Ross Barlow

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About Ross Barlow

  • Birthday 02/14/1950

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  • Full Name
    Ross Barlow
  • Description
    Zen-Objectivist mountain climber. Veteran, US Marine Corps (Vietnam, 1969-70). Former teacher: history & philosophy. Eagle Scout. Born in 1950.
  • Articles
    Guns for Fun, Protection & Liberty: straight-shooter Objectivists
  • Favorite Music, Artworks, Movies, Shows, etc.
    MUSIC: The Blues, Rock and Roll, Classical, Jazz, Bluegrass, Thai traditional, Led Zeppelin, Beethoven. MOVIES: The Eiger Sanction, The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Jeremiah Johnson, Casino Royale (2006), The Horse Whisperer, Whale Rider, The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, Casablanca, The Emperor’s Club, Equilibrium, Life of Brian, Groundhog Day.
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  • Location
    Kingdom of Thailand
  • Interests
    mountain climbing (rock, snow & ice), Buddhism (Zen & Theravada), history, philosophy, libertarianism, Objectivism, movies, reading, bivouacking, Moon-watching.

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  1. Here is an interesting article from Science Dailey. For what it’s worth. It reminded me of Rand’s historical reconstruction of human epistemological development, and I think she would have been pleased and vindicated to hear of this research. (And it also reminded me of you folks here on Objectivist Living, whose company I do not seek out nearly enough.) -Ross Barlow.
  2. Brant, I don't give a fuck either, but I do thank you for giving me this opportunity to laugh my fucking ass off. -Ross Barlow.
  3. This is a very interesting thread that I only stumbled upon today. (I’ve been out of the loop, as usual.) Ellen, you have been recommending Doris Lessing to me for many years now. Can you suggest where to start reading? Thanks in advance. -Ross Barlow. .
  4. The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is a wonderful work to browse for nuggets of wisdom. When I lived Stateside and taught high school history and philosophy, I had a great quote of his attached off to the side of my desk, something I read every morning before students arrived. (I have temporarily misplaced my copy here, so I won’t try reciting it from my aged memory; maybe later.) The quote had to do with living with dignity, effectiveness, and benevolent tolerance as a true “man”/human amongst others who may vex us and try our patience (surely of importance to a teacher of many public school rapscallions!). It gave me a rational perspective on myself, my students, and our common connections as learners all. I also incorporated Aurelius into my philosophy course. He is an intellectual hero, a treasure of the Western heritage, as well as of the entire human heritage. An important connection between Stoicism and Objectivism and libertarianism is the tradition of natural law/ natural rights. Some roots of these concepts seem to trace directly back to the Stoics. Stoicism came directly after an immense Western world shake-up – i.e., the conquest by Alexander of the entire Persian Empire, which conquest then connected the old “Hellenic” Greek culture with new exotic cultures to the East in direct trade of both goods and ideas. This new mix of cultures inspired some Greeks to discontinue the old practice of calling all non-Greeks “barbarians,” who cannot be understood. They saw some common (“universal”) traits among all people in this newly connected Hellenistic world mix. I.e., we may all speak different languages, dress differently, observe different religious or philosophical pathways, etc., but we are very much the same in so many fundamental ways as humans. I strongly suspect that the newly opened commercial trade with these foreigners helped create a concept of basic human equality, since trading value for value is the essence of civilized and human interaction. The Stoics conceived of this newly expanded world as a “cosmopolis” (a “universal city of man,” with a related concept of the "universal brotherhood of man"). It follows that if we are all basically so similar, able to trade and interact as equals, we should all be treated with equal dignity and equal freedom, and we should be tolerated as long as we treat each other with equal tolerance. We can trace these ideas through such later ancients as the very influential Roman Stoic, Cicero, who was on the recommended shortlists of many of America’s Founding Fathers as required reading for the understanding of Liberty by future American generations. Natural Law and Natural Rights: squarely in the Objectivist tradition, with a noble history. More recent research may supersede my above suggestions, but this is my sense of it at this point. -Ross Barlow.
  5. Whiplash is the best film I’ve seen in the past year. It is intense with great acting. J.K. Simmons (a favorite character actor of mine) plays an uncompromising studio jazz band leader at a top music conservatory, and he comes off as a raging Drill Instructor from Hell – demanding complete perfection and even more from his students. He is obsessed with mentoring and driving students until he produces a true jazz legend. Damien Chazelle, the writer/director, is said to have been inspired by the intense and unforgettable drill instructor character in the first half of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket played by Lee Ermey, who had actually been a former USMC drill instructor. Whether this is true or not, it would make perfect sense, because the same fanaticism is there. Don’t miss the performance of J.K. Simmons here, because there should be major award nominations for him, and it blew me away. The jazz drum student that he drives so hard is played very well by Miles Teller. And the music is great. One aspect of the film that reminded me of Objectivism is when one of the main characters is so dedicated to his pursuit of excellence in his art that he sees that it is truly necessary to break off a valued relationship because he knows his art will always come first. The high costs of excellence. -Ross Barlow.
