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DOLLAR: Ayn Rand’s Digital Makeover — New Online Ecosystem to Bring Objectivism to Millennials

IRVINE, Calif. (Mar. 10, 2014) — The Ayn Rand Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to introducing the public to Ayn Rand’s novels, including The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and to her Objectivist philosophy of rational self-interest, today announced the launch of a new online ecosystem targeting Millennials, developed by leading digital agency BLITZ.

This new effort brings Ayn Rand’s story and philosophy to life through an engaging, streamlined, cutting-edge digital experience – allowing for a guided journey supported by personalized connection, targeted content delivery determined by user preference and behavior, and community interaction across the social web. The ecosystem includes two site destinations: AynRand.org, a place to learn about Ayn Rand, her life, her works and her philosophy; and ARI.AynRand.org, a distinctive subdomain focused on the Ayn Rand Institute itself, where users can hear from the individuals who carry Objectivism into today’s world. It includes the Voices for Reason blog, home to ongoing commentary from ARI experts.

“It’s critical to our mission that we evolve to connect with this younger generation of digital natives,” stated Yaron Brook, executive director of ARI. “Our renewed approach uses leading-edge technology, accessible online tools, and social communication to advance dialogue around the vital role of reason and purpose in their daily lives.”

“Every day, individuals around the world use digital to search, share, discuss and debate Ayn Rand,” added John Furnari, VP of Communications at BLITZ. “Now we’re using best-in-class content and experiences to bring her ideas to life with renewed vitality and relevance.”

The “mobile-first” strategy for this initial launch enables smartphone and tablet users’ portable access to all content, especially important in reaching younger target audiences, who seek on-the-spot access and response to their questions.

Official ARI social destinations across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn provide daily updates and discussion points on the application of Rand’s “philosophy for living on earth.”

ARI launched the new ecosystem today with a letter from Yaron Brook on the Voices For Reason blog and a new two-minute video that offers an engaging introduction to Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.

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DOLLAR: Ayn Rand.org Updated – The New Ayn Rand Digital Experience

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From Yaron Brook at Voices for Reason:

This morning we launched the Ayn Rand Institute digital experience. A quick primer on what that means: 

  • AynRand.Org now features a brand new, streamlined design that allows for easy content consumption and navigation, and a personalized site experience highlighting the most relevant and interesting content to guide one’s exploration. Start at the homepage and learn about Ayn Rand, her life, her works and her philosophy.
  • ARI.AynRand.Org will take you directly to a distinctive subdomain focused on the Ayn Rand Institute itself. If you’re reading this post, you’ve already found your way to the reimagined and relocated Voices for Reason blog, a home to ongoing commentary from thought leaders at the Ayn Rand Institute. Beyond that, you can access information about our team of experts, key issues we’re discussing and how to get involved in our programs.

Amazing job Yaron Brook and the staff at ARI who produced this site.

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CROSS: You Can Belly Dance If You Want To

Actress Sienna Miller plays a wife who bonds with immigrant, Mona (Golshifteh Farahani) over belly dance in the 2013 buddy film, Just Like A Woman Photo: Just Like A Woman

Photo: Just Like A Woman

Rants an entity called Randa Jarrar Why I can’t stand white belly dancers over at Salon.com:

Women I have confronted about this have said, “But I have been dancing for 15 years! This is something I have built a huge community on.” These women are more interested in their investment in belly dancing than in questioning and examining how their appropriation of the art causes others harm. To them, I can only say, I’m sure there are people who have been unwittingly racist for 15 years. It’s not too late. Find another form of self-expression. Make sure you’re not appropriating someone else’s.

When I have argued, online and in person, with white women belly dancers, they have assured me that they learned to dance from Arab women and brown women. This is supposed to make the transaction OK. Instead, I point out that all this means is that it is perfectly all right with these teachers that their financial well-being is based on self-exploitation. As a follow-up, white belly dancers then focus on the sisterly and community aspect of belly dance. They claim that the true exploiter of belly dancing is Hollywood, and the Egyptian film industry, which helped take belly dancing out of women’s homes and placed it directly under the male gaze. Here, the argument white belly dancers try to make ignores the long history of white women’s appropriation of Eastern dancing and becomes that this, the learning and performance of belly dance, is not about race and appropriation, but about gender and resisting the patriarchy and how all of us belly dancing together is a giant middle finger to men and their male gaze-y ways.

