirty Huggies! I'm a bigot!

I love how Bill Donahue appeals to the mob in his threat. 85% of Americans, huh? What about the other 15%? What about those, like myself, who are offended by his demand for apology? I think he's a bigot!


I hope Kathy Griffin doesn't apologize to those people.

The simple fact of the matter is that you can't have any beliefs about anything without implying that the opposite belief is wrong and incompatible with [insert your epistemological method of choice here.].

Theism and belief in the supernatural in general is incompatible with reason. Reason and scientific thought in general is incompatible with faith.

Mysticism in general, and Christianity in particular, is an arbitrary assertion for something that has no supporting ever been presented and none can ever be presented. It's patently absurd, regardless of how many people subscribe to them, no one owes them the least bit of respect, admiration, or even silence when the opportunity for a funny joke is presented.

If mysticism weren't so pervasive, I would even say that the only proper way to address those ideas is with derision, mockery, and open, laughing disdain.

So, Jesus-freaks, get over yourselves already. Blasphemy is the new Thanks to the Academy.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 03:51 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

This One is for the Inspector

Reuters: Town ditches traffic lights to cut accidents

BERLIN (Reuters) - A town council in Germany has decided the best way of improving road safety is to remove all traffic lights and stop signs downtown.

From September 12, all traffic controls will disappear from the center of the western town of Bohmte to try to reduce accidents and make life easier for pedestrians.

In an area used by 13,500 cars every day, drivers and pedestrians will enjoy equal right of way, Klaus Goedejohann, the town's mayor, told Reuters.

"Traffic will no longer be dominant," he said.

The article goes on to discuss the work of Hans Monderman of whom I read in Wired Magazine a while back.

Monderman advocates the creation of "shared spaces" in which cars and pedestrians all share the same space.

Monderman's ideas have already been implemented in the town of Drachten in the north of the Netherlands, where all stop lights, traffic signs, pavements, and street markings have gone.

"It's been very successful there," Goedejohann said, adding that accidents in Drachten had been reduced significantly.

I love the argument made by the opposition as cited in the article:

"Just because it worked in the Netherlands doesn't mean it will work here," said Werner Koeppe, a road specialist at Berlin's Technical Traffic Institute.

In the article I read about Hans Monderman, he had "designed" this round-about where there wasn't even a curb to delineate the road and sidewalk. Here's an excerpt from the Wired article:

Riding in his green Saab, we glide into Drachten, a 17th-century village that has grown into a bustling town of more than 40,000. We pass by the performing arts center, and suddenly, there it is: the Intersection. It's the confluence of two busy two-lane roads that handle 20,000 cars a day, plus thousands of bicyclists and pedestrians. Several years ago, Monderman ripped out all the traditional instruments used by traffic engineers to influence driver behavior - traffic lights, road markings, and some pedestrian crossings - and in their place created a roundabout, or traffic circle. The circle is remarkable for what it doesn't contain: signs or signals telling drivers how fast to go, who has the right-of-way, or how to behave. There are no lane markers or curbs separating street and sidewalk, so it's unclear exactly where the car zone ends and the pedestrian zone begins. To an approaching driver, the intersection is utterly ambiguous - and that's the point.

Another money quote:

"I think the future of transportation in our cities is slowing down the roads," says Ian Lockwood, the transportation manager for West Palm Beach during the project and now a transportation and design consultant. "When you try to speed things up, the system tends to fail, and then you're stuck with a design that moves traffic inefficiently and is hostile to pedestrians and human exchange."

Oo! Oo! Here's a quote also from the Wired article for the Inspector here:

"What we really need is a complete paradigm shift in traffic engineering and city planning to break away from the conventional ideas that have got us in this mess. There's still this notion that we should build big roads everywhere because the car represents personal freedom. Well, that's bullshit. The truth is that most people are prisoners of their cars."

Emphasis added for effect.

If you know me and have observed me closely, you'll know that I often advocate "following the rules" for the simple goal of getting things to run quickly, easily, and efficiently. I like people to pay attention to the road and drive in such a way that reduces congestion and increases traffic flow, both for cars and pedestrians.

Things that irritate me to the extreme are litterbugs, people who walk slowly up the middle of the stairs (instead of off to the side), people who don't move to the middle of the subway car, people who drive slowing in the fast lane, people who leave their trash in the movie theater, cars that block the crosswalk out of sheer indecision, pedestrians who block car traffic, people who stop and talk in doorways or main footpaths... the list goes on and on.

I just like things to work well.

So, I don't actually oppose this whole "no signs" jazz in principle, but it sounds really stupid at first blush.

The point of roads IS so that cars can move safely and easily from one place to another and the point of cars is so that people can move quickly from place to place. It seems like if the roads make the cars go more slowly, then the roads aren't really serving their purpose.

I'm not an expert on these things, so I really don't know whether or not these street designs are actually more efficient.

Efficiency is defined as the ratio of output to input. In an intersection, it seems like you'd define efficiency in terms of incoming and outgoing traffic over time. All the people in these discussions seem to focus on collisions. Collisions don't seem to be a measure of efficiency, though.

And at no point do they tell us what they mean by efficiency.

They seem to be focused on pedestrians having a delightful walk through traffic. Is that really the point? Really? I mean, do you design streets so that people can just wander into traffic without getting hit? I hope not, but I guess there are some situations where you might want that to be the case.

I wish I knew more about traffic and street design to speak more about this. I'm just posting it because we've been discussing the economic leverage that well-designed streets add to suburban and urban development. According to that guy in West Palm Beach, the slow traffic has resulted in more businesses developing along streets and pedestrians showing up. I don't know if that is a good thing -- given that the government is involved, I'm inclined to think it's a bad thing.

Anyway, just adding some fuel to the fire here.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:59 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack


Chris Crocker is a mess. A huge mess, but every now and then I check in on him on YouTube just to see what he's screaming, swearing, and mincing about. Well, I also know that he's a HUGE Britney Spears fan.

Like most people, I was really hoping that her opening for MTV's VMA show would signal the beginning of her comeback. I was hoping for the tight abs, the delicious pop music, the boobies and bootie poppin', the whole deal. Instead, I got something that Dennis Hensley of MSN described thusly:

Britney was like a jaded stripper a few minutes before closing time who leaves her ciggie burning backstage while she goes out to shake her weary ass for the punters one more time. Simply put, she looked like she didn’t want to be there.


I didn't see the performance, but I did watch the Today Show commentary on the video from the MSN site. It seems like Viacom is stalking YouTube for people posting recordings of the performance and having them removed, so I can't link you to it there.

But check out Chris Crocker's reaction:


Thanks to Buddhista for sending me the MSN link.

PS This isn't the serious post I was talking about.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I Promise a Serious Post in a Minute When I'm Done with YouTube presents a twisted take on one of Microsoft's latest and greatest announcements. Truth be told, We actually WANT a Surface Computer, but since we can't afford one, we thought it might be fun to make fun of it.

My favorite part: "The future is here and it's not an iPhone. It's a bigass table. Take that, Apple!"

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Check out this video of this little kid playing Wii:


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Ok, but why doesn't it have testicles?

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It's been 6 years!

The events of 9/11 were tragic and heart-breaking. I'm glad that no one I know or worked with was killed or injured in the attack, but as New York is a symbol of the greatness of the humanity, it was still painful and sad.

Those who lost family or friends in the attack have every right to feel pain and loss regarding the event. I think it's proper for them to reflect on those events -- when they reflect on them -- with deep sadness.

