Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I O and S regarding value, Part One

I've been taken to task for stating that there are no such things as subjective values in the philosophical sense of the word subjective. I don't dispute that there is a phenomenon that the layman calls subjective value, but that's not the problematic meaning.

In the realm of philosophy I have always taken intrinsicism and subjectivism to mean two epistemological methodologies that arise out of two variants of the primacy-of-consciousness view in metaphysics. What differentiated the two was the relationship of the subject to the consciousness that has the primacy: the intrinsicist holds that the subject's consciousness does nothing, while the subjectivist holds that the subject's consciousness (privately or as part of a group) does everything. If what I think about subjectivism is wrong then it is likely that my entire understanding of the broader matter is also in error and not just in relation to values.

The whole treatise is far from complete, and is going to take me a long time to get all the necessary research done. In the meantime, here’s the summary of what I had thought in general (ie not specifically tied to value), if for no other reason than to let a reader know that I haven't forgotten the issue.

My Constitution, Section 22

Section 22 - Offences in Australia

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Damn googledocs

DAMMIT googledocs is a PITA to use. I noticed an omission in the section on the issue of warrants so I tried to update the files there. That's finally done after a painful mess-around involving deleting the original published doc, uploading the new one, and republishing it, because the internal edit and save function didn't work. I then discovered that GD oh so thoughtfully decided to mess around with the automatic numbered lists I had created for my original word documents! On ALL of them. Oh JOY!

All I want is some place to host a few PDFs or word Docs, and maybe some ads to pay for it, is that too much to friggin ask?? Geocities please come back. *sigh*

JJM

My Constitution, Section 20

Section 20 - Weights and measures

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Constitution, Section 19

Section 19 - Certainty of law

The general theme is that justice requires that a man know what the law is in order for him to be held accountable for his actions in light of it. The basis is man as the Reasonable Person, and a presumption of a reasoned culture.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Constitution, Section 18

Section 18 - Equality before the law

Agora

This movie looks as though it could be brilliant. It is a rendition of the story of Hypatia, an influential philosopher and mathematician who studied and taught at the Library of Alexandria, Egypt, near the end of the (Western) Roman Empire in the early fifth century. Ostensibly it seems to be about the concrete event, but it is much more than that.

(update: hat-tip goes to CiceroSC)

I haven't seen it myself (I will probably have to buy a copy from Amazon, it being highly unlikely to be shown out in the Australian bush), so I am going by the trailer and the bits and pieces I have picked up from the web, along with what I know about the history itself (note: Carl Sagan's relation of her story in Cosmos seems to be a tad off, according to some). Warning: spoiler for those who don't know the story.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everybody!

This is my first few real days off in six weeks (the other 'days off' have been shift turnaround days on the weekend spent mostly in bed recovering), and so I am putting my feet up for a while! I had a biiiiig sleep-in yesterday (an indulgent 11 hours!), and I needed it! I feel much better now, and got a good quality regulation 8 last night.

It's a good day today, 24 degrees C (about 75F), light cloud, and light wind. It's Australian summer, but we haven't been getting large quantities of hot days for years. Indeed, we have had just three really hot days this month and it's been 20's (70's) and low 30's (high 80's) for the rest of the month. Not that I am complaining!

What I don't like, though, is that the summer rains we have had is making previously dormant caltrop seeds germinate. Every other day I am out the back combing the ground for those characteristic leaf structures, then digging underneath the point it comes out of the ground then pulling the whole damn thing up by its taproot. If I keep this up I should get most of them this year, and have much less to do next year. But at least the weather is good for that work!

Anyway, a very Merry Christmas to you all and I hope it is a good one! TTFN

JJM

Monday, December 21, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Leadership by the coalface

I work in a place that is on the edge of shutdown-vs-reopen and was in mothballs until two months ago, which it had been in since March (until then I ran the QC lab). Officially I am one plant operator among a small number, but unofficially I am the plant superintendent and should the plant be fully opened again it will be made official, whereupon I’ll be site 2IC. As part of that I’m in training for the position, but I've also thinking about leadership as such, mostly for that prospective work but also for when the boss is away and I'd be the go-to man for the duration.

