The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'ayn rand'
I'm gentrifying the neighborhood. I'm adding special bus service for my employees. I've figured out a way for white people to make money from taxi cabs again. I'm replacing your favorite restaurant with a reptile park. I'm driving Filipino fusion food trucks on your kid's basketball court. I got next and I'm taking all the vowels out of this shithole.
It's time we divide this state into eleven smaller states with Galt's Gulch consisting of this city and the various gate communities to the north. If you don't like it you can just move to one of the other states like Hoboland and whatever we call the desert where we force all the cholos to drive their low riders.The last part is a reference to the recent proposal to split California into six states, allowing them to race each other to the bottom on tax rates, deregulation and labour costs. (Or, “take all the poor people who used to live in this cool 'hood before we gentrified it, declare them to be Not Our Problem and let them fend for themselves”.)
Meanwhile, a piece by Mark Ames (formerly of The Exile) on the US Libertarian Right's courting of the Bay Area techno-elite at a libertarian-themed conference named Reboot, yet somehow inexplicably booking a theocratic hatemonger to give the keynote, and the sometimes uneasy fit this highlights between Californian-style libertarianism (think along the lines of Robert Anton Wilson's Guns And Dope Party—a bit wild-eyed for the average North London Guardianista, let alone the highly regulated yet highly contented citizens of Jante-law Scandinavia, but moderately cuddly, in a Californian hot-tub kind of way—and you won't be far off) and the older and more unsavoury US Libertarianism that grew out of a reaction to Roosevelt's New Deal and, along the way, took in local strains of fascism and white-supremacism:
And then there’s the uglier, darker side of the Kochs’ libertarianism on display in Reason’s archives: the fringe-right racism and fascism that the movement has tried to downplay in recent years to appeal to progressives and non-loonie techies. Throughout its first two decades, in the 1970s and 1980s, Reason supported apartheid South Africa, and attacked anti-apartheid protesters and sanctions right up to Nelson Mandela’s release, when they finally dropped it.
The two libertarianisms — the hick fascism version owned by the Koch brothers, essentially rebranding Joe McCarthy with a pot leaf and a ponytail; and Silicon Valley’s emerging brand of optimistic, half-understood libertarianism, part hippie cybernetics, part hot-tub-Hayek — should have met and merged right there in the Bay Area. And yet — they really were different, fundamentally different. The libertarianism of the Kochs is a direct descendant of the Big Business reaction against FDR’s New Deal, when the DuPont oligarchy created the American Liberty League to undo new laws establishing Social Security and labor union rights. Their heroes are the America Firsters led by Charles Lindbergh. And they haven’t stopped fighting that fight to dismantle the New Deal and everything that followed, even though most Americans have only a dim understanding of what that political war was about, and how its redistribution of political power still shapes our politics today. For the Kochs and their die-hard brand of libertarianism, that war with FDR and the New Deal is fresh and raw, and still far from resolved.Finally, here is a quite decent biographical comic about Ayn Rand, which manages to be somewhat sympathetic whilst not hiding that she was a generally awful human being across the board. (And isn't that her appeal? Not that she was a decent person, but that she gave assholes permission, with the diploma-mill authority of the language of philosophy, to be assholes and regard themselves not only as decent human beings but superior to the losers around them.)
Between 1975 and 1979, a number of dialogues were held between various cultural and artistic figures on the then embryonic ARPANET network, which would, in time, become the internet. Here's Dialogue IV, held in April 1976, and featuring Yoko Ono, Sidney Nolan, Jim Henson and Ayn Rand. There are few surprises in how it plays out; the characters are true to form, with Ono as the fey hippy mystic, Rand as the original chatroom troll (who starts off in characteristic form by throwing shit from her self-declared moral high ground and ends up driving everyone else out), and Henson and Nolan presenting perhaps more nuanced perspectives:
JIM HENSON: But there is always conflict.
YOKO ONO: But it does not have to be this way. Does your work Mr Henson not try to prove this?
JIM HENSON: No. Conflict is what defines my characters in many ways and how they respond to it.
JIM HENSON: I think Ms. Rand and my character Oscar the Grouch would have a lot to talk about actually. I am laughing out loud at this idea.
AYN RAND: Why would I want to talk to him. What has he achieved or trying to achieve.
JIM HENSON: He has achieved what I think is the ultimate goal of your way of thinking.
