Preview: Philosophy in Action Webcast

 Posted by on 30 November 2011 at 3:00 pm  Announcements
Nov 302011
 

In my live Philosophy in Action Webcast on Sunday morning, I’ll answer questions on the principle of sustainability, playing practical jokes on kids about Ewoks, donating sperm or eggs anonymously, revealing atheism to inquisitive strangers, and more. Please join us for this hour of lively discussion, where we’ll apply rational principles to the challenges of living virtuous and happy lives!

  • What: Live Philosophy in Action Webcast
  • Who: Diana Hsieh (Ph.D, Philosophy) and Greg Perkins
  • When: Sunday, 4 December 2011 at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET
  • Where: www.PhilosophyInAction.com

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

  • Question 1: The Principle of Sustainability: What’s wrong with the principle of sustainability? In the discussion of “sustainable agriculture” in your October 9th webcast, you didn’t explain the problem with the basic principle of the “sustainability movement,” namely “that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Doesn’t that just mean respecting rights? If not, what does it mean and why is it wrong?
  • Question 2: Playing Practical Jokes on Kids about Ewoks: Should parents play practical jokes on their kids, such as pretending that Ewoks are real? As recounted in Wired, a father told his kids that Ewoks from Star Wars lived in the Sequoia National Forest. On their recent family vacation, they made a game of looking for these imaginary Ewoks. Afterwards, the father photoshopped a few Ewoks into the family vacation pictures. Are these kinds of deceptions harmless or are they bad parenting? The father said: “Maybe I’m a little wrong for lying to her and falsifying the pictures, but I don’t care. She’ll never forget the time she spent in the big woods with Ewoks.”
  • Question 3: Donating Sperm or Eggs Anonymously: Is it moral to anonymously donate sperm or eggs, not knowing how the resulting children will be raised? Is the answer the same for donating fertilized embryos left over from an in vitro fertilization procedure, where the DNA is both yours and your spouse’s?
  • Question 4: Revealing Atheism to Inquisitive Strangers: Should I reveal my atheism to strangers when asked? I work at a hospital. One night a patient asked me if I’m religious. I answered yes. He then asked me if I believed that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins. I answered yes. Then he took my hand and prayed for me. Immediately, I felt guilty, because I lied in answering these questions. In fact, I’m an atheist. The next day, I told the patient the truth, and he thanked me for my honesty. What should I have done in answering his original questions?

After that, we’ll do a round of totally impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”

If you can’t attend the live webcast, you can listen to these webcasts later as audio-only podcasts by subscribing to the NoodleCast RSS feed:

You can also listen to full episodes or just selected questions from any past episode in the Webcast Archive. Also, don’t forget to submit and vote on the questions that you’d most like me to answer from the ongoing Question Queue.

I hope to see you on Sunday morning!

Naked Man Bales Himself

 Posted by on 30 November 2011 at 2:00 pm  Funny, WTF
Nov 302011
 

This video of a man putting himself through a hay baler… what can I possibly say?!?

 

Yesterday, my letter to the editor in support of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s campaign finance reforms was published in the Denver Post. Here’s the letter:

Re: “Gessler pushes rules rewrite,” Nov. 24 news story.

I applaud Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s reforms of Colorado’s onerous campaign finance rules, despite his recent loss in court.

As an occasional political activist, I know that Colorado’s campaign finance regulations are burdensome and intimidating. When Ari Armstrong and I wrote policy papers against the “personhood” amendments in 2008 and 2010, I was obliged to report $20 expenditures and contributions, as well as publish the names and addresses of our supporters. I couldn’t afford to hire lawyers or accountants. I struggled to understand and comply with the law, fearing fines of $50 per day per violation.

The current rules strongly discourage ordinary people from speaking out on ballot measures, as the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals recognized. Gessler’s reforms, while limited, are an important step in the direction of greater freedom of speech.

Diana Hsieh, Sedalia

This letter was published in the Nov. 29 edition.

You can go to the web page to leave a comment in support of free speech. I’ve already replied to two early comments. The first comment said, “Money isn’t speech, Diana, and if you have a problem with open elections and full disclosure, you’re in the wrong country.” (Lovely, no?) The next comment attempted to defend me, but wrongly, saying “it sounds as if Diana is a small political activists who is complaining about burdensome laws that are designed for political organizations, not for someone who got $20 to help offset some costs.”

Here’s my comment in reply:

I’m the writer of the letter. In the Secretary of State’s May 2011 hearing about raising the reporting threshold for issue committees, I testified about my experiences — my difficulties, rather — in attempting to comply with the law. That’s posted to my blog here:

http://www.philosophyinaction.com/blogger/…

I support free speech for everyone, not just for small-time activists but for large groups too. However, I am a small-time activist, and the law definitely burdens me disproportionately.

As a matter of free speech, people should be able to support and assist other people to speak with their money, without having their private information posted for all the world to see. To say that “money isn’t speech” is wrong: money enables people to speak and to speak for others, and that is part and parcel of free speech. Otherwise, free speech means nothing more than my power to talk to my dogs while alone in my house.

