Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And Speaking of Schisms...

Diana says "relax."

I didn't even think about how the effect Peikoff's podcast on the Mosque might affect
OCON, but Diana Hsieh
has, as she urges everyone to "Take a Deep Breath":

I would hate to see OCON marred by unpleasant sniping, belligerence, or worse. OCON should be nothing but wonderfully fabulous delightful enjoyment. That's what I aim to make it for myself. Personally, I don't want to hear any sniping about this debate, nor hear any reports about sniping. Instead, I hope that people who dislike and disrespect each other can politely avoid the other without undue fuss -- and avoid bitter chatter about each other too. That's what I aim to do. If I falter in that, I hope that my friends will gently correct me.

...I respect Leonard Peikoff hugely, despite this disagreement. He's an honorable man in my book, whatever his anger toward people who hold my views. He cares about the future of this country deeply -- and he's fought for decades to save it. He deserves better than to be casually dismissed, as if he's not thought about his views, even if you think his position utterly wrong. If I can keep that context -- even though I'm deeply, personally hurt by some of his remarks in his podcast and distressed by the unjust attacks on me by some people unleashed as a result -- then you can too. Please, make an effort.
"Judge...and prepare to be judged..." But some are to be prepared more than others? "He deserves better than to be casually dismissed, as if he's not thought about his views?" I'm sorry, but when Peikoff says, about people he doesn't even know, that
"If you can even conceive of that as justified because of "property rights," then I say you haven't a clue what property rights or individualism or Objectivism is saying..."

...all I can say is "Pot. Kettle. Black."

Hrmm...deep breaths, indeed...Just don't hold it for too long...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Peikoff's Revenge...

Just when you thought the fatwa days were over...a new schism emerges...

Leonard Peikoff, circa 6/21/2010:

"This is not the Catholic Church, Objectivism is not a dogma, and I am not the Pope! "

Leonard Peikoff, circa 6/27/2010:
"If you can even conceive of that as justified because of "property rights," then I say you haven't a clue what property rights or individualism or Objectivism is saying, because what permitting that amounts to is "roll over, kick me, kill me, I have nothing to say."

What's it all about this time? Check this out (transcript here). Where can I even begin? There's so much to say about this one...Anyway, here's a Whitman's sampler of the new schism...watch out for the nougat...

Trey Givens: "On the NYC Mosque"

James Valliant's anti-mosque arguments (At Noodlefood).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ayn Rand Sighting on...the Food Network?

Ok, it was brief, but still, I didn't expect to see it. The Cake Challenge show on the Food Network featured a Simpsons cake challenge (judged by Yeardley "Lisa Simpson" Smith), and the gimmick was that the cake had to feature the answer to a Simpsons trivia question related to the cake's theme. One trivia question featured the "Ayn Rand School for Tots," which was shown in a clip, where Maggie leads a "great escape" to retrieve her pacifier. Like I said, brief, but of all the things they could have picked...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Copyright Crusaders, "The Rewrite Squad" and AYN RAND ANSWERS

Robert Campbell has been posting a side-by-side comparison of transcriptions from live talks given by Ayn Rand and the posthumously-published versions edited by Robert Mayhew in Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q&A. This has been going on at Objectivist Living. Recently, however, the thread has been blocked by the site's owner, for the following reason:

A Note on the Rewrite Squad

I have temporarily blocked public access to Robert Campbell's thread, The Rewrite Squad.

Kat and I received a "Demand for Immediate Take Down - Notice of Infringing Activity" from Mr. James Young on behalf of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. regarding the material in that thread that quotes Mayhew's Q&A book. Mr. Young calls himself an "Internet Investigator." I don't know if that is a lawyer or not, but no matter.

This document he sent us is the channel you go through when using the DMCA law. It is only the initial notification and I could easily file a Counter-Notice at this point, but that's a lot of blah blah blah. I decided to comply with the Take Down Notice to show good faith. I've got no beef with Penguin. Besides, there is a way to satisfy the law without losing all of Robert's work.

Since the thread was not a direct straight-through publication of the book, like is done whenever outright piracy occurs, but a comparison and discussion question by question--with all kinds of material between the sections quoted from the book (which are also not in the sequence given in the book), I discussed an idea or two with Robert and we will make the thread into a form that falls clearly within the Fair Use provision of the USA copyright statute.

That way we will keep the spirit of holding the feet of ARI scholars to the fire and meet the concerns of the publisher. But until it is in that form, we will keep it offline.

My issues with that site and its owner I've made known already, but, on this issue, I have to admit to some sympathy for the cause; the differing versions themselves are a great case for the need for independent Rand/Objectivism scholarship. While I don't share the same condemnation of the edited material as Campbell and Co., I do think the side-by-comparison (sans the "ums" and "ahs" from the unedited material)
are valuable; there are nuances and attitudes revealed in the originals, good and ill. And while I don't see so much in the way of sinister shenanigans in the editing, especially since the original material is available for the comparison, I would have preferred a straight-up transcription.

I personally wonder about the validity of this "internet investigator," who appears to be an "internet vigilante"; there is a similar case where he is involved on the behalf of Microsoft. (There is O. Henry tale here in the story of a "crusading copyright vigilante" intervening in a case of a "scholarly vigilante" crusading against edited versions of the original Rand transcripts.") I also wonder if Penguin has the rights to unpublished Rand transcripts, at that. But putting aside the copyright issue, I am glad to see the side-by-side comparisons, and respect the work (if not the snark) that went into compiling them. This is something that ARI should make more readily available. (Of course, I'd be amiss in not stating that this is supposedly coming from Penguin Books, and not ARI.) Open transparency on such issues would go a long way to combating the "cult" reputation around such matters. (Just as Leonard Peikoff, in his 6/21/10 podcast, has said that there will be no "intellectual heir" to Rand's legacy after him: "This is not the Catholic Church, Objectivism is not a dogma, and I am not the Pope!)

Whether or not the cult reputation is deserved, it has to be noted that independent scholars, commentators, and the like do have an effect, from friendly and hostile critics, to keep it on its toes, to "mind its p's and q's," so to speak. (The above quote from Peikoff can be read both ways in regards to his election "fatwa", for example, either as a humbled response to a rash statement of "opinion" or as "damage control" for runaway hubris, to be decided by a jury on the night of January 16th...).

So, all that said, this will be an interesting case to watch...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Yet Another Call for Obama the Dictator

And you thought I was exaggerating...First, Ed Schultz made the "let's be socialists" comment, then Woody Allen thought that Obama should be made dictator...Now it's Schultz again, adding his voice to the din crying out for Obama to step up as a dictator. With talk like this, it's only too clear that Billy Beck was RIGHT when he said that "all politics in this country is now just dress rehearsal for civil war..."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shruggin' the Atlas Shrugged Movie...

The "on again/off again" Atlas Shrugged movie is apparently "on again," but it's been talked about for so long (before I was born, even), that I can't help but shrug. Why? I've noticed the controversy over the recent rush job into production under a "use it or lose it" scenario, and the first thing that came to my mind was brought up in a recent article from slashfilm.com:
That sounds pretty well in line with the industry’s general impression that this movie is just a placeholder project to keep the rights to the material. (Think Roger Corman’s 1994 Fantastic Four film, shot in order to retain the character rights, and never intended to be released...)
Comic book geeks like myself know that story well (I've seen a bootleg of the film, and it was bad, but better than Joel Shumacher's big budget Batman..).
It would be over a decade before a film proper reached the theaters. So, for now..."I'll believe it when I see it." Of course, I'm willing to be pleasantly surprised, so, have at it...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Introducing Congressman Bob Etheridge..."Who Are You?"

"Who, are you? Who-Who, Who-Who?"
Get to know Congressman Bob Etheridge (D-NC).

"Teeeell me who the fuck are you!"


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rush versus Rand Paul

"Listen to my music/
And hear what it can do/
There`s something here as strong as life/
I know that it will reach you."
-Rush, 2112

My, how things change:

From USA Today: "Rock Band Rush Tells Rand Paul to Stop Using Its Music":

Robert Farmer, general counsel for the band's record label, tells Gannett colleague James Carroll that the Paul campaign does not have the band's permission to use the music, including the 1980 song "The Spirit of Radio," at political rallies.

"This is not a political issue -- this is a copyright issue," Farmer said. "We would do this no matter who it is."

Jesse Benton, Paul's campaign manager, tells the paper that, "The background music Dr. Paul has played at events is a non-issue. The issues that matter in this campaign are cutting out-of-control deficits, repealing Obama Care and opposing cap and trade."

Ok, fair enough for Rush to assert their copyrights ("Listen to my music," not "appropriate"...). But of course, the ideological connection is newsworthy to Objectivists, given the "objectivish" associations of both Rush and Rand ("no, I wasn't named after her") Paul. See the recent article on this at The New Republic, "And Speaking of Ayn Rand..." So it might suprise some that Rush would refuse a "fellow traveler..." except that Rush, via Neil Peart, pretty much moved away from the Randian influence a long time ago, even downplaying her influence on 2112 ("For a start, the extent of my influence by the writings of Ayn Rand should not be overestimated -- I am no one's disciple.") (See The National Midnight Star interview.)

I've been meaning to write something extensive on Rand and Rush for some time (Chris Sciabarra set the stage with his "Rand, Rush, and Rock" article in 2002.) Eventually, I will, but the salient point here is the "left-leaning libertarian" self-identification from Peart, which makes the "objectivish" synchronicity with Rand Paul that much more notable, since both are criticized by some Objectivists for being too Libertarian (meaning not Objectivist enough)...Rand and Ron Paul get flack for their Christianity, and Peart? The Hold Your Fire album put Peart on the Objectivist firing-line with this lyric from "Open Secrets":
"I find no absolution/
In my rational point-of-view/
Maybe some things are instinctive/
but there's one thing you can do/
You can try to understand me/
I can try to understand you."
And the irony is that Rand supposedly considered suing Rush over 2112...

"Rand"-om Thought for Today

"If Atlas can Shrug and Telemachus can Sneeze, why can't Satan Repent?"