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Archive | March, 2011

A Mangled Movie Adaption: Scott Holleran on the Atlas Shrugged Movie

Scott Holleran on the Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 movie adaption:

The mystery of the movie is why the mind is going on strike (if and when it is), and what lies at the root of what destroys, and moves, the world. And, in depicting a novel which brilliantly deconstructs and dramatizes altruism, the idea that one has a moral obligation to help others, Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 reduces her radical rejection of this idea to a line about “stupid altruistic urges” which doesn’t come close to Ayn Rand’s philosophy, let alone express her bold, exalted alternative: the virtue of selfishness.

So, the first movie adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is lacking; the script appears to have many fingerprints and some serious problems, the production apparently faced enormous challenges of rights, budget, and schedule and libertarians appear to have held more sway over the movie than Objectivists, leaving the world’s foremost authority on Ayn Rand’s ideas and work, Leonard Peikoff, out of the loop. But A is A and the fact that this movie was made, is, in today’s tragically disintegrating culture, an achievement. Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 ultimately does not have reverence for the 1957 novel, but it’s as though it doesn’t know how, or why, and it tries. If we lived in a society in which Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was understood, accepted, and applied to everyday lives, we wouldn’t be stuck in the sludge that surrounds us, and a mangled movie adaptation would not feel like an accomplishment. But we are and it does, and that’s that, so see the independent, low-budget film version known as Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 for what it is, and know that you are catching a mere glimpse of something deeper, more mysterious and meaningful, which portrays man at his best. See the movie, but only if you read the book.

Read the full review at his blog.

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EVENT: Ideas Matter: Ayn Rand’s Message to Today’s World — A Live Lecture Broadcast to Universities Across the Country

From The Undercurrent:

AYN RAND’S MESSAGE TO TODAY’S WORLD
A LIVE LECTURE BROADCAST TO UNIVERSITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY
THURSDAY, MAR 31 – 6:00 PM PACIFIC, 9:00 PM EASTERN

Today’s young people face an uncertain world. Unemployment among recent college graduates is at a record high, the United States is still bogged down in two foreign wars, and the wobbling American economy is in danger of deteriorating further once the Baby Boomers retire.

Voters choose between Democrats in one landslide election and Republicans in another, expressing their discontent with each party, and seemingly, their own uncertainty about how America should move forward. Many people wonder: where are we headed? Will America continue to be the land of opportunity, or are our best days behind us?

Dr. Yaron Brook, President of the Ayn Rand Institute, will argue that the answer to that question depends on what ideas young people accept and fight for. Join Dr. Brook as he goes beyond the headlines, examining the basic ideas that have shaped today’s events. And learn why the solution to today’s problems lies in rethinking not just our political system, but in abandoning the worship of selflessness.

To watch visit the website at: ideas.theundercurrent.info

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Shades of Atlas Shrugged: Government Motors “Chevy Volt” is Another Reason to Buy Ford

Writes Patrick Michaels over at Forbes on the Chevy Volt:

The Chevrolet Volt is beginning to look like it was manufactured by Atlas Shrugged Motors, where the government mandates everything politically correct, rewards its cronies and produces junk steel.

This is the car that subsidies built. General Motors lobbied for a $7,500 tax refund for all buyers, under the shaky (if not false) promise that it was producing the first all-electric mass-production vehicle. ["Chevy Volt: The Car From Atlas Shrugged Motors"]

Unfortunately, the car is NOT an electric car, but a hybrid.

It turns out that the premium-fuel fired engine does drive the wheels–when the battery is very low or when the vehicle is at most freeway speeds. So the Volt really isn’t a pure electric car after all. I’m sure that the people who designed the car knew how it ran, and so did their managers.

So what’s the catch?

[...] It’s doubtful that GM would have gotten such a subsidy if it had been revealed that the car would do much of its freeway cruising with a gas engine powering the wheels. While the Volt is more complicated than the Prius, and has a longer battery-only range, a hybrid is a hybrid, and the Prius no longer qualifies for a tax credit.

So should we expect to see the Chevy Volt losing it’s tax credit status anytime soon?

Recently, President Obama selected General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to chair his Economic Advisory Board. GE is awash in windmills waiting to be subsidized so they can provide unreliable, expensive power. [..] Immelt announced that GE will buy 50,000 Volts in the next two years, or half the total produced. Assuming the corporation qualifies for the same tax credit, we (you and me) just shelled out $375,000,000 to a company to buy cars that no one else wants so that GM will not tank and produce even more cars that no one wants. And this guy is the chair of Obama’s Economic Advisory Board?

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Politics Webcast from an Objectivist Perspective: “Libya and What Obama’s Supporters (and We) can Learn From It”

Here’s a link to the broadcast of Amy Peikoff’s Don’t Let It Go Unheard
— webcast to talk on politics and politics from an Objectivist
perspective.  This is the best podcast on politics from an Objective
perspective so it is definitely worth a listen if you could not attend
the live broadcast.

