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I just took a cruise around the online O-ist world, and, other than OL, there's nothing left but ruins! RoR is a charred ghost town, SOLO has flushed itself down its own sewer, and most of the children at the OO kindergarten must have apparently moved on to bigger things (is there a first grade Objectivist Facebook page that they've graduated to?). Dr. Mrs. Dr. Comrade Sonia, PhD, has separated from her husband and they're headed toward divorce (is anyone at all surprised?). She's taking back her maiden name and therefore will just be Dr. Comrade Sonia Mertz Brickell, PhD, and she's shutting down Philosophy Inaction.

So, it's pretty much good news all around (especially for Paul Hsieh)! The control freaks, guru wannabes, and destructive toddlers are fading and failing!

J

I am kind of sad that Diana has parted from Paul. My evil cynical side tells me that Paul told her 'Get a fucking job, I am sick of paying for everything.' And of course, "what about the chiiiilllldrrrrennnn dogs/horses" ...

In Michael Moeller's message that I posted here, he suggested that Objectivish discussion takes place more today in social media like Facebook and Twitter than it does in dedicated forums. I think Stephen Boydstun suggested that same thing.

Yeah, sad about Diana. It's gotta hurt. What will the world do without her philosophy empire? Sad sad sad.

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I just took a cruise around the online O-ist world, and, other than OL, there's nothing left but ruins! RoR is a charred ghost town, SOLO has flushed itself down its own sewer, and most of the children at the OO kindergarten must have apparently moved on to bigger things (is there a first grade Objectivist Facebook page that they've graduated to?). Dr. Mrs. Dr. Comrade Sonia, PhD, has separated from her husband and they're headed toward divorce (is anyone at all surprised?). She's taking back her maiden name and therefore will just be Dr. Comrade Sonia Mertz Brickell, PhD, and she's shutting down Philosophy Inaction.

So, it's pretty much good news all around (especially for Paul Hsieh)! The control freaks, guru wannabes, and destructive toddlers are fading and failing!

J

I am kind of sad that Diana has parted from Paul. My evil cynical side tells me that Paul told her 'Get a fucking job, I am sick of paying for everything.' And of course, "what about the chiiiilllldrrrrennnn dogs/horses" ...

In Michael Moeller's message that I posted here, he suggested that Objectivish discussion takes place more today in social media like Facebook and Twitter than it does in dedicated forums. I think Stephen Boydstun suggested that same thing.

Yeah, sad about Diana. It's gotta hurt. What will the world do without her philosophy empire? Sad sad sad.

I'm very surprised that, so far at least, the Comrade hasn't shat out her typical 10,000-word screed to publicly denounce Paul for being a "false friend of Objectivism," and for having a small wiener, or whatever, etc.

J

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And of course, "what about the chiiiilllldrrrrennnn dogs/horses" ...

Well she did file a paternity petition for the pony and had the stud service stallion served with the petition.

A...

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You know, OL survived all of this and will survive a whole lot longer.

But looking around, I marvel at how emotionally invested in these people and places I used to be. And at how small the former events were to the big scheme of things.

This is great food for thought and reflection. I don't know about you (the reader), but to me, this is a wake-up call to raise the creative and productive bar in my life.

Michael

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I agree that a big part of the fading away of most of the Objectivist fora has been the advent of social media, which is kind of strange because Facebook and such aren't really setup to handle the type of depth of discussions that can happen at places like OL. It's not the same. It's comparatively shallow and short attention-spanned.

J

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Jonathan,

I can't say for sure, but it looks like, to me, Diana tried to go the social media route. I don't know if she did Facebook, Twitter, etc., but she did do podcasts.

I just looked at her site and her announcement of closing Philosophy in Action. There are only six comments and three are from her.

This is a clear indication that her approach did not resonate with a lot of people. I give her credit for producing a body of work, but that's a lot of effort trying to do something social if nobody is interested.

She should learn about the story triangle to start with if she wants to do better in the future (see here for a good graphic), where there are three relationships and each runs both ways. If one tries to ignore this reality, like, for instance, tries to control the storyteller to audience relationship as a guru to disciple direction only, one will not verify that the disciples actually want the guru's stuff. A bunch of disciples won't spring up by luck or osmosis.

The reality of what they are will not change just because one feels the need to preach. Also, templates are good (she used several), but they are no replacement for understanding the human nature part of disciples. And competence must exist in all six directions of the story triangle for the story that cements a community to work.

Anyway, that's her project.

Running a community on the free market is a learned skill and there is nothing within the Objectivist canon that teaches you how to do that from the good guy's perspective. There is a kind of blueprint if you're a bad guy (think Toohey's ad hoc groups, etc.). And you can look to NBI, but fundies think that self-funding enterprise was somehow not Objectivist.

