Why wasn't the Timecube theory of finance question deleted? August 6, 2008 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Why wasn't this post deleted?

It started out as a sort of naive question about Atlas Shrugged, but quickly devolved into a Time Cube-y style theory of how thermodynamics relates to economics. I'm not even sure it was a legitimate question, because it seemed like the poster was using it as a platform to espouse his crackpot beliefs and frequently posting that people "just didn't get it" in the thread.

I fully admit that I took a few shots at the poster, because of my general annoyance at the whole A is like B, therefore B is like C..... Science!, nonsense that's unfortunately fairly common.

It's off the first few pages now, but I think leaving it up is a mistake. It really serves no useful purpose and doesn't reflect on the site or the poster particularly well. Did this just slip by the mods or was it left up intentionally?
posted by electroboy to Etiquette/Policy at 8:56 AM (54 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

The original question was decent and the fact that it turned into wackytown didn't really negate that. I agree, it went to a totally weird place and maybe we should have pruned some comments and maybe shut down the bizarro thermodynamics derail, but there's a lot of AskMe questions that are over my head understanding-wise and to be honest I wasn't sure if this was one of those or not (though I suspected "not").

Our mod options are pretty much "delete" or "prune and warn" and we tend towards the latter generally and that's what we mostly did with that thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:59 AM on August 6, 2008


It's off the first few pages now

Leave it alone. It was dead til you resurrected it.
posted by Mister_A at 9:00 AM on August 6, 2008


Yeah, that was a weird derail, and the OP was the main cause by bringing more and more weird theory stuff into the thread through followup comments. After his first follow-up, there was a split second where I wanted to explain how totally wrong I thought he was, but then I realized that continuing the derail didn't make any sense.

With that said, I thought a lot of the genuine answers about Ayn Rand not having a sense of humor were interesting and brought the thread above the level of a normal trainwreck.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:14 AM on August 6, 2008


Since this is here, I want to see if I can understand what the poster was on about.

To be proven: Conservation of mass/energy means that property is theft.

1. Given: There is a limited amount of mass/energy in the universe.

2. Given: Whenever I enclose some of that mass/energy, I take it away from the general share.

3. Assume Locke's proviso: an enclosure is only just if it leaves "enough and good enough" for others. You can't mix your labor with all the water in the world and leave the rest of us to die of thirst.

4. Proven: "enough and good enough" is recursive. If there's enough water for two people, and there are three of us, when A takes his share, then A has effectively put B and C in a position that B would have to violate the proviso vis a vis C in order to drink. Therefore, A can't own the water even if there will still be 'some' left, so long as there is a finite and insufficient supply for the population.

5. *This is where I get confused* There's less than enough for everybody? Or capitalism concentrates the finite available resources into the hands of increasingly few people, so that there's not enough for some? Or... I dunno? In other words: ????

6. Profit! Or, you know, don't. Because that would be theft. Maybe. If someone would just explain how #5 is supposed to work.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting if a bit weird and combative. If the poster is right that libertarianism depends on infinite energy/matter, that'd be a pretty good argument that Rand was either being ironic or stupid. (Gosh, which do you think?) There's definitely a strand of marxism/socialism that's cynical about the notion of 'wealth creation.' Many arch-capitalists use the notion that they're 'making wealth' to explain why they deserve such large shares of our earth's collective resources: expanding the pie means more for all and so their profits are just gravy, not expropriations.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:47 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Leave it alone. It was dead til you resurrected it.

In other words, you've reversed the flow of entropy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Money = Energy E=mc2

This is the thing about raving nutbars, they can sneak up on you and involve you in a discussion. Really too bad. Ought to be discussed - maybe forbidden. Another cup of tea, please, and a saucer for my poodle.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:50 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ever get like all the way through a blog post, really enjoying it, nodding your head in silent agreement with the author, chuckling even, and then in the last paragraph it turns out to be all about how the jews did 9/11?

That post was kind of like that. I'm terrified of reading some threads. Crap knows what it must be like to moderate them.
posted by Jofus at 9:50 AM on August 6, 2008


you know what bugs me about altas shrugged? - it's the part where john galt gives this 4 or 5 hour long abstract speech on the radio and the author not only assumes that everyone's going to read it, but everyone's going to sit there and listen to it

and the part where, after "striking", and turning the world into a economically dysfunctional hellhole, she thinks these people are going to be welcomed back with opened arms

she didn't understand people very well
posted by pyramid termite at 9:52 AM on August 6, 2008


I used to bring Atlas Shrugged with me to various boring errands, like going to the laundromat to do my laundry. I found that it was more fun to watch the clothes spin around in the front-loading dryers than to read this awful book. I left it at the laundry one day, on purpose.
posted by Mister_A at 9:58 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I left it at the laundry one day, on purpose.

So. That was YOU!

Perhaps you read about the arson at that laundromat.
posted by tkchrist at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Is Jurassic Park supposed to be ironic? I found the book so laughable I couldn't finish it (first time ever not finishing a book). The main premise of the book seemed to be that the world is more than 6000 years old and wasn't created in 7 days. I understand liberals don't like the fact of creationism, because it means that the Bible is true. But to resort to the childish idea of the Big Bang and evolution as a plot device is beyond belief."

...is more or less how I read that question. I suppose the discussion on libertarianism had value, but it seemed too polluted by the crazy to be meaningful.
posted by electroboy at 10:11 AM on August 6, 2008


The original question was decent...

I dunno, it didn't read to me like a question asked in good faith. Certainly it was a question with a correct answer, which was given immediately. But it seems to me that question wasn't the purpose, the purpose was to have a chatfilter "let's chat about how much Rand sucks."

Which, granted, I have a lot of sympathy for; the church of Rand, Brandon, and the Holy Galt is a really gratifying thing to kick as things to kick go. It's firm, so your foot doesn't sink into it with the kick, but not so firm that your toes are ever in serious danger if your form is off, and the target doesn't react with anger so much as mostly wide-Spock-eyed bafflement most of the time, which practically speaking makes it just reposition itself for the next kick instead of running away. I'd go so far as to call its kickedness downright selfless of it.
posted by Drastic at 10:17 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I used to bring Atlas Shrugged with me to various boring errands, like going to the laundromat to do my laundry. I found that it was more fun to watch the clothes spin around in the front-loading dryers than to read this awful book. I left it at the laundry one day, on purpose.
posted by Mister_A at 9:58 AM on August 6 [+] [!]


Really? That's funny. I had assumed (because I'm a big comics nerd) that you named yourself after Steve Ditko's crazy Randian, Objectivist, vigilante hero Mister A.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 10:19 AM on August 6, 2008


Derryl dernt. A-won'tchu-take-me-to.
Dernyl dernt. WackyTown!?

MetaTalk about it, talk about it, talk about, it talk about it.
posted by cashman at 10:22 AM on August 6, 2008


But it seems to me that question wasn't the purpose, the purpose was to have a chatfilter "let's chat about how much Rand sucks."

It's a hard hair to split, and I had a tinge of that as well, maybe slightly more of a tinge than Jessamyn did but she was already on the scene and putting in the effort to keep the thing in order by the time I saw it. There's always going to be borderland chatty stuff that doesn't get deleted, and stuff that does, and I think that (a) in either case folks are going to notice and wonder why the decision that was made was made, and that (b) this is a pretty good example of one of those.

The followup comments from the asker made it weirder yet, and sort of brings up the mostly-unrelated difficulty of trying to let the asker define their question and the attendant obligation there to kind of give them a bit more leeway in-thread than we'd be inclined to give someone who wasn't the asker.

I'm terrified of reading some threads. Crap knows what it must be like to moderate them.

Headachesville by horse-carriage. Jessamyn did all the work on that one, for which I think here immensely.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:28 AM on August 6, 2008


I'm just proud that I think I stayed out of that thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:47 AM on August 6, 2008


for which I think here immensely

And we're all very appreciative of your thoughtfulness
posted by jpdoane at 11:04 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


An interest in Ayn Rand is a form of acne of the intellect; it usually develops around the time of puberty and interferes with a person's ability to get dates, most people suffer from it to some degree (boys more than girls), it generally disappears without leaving much trace, but some people are deeply scarred and find that it reduces their attractiveness to the opposite sex for the rest of their lives.

