Cat & Owl

 Posted by on 31 May 2011 at 1:00 pm  Animals, Funny
May 312011
 

Cat and owl playing together:

May 312011
 

Note from Diana Hsieh, 22 Feb 2012

If you’ve come to this page via “Checking Premises” or something similar, please note that I’ve written a length commentary on the criticisms circulating about me, including explaining my views of various controversial matters, in this post: On Some Recent Controversies. I’d recommend reading that, then judging me based on my full range of work, not just a few out-of-context snippets. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me privately at diana@dianahsieh.com.

***

On Sunday, I hosted another episode of my live Rationally Selfish Webcast, where I answered questions from viewers on practical ethics and the principles of living well. The live webcasts are held every Sunday at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. Normally, the webcast consists of me broadcasting on video, Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers on audio, and the audience in a text chat. However, since we were broadcasting live from ATLOSCon, Tim Peck kindly substituted for Greg.

As usual, an audio recording of Sunday’s live webcast is now available as a NoodleCast podcast. To get these podcasts automatically, you can subscribe to the feed in iTunes — just choose either the enhanced M4A format or the standard MP3 format. They’re the same content, but the M4A format breaks each question into its own “chapter.”

While the Rationally Selfish Webcast (and Podcast) is available to anyone free of charge, it’s not free for us to produce. It requires time, effort, and expense. So if you enjoy it, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated.


If you prefer to send a check, please write “RS Webcast” in the memo field and send it to “Diana Hsieh; P.O. Box 851; Sedalia, CO 80135.”

Whether you contribute or not, please do submit and vote on questions on the widget on the page for the Rationally Selfish Webcast — or via Idea Informer.

The Video

The full video for the webcast is only available to live attendees. Now, you can listen and/or download the audio podcast. However, I’ll post my favorite segment or two of video to my YouTube channel later this week.

The Podcast

Listen Now

    Duration: 1:00:46

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In This Episode

The following segments are marked as chapters in the M4A version of the podcast. Thanks to Tammy Perkins for helping compile the show notes!

Introduction (0:00)

Current Projects:

Question 1: The Rights of the Severely Mentally Disabled (2:41)What rights do severely mentally disabled people have? If someone is mentally disabled to the extent that he or she will never be able to be rational and/or live independently, does that person have rights? Who should be financially responsible for the care of such people? My Answer, In Brief: A disabled person with some capacity to reason has rights, although may require the guidance and assistance of a guardian. However, humans born without any capacity to reason (such as anencephalics) cannot be said to have rights, since rights protect a person’s capacity to act on his own rational judgment.Question 2: The Morality of Risky Sports (21:31)Are risky sports immoral? Some people engage in highly risky sports, such as freestyle skiing or snowboarding, mountain climbing in extreme conditions, surfing huge waves, skydiving, free (non-scuba) diving, super-technical mountain biking, and so on. Since life is the standard of value, is it wrong to risk your life (or limbs) in such pursuits? Should a person take pleasure in risks for its own sake? What is the value of such sports, if any?My Answer, In Brief: While the pursuit of risk per se is self-destructive, most extreme athletes have the skills required to safely perform the activity or risk only minor injuries.Question 3: Francisco’s Slap of Dagny in Atlas Shrugged (33:16)Was Francisco justified in slapping Dagny? In their teenage years, when Dagny asked Francisco whether she should try to get D’s in order to gain popularity in school, Francisco slapped her. I understand what he meant by the “unspeakable” thing that she said. But couldn’t have he talked it over with her instead of slapping her — and shouldn’t he have done so? Why does he use physical violence — and why does Dagny not just accept but relish in it?My Answer, In Brief: The slap in question was not just deliberately provoked, but necessary in the context of fiction to dramatize the conflict.Question 4: The “Rape” Scene in The Fountainhead (37:49)Should a man ever act in real life as Howard Roark did in his first sexual encounter with Dominique? In your April 24th webcast, you said that a person should not act as Howard Roark did in the “rape” scene in The Fountainhead, implying it would be immoral. Could you explain why? Is the problem that you cannot know for certain what the woman wants? I’ve slept with a few women and only once have I ever been 100% certain that she wanted it that way and so I took it without any real permission and I was right. She even told me later she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I understand it is very dangerous to say to guys, “Hey, its okay to do this!” because most people are idiots, but wouldn’t there be rare real-life cases in which a man would be right to act like Roark did? My Answer, In Brief: The “rape” scene is wonderful drama, but to do the same in real life would risk actually raping the woman — which is not merely horrible in and of itself, but also likely to result in years of imprisonment.Links:

