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Friday, April 12, 2013

• • Bill Clinton joins Twitter – thanks to Stephen Colbert 
The deleted tweets read: [....] @PrezBillyJeff: "Just picked up Ayn Rand. Mind = blown, Get to work, you moochers!"

Saturday, March 02, 2013

• • Snapshots of a shattered family 
Egoism  | Book excerpt: I Know You're Going to be Happy.
My mother's professional morality was pragmatic: poverty and principles go together, she would say cynically. She didn't believe it in her private life - where she was one of the most stubbornly principled people I have ever met - but she had an embattled sense of the world out there being a hard, cold place in which everyone had to fight their own corner and nurture their own interests. There was a touch of Ayn Rand in this, I have to admit, and I don't think that among her generation it was at all uncommon.

• • Titanic II, an unsinkable symbol of our new gilded age 
Today, we’re living through a second Gilded Age – but where the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers played at being aristocrats, marrying into European nobility and looting the continent’s treasures to furnish their many homes, their successors simply play. Extreme wealth has become an opportunity for self-fulfilment – often revolving around a return to childhood, or simply childishness. John Travolta builds a runway outside his mansion, so he can play pilot with his five private jets. The oil baron William Koch constructs a complete Wild West town, so he can play cowboy. Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist, funds “seasteads”, floating cities where Ayn Rand nuts like himself can free themselves from the tyranny of government and taxes and little people – essentially, hi-tech treehouses complete with crayoned signs saying “No Girls Allowed”.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

• • Montpellier v Arsenal: live 
The Fountainhead  | “Thanks Jonathan for your lines,” writes Mohammad Asif in Jodhpur, India. “Probably one of the last remaining journalists not to have climbed the bandwagon of ‘splurge the cash, buy the trophy’. Arsenal is a principle and [Arsene] Wenger the Howard Roark of our times… Your commentary is at least helping me to overcome the disappointment of not being able to watch it on TV…bloody hotel does not have subscription to the channel!” I have no idea who Howard Roark is. A colleague tells me he’s a character from an Ayn Rand novel who refuses to deviate from his vision. I’ve never heard of him. On that basis alone, I’m going to label Howard Roark the Arsene Wenger of literary protagonists.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

• • Gulliver's Travels by Martin Rowson: review 
Ayn Rand Institute  | Rowson’s travelogue [...] manages an appropriately horrid conclusion in the form of a voyage to the Houyhnhms, the coolly rational race of horses for whom Swift’s Gulliver retained such admiration. Now a master race of Nazi nags, they grudgingly permit tour groups to eat their dung and admire their huge equestrian sculptures (“a very generous gift from our friends at the Ayn Rand Institute”) while melting excess Yahoo slaves for clean, green energy.

Friday, March 30, 2012

• • Mad Men returns: an insight into Don Draper’s mind via his bookshelf 
Atlas Shrugged  |Egoism  | Atlas Shrugged (1957). Ayn Rand’s influential novel of ideas is set in a dystopian America where society’s most productive individuals flee rising taxes and government interference. (Sound familiar?) Tellingly, Don Draper’s boss Bert Cooper suggests he buy a copy immediately after giving him a $2,500 bonus. “You are a productive and reasonable man,” Cooper says, “and in the end completely self–interested.” Is Don the ultimate Randian?

Friday, December 30, 2011

 The War on Christmas is real, and the atheist barbarians are winning it 
Richard Dawkins – the Ayn Rand of the New Atheism – admits that he personally loves the “cultural legacy” of Christmas.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

• • • BioShock Infinite interview 
BioShock  |Atlas Shrugged  | BioShock itself, I comment, felt like a critique of objectivism: it was, after all, the story of a city of independent elites brought to the ground by their own greed. [Ken] Levine interrupts. “I don’t view BioShock as a critique of objectivism. When Andrew Ryan says at the beginning, ‘Is man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow,’ who can say no to that, right?” Instead, he says, it’s an exploration of his own “uncomfortableness with certainty. Of political surety, of thinking you have the solution. Whether it’s religious certainty or political certainty, I get very uncomfortable with that, because I don’t feel certain myself. And I think that if you look at guys like Andrew Ryan and (Columbia’s leader) Comstock, they are very certain of their view of the world, and it is that very rigidity that often destroys them.”