Thanks to her simple message (selfishness is a virtue, altruism is evil), Ayn Rand has become a leading philosophical figurehead of the American Right, alongside those other two cartoon characters, (John) Calvin and (Thomas) Hobbes. But now, new reports have emerged asserting that Rand secretly claimed welfare payments under a false name, whilst publicly thundering against the "parasites" who did exactly that:
As Pryor said, "Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out" without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn "despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently... She didn't feel that an individual should take help."
But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so. Apart from the strong implication that those who take the help are morally weak, it is also a philosophic point that such help dulls the will to work, to save and government assistance is said to dull the entrepreneurial spirit.Which seems, on the surface, like the height of hypocrisy, though only if one assumes that honesty is part of the equation. If one assumes that Objectivism (as Rand called her philosophy) entitles the self-chosen aspiring ruler of the world to do anything to further their own interests, including lying to others (who, being "sheeple", are unworthy of any higher consideration unless they prove themselves by similarly enlightened ruthlessness), then being a stealthy parasite upon the contemptible masses is one's prerogative.
(via Boing Boing)
An article in the New Republic examines the rise of Ayn Rand's ideology, which asserts that one's wealth is literally proportional to one's value as a human being, selfishness is a virtue and altruism is evil, from the fringes to the mainstream of American conservative thought:
In these disparate comments we can see the outlines of a coherent view of society. It expresses its opposition to redistribution not in practical terms--that taking from the rich harms the economy--but in moral absolutes, that taking from the rich is wrong. It likewise glorifies selfishness as a virtue. It denies any basis, other than raw force, for using government to reduce economic inequality. It holds people completely responsible for their own success or failure, and thus concludes that when government helps the disadvantaged, it consequently punishes virtue and rewards sloth. And it indulges the hopeful prospect that the rich will revolt against their ill treatment by going on strike, simultaneously punishing the inferiors who have exploited them while teaching them the folly of their ways.
Today numerous CEOs swear by Rand. One of them is John Allison, the outspoken head of BB&T, who has made large grants to several universities contingent upon their making Atlas Shrugged mandatory reading for their students. In 1991, the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club polled readers on what book had influenced them the most. Atlas Shrugged finished second, behind only the Bible. There is now talk of filming the book again, possibly as a miniseries, possibly with Charlize Theron. Rand's books still sell more than half a million copies a year. Her ideas have swirled below the surface of conservative thought for half a century, but now the particulars of our moment--the economic predicament, the Democratic control of government--have drawn them suddenly to the foreground.
Around the age of five, Alissa Rosenbaum's mother instructed her to put away some of her toys for a year. She offered up her favorite possessions, thinking of the joy that she would feel when she got them back after a long wait. When the year had passed, she asked her mother for the toys, only to be told she had given them away to an orphanage. Heller remarks that "this may have been Rand's first encounter with injustice masquerading as what she would later acidly call ‘altruism.’ " (The anti-government activist Grover Norquist has told a similar story from childhood, in which his father would steal bites of his ice cream cone, labelling each bite "sales tax" or "income tax." The psychological link between a certain form of childhood deprivation and extreme libertarianism awaits serious study.)While the premises of Randian ideology—the myth of the heroic self-made man, the cirrelation between wealth and value—have a certain sort of glibly narcissistic appeal (in particular to those wishing to rationalise their beliefs in themselves as good people), they fall apart under closer examination:
Is income really a measure of productivity? Of course not. Consider your own profession. Do your colleagues who demonstrate the greatest skill unfailingly earn the most money, and those with the most meager skill the least money? I certainly cannot say that of my profession. Nor do I know anybody who would say that of his own line of work. Most of us perceive a world with its share of overpaid incompetents and underpaid talents. Which is to say, we rightly reject the notion of the market as the perfect gauge of social value.
Now assume that this principle were to apply not only within a profession--that a dentist earning $200,000 a year must be contributing exactly twice as much to society as a dentist earning $100,000 a year--but also between professions. Then you are left with the assertion that Donald Trump contributes more to society than a thousand teachers, nurses, or police officers. It is Wall Street, of course, that offers the ultimate rebuttal of the assumption that the market determines social value. An enormous proportion of upper-income growth over the last twenty-five years accrued to an industry that created massive negative social value--enriching itself through the creation of a massive bubble, the deflation of which has brought about worldwide suffering.
