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ggdwill

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About ggdwill

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  1. Always engaging, always entertaining, by and large The Colbert Report presents ideas better suited for the Dark Ages as if they were the cutting-edge of intellectual dialog meant to guide an age dominated by ideas. Mr. Colbert's preferred means of doing this is by embodying an idea and bringing it to it's absurd conclusion. His style of humor is usually at such a high level of wit and delivery that the content can be overlooked and still be entertaining - but not this time. The central theme of this skit is that Objectivism is so absurd, so dogmatic a philosophy that only the impressionable, undiscriminating mind of a child would be able to absorb it and that only a deranged, power-lusting adult would purvey it. If there is any silver lining to such an ugly display of liberal cynicism, it's that despite his best effort, this time Mr. Colbert just wasn't funny. This is a testament to the strength of the philosophy - which, ironically, is exactly why I found this segment so offensive. - Grant
  2. Atlas Shrugged should never be made into a film. In centuries past social and political commentary was regularly disguised as fiction so as to avoid the personal destruction of it's author. In modern times, with the wide-spread embrace of the principle of freedom of speech, this fear has been much allayed. Allayed but not extinguished. That Ayn Rand chose to present this truth camoflaged as a fictional anecdote, even in the midst of one the freest periods in human history, is completely understandable. The events played out in the novel gain counterparts in reality every day. Is there any reason to believe that the John McCain's, the Russ Feingold's, and every two-bit "hate crime" advocate won't begin making appeals for Objectivists to "come and help us find a solution to society's problems" within our life times? John Galt's speech towards the end to Atlas Shrugged is the most seering indictment of evil ever conceived - let alone recorded. It is a complete, unequivocal denunciation of the root of every problem mankind has ever created for itself. The license Rand took in destroying the artistic integrity of her novel for the sake of "Galt's" message was well worth it. Galt's speech is the purpose of Atlas Shrugged; it is the reason it was written. It is what it is because it is what it is. If it is to retain it's power, not a single word of it can be altered, ommitted, or rearranged. It is the truth and it is the closest any one has ever come to uttering it out loud in reality with nothing but it's own merit as it's defense. There are already plenty of movies about the collapse of civilization caused by all sorts of things. A few sentences of Galt's words cascading over a series of shots of ordinary people huddled around their radios would strip the story of it's central point. The average audience member would be left in the dark. He would have nothing to make sense of the collapse except a series of opaque, yet extremely complex commentary referring to nothing climactic. Without the full speech, even the string of inexplicable disappearances would be explained only geographically, not philosophically. People retire to the country all the time, but it is Galt who explains that only heroes do so as a last resort. Truths of the magnitude expressed by Galt cannot be condensed and still retain their magnitude. If Ayn Rand could not do it, certainly no screenwriter can. A 60-page celebration of fullness and clarity must be presented fully and clearly. If Atlas Shrugged were ever made into a film with Galt's speech intact, it would have to be 10 or 12 hours long to maintain it's proportionality. This is far too long for anyone to withstand the emotional sensitivity illicited throughout the story. There are virtually no low points. It is rare to find a paragraph who's purpose is merely to move the plot along and is devoid of intellectual content or emotional intensity. It is overwhelming just to read the story and imagine along with it A trilogy would not work either. Galt's speech would have to be it's own episode and while it is primarily camoflaged non-fiction, it is also part of the plot. To take it in on it's own would destroy the plot yet to include it with plot elements before or after would discredit it's power. Perhaps Rand could have truncated the speech in the first place to make the novel easier to adapt to film, but she didn't. We're all better for it. - Grant
  3. I believe that "Atlas Shrugged" is too profound of a book to be treated so lightly. The reviewer revealed the shallowness of his understanding of the book with his D'Anconia copper anecdote. Like I said in my letter, the root of all wealth - tangible and intangible - is intelligence. He implies, probably unintentionally, that it is merely that property is protected by government that maintains it's value. The people that keep Microsoft going are not replaceable cogs that could be substituted with other cogs at any moment. They are unique, highly-qualified, sophisticated individuals who's talents take years to develop and apply successfully. So not only is the reviewer wrong about what would (or would not) happen to Microsoft should Bill Gates "shrug", but he fails to communicate the central theme of Ayn Rand's novel: the role of the individual's mind in productive endeavors. - Grant
