C. Jordan

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  1. On reading Andrew Russell's thoughts about fundamentalism, posted in this thread and in that thread, I thought it a shame that no one commented. I thought I'd take the time to do so. The leitmotif of Russell's first article is that fundamentalist believers are bound by concrete thinking. The leitmotif of his second article was that young people are attracted to fundamentalist beliefs because they fear the unknown. In both cases, he has a point. I see some more to be said. The first one that strikes me is that fundamentalist belief is a question of authority. A Christian fundamentalist by definition conforms his or her life to the authority of the Bible; sometimes, he or she will tell us that Preacher So-and-So is the final authority on the Bible. But in any case, the most important point for the fundamentalist believer is that there is an authority whose words are not open to question. If we point to a Biblical verse and say: "This makes no sense"; or: "That is wrong" -- then obviously we don't know what we are talking about. We are sinners. The fundamentalist believer will probably tell us so. An Objectivist fundamentalist substitutes Ayn Rand as the final authority; and if Ayn Rand once decided a man streaking at the Academy Awards was out to nihilistically destroy all values for being values -- that is also not open to question. If we question this, then we are dishonest and evading the truth. This is what fundamentalist believers will be quick to tell us, given the behavior of Diana Scorpion*. Another point is that fundamentalist believers have a problem with the word interpretation. This is not completely different from Russell's discussion of concrete-bound mentalities; but I am approaching it from another direction. Russell wrote: When I mention the possibility to a fundamentalist believer that this or that part of scripture may be symbolic, or allegorical, or just misunderstood -- then we come to the problem with interpretation. People have accused me of missing the point, of being so into analysing the words that I ignore what the Bible is saying. The most naïve reply I've received is when I was told that God would not allow His words to be misunderstood. The problem with that argument is that, if you have read the Bible and understood it, then you have interpreted it. The problem is, the fundamentalist believers to whom I've spoken have never understood what I mean. All they did was repeat their previous point. Some said it was obvious I was a sinner, and I was refusing to believe in the Scriptures. Does that remind anyone of the phrase "willful evasion" which some people use as a verbal weapon? In any case, the Christian fundamentalist believers seem to think that "to interpret" means "to interpret any damn way the listener chooses." This is consistent with Russell's position, that fundamentalism is related to concrete-bound thinking. It is also related to the point about authority. What the Fundamentalist believer wants is one consistent message, one consistent interpretation, handed down to her or him by authority. Then, once she or he learns the authoritative message, then she or he will always know the answers. Such a person will be able to decide things, based on the authority of [this scripture] and usually also on the authority of [so-and-So] who is an acknowledged authority on [this scripture]. This will be true whether the Fundamentalist believer is religious or not. A parallel that comes close to home, is the way Dr. Peikoff cites Ayn Rand as though her words were now "this-scripture." Other people cite Dr. Peikoff in particular, because he is an acknowledged authority on Objectivism. It would be interesting, later, to consider why people want an authority to explain everything. I will only begin here, by reminding us that Christians say "Our Father" to mean God. An interesting parallel is in Kong Zi [Confucius] who said that the relationship between Heaven and Earth was the same as that between Father and Son: and he meant that in each case, the former was dominant, and the latter submissive. I wonder if fundamentalist believers are not longing for a perfect parent to explain everything. Enough said about that. Russell's second article addresses the fear of the unknown which young people have -- which explains why an authoritative scripture appeals to them. He is right; and there is still more. What are the other benefits of accepting an authoritative scripture? (Here I mean, benefits in the judgment of the fundamentalist believer.) By accepting authority, the believer can then (paradoxically) become an authority. He or she can lecture others on how to live their lives; and if other people challenge his or her beliefs, he or she can dismiss them. "What do they know? They're sinners because they don't accept the authority of [this scripture]." The longing for an authority to be obeyed is not mutually exclusive with the longing to have others obey -- but that goes beyond the bounds of this present discourse. All of us would like to belong to an ideal community. All of us: even Ayn Rand. Or did she not seek out the company of "the men of the intellect?" Fundamentalist believers are no different from the rest of us, in this respect. The difference is that fundamentalist believes seek an outside authority to give them that sense of community. If we believe that [this scripture] is literally true, then our true friends are our fellow believers. They will like us if our interpretation of [this scripture] is in conformity with theirs. As you can see -- a different approach to the issue than Ayn Rand took. But still, I ask myself why anyone would want to join an Objectivist group, if they are required to conform their thinking to others -- particularly to the likes of Dr. Peikoff. A very reasonable answer is that some people must consider that a fair price for the privilege of belonging to the group. I don't think that what I've said is the whole answer; but it is a very real part of the answer. Enough from me. What do others think?
