Archive for September, 2011

SoCal Objectivists Meeting #2

by Jason Stotts

This is just a reminder that the next meeting of the SoCal Objectivists is fast approaching.  We’re having it at 7:30pm on Saturday October 15th.  The location is still TBD, but will be in the OC area (if you know a good location, please let us know right away).  Don Watkins, of the Ayn Rand Institute, will be presenting a lecture on Objectivism.  Here’s a quick overview of Don’s talk:

Why Non-Philosophers Should Study Ayn Rand’s Philosophy

A talk by Don Watkins

If you’re like me, you live a busy life. You work long hours, your Netflix queue is backed up, your car is overdue for an oil change, and your reading list is long enough to keep you busy for years. Nevertheless, taking the time to study Ayn Rand’s philosophy will be worth your while. In this talk, I’m going to discuss Ayn Rand’s philosophy and why I call it the ultimate self-help guide–one that will help you live a happier, more successful life.

Bio: I am an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, where I comment on today’s hottest economic issues. I am currently writing a book with Yaron Brook on stopping the growth of the state. You can follow my work by visiting https://www.facebook.com/DonWatkinsWriter.

Please RSVP for this event as soon as you can so that we can get a head count for the size room we will need. Please RSVP through our Facebook event page, which you can easily find by searching for SoCal Objectivists there.

In other news, we will be opening SoCalObjectivists.com soon (it’s still under construction).  If you want to help with the website, please let us know.  We could definitely use the help.

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Curing Cancer with HIV

by Jason Stotts

Science is doing amazing things recently (take that religion!).  They recently found a cure for HIV through stem-cell implants (1,2) and are looking into applying this breakthrough to more people to hopefully cure HIV once and for all.  Now, they’re starting to use a neutered form of the HIV virus to infect a person’s T-cells and cause them to actively attack a person’s cancer.  That’s right, they’re starting to use HIV to get rid of cancer.  Praise Science. (NYTimes – read the whole article)

PHILADELPHIA — A year ago, when chemotherapy stopped working against his leukemia, William Ludwig signed up to be the first patient treated in a bold experiment at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Ludwig, then 65, a retired corrections officer from Bridgeton, N.J., felt his life draining away and thought he had nothing to lose.

Doctors removed a billion of his T-cells — a type of white blood cell that fights viruses and tumors — and gave them new genes that would program the cells to attack his cancer. Then the altered cells were dripped back into Mr. Ludwig’s veins.

At first, nothing happened. But after 10 days, hell broke loose in his hospital room. He began shaking with chills. His temperature shot up. His blood pressure shot down. He became so ill that doctors moved him into intensive care and warned that he might die. His family gathered at the hospital, fearing the worst.

A few weeks later, the fevers were gone. And so was the leukemia.

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Sexual Distinctions: Candaulism, Cuckold, Threesomes

by Jason Stotts

In this post, I want to draw some distinctions between different, but somewhat similar, sexual practices.

Candaulism

Candaulism is a term that comes to us from the Greek myth of King Candaules. In the myth, the king surreptitiously reveals his wife to one of his ministers. The sexual practice, then, is when one partner gains pleausre by showing off his partner, whether in person or imagery, to others, whether with the consent of his or her partner or not.

Cuckoldry

Traditionally, cuckoldry is the practice of having sex with a person that is not one’s partner, without one’s partner’s knowledge or consent. Thus, traditionally it was synonymous with infidelity.  However, cuckoldry now has taken a different form and refers to the fetish whereby one partner, almost exclusively the male partner in a heterosexual relationship, derives sexual pleasure from either the knowledge that his partner is having sex with someone besides himself or from watching his partner have sex with someone besides himself.

However, in cuckoldry there is a power imbalance and the man is being “forced” to endure this for his more dominant partner. The practice also has very strong connections to humiliation and shame, as the cuckold is seen as powerless to stop his partner from engaging in this behavior and is, thereby, humiliated. It is also important to note that although this deals with shame and humiliation, the man actually does want his partner to do these things. Paradoxically, cuckoldry requires the cooperation and consent of the cuckold. Otherwise, cuckoldry devolves into simple infidelity and/or humiliation. Indeed, the cuckold derives pleasure from being “made” to watch his partner be sexual with someone else or to listen to stories of his partner being sexual with someone else.

Swinging

Swinging is where a couple is polysexual (non-monogamous) together and seeks out other individuals or couples for sexual activities. In this, the partners predominantly act together as a unit and generally “play” together, although some swingers do play separately. In swinging, there is not a power differential. Swinging is distinguished from a simple threesome by being engaged in over a longer period of time as a “lifestyle.” Further, swingers may engage in threesomes, foursomes, or groups of more.