  6. For me as a young man, Nathaniel’s The Disowned Self, along with Breaking Free, were absolutely liberating and probably life saving. Stumbling home in 1970 as a shattered wreck out of the military, I was really, really fucked up. And it wasn’t just recent war trauma that had me by the throat. I had long been fucked up philosophically as well. I have frequently been too much of an idealist (perhaps an artifact of my evangelical Christian childhood). I had taken Objectivism, which I had studied enthusiastically while in high school and then when in the military, as a vision of absolute perfection – but it was an impossible vision that I strived for unrealistically, and thus I could never live up to it. (Who the hell did I expect to be? John Galt?) Branden’s works pointed me back to my authentic self, the person I had disowned through my unrealistic fantasies of perfection and my shouldering of hyper-moralistic expectations. With this release from my over-idealistic delusions, I went back to my true roots as a lone hill and forest rambler who was happiest sojourning in wild natural places. I got into mountaineering and technical climbing, and I became good at it. This exhilarating avocation and the acquisition of the skills it required brought me back to my true psychological “home.” I had rediscovered my true self, my eudaimonia. And I honed my Objectivist virtues: i.e., if one tries to climb without rationality, etc., then one’s climbing career will be short. A later book of Nathaniel’s that was highly valuable to me for self-exploration was If You Could Hear What I Cannot Say. He also produced a relaxation cassette tape that I internalized and incorporated into my meditation practices when under maximum stress and adversity. His work was fundamentally liberating and calming. Nathaniel Branden was a healer of the highest rank, and I thank him. -Ross Barlow.
  7. I will always remember Barbara for her consideration. I was only a remote online acquaintance of hers from these e-lists, so I was surprised to get an email from her immediately after the 2006 military coup here in Thailand. She remembered that I had moved here, and she asked if we were all okay. That touched me. -Ross Barlow.
  8. L’homme qui rit, (2012), French language with English subtitles . If you are a big Victor Hugo fan, you may be interested in this one, even though it is a low budget film. . I read Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs 40 years ago – on Rand’s recommendation – and I had left my copy Stateside. I routinely keep track of the movie schedules down in the Bangkok theaters, even though I usually cannot make it into town to see them. It blew me away when I saw The Man Who Laughs listed in the coming attraction websites. A Victor Hugo classic! . I quickly downloaded a translation of the novel to my Kindle and re-read it before the film started here. Hugo’s novels are often full of long, wordy historical reflections, but – as Rand noted – they can be skipped without destroying the excellent plots; they are like interesting commercial breaks during an exciting TV show. . The novel is long; the movie is not, since it only dwells on the main plot. The film stars Gerard Depardieu as Ursus. I jumped on an express boat to Bangkok to see it, and I got to see it twice before its run finished. I was surprised that it was not only playing in the art house theaters but also at many mainstream theaters. The book is much better than the film, of course. However, it was great to see a relatively obscure Hugo work made into a movie and given a bit of publicity. (Maybe someone, someday, will adapt Ninety-Three for the screen!) . -Ross Barlow. .
  9. Friends, . I have known a lot of folks on this forum for many years. Here is a recent note on the flooding here in Thailand: . I try to update that blog daily if I'm able. I think I will lose electricity soon. . -Ross Barlow. . Two blogs: . “Zenwind”: this is my primary site for recording more perennial stuff, e.g., accounts of my greatest climbing adventures, reviews of movies and books, favorite poems, and important personal thoughts. Click on “Index” links to navigate categories: . “Zenwind’s Musings”: this is a more informal site for recording recent personal experiences, with the goal of providing more regular updates: . “I’m packin’ my bags For the Misty Mountains.” -- Led Zeppelin -- .
  10. I would recommend The World of Jeeves, a collection of 34 short stories of Jeeves and Wooster. It starts out with the story “Jeeves Takes Charge,” where Bertie first meets Jeeves, and it goes right on from there. It also contains the story mentioned above, “The Great Sermon Handicap,” but I haven’t gotten to that one yet. . I bought this volume when I noticed that a local Bangkok bookstore had many Wodehouse books, and I’d like to read the entire Jeeves canon eventually. I first ran into Wodehouse books in my high school library in the 1960s, and I became an addict. I only got to see a couple of the TV episodes with Fry and Laurie, but they were great. . -Ross Barlow. .
