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Saturday, September 10, 2005 - 8:02pmSanction this postReply
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Michael Marotta writes:
>Ayn Rand allowed the symbolic or analogous use of the term "Geist" (spirit) as an attribute of a society. Passed from Nietzsche to Spengler, the Geist is the essential and perhaps ineffable summation of that which typifies a people in their time.

No big, but "Geist" in this sense actually originates with Hegel.

- Daniel





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Post 1

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 9:27amSanction this postReply
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How much of NYC was destroyed?  How many people were forced to hold up in Madison Square Garden?  How many hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee and not allowed to return?  I thought you were brighter then this and yet you're still trying to compare apples and oranges.  And of all the days to say this.  When NYC is under 20 ft of water then you can bitch and moan all you want.



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Post 2

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 10:10amSanction this postReply
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"How much of NYC was destroyed?...When NYC is under 20 ft of water then you can bitch and moan all you want."

Good point, Clarence.

The "rationalism" rather than rationality of too many Objectivists has come out in this disaster. They don't see that NYC didn't suffer a -city killing- catastrophe. They don't see that many residents of N.O. felt they had to risk the hurricane to protect property or had no relatives nearby or a way to get to them once the hurricane could no longer swerve. (Angela, I believe, pointed this out on another thread, and in thorough and unanswerable detail!!) They don't see that it is the government snafus and pork barrel spending rather than the people which caused the chain reaction of circumstances to take place.

No wonder everyone thinks we are crackpots when we say stupid, poorly thought out stuff which makes us seem like current events illiterates.

How about this for an idea?

1. Don't bend reality to fit the theoretical point you are so eager to shoehorn onto everything that moves.

2. Think inductively rather than being a shoot-from-the-hip armchair deducer.

3. Study what actually happened. Read more than one article. Check more than one intelligent commentary on the right and the left before you pontificate irresponsibly applying Objectivism clumsily and in situations where the reality is not quite what you say it is.

4. Keep your mouth shut and your powder dry until you have done your homework.

Reality, facts -- carefully studied and integrated -- come first.

Disgustedly,

Phil



Post 3

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 11:29amSanction this postReply
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I think Michael has a valid point. New York had no warning of 9/11, whereas New Orleans did have a warning of the hurricane.



Post 4

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 12:18pmSanction this postReply
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I like Michael’s article. I think he draws some valid conclusions from his observations of the two, admittedly different, events.

Do you believe that N.O. would have cleaned up and responded as effectively as NYC did if it were hit with a comparably scaled event such as 911?

Then Michael has made a valid point.

Jon




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Post 5

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 2:52pmSanction this postReply
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Jon, yes I do.  Give me one reason to believe they would have behaved any different.  New Orleans is almost as important to this nation as NYC economically so there is no reason the federal response would have been different.  True Ray Nagin is no Gulanai but considering what happened it wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference anyway.  With forewarning the WTC attack could have been adverted, the best any mayor could have done in New Orleans is tell the people to get the hell out of the city, which Nagin did I think using those exact words. 

As for evacuating, how the hell do you evacuate a major city with two days warning?  I said this before but for those of you who don't live in a hurricane prone area let me explain.  Yes we knew a hurricane was coming, there is always a goddamn hurricane coming.  Let me get this through ya'lls thick skulls, until they're like only a hundred miles away you don't know where they're going to hit.  I personally helped my parents board up out house, what like 13 years ago when Hurricane Andrew hit Louisiana.  They said it was going to hit the Texas/Louisiana border almost exactly where I live.  We evacuated to Shreveport and my dad was telling me stories of when Hurricane Audrey hit, he seen the bodies they were bringing up from the south.  And yet we left too soon, Andrew hit southcentral Louisiana and we wasted a hundred mile trip up north and hotel for 7 people for three nights.

Now I've ridden out hurricanes as well, as long as you don't live in a trailer most people don't even evacuate at anything under a cat 3 and we don't even board up under a cat 2.  Now this was a cat 5 or 4 rather when it hit and we delt with it.  Wind/rain, we know how to deal with that shit, I doubt many people in NO died from that.  We knew a hurricane was going to hit and we knew what comes with that.  The only unexpected was the levee's breaking, period.  We dealt with that what, once in the past 70 odd years?

