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Jim A.

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  1. At the top of my "Atrocity List" of philosophically corrupt movies (of the ones I've seen) is (drum-roll, please): 1--The Game, with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. The basic message of this film seems to be that the rich--even if they've never hurt anybody--should be brought down, not by a peg, but by about forty storeys, quite literally. Just because they're rich. If you see the film you'll know what I mean about the forty storeys. I was very angry with the writer and the director of this film after I saw it. Then: 2--When Worlds Collide (1951), directed by George Pal. It's very entertaining, but there is a supreme act of moral injustice in this movie. Someone--it happens to be a crotchety old rich man in a wheelchair--is promised his life if he contributes money to the building of a spaceship that would carry 40 people off the earth to another planet to avoid being destroyed by a planet on a collision course with Earth. Watch how this financier is betrayed. It is truly appaling, though the act of betrayal is presented as virtuous. 3--It's a Wonderful Life (1946), with Jimmy Stewart. The villain of the movie is one Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), yet another crotchety old rich man in a wheelchair. He does all kinds of dastardly things to people of lesser means, apparently because he's rich. 4--Fly Away Home, with Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin. A man endangers his little girl just so she can "fly" a flock of parentless geese in his airplane south to where they would normally migrate to: some little pond hundreds of miles away from the girl's home. Let's all just sacrifice to nature.
  2. Jim A.


    One of my favorite comedies is the film Ed Wood, with Johnny Depp. In one part of the film, Ed Wood can't find anyone to fund the making of his movie Plan 9 from Outer Space. As a last resort, he turns to the First Baptist Church of Beverly Hills. They agree to give him the money, on one condition: that the entire cast and crew of his upcoming "masterpiece" be baptized! One of the people in line for baptism is played by Bill Murray. When he is about to be immersed and the pastor asks him "Are you prepared to renounce Satan and all his evils?", Murray replies: "Sure!"
  3. Since I have not read the majority of works by any one science fiction writer, I can only say which writers whose works I've liked the most so far: Jules Verne, Fredric Brown, Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.G. Wells. As far as best works I've read in the sci-fi genre: Novels: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (sure would love Peter Jackson to direct a film of this one!) 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (despite its anti-military-technology premise) The Time Machine by H.G. Wells The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham Novelettes: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (this work has an anti-intellect premise, but it's fascinating to read as you witness the transformation of a mentally retarded man into a genius through gradual spelling and grammar changes in his diary) Short Stories: Arena by Fredric Brown Light of Other Days by Bob Shaw
  4. My favorite is probably "Can You Read My Mind?", as sung by Maureen McGovern. The music is from the movie Superman, but the song is never sung in the film--the lyrics are spoken, by Margot Kidder. It works quite well in the movie; nevertheless, it is wonderful to hear the words sung. Here's the YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYZidVGhQqc. (Incidentally, when the words read out on the screen and they say "...a god or a fool..", I believe McGovern actually sings "...a god...I'm a fool".)
  5. Hi, Nicholas, and welcome to the Objectivist Online Forum. It sounds like you enjoyed Atlas Shrugged. Out of curiosity, was there any particular character (or characters) you identified with?
  6. I wrote a short story a couple of years ago in which Objectivist aliens do play a part. I don't give them that name, of course, and the aliens are definitely not human, but nevertheless their philosophy would be considered Objectivist. Entitled "The Engine", the story is one of my first attempts at writing fiction of any kind--and it shows; the story is pretty bad, however on re-reading it I still find the story of the aliens very intriguing. It is one of my fantasies in life to hear about the discovery of an alien civilization that just happens to be consistently rational, all the way down to the root of their thinking. Here is the link: http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dgjr99hw_0s8cp3. The story starts off as a Nineteen Eighty-Four-type story, but still the aliens have a part in influencing the events, even though indirectly. You'll have to tell me if the existence of such a civilization as I describe would actually be conceivable.
  7. By the way, from the previews it looks like the new Day the Earth Stood Still has alot of green light in it, as if the moviemakers are trying to say something about being Earth-friendly. Is that true? Recently, I wrote a (rather awful) short story that presents aliens I would like to meet and would have the proper attitude toward us--and themselves. I welcome any criticisms (I'm pretty new at storytelling, and it shows), and any of them would be helpful to me. The story's called "The Engine": http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dgjr99hw_0s8cp3.
