Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Another "not particularly Objective" post
Maybe I've given up on blogging about Objectivism, too boring. But we'll see. After all, everything has to do with Objectivism.
So, more boobs...
Buy my shirt, blah blah.
Businesswomen are the backbone of society, and boobs + the almighty dollar = even more awesomeness.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Friday, April 4, 2008
No, for once I did not make this photoshop. It's from the Livejournal community Ayn Rand As Rabbit. Not particularly active, but has a few funny quotes.
"We at Ayn Rand As Rabbit believe firmly in Ayn Rand's likeness to a rabbit.
We further believe that for this reason, the corpse in question ought be dumped headfirst in a fifty-foot tall bucket of broccoli while reading Immanuel Kant and making love to John Zerzan. As you can see, you have just stumbled upon the greatest and most rational of communities!"
I have more thoughts about my haters. I think I wrote in one of my posts that Rand was oversensitive to the fact that she had haters and developed this persecution complex that everyone was out to get her. I concluded that since she put herself out there, you're bound to get haters as well as fans, and it should just be taken as a part of the price of fame. I'll apply this logic to myself as well; I just didn't think my blog got around enough to attract the interest of haters. I set out to be the TMZ or OK magazine of the Randisphere, so I'll take it as a step in the process.
Also as I mentioned before, the main point of the site is humor, snark, and fun. I'm a fan of Obama, but I found the Onion headline "Black guy asks Nation for Change" hella funny anyway. Loosen up people!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
It's about people (not just Objectivists) who think that it's a great idea to "follow your dreams", at any cost, and regardless of if it matches your natural abilities. Objectivism bears a significant similarity to Communism in their attitudes concerning work. It has been said that one reason why Communism failed is because it put so much emphasis on the importance of work as a enjoyable and virtuous activity, and most people don't enjoy work at all, and would rather slack off and be lazy. Come on, admit it...I do. Objectivism is similar in this respect.
The reason why work is called WORK is because people generally don't enjoy doing it, and therefore must get paid in order to do it. Most people don't particularly enjoy their jobs, and most jobs are not particularly enjoyable. In fact many of the most important jobs to society are extremely unenjoyable, such as garbage collectors, construction workers, line cooks. Contrary to the Randian notion of the noble businessman being the most crucial and productive member of society, a farmer probably contributes more to production and is more indispensable to society than a CEO.
It's easy for Steve Jobs to make his "Stay young, stay foolish" speech, when he has earned millions doing it. But for the vast majority of us, that is awful advice.
When asked how she managed to have such staying power in the fickle entertainment industry, Jennifer Lopez said that she thought of her music as primarily as a job and only second as something she loves. Scott Adams also said that he saw his "Dilbert" cartoons as his work, and that it was "never a joy".
There will always be days when you won't love or feel like going to work, no matter how much you might initially love your art. Success requires diligence and commitment even during the times when you don't enjoy it.
Even in my work (I'm a biology grad student), I've seen countless bitter, disenchanted techs, postdocs and grad students who went into science because they "loved" or were "passionate" about it. 90% of experiments fail, and it can be very frustrating and disappointing. When you realize that 6 months of hard work and experiments has pretty much been for nothing, no amount of love or passion is going to make up for it. So if you go into science thinking that you love it and you're going to make great discoveries, you're setting yourself up for a rude shock, because when that doesn't happen (and most of the time it doesn't) you're going to be bitterly disappointed. The way I see it is that my research is ultimately a job that I do to support myself, so I am committed to doing my best, and I probably enjoy it better than other alternatives, and if I find enjoyment and groundbreaking discoveries on top of that, it's icing. (Of course that is not what I said in my interview, but then again, who would...)
I would even go as far as to say these people are being misleading and disingenuous to say that they are doing what they "love" and encourage people to follow their passions at any cost. Sure, if I could get suckers to give me millions of dollars, I'd love whatever it was I was doing too.
Maybe some people get lucky making lots of money doing what they love, but the vast majority of the time, one would do much better to be realistic about your own abilities and qualifications and choose your line of work thusly. There is perhaps another reason why advice urging people to be realistic doesn't get that much airtime or glory, especially with the high school or college age crowd. (I saw that "Stay young, stay foolish" on so many of my friends' blogs and stuff I want to puke") It doesn't sound as exciting or romantic. And people don't like being reminded of their limitations. But in the long run, I think it would pay off.
Also, I thought about what I said yesterday about people being rude to me on my blog. Maybe by having a blog like this, I am kind of opening myself up to whatever shit people might want to say. I still don't like it though, and would appreciate it if people were not rude to me on my own blog that they are reading on their own volition. That being said, whatever, if you still want to be mean to me, go ahead, take your best shot!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
This isn't directly to do with Objectivism I guess, but I'm sure you can find a way to relate it to Objectivism (see this post) -- and anyway Rand had plenty to say about relationships and "senses of life", although she didn't always walk the talk in her own life, though that's a story for another day, and she also had a lot to say about how to judge a person's worth.
Qualities like intelligence, good looks and capitalistic, productive ability are relative, as in there'll always be someone better looking, smarter, more productive than him, or than me for that matter. And one day, physical and mental strength and beauty will fade and eventually die. So it got me thinking there's got to be another reason and foundation to build a relationship beyond mutual admiration of each other's assets.
Secondly, a little housekeeping. I have been getting some clearly incendiary and mean-spirited comments. I do not appreciate this (obviously). Maybe I should make the point of this blog a bit more clear. This blog is not meant to be an in-depth philosophical critique or debate of Objectivism. The purpose of this blog is primarily to report on and poke fun at Objectivism and Objectivists, and sometimes to discuss interesting concepts and ideas. But only if they are interesting and to the extent they are interesting - which would be my call.
