Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Disappointing news...

About a month ago, I sent a few quick e-mails to my senators that I copied and pasted from Noodlefood about Service Bill S.277 (thanks Hsieh's). I had to go to each Senator's website to send them, but in the subject line I wrote "Oppose S.277"; in the message I pasted:
Please oppose S.277. It moves us dangerously close to mandatory national service, something which is un-American and a violation of individual rights.
I just fished this out of my junk mail...

April 28, 2009

Dear TK (I edited my name):

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Serve America Act. I commend your commitment to service.

I agree, the need for service to our communities is greater than ever. I am proud I supported and voted for this Act. It was signed into law by President Obama on April 21, 2009, as the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The Act engages citizens of all ages in volunteer service opportunities, allowing us to meet some of our most pressing national challenges and reinvigorate the economy.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your views and experiences with me. As the 111th Congress moves forward, please continue to be in touch with your opinions and concerns.

Mark Begich
U.S. Senator

This is utterly disappointing. I haven't fully digested this yet, but I imagine that my reaction will be to double all of my efforts.


Monday, April 27, 2009

My Tax Utopia

With all of this talk about how we are going to have to work to pay back the stimulus money that other people get to spend, I was curious what a real tax breakdown looked like. I wanted to know what part of my money went to what programs and also how much money could I save if I only paid for programs that I wanted to. The results are startling.

I found the numbers from this site. He explained how he got them:
Our tax goes to the president's budget. Today, the budget is reckoned at about $3.1 trillion, which has a deficit of about $407 billion. I then went to the Wikipedia budget article and looked up the cost of each program. Then, I calculated what percentage each was of the federal budget. Then, I multiplied the decimal form of each percentage into the income (50233 and 350000) to get the resulting amounts of how much each cost. Since these are rounded estimates, the numbers don't quite match up. They are rough numbers, not the exact numbers. I'm not good enough at Excel for that.
I was initially surprised at how much money goes to welfare, social security, etc... The Department of Defense and the global war on terror just barely beat our payments on social security alone. I consider defense to be one of the main purposes of government.

I added the last column on the spreadsheet pictured below. I dropped all of the programs that I deemed unnecessary by my own view and was able to cut taxes by 65%!! Imagine what you would do with your money if you had 65% more of your taxes back.

This calculation is assuming a lot...I realize that some people only take money from the government and don't pay taxes (I am actually not a big tax payer due to my poor status as a PhD student). I just wanted a rough look at the big picture. Here it is:

Rise in Atheism

An article I found in the NY Times today..."More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops".

The encouraging graphic here.

I don't think the decline in Christianity means converts to Atheism as much as an increase in other religions. What still scares me is that 76 percent of doctors in America believe in Dog and 59 percent in an afterlife.

Some more: 38 percent of natural scientists do not believe in Dog, 31 percent of social scientists do not. Study was performed by Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund and surveyed over 1600 faculty at elite research universities.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Calling Taylor O

Hey Taylor O,

I saw that you ran into my blog. If you want a fellow objectivist in the Chicago area to keep in touch with, write your e-mail address in a comment on this post.



The face of the enemy

I read the first paragraph and started laughing out of fear. I read the second part and gain enough encouragement to apply as a writer. I'll post my e-mail and their response when I get one.


If you read this, apply as well... be honest on "your interests" but see if you can get hired or get a few articles published. It might not be worth your time, but it is worth wasting theirs.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day...

Happy Earth Day.

I read earlier today that Rush Limbaugh was celebrating today by paying tribute to coal, plastic, light bulbs, etc. Although I disagree with that ignorant man on most issues, I do recognize that he is a significant public figure and I do agree with his outlook on Earth Day. Today should be a day were we, as a society, celebrate all of the wonderful things that we have gained by combining our environment with our own intellect. In this way we have brought ourselves above and beyond any other living thing in success by using our only faculty available to us...our minds (and our thumbs to a smaller extent). Thank you, Earth for providing us with the raw materials to conquer famine, disease, and weather so that we can thrive. Here's to uranium, coal, oil, and natural gas that gives us energy. Here's to wood, clay, stone, and synthetics that give us shelter. Here's to soil, water, fertilizer, and sun that give us food. Hazzah! to Earth.