The reality of the contemporary United States is that, even as income inequality has exploded, the average tax rate paid by the top 1 percent has fallen by about one-third over the last twenty-five years. Again: it has fallen. The rich have gotten unimaginably richer, and at the same time their tax burden has dropped significantly. And yet conservatives routinely describe this state of affairs as intolerably oppressive to the rich. Since the share of the national income accruing to the rich has grown faster than their average tax rate has shrunk, they have paid an ever-rising share of the federal tax burden. This is the fact that so vexes the right.And here is a piece on the sociopathic dimension of Randian ideology:
Interestingly, despite her general disdain for humanity, there were people she seemed to admire greatly, such as William Edward Hickman, whose credo, "What is good for me is right," she described in her Journals as, "The best and strongest expression of a real man's psychology I have heard." But Hickman was no simple expositor of personal greed and self-interest; no mere modern day libertarian; no pedestrian practitioner of excessive self-love. No indeed. He was a sociopathic murderer. In 1927 he kidnapped a 12-year old girl from a school in Los Angeles by the name of Marian Parker, chopped off her legs, cut our her internal organs, drained all of her blood and then spread parts of her body all over the city.
Of Hickman, this sick murderer, Rand had almost nothing but positive things to say. She indeed critiqued those who would condemn Hickman's actions for having committed "worse sins and crimes," such as those she ascribed to his jury. Among those "greater" crimes--greater than mutilating a child--she included being, "Average, everyday, rather stupid looking citizens. Shabbily dressed, dried, worn looking little men. Fat, overdressed, very average, 'dignified' housewives." Their ordinariness, in other words, placed them below Hickman, in Rand's mind. "How can they decide the fate of that boy? Or anyone's fate?" she implored in her Journals.
As the economic crisis drags on, sales of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" have been skyrocketing, at one point overtaking Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope:
Atlas Shrugged tends to inspire either cult-like devotion or sarcastic mockery in readers, who are either thrilled or appalled by Rand's vision of a world in which the "men of the mind" - inventors, entrepreneurs and industrialists - withdraw their labour from a society intent on bleeding them dry with taxes and regulations.
Starved of their genius, society collapses and wars break out until eventually bureaucrats are forced to beg the rebels' leader, John Galt, to take over the economy.Some are even talking about Barack Obama's "socialistic" bailout of the economy sparking off an Atlas Shrugged-inspired revolt among appalled greedheads:
Obama's frequently expressed view that the crisis demands that all Americans make sacrifices - and that those earning the most will need to "chip in a little more" - would have disgusted Rand, who believed that altruism was evil.
In cities around the US, conservative activists have been organising street protests known as "tea parties", inspired by the CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli, who in a high-profile rant last month called for direct action by taxpayers in the manner of the 1773 Boston Tea Party, the anti-British protest that helped trigger the American revolution.
But sceptics have described the threats of Galt-style tax boycotts as the rightwing equivalent of "moving to Canada".I imagine the scammers who sell the greedy and gullible fraudulent advice on why income taxes are actually illegal and they're entitled to not pay them (typically it derives from something like the flag in US courtrooms having the wrong fringe, rendering the authority of the courts null and void, or similarly kooky arcana) will make a mint from the New Randroids, as they did from the militia types in the 1990s.
Ayn Rand, though, is not the only contentious thinker to be making a comeback in the Great Recession: on the other side, Karl Marx' stock has also been rising recently.
There's an essay in the Graun about the fall from grace of the idea of kindness. Far from being a virtue to be embraced, conspicuously kind behaviour is now seen as a bad thing; it either signifies that the individual is a loser of low status (and best avoided; loserdom's contagious, you know, and you don't want to associate with losers), or up to something predatory or dishonest. Even if they're not, they're being kind for some sort of psychological payoff, and thus are really just as selfish and corrupt as the rest of us grasping predators in the urban jungle:
Kindness - not sexuality, not violence, not money - has become our forbidden pleasure. In one sense kindness is always hazardous because it is based on a susceptibility to others, a capacity to identify with their pleasures and sufferings. Putting oneself in someone else's shoes, as the saying goes, can be very uncomfortable. But if the pleasures of kindness - like all the greatest human pleasures - are inherently perilous, they are none the less some of the most satisfying we possess.
All compassion is self-pity, DH Lawrence remarked, and this usefully formulates the widespread modern suspicion of kindness: that it is either a higher form of selfishness (the kind that is morally triumphant and secretly exploitative) or the lowest form of weakness (kindness is the way the weak control the strong, the kind are kind only because they haven't got the guts to be anything else). If we think of humans as essentially competitive, and therefore triumphalist by inclination, as we are encouraged to do, then kindness looks distinctly old-fashioned, indeed nostalgic, a vestige from a time when we could recognise ourselves in each other, and feel sympathetic because of our kindness - if such a time ever existed. And what, after all, can kindness help us win, except moral approval; or possibly not even that, in a society where "respect" for personal status has become a leading value.
Margaret Thatcher's 1979 electoral victory marked the defeat in Britain of the Beveridge/Tawney/Titmuss vision of a kindly society, while the rise of Reaganism in 80s America saw a similar erosion of welfare values there. Kindness was downgraded into a minority motivation, suitable only for parents (especially mothers), "care professionals" and assorted sandal-wearing do-gooders. The "caring, sharing" 90s proclaimed a return to community values, but this proved to be rhetorical flimflam as Thatcher and Reagan's children came of age, steeped in free-market ideology and with barely a folk memory of the mid-century welfare vision. With the 1997 triumph of New Labour in Britain, and George W Bush's election to the American presidency in 2000, competitive individualism became the ruling consensus. The taboo surrounding "dependency" became even stronger, as politicians, employers and a motley array of well-fed moralists harangued the poor and vulnerable on the virtues of self-reliance. Tony Blair called for "compassion with a hard edge" to replace the softening variety advocated by his predecessors. "The new welfare state must encourage work, not dependency," he declared, as a plague of cost-cutting managers chomped away at Britain's social services.
So kindness is not just camouflaged egoism. To this old suspicion, modern post-Freudian society has added two more: that kindness is a disguised form of sexuality, and that kindness is a disguised form of aggression - both of which again reduce kindness to a covert selfishness. Insofar as kindness is a sexual act it is seen as a seduction (I am being very nice to you so I can get to have sex and/or babies), or as a defence against the sexual event (I'll be so kind to you that you will forget about sex and we can do something else together), or as a way of repairing the supposed damage done by sex (I'll be nice to you to make up for all my harmful desires). Insofar as kindness is an aggressive act it is seen as a placation (I feel so aggressive towards you that I can only protect both of us by being very kind), or a refuge (my kindness will keep you at arm's length). "One can always, for safety, be kind," as Maggie Verver says to her father in Henry James's The Golden Bowl.Of course, kindness is socially corrosive as it makes people less self-reliant and prevents the weak from being weeded out as Nature intended; to wit, there are formal systems for discouraging, or even punishing, acts of kindness, as described in the MetaFilter thread; for example, the old practice of passing unwanted all-day rail tickets on to strangers after using them is now a prosecutable offence in much of the UK. (Then again, in a world where business models are sacrosanct, this is just as criminal an act of theft as copying a MP3 for a friend or getting up during the ad break on TV.) It's as if the philosophy of Ayn Rand has assimilated itself into the unwritten cultural assumptions of society.
Meanwhile, if you encounter what looks like unwarranted kindness or friendliness from a stranger in a big city, your first reaction is wondering whether they're trying to con or scam you in some fashion. Though I suspect this is not an invention of Reaganism-Thatcherism or even of Ayn Rand, but just the way that things have been in big cities full of strangers since time immemorial. While the article makes some interesting points about the social consequences of the drive for free-market competitiveness as the primary principle of social organisation, of social planning on the assumption of individuals as gold-seeking individualists, the idea that there ever was a glden age of widespread kindness does seem somewhat implausible. (A time of widespread hypocritical lip service to the virtue of kindness seems more plausible.)
Libertarian Troll Bingo; print it out and cross it off the next time Randroids invade your favourite discussion site:
Here is a tale of two indie bands and their respective negotiations of the contentious issues of commercialism and integrity that arise when an artist is tempted by the siren song of advertisement licensing revenue.
A while ago, Band Of Horses decided to licence one of their songs to Wal-Mart, that scary right-wing bète noire despised by a significant proportion of the sorts of people who buy independent music. After the ad was tested on a limited web release, they started getting bad feedback from fans who heard about it, had a change of heart and pulled the ad, returning Wal-Mart's 30 pieces of silver.
"Some fans, they don't even give a crap," he continued. "They're like, 'Whatever, bands got to get paid.' But at the same time, I was reluctant to do it in the back of my mind, and some fans reminded me there is a reason to feel that way about it. "So once I saw our fans were let down by it, I nixed the TV commercial, and said, 'You know what, this isn't for me. Keep your money.'"Meanwhile, after