Sunday, September 26, 2010

Modern Science Map

Crispian Jago's Modern Science Map (original post). I can't vouch for its accuracy (treat it as you would the content of a Wikipedia entry, since it contains links thereto), but the concept and execution is awesome!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Writing and learning

I'm still not happy with my writing. For instance, Part Two is not all that clear, and lacks sufficient concretisation. The work on justifying the state as such also needs to be significantly redone, almost from scratch. And I am also going over my Constitution with a colder eye after some comments made to me elsewhere and me also independently realising that there are bits that ought be excised entirely. Of course, blogging etiquette requires that edits be marked as such, so they will be.

That is what I am here for. It's why I blog, to write, as well as on particular topics of interest to me. I have no illusions of being majorly influential here, but I publish it because now and then people have made identifications from previous blogging efforts of mine that they never realised before. Nor am I likely any time soon to be as good as Gus van Horn or Jim May, but in time I will get there, and continue to move under my own steam. Until then, I don't mind putting up material that is not greatly cringe-worthy and which a few mostly good people can mine for value.


Friday, September 24, 2010


Kelly Elmore has Objectivism Roundup 167 up and ready at Reepicheep's Coracle! I had submitted the photos post to the previous Roundup, but I missed the deadline by *that much*.


Fractional Reserve Banking, revisted - Part Three

Part Three – The other arguments and last words

Since I am an opponent of the practice, I will begin by dealing with the other arguments in favour of the practice. After that I will deal with other major arguments against the practice and show why they are also wrong.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fractional Reserve Banking, revisted - Part Two

Part Two – The problem with fractional reserve banking

In this Part I show the reasons why the practice of fractional reserve banking has nothing to offer. The physical argument consists of demonstrating the fact that the practice has a net negative influence on the drivers of real capital formation, and so leads to there being less total production than would exist without the practice. The monetary argument consists of naming and shaming the practice for what it is – mere monetary expansion – and showing that every deleterious consequence normally associated with such expansion applies equally strongly to the practice.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fractional Reserve Banking, revisted - Part One

Since this topic has been done to death, and since under laissez-faire the practical problem is more or less negligible, unless you’re particularly interested in my thoughts feel free to roll your eyes and skip right over this one. I’m only bringing it up because of Dr Binswanger’s semi-regular reiteration of his belief of there being nothing wrong with it either morally or economically. I agree with the former, but not the latter. The wrongness with it today is a technical matter, no more than that. The historical origin of the practice does show grievous immoralities, but that is only particular implementations and doesn’t address the actual principles.

This Part One deals with what the practice is and what its major consequences in the first instance are. Part Two goes into the details to show why the practice has no merit. And then, Part Three responds to various arguments used by others on both the pro and anti sides.

Update: I've since done a post on how much one can draw from historical empirical data.

Dr Brook to speak in Sydney

Dr Brook is coming to Australia for a presentation on the 11th October this year in the Tattersalls Club in Sydney. The topic is the moral case for capitalism. I'll need to check with the boss because I live halfway across the country and will need to take a whole day off work, but I will certainly try to make it.

In the process I also discovered the Sydney Ayn Rand Meetup group, which I hadn't heard of before. I am not liable to go very often, but I would like to know what's on and when in the event that I am in town at the time.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

One JJM helps another

JJMcCullough's cartoons have long made me smile, so...
... how could I resist? *chinkchink* $25.

I pointed this one out to Zip not long after JJ published it. He just smiled and kept mum :)


New Q&A site

A new Objectivist Question & Answer site is up and running. Looks interesting, but to be really valuable there would have to be people involved who remember to keep answers on both a principles and concrete level, lest it become a mere source of out-of-context casuistry.

For those who want to promote it more on their own websites or blogs, the FAQ page has HTML code for your templates.

Edit: it is moderated by Greg Perkins, and so far the main answerers are doing both. Good. I've made my first contributions for this question and this question, awaiting Greg's approval.


Friday, September 17, 2010


I've decided to check out Twitter - I'm @jjmcvey.

Btw, the offending photo is:

The scar was caused by my boss's dog biting my face while I was trying to feed him, about three years ago.

When I set up this blog I was reluctant to upload it for fairly obvious reasons, but I figured that since I've had that photo up on ObjectivismOnline for years now it might as well stay in place for my general online presence until I get a new one done.


Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense

Hat tip: Zoe Brain. Creator: Crispian Jago.


New Constitution, v12.1

(Edit: I did not know it was Constitution Day in the US when I made this post - the timing was pure coincidence. I, despite not being an American, will be forever grateful that a group of men risked life and limb to found a country on such admirable principles, and draw much inspiration from what they achieved on this day in 1787. Thank you.)