Recently I went to my favorite museum in Chicago to show my parents a good time. Of course, I am talking about the Museum of Science and Industry located in the last remaining building from the 1893 World's Fair (which showcased electricity for the first time in street lights). This museum is riddled with awesome exhibits that range from an entire captured German WWII U-boat (indoors!!) to a tour through a coal mine to a place where you can order a toy and watch it be constructed with automated robots (Henry Ford would have crapped his pants). My favorite exhibit is the genetics exhibit where you can learn how scientists study behavior with flies and even interactively clone sheep in a videogame. It isn't until you walk our the door that you realize that you have been learning the whole time.

Another fun thing to do at the MS&I is to go to an Omnimax show. Since Chicago is located on Lake Michigan, I thought it would be appropriate to see the one titled "The Great Lakes". I expected shots of the lakes zooming around in a helicopter and also going underwater and seeing what is at the bottom. Instead I was disappointed (and very upset) that I was subjected to an environmentalist film about sturgeon (a near prehistoric fish that is still around). According to the film, the numbers are dropping due to human influences of pollution and unregulated caviar fishing in the 1900's. The story told was very well directed and choreographed with music to pull your heart strings for the good guys (sturgeon and a handful of "hero" biologists) and to make you feel anger at the bad guys (us).

This movie beat the usual drum of environmentalists everywhere...mankind is bad because he competes and mostly wins with his environment, whereas animals and plants are good because they compete and sometimes win. I am tired of religion and environmentalism both telling me that I am a bad person because I want to succeed in life as far as my abilities can take me. Some people are bad, people aren't inherently bad. It is ridiculous to think that any other living creature would not compete to the fullest extent of their abilities to maximize their quality and quantity of life. When locusts are devouring crop fields by the swarms, they aren't chirping back and forth, "Hey guys let's take it easy, we are destroying Mother Earth". When viruses and bacteria ravage the very environments that they live in (our bodies), they aren't choked back by their own regulations but they are beaten back by our immune system and antibiotics. The population of any animal isn't limited by the animals themselves, but by the maximum amount of animals that can survive in that environment.

I encourage environmentalists to go and live in the environments that they want to protect without all of the modern-day amenities that our own intellect has created to combat our world. Only then will they realize that it is a massive step in the wrong direction to spread the ideas of environmentalism. I will end with a link to where you can buy a shirt to show your true sense of Earth Day. I bought one to show my support.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Great News from Pink Tiger Researchers!!!

It might be over soon!!! They have found the gene to cure the world!!!



Benefits of Objective Living

Motivated by fellow blogger at Mike's Eyes, I have begun to think about how objectivism has benefited me in my life. One of the greatest feelings that I have obtained is living wholly for myself. This is a level of selfishness that I would not have reached if it wasn't for Ayn Rand.

When I talk with non-objectivists about being selfish and its benefits I find that the common response is a look and tone that I am cold-hearted, greedy, and that I would rather gain a dollar than save my own mother. This is a direct product of the altruistic environment that our county is immersed in. I grew up in it and believed it for awhile, but it wasn't until I started living totally selfish that I realized how incorrect and backwards that stereotype is.

My friends and acquaintances know that I am a truly nice and kind person. Anyone who spent five minutes with me would see that I am not cold-hearted or greedy (I also call my mother every week). Being selfish doesn’t remove the quantity or quality of kind things that I do ... it adds much more. A great way to look at it is like this:

Case 1 – Suppose I am walking down the street and a police officer notices me walk by a piece of trash and mistakenly thinks that I threw it on the sidewalk. The police officer stops me and tells me to pick up the trash or I’ll get a ticket. I know that the easiest way out of this situation is simply for me to pick up the piece of trash and be on my way. The results of this interaction are that a piece of garbage got thrown away, but I also have less respect for police officers and a negative emotional gain.