ARI and TAS are top-down communities of sorts, but they are funded by donations. I doubt they would continue to exist without non-profit money. They are communities that can have strong gatekeepers in place without worrying too much about resonating with the public. (Rand's appeal and their historical position is all the resonance they need.)

Like all learned skills, one can learn to grow and manage themed social media communities on a free market competently. Or reality will kick in and there will be little or no audience.

Some people might see a lack here, but if you're the right kind of person, it is a good opportunity. Frankly, it's something I know how to do, but I don't want it. Maybe later I'll go deeper with this in O-Land, but right now I'm doing other stuff and OL is a great little community just as it is. Not big enough to be a royal pain in the ass to manage, but not so small it's a waste of time. And we have highly intelligent regulars and an elite readership.

We rock.

:smile:

Michael

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It’s taken over 3 months for the news to travel this far. Comrade Sonia had become irrelevant. Tsk tsk. But something sad about it: from what I recall she wanted to have children, and her husband didn’t. But she was ok with it, since she was so crazy about him. Now she’s too old. Or, if not too old, she’s very near the end of line as far as that option goes (she was in her early 20's in the MDOP days, so she's got to be early-mid 40's now). I bet that’s a factor at work here.

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Five or six years of podcasts. Her blog became a shill for them so I stopped even checking in from time to time. I don't listen to anyone's podcasts. Maybe eight minutes of Leonard Peikoff several years ago.

Some people with the luxury of time to do this make a podcast thing must think others have the luxury of time to listen.

She wants a completely new career path. Sounds like she needs a product that generates more income. She makes her PhD sound like it's worthless without her mentioning it once. If an advanced degree doesn't lead to anything but academic employment it is next to worthless. If it could lead to that but doesn't it becomes totally worthless except to impress yourself and others. I wonder if American academia is still churning out anything like the 400 PhD's/yr about Shakespeare it used to. My Mother's dissertation pre-dated Shakespeare (The Theater of the English Pageant Wagons). What's notable to me, a layman for English lit., is it was many hundreds of pages of flawless typing. In those days you had to hire a professional typist who could hit each key with the same force regardless of finger used. (My Father could do 80wpm and step-mother 100, but not such quality.) That was done by a sister of the famous owner of Secretariat who soon after (1970) went home to be with the horses. (I once thought it was Penny herself but it couldn't have been.)

--Brant

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Jonathan,

I can't say for sure, but it looks like, to me, Diana tried to go the social media route. I don't know if she did Facebook, Twitter, etc., but she did do podcasts.

I just looked at her site and her announcement of closing Philosophy in Action. There are only six comments and three are from her.

This is a clear indication that her approach did not resonate with a lot of people. I give her credit for producing a body of work, but that's a lot of effort trying to do something social if nobody is interested.

She should learn about the story triangle to start with if she wants to do better in the future (see here for a good graphic), where there are three relationships and each runs both ways. If one tries to ignore this reality, like, for instance, tries to control the storyteller to audience relationship as a guru to disciple direction only, one will not verify that the disciples actually want the guru's stuff. A bunch of disciples won't spring up by luck or osmosis.

The reality of what they are will not change just because one feels the need to preach. Also, templates are good (she used several), but they are no replacement for understanding the human nature part of disciples. And competence must exist in all six directions of the story triangle for the story that cements a community to work.

Anyway, that's her project.

Running a community on the free market is a learned skill and there is nothing within the Objectivist canon that teaches you how to do that from the good guy's perspective. There is a kind of blueprint if you're a bad guy (think Toohey's ad hoc groups, etc.). And you can look to NBI, but fundies think that self-funding enterprise was somehow not Objectivist.

ARI and TAS are top-down communities of sorts, but they are funded by donations. I doubt they would continue to exist without non-profit money. They are communities that can have strong gatekeepers in place without worrying too much about resonating with the public. (Rand's appeal and their historical position is all the resonance they need.)

Like all learned skills, one can learn to grow and manage themed social media communities on a free market competently. Or reality will kick in and there will be little or no audience.

Some people might see a lack here, but if you're the right kind of person, it is a good opportunity. Frankly, it's something I know how to do, but I don't want it. Maybe later I'll go deeper with this in O-Land, but right now I'm doing other stuff and OL is a great little community just as it is. Not big enough to be a royal pain in the ass to manage, but not so small it's a waste of time. And we have highly intelligent regulars and an elite readership.

We rock.