Look at it this way, those sismographs start buzzing in San Francisco you gonna tell three million people to pack up and leave?  No, cause you don't know whats going to happen.  Look, anywhere you live shit can happen; the bedrock is a mile down where I live so we don't have earthquakes, we have hurricanes.  Elsewhere it's floods, tornado's, terrorists, etc.  And the worst the disaster the worst of our natures come out.  The terrorists hit NYC, bam a few blocks gone and everyone went home.  The tsunami hit Indonesia and the waters receded, people went to pick up what was left.  In New Orleans, the entire city was flooded and the waters didn't recede.  Troops didn't come in, bodies were left to rot, babies were starving; hell and ya'll expect people to act normally?  Give me a break, the only point Michael has shown is that he ignorant of the situiation.  I've been to Harlem and I had family who lived in the 3rd Ward of NO (the ghetto).  One ain't poorer then the other.  You see NYC on tv all you see is downtown, that ain't new york.  You see New Orleans on tv, all you see is the French Quater, that ain't New Orleans.

Michael sees a people wallowing in the swamp, no ambition and ignorant to the environment around them.  I see a people who have bravely turned an inhospitable backwater into one of the worlds great cities.  They held back the greatest river on this continent to make a home for themselves and to develop the resources that this entire nation thirsts for.  New Orleans was flooded before and it was rebuilt, it will be rebuilt again just as the World Trade Center will be.  No it won’t be the same but who knows, it might be better this time.  My point is for a while there, after  9/11, you believed in your fellow Americans to do the right thing, NYC was knocked down but there wasn’t any doubt they’d get back up again.  Well now New Orleans was knocked on its butt but don’t ya’ll dare think for a moment they’re going to stay there and ya’ll pointing ya’lls fingers saying its your fault isn’t helping.  Regardless thought, the people of Louisiana built a jewel in the middle of a swamp and believe you me, despite our flaws, we’re Americans and we’re not going to let it sink.




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Post 6

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 3:01pmSanction this postReply
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"The people of Louisiana built a jewel in the middle of a swamp and believe you me, despite our flaws, we’re Americans and we’re not going to let it sink."

That's what I want to hear, Clarence.



Post 7

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 3:54pmSanction this postReply
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Clarence,
No disrespect intended,  I'm just genuinely curious.  Why would someone who knows "there is always a goddamn hurricane coming", choose to live in that area?

California, for example, does have earthquakes but it's extremely rare for them to cause sufficient damage to motivate the 8th largest economy in the world to relocate. New York has no natural disaster producing mechanisms I know of. (Similarly Boston, Atlanta, Dallas and many other large cities.) Not to mention the vast mixed urban/non-urban areas of the US (Idaho, Colorado, Arizona, etc, etc.).

Please be assured I'm not criticizing.  I just don't understand those, particularly in, for example, Florida and Malibu where nature destroys their homes regularly.  Even given the legislative influences which make possible rebuilding with almost zero cost, there's still the considerable inconvenience, not to mention the loss of one's valued irreplaceable possessions.




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Post 8

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 5:19pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

Florida I don't know about, but here in California there is plenty of safe flat land to live on. Malibu is mostly conspicuous consumption: "See, I'm so wealthy I can afford to build a 20-million-dollar home where it will just crash down the hill in the next slide."



Post 9

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 6:15pmSanction this postReply
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Clarence: “Jon, yes I do. Give me one reason to believe they would have behaved any different.”

It’s in the article. New York works. Works hard. I’ve never been to New Orleans, but my wife was there this spring. She said there was no way to miss that everyone was quite ‘laid-back.’ Meaning, not pleasant in demeanor (although that also) but literally laying back. I’m not trying to make a put-down, but if these characterizations of the respective cultures have any merit, then I would expect that when the shit hits the fan, results will differ.

Jon




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Post 10

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 6:29pmSanction this postReply
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Rationalism, Emergencies, and Natural Disaster (continuing my post #2)


1. > Why would someone who knows "there is always a goddamn hurricane coming", choose to live in that area? Jeff, I don't mean to be impolite, but your question is a similar error to rationalism because it is so abstract and ignores the concrete issues which trump it.

Ask yourself the following to tie it to reality:

Would you say the same thing about abandoning other entire regions of the country, such as the SF Bay and Los Angeles because someday an earthquake will hit "that area"? Should all of both coasts of Florida be abandoned because each part of it will someday be in the path of a hurricane and flooded, even though it is not below sea level? What about tornado alley in the Midwest?

Once you answer these questions you can see why the plausible-sounding abstract question you ask is floating or rationalistic or vague in its abstractness. Like a bad syllogism: 1. No one should live where there a catastrophe can occur. 2. A catastrophe can occur in New Orleans. 3. Therefore, no one should live in New Orleans. (The problem is the very first premise 1: it drops all context or questions of degree with regard to risk and alternatives.)

