NYC Junto Newsletter, January 4, 2015

January 5, 2016

NYC Junto Newsletter

written by Iris Bell on January 4, 2016


  • NEW Junto meeting Thursday, January 7
  • Junto speakers through April 2016
  • NEW NYC Ayn Rand Meetup, Sunday, January 30, 3:00pm
  • NEW Seminar on Ayn Rand’s ethics and politics, Feb. 25 and 26
  • NEW Results Junto Dec. debate: Michael Malice & Thomas Woods
  • NEW Professors band together to beat back a free speech threat
  • NEW The rise of humanism, by Matt Ridley
  • NEW Falling interest causes falling profits, by Keith Weiner
  • NEW “Selling Ayn Rand’s ideas” by Michelle Kamhi
  • NEW Will banning genetic engineering kill you?
  • NEW Racism: A panel from the Objectivist Summer Conference.
  • NEW 250th Anniversary of the NYC Stamp Act Riot, in 6 minutes
  • NEW Emotion in Life & Music: A new science, by Johnson
  • NEW U.S. Rules of Engagement are pure altruism
  • NEW Book recommendations from people at Cato
  • NEW How North Korea became the world’s worst economy
  • Free market and Objectivist local meetings, sites, podcasts
  • Fred Cookinham’s five Ayn Rand walking tours
  • Read and post to Junto sites
  • About Junto and this Junto newsletter


Junto focuses on free markets, Objectivism and investing. It’s a group that shares information, discusses current issues and presents speakers.

January 7, 2016, Thursday

Robin Hanson
“The Age of Em: Work, love and life when robots rule the earth”

Admission free — no reservation necessary

We’ll socialize from 7:00pm to 7:30pm

7:30pm moderator, Victor Niederhoffer calls first for announcements of things happening before the next Junto. Then he asks for other announcements and for people to introduce themselves.

The speaker begins promptly at 8:00pm.

Most speakers will present their thoughts in several sections. Each section will have audience questions, discussions and rebuttal of the speaker’s points.

Discussions are intense but polite.

The meeting will continue to 10:00pm or later.

General Society Library
20 West 44 Street,
between 5th and 6th Avenues, NYC
near the Grand Central Terminal

  • Junto meets on the first Thursday of every month
  • Participation by all attendees is highly encouraged.
  • 70 to 150 people attend most Junto meetings.

Robin Hanson is research associate Future of Humanity Institute Oxford here, and associate professor economics George Mason, here. He’s speaking on his book, coming out in May, “The Age of Em: Work, love and life when robots rule the earth.”

Masters in physics and philosophy University of Chicago, 9 years artificial intelligence research Lockheed and NASA, doctorate social science California Institute of Technology, 2,800 citations, 60 academic publications in economics, physics, computer science, philosophy and more.

He blogs at Overcoming Bias here and has pioneered the field of prediction markets since 1988 at George Mason.

Many think smart robots will be brain emulations or “ems.” Scan a human brain, then run a model with the same connections on a fast computer and you have a robot brain but recognizably human.

Train an em to do some job and copy it a million times: an army of workers is at your disposal. They’ll displace humans in most jobs, economy may double in size every few weeks.

Hanson applies standard theories for a detailed picture of a world dominated by ems. He shows how strange your descendants may be, though ems are no stranger than we would appear to our ancestors. His site on this book, including his TED talk, is here.

Victor Niederhoffer will moderate.

Junto’s audio podcasts since May 2014 are here.

  • Visit Junto’s site for information on current and past speakers, listen to podcasts, read previous newsletters and to sign up for the Junto e-newsletter here. Junto’s Twitter is here.

Junto’s founder and host is Victor Niederhoffer. Visit his site here. His Twitter is here.


Feel free to use the above text to promote Junto among free marketers, Objectivists and investors.


Come to Junto, meet these upcoming speakers:

February 4, 2016, Charles Murray American Enterprise Institute senior fellow. On his newest book, “By the People: Rebuilding liberty without permission.” Essays and videos are here.

  • Gene Epstein will moderate.