Case 2 – Now I am walking down the same street and I see an ugly piece of trash that I decide to pick up and throw away because I don’t like it. I act in an entirely selfish manner and throw it away. The results of this interaction are that the same piece of trash got thrown away and I gained some enjoyment out of getting rid of something that I don’t like.

The first case gave me a negative emotional gain because I was doing an act for someone else. It wouldn’t have changed if I replaced the police officer with a parent, a stranger, God, a sense of duty, or anything that wasn’t ME.

The second case gave me a positive emotional gain because I was doing something that I wanted to do. I was acting entirely selfish and reaped the benefits. Because I decide to live my life this way I only have positive emotional gains in anything that I do. This does not mean that I am an over joyous person that is brimming with peppyness. It just means that I enjoy everything that I do. My relationships with my friends and family are much stronger now because I am not obligated by anyone to spend time with them, but I choose to voluntarily because I value them. Being selfish doesn’t mean that I am cold-hearted; it means that I am purely warm hearted to those that I value. I am not an emotionless person; I have “clean” (as a good friend put it) emotions towards those that I love. This is much more than any sense of debt or gratitude could elicit from someone.

In return from these relationships (especially the objectivist ones) I know that this person values me and my friendship, otherwise they wouldn’t spend time with me. This is a win-win situation that leads to good feelings all around.

An effect from my selfishness is that my friend base has grown considerably smaller but significantly closer and more valuable. Since I only spend time and energy with people that I gain value from, I have cut out the “slackers” who gave me no emotional gain. These were the taxing and un-fun relationships that I didn’t enjoy (these weren’t bad people, just lacking a connection).

Being selfish doesn’t mean that I don’t give back to my community or try to help other people. For the same reasons mentioned above, it means that the things that I choose to do are valuable to me and I approach them with much more enthusiasm than someone who felt that they were forced into action.

I have no problem with welfare programs as long as contributions are voluntary. When there is a police officer telling me to “pay or else”, I loose emotional gain and my life is less enjoyable. This outlook can easily translate into most interactions in your life.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reaping benefits of others bad decisions

Here is a great article about a guy who is thriving financially in these times. A libertarian sort who saw the bad news coming. Courtesy of Thruch.



Sunday, April 19, 2009

America's Second Declaration of Independence

Hey all,
Here is a great lecture from the Ayn Rand Institute titled Atlas Shrugged: America's Second Declaration of Independence.

This is an awesome speech given by Dr. Ghate that I have watched three times and plan on at least two more. It contains all of the main points of objectivism and how our society today (based on Christian values and altruism) is never going to succeed unless we become selfish once again.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day Tea Party

Here are some pictures I took from the TDTP today. There was a pretty good turnout of a few thousand folks. My favorite sign is the picture with Ayn that says "Reason"...I think I'm going to get one of those for the next protest. The other one says "RIP Capitalism 1776 - 2009"...I thought it was cute. Another favorite (that I didn't get a picture of) had a classic oil painting of George Washington and above him there was a voice bubble with "WTF??". Enjoy.

Tax Day Tea Party Protests

Today I woke up, ate some pancakes, took a Biostatistics exam, and then attended the Chicago Tax Day Tea Party. This was the first rally/protest that I have ever attended and was suprised at a few things...

I heard about this rally from the internet and came prepared with 100 copies of the ARI flyer that they recommended handing out. I didn't care too much for the flyer that The Objectivist Standard had available...I'll go into that in a later post. Here are my observations:

1) People are incredibly polite and willing to accept flyers that you hand out at protests. I went with 100 and expected to see 80 lying on the ground after the rally. I saw none and everyone seemed happy to take them...Go Ayn Rand.

2) The folks at ARI are correct: the tea party protests are incredibly hodge-podge. Although well intentioned, there was a random showing of banners that was only stumped by the wide range of topics covered by the speakers. The common threads seemed to be that the people don't want the government to spend more money because they don't want to pay it back later. Out of the 6 or so speakers that I listened to, there was only one or two that really hit home with objectivist principles. It should be noted that these speeches seemed to get the loudest applause from the crowd, which is encouraging. Other speakers included an ex-democrat who was trying to get support to audit the heads of companies "responsible" for the financial collapse (I guess as they did post-Great Depression), a DJ (who, I assume, was in for comedic relief) that kept saying "I love this country and I love my God", and another ex-democrat who proposed the solution of public audits of the Federal Reserve to track government spending.