The reason I am busy at the moment is because of unexpected changes to plans made by higher management. December quota has been increased by another 37.5%, and to meet it we now have to work every day that isn’t a public holiday. We had previously been told that we wouldn’t be working in December and as a result many guys had made plans for travel and the like. Since they’re off, those of us who remain have to carry the load. In fact, from the 19th to the 24th it will be myself and another supervisor who will be doing the main plant operation work 12hrs a day each because everyone else will be on holiday! (So, other than this post and one more I have coming regarding a reader’s comment about my value theory, originating elsewhere, I probably wont be doing major pieces for the rest of the year.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Constitution, Section 14

Section 14 - Reasonable treatment while not at full liberty

Monday, December 14, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Busy

I'm working long hours this weekend, and will likely stay very busy until the 19th. I'll still post something besides the comments on my Constitution, but not with the same pace as previously.

On the pace note, I am going to try to write at least one, preferably two, good pieces a week that I think worth submitting to Objectivist Roundup. Extra work is apt to be much less polished and shorter.

JJM

My Constitution, Section 8

Section 8 - Freedom of movement

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Temperature rising

I noted earlier that a root of war had been laid by the increasing blame being placed on China for problems in the US economy of the US government's own making. Now the EU is following the same tack.

My Constitution, Section 6

Section - 6 Freedom of action and its defence

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Concretes and integration in industry

While idly reading some of the magazines on the lunchroom table at work I came across the September 2009 issue of Climate Control News, a trade magazine for the Australian HVACR industry. What caught my attention was the article on the second to last page: “Will the real economy please stand up?”. That title is provocative in itself, but even more interesting was the editor’s lead-in:

Short-term interventions like the solar rebate and automotive industry packages are prime examples of how markets can become distorted. They also make it difficult to plan ahead, something all businesses need to do, David Styles argues.

How could any Objectivist not find that intriguing? Unfortunately, despite that introduction and some good points throughout the article, Styles’ piece isn’t exactly a shining example of objectivity and moral certitude.

My Constitution, Section 5

Section 5 - Sound-mind status

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Constitution, Section 4

Section 4 - The primacy of the life and liberty of individuals

In their hour of triumph?

As plenty of others have noted now, the CRU scandal is looking more like an inside job, or perhaps even just total incompetence in IT management. Still, with the thought that it was a hack and the data was stolen, along with that AGW is a key element in plans for global-government that decent-minded folk oppose, and that, in essence, environmentalism is a hokey religion, am I the only one who has thought of this scene early on in the original Star Wars movie?

Hapless officer: "Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjour up the stolen data tapes, nor given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebel's hidden for..."

Vader: "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

Question: who would be who?

As to the post title, think "Copenhagen". Of course, the next question is, are we overestimating out chances?

JJM

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Laying down a root of war

There are Congressmen complaining about the Chinese government’s monetary policy, again. It’s the same complaint I’ve seen a number of times over the last several years: the Chinese government’s maintenance of a peg of the Yuan to the US dollar is manipulation of the Yuan. By implication, the Congressmen are saying that US monetary policies and practices are all above board.

In fact, both governments are guilty of currency manipulation. The essence of method is the same in both cases, namely the generation of fiat currency from thin air and using it to manipulate a particular market price. The essence of motive is also the same, this being to try to advance their economies. Likewise the immediate consequences are the same, that their respective money supplies are being markedly increased and the value of a unit falling against other currencies. The difference lies in that the price that the Chinese government is targeting is the exchange rate with the US dollar, whereas the price that the US Fed is targeting is the US overnight cash rate.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My Constitution, Section 2

Section 2 - Application to Australian jurisdictions

Section 2 is a dictionary of crucial concepts relating to government and governance. They are not the only concepts that are defined, but they are the ones most needed to get things started because they will be invoked from very early on.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Constitution, Section 1

Section 1 - Moral principles underlying the fundamental right to life and liberty

A draft objective Constitution for Australia

Over the course of the last 10 years or so I'd been writing my own proposed Constitution for Australia. I've now put the chapters on Google Docs for the time being, and when I get around to properly doing up the layout around here I will put the links in the sidebar. In the meantime, the links are:

Preamble and Index
Chapter One - Bill of Rights
Chapter Two - Operation of the Federal Government
Chapter Three - The Legislature
Chapter Four - The Executive
Chapter Five - The Judicature
Chapter Six - Interaction between Australian Governments
Chapter Seven - Amending the Constitution

I'll also be posting one section per day (or so), along with my reasoning behind why I wrote that section why I did.