But I also think those who lost family and friends must go on living their lives. I think it is wholly inappropriate to continue bemoaning the loss on a daily basis. I also think that the city-funded and endorsed memorial services that happen annually are beyond the pale.

This reading of the names of everyone who died... the putting construction on hold (as if it weren't going slowly enough already) ... the numerous moments of silence... the takeover of all the headlines... it's wallowing in the misery and pain!

CNN: 9/11 attack victims honored six years later

NEW YORK (AP) -- Relatives of World Trade Center victims bowed their heads in silence at a small park Tuesday to mark the moment exactly six years earlier when the first hijacked plane struck the towers. The dreary, gray skies created a grim backdrop, and a sharp contrast to the clear blue of that morning in 2001.

Construction equipment now fills the vast city block where the World Trade Center once stood, and work is under way for four new towers, forcing the ceremony to be moved away from the twin towers' footprints for the first time.

Kathleen Mullen, whose niece Kathleen Casey died in the attacks, said the park is close enough.

"Just so long as we continue to do something special every year, so you don't wake up and say, 'Oh, it's 9/11," she said.

I disagree with Miss Mullen. I think we do need to get to a point where we wake up and just say, "Oh, it's 9/11." I do not think it is necessary for all of us -- least of all city officials -- to do something every year. I think it is sick to forbid building on the former Trade Center towers' footprints in favor of a giant tombstone. I also think it is unseemly and morbid that these people conduct their mourning in public like this.

People have to mourn and express their emotions in the way that they see best for their lives, but this demand that the rest of the city, nation, world participate in it is sick and ridiculous. It is as if mourning has become the definition of existence.

Yes, please mourn for your losses. Give due recognition to the values that were destroyed in the terrorist attacks. But go on with life. Don't let loss become the motif of your life. Honor the memory of those who've died by living a life of happiness, success, and prosperity.

And also, let's kill all the terrorists and destroy the countries that harbor and support them.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Richard Dawkins: Champion for Atheism?

I've just started reading Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion and I'm only about half way through the first chapter. I have to say: I am woefully unimpressed. Much like Carl Sagan on the matter, he concedes too much. He allows Theists to get away with their silly word games and omni-flexible definitions and confines his discussion not to the simple fact that the supernatural does not exist but to a particular perspective on that fantasy.

I'll continue reading, but I've been mentally ranting about him all the way into work this morning.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 08:34 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

September 10, 2007

Religion and Communism: Minions of Darkness

Diana linked over to my review of Song of Russia! Woohoo! It's a Noodlefood-a-lanche!!! Welcome Noodlefood readers!

But in her post, she remarks:

For the record, I disagree with [Flibbert's] comments about the equal threat of religion versus communism. The fact that both yield statism in politics doesn't show that one ideology isn't more dangerous -- i.e. more durable, totalistic, and inspirational of fervent belief -- than the other. That more dangerous threat is religion. Then again, I might not be understanding [Flibbert] correctly, as his comments were a tad rambling.

Diana is a hero of mine, so I take her remarks seriously. Since I respect her comments and I also know that my post IS very rambling and I did state some things incorrectly, I think I owe my readers a little clarity if not brevity.

The argument I intended to make is not as Diana describes.

First, to be upfront about it: I agree that religion is a greater threat than communism at present.

I was trying to say that they share the same origin, but that religion is the en vogue form of the overarching evil in both.

But I wrote this:

I was just thinking about the (ongoing) debate about whether religion or communism poses the greater threat to freedom and I remembered: there is a single threat to freedom. In the realm of politics, the threat is that of statism.

That sounds so bland, but there isn't a name for that ideology at the political level.

The threat is the ideology that makes people think in politics that they (or a committee of them) know better than you about your life. But it's deeper than that. The threat is the ideology that makes people think -- in their private lives -- that they owe you something and they resent you for not thinking that you owe them more.

This debate about whether or not religion or communism is the bigger threat misses the point. It's the same threat. The question is only about which form is metastasizing at the moment.

What I was trying to point out is that if we confine our view to the branch of philosophy dealing with politics, we can only see that both religion and communism present the same sort of evil: statism. That isn't particularly illuminating and I said it was bland in my earlier post.

I was avoiding delving into the deeper topic in the more fundamental branches of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. I was trying to suggest, without getting into a lengthy discussion about what 'altruism' means, that altruism is the evil, underlying philosophy shared by religion and communism.

This isn't right either, is it?

It seems like while communism certainly does stem from flawed ethics, namely altruism, Religion suffers from flawed metaphysics and epistemology, namely mysticism and faith.

Could a person have proper metaphysical philosophy and still end up a communist? What of epistemology? It seems like to be a communist, you'd have to have an error in metaphysics and/or epistemology in order to maintain the flawed ethics of altruism, but I'm not completely sure.

In Any Rand's book, We the Living, the tragic hero, Andre, is a communist who is rational and reality-based. He seems to have simply made a mistake in his ethics somewhere. I should probably go back and read more about his character since it has been a while.

I wrote to Diana asking for some clarification around Leonard Peikoff's remarks on the whole thing and she indicated that the above (communism and religion are fundamentally different and do not necessarily share the same origins) is moving in the right direction.

Since they don't share the same origins, we're still left with the question about which is worse: Communism or Religion?

Tough call. They're both hideously stupid.

Religion has some advantages over Communism, though. Religion not only tells people that they can expect huge rewards for obedience, it isn't under any pressure to produce those rewards since you only get them when you're dead. Communism does rely on people being extremely gullible, but most people catch on after a while of standing in a bread line; religion goes a step further and tells people not to think ("Have faith!"), thereby convincing people to just ignore the misery.

Not all religions are altruistic, but they do all pervert rational metaphysics and epistemology in some way. And that's how they've been able to persist for so long and why religion is worse that communism/socialism.

I have some ideas about why other efforts to thwart religion in politics and society have failed, but I am going to save them until I've read Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 02:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Objectivist Bloggers Carnival

I'm hosting the Objectivist Bloggers Carnival this week! The deadline for submissions is 9/12, so get your posts in!

Also, there were some concerns about the name and description, so for those, the name and description has been updated to now read:

Name: objectivist round up
Filed under: religion & philosophy
Keywords: Objectivism, Objectivist, Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Leonard Peikoff
Carnival Description: This carnival accepts original posts from Objectivist bloggers on any topic. Posts are not accepted from non-Objectivist authors. It is published every Thursday (the deadline is Wednesday).

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Book Review: Masque of the Black Tulip

I finished reading The Masque of the Black Tulip today. This is the sequel to The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, which you will recall I enjoyed for its giddy, romantic adventuresomeness. (Is that a word?)

I was excited about this second book because I was really hoping that some of the problems from the first book would be corrected. I wasn't completely disappointed. This book did have a reference to a dark mound of curly hair between a certain female's legs, which I read aloud to Mister Bookworm last night. He's so cute when he's horrified.

In this book, we delve deeper (no pun intended) into two supporting characters from the first novel. They aren't nearly as colorful as the previous hero and heroine, but they are fun. The conflict is a bit more well-developed, but the plot did seem to revolve more heavily around the romance and less about the intrigue. This undoubtedly appeals to the main demographic to which these books seem to be striving to appeal, namely women.

I was particularly happy to seen The Pink Carnation in action again with a little more detail. I kind of love her, so I hope she appears in another novel.