But, here’s the thing. Arab women are not vessels for white women to pour themselves and lose themselves in; we are not bangles or eyeliner or tiny bells on hips. We are human beings. This dance form is originally ours, and does not exist so that white women can have a better sense of community; can gain a deeper sense of sisterhood with each other; can reclaim their bodies; can celebrate their sexualities; can perform for the female gaze. Just because a white woman doesn’t profit from her performance doesn’t mean she’s not appropriating a culture. And, ultimately, the question is this: Why does a white woman’s sisterhood, her self-reclamation, her celebration, have to happen on Arab women’s backs?

Ayn Rand answered this issue several decades ago in her article “Racism”:

Modern racists attempt to prove the superiority or inferiority of a given race by the historical achievements of some of its members. The frequent historical spectacle of a great innovator who, in his lifetime, is jeered, denounced, obstructed, persecuted by his countrymen, and then, a few years after his death, is enshrined in a national monument and hailed as a proof of the greatness of the German (or French or Italian or Cambodian) race—is as revolting a spectacle of collectivist expropriation, perpetrated by racists, as any expropriation of material wealth perpetrated by communists.

Just as there is no such thing as a collective or racial mind, so there is no such thing as a collective or racial achievement. There are only individual minds and individual achievements—and a culture is not the anonymous product of undifferentiated masses, but the sum of the intellectual achievements of individual men.

And in her essay “Global Balkanization”:

“The acceptance of the achievements of an individual by other individuals does not represent ‘ethnicity’: it represents a cultural division of labor in a free market; it represents a conscious, individual choice on the part of all the men involved; the achievements may be scientific or technological or industrial or intellectual or esthetic—and the sum of such accepted achievements constitutes a free, civilized nation’s culture. Tradition has nothing to do with it; tradition is being challenged and blasted daily in a free, civilized society: its citizens accept ideas and products because they are true and/or good—not because they are old nor because their ancestors accepted them. In such a society, concretes change, but what remains immutable—by individual conviction, not by tradition—are those philosophical principles which correspond to reality, i.e., which are true.” [“Global Balkanization,” - The Voice of Reason, 119]

Like medicine, the Waltz, or tennis, there is nothing inherent in belly dancing that makes it the exclusive attribute of some race or so-called “ethnicity.” To claim so, is in fact racism of the highest order.

People should be free to choose and enjoy the achievements that they regard as good, regardless of ones race, sex, ancestry or heritage. This freedom of choice in principle is the basis of any rational culture, as opposed to the limiting racist one that Randa Jarrar subscribes to.

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DOLLAR: CPAC to Obama – Declare Love, Not War, on Fossil Fuels

Washington, DC – March 5, 2014 – If you’re wondering who the hundreds of young people wearing bright green at the upcoming CPAC are, look carefully at the front of their shirts—they don’t say “Greenpeace,” they say “I Love Fossil Fuels.”

“I Love Fossil Fuels” is a project of the Center for Industrial Progress (CIP), a for-profit think-tank seeking to bring about a new industrial revolution. Alex Epstein, President of CIP, will be participating in the “Can America Survive Obama’s War on Fossil Fuel?” on Friday, March 7 at 3:30 pm.

Epstein, author of the forthcoming The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels (Portfolio/Penguin), is known for debating all comers—from Greenpeace to Sierra Club to 350.org—on the big-picture benefits of fossil fuels. His unique moral and environmental arguments have created thousands of impassioned fossil fuel “champions”—and he aims to create a few thousand more at CPAC.

In a recent Forbes column on CPAC, Epstein wrote of fossil fuels:

“No other fuel has been able to match them in producing cheap, reliable energy for billions around the world”; “Overall life expectancy is up 7 years largely thanks to fossil-fuel-powered industrial progress”; “their industry is fundamentally good for human life—including for a healthier, safer environment.”

Before and after the panel, CIP invites you to its suite, “The Power Lounge,” to come learn more about fossil fuels—and enjoy the fruits of fossil fuels, including free food and drink (which we would not be able to afford if we had to depend on sunlight and wind gusts!). Whether you want a signed copy of Epstein’s Fossil Fuels Improve the Planet, a free CIP “Power Pack” of energy wisdom, a free “I Love Fossil Fuels” t-shirt, or some espresso to power you through the afternoon, come join us between 2 pm and 7 pm on March 7.

For more info about the event, including media inquiries, contact Lyda Loudon at lyda.loudon@gmail.com or 314-540-1191.

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CROSS: Amateur Obama’s Hollow Rhetoric

From TIME.com:

Russia’s escalating intervention in Ukraine once again confronts Barack Obama with a foreign policy crisis over which his options are painfully limited, forcing him into a reactive posture that relies on tough, but largely hollow rhetoric.