Finally, mark your calendars:

  • Ari Armstrong and I will discuss Colorado’s campaign finance laws on Wednesday, December 7th, at Liberty on the Rocks in Denver. I’ll post a full announcement of this event in a few days.
  • Ari and I will also be speaking at the Thursday, December 15th, at the Secretary of State’s campaign finance reform hearing in Denver. You can find details about the meeting and the proposed rule changes in this PDF. I’ll post more about this hearing next week, but I’d very much appreciate anyone willing to attend the hearing in person to testify. If that’s not feasible, you can submit written testimony.

For the Coalition for Secular Government, this election cycle is quickly becoming our busiest ever. The personhood movement is on the march, and to defend abortion rights, we need to defend our right to speak freely too.

Nov 292011
 

In this brief clip from a 1995 interview, Steve Jobs speaks about the importance of living a life that’s fully your own, rather than accepting limits imposed by others. Implicitly, he’s drawing on the distinction between the metaphysically given and the man-made:

Here’s another short clip from the same interview on the importance of being willing to act in pursuit of what you want. I love the benevolence in the initial discussion of asking for and giving help!

Nov 292011
 

Thailand’s government has warned Facebook users they could face criminal prosecution “if they press ‘share’ or ‘like’ on images or articles considered unflattering to the Thai monarchy.”

Even more alarming, this was used against a Thai-born US citizen who wrote a book about the Thai monarchy while living in the US, then was arrested when he visited Thailand for medical reasons. (Via /.)

A few related stories from the NYT:

American Arrested for Insulting Thai King“, 27 May 2011
A High-Tech War Against Slights to a Centuries-Old Monarchy“, 2 Oct 2011
20-Year Sentence for Text Messages Against Thai King“, 23 Nov 2011

The closest I’ve found here in the United States is this story in Forbes: “High School Student Punished For Joking Tweet About Governor Brownback“.

She insulted Kansas governor Brownback saying, “Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked”.

In the Kansas case, the punishment would administered by the school in response to a complaint from Brownback’s office. According to the Forbes piece, she has considered submitting to the school punishment “because she didn’t want a disciplinary action on her transcripts and have it affect her ability to go to college. But she is rightfully unapologetic in real life.”

Update: Kansas governor Brownback has apologized on behalf of his staff: “My staff overreacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize… Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.” The student likely won’t have to submit to the proposed school punishment.

Bonus from Diana, because, as Justin said on Facebook, “the Thai king is a dickhead”:

Upcoming Rationing of Neurosurgery Services?

 Posted by on 28 November 2011 at 2:00 pm  Health Care, Politics
Nov 282011
 

Update: The Snopes.com website states that the American Association of Neurological Surgeons has investigated this issue and determined that anonymous caller was likely not a neurosurgeon and that the call “contained several factual inaccuracies”. More here.

Original Post

An Illinois neurosurgeon discusses upcoming new guidelines from the Obama administration restricting how doctors can deliver medical care.

A few key points with respect to neurosurgery procedures:

Patients over age 70 with government insurance will receive “comfort care”, but not the full range of aneurysm treatment, stroke therapy, etc.

Patients are referred to as “units”, not patients.

Various devices currently approved by the FDA for “humanitarian use” and widely regarded by surgeons as medically safe and appropriate for clinical use will likely have that approval withdrawn to save money.

According to this surgeon, this information is straight from Obama administration HHS officials, although not yet published.

The physician summarizes the issue quite nicely:

You know, we always joke around — ‘it’s not brain surgery’ — but I did nine years after medical school, I’ve been in training ten years, and now I have people who don’t know a thing about what I’m doing telling me when I can and can’t operate.

(Read the full blog post, “Neurosurgeon Briefed by HHS“. Link via @SonoDoc99.)

Anyone who’s read Atlas Shrugged will recognize the similarity between this surgeon’s observations and this quote from the fictional Dr. Hendricks (also a neurosurgeon):

Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I could not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward…

Many Americans (including my own and Diana’s parents) are over 70 years old yet in reasonably good health. They’d likely be denied life-saving neurosurgical care in the near future if these guidelines take effect.

But just don’t call it rationing.

[Crossposted from the FIRM blog.]

NoodleCast #107: Live Philosophy in Action Webcast

 Posted by on 28 November 2011 at 8:00 am  NoodleCast
Nov 282011
 

On Sunday, 27 November 2011, I broadcast a new episode of my live Philosophy in Action Webcast, where I answer questions on the application of rational principles to the challenges of living a virtuous, happy, and free life in a live, hour-long webcast. The webcast is broadcast live every Sunday morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. In the webcast, I broadcast on video, Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers is on audio, and the audience is in a text chat.

As usual, if you can’t attend the live webcast, you can listen to it later as audio-only podcast by subscribing to the NoodleCast RSS Feed:

You can also peruse the archives, listening to whole episodes or just individual questions. The archives are sorted by date and by topic.

