Thursday, February 26, 2009

Art Attack Emmy Bound

You guys remember all those awesome quotes we posted from Art Attack? Well it turns out we aren't the only one's who like the show. Because it's Emmy Bound baby!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pick 3 See 1

So, the 100 books craze that everybody has gotten into of late has a few serious limitations. The following list is at once much broader and at the same time much more limited. I think the value it offers readers and those who fill it out is much higher--but see for yourself.

Rules are simple:

1. Pick three favorites in each area of art (adding others if you want to)
2. Add briefly your reasons why, if you have the time and motivation


Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo
Enchanted by Orson Scott Card


"The Guy in the Glass" by Dale Wimbrow
"See it Through" by Edgar A. Guest
"The Westerner" by Badger Clark


Amelie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Kill Bill by Quentin Tarantino
Chocolat by Lasse Hostrom


An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen
Inherit the Wind by Lawrence and Lee
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmund Rostand


Count Those Days by Earl Randolph’s Orchestra
Eccentric by Jack Bund and His Bravour Dance Band
Everybody Loves My Baby by The Georgians


Unknown by Lord Frederick Leighton
Absorption by Michael Newberry
Just the Beginning by Bryan Larsen

The list is called "Pick 3 See 1" by the way because after listing your three favorites in each area, it should be easy for readers to see the kind of person that you are. This is especially true when one's reasons are added for each (which I will have to do at a later time).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The 100 Books

I'm taking the easy way out of writing a thoughtful post today and am going to do the 100 books thing instead (which we saw at Rational Jenn's).

The Rules:

Bold those you have read.
Italicize those you intend to read.

A Twist:

Star your five favorites on the list.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen*
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling*
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 1984 - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman*
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas*
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo*

I have only read 36 out the 100, but given a lot of the books on this list, that's nothing to be ashamed of in my opinion. I'm in no hurry to read the books italicized, but I definitely need to read more Jane Austen. Not because she's on the list, of course, but because I enjoyed one of her masterpieces immensely, and I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy the others.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Award You No Points

Everyone should have the following quote memorized for those special moments that occasion it:

"What you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

Friday, February 13, 2009

How to Save Time Debating Politics

I made a post at one of my other blogs that focused on how to waste time in three easy steps--when arguing about the bailout or the "stimulus" plan. Here are the same three points, though put in reverse for those who would like to save time rather than waste it:

1. Do not place your primary attention on range-bound issues, considered apart from the premises that support a stance. In this case, you save time by not focusing on the size of the bill or who in particular gets what--which in the end is much less important than the deeper issues.

2. Focus on the fundamentals issues at stake--which in political discussions usually means a focus on rights, and then on the nature of man (or the morality proper to him).

3. Converse with those who have active minds--meaning people who are able to conceptualize, think in principles, and are concerned with identifying the truth (as opposed to arguing a point, winning an argument, etc).

Though results are not guaranteed, if you follow the three suggestions above, not only should you have more time to enjoy your life, you will also be able to replace the (hopefully) unusual state of frustration or anger that comes when dealing with the irrational.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What Are Americans Drinking?

After reading a great letter by Ari Armstrong on controls in the beer market (within Colorado) and then a horrible response from someone who disagreed, I made the following post:

...I think Ari is right. The idea that some Americans claim the "right" to force store owners not to sell beer over a certain alcohol level is ludicrous.

If the government in the US actually has that much power, and people are perfectly complacent about or supportive of it, it is not Ari who needs to wake up, but any citizen who has (or had) even the slightest bit of respect for the country's founding documents.

I honestly don't know what Americans have been drinking that allows them to claim every conceivable "right" in the world--to be paid for by someone else--and in the same breath say that they support freedom, or respect the Founders, or--you get the point.

In any case, it wasn't beer over a certain alcohol level.

The most likely answer is that they were sold a set of ideas completely antithetical to those upon which the country was founded. And you people have swallowed it whole for the past 100 years. Well, welcome to the hangover period brothers. You asked for it!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Separate Ideas and the State

In response to a post at the always delicious NoodleFood, where the author points out (rightly) the dishonesty and skewed understanding of rights that Glenn Beck uses to lambast a recent court decision, I wrote the following:

...[While] I think the belief in a supernatural being is completely arbitrary, I completely understand the anger Beck expresses here. It comes from experiencing injustice--on a huge scale.

Beck works hard, has strongly held convictions, and he is forced to pay taxes. Those taxes are then used to support and advance ideas which he personally finds abonimable. Leaving aside the rationality or irrationality of any specific conclusions he may have, he has every right to not want to support different ideas than his own and to be flabbergasted that any and every idea except for even remotely religious ones are supported with his money.

This is the true evil of government-run schools. They necessarily have to teach some ideas, and since all minds do not think alike, people are compelled to support with their hard-earned dollars the perpetuation of ideas with which they disagree (and perhaps strongly so). Unsurprisingly, this causes society to splinter up into groups--each pushing their own agenda to be enforced by the government--and it leads to increasing hatred against those outside. Note: this is exactly what the "separation of church and state" was meant to avoid.

Going to the root of the issue, I think rational activists for freedom should not waste time arguing whether this subject or that one should be taught. Rather, acknowledge the anger expressed by any one group, point out that they should be outraged that their hard-earned money is funding ideas they abhor, and state the solution: get the government out of the realm of ideas completely.

This means a widening of the famous abstraction to include all ideas--whether religious or secular. It means that we should not narrowly focus on the attempts by the religious to use the force of government to support their ideas but actively support the view that such an activity is wrong no matter the group, no matter the idea, and no matter the purpose.

What we need is a new concept and a new aspiration--the complete separation of the state from the realm of ideas--and we need to build this up at every possible chance, using every instance of injustice to point out just how immoral and impractical the current system is. In time, a good many people will agree with us. Because people of intelligence still exist. And we are right.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Commentary on the Atlas Scene

After reading the unpublished scene from Atlas Shrugged--in her lecture "The Spirit of Francisco"--Shoshana Milgram provides the following commentary:

What Francisco said is pervasive and significant in Ayn Rand's fiction--although generally without close verbal equivalents: "When we turn a corner, there will always be something exciting and wonderful there--we will be there."

What is Francisco saying here? In miniature, I think it's the Fountainhead. It's the self-sufficient ego--invulnerable, uncrushable. It's the reverence of the noble soul for itself. We will be there. We will be what we have made of ourselves.

And for the evil characters, their hell is what they've done to themselves. Consider: "the burning pressure on his temples and the faint, dizzying, nausea of unreality came from the fact that he could not recapture the sense of being Dr Robert Stadler."

For Dr Stadler, he is no longer there. Not after what he's done. Around every corner he will seek in vain the self he betrayed--and instead of "the fearless mind and the inviolate truth," he'll find something awful: the mind he betrayed.

Similarly, James Taggart, who shaped his evil self long ago and has been running from the awareness of it ever since, is destroyed by the vision--so to speak--of himself.

"The sight he was confronting was within him." For James Taggart, beyond every corner and at the end of every blind alley--once the fog is cleared away--there is and will always be something horrible: he will be there.

...with Wynand, that's the great tragedy. It's that he's not there, he's committed the unforgivable sin: the treason against his own greatness.

But the good news is that the fullfillment of one's own promise, by contrast, is (for example) Rearden's triumph. On the night of Dagny's broadcast, when Rearden tells Dagny everything he's learned and accepted--including her use of the past tense (in talking about their relationship)--Dagny sees his spiritual achievement.

"Looking up at his face, she realized that, for the first time, he was what she always thought him intended to be--a man with an immense capacity for the joy of existence. The taut look of endurance, of fiercely unadmitted pain, was gone. Now, in the midst of the wreckage and of his hardest hour, his face had the serenity of pure strength. It had the look she had seen in the faces of the men in the valley."

...For Ayn Rand's heroes--from Kira, with her enduring smile and her salute to the possibilities of life--to Prometheus, in the act of discovering the self as the greatest treasure--to The Fountainhead itself and the great-souled heroes of Atlas--spiritual splendour is the reward that at every moment, and forever, will always be there. It's what can't be lost.

Whatever the turns of the plot, whatever the setbacks and difficulties, they will be there.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Unpublished Atlas Shrugged Scene

It was on the evening before his departure, that they sat alone together, in a hidden corner, by the edge of the water. A rocky hill rose in a bend at the river ahead. There were long, thin strips of fire in the sky beyond the black rock--and red sparks floating lazily on the water.

Francisco pointed ahead and asked, "Dagny, if you walked around the turn of that rock, what would you expect to find there?"

Dagny said, "Something exciting and wonderful."

He chuckled, nodding, and said, "So do I. So does everybody else. That is what people always expect to find around every corner they turn. And they're always disappointed. But you and I won't be. We know something they've never discovered. When we turn a corner, there will always be something exciting and wonderful there: we will be there."

Dagny laughed, lying stretched on the soft, pine needles of the shore. She had no desire to turn any corner right now.

He said, "We'll never go seeking anything. We'll make it. Just remember that that's the difference between us and everybody else."

He sat, half-stretched, propped up on his elbows. She put her head in the crook of his arm and lay looking peacefully up at the sky. She felt what she had never felt before: contented and lazy. She felt that only here, only with him and under his protection, was it proper for her to let herself feel such a strange thing as rest.

--a young Francisco d'Anconia and Dagny Taggart, in a written but unpublished scene from Atlas Shrugged.