Thursday, March 27, 2008

Follow your dream! Unless it's the one where you're at work in your underwear during a fire drill

I wrote a comment on the ARCHN blog, and decided I like it so much I'm going expand on it a little and post it here. Yes I know I am lame like that. I guess it's even kind of overkill since most of my readers come from ARCHN anyway. But anyway here ya go:

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

Measure of a Man

My boyfriend asked me today why I love him. I said it was because he is intelligent and good looking. But he didn't seem totally satisfied with that answer, because what if one day I decide he isn't those qualities any more.

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

Trivia: Ayn Rand and architect Ely Jacques Kahn

Ayn Rand worked for six months in 1937 as a typist and filing clerk for the firm of architect Ely Jacques Kahn. She wasn't there to make ends meet, but rather to do research for The Fountainhead novel. The firm was located at 2 Park Ave between 32nd and 33rd Sts.
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

Robert Bass' response to Richard Lawrence

Commenter MAC has brought to my attention that Robert Bass has posted a response to Richard Lawrence's rebuttal of his Objectivism criticism An Inconsistent Triad.

I had a brief conversation with Robert via email.

MM: Hi, Robert. I included a link to your site on my blog and commenter MAC (Mark) informed me that you have another posted a response to the criticism of your criticism, and it was discussed on another blog. I'm not a philosopher or Objectivist so I'm can't really comment on the technical parts of your criticism. My blog is about criticisms of Objectivism, and I would like to feature your second response. Is there anything else you would like to add for my readers?

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.

Best wishes,

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.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Tamara Fuller

Isn't Tamara Fuller (CEO of Founders College) also on the Board of Directors of Howard Bank? Anyone know why she isn't listed on Howard Bank's website any more?

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.