The way I see it is that I do not actively promote this blog on pro-Objectivist websites, so I am not soliciting your invective. If you want to continue to leave me nasty comments, go ahead, I am not going to block anyone, but I will ignore you. Maybe someday I can compile all the crazy shit people have said and marvel at it. The only effect you will have is to make me feel bad (I'm not above saying that unkind words do affect me). If the existence of websites and blogs that portray Objectivism in a negative light distresses you so greatly, unfortunately they probably won't be going away any time soon. It takes all types to make a world, etc etc, and there will always exist people who disagree with you. You are encouraged to leave my blog immediately if you feel it has nothing to offer you. Also, I'm not interested in becoming Objectivist, or a follower of any other political or philosophical system for that matter, I think I've already experienced enough of that. Which bring me to...
The extent of my Rand-cred, as some were wondering, includes having read Anthem, parts of The Fountainhead, most of Atlas, parts of Best of Ayn Rand's Q&A, her Marginalia, and some of her essays. I used interested Objectivism as well as free market capitalism and libertarianism, and felt like I agreed (and still do) with many of Rand's central tenets. I also crashed a Objectivist meeting once when I was an undergrad. I believe I have a fairly good, although far from exhaustive, understanding of the Objectivist movement and its philosophy.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Source: Time Out New York January 31-February 6, 2008 Issue 644
As some of you may or may not know, I live in New York City, not far from where all this happened. And to be honest, I hate New York. I want to get one of those I ♥ NY shirts and do some t-shirt surgery on it, to make it say I HATE NY, or something. There's a design in the Generation T book that demonstrates ripping the heart of of an ex's old t-shirt or something. That's what I would like to do to one of those I ♥ NY shirts. There's also a threadless spoof:
Well anyway as I was saying I really hate New York. I'm just here because of school, and once I graduate I plan to get the hell out.
The first time I visited New York, I was blown away, and thought it was the perfect place to live (and apparently so was Ayn Rand when she stepped off the boat). But after living here for a while I don't think so anymore. It's dirty, polluted, unsafe (been robbed at gunpoint), unfriendly, crowded, everything a livable city shouldn't be. Though I see why Ayn Rand would have loved it, hmmmm... (points at hideous modernist superskyscrapers, smokestacks and...rude, selfish people).
It might be because I haven't been here that long, and it takes a while to get used to any city, and I probably will get used to it, eventually. But I hope I never get too used to it and become a "real" New Yorker, because that would be horrible. Of course it is exciting to feel like you're in the center of the world, where so much is happening and has happened, and pretty much IS the center of the world in so many ways, but even that cannot make up for the fact that New York is pretty damn inhospitable to normal human life.
You guys who wanted more posts full of Meggy goodness were lucky I made this post. I wasn't thinking of posting, but I was cleaning my room and found the Time Out magazine and remembered I made a note of wanting to post this trivia. I don't know, I'm a busy woman and I realized that posting to a blog on the internet isn't a particularly high priority for me. Also, it's getting kind of old. I woke up and I was like, damn, Ayn Rand and her cult no longer have even an iota of romance or allure to me any more, not even in a sardonic sense. It's been fun, but I'm just not feeling it anymore.
Friday, March 7, 2008
I had a brief conversation with Robert via email.
RB: Thanks for writing, Meg. For your readers, I'd add the following:
After Richard Lawrence's second reply, I realized that he was likely to continue replying to whatever I wrote on the subject. I did not and do not find his replies satisfactory. I think they misconstrued some of the issues and left unaddressed important parts of the argument, but I'm not optimistic that I will ever convince him of that or that it's worth my while to try. Hence, I'm willing to leave him with the last word.
MM: Which issues specifically do you think were miscontrued and/or unaddressed? And how or why do you think they were misconstrued or unaddressed?
RB: It's been quite awhile since I looked at it and made that decision. I do not have time to return to it now. I'll let my previous comment stand without elaboration. I disagree, but I'm content to let him have the last word.
Maybe someday Robert will post another follow up. Or maybe not, since he probably has better things to do.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
ARCHN commenter Behemoth points us to Founder's College 2007 final exam, question #5. Apparently it covers the same topic as an ARCHN post made by Greg. I'm no philosopher, so I can't comment on the philosophy, but I do think it's funny that the hypothetical company in the question is named Archna Consulting Group.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
If this article is right, contrary to what Objectivism preaches, we should not judge people too harshly for being dumb, because it is usually not their fault, and they are unaware of it. Furthermore, it also implies that we should examine our own hubris, because as the ancient saying goes "Pride goeth before a fall." Unshakeable faith in our own abilities and judgement, aside from being based primarily on faith and emotion and not on reason and reality, only serves to impair us from seeing our mistakes and correcting them.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Diana Hsieh started her own uber top secret blog and mailing list available only to the sufficiently rational of heart. As commenter Wells aptly noted, "I just hope that Diana Hsieh and friends realize that secrecy only works when you are trying to exploit a difference in knowledge...In the case of spreading Objectivism. If Objectivism is worth believing, and Objectivists promote it correctly, there shouldn't be differences in knowledge to exploit."
I've never quite been able to understand the psychology of proslytizing philosophies based on individualism and selfishness. It seems inherently contradictory to become a missionary for the cause of libertarianism or Objectivism. It's missing the point entirely. If you're going to a missionary for a creed, at least have it be one that is compatible with the concept of unity and goodwill. The nature of individualism exhorts one to respect the individualism of others, whatever their views may be. And if your philosophy is one of every man for themselves, and essentially just says to be as selfish as you can, why the hell would you want to take the time to spread it to others and have them be your competition?
The results, expectedly, are catastrophic.
The Objectivist missionary headquarters is ARI's own Objectivism Expansion Campaign. On the sidebar they have a link to "Ten Selfish Reasons To Contribute" (no we are not making this up). They can be summed up as "Give us money now Now NOW and your life with be magically better". Read them though, they're totally hilarious! Number 5 reason is: "[Because] I want to be happy."
With this, Objectivism has crossed the line from being a cult that leaves negative and sometimes lasting effects on its members psyches to a barefaced scam. They want their adherents, many of them still minors, to give them money to get nothing in return but an empty promise that their world will somehow abstractly become better.
I'm really curious though, about what the password protected posts on the Intellectual Activism blog contain. Diana Hsieh's noodz? If that's the case, Meg's Marginalia's professional opinion is, thanks, but no thanks, like those of Hillary Clinton, we do not need to see any of your noodz.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Author Mary Ann Sures nee Rukovina was the only member of the "Senior Collective" not related to the Canadian-Jewish Blumenthal family. She came to Rand's circle through her college roommate Joan Blumenthal. Charles Sures was an attorney who attended NBI lectures when he met Mary Ann. As Objectivist kismet would have it, they were rationally ideal for each other. Rand herself once said, "I know all the rational young men and women in New York and I can match them up." The Sures were lucky, they seem to have maintained their objective marital bliss, judging from their picture on the front page of the website. Many other couples churned out by the Objectivist matchmaking machine were not so lucky. Examples include Lawrence Scott and Patrecia Gullison (later on to be Nathaniel Branden's lover), and the Brandens themselves.
If you thought Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics was funny, you're in for a real treat. Facets of Ayn Rand is a barrel of monkeys compared to PARC and Ayn Rand's Marginalia. The book is written in a format of ARI interviewing the Sures. It is hagiography in the extreme, hilariously funny without meaning to be. The first subheading of Chapter One is entitled "AYN RAND'S CERTAINTY". Later in that chapter, Ms. Sures describes working as Ayn Rand's assistant. One of her duties was to sort out and dispose drafts of pages of the manuscript that were no longer needed.
ARI : Are you saying that you actually destroyed pages of that novel?
MARY ANN : Yes. If a typewritten page had extensive editing and had to be retyped, the original page was destroyed. Her rule was that the page would first be torn into small pieces, and then the pieces mixed up and thrown down the incinerator in the hallway. She showed me how she wanted it done. She never, ever, discarded anything she had written without tearing it up completely — she didn’t take whole pages, squash them up, and throw them as a ball into the wastebasket.
ARI: What about handwritten pages? Don’t tell me you destroyed any of those?
MARY ANN : Oh, yes. If her changes on a handwritten page were so extensive that the page was difficult to read, she rewrote that page and gave me the original page to destroy. To tear up and incinerate.
ARI : How could you bring yourself to destroy them?
MARY ANN : Because that’s what she wanted. She didn’t want those pages lying around. They weren’t of any use to her. She wasn’t like some artists who save every scrap of paper they touch. She was concerned with the finished product, not with the process.
ARI : But this is an historic document we are talking about! Didn’t you want to keep the pages as souvenirs? How many of those pages were there?
MARY ANN : I don’t remember the exact number, but there were not a great many. It never occurred to me to ask for them. I think that would have been the height of presumption. And, had I asked, I think she would have been annoyed and refused. And rightly so. The one time I attempted to save a souvenir, she intervened.
Oh the horror! Mary Ann Sures foolishly shredded Rand's drafts! That's so many more pages ARI could have scammed its lemmings into paying for, after they've completely milked her Marginalia for what it's worth.
*hat tip to Neil Parille
A bit late, but I really hope you guys had a better President's day than I did. It turns out I'm making Ayn photoshops almost as much as Google customizes its logo to match special holidays. I'm not very good though, so if anyone has mad graphic design skillz and wants to help me out with the Rand 'shops you're more than welcome to.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
"Tell me why the stars do shine
Tell me why the ivy twines
Tell me what makes skies so blue
And I'll tell you why I love you
Nuclear fusion makes stars
Tropisms make the ivy twine
Rayleigh scattering makes skies so blue
Sex hormones are why I love you"
- Isaac Asimov
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Rocky Vista University in Parker, Colorado will be the first for-profit osteopathic medical school when it opens this fall of 2008. The school's founder Mr Yife Tien is also the manager of the for-profit medical school American University of the Carribean. American Medical News and the Journal of American Osteopathic Association have news and opinions.
My opinion on these for profit, diploma mill schools is that they are desperate and pathetic. There is an entire cottage industry structured around pushy, overachieving parents and kids straining to get into medical school. The amount of money and time one spends trying to get into medical school is highly inversely correlated with said person's actual ability and chance of getting in. But these people just won't take the hint and realize they aren't cut out for it. There are plenty of cunning investors such as Mr Tien eager to make a killing on these poor suckers. Other institutions of the multimillion dollar medical school admissions industry include private and Kaplan-affiliated MCAT classes and professional application preparers. Also, everyone knows that only people who can't cut it in continental US or Canada goes to the Carribean or other foreign medical schools.
On this same note, I don't see why every profession under the sun needs to be validated by a string of letters to tag on your name. Why should "doctors of osteopathy" get to use the appellation Dr. be admitted to medical practice when they're not real medical doctors? Why do pharmacists and psychologists need a PsyD or PharmD doctoral degree? Even massage therapists are now LMT (Licensed Massage Therapists). Slutting for sleazebags in a sketchy massage parlor or hotel is now dignified with a professional sounding title. The cumulative effect of this trend will be to dilute the meaning and respectability of having a real academic degree and render it meaningless.
Education isn't what it used to be. With initiatives like No Child Left Behind, even tertiary education is now seen as a need and right rather than a privilege earned by the deserving. The only advantage of having people stay in school longer pursuing bullshit degrees is that it keeps them out of the workforce, thus preventing flooding of the job market and unemployment.
And while we're on the topic of for-profit universities, Nathaniel Branden's psychology PhD is from the California Graduate Institute, which is unaccredited and not affiliated with any university, as Jeff Walker reports in The Ayn Rand Cult.
*This page apparently used to be on a Stanford site, but the link now redirects to to Joketribe. The pickup lines are still there, but the page has lots of ads (no popups though), so be warned.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Need advice about your latest megalomaniacal scheme? If only you could ask history's greatest megalomaniac, "novelist" and "philosopher" Ayn Rand. Too bad she's dead. But wait! In 1963, a secret cabal of Objectivists intent on taking over the Student Union at MIT built the first robotic Ayn Rand, and now you can own a Randroid® based on their original design. Comes with stock phrases such as "Morality ends where the gun begins," "Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent," and "Nathaniel! Bring me another gin and tonic!"
Price: US$50,000 includes software*
*software tends to be rather buggy. For instance, your Randroid may oppose immigration, yet be an immigrant herself. She may oppose infidelity, yet cheat on her husband. She may espouse individuality, yet believe that only those who follow her are individuals. She may oppose the control of individuals by organizations, yet laud corporate power. These bugs can not be repaired.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
HTML format, click the link that says Devers Branden and Ayn Rand
Nathan and Devers have since divorced. Damn, this Nathan Branden guy just can't seem to stay married. This does not prevent him from publishing books about romantic love and acting as a life coach and marriage counselor. I'd take his advice with more than a grain of salt.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the ned to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhapse because of, the lack of evidence... Faith, being belief that isn't based on evidence, is the principal vice of any religion."
However, the close of the speech "To be read at his funeral" goes:
"As I said, the story asks for too much luck; it would never happen. And yet, isn't it what has happened to each one of us? We have woken after hundreds of millions of years asleep, defying astronomical odds. Admittedly we didn't arrive by spaceship, we arrived by being born, and we didn't burst conscious into the world but accumulated awareness gradually through babyhood. The fact that we gradually apprehend our world, rather than suddenly discovering it, should not subtract from its wonder."
It is unfortunate, then, that this wonder at the universe did not inspire humility, but arrogance and the desire to stamp out others' beliefs who differed from his. Those who believe science "proves" certain beliefs is mistaken about the true process of science. Scientific knowledge is constantly evolving and being added to; commonly held dogmas may well be effectively challenged in future with new discoveries. To declare that science has "disproved" God is a cardinal misrepresentation.
Militant atheist and evolutionists appear to naively and uncritically worship science and reason almost in the way the Objectivists do. As Greg Nyquist wrote in his book, it does not make sense to do that. One might as well worship or found a system based on a hammer or a mop, rather than science or reason. Reason and science are tools, not ends to themselves.
Science may have disproved certain specific beliefs held by some practitioners of religion, for example that the world is billions rather than thousands of years old. To me, the most compelling proof that God did not intelligently design each human being is the existence of gross congenital birth defects. Maybe you and I (I more than you if you are an Objectivist) are intelligently and lovingly designed by an all knowing benevolent God, but babies who die in utero, hermaphrodites, babies born anencephalously, are mostly likely not.
However, criticism of one part of a philosophy does not gainsay the whole, as Michael Shermer said. Although religion has been responsible for much harm in the world, it has also brought about much good. Religious teachings and institutions provide moral guidance to many around the world, and inspire them to be better people.
It is therefore more important to be a good person than to have any particular religious, political or philosophical belief. There are heroes and villians of every philosophical and political stripe throughout history. Belief in a particular philosophy in itself doesn't make you a good person; what you do and become does. Philosophical movements draw you in by saying you will be a better, more moral, more correct person if you follow their belief. My other pet peeve is shills of a creed who say "Look at the evidence I've shown you, and think for yourself," because they almost invariably mean "Look at this propaganda, and think like me".
Scientists as well as religious practitioners agree that there is much about our universe and ourselves we do not yet know, By "we", I mean individual persons as well as humanity on the whole. Maybe one day we will, but I think that day would be far into the future, if ever. The honest answer to these metaphysical questions is that it is inconclusive. Therefore, there is no good reason to attack religion or people who choose to have faith. Since there is much we don't know and don't have the answer to, faith in the existence of God is as valid as non-belief in God. I would even take it a step further and say that to believe for sure in the non existence of God requires a leap of faith and logic.
My father, an Anglican, has expressed disappointment at my reluctance to believe in God. In response, I quoted the Bible: "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9. Honest believers also admit that there is no actual scientific "proof" that God exists, that there is much they don't know, but only God knows, and they believe because of personal faith. This is the faith I don't have. I reassured my dad that I have nothing against God or religion, but I just can't bring myself to have that kind of faith. It is the with same skepticism that I reject pure atheism.
I would also like to plug a book "The Language of God" by Francis S. Collins, who along with Craig Venter, presented us with the full sequence of the human genome. He is an accomplished scientist and also a strong believer in God.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Ayn said that "Nobody helped me" and "there isn't a single mind out ther I can talk to", when both of those are total bollocks. Her family, Cecil de Mille, her husband Frank, her publishers, all helped her. Barbara Branden says in her book that after the publication of her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, many famous and highly respected philosophers and leaders came to speak to her and congratulate her, but she "alienated them within minutes". This was because she believed everyone had to agree with her about every single little thing or she could not get along with them.
People say stuff like Britney has such a hard life, because she has people following her around and her family wants her money, and whatever else they say. I personally wouldn't mind people following me around, actually I wish people would follow me around more and take my picture more. My boyfriend asked me if I would really like that, to be plastered on billboards everywher and I said, sure, the world needs more Meg! Anyway, Britney had, and still has in many ways, everything going for her. She had a hot boyfriend JT before her relationship dissolved due to her infidelity (sound familiar?), and then a husband KFed and lovely kids, multi-platinum album, a house in Malibu, and if nothing else, she's set for life with her multi million dollar fortune. How many people are so lucky as to not have to worry about money ever again for the rest of their life? If you're going to put yourself out here, you have to be prepared for the fact that not everyone will like you, and you will have haters, and you cannot let that get to you. I think she still has far more fans (myself included!) than haters. Maybe i'll send her a postcard after this post.
And I don't get people who get so mad when people see ugly pictures of them, celebrities or not. I don't care, actually my hobby is to collect embarassing and ugly pictures of myself and others. People need to stop taking myself so seriously. I also don't think Britney looks bad now, I wouldn't mind looking like her. And even in the pictures where she's not wearing makeup, or whatever, and people say she looks like a wreck, she still looks like Britney, and you can still tell she's pretty.
Another similarity between Ayn Rand and Britney Spears is that they were poor judges of character : Rand in Nathan Branden and Leonard Peikoff, Britney with Sam Lutfi and Adnan Ghalib (eww! -- I had to look hard to find an appropriate pic of Britney without her two remoras).
Photo from People Magazine
Friday, February 1, 2008
Click here to see the whole comic by Ruben Bolling.
There is this other Alan Greenspan comic I like, but it came out before the internet was widespread and I can't find it online. And I can't even remember who drew it. It was during the late 90's recession, and they were discussing what would be the best metric for economic health. They had the "Panda Sexual Activity Index PSAI" and a frame with pandas humping and the next frame had Alan Greenspan going "That is so cool"...or something. If anyone has it send it to me please :D
This was also the time where China was concerned the pandas in captivity weren't breeding enough and filmed panda porn to show them. I don't know what the outcome of that was. Before anyone asks, Ayn Rand's view on porn was that she thought it was personally disgusting but since she was libertarian she thought it should still not be censored or regulated.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Bass is a philosophy professor, so his criticism is all academic and dry. Too long and boring for me, but some of you might like it.
Richard Lawrence of Noble Soul wrote a rebuttal. He also hosts the Objectivism Reference Center which is home to a collection of Objectivism criticism links.
Monday, January 28, 2008
For someone who places such importance on human potential, there is very little in way of illustrating the process by which one comes to actualize the potential. In a highly recommended review, Shane Gline writes: "The most interesting thing about Roark is how little genesis there is in his thinking: there's just the Randian world-view, fully-formed like Athena from the head of Zeus, from page one." Ditto for most of her other characters, especially John Galt. All her characters are introduced to us as these highly productive, perfect people who just knew they were right and living out an ideal life. Their only faults were giving the little people in their life too much credit. Some proponent for the potential and dignity of the common man she was.
Eerily, even during the flashbacks to the past, the child Dagny and Francisco talked and behaved in an unrealistically unchildlike and overly serious manner. Tragically, this is the way Alyssa Rosenbaum remembered her childhood. Barbara Branden said that Rand often said that as a child she was often "disgusted" and "felt contempt" at things and people. Various accounts describe her as a distant and serious child.
One of her big themes is overcoming obstacles in life. Here, she totally misses the mark. Sure, the giants of industry managed to overcome the obstacles that big government and the "public good" had placed upon them, but they also had at their disposal their mammoth industrial empires, and their seemingly unlimited intellectual and physical strength. "Effortless" seems to be one of her favorite words, which she overuses to the point of ridiculousness. In real life, overcoming an obstacle is never "effortless" and the vast majority of people do not have superhuman levels of intelligence and wealth. She eschews the opportunity to show how battles against obstacles are really fought and won in reality.
When I was reading Atlas Shrugged, the most poignant moment was when Cherryl Taggart committed suicide after running away from a liberal, feminist social worker. She was one of my favorite characters that I could really identify with. This was also the turning point for me, when the book changed from being a compelling psychological thriller to just plain ludicrous. Someone who had painstakingly overcome dire poverty in rural upstate New York would not have killed herself over something as silly as discovering that her lover wasn't all she thought he was, or being snubbed by the popular rich girls. That sounds a lot more like something a spoilt heiress with an entitlement complex (hint: Dagny) would do. A real life Cherryl would have had the balls to dump the loser Jim Taggart, told the feminist social worker to stuff it, started her own business enterprise, and found a man worthy of her love. The fact that she killed herself does not compute with what is supposed to be a celebration of the triumph of the human spirit.
Also, the deep psychological bond that Dagny and Cherryl supposedly share needs fleshing out. Ayn says they were "like sisters" in spirit, but Dagny, resplendent in her virtue and resources, doesn't even reach out to Cherryl in her time of need.
I'm confused about this Eddie Willers character. He's supposed to represent common men who benefit when the strong are allowed to dominate the market. However, he seems like a tool and kind of pathetic, whose considers lifelong obsequious worship of the Taggart clan his life's highest calling. He's proud to be their "servant" and lapdog. If Rand had believed in the admirable capacity for common people to improve their situations through hard work and determination, this is an extremely poor execution of the point.
Hank Rearden is another character many identify with. But for all his noble struggles, he, too is shown to be played out for a fool in the end. He loses the woman he worshipped and admired for so long, first to Francisco and then to the sexually ambiguous, virtually disembodied, spirit guide John Galt. The best he and Francisco could hope for is that when Dagny and Galt had sex, "it would be as they would all three be making love together". This is pretty much Rand's wet dream: steamy group sex with multiple hot men.
Also, I found the scene where Rearden expresses "contempt" for his brother by saying he wouldn't even hire him as a janitor particularly strange. Even if he didn't want to hire his brother himself, couldn't he have at least pointed him in the direction of some other firms that were hiring, or helped edit his resume, and post it on Monster.com, or...something?
The same can be said about Peter Keating and Catherine Halsey in The Fountainhead. For the most part, real people aren't such spineless suckers who allow their family and friends to treat them badly for so long. And if they were, most normal people already understand that they aren't exactly ideal role models either.
There seem to be three categories of people in Rand's novels, none of them realistic nor particularly relevant. First there are the demi-gods of superior intellect, who do what they want, other people's interests be damned, and who according to her embody the best within us. Then there are the villains who, despite their glaring incompetence and impotence, manage to subjugate and torment the ones of superior capacity (not sure how that really pans out). Everyone else seems to fall into the final category, of people whose main fault is that they do not quite measure up to the premier paragons of virtue (Galt and Dagny in Atlas, Roark and Dominique in Fountainhead). Rand's opinion of them seems to be that they are pretty stupid even if well intentioned, whose main purpose seem to be to worship and hang on to either the heroes or villains. In layman's terms, they are pretty much SUCKERS.
Rand claimed her novels were about celebrating life and happiness, but she actually does an infinitely better job (not to mention also devoting a lot more pages) with her descriptions and indictments of evil. When she tries to describe happiness, love, and the joy of life -- things she knew little about -- she failed miserably.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I enjoyed immersing myself in learning from people doing groundbreaking research in their fields, interacting with a wide range of people (especially because I went to a huge public school, it's probably less so in smaller schools), having my first serious relationship, and more. Most students are at an age when you're just on the horizon of adulthood, and able to make your own decisions for your life that you couldn't before. Being young, you're full of ideas and enthusiasm for life (which unfortunately also confers a higher susceptibility to Objectivism). I spent many nights spent in intense, intelligent conversation with other bright and pretty young people that left me delighted and high for days.
But more pertinent to the above article, and to the whole Founders college affair, is that these years are also decisive years for young people. Career opportunities, and opportunities for other things in life depend heavily on performance during these years. Most college students are young, inexperienced and immature and look to their professors and other staff for guidance in their lives. As a student I put a lot of trust in my institution and my professors. My professors were some of first positive role models I had that I thought worth respecting and emulating.
This is why I don't think for profit schools are such a good idea, especially when they end up a flop like Founders. I don't think Founders has the resources to offer a sufficiently broad and rigorous curriculum, or the guidance and support young people need. It sucks for the students who decided to invest in Founders for their education, because in the end they're the ones getting screwed.
The tabloid paperback Blonde Bombshell writes that Larry Birkhead and Howard Stern made out and did gay things for Anna Nicole Smith's pleasure. I bet Ayn would have enjoyed that too, and maybe she did [!], except she was too homophobic to admit it.
The concept of a threesome or group sex appeals to me too, but I don't think it would work for me in practice. It's natural to be attracted to good looking people other than your partner. I know I am, and I expect my boyfriend would be too. I guess I'm too old fashioned or vanilla, but it doesn't really please me to think of him with another woman now, and I think he feels the same about me. If he comments about a hot girl, I either go "Hrrmmmmm" like Marge Simpson, or talk about some hot guy to even things out.
When I was younger I used to see it like a salt crystal, that just because you formed an ionic bond with one moiety, it doesnt prevent you from having ionic interactions with other charged moieties, and you finally get a crystal.
But as time goes on I think a successful relationship is more like a covalently bonded molecule
Photos from People Magazine
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Once the world of Objectivism shattered after The Break [between Rand and Nathan Branden], and continues to fragment into smaller and smaller pieces, she has assumed the job of being mother and female role model to many disenfranchised Objectivists. This is a great service to young Objectivists and ex-Objectivists who often badly need such a figure in their lives, which is often one of the reasons they turn to Objectivism (or other cults) to begin with.
Having being hurt by Rand and Nathan Branden herself, she is able to empathize and counsel many Objectivists and former Objectivists who have also been hurt by the movement. When I was trying to get out myself, I contacted her and she wrote me back promptly and sympathetically, and I appreciated it very much. The only thing was, she told me not to read The Ayn Rand Cult and spoke poorly of other Objectivism criticisms, and instead directed me to David Kelley's The Objectivist Center. But by then I'd had it up to here with Objectivism, and cults in general, and wasn't interested in getting into The Objectivist Center thing, even if it was just Rand-Lite.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Chris Wolf wrote an article called "The Dishonesty of Stephen Speicher" because Speicher "claimed that [Wolf] attended an elegant banquet, dressed in rags and smelling like a pig" on the Objectivist usenet. This is apparently important enough to devote two pages denouncing Speicher to entire world as though they care.
And what about Objectivists' silly habit of publicly "breaking" with people? Stephan Kinsella of Lew Rockwell blog, admittedly a libertarian frother himself (I tried to find a link that said the same thing that wasn't from a libertarian frother, but couldn't), posts this amusing article I Break for Randians. To make the Randians' lives easier and save them some time so they can get on with more important things, like steam cleaning their personal Rand shrine, he proposes a form letter "Why I Am Hereby and Henceforth Breaking with _____ (And Why You Should Care (And Why I Should Care That You Should Care)--And If You Don't I'll Break With You Too"
When I was in middle school, after an argument with my sister Marie I told everyone "I'm excommunicating her!" Victor then told me, "I think only the Pope can excommunicate people."
Most people are aware that interests, personalities, and life situations change, and friendship may not be forever. The normal reaction is to take this as a part of life, move on, and form new friendships with other people you have more in common with, with little pomp and circumstance. Alternatively, you could get your mom to e-threaten the apostate jerk.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Hailing from beautiful BC he knows Rand's contempt for the beauty of nature "has to flow from ignorance: on a night only twenty four hours after a full moon the moonlight will easily be bright enough to walk down a railroad track." He goes on to say that her contempt and ignorance extends to the natural workings of the human body. "There would be no need for them [productive movers and shakers] to "disappear:"in the real world they would be dying off at an extraordinary rate. If cancer didn't get them, they would all, Type As that they are, behaving coronaries left, right, and sideways.)"
And my favorite part:
"Marriage vows in an objectivist church would probably run along the lines of "Do you promise to attempt to dominate and subdue this woman until such time as you grow bored?" "Maybe." "Close enough. And do you promise to applaud this man`s production until such time as you find someone with a bigger ... corporation?" "Whatever." "By the power vested in me by having scammed you guys out of a marriage license fee, I now pronounce you man and appendage. May you be unencumbered by small persons."
And there's plenty more that I didn't spoil for you. Also this link isn't even on these two lists of Objectivism criticism.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Time Magazine article "Are we failing our geniuses?" contends that America is not doing enough to support gifted children in education. Ayn Rand would have agreed that it is an outrage that we spent ten times more on special education programs than on gifted education programs. I personally think it's kind of excessive too. There definitely is an anti-intellectual trend among school age children. Only in America is it ever cool to be dumb and smart people are thought of as freaks (like me and my boyfriend Victor were when we were in school, and no doubt all the misunderstood Randian geniuses). It would be good if that could change. Other countries seem to have less of that problem.
However, I totally disagree with the notion that being "gifted" (or thinking you are gifted) makes you more important and deserving of special treatment, or precludes you from having to learn to function and contribute to society. Barbara Branden said that Ayn Rand placed great importance on being intelligent, almost to the point of worshipping it, as do many immature, socially isolated teens. I used to be like that too, probably because school was the one thing I consistently succeeded in and managed to validate myself that way to overcompensate for other things that were lacking in my life. Thanks to Victor, and also other life experiences, I no longer think that way. Often in our arguments he would say that he doesn't see himself as better than other people just because he is smart, that intelligence in itself isn't necessarily a virtue. I never understood it and would even get offended. But I've since come around.
I still respect and value intelligence highly, and it is definitely a great trait to have to succeed in the world. But it is far from the only, or even the most important factor of success. Members of Mensa come from all walks of life. While I was still in college, my dad told me that it has been shown that success in one's career only depends 15% (i dont know how he got that number) on your technical skills and qualifications. I was shocked, even outraged. But after having more experience working in different environments, I understand first hand how important it is to be able to get along with people and have a positive environment at work in order to succeed.
When I was a kid I had a plaque that said, "What you are is God's gift to you. What you become is your gift to God." I no longer believe in God, but this statement has a meaning even aside from the God stuff. There are two components to a person, your innate characteristics you were born with, and what you choose to do with it. No matter how brilliant you are, you still need to put in effort and be humble enough to learn in order to actualize yourself and your potential. I knew someone who was brilliant and creative but became bitter, withdrawn, delusional and ended up alienating a lot of people, and finally killed himself. A friend remarked that, well his gift to God was a lump of coal.
Intelligence is a tool that can be used to achieve great ends, rather than a end in itself. As Greg Nyquist said, one might as well worship a mop or a hammer rather than intelligence. I guess some tools are pretty impressive, and maybe there is an emotion approaching awe when one regards a particularly nifty invention, but to worship the Hubble telescope or a confocal microscope is just odd. Maybe its possible and aesthetic to admire intelligence for its own sake, but for Rational and pratical purposes it is far more important what one does with one's intelligence.
Maybe some of these people, Bobby Fischer included, can't help being that way, strange and socially awkward, or that's just their personality. Maybe in a perfect world, everyone would be recognized for their gifts and be able to contribute according to their abilities and recieve according to their needs. But I'm not holding my breath for it to happen.
The article describes a precocious little girl.
"People are, I must admit it, a lot of times intimidated by me," she told me; modesty isn't among her many talents. She described herself as "perfectionistic" and said other students sometimes had "jealousy issues" regarding her."
This isn't something anyone should tolerate, make excuses for, or much less encourage. This sounds almost Randian:
"Often the kids are wasting away in average classes, something that drives Bob Davidson crazy: "I mean, that's criminal to send a kid [who already reads well] to kindergarten ... Somebody should go to jail for that! That is emotional torture!""
Can anyone say Entitlement Complex?? Expecting special treatment just because you're "gifted" is expecting people to do you a favor for nothing in return, which is omg... altruism.
It would be good if more could be done to help talented people achieve their potential rather than becoming unfulfilled and antisocial. It would be good for the country and economy. That's why our graduate schools, especially in science and engineering, and our research labs are filled with foreign nationals, because people in America are just too dumb and lacking in educational rigor. But until that happens, we of superior intelligence just need to hang in there, and make the best of it. The universe isn't always fair and benevolent, so there's no point waiting around for it to be. An elitist attitude adopted by the people in that article, and Objectivists only confirm the image that smart people are freaks and incapable of social function.
Many teenagers go through a phase of being arrogant about their intelligence. Although there is no need to fault or criticise them too much for it, because it is part of growing up, it is not an attitude that should be encouraged from people old enough to know better. When I was a teenager I ran around saying "I am the most intelligent person I know! I am the prettiest! I am the Cosmos, I am the Universe and my aura encompasses everything!" Rand, and Marx, never progressed from this stage.
Maybe some of these people, and maybe Bobby Fischer, couldn't help being eccentric. I'm not blaming them. I'm even kind of eccentric myself. But an inescapable reality of life that you can't fake or evade is that being excessively eccentric makes getting along with people and getting by in life rather difficult. Therefore is in one's best interest to try to not be so weird if and when it is possible.
RIP, chess champ.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Chuck Palahniuk said "Our Generation has had no Great war, no Great Depression. Our war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives." This quote depresses me immensely (no pun intended). Chuck Palahniuk depresses me immensely. It must be his malevolent sense of life. Anyway, to the extent that it is true today, especially in developed countries, this unfulfilled desire for transcendence must be real. That probably contributes to why people become religious, or otherwise acquire other strong beliefs that dominate their lives.
Maybe it's because I'm not as lucky as those Chuck Palahniuk fans (and Ayn Rand fans) who were born into middle class America and have the time to pretend to be depressed and worry that transcendence is lacking from their lives. Or maybe it's just that I have the gratitude and humility to recognize what is good in my life and appreciate it. To me, happiness and transcendence is being with my Socialist boyfriend Victor. I know he is an evil socialist looter and moocher and we disagree about a lot of things, but these abstract philosophical things don't matter in the grand scheme of things. We've known each other forever and nothing makes me happier in life than being with him. I might post more about my Socialist boyfriend in future.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Ayn Rand can be described as author of extremely wordy and cheezy science fiction novels, and even wordier and cheezier philosophical self help books. Her fanbase consists mostly of socially inept, angsty young nerds, or people who started out as socially inept, angsty young nerds (if this describes you, do not panic, it is a phase most successfully emerge from). They call themselves "Objectivists" although most normal people think they are a cult, or at least a very odd group of people. She inspires her readers to fancy themselves the most rational people alive. By the power of their rationality they believe to have proven that Selfishness (especially their own selfishness) is Good, and that socialism, welfare, or even asking someone for help or admitting you are sometimes fallible are abominations of the highest degree. This leads to very strange, often annoying (if you are on the receiving end of it), sometimes amusing, sometimes very sad behavior among their ranks. This blog is dedicated to documenting and commenting on the phenomenon.
That was a very brief description of Ayn Rand and Objectivism. There are plenty of resources that go into much more detail, and I'll leave the rhapsodizing to them. I will even review some of these sources on the blog, and make my recommendations if you are so inclined to find out more. My blog, however, serves Rand comedy in easily digestible short pieces. I have a short attention span and low tolerance for boredom and tl;dr (too long, didn't read).
The stories and commentary would be especially poignant and humorous to people who have firsthand experience of the cult, but hopefully I will be at least somewhat successful at making it interesting for everyone.
I will link this from the sidebar along with my introduction post so new readers will have a better idea of what this site is about.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I think I see some kind of resemblance. Or maybe it's just the similar angle of photography, and that they're both totally bonkers.
