Archive for January, 2010

Australia Hates Small Breasts

by Jason Stotts

I blogged about the impending Australian internet censorship back in December, but now it appears that Australia is out to lampoon itself for me.

The proposed Australian Government clampdown on smut just got a whole lot broader, as news emerged of a ban on small breasts and female ejaculation in adult material. […]

Breasts came under the spotlight a year ago, as Senators Barnaby Joyce and Guy Barnett commenced a campaign against publicly available porn. Rounding up magazines from corner shops and filling stations, Senator Joyce claimed that publications featuring small-breasted women were encouraging paedophilia. (via The Register)

I mean, really Australia?  Many of these poor women already suffer from poor self-esteem and now you are effectively calling them children.

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Avatar: A Refutation of the Green Movement?

by Jason Stotts

While everyone is talking about Avatar and how it is effectively the new green manifesto, I’d like to point out that Avatar can be construed in a different way.

In Avatar, on the moon Pandora, the environment is such that there is super-organism (Eywa) which is the result of all of the plants being connected to each other.  The animals, too, can connect into this super-organism and communicate with it by patching in with special receptors they have for this task.  This effectively means that the world of Pandora is one where all living organisms are connected.

So, Avatar asks the question “what if all animals really were connected and Mother Earth was real?”  It then goes on to point out, perhaps correctly, that if this were the case we should show deference to this super-organism that is the source of all life on the planet.

Now here is where the film can be understood differently.

While we can grant that in the hypothetical situation, we should reconsider our ethical obligations to the planet, plants, and animals, this only makes sense where the hypothetical situation is true by virtue of the fact that such a super-organism does exist.  Unfortunately, on Earth, the hypothetical is simply false. This means that we do not need to reconsider our obligations to plants and animals because they are not connected in this way.  In fact, since we’re all separate organisms, it’s not clear that there could be any basis for any obligation on our part (much of the green argument is based on this kind of claim). Avatar does a brilliant job of pointing out this lack of connection by showing what it would look like if it were true and it looks nothing like the world we know.

So, although Avatar has been called a manifesto of the green movement, it’s clear that that’s not true.

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More Climategate Faux Pas

by Jason Stotts

It seems the IPCC science is looking shoddier and shoddier.  Apparently the claims about the loss of 40% of the Amazon rain forest is from a green activist’s paper dealing with forest fires (i.e. unrelated to global warming) and the paper was written to try to influence policy.

In the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), issued in 2007 by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists wrote that 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest in South America was endangered by global warming.

But that assertion was discredited this week when it emerged that the findings were based on numbers from a study by the World Wildlife Federation that had nothing to do with the issue of global warming — and that was written by a freelance journalist and green activist. (Fox News)

So it looks like every claim of the IPCC that is being investigated heavily is turning out to be false.  I think it’s about time all of their less than exemplary science is called into question and the green movement shown to be the sham it is.

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Swinging: A Different Perspective

by Jason Stotts

I’ve been planning to write a detailed essay on swinging and its moral implications for some time now. Unfortunately this is not that essay. It is, however, a detailed look at one important aspect of swinging and one reason why I think that some people find so much value in it.

For most swingers, one of the values of swinging is a better sex life for the couple. There are the obvious reasons for this like the techniques and skills they can learn from having different partners, but it also arises from some less obvious causes. The one I want to address here is the difference in perspective a couple gets from swinging.

We all remember how wonderful the first days of falling in love are: how new everything is, how much there is to learn, and so much to do. Your first sexual experience with a new partner is very similar and flows from excitement of the yet unknown.

Before I proceed, let me draw an analogy to pretty much anything that can be owned. For my analogy, let me use my iPod Touch. Before I got it, it was the coolest thing in the world and I was pretty sure that it would change my life; hell, perhaps I even thought it would cure cancer. When I first got it, I played with it endlessly and tried out everything that I could think of. After a while, I found out what worked for me and pretty much left the rest of it alone. Then I started to use it less and only used it for things that only it could do, like listening to podcasts in my car, etc. As I became more used to it, my interest waned and my fascination faded until all of my excitement was gone and it was simply a useful device for me. In short, I no longer thought it could cure cancer.

Now, this analogy is great in some respects and horrible in others. It demonstrates the general stages that someone goes through with relationships, but horrible in that this digression is not necessary because humans are not static devices and can change and develop as time goes on.

What changes is your perspective on the device. It’s not that it had functions {a,…,z} when it first came out and now only has {a,…,k}. Rather, through ignorance and excitement, you imbued characteristics that it did not have and could not have had. As you gained knowledge about it and found out about the true thing, and not simply what you wanted it to be, a conflict developed between what you thought it was going to be and what it actually was. While this could perhaps have been avoided by not getting excited in the first place, it’s a typical human response and not one that I think it would be wise to quell. So, how do you deal with this problem?

