War Veteran

 Posted by on 30 May 2005 at 10:55 pm  Uncategorized
May 302005

My grandfather, Jim Mertz, fought in the Second World War. He was an officer in the Navy: he commanded the USS Sturtevant, a destroyer escort. I’ve been privileged to meet some of the men who served under him. They credit him with keeping them safe through the war, with returning them to their lives and loved ones.

My grandfather’s quiet and commanding presence has always been apparent to me. So when I first saw this picture just a few years ago, I immediately fell in love with it for just that quality. (He’s also very handsome. No wonder my grandmother fell in love with him!) It’s actually the only picture I have of him from those war years, or as a young man.

Happily, he’s still doing well at the age of 93. He ran a successful slate business well into his 80s. He still sails the Newport Bermuda Race every other year. We even e-mail on occasion. He’s quite a remarkable man.

Officially, Jim Mertz is my step-grandfather: he married my grandmother (Allegra Knapp) when my father was two years old. Since I never met my official grandfather (Jim Brickell), all that means is that I’m not fortunate enough to have my grandfather’s long-lived genes.

As you might have guessed, Jim Mertz is the source of my middle name. And given the source, I’m proud to wear it.

Unexpected Numbers

 Posted by on 30 May 2005 at 10:54 am  Uncategorized
May 302005

Suprisingly, economic analysis reveals that the skewed male to female ratio in parts of Asia can be largely accounted for by disease in pregnancy, rather than misogynistic practices. (In this case, unlike many feminist wet dreams, misogyny was actually a fairly plausible hypothesis.)

On Tenure, Again

 Posted by on 29 May 2005 at 3:14 pm  Academia
May 292005

VDH is right: Tenure has long since outworn its welcome. (I would say more, but I have too many thoughts swimming in my head about all the ills of academia to write down just a few. In any case, tenure is obviously just one small part of the problem.)

Phallic Logo Awards

 Posted by on 28 May 2005 at 8:12 am  Uncategorized
May 282005

“The game designers across the nation are playing is; can they design a logo and get it approved without the client realising it’s a big spurting penis?” (Via Linkfilter.)

Alias Season Finale

 Posted by on 27 May 2005 at 10:14 pm  Uncategorized
May 272005

Paul and I just watched the season finale of Alias. At first, it seemed like all the storylines were wrapping up rather neatly. So I indignantly complained to Paul, “Where is the cliffhanger?!?”

Then we got to the last few seconds. And they warranted a loud “Holy crap! What the fuck!?!” plus a TiVo rewind. (Yes, my mother ought to wash my mouth out with soap. I do swear like a sailor on occasion.)

So I guess I got my cliffhanger after all!

The Dark Side of Technology

 Posted by on 27 May 2005 at 6:38 am  Uncategorized
May 272005

All too often, the technological marvels developed in (relatively) free countries are used by despots to more effectively command, suppress, harass, intimidate, destroy, and massacre their own citizens. So it’s delightful to see the tables turned for a change: bloggers in China are using the internet to expose government corruption, advocate reforms, and more — at much less risk to themselves than in years past.

The Success of the Colorado Books Project

 Posted by on 26 May 2005 at 5:18 pm  Uncategorized
May 262005

I’m very happy to report that Front Range Objectivism’s Colorado Books Projects was a great success. Here’s the May 22nd announcement from Lin Zinser:

CONGRATULATIONS!!! We have succeeded in raising the necessary funds for ARI to contact teachers over the entire state of Colorado and solicit their interest in teaching Ayn Rand in the classroom — that is, teaching Anthem and The Fountainhead in high school classrooms, with lesson plans and other tools for teachers.

I am so pleased and excited about the prospect that I can hardly contain myself. I want to thank each and every one of you who contributed to this project. We actually raised more than the required amount — but every dollar will be spent with ARI in placing Ayn Rand’s books in Colorado classrooms.

I am still tabulating contributions, but it looks like we raised over $11,000. I want to also thank Steve D’Ippolito — whose challenge raised about $2,000.00 in 2 days. In all, 41 people contributed to raise all of the money, and to each of you who contributed, I want to add a personal thank you. All of you contribute to make Front Range Objectivism the success that it is.

I will keep you advised of the progress as I work with the Ayn Rand Institute to install the books in the classrooms. Be proud!!!

Have a wonderful day!


Thanks and congratulations to everyone who donated!

In my original (and now updated) post about the Colorado Book Project, I wrote: “In my recitations, I usually end up presenting some idea of Ayn Rand’s at least once in the semester. I always ask my students whether they are familiar with her work, particularly with her novels. If I’m lucky, I might get one or two students. Mostly however, I get blank stares. I’d like to change that — and I think that ARI’s program is the way to do it.”

I’m very excited to see the fruits of this project in the freshman I teach.

Sick Sick Sick Sick

 Posted by on 25 May 2005 at 2:18 pm  Uncategorized
May 252005

As you might have guessed from the title, I’m sick. That makes four illnesses this year: two colds and two flus. I will likely be too sick to exercise for a week, then will require three weeks to get back up to full strength. Lovely.

Honestly, if people would only take some elementary sanitary precautions, such as not allowing their sick children to snot all over everywhere, such impositions upon others could be avoided. Our friends the Bretts, for example, always warn us about any sick children and offer us the option to cancel.

I was good enough to cancel my Friday appointments today, so that I don’t get others sick. Is that kind of consideration so hard for others?

(Yes, I know I’m bitter. In this case, I’ve earned it.)

Snappy Answers

 Posted by on 25 May 2005 at 9:16 am  Uncategorized
May 252005

My friend Greg Perkins and I were trying to come up with a snappy reply to rude comments like:

“Oh, you like Ayn Rand? Yeah, I read her in college but then I grew out of it.”

“Oh, you like Ayn Rand? You’ll grow up out of that sooner or later.” (I’m a bit too old to hear that one anymore!)

Although the first does imply that agreement with Ayn Rand is immature, it’s not nearly as condescending and offensive as the second. So in that case, I’d likely press the person as to why they abandoned it, as that’s of interest to me.

As for the second, I’d be inclined to walk away from the person. Or just stare at him in amazement for a few seconds until he squirms in his seat. Or tell him that that’s surely what all those grown-up Nazi’s told their children who weren’t so enthused about exterminating the Jews. (Ouch!)

I’m looking for replies with that Miss Manners kind of flair: polite on the surface, yet devastatingly nasty underneath.

In the comments, feel free to post other absurd comments that people make about your Objectivist views (e.g. “Deep down, you know that you’re rebelling against God”) and possible replies.

Nothing to Say

 Posted by on 24 May 2005 at 7:53 am  Uncategorized
May 242005

Sometimes, I just have nothing to say. Like last night. And this morning. And probably this evening. And maybe tomorrow morning.

Personally, I blame my subconscious. Regular blogging will resume once it stops being so damn recalcitrant and lazy.

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