Thursday, October 30, 2008

2 young Objectivists get letters in Wall Street Journal

They are Ryan Krause of Bloomington, IN, who was a finalist in the 2007 Atlas Shrugged essay contest, and friend Daniel Rathbone of Seattle.

Ryan's ran on Oct 20:
Dan's ran on Oct. 17:

Ryan gave mention to Atlas and to John Galt, and Dan got a long letter printed on the morality of capitalism.

Congratulations to both young men!

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's just so Religulous!

I went and saw Bill Maher's new film "Religulous" the other day and got what I wanted: lots of chuckles at the ridiculous religious. Actually, I laughed out loud several times, as did the sympathetic audience of about 100 people I watched it with in the theater.

Mayer is a smirking slug of a dimwit in real life, but has a knack for ambush and employs it here to great effect. He napalms the smugistas in the film. And he's an equal-opportunity mystic smasher, going after the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, etc.

One of the best scenes is when he cites the Bible, and a "traveling trailer reverend" says, "That's not in the Bible." And Mayer says, "Oh, yes it is." And the reverend stands there with a dumbfounded look on his face. The camera eats it up and the audience thrills. Mayer also goes after an Arkansas congressman who doesn't believe in evolution. The congressman was told by Mayer's reps that someone would be coming by to talk about how religion is a part of the congressman's life and decisions. The congressman didn't know the reps were Mayer's. If you want to see discomfort, wait till you see the squirming official answer Mayer's queries.

Mayer is a self-proclaimed agnostic, so don't expect much from him. He's often too sympathetic of his subjects, backing off when he's got 'em by the throats and could squeeze another five minutes of hilarity out of them.

But if you need a laugh at the people who enslave mankind and find solace on their knees (in not a sexual way), gives this movie a try. It's a hoot.

Big Brother is Weight-Watching You

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (aka The Diet Luftwaffe) issued a proclamation that Americans need to get at least 2.5 hours of vigorous exercise every week to stay healthy. All of which prompted the obvious questions: "Does foreplay count as vigorous exercise? Sprints to the frig? Jumping up and down on liberals' tiny little heads whilst singing the national anthem? Running naked through churches while curling a six pack and sporting a tattoo that says 'horndogs for Jesus'?"

I know you asked yourself those exact questions.

The DHHSS (please pardon the extra "S"; just came out) didn't specify, so I'll have to presume Yes to all of the above, and so I have planned my coming week accordingly. Stay tuned.

Speaking of staying tuned, the evening news (I dangle my participles, but never during foreplay) pronounced the new exercise rules from The Diet Luftwaffe's Hermann Goering (a Mr. Leavitt) with such serious mien that had the volume been muted on the TV, I must have believed the U.S. to be at DefCom 5 and Russian missiles close at hand. Luckily, I got so caught up in the news reader's ("anchors" are for boats) tilting and swaying of her pretty little head that I completely lost track of what was being said and became, I think, hypnotized. That may explain why I missed the guidelines about foreplay et al. Damn it!

Anyway, you might be asking yourself, "Why is the U.S. government telling me how much exercise I must get and who the f-ck's business is it anyway and are my tax dollars not only going to obese parasites on the dole but also to fascist curmudgeons with nothing to do but state the obvious in a threatening manner?" If you did, you have earned the dark-chocolate Coin of Self-Respect award from this blog. No, I haven't yet minted the coins. Well, that's not exactly true. They have disappeared of late, along with my best Cabernet.

I vow to mint faster in the future, as part of my new exercise regimen.

The invisible hand slaps Alan Greenspan

My following letter to the editor was printed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Oct. 27
"Alan Greenspan was the midwife to our economic collapse. He was the free-market trophy wife of Congress.

And now he has been properly slapped by Adam Smith’s invisible hand for violating Smith’s tenets and those of Greenspan’s alleged mentor, Ayn Rand, who herself would’ve been appalled at Greenspan’s big-government matriculation.

Greenspan’s own admission that a good regulator can only be successful 60% of the time should undermine any utilitarian argument for regulators, but his pathetic figure will soon be forgotten, and Congress will return to tinker, tailor, soldier, pry.

What is needed in this perfect storm is a perfect philosophical girding and moral solution: A reading of Rand’s “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” by all members of Congress and all businesspeople and then the backbone to implement a complete and utterly free market, wherein the invisible hand KO’s the irrational and high-fives the rational.

Carpe diem."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The wretch and the warrior

OK, I decided on Friday to learn how to program computers, so I could build my own web pages. So I bought a book for "Dummies" (that's me) on and grabbed some chow and went home to my computer. As I turned the music low and opened the book and laptop and began the first sentence, a loud wretched animal gutteral sound came from outside, over and over again every five seconds or so.