  2. My personal favourite 419 e-mail came from no less than Miriam Abacha herself, or so the writer claimed. Of all the ±100 such letters I've read, that is the only without blatant mistakes in African history that even an amateur, such as myself, can see clearly. This letter could have been written by Madam Abacha. Not that it matters. Her husband was the worst dictator in Nigeria's post-colonial history. Sani Abacha was a crook, and if this was his widow writing to me, I definitely do not want to answer her. Would you buy a used car from Miriam Abacha? Yes, absolutely, and please tell those Area Boys with their machetes to have a nice day.
  3. Here's the irony: if only the press release hadn't been self-important, it would have been meaningful. Robert Mugabe is barbaric, and any country which shows any degree of respect for human rights has the right to invade Zimbabwe. I could get started, but that would not be humourous.
  4. This discussion is perfectly useless. After all, Ayn Rand once denounced humour qua humour, because one doesn't laugh at a hero. She also said some nice things about James Bond, but that is not the point. The point is: HOW DARE YOU introduce humour on a board which YOU CLAIM to be dedicated to Ayn Rand. You can't be a halfway Objectivist. It's all or nothing. It's black or white. If you think that is a black-and-white philosophy, then I say unto you: DUH! Objectivism IS a black-and-white philosophy, with no room at the table for the half-Objectivist-half-subjectivist. It stands to reason that (1) Ayn Rand said something bad about humour (2) and Ayn Rand created Objectivism, which means (3) to make jokes is to betray true Objectivism. It is to make Immanuel Kant sit up in his grave and cheer. It is to break open the dam that keeps us protected from a flood of pure, naked evil. Making jokes on this board will lead us to Doomsday. You heard it here first. What is bad? That Michael Stuart Kelley has posted all of those pictures, which reveal a revolting metaphysics. (Don't ask me how I know they're evil, if you need to ask, it proves your psychology is filled with subjectivism and dissectivism and jismism and other meaningless -ism's.) It is self evident that to look at those pictures means you hate life for being life, you hate heroes for making the Sun shine on your shoulders, and you hate reality because, well, because you stink. So there! Nanny-nanny-boo-boo! But what is worse? Barbara Branden did a parody of Objectivist self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is a virtue. She doesn't seem to know that to be righteous, you need to have a self, and that self-righteousness is the ultimate virtue. Unless you disagree with what I'm saying, in which case you are misusing the concept. But from a true Objectivist, such as myself, self-righteousness is the disinfectant which will one day clean socialism, socialising, and society itself from the world. For Barbara Branden to make write a parody is to subject the good to the evil. This is worse than the time she tried to slip amphetamines into Ayn Rand's coffee. Let us rise up and denounce Barbara Branden. She is the second-worst monster there is. Who is the worst? None other than Chrysaor Jordan. He is a liar, and the proof is that even he himself says so. "I lie all the time," said Chrysaor Jordan, just now. There it is, quod erat demonstratum! What more do you need? Mr. Jordan doesn't believe a word he has just written. Let's burn him in effigy!!! [the post was edited for grammatical mistakes, which, if left uncorrected, would say something obscene about my Sense of Life]