  8. I'm 51. Sometimes I feel like I'm 101, sometimes like I'm in my thirties, and very often I behave like I'm 12 years old!! (I and my friends at work are pranksters to some extent.) I've met people who are in their 20's and act like they're 12 years old; throwing tantrums and the like. I've met people who are in their 20's and have the maturity of a 51 year old. And I've met people, both exposed to Ayn Rand at an early age and those who don't know who she was, who have become cynical in their later years, who laugh and have a "good time" with people but who feel threatened by anyone who has a rational, sunlit, joyous, benevolent, "can-do" sense-of-life. I do not want to become one of those people. And I am working on getting rid of the fear of aging I've had over the last 5-10 years. I want to feel, no matter what age I am, that I am happy to be that age, just as I was happy to be 20, 30 and even 40. Frank Lloyd Wright expressed the attitude I want to achieve, and that I think everyone should have, no matter what their age. On the Mike Wallace Interview program in the late 50's, he was asked by Wallace about his feelings regarding aging. He replied: "'Young' has no meaning for me; it's something you can do nothing about. But youth is a quality, and if you have it you never lose it." He was 88 when he said that, and still designing buildings.
  9. Has anyone seen some of the stabs at Ayn Rand on YouTube? There's one video where some guy is gleefully burning a copy of Atlas Shrugged (so I guess he would advocate government censorship of any "dangerous" books), and another where some heavy metal "musicians" perform a song called "i hate ayn rand" (the "music" consists mainly of someone screaming and other people thrashing their guitar strings). I didn't bother to check out any others.
  10. The only Dostoevsky I've read are Crime and Punishment, The Possessed (aka, The Demons), Notes from the Underground and a few shorter works. I'd like to read C&P again, but, for me, The Possessed will require a second reading; I had practically no idea as to the significance of the characters' actions and dialogue in the book. But then, when I first read it, I was expecting an experience like I would get from other Romantic novelists: one of exaltation and uplift. It looks to me, however, that one does not read Dostoevsky for the experience, though his work may be artistically integrated (I believe it is). That can give a reader an experience, but of a different kind. It seems Dostoevsky is mainly to be read for his insight, particularly into the nature of human evil, and that can be of tremendous value. For instance, with C&P, the value to me is understanding how a criminal mind--a mind with the premises Petrovich spots in Raskolnikov's crime essay--responds to his circumstances and his environment. For The Possessed, it is grasping the process by which a nation or culture allows itself to be corrupted by outside influences (Stavrogin and his friends are all educated abroad, mainly in Switzerland, as I recall). For NFTU, it's observing how someone's constantly second-guessing himself and self-suspicion can drive him insane. One doesn't "enjoy" Dostoesky--one learns from him. (Incidentally, Woody Allen's "Notes from the Overfed", his parody of NFTU, can be found in his book Getting Even.)
  11. Tenure: If you haven't read it already, you have got to read Woody Allen's short piece, "Notes from the Over-fed", which Allen says was inspired after reading Dostoevsky and a copy of Weight Watchers magazine on the same flight. Hilarious!!
  12. I am fifty-one years old. I did not seriously consider Objectivism until I was twenty-eight. But by then, because of the ideas I had allowed myself to be brought up on and accepted, I had so seriously damaged my life that even today I have to deal--daily--with the consequences of those ideas and of acting on them. It's a long story that I won't go into. I'll just list the most deadly ideas I used to hold before the circumstances they created forced me to start checking my premises: --There is an after-life. There is a kind of "consciousness pool" from which everyone's consciousness (or soul) comes from when born and to which it goes after death. Thank you, Plato. --It's all right to be mystical. After all, everyone else is. Almost everyone I knew believed in a God. --Act on your feelings. Feelings are the guide to action. --There can be more than one universe. --The good is to contribute to society. One's existence is really not justified unless he or she contributes to the world, to society, to other people. --Some capitalism is good, for sure; but we need a little socialism. --Industry is destroying the environment, even though we need industry and technology is good. --A great work of art is one that exalts the opposite of one's beliefs and values (!). That makes a truly daring work of art. --One must experience everything before he or she dies. --Be "open", and be "open-minded". I accepted these ideas, mostly subconciously and by default, in my younger years. But if I am a victim (I do not think I am, because no one forced these ideas into my head), then I am a victim of what I would call "soul-tampering". Said tampering has many mostly unwitting agents--teachers, ministers, parents, classmates--but the mastermind can only be the same one who has been tampering, centuries after he was published, with the rest of us: a certain philosopher from Konigsberg, Germany, who's been dead two hundred years.