JJM

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Extracts from my economics grimoire

I've been slowly writing my own economics book ("my grimoire" is how I sometimes personally refer to it) for a few years now. I've made chapters 2 and 3 available online via google-docs - not the best of places, but it will do for the moment until I find a better file hosting place now that yahoo has pulled the plug on geocities.

It's incomplete, and has a lot of cross-referencing you wont have the context for, but there's enough there for people who are about the content rather than academic niceties.

Edit: Different link

JJM

PBI

When starting to read this article I was ambivalent at first - I'm skeptical of modern psychology, but I also know they're not all bad. I certainly don't know enough to make a definitive statement, but my understanding is that a fair proportion of psychological problems arise from bad methods of thought and bad content. For all I know, Dr Seligman might have had legitimate improvements on these to offer soldiers. He is certainly quite right to connect the phenomenon in soldiers with the same for everyone and connect it to the broader question of how we approach life as such and deal with problems in it.

But then I read this:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Principle, that's the key

Here's a comment I posted to Samizdata on this thread:

Rule of law means action and interpretation according to principles, independently of the particular concerns of the actor or interpreter - this is in part what is behind the principle of precedent in common law, for instance. Generally, these principles are established by long and reasoned thought by reference to grander principles, and they in turn to grander still, up to the great principles of morality and just philosophy of law. These great principles, ideally, are discovered objectively at leisure and far removed from the pressing needs of individual cases, and, with that in mind, clearly what makes a given implementation of rule of law good or bad is the nature of those top-most principles.

Rule of men means action and interpretation according to the concerns solely of the actor or interpreter, in disregard for anyone else's opinion or established principles. The actor in question may well indeed have principles to guide action and be well-meaning, but they are disconnected from what was generally understood as a given law was intended to deal with. For that reason rule of men is an evil, even if the principles esposed by the men at the time would objectively be identified as good, because then nobody really knows what the law is and is thus made subject to arbitrary law. Precisely because it is rule by men and not by principles, what one actor does may well be seriously contradicted by a future actor, and who the hell can operate with any degree of long-range concern in an environment like that!?

Rule of principle by means of bad principle is superior to rule by even the most well meaning of men. People must be able to understand what the law is, for good or for ill, for them to make judgement of right and wrong and what to do about it. If the principles in question get really bad then the proper solution is NOT to espose rule by men but to overturn those damn things and establish new principles in their place. Yes, that includes by revolutionary violence if necessary - and that action and what it is intended to achieve must be objectively determined as required and itself operate by reference to principles.

Without understanding of the concept of principle the idea of rule of law will be found either meaningless or at least indistinguishable from rule by men - and THAT, not simply bad principle and not even evil machinations, is what is driving the push for ever more detailed controls over our lives. If you want to put a stop to this, then find out what principle means, what the right principles are, and abandon the ideas of expediency and pragmatism.


I'll expand on it eventually and post the results here.

Note to self - remember to include this blog URL in the box marked URL...

JJM

GFC?

An extract of a discussion in the Objectivism Online chatroom:

Mikee: "GFC"?
Me: Global Financial Crisis. That's the cute name they've given it.
Mikee: Heh, sounds like a hydrofluorocarbon.

JJM

Resurgence of interest in Mech and Elec Eng

Courtesy of the Ace of Spades I read this WSJ peice about the return of hands-on engineering (primarily mech and elec), chiefly at the expense of software and computer engineering. I'm initially trained in electrical engineering myself.

Blogging again

I’ve decided to start blogging again. My previous blog, The Usurer, died a long time ago.

It’s just a place for me to post observations, thoughts, and questions. A lot of the thoughts will be dry academic material (there will be warning signs for the uninterested so they can skip it), and I have enough of that alone for one post a day for a few years. There are also occasional bits and pieces I have published elsewhere that I intend to clean up and publish here.

The major topics will be philosophy, economics, and business, though the first wont be in considerable depth. Additional topics will be my thoughts on things I come across, and could cover almost anything, though most likely either they are about me personally or will relate to my values.


JJM