While this smattering of topics and solutions seemed to get some applause, it might seem pessimistic for objectivists that they were even covered; however, I was able to find the positive in the day...
-There were a lot of signs with Ayn Rand or John Galt on them (about 20%).
-The modern ability for grassroots protesting was impressive. This protest was only put on with the use of the internet and volunteers with very little mass media coverage (as far as I can tell).
-As I mentioned before, the crowd seemed to get more enthusiastic with the objectivist speakers. This shows me that there is a ready and willing population to listen to the ideas that need to be heard. If Rand was hoping for a change in moral philosophy, there is an audience available. This should serve as a call to arms for Objectivists to reach out to these protesters and plant the neccessary seeds. Yaron, Onkar, Keith, others at ARI: become speakers at these protests and get stuff done!!

3) On a personal note: I always thought of myself as never buying into mob mentality and it was enforced more today. I didn't do a single chant, text a single message (apparently it's the way to protest nowadays...they wanted us to do it 4 or 5 times), nor sing any songs. The good speakers deserved cheer but everything else just seemed wierd.

4) A high point during the protest happened when I was passing out flyers and a young man stopped me and asked if I was a fellow objectivist. I said "yeah" and after introductions he asked if I was with a student group or other organization. I told him that I was "Just a one man show, spreading ideas". He was suprised and moved that I was going to so much effort on my own; I gave him half of the flyers that I had left and told him to head in the other direction in the crowd. I expect to meet him in the crowd at the next rally doing the same.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Ayn Rand as Prophet?"

Here is a great article that was posted on Pajamas Media by a fellow objectivist. I would recommend this article to anyone. You can find it here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Personal Objectivist History

Sorry about the delay between posts. I am finding that it is harder to 1) think of things to write about and 2) find time to write them in the same day. I tip my hat once again to all objectivist bloggers who post multiple times in a week.

This weekend I was busy entertaining my parents for their first trip to Chicago to visit me. It was a lot of fun and I had a great time. When I talk about how I got involved in objectivism I usually say that I was always an objectivist but didn't know it until I read Rand's novels. I never realized that my philosophy in life had one name. Therefore, when I studied Rand and her philosophy it was as though there was an echo of my own knowledge but also a more cohesive, well-thought system in place. For this I am indebted to Ayn Rand.

I never thought that the objectivist thoughts came from anywhere in particular. I gave myself the benefit-of-the-doubt of the realization in the way things should be. Spending time this weekend with my parents and having many conversations about the state of things I realized that I actually was raised in an objectivist home. I wouldn't call either one of my parents objectivists; my father I would describe as "Republican" and my mother "Democrat". Around election times they often joke that they just cancel each other out.

To my own credit, though, I was able to pick out the ideas of objectivism from both and piece them together in my own philosophy that was a hybrid. Of course, the freedom of business and smaller government is typical of the Republican party and the more secular system including gay rights and the right to abortions is from the Democrats. In this way I was removing contradictions from both views and forcing them to make rational sense. I don't ever remember this taking a lot of time, thought, or effort on my part; it was an automatic process. For similar reasons I imagine this is why my little sister says she is an objectivist as well. I can see seeds of objectivism in my older sister as well. This was an interesting realization for me and it was neat to talk to my parents and either wholly agree with my dad on subjects (i.e. stimulus package, bailouts, ridiculous "green" energy, etc...) or wholly agree with my mom (i.e. poking fun at religious ceremonies). There wasn't much crossover.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Last night I got a chance to watch "Religulous" with Bill Maher. I patiently awaited for this documentary to come out on video because I knew it was going to be worth watching (an honor that I don't attribute to most new films). I consider Bill Maher to be an intelligent, somewhat rational person that has the gift of humor and I wasn't disappointed.