  5. Ayn Rand was absolutely right about that.
  6. This is a good topic. I've always been ambivalent about Ayn Rand's perspective on adjectives. But where to start? I agree with 75% of that. Let's start with her second point: all creative writing should strive to be "different and illuminating." That should apply to the adjectives. The part about "analyses of psychology" is a good point. Many writers do that, and few writers do it well. I would prefer (as a reader) to have less overt analysis, except from characters and then where it helps my understanding. But when characters spend too much time discussing why people behave like thus and so, and not enough time doing and acting, then I have a problem. Her first and last point are stated too strictly. If phrased as guidelines rather than absolutes, I would agree. I assume that by "Do not dialogue thoughts," Rand meant, do not write characters' thoughts in sentences. Do not go overboard with interior monologues. Let me venture a guess: we know Rand hated Shakespeare, and what is more typical of Shakespeare than the soliloquy? "To be or not to be..." et cetera. In my judgment, 'dialoguing thoughts' is a writing device. The device can be over-used. It can be used badly. Often that happens. Mediocre writers use it, because it's easy. But that does not mean we should reject the device entirely. I think some characters are enhanced, when the writer lets us see their interior lives. If you want an example, I will post one of the few characters from WÉI who has 'dialogued thoughts' of any length. Then you can decide if your understanding of Colonel Dostäm is enhanced by this method, or not. But let's get away from the specific, and back to the general. My objection throughout is not to the principles Ayn Rand had, but to her manner of stating them. "Do not dialogue thoughts" gives me a direct order. It sounds exactly like the Classicism which Rand herself hated. What is worse, she did not give the reason why a writer should not 'dialogue thoughts' in the first place. I can think of a reason right away: as a reader, I would prefer if that information were communicated in dialogue between characters. For one thing, that is more true to real experience. I can hear what people say in dialogue with me, but I cannot read their thoughts. For another: dialogue is more dynamic, more subtle. Dialogue involves the reader. And dialogue is much closer to action than a character's thoughts. This discussion is entirely different from the tone of "Do not dialogue thoughts." Rand's discussion of Thomas Wolfe also strikes me as far too strict. I have never read much Wolfe, except for an essay written in praise of Marshal McLuhan. My first impression of him was that he used beautiful language far out of proportion to what he was saying. That is true of the excerpt Rand quoted: the description was beautiful, but I agree, there was too much of it. Where I don't agree is with the tone of Rand's criticism. There is an interesting inconsistency here in what Rand is saying. She criticises Wolfe for over-writing, but then she over-writes her criticism. Rand's analysis of why Wolfe shouldn't use too many adjectives is itself overly done. I'll stop here before I repeat Rand's mistake, and Wolfe's. And I'll admit: because I read The Passion of Ayn Rand, my judgment here is over-critical of Rand. That comes, ironically enough, because I believe Rand was over-critical of Wolfe. Rand's statements on adjectives at the beginning of the discussion were far more reasonable. I can only wonder if, in that legion of adjectives deleted from Atlas Shrugged, Rand hadn't gone too far. But unless we could see the original text, we could never know if Rand went too far, or just far enough.
  7. That is precisely why I hated school.
  8. Most welcome. I liked the pictures. Regarding Rand's view, you said: Point accepted. I could see that as an interpretation of a hypothetical painting. And yes, some people see symbolism into everything. The problem is (and this would be another thread) that symbolism has an element of subjectivity. One can interpret the same symbol (fire, ocean, wind, mountain) in many different ways. And you asked my writer's goals? Presently: a 3-part epic over a pair of identical twin brothers and their world (which is Asia of ±200 years hence). For later: a journey inspired by African history, but in this case not directly based on it. Tot ziens. Chrys
  9. RTB: The point is not whether a thought should be judged. It is whether a thought should be judged as worse than an action. The point is also whether a thought leads to an action. In Stuart's example, while Copernicus' work made the moon-landing POSSIBLE, it did not make the moon-landing INEVITABLE. By the same logic, while Marx gave Lenin, Stalin, and those who followed a JUSTIFICATION for their actions, he did not make those actions INEVITABLE. In addition, EVERY state with a Communist government, or that once had a Communist governmet, also has a tradition of autocracy, social stratification, and collective responsibility among the peasant classes. This was China BEFORE Mao Ze Dong. This was Korea BEFORE Kim Il-sung. This was Ethiopia BEFORE the Derg, it was the peoples of Tanganyika (Tanzania) BEFORE Nyerere, and it was Russia BEFORE the Communist revolution. These facts alone give me grounds to say that Marx did not make Lenin and Stalin inevitable. But he gave them justification. And as for the first point, how a thought should be judged, I would agree that an evil idea should be denounced as an evil idea. That is still different from denouncing it as WORSE THAN an evil action. I hold that the opposite is true. To say "We should kill the Jews" is wrong. It does not merit the death penalty. To open fire with an Uzi into a synagogue is far worse, and that DOES merit the death penalty. I hold that truth to be self-evident. I also hold to the position that to say an evil idea makes putting the idea into practice INEVITABLE means we are denying that the doers of evil have free will. We are saying that someone's idea REQUIRES them to behave in an evil way. And if we accept that argument, we have said that Lenin and Stalin have no responsibility for their actions. The only exception is a situation where the idea is clearly ABOUT TO BECOME AN ACTION. The only example that comes to mind are the planning sessions of the Interahamwe in Rwanda, right BEFORE the génocide. In that case, General Dallaire with the peace-keepers had the right to act. But only in such a case can we equate an idea with an action. And in Rwanda that can be said because the Interahamwe weren't just talking about killing their neighbours with machetes; they were openly carrying those very machetes. These words are clearly connected with actions. In no other case can we justifiably say that someone's evil idea leads to, or is worse than, someone else's evil action. I challenge you to respond.