I've completed a review of my Constitution after finding Google Sites. In due time I will make my Site dedicated to large articles on politics and economics, but for the time being it's what Google allows as a "file cabinet." Here's the URL. I'll sort out the existing commentary soon, too, and resume making new commentary when that's done. That too, will be in a separate file, which will grow over time. That means essentially that the blogposts I do here will be the individual extracts from that file.

For the record, it is version 12 because I've been writing this over the course of 15 years. Versions 1.1 to 10.5 were previously published under the IRC name "Legendre", with the last being updated in 2003. I hadn't touched it after that until I joined ObjectivismOnline. The version previously published on this blog I called v11.1, so since I did a major structural change the new version is 12.1.

Changes from v11.1 ...


Jason Stotts has the latest Objectivism Round-Up in Erosophia.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lake Eyre 2010

This is about a third of the photos I took this weekend. Unfortunately they don't really give the sense of scale. If it helps, most of these photos were taken at about 5000 feet.

(Edit: I don't think what I thought was the Painted Desert was in fact the Painted Desert. Apparently the actual place was about 100k north-west of William Creek, and when we left we headed south.)

(Edit 2: Go Johnny GO!!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Response to anarchism: answer 2

To reiterate, the answer to the first question was that a man had a right to intervene unilaterally in others’ disputes existed when those others were using or were about to use force because the principles being used or set up by those others had a clear implication for that first man. It is in his interests to see to it, in at least some form and with major caveats, that principles and precedents in the use of force that are too much at variance with reason do not get a foothold within the minds of other men who are frequently in proximity to him (usually meaning those in his society), because those bad principles and precedents could be used against him. What else they do, outside their use of force, is not his concern, but when they are using force it becomes very much his concern.

The second question was how such a right lead to justifying a single government that rightfully had the monopoly on the non-emergency use of force. Again, I am presuming that most people recognise their moral obligations to act rationally and live according to principle, whose application to the use of force is the basis for that right and is the main part of the caveats surrounding its implementation.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Jenn has the latest edition of the Objectivist Roundup available for your thinking and acting pleasure!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Technical updates

Just a quick note: Google Sites looks like a good replacement for Geocities, and includes a variant that is expressly set up as a "File Cabinet" system for the hosting of files for public availability. I'll be using that for my Constitution and other thoughts in future, along with an actual page relating to and organising the material.


Flaming June

Peter Cresswell has an image of Frederic Lord Leighton's "Flaming June" up. I have a print of this on my bedroom wall, approximately 2' by 3', which I got from the Art Gallery of New South Wales in the Domain in Sydney. He writes:
I think we need some beauty to remind us why life is worth living.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Response to anarchism: answer 1

Here’s the answer I came up with to the first question I left you with before. I will get to the second one tomorrow or Friday (but if not by Friday it will be on Sunday or Monday because I am taking a weekender that includes a joy-flight over Lake Eyre - I'll bring back lots of photos).

That first question was, how does one demonstrate some sort of right to intervene in others’ disputes at no disputants’ request and demand that they settle the disputes reasonably? Steve had this mostly right. The right comes from that the establishment or cementing of various principles of action in others’ minds may be identifiable as a causative factor in a future threat to one’s own interests, where those principles must include reference to use of force because this inclusion then generates the potential of being made subject to those principles and therefore justifies some sort of response through invoking the right to self-defence.

In regards to criminal action, unreasonable behaviour during the hearing of the dispute itself clearly indicates that someone is apt to be unreasonable in their general exercise of their right to use force in self-defence, but there is more than that to consider and the principle at issue covers all stages of the justice process. In the detection of crimes, how an aggrieved or representative thereof gathers evidence or other information is implicitly establishing principles of this and which may be applied in the future to me, not just by that aggrieved but by others following his cue. For example, when there is sufficient evidence for strong suspicion but not belief for guilt beyond reasonable doubt there are grounds for further evidence-gathering activities that would ordinarily be a breach of rights. Whoever invokes this against another is making it clear that they presume authority to invoke it against me, so I am justified in responding with force to ensure the establishment of the principle of using reason in its invocation even though I have no concrete interest in any particular matter at the time. Similarly, in sentencing of the guilty, an excessive sentence is itself a violation of the guilty party’s rights and, by implication, a threat to my own rights in the event I am guilty of something, while an inadequate sentence insufficiently discourages any others to commit crimes and which again puts me in the firing line. And so on.