Monday, August 01, 2011

 Meet Gary Johnson, the most libertarian candidate ever to seek the US presidency 
Alright, you might be saying, so he’s a libertarian. So are thousands of Ayn Rand-reading students around the world. No one holding these views ever gets elected to anything important. That’s where you’d be wrong. Gary Johnson was elected on precisely such a manifesto in the swing state of New Mexico, and promptly set about putting his beliefs into practice.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

 Norway killer Anders Behring Breivik’s cultural references 

Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  | Brevik's list of favourite books (p. 1407) contains several of the most famous philosophical and political texts in history: “George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four, Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan, John Stuart Mill – On Liberty, John Locke – Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Adam Smith – The Wealth of Nations, Edmund Burke – Reflections on the Revolution in France, Ayn Rand – Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, William James – Pragmatism, Carl von Clausewitz – On War, Fjordman – Defeating Eurabia

Thursday, June 02, 2011

 A word from the Government’s Chief Scientific Hysteria Promoter 
Atlas Shrugged  | “Britain’s worm population is exploited, under appreciated and underpaid”, says a new report, published today by the Ministry for Climate Change and Alleged Motoring Fine Evasion. [....] The report was compiled by Dr Bob Beard, the Government’s Chief Scientific Hysteria Promoter, who said: “There will inevitably be complaints by denialist flat earthers who still believe, in the early 21st century, that it is wrong to pay earthworms for services they have hitherto been providing for free. But as with our policy on Climate Change, so it is with our policy on earthworms: we have to operate on the Precautionary Principle. Suppose worms were to develop the ability to see and then to learn to read. The moment they opened a newspaper and realised the size of the economy reliant on their labours, they might well go on an Atlas Shrugged style strike or possibly gang together and undermine the foundations of houses or even attack humans. All right, so worms don’t look that dangerous, but they can be really slippery if you tread on them and could easily make you fall and break your neck.”

Monday, May 30, 2011

• • All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, BBC Two, preview 
Capitalism  |Egoism  |Video  | [Adam] Curtis charts how Rand’s ideas had a direct effect on the boom-and-bust cycle that decimated South East Asia in the 1990s and America in the last decade.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

• • All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, BBC Two, review 
Alan Greenspan  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Personal life  |Image  | This examination of how machines “made us believe we could create a stable world” began with Ayn Rand, the unpleasant Russian/American fruitcake who espoused selfishness as the highest ideal that mankind can aspire to, then went on to Silicon Valley – where Rand became a heroine to a new generation of computer whizzkids.

Friday, May 27, 2011

 What’s wrong with Cheryl Cole? It’s impenetrable 
It’s not as if California is fabled for its dearth of beautiful girls. The Beach Boys were not wishing they could all be Madeleine Albright or Ayn Rand.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

• • • All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, review 
Altruism  |Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Capitalism  |Egoism  | To fully understand Rand you need to read her writing. When I read The Fountainhead a few years ago I knew little of her. At first I loved her strong approach to her subjects. By the end I hated her. Her beliefs were personified by the characters of Howard Roark and Dominique Francon and after a while their incessant need to be cold, selfish and two-dimensional just becomes daft and unnecessary. The pair even end their relationship because they believe their feelings for one another to be too powerful and are fearful that they may lead to irrationality and weakness. Essentially I just wanted to yell at the characters “get over yourselves”.

Monday, May 23, 2011

• • • Ayn Rand: a profile 
Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Egoism  |Personal life  |Image  |Inaccurate  | Ayn Rand - whose work is scrutinised in BBC Two’s new documentary, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace - is something of a Marmite figure. Some love her, some hate her and her philosophic system of Objectivism has certainly attracted widespread criticism over the years. The system is a complex one, essentially meaning that man should put his own happiness first and foremost, spend his time improving himself to his utmost limit and use common sense and reason at every opportunity. His primary motivator should be his own existence and altruism and charity have no place.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

• • • What have the Tea Party and the Church of Satan got in common? Answer: the sinister Ayn Rand 
Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged movie  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Personal life  | The Randian movement was a cult with Rand at the centre. She tolerated no opposition and schooled her pupils in an old fashioned didactic style: “I’m right, you’re wrong, and here’s why”. Sometimes she used the tools of totalitarianism to bring her people in to line.

Monday, April 25, 2011

• • Harry Potter scriptwriter adapts Mark Haddon 
Atlas Shrugged movie  |Atlas Shrugged  | A small independent film called Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 is making waves in the States, because its marketing campaign is openly aiming at disaffected Republicans and members of the ultra-conservative Tea Party. The film, with a cast devoid of star names, is based on the massive 1957 novel by the controversial Ayn Rand — a shrill opponent of big government who attracted a cult-like following in her day.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

• • Atlas Shrugged trailer released 
Atlas Shrugged movie  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Video  | Atlas Shrugged fails as literature, not least because it is a thousand pages too long. Condensing the story into a two-hour film can hardly fail to improve it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

• • • Why Atlas Shrugged will be this summer’s blockbuster 
Atlas Shrugged movie  |Atlas Shrugged  |Video  | To judge by the trailer [...], the producers have realised that, far from being unfilmable, this libertarian manifesto contains all the elements of an artistically hopeless, commercially successful trashy summer blockbuster. It is overwrought, overlong and fundamentally preposterous. The characters are cardboard cut-outs (strong fit heroes called Galt, weedy little baddies called things like Mouch), and engage in improbable amounts of sex for people who are supposed to be exploring complex objectivist philosophy (the heroine sleeps with no fewer than three of the heroes). It looks like Armaggeddon, only with nasty, grey-suited government as the baddy instead of an asteroid.