Question 5: Accepting Unauthorized Discounts (44:58)Is it moral to accept discounts for products and services when the person giving you the discount isn’t a manager or owner of the business? Is it moral for a person to accept “nice face” discounts? I’ve had people (mostly women) tell me that they’ve received discounts or better service for being nice, dressing in low-cut shirts or short skirts, being cheerful or otherwise friendly to store clerks or employees (usually of the opposite sex). Is it moral to offer or accept such discounts?My Answer, In Brief: Businesses are free to offer discounts to any customers, and you should feel free to accept them. However, if you know that the discount is offered in secret, without the permission of the business owner or manager, you should refuse.Question 6: Objectivist Answers: Buying Votes in Elections (52:00)Should it be legal in a free society to buy votes? It doesn’t seem that the practice would violate anyone’s rights, so shouldn’t it be legal for a person who wants to hold office to pay willing voters to cast their vote for him?My Answer, In Brief: To buy votes in an election would not only be wildly expensive but also likely ensure defeat. It’s not an activity that could or should be banned.Conclusion (59:40)Comments or questions? Contact us!

If you enjoyed this episode, please don’t forget to contribute to our tip jar! Also, remember to submit and vote on questions in the the ongoing question queue!

Activism Recap

 Posted by on 29 May 2011 at 9:15 pm  Activism Recap
May 292011
 

This week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine):

This week on Mother of Exiles:

This week on the blog of Modern Paleo:

Open Thread #272

 Posted by on 29 May 2011 at 11:00 am  Open Thread
May 292011
 

Soldier Field

For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

NoodleFood’s Wednesday and Sunday Open Threads feature creative commons photographs from Flickr that I find interesting. I hope that you enjoy them!

Real Cream

 Posted by on 28 May 2011 at 7:00 am  Food
May 282011
 

In mid-May, I sent the following letter to “Darigold,” the manufacturer of the cream that’s now sold in our local Costco stores.

Hi,

I used to routinely buy the half gallons of “Country Classic” whipping cream from my local Costco stores in south Denver. It was only pasteurized, not homogenized, and didn’t contain any additives. It was just cream — and wow, it was stellar. It was the closest thing to raw cream (which I used to get) that I’d ever found. I liked it so much that I’d rather go without than buy ordinary cream from the grocery store. I wasn’t alone: visitors often remarked that my cream tasted so much better than anything they’d ever bought.

However, now that Darigold has bought Country Classic, that fantastic product is gone. Costco only sells your Darigold cream, but that’s the same barely tolerable product that’s sold in regular grocery stores. I’m just not interested in that, and I won’t buy it. I want the old Country Classic!

So please please please… bring it back! You had a great product!

– Diana Hsieh
Modern Paleo : http://www.modernpaleo.com

I sent the same basic letter to Costco. Alas, I didn’t get much in reply, but perhaps a few more letters from other unhappy customers would make a difference! If you’re such a customer, then you can write Darigold here and write Costco here.

Preview: Rationally Selfish Webcast

 Posted by on 27 May 2011 at 11:00 am  Announcements
May 272011
 

Come join my next Rationally Selfish Webcast! As always, it’s on Sunday morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. You can watch the webcast and join in the text chat via www.RationallySelfish.com. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers will be my audio co-host, as usual.

Each week, I answer six questions on practical ethics and the principles of living well. I select the most popular and interesting questions from the ongoing queue of questions. Please submit your questions, as well as vote and comment on questions that you find interesting!

Here are the questions that I’ll answer this week:

  • Question 1: The Rights of the Severely Retarded: What rights do severely mentally disabled people have? If someone is mentally disabled to the extent that he or she will never be able to be rational and/or live independently, does that person have rights? Who should be financially responsible for the care of such people?
  • Question 2: The Morality of Risky Sports: Are risky sports immoral? Some people engage in highly risky sports, such as freestyle skiing or snowboarding, mountain climbing in extreme conditions, surfing huge waves, skydiving, free (non-scuba) diving, super-technical mountain biking, and so on. Since life is the standard of value, is it wrong to risk your life (or limbs) in such pursuits? Should a person take pleasure in risks for its own sake? What is the value of such sports, if any?
  • Question 3: Francisco’s Slap of Dagny: Was Francisco justified in slapping Dagny? In their teenage years, when Dagny asked Francisco whether she should try to get D’s in order to gain popularity in school, Francisco slapped her. I understand what he meant by the “unspeakable” thing that she said. But couldn’t have he talked it over with her instead of slapping her — and shouldn’t he have done so? Why does he use physical violence — and why does Dagny not just accept but relish in it?
  • Question 4: The “Rape” Scene in The Fountainhead: Should a man ever act in real life as Howard Roark did in his first sexual encounter with Dominique? In your April 24th webcast, you said that a person should not act as Howard Roark did in the “rape” scene in The Fountainhead, implying it would be immoral. Could you explain why? Is the problem that you cannot know for certain what the woman wants? I’ve slept with a few women and only once have I ever been 100% certain that she wanted it that way and so I took it without any real permission and I was right. She even told me later she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I understand it is very dangerous to say to guys, “Hey, its okay to do this!” because most people are idiots, but wouldn’t there be rare real-life cases in which a man would be right to act like Roark did?
  • Question 5: Accepting Unauthorized Discounts: Is it moral to accept discounts for products and services when the person giving you the discount isn’t a manager or owner of the business? Is it moral for a person to accept “nice face” discounts? I’ve had people (mostly women) tell me that they’ve received discounts or better service for being nice, dressing in low-cut shirts or short skirts, being cheerful or otherwise friendly to store clerks or employees (usually of the opposite sex). Is it moral to offer or accept such discounts?
  • Question 6: From Objectivist Answers: Buying Votes: Should it be legal in a free society to buy votes? It doesn’t seem that the practice would violate anyone’s rights, so shouldn’t it be legal for a person who wants to hold office to pay willing voters to cast their vote for him?