  10. Now to address Michael Newberry. This also answers Dragonfly's question: what do we think of Newberry's paintings? I will give you MY interpretations: The first one I would call "STAMINA". It illustrates a runner's high, when there is a kind of euphoria hidden under the pain and exhaustion. Wielrenners know what that feels like. And that light from the chest illustrates the heart, the will to keep going, courage and strength. Because the light shines, it can also be a beacon. I mean the way that seeing another distance runner or another wielrenner keep going can give me the courage to keep going myself. And this one the artist called REND. The second one I would call "THE FEAR LEAVING THE BODY" and I believe that says everything. And this one the artist called GOD RELEASING THE STARS INTO THE UNIVERSE.
  11. I should address both Michaels. First to Michael Stuart Kelley: Your point that volition being at the centre of Rand's æsthetic theory is taken. My point is that Rand spent too much space (in my judgment) writing negative commentary about Naturalism than in writing positive commentary. And yes, there IS positive commentary in The Romantic Manifesto. Rand's praise of Victor Hugo is worthy of Victor Hugo. Her statement on why she wrote, is worthy of any writer's attention. Yet Rand also gave much space to her denunciations. I consider she gave too much space to denunciations; and if you don't agree with me on that, it remains true that this is a significant part. In particular, the one part that I find most angering is Rand's comment on a painting of a woman with a cold-sore on her lips. Rand then denounced the motives of anyone who would dare paint such a scene. I am shocked that anyone can write that a cold sore (in real life) is of no importance, but behave as though a woman to have a cold sore is some sort of metaphysical disaster. It isn't pleasant. By a strange coincidence, I have a cold sore right now. (It's rather cold in Utrecht). But it's not a disaster. Another interpretation of that painting, the woman with the cold sore, is possible. Right now I'm imagining a woman I knew at the University of Georgia. I can imagine her looking in the mirror and thinking: "This sucks. Well. I'm going to the party anyway. I won't let this ruin my life." And if someone painted that, it would reflect my sense of life. Elsewhere on this Forum, you've posted about Rand's admiration of Hollywood and glamour. Part of the issue is that I don't share that perspective. I look on Hollywood as a culture of vanity and adolescent tantrums, a place where (mostly) mediocre performers with sex appeal are worshipped beyond their deserts, where most of the products are written and filmed in strict conformity to tradition and clichés, and above all a place where a writer has no rights. I also don't see glamour as all that desirable. Of course, what makes my opinion better than Rand's? Nothing at all. Mine isn't better. I don't have a problem with her opinion. I do have a problem with Rand's statement that anyone who did not see that picture of the woman with the cold sore as she did must have evil intentions in his or her soul. That in particular is the reason why my tone in the original post was so critical. Because of this, when Rand criticises (for example) a romantic story with naturalistic characters, and says that the result is an unrealistic story, I cannot take her word for it. Had she (here) given a specific example, I could decide whether to agree or disagree. But without an illustration on what she means, I cannot be sure. And at least in one case, Ayn Rand has jumped to a conclusion which I don't consider justified.