  11. I am going to have to look back over some of my lists of favorite movies, because I know there are many that fit this thread. For the time being, there are two movies that have been discussed earlier in separate threads on OL that have not yet been mentioned on this thread. . The first is Equilibrium (2002), and, if this link works, you should be able to read the thread (and my review) here. As a teaser, I’ll just say here that there is a statue of Atlas struggling to hold the world up – in a society where, by law, no art works are supposed to exist. . The second film is The Lives of Others (2006), and its thread is here. Below is a short review of it that I had posted elsewhere. . [begin review] . “The Lives of Others” (2006). A film written and directed by Florian Hennckel von Donnersmarck. . An unforgettable movie that shows collectivism for the horror it is. It is in the German language with English subtitles [Das Leben der Anderen (2006)]. It won a recent Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, which it richly deserved. . It portrays a Stasi (secret police) officer of communist East Germany before the end of the Cold War who watches his system work its corruption and ruin on the lives of others, on real people. He is a true believer, but his utopian dreams are starting to sound hollow. . We see the lives of intellectuals and artists who are trapped within the insanity of a society of “real existing socialism” with threats of prison and black-listing hanging over their heads. Can good men preserve any traces of their goodness in such a brutal world? Can artists produce if the only client is the State? . Socialism sucks – and that is a truth that still has to be told far and wide because it is such a seductive ideology to many. I found myself going through many emotions while seeing this film. I was outrageously angry at the ruling elite’s contempt for human liberty, and I will refrain from telling you the raw expletives that leapt to my mind to describe these monsters. I also was fascinated by the bizarre scientific discipline and methodical routines used for the perverse purposes of totalitarian control. I laughed at some of the sheer absurdities of a rigid socialist system. I shook my head in wonder at the fine writing, acting and filmmaking. And I ended up weeping in release as this great sad, dark but redeeming story wrapped up. A sonata for a good man. . [finish review] . I highly recommend both films. . -Ross Barlow. .
  12. Thank you to Brant, David, Bill, Shane, Angie, Michael et al for the warm welcome back. This is a great website with friendly and knowledgeable people, and I have really missed the discussions here. . -Ross.
  13. . George, . The quote you mention is in the 1938 Flynn “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” It is said to the villain Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone) by one of his knight/henchmen as they are walking down a stairway in the castle: . “Our men can’t lay a hot iron in the eyes of a tax dodger without getting an […] arrow in the throat. It’s an outrage!” . That’s what the subtitles say (without my ellipses), yet subtitles are often inaccurate. It almost sounds as if another word is sounded before “arrow” and the article sounds like an “a” rather than an “an.” It might be “a black arrow,” rather than just “an arrow,” because black arrows are implied later in the movie as ones shot to definitely kill the bad guys. Sorry, it’s not clear. . -Ross Barlow.
  14. I agree that this latest Ridley Scott movie of Robin Hood is very much worth seeing. . And I also agree that Errol Flynn’s 1938 role set an impossibly high standard for the character, and it remains my favorite. I really like George’s earlier quote of Marian saying, “Why, you speak treason!” and Robin replying with a huge smile, “Fluently!” Absolutely classic libertarianism. After seeing the new movie in a downtown theater I immediately bought a DVD of the 1938 Flynn flick. I can enjoy many levels of this story and many versions. . As for the new Robin Hood film, go see it. It has some fine features, especially the history. The roots of the legends of R.H. are shrouded in mist, but some threads emerge. Barnsdale and other places across the county lines into Yorkshire have some claim as locales of the R.H. legends as well as do Nottinghamshire and Sherwood Forest. This struck me immediately, someone had done some homework. The story of King Richard in France is almost accurate – close enough for cinema work. . My sister, an enthusiastic and learned amateur historian who specializes in widespread historical periods’ clothing (military and civilian), raved about the apparel the characters wore, and she was so impressed that she wants to see it again in the theater. This is from someone who is an unbelievably severe critic and rarely goes to a theater in a year’s time. . As for story, I’m thinking there must be a sequel(s) and that this is only Chapter One. There is an allusion to the Magna Carta – a number of years before its time – and the potential limitations on the powers of the king therein is discussed as a minor but important plot element that rounds out King John’s depiction. It just cannot end there. The libertarian rhetoric begs for continuation. So, stay tuned. . If none of the above convince you to see it, I’ll mention one more reason: Cate Blanchet. Any film with her in it is worth a good look. . -Ross Barlow.
  15. . I think that it’s been about a year since I was last active reading or writing here on Objectivist Living – as well as on all other Objectivist or libertarian websites or e-lists (such as A2). I am sorry for being out of touch with many longtime online friends here. I was very ill a year ago and decided to stop participating in all online discussions because I tend to get too angry for my own good health. . In the last year I have been reading a lot – but using that archaic technology made from trees, once called “books.” Jeff Riggenbach had recommended some fiction many years ago on A2, and I have finally been catching up with them. On a related note, there are suddenly more Ayn Rand books on English-language bookstore shelves here in Bangkok – dramatically more. . I have some good libertarian friends here that I met via a local libertarian Meet Up website. Most are Americans but some are British, Indian or European. A sizable number of them got into libertarianism through reading Rand, and we may create a meet up group here especially for Objectivism – now that the fires of Bangkok have cooled down. . I use Facebook a lot to stay in touch with my former students as they go on through college and careers. As for OL members, I sadly learned through Facebook that Chris Grieb died recently. He was one fine fellow, and he will be missed. . I hope to try and catch up on some threads here on OL. This kind of site is easier for that because I can zone in on specific fora. But, for those here who know me, off the tops of your heads, is there any news that you think I might welcome about you or our fellow travelers: i.e., any achievements (books published, mountains climbed, etc.), noteworthy events, debaucheries beyond the usual, etc.? (If discussing that last category in public is too embarrassing, send me a PM.) . I’m looking forward to participating with you wonderful folks in this great forum again. . -Ross Barlow. .