Polyamory

Polyamory is distinguished from the above by being primarily about loving more than one person at a time. While this usually includes sex, it does not necessarily involve sex.

Threesomes

A threesome is a sexual situation where a couple invites a third person into their sexual relationship, whether for a single night or for a longer term, and then either one or both of the partners engage in sexual activities with this person. In this set up, both of the partners in the relationship consent to the arrangement and have equal standing in the relationship.  There is not a power differential as there is in cuckoldry.

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Objectivist Blog Carnival

Welcome to the September 22, 2011 edition of objectivist round up!

We’re going to start this Round-Up with one of my favorite Ayn Rand quotes:

“If some man like Hugh Akston,” said Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged, “had told me, that by accepting the mystic’s theory of sex I was accepting the looter’s theory of economics, I would have laughed in his face. I would not laugh at him now.” ~ Ayn Rand

Sexual ethics is very important in life and if we accept false premises in sex, just like Hank Rearden did early in Atlas Shrugged, we will fall prey to false premises throughout our entire lives.

———————

Carl Svanberg presents Stimulating the economy to death posted at The Cold Voice of Reason.

Tony White presents Post 3: The Amount of Loyalty and Anger posted at Peripatetic Thoughts, saying, “How much loyalty should an Objectivist show to the Objectivist movement? And, conversely, how much anger should an Objectivist have towards the state of today’s culture?”

Edward Cline presents Attack Watch: An Unintended “Talking Point” posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, “In June of 2009, the White House launched an “inform on your fellow Americans” email campaign. It was subsequently and immediately swamped beyond capacity with ridicule, anger, and mockery by Americans who were offended by the suggestion that they are just naturally untrustworthy and coveted their neighbors’ homes, bank accounts, lawnmowers, and wives”

Jared Rhoads presents Reexamining the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act posted at The Center for Objective Health Policy, saying, “On a conference call for writers and bloggers, I asked Gov. Gary Johnson if he would be willing to reexamine, and possibly repeal, EMTALA.”

C.W. presents The Right Way to Solve the Entitlement Problem posted at Krazy Economy, saying, “A somewhat educated suggestion of how to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, and other handout programs. It can’t be done in isolation. Consequences to all must be considered. And to fully understand the funding issue, the referenced, earlier blog post has to be read.”

Jim Woods presents On Foreign Policy, Our Founders vs. Ron Paul posted at Words by Woods, saying, “While it has been asserted that Ron Paul’s foreign policy is based upon the Founding Fathers, a review of the actual foreign policies of early American Presidents demonstrates that Ron Paul opposing their actual policies and can be best described as anti-Jeffersonian.”

Santiago and Kelly Valenzuela presents Southern Border Arrests at 40-Year Low posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, “Conservatives want safe borders before immigration reform, but there’s a few problems with that.”

Santiago and Kelly Valenzuela presents 1980 Republican Candidates Debate Immigration posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, “An interesting video of a 1980 Republican presidential candidates debate, and some good comments too!”

Diana Hsieh presents Video: The Morality of Torturing Terrorists and Criminals posted at NoodleFood, saying, “In Sunday’s webcast, I discussed the morality of torturing terrorists and criminals for information. Here’s the video!”

Rational Jenn presents Preparing posted at Rational Jenn, saying, “On making preparations for a slowing economy.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of 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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Reminder: COSCon Speech Still for Sale

by Jason Stotts

In case you’re still interested in procuring a copy of the speech I read at COSCon, or simply donating to help cover my travel costs to the Chicago Conference, copies of my speech are still available.   I’m offering a copy of the extended version of the speech I read for anyone who donates at least $10 (more is appreciated, since travel isn’t free and the speaking was unpaid). The extended version is about 25 pages, so there is a lot of material that you will find new, even if you took the class. If you want to donate you can do so via PayPal by sending a payment to Jason(at)JasonStotts.com (inserting the obvious symbol), this can be done with PayPal or any credit card, or you can write me for other options.

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It’s a Good Day to be Gay

by Jason Stotts

There’s a couple of reasons to celebrate today if you’re a gay, or, you know, support individual rights.

