Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Am a Monkey

What cute animal are you? Click on the link below to find out...

You Are A: Monkey!

monkeyMonkeys are intelligent and agile, well-adapted for jungle life as they swing happily from tree to tree. As a monkey, you are a social animal who eats a wide range of food, is quick to learn new things and loves to climb. A monkey's tiny primate features are irresistable, as is his gregarious personality!

You were almost a: Puppy or a Parakeet
You are least like a: Chipmunk or a TurtleDiscover What Cute Animal You Are!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Opposite-Sex Friendships

I have an unwritten policy about opposite-sex friendships. This issue came up recently in a discussion with friends, and it got me to thinking about why I conduct my friendships the way that I do.

My general policy is this: When I am in a committed relationship with a woman, I avoid developing intimate friendships with other women. When Kelly and I hang out with another couple, I do make friends with the woman in that couple. But in general I don't develop an intimate friendship with the woman independent of Kelly, or independent of the other woman's man. On the other hand, I am very willing to develop an independent, intimate friendship with the man in the couple. I'd have no problem inviting just the guy to a sports bar to watch football, but I wouldn't do the same with his girlfriend.

Some could (and have) argued that this policy is sexist. After all, a woman can be every bit as good a friend as a man. Continuing the couples example above: If both couples are in a committed, happy relationship, then why would there be any reason to hold back on developing friendships? After all, if I am fully dedicated to Kelly, there's no reason for either one of us to be jealous -- I'm not romantically interested in any other woman besides her. Neither one of us would ever cheat. So, acknowledging that I could have an enriching, totally platonic relationship with another woman, why would I avoid it?

My answer to this question is grounded in two key points: 1) Emotions respond to how one acts in a relationship, not how he labels the relationship, and 2) There can be more than one soulmate for any given person.

1) Most everyone has heard of situations like this: A man meets a girl he really likes, and she feels the same way. They start hanging out a lot, and the relationship quickly becomes intimate, both physically and emotionally. They decide to be exclusive. There's only one problem -- The woman says that she doesn't want to be his "girlfriend," she just wants to be friends without the pressure of that label. Why, she asks, can't they just be very intimate, sexually exclusive friends-with-benefits? He is confused, but reluctantly agrees. When he finally confesses his deep love for her, she is surprised and uncomfortable.

Or: A man and woman who were romantically involved decide to end their relationship due to incompatibility. They both still care about each other very much, but one or both acknowledges that it's not going to work out for the long term. So they decide to be just friends. But starting the day after the break-up, they still hang out with each other every day. Even though they no longer have sex, and even though both have decided that the relationship is over, both continue to harbor romantic and sexual feelings for one another. When one of them finally decides to start dating someone else, the other is surprised at how badly it hurts.

Or: A couple is having a lot of problems, but the man insists that he wants them to stay together. Though he is rude to her, never shows her affection, never buys her flowers any more, and never initiates sex -- he insists that he still loves her and wants them to remain a couple. She is confused because her man's words and actions seem to contradict. Eventually, one or both of them are tempted to look outside the relationship to fulfill their romantic needs.

A common thread in each of these examples is that the label placed on the relationship does not match the actions of those in the relationship. In the first example, the woman wants to be "just friends," but in every practical sense, they are acting like they are in an exclusive, romantic relationship. They are acting like boyfriend and girlfriend, but they don't want to acknowledge that the label applies. Even though the man may agree to withholding the label, and consciously believes that his decision is rational, his emotions disagree with him. Though he tells himself not to fall in love, that it is just a friendship, he falls hard anyway.

The not-quite-broken-up couple also have a label/action dichotomy in their relationship. Both consciously acknowledge that the relationship is over, and that they made the right decision in breaking up, but they are still acting like they are in a romance. Even though they stop having sex, in every other respect their relationship is as intimate as it was when their love was in full bloom. So both remain romantically and emotionally invested. Their emotions respond to their actions, not to the "friendship" label they have loosely pasted on.

In the last example, both the man and woman want to label their relationship a "committed romance," but the man is not treating her like his lover. He's treating her more like an annoying roommate. As a consequence, their love is dying, even though both may honestly want to stay together. Again, their emotions respond to the way they act in the relationship, not their conscious intentions.

2) This is a shorter point, but equally important: I do believe in soulmates, but I think that there is more than one potential soulmate out there for me. Though I hate to even consider the thought -- if Kelly died tomorrow, I believe I could find someone else and live a happy life. There are very few such women out there for me, but they do exist. Saying this takes nothing away from my love for Kelly. I simply acknowledge that there are many exceptional woman out there, and that I could be compatible with at least a few of them.

Kelly and I tend to make friends with people who are compatible with us in a variety of ways. Most of our friends are attractive, fit, intelligent, active, humorous, and fun. And most of them are also Objectivists. What this means is that several of our female friends are the kind of women I would be seeking if I were single, and similarly, some of our male friends are Kelly's type. One of these friends could be a potential soulmate for me. This does not mean that either of us are open to finding someone else. We are perfect for each other, we have a history together, and we have decided to get married and have a family together. Those choices mean everything.