  4. Below is a review of "Open Business Models" that appeared in The Wall Street Journal on December 21st of last year. Below that is my letter to the editor of The Journal critical of the reviewer's use of "Atlas Shrugged." It was not published. Ideas For The Taking by Lawrence J. Siskind, When Francisco D'Anconia in "Atlas Shrugged" decided that enough was enough, he engineered the destruction of his mining empire. In a marvel of synchronization, every mind, dock and ship was blown up at the very moment that the government was voting to nationalize his business. If Bill Gates decided to emulate Ayn Rand's hero, he would face a tougher challenge. If he blew up every plant, warehouse and office building of the world's greatest software company, Microsoft would then be... the world's greatest software company. The difference is that D'Anconia Copper was based on tangible property, while Microsoft is based on intangible intellectual property (IP). Destroy every single Windows CD in inventory and Microsoft would remain the only company that could legally make and market new ones. Henry Chesbrough, the directory of the Center for Open Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley, is not the first academic to grasp the superior economic value of intellectual over tangible property in today's economy. But he may be the one who has thought most deeply about its consequences for business. ........... The remainder of the review discusses the points made in the book regarding the different approaches businesses take towards intellectual property. Some undervalue it greatly and some use it to the best of it's potential. While certainly interesting, nothing thereafter is directly relevant to Objectivism. Here is my letter: Dear Editor, Because "Atlas Shrugged" gets so desperately few mentions in the mainstream media, I would like to take issue with Lawrence J. Siskind's that is used in his review of "Open Business Models" (Personal Journal Section, December 21st). Francisco D'Anconia's destruction of his copper mines was not an isolated incident. It was done knowing that simultaneously the novel's other protagonist was carrying out a plan of his own. The central, unavoidable theme of the novel is John Galt's campaign of persuasion directed at the remaining producers of wealth to leave their corrupted society behind. That these two characters had similar, yet distinct, tasks was no accident. John Galt dealt with the essential ingredient for a successful society - let alone a successful business: ability - not property. Among other, larger notions, he freed these men from the notion that what they owned was theirs only because of society's acknowledgment of it. D'Anconia merely mopped up what he could afterwards. No character in "Atlas Shrugged" ever lifted a finger to protect the sanctity of private property - tangible or not - and by doing so it became unraveled. A company could possess all of the property in the world but without men and women of ability, they will have nothing. The difference between political acknowledgment and economic ability is very real. The source and maintenance of a company's wealth - tangible or intangible - is not a government's legal protection of it, but rather the ability to produce it. Grant Williams Orlando, Florida
  5. I recently re-read Rand's "Altruism As Appeasement" in The Voice Of Reason where she describes a specific type of mentality that, being intelligent, intentionally sacrifices the realm of values not for the purpose of avoiding independent thought, but in order to perform it. Of course, this is ultimately impossible - as she goes on to explain. The thrust of her argument is that to divorce intellectual independence from the purpose of that independence - one's own happiness - is to undercut both and invite both psychological and metaphysical destruction. Since I agree whole-heartedly with every word contained in this work, I have been inspired to build upon it by focusing on appeasement per se. As Rand mentions, just as many who advocate altruism do so merely to avoid a greater perceived harm to their positions or their ambitions and end up losing both after all, I suspect that many who advocate appeasement - euphamistically known as "compromise" or "diplomacy" - will suffer the same fate. Basically I'm saying that appeasement (defined as intentionally incorporating delay tactics into one's strategy only in the hope that an actual evil will come to it's senses) is literally a form of altruism - and a particularly dangerous one at that. Altruism is incongruent with man's nature and at odds with his survival. To allow for the irrationally optimistic possibility of the self-enlightenment of an evil person or nation means nothing more in reality than giving solace to evil at the expense of one's own happiness - that is, peace of mind - for however long the appeasement continues. Have I defined my terms correctly? - Grant
  6. The reason given is that pennies and nickels perform a function in our economy - making precise change - is of greater value than the loss the mint takes by creating them. Of course, this still doesn't change the collectivist underpinnings of the mint - and the entire Federal Reserve System for that matter. That the economy is "ours" and that it's the government's responsibility to keep it functioning efficiently. Just because some people might need a way to be compensated precisely does not justify the government actually taking everyone's money through inflation. - Grant
  7. Making objective determinations about what happens being good or bad does not involve comparing one's actual situation against some hypothetical situation, no matter how vague nor how detailed. Of course we can always imagine that somehow, through some unapparent event one determined that his best course of action was to intentionally lose an arm. The example of an arm riddled with gang green was used earlier. Similarly, we can at any time omit that event from our judgment (as Onar Am has done) and merely treat the loss as a bad event. But facts are what they are. If one was born with a number of arms that makes it inconvenient to function in a two-armed society, then there's no point in complaining. That's just how it is. If someone was attacked with a machete, then one is right to deem the loss of an arm as a bad thing. If someone contracted gang green and decided to amputate before it spread, then one is right to deem the loss as a good thing. I could go on. In fact, I could ask all kinds of questions about these three situations as well. Was the mother of the person born with one arm a drug addict? Did the person attacked with the machete attempt to rob his attacker? Did the person with gang green intentionally contract it because his insurance company demanded a legitimate reason to have his third arm amputated? To possess one, or three, or one hundred arms is not the issue. What is the issue is why one came to possess the number of arms he possesses. It is bad not because the arm is gone, but because it forces one to rearrange everything he has built into his life and his skill-set. Actual human life - the life of a unique individual - is the precondition for concepts like "good" and bad", not idealized men dancing around in one's head living absurdly intricate, and infinitely maleable, stories one has invented. - Grant
  8. Mod's note: Split from another thread. Feel free to suggest a better title for this one. - sN Now that I've slightly embarrased myself by realizing that had I actually read this entire response before I opened my big mouth I would have known that my point about the Fed has already been raised (albeit, in a much less entertaining manner ), I would like to take issue with something that Dismuke has said. It is off-topic so I will be brief. He said "Quite frankly, a lot of marketing these days is targeted to appeal to whim. This is not a criticism of marketers - that is a rational and normal response when one's marketplace is made up of a large number of whim worshipers." Does this mean that Peter Keating's designs were rational aswell?
  9. The reason why debtor's prisons will never resurface in this country is that the first inmate would have to be Ben Bernake. - Grant (Mod's note: A second post by "ggdwill", with it's follow-up, has been split into a separate topic. -sN)
  10. If for some reason you're not in a particularly good mood and won't mind experiencing something unpleasant, take a look at this little cultural gem: http://www.myspace.com/joinred Even though the focus of the left's guilt-complex has shifted from the "working class" when hard-core communists invented that bromide 100 or so years ago to dying tribespeople continents away, it's becoming more and more apparent that they've meant it all along. Self-sacrifice has become so fashionable that it is being passed off as self-interest to the mass-market consumer. Not only are those who advocate selling Western Civilization up the river still at it, but now they've graduated to having Western Civilization enthusiastically finance it! Happy Thanksgiving everyone. - Grant
  11. Didn't the President recently tell a white lie when he was asked, about 10 days before the mid-term elections, if Donald Rumsfeld would remain the Secretary of War for the remainer of his term and then he fired him immediately after the Republican's lost? He was confronted with this and he said that he fibbed because he didn't want to drop a bombshell right before the election. Even if done with good intentions, lying about the personnel responsible for the most powerful military on the face of the Earth casts a pretty dark shadow. At least we know now that Bush's sympathies lie more with his party than with the American people. - Grant
  12. I'm going to go off on quite a bit of a tangent from the issue of relationships, but your comment provided me with a perfect opportunity to take a bunch of stuff bouncing around in my head and to run with it. Here goes: The mind possesses an uncanny ability to deal with knowledge that is derived from an enormous amount of information while simultaneously being able to differentiate it from another connected, and also very large body of knowledge. The way this differentiation is expressed is through emotion. To a certain point, your mind is performing the same tasks to produce the feeling of admiration that it would be if you were experiencing your own admirable trait. Feelings like admiration come from an understanding of what is worth admiring. This produces admiration in both your own accomplishments as well as another's. This understanding is the result of a huge amount of thinking that must be done if the admiration is to be expressed towards someone deserving of it. This process works up to a certain point. After that, deeper considerations come into play and in turn, deeper, more delicate emotions are evoked. In your case, those considerations seem to be a healthy, internalized sense of where your existence ends and the existence of others begins that keeps your love of self distinct from your love of others. The concious recognition of this is a gigantic intellectual achievement, but it is not what the mind uses to keep you from behaving irrationally in the heat of the moment. Even if you and another are very similar, or even identical in some narrow respect, your emotional template is tuned well enough towards that knowledge to always recall that there is a difference between "me" and "you." The opposite of this - the failure to consistently recognize that individuals are distinct and independent - is a notorious phenomenon called enmeshment or co-dependency that is responsible for corroding many relationships as well as the individuals involved in them. If a person fails to do this thinking he will not experience the response appropriate to a given situation. If someone, for example, accepts that athletic ability is to be admired simply because those around seems to admire it, when he experiences expectional feats of athleticism, the emotion produced will resemble admiration but what will really be experienced is relief. Relief from the anxiety that he is "normal" in his enjoyment of sports. When this person tells himself "I feel admiration" even though he actually feels relief, the message his subconcious recieves is much different. What the mind interprets this lie to mean is to not trust itself and to instead delegate what it knows to be true - that relief from anxiety just occured - to what it wants to be true - admiration was just felt. Though horrible as it is, this sort of self-deception is mild compared to the deeper, sweeping deception taking place within this individual's psyche as a result. Instead of conciously considering the question "Am I a distinct individual?" and ironically shrugging it off as abnormal, he allows it to be answered piece-meal through an endless string of haphazard adjustments meant to appease any number of short-term considerations. After years of forcing this or that reaction to the surface just to appear normal, it's hardly surprising that any sincere emotion he feels is the result of another's behavior. There has never been any honest building of his emotional template, and so it follows that his emotions felt personally and those expressed socially, regardless of his ability to mask them as positive, become completely indistinguishable. What he feels inside is an incomprehensible emptiness created by the empty, or at least never understood, experiences of his life. This is not to say that a properly emotionally integrated person would behave differently in private than he would in public. Rather, that he would be incapable of behaving precisely the same towards others as he does himself. The emotions resulting from his own assesment of his character would be so unique, so precious, that even if he were to try, he could not extend them fully to that of another. - Grant
  13. Aequalsa, I don't think that any philosophy would motivate the specific phenomenon of more and more medals going to the deceased. It's not that the individual lived or died that is the problem. What's wrong with the Medal of Honor today is the melding of sacrifice and valor as if they are necessarily one and the same. Giving one's life is merely the 'ultimate sacrifice' (a common euphamism used by those who believe that the military fights for everyone's freedom but their own). That is what explains why so many medals have been awarded post-humonously in recent decades. You touch on the right answer though. What the Medal of Honor should recognize is exceptional courage or skill that lead to tactical success. But unfortunately nowadays it has become more and more a recognition of self-sacrifice regardless of it's legitimacy or even it's efficacy towards victory. In a 'war' that has no clear definition of victory, it's no wonder the President is grasping at straws in search of something to honor. Just as the Purple Heart has been watered down since it's inception by George Washington to recognize valor (hence the color purple) to merely recognize getting wounded, I fear that the Medal of Honor is approaching the same fate. - Grant
  14. From The Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition, November 11-12, 2006: Selfless Courage: Marine Is Awarded Medal of Honor * * * Cpl. Dunham Loses Life Saving His Comrades; 'I'm Always Reminded of It' By Michael M. Phillips Quantico, Va. - Cpl. Jason Dunham, a charismatic kid from small-town America, received the Medal of Honor for sacrificfing himself to protect his fellow Marines from an Iraqi hand grenade. President George W. Bush announced the award - the country's highest honor for military valor - at the opening of the Marine Corps museum here yesterday. It would have been Cpl. Dunham's 25th birthday. "As far back as boot camp, his superiors spotted the quality that would mark this young American as an outstaning Marine: His willingness to put the needs of others before his own," Mr. Bush said. "As long we have Marines like Cpl. Dunham, America will never fear for its liberty." On patrol on April 14, 2004, Cpl. Dunham found himself engaged in hand-to-hand combat with an insurgent near the Syrian border. When his attacked dropped a live hand grenade, the Marine made the split-second decision to cover the weapon with his own helmet, shielding two of his men from its full explosive force. The other Marines staggered away from the blast, injured but alive. Cpl. Dunham suffered deep shrapnel wounds to the brain. He survived eight days in a coma, only to die with his parents at his bedside. He was 22 years old. "There's not day that goes by that I don't think about it," said Cpl. William Hampton, one of the Marines fighting beside Cpl. Dunham when the grenade exploded. The explosion left Cpl. Hampton, a 24-year-old from Woodinville, Wash., peppered with shrapnel. "I see my arms, I see my leg. I'm always reminded of it." Cpl. Dunham grew up in Scio, a one-stoplight town in Western New York. His father, Dan Dunham, works in a nearby factory; his mother, Deb Dunham, teaches home economics. Jason was the oldest of four children and a star athlete, with a winning grin and a natural kindness. He was an eager volunteer when the Marine recruiter spotted him at the local Kmart before his senior year in high school. Soon his lead-from-the-front approach won him the admiration of those above and below him, and he was given command of a 10-man infantry squad when his unit - Kilo Co., Third Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment - deployed in early 2004 to the hostile desert towns of Husaybah, al Qa'im and Karabilah. Due to complete his enlistment that July, Cpl. Dunham extended his service by several months to remain in Iraq through the battalion's entire combat tour because, as told a friend at the time, "I want to make sure everyone makes it home alive." In the days after he was injured, Cpl. Dunham passed through a series of military hospitals and underwent brain surgery. He never, however, awoke from his coma. His parents met him at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., expecting to spend months nursing their son back to health. Instead, doctors told them that the damage was too severs and that the corporal would never again understand the world around him. Following the instructions Cpl. Dunham left in his living will, the Dunhams authorized the doctors to remove him from life support. "In the end, Cpl. Dunham, you proved that one man can make a difference," his former company commander, Maj. Trent Gibson, said in June at a ceremony renaming Scio's post office after the fallen Marine. "You proved to be utterly selfless, uniquely compassionate, and absolutely committed to your men... You were that which we all strived to be. And yhou were somehow more pure." A photo of the shredded remains of the corporal's helmet was among the pieces of evidence the battalion included when it nominated the corporal for the Medal of Honor shortly after he died. Cpl. Dunham's life and death were chronicled in a page-one story in The Wall Street Journal on May 25, 2004. The award is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor because Congress authorized it during the Civil War. Including Cpl. Dunham's, 3,462 medals have been awarded, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Cpl. Dunham's is the second awarded for gallantry in the Iraq War. The first went to Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, who was killed while manning a machine gun against scores of Iraqi soldiers at Baghdad's airport in April 2003. The president is expected to present the medal itself to Cpl. Dunham's parents at a White House ceremony at a leter date.
  15. Qwertz, I can't believe you would ask if you were making sense. I thought that what you wrote was exceptionally eloquent and full of astute observations that I suspect exemplify the general state of legal studies in this country fantastically. While I strained to see the connection between the first major point you made and the last, I do believe it is there. That so many laws are justified merely in reference to other laws should be no surprise given that so many social mores are accepted merely in reference to other social mores. Just as the common misconceptions surrounding the fairness of contracts are reached by many simply because they are easier than thinking about the issue independently, so are many legal conclusions. Of course, both of these phenomenons stem from the even deeper, even less examined conviction common in our culture that it is not the individual's place to even think, much less act, as a result of his own judgement. It obviously takes no effort to remain weak economically. But, given our culture, it is possible to become economically viable by being more or less dependent upon the talents and judgements of others. If every dollar a person has earned has been the result of agreeing with anything, obeying orders, or merely following fads, then it's logical to conclude that this person's ethical and political views are going to reflect the predominant attitudes surrounding them aswell. They have have a direct financial stake in them or they may just not want to make enemies. I know that that's a pretty basic observation for most people who frequent this forum, but seeing it come out in real world examples, and understanding just how deeply second-handedness and altruism run, is of value. It's tough to remain disillusioned and to remain clear about just what you're up against. The desperation to interact reasonably or to have a sincere theoretical discussion can make any resemblance of one very seductive, but it's important to remember that many who advocate bad ideas - on any level of abstraction - truly do not care to know their effect on the real world and worse, do not even believe that there will be one. I think that even if you're not being taught contract law correctly, you definitely understand it's essentials correctly. - Grant
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