Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand vs. Carl Sagan

Voyager2

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter II The decay of Colorado is accelerating. Men that Dagny knows personally, men who love their jobs and swear that they'll never leave, that they'll resist whatever blandishment or temptation is claiming their fellows, or at the very least that they won't disappear without an explanation, are vanishing one after another without a word. Since I'm nothing if not scrupulously fair to Ayn Rand, I'll cite this passage as a well-executed example of building … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Gini Coefficient

Monstrance

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter I After Hank chases off the government crony who wants to buy his metal, the chapter shifts to a series of vignettes with him and Dagny. They're arranging increasingly frequent liaisons whenever Hank is in New York, and as the looter-run economy contracts around them, Dagny looks forward to her time with him more and more: The only pride of her workday was not that it had been lived, but that it had been survived. It was wrong, she thought, it was … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 4

This is part 4 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply. Hi Andrew, It's been a while, but it's good to hear from you again. Of course, I'm looking forward to our next in-person matchup on Memorial Day weekend. This time I'll be the one with home-court advantage! Just as we agree that morality is a real phenomenon with both rational and empirical components, I think there are moral skeptics among … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Lessons from Atlas Shrugged

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, 10 Things I Learned About the World from Ayn Rand's Insane "Atlas Shrugged". It's a distillation of the ten most important lessons I've gleaned over the past year of reading and reviewing part I of Ayn Rand's magnum opus in defense of capitalism. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest: Atlas Shrugged is a work of fiction, but as far as many prominent conservatives are concerned, it's sacred scripture. Alan Greenspan was a member of … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Second Amendment Remedies

AR15Rifle

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter I The government has passed a so-called Fair Share Law which requires Hank to sell Rearden Metal to anyone who wants it. In practice, this means that politically connected businesses can buy it in quantity, while industries that desperately need it, like Ken Danagger's coal mines, are being left empty-handed. To make it worse, the government has sent a young flunky, whom Rand nicknames the Wet Nurse, to oversee Rearden's mills: "Mr. Rearden," he had said … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Publish or Perish

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter I The last few industrialists of Colorado are disappearing, and the John Galt Line has been reduced to mostly-empty trains pulled by rickety, coal-burning locomotives. Having run out of leads in her quest for the magic motor, Dagny has finally resorted to contacting Robert Stadler. He comes to New York to see her, and she tells him about her discovery and gives him the incomplete papers she found in the factory: She watched him as he read. She saw the … [Read more...]

On Retconning Biblical Violence

NoahsArkCartoon

In 2009, I wrote "The Twisted Moral of Passover", about how this major Jewish holiday is really a celebration of genocide: the mass killing of the Egyptian children that preceded the Israelites' deliverance from slavery. (The very name of the holiday refers to how the Israelite slaves supposedly marked their doors with blood so that the divine executioner would see it and pass over their houses.) Even if there isn't any archaeological evidence for this event, or for the Egyptian captivity in … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Intrusions of Nature

OilDerricks

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter I After a brief detour through the glorious disaster that was the Atlas Shrugged: Part I movie, we're ready to dive into the second part of the book. When we last checked in, Ellis Wyatt had blown up his oil wells and vanished. Part II raises the curtain at the State Science Institute: Dr. Robert Stadler paced his office, wishing he would not feel the cold. Spring had been late in coming... It was not cold today, the chill was in his bones — he … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: All There in the Manual

Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, The Movie These past few weeks, we've been discussing why the first Atlas Shrugged movie flopped so badly at the box office. I've argued that it failed to appeal to hardcore Objectivists, at least in part, because its script disastrously depicts its capitalist heroes and socialist villains as normal human beings, rather than the incorruptible superhumans and leering vampires Rand envisioned. The other half of the question is why it failed to draw a wider general … [Read more...]

Cosmos Upsets the Courtiers

GiordanoBruno

I'm greatly enjoying the new Cosmos, but there are those who are none too pleased by it. Some of the critics are too laughable to take seriously, like the creationists who're whining about not getting equal time. Then there are the ones who represent an allegedly more sophisticated theology, like this post by Andrew Sullivan, in which he straightfacedly asserts that Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson's popularization efforts are giving science a bad name. Why? His complaint stems largely from … [Read more...]


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