The "live" romance of Eloise and Colin continues in this latest book and it is even more distracting than it was in the first book. Eloise is annoying and banal. I want a big rock to fall on her and Colin, perhaps a moment before he confesses his love for her. I just don't go in for all this emotional distress some people have over romance. Eloise's adolescent preoccupation with looking silly in front of people is ironic given how silly she admits to being. But not the fun kind of irony.

The identity of the Black Tulip is obvious from the introduction of the character. There is one surprise at the very end that I probably should have predicted, but didn't. It's not all that shocking to me, really. I kind of hope that Lord Vaughn appears again.

I'm going to take a break from this series of books before picking up the third one, but I will still call these worthwhile reads. It's imperfect and the modern sort of personal philosophy that the author has is glaring at points, but the overall sense of life is one of childlike joy.

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Newsflash: People Hate Working for Tyrants

Mister Bookworm forwarded this article to me this weekend:

BBC: Dental students 'will shun NHS'

Almost one in five dental students plans to shun NHS work completely, a study has suggested.

The results suggest a new contract designed to make NHS work more attractive has had limited success.

The University of Dundee-led study reported in the British Dental Journal found 18% of final-year students planned to stick to private work.

In contrast, of the 141 students questioned, just 3% planned to work solely for the NHS after graduating.

Some 79% of students planned to split their career between the NHS and the private sector, according to the survey.

A similar poll of first-year dental students carried out two years ago also found levels of interest in an NHS-only career were very low.

However, the proportion of respondants who planned to work exclusively in the private sector was just 7.5%.

You've heard me say it before, so no one should be surprised: the government doesn't pay. Ok. I haven't said that before. At least, I haven't said it like that. Usually I say things about how government interference in trade in variably results in higher prices, lower supply, gluts/shortages, inflation/deflation, joblessness/homelessness, and other economic disasters. The only thing the government is really good for is waving guns around and we should concern ourselves with making sure they wave guns at the right people, which is to say criminals and invaders.

When governments nationalize industries, you typically see a phenomenon dubbed "brain drain" where talented people in that particular industry will actually leave the country to practice somewhere less restrictive and more profitable.

What is interesting here is that as Britain has painfully discovered how woefully unsuccessful socialized medicine is, they've been working to re-developed a private sector for the same services. As a result, they've created a sort of artificial border within their own markets. So, now we see an internal "brain drain." That's kind of neat. It's kind of like watching the pathology of a disease as it progresses.

Of course, also in that article is this outrageous statement:

Labour MP Kevin Barron, of the Commons health committee, has said dentists have a "moral obligation" to give the NHS more as it costs £175,000 to train them.

It's just like a communist to attempt to play the morality card to justify slavery. I still haven't managed to stop being shocked when they do so without irony, though.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 07, 2007

Cities: Capitalist Paradise or Socialist Hives?

I've been reading through Inspector's posts on cars and urban sprawl and what not. He makes a lot of really good observations about the underlying Marxist ideology in those who argue against suburbs. Here's a favorite of mine:

And why should anyone want walking and other methods of transportation to be practical? “Other methods,” of course, is code for public (*cough*socialist*cough*) transportation. One may as well complain that suburbs don’t facilitate well the use of rickshaws or horses. No, they don’t… but what’s your point, commie? People move to the suburbs because they hate walking or riding on filthy, communist, public transport.

There is absolutely no doubt that the major cities in the US today are -- at least with regard to their political milieu -- bastions of collectivism. They have the most pervasive and expensive welfare programs, the most numerous, bothersome, and invasive rules and regulations. They typically have higher property and income taxes than those found elsewhere. Examples are insanely easy to find.

- Government subsidies for public transportation systems
- Government funding for free HIV testing in minority-dominant neighborhoods like Chinatown and Harlem
- Buildings over 6 stories must have a water tower atop to help fight fires
- Public street sweeping and garbage collection
- Government intervention in the provision of utilities like gas, electric, cable, and telephone
- Buildings in some areas of the LA metropolitan area may not exceed a certain height.
- Buildings in some areas of the Atlanta metropolitan area must conform to city "aesthetic" regulations which govern the height placement and sizes of signs, color of buildings, and even types of vegetation that can be planted.
- Liquor licenses
- Cabaret licenses

The list goes on and on. Internationally we see similar things. Sao Paolo Brazil basically outlawed outdoor advertising earlier this year.

So, I started reading that stuff because Inspector and I were discussing the virtue or vice of big cities. He had remarked:

For all their bluster, the big cities are basically outdated socialist money-holes that use coercive government to prop up their overcrowded nonsense. They are the NASA of landscapes: full of big, impressive-looking things but rotten with statism to the core.

He also said that cities should come with an asterisk denoting "brought to you by Statism!"

I am still not very clear on what he means by all that since we both agree that cities in themselves are not the product of socialism.

We did briefly discuss what it would mean if suddenly a proper political ideology were adopted and enforced.

a sudden shift in political ideology toward one of freedom would result in a great population shift away from deep urban environments? Even still, I don't see that as being necessarily the case. I am sure a lot of people would leave, at first. But I am also sure that a lot of people would stay and others would probably move in. There are huge economic advantages to living in such close quarters.

If I project the course of events of such a sudden turn around, the biggest problem I see would be law enforcement. For some reason, as we saw at the turn of the century, some folks have problems distinguishing crime and business. We still see that today when people can't figure out that fraud is a crime whereas paying low wages is not.

Anyway, a sudden shift to capitalism would probably result in a short-term bout of chaos, which would drive many people out of the cities. Once businesses get things in hand -- like the subway for which I believe many people WOULD pay good money for reliable, comfortable service -- I think we'd see a lot of people coming back to the city to live and work.

But I'm not saying this as a contradiction to Inspector's projection of a boom in suburban life. It seems very probable that we would see an explosion of people moving away from the city and establishing commerce and industry away from the "deep urban" environments, eg. Manhattan.

I think some people would probably drive up to a point and then they would get on trains to come into the city and train service would likely expand to allow for that.

Cities like Atlanta which are already very car-centric would probably not change their basic character, but I think you would see areas of increasing population density as people move to take advantage of the economic benefits of living, working, shopping all in close proximity.

I'm biased, though. In spite of my recent observations about how much fun it is to drive, these stupid government-permitted multi-use facilities like the one in Atlanta whose name escapes me at the moment are a dream come true for me. In fact, I'm one of these people up supports the notion of a metropolitan superstructure deal where the city becomes one, sort of, mega-building.

Naturally, I think there is a large portion of the population who wouldn't like that and for them there would be suburbs and areas where tracts of property are larger.

My point is simply that I don't see why big cities and socialism are necessarily linked. Cannot capitalism give rise to what I'm calling deep urban environments?

Inspector, please do pitch in here. I'm fairly sure I've missed the point of your remarks, but I'm not sure where.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 06:32 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

Poor Li'l Bushy

I'm not one to spend a lot of time ranting about how idiotic George Bush is. I don't know, it just seems A) too easy and B) inessential to the larger issue of the inherent destructive nature of conservative ideology, but I just can't help this one.

Daily mail: Bush confuses Austria and Australia in latest gaffe

For George Bush, it was a gaffe waiting to happening.

The similarities in sounding between Australia and Austria led Bush into an embarrassing blunder down under.

The US president thanked Australian premier John Howard for visiting 'Austrian troops' in Iraq.

There are no Austrian troops there, although Australia has 1,500 military personnel in the region.

He continued his blunders by then confusing the organisations of APEC and OPEC.

Talking at a business forum on the eve of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Sydney, Mr Bush also told Mr Howard: "Mr Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit."