One thing that always makes me appreciate my iPod is when I realized I have a true need for it. For example, when I go on a drive and can’t listen to podcasts, I get really annoyed and realize how valuable my iPod is. The lack of my iPod changes my perspective on it. We see this too with relationships where people tend to take each other for granted, until there is some threat (like them leaving) and then they realize how important their partner is to them. While this is not psychologically healthy, it is very common.

Another thing that makes me appreciate my iPod is when I am around people who have never seen one before or had the chance to play with one and are excited to play with mine. This makes me remember my own excitement about my Touch and makes me excited about it all over again. It changes my perspective from being used to it and it being passé, to one where it’s novel and interesting again. I am able to use them to gain an outside perspective and thereby rekindle my interest. This, to return the analogy to reality, is exactly what I think happens with swingers.

When swingers “play” with a couple, they are able to experience their partner as a novel partner: they gain an external perspective on their partner that is one of excitement and novelty. They are effectively able to have their first time with their partner over again through changing their perspective. Another person lusting after your partner makes you lust after your partner: you share in their excitement. I think this idea of gaining an outside perspective is one of the major motivators for swinging for most people and the source of their claim that it makes sex with their own partner better.

I’m going to defer until later the issues of whether this is moral or desirable. I’m also going to defer the question of whether this kind of gradual slacking off of interest is necessary or whether it is indicative of a problem in the relationship. I think these are both really interesting lines of questions and I plan to address them some time soon. However, it is always best to understand one’s subject fully before passing judgment and until I come to a fuller understanding of swinging, I’ll reserve my judgment.

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An Explanation for Open Relationships

by Jason Stotts

I found this while researching open relationships and I think it’s a really interesting and honest answer to a quite complicated question.  Most people would have simply responded “I don’t know, I just find it sexy” or something similar, but this man took the time to try and explain his reasons for it.  Take a look.

—————

Why do you find it hot/sexy when your girl is with other men? I wouldn’t know how to get past something like that.

Actually, getting past it is exactly what it took. Before we started this, the image of her with another guy inside her sickened me. Same jealousy everyone else feels. But when we made the decision to open things up, and remove the concern of ever cheating on each other, I had a decision to make. I could either be full of stomach-churning jealousy every time she did what we agreed we could do, or I could work through it.

The first time was actually at my urging. I decided that since she had the opportunity, she should take it. And if I told her to do so, I had only myself to blame, and couldn’t be pissed off with her. She did it, and I survived. I can’t say I didn’t have my little issues with it, but we acted out everything she had done when she got home so I had no feeling that I was somehow missing out, and in the process it was a turn-on to realize what had happened, and to realize the story she was telling was reality.

Over time it just grew from that. I still felt some level of anxiety each time for a while, but it quickly became more like a nervous excitement instead of something negative. And the times she did it at home and I got to listen in, or even sneak looks, I found myself nearly shaking from the adrenaline rush of it. Plus there was often something new to try, since she was experiencing the interests and skills of new people, and challenges for me to rise to. I did a lot of things I never expected to do, and was driven to levels of excitement I’d never before anticipated.

Honestly, a lot of that’s worn off now, and it’s a bit more commonplace. But it’s still fun to hear about the new things she’s done, and I get a visceral thrill out of fucking her after she’s just been fucked by someone else. Knowing I’m going where another guy just went, taking it back. There’s just something really raw and exciting about that. Sometimes I can see or feel the difference, with her lips looking really disheveled or she’s swollen from an extra hard fucking, or loosened up from a really big guy. I like being able to tell she was just fucked. Of course it really helps when it’s someone she trusts to go bareback and they leave behind a full load. Talk about looking and feeling different.

But in a nutshell, I can’t say in any simple easy way why I get off on it. Maybe it’s just one of those things that when you embrace it and force yourself to deal with it, you find a way to enjoy it. Just like a person can learn to get off on being whipped, or all sorts of other things that they’d never believe they could enjoy, it’s possible that any guy who forced himself through it could eventually find sexual pleasure in the concept. Or maybe I’m just a freak. Either way, it gets me off, and that’s all I care about.

(from Clove Hardwood)

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Oh California…

by Jason Stotts

Living in California, I am constantly surprised by the asinine laws here and the complete disregard of individual rights and freedoms.  Sometimes, however, California goes so far as to be comical (in the bad way).