Appearing on short notice in the White House briefing room yesterday, Obama warned Russian president Vladimir Putin that “there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.” Within hours, Putin had requested and received from Russia’s parliament the authority to use force in its western neighbor, whose capital city Kiev saw an uprising against Moscow last month.

Putin appears to have calculated that the benefits of maintaining control of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, home to a large ethnic Russian population and a major naval base, would outweigh any costs that Obama and the West can impose.

He’s probably right.

 

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DOLLAR: Matthew McConaughey on Selfishness

Matthew McConaughey – GQ Men of the Year 2013 – Leading Man

But a few years ago—about the time Ghosts of Girlfriends Past came out, in which the then 39-year-old deploys his considerable talents to persuade the chick from Party of Five to embrace love—McConaughey checked in with himself and decided it was time for a change. He doesn’t want to denigrate the movies that made him rich and famous. “I was enjoying myself,” he says. “My relationship with acting was fine. But like in any relationship, you need to shake things up. It didn’t mean what we’d been doing was less than. I just wanted a charge. Like, ‘Let’s throw a spark into this.’” There is a note on a crumpled piece of paper on the table here in his Airstream, something he scribbled down and only recently pulled out of some old pants, that speaks to his dissatisfaction. I wish, it says, I enjoyed watching my movies as much as I enjoyed making them.

He decided to “go in the shadows” for a while, saying no to things that wouldn’t “evolve” him as an actor. “I got much more selfish,” he says. “I’m a fan of the word selfish. Self. Ish,” he repeats, drawing it out. “When I say I have gotten a lot more self-ish, I mean I am less concerned with what people think of me. I’m not worried about how I’m perceived. Selfish has always gotten a bad rap. You should do for you. I wanted new experiences.”

And in Details:

“I’m just as thankful now as I ever was, but I’m choosing to be more selfish. I remember feeling not sure about what I wanted to do and feeling — I’m not sure despondent is the right word, but a feeling like things are plateauing. I wanted more evolution. I want to feel ascension in the grade. Because I was feeling a lot of ascension in my personal life, qualitative evolution. I wanted to close the gap between who I am and the life I’m living and my work life. So I think I got really selfish.”

Matthew McConaughey: ‘I have more of a selfish desire now’ – Features – Films – The Independent

“Part of it is just growing up and part of it is I’m very turned on and excited about all kind of things. Probably more things now than I used to be. I work hard to maintain the good things in my life that I’ve built – friendships, work, family, my own time. Sometimes you’ve got to go,’ah man, I haven’t seen my brother in three months’. But it feels really great when you can think:’Boy, all my relationships are good, people that I love are good, and my relationship with them is good. My career, I’m dialled, it feels good. Health is good.’ But to maintain that, when things change, you’ve got to be nimble at times.”

[...]

If his earliest career plan was to be a criminal defence lawyer, fighting for others, his eventual plan has come full circle to fighting for himself. “I’d say I have more of a selfish desire now when it comes to work,” he admits. It has been a long time coming.

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CROSS: 99% Stupidity – The Fool’s Errand To Tax The 1%

James Piereson: The Truth About the ‘One Percent’ – WSJ.com:

This crusade is based on three questionable claims. One is that the wealthy are mostly Wall Street bankers benefitting from rising stock and real estate prices, or executives who pay themselves extravagant salaries. Another claim is that such people unfairly benefit from a system that taxes capital gains at half the highest marginal rate paid by those who earn salaries and wages. Then there is the assertion that the “super rich” have abundant funds that can be taxed to improve the living standards of everyone else.

All of these claims are false.

[...]

Emanuel Saez of the University of California ( Berkeley ) has shown in a series of papers that, as he writes, “The top income earners today are not ‘rentiers’ deriving their incomes from past wealth but rather are the ‘working rich,’ highly paid employees or new entrepreneurs who have not yet accumulated fortunes comparable to those accumulated during the Gilded Age.

The typical “rich” person today is someone who works for a salary and accumulates stocks and bonds through savings, retirement plans and (for business executives) stock options.

From 1980 to 2010, as the top 1% increased their share of total before-tax income to 15% from 9%, their share of the individual income tax soared to 39% of the total paid, up from 17%. Most were paying federal taxes at the highest marginal rate: In 1980 that rate was 70% and in 2010 it was 35.5%—but it has now climbed back to 39.6%. The share of federal taxes paid climbed dramatically in those 30 years even as marginal rates were cut almost in half.

