50th Anniversary of Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day

Mar 302007

This NYU event — “50th Anniversary of Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day” — looks promising! (Note the revised schedule from my posting this morning: Dr. Milgram will be speaking before Dr. Bernstein.)

The 50th Anniversary of Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day in New York City

Who: Dr. Andrew Bernstein, Dr. Shoshana Milgram, Dr. Harry Binswanger, Dr. Allan Gotthelf… and you!

What: A day-long celebratory event in honor of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Atlas Shrugged.

When: Saturday April 7th 2007, ALL DAY

Where: Kimmel Center, Room Shorin Auditorium (8th Floor), New York University, 60 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012. Also, the Empire State Building (!)

Registration: Non-NYU guests must register by e-mailing [email protected].

Admission: The club is asking for a suggested donation of $20 from non-students in order to cover our expenses. (Also, please note that all meals and the Empire State building tour are to be paid on your own.)


9am – 10:30am: Dr. Milgram, “Writing and Re-Writing Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand’s Mind at Work”

10:30am – 11:30am: Snack Break (provided by the Club) and The Atlas Shrugged Trivia Game

11:30am – 1pm: Dr. Bernstein, “Atlas Shrugged as the Culmination of the Romantic Novel”

1pm – 2pm: Lunch Break (on your own)

2pm – 3pm: Open Mic: come up and share your favorite passage from the novel and/or your reason for wanting to come celebrate Atlas Shrugged.

3pm – 5pm: Drs. Binswanger and Gotthelf, “General Q&A on Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, and Objectivism”

5:30pm: Dinner and Drinks at the Heartland Brewery, Ground Floor, The Empire State Building

9pm: Trip up to the Observation Decks of The Empire State Building


Dr. Milgram’s lecture, Writing and Re-Writing Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand’s Mind at Work: “In this lecture, as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Atlas Shrugged, we will go back in time to the years before the novel became fixed and final. Ayn Rand’s manuscripts demonstrate — in the words of Richard Halley, a character in her novel — “what discipline, what effort, what tension of mind, what unrelenting strain upon one’s power of clarify are needed to produce a work of art.” After a survey of her philosophical and literary preparations, we will examine, selectively, her small-scale and large-scale editing, with special emphasis on sequences of romantic relationships and philosophical discourse.”

Dr. Bernstein’s lecture, Atlas Shrugged as the Culmination of the Romantic Novel: “Romanticism champions free will, holding that men can transform their lives by choosing proper principles and values. This is certainly true of the three greatest Romantic novelists: Hugo, Dostoyevsky, and Ayn Rand. Each — in Les Miserables, The Brothers Karamazov, and Atlas Shrugged, respectively — seeks to dramatize the world-changing potential of his particular philosophy. But only Ayn Rand presents a triumphant vision. In the other novels, the good, by the author’s own standards, is not embraced. The power to choose the right ideas thus seems illusory in the very works of the advocates of volition. What, then, are the deeper premises held by Ayn Rand, but not by the others, enabling her to fully project man’s capacity to shape his own soul?”

Dr. Binswanger and Dr. Gotthelf were both friends and associates of Miss Rand and are recognized leading experts on her philosophy. Dr. Binswanger has been professor of philosophy at the Objectivist Academic Center of the Ayn Rand Institute since 1994 and is currently writing a book on the causal nature of consciousness. Dr. Gotthelf is a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh where he holds a fellowship for the study of Objectivism, and he is also an authority on the philosophy of Aristotle.

Time Waster

Mar 302007

I wasted more time than I care to admit playing this simple but frustrating little game. My current high score is 328. (I got a big bonus for clearing the whole last board.)

More Creationist Science

Mar 302007

The fact that new life doesn’t emerge from peanut butter jars proves that evolution is false, according to this evangelical Chuck Missler:

I’m most appalled by the willful ignorance of the theory of evolution shown in the video. Evolutionary theory doesn’t concern the origins of life itself, but changes in forms of life over time. As far as I understand, questions about the origins of life itself are still unsettled and without any bearing on the truth of evolutionary theory. And, of course, even current speculations about the origins of life itself would never ever predict new life from peanut butter jars!!! (DUH!)

I would find this video funny — if it weren’t so typical of the ever-growing creationist misinformation campaign against evolutionary theory. Evangelicals number in the tens of millions — and they’re teaching this crap to their kids. As if that’s not bad enough, they are determined to foist it on everyone in America. That would mean the end of biology as a science. It’s unfathomable.