Apparently a school district in Riverside California has removed the dictionaries from the classrooms.  No, it’s not because they’re not into spelling anymore, but rather the dictionary had the audacity to define a prohibited word.

After a parent complained about an elementary school student stumbling across “oral sex” in a classroom dictionary, Menifee Union School District officials decided to pull Merriam Webster’s 10th edition from all school shelves earlier this week. (from the Riverside Press-Enterprise)

I think this is appalling and unacceptable.  The actions of the school district, that is.  To think that some words are so inherently bad that simply reading them could corrupt the morals of the younger generation is absurd.  Frankly, the kids are exposed to far worse from their classmates and TV.  The biggest problem is that this is censorship of ideas for moral reasons.  To a christian, sex is so dirty and disgusting that it can only be practiced after marriage with one’s spouse and only to reproduce – you also damn well better not enjoy it.  They prefer that the children remain hopelessly ignorant and have to stumble their way through understanding their sexuality than to educate them about such a low and disgusting subject.  They would rather take a dictionary from a child and have it suffer in ignorance than to potentially have access to “objectionable material.”

Frankly, the actions of the school in Riverside sicken me.  I would like to know why the school would take the dictionaries off the shelves because one parent complained.  Whoever made that decision should be fired.  I think the other parents should complain about their children’s lack of educational resources that they, as parents and taxpayers, are paying for.

On the bright side, at least some of the parents have retained some of their reason:

“Censorship in the schools, really? Pretty soon the only dictionary in the school library will be the Bert and Ernie dictionary,” said Emanuel Chavez, the parent of second- and sixth-grade students. “If the kids are exposed to it, it’s up to the parents to explain it to them at their level.”

Indeed, soon these children will be reduced to the Bert and Ernie dictionary as their minds are crippled by lack of information.

The issue here is censorship, plain and simple.  The school has no right to censor the dictionary of all things!  Maybe next they should make grammar illegal.

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Nomenclature and the Problem of Same-Sex Marriage

by Jason Stotts

One interesting problem that is going to arise if gay marriage ever becomes legal (as it should be) is the problem of the family name.  Let’s just all agree right now that the tradition is sexist, but it makes the issue of what last name the family has easy to decide and makes doing genealogy convenient.

Personally, I’m against hyphenation of last names for the new family.  Imagine Joe Smith and Jane Doe get married and hyphenate to Joe and Jane Smith-Doe.  Their child John Smith-Doe grows up and gets married to Mary Kline, they hyphenate their name to be (Smith-Doe)-Kline.  Alternatively, they could combine and then hyphenate to form Smithdoe-Kline.  Absurd!  My real objection to hyphenation is that when two people make a new family and have a hyphenated last name, it’s almost as if they’re planning on their marriage failing and they don’t want to commit to just one name that they’ll have to change in the future.  Instead of coming together to actually make a family, they are just two representatives of different families acting together.  To me it makes more sense, if neither partner is willing to take the others name, to pick a new last name.  That’s right, just pick one.  At least this way kids won’t have to be able to spell 20+ character hyphenated last names, let alone try to write them on standardized tests!

But what are gay couples going to do about a last name?  Let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time before this somewhat silly abstract issue becomes a real issue for people.  Gays should have the right to marry whoever they choose.  When they do, they’ll have to have some method for picking names.  The way I see it, they only have a number of options:

1. Take the last name of partner A.
2. Take the last name of partner B.
3. Hyphenate to A-B.
4. Combine names to make AB
5. Take some new name C.

I’m not really suggesting any practical solutions here, but just pointing out a problem that is going to arise.  If anyone has any good suggestions for how gays should pick their married last name, feel free to chime in.  Also, does anyone from a place that allows gay marriage know if their is a convention already in place about this?  I’d be interested to know if there was and how it came about.

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Objectivist Blog Carnival

Welcome to the January 21, 2010 edition of objectivist round up.
Objectivism is the Philosophy of Ayn Rand. She defined it, most eloquently, as a “philosophy for living on Earth.” In that spirit, we present this week’s round up.

Myrhaf presents A Nation’s Unity posted at The New Clarion, saying, “Here is a look at Ayn Rand’s 1972 speech.”

