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  1. #61
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal+ View Post
    "What you were put on the earth to do" is thoroughly undefinable and externally forced. It not only begs the question of "what to do" but also "what external power decided it for me."
    You are reading more into this expression than is present. Most people I know who claim to have a sense of "what they were put here to do" or "what they were meant to do" find this to be a very internal motivation, usually at odds with what parents, teachers, churches, or broader society expect of them. It is definable, but that definition will be different for each person. Some do attribute this to "God" because they are used to that framework, but almost in the sense of an internal divine spark. Others simply see it as coming from their soul, psyche, combination of gifts and attributes, or even a sum total of life experiences, which they choose to use and shape in some particular way.

    In any case, this a different question from the original one about Rand's opposition to forcing or compelling the behavior of others.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  2. #62

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    Pseudo,

    I happend upon your questions today and having amassed considerable knowledge of Objectivism living it for 45 years, I thought I might be able to add some things to the help Mal+ and Coriolls have already provided.

    Rand did not establish the rules of normative behavior, she recognized them. The almighty ruler, she maintained, is reality, and rules to guide coping with reality without contradicting it must be derived from facts about it and us. She scoffed aloud at philosophers who were unable to get a normative ought from a factual is. After all, even an unphilosophical gardener grasps that the rules for growing a perfect plant derive from knowledge of the plant's nature—especially an understanding of the fundamental system by which it survives and thrives. That truth applies to all living entities, and man is no exception.

    Here is a little synopsis of the is to ought train of thought I once compiled and still carry around in my virtual hip pocket for occasions like this:

    1) The existence of living organisms is conditional on self-generated action in the face of alternatives.

    2) The most fundamental of all alternatives for all living creatures is life or death.

    3) Of all living creatures, only man can initiate his selection of which alternative to pursue or not.

    4) The choice (deliberate or implied in all other choices) to pursue the fundamental alternative of life instead of death implicitly makes life one's most fundamental goal.

    5) One's fundamental goal is implicitly the standard of measure for all values one acts to gain or keep in its pursuit.

    6) Therefore, that which contributes to the goal of one's life (consistent with one's nature, of course—not a mere vegetative existence) is necessarily "the good", and that which detracts from it is "the bad".

    7) The long run pursuit of life necessitates a hierarchical code of values, in principle (= ethics), to guide (by programming emotions) one's spontaneous choices in any alternative faced, and it requires one to opt for the higher value per that code in lieu of the lower one (= morality of egoism).

    8) Man's singular means to fulfill these requirements of his nature in the pursuit of life is by applying the product of his reason to his actions in the production and exchange of values needed to survive and flourish consistent with the nature of the human being he is.

    9) The extension of that individual ethic to the social context of an individual living in a society of other volitional (and therefore fallible) men requires that one seek to preserve one's own autonomy over the application of one's own reason to one's own action in the pursuit of one's own life (= freedom from the fallibility of others).

    10) The only threat to a man's pursuit of his life in that context would be the initiation or threat of physical force by others to coerce certain choices of action against his will thus diminishing the above defined individual autonomy.

    11) The single most fundamental political alternative is therefore not left vs. right, or liberal vs. conservative, but rather: freedom vs. force (= liberty vs. coercion, autonomy vs. servitude).

    12) The sole moral requirement for any government of a society of men must therefore be to remove the use or threat of physical force from human interactions and guarantee thereby that all human interrelationships shall be entered into and conducted voluntarily. (= Rand's radical capitalism in which every individual retains his morally justified autonomy).

    13) A moral government must therefore guarantee that:

    No person shall initiate the use of physical force or threat thereof to take, withhold, damage or destroy any tangible or intangible value of another person who either created it or acquired it in a voluntary exchange, nor impede any other person's non-coercive actions.

    You said, "I guess what I'm saying is I don't see what that mechanism is besides her saying "it stops here". There doesn't seem to be a logical reason for it, ..."