Maher takes on the usual documentary format with himself interviewing different religious people, mostly questioning their belief structure and sometimes mocking them. What is an overwhelming observation in the movie is how different all of these people interpret the teachings of thier gods. Maher doesn't just pick on Christians but takes time to question Muslims, Jews, Mormons, and other religions as well (the Church of Cannabis).

Although it was humorous and true to its title, I thought that he could have done a much better job looking at the social issues that he brought up with the interviewed (i.e. - free speech in Holland & gay rights). There was also a big jump at the end to his final monologue which was a very serious call to arms for all nonbelievers to stand up and start pointing out inconsistencies to belivers. This might have been sold better if he spent a minute or two more connecting why faith in something that doesn't exist can lead to death and suffering for all. I think that the average person, whether or not they believe in Dog, has a hard time connecting their two-hour family Sunday church session with death and destruction.

A great website that breaks this issue down some more is www.whywontgodhealamputees.com

Above I mentioned Maher as somewhat rational. While I think that he is headed in the right direction with religion he is an avid supporter and voice for environmentalism. He is a firm believer in Global Warming and thinks that we are polluting ourselves to death. I have been having discussions recently with friends about how environmentalism is becoming the next religion and is preaching all the same ways that religions does: man is flawed and bad (destroys environment), we should suffer (by getting rid of our best energy sources), collectivism (this won't work if everyone isn't on board), and altruism (give, give, give to the rain forest, Sierra Club, Al Gore, etc...). The parallels are astonishing and I am upset with Maher and his short sightedness with environmentalism. I'll probably post on this later on.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mission Statement

Good day to all.

I am TK and have decided to start a blog. I am a person who is generally against facebook, myspace, twitter, texting and anything else that tries to disguise itself as a digital social network forum. Therefore it was very difficult for me to accept the idea of starting a blog.

Like any goal or business I thought it would be a good idea to start off with a mission statement of The TK Lounge...

1. My main objective in this blog is to become a better writer. I am very scientifically educated and therefore slanted towards my left brain. Recently, I have realized that it is becoming more and more necessary for educated, rational people to voice their opinions and philosophies to the general public in hopes of changing the direction of our society. One of the best ways to do this is through written word. I am forcing myself to write with the hopes of helping the causes of individual rights and liberty. Any person that comes across my blog is therefore urged to offer constructive criticism on my writing style and/or grammar. Those are also encouraged to leave their remarks on the content of my entries. A warning to those disagreeing with me and who choose to do so ... keep your remarks (1st) well written and (2nd) well reasoned. If you choose to leave a ranting comment that contains swear words or is an e-motional outburst, save us both the time and don't write anything; it won't be read. I encourage differing opinions and engaging conversations but not soap boxes.

A note to my above order of remarks: I picked well written to be first because it is easiest to see if someone has spent time to write the message. Like most arguments, it takes longer to see the solid reasoning behind a comment than the quality of its writing.

2. Although I have been exposed to Ayn Rand's philosophies and objectivism for about three years, I am finding that recently I have been making leaps and bounds intellectually. My mind is usually in some form of thought and/or reasoning and I would like to use this blog to track my philosophical journey. I will post on things going on in my life (books read, trips taken, conversations participated in) in hopes of keeping track of my ever evolving and clarifying thoughts.

3. The first two parts of the mission statement are the overwhelming reason that I am starting this blog. Another reason, however minor, is so that friends and family can keep up with my thoughts at their own convenience. I find that in my busy life, reading blogs is an easy way to find out how people are doing when I only have a few minutes to spend.

I will probably post quite a bit this first week or two and then things will taper off to one or two a week. I am also going to try to keep my name out of this blog for professional reasons. I am a young graduate student who will eventually be seeking employment in industry somewhere. I realize that the internet is an easy way for employers to search their applicants. Even though I am a smart and hard working person, political and religious biases are a factor in the modern workplace. Whereas I believe that my ideas and beliefs would be an asset to most businesses (excluding the church and government who I would probably try to cripple) the reality is that they could hinder my future career. Feel free to call me paranoid (or just TK) but this is something that I would like to avoid even if it is a remote possibility.

Thanks for reading my first post.