Brian presents Venezuelan Collapse Watch posted at Reality Talk, saying, “In the latest stunt aimed at combating inflation, Chavez will raise the minimum price for a person’s services by 25% over the next few months. Yes, that’s right, he’s trying to *combat increasing prices* by *raising the price* of the most important natural resource.”
Sandi Trixx presents Who Wants Bipartisanship? posted at Sandi Trixx, saying, “This is my first post – I’m a little nervous!”
Rachel Miner presents Scattered Family. Close at Heart. posted at The Playful Spirit, saying, “A delightful tool for making family more real to a child which surprised me by supporting the development of a benevolent universe premise too!”
Miranda Barzey presents John Stossel on Ayn Rand posted at Ramen & Rand, saying, “A quick review of John Stossel’s segment on Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand of Fox News.”
Rational Jenn presents Recent Adventures in Negotiations and Optional Values posted at Rational Jenn, saying, “I recently had the experience of helping my oldest child evaluate whether and how he wants to continue to pursue one of his goals. We outlined his options and came up with a new plan that we think will work better for us, that allows each of us to pursue our rational self-interests. A big part of this negotiation process for me was stepping back and letting him make the decision about whether to continue to participate in this activity.”
John Drake presents Google’s compromise posted at Try Reason!, saying, “Google’s troubles with China started when they compromised their mission by using the utilitarian doctrine of the greatest good.”
Adam Reed presents Under the Influence of Confirmation Bias posted at Born to Identify, saying, “The “Climategate” files, the working documents and correspondence of the East Anglia climate modelers, show what happens when the perils of confirmation bias, and of other defects of intuition, are ignored by those whose job it is to build knowledge from data.”
Francis Luong (Franco) presents Your Choice: An Internet Designed by Political Pull or an Internet Designed by A Profit and Loss System posted at Just Add Rationality, saying, “There are many articles that begin by conceding that the FCC has a role to play in determining the structure of the Internet. But I don’t think this question has been considered carefully enough. An FCC regulated internet would be an internet designed by political pull and lobbying groups. The alternative is the one that is designed by the free market and by the ingenuity of ISPs that have to put their money where their mouths are and make a profit or go bankrupt trying.”
Francis Luong (Franco) presents Iran says its “nuclear rights” must be recognized posted at Just Add Rationality, saying, “Iran cannot properly assert rights when it does not recognize more fundamental rights of its own people. And the USA certainly doesn’t need to wait until they can threaten us with destruction before we may act against them.”
Diana Hsieh presents Brussels Sprouts, Two Ways posted at NoodleFood, saying, “I used to hate brussels sprouts, but now they’re a favorite of mine. Here’s how I cook them.”
Avi Aharon presents Avi Aharon » On the privatization of the army posted at Avi Aharon.
Sandi Trixx presents Scott Brown Love Affair posted at Sandi Trixx.
Sandi Trixx presents American Soldiers Doing What They Do Best – Helping the “Needy” posted at Sandi Trixx.
Ari Armstrong presents Coloradans Speak Out Against Obama Care posted at FreeColorado.com, saying, “Ralliers protested Obama Care Jan. 19 and supported a state ballot measure to blunt its impact. This video features several interviews with participants.”
Paul Hsieh presents Massachusetts Miracle posted at NoodleFood, saying, “The stunning Massachusetts election result proves the truth of Professor John Lewis’ article, “Obama’s Atomic Bomb: The Ideological Clarity of the Democratic Agenda” (Fall 2009, The Objective Standard).”
Jim Woods presents Job Search Best Practices posted at Words by Woods, saying, “Lists the top tips for job hunters.”
Stephen Bourque presents Scott Brown, Senator from Massachusetts posted at One Reality, saying, “Against all odds, Massachusetts has stood against tyranny. The American sense of life bought us some more time.”
Lynne Bourque presents Can you spell “fellatio”? posted at 3 Ring Binder, saying, “Government schools mine our children’s privacy and subsume parental responsibility through Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.”
C.W. presents Social Security and Medicare: “Trust Funds” posted at Krazy Economy, saying, “Even if we can stop Obamacare, we are still facing coming consequence of the damage to our medical care system, especially Medicare. For your own protection, read this and John Lewis’ dire warning.”
Adam Reed presents A practical guideline for Objectivist activism on political issues posted at Born to Identify, saying, “All individual rights are sub-categories of just one fundamental right: the right to live by the judgment of one’s own mind.”
Jason Stotts presents Peter Singer Loves Animals (Too Much) posted at Erosophia, saying, “A philosophical analysis and refutation of Peter Singer’s advocacy of bestiality.”
Edward Cline presents Hollywood vs. America posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, “I have been asked that question repeatedly over the course of seven years of book-signings for Sparrowhawk at Colonial Williamsburg’s Booksellers by eager patrons who have read the series and wish to see it on the big screen.”
Tom Utley presents Will Scott Brown’s Election destroy the cause of Liberty? posted at It’s My Blog, saying, “The supermajority is over for the Democrats, but will this victory teach the Republican party wrong message and deliver a blow to the cause of freedom?”
That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Objectivist Round Up
using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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