As the audience laughed, the US president corrected himself and joked: "He invited me to the OPEC summit next year."

Australia has never been a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

I remember in fifth grade, getting into an argument with Jeremy J-- about this. I had remarks that I think Australia would be a cool place to live and he said he didn't like Australia because that's where Hitler was from. Astonished, I pointed out his error and followed up with the fact that Austria had since also products Arnold schwarzenegger. (Arnie was a badass to us fifth graders at the time.)

Anyway, he insisted I was wrong and I insisted that I was right. I think I punched him in the head at some point and then mocked him pretty mercilessly until we retired to his house to play Contra or whatever.

Ah, childhood.

It just occurred to me: Jeff Foxworthy should test Dubya to see if he's smarter than a fifth grader.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 04:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


I absolutely hate driving in traffic. I also hate driving where there are stop lights and things.

I often say, "I hate driving," but that's not really the case. I don't like driving around other people and I don't like having to stop. I really just like to go fast and zoom around places.

In Georgia, I used to love driving in the early evening in the fall with my windows rolled down and my radio turned way up -- provided the traffic wasn't very heavy. Highway 85 was great because the police didn't patrol it very often. I would regularly drive to Atlanta at an average speed at about 80 mph.

As long as people follow the general rules of courtesy (don't be slow in the fast lane!) then it was a pleasure to move along the road.

Before I had decided to move to NYC, I was giving serious thought to buying a motorcycle. Buddhista had convinced me to put a Honda Nighthawk at the top of my list of bikes to consider.

I generally dislike being "in transit" because if I'm going somewhere, I want to be where I'm going and not in between where I was and where I want to be. But I understand the joy of going -- when I'm not focused on being at my destination.

Anyway, getting to my point. Some people have a much stronger ability to focus on the going and they like cars. They like dealing with car stuff and tinkering under the hood and all that. (I do not like tinkering under the hood.) And there is a really fun show on television that reader Matt Chancellor directed me to. It's called Top Gear from the BBC.

They are a hoot! They do all kinds of crazy things with cars. In this clip, they race an Evo against a bobsled.

There's a video on YouTube of them pitting a Range Rover against a tank, too, that's lots of fun.

So, anyway, if you like cars, you might want to watch this show because it seems really fun.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 03:39 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Perhaps the Least True Statement Ever Uttered

Tourist girl to boyfriend: Wow, New York is just like Ohio!

--Fast food corridor, Penn Station, Overheard in New York

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 01:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

I Am a Famous Book Critic

I'm famous, y'all! Arcade Publishing, the publisher of Secret Societies, found my review of their book and featured it on their website! Click the link, it's the last one in the list.

So cool!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 12:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Cause of Global Warming Revealed!

Rat reveals the cause of global warming in today's Pearls Before Swine!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 06, 2007

What's In My DVR?

Because I know you really want to know, here are the series I have set to record in my DVR:

The Dresden Files (I think this was taken off the air)
Stargate SG-1
Family Guy
American Dad
Top Design
Legion of Super Heroes (Stupid cartoon. This SHOULD be taken off the air.)
The Batman
Xiaolin Showdown
Teen Titans (Haven't been any new episodes in a long time.)
Avatar: The Last Airbender
My Name is Earl
The Office
Shear Genius
Stargate Atlantis
The Unit
30 Rock
Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School
The Sarah Silverman Program
Reno 911!
The 4400
Man vs. Wild
The Big Gay Sketch Show
Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes
Rick & Steve: Happiest Gay Couple in the World
The Venture Brothers
I Hate My 30's
Flipping Out
Welcome to the Parker
Top Chef
Tim Gunn's Guide to Style
The Closer

Anything you think I should add?

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:02 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

A Clever Tampon Ad

OB tampons are Very, VERY Absorbant

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 05:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is This Because of the Atomic Bombs or Global Warmings?

Reuters: Leech invasion makes residents see red

TOKYO (Reuters) - Long confined to the mountains, Japanese leeches are invading residential areas, causing swelling, itching and general discomfort with their blood-thirsty ways.

That's right. Land leeches.

I think I speak for everyone who has never heard of such a thing before when I say, "What in the name of Athena's bull-testical bedazzled aegis?!?!"

They crawl into your socks and they're just a smidge longer than a half inch and they crawl out six inches long.

Here's my favorite part, though:

The real problem is that the bleeding won't stop and the affected area swells up and really itches.

Oh, yes. That is quite a problem, and it certainly does get one's attention, but I don't know if it really surpasses the importance of the basic fact that herds of land leeches are roving the suburbs of Japan.

The non-stop bleeding is a result of the first and I don't think that if you took the non-stop bleeding away that it would be ok to just let this go on. I don't care what the land leeches are doing, but they really aren't allowed to do it around me unless they are being carefully supervised and I certainly do not want to find out they've been napping in my socks.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 05:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Speaking of Punctuation

Mister Bookworm taught me just last week that for words that end in s, you still add apostrophe s in order to make them possessive. Examples:


Apparently, among those whose job it is to make these things right, this is the practice.

Frankly, I find three S's in a row to be hideous and off putting. So, I went and looked it up and it would seem that this is a flexible rule. According to U of Calgary "If the noun is singular and ends in "s," you may form the possessive either by adding apostrophe s or by simply adding the apostrophe. ... The exceptions to this flexible rule are Jesus, Moses, and Zeus, which traditionally form the possessive with just the apostrophe."

But people from Canadia often do things differently. I was always taught growing up to drop the S, but people in the south often do things differently as well.

Other websites contradict our frozen friends to the north.

Many websites I found mentioned that use of the apostrophe S is determined by whether or not the word ends in a Z sound or an S sound. Z's get the apostrophe S and S's get just the apostrophe.

I'm inclined to believe Mister Bookworm over a buncha Canucks, but I still don't like ever seeing three S's in a row.

Of course, now we have another issue: I was always taught that you use an apostrophe when making some things plural, like 1980's and DVD's. According to Mister Bookworm and others, this is incorrect. Mister Bookworm kind of freaked out a little bit when I asked him about this. I had to get the smelling salts and when he came to, he did note that you do write '80s.

Incidentally, the New York Times has been cited by some as misusing apostrophes to make things plural.

The question of making plural letters stumped Mister Bookworm. I like apostrophe S for pluralizing letters. I did it all through this post because I hate the look of "Ss," but one website said:

An apostrophe is also used to form some plurals, especially the plural of letters and digits. Raoul got four A's last term and his sister got four 6's in the ice-skating competition. This is particularly useful when the letter being pluralized is in the lower case: "minding one's p's and q's" or "Don't forget to dot your i's." (In a context in which the plural is clear, apostrophes after upper-case letters are not necessary: "He got four As, two Bs, and three Cs.")

So much ado about such a little mark!

Update: In reading my post, Mister Bookworm has gone into fits. He says that 1980's indicates the possessive. I would argue that when I used it above, I have indicated clearly that it is plural, because I said it's plural. I would actually argue in most cases that the context in which the punctuation is used is vital to understanding what is meant.

Naturally, context doesn't always make things clear, so he said he's going to write on my face with a red pen while I'm asleep.

Update 2: Reader Qwertz provided this hilarious article on the Supreme Court's rulings on the apostrophe issue.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 04:12 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A Note on Punctuation

I really didn't think I needed to say this, but Mister Bookworm told me a week or so ago that some people think that quotation marks are for emphasis. I didn't believe him, but my boss's boss just sent out an email in which he seemingly wanted to emphasize the phrase "thank you" so he put it in quotation marks, like I did just now. So, his email was like this:

Anyone who asked me to sign a work order today, check that I didn't date it 2006....