Today is the first official day that the US military will allow openly gay service members (“gay service member” might be a term of art, I’m not sure). This is a great move forward for our culture and I think it will help to bring more widespread acceptance. This is, I think, one of the few things that Socialist Party President Barack Obama has done that I approve of. On the other hand, I’d like to point out that DADT was put into place by another Socialist Party President, Bill Clinton.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the British are getting plans together to allow same-sex marriage throughout the country. There aren’t a lot of details yet, but apparently the country has allowed civil unions between same-sex couples since 2005 and now they’re moving to allow them into the full institution of marriage. This is good news and I hope the measure succeeds. (ABC)

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SoCal Objectivists Introduction

by Jason Stotts

[I wrote this for our SoCal Objectivist group, but I thought the rest of you, my dear readers, might find it interesting as well.]

Greetings and welcome to the SoCal Objectivists. We are an organization dedicated to taking a serious look at Ayn Rand’s ideas and how they apply to the problems of today. (Philosophically speaking, Objectivism is in the Aristotelian Eudaimonist tradition.)

I’m Jason Stotts and I’m one of the two founders of SoCal Objectivism. I found out about Objectivism in 2003, after my first year of college. I had taken my first philosophy class in the second semester of my freshman year and absolutely detested it. Not just a little bit, but passionately. I vowed to never take another philosophy class. That summer, I set out to read a lot of classic books that I had never read and one of those books ended up being Atlas Shrugged by a woman I had never heard of, named Ayn Rand. I was captivated. I read Atlas Shrugged from cover to cover in two days. I felt, for the first time, that this was the vision of the world that I had always been looking for: the clear sight of reason, backed by intelligence, and pushed forward by passion for life. I read all the rest of Ayn Rand’s published works that summer.

When I went back to school in the fall, I declared as a Philosophy and Economics major. That fall, I started the Denison Objectivist Club and made some amazing friends. The next summer I interned at the ARI. I continued the Denison Objectivist Club for the rest of my time at Denison. I ended up getting my BA in both Philosophy and Economics with honors. Not only that, I graduated as a Philosophy Department Fellow as an open and very vocal Objectivist (I have never been subtle).

After I graduated, I didn’t know what to do. My life changed momentously when my future wife and I were talking about masculinity and femininity and I realized the great depths of my ignorance about sex and sexual issues. I set about to correct that by learning from the wisdom of others, but I found that real knowledge on the subject was scarce. Thus, I set about to try to understand the issues and began writing a book on the subject.  I’m still working on that book. A lot of my writing where I try out ideas is published on my blog Erosophia, which you can find at www.JasonStotts.com.

In 2009 I moved to Southern California with my wife, we had just recently married, so that she could start a PhD program in Philosophy. I realized that I missed the company of other people who shared my ideas and the value that one gains from interacting with rational people. I reached out to some fellow objectivists in the area, but no organization came of it.

After the success of the regional mini-cons and seeing the value they were gaining from their respective groups, I decided that it was time for me to have a group of my own to participate in. When Earl and I discussed it and he said that he, too, had been having the same ideas, we resolved to make it a reality.

I said in one of my early comments about the group, that there is a great value in being able to enjoy the company of those who share your ideas and we’re hoping to create a microcosm of this with SoCal Objectivists.

Won’t you join us?

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Reminder: SoCal Objectivists First Meeting

by Jason Stotts

Just a reminder for anyone who is interested, our very first meeting and social get-together is this Saturday night!  Details are available on our Google Group or you can find information on our Facebook page or via our twitter (@SoCalOists).  If you’re planning on coming to this meeting, please RSVP via our Google Group so that we know how many people to expect.

Our next meeting is going to be in October, around the 22nd.  This one will be held in either the IE or OC.  More details about this meeting will be available as we get closer to the date.

One of the things that I’m very interested in doing is setting up a series of lectures by prominent Objectivist speakers and writers.  Earl and I are both going to be giving a lecture in our respective fields (architecture for him and sex for me) and we’re looking for other speakers in the area.  If you’re already an Objectivist speaker or writer and you’d like to present for our group, please contact me at Jason(at)JasonStotts.com with what subjects you’d like to speak on and a short description.  If you’re simply the master of a particular subject and you’d like to present that to the group, that’d be great as well.

We’re going to start our lecture schedule soon and we’re trying to decide whether it’d be better to do bimonthly meetings with one being a lecture or reading group and the other being just a social outing or having just one meeting a month and having a lecture, followed by Q&A, then breaking into a less formal social event.  If we do the latter, people would be free to come to just one part and not another or to come to the whole thing.

More details about SoCal Objectivists will be forthcoming after our first meeting and Earl and I decide the direction of the group.

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