    The Objectivist "stops" himself from violating the autonomy of others, because his own claim to autonomy is grounded in the factual nature of the human being. That nature is common to all men who are, were, or ever will be. To violate the autonomy of another is to forfeit any claim to one's own. And that fact is simultaneously the moral justification for using defensive force to stop/punish other violators.

  3. #63
    Senior Member Pseudo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    Pseudo,

    I happend upon your questions today and having amassed considerable knowledge of Objectivism living it for 45 years, I thought I might be able to add some things to the help Mal+ and Coriolls have already provided.

    Rand did not establish the rules of normative behavior, she recognized them. The almighty ruler, she maintained, is reality, and rules to guide coping with reality without contradicting it must be derived from facts about it and us. She scoffed aloud at philosophers who were unable to get a normative ought from a factual is. After all, even an unphilosophical gardener grasps that the rules for growing a perfect plant derive from knowledge of the plant's nature—especially an understanding of the fundamental system by which it survives and thrives. That truth applies to all living entities, and man is no exception.

    Here is a little synopsis of the is to ought train of thought I once compiled and still carry around in my virtual hip pocket for occasions like this:

    1) The existence of living organisms is conditional on self-generated action in the face of alternatives.

    2) The most fundamental of all alternatives for all living creatures is life or death.

    3) Of all living creatures, only man can initiate his selection of which alternative to pursue or not.

    4) The choice (deliberate or implied in all other choices) to pursue the fundamental alternative of life instead of death implicitly makes life one's most fundamental goal.

    5) One's fundamental goal is implicitly the standard of measure for all values one acts to gain or keep in its pursuit.

    6) Therefore, that which contributes to the goal of one's life (consistent with one's nature, of course—not a mere vegetative existence) is necessarily "the good", and that which detracts from it is "the bad".

    7) The long run pursuit of life necessitates a hierarchical code of values, in principle (= ethics), to guide (by programming emotions) one's spontaneous choices in any alternative faced, and it requires one to opt for the higher value per that code in lieu of the lower one (= morality of egoism).

    8) Man's singular means to fulfill these requirements of his nature in the pursuit of life is by applying the product of his reason to his actions in the production and exchange of values needed to survive and flourish consistent with the nature of the human being he is.

    9) The extension of that individual ethic to the social context of an individual living in a society of other volitional (and therefore fallible) men requires that one seek to preserve one's own autonomy over the application of one's own reason to one's own action in the pursuit of one's own life (= freedom from the fallibility of others).

    10) The only threat to a man's pursuit of his life in that context would be the initiation or threat of physical force by others to coerce certain choices of action against his will thus diminishing the above defined individual autonomy.

    11) The single most fundamental political alternative is therefore not left vs. right, or liberal vs. conservative, but rather: freedom vs. force (= liberty vs. coercion, autonomy vs. servitude).

    12) The sole moral requirement for any government of a society of men must therefore be to remove the use or threat of physical force from human interactions and guarantee thereby that all human interrelationships shall be entered into and conducted voluntarily. (= Rand's radical capitalism in which every individual retains his morally justified autonomy).

    13) A moral government must therefore guarantee that:

    No person shall initiate the use of physical force or threat thereof to take, withhold, damage or destroy any tangible or intangible value of another person who either created it or acquired it in a voluntary exchange, nor impede any other person's non-coercive actions.

    You said, "I guess what I'm saying is I don't see what that mechanism is besides her saying "it stops here". There doesn't seem to be a logical reason for it, ..."

    The Objectivist "stops" himself from violating the autonomy of others, because his own claim to autonomy is grounded in the factual nature of the human being. That nature is common to all men who are, were, or ever will be. To violate the autonomy of another is to forfeit any claim to one's own. And that fact is simultaneously the moral justification for using defensive force to stop/punish other violators.
    Thanks! That gave me a much better understanding of the theories. I really appreciate it.

    Though I still have some confusion though. Rand had problems with altruism because she felt that is made man into a sacrificial animal serving only to fulfill the needs of others and stated that the "needs of others" were not the moral purpose of a man's existence. From what you said I understand that the moral purpose to man's existence is existence itself. But to my mind we really don't have a choice between life and death. Firstly because we can't actual avoid dying, We can only delay our death for a relatively short amount of time. Secondly because have not really experienced death we're really making a choice between life and fear of the unknown. That seems to undermine the idea of Life as a fundamental goal because it is impossible and it's value is only proportional to how much we fear death.
    If our actions are calculated to preserve our own lives it's an exercise in futility.