March 3, 2016, to be announced

  • Victor Niederhoffer will moderate.

April 7, 2016, Oxford-style debate: Paul Helmke and John Lott “In order to reduce its murder-rate, the U.S. needs more stringent gun-control laws”
– Helmke takes affirmative. Former president DC-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. His site is here.
– Lott is author of “More Guns, Less Crime.” His blog is here.

  • Gene Epstein will moderate.


NYC Ayn Rand Meetup, Sunday, January 30, 3:00pm

As always, we’ll talk about Ayn Rand, her works, challenges, Objectivist life, options, associations and knowledge. Give and take, open to all, no charge, no reservations. It’s on the last Sunday of each month.

It’s at The Midtown Restaurant, 155 East 55 Street, between 3rd and Lexington Avenues, mid-block on the north side of 55th Street, in Manhattan, free.

There are one to two dozen people at each Meetup. Benny Pollack, Ayn Rand Meetup organizer, says: “Join our group of regular Objectivists for a lively discussion on topics related to Ayn Rand and Objectivist philosophy in general.

“Please join us. If you are already versed in the topic, want to learn or just want to spend an intellectually stimulating afternoon, please come. I hope to see you all there.” Get up-to-date information here.


Seminar on Ayn Rand’s ethics and politics, Feb. 25 and 26

For 15 students, just prior to International Students for Liberty Conference, DC. For this 1-1/2 day Socratic seminar, students will read 3 Rand essays and discuss them, lead by Marsha Enright director of Reason, Individualism and Freedom Institute, with Raymond Raad psychiatrist, and Matthew Faherty, both alumnus SFL and Objectivists.

This is a chance to study Rand’s writing in depth and its relation to libertarian political theory.

They’re trying to raise $10,000 to cover all expenses, including transportation and accommodation for students, conference room, compensation for instructors and Students-for-Liberty sponsorship fee. They have $2,000. Any donation, no matter how small, would be appreciated. Give here.


Results of Junto Dec. debate: Michael Malice & Thomas Woods

“Alexander Hamilton was a hero for the cause of liberty.”
Michael Malice took the affirmative, Thomas Woods the negative.
Voted before debate: For 16% Against 41% Undecided 43%


Voted after debate: For 26% Against 66% Undecided 8%


Change after debate: For +1% Against +25% Undecided -35%


Debater arguing “Against” the resolution clearly won. While debater arguing “For” picked up 10 points in terms of percentage share, debater arguing “Against” picked up 25 points — the largest percentage point gain since Junto began running Oxford-style debates. This is the way winners are decided by debating groups on both sides of the Atlantic.


Professors band together to beat back a free speech threat

…among the students’ seven demands — which included requests for increased affirmative action, the creation of a multicultural center as a “safe space” for minority students, and diversity training for staff and freshmen — the first demand stood out to Professor C. Bradley Thompson. And for all the wrong reasons.

It reads, in part: [W]e want a public commitment from the Clemson University Administration to prosecute criminally predatory behaviors and defamatory speech committed by members of the Clemson University community (including, but not limited to, those facilitated by usage of social media).

“I got wind that a faculty group was going to take out a full-page ad in the student newspaper, The Tiger, in which they were going to support the demands of the Coalition of Concerned Students,” Thompson said. “So I very quickly wrote a response…’An Open Letter to Clemson Students.’ ”

The professors ad said in part, “…we would therefore oppose all attempts by Clemson faculty and administrators to silence, suppress, or ‘prosecute criminally’ thought and speech deemed vulgar…” Read about this here.


The rise of humanism, by Matt Ridley

Non-belief is the fastest growing category of belief; Islamists are worried. Fifty years ago, after the cracking of the genetic code, Francis Crick was so confident religion would fade that he offered a prize for the best future use for Cambridge’s college chapels. Swimming pools, said the winning entry.

Today, when terrorists cry “God is great” in both Paris and Bamako as they murder, the joke seems sour. But here’s a thought: that jihadism may be a last spasm — albeit a painful one — of a snake that is being scotched. The humanists are winning, even against Islam. Read the rest here.


