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Friday, June 07, 2013

 Can't Smell Or Breathe, But Checks Keep Coming 
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In Paul Zimet’s “Marcellus Shale,” when the church ladies get together to pray for “those who are sick and suffering,” the list of names goes on and on and on. Auggie (Joel Leffert), whose cows all died, has been in a wheelchair since his stroke and spends his days watching television and reading Ayn Rand.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

 The Right Stance Can Be Reassuring 
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The idea that posture is indicative of mental state is not new. Philosophers from Descartes to Ayn Rand wrote about the interplay between psychological and physical bearing. But the latest research suggests posture may precipitate, rather than just reflect, emotions. How you carry yourself can actually change your mood, which greatly affects how you approach situations and solve problems, as well as how attractive you appear to those around you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

 Wikipedia’s Sexism Toward Female Novelists 
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I [....] found other familiar names that had been switched from the “American Novelists” to the “American Women Novelists” category: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ayn Rand, Ann Beattie, Djuna Barnes, Emily Barton, Jennifer Belle, Aimee Bender, Amy Bloom, Judy Blume, Alice Adams, Louisa May Alcott, V. C. Andrews, Mary Higgins Clark — and, upsetting to me: myself. .

Thursday, May 09, 2013

 The Growing Pains of Jonathan Krohn 
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[Krohn’s] return in March to the Conservative Political Action Conference, the scene of his breakout speech at 13, was unnerving. During a loud but friendly hallway argument with Jamie Weinstein, of The Daily Caller — Mr. Krohn had found comments by the former attorney general Michael B. Mukasey to be “extremely racist” toward Muslims — 10 or so bloggers, mostly from Breitbart.com, circled him and began questioning him about his then-and-now politics. “Two people mocked his clothes,” wrote Chris Moody of Yahoo! News, “and one cursed at him. (Krohn cursed right back.)” Mr. Weinstein tried several times to get them to lay off. Toward the end of the confrontation, one woman suggested that he go get an education: “I would like to recommend ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ ” she said.

• • Inside the List 
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Atlas Shrugged  |Individualism  | [Iris] Johansen’s Web site mentions some of her favorite authors, and along with the expected suspense and romance novelists, one writer jumps out: Ayn Rand. “Rand appeals to me on several levels,” Johansen explained. “On literary grounds I believe she is a superb storyteller, totally fascinating. On political grounds I can embrace several of her ideas but not all. I have a passion for personal freedom and independence. I’m not aware of a Randian influence in my work, but it may exist. We are all a product of the ideas and influences that have shaped our lives. The female protagonists in my stories are all strong individualists and completely independent. Sound familiar?”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

• • By the Book: Anna Quindlen 

[Q:] Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you were supposed to like, and didn’t? [....] [A:] There are books you outgrow and shouldn’t revisit. Let them remain frozen in the amber of adolescence. “The Catcher in the Rye” seems genius when you’re 15, and when you’re 35 — not so much. I thought Ayn Rand was amazing when I was in high school, and now the only thing I find amazing is that I ever felt that way.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

• • Partner Without the Prize 
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The Fountainhead  | While about half of architecture students in the United States are women, only a quarter of employees of architecture firms across the country are female, according to 2011 data from the American Institute of Architects. [....] Design professionals cite many reasons, including the sense that architecture involves business and construction, which have both been traditionally considered the province of men. And still persistent is the mythology of the architect as a solo male genius — the Howard Roark in Ayn Rand’s “Fountainhead.”

“It’s embedded and the Pritzker Prizes embed it,” said Beverly Willis, an architect who founded the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, which supports women in architecture. “They’re totally outdated, they’re totally passé and if they continue trying to isolate the Howard Roark man, they’re totally irrelevant.”

Sunday, April 14, 2013

• • The Bad Guys 
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Children’s book review: Brief Thief, by Michaël Escoffier.
[Leon’s] conscience pounces: “[...] Since when are we allowed to touch other people’s things? What do they teach you in school, anyway?” If I were Leon I’d answer, “They teach sharing.” But “Brief Thief” has been translated from French [...], and perhaps France’s preschool curriculum is more Randian than our own.

Friday, April 12, 2013

 A Tale of Three Women 
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Margaret Thatcher, the grocer’s daughter and mother of modern conservatism, had her faults, heaven knows. The New Yorker’s John Cassidy called her a combination of Ronald Reagan, Ayn Rand and Dr. Strangelove.

Friday, March 22, 2013

 The Nerd as Auteur in BioShock Infinite 
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BioShock  | While Stephen King-like horror and Ayn Rand-ian philosophy lurked around every turn, “BioShock One was the Robinson Crusoe story,” Mr. Levine said. “A guy in a plane crash ends up in a mysterious place and has to fend for himself to get out.”

Sunday, March 17, 2013

• • The Second Coming of 'Heaven's Gate' 
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The Fountainhead movie  | Adorned with the legend “A Moral and Exhilarating Experience,” the [roller skating] rink [...] mirrors the populist pleasures and democratic promise of an emergent mass entertainment: the cinema. [....] The cinema, with its film cans and unspooling reels, also finds an echo in the film’s striking use of circles, specifically in three astonishing, complexly choreographed sequences of roller-skating, a waltz at Harvard (to “The Blue Danube”) and a dusty battle. All these circles call to mind the carousel of time (time being another theme) and points to [Michael] Cimino’s interest in architecture and, perhaps too in adapting Ayn Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead.” The final image of “Heaven’s Gate” — of a man alone on the deck of a yacht — brings to mind the opening of “The Fountainhead,” in which the protagonist, Howard Roark, stands near a lake as the world looks “suspended in space, an island floating on nothing.”