We hope that you’ll join the live webcast, because that’s more lively and engaging than the podcast. People talk merrily in the text chat while watching the webcast. Greg and I enjoy 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!

The Podcast: Episode: 27 November 2011

Listen Now


    Duration: 1:01:47

Download the Episode

Subscribe to the Feed

The Segments: Episode: 27 November 2011

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)

Happy Post-Thanksgiving Dieting! Unfortunately, my ancient horse Tara died unexpectedly on Tuesday. Ari Armstrong and I have been busy making the final edits on our paper on abortion rights for The Objective Standard.

Question 1: The Wisdom of Friends with Benefits (3:31)

Are “friends with benefits” relationships a mistake? It is moral and/or wise to pursue sexual relationships with friends, even though you’re not in a romantic relationship? What are some of the benefits and/or pitfalls? If it’s a mistake, what should a person do to avoid such entanglements?

My Answer, In Brief: Sex is not some kind of hobby that you can add to friendship. It’s an inherently intimate act; it’s not compatible with mere friendship; and it often results in dishonest with yourself and your friend. The better alternative for people uninterested in a serious relationship is to date unseriously.

Links:

Question 2: Obligations to Help Others in Need (17:13)

Do we have an obligation to help others in need? Many people think that the need of others creates an obligation to help. Is that right or wrong? Why? When should a person help others?

My Answer, In Brief: All the arguments for moral obligations based on need fail. Every person’s life – and hence, every person’s needs – are his own responsibility. Moral obligations arise from a person’s choices, and ought to be based on shared values and interests, not mere need.

Links:

Question 3: Supporting Political Compromises (34:51)

When is it morally right or wrong to support political compromises? The marijuana legalization initiative for the 2012 Colorado ballot also specifies open-ended taxation that circumvents the protections of TABOR (the Taxpayer Bill of Rights). It specifies that the first $40 million raised goes to government schools. Both of these taxation items are compromises added to get voters to accept the marijuana legalization. Is it ethical to support more taxation to get more freedom from drug laws? Is it okay to circulate petitions to get this on the ballot so the voters can decide? More generally, when if ever should a person support political compromises that uphold some rights but violate others?

My Answer, In Brief: With mixed legislation, you need to examine the good and the bad, with particular emphasis on precedents set by the law. Sometimes, like with this measure, you should support it because the good hugely outweighs the bad, but that’s not always the case.

Links:

Question 4: Lying to a Dying Person (45:23)

Is it wrong to lie to a person on their deathbed? Is lying in such cases justified so that the dying person can “go in peace”? For instance, a man might tell his fellow soldier dying on the battlefield that his heroism helped win a critical victory, even if it actually made no difference. Or a nurse might tell a dying mother desperate to make peace with her long-estranged daughter that the daughter called to tell her she loves her, even if that didn’t happen. Is that wrong? If so, what’s the harm?

My Answer, In Brief: Honesty is a virtue, even in dealings with a person dying. To die in peace means to die in harmony with the facts, not in a state of blissful ignorance or blind evasion.

Rapid Fire Questions (55:19)

In this segment, I answered a variety of questions off-the-cuff. The questions were:

  • What do you think of the argument that it in a modern society it is wrong to not feed everyone that is starving when we are capable of producing enough food to do so?
  • What do you think of Terry Goodkind’s novels?
  • What do you think of the term “anti-choice” to describe people who oppose abortion?
  • Have you gleaned any moral lessons from caring for Dr. Gimpy these past few months?

Conclusion (1:00:42)

Comments or questions? Contact us!

Support the Webcast

The Philosophy in Action Webcast is available to anyone, free of charge. We love doing it, but it’s not free for us to produce: it requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value what we’re doing, please contribute to the webcast’s tip jar!

If you’d like to make a one-time contribution in an amount not listed, use this link. For instructions on canceling or revising your monthly contribution, visit the support page.

Thank you, if you’ve contributed to the webcast! You make our work possible every week, and we’re so grateful for that! Also, whether you’re able to contribute financially or not, we always appreciate your helping us spread the word about this webcast to anyone you think might be interested, as well as submitting and voting on questions for upcoming webcasts.

Activism Recap

 Posted by on 27 November 2011 at 2:00 pm  Activism Recap
Nov 272011
 

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

This week on Politics without God, the blog of the Coalition for Secular Government:

This week on Mother of Exiles:

This week on the blog of Modern Paleo:

Open Thread #320

 Posted by on 27 November 2011 at 10:00 am  Open Thread
Nov 272011
 

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche

For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with other 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 Open Threads feature creative commons photographs from Flickr that I find interesting. I hope that you enjoy them!

Awesome Dog Training

 Posted by on 25 November 2011 at 2:00 pm  Animals, Cool, Funny
Nov 252011
 

I’ve not done any new training with Mae for the past few months, but this inspires me!

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha