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Frustration

Postby Episcopus » Sun Nov 16, 2003 10:56 pm

I was trying to find some grammars (for many languages that I shall not name) half as good as anything here, but alas! there were no lovely .pdf old books with great grammar! No exercises, vocabulary in each book! No! None whatsoever!

If any one know where there are some like textkit, do tell.

But I fear that textkit is unfourtunately unique and alone great.
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Postby Carola » Mon Nov 17, 2003 12:25 am

Yes, I have done a lot of searching on the internet and there doesn't seem to be anything much with textbooks reproduced like there are on Textkit. It's a real pity as there is so much knowledge that just gets lost. If there are any stray billionaires out there wanting to finance a worthwhile project - this could be it! Get all this stuff on-line before it vanishes!
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Postby annis » Mon Nov 17, 2003 3:05 am

Carola wrote: If there are any stray billionaires out there wanting to finance a worthwhile project - this could be it! Get all this stuff on-line before it vanishes!


I recently spent some time wondering whom I would ask, and what sort of procedural gyrations I would have to undertake, to get a grant to do some Old Occitan (a.k.a. Old Provencal, language of the Troubadors) work up like Perseus. I'm not an academic institution, so it's not bloody likely, but I can dream.
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Postby Carola » Mon Nov 17, 2003 3:32 am

annis wrote:I recently spent some time wondering whom I would ask, and what sort of procedural gyrations I would have to undertake, to get a grant to do some Old Occitan (a.k.a. Old Provencal, language of the Troubadors) work up like Perseus. I'm not an academic institution, so it's not bloody likely, but I can dream.


Yes Wiiliam - when you think of the billions wasted on producing ghastly sit-coms on TV, useless adverts, wars and political campaigns you wonder why we can't spend a bit more increasing the world's knowledge. In fact we could probably feed and clothe AND educate most of the world with the money wasted on making useless trashy TV shows! I just read in the paper about $20million AUS being spent on a "talent quest" show here. I mean, who cares? $20million would provide enough to give a musical education to every child in this state, but I guess it doesn't sell soap powder!
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Postby Emma_85 » Mon Nov 17, 2003 7:38 pm

And this is where Marxis Theory comes in... lol hope Lex doesn't read this.

Today's economics have worked out that with Marxist theory (not what those east block dictators made of his economic theory, but the real thing, which is like nearly the opposite!) everyone would only have to work 3 hours a day and then could spend the rest of the time doing things like learning musical instruments, reading literature and going to the theatre. And this is the only point in which Marxist theory is flawed, because he thinks that everyone is nice, would go to work, help others and everyone wants culture. In reality, though, people would be bored and long for soap operas. So the question is do we really want no luxury goods at all, just the basics and culture, or soap operas and luxury goods, which just don't make us happy? It seems most people want the soap operas...
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Postby Episcopus » Mon Nov 17, 2003 10:41 pm

Why don't we ask James Morwood guy to ask his Oxford to do something like this? He loves languages. We want to learn them too. Aha Jurassic park
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Postby tdominus » Sat Nov 22, 2003 12:14 pm

Carola wrote:Yes Wiiliam - when you think of the billions wasted on producing ghastly sit-coms on TV, useless adverts, wars and political campaigns you wonder why we can't spend a bit more increasing the world's knowledge. In fact we could probably feed and clothe AND educate most of the world with the money wasted on making useless trashy TV shows! I just read in the paper about $20million AUS being spent on a "talent quest" show here. I mean, who cares? $20million would provide enough to give a musical education to every child in this state, but I guess it doesn't sell soap powder!


It may have cost $20 million to make, but I'm sure it made a lot more than that, and, for good or bad, gave enjoyment to many people. (Certainly not to me! :) )
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Postby tdominus » Sat Nov 22, 2003 12:16 pm

Emma_85 wrote:And this is where Marxis Theory comes in... lol hope Lex doesn't read this.

Today's economics have worked out that with Marxist theory (not what those east block dictators made of his economic theory, but the real thing, which is like nearly the opposite!) everyone would only have to work 3 hours a day and then could spend the rest of the time doing things like learning musical instruments, reading literature and going to the theatre. And this is the only point in which Marxist theory is flawed, because he thinks that everyone is nice, would go to work, help others and everyone wants culture. In reality, though, people would be bored and long for soap operas. So the question is do we really want no luxury goods at all, just the basics and culture, or soap operas and luxury goods, which just don't make us happy? It seems most people want the soap operas...


Do you want an internet connection? Mobile phones? Computers?

Marxist theory is flawed on many grounds. It is a purely imaginary economic system, which in many respects is more a religion than a means of economy. Personally I find it a little offensive when people say that communism or marxism is a "good idea" :)
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Postby Lex » Mon Nov 24, 2003 4:15 pm

Emma_85 wrote:And this is where Marxis Theory comes in... lol hope Lex doesn't read this.


Hope springs eternal, my dear. Bwahahahaha!!!!!

Emma_85 wrote:Today's economics have worked out that with Marxist theory (not what those east block dictators made of his economic theory, but the real thing, which is like nearly the opposite!) everyone would only have to work 3 hours a day and then could spend the rest of the time doing things like learning musical instruments, reading literature and going to the theatre.


Teeheehee... once we get those robot slaves up and running, that might become a possibility. Until then, doesn't the word "Utopia" come from a play on Greek words [face=SPIonic]eu)to/pia[/face] (good place) and [face=SPIonic]ou)to/pia[/face] (no place), implying that no place is perfectly good?

Emma_85 wrote:And this is the only point in which Marxist theory is flawed,


Not by a long shot.

Emma_85 wrote:because he thinks that everyone is nice, would go to work, help others


Imagine that! People care more about themselves and their own families than they do about other people! Human nature rears its ugly head, but there's no point in denying it. Better to accept it, and make the best of it. This is what is so wrongheaded about socialist theory; it tries to convert mankind into the "New Socialist Man"(TM, Patent Pending), instead of accepting the nature of man as it is.

Emma_85 wrote:and everyone wants culture.


And if they don't want culture, damn it, it's for their own good if it's rammed down their throats anyway!

Emma_85 wrote:In reality, though, people would be bored and long for soap operas. So the question is do we really want no luxury goods at all, just the basics and culture, or soap operas and luxury goods, which just don't make us happy?


The question is, should this question be decided centrally, or in the more organic distributed fashion that the market allows? I say let people make up their own minds, and buy the entertainment they desire.

Emma_85 wrote:It seems most people want the soap operas...


Alas, 'tis true. I suppose this means that the soap operas make most people more happy than high culture, eh?

Face it, Emma, you're part of the intellectual elite (except in economics :wink: ). You have more rarefied tastes than the average Joe Sixpack (or Sechsstein, in German?). But since your rarefied tastes are expensive, you would like everybody else to share your tastes so that you can enjoy the economies of scale that the lovers of soap operas enjoy. And if the market doesn't provide this, then you would rather the government do it.

In other words, you're a snob, who resents the [face=SPIonic]oi( polloi/[/face] because they don't like what you like, thus making it affordable for you. I don't really have anything against the snob thing; I'm a snob too. Discrimination (not as in racial, but as in dicriminating tastes) is a good thing. But pushing your tastes on others so you can get what you want without paying for it is not a good thing.

Instead, think of the expense of your tastes as part of the penance you pay for being born more equal than most other people. :wink:

tdominus wrote:Do you want an internet connection? Mobile phones? Computers?

Marxist theory is flawed on many grounds. It is a purely imaginary economic system, which in many respects is more a religion than a means of economy. Personally I find it a little offensive when people say that communism or marxism is a "good idea" :)


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Postby annis » Mon Nov 24, 2003 5:23 pm

Ai ai ai!

Normally I stay out of these sorts of arguments, but I feel compelled to make just a few quick points.

Lex wrote:Face it, Emma, you're part of the intellectual elite (except in economics :wink: ). You have more rarefied tastes than the average Joe Sixpack (or Sechsstein, in German?). But since your rarefied tastes are expensive, you would like everybody else to share your tastes so that you can enjoy the economies of scale that the lovers of soap operas enjoy. And if the market doesn't provide this, then you would rather the government do it.


This is an appalling line of argument. It is an assertion of the ability to read minds, and even has a nice technical name: ad hominem circumstantial. Rather than engage the ideas, the person's purported motivation is attacked. Unfortunately, this sort of logical error is incredibly common, quite independent of political leaning, and must I admit in shame to still making it myself from time to time.

We cannot really know another person's true motivation with certainty.

In other words, you're a snob, who resents the [face=SPIonic]oi( polloi/[/face] because they don't like what you like, thus making it affordable for you.


I would argue that all politics represents this sort of conflict of interests being worked out, so, drop the snob language and we're left with a simple statement that politics is about resolving conflicts of interest.

Also, there's a world of difference between endorsing cultural fascism on the one hand and wishing people made different choices on the other. It seems the latter is the main point of both Emma and Carola's comments.
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Postby Emma_85 » Mon Nov 24, 2003 5:34 pm

I'm sorry if you misunderstood me, Lex, but I don't actually want to push my tastes on to others (it would be terrible for me if everyone stumbled around drunk on vodka, because then there would be none left for me :P ), I just think it's sort of sad the way we are, that this perfect place that does not exist just can't exist, because of the way humans are (which is... uh... human :wink: ). But that doesn't mean we should resign and not try to do what we can to make this world better. If all I did was to do as nature tells me to do... well there would be killings! No really, you can't say that because nature... we have to do this and that. Then we would have no morals at all, as moral is something we humans have made, that goes against our nature really, telling us what not to do (of course morals do not totally ignore human nature totally, that is what communism and Christianity do).

Expensive? Hmm.. Well I suppose vodka is sort of expensive, certainly more so than a certain brand of Rum, which is drunk here a lot, too. Otherwise, well I don't do much that is expensive, everything I do is inexpensive actually, others in my year spend more than 10 times the amount of money I do on uh... illegal substances.
Lying in the sun on a hot day doesn't cost you anything, neither does sitting in a dirty alleyway...
:?
I suppose books and pizzas cost something, but nowhere near what others spend on fags or clubs.
I could have done without Latin, it's a terrible subject (yes, yes, only for me it is... you all think it's great...) instead I would rather see the money spent on a central heating system, some chemicals (our teacher buys them out of his own money), or some wires in the physics lab (we don't have any electricity, only an old car battery, so guess how many really interesting experiments we do), some loos (we have 2 girls loos in the school and 300 girls, and the loos are 'bloody' awful, so I only use the public loos which are like miles away) and... Uh ... did I mention some proper sports grounds and the repair of the sports hall and some new History maps (well, ok, they are very historic, but no use for modern history or geography).
Uhh.. computers might not be a bad idea either.
and so on....
I believe you need money to be happy, but not that being very rich makes you happy, once you have the basics, all the rest is just ...uhh... rubbish. That’s the really strange thing... of course the DDR was terrible because of the Stasi and the people there had no voice, don’t think I wanted to live there... but the thing is that quite a few Germans (over half of East Berlin voted for their old dictatorship in the last election, so we now have a Red- Dark Red coalition in Berlin trying to clear up the mess, which I don’t think they’ll be able to do) feel that they were in fact happier back in East Germany. I’ve been to east Berlin and talked to the people there, and seen the documentaries on TV, it’s strange that these luxuries we enjoy would make such little difference isn’t it? All I’m trying to say is that this expensive luxury rubbish just doesn’t seem to make people happy, but they believer it will make them happy, which has something to do with adverts and films for sure. Just telling people from time to time that money isn’t everything may help them to lead happier lives.
Hope this strange rambling made some sense at least... not sure I can see any sense in it :?
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Postby Episcopus » Mon Nov 24, 2003 6:30 pm

haha ludus suus tantum sugit! magis quam meus!
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Postby Lex » Mon Nov 24, 2003 9:21 pm

annis wrote:I would argue that all politics represents this sort of conflict of interests being worked out, so, drop the snob language and we're left with a simple statement that politics is about resolving conflicts of interest.


No, politics is about forcing people to do what you want. There's no real resolution of conflict, except in the sense that one side wins and the other side loses. Emma wants the government to force everybody to pay (through taxes) for all the things she thinks are good (like classical programs on TV), even though most of those people, if given a free choice, would rather spend their money on other things (like Harlequin romance thrillers and soap operas). I don't see that I'm trying to use psychic powers to guess what she means, either. After all, she's told us that she favors Marxism, and that's what Marxists favor; redistributing other peoples' wealth.
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Postby Emma_85 » Mon Nov 24, 2003 9:56 pm

actually I want them to spend the money on tv programmes on Johnny Depp (which I suppose ZDF sort of do, by showing the films he is in without any adverts).
just something I'm interested in here, do you think grass should be leagalised, Lex? Cause if they had the choice I think people would spend their money one something else than TV :P , well most do anyway (it's sort of legal for me where I live, but the laws very strange, you're allowed to own it, but not allowed to buy it :? ).
the government should then spend no money on any anti drugs campains or anything else like that, because no one wants to watch their stupid ads (they used to be quite good, but since the EU have started making them, everyone just laughs their head off when they see one).
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Postby Lex » Mon Nov 24, 2003 10:14 pm

Emma_85 wrote:I just think it's sort of sad the way we are, that this perfect place that does not exist just can't exist, because of the way humans are (which is... uh... human :wink: ). But that doesn't mean we should resign and not try to do what we can to make this world better.


I don't disagree with that sentiment. I just disagree rather severely with what you think would make things better, i.e. socialism. For me, the world would be a lot better if people would just let other people be, let them live their own lives, make their own decisions, and do what they think best with their own lives and property. Unfortunately, social democracy is against that. Social democrats are busy bodies who think that "we" should decide how "we" should spend "our" "resources" (which sometimes include the lives of young men) "collectively". Ugh! It's amazing how generous people can be with other peoples' money, isn't it? And how patriotic people can be with other peoples' sons?

Emma_85 wrote:I believe you need money to be happy, but not that being very rich makes you happy, once you have the basics, all the rest is just ...uhh... rubbish.


That should be up to the individual to decide, though, shouldn't it? One man's rubbish is another man's treasure.

Emma_85 wrote:That’s the really strange thing... of course the DDR was terrible because of the Stasi and the people there had no voice, don’t think I wanted to live there... but the thing is that quite a few Germans (over half of East Berlin voted for their old dictatorship in the last election, so we now have a Red- Dark Red coalition in Berlin trying to clear up the mess, which I don’t think they’ll be able to do) feel that they were in fact happier back in East Germany.


Sure. Once you get used to a life where you don't have to think or be responsible for your own life, I imagine it would be hard to adjust to freedom.

Emma_85 wrote:I’ve been to east Berlin and talked to the people there, and seen the documentaries on TV, it’s strange that these luxuries we enjoy would make such little difference isn’t it?


I have some friends who came here from Russia. Every once in a while, when we go out drinking, the husband will tell me about how terrible everything is here, and how much better it really is in Russia. But strangely, he never goes back there. I wonder why that is.

It's not that I disagree with you that much about the state of our "culture", if you can call it that. McDonald's, soap operas, reality TV shows, talking heads on FOX News selling the war, Pamela Anderson-Lee and Paris Hilton catfighting for the limelight... most of it's trash. But when given freedom to choose, that's what most people will choose. Get used to it. I just think that, considering the alternative, which is some committee choosing what we get to read, eat, listen to, watch on TV, all that trash is a small price to pay.
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Postby Lex » Mon Nov 24, 2003 10:26 pm

Emma_85 wrote:actually I want them to spend the money on tv programmes on Johnny Depp


Well, I suppose there are plenty of worse actors out there. Actually, he was quite good in Ed Wood.

Emma_85 wrote:just something I'm interested in here, do you think grass should be leagalised, Lex?


Yes. In fact, I think all drugs should be legalized.

Emma_85 wrote:Cause if they had the choice I think people would spend their money one something else than TV :P


People should be able to choose their own path, even if it leads to hell, as long as they are not violating the rights of another.

Emma_85 wrote:, well most do anyway (it's sort of legal for me where I live, but the laws very strange, you're allowed to own it, but not allowed to buy it :? ).


That would allow you to grow it yourself, I suppose. It's still a silly law, though.

Emma_85 wrote:the government should then spend no money on any anti drugs campains or anything else like that


Correct.

Emma_85 wrote:because no one wants to watch their stupid ads


Well, I'm sure there are some busy bodies and prudes who enjoy them, but they could always contribute towards them with their own money. (This assumes a privately owned TV system, where you can buy advertising time, though. :wink: )
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Postby annis » Mon Nov 24, 2003 10:37 pm

Lex wrote:No, politics is about forcing people to do what you want. There's no real resolution of conflict, except in the sense that one side wins and the other side loses.


Yikes. Since I've lived all my life in the U.S., for me getting your own way in the political sphere usually means you have to convince a bunch of other people to agree with you, usually by argumentation of some sort, compromise, give and take (or, for the cynical, by means of crass, propagandistic PR). I have been offered violence in the past to encourage me to change my stance on a few matters :? but that approach to domestic politics is frowned on most of the time.

After all, she's told us that she favors Marxism, and that's what Marxists favor; redistributing other peoples' wealth.


I guess it's hard for me to see a bald statement of the deepest flaw of Marxism - the simplistic understanding of people's motivation - as an endorsement of Marxism, regardless of fond feelings about the Utopian world that was supposed to come out the other end of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Regardless, I still don't see how an accusation of resentment or snobbery makes any useful point. The quick answer, "no, I'm not" ends that line of argument pretty solidly. To misquote Gertrude :) "a bad idea is a bad idea is a bad idea," and how you came by the bad idea doesn't matter at all in a debate.

(I'm not saying motivation is irrelevent: suspicions of motivation might might make you focus on some questions in useful ways.)
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Postby Lex » Mon Nov 24, 2003 11:23 pm

annis wrote:
Lex wrote:No, politics is about forcing people to do what you want. There's no real resolution of conflict, except in the sense that one side wins and the other side loses.


Yikes. Since I've lived all my life in the U.S.


So have I.

annis wrote:for me getting your own way in the political sphere usually means you have to convince a bunch of other people to agree with you, usually by argumentation of some sort, compromise, give and take (or, for the cynical, by means of crass, propagandistic PR). I have been offered violence in the past to encourage me to change my stance on a few matters :? but that approach to domestic politics is frowned on most of the time.


Really? We take a different view of government, then. I take the view of George Washington and John Adams; "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence. It is force." and "Fear is the foundation of most governments".

Specifically, domestic government is a pack of alpha male dogs skirmishing over how the bones that have been taken by force from lesser dogs are to be divvied up amongst their supporters. It's just that these dogs have the curious ability that they are able to conveniently forget that the bones were stolen in the first place.

annis wrote:Regardless, I still don't see how an accusation of resentment or snobbery makes any useful point.


Never mind that I qualified that I don't think that her snobbery is necessarily a bad thing, or that I disagree with it....

She was going on about how bankrupt our fast food culture is, and how most people would be better off if they would do without a lot of the crap it produces. That's snobbism, in my mind, although I happen to share the sentiment. It's just that I, unlike Emma, think that socialism is a cure worse than the disease.
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Postby Kasper » Tue Nov 25, 2003 12:05 am

Lex, I admire your fervent believes in the individual rights of man. But unfortunately I fail to understand your passionate plea without encountering some slightly contradictory points. I was wondering if you could clear up the following issues, for me to increase my understanding of your statements:

[quote]In fact, I think all drugs should be legalized.

Emma_85 wrote:
Cause if they had the choice I think people would spend their money one something else than TV


People should be able to choose their own path, even if it leads to hell, as long as they are not violating the rights of another.
[/quote]


So all people should be able to do what they want, without invading other peoples rights. You will have to excuse my ignorance, for I do not know what specific rights you mean, but who is to stop them? Perhaps it is a Theban blindness, but I do not see how we can without a government that makes laws, that enforces laws and sets retribution on breaking these laws.

But what rights do people have? I assume that if I feel like bashing in someone's windshield you would consider that a violation of another persons right to the safety of his or her property. The same for bashing up a person, just because I feel like it. Just to prevent these things from happening, could we say it might be convenient to make a written law for these rights?

I have the right to property, as I again assume you will agree.
How about the right to drive a car? I do need a road. Do I have the right to a road? It's hard to build a road, to tell you the honest truth I don't know how to, and even if I did, I couldn't afford it. Perhaps it would be good, if we would get some organisation together to build and, oh, maintain roads. With lights! Sure, we could get a private organisation to do this, they could have toll-roads and make money, and people could use it when they wish, supply and demand, right? But Lex, I don't make a lot of money, I'm just a junior assistant, I cannot afford to drive on toll roads. Yet I do have the right to a road right? How will we solve this?

I could walk! I'll need a pavement. Do I have the right to a pavement Lex, for free? Who will pay for the pavement? And when I walk on this pavement right, do I have the right not step in some drunk's vomit? I mean, I know he has the right to be drunk or stoned, or whatever, who doesn't? But do I have the right not to be confronted with the results of his drug or alcohol use? Yet, who can affirm these rights? and, it's silly question I'm sure, but do I have the right not to have sigaret smoke blown into my face?

And where shall I walk to? How about school? I have the right to education right? afterall, if we don't get educated, how will we make the internet and mobile phones? Yet again, who will provide this education Lex? and at what price? private organisations again. educatin for who can afford it? but don't i have the right to it, regardless of what my parents make, for am I not human, with all my human rights Lex?

and if I do have the right to education and um.. health care, clean water, electricity, roads, protection of myself and my property, but I cannot afford it, doesn't this conflict? I mean I have the right to these things, but I cannot afford them, how can we solve this? perhaps, call me crazy, by... redistributing wealth?

I realise this would almost be on the brink of the root of all evil, socialism, but don't I have the right to it Lex?

I'm just a bit confused..........
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Postby annis » Tue Nov 25, 2003 12:40 am

Lex wrote:Really? We take a different view of government, then. I take the view of George Washington and John Adams; "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence. It is force." and "Fear is the foundation of most governments".

Specifically, domestic government is a pack of alpha male dogs skirmishing over how the bones that have been taken by force from lesser dogs are to be divvied up amongst their supporters. It's just that these dogs have the curious ability that they are able to conveniently forget that the bones were stolen in the first place.


Well, it's possible I'm naive. Some days I'd agree completely with these sentiments.

I like to read history, and this influences my worldview in three ways:

First, reading about, say, the Albigensian crusade or Stalin's terror really makes one cynical. The ability of humans to bring together masses of organized unfriendliness - some crossing generations - is really amazing and depressing. Even Herodotus has horrors. The stupidity that lead to WWI is breathtaking. This does not lead to a happy assessment of long term human capabilities.

Second, at the same time I know there is no previous time in history that I would want to live in, even if I could guarantee I didn't end up a slave or a serf. And so...

Third, when I can calm down I can take a very long view of history. Over a several hundred year span I can see what I would consider real progress in ethics (slavery is not something most people would support in the U.S. today, though it was commonplace not too long ago). I don't believe in perfection in human affairs, so I also see politics and economics as a long term project. Obviously I want improvement now, in my own lifetime, but I think at this point history has clear things to say about totalizing, all-or-nothing political and economic revolutions.

There's a danger in this of seeing every step into the future as progress - clearly this is not the case - but it's hard not to see how not dying in the mid-30s by freezing, a wracking disease or an absessed tooth isn't progress of some sort. I raise bonsai, and have had to deal with a few people who think it's cruel. Now, I consider this a little bizarre - I'm trying to keep the tree alive; any salad the questioners have had is not alive after dinner - but at the same time I think the question is important in that it shows an ethical concern outside our most narrow interests (my Stoic study comes out here). I consider this improvement, though I think we can conclude that hacking limbs off a tree isn't cruel, unless perhaps if I end up with an ugly tree. :)

So now I'm rambling!

Er. Anyway. Long term! Perhaps politics is nothing but force. Yet somehow I'm not being stoned for not being a Christian (or a theist of any sort), nor am I being taken away in the night for making rude comments about Bush's IQ, I was given an excellent education thanks to taxpayers and the government guaranteeing a shocking number of loans. There are all sorts of things very wrong about politics. But more is right than was a few 100 years ago, so I'm willing to keep at it, naive though that may be.

Never mind that I qualified that I don't think that her snobbery is necessarily a bad thing, or that I disagree with it....


I'm a huge fan of elitism! Everyone should be! :) The resentment charge I objected to; it comes up a lot in political debate.

It's just that I, unlike Emma, think that socialism is a cure worse than the disease.


And what cure do you recommend?

(Oy. George Lakoff says that one of the problems with liberals is that since they seem to think if you keep trying to reason with people you will ultimately prevail, they talk too much! Alas, I am an example sometime.)
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Postby Episcopus » Tue Nov 25, 2003 3:00 pm

Is it that I alone am punished for forcing that a thread crash off-topic whilst others are encouraged to do thus by the moderators?
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Postby Kalailan » Tue Nov 25, 2003 6:02 pm

even though it is very easy to steal without getting caught, i do not steal.
i think that sums up what i think about rules. you sett them for yourself, not the government. it's a fact - even though the government does set rules, many people cross them.
and emma, i disagree that moral is against human nature. it might be against behaviour, but behaviour can be changed.

in the matter of letting people do as they wish, Haldor Laxness writes so beautifully in his book "the fish will sing too" or whatever the english name of it is. very recommended.
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Postby Lex » Tue Nov 25, 2003 7:00 pm

Kasper wrote:So all people should be able to do what they want, without invading other peoples rights. You will have to excuse my ignorance, for I do not know what specific rights you mean, but who is to stop them? Perhaps it is a Theban blindness, but I do not see how we can without a government that makes laws, that enforces laws and sets retribution on breaking these laws.


That is, of course, a problem. But it would seem that setting up an institutionalized form of rights violations to solve the problem of rights violations by individual is a bit problematic as well. At least to me, it seems a bit like cutting off one's head to cure a headache. There are, in general, two approaches that seem reasonable to me:

1) Acknowledge that this is something of a conflict, but one that unfortunately cannot be avoided, but try to limit the use of governmental force to the barest minimum possible. In other words, a strictly limited government. This is the choice that the founders of the US gov't advocated, and it is proven by history that something approaching it can work, if people want it to.

2) A common law approach that is distributed in the extreme, such that there is no monopoly of "government", i.e. legitimized force, in any given area. This approach, while it sounds better in theory (to me), is admittedly a bit.... well, theoretical.

Kasper wrote:But what rights do people have? I assume that if I feel like bashing in someone's windshield you would consider that a violation of another persons right to the safety of his or her property. The same for bashing up a person, just because I feel like it. Just to prevent these things from happening, could we say it might be convenient to make a written law for these rights?


Most people in most societies already know that such things are wrong and against the law, whether they are written or not. It's quite possible to have a common law system even in a preliterate society such that people generally know where the line is.

Kasper wrote:How about the right to drive a car? I do need a road. Do I have the right to a road?


If it's your property, yes. Otherwise, no.

Kasper wrote:Do I have the right to a pavement Lex, for free?


If it's your property, yes. Otherwise, no.

Kasper wrote:And when I walk on this pavement right, do I have the right not step in some drunk's vomit?


Do you own the sidewalk?

Kasper wrote:And where shall I walk to? How about school? I have the right to education, right?


You have the right to seek an education, but other people don't have the duty to provide it to you, no.

Kasper wrote:Yet again, who will provide this education Lex? and at what price? private organisations again.


That would be fine by me.

Kasper wrote:educatin for who can afford it? but don't i have the right to it, regardless of what my parents make, for am I not human, with all my human rights Lex?


As you can see, I don't much care for the concept of "positive rights", i.e. the right "to" things, such as education. I mainly believe in so-called "negative" rights, or freedoms "from" things. I.e. the right to your own life (freedom "from" slavery, "from" murder, etc.), the right to own property (freedom "from" theft), etc. Standard classical liberal fair. Yeah, that might mean that in some situations, poor people would not be educated as well as they could be. But to me, the alternative, that some people be forced to pay for the education of other peoples' children, is unacceptable.

Kasper wrote:and if I do have the right to education, health care, clean water, electricity, roads, protection of myself and my property, but I cannot afford it, doesn't this conflict?


It would be a contradiction if I thought you had a right to all those things, but I don't think that you do have a right to most of them. Even protection of you and your property is questionable, in that other people do not have a duty to provide you that protection if you can't. If you could claim that right against them, then to that extent, they wouldn't have a right to their property, now would they?

It may be nice if people provide things, as charity, to people who can't afford them themselves. I have no problem with charity, and in fact think it's a good thing. But I make a strict distinction between moral duty and legal duty, the difference being that a legal duty is one that it is justified to use force to uphold. E.g. you have a duty not to murder people, and it's legitimate to use force to make you keep your duty. Not murdering people is a legal duty. Not stealing is a legal duty. Giving money to pay for the educations of underprivileged children, on the other hand, is not a legal duty.

Kasper wrote:I realise this would almost be on the brink of the root of all evil, socialism, but don't I have the right to it Lex?


In short, no, you don't.

Kasper wrote:I'm just a bit confused..........


Yes, you are. :wink:
Last edited by Lex on Tue Nov 25, 2003 7:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Lex » Tue Nov 25, 2003 7:01 pm

Episcopus wrote:Is it that I alone am punished for forcing that a thread crash off-topic whilst others are encouraged to do thus by the moderators?


Lex, the Evil American Llama, strikes again! MWAHAHAHA!!!! :twisted:
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Postby Lex » Tue Nov 25, 2003 8:54 pm

annis wrote:I like to read history, and this influences my worldview in three ways:

First, reading about, say, the Albigensian crusade or Stalin's terror really makes one cynical. The ability of humans to bring together masses of organized unfriendliness - some crossing generations - is really amazing and depressing. Even Herodotus has horrors. The stupidity that lead to WWI is breathtaking. This does not lead to a happy assessment of long term human capabilities.


This is especially the case when one looks at massive accumulations of power, such as large governments. Even when the intentions are good, as Wilson's were in WWI, the results are often catastrophic. I sometimes think that our society has evolved faster than we have, literally, and that no leader, even an incredibly wise one, can handle the large "tribes" that we live in now.

annis wrote:Second, at the same time I know there is no previous time in history that I would want to live in, even if I could guarantee I didn't end up a slave or a serf. And so...


I agree, but I can't say that I contribute the state of the world we live in today to politics. I atrribute more of it to advances that happen outside of politics.

annis wrote:Third, when I can calm down I can take a very long view of history. Over a several hundred year span I can see what I would consider real progress in ethics (slavery is not something most people would support in the U.S. today, though it was commonplace not too long ago).


True, but abolitionism was a moral development (I would say a moral advance), that developed outside of the government.

annis wrote:I don't believe in perfection in human affairs, so I also see politics and economics as a long term project. Obviously I want improvement now, in my own lifetime, but I think at this point history has clear things to say about totalizing, all-or-nothing political and economic revolutions.


I prefer slow organic evolution to revolution as well. Strangely, this is a reason why I don't think the US Civil War is all it was cracked up to be, even though it did free slaves, and I am against slavery. I think there were other, less painful, ways of accomplishing the same end.

annis wrote:But more is right than was a few 100 years ago, so I'm willing to keep at it, naive though that may be.


Do you really think that the political arena has improved? I would have to say no, myself. I think we've regressed politically, even though we've advanced in other ways (technologically, morally). It's not obvious to me that those advances would not have been possible without an increase in the socialist tendencies of our government.

annis wrote:
Never mind that I qualified that I don't think that her snobbery is necessarily a bad thing, or that I disagree with it....


I'm a huge fan of elitism! Everyone should be! :) The resentment charge I objected to; it comes up a lot in political debate.


Well, yeah, since politics is about redistributing those bones, it stands to reason that some resentful dog somewhere is whimpering about not having enough. :wink:

annis wrote:
It's just that I, unlike Emma, think that socialism is a cure worse than the disease.


And what cure do you recommend?


I don't claim to know of a perfect one. I think a strictly limited government, ala the classical liberal tradition, would be a good start, though. After all, isn't the first rule of medicine, "First, do no harm"?

annis wrote:(Oy. George Lakoff says that one of the problems with liberals is that since they seem to think if you keep trying to reason with people you will ultimately prevail, they talk too much! Alas, I am an example sometime.)


Yeah, you should be more like me. Shy and retiring. :roll: :wink:
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Postby Emma_85 » Wed Nov 26, 2003 4:22 pm

and emma, i disagree that moral is against human nature. it might be against behaviour, but behaviour can be changed.


What I mean is that we have invented moral so that we can get along in groups and in a society. No society can function in without any form of moral, you don't have societies without morals. Of course we all have morals, so maybe that makes it part of human nature sort of. What I meant is that it is not like something encoded in your genes, but man made so that we can live in groups. What do you mean with human behaviour, though? If you mean how humans would behave without morals (as they would behave like naturally (I mean, like they would behave like if genes were all that counted and no sort of education existed)) then we mean the same thing. Maybe I just didn't explain it right.

And now to you Lex:

You argue that we don't have a right to anything really. That I should not pay the government any money, so basically it doesn't do anything, I don't do anything for it and so I don't have a right to ask anything of it.
What a great place that would be!
Lex, this is just a strange theory, because a 'state' such as you're thinking of cannot exist. Why and weren't you the one to say how totally rubbish Marx' thoughts were for thinking similar thoughts (though his went in the other direction, but were just as impossible and far away from reality)?

Humans would have got nowhere without the formation of nations or even towns or villages. Only together they are strong. There would be no culture if all people did was earn money and spend it on themselves, as no one can earn enough money themselves to pay for something like a road, only if everyone pays a few cents a year, can a motorway be built, from which everyone can then profit. That is a basic law of economics and you are at fault to ignore this very basic thing.

What do you say law is?
Not murdering people is a legal duty. Not stealing is a legal duty. Giving money to pay for the educations of underprivileged children, on the other hand, is not a legal duty.

Is law not what the state, that is its sovereign or its people decide should be law? And taking many things into account they have decided that education is something everyone has a right to, as they have come to the conclusion that everyone is equal at birth. Rich kids don't deserve an education and the resulting opportunities an education offers anymore than poor kids do.
Are rich kids worth more?
The world is not just, so rich kids do have it better, but not that much better. It is possible to alleviate this injustice, it's easy when everyone sticks together and pays some taxes, so why not do it? Is it not a moral duty to try and fight injustice where every possible? I think that is very important.
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Postby Episcopus » Wed Nov 26, 2003 5:31 pm

The world is unfair. What can we achieve by arguing about it now? Absolute jack. So shut up.
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Postby Emma_85 » Wed Nov 26, 2003 7:13 pm

Hmm... I thought the title of this thread was frustration :? , thought we were meant to frustrate you... oh well ... :wink:
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Postby Lex » Wed Nov 26, 2003 9:04 pm

Emma_85 wrote:What I mean is that we have invented moral so that we can get along in groups and in a society. No society can function in without any form of moral, you don't have societies without morals. Of course we all have morals, so maybe that makes it part of human nature sort of. What I meant is that it is not like something encoded in your genes, but man made so that we can live in groups.


Well, maybe the specifics of our morality are not encoded in our genes. This is obvious, because a Chinese person adopted by English parents would be more or less English, morally speaking, just as he would speak the English language. But I think it's quite possible that the ability to collectively invent and learn moral codes is something that may be encoded in our genes, just as the ability to learn languages probably is. People like Richard Dawkins and E.O. Wilson have interesting things to say about how morality may in fact be an evolutionary adaptation. Wilson, an expert on the physical and social life of ants, is also the originator of one of my favorite pithy statements; "Communism; great theory, wrong species".

Emma_85 wrote:What do you mean with human behaviour, though? If you mean how humans would behave without morals (as they would behave like naturally (I mean, like they would behave like if genes were all that counted and no sort of education existed)) then we mean the same thing. Maybe I just didn't explain it right.


You seem to buy into a sort of Hobbesian view of the human species; that "in the state of nature", without the domesticating effects of society, we would be nothing but selfish nasty brutes. But wasn't it Aristotle who said that we are [face=SPIonic]poli/tikon zw=|on[/face] (pardon me if I didn't spell that right)? That is, we are political animals, or, since he was thinking in terms of a [face=SPIonic]po/lij[/face], perhaps that should be translated as social animals. In other words, isn't it possible that being social, forming societies, is part of our nature just as it is the nature of birds to form flocks and dogs to form packs? I think this picture of human nature is more accurate than your vision of brutes who invent morality. How would such a brute have the vaguest clue how to do so?

Emma_85 wrote:You argue that we don't have a right to anything really.


No, I most certainly do not! I argue, first of all, that you have a right to your own life, which means it's wrong for others to take it or enslave you. I also argue that you have a right to your own property, which you need to sustain your life. But those rights also apply to others. That implies that you do not have the right to the life or property of others. So, if you need something with which to sustain your life, and are not fortunate enough to be a trust fund baby, that means you have to work for a living and pay your own way, or rely on what charity you can get.

Emma_85 wrote:That I should not pay the government any money, so basically it doesn't do anything, I don't do anything for it and so I don't have a right to ask anything of it.


My, how you are misinterpreting me! Is classical liberal political theory so foreign to everybody today? I don't say that the government doesn't provide anything. I say that it provides too much. Unfortunately, most of what it provides, it has essentially stolen.

Emma_85 wrote:Humans would have got nowhere without the formation of nations or even towns or villages. Only together they are strong. There would be no culture if all people did was earn money and spend it on themselves, as no one can earn enough money themselves to pay for something like a road, only if everyone pays a few cents a year, can a motorway be built, from which everyone can then profit. That is a basic law of economics and you are at fault to ignore this very basic thing.


Yes, it would be impossible for the free market to provide cars for us to drive on those roads, too, and the gas (petrol) stations that fuel them. It's a good thing that we have nationalized car plants that provide us with cars, and nationalized petrol plants and stations to fuel them, or where would we be? And thank God for nationalized farming! Else how would we eat! And the nationalized stores! Whew, good thing we have those! In privatized stores, we'd be standing in line for hours! Seriously, Emma, stay away from economic arguments; they aren't your forte. Most of our needs are provided by the (semi-)free market, and provided better than they would be by a government. And many of the services that the government does provide could and should be privatized. Perhaps even, yes, roads.

I'm not necessarily arguing for some sort of classical liberal anarchy (although if such a beast would work, I wouldn't be against it, either). I'm just saying that we should be honest about the nature of government, and limit our use of legitimized force (which is what government is) to the lowest level possible. If we don't do this, we get embarrassing situations like the current US government, which is taking away our rights right and left in order to supposedly safeguard our rights. It's a bit like fighting for peace or fucking for virginity.

Emma_85 wrote:
Not murdering people is a legal duty. Not stealing is a legal duty. Giving money to pay for the educations of underprivileged children, on the other hand, is not a legal duty.

Is law not what the state, that is its sovereign or its people decide should be law?


That depends on whether you buy into the positivist theory of law, or think that it's possible that a law can be decided by a sovereign, or even in a purely democratic way by a population, and yet still be an unjust law, that is to say, in a very real sense not true law at all. The majority is not always right. Thinking that the mob is always right, is just as much a fallacy as the idea that might is always right. In fact, I think it's fair to say that pure democracy is the theory that might through sheer numbers is always right. It should be obvious that such a theory is fallacious, but most people give the dark side of democracy such little thought these days, if they don't outright worship it, as our American neo-conservative crusaders for democracy do, that it's downright frightening.

Emma_85 wrote:And taking many things into account they have decided that education is something everyone has a right to, as they have come to the conclusion that everyone is equal at birth.


Equal under the law, or really, truly equal in all ways? If the former, then the classical liberal political philosophy says precisely that. All people are equal under the law; which means that all people have the right to their own life and property. If the latter, then the people who have decided this are fools. People are not equal in all ways; that is simply reality, and trying to pretend otherwise is sheer folly. If you ignore reality, it will eventually find a way of regaining your attention. And sometimes reality's wake-up calls are a real bitch.

Emma_85 wrote:Rich kids don't deserve an education and the resulting opportunities an education offers anymore than poor kids do.
Are rich kids worth more?


Who said anything about "deserve"? I certainly didn't.

Emma_85 wrote:The world is not just, so rich kids do have it better, but not that much better.


No, the world is not just. What's more, it's not fair, either. You see, I use the words differently than you do. I use them in the classical sense. To me, there is "justice" when a man gets to keep his own rightfully owned property. When it is taken away from him by force, that is not "just". Now, "fairness" is something completely different, even though most people nowadays tend to confuse "justice" with "fairness", ala John Rawls. Those who understand the distinction sometimes use the weasel words "social justice" instead, as a way of subtly confusing the two. But the fact of the matter is, the world isn't fair, and never will be. And if you attempt to make it fair by force, then you sacrifice justice.

Emma_85 wrote:It is possible to alleviate this injustice, it's easy when everyone sticks together and pays some taxes, so why not do it? Is it not a moral duty to try and fight injustice where every possible? I think that is very important.


Perhaps it would be easy to alleviate this unfairness, if everybody wanted to, but not everybody does. And maybe it is a moral duty to do so. But, as I said before, I distinguish between moral duties and legal duties. In other words, I believe that there are times when using force to uphold duties is just. These duties I call legal duties. There are other times when it is not just to use force to uphold duties. These duties I call moral duties. You apparently think that all moral duties should also be legal ones. That's why I consider you a compassion fascist. Not only is compassion fascism a really bad idea for practical economic reasons and because it imprudently over-concentrates power in the hands of the government, but it also destroys the true spirit of compassion and charity.
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Postby Lex » Wed Nov 26, 2003 9:08 pm

Emma_85 wrote:Hmm... I thought the title of this thread was frustration :? , thought we were meant to frustrate you... oh well ... :wink:


Hey, we agree on something! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

Seriously, Episcopus, if you don't like this thread, then simply leave it. And don't let the "back" button hit you in the a** on the way out.
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Postby Kasper » Wed Nov 26, 2003 10:23 pm

Lex

again your statements seem contradictory, and again, allow me to ask you for further explanation.

maybe the specifics of our morality are not encoded in our genes.


So if we are not naturally moral, then how are we to know our 'natural' rights and obligations? And here I have to disagree with Emma, we certainly are naturally moral. The human being by nature lives in groups, shares and loves. Are you both really saying that love, for is not love the foundation of morality, is not a natural human ability? And certainly if we are not naturally moral, we need a strong government to ensure order, to allow for trade to develop.

and Lex, you do claim that we need change because the world is unjust. And then again you say that we should accept it is unjust. Isn't it just the easy way out? Just accept it, leave it, to comfortably shrug your shoulders and say 'not my problem?'

Then again, here's the contradiction, you passionately proclaim we need change. So let me ask you, is the world just or not, and if not, do we need change?

But afterall, as we can probably all agree, what we need is not a change in government, but a change in mentality, global change in mentality. The major difference is the way by which this mentality change can be achieved. Socialists choose the moral road, Liberalists choose the rational way. This is the only discussion that drives conflict throughout history: People not understanding that we are rational, moral and physical beings and all these sides of our being need to work cooperatively, even in support of each other, for a person, and therefore a society, to function in full satisfaction.
People and societies revolve as such: from physical needs to moral needs to rational needs and back to physical needs. Thus it goes round and round. Only when we realise that all these needs are equaly important and need to be balanced can we achieve true happiness, rational, moral and physical. Whether we will ever be capable of achieving this balance, I don't know. For at what stage can we see all these needs on an equal level? I'm sure you will all disagree and my only reply to that is in all my arrogance to say that in that case you are not at the stage to see them all as equal. I don't, currently i'm a moralist, a socialist, because all my physical needs are fulfilled at the moment. Although it is unimaginable at the present for me to understand it, one day I will probably move on to the rational stage, and after that most likely in the dependence of old age, back to physical needs.

Societies function in the same way. We can say democracy is the ultimate way of government, but not every society is ready for it. Societies need stability. Not every society is ready for democracy to supply this stabilty. At a certains stage the physical force of despotism is needed, than the security of theology, and later the rationalism of democracy. But democracy too will be pushed to its limits and end up in (liberal) chaos and in the chaos we will again need the physical superiority of despotism to restore order. It's the orbibus terrae!
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Postby mingshey » Fri Nov 28, 2003 2:37 am

Off the current flow of this thread, but on some of the early posts: We have a prime time TV show which encourages people to read books, and especially some series of selected books to fund the "Miraculous Libraries" for little children over the country. The first Library has open a couple of weeks ago, and a few others are being built.

TV shows can be beneficial sometimes. :)
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Postby Kasper » Fri Nov 28, 2003 4:44 am

(Woohoo! My quote thing worked!! :lol: )
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby Emma_85 » Fri Nov 28, 2003 4:50 pm

damn! I just spent ages replying and the stupid board is just deleting my posts while I typ them!
This is really frustrating!
You understood me wrong in nearly every point. I would love to tell you where, and where I obviously had misunderstood you, but I've just wasted an hour of my time, and I don't have anymore to waste.
This is so annoying! I just can't be bothered to reply again. All I can say is that now I understand what you're trying to say, but if you reread my posts maybe you can find out what I'm trying to say, because I just can't waste any more time.
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Postby Episcopus » Fri Nov 28, 2003 4:53 pm

Sigh...shows how much influence I have here

The frustration was about the lack of textkit like sites, not about whatever you talk of fr 3 pages
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Episcopus
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