    Also, If I following correctly the case of human autonomy is based in the idea that our ultimate goal is to live and we should not be compelled to act against that goal. However I still don't quite see why violence would be immoral. Even if I assume that the fundamental goal of all men is life, why is it my concern that others achieve their goal? My fundamental goal is My life not Life in general. Doesn't guilt or concern from others necessarily prevent someone from preserving " one's own autonomy over the application of one's own reason to one's own action in the pursuit of one's own life"? How can i reconcile my fundamental value with someone else's rights if we are in competition with each other. Isn't acknowledging their rights sacrificing myself to the needs of others?

  4. #64
    Senior Member Pseudo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    Pseudo,

    I happend upon your questions today and having amassed considerable knowledge of Objectivism living it for 45 years, I thought I might be able to add some things to the help Mal+ and Coriolls have already provided.

    Rand did not establish the rules of normative behavior, she recognized them. The almighty ruler, she maintained, is reality, and rules to guide coping with reality without contradicting it must be derived from facts about it and us. She scoffed aloud at philosophers who were unable to get a normative ought from a factual is. After all, even an unphilosophical gardener grasps that the rules for growing a perfect plant derive from knowledge of the plant's nature—especially an understanding of the fundamental system by which it survives and thrives. That truth applies to all living entities, and man is no exception.

    Here is a little synopsis of the is to ought train of thought I once compiled and still carry around in my virtual hip pocket for occasions like this:

    1) The existence of living organisms is conditional on self-generated action in the face of alternatives.

    2) The most fundamental of all alternatives for all living creatures is life or death.

    3) Of all living creatures, only man can initiate his selection of which alternative to pursue or not.

    4) The choice (deliberate or implied in all other choices) to pursue the fundamental alternative of life instead of death implicitly makes life one's most fundamental goal.

    5) One's fundamental goal is implicitly the standard of measure for all values one acts to gain or keep in its pursuit.

    6) Therefore, that which contributes to the goal of one's life (consistent with one's nature, of course—not a mere vegetative existence) is necessarily "the good", and that which detracts from it is "the bad".

    7) The long run pursuit of life necessitates a hierarchical code of values, in principle (= ethics), to guide (by programming emotions) one's spontaneous choices in any alternative faced, and it requires one to opt for the higher value per that code in lieu of the lower one (= morality of egoism).

    8) Man's singular means to fulfill these requirements of his nature in the pursuit of life is by applying the product of his reason to his actions in the production and exchange of values needed to survive and flourish consistent with the nature of the human being he is.

    9) The extension of that individual ethic to the social context of an individual living in a society of other volitional (and therefore fallible) men requires that one seek to preserve one's own autonomy over the application of one's own reason to one's own action in the pursuit of one's own life (= freedom from the fallibility of others).

    10) The only threat to a man's pursuit of his life in that context would be the initiation or threat of physical force by others to coerce certain choices of action against his will thus diminishing the above defined individual autonomy.

    11) The single most fundamental political alternative is therefore not left vs. right, or liberal vs. conservative, but rather: freedom vs. force (= liberty vs. coercion, autonomy vs. servitude).

    12) The sole moral requirement for any government of a society of men must therefore be to remove the use or threat of physical force from human interactions and guarantee thereby that all human interrelationships shall be entered into and conducted voluntarily. (= Rand's radical capitalism in which every individual retains his morally justified autonomy).

    13) A moral government must therefore guarantee that:

    No person shall initiate the use of physical force or threat thereof to take, withhold, damage or destroy any tangible or intangible value of another person who either created it or acquired it in a voluntary exchange, nor impede any other person's non-coercive actions.

    You said, "I guess what I'm saying is I don't see what that mechanism is besides her saying "it stops here". There doesn't seem to be a logical reason for it, ..."

