Thursday, May 25, 2006


Cross-Posted from Gus Van Horn

Happy Birthday, Martin!

Today is Martin Lindeskog's birthday, and May 7 marked his fourth year of blogging at Ego.

And yesterday, he started an online store for his new business.

Book Review: They Made America

And while we're speaking of businessmen, Jennifer Snow reviews what sounds like an excellent book on the history of American innovation.
In great dramatic style, [Harold] Evans tells the stories of dozens of people that have truly turned America into what she is today. They are not all inventors, although some, like Edison, are renowned for their inventions, but they are all innovators: people that had a new idea and through courage, canniness, and sheer unadulterated drive, used their idea to rattle the nation.
Jennifer is right to start off with the Ayn Rand quote about businesmen she did: Many in America take the great achievements of its innovators and the freedom that makes their achievements possible for granted. This places many of us in grave danger of not being sufficiently motivated to defend either.

An Interesting Idea

The Software Nerd goes for an oil change, and says, "There's a guy under my car!"
Strikes me that the job of the downstairs guy could easily be automated. The crux of his job is finding the right location for the nut that he unscrews. If a machine could do this -- with some positioning-help from the guy upstairs -- the rest of the automation would be simple enough.
This post -- of someone's thoughts after an oil change -- may seem mundane, but it is a snapshot of something we Americans too easily take for granted: the creative approach to practical problems that so many of us take.

It is so common for people do this here that it seems normal or even inevitable, but it is not. This -- this willingness to take a critical look at long-established practices -- is how the phrase, "Yankee know-how" came about. And it would explain stories I've heard to the effect that American expatriates, reputed to have a highly practical bent, are often asked by their neighbors for help with things like plumbing and electrical problems.

Mikes Eyes like what they see.

Mike N. takes a look at Ellsworth Toohey's method of attacking the good and compares this with promoting the good.
To paraphrase Toohey:
Want to destroy the hero? Don't attack the hero. Enshrine the anti-hero, the zero, and you have destroyed hero. Want to destroy individual rights? Don't attack individual rights. Enshrine needs over rights (by moving the context of rights from the individual to the collective and declaring these needs to be group rights.) This process can be used to destroy any good.
But this technique can be used in reverse. Want to destroy collectivism? Enshrine individualism. For example, want to destroy diversity? Enshrine peoples' similarities not their differences. But I don't want to be misleading. There is a difference. Toohey wanted to destroy the good not to enshrine any particular evil but to create a void which he would fill. The rational man doesn't seek to destroy anything. He creates the good which blocks the existence of evil. That is why Tara Smith and Gideon [Reich] are right is saying that it is more important to enshrine the good than to just oppose evil. [bold added]
That is an excellent point, which was inspired by Mike's reading of the next post I mention in this week's roundup.

Journal Review: The Objective Standard

Gideon Reich has been posting quite actively lately, and it has all been very good reading. But if you read nothing else of his, read this full review of the first issue of The Objective Standard.
I have commented on the new journal The Objective Standard (TOS) briefly on a previous occasion but it deserves a more thorough review. So following in the footsteps of Mike of The Primacy of the Awesome blog, here are my comments on the premiere issue of TOS. I will begin by repeating my earlier comment that "the issue clearly represents a new milestone in Objectivist publications in every aspect." The professional look of journal deserves high praise -- finally an Objectivist publication that does not look like a pamphlet or newsletter. But let me focus on content as that is what's most important. Here there are five excellent essays and I'll take them each in turn.
If you're on the fence at all about subscribing to The Objective Standard, then you will find yourself with two thngs to do today. (1) Read Gideon's review. (2) Subscribe.

(Tangentially-related note: When I read the VanDamme article on education, I became curious about a children's story she mentioned, Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden", because it made me think of something from my past. The entire story is available online.)

Gideon also points out a fascinating discussion of the book The Victory of Reason by Rodney Stark over at The Forum for Ayn Rand Fans.

Film Capsule: Goal! The Dream Begins

I recently mentioned a Scott Holloran review of this soccer movie and concluded that it was probably good, but not quite up there with Bend it Like Beckham. Alex Nunez gives it a positive review.
And you know what? None of it [i.e., the usual sports movie cliches] detracts from the film. It's an absolute blast, even though you kind of feel like you've been there before.

The cast is top-notch, and largely made up of actors who won't be familiar to American audiences. I think that this helps immensely, because that lack of familiarity makes the characters feel more authentic. You look at the actors faces and think only of their characters' names.

As I said, the storyline pretty much follows the standard sports movie formula. You know what the film is working toward, and on the way, director Danny Cannon (CSI) does an excellent job of keeping you interested with some fun little side plots that keep things moving and add some good humor to the proceedings.
I suspect I will still come away liking Bend it Like Beckham better, but now I'm a lot more likely to see it at the theater.

Backwards Movies

As has become customary, I'll end the week's roundup on a light note. Paul Hsieh recently uncovered the ruminations of someone who asked, "Ever wondered what happens when you play a film backwards?" and ran. The best of these was Star Wars.
A rather large moon-sized spaceship suddenly appears in the vast depths of space and, to prevent it from disappearing again, a nice young man called Luke extracts a bomb from its central chambers. The space station re-assembles a disintegrated planet, saving its occupants, and slowly begins to dismantle itself as a group of rebels become more and more disorganised. The young man goes home to his farm.
-- CAV

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