Topics discussed: The latest on Libya and what Obama’s supporters (and we) can learn from
it. Two different stories involving freedom of association issues — can
they be reconciled? Israel’s new missile defense system. A judge’s
rejection of Google’s settlement offer in the Google Books case. And,
Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon and his disappointing tweets.

Not only does Amy have a great voice,
she also has a clear mind. Enjoy!

Download the latest episode  and/or to register for next week’s live podcast.

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No Nathaniel Taggart: Amtrak CEO Takes Car After Getting Stuck on the Train

From the Daily Caller:

Today’s the big day for Amtrak’s Wilmington train station. It is being renamed in honor of Vice President and former Delaware Senator Joe Biden following major renovations made possible with stimulus funds. One problem: the CEO of Amtrak got stuck on the train.

Reports ABC News Deputy Political Director & Political Reporter Michael Falcone :

[...] A subsequent tweet from Falcone noted, “BAD sign: Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman just got OFF the train to take a car to Wilmington.”

“Amtrak CEO abandoned his own train to make ribbon cutting ceremony for Joe Biden station in Wilmington,” Falcone reported. “When I told Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman it was a bad sign he was ditching the stranded Acela, he chuckled.” [Amtrak CEO Ditches broken train to travel by car to ribbon cutting of Wilmington's Joe Biden station | The Daily Caller]

No this isn’t a scene from Ayn Rand’s best selling novel Atlas Shrugged, but it could be.

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Why Attack Libya and Not Iran?

Elan Journo makes the case against the United State’s double standard in it’s foreign policy in the Middle East:

Consider the situation in Libya and the one in Iran. When massive protests took place in Iran during 2009/10, Washington was mute then grudging in its wishy-washy response; ultimately, it failed to lend the protesters even a shred of moral support against the militant, Islamist regime in Tehran, a regime that poses a demonstrable, existential threat to our interests. Contrast that with the response to the Libyan uprising (tribal civil war?). Yes, Gaddafi can be classified as a menace, but a trifling one, far less of a problem than the threat from Iran. Yet it is in Libya that America decides to take military action to back rebels against Gaddafi’s regime.

Let’s unpack that for a moment: we do move against a minor, tinpot dictatorship where we have little at stake, while leaving the fire-breathing Tehran regime in place — tacitly endorsing its rule by failing to help the protesters. We do launch bombing raids in Libya — if the UN and Arab League approve it — for the sake of rebels whose goals we don’t know if we share, against a regime that’s of minor significance to our security. But against a threat to us, from Iran, we adopt statue-like passivity. [Libya vs. U.S. self-interest — VOICES for REASON]

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The Freedom to Contract has been Replaced with the “Freedom” to Beg For Permission from a Bureaucrat

Tom Bowden aptly describes the so-called AT&T/T-Mobile merger plan as “a very complicated, very expensive petition for Uncle Sam’s permission to do a deal”:

[...] AT&T and T-Mobile don’t have freedom of contract. They don’t have the right to make the final decision on whether to merge. It’s not just big companies that lack freedom of contract. Think about it: how many contracts in your own business or profession require prior permission from a bureaucrat? How many deals require the parties to be licensed? How many projects require a special permit, or certificate of need? How many exports must satisfy a quota? How many deals have to be crafted so as not to draw government attention? And perhaps most important of all: How many deals don’t make it past the back-of-a-napkin stage because permission would be too hard to get? 

What is really crazy about all this is how business people simply accept the amount of time wasted (not to mention the money wasted) on dealing with bureaucracy. The reason is that they have no conception of how life in a free society would operate based on property rights and the freedom to contract. Under capitalism, the decision to merge two businesses into one, much like the decision of two people to get married, would be essentially a private one. Government’s sole role would be one of a referee as opposed to that of a dictator. The fact that the two companies are merging violates the actual rights of no one.

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Daily Caller Non-Fan of Ayn Rand “Impressed” with Atlas Shrugged Movie

Daily Caller pundit on Atlas Shrugged Movie:

I went in with deep reservations, but I came away impressed. [...] While the acting is at times melodramatic (I heard a giggle or two from the audience), and the plot is a bit wonky, the movie comes together very well. The directing and dialogue (screenplay by Brian Patrick O’Toole) take a difficult subject with no action and turn out a fast, sleek and handsome movie that pulled this reviewer — no fan of Ayn Rand or epic book-to-movie conversions — right in. The two most amazing things about this movie are 1) that it got made and 2) that it was made on such a tight timeline and budget. [Movie Review | Atlas Shrugged Part 1]

The author — Chris Bedford — spends most of the article praising the producer, and not much
commenting on the ideas behind the film (he liked it because it was “fast, sleek and handsome”), so it kind of reads more of a adapted press
release as opposed to a thoughtful analysis (for an example see the
review at TOS) — which perhaps is a good thing.

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Thinking Tactics Workshops in Washington DC (5/7), New York (5/14), and Ft. Lauderdale (7/9)

 Jean Moroney has announced she will give her workshops on Thinking Tactics in several cities in the upcoming months:

  • Washington DC Area, Saturday, May 7, 2011 ($100 early-bird discount ends March 25)
  • New York City, Saturday, May 14, 2011 ($100 early-bird discount ends March 25)
  • Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Saturday, July 7, 2011 ($100 early-bird discount ends May 1)

Thinking Tactics offers attendees a mental toolkit for tapping their own knowledge banks to solve problems faster, make better decisions, and communicate more effectively. During class, everyone test drives the tactics on their own issues.

The course is targeted to a general professional audience of “knowledge workers”–people who think for a living, such as managers, entrepreneurs, writers, and engineers. Objectivists interested in psycho-epistemology find the class particularly interesting, as all the teachings derive from the Objectivist view of the relationship of the conscious mind to the automatic functions of the subconscious.

Ms. Moroney is a graduate of the Objectivist Graduate Center’s full-time, 2-year program (1996). Details on the course and registration information are at: http://www.thinkingtactics.com

8-page brochure: http://thinkingdirections.com/TTBrochureSpring2011.pdf

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Obama the Neocon

Writes Richard Salsman in “Libya Exposes Obama As Our Latest Neocon President” over at Forbes:

In violation of the U.S. Constitution, President Obama has launched a semi-war against Libya, a nation that did not attack the U.S. and was not a threat to its self-interest or national security. But Obama and the neoconservative warmongers who inspire his unjust actions don’t even pretend to put America first. They presume foreign policy is morally “noble” if it sacrifices America’s self-interest, her wealth, her soldiers and even her national security. And the more such values are sacrificed, the more “success” they presume.

Although the U.S. Constitution properly designates the president as the commander-in-chief of the U.S. military, it also specifically states (in Article I, Section Eight) that the power “to declare war” resides solely in the legislature – in the U.S. Congress — the body that also has the “power of the purse,” to provide funding for legitimately-declared wars. In the same section Congress is given the power to “suppress insurrections and repel invasions,” which implies that foreign nations properly may do likewise.

Yet Obama has invaded Libya without securing a declaration of war from Congress, and is intervening in what amounts to a civil war between equally-illiberal Arabs, one side of which seeks only to “suppress insurrection.” Does this mean an insurrection in the U.S. against an illiberal Obama can be legitimately supported by foreign powers (say Canada) in a bombing campaign to degrade U.S. defenses and establish a no-fly zone on the East Coast?

It’s simply ludicrous for Obama to rationalize his actions on the grounds that he obtained permission from the U.N., NATO or the Arab League. The U.S. Constitution neither requires nor allows any of that; though it does require that Obama get permission – an explicit war declaration – from the U.S. Congress. He hasn’t done this, which is an impeachable defense, regardless of whether his predecessors committed the same wrong.

These entities are either innocuous or dangerous, for they either do not hold America’s interests as their primary aim (NATO) or actually stand opposed to America’s interests, security and the Constitution (U.N., Arab League). That’s why Obama took this route – as did Truman, Bush I, Bush II and Clinton. They all put America second or last, the supposedly “moral” stance. We’ve seen such evil before, as when Democratic presidents pushed America into disastrous wars — see Woodrow Wilson (WWI), FDR (WWII), Truman (Korea), JFK and LBJ (Viet Nam) — not solely out of U.S. self-interest, but to “make the world safe for democracy,” which means: safe for a political system America’s Founders did not want and actively opposed… [Mar. 23
2011]

Read the rest…

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Tea Party Movement Promotes Atlas Shrugged Movie

From USA Today:

Tea Party groups are talking up a new movie version of Atlas Shrugged, based on the Ayn Rand novel about a dystopian United States that collapses as government asserts control. The movie will debut in theaters on April 15. Tax Day has been a focal point for the burgeoning Tea Party movement, whose political mantra calls for small government and low taxes.

National Journal reports that FreedomWorks, the Tea Party-allied group headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, has been trying to get the movie opened in more theaters. The group hopes to get the movie opened nationwide on 300 screens, according to the National Journal story. Tea Party groups in Texas, Colorado and across the country have been plugging the movie trailer on their websites and Facebook pages. [...] “In a lot of ways, this project reflects the ethos of the Tea Party,” FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe told National Journal. “You had both Republicans and Democrats who felt rejected by the establishment, and the same process is going to happen with Atlas Shrugged: We’re going to build a constituency of people who believe in limited government and individual liberty.” ["Tea Party groups push 'Atlas Shrugged' movie - On Politics: Covering the US Congress, Governors, and the 2010 Election"]

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Politics Webcast from an Objectivist Perspective: “Operation Odyssey Dawn” in Libya

Here’s a link to the broadcast of Amy Peikoff’s Don’t Let It Go Unheard — webcast to talk on politics and politics from an Objectivist perspective.  This is the best podcast on politics from an Objective perspective so it is definitely worth a listen if you could not attend the live broadcast.

Topics discussed: “Operation Odyssey Dawn” in Libya; Whoopi Goldberg’s “puppy mills” comment; update on the fallout from the protest of a muslim “charity” event in Yorba Linda; two philosophy of law questions — one on obtaining civil damages from a defendant who was acquitted of the crime at issue,Not only does Amy have a great voice, she also has a clear mind. Enjoy!

Download the latest episode  and/or to register for next week’s live podcast.

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