It is a very bad question, like so many ivory tower Objectivist mis-applications of abstract "principles" because it is unintegrated with three concrete considerations:

i) risk of it hitting you personally full force,
ii) countermeasures or ways of riding out or mitigating,
iii) cost or impossibility of living anywhere that is entirely risk-free from being hammered by whatever force of nature runs amok in that particular region.

Clarence has already conclusively answered you with *facts*. And you remain unfazed and come back with moral and personal responsibility *abstractions* which are correct as general principles, but are undercut by the factual and contextual practical considerations in this case which he and I and others have already presented in clear, unanswerable fashion.

The metaphysical and epistemological point:

Ayn Rand once said the only things on earth that are fully real are concretes. Abstractions are mental shorthands or groupings of them. Concretes on the ground are what are fully real here. If someone presents factual considerations, specifics like Clarence did, you HAVE TO ENGAGE AND DEAL WITH THEM, not retreat back into your allegedly "philosophical" comfort zone. They trump abstractions which are disconnected from and do not integrate them.

2. Adam, you at least see the need to be more concrete in this matter, but your analogy of building a house on a hillside (I assume you mean a mudslide prone one, not every hillside) is far from an exact parallel and thus a similar failure to think concretely, specifically about this actual situation.

There is a huge difference in regard to both -risk- and -alternatives- between the cases of entire regions of the country I cited above and some idiot in Malibu building on a hillside in an area where it rains exactly where he is every single year and the rains never bypass him as category 5 hurricanes do almost all of the time, where the erosion is cumulative, where the subsoil is loose, and whose house is not sunk into bedrock.)

3. "New York works. Works hard... New Orleans... everyone was quite ‘laid-back.’ ... I would expect that when the shit hits the fan, results will differ."

Jon, Your point and Michael's original article are quite correct in pointing out the difference between the two ciries. The mistake is in deductively extrapolating it to *assume* that therefore in this case the NO'ers are at fault or that NYers would have acted differently. It's rationalistic.

Phil

(PS, I'm wondering whether my point on rationalism being the basic mistake here is getting across? Or if I'm getting puzzled reactions.

Does everyone know exactly what r'ism is? Did everyone take Peikoff's UO course where it is most fully elaborated? Maybe there needs to be a thread on all the insidious forms it takes and how we all fall into it from time to time?)



Post 11

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 6:32pmSanction this postReply
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Adam,

I was unclear by being too brief. I lived in Southern California for about 30 years, from San Diego to Simi Valley. (I've also been up and down the entire state dozens of times.)  I tried to suggest, but may have been unclear, that I believed its natural disaster producing mechanisms were in fact generally benign, despite some popular myths.  Certainly not serious enough to warrant moving --  in contrast to (parts of) Florida and (parts of) Malibu.  You are (I say this without insult to you) being too kind by referring to the latter as 'conspicuous consumption', but that's not likely to be a discussion worth having on this thread, and at the end of the day we would mostly agree

Thank you for your comments, in any case.

Jeff




Post 12

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 6:33pmSanction this postReply
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Phil,

A thread on rationalism could be helpful, but I think Rowlands has done a healthy level of writing on it himself.  Any thread you start would do good to maybe start with some links to readily available articles on the subject.

---Landon




Post 13

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 7:06pmSanction this postReply
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Phil,
It would be difficult to address your post properly without being insulting, but to take a page from your own playbook, you really don't have enough information about me to judge my characteristic thinking habits.  (Nor is that brief post adequate for any reasonable analysis.)  Anyone who did, would not agree that I take insufficient notice of facts or that I am inclined toward rationalism, or are excessively 'philosophical' when reasoning.

Of course, one has to factor in the likelihood that a specific disaster, and of what degree, will occur.  And, yes, I'd say the same thing about the decision to live anywhere. One should consider lots of factors: probability of natural disasters and their severity, crime rates, viral outbreaks, you name it. (Not to mention the offsetting postive factors.)

As to the specifics in the case of New Orleans, I don't pretend to judge whether people were right to live there or should have left sooner, etc. You may be reading more into my question than intended.  I was simply using the opportunity to find out something about human behavior from someone who's opinion on the subject I have reason to respect.  Perhaps you are being too sensitive about New Orleans, or lumping me in with callous people who've made unwarranted statements.  I honestly don't know.

But I do know, concretely,  about (parts of) Malibu and so I will say it clearly. Those people are stupid assholes for a) choosing to live somewhere that nature regularly destroys their homes, b) expecting the taxpayer and insurance companies to pick up the tab knowing that nature will do that. I do NOT make the same statement about the people in New Orleans and the surrounding areas.