  13. There are a number of ideas on basic, fundamental issues that I think have "screwed-up" people's heads. One is the idea that A does not necessarily have to be A. Another is: "But what's reality? What's reality for you isn't necessarily reality for me." Another is: "But whose reason? What's rational for you isn't necessarily rational for me." But there are a couple of ideas that first come to my mind as two of the foremost ideas involved in "screwing-up" people's minds: One is the idea that there is an after-life; after all, what better idea to give people the excuse to defer the pursuit of their highest, most precious values to some later time--say, the time after they die and no longer have to struggle to achieve any values; Another is the idea that the Universe had a beginning. Think about it: if the Universe had a beginning, that presupposes it had a cause. That cause, therefore, had to be something before and superior to the Universe. And if there is anything "superior" to the Universe, then its laws of existence would supercede those of this Universe. If so, that "other", "superior" universe can be appealed to in times of crisis in this one; someone can "talk" to that "other" universe--or that "person" who controls this Universe. One can wish--or pray. A person in this Universe does not have to rely on his or her own effort to think, act, struggle and survive. This person does not, therefore, have any real incentive to engage the primary involved in this process--thinking. Over the years, lack of rigorous exercise of rational thought can have only one result: insanity. I don't remember who said it, but it is certainly true: "The sleep of reason breeds monsters." (Was it, of all people, the painter, Goya?)
  14. I have not seen this film; perhaps I should. But it seems to me, from the things I've heard and read, that this motion picture uses Romanticism to attack and destroy (or "de-construct") the concept of masculinity. As I say, perhaps I should see it. I think it would have value if it attacks the idea that the standard of judging one's sexual "orientation" is what the community says or thinks. The 1960's film The Children's Hour hinted at this. It showed how a small town's prejudice and hatred of anything so alien to it as homosexuality (in this case, lesbianism) destroyed--in essence, killed--a young woman, bringing her to take her own life. "Community standards" are nothing but collectivist evil, because they use the "community" as the standard of judgment, rather than reason. I like how Edgar Rice Burroughs' title character in A Princess of Mars phrased it: "...the evil idea of community..."
  15. Oh--and may I add a few of my own?: "Philosophy is what makes people tick--and sometimes they tick like a bomb." "The lowest kind of coward is the man who's terrified of living in a universe of absolute laws." "These are the 'End Times'--if you want them to be."
  16. What is one's "motivational quote of the day"? Boy, that's a tough one; and a good one! I have a number of favorites. One is: "Small mistakes at the beginning are multiplied later a thousandfold". I can't remember who said it. Another is: "The doors to Heaven and Hell are adjacent and identical". I think that's from Nikos Kazantzakis, but I'm not sure. And the one quote that has the most personal importance to me: "And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it." We all know who that's from.
  17. The question I would now ask is: Why? Why do you like a certain movie, especially if it does not fall under the categorie of Romanticism in any way? I'm curious about why any of you like, for instance, Dr. Strangelove (a very malevolent masterpiece, and certainly not Romanticism), Blade Runner (a film that's plotted as if the writers were very drunk, even though the look and atmosphere of the movie were unique for their time), Touch of Evil (extreme film noir--almost all style, and practically no exposition of character enough to let us really sympathize with them), or Blazing Saddles (a really funny spoof or parody, but that's what it is--a spoof; it is not art, because the story, though meant to be funny, is not played straight as any good comedy should; reality is violated on purpose near the end when the characters go beyond the movie set and into the backlot)? I'm not condemning anyone for liking these movies--I like a few of them, too. But I'm curious about and interested as to why we, as Objectivists, enjoy movies--or novels, music or painting--that do not come under the categorie of Romanticism as defined by Ayn Rand in The Romantic Manifesto.
  18. So far, I have never seen a film that I could call a truly great work of art. But I share Ayn Rand's evaluation of Fritz Lang's work, especially in Siegfried and Metropolis (of the Lang films I've seen so far). I would add Alfred Hitchcock's name to the list of greatest directors (and he is my favorite director). I would probably like D.W. Griffith's work almost as much, when I can see more of it. I've never see a movie I could call really great, but I do have many favorites that I really love, such as: 1--Chocolat (my favorite film of all time) 2--The Stranger (with Edward G. Robinson, Orson Welles and Loretta Young) 3--The Shawshank Redemption 4--The Fountainhead 5--Fahrenheit 451 (from 1966, with Oskar Werner and Julie Christie) 6--Spartacus (1960 version, with Kirk Douglas and Jean Simmons) 7--Finding Neverland
  19. There is a book by Dr. Seuss that does entertain and, incidentally teach: Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose. It's a fun little illustrated story-poem that warns against the error of helping out moochers and leeches who only want a free ride--in this case, literally!
  20. Jim A.

    Renee Olstead

    Renee Olstead is a terrific new singer of older popular music. Listen to her version of "Taking a Chance on Love" in the background of this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVRXdSJz95U. I've already ordered the CD that includes it, just called Renee Olstead. Also, when you go to YouTube, watch and listen to her singing "Merry Christmas in Love". Wonderful!
  21. Here's a YouTube video/commercial that uses a recording of Renee Olstead singing "Taking a Chance on Love" for the background. This woman has real talent, and I want to hear more of her. I selected this particular YouTube because I like the recording used here better than her live performance, though that is excellent, too. Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVRXdSJz95U.
  22. WARNING: This post may contain movie spoilers. Maybe I should see There Will be Blood, so I can decide for myself. But so far, mainly because it's from a novel by The Jungle author Upton Sinclair, I've had very little interest. It sounds like it should go on what I call "Jim's Atrocity List" of movies; a list of movies that attack capitalism, selfishness, the independent, reasoning mind and even a universe of absolute laws. So far, my list includes: The Game (from 1996?), with Michael Douglas; this film, though very entertaining up until the climax, is very anti-capitalist and anti-business. It's message is that the rich--merely because they are rich--should be brought down, not by just a few pegs, but by forty storeys. If you've seen the film you'll know what I mean. It's a Wonderful Life (1946), with James Stewart and Donna Reed. The villain in this movie is a crotchety old rich banker in a wheelchair, out to finaggle the working people of New Bedord, Massachusetts, out of their money (as if a banker doesn't work). When Worlds Collide (1951), with Richard Derr, and produced by George Pal. The villain in this movie is yet another crotchety old rich man in a wheelchair, who offers to finance the building of a spaceship that will carry forty people to another planet to continue the human race after a rogue planet collides with and destroys the Earth. The terms he sets are: that he be allowed to be one of the forty people. He is given that promise. But at the end, the man who made that promise, who is not so young himself, wheels the financier away from the spaceship at the last minute, allowing a young married couple to go on the ship instead. He explains to the outraged finacier that this trip must be "for the young". Charly (1968), wilth Cliff Robertson. Well directed and acted, but delivers the message that people are happier if they lack intelligence.
  23. Well, it's been twenty-two years since I was in the military (I was a Navy Corpsman, last stationed with Marines in Hawaii and detached to Korea), but I would wager the risks for being an atheist in the service are the same today: minimal. I think it depends on how loudly you profess your atheism, and why. If you constantly "preach" atheism while on duty or in the barracks, you probably might run into some problems. But when I was in, I was agnostic, and was able to talk openly about it--at appropriate times--and nothing happened to me. But there are situations where someone might run into trouble, though I don't think they are many. I describe such a situation in my practice short short story (admittedly, not a very good one!), "Foxholes". You can find it in the Poetry and Short Stories section of the "For Members, By Members" department of the Ayn Rand Forum website: www.4AynRandfans.com.
  24. I would love to see a remake of Forbidden Planet. I love sci-fi stories about dead alien civilizations--and why they're dead. But FP would have to be written by the right person--someone who would remove all the Freudian/Platonic nonsense and malevolence from the story. Rather than having the Krell having become extinct as a result of their own technological creation, maybe their civilization could have destroyed itself because it's intellectual leaders chose mysticism; and with all that technology at their hands, what else could the Krell then do but self-destruct? Another film I would like to see remade is This Island, Earth, released in 1955. I liked the movie as it was, but this time I would like to see it written by someone who is an admirer of Atlas Shrugged; in both stories, forcing the mind is shown to be impractical. Another movie is The Incredible Shrinking Man, based on Richard Matheson's novel The Shrinking Man, which hit the screens in 1957. The things they could do for that story with today's special effects...! I loved the 1966 film of Fahrenheit 451, but I would still like to see another film version of Ray Bradbury's novel. This time, I would hope the writers include the Mechanical Hound. Imagine the terror of even starting to read a line of print; once you do, the Hound back at the fire station knows and is roused from its sleep...! And, yes, I would love to see a film adaptation of Anthem.
  25. Let alone "nucular"! Has Mr. Bush forgotten that "nucular" reactions begin in the nucleus of an atom? Doesn't his wife--who is a former librarian--ever remind him about how to pronounce certain words properly? Every time he mispronounces something it only makes him appear to be unintelligent. And I would second Galileo Blog's statement that if the first post of this thread is an April Fool's joke, it's not funny. I don't like someone making light of both Objectivism and 9/11 in the same sentence.
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