"thank you"

Never mind that odd ellipsis there. It's the quotation marks that concern me. One quotation mark could be dismissed as a typo, but two just boggles my mind.

When you put quotation marks around something it means that either you're quoting someone or you don't really mean what you said within the quotation marks. This second application is why some people call them "scare quotes" because if you think someone is mistaken about something, you might put what they say in quotation marks. For example, let's say that I object to the someone referring to Willem de Kooning's paintings as art. I might say something like this: Willem de Kooning's "art" is offensive to the eye. There, you know that I mean that his paintings are not art and, in fact, I probably think they're exactly the opposite.

I'm PRETTY sure my boss's boss is not telling us to all go eff ourselves. See? I emphasize using capital letters. Or sometimes I use italics, but only rarely. But never do we use quotation marks.

Say it with me: quotation marks do not indicate emphasis.

Standard disclaimer when I'm ranting about these things: if there are any punctuation or spelling errors in this post it is because they are either simple typographical errors or I am an ignorant git. In either case, it would be impolite to point them out.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 03:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Fun Fact

Even though I hate it when people put clothes on monkeys, I think dogs with clothes are are hilarious. I especially like seeing them walk around with shoes on.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 02:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Objectivist Carnival

The latest installation of the Objectivist Carnival is up at Rational Jenn's place!

This installation includes:

- My review of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
- Martin Lindeskog offers a post about some hoopla over cartoons of Muhammad in a Swedish newspaper.
- Stephen Sliviniski, economist, author of Buck Wild, Director of Budget Analysis for the Cato Institute, and DWSUWF favorite, comments on recently released CBO budget estimates.
- Rational Jenn herself comments on the National Education Association.

This week also includes a non-Objectivist post:

- Eric Michael Johnson discusses some physiological explanations for religious visions or revelations.


Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Comments Are Effed

My comments are effed right now. I went to post a response to Inspector's recent remarks and things went boom. I was going to write this to him:

I only say "country" because the hierarchies of government here already metastasized to such an extent that I doubt you could establish a city or town of any size that would create the proper political environment and sustain itself.

This is the first time I have ever heard that large cities arise due to or are sustained by statism. What facts are you basing this claim upon?

I'm not disagreeing that there are lots of statist policies that do sustain our large cities -- anyone familiar with New York state politics know that upstate resents the fact that so much state funding (read: tax dollars) goes to support NYC programs -- but I do not see that as being necessarily the case.

In urban development, my understanding is that it's generally been statism that prevents advanced development -- rent controls, zoning, even height limits on buildings, for example -- which ironically promote sprawl as seen in places like Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Given an ideal political environment, why would people suddenly shun urban life?

Or is your argument merely that given the present conditions, a sudden shift in political ideology toward one of freedom would result in a great population shift away from deep urban environments? Even still, I don't see that as being necessarily the case. I am sure a lot of people would leave, at first. But I am also sure that a lot of people would stay and others would probably move in. There are huge economic advantages to living in such close quarters.

But now I'm reading through his posts and although I'm only a page or two in, I think I see where he's going. I'll have to read more and I will likely comment on it here.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tim Gunn's Guide to Style

So, in case you didn't know, Tim Gunn is one of the hosts of the Bravo show, Project Runway. He's the guy who walks around while the designers are working and gives them some feedback.

He's always wearing a suit and, frankly, he's a great looking older gentleman. It's all because he presents himself well.

He's a moron with regard to his personal philosophy -- he believes in psychics and whatnot -- but he has a great look.

ANYWAY, he's getting his own show, which was to premier tomorrow night. Well, Bravo, in their infinite sneakiness, actually premiered the show tonight.

I've been really interested to see how this show turns out because, frankly, it doesn't sound very different from TLC's What Not to Wear.

In TLC's What Not to Wear, they find someone who isn't dressing themselves properly, go through their clothes, throw everything out, tell them what they should be wearing, and then give them a little shopping spree. The show is hosted by a man and a woman who proclaim that they are fashion experts.

In Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, someone who isn't dressing properly finds them and then they go through their clothes, keep some things, get rid of some things, tell them what they should be wearing, and then send them on a little shopping trip. The show is hosted by Tim Gun and supermodel, Veronica Webb.

Not very different.

The show is presented as being TOTALLY DIFFERENT because Tim isn't trying to change his subject. He's trying to teach them to find their own style.

Watching it, I have to say that I am not impressed. I hate saying that, because I want this show to be as fun and fabulous as Project Runway.

Veronica Webb is overly tan and I hate her haircut. Can someone talk to her about proportion with regard to the size of her head on camera? I can tell she's beautiful, but her head looks very small and her shoulders look very broad. Also, am I mistaken or is she eleven feet tall? She looks like a maniac, but I think I kind of like her. She might be a little too normal for television. (Also, Ronnie. You don't mind if I call you 'Ronnie,' do you? Baby, stop pursing your lips like that.)

How can I describe this show? It's dull and unfocused.

They do too many things! This woman has seen a life stylist and a clothing designer. She got a surprise handbag from Coach. She visited Tim Gunn's office where they looked at her on a computer. They went to her house. They talked to her sister. They went through her clothes. They went shopping. They went for a bra fitting. They had some surprise woman show up -- I think it was her mom. They're doing her hair and make up. And I still have another 15 minutes to go in the show!

And amid this FRENZY of activity, we get these strange, gossipy interludes of Tim and Veronica sitting in front of a blue screen talking about the show as we're watching it. Unlike the people on What Not to Wear who talk to one another and are participating in the show when they make comments, Tim and Veronica are talking to us or someone sitting in the living room with us. It's disjointed and distracting.

This show -- again I hate saying this -- is like a college production of What Not to Wear. They're trying too much and they don't seem to know what they're trying to accomplish.

They just gave her a string of black Tahitian pearls and now she's putting on a surprise fashion show. TOO MUCH! TOO MUCH!

My suggestions:
- Make the show a lot simpler. Cut out some of the activities. Focus on a few, essential few. I suggest the clothes sorting, the life stylist, the hair and make-up transformation, and the fashion show. These are personal and different from TLC's version of this show.

- Let us get to know the 'characters' a little more instead of trying to dazzle us with activities.

- Don't get rid of the Tim & Veronica chats, but try to integrate them better. These are the most informative and insightful parts of the show and spell out for us things that we might not be able to pick up on by ourselves, for example, I didn't realize the lady was as upset as she was until you told me. Just make these better.

The biggest challenges with shows like this are the limited number of characters and the extremely simple plot covering a huge arc. There are really only three people in the show and two of them are on the same "team," so conflict is difficult. Tim and Veronica are supposed to be helping them, so the conflict can't get too heated or else they will fail. And fail at what? Fail at teaching this woman how to dress herself. Not too complicated.

So, I get that.

But this show needs help.

I've got it in my DVR, so I will continue to follow it, but if it doesn't improve, they're going to have to take it off the air.

Final remarks now that I've seen the whole show.

- Love the follow-up. That could be a lot more robust. Why not show us a new week of reformed clothing to compare to the week of bad clothes we saw at the beginning?

- Veronica, love you in a fedora and a tank top even if the look is a bit too hipster for you sitting next to Tim Gunn. But it makes your head look bigger and your shoulders narrower. Much better.

Update: I forgot to mention the INSANE amount of product placement in the show. Bravo always does this, though, and I love marketing, so I'm not hating on them for it, but it's getting a little bit like The Truman Show with some of the placements.