In any case, this discussion has moved into the not worth it zone.  If you'd care to have a (civil) discussion (i.e. one in which you forego making unwarranted assumptions about my mental processes) about induction, the need to draw inferences based on multiple, corroborating lines of concrete facts, etc I'd be happy to participate.  I should tell you, in advance, that having been in a PhD program in Physics for several years at a major university, and having seriously studied Philosophy for 40 years, I know a thing or two about the need to base one's (abstract or otherwise) statements on solid fact.  I say this not to intimidate (which in your case, I'm sure I needn't fear) or boast, but to give us a starting point for discussion that would allow us to move through the preliminaries quickly.

Jeff

P.S. (Added in editing): I haven't read any of Clarence's posts on the subject of the recent Hurricane and the subsequent damage to New Orleans.  But I will now.

(Edited by Jeff Perren on 9/11, 7:10pm)




Post 14

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 7:34pmSanction this postReply
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" It would be difficult to address your post properly without being insulting... If you'd care to have a (civil) discussion (i.e. one in which you forego making unwarranted assumptions about my mental processes)..."

Jeff, I don't believe criticizing a thinking error where that seems crucial is the same thing as attacking someone's character or being objectively insulting (or condescending, or demeaning... or any other adjective which means the topic is out of bounds).

For example, if I claimed that you characteristically didn't have a topic sentence in paragraphs or your reasoning was too concrete bound in a post (or even more than one), or you repeatedly engaged in logical fallacy number 6023, you are incorrect to take any of those as a personal insult.

Objectivists pride themselves so much on their rationality that to say they are departing from a rational process in any important way is taken as a mortal insult, as though someone were saying they committed a breach of morality.

Peikoff berated many of us in his courses for rationalism. If we took it personally like you just did, we wouldn't have learned where we did it.

No insult intended,

Phil



Post 15

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 7:39pmSanction this postReply
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"A thread on rationalism could be helpful, but I think Rowlands has done a healthy level of writing on it himself. "

Landon, I agree that Joe has done much good work on correcting rationalism. I would have to reread it to make sure I'm not merely repeating what he's said, or Peikoff has said.

That said, though, repetition using different examples or applying it to current issues is not a bad idea...



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Post 16

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 7:49pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Perron, good.  And I believe Mr. Coates has answered your question to me.  Sorry I haven't been able to post as much as I've wanted on this due to my job but I've said my peace.  Most of it is me being pissed off at Mr. Coates's "ivory tower Objectivists."

Jon, for the last time; the French Quater isn't New Orleans.  Tourist expect the people of Louisiana to be laid back, partying, or feeding their face half the time.  So of course we dance for you, thats how tourism works.  Go to the tourist districts of Miami or Veracruz or wherever and you'll see the same thing.  New Orleans is a major city, they must be (or have been) doing something right to be growing like they were.  Finally, look at the news.  Look at the people Louisiana has produced and who are going back to help.  No, we don't have a Wall Street but we do have Canal Street and goddamnit that means something.

Go on, curse all us lazy Cajuns and Creoles.  Tell me again how much a tank of gas cost now?  I had a close cousin whose family broke apart cause she couldn't stand his two week rotations on a rig in the Gulf.  Now he's sitting at home cause the rigs are producing too much oil for whats left of our refinery's.  I got family back at home in Lake Charles, Beaumont, and Houston doing constant turnarounds at their refinery's trying to keep up with demand.  So go sit your lazy ass down and quit bitching while we work.




Post 17

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 8:29pmSanction this postReply
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"New Orleans is a major city, they must be (or have been) doing something right to be growing like they were."

The population of New Orleans has been declining for decades.

JR



Post 18

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 8:40pmSanction this postReply
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Clarence,
For what it's worth, I said this on another thread:
>>>>>
This is the most remarkable statement:

"In a week’s time, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port moved back to 75 percent capacity, as did the Colonial pipeline. Shell’s Capline system and the Plantation pipeline are almost back to capacity. These are remarkable achievements. Our energy companies should be praised by the public, not sullied by cheap-shot politicians. Widely predicted gas shortages never materialized during one of the biggest driving weekends of the year."

There be giants there.
http://solohq.com/Forum/NewsDiscussions/1011.shtml#3
>>>>>

Respectfully,
Jeff




Post 19

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 8:48pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff Perren, well they aren't all back up.  I think my cousin works for Conoco.

Jeff Riggenbach, like every city, new residents live in the suburbs.  I know only New Orleans proper has like 400,000 residents but Meterie and surrounding areas have experienced like double digit growth in the last 10 years.  Hell I say I'm from Lake Charles, LA but I actually live outside the city limits.  Quit being technical, the hurricane didn't give a damn where the city limits were.




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