The application of the right is broader than just criminal action, and covers civil action as well. A civil dispute ought to be settled privately if it can be, where ordinarily outside parties don’t have the right to intervene (hence to that extent Steve was partly right). However, if the dispute goes far enough such that each party is beginning to think of invoking its right to self-defence to defend what each believes is his entitlements, then again principles regarding the use of force are being put into play and give an opening for others to intervene, even without either party calling for such intervention. As with criminal cases, it is not just the resolution alone that is at issue, but also that one’s interest in the principles of the use of force includes interim measures prior to final resolution. For instance, if there is sufficient evidence for it someone may be justified in demanding that someone pause acting for a while until some investigation of potential for non-criminal but rights-violating action is undertaken, such as the question of whether a miner’s blasting is improperly destabilising someone else’s property above. That then leads a right to seek injunctions and other court orders, which are examples of remedies I mentioned in comments earlier. I am justified in taking an active interest in how such a right is invoked and using force myself in response to ensure that it is invoked reasonably.

In these examples and others like them, plus others still I could discuss, it is most definitely in my interests that the course of justice actually follows the virtue of justice and all the other virtues as appropriate. Moreover, because the security of rights in principle are at stake, the principles regarding the use of force are being invoked where it is clearly implied that I may be made subject to them in future, I in turn am justified in invoking my right to self-defence to ensure that reason and justice prevail not just in concrete but as principles that people are expected to adhere to. To deny there being any right to intervene in disputes is to deny the existence of principles and to eviscerate the right of self-defence. But the in-principle existence of such a right does not translate to carte-blanche right to action even if one were dedicated to being reasonable in acting, so the obvious next questions are of when do I have sufficient grounds for this and how am I entitled to act when I do have grounds. We’ll come back to that later because it is part of the answer to the second question.


Friday, September 3, 2010

I write like...

I found this on Myrhaf's old website on the off-chance he'd written something new there:

I write like
Jonathan Swift

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

This is after me plugging in the first half dozen paragraphs from my chapter on value. I haven't read anywhere near enough of Swift (I think I read Gulliver's Travels, oh, twenty years or so ago as a child) to say whether I am tickled or irritated by the comparison, but I must say I do like this line from his epitaph: "Go forth, Voyager, and copy, if you can, this vigorous (to the best of his ability) Champion of Liberty."



Shea has OR164 fresh out of the oven! Get it while its hot! Good thing, too, it's been cold and wet down here today. Go on, tuck in!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

The impudence of authoritarians

Feh - each and every impudence condemning some thing has an equal and opposite impudence enjoining that same thing. Barely twelve hours between reports! Impudent bastards the lot of them.

The same one root impudence is not simply that the needs of collective are the primary consideration, but that the mere fact of man's capacity for choice and its exercise by private individuals in pursuit of their own desires irritates the hell out of the authoritarians. Some are still old-school thieves, while others are newly-revived older-school puritans. Whichever type the authoritarians are, leaving people to go to hell in their own damn way, to quote Wild Bill Hickock a la Deadwood, is of course out of the question.

(Edit: title fix)


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Response to anarchism: the questions

I've been mulling this one over for a while, but haven't researched it, so, yet again, I have no idea how original I am. I'm just putting my thoughts out there.

Everything in our social existence, including the operations of government, must be applications of what is right and wrong for individuals to do. Each individual must be able to identify what they are morally entitled to do and morally obliged to accept that others are morally entitled to do, at least in the first instance of such action. In regards to government, the anarchist is one who never gets past that final caveat, and says that there is only that "first instance" in all cases. They are not querying the use of voluntary mediation, for instance, but of the existence of the state, of a body embued with a monopoly on the non-emergency use of retaliatory force. It is that monopoly they reject, not the existence of a body as such. So, how does one respond to this without relying solely on mere pragmatic reference to separation of whim and force? How does one fully justify one's insistence for such a monopoly and even the right to enforce it upon others at the point of a gun?

After some thought I discovered that is actually quite simple in principle. Here's my thesis: if, when two parties A and B have a dispute, one can demonstrate that in at least some circumstances third party C is morally entitled to unilaterally intervene in that dispute and demand that it be settled in such-and-such reasonable fashion on pain of both A and B being subject to C's retaliation independently of the content of the dispute A and B have, and justify this unilateral intervention on the basis of C's own rational self-interests as an individual rather than reference to social good or whatnot, then as a matter of principle one has blown anarchism out of the water and has given the foundation of the State while retaining the principles of rationality, egoism and the inviolability of the rights of man all with their full force.

Reference to rights as the means to making society subject to the moral law, and of having a single body with a monopoly whose reason for being is so that the use of force is separated from the potential for individual whim, while entirely correct, comes after that. With that I leave you for now with two related questions: how does one make such a demonstration as a matter of principle, and, how does this translate into the State and all this entails? Have a think, and post a comment if you care to.