    The Objectivist "stops" himself from violating the autonomy of others, because his own claim to autonomy is grounded in the factual nature of the human being. That nature is common to all men who are, were, or ever will be. To violate the autonomy of another is to forfeit any claim to one's own. And that fact is simultaneously the moral justification for using defensive force to stop/punish other violators.
    Thanks! That gave me a much better understanding of the theories. I really appreciate it.

    Though I still have some confusion though. Rand had problems with altruism because she felt that is made man into a sacrificial animal serving only to fulfill the needs of others and stated that the "needs of others" were not the moral purpose of a man's existence. From what you said I understand that the moral purpose to man's existence is existence itself. But to my mind we really don't have a choice between life and death. Firstly because we can't actual avoid dying, We can only delay our death for a relatively short amount of time. Secondly because have not really experienced death we're really making a choice between life and fear of the unknown. That seems to undermine the idea of Life as a fundamental goal because it is impossible and it's value is only proportional to how much we fear death.
    If our actions are calculated to preserve our own lives it's an exercise in futility.

    Also, If I following correctly the case of human autonomy is based in the idea that our ultimate goal is to live and we should not be compelled to act against that goal. However I still don't quite see why violence would be immoral. Even if I assume that the fundamental goal of all men is life, why is it my concern that others achieve their goal? My fundamental goal is My life not Life in general. Doesn't guilt or concern from others necessarily prevent someone from preserving " one's own autonomy over the application of one's own reason to one's own action in the pursuit of one's own life"? How can i reconcile my fundamental value with someone else's rights if we are in competition with each other. Isn't acknowledging their rights sacrificing myself to the needs of others?

  5. #65

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    Pseudo, to your question,

    "How can i reconcile my fundamental value with someone else's rights if we are in competition with each other. Isn't acknowledging their rights sacrificing myself to the needs of others?"

    read my last sentence again:

    "To violate the autonomy of another is to forfeit any claim to one's own."

    Before autonomy is a political mandate it is an ethical one. When one chooses to live in a society of men, that mandate becomes an obligation to secure one's own autonomy—one's freedom from the imposition of unchosen obligations by fallible others. So the rational man must strive for a society that protects individual rights. Such rights necessarily apply to all men universally, because that necessity derives from the fact of man's nature that is common to all men.

    Regardless of whether one's government recognizes those rights or not, it would be immoral to violate the rights of another while claiming them for oneself. When reason is the means to a successful life, every contradiction is a failure. One does not grant the right to life to others for their sake, but rather solely for one's own sake.

    We are not in any competition over a fixed sum of existing values. In the absence of force we compete only in the creation of values others want. A selfish man in pursuit of his own wealth in a society in which force is prohibited can only achieve his goal by satisfying the wants of others better than anyone else at a lower price than anyone else. That is why Rand's radical capitalism is the only benevolent socio-economic system—one in which the masses routinely benefit the most from the selfish pursuits of a few (ex.Walmart)

    Altruism, on the other side of the equation, is the prerequisite ethics of tyrants. In For The New Intellectual there is a wonderful essay by Rand explaining the symbiotic relationship between "Attila and the Witch Doctor." The gist of it is that a rational, selfish man can be neither persuaded nor coerced to morally sacrifice his life to a tyranny. But those who buy into the Witch Doctor's altruist morality will make of themselves sacrificial lambs, and the Witch Doctor will deliver them to Attila in exchange for his own protection (and usually a share in the booty their victims authorize them to take).

    ----

    "But to my mind we really don't have a choice between life and death."

    1) Life may seem unchosen to you, because so much of what you do to sustain it was self-automated in your childhood (like walking and riding a bike was). But if you get up tomorrow morning and choose to stop making choices to sustain your life, you the person will within a few weeks cease to exist. The choice in that train of thought is not "should I choose to act for my life, or should I choose to never die" implied in your dilemma. The choice is to think or not to think—to act to sustain life or not. Actually you already made that choice as an infant before scoundrels taught you to doubt the value of life.