According to the White House budget office, in 2010 the federal government raised approximately $900 billion from the individual income tax, of which about $350 billion (39%) was paid by the top 1% of income earners. The remainder of total federal tax collections (nearly $2.2 trillion in total) was paid through corporate, payroll, estate and excise taxes.

Those who want to “tax the rich” to redistribute income to the poor and middle class usually propose to raise the marginal rates on incomes or the capital-gains rate, or both. Yet as Scott Hodge recently documented in these pages [4], it will not be easy to raise vast sums this way.

The individual income tax accounts for slightly less than half of federal revenue and the top 1% already pays a substantial share of that total. Most of the wealth owned by the top 1%, and especially by the “super rich” in the top 0.1%, is also held in stocks, bonds and real estate that are not subject to income taxes until sold. It is a fool’s errand to try to raise the living standards of the bottom 60% through higher income taxes on the top 1% or 0.1%.

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CROSS: When Does “Settled Science” Become Dogma?

The unsettling truth about “settled science”: Charles Krauthammer | OregonLive.com

If climate science is settled, why do its predictions keep changing? And how is it that the great physicist Freeman Dyson, who did some climate research in the late 1970s, thinks today’s climate-change Cassandras are hopelessly mistaken?

They deal with the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere and oceans, argues Dyson, ignoring the effect of biology, i.e., vegetation and topsoil. Further, their predictions rest on models they fall in love with: “You sit in front of a computer screen for 10 years and you start to think of your model as being real.” Not surprisingly, these models have been “consistently and spectacularly wrong” in their predictions, write atmospheric scientists Richard McNider and John Christy — and always, amazingly, in the same direction.

Settled? Even the U.K.’s national weather service concedes there’s been no change — delicately called a “pause” — in global temperature in 15 years. If even the raw data is recalcitrant, let alone the assumptions and underlying models, how settled is the science?

Last Friday, Obama ostentatiously visited drought-stricken California. Surprise! He blamed climate change. Here even The New York Times gagged, pointing out that far from being supported by the evidence, “the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”

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CROSS: GOP leadership is on a suicide mission

Republicans are now focused on fixing Obamacare rather than repealing it.

From In shift, GOP wants ObamaCare fix | TheHill

Republicans have shifted their strategy on ObamaCare. Weeks ago, many Republicans — including Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) — said ObamaCare was too broken to fix. But now, the GOP is drafting legislation that aims to do just that. The GOP wants to rebuild its political capital and public credibility by solving ObamaCare’s implementation problems. This pivot comes after Republicans took major hits in polls following the government shutdown. The House this week will vote on a measure called the Keep Your Health Plan Act. It aims to do what the president promised years ago: If you like your healthcare plan, you can stay on it. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing for a vote in their chamber. That measure has already attracted Democratic support.

Due to the insurance market and ObamaCare mandates, millions have recently lost their healthcare coverage. Many of these dropped people will obtain coverage through the new ObamaCare health exchanges, but some, if not most, will pay higher premiums. After their costly political strategy to defund ObamaCare, GOP lawmakers are more willing to support measures that will repair the president’s signature healthcare law, political science Professor Jack Pitney said. “Republicans took a look at the polls. They finally realized that defunding ObamaCare was unpopular, but a measure like this [is] very popular. They realized that, despite all the brave talk, that the shutdown did not work to their advantage, and now they are trying to get on the right side of public opinion,” he said.

[...]

Some Republicans believe that with full enactment of the law — and the inability to defund it — the party won’t be hurt politically with attempting to solve the problems arising from ObamaCare. “Before [ObamaCare] went into effect, the only goal is to stop it; now the goal is still stop it, but I don’t want to treat people harshly,” Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) explained. The House legislation that is scheduled for a vote this week is sponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.). More than 100 Republican lawmakers have already endorsed it.

Of course, what they don’t understand is that they are playing right into the Democrats’ hands – the Democrats election strategy is to admit that ObamaCare has flaws, promise to repair them and argue that Republicans will only make things worse. (See link I will post in first comment). Once the public sees that both Republicans and Democrats accept Obamacare, acknowledge its flaws and seek to fix it, there will be no compelling difference between the parties this November and no reason to vote for Republicans over Democrats. And worse: Democrats will always club Republicans by saying or implying that Republicans’ secret desire is to repeal Obamacare, whereas the Democrats want to “protect” it and “reform” it.

The GOP leadership is on a suicide mission. — Ed Mazlish

 

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