Saturday, March 16, 2013

• • The Extras Get a Life 
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Individualism  | In “Redshirts” the bit players in life’s drama learn to occupy center stage — hilariously, profanely, and then with a determination to make their lives, and deaths, matter. These aren’t Ayn Randian individualists, standing alone against the world. Mr. [John] Scalzi explained that his characters find roles for themselves in the greater enterprise, “making sure that your individual talents, your individual expression, is something that adds to the overall world.”

• • The Downside of Liberty 
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Consider America during the two decades after World War II. Stereotypically but also in fact, the conformist pressures of bourgeois social norms were powerful. To dress or speak or live life in unorthodox, extravagantly individualist ways required real gumption. Yet just as beatniks were rare and freakish, so were proudly money-mad Ayn Randian millionaires. My conservative Republican father thought marginal income tax rates of 91 percent were unfairly high, but he and his friends never dreamed of suggesting they be reduced below, say, 50 percent. [....] Greed as well as homosexuality was a love that dared not speak its name.

 The Chatty Cathys of the Prehistoric World 
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If you want to see this little picture — a four-and-a-half-minute dialogue-free delight called “The Longest Daycare,” in which Maggie Simpson stands up for what’s right at a preschool named after Ayn Rand — you must also buy a ticket to “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”

Monday, March 11, 2013

• • ‘The Great Agnostic,’ by Susan Jacoby 
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Atheism  |Individualism  | Jacoby’s understanding of irreligion in American history is a bit idiosyncratic. She several times states that there are two branches of American secularism: one extending from the humanism and egalitarianism of Paine and the other from the cutthroat individualism of the social Darwinists and Ayn Rand. Jacoby does not lay out a case for this claim, and readers may protest that Rand and her kind aren’t much more than outliers among atheists.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

 The End of a Catholic Moment 
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The collapse in the church’s reputation has coincided with a substantial loss of Catholic influence in American political debates. Whereas eight years ago, a Catholic view of economics and culture represented a center that both parties hoped to claim, today’s Republicans are more likely to channel Ayn Rand than Thomas Aquinas, and a strident social liberalism holds the whip hand in the Democratic Party.

Monday, February 11, 2013

• • Detroit Sinks With Belle Isle 
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Capitalism  | A group of wealthy libertarians suggested that private investors buy the island from the city for the nice, round, Dr. Evil-ish sum of $1 billion and transform it into an independent, self-governing territory. With the price for citizenship set at $300,000, the Commonwealth of Belle Isle would exist as a sort of free-market paradise; within 30 years, the group’s Web site predicted, the island would be known as the “ ‘Midwest Tiger,’ rivaling Singapore as an economic miracle.” One can order from that Web site a novella about this future Belle Isle, which describes the commonwealth’s low taxes, minimal government, even its own currency (called — seriously — “the Rand”). The book — a preview of its opening chapter has the hero landing on the rooftop helipad of the commonwealth’s 57-story Four Seasons hotel — makes the entire scheme very easy to mock as Objectivist fan fiction. But it’s not entirely a joke [...].

Monday, January 28, 2013

• • Mike Daisey: F****** ******* ******* Ayn Rand 

Mike Daisey’s latest work is an evening dedicated to one of the most frustrating and difficult women in the literary and philosophical canon, Ayn Rand. Reviled by millions for “infantile philosophies” and “turgid prose,” she is simultaneously worshipped by millions more for “ideological purity” and “dedication to the self at all costs.” Rape, bad movies and the underpinnings of the modern American financial system all play a role in how Rand became such a powerful woman in the American mythos.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

 A Rising Clamor for Compassion 
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The Fountainhead  | [Mimi] Rosenberg had been in housing court, advocating for the rights of a man with advanced bone cancer who was fighting eviction from a public-housing complex in Coney Island on the grounds of unpaid rent. The client, Ms. Rosenberg told me, was withholding payment because he said the New York City Housing Authority had failed to deal with mold infestation in his apartment. That the authority was behaving so ungenerously toward someone so ill — someone whose troubles were then compounded by Hurricane Sandy, which trapped him in his apartment and left him unable to get to chemotherapy — would have surprised few of those gathered in the room, people prone to believe that the authority, even under ordinary circumstances, operates at a level of compassion somewhere between Howard Roark’s and J. Edgar Hoover’s.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

• • The Twinkie Manifesto 
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Atlas Shrugged  |Going Galt  |Paul Ryan  |Syndicated  | Paul Ryan and many other modern conservatives are devotees of Ayn Rand. Well, the collapsing, moocher-infested nation she portrayed in “Atlas Shrugged,” published in 1957, was basically Dwight Eisenhower’s America. Strange to say, however, the oppressed executives Fortune portrayed in 1955 didn’t go Galt and deprive the nation of their talents. On the contrary, if Fortune is to be believed, they were working harder than ever.