Update 2: I am informed by Buddhista that Veronica Webb does not have a bad tan. She says, "Veronica Webb is not overly tan, she is black or of mixed racial background with bad foundation." Wikipedia alleges, "She is of African-American, German & Iroquois descent."

Buddhista also said that Veronica is very cool in person, which makes me happy. I'm glad she's a nice person, but my point is that she looked like a freak on teevee last night. Make it work!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 12:02 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 05, 2007

"Violently Masochistic"

Mister Bookworm pointed me to this website this evening: Veiled Conceit. Self-described as "a glimpse into that haven of superficial, pretentious, pseudo-aristocratic vanity: The NY Times' Wedding & Celebration Announcements," this does not even begin to describe what really goes on in this blog. Here's an all too brief sample:

I could come up with a dictionary's worth of words to describe how intros like that make me feel. Here's a sneak peek at a few of the words: violently misanthropic.

But go read it for yourself. It's wickedly funny.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Are you watching Top Chef? Oooooo... this is some DRAMA!

I love it!

I wish I could taste these dishes, though.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 10:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Selling Out

Sooooo... I'm probably going to put some ads on my site. I might also do some sponsored postings, which means I would subject you to posts about things for which I'm paid to write about.

I'm still looking into it, but of course I will let you all know. Also, I will post a disclosure policy regarding advertising. I will let you all know that as well.

I realize my Objectivist readership will have few issues with this practice, but I'm interested in dissenting or non-Objectivist thoughts on the matter. Anyone?

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 08:49 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Hedging Our Bets

Friend: If Google merged with Apple, I would never sin again. I promise.

Flibbert: I will sin ALL. THE. TIME.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 08:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Riddle Me This

Why is it that on Top Chef when someone says "asshole" they bleep out "hole?"

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 08:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Famous Person Sighting

I ate dinner last night in Chelsea at Bar Piti and Joel Grey sat down at the table next to us.

I was informed by the friend I was dining with that I am supposed to know who he is apart from being Jennifer Grey's dad. I remember now that I certainly DO know him apart from being Jennifer Grey's dad. He was the evil bossman on Alias for a while, Mr. Sloane!

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 07:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Hipster Olympics

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 06:01 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

iPhone $200 Cheaper

Check out the Engaget live blogging of Apple's "The beat goes on" special event.

Notable items I saw in my scan of the post:
- the iPod Touch - it's an iPhone without a phone and a little more memory. It's too little memory for an iPod, if you ask me, but whatever.

- the iPhone is $200 cheaper. WOO! This definitely makes the iPhone case stronger. I was coveting the new Q this weekend, but now the price points are closer. ARG!

- iPod Nano with Video and such. It's tiny and it's cool.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 03:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Burqini

My female muslim readers need not give up the active lifestyle of their youth. brings you active wear that Mohommed would approve of!

There's swimwear that is sure to avoid titillating anyone's senses by revealing too much skin. (Note: does not protect against water that may have at some point touched an unclean animal. Swimming with pork-eaters will condemn you and your children to eternal life without Allah's blessing.)

You can practice the Far Eastern martial arts and give a nod to real diversity with a gi that incorporates a Sharia-approved head covering! (Mind that you do not raise your hands against a man unless you want to be stoned straight to eternal damnation and shame your family.)

The modern muslim woman is concerned about her physical as well as her spiritual well-being and helps her maintain her modesty while working on a bangin' bod for her husband or anyone who rapes her. Why should the men suffer the sight of flabby hips while they cut off your labia and clitoris? Think of the children!

Buy a Burqini today!

Warning: Some outfits may not fully conceal bomb vests from border guards.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 12:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Since I'm pouting and playing the role of the disgruntled employee right now, I decided to take a few minutes and tinker with my blog.

The results are two new widgets in the column to the left: Recent Comments and Good Reads.

Recent Comments was requested by reader Rachel who likes to keep track of discussions, but often loses old posts. She actually asked for some kind of RSS feed for comments, but I don't have that right now, so I just got the code to show recent comments. The last ten comments are shown with the most recent comment first. I can increase the number if you'd like. Just let me know.

Good reads is a website that Buddhista recently recommended for me. Basically, you go in and rate books that you've read and write reviews, etc. I've only rated a few books so far, but now you can keep track there, too.


I'm going back to pouting about how I was denied a free trip to London but given all of the work that resulted from someone else going on that trip.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I Want to Rant, But I Can't

I really, really, really want to rant about something that just happened to me here at work, but in the interest of professionalism and my blood pressure, I really can't.

But I am really steamed right now.

I need a new job.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 04, 2007

Transportation Hell

One of the things I really looked forward to when I was planning my move to NYC was being rid of my car. I don't like driving in traffic and I don't like spending much time attending to my own transportation. Taxis are just too expensive to take on a regular basis and sometimes it's really frustrating trying to catch one. In an ideal world, I would be chauffeured around. Unfortunately, I have to deal with the subway and buses here.

For the most part, I am actually pretty impressed with the NYC subway system. It takes you all over the place. It runs 24/7/365. In 2005, they had a ridership of 1.45 billion passengers.

For the most part, I'm impressed and satisfied. Maybe... 85% of the time.

But I would guess that about 15% of the time, I have some sort of complaint about subway service. Non-air conditioned cars. Surly MTA employees. Unintelligible announcements. Poor communication between stations -- more on this in a moment. No means of knowing when the next train will arrive. Late trains. Overcrowded trains.

Why do the trains break when it rains?!?! Oh, because tunnels flood. TUNNELS FLOOD.

Why do the trains break when it snows?!?! I can't answer this one because by all accounts that I've heard, we had a mild winter last year and no really heavy snow storms.

Let's be clear: I'm on a rant tonight because I encountered one of the most frustrating incidents to date.

I entered the R/W station at Prince and Broadway this evening at a little after 9pm and prepared myself for the 30 minute ride back to Queens.

I waited.

And I waited.

And I waited.

An N train zoomed by -- strangely on the local track -- but didn't stop. Prince is a local station, which means that express lines like the N & Q don't usually stop there. The local trains even have their own tracks in many stations.

And I waited.

A Q train zoomed by, also on the local track, and didn't stop.

And I waited.

Since I finished my last book, I forgot to put a new book in my bag, so the waiting was pretty much pointless.

I think I waited 30 minutes before a train showed up. Bothersome, yes. Worthy of flying into a rage, no. No, not yet.

Well, the train was slow, but eventually made it to Lexington and 59th. For those unfamiliar, that's the last Manhattan stop before the N/R/W train goes to Queens.

Then, the train sat for about ten minutes and the conductor guy comes on the PA and says, "There was an incident ahead of us, so we're delayed."

We waited for some 15 minutes and the guy comes on and says that the train is not going to Queens. It's going to go back to Brooklyn -- the opposite direction I want to go.

So, I sigh and get off the train to wait.

We wait for about 30 minutes in the station without air conditioning or even fans and then another train finally backs down the uptown track and stops at our station. This new conductor says he's going to Brooklyn, too. He also tells us that there is no N/R/W service to Queens. If we need to get to Queens, we have to go back to Times Square (4 stops back downtown whence most all of us came.) and catch a different train to Queens as our final destinations dictate.

At this point, I am greatly vexed, but I get on the train and we head to the next downtown stop.

Before we even get to the next stop, though, the conductor comes on and says, "We've resumed normal service to Queens. If you'd like, you can change trains at 57th St. to get back on the N/R/W to Queens, or you can proceed to Times Square as previously described."


We get to 57th St. and there is a train heading back to Queens, but we're now all on the downtown platform, which means we have to cross to the other platform. By the time we do, that other train is gone.


We stand and wait.


We wait.


We wait for probably ten minutes before another train, which does finally take us to Queens as planned.

A trip that usually takes me 30 minutes took me over TWO HOURS.

1.45 Billion riders at an average of $2 per ride is $2.9 Billion in money from riders. They get subsidies from the city/state! What the HELL are they doing with all of this money?!?!?

I am willing to pay as much as $4 per ride for CONSISTENT, RELIABLE service. I want the MTA employees to be informed about incidents so that they can communicate effectively to customers. Oh, and I want customer-facing MTA employees to speak coherent, intelligible English. Second languages would be appreciated, particularly Spanish. I want fans in the subway stations to keep the urine saunas to a minimum. I'm sure there are other things, but I am going blind with rage over this again.

Ok. It's late. I need to relax, be calm, and go to sleep.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 11:50 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Arrested for Tapping Your Foot

Joe.My.God. had a quote from some guy who apparently supports cruising public restrooms for sex who said of the Larry Craig incident, "I keep waiting for the news media to grab on to the fact that this man has been arrested for tapping his foot. When did that become a crime?"

This is kind of my point, except I would also point out that he did more than tap his foot. He touched the man in the next stall and he also made some hand gestures to the guy under the stall wall.

When you add all of these things up, now former senator Craig's behavior is wholly consistent with a person requesting public sex. Further, he was charged with disorderly conduct, not a lewd act or soliciting sex or anything like that.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 02:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ayn Rand and the Song of Russia

I also read Robert Mayhew's Ayn Rand and the Song of Russia on my birthday vacation. It was a really fascinating read and a very well-organized book.

It's difficult to say much about this book without spewing forth various facts and arguments made in the book. I will say this: a lot of what I read surprised me, although I have to admit I haven't spent much time learning about this part of American history.

The book focuses on the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings in 1947. These hearings preceded the McCarthy hearings that get so much publicity. McCarthy wasn't involved in these at all.

I did not know that the HUAC was actually one aspect of an ongoing criminal investigation into Soviet activities in the US and that Soviet Russia actually was engaged in funding and organizing the Communist Party in the USA along with acts of espionage and other treasons against the American government.

People like to claim that sending the Hollywood Ten to jail for contempt of Congress (they refused to answer questions, namely whether or not they are or were members of the Communist Party) was a violation of their First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, that argument really doesn't hold up given the criminal nature of the Communist Party. The mafia, for instance, cannot claim that it is a violation of their First Amendment rights if they refuse to say whether or not they're part of organized crime. They might plead the Fifth while on trial, but this wasn't a trial.

After quoting Rand at length on the matter (If you take issue with this, I strongly recommend reading Ayn Rand's full remarks on this issue, which can be found in the Journals of Ayn Rand, pp 381 - 84) Mayhew adds two remarks including this one:

[T]he availability of previously secret documents from both the United States and the former Soviet Union confirms Rand's claims about the nature of the Communist Party: it was an organization funded by, controlled by, and working in the interest of a foreign government, namely Soviet Russia. Further, a number of members of the Communist Party were engaged in espionage and worked directly with the Soviet government. It makes no difference that not every member of the Party was engaged in espionage or sabotage (or even was as devoted to the Party as the Party demanded). The HUAC was investigating possible illegal activities of the Communist Party; no one was on trial for treason. But given the nature of the Party, membership alone was enough to justify the government simply asking questions as part of a criminal investigation. (pp 86)

Like most people in the US, I have been lead to believe that Hollywood Communists are victims of fascist witchhunts in Washington fueled by some insane fear of communism that was sweeping the nation. These poor people -- though very, very wrong -- were innocent victims of government oppression and blacklisting.

As it turns out, these blacklists were private actions -- not governmental -- and Communists actually engaged in their own blacklisting as well. Further, some of the "Hollywood Ten" continued their careers by writing under pseudonyms, which is to say, they continued their careers fraudulently.

It's also flagrantly dishonest that these people would claim that their First Amendment rights were violated when they wanted to do away with First Amendment rights for anyone they claimed was a fascist, which is to say, anyone who is non-communist.

I'm also rather appalled at the dishonesty that Mayhew discovered in other "scholarly" works on this topic. Errors in dates and names as well as some pretty obvious cherry-picking from testimonies are apparently somewhat common.

Back to the topic of blacklists. I was somewhat surprised by this claim: "As we have seen, Ayn Rand believed that -- at least in the case of the Hollywood Ten -- there was no (or no effective) Hollywood blacklist of Communists."(90) Originally, I misunderstood the discussion in the book (due to careless reading) and thought the claim was that there weren't ANY blacklists against Communists, but Mister Bookworm and I were discussing it and I went back and re-read the remarks and he looked up the blacklists on the internet and we noted the specificity of that claim.

Mister Bookworm and I discussed this book meanderingly but at some length. He hasn't read it, but I do recommend it to him and others.

The scholarship is impressive; I really like the extensive, careful notation of sources and references. It's a short book and, as mentioned, it's well organized.

In our discussions, we debated over the relative success of the Communists and non-Communists. Mayhew contends that the Communists won in Hollywood but that outside of Hollywood their ideology has been thoroughly repudiated.

I agree that the Communist Party in the US today is an all but dead and the economics of communism have been proven repeatedly as destructive and immoral, but I also notice that on this blog I spend a lot of time arguing against policies that are in line with the Communist agenda. We have presidential candidates running with socialized medicine as major parts of their campaign. The vast majority of candidates are almost uniformly interventionist when it comes to government involvement in trade and support the redistribution of wealth.

With the exaggerated influence of religion in today's political atmosphere adding momentum to these socialistic/communistic (I regard attempts to draw a distinction between socialism and communism as silly and naive if not dishonest attempts at distraction.) policies and ideas...

An idea just struck me as I was about to finish that thought.

I was just thinking about the (ongoing) debate about whether religion or communism poses the greater threat to freedom and I remembered: there is a single threat to freedom. In the realm of politics, the threat is that of statism.

That sounds so bland, but there isn't a name for that ideology at the political level.

The threat is the ideology that makes people think in politics that they (or a committee of them) know better than you about your life. But it's deeper than that. The threat is the ideology that makes people think -- in their private lives -- that they owe you something and they resent you for not thinking that you owe them more.

This debate about whether or not religion or communism is the bigger threat misses the point. It's the same threat. The question is only about which form is metastasizing at the moment.

I think the confusion arises because "Communism" is a name we give to a political ideology. "Religion" is a name we give to a metaphysical and ethical ideology. People think, "Well, you can have Communist Christians and Capitalist Christians. The two aren't exclusive."

That's exactly the point. They aren't exclusive. In fact, given the rise of right-wing support for both religion and communist/socialist policies, we could even argue that they go together all too well.

They go together because they have at their core, the same basic set of ideas.

Those who argue that communism represents the greater threat -- on the grounds that their policies are rampant -- is ignoring the simple fact that no one of importance is calling themselves communist or even socialist. The people who are promoting the policies that we associate with communists aren't communists by name. They're conservative and liberal and increasingly they're religious "nuts."

Yes, they're the same evil. They've only changed their name and the veneer that they wash over their justification for these policies. The communists used to say things about stopping the "exploitation" of the "proletariat." The religionists say things about serving their fellow man. The words are different, but the meaning is the same.