Falling interest causes falling profits, by Keith Weiner

Weiner often attends Junto. “Most people assume that prices move as a result of changes in the money supply. Instead, let’s look at the effect of changes in interest. To start, consider a hamburger restaurant. Suppose that the average profit in the burger business is ten percent of invested capital. If MacDowell’s is thinking about expanding, it has to consider the interest rate. Why?” Read the rest here.


“Selling Ayn Rand’s ideas” by Michelle Kamhi

Many friends have told me Michelle identifies essential concepts behind presenting and communicating controversial ideas to often hostile audiences. Her talk is an example of the skills described. I’m looking forward to seeing this. You can watch it here.


Will banning genetic engineering kill you? by Edward Hudgins

One headline reads “British baby given genetically-edited immune cells to beat cancer in world first.” Another headline reads “Top biologists debate ban on gene-editing.” It’s a literal life and death debate. And if you care to live, pay attention to this philosophical clash!

Genetic engineering is on an exponential growth path. In 2001 the cost of sequencing a human-sized genome was about $100 million. By 2007 the cost was down to $10 million. Now it’s just over $1,000. Scientists and even do-it-yourself biohackers can now cheaply access DNA information that could allow them to discover cures for diseases and much more. Read the rest here.


Racism: A panel from the Objectivist Summer Conference.

From the Ayn Rand Institute, Andrew Bernstein, Onkar Ghate, Gregory Salmieri and Tara Smith, touch on aspects of racism, each aspect interesting and valuable in its own right. Topics include nature, effects and solutions to racism from an Objectivist perspective, historical instances of racism in the U.S. and Europe, personal experiences of racism, and the difficulty well intentioned individuals have in rejecting racist notions. Buy it for $3.98, here.


250th Anniversary of the NYC Stamp Act Riot in under 6 minutes

M Zachary Johnson, often at Junto, offers this mini-documentary. “My friends at the American Revolution Round Table (NY), the Bowling Green Association and the Lower Manhattan Historical Society got together to reenact the New York City Stamp Act Protest on its 250th anniversary. This was the first act of colonial rebellion against British power, and it took place at the exact spot of the original protest. I made this miniature documentary of the event.

“It was a lot of fun! Fred Cookinham, [often at Junto] sings in costume toward the end.” Under 6 minutes, watch it here.


Emotion in Life & Music: A new science, by M Zachary Johnson

He offers us a chance to read some of the book he’s been working on. “I’ve been steadily at work on my new book I’ve posted a section of the book on my blog as a teaser. It’s called The Need to Validate Musical Emotion.” It’s a few pages plus some interesting comments. Read it here.


U.S. Rules of Engagement are pure altruism

I discovered this book by Michael Kitz-Miller, “Paratrooper: My life with the 101st airborne division” on a Facebook group for fans of Objectivism.

“I have just published my new book… I’m told it is a very good read. Older service members may have the book bring back some memories. The book ends with a discussion of our current Rules of Engagement which is causing the lives of too many of our service men. Also there are chapters on the evaluation of NCOs and officers which may be an eye opener and then what is called Just War Theory which goes back to the time of Constantine and supported by the church to this day. It is actually the basis of our ROE and is pure altruism. Learn about it here.


Book recommendations from people at Cato

For example, David Boaz the VP suggests Eat the Rich and Parliament of Whores, by P. J. O’Rourke and Roger Pilon the VP Legal Affairs recommends Saving Congress from Itself: Emancipating the states and empowering their people, by James L. Buckley. Read them all here.


How North Korea became the world’s worst economy

By Nicholas Eberstadt, in the Wall Street Journal.

“Catastrophic policies made worse by billions in foreign aid that masked its leaders’ misrule.”

Economic history is a story of progress and success, but also of retrogression and failure. Among the latter cases, the most gruesome is surely the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK). Its signature catastrophe, the Great North Korean Famine of the 1990s, was, so far as can be told, the only famine in all of human history to beset an urbanized and literate society during peacetime. Read it all here.


Free market and Objectivist local meetings, sites and podcasts

Groups which meet in Manhattan

Sites to visit

Internet podcasts, all free

These are mainly weekly “radio” shows you can hear online, on your computer, phone, pad, etc. Listen to shows live or at any time. Most are on iTunes. If you’re listening live, join by commenting or asking questions by phone, email, in a chat room, tweeting, etc.

  • “The Yaron Brook Show” two shows weekly.
    This radical for capitalism discusses news, culture and politics from the principled perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism.
    Yaron, president Ayn Rand Institute, is co-author of “Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s ideas can end big government.”
    He ends each show with suggestions of movies, music and/or novels, you never know what life enhancing gems he and his listeners might share.
    Your questions or comments are welcome in the chat room, tweet or phone to talk with Yaron. Listen to any of these shows any time. They began January 2015.
    Live Saturday, 2:30pm to 4:00pm eastern here.
    Live Saturday, on Chicago radio AM560 The Answer and online, 5:00pm to 6:00pm eastern here.
  • “Philosophy in action” Diana Heish Brickell answered questions from listeners, applying rational principles to challenges of real life. There are no new shows but plenty of the old ones to enjoy. Listen any time here.
  • Hillsdale Dialogues, a survey of great books, great men and great ideas. Larry Arnn, president Hillsdale College, on Hugh Hewitt Show. Arnn is a teacher who enjoys teaching and his subjects, he makes learning fun and memorable.
    Subject such as: “American principles” and “foreign affairs and separation of powers.” On radio in NYC he’s often on Fridays, a short segment during 9:00pm to 10:00pm eastern, on AM970 The Answer. Listen online any time here.
  • “Don’t let it go…unheard” Amy Peikoff is a radical for capitalism and free speech, hosting a show discussing news, politics, law and culture from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy Objectivism.
    Live Tuesday and Friday, 11:00pm to 1:00am eastern
    Listen live or any time here.
  • “The Peikoff podcasts” Alternate weeks have Leonard Peikoff, philosopher, Ayn Rand’s intellectual heir or Yaron Brook, president Ayn Rand Institute.
    Leonard answers questions on Rand’s philosophy Objectivism, human relationships, career, moral issues — not technical philosophy or practical politics. Yaron answers questions on politics, economics, foreign policy. Podcasts are available by topic, single questions, full episodes, here.

Fred Cookinham’s five Ayn Rand walking tours

  • Atlas Shrugged
  • Ayn Rand’s Park Avenue
  • Ayn Rand’s Fifth Avenue
  • Skyscrapers of The Fountainhead
  • Ayn Rand on Broadway

Private tours $30 per person. Arrange tour or information, call Fred at home: 718-397-9019, on cell: 917-607-9019, email: fcookinham [at]

His site’s here.

Read and post to Junto sites

  • Read and post to the Forum here.
  • Read and post to Junto-discuss list: Discuss Junto speakers and other topics. To post you need to be a member. Sign up or read here.
  • Visit Junto Facebook here.
  • Follow Junto Twitter here.

About Junto and this Junto newsletter

  • Our founder and host is Victor Niederhoffer. His site is dedicated to the scientific method, free markets, deflating ballyhoo, creating value and laughter; a forum for us to use our meager abilities to make the world of specinvestments a better place. Visit his site here.
  • Gene Epstein moderates Junto. He’s economics editor and books editor Barron’s, weekly business magazine, author “Econospinning: How to read between the lines when the media manipulate the numbers.”
  • Iris Bell writes this e-newsletter, designs Junto handouts and is a freelance graphic designer. She was Ayn Rand’s and Nathaniel Branden Institute’s graphic designer.
  • Oleg Atbashian created, sends e-newsletter, does email list, moderates discussions. His own famous site, The People’s Cube, presents important political issues with humor and satire.
  • This is a twice a month e-newsletter. Maybe an occasional extra about a timely event.
  • To subscribe to this newsletter put “Junto list” in the subject line, email your name and preferred email address to:


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