  12. I agree with you. And Leonard Peikoff appears to disagree with us all. If you read his Fact-and-Value business, you'd get the impression that evil ideas always and necessarily lead to evil actions. I wonder if Peikoff has considered that he is denying people their free will. If Immanuel Kant caused Hitler and Stalin to commit mass murder (which Peikoff argues) then how can either of them be guilty? I take the position that Hitler and Stalin both had free will. So, P.I. Rakovsky (who wrote The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion) did give Hitler a rationale for his Final Solution against the Jews. But Rakovsky did not cause the Holocaust. Hitler did that, him and all those who helped him. Each one made a choice. The same can be said of Ioseb Jugashvili (Stalin). My impression is that if Karl Marx had never written his theories, or at least if Lenin had never began preaching those theories, there could still have been a revolution against the Tsar. I say this because Lenin's brother was among others hanged for an attempt against Tsar Aleksandr II, showing that there was already discontent and rebellion against the system BEFORE ANYONE HAD PROPOSED A COMMUNIST REVOLUTION. I also say this because young Ioseb Jugashvili read, and approved of, a book by P'yotr Tchakev, who wrote a defence of using extreme violence to attain your revolution. But I'm not saying that the boy who would be Stalin was brainwashed by Tchakev's book. I'm saying that young Jugashvili was already violent and cruel; therefore, he liked Tchakev's book; therefore, he sought out a revolution to join. The rest may be found in Stalin's biography by Edvard Radzinsky. I don't agree that Kant, Marx, Lenin, Tchakev, and/or Rakovsky was responsible for what others did with their ideas. Unless we want to assert that the others are not responsible for their actions, that is. And we have seen where that argument would lead us.
  13. All puns are language-specific. Do the words "west" and "knee" and "to inhale" sound alike? Not in English. But they do in Chinese. The next pair of puns are only possible in Dutch. I include an English translation below each, but you need to read them aloud in Dutch. In English there is no joke. "In de Winkelcentrum van Bilthoven er is een winkel, Hans. Er is ook en winkel, Hans Anders. Zo: wat maakt Hans anders van Hans Anders?" (In the Bilthoven Winkelcentrum there is a store [called] Hans. There is also a store [called] Hans Anders. So: what makes Hans different from Hans Anders?) "Ik had an afspraak met Fleetwood Mac, en ik spraakte met Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Lindsey vertelde mij alles. En wat zei Stevie? Niks!" (I had an appointmet with Fleetwood Mac, and I spoke to Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Lindsey told me everything. What did Stevie say? Nothing."
  14. Another urban legend was told me at the University of Georgia. Supposedly the final exam for Philosophy 101 was one question: WHY? The students who over-philosophised earned B or C grades. The student who said "Why not?" earned an A minus. The student who said "Because" earned an A plus. If that didn't happen, it still makes a good story.
  15. I never thought I'd write anything here about Howard Roark and Harry Potter, and yes, I certainly did not plan to say any more about Bob Wallace, but here we go. What he said about Harry Potter is almost funny, in light of what he said about Ayn Rand. Before we begin, let's recall Bob Wallace's denunciaition of Ayn Rand: according to him, the entire plot of ATLAS SHRUGGED is scapegoating and revenge, wherein Ayn Rand only projected her hatred onto scapegoats; and Objectivism is nothing more than scapegoating which leads to evil. There is nothing more to his article than that. Now he attacks Harry Potter as follows... Emphasis mine throughout. Anyone who has read the Harry Potter books knows that Harry is not unaffected by the abuse he gets throughout the books. But that is not the point. It would be interesting to go further with the comment about Harry Potter, an 'Ayn Randian superman,' but that again is not the point. I can't help but notice: what Bob Wallace hated Ayn Rand for doing, he also hates J.K. Rowling for not doing. If Harry Potter had "taken a log splitter to the entire family" or done some sort of black magic, would Wallace approve? Or would that be scapegoating? For that matter, suppose Ayn Rand had not discussed what would happen to the villains of ATLAS SHRUGGED once John Galt and the last striker walked out? Suppose there was no collapse of society? Would Wallace have complained that "it takes way too long for the bad guys to get their just deserts [sic]"? I have nothing more to add, except that it was strange to know that Bob Wallace denounces Diana Hsieh. Doesn't he realise that if he just agreed with her, they would make such good friends? They have so much in common, that they are divided only by Wallace's opinion of Ayn Rand. For a man like Wallace, changing his opinion seems easy.