    2) The logic will not change if you reclassify the alternative to "life as one knows it" vs. the absence of life as one knows it." Fear is just a logical consequence that only occurs after one has compared life with the absence of life and chosen life. It is only when life is the standard of one's values that one evaluates death as something to fear. Those who choose death over life do not fear it. Nor do they fear the unknown. The known (means to life) is only a value if one's goal is a life to which knowledge is a means.

  6. #66
    Senior Member Pseudo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    Regardless of whether one's government recognizes those rights or not, it would be immoral to violate the rights of another while claiming them for oneself. When reason is the means to a successful life, every contradiction is a failure. One does not grant the right to life to others for their sake, but rather solely for one's own sake.

    My point about not having a choice between life and death was that we are not immortal. We can't choose not to die, only to prolong our lives.

    You can't argue that we are making a true choice between life and the absence of life because no one has ever experienced the absence of life. So the comparison is life vs the unknown. Assuming their is no other purpose to life besides living, the choice is based in whether our current condition is better than our expectations of the condition of being dead.

    So to address the force thing again. I understand that it's the idea that inherently, as a human, i have the right pursue my own interest free of coercion and if i recognize you as human, then you must have the same rights and morally it wrong for me to force you to go against you will since will is something valuable and worth of protection. But I still think that there is conflict between my self-interest and recognizing your rights. It doesn't seem to follow that it's immoral to violate the rights of others while claiming them for yourself, if you accept the idea that to you (as an individual whose fundamental goal is your own life) your continued existence is more valuable than their continued existence.. If it comes down to your life versus their rights, what wins? I'm not talking about random murders, but direct competition. I guess I'm seeing where people have the right to take action to preserve their lives (the right to choose to live) but not the part where they actually have the right to be alive. There doesn't seem to be a sense of sanctity of life, or the sense that beings shouldn't die. For instance since we are not altruists there is no moral need for me allocate my resources the poor regardless of what might become of them as a result. Also Rand was in favor of the right to abortion (lets not get into a discussion on the moralness/immoralness of this) which indicates to me that she saw nothing significant in the the fact that an embryo could become a living entity. Life in general doesn't seem to have any special value, only life of the individual.

    Basically, I recognize that you are a human like myself. But I also recognize that you are not me. And since my moral obligation is to preserve my particular life rather than general human life, it seems morally acceptable to prefer my survival to your rights.

  7. #67

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    Pseudo,

    "We can't choose not to die, only to prolong our lives."

    The choice to prolong life is the choice of life. In other words, the actual choice open to you is to maximize the potential of your nature. That it will inevitably end some day is irrelevant to your choice whether or not to maximize its potential so long as you do exist. It is that choice that necessitates that you identify the values necessary to achieve that maximization of your potential—specifically to assemble a set of principles in a code of values to guide your choices towards your goal. That code is what we call ethics.

    "the choice is based in whether our current condition is better than our expectations of the condition of being dead."

    Precisely my point. What you are missing here is that the motive is irrelevant. Only the choice matters. Only the choice gives rise to the need for ethics. It is also important that you get that it is not just prolonging life, a purely quantitative value, but rather maximizing the potential of one's life. Life in this context is not a synonym for mere existence.

    "It doesn't seem to follow that it's immoral to violate the rights of others while claiming them for yourself, if you accept the idea that to you (as an individual whose fundamental goal is your own life) your continued existence is more valuable than their continued existence."

    Absent force, there is no such conflict of values. On the contrary other benevolent, productive men are a benefit to my life. In the context of normal everyday life, your existence does not threaten mine, nor mine, yours.

    "If it comes down to your life versus their rights, what wins?"

    Then the context is a different one. The principle that your life is your highest value persists, but the specific relationships are changed due to circumstances beyond your control; and there are two:

    1) your life is threatened by force from another. In that case, the one threatening you has no rights to claim. One cannot claim a right one is violating. If the threat is not of immediate death, "the rule of law" wins because you need to sustain it for the benefit of your own life, so you call the police.

    2) your life is threatened by an emergency circumstance in which sustaining the right of another would result in your immediate death. In that case, rights cease to be a consideration. It would be a self contradiction for an individual or a society to define the right to life in such a way that sustaining it would result in one's death.

    For example: If you are suddenly overcome by a freak enduring blizzard while hiking and you will die if you do not find food and shelter, you may morally break into a cabin to survive. If the society you live in has not accommodated such situations in its laws, you will be violating a political right (and the rule of law), but it will still be a moral act. The proper action afterwards to restore your political rights in that society would be to offer the owner restitution and throw oneself on the mercy of the court.


    " ...since we are not altruists there is no moral need for me allocate my resources [to] the poor regardless of what might become of them..."

    There are plenty of reasons why one would voluntarily give aid to others who are poor that are in one's long-term self interest. Even anonymously to a stranger if for no other reason than the intensity of one's value for innocent life in general. But only if one can afford it. Altruism is something else entirely. It demands that one harm one's own life in order to benefit that of another, and to do it solely for a blindly asserted duty to do so. Rand asks those who advocate that, "by what standard do you claim the life of another?"

    "Also Rand was in favor of the right to abortion ... which indicates to me that she saw nothing significant in the the fact that an embryo could become a living entity. Life in general doesn't seem to have any special value, only life of the individual. "

    1) Valuing life in general is a psychological value entirely contingent on it not causing one harm. That is to say, valuing life in general does not preclude the choice to kill the person about to shoot you, the vicious animal chasing you, or the insect that carries malaria. Nor does it preclude one from aborting a fetus.

    Political rights are granted to others in order to claim them for oneself. If as an individual, rational, volitional human being you need to claim the right to autonomy, then you must grant the same right to all others who are also human individuals so long as they reciprocate in kind. Fetuses are not individual human beings, infants are.

    2) There are no contradictions in reality, only in man's erroneous identifications of same. Consequently there cannot be any conflict between the rights of one individual and the rights of another. Granting rights to a fetus would create precisely such a conflict between the rights of the mother and the alleged rights of the fetus—an inherent contradiction of reality, and hence immoral.

  8. #68
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pseudo View Post
    Thanks! That gave me a much better understanding of the theories. I really appreciate it.
    It was copied from http://philebersole.wordpress.com/20...n-objectivist/

    Yes, it's always nice to see an effortless explanation that is non-philosophical, in other words, it doesn't bother to use any philosophical terms that confuse the non-philosophers and force them to google search technical terms.

    "The Objectivist "stops" himself from violating the autonomy of others..." This is the basis of libertarianism. It is a weak moral postulate in that it doesn't include stopping oneself from violating one's own autonomous nature, e.g., through engaging in addictive behavior which libertarians crave.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  9. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal+ View Post
    If you had only glanced at my profile first you might have figured out that I am MichaelM, the author of that post too. That would have become my user name here, but it was already taken ... so since this blog seems to favor silly names over real ones, I politely opted for the in-house game.

    "The Objectivist "stops" himself from violating the autonomy of others..." This is the basis of libertarianism. It is a weak moral postulate in that it doesn't include stopping oneself from violating one's own autonomous nature, e.g., through engaging in addictive behavior which libertarians crave.
    And what made you think that independence is the only virtue in a rational code of values? It is only the value that pertains to one's freedom to choose one's actions and has no relevance to which actions one chooses with that independence. For that one has other kinds of actions in principle that will lead to a successful life (virtues), such as rationality, honesty, integrity, justice, productiveness, and pride.

    As for today's libertarians, they, like so many of the Tea Party and conservatives, only like Rand because she liked free markets. They neither agree with her moral foundation for capitalism nor have they such a foundation of their own. They are for the most part pragmatists and utterly irrelevant to the subject of Objectivism.

  10. #70
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B.simaruba View Post
    If you had only glanced at my profile first you might have figured out that I am MichaelM, the author of that post too. That would have become my user name here, but it was already taken ... so since this blog seems to favor silly names over real ones, I politely opted for the in-house game.
    Then you seem familiar to me somehow...

    Wouldn't MichaelH be a more appropriate handle? Or why not just Owl?
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
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