However, consider what might happen if I started hanging out with Kelly's attractive, fun, intelligent friend Kate (a made-up person) on a regular basis. Kate and I develop a friendship independent of Kelly. As time goes on, the friendship becomes more intimate, and we share all of our deepest thoughts and dreams, as one would with any close friend. Neither of us are at all interested in a romance. But the fact is, we are acting as if we were feeling each other out for a potential romance. Think about it -- if you are single and you meet a woman you like, how do you test the waters to see if the relationship can go further? You begin to hang out with the woman independently, on a regular basis, and get to know her more intimately. It's possible that Kate and I could begin to develop romantic feelings for each other, even though it is not our intention.

Emotions are an automatized response to value judgments stored in the subconscious. Love is the emotional response to the integration of many values in another person, along with the reciprocated recognition of those values in oneself. If you throw in frequent intimate (even non-physical) contact -- and mutual physical attraction -- then romantic feelings are often the result. While one's conscious decisions about how he labels a relationship are taken into account by his subconscious, the way he acts in that relationship is also registered. The emotional result can be a confusing mixture, but most often one's actions are weighed more heavily than his conscious labels, especially if they are in stark opposition.

I don't develop independent, exclusive friendships with other women because I am dedicated to Kelly, and I would not want to inadvertently develop romantic feelings for another woman. Even though I would never act on those feelings, I don't want to take any focus off of the woman I love. I choose to funnel 100% of my romantic and sexual energy into one person, into one relationship. I choose to do this because I believe that this kind of monogamous, long-term romance is the greatest possible adventure in life (see my articles on The Morality of Monogamy and The Psycho-Epistemology of Sexuality for more details).

While I stand by the generalizations I have outlined above, I want to stress that I do not treat my opposite-sex friendship policy as a set of Commandments. Commandments are for religion, not for a rational mind. The ideas I have outlined must be considered within a context, and applied contextually to any particular situation. Think of it like a healthy diet. A man can have a healthy diet and eat hot dogs or pizza every now and then. Maybe his body burns up calories very fast and he has more flexibility about what he can eat without gaining unhealthy weight. Or maybe his metabolism is very slow, and he must be more watchful of his diet than others.

My point is that, while I think it's a good tendency not to develop intimate, independent friendships with members of the opposite sex, that doesn't mean that one must draw a line the sand and never deviate from it. For example, I retain close friendships with several of my ex-girlfriends, and I still keep in touch with them on a regular basis. All the women I have loved in my life are very special, else I wouldn't have dated them in the first place (see my article "Demoting" a Relationship). Kelly knows about them, but she isn't close friends with any of them. I don't think I'm doing anything wrong by staying in touch with these women, and I've never had a problem with developing romantic feelings for them.

However, my friendships with these girls are all long-distance. We chat on the phone once every few weeks, and our discussions are very intimate (in the non-sexual sense), but that is the limit of it. If one of them moved to the area, I would probably invite her to have dinner with me and Kelly, and even go out with her alone for coffee every now and then. But I would be much more careful about how much time I spent with her.

There are many different kind of friendships -- everyone is different -- but keeping in mind some rational generalizations about conducting opposite-sex friendships can help one avoid confusion and focus on the one that matters most.

--Dan Edge

Friday, March 21, 2008

Objectivist Carnival!

Welcome to the March 20, 2008 edition of Objectivist Round Up. Big thanks to Rational Jenn for helping me host the carnival this time around.


Deb Ross presents Clean, crisp capitalism for the homeschooler posted at Mariposario


Rational Jenn presents Heroic Me posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "After nearly 3 months of writing about our experience with the American Community Survey, I finally had the chance to put my money where my mouth was, so to speak, when a representative from the Census Bureau showed up at our house and reminded us that participation is "mandatory." We refused--and I discovered anew what a great experience it is, doing the right thing."


T Ellis presents The Meaning of Life? - It's Right Here! posted at evanescent, saying, "Why do so many lack purpose and direction in life? I think I know why! What is the answer? An objective philosophy and a proper code of ethics. Only if you believe your life is an end in itself can you ultimately find meaning and purpose in life. Otherwise you are
just waiting for others to give it for you."


John Drake presents My understanding of Kelley's error posted at Try Reason!, saying, "In this post, I summarize some of my intellectual journal to understanding David Kelley's error in moral judgments. Surprisingly, the catalyst for this understanding came from the class I'm teaching, Systems Analysis and Design."


Ari Armstrong presents Legal Prostitution: Article in Rocky Mountain News posted at FreeColorado.com, saying, "In an article published by the Rocky Mountain News and in additional comments on the blog, I argue that prostitution, while a moral vice, should be legal.


Monica presents Just Say No to Real ID posted at Spark A Synapse, saying, "Some months ago, I was introduced to the notion of Real ID by RationalJenn. I've since become pretty interested and passionate about my opposition to Real ID and all the ways it could be used to further erode our liberties. This post is not about what Real ID is. If you don't know about, you should! You can search both of our blogs for "Real ID" for a whole lot more information. Rather, my post is about Real ID opposition activism. Once Real ID happens, there will be turning back. I have many links explaining what Real ID is (though I don't do it expressly in this post), and what you, practically, can legally do about it besides simply spreading the word to others."