  16. A universe that is nothing but singularity...let us assume that is possible. If so, and if we accept my earlier arguments, then such a universe (in perfect isolation) would have no meaning, and no value. We could never observe such a universe, because that would contradict the definition of a universe that is all singularity, which would exclude by definition the presence of ourselves. From that, it follows that we'll never have to worry about such a situation. Thank God.
  17. One final thought: I've argued that empirical knowledge implies an observer. But the reverse is equally true. To be an observer implies that there is an objective reality which one observes. Otherwise the idea "observer" is meaningless.
  18. Ba'al Chatzaf raised a good question: did the Kosmos exist before someone was around to observe it? We can reasonably assume so. There is objective evidence to suggest so. But it is impossible to empirically know. So we should say instead: "We believe the Universe is xx billion years old..." followed by the evidence which supports it. To Brant: I also presume that there is an objective reality which (by definition) exists independently of our opinions. Hence my Philip Dick quotation: reality by definition does not change with our beliefs. But how do I know this? Because I observe that reality does not change with my beliefs. I don't say that reality will cease to exist if no one is around to observe it. Only that we cannot know what happens when no one is around to observe it; and that if no one actually were around to observe reality, then reality would have no meaning and no value. And I agree with both of General Semanticist's points. His second point ("There is no such thing as an object in perfect isolation") is in fact my entire argument, but more elegantly phrased. That's the sort of quotation I wish I'd had first. As to his first comment ("The word is not the thing it represents") that would actually require a new thread. I'm willing. But for now I'll make 2 points: (1) This is the idea behind "The map is not the territory." (2) This leads to reifying, a mistake that Ayn Rand's more cultish followers are known for making.
  19. The issues of quantum theory bring us to the edge of questioning whether reality would exist if no one was around to observe it. This is a fairly deep question. However, I have concluded that the question is empirically unanswerable. By definition empirical data is what is observed by sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Which means that an observer is necessarily presupposed to answer this question. And that makes it impossible to know what happens when there is no observer. But is that a realistic scenario? Let's do an extreme thought experiment with that idea. What would that mean, if there were literally no observers? By that I mean, if there were zero sentient minds in existence? What would that mean? Such a scenario would inevitably lead to a meaningless situation: because if there were literally no observer, meaning literally nobody, then there would be no one to evaluate. How can there be meaning in anything, unless we presuppose someone to whom this is meaningful? Such a situation would be literally anti-reason. With literally nobody in existence, there is nobody to think. How can there be rationality, with nobody to use his or her reason? In a sense, you could say that nothing would exist if there were literally no one to observe it. Or at least the existence would be meaningless. With nobody in existence, it wouldn't matter a damn whether the rest of the universe continued on obliviously or winked out. What difference? We wouldn't be around to care. And that leads me to the conclusion: the scenario is by definition impossible. It cannot happen so long as any of us exist. I'd like to thank Stuart Hayashi for his kind remarks. Also thank you for the thread. It got me thinking.
  20. I like thought-experiments. Without those, there would be no intelligent science-fiction. But a thought experiment cannot prove anything. It can only make (or fail to make) a persuasive argument that such a scenario is possible. The problem with the Swamp Thing issue is that the character is completely fictional, and then is used to prove a theory about identity and language. In fact, whichever writer created the Swamp Thing presumed a certain theory to be true and created the character consistent with that. Nothing wrong with doing this as a literary technique, but in order to prove that this idea applies to reality then it is incumbent on me (the writer) to make the scenario convincing. If it didn't actually happen, at the minimum I must persuade others that it was reasonably possible. Only in comic books could one accept the origin of the Swamp Thing.
  21. The original thread covers much territory. The original point was about imagining an improbable situation: "Suppose the only way to save the world from an asteroid strike was to steal John Galt's invention. Would you do it?" What if someone made a similar argument towards me? How would I answer? I would say something like: "Do you believe that scenario will happen tomorrow? If so, then I'll answer it tomorrow. But tomorrow John Galt might strike you from a distance with his death-rays, because you suggested stealing his invention. If that happens, you won't be there to complain...what? You want me to give a reason for that what-if scenario? I think it was the same justification that you have, for yours." But the point of those who raise such extreme questions is not to decide what is true, but to prove someone else wrong. Such people are less interested in being right than in making you look wrong. You know the other person is using this approach if he/she asks you a question, you begin to answer it, and then he/she looks displeased with the answer. The questioner often behaves as though the answer was beside the point. Then he/she either repeats the question, or asks something similar. When someone behaves this way towards me, I assume that he/she has an agenda: they don't want to listen to me, they want me to lose. I assume they expect a specific response from me, presumably a response that makes me look bad; and the questioning will continue until I give that response. People who have such an agenda will often prepare such questions like the ones the original poster gave as examples. And such people are usually beyond a reasonable argument. Not because they don't have reason. But because they are not interested in using it, and because they aren't interested in listening to you. That's my 1€ worth.
  22. Quick note: Umberto Eco wrote that most authorities during the Middle Ages believed the Earth was round. Only a minority of scholars had a different opinion. Eco defends this position in ON LITERATURE (trans. Martin McLaughlin) and he also illustrates the debates in his novel BAUDOLINO (trans. William Weaver). Of course this means my school teachers who said Columbus was proving the world was round were as wrong as Columbus himself, who miscalculated the size of that round Earth, and who mistook Hispañola for Sumatra.
  23. Michael: I've read your links, and am annoyed that these people missed the point. The point of ATLAS SHRUGGED that they miss is: when we have a slave-society, no new technology can advance. At best society will stagnate. At worst people will degenerate back into barbarity. This implies that history itself was frozen in the past. Thus ATLAS SHRUGGED. But if they want an inspiration, I suggest North Korea. Particularly if anyone wants to adapt ANTHEM to film. I could write a post detailing conditions in North Korea, and use them to prove how right ANTHEM is and how wrong were the editors who rejected Ayn Rand, for telling the truth. Because ANTHEM is not exaggerated, in any way. But we were talking about ATLAS SHRUGGED, which begins in a somewhat archaic world but by the end is degenerating into ANTHEM, or North Korea. The only difference is that there is no red flame atop the Washington Monument in Rand's novel, and nobody speaks Korean. Also, Rand spares us the details of what it means to starve. And if these people thought a bit more about Ayn Rand, they would do a much better job. As for the blunderbuss/musket business: in 1974 there was a military coup in Ethiopia. His Majesty Haile Selassie was ordered to abdicate. Soon after that Ryszard Kapuscinski went to Ethiopia, and says he saw men with muskets dating back to World War I. He did not know whether they were loaded; but they were clearly in use. And Michael: I think you are right about Bob Wallace. He clearly hates the character of Harry Potter. As for what he says about Philip Roth, I cannot comment. I know nothing of Philip Roth, except that I have heard before that he was an ignorant racist. But given what I know of Bob Wallace, and his opinions, I will require a second opinion before I take a tenth of it seriously. If anyone has the stomach, the analysis of Philip Roth can be found here. :bug: Click on the bug. There is a good side to this: I have a character who is a bully, a racist, a fool, and (unfortunately) a political leader in my presumed-Asia-of-2-centuries-hence. Now whenever I'm wondering how this character would speak, write, behave, all I have to do is read Bob Wallace. :sick:
  24. I have a minor update on Bob Wallace, whose article was mentioned as irrationally denouncing Ayn Rand. Michael Stuart Kelley said that Wallace had a point about Randroids, by which I do not mean anyone present here. Let me add that Wallace writes like a Randroid himself. I sent him a criticism of his critique, and got an irrational denuciation for my troubles. I'm not offended, in fact I think his E-mails are amusing. The main lesson I take from this encounter is that while he thinks I'm a Randroid, he acts like them. This underscores Michael's original point, about the Love/Hate myth. And that is all that needs to be said of him.