The Fountainhead: A Randian Guide to Retirement

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 6After losing their last chance at a big commission, Henry Cameron and Howard Roark both know that the end is in sight. Finally, the day they've been dreading arrives:In February of 1925 Henry Cameron retired from practice.For a year, he had known that the day would come. He had not spoken of it to Roark, but they both knew and went on, expecting nothing save to go on as long as it was still possible. A few commissions had dribbled into their … [Read more...]

The Solar System’s Ocean Worlds

If we ever overcome our differences and make it into space, there's a universe of wonders waiting for us. This month, NASA unveiled another of those wonders with the announcement of hydrothermal vents on Enceladus.Enceladus is one of Saturn's moons. Although it's tiny, barely 300 miles in diameter, it has a long history of tantalizing skywatchers. It's the most reflective body in the solar system because it's entirely covered in ice. The Voyager 2 flyby found a smooth and geologically young … [Read more...]

The Barbarism of Religious Honor Codes

You may have a mental image of Mormons as relentlessly nice, polite to a fault, persistent but basically harmless. But underneath that carefully crafted facade, they're just as regressive and misogynist as all the other major religions. In 2017, the Salt Lake Tribune won won a Pulitzer Prize* for an article series that proves the point: examining "the perverse, punitive and cruel treatment given to sexual assault victims at Brigham Young University, one of Utah's most powerful … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: The Buried Past

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 6I've mentioned Ellsworth Toohey, the sinister socialist architecture critic who turns out to be the Big Bad of this novel. Now he's taken the first step in his malevolent plan for world domination, and it's... *dramatic chord* writing a book about architecture.Sermons in Stone by Ellsworth M. Toohey was published in January of the year 1925.It had a fastidious jacket of midnight blue with plain silver letters and a silver pyramid in one corner. It … [Read more...]

Letter-Writing Wednesday: Three Cheers for Free College

[I sent a copy of this letter to Gov. Cuomo, my state senator and state representative.]To whom it may concern:I'm writing to applaud New York State's successful passage of a budget measure that makes tuition free for qualifying students at two-year and four-year public colleges. Our governor and our legislative leaders deserve the credit for making this happen. It's a a smart and generous political idea that I hope other states adopt, and I'm proud to see New York in the vanguard of … [Read more...]

Fear of Female Friendship

Since these are the beliefs now running our country, there's renewed interest in Mike Pence's rule that he'll never be alone with any woman who isn't his wife. Supposedly this is called the Billy Graham rule, after the famous evangelist who lived by a similar precept, as a hedge against temptation. (Yes, this man willingly chose to work for President Grab-Her-By-The-Pussy. Christian hypocrisy knows no bounds.)Several pundits noted that it would be impossible for a woman to have a career in … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Know Your Customer

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 5As Peter Keating is moving up in the world, Howard Roark's career is circling the drain.In two years, Henry Cameron's firm has lost one commission after another. He's had to lay off one of his few remaining draftsmen; the others, including Roark, aren't getting paid on time. Even keeping the lights on is a burden. Worse, Cameron has begun disappearing from the office to go on benders:Cameron had lost even the shame of his agony, and had come to … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: Bibles for China

The 1.3 billion people in China are a tempting target for marketers, especially as the country industrializes and they become more affluent. Countless Western companies have tried to expand into China, often complying with the authoritarian government's censorship demands, for the sake of access to that enormous market.Religious evangelists are hungering to make converts in China for similar reasons. And they, too, appear to be engaging in calculated self-censorship to do so, as we can see … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #4: Incompetence Trumps Evil

This isn't really what I'd call a victory, but I'll take it.On election night, I was sure that Obamacare was doomed. It seemed certain that the safety net would be ravaged, that all our painfully hard-won gains would be rolled back. But just a few months later, that's looking a lot less likely. I didn't expect to hear, from Paul Ryan of all people, that "Obamacare is the law of the land" after a Republican-controlled Congress failed miserably in their attempt to replace it and then … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Ecstatic

One thing we can relearn from babies is the way they live and feel entirely in the present, untroubled by the past, unanxious about the future. Capturing this one transcendent moment of happiness, I was reminded of a quote:"The word 'infant' is derived from the Latin word for 'unable to speak,' but you'll be perfectly capable of saying one thing: 'I suffer,' and you'll do it tirelessly and without hesitation. I have to admire your utter commitment to that statement; when you cry, you'll … [Read more...]