Myrhaf presents Obama's Speech posted at Myrhaf.


Edward Cline presents Congressional Duplicity, or Treason? posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, "Congress is proposing, in Barack Obama's Global Poverty Act (S.2433, based on H.R. 1302, passed by the House September 25, 2007), that Americans be delivered into a state of indentured servitude as laborers for the United Nations."


Darren Cauthon presents RIAA Piracy Tax? posted at Darren Cauthon.


Craig Ceely presents Worse Before It Gets Better -- Especially With Help posted at The Anger of Compassion, saying, "Is President Bush on top of the widening financial crises in America? If so: "Be afraid. Be very afraid.""

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of objectivist round up using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Passion for Dance! - Reprise

Kelly and I are learning how to Lindy Hop together this week, and I'm too busy to write a proper blog entry, so I thought I'd dig out this old post about my passion for dancing. Enjoy!
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I began my love affair with dancing in middle school, and our relationship has grown stronger with each passing year. It started at a YMCA summer camp high in the Applalachains. I didn't know any of the other kids aside from camp, so I was less worried what they thought about me. I would flail my arms about wildly to the rhythm; hop, skip and jump across the floor; or grab a girl by the arm and spin her around till we both fell down dizzy. Some kids would make fun of me, but I think they were just jealous. I was having more fun than anyone else!

My puppy love for dance turned into a full blown love affair my sophomore year in high school, when I went to my first techno dance party, or "rave." I spent hours just walking around and watching people dance. There were incredibly athletic breakdancers, hip hop dancers, even ballet dancers. Everyone had his own style, but each style was dictated by the rhythm and the variations in the music. It was beautiful, spontaneously ordered chaos. Over the years, I went to lots of raves and late night clubs, each time developing my own signature style of dance more acutely. I became quite good, and was proud of the crowds I would attract to watch me. Any feelings of anxiety about others watching me completely disappeared. To this day, I'm usually the first person on the dance floor at a club, and oftentimes the last to leave.

In college, I started trying different kinds of clubs and learning different styles of dance. The majority of clubs in college towns are hip hop / top 40's clubs, so that seemed like a good place to start. Hip hop can be very difficult when you start out with techno. Techno is all about coordinating your limbs to move in straight lines or curves with respect to one another. Your arms, legs, and head are active, but usually your hips stay in the same place. Hip hop is just the opposite; your hips are the source of the beat and the music. Once you learn the style, though, it can be very sexy and sensual. Hip hop introduced me to couples dancing, which is uncommon in techno clubs. Having no prior experience with couples dancing, it took me a while to learn to improvise on the spot with women I'd never met before. Learning to couples dance seemed the next natural step (no pun intended).

Ballroom dancing came very quickly to me, and I fell in love all over again. Once you know the basic steps and a few moves, you can make up whatever you want. Learning the different ballroom styles opens up a whole new world of specialty-type clubs that can fill a lifetime. If you've never been, I *highly* recommend visiting a ballroom club or Swing club that offers a free lesson before they open up the dance floor. Try your best to participate, and look around at the experienced dancers. Each with his own style, each a spontaneous work of art in motion, each having the time of his life! I'm still in the beginning stages of learning ballroom (I should probably take an actual lesson or three). I'm fortunate enough to have the lovely and matchless Kelly Meg available to teach me Swing. She's really *really* good! And we'll tackle the other styles together.

Learning to dance is fun in and of itself, but it has positive effects on many other aspects of your life. It helps you feel more comfortable with your body, more natural in your own skin. This effects the way you walk and communicate non-verbally, especially with those of the opposite sex. Dance gives you a better psycho-epistemological understanding of your sexuality. Not only do you have better non-verbal communication, you can recognize it more easily in others. An acute awareness of your own body is a powerful potential source of psychological visibility and romantic pleasure. Another romantic goodie: ballroom-type dance clubs are a great place to meet women/men! Very few complete morons frequent such places. But I digress!

If you don't dance, especially if it makes you uncomfortable, you own it to yourself to give it a shot. You might fall in love like I did. Don't worry, I won't get too jealous.

--Dan Edge

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Bachelor Party!

I had my Bachelor Party this past Saturday, and it was a blast. Special thanks to Bob, Todd, Chad, Cory, Miguel, and German for showing me such a good time.

We went to Chelsea Piers, which is an enormous sports complex in Manhattan, for an afternoon of dude-like activities. We played golf, went bowling, ate burgers and nachos, punished a punching bag, whiffed some balls at the batting cages, rode a Harley (see below), and started planning a Revolution at a local tavern. Testosterone-pumping action, through and through!

Kelly also had her Bachelorette Party on Saturday, and then we both attended a lovely Wedding Shower orchestrated by her mother on Sunday at the Whistling Swan Inn. Pictures from both of those events are forthcoming. But for now, enjoy these pics:

Dan golfing (badly):



Dan and Chad (Thanks for the pics Chad!):



Dan and Bob:



Dan Rocks the Harley:



Dan is a little scared of the Harley after Rocking too much:



--Dan Edge