Questions that aren’t answered this week will remain in the question queue for me to answer in upcoming webcasts. So please go vote on questions that you find interesting — and don’t forget to submit your own questions.

You can listen to these webcasts later as audio-only podcasts by subscribing to the NoodleCast RSS feed:

However, I hope that you’ll join the live webcast, because that’s more exciting and lively than the podcast. People chat merrily amongst themselves while watching the webcast. And I love the immediate feedback of a live audience — the funny quips, serious comments, and follow-up questions. So please join the live webcast when you can!

You can support the Rationally Selfish Webcast (and Podcast) contributing to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. If you would prefer to send a check, please send it to “Diana Hsieh; P.O. Box 851; Sedalia, CO 80135.” Please write “RS Webcast” in the memo field.

Even if you’re unable to contribute financially, I’m grateful if you take a moment to help me spread the word about the Rationally Selfish Webcast to anyone you think might be interested. Send an e-mail about the webcast to friends, share the event for the next webcast on Facebook, and “like” the Rationally Selfish Page on Facebook.

I hope to see you on Sunday morning!

Objectivist Roundup

 Posted by on 26 May 2011 at 1:00 pm  Objectivist Roundup
May 262011
 

The Objectivist Roundup is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

Try Reason! hosted this week’s Objectivist Roundup. Go take a look!

You can submit your blog article to the next edition of The Objectivist Roundup using this submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found here. If you’re an Objectivist blogger, you can get weekly reminders to submit to the carnival by subscribing to OBloggers @ OList.com.

Hsieh Cited in IBD on Medicare Rationing

 Posted by on 26 May 2011 at 7:00 am  Activism, Health Care
May 262011
 

The May 16th Investor’s Business Daily quoted me in their article, “Will Congress Kill ‘Death Panel 2.0′?” Here’s the relevent excerpt:

While IPAB defenders say the law specifically bars rationing, critics argue that cutting provider payments would have that effect.

They say IPAB-imposed payment cuts could accelerate doctors’ exodus from Medicare, restricting seniors’ access to care. In 2009, 13% of family doctors said they didn’t participate in Medicare, up from 6% in 2004, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“Its power to set payments to doctors and hospitals would give it de facto rationing power,” Paul Hsieh, a Denver-based physician, noted in his IPAB analysis.

(Read the full text of “Will Congress Kill ‘Death Panel 2.0′?“)

The “IPAB analysis” they are referring to is my PajamasMedia piece from 4/22/2011, “We Call It ‘Rationing,’ Obama Calls It ‘Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board’“.

I’m honored and delighted to be cited by such a high-profile outlet as Investor’s Business Daily, and I’d like to thank PajamasMedia (including editors David Steinberg and Aaron Hanscom) for providing such a friendly outlet for my work.

(See the full list of my PajamasMedia writings.)

Open Thread #271

 Posted by on 25 May 2011 at 11:00 am  Open Thread
May 252011
 

2011-05-01 May 041

For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

NoodleFood’s Wednesday and Sunday Open Threads feature creative commons photographs from Flickr that I find interesting. I hope that you enjoy them!

Video: Responsibility and Wealth

 Posted by on 25 May 2011 at 7:00 am  Business, Ethics, Videocast
May 252011
 

In Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast, I answered the following question about wealth and responsibility from Objectivist Answers:

Doesn’t greater wealth entail greater responsibility? If you have amassed a great fortune, don’t you also have to shoulder a greater responsibility to society and your fellow man than others? After all, success in business doesn’t occur in a vacuum: it always depends on the community to some extent. People like Michael Bloomberg or George Lucas know that they would not be where they are today without some pretty significant assistance from others. So shouldn’t they assume more responsibility for their fellow man than others?

Here’s my brief answer, now posted to YouTube:

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