I thought it was a dying wild beast, but I was VERY comfortably ensconced in my cushy chair, so I resisted going for a peek. Plus, I figured the poor thing wished to die in solitary dignity, you know. Anyway, after a couple minutes of the agony, my curiosity pulled my butt off the chair. (My curiosity usually gets the best of my butt.)

Just like when you take your broken car to the mechanic and as soon as you get to the shop, the car stops being broken, I opened the door and the sound stopped. I figured I spooked the animal and turned to go inside, and then the noise broke again. But it came from the open window upstairs in the house across the street (the only house in a nice neighborhood in which the people are beasts, as luck would have it). As I listened from my porch, the rhythmic bellowings were obviously the sounds of some drunken or drug-laden man probably wallowing in his own vomitous dystopia. I stood silently, wondering if I would see an ambulance (there are five people living there and all the lights were on in the house, so I assumed someone would come to his aid, but evidently this is a common occurrence in chez bete).

I finally went back inside and put on my computer-programming warrior look and plowed into my new field, but my mind strode back to that moment when I was excited about my new, complex endeavor and pondered on the contrast in ideals between wretch and warrior.

A poem to the one I may love

Where does one start with describing himself,
With encapsulating his way, his life?
Do I begin with the books on my shelf,
With loves, hates, do's, don'ts, victories or strife?

Here I will say that I am a man whose
Eyes are always open and his gaze straight.
The sight of my goals I will never lose,
But I'll lose myself in goofy and great.

I'll offer up a sturdy rejoinder
And equal-honor yours in return.
Moreover, I've health in my funny bone,
So if you do, too, we'll tickle in turn.

My brow will raise for any unkind phrase
'Gainst Beethoven or silky Sinatra,
But my tears you'll see in jubilant praise
Of Spencer's Mountain or Austen's Emma.

Not that I am high-brow in all things art,
'Cause I love Ten Things I Hate About You,
And I'll tell bad jokes from evening's start,
So if you laugh not, I'll laugh for us two.

I would say I'm a man who loves to love,
And what man or woman would deny same,
But one should, indeed, love oneself above
To love another 'bove reproaching blame.

If I'm to show, not tell, on this demand,
Then I will give vent to things in my list:
Luxury cars, soft lips, eyes, beached sand,
Rain on tin, red skies, spangled heavens, mist.

And if I am, now, to name woman's way,
Please forgive an outline in brief details:
Eyes bold, lips soft, unshy, mirthful in play,
Hourglassed, believer that good prevails.

I'm no fool to think identical twain,
But my soul insists on a counterpart
Who adores Rand, Dumas, Austen, L.M.,
And that all good endings are good for art.

I will close this verse as singular man,
With the hope that one day a plural be,
My adoring eyes upon self-safe woman,
One-stepped for life and short eternity.

Sayonara, murderer

Didn’t O.J. learn anything from his first go-around? 1) Kill all the witnesses. 2) Hire high-powered liars (excuse me, “attorneys”). 3) Playfully try to squeeze into a glove. 4) Smile knowingly at sympathetic jurors.

Sayonara, murderer.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bailout (literally) -- and the ugly hydra of altruism

Congress bailed out on the Bailout. The reason is altruism. That is the belief that it is a moral imperative to help others. That belief gave birth to the so-called Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which mandated that banks focus more on "underdeveloped" areas of the country and make loans to more poor people or people with dubious credit and worth. I won't go into the particulars of this act, since the WSJ has done a terrific job of outlining it and its faults.

My main point is that nobody has talked about the philosophical reason for this act's presumptuous beginnings. Before I start on that, let me give a more accurate definition of "altruism." The only one I completely agree with is that of Ayn Rand: The belief that self-sacrifice is a moral ideal, that putting others before our own welfare is moral, that taking care of others' values before our own is the best way to live. It used to be in this country that many people thought this way, but they did not insist on government acting that way. It was still somewhat of a problem, but it didn't interfere wholesale in politics (outside of eminent domain, Interstate commerce clauses, etc.). Our Founders believed that altruistic tendencies were best kept personal and private, insisting that if someone wanted help, then he must approach others and ask for it via a charitable contribution or work.

The "progressive" movement in this country 150 years began the regression that we now see in all its government monstrosity -- the transferral of altruism into legislative and judicial action. One of the main additional problems with this is that the weight of the altruistic act has been transferred from the early-American personal sacrifice to an elite cadre of politicians who do not feel the pain of what is being sacrificed. It is now us, the people, who must pay on a grand scale for the altruistic bailouts and the hydra-headed welfare state.

The only cure for this is for Americans to feel their own eminent domain, their own hegemony of action, the self worth that they felt 200 years ago -- and even more, because our Founders were still enamored to some degree with altruism. The only means for that to happen is a rational understanding of human nature (i.e. that we are rational and can completely run our own lives and have an inalienable right to do so and that anyone who does not wish to exercise his rationality will feel the full brunt of that without any sympathy from the rest of us who are trying to live in wealth and happiness).

Ayn Rand was spot-on in this regard.