Quick Roundup 422

Monday, April 13, 2009

Collaboration and Compromise

Adam Reed sounds a note of caution regarding some of the opposition Barack Obama's economic policies have been drawing since he took office:

If you want to work against the culture of self-sacrifice, and for the Human's individual human right to pursue his own happiness on Earth, then, and especially in contexts where you find yourself on the same side of the barricade with people of mixed premises who on other issues advocate for evil, the advocate of individual rights must make sure that his own basic principles are clearly and openly defined. The alternative, of hiding principles in the name of collaboration, amounts in the long-term to philosophical and practical suicide. And to those who "cited" the exact opposite of what Ayn Rand wrote: if you venture to cite Ayn Rand, at least try first to grasp what she actually said.
I have only one thing to add: Welcome back to the blogosphere, Dr. Reed!

Objectivist Blog Directory

I am flattered to see that this blog is listed on a top twenty list of Objectivist blogs compiled by Daniel of The Nearby Pen.

A Bleg

In considering some interesting questions regarding the relationship (and the difference) between philosophy and the special sciences, I have been trying to locate a quote.

I think it is probably from Ayn Rand, but it could well have been from someone like Leonard Peikoff or Harry Binswanger. It was a sort of application of the following quote to the special sciences, although it emphasized a different perspective:
Philosophy would not tell you, for instance, whether you are in New York City or in Zanzibar (though it would give you the means to find out). (Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 2)
But the quote went something more like, "There is no 'Objectivist Psychology' ..."

If this rings a bell, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

OS on a Stick

Over about the past year, it has been my habit to visit Life Hack and Life Hacker about once a week, and I have gradually accumulated a nice set of useful tips. Most notably, I have become much better able to carry my work around with me. This has come in very handy during my bouncing around between Houston and Boston over the past few months.

First, I learned how to carry my office around wherever I go. This entailed normally working off my pen drive, and installing a suite of stand-alone applications that would enable me to use any Windows computer relatively easily.

Now, the folks at Life Hacker have a top six list of mini operating systems that can run off pen drives:
Why restrict yourself to merely carrying around your data on a thumb drive? Take your entire operating system on your flash drive with the excellent portable operating systems you'll find inside this week's Hive Five.
Between PortableApps and MobaXVT, I do just fine when I have to use someone else's computer, but I like the fact that all of these options go beyond the usual "Live CD" types of toolkits by being "able to retain settings and preferences between sessions."


And speaking of my visits to Boston, I learned quite by accident Saturday that every time I go out in public up there, I am breaking the law! (Search Term: "Boston", HT)

-- CAV


: (1) One minor correction. (2) Added image.


Jaz said...

Congrats Gus on making it #5 on that list. Your blog is one of my personal favorites as well. Your writing style and the subjects you choose to cover gives me great morsels of intellectual food for the day! Thank you for posting consistently on every week day.

Darren said...

Have you tried or heard of True Crypt? It's encryption software that lets you mount encrypted files as drives, and it's available for Windows and Linux. I use it to carry around data and applications that I wouldn't want to share with anybody, should I lose my USB drive. It lets me do things like carry around a Thunderbird email client with all of my email for the past five years around on a thumbdrive, and not worry if my the drive falls off my keychain. I'll just buy a new USB drive, copy from my backup, and be back to where I left off.

Once thumb drives get a little bigger, I'd love to switch these portable apps to a virtual Windows VM that I can carry around. Some software that I use (Visual Studio 2008, the Objectivist Research CD) don't seem to be portable-friendly just yet.

Isn't it great, and weird, that we're to the point where we can start carrying around entire operating systems with tons of software with us? I wonder how many years it will take until I'm carrying my primary computer around on my keychain instead of this little USB drive. :)

Gus Van Horn said...


Thank you for the kind words, and for your visits.


Thanks for the tip regarding True Crypt.

Your idea of just having a VM on a thumb drive is certainly technologically feasible now. These portable Linux OSes demonstrate as much. In the meantime, Portable Apps so get you part of the way there.

Yes. This is really neat!


Realist Theorist said...

Thanks for the link to Reed's article.

The higher the possibility of confusion, the more effort must be put into distinguishing one's views. So, an Objectivist needs to be more explicit that he's not a "libertarian", pretty explicit about not being a "conservative", but (today) does not really risk of being thought of as liberal, while agreeing with those three groups on specific issues.

How exactly one goes about distinguishing one's view would vary with the setting. If one is speaking to a slightly conservative group, one could make the roots of one's objections clear without turning the event into a critique of one's hosts. In contrast, with a blog or magazine, one might run enough criticism of other side so that there is no confusion.

In today's climate, Objectivists must be particular in pointing out that they are not conservative. In particular, this does not apply only to being atheists. Even in the field of economics, it means pointing out that huge fairly-secular segments of the GOP are just as guilty of wanting to undermine Capitalism.

I understand why some Objectivists might want to hold back with their criticism of conservatives in order to build bridges and leverage the weight of the bigger entity. This is tempting, but impractical. Time and again, history shows that a large party will go out of its way to accommodate what it -- initially -- sees as a more extreme smaller group. I think the tail should simply hold out for the dog to wag.

Gus Van Horn said...

It is also good to emphasize that we aren't conservatives even among liberals, many of whom need to know that capitalism is NOT based on religion, if even just to be careful about implying as much carelessly.