Here is a slightly old link from Objectivist porn site Body in Mind (of course it touts its wares as "artistic nudes"): Britney can teach us semiconductor physics!
"Is it alchemy? No. It's advanced beauty physics. The fellow who created the site knows the value of mixing sexuality with one's highest values - with moral values like, in this case, intelligence, science and engineering, though the same is true in any case, whatever your highest values might be...
Can one learn semiconductor physics from Britney Spears? Why not? Nothing conducts female beauty better than an alloy made from equal parts of sexuality and morality."
I actually emailed the webmaster of the site while i was still an Objecti-fembot about some of the stuff he posted, and he asked me if i wanted to be a "spokesmodel" for Objectivism IE pose nude for his website. Bleurgh.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
So I bought the book (second hand) expecting to be entertained by how hilariously bad everyone was saying it was. I was disappointed. It really wasn't that bad.
James Valliant isn't a dumb guy. He did a really great job with the material he had to work with. That is, he had the job of discrediting the Brandens, and having Rand come off smelling like a rose. That's a pretty tall order. Mr Valliant has been a public prosecutor in California for sixteen years. He didn't get and keep that job by having bad polemical skills. His arguments are cogent and clearly expressed. The only thing is that we (at least most of us whose brains aren't completely Rand-addled), don't agree with his premises and his conclusions, so we find them amusing.
So when you pan PARC as being ridiculous, or trash, remember that it isn't an isolated case of someone misinterpreting Objectivism or Rand's life. It is a logically consistent* defense of someone who admits to the facts of Rand's life (ie, her affairs, her inability to accept criticism) but yet chooses to believe that Ayn Rand lived a life beyond reproach.
I believe that many Objectivists are quick to distance themselves from this book because it has gotten such bad reviews from the public in general. But those Objectivists should "check their premises" again, because what makes their position so different from Valliant's? If they can do a better job whitewashing and justifying Ayn's every misstep and temper tantrum, I'd like to see it.
*Logic, in this case is used in the strictly mathematical sense, where one defines the axioms and then goes on to perform logical induction. This "logic" does not include what most people would refer to as common sense, such as the intuitive knowledge that most people would not be thrilled to find their partner in bed with their cradle robber. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, logic is in the mind of the reasoner.
Friday, January 11, 2008
"Months ago, when the producers and I were discussing casting, they asked whom I’d like to portray me. I said, "I don’t know most of today’s young actresses, so I can’t choose — so long as she’s breathtakingly beautiful!" I got my wish."
She says this without a hint of irony. I mean, I think she's beautiful too, but you have to be a special kind of self absorbed to say something like that about yourself. She really is an older Paris Hilton after all. Paris did say "Every decade has an iconic blond like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana, and right now I’m that icon." I think Rand's excessive praise of her got to Ms. Branden's head, and really stuck.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
"David Blaine" says:
In a world where world is concerned only with world,
where people are concerned only with people, [whatever that's supposed to mean!]
...where quite people concentrated on living their life are being looked down lower than the street beggar,
ummm.. I don't know what kind of "world" you are referring to here lol
where as much as you try to escape the 'formalities' of the society... you're not allowed to survive or exist unless you follow it...
Ok, I don't even need to go on. How about we dump his ass on a mountain middle of nowhere, miles away from the nearest human being? He'll be allowed to "survive and exist" without the "formalities of society" to his heart's content.
Monday, January 7, 2008
My point was that Rand keeps saying she is anti-Kant and he is the most evil man in the history of the world, ETC, but as Greg Nyquist in ARCHN and others pointed out, she shares a good bit of common ground with Objectivist Satan.
Philosophic thought can be divided into teleological or goal oriented/utilitarian (ie the ends justify the means), or deontological (that motives and intentions determine the morality of the action). Kant belongs in the deontological camp. Rand claims to oppose Kant, but yet emphasizes values, motives, and the necessity of living your life according to certain principles, like "reason".
As commentor Jay said:
Peikoff explicitly stated: "Virtue is not automatically rewarded, but that does not change the fact that it is rewarded."
The emphasis here is on virtue, that one must first be virtuous and subsequently one can hope to be rewarded. This fits into the deontological perspective, that the means in itself are what make an action good or bad.
And Michael Prescott said:
Well, Rand did say:"Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions."
So she believes that rationality is a prerequisite to happiness, that this method of finding happiness is key, and could not accept that there may be many ways to achieve happiness. Put simply, the rationality of an action determines its worth and value, which places her alongside Kant in the deontological camp.
Rand also opposed utilitarianism, and denounced libertarianism for being utilitarian, although they were the political party most aligned and sympathetic to her views and still hold her in high esteem.
Jay also says:
Her leap of logic is that holding reason as one's absolute will, ipso facto, make you permanently happy.
That's a lie. Here's the Ayn Rand Lexicon link containing every (major) mention of reason she made in print.
I was just trying to give Rand the benefit of the doubt to redeem her non-Kantian position, by supposing that maybe she equated practicing reason with happiness, but you're the Objective boss, Jay!
Rand's philosophy therefore has little in common with the true diametric opposite of Kant's deontology, which is telelogism or utilitarianism, and she admits as much. Perhaps if took a breather from screeching from her soapbox once in a while and looked at things from a calm, rational, perspective she might have figured this one out, and reevaluated her positions accordingly.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Does anyone else think Barbara Branden looks like an older Paris Hilton?
The photo of Barbara at her wedding looks even more like Paris, but I don't have a copy of it on hand. I mean it in a good way of course, I admire and envy Paris. Didn't Rand also call Barbara Branden "the most beautiful woman in the world"?
I apologize for my hiatus over the past week or so; I was soaking up the sun on vacation. Maybe Rand should have done that a bit more, then she wouldn't have been so uptight. I'll get back to posting new posts and responding to comments as soon as I can.
Happy New Year everyone ! Have a rational 2008
Photo of Nathaniel and Barbara from The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics by James Valliant
Photo of Ayn Rand from The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand
Photo of Paris Hilton from Yahoo TV