I know almost nothing of Atlas Shrugged, but based on claims I've seen that Howard Roark is based on Frank Lloyd Wright, I thought from the descriptions in that thread that I recognized Tesla in Galt.
posted by jamjam at 11:09 AM on August 6, 2008 [12 favorites]


Lardfork, I had never heard of this other Mr. A–thanks!
posted by Mister_A at 11:14 AM on August 6, 2008


And we're all very appreciative of your thoughtfulness

Ye gods. Somebody save me from my fingers.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:25 AM on August 6, 2008


Steve Ditko's crazy Randian, Objectivist, vigilante hero Mister A.

Making A a two-headed Siamese twin, each named "A" would've been even cooler. That way "A" could've genuinely equaled "A."
posted by octobersurprise at 11:28 AM on August 6, 2008


I thought that was a Markov quote there, cortex.

MetaFilter: Think Here Immensely.
posted by Mister_A at 11:28 AM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The querent's name is "complience". Either they can't spell "compliance" or thought it was clever to sneak "lie" in there for some reason. Either way, I can see them rubbing their hands together gleefully at signup, saying to themself "I can't believe this name wasn't taken!"

In other news; yep, people are still being forced to read every single AskMe post. People who aren't me, because I only ever read AskMe through the lens of MeTa. Which makes Ask look like a cancer that must be struck from the face of the world.
posted by Eideteker at 11:47 AM on August 6, 2008


I loved that AskMe, actually, because it gave me this marvelous comment from Dee Xtrovert:

I'm surprised no one brought up other oddities, like Rand's belief that only tap-dancing was the only legitimate and worthwhile expression of dance.

What what WHAT? I've never read any Rand--is that true?
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 11:56 AM on August 6, 2008


The querent's name is "complience".

No cleverness there, Eideteker. OP can't spell for shit.
posted by electroboy at 12:06 PM on August 6, 2008


I understand liberterians don't like the second law of thermodyanmics

As one of the resident libertarians, I'd like to register my dislike for the second law of thermodynamics.

I'd also like to register my dislike for gravity. I want to fly, dammit, but teh Man keeps on pushing me down!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:12 PM on August 6, 2008


So ummm... yeah. Who let the guy out of TimeCube?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:36 PM on August 6, 2008


I always presumed Mister_A was named after Mr. A, too, making it a big wacky DitkoFest whenever he and blue_beetle have posted in the same thread. (I realize this has nothing to do with the TimeCube-y AskMe, but you know, whatever.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:38 PM on August 6, 2008


I only ever read AskMe through the lens of MeTa. Which makes Ask look like a cancer that must be struck from the face of the world.

You and me both.
posted by Mister_A at 12:40 PM on August 6, 2008


You can still pretend I am named for that other Mr. A, kittens for breakfast.
posted by Mister_A at 12:41 PM on August 6, 2008


Oh wait... he's done this sort of thing before.

And yet, has a degree in business.

It seems to be kind of a hobbyhorse for him.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:43 PM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the two other entropy questions were warning shots.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:53 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd also like to register my dislike for gravity.

Yeah. Gravity sucks.
posted by quin at 12:56 PM on August 6, 2008


Well it pulls, really...
posted by Mister_A at 12:57 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I always presumed Mister_A was named after Mr. A, too, making it a big wacky DitkoFest whenever he and blue_beetle have posted in the same thread."

I have often wished I had an account named The Question for just such occasions.
posted by Eideteker at 1:14 PM on August 6, 2008


You can still pretend I am named for that other Mr. A, kittens for breakfast.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:16 PM on August 6, 2008


No no no man, you've got it all wrong man. Gravity doesn't, like, pull man. It actually pushes. Yeah. Gravity is like this liquid, like a a.. soup, yeah, that's through the whole Universe and it pushes things together, man.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:16 PM on August 6, 2008


I have often wished I had an account named The Question for just such occasions.

I don't care if my name doesn't match, I'm coming to the All Ditko meetup anyway.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 1:34 PM on August 6, 2008


RON PAUL WILL ABOLISH GRAVITY
posted by qvantamon at 1:50 PM on August 6, 2008


Given that this was brought to Metatalk, it's clear he does not understand the gravity of the situation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:51 PM on August 6, 2008


Isn't the Second Law of Thermodynamics one of those things that you are either a) aware of/understand or b) not aware of/don't understand or c) aware of/don't understand? You can't really be for or against a physical law, can you?
posted by fixedgear at 2:06 PM on August 6, 2008


fixedgear, you've obviously never gotten email from this guy.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 2:13 PM on August 6, 2008


I went to college with a guy who I thought was pretty reasonable and intelligent, until he told me he didn't "buy" physics.

Me: Oh yeah? What don't you buy?
Him: All of it. The whole thing. It just sounds farfetched.
posted by electroboy at 3:11 PM on August 6, 2008


Wow, dnab. Good find. I can't believe I felt bad for how that thread was going, now.
posted by cowbellemoo at 3:52 PM on August 6, 2008


I always assumed Mister_A owned this place.
posted by LionIndex at 4:41 PM on August 6, 2008


One thing that thread shows is that it's really easy to troll libertarians.
posted by smackfu at 4:54 PM on August 6, 2008


This is the thing about raving nutbars, they can sneak up on you and involve you in a discussion.

I enjoy talking to raging nutbars. of all flavors. Rational, enlightened, clearthinking people are boring as hell.
posted by jonmc at 5:20 PM on August 6, 2008


I meet people like this sometimes. You see someone who is well-dressed, obviously successful in his or her chosen profession. You start talking with them and have quite a pleasant conversation when about 3 minutes in they casually mention how they were taking a shower the other day and realized that God = Energy+Soul^Darkness^Fear and how the Freemasons and the Jews are trying to keep this a secret.

Then you quietly slip out of GOP headquarters and never return again.
posted by Avenger at 7:14 PM on August 6, 2008


jamjam: An interest in Ayn Rand is a form of acne of the intellect; it usually develops around the time of puberty and interferes with a person's ability to get dates, most people suffer from it to some degree (boys more than girls), it generally disappears without leaving much trace, but some people are deeply scarred and find that it reduces their attractiveness to the opposite sex for the rest of their lives.

Except that unlike acne it only seems to infect Americans. I have never heard anyone from anywhere else in the world discuss Rand in terms other than "ha ha, see what those crazy yanks believe in, it's like fundamentalist Americochristianity for people who think they're smarter than everyone else instead of more moral".

The first I heard of 'Objectivism' was when we covered it in my first-year uni politics course (in Adelaide), and the lecturer clearly thought it was not only crazy but also stupid. I think we did it just after Nietzsche, and the contrast between brilliant craziness and stupid craziness could not have been more apparent.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:38 AM on August 7, 2008


Except that unlike acne it only seems to infect Americans. I have never heard anyone from anywhere else in the world discuss Rand in terms other than "ha ha, see what those crazy yanks believe in, it's like fundamentalist Americochristianity for people who think they're smarter than everyone else instead of more moral".

Sadly, Ayn Rand infects quite a few adolescents in India as well. I can't count the number of discussions I've had with fervent Indian supporters of Ayn Rand. It even broke up one relationship I knew of (after the girl forced the guy to read Atlas Shrugged).
posted by peacheater at 8:32 AM on August 7, 2008


It even broke up one relationship I knew of (after the girl forced the guy to read Atlas Shrugged).

Rule 34, Subsection 12, Clause xi: Literary Sadomasochism.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:40 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The safeword is "Joyce".
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:41 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


One thing that thread shows is that it's really easy to troll libertarians.

Depends on your definition of the term. I, for one, differentiate between advocates of limited government, and those who harvest the graves of the disabled to make scrimshaw from their bones. (Most of them work at Reason Magazine.) I just want to have meaningful political discourse without someone remarking my spine is worth $500 on eBay.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:38 AM on August 7, 2008


indians and computer programmers.... *sigh*
posted by klanawa at 4:14 PM on August 7, 2008


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