Contrary to many people's assertions to the contrary, I do think that George Bush did represent a majority of Americans when he was elected -- both times. I shudder to think it, but he probably represents a majority now. This is due largely to his pandering to the Christian Right.

I still think the Christian Right is, in itself, is a minority, but I think they exert a huge influence on the rest of the American public by being very successful in advancing their ideas and that's how they've come to influence these elections. I don't have any facts to support this and I haven't seen any facts to contradict it. I just have a hard time thinking ill of Americans at large.

What do we do? We're mired in a two party system and that won't change any time soon. Neither party really seems to be moving toward a more rational ideology. So, what do we do?

The best we can really hope for is a deadlock, I think. Obviously, we need to do what we can to stop the Christian Right. In terms of elections, we need to work against those who pander to them and they back. This means voting for Democrats.

I didn't start this post meaning to go on about this, but I suddenly figured out what the problem was so many months ago, what Leonard Peikoff was trying to get out there.

Anyway, Robert Mayhew's Ayn Rand and the Song of Russia is a good book. Go read it.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 12:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


CNN Headline News is reporting this morning about people in Tuscon who believe that moonbeams have healing powers, including one man who thinks that the symptoms of his asthma have been alleviated by standing around in moonbeams.


For those not afflicted with this lunacy, I want everyone to do their part to encourage rational, scientific thinking.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

I mentioned that I was reading The Secret of the Pink Carnation before and I also mentioned that I was enjoying it quite a bit. While I would still endorse Lauren Willig's first novel, I now have the benefit of a broader view of the work.

Before you read further, I do mention some specific items from the story that may be considered spoilers, but if you read this book, you'll also see that there really isn't much to spoil about the book -- and I do not mean that as an insult. The story is predictable, but not pat. One should read the book for... well, I'll get to that.

The form of the book is that of a book within a book where the main story, that of the Pink Carnation, an English spy in Napoleon's Paris, is told amid interludes of a modern grad student in London who is researching the Pink Carnation for her doctoral work.

The overall tone of the work is one of smart good humor. Even though the author obviously enjoys making references to classical literature (something I rather enjoy reading) and exercising a very broad vocabulary -- not unlike 19th century English authors, really -- I appreciate that the book is consistently playful and joyous. There isn't a single moment where I thought the narrator was smirking at me.

I have two complaints about the book.

First, the "heroine" is an idiot. In the reader's guide, Willig says that she wanted to "bedevil [her] hero, not with an enemy, but with an unwanted ally. A strong-minded heroine set on unmasking him -- so she can help him." Yes, Amy is quite strong-minded and I appreciate that she is tough without compromising her femininity. But Amy is an idiot, an inconsistent idiot at that. At first, we're set thinking that she's actually quite smart and clever in addition to being strong-willed and determined. She read Latin and Ancient Greek classics on her own growing up. She spent her playtime devising spy plans, schemes, and disguises. But when it comes to reality, she leaps to conclusions and ignores obvious clues. Yes, this provides us with some humor and mild suspense, but in all it makes Amy look like a moron unworthy of the sort of hero that the Purple Gentian is supposed to be.

After a couple hundred pages of Amy's unredeeming bumbling and emotional outbursts, it wasn't long before I became interested in more information about Jane and Miss Gwen who are infinitely more mysterious, sensible, and unexpectedly entertaining. Jane, in particular, is poised and smart as Amy really should be. Miss Gwen is gutsy and hilariously blood-thirsty. More time could have been spent on them to my great joy and satisfaction.

Speaking of which, the recovery of the Swiss gold gets disappointingly short shrift.

My second complaint is about an excess of detail regarding the acts of romantic intimacy that the hero and heroine engage in.

Amy's nails dug into the hard muscles of his upper arms, the pressure of his arousal against her sensitive nub driving her half wild with unfulfilled desire. "Oh, Richard..."

It was more than flesh and blood could bear. With the sound of his name whistling in his ear, Richard plunged, checking only slightly as he felt the barrier of her virginity giving way.

This description and others like it manage to be both an excess and a bore.

It's excessive because the details of their physical intimacy (earlier in the book there is a mention of a finger probing dark, moist places) do not add anything of value to the book in terms of theme, plot, or characterization.

I understand that the idea is that Amy and Richard simply cannot resist one another. Their attraction is physical and spiritual, but that is well established before these details are provided, which is why these things are a bore.

If you're going to embed erotica in a novel, you need to create a sense of surprise and mystery in addition to suspense about the physical act. In this book, we read of torn bodices and know immediately what is going to happen and nothing stops it from happening. Isn't bodice ripping a cliche somewhere?

I don't object to the physical intimacy itself because I actually like that the heroes are not restrained by any foolish sense of tradition or propriety. They know they love one another and they express it through the physical act. That much is proper. I object to the presentation both in the specificity of the description and the pacing within the story.

By contrast, the story of the grad student, Eloise, which contains the story of the Pink Carnation, has so far shown significant restraint an remains somewhat intriguing to the reader, although I have two warnings (I'm reluctant to call them complaints.) about this aspect of the novel:

1) these interludes with Eloise quickly become background noise to Amy's story and verge dangerously on being interruptions. The shifts between first person and third person are an effective barrier between the past and the present, but it opens up several questions to the reader. And the fact that it's so brief leaves us wondering why it's in the book at all.

2) The progression of events with Eloise doesn't avoid patness as well as those with Amy. Eloise's story occupies less than a quarter of the whole book and moves forward with the pitch and finesse of a drunken fratboy.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read. The reason you read this book is for the bubbly, playful sense of well-being that the novel has. It's light, fun, and humorous. There isn't enough suspense to make this a real "page turner" for me, but there's enough for me to recommend taking it to the beach with you.

Thematically, there isn't anything profound here. It's merely a love story. It aims to be the sort of romantic, swash-buckling adventure sort of like The Scarlet Pimpernel (the parallels are obvious even without the several references to the Pimpernel in the book. Also, is it advisable to position a fictional character from another author in your book as real in order to lend plausibility to your own?) or even Pirates of the Caribbean. It's been years since I've read the Pimpernel, so I can't say how well it compares and a comparison with a movie is challenging.

Bottom line: it's a fun book. I'm going to read the next one and I'll let you know how it turns out.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 09:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Almost Back!

Yesterday was my official birthday. There's a certain irony to the socialists having a celebration on the same day, but I think it was lost on most people except those to whom I pointed it out.

I flew back from Miami yesterday morning and then Mister Bookworm took me to a surprise dinner last night. We went to this French-Spanish restaurant here in Astoria; it was delicious. I thought I was going to burst after it was over.

My trip to Miami was awesome. Pharoah and the Boob Doctor were awesome hosts. One of their neighbors even let us use his apartment for our visit, so it was like Mister Bookworm and I had our own place for the duration.

We went to the beach and the pool. I got a little bit of sun, but not much because I put on sunscreen with the SPF 30. I need that because otherwise I do an incredible painful, though amusing, impression of bacon. We went to Villa Viscaya and we also drank lots of mojitos.

While I was gone, I finished my Pink Carnation book and Robert Mayhew's Ayn Rand & the Song of Russia. I'll discuss both in a little bit.

ALSO while I was gone I got a call from a headhunter that was really exciting. I know, it's just a headhunter and I have a lot more work to do in order to find a new job, but it was pretty cool and it reminded me how badly I really do want to find a new job.

So, I'm back home now, but I took the day off, you know, to relax. Since I'm 30 now, I guess I'll nap and .

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at 08:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack