Great Blogger Migration, Take Two

 Posted by on 30 April 2010 at 11:00 am  NoodleFood
Apr 302010

Later today, I hope to do the Great Blogger Migration for NoodleFood. It has to get done pronto, as FTP publishing will be discontinued tomorrow. So… if NoodleFood goes all wonky for you today, just come back later. By Monday, everything should be straight. If you encounter anything amiss on Monday, please drop me an e-mail.

Unfortunately, the Migration is seriously hampered right now by the fact that we don’t have power in the house due to some major electrical problems in the line between the pedestal and the house. My DSL modem and laptop are running on battery for now, but my web development files are all on my iMac desktop. That’s a problem!

If I get desperate, I might have to move my iMac down to the barn! (That runs on a separate line.)

Podcast #32: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 15

 Posted by on 30 April 2010 at 9:00 am  Podcasts
Apr 302010

For Friday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a preview of my podcast and study questions for “Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 15.”

The online version of Explore Atlas Shrugged – meaning, all 20 sessions of podcasts and study questions, plus other resources – can be purchased for just $20. The written materials are also available from Amazon in paperback and kindle formats, and purchasers of those editions pay just $10 for access to the podcasts. For more information, including previews of other sessions, visit Explore Atlas Shrugged.

Session 15 of Explore Atlas Shrugged covers:

  • Part 3: Chapter 4: Anti-Life
  • Part 3: Chapter 5: Their Brothers’ Keeper (Sections 1-2)

Preview the Podcast

Listen or Download:

Preview the Study Questions

Note: The pagination of the hardcover, softcover, and kindle editions differs from that of the small mass market paperback. The study questions cite only the pagination from the larger editions. I don’t recommend using the mass market paperback.

Part 3: Chapter 4: Anti-Life

Section 1 (864-885)

Jim Taggart wanders the streets of New York City seeking to celebrate the impending nationalization of d’Anconia Copper. He comes home to his wife Cherryl and forces a celebration on her. She reflects on the past year of her marriage, and then she flees in horror from Jim’s words.

Core Questions

  • How did Jim accomplish the deal that will nationalize d’Anconia Copper? Is that an achievement worthy of celebration? Why or why not? What does he think and feel about it? (864-71)
  • How has Cherryl changed since her wedding? What kind of person is she now? What has she learned about Jim? What does she see in him now? (868-85)
  • What is Jim’s view of love? How does he need Cherryl? Is his view of love right or wrong? Why? What does it mean in practice? (876-7, 881-2, 883-4)
  • What are the similarities and differences between Jim’s marriage to Cherryl and Lillian’s marriage to Hank Rearden? Which is worse? (873-83)
  • How and why is Cherryl already damaged by Jim by the time she sees his true nature? Could she recover? Should she try? (882-3)

Extra Questions

  • Why is Jim disturbed by the bum’s indifference to the money given to him? (864)
  • What is Jim’s motive in his wheeling and dealing, if not money? Why doesn’t he want to think about that? (867)
  • Why – and in what way – does Jim want to celebrate the nationalization of d’Anconia Copper with Cherryl? Is that desire innocent or honest? (868)
  • How does Cherryl act toward Jim upon his return home? Why? What does she seek from him? (868-85)
  • What is Cherryl’s attitude toward Jim’s “welfare philosophy”? Why? Who is right? (870)
  • Why does Jim want to buy Cherryl something with the money he’ll earn from the nationalization of d’Anconia Copper? What is her response – and why? (870-1)
  • What does Cherryl think of Dagny Taggart now, including her radio broadcast revealing her affair with Hank Rearden? What is Jim’s response to Cherryl’s questions about that broadcast? (871-2)
  • Is Cherryl right that Jim is like her father? How are they similar? How are they different? (873)
  • How and why did Cherryl learn to be a woman worthy of the name “Mrs. Taggart”? What was Jim’s response to those efforts? What does that reveal about him? (874-6)
  • By what means did Cherryl learn about the true nature of Jim’s work? What was she tempted to do instead? Why did she choose to pursue her course to the end? How did Jim react to her discoveries? What does that reaction reveal about him? (876-7, 879-80)
  • Is Cherryl right that Jim is not merely a “phony in his own business” but “an unpaid phony, an unvenal phony”? Why does she think that’s worse than being a con artist? Is she right? (876)
  • What is Jim’s view of politicians, in contrast to his view of industrialists? Is he right or wrong? (878)
  • Why does Jim want Cherryl to toast to Francisco d’Anconia? Why does she refuse? Is she right? (885)

About Explore Atlas Shrugged

Explore Atlas Shrugged is a series of 20 sessions of podcasts and study questions by me, philosopher Dr. Diana Hsieh. Each session covers about 65 pages of the novel, organized chapter-by-chapter and section-by-section. The podcasts are an in-depth look at the events, characters, and ideas from that portion of the novel. The whole series contains over 22 hours of lively and engaging discussion in podcast form. The study questions will help you better understand the novel on your own – or help you lead an engaging reading group. The series includes over 1400 questions, organized into “core” and “extra” categories.

You can preview the full series of podcasts and questions, as well as purchase access for just $20, here: Explore Atlas Shrugged. You can also purchase the series below.

Also, the written materials are available from Amazon in paperback and kindle formats, and purchasers of those editions pay just $10 for access to the podcasts.

Purchase Explore Atlas Shrugged

Access to the online version of Explore Atlas Shrugged costs just $20. It’s half off – just $10 – for purchasers of the paperback and kindle editions of the book version. Also, if you contribute to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar via recurring weekly or monthly contributions (or the equivalent), please email me for free access.

Terms of Sale: (1) You may share the podcasts with members of your household, but not beyond that. (2) You may share the study questions with members of your household, as well as with participants in your online or in-person Atlas Shrugged Reading Group. (3) Do not ever post the podcasts or study questions in any public forum.

Items: Course: Explore Atlas Shrugged ($20)
Course: Explore Atlas Shrugged (Half Price Discount) ($10)
Note: This half-price discount is only available to purchasers of a paperback or kindle edition of Explore Atlas Shrugged. Please email me a screenshot or picture as proof.

Praise for Explore Atlas Shrugged

The response to Explore Atlas Shrugged has been overwhelmingly positive, including the following remarks:

I require students to read Atlas Shrugged in my introductory economics class. Dr. Hsieh’s Explore Atlas Shrugged podcasts were an essential tool to help communicate the novel’s lesson and hold effective class discussion. Do not attempt to teach the book without consulting the podcasts first!

— Bailey Norwood, Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University


Thank you, thank you, thank you, Diana – our GLO Atlas Reading Group is going so very well. We have about 12-13 people attending, and it is truly the most fun we’ve had in a long time. So much rewarding fun comes out of your ideas and organization. Can’t thank you enough for your efforts!!!


I just wanted to send you a quick note and thank you for your efforts on Explore Atlas Shrugged. As part of the Charm City Objectivists Society we used your questions and podcast to help kick off our reading group yesterday for session one. We had epiphanies all around the table from someone who is a firm student of Objectivism to a person who had read Atlas Shrugged but is new to Objectivism. I know that neither Ray (our moderator) or myself could have undertaken this kind of thing without the wonderful resource you have created. You have helped me make a difference in my community and I thank you for it.


The other day, I began listening to your Explore Atlas Shrugged podcasts. I have read and listened to the book several times, but it has been admittedly too long since the last time. Although I can not adequately express how much experiencing your podcasts has meant to me and the extent to which they have reinvigorated me, I did want to thank you…Thank you.

About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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Apr 302010

Objectivist blogger Gus Van Horn has an OpEd in the April 30, 2010 edition of PajamasMedia, “Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom: Welfare State Is Draw for Illegals“.

Here is the opening:

With Governor Jan Brewer’s signing of SB 1070, the battle lines were drawn. The prospect of empowering and requiring law enforcement in Arizona to enforce federal immigration law raises civil rights concerns on both sides of the debate. Many supporters seem torn between these concerns and the prospect of overwhelming schools, social services, and the police if illegal immigration is left unchecked. However, as someone who sympathizes with its proponents, I must say that SB 1070 is wrong for Arizona for reasons far beyond civil rights issues.

SB 1070 deserves only one fundamental criticism: It would fail to protect the individual rights of American citizens — even if it hermetically sealed our borders and the police never touched a single American hair in the process of enforcing it. This is because the biggest headaches attributed to illegal immigration are not caused by it at all…

(Read the full text of “Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom: Welfare State Is Draw for Illegals“.)

Gus is absolutely right. Too many conservatives want to restrict immigration while failing to place the blame where it properly belongs — on welfare state policies that encourage an entitlement mentality amongst American citizens as well as immigrants (and often more among the former than the latter.)

Too many liberals want both open immigration and a welfare state — a recipe for disaster.

The only approach that respects individual rights is a policy of open immigration (which is not the same as unrestricted immigration) — and the abolition of the welfare state. For more on this, see Craig Biddle’s article in the Spring 2008 issue of The Objective Standard, “Immigration and Individual Rights“.

Congratulations, Gus, on getting published in PajamasMedia!

(Please feel free to add your own comments to the PJM site.)

Objectivist Roundup

 Posted by on 29 April 2010 at 3:45 pm  Objectivist Roundup
Apr 292010

Kelly Elmore has the latest Objectivist Roundup. Go check it out!

Obama’s Proposed Budget Cuts

 Posted by on 29 April 2010 at 1:00 pm  Government, Politics
Apr 292010

Here’s an amazing visual representation of Obama’s proposed budget cuts. I don’t see any way to embed it, but this video is a must-see. It’s just 1 minute 38 seconds long. (Via C Andrew.)

Update: Thanks to Kelly, here’s the embedded version:

Muslims Threaten South Park

 Posted by on 29 April 2010 at 7:00 am  Free Speech, Religion
Apr 292010

On Tuesday, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the author of the stellar book Infidel, published an excellent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the informal fatwa against South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Here’s why the supposed warning message posted by 20-year-old Muslim covert “Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee” was a fatwa:

There is a basic principle in Islamic scripture—unknown to most not-so-observant Muslims and most non-Muslims—called “commanding right and forbidding wrong.” It obligates Muslim males to police behavior seen to be wrong and personally deal out the appropriate punishment as stated in scripture. In its mildest form, devout people give friendly advice to abstain from wrongdoing. Less mild is the practice whereby Afghan men feel empowered to beat women who are not veiled.

By publicizing the supposed sins of Messrs. Stone and Parker, Mr. Amrikee undoubtedly believes he is fulfilling his duty to command right and forbid wrong. His message is not just an opinion. It will appeal to like-minded individuals who, even though they are a minority, are a large and random enough group to carry out the divine punishment. The best illustration of this was demonstrated by the Somali man who broke into Mr. Westergaard’s home in January carrying an axe and a knife.

So what can we do? Ms. Ali has some good suggestions for what we might do to stand up for freedom of speech:

One way of reducing the cost is to organize a solidarity campaign. The entertainment business, especially Hollywood, is one of the wealthiest and most powerful industries in the world. Following the example of Jon Stewart, who used the first segment of his April 22 show to defend “South Park,” producers, actors, writers, musicians and other entertainers could lead such an effort.

Another idea is to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.

Another important advantage of such a campaign is to accustom Muslims to the kind of treatment that the followers of other religions have long been used to. After the “South Park” episode in question there was no threatening response from Buddhists, Christians and Jews—to say nothing of Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand fans—all of whom had far more reason to be offended than Muslims.

Along these lines, Ari Armstrong has launched an Everybody Draw Mohammed campaign. I’ll be posting my contribution sometime next week — and I hope that you will do the same.

Open Thread #159

 Posted by on 28 April 2010 at 11:00 am  Open Thread
Apr 282010

Here’s yet another Open Thread for your thoughts:

For anyone in the fiery grip of a random question, comment, joke, or link they’d like to share with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. (Please refrain from posting personal attacks, pornographic material, and commercial solicitations.)

Apr 282010

As some of the better Tea Party activists have begun promoting ideas such as “limited government” and “fiscal responsibility”, we’re seeing intellectual pushback from the Left, arguing the deficit spending is good.

Here’s one example from a mailing list I subscribe to. I’m posting this here so as to alert folks as to the sorts of arguments we will be encountering so we will be able to best refute them:

In Defense of Deficits“, James Galbraith, 3/22/2010.

This is from the leftist publication, The Nation. Galbraith is a professor at Univ. Texas Austin and is the son of famous Keynesian economist John Kenneth Galbraith. So his academic credentials and intellectual pedigree are to be taken seriously.

Basically Galbraith argues the following:

1) The political push to reduce government deficits is economically misguided, based on an irrational “phobia” of deficits.

2) If we want economic growth, we need more spending. Only banks and governments can stimulate spending because, “Governments and banks are the two entities with the power to create something from nothing.”

3) Increasing spending by having the government do it is preferable to having the private greedy selfish bankers do it. And the real reason bankers oppose government spending is because it competes with their private lending.

4) We shouldn’t worry about the so-called impending bankruptcy of Social Security or Medicare or of the US government itself. The government is the source of money and therefore can’t run out.

5) Nor is government debt a “burden on future generations”, because it never has to be repaid. Each generation can just pass it onto the next generation, so there’s no problem.

(Read the full text of “In Defense of Deficits“.)

I’m still astounded that these sorts of ideas are regarded as part of the intellectual mainstream (albeit at the liberal end of the spectrum). We have our work cut out for us.

Although the moral and philosophical case for limited government should be the primary argument, we will have to contend with these sorts of Keynesian-type economic arguments defending deficits and massive government spending as positive goods (not just necessary evils).

My own economic background is not very strong, so if anyone can steer me to good links and references accessible to the layperson (not the professional academic economist) on these issues (especially the various fallacies of Keynsianism), please feel free to post them in the comments section.

(I’m already familiar with Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and would be especially interested in other books at that level of discussion, aimed at the lay audience.)


 Posted by on 27 April 2010 at 11:00 am  Culture, Technology, Television
Apr 272010

One of my favorite television miniseries is the HBO production, “From The Earth To the Moon“. This series details the saga of the Apollo space program, with the goal (in President Kennedy’s words) of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth”.

Although I’m not a supporter of government-funded science for the same reasons Ayn Rand laid out in her essay “Apollo 11“, like Rand I still marvel at this tremendous achievement which was a triumph of man’s reason and courage.

Of the various episodes in the series my favorite is probably episode 5, “Spider“.

“Spider” depicted the development of the Lunar Module (LEM) by Grumman Aircraft, led by engineer Tom Kelly. Kelly and his team solved engineering challenge after challenge through a combination of reason, ingenuity, creativity, intellectual integrity, and above all an utmost respect for the facts of reality. The episode is upbeat and nicely captures the joy of engineering.

The whole episode is superb and worth watching. But I was especially glad to find this short excerpt of the final 5 minutes on YouTube:

Kelly’s musings about how each LEM has a “soul”, consisting of the souls of all the men who built her, designed her, and dreamed about her was very reminiscent of Dagny Taggart’s musings in Atlas Shrugged during the first run of the John Galt Line when she thought that the motors running her engines were alive — operated by remote control by the souls and minds of the thinking men who designed them.

This excerpt also contains one of my favorite short pieces of television music, the “Eagle” theme by composer Mason Daring.

Daring’s piece captures a uplifting combination of hope, yearning, solemnity, and pride in wanting to meet great challenges and overcome them.

The musical theme to the series (at the beginning and end of each episode) by Michael Kamen is also very nice:

(The video track just above is from a different television show, but the audio track is from the HBO series.)

I’ve always thought of these as wonderful musical concretizations of the optimistic American sense of life that was so widespread and normal just a few years ago.

So if you find yourself getting depressed over current events, just remember that many Americans still retain that marvelous implicit sense that life is good, happiness is desirable and attainable, and great achievements are possible to men. And as long as we still have that, this country still has a chance.

Blackman OpEd: "Fighting Statism"

 Posted by on 27 April 2010 at 7:00 am  Activism, Government
Apr 272010

The April 25, 2010 edition of American Thinker has published the following OpEd by Justin Blackman entitled, “Fighting Statism“.

His theme is that individual rights must be the rallying point for reclaiming liberty.

Here’s the opening:

The Founders of the United States hoped to create a society of free individuals, but for at least a century, the nation has been marching ever more quickly in the direction of tyranny. The independent Tea Party movement represents a renewed desire to roll back the tide of government expansion, but this cause will fail unless its participants take an uncompromising stand in favor of individual rights. A building, no matter how rigid, cannot stand upon a weak and cracked foundation. In the same vein, errors and inconsistencies in a society’s philosophical foundation will cause its downfall — even in one as great as ours.

The Republican Party inadvertently teaches this lesson…

(Read the full text of “Fighting Statism“.)

Justin is a student a the Colorado School of Mines.

Congratulations, Justin, on getting published!

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha