Whimsy and studiousness from a nice lady who lives in Michigan and loves Objectivism.

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Name: Amy
Location: United States

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Activism & Original Sin

I highly recommend Dina Schein Federman’s “Ayn Rand as Intellectual Activist” lecture. We have been listening to it at our (very successful!) GLO meetings, and it is amazing in that it sounds exactly like what is happening today.

The Republicans have had 70+ years to get their act together. Ayn Rand warned them back in the 1930s about their poisonous affectation for altruism, and what it would lead to. One of the more interesting bits of information revealed another philosophical illness the Republicans harbored, specific to religion, namely original sin -- or the view of man as depraved, helpless and, therefore, in need of government assistance.

It will be interesting to see how altruism and original sin influence the current tea party movement, if at all (hopefully). When generally rational, self-sustaining and productive people get shoved against the wall of statism and told that they must obey and serve as slaves, lest they are fined and jailed -- they will fight back.

However, connecting that immediate threat to philosophical principles and the long-term consequences of ideas will be more difficult to grasp for tea party folks. I’m surprised that the moth-eaten imperatives of selflessness and the “greater good” haven’t impeded the rallies. But I’ll be even more surprised if the rallies focus more correctly on individual rights (instead of just limited government), and their own personal right to be free and live for themselves and their own benefit. So far, when confronted with the notion that their own happiness is an affront to the welfare of some poor shlub, and how dare they harm the poor shlub by not sacrificing for him, they won’t take the bait. I hope that keeps up.

The protests that I’ve attended have been awesome opportunities to spread Objectivist principles, and I hope that these conservatives and independents continue to enlighten themselves.

But as so many of us understand the evils of altruism, it is important to remember original sin and remind people of this, as it is the second major idea that have kept conservatives from truly understanding individual rights. 70+ years is a hell of a long time to fudge. So I’ve decided to rake these Republican politicians over the burning coals, show them what for, and remind them that they can no longer play the hero against the lefties, as they are the villains as well. I’ll be writing.

There are other excellent points made in this lecture – so go listen for yourself!

This talk focuses on Ayn Rand's unique approach to changing the world and extracts lessons for our own fight to promote Objectivism. Dr. Federman reports on Miss Rand's experiences on the basis of which she came to her conclusions about changing the culture: that political activism without intellectual activism is futile; that the cause of our political problems is the ideas our culture holds; that it is the most consistent advocate of an idea who wins; that political conservatives harm capitalism more than the leftists do.

Ayn Rand specialized in identifying philosophical fundamentals driving current events, rejecting both blind political action and ivory-tower philosophizing. Dr. Federman surveys Miss Rand's intellectual activism, answering such questions as: How did Miss Rand select her issues? On what basis would she refuse to appear in print or to be interviewed? How does Objectivism's integration of theory and practice give Objectivists the inspiration to fight our cultural battle that followers of less-integrated movements cannot have?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Using Ayn Rand quotes online

I'm back... finally! I'll check in later on where I've been -- but it's basically been fun-filled adventures I've been having.

Here is an online comment I made today in response to a smear article regarding Ayn Rand blurted out by a guy named Sam Anderson in New York Magazine:

"She’d start piecing together her rationalist Tinkertoys until the mighty Randian edifice towered over you" [quote from article]

I don't think Sam Anderson understands what he is trying to write about. He is describing the majority of modern philosophy university professors, not Ayn Rand. She based her entire philosophy on reason, through and through.

It appears that Anderson feels threatened by logic. If so, what is he basing his arguments on? His tantrums are appropriate to air on some street corner, but not in this publication.

Perhaps Anderson should take some friendly advice from Ms. Rand:

"A man who is run by emotions is like a man who is run by a computer whose print-outs he cannot read. He does not know whether its programming is true or false, right or wrong, whether it’s set to lead him to success or destruction, whether it serves his goals or those of some evil, unknowable power. He is blind on two fronts: blind to the world around him and to his own inner world, unable to grasp reality or his own motives, and he is in chronic terror of both." -- Philosophy: Who Needs It

So I wish Anderson luck in his life -- without reason and logic, that's the only thing he'll be able to count on.

A tip of my hat and curtsey to Harry Binswanger who suggested (on HBL) inserting quotes written by Ayn Rand. In this case, it was a perfect quote, and I'm glad I could display an example of her brilliance. I'm going to make it a point to use quotes from the Lexicon, so that people who haven't read her can at least read a little.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Edison and The Primacy of Existence

As Thomas Edison will be honored tonight through the illumination of his most famous invention, I'd like to post his very interesting "primacy of existence" quote:
Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving. If God made me—the fabled God of the three qualities of which I spoke: mercy, kindness, love—He also made the fish I catch and eat. And where do His mercy, kindness, and love for that fish come in? No; nature made us—nature did it all—not the gods of the religions.
Edison was known to be either a deist or an atheist. "Nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving" -- this is most meaningful part for tonight, regardless of what environmentalists wish you to believe. And nature sure as heck shouldn't be worshipped. Bravo, Mr. Edison!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Edison Hour is Lighting Up Facebook

This Saturday, March 28, 8:30-930 p.m., please be a responsible and grateful Industrial Revolutionist and TURN ON YOUR LIGHTS -- join Edison Hour on Facebook.

In a bit of coincidental intellectual greatness, the University of Michigan Students of Objectivism recently had the same "Edison Hour" lightbulb over their heads that I had last year.  Rational minds do think alike!

Protest those unfortunate souls who would admit guilt for living in the most innovative country in human history and apologize for human happiness and success. Remember, this is not about conservation. We are not running out of energy. And don't be fooled by the unsubstantiated propaganda that human beings are destroying a fragile earth -- our planet is not fragile and we can do nothing to change the weather, silly people. :-)

So be sure to GO EDISON on the 28th. Let's make this the brightest celebration on earth!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Letter to Obama

I'm posting yet again to my favorite blog. I will be trying my best to post much more, including on topics that are more personal, different and perhaps very unique. I will also be posting comments I write from other blogs and media forums, as I would like to have these recorded in one place for fun and posterity.

In the meantime, I received very complimentary feedback (from very awesome people) on the letter I wrote to Obama to commemorate the Nationwide Chicago Tea Party, as initiated by the skilled oratory of Rick Santelli. In the signed and mailed letter, I included a nice packaged bag of Lipton tea:

February 27, 2009

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

President Obama:

Today is the kick-off the of the Nationwide Tea Party, so I am enclosing one tea bag to remind you that I am not your slave nor the slave of any other person with "needs" — that the wealth that I earn is mine, and the money that you forcibly take from me is theft.

While you are in office, I will be fighting for my property rights and, most of all, my rights as a sovereign individual — to think, act and produce by my own mind and actions.

You plan to force your way into my bank account even more. But as long as there is a place to say it, I will make known to as many Americans I can that what you are doing is immoral. Stealing any amount of my money to give to anyone is immoral, no matter what the purpose.

With this tea bag, I am telling you that I do not sanction your vicious attacks on my livelihood. I understand that you are boldly lying when you claim to want to reduce the federal deficit and pay lip service to the noble idea of personal responsibility, while encouraging every ne’er-do-well to dip into the public loot.

You are not my boss or parent or dictator, even though you want to force this relationship on me. I do not accept this abusive, parasitic relationship, and I promise to fight my entire life to teach others the moral ideas of individual rights, rational self-interest and unsullied capitalism in order to stop thieves like you.

As Samuel Adams once said, "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." I, along with my friends, will never willingly bend to your grotesque demands. You may make more slaves out of people, including nationalizing healthcare to make slaves of doctors, but you will never have my moral sanction.

With great sincerity,

Amy Nasir

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trebor at the New Way Bar!

Long ago, Robert was in an avant-garde garage-rock band called Trebor, and has recently regrouped with his brother Robbie - with me on drums! Yes, you heard right - I'm a chic drummer. :-) We are playing at the New Way Bar in Ferndale, Mich., on Saturday, December 13, 9:30 p.m. And we will be playing with my new favorite old-school, punk rock band, the CIA.

Click below for the official special edition collector's item flyer (which I created with my mad InDesign/Photoshop skillz) for your viewing and printing and posting pleasure.


I am totally-tubularly honored to be a part of Trebor, and feel much more confident as a performer. I was never shy on stage, and now I'm much less nervous about going to a public place and banging on the drums, keepin' time. Although I'm a bit nervous about getting paid for it!

If you're in town, it would be great to see you in the audience. In the meantime, Rock-On!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ayn Rand Wasn't Joking

No, I thought, not really. Couldn't be... But it was true.

I recently studied the history of the Chrysler Building, which is a beautiful and tremendously heroic story, and I came across a photo of the architect, William Van Alen. (Guess which one he is.) I could not believe what I had always thought was a humorously exaggerated scene in The Fountainhead actually took place:

That winter the annual costume Arts Ball was an event of greater brilliance and originality than usual…

Peter Keating was the star of the evening. He looked wonderful as the Cosmo-Slotnick Building. An exact papier-mâché replica of his famous structure covered him from head to knees; one could not see his face, but his bright eyes peered from behind the windows of the top floor, and the crowning pyramid of the roof rose over his head; the colonnade hit him somewhere about the diaphragm, and he wagged a finger through the portals of the great entrance door. His legs were free to move with his usual elegance, in faultless dress trousers and patent-leather pumps…

Guy Francon was very impressive as the Frink National Bank Building, although the structure looked a little squatter than the original, in order to allow for Francon’s stomach... Ralston Holcombe was magnificent as a state capitol, and Gordon L. Prescott was very masculine as a grain elevator… Two wits engaged in a duel, butting each other in the belly with famous spires, great landmarks of the city that greet the ships approaching from across the ocean. Everybody had lots of fun. (pg. 315)
It was 1931 at the Beaux-Arts Ball for the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects. Van Alen had been a student in Paris' École des Beaux-Arts. At least his stomach didn't distort the structure.

Ayn Rand certainly had fun with this scene. Even though this picture hurts to look at, this is just another instance where I love her perceptiveness.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Advice for Running an Objectivist Study Group

I recently received a very nice question from someone who was looking for advice on starting an Objectivist club. My response is below, but if you have any other advice, please feel free to comment.
  • Decide where you will hold meetings - at your home, school, library, restaurant banquet room. The best place for audio/visual is at home, or library as some better libraries have projection/video equipment, etc. Although, some restaurants have wi-fi.
  • Do you want to cook and serve meals, or have meals to buy; do you want to be able to watch movies/lectures or just listen to them on a portable stereo/laptop, etc.?
  • How long do you want the meetings to run? Mine runs from 530pm to around midnight, with dinner included at home. If at a restaurant or library, your time will be limited.
  • How often do you want to hold meetings? I have mine once a month (I go to school and work full-time), and we hold it on a regular schedule of every 4th Saturday of each month.
  • Are you building a club from scratch? Then you need advertising and a website and/or a blog - best places to get the word out include, ARI, Noodlefood, MySpace, Facebook. Post, spread the news, get on blog rolls and get listed. Talk to people at work, etc. We have about 15 people who have attended, with the average group size being around 6-10.
  • I suggest creating a good name for your group, preferably one that can be abbreviated and used as an acronym. (Great Lakes Objectivists, or GLO.)
  • Something that I haven’t done yet, but will soon, is create business cards regarding the group, and have members take some to give out.
  • Have a clear vision of what topics to present. Don't always rely on printed materials or books - Ayn Rand lectures and ARI videos are free on the ARI site. Don't expect attendees to read or study anything before arriving, unless they are very enthusiastic and driven. Plan your topics as far ahead as possible. Balance your meetings between tangents and scheduled topics. I find what works is 35% scheduled topics and 65% general conversation and tangents. I keep any audio-only materials to under 30 minutes.
  • No matter how tempting, try not to stray from your scheduled topic. This is why I only use 35% or less of the meeting time. It’s important to stay on track, but give ample time to general conversation. Ideally, I want attendees to anticipate and become excited about a topic and learn something, but I also want to give them freedom to interact and allow them to bring something of their own to the table.
  • I created a simple website with the topics already planned out in advance. I plan to do this for 3-4 month blocks.
  • For audio materials, I also listen to the audio ahead of time, type out notes, and give out copies for people to read along with. This keeps everyone from zoning out. If we are studying a general idea, like the Benevolent Universe Premise, I compile quotes and make print-outs.
  • I occasionally read an article out loud or have someone else read aloud, but I limit this for the same reason I limit long, taped lectures.
  • I encourage everyone to bring print-outs of their letters to editors, blog posts, etc. This encourages everyone else to speak out, as we really need to do right now.
  • Depending on how interesting and intensive a video lecture is, I try to keep it to an hour, or break it out into two parts, and usually don’t hand out notes in advance. I always keep aware of people’s interest levels, and if someone is getting tired, I wrap it up and continue next meeting.
  • When playing a tape/CD or DVD, if anyone wants to stop the lecture and ask a question or make a comment, I usually have the policy that we will stop and talk, but encourage anyone who does this frequently to write the question or statement down, so we can review it after. If this happens a lot, it can be disruptive.
  • When discussing things in general, I am diligent in tracking who's turn it is to speak. Or if someone starts to say something and is interrupted, I make sure we go back to that person.
  • In general, I find that there is less unruliness and more focus if meetings are held at home, as people consider themselves as “gracious guests.” It also gives more reality-basis for screening people (before entering your home), which I do by asking a new person to answer a question form I have online.
  • My general approach and set-up for social interaction and learning is that no one is there to show-off or intimidate or grill another participant. Philosophy meetings are not contests to see who is the smartest or cleverest, or who can quote directly from "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology." Objectivism is a philosophy for living on earth. We are gathering to learn and encourage each other in thought, life and activism, and to celebrate each other’s accomplishments. If we have someone who really doesn’t get this, or has a fundamental disagreement with Objectivism, we discuss it with them after the meeting, or during the meeting, if it’s not disruptive (or if it's absolutely necessary).
  • I am very fortunate to host a wonderful group of people who are rational, friendly, funny and gracious. Of course, I would not be able to do what I do without my husband, Robert. And many of our attendees are my friends and “adopted” family who not only bring gifts of food, but gifts of rational thought, wisdom and inspiration. Having a study/social group is very, very rewarding.

I'm happy I received a question on this, otherwise I wouldn't have written down my thoughts. And having written them down, I'm fairly impressed. I like being a host, because I like spreading wisdom and joy to those who appreciate it. And this is the one thing I'd like to add -- remember that the primary reason people come to meetings is to see other people appreciate ideas, and to express thanks to them for simply being out there in the world. I recently received this same reaction from a co-worker who told me, after learning that I study Ayn Rand, "I just wanted to let you know that I’m glad you’re out there." Putting aside all those awkward and alien moments spent with people in general, here is a moment that makes it all worth it.

And a second special thanks to my Husband, Robert, for whom my meetings would not be as delicious AND thought-provoking -- Happy 8th Wedding Anniversary as of tomorrow, and many more wonderful days ahead!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Amy Does the Astro

Here is my evaluative essay assigned in my Astronomy class for your reading pleasure. I had to rank space exploration-related events in order of cultural, technological, political, historical and PHILOSOPHICAL importance. Also included at bottom is my Instructor's positive comments. Yippee!

This was a difficult task, but I was especially proud of my descriptions of the Moon landing and "First Human in Space." (When I read the "First Human in Space" paragraph, I almost cry out of anger!) You know, I love how Objectivism has given me so many great insights that I can apply to so many things. See if you can spot my applications!

The Not-Just-The-Facts Big 6 Project
by Amy Nasir

#1 – The First Moon Landing

Human beings have existed on Earth for about 200,000 years. Within that time, they have looked to the moon as a constant source of wonder, imagination, and even fear. In ancient times it was viewed as an unknowable and mystical object. The Age of Enlightenment regarded it as an increasingly measurable and predictable satellite. It was once scrawled by primitive man onto cave walls, worshipped and sacrificed to as a symbol of the Greek goddess, Diana, among other supernatural deities, viewed as a cause of lycanthropy and insanity, thought to be made of cheese, then used as a unit of time to measure months, traveled to by various probes, measured and photographed, and finally walked upon by human beings, the American flag being first to mark it. This historical and cultural perspective frames the moon landing of Apollo 11 as the most important space mission in history, and perhaps one of the most important events in all of human history. All technological components and procedures of this flight had been tested and rehearsed, except for the landing itself and the ascent from the moon’s surface. On July 20, 1969, the entire world, not only Americans, watched and waited with bated breath as Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, with only 25 seconds of fuel remaining, guided the lunar module to the surface, walked down the module ladder to touch the moon’s ground, and then lifted off of the moon safely to return to Earth four days later. The only people who were displeased by this event were the Soviet Communists who had engaged America in a space race. It was important for a nation of freedom-loving people to beat out those who, in the U.S.S.R., were known to murder hundreds of thousands of their own citizens and threaten other free nations. The United States of America had won the space race.

#2 – Sputnik

Sputnik 1 was the wake-up call that struck fear into the hearts of Americans and jump-started efforts to join the space race. The launch of the Soviet satellite took the Eisenhower administration by surprise as the U.S. was in the process of developing a satellite much smaller than Sputnik 1. Even though President Eisenhower at first considered the Soviet’s achievement as insignificant, the American people broke into a panic to quickly establish more government agencies to develop and research space and defense programs. There was a good possibility that this satellite would be a technological stepping-stone for the Soviets to deploy nuclear weapons against us. The government created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Advanced Research Projects Agency, later renamed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), consequently increasing government spending and taxes. Just a month after the Soviets lauched Sputnik 1, they launched another satellite, this time with a dog on board, Sputnik 2. An American satellite, Explorer 1, was finally launched successfully into orbit about three months later. This satellite was better equipped than both the Soviets’ however, as it was able to detect the Van Allen magnetic radiation belts. Without Sputnik and the subsequent fearful reaction by Americans, NASA may not have been established and the motivation would probably not have been strong enough to send men to the moon as soon as we did. The fear of Soviet missiles seemed to be a bigger motivator than human being’s quest for knowledge of the heavens. Without NASA, our country’s defense systems would not have been built so rapidly and resulted in us having the best military power in the world, as it is today.

#3 – First Human in Space

The Soviet cosmonaut, Yari Gagarin, became Communism’s best example of the greatness, innovation and power of its iron fist. He was selected by the U.S.S.R’s military for his physical endurance, small stature for fitting into the Vostok 1 space capsule, handsome looks -- and his willingness to be a tool of propaganda. His name may not be remembered by most, but the fact that an American was not the first to reach space and orbit the Earth will always be remembered, despite the U.S.S.R. having crumbled long ago. After returning from the April 12, 1961 flight, Gagarin received several medals from around the world, touring Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, and Japan to promote not his own achievement, but the Soviets’ achievement. It’s almost unbelievable how this nation of dictators and puppets could have devised such technology. If their country hadn’t been air-tight, lined with barbedwire, guardtowers and guns, the scientists and other men of the mind would have not been there to help them achieve this. Perhaps the spies played a part. At the time, many people living in free countries still harbored sentiment for the idea of Communism, and this Soviet achievement bolstered their beliefs. Little did they know that same year, Nikita Khrushchev, Premier of the Soviet Union, encouraged East Berlin to construct the Berlin Wall and murder those trying to cross into freedom. One of the biggest blows to freedom had been dealt by the hand of a cosmonaut achieving an air of respectability for a totalitarian regime. This darkened one of the greatest technological achievements in human history.

#4 – Development of the Space Shuttle

The Space Shuttle program was officially launched in 1972 and is currently the backbone of space exploration. The Nixon Administration agreed that NASA needed a reusable space vehicle. This would present major improvements to save on costs (taxpayer’s money), time, effort and materials. They chose a design that would cost less and would last for 10 years or 100 launches, an incredible accomplishment of engineering. It started with a test vehicle equipped only for flight in the atmosphere, not space. Giving way to public demands, this first vehicle was named Enterprise, based on the Star Trek TV show. It would launch a reusable winged orbiter attached to an external tank and two rocket boosters, then after completing its mission, would use its thrusters to leave orbit, re-enter the atmosphere, and simply glide down to an unpowered landing, all of which tested successfully. Despite its generally flourishing history, the Space Shuttle program suffered two disasters – the destruction of the Challenger and Columbia shuttles, resulting in the deaths of fourteen astronauts. Since then, the program has undergone extensive criticism to help it improve not only its safety, but to stay within its budget. The current Space Shuttle will be retired in 2010 and replaced by the Orion spacecraft in 2014. Its last mission is scheduled for October 2008 when it will repair the Hubble Space Telescope. As a lesson for the future of space exploration, these technical malfunctions and disasters should be addressed in the context of the effectiveness of our government. There are countless government programs that are dismal failures when compared to those projects and organizations found in the free market. The success of the private venture, SpaceShipOne, speaks loudly to this observation. Although this is a tremendous opportunity for re-examining our fundamental motivations for space travel and changing direction to private organizations, it is still only a potential opportunity for impacting history and technology. It is now time to question our existing system and let those who want to privately invest in exploration, colonization and education do what they would like, relieving the financial burden of taxpayers who choose not to invest.

#5 – International Space Station

Although the plans for the International Space Station have ended the space race and involved commitments from several countries, including Russia, it has only slowly and expensively come together to currently result in the potential for useful experimentation. The plan was initiated in 1993, only seven years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with Russia starting the construction in 1998, and the U.S. adding to it the same year. Between 2003 and 2007, the ISS suffered five major incidents due to the Columbia disaster, ventilation malfunction, computer failure, a torn solar panel, and a damaged Solar Alpha Rotary Joint. Since 2000, it has only conducted experimentation on human biological responses researching effects of kidney stones, circadian rhythm and the effects on the nervous system by cosmic rays, as the station has been continuously staffed. These experiments may enable NASA to understand the viability of long-term space travel by humans, although these goals have been currently met through the use of robots. The station’s completion will have cost at least $50 billion dollars over 23 years (1994-2017), the current estimated completion date being 2010. With our gross national debt approaching $10 trillion (about $31,000 for every American man, woman and child), a very serious evaluation must be made now on whether to keep building upon it or not. As it currently serves no direct military function to protect the U.S. nor results in major scientific accomplishments, space tourism has gained momentum resulting in five private citizens visiting the ISS, each paying about $25 million to the Russian space program. In light of the current political antagonism from Russia selling arms to Venezuela and Cuba and having talks with them to form a military alliance, along with aggressive naval exercises in the Caribbean, it was a mistake for the U.S. to share technology with and work with Russia on this space station. At least for now, the monetary and political costs outweigh the benefits of the ISS.

#6 – Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope’s story is a simple one. It has no truly significant impact on our life on Earth, no major political ramifications, and only some historical importance. However, this story does have a straightforward technological significance. NASA built a better mousetrap, not to catch any mice, but to take better pictures of them thousands of light years away. Being placed outside the atmosphere, which distorts light coming from the stars, it can clearly detect X-rays emitted from high-temperature phenomena in stars. Ground-based telescopes cannot yet do this, however new advances in adaptive optics have improved their imaging abilities. In a billion years, Hubble’s data might ensure that astronomical phenomena -- black holes, dark matter, comets, meteors, exploding suns, space gases, parts of the universe expanding -- does not harm Earth. Of course, it would be a wonderful thing if human beings survive and flourish a billion years from now. But in our current political and economic situation, the additional enormous costs to maintain the Hubble Space Telescope outweigh the beautiful pictures it takes. If space programs in general were run by the private sector, the rationale for implementing them would have to be securely tied to a good reason and a future purpose. America’s money belongs to those individuals who earn it every day. It should never be forcibly taken from them and used willy-nilly to build a better mousetrap, when the mice aren’t relevant to our defense or useful to our space exploration plans to begin with, and especially when they couldn’t even get it right the first time due to the faulty mirror. Considering the fact that total federal spending in the past eight years rose 68%, this will hopefully give pause to Michael Griffin, NASA’s current Administrator.

And my Instructor's response: Very well written essay. Very creative and original as well. I liked your take on the USSR, one of the absolute worst governments ever. It's a shame Putin has pointed Russia back toward those bad-old-days.

Isn't that encouraging coming from a teacher?

Ok...on to my next Astro Chapter!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

InDesign Work and More Posts

It's been a while, but I will be posting more now that the luscious summertime is coming to an end. I took an InDesign class in the spring, and here are some of the fruits of my work:

Wine advertisement - WineFinal.pdf
Avril calendar - Avril.pdf
Mai calendar - Mai.pdf
Corporate identity 1 - EnvCard.pdf
Corporate identity 2 - Letterhead.pdf
Corporate identity 3 - Flyer.pdf
Home newsletter - Home.pdf
Ice festival program - Icey.pdf
Lux Lapin newsletter [my favorite!] - LuxLapin.pdf

Much of the art and text was ready-made, but many of the design elements and modifications are my own. I especially like the French calendar numbers spelled-out, the upside-down top hat used as a "T", and my original writing in the Lux Lapin/Bun-Worshippers newsletter. Please feel free to print out the calendar pages -- they are for April and May 2009. I'm no super-genius with InDesign yet, but plan to be in the near future!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Objectivist Meeting on July 26

Hope everyone is having a particularly wonderful summer!

I'm taking time to enjoy as much as I can, and that includes hosting our next meeting this Saturday, 7/26 at 530pm. We'll be serving dinner, mint juleps, and an abundance of knowledge on our next honorable subject — Dr. Leonard Peikoff.

As I have been continuously mentioning Dr. Peikoff at meetings, and how great he is, I thought the subject would be worthy of more attention. I will be playing a small portion of his 1972 lecture on the History of Philosophy, where he demonstrates his brilliant intelligence, clear communication and quick wit.

On a side note, I am very happy that Ayn Rand had the wisdom to choose Dr. Peikoff as her intellectual and financial heir — especially intellectual. Without his defense of her philosophy during the crucial time after her death — facing down the attempted philosophical sabotage of Gnat, Babs and D Kelly — Objectivism would probably not have penetrated the culture in the powerful and positive way that it has through the Ayn Rand Institute. Dr. Peikoff is the admirable protector of the most important philosophy in the history of man, and made possible the solid foundation and integrity of Objectivism through which we better our own lives and spread rational culture.

In addition to the tape, Robert will be choosing a section to read aloud of Dr. Peikoff's book, "Objectivism, the Philosophy of Ayn Rand." As a special treat, we will be serving Dr. Peikoff's favorite food, AND I will have prizes on hand for a modest round of Dr. Peikoff trivia — his life and his works.

As always, please bring any articles of interest for our current events discussion. And if you have any Letters to the Editor or online posts that you would like to share, please bring them.

Our Objectivist study meeting schedule is set for every fourth Saturday of each month. If you live in southeastern Michigan and would like to know more, please email me. We'd love to meet you.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ayn Rand and Scrabble

Happy Memorial Day weekend! During Saturday's meeting, you could say we had a memorial to Ayn Rand as we listened to Harry Binswanger and Allan Gotthelf's talk on Ayn Rand's character and personality. It was story after story of how she took her values seriously, especially the positive ones, and innumerable instances of her personal warmth, caring and friendship.

I've also transcribed my favorite excerpt from one of Harry Binswanger's recollections, for your referential pleasure:

When I got to know her best, I used to go over to play Scrabble with her. And I just thought you would like to know what kind of Scrabble player this genius, ruthless Egoist was. She played cooperative Scrabble. She said, “Do you want me not to go there?” “Were you planning to go there, because I don’t want to mess up what you’re doing.” She was not competitive – she was cooperative. And I reciprocated.

One time, an opportunity opened up. Now if you know Scrabble, the bottom row was opened up, and there were two columns going down into it, so it was theoretically possible that you could go across one triple-word score all the way to the other triple-word score and get nine-fold of your score. And she’s got some blanks, so she’s looking at her rack, and I say, “let me see what you got,” and she shows me what she’s got, and this is how far things degenerated. And I said, “let me look through the dictionary, because you’ve got a ‘Q’ and if you could get your ‘Q’ on the double-letter score, that already would be 180 points.” …

So she’s sitting there with a ‘Q’, and the logical possibility of the bottom row being filled in for a triple-triple. So I pick up the Scrabble dictionary and within one second I see “seaquake,” an earthquake at sea. And I look down at her tiles, and she has it! … And she puts down “seaquake,” and the ‘Q’ lands on the double-letter score. So she gets 180 points, and I think she got over 300 points, but it was totally phony, because we cheated. I didn’t know “seaquake.” But that was the way she played Scrabble. She played as an act of friendship and cooperation and enjoyment. She was not a cutthroat player at all.
What a wonderful way of looking at a game! I just love it. This is very funny to me, because I've seen Objectivists in the past think that game-playing must be inherently competitive and based on the strict principles of justice -- that it is somehow immoral and unjust to go outside the rules of the game. (Of course this depends of what values and rules both parties agree to in advance.)

What struck me about this story was that Ayn Rand didn't desire to be the winner of this game. She wanted to do the best she could and especially wanted to see Harry do the best he could, and they worked together to produce the best word-plays. She valued seeing the best within her and other's minds regardless of who won the game. There have been many moments when I've read her works or read about her life that I felt the desire to reach out and give her a hug if she were still living, and this is one of them.

(This brings to mind the scene in Atlas Shrugged where Dagny was playing tennis with Francisco. Having first interpreted this scene as Dagny wanting to win for her own achievement, I think she won it so that Francisco could take enjoyment in seeing her do her best, along with the other elements of courtship involved -- no pun intended!)

This pro-learning, pro-effort mentality, regardless of the outcome of a game or who you might impress, is truly the most individualistic, and the most successful method of personal improvement. Comparing yourself to others will not make you better. It's looking at yourself, limits AND strengths, and finding out the best way to be the most productive with what you have. If there is someone better than you at a given task, it's a great opportunity to find out what that person is doing right, and emulate it.

This reminds me of a short news video we watched at the meeting about a 12 year old girl basketball player being kicked off the boy's team because she played too well. This sounds horrible, of course, but listen to what a boy teammate has to say about her effect on the team (about a third of the way through the video). One would hope with that nice story being broadcast nationally that The Hoops team would be pressured to correct their evil ways!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another Objectivist Adventure on May 24

Our next Robert and Amy Objectivist adventure will take place this coming Saturday, May 24, starting at 530pm with dinner around 630pm. We will be listening to and discussing the audio recording of Harry Binswanger and Allan Gotthelf’s “New York Centenary Reminiscences of Ayn Rand” from the Facets of Ayn Rand site.

There are many anecdotes on this site that illustrate how Ayn Rand was truly a lovely and warm-hearted person. I encourage everyone to read it, or re-read it. It's delightful to know that the one philosopher and artist whom I most respect intellectually had such a charming personality as well.

A funny story from last meeting -- we were sitting in the living room having a studying-good-time, when an older man peered in through the window and knocked at the door. Robert answered, and the man exclaimed that he hoped that he wasn't interrupting our prayer meeting (!), but would we like to sign a petition about something-or-other. Prayer meeting? I think not. We didn't correct him, but said no thank you and politely shooed the poor fellow away. Perhaps he could have told us more about the petition, but you know what they say about assuming. ; - )

Our Objectivist study meeting schedule is set for every fourth Saturday of each month. If you live in southeastern Michigan and would like to know more, please email me. We'd love for you to stop by and sit a spell!

The Remus Lupins and the Young Amy

Have you ever had an experience where some of your highest values and most important memories came to the forefront of the present moment and reoccurred, making it feel like years of your life integrated themselves into an intense focus and came full circle? Well, I have!

It was Monday, March 17, 2008, St. Patrick's Day. My husband, Robert, and I went to see a favorite band of mine at a place called The Modern Exchange in Southgate, Mich. Before I describe the scene, I need to give some back-story.

When I was in high school, I was an artsy punk/goth/Nietschzean existentialist (explicitly!), and even looked the part (pictures coming soon). There was a vintage clothing store called Penny Pinchers that I tried to frequent as much as I could. The owners brought the strangest, most flamboyant clothes from New York, and the owners were rumored to be good friends of the B-52s. Everything was odd about the place, in the best sense of odd.

I loved seeing the other artsy people who dared to go in (the bizarre mannequins in the front windows made good scarecrows). They played the most mysterious music, and there was even a distinct musty spell about the place. It meant a lot to me being there, and took me out of the boring, ugly world that I called home, and gave me a glimpse of what could be, in a life-as-stylistic way. (I’d say similar to how Harry Potter felt when first discovering the wizarding world.)

So one day I was perusing the My Space page of my favorite Wizard Wrock band, The Remus Lupins, and noticed that they were coming to town. Performance night came, and as we were driving up Dix Road in Southgate to find this place, I nearly jumped through the car roof -- to my utter surprise and amazement the ModEx was in the same building as Penny Pinchers! I had no idea. Not a clue. I had known that Penny Pinchers went out of business in the 90s, but no idea still.

After calming down from this exciting revelation, I went inside and learned that they not only sold vintage clothes, they redesigned the back warehouse and built a large stage where they had local bands play most nights and sold their CDs as well! What is really amazing about all this is that many of these local bands were from my hometown, and they were punk bands (!).

When I was a teenager, the dearth of anything new and interesting and weird and romantic and adventurous was palpable and stifling. I was the only one of my kind (which I'll explain in a future post). To find my hometown brimming with alternative bands playing every night of the week at the epicenter of my former oasis was, well, rather amazing. My past as a punk rocker (of the good, philosophical kind) hit straight on with my present as a big fan of The Remus Lupins. It was thrilling!

Here is an audio clip of one of that night's songs -- listening is the only means of understanding the awesomeness of Alex Carpenter of the Lupins on stage with only an acoustic guitar, a mic and dozens of singing and screaming girls (including me!). Brilliant!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Objectivist Meeting at My House

Happy Spring-Time...

Robert and I will be hosting an Objectivist meeting this Saturday, April 26, starting at 530pm, and having dinner around 630pm. We hold Objectivist study meetings every fourth Saturday of each month. So if you live in south-eastern Michigan, please email me for more information. We'd love to meet you!

Oh, and don’t forget to celebrate Earth Day by purchasing your very own Carbon Debit.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Gottschalk: The Chopin of the Creoles

I recently discovered some sparklingly beautiful piano music, which I first thought was Chopin. I was surprised and delighted to find out the composer was American, born in 1829 in New Orleans. Here is an excerpt from a NY Sun article:
When he died in 1869, Louis Moreau Gottschalk was the most famous musician in the Western Hemisphere. New Orleans's answer to Europe's great virtuosi - the Chopin of the Creoles, as he was called - Gottschalk enjoyed the kind of popularity that today we associate with rock stars. In the smallest towns of the American West, on isolated Caribbean plantations, in war-torn Latin American capitals, listeners turned out by the hundreds and thousands to hear him. Girls passed him notes before concerts, begging him to play their favorite pieces. He gave command performances for President Lincoln and the emperor of Brazil. His compositions, short and sparkling piano pieces that drew heavily on folk rhythms and popular tunes, sold tens of thousands of copies. During the Civil War, his patriotic fantasia "The Union" and his sentimental "meditation," "The Dying Poet," were some of the best-known pieces of music in America.
This is my kind of music – joyous, hopeful and individualistic. Please listen here and read more from Wiki.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Protest Earth “Cower” – Celebrate Edison Hour

Today at 8pm ET, I will be turning on all the lights in my house to celebrate, what I call, Edison Hour. If Thomas Edison were alive today, I’m sure he would be protesting today’s evil nonsense – what the World Wide Fund for Nature is calling Earth Hour, or Earth Cower, as I prefer to call it. From Wikipedia:

Earth Hour is an international event that asks households and businesses to turn off their lights and non-essential electrical appliances for one hour on the evening of 29 March at 8 pm local time until 9 pm to promote electricity conservation and thus lower carbon emissions. It may also help reduce light pollution, and in 2008, coincides with the beginning of National Dark Sky Week in the USA.

There are around 21 major cities in America participating. Detroit, and Dearborn, Mich., home to Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park buildings, aren’t participating – thank goodness. The cities who are participating are either blinding jumping on this feel-good, public relations bandwagon, or are explicitly conceding that technology, i.e. capitalism and human achievment, are causing global warming by increasing carbon emissions. In response to this outright lie, please watch this video.

So, please celebrate Edison Hour tonight at 8pm. I hope to find every light switch and every means of using electricity – perhaps even a few flashlights – and turn them on! Open your blinds and curtains and let the light shine to the heavens and celebrate technology!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Teens Having Sex – Go Figure

Really, I don't fish around for any URLs that have the word “sex” in them. Honest and for true. However, I was intrigued when I watched a news show a few months ago that interviewed the creators of the Midwest Teen Sex Show.

They explained that they wanted to promote a discussion about sex as it relates to teens. What I found was a very good-natured, yet provocative, Web site that features some amazingly clever videos on a range of very interesting topics. Being that I don't buy into any of the religious sexual culture, it was so refreshing to find that the Midwest Teen Sex Show doesn't either.

I would recommend visiting their site to just about everyone I know, probably over the age of 15. So find yourself a time of day when no one is around, and enjoy this well-written, courageous and educational site!

Kindredist Meaning

Hmmm…I bet you were wondering today what the etymology of “kindredist” is.

First, I wanted a name that no other Web site has used. So I’m happy to have made it up and found that it is a completely new word, and one that is not found in any language, so it is exclusive to my blog. It also has direct connection to my view of life, of justice, and, especially, of praise. So let’s start with the root word.

Although it generally refers to family as in “kin,” "kindred" is a word often used in one of my favorite stories, "Anne of Green Gables," in the phrase "kindred spirit." In the story, it meant being more than a best friend, but not in a sexual way, and had a similar meaning to “soulmate” but within the context of friendship, or a friend whom you truly love who shares an exciting and benevolent view of life with you.

Therefore, "kindredist" means someone who practices loving his or her values and praises similarly-minded people, within a rational, grateful and benevolent context.