:smile:

Michael

I think you've identified the primary problem of almost the entire Objectivist "movement." It's organizations, leaders and promoters never learn the realities of dealing with and reaching other people. They don't listen to feedback. In fact, they often ban it or actively prevent it from existing in the first place. OL is the only exception. OL is the only O-ist entity with the self-confidence to not only allow but encourage the discussion of dissenting opinions.

As for Comrade Sonia, I think she's done. My guess is that she got bit hard and early in life by the Rand bug and missed out on living her own life. I think that she bought into a fantasy of how great and Randianly heroic she was going to be, and expected that she'd be a world-renowned intellectual who would end up surpassing Rand in fame and influence. That dream fizzled, and now I suspect that the person she would have been had she never been dazzled by Rand wants to be let out of the box to experience some joy and true individuality for once. I think she'll pretty quickly abandon the idea of ever returning to the task of being Rand's little automaton servant again.

J

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And I think, Jonathan, that you put her on the grill and cooked her rare then medium then well done then burnt. Then threw on some more fuel and went back into the house.

--Brant

she gave it the old college try--at least her Randian premises as Rand's own premises might now be transcended--they weren't, of course, by Rand herself or Leonard Peikoff or anyone else who chose or chooses to adopt and live inside that philosophy with its moral and other sledgehammering of revealed and profound and not to be much questioned truths, the most important being this is great, right and true!--such was Objectivism in the heyday of its explication to Ayn Rand supplicants most intensely through the Nathaniel Branden Institute.

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Correct.

The other major failing was the inept use of Pathos in their messaging/rhetoric.

The Official Objectivist Catechism/Torah/Koran had no understanding of human emotions in a practical setting.

This, of course, destroyed more budding Objectivists than I would care to count.

At any rate, those of us who avoided that pitfall still owe a deep debt of gratitude and respect for the Minyan**** of minds that surrounded her great mind.

A...

****For the heathen gentiles:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minyan <<<< there's of course was gender neutral...

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But something sad about it: from what I recall she wanted to have children, and her husband didn’t. But she was ok with it, since she was so crazy about him. Now she’s too old. Or, if not too old, she’s very near the end of line as far as that option goes (she was in her early 20's in the MDOP days, so she's got to be early-mid 40's now). I bet that’s a factor at work here.

Dennis,

I never heard that, but I haven't followed Diana very closely.

For some damn reason, I decided to look into her retreat from public life and divorce a bit deeper. Call it getting in touch with my Inner Gossip. :smile:

(Not my finest side, I know, but there it is. :smile: )

Why the divorce? I know it's none of anyone's business, but she laid it out in public. One can speculate and I will, but for the sake of simplicity, I will limit it to a case where Paul wants to divorce and one where she does--both with something online to back it up (meaning back up the reason for the speculation, not backing up the speculation as a fact). The time of both makes them plausible.

If Paul is the one wanting the divorce, I imagine it might be due to an overbearing stubbornness I saw here: Speech regulators fine woman over Facebook post.

Apparently, Diana didn't keep up with her mandatory government filings for donations she received for a nonprofit organization she owns (since a ballot issue she promoted made it mandatory according to regulations), and the state fined her $50. She said she got behind because her house got flooded. According to the article, the fine got reversed. And her reaction?

She sued the government.

:smile:

There's no problem suing the government if you have the time, funds, resilience, and so on--and most of all, if you have a case that doesn't look frivolous on the face of it. When there is a real grievance of government abuse, there are always groups looking to help victims sue the government, starting with the ACLU. And it's good there are because court costs can be hellishly expensive.

I don't know if she was going it alone, but if Paul was footing the bill and considered the suit as sort of stupid, I definitely see this as a source of irritation.

Now, should Diana be the one wanting the divorce, there is this odd story on a blog.

It is written by a woman named Kelly who, with her husband, Santiago, helped Diana with the Free Range Objectivism group a while back, but were later removed from the group. Kelly explains why she is no longer a friend of Diana and she mentions that Diana defamed her and her husband, reported them to the government (I imagine immigration-related), betrayed their trust and so on. She also found it perplexing that Diana was troubled because Santiago decided to stay married to her and continue seeing a marriage counselor.

An anonymous commenter said Diana was hurt Kelly and Santiago were not getting a divorce: "because she is in love with him. I could tell and I don't know any of you or met you. I could tell through her show, her posts, blog etc. whenever she mentioned him or you."

(Going by other comments on that blog, they have since divorced.)

Given the fact that Diana wants to revert to her maiden name (see here) and she has been a Rand imitator in more ways than one, I speculate she might have wanted to do a separate lover (like NB with Rand) number on Paul, except he wasn't going for it. Or maybe she just fell for Santiago and now wants a life with him.

As an aside, since she has been so nasty to OL and OL people, I normally call her "Hsieh" as a form or keeping distance. But I called her "Diana" in this post because I don't know if it's still "Hsieh" or now "Brickell."

Anyway, God knows why I'm talking about this.

I guess I have some extra time on my hands... LOLOL...

:smile:

Michael

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And I think, Jonathan, that you put her on the grill and cooked her rare then medium then well done then burnt. Then threw on some more fuel and went back into the house.

--Brant

she gave it the old college try--at least her Randian premises as Rand's own premises might now be transcended--they weren't, of course, by Rand herself or Leonard Peikoff or anyone else who chose or chooses to adopt and live inside that philosophy with its moral and other sledgehammering of revealed and profound and not to be much questioned truths, the most important being this is great, right and true!--such was Objectivism in the heyday of its explication to Ayn Rand supplicants most intensely through the Nathaniel Branden Institute.

I apologize for being too polite--to her.

--Brant

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I never heard that, but I haven't followed Diana very closely.

I don't have a reference, and won't be spending time looking for one. But I remember taking mental note of it, because in my experience it's essential to a marriage to be in agreement about having children (or not). I had her checked off in my mind as an exception to that rule.

Now, should Diana be the one wanting the divorce, there is this odd story on a blog.

It is written by a woman named Kelly who, with her husband, Santiago, helped Diana with the Free Range Objectivism group a while back, but were later removed from the group. Kelly explains why she is no longer a friend of Diana and she mentions that Diana defamed her and her husband, reported them to the government (I imagine immigration-related), betrayed their trust and so on.

No, according to the comments below the blog post, she called Child Protective Services on them. Nothing to do with immigration. There's no detail on why she did that. Whatever the dispute was, this strikes me as a Nuclear Option. No way people remain friends after that.

My bet: while snooping she came across their dog-eared copy of Kant für Kinder hidden between the required Montessori volumes and Harry Potter coloring books. And freaked. As any rational person would.

As an aside, since she has been so nasty to OL and OL people, I normally call her "Hsieh" as a form or keeping distance. But I called her "Diana" in this post because I don't know if it's still "Hsieh" or now "Brickell."

Comrade Sonia works for me.

Anyway, God knows why I'm talking about this.

I guess I have some extra time on my hands... LOLOL...

Yeah, and here I thought you were trying to write fiction. Calls to mind some graphics I recently saw on Bidi-Bob's Facebook:

12038480_10205326893396457_7935418739218

12038418_10205326895156501_3661512753901

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Holy crap. I just made up that Kant für Kinder thing, it was a joke. But after hitting Post, I googled those three words, and believe it or not, there is a book with that title.

41Uce6Pp3uL._SX278_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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Folks:

My perceptual guess is that this couple may have had an autistic child, or, a child with some serious health/psychological issues.

As the D-man noted above, apparently at least one call was made to "CPS," and or whatever alphabet soup these pigs hide out under in Colorado.

Oops did I just call them pigs in my out loud voice?

Fucking right I did.

Anyone, unless you are a mandated reporter, a.k.a., a good German, who considers that as an action should sit down with their conscience and seriously reconsider involving these psychos in any child's life.

A...

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Now, should Diana be the one wanting the divorce, there is this odd story on a blog.

It is written by a woman named Kelly who, with her husband, Santiago, helped Diana with the Free Range Objectivism group a while back, but were later removed from the group. Kelly explains why she is no longer a friend of Diana and she mentions that Diana defamed her and her husband, reported them to the government (I imagine immigration-related), betrayed their trust and so on.

No, according to the comments below the blog post, she called Child Protective Services on them. Nothing to do with immigration. There's no detail on why she did that. Whatever the dispute was, this strikes me as a Nuclear Option. No way people remain friends after that.

Dennis,

I made an assumption based on Kelly's other blog: Mother of Exiles.

But your version is probably closer to what happened.

Michael

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From the Mothers Of Exile site:

Mother of Exiles was created by Kelly McNulty Valenzuela in the spring of 2010. Kelly's passion for immigration reform developed after studying the philosophy of Objectivism when she realized that her own views on immigration reform were seriously flawed. Kelly now understands the need for a principled, rational approach to immigration reform and hopes this website will enlighten others and change minds. Kelly's husband, Santiago Valenzuela, is a regular contributor to Mother of Exiles, as well as a handful of other guest bloggers

.

Kelly is originally from Houston, Texas, but moved to sunny, beautiful Colorado in 2006. Kelly has been in financial services since 1995. She's a gun enthusiast who loves to scrapbook, take pictures and explore Colorado with her husband and their dog. Kelly and her husband are members of Front Range Objectivism and she is passionate about philosophy, politics and activism.

Her husband, Santiago J. Valenzuela, was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He spent four years in Dallas, Texas, before moving to Denver in 2008. Santiago owns a scrap metal recycling business in the Denver Technological Center area, where he and Kelly also live. Santiago is passionate about guns and gun ownership rights, and would like to become a firearms instructor.

Very interesting...

A...

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Folks:

My perceptual guess is that this couple may have had an autistic child, or, a child with some serious health/psychological issues.

As the D-man noted above, apparently at least one call was made to "CPS," and or whatever alphabet soup these pigs hide out under in Colorado.

My gut feeling was that whatever happened in the Valenzuela family, Diana Mertz Brickell was a confidante who heard something not right to her ear in the home of her friends ... and reading back into her blog, I surmise that abuse, threats or violence were in her mind, a risk of assault of some kind in the household.

The various 'explanations' on the two ladies' blogs are simply not enough to guess accurately at a sequence of events and motive and action -- precipitating events are entirely obscured, the situation is not even sketched. What was it that Diana and Kelly hint at? We won't know without some real detective work. Who could be bothered to spend time and money on that?

My gut feeling is probably wrong by an order of magnitude. If it wasn't assault or abuse on a child or children, it could have been a raging hate between the spouses, one spouse upon the other, with zero risk of physical harm to anyone. It could have been a Mertz-Brickell feeling that there was a risk of spillover, some harm potential for a child -- mental, physical, emotional. It could have been that Mertz-Brickell sensed 'neglect.'

I know that it tears the heart to see children be subjected to abuse or neglect, and that beyond mandated-reporters folks can get their emotions engaged and feel urged to report a dangerous situation -- even where the situation is not as feared and suspected.

So, I go with Mertz-Brickell reporting "There is spousal abuse happening at 555 Acorn Way," or "A child is endangered at 555 Acorn Way."

I could be entirely and utterly wrong, as nobody has breached privacy enough to clearly identify the moral/behavioral situation the couple and friend and child were in ...

Now, should Diana be the one wanting the divorce, there is this odd story on a blog.

It is written by a woman named Kelly who, with her husband, Santiago, helped Diana with the Free Range Objectivism group a while back, but were later removed from the group. Kelly explains why she is no longer a friend of Diana and she mentions that Diana defamed her and her husband, reported them to the government (I imagine immigration-related), betrayed their trust and so on.

No, according to the comments below the blog post, she called Child Protective Services on them. Nothing to do with immigration. There's no detail on why she did that. Whatever the dispute was, this strikes me as a Nuclear Option. No way people remain friends after that.

Dennis,

I made an assumption based on Kelly's other blog: Mother of Exiles.

But your version is probably closer to what happened.

Michael

Such is the state of the Objectivist world, that the parties hint hard but cloak all the actual events. If they were famous, the detail would come out in biography. How can we learn our moral lessons from hints and guesses and cold shoulders?

The Valenzuelas are divorced. Nothing went wrong with CPS. Mertz-Brickell will not be getting a job as Family Counsellor going forward, ever.

The worst mental image of her I can manage is the 'division of assets.' Her Brand pay-palled some of her expenses, but what remains? Half a house, one horse, one-and-a-half dogs, one cat. One podcast empire archive. Oh, and your basic doctor of philosophy wall art.

I see her segueing into Horse Whisperer, with a full line of animal foods based on Paleo principles. Rand for Horses. No doubt there is gossip 'backstage' on social media that fully dissected the public and private. For me it is a sad moment, to realize that Diana Mertz Brickell Hsieh again trimmed her own tree, cut off more than a few limbs, and a few too many, divided herself away from such a long list of Objectivish worthies and numpties both. She has shed a lot of friends over the years.

Is that a bit of tragedy, the avoidable, a result of hubris, a cathartic for us spectators, is there pathos enough to move us, as MSK suggests?

In her time on stage as O-list celebrity, she has purged and purged and purged. I am sitting here thinking, "What remains? O Diana, what remains?"

Edited by william.scherk
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Essentially this busybody bitch needs to mind her own business.

A...

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As the D-man noted above, apparently at least one call was made to "CPS," and or whatever alphabet soup these pigs hide out under in Colorado.

Oops did I just call them pigs in my out loud voice?

Fucking right I did.

You dare liken CPS agents to pigs? Libelous! Pigs are splendid animals, just ask Lord Emsworth.

blandings_2450394c.jpg

Hitchens once did a chapter on it:

Surely you can find a reptile species to pick on.

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