As an aside, the biography of the speaker Chuck Missler is rather interesting. In his early years, he was apparently an extremely talented computer engineer and businessman, meaning that he’s no science dummy. Yet consider the circumstances under which he turned to God:

As Chuck notes, his day of reckoning came several years ago when — as the result of a merger — he found himself the chairman and a major shareholder of a small, publicly owned development company known as Phoenix Group International. The firm established an $8 billion joint venture with the Soviet Union to supply personal computers to their 143,000 schools. Due to several unforeseen circumstances, the venture failed. The Misslers lost everything, including their home, automobiles and insurance.

That’s just so perfect!

Lecture Handouts

Mar 292007

A few days ago, I was delighted to discover that the Ayn Rand Bookstore has an online collection of handouts for the lectures they sell. The URL of the page that lists all of them is not public, but it is printed on the case of many of the relevant courses. I’ve never noticed that before, but you can check for it on lectures you’ve bought. The collection surely isn’t complete, but I found quite a few handouts that I was missing.

Also, please don’t post the URL in the comments — or elsewhere. These handouts are intended only for those who’ve bought the relevant courses.

Yaron Brook on CNBC

Mar 282007

From ARI:

Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, is scheduled to appear on CNBC’s program “On the Money” today, March 28, 2007, between 7 and 8 pm Eastern time, (4 and 5 pm Pacific time), to discuss the question: Do we need national standards for mortgage lenders?

FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine

Mar 272007

Colorado’s political machine is poised to institute socialized medicine in the state in the next year or so. Lin Zinser is fighting that ominous prospect with FIRM, a new organization devoted to promoting Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine. FIRM’s statement of principles reads:

We stand for Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine.

America was founded on the principles of freedom and individual rights. Applied to medicine, the law must respect the individual rights of doctors and other providers, allowing them the freedom to practice medicine. This includes the right to choose their patients, to determine the best treatment for their patients, and to bill their patients accordingly. In the same manner, the law must respect the individual rights of patients, allowing them the freedom to seek out the best doctors and treatment they can afford.

Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM) promotes the philosophy of individual rights, personal responsibility, and free market economics in health care. FIRM holds that the only moral and practical way to obtain medical care is that of individuals choosing and paying for their own medical care in a capitalist free market. Federal and state regulations and entitlements, we maintain, are the two most important factors in driving up medical costs. They have created the crisis we face today.

What does FIRM do?

  • researches and studies the work of scholars and policy experts in the areas of health care, law, philosophy, and economics to inform and to foster public debate on the causes of rising costs of health care and health insurance.
  • sponsors and holds public educational programs, lectures and town hall meetings on issues regarding the causes of the crises in health care and health insurance, and on the morality and economic costs of various health care programs and proposals.
  • makes speakers available for radio and television interviews, for professional conferences or symposiums, and for local, private or public meetings and talks in Colorado.

    FIRM provides you with information about how to protect freedom and individual rights in medicine, and you decide how to use it.

    FIRM is a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization; it does not endorse any health care treatment, product, provider, or organization. Membership levels begin at $35 per year and are tax-deductible, as provided by law.

On the FIRM web site, you can sign up to the “News” and/or “Activists” list. You might also want to read the updated version of Leonard Peikoff’s essay “Health Care is Not a Right” and Linda Gorman’ informative report “The History of Health Care Costs and Health Insurance.”

Also, don’t miss FIRM’s blog: We Stand FIRM. (If you have a blog, please add that to your blogroll.)

Please help me spread the word about FIRM! In speaking to ordinary people, I’ve found strong opposition to socialized medicine, but little knowledge of the already-in-motion plans to institute that in Colorado and other states. So please encourage people to write letters to their state and federal representatives opposing socialized medicine, including its modern incarnations in euphemisms: single-payer, comprehensive, universal, and/or mandatory healthcare. If you live in Colorado, you should also write the 208 Commission, i.e. the body charged with soliciting and evaluating proposals for comprehensive healthcare reform.

It is possible to stop the spread of socialized medicine, I think. Now’s the time to do it. If you wait now, you’ll be waiting much more in the future… in lines for your substandard medical treatment, that is.

It’s Here!

Mar 272007

My copy of The Objective Standard just arrived in the mail today. Woo Hoo!

On a totally random note, Paul just reminded me that he was #30 in the country in the Putnam Exam in his senior year of college. (He was a math major at MIT.) Our conversation immediately thereafter went as follows:

Diana: Wow, you’re smart!

Paul: I told you I was smart!

Heh. I love that kind of silliness.

At the time, Paul and I were actually talking about our seemingly strong compatibility as bridge partners. Apparently husband-wife teams are pretty rare in bridge due to the tendency to argue over hands. Paul and I never do that — or least we’ve never done that yet. The only issue for us is equality of skills — and we have that in bridge, although not in tennis, skiing, or math puzzles. So long as we’re basically equal in skills, then however the other person might screw up, it’s darn clear that we’re liable to do something equally stupid sometime soon. That makes anything more than temporary annoyance unwise!

Duplicate Bridge

Mar 272007

As I’ve mentioned before, Paul and I started playing bridge about nine months ago. It’s the most demanding card game we’ve ever played — by a long shot. It requires so much conceptualization, thought, and planning that it puts all other card games to shame. Yet each hand is its own unique challenge. Hence, we’ve found it very, very interesting.

We’ve taken about 24 hours of duplicate bridge instruction with three other couples since July. Paul and I also regularly play duplicate match games on Bridge Baron, then compare what we did. So our bidding and play has become very similar — and pretty decent. Paul has also been reading a slew of bridge books, then instructing me with helpful tidbits on occasion. Given the complexity of the game, we’re still very much novices though.

Last night, Paul and I spent the evening playing duplicate bridge at the Colorado Springs Bridge Center. They have a Monday night of duplicate bridge for novices organized by our excellent bridge instructor Mike Nussbaum and his lovely wife Fran.

Although we were playing with other novices, it was the first time that we played by strict rules with strangers, as opposed to informally with the friends in our classes. So that was stressful. By the end of the 14 hands over two-and-a-half hours of play, I was completely wiped out. In terms of mental exhaustion (as opposed to fun), it was almost like I’d just taken the SATs or GREs. I don’t expect to be that exhausted in the future, but I was pretty well amazed that a hobby could do that to me. Then again, it is bridge.

Happily, Paul and I did pretty well. In duplicate bridge, you need to do well relative to all the other north-south or east-west pairs playing your exact hands. So it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose points in the particular hands you play, only whether you lost more or less points than the other pairs when they played those hands. (That eliminates any luck in the distribution of cards from the scoring.) Paul and I ended up in first place amongst the six east-west pairs. We earned .35 master points. To put that in perspective, once we earn 20 points, we can no longer play in this novice night. We obviously have a ways to go!

I think my brain is still tired this morning. Luckily, the paper on Descartes’ and Newton’s respective theories of space and body that I’ll be writing today doesn’t require quite so much brain power as bridge did last night!

Ted Haggard and Nathaniel Branden

Mar 262007

Ed Cline recently posted a positive review of Jim Valliant’s The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics on Rule of Reason. It’s worth a look.

Let me digress for a moment…

A few days ago, I watched an HBO documentary by Alexandra Pelosi entitled “Friends of God.” (The video showing an evangelical anti-evolution seminar that I blogged a few weeks ago was from this documentary.) Ted Haggard is featured prominently in the documentary. His downfall from high influence due to his meth-and-gay-sex scandal broke just as the documentary was wrapping up filming, if I recall correctly. In one interview, he speaks passionately of the need for religious leaders to be moral exemplars, not just for the sake of their own flock, but for everyone. Notably, he said that — with earnest sincerity and perfect ease — while actually indulging in his own dark vices.

Ted Haggard could not have said what he said in the way he said it — not if he valued moral honesty. I don’t think that mere repression would allow a person to become so very comfortable with that gross contradiction between his own preached ideals and his own behavior. More would be required to seem so sincere, particularly a positive pleasure in the capacity to deceive anyone and everyone. Any guilt he felt was thoroughly suppressed in public; he assumed a persona of his own creation, based on the expectations of others. And that’s why he was so very charismatic.

When exposed as a moral fraud, the enormous evil of Haggard’s actions probably crashed down on him — at least for a time. I don’t think he just regretting getting caught, as so many criminals do: Haggard wasn’t that kind of deliberate con artist. He was a sincere believer in Christian ideals, at least at one time. However, I’m sure that three weeks of therapy can’t even begin to scratch the surface of his twisted character, meaning that Haggard’s self-excusing and/or self-righteous facade will soon return. A person cannot live in the face of utter moral failure; unless he conceals himself with self-deception, he would be driven to suicide.

I mention the case of Ted Haggard in this post for one simple reason: I suspect that his psychology is fundamentally like that of Nathaniel Branden. Despite the radical differences in the ideals in question, the basic pattern is strikingly similar. If that doesn’t seem plausible to you, then you might wish to read Jim Valliant’s The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics. It’s very revealing, to say the least.

Dressage Freestyle

Mar 252007

I cannot even begin to explain how difficult this level of training is to achieve with a horse. So just watch in amazement, not just at the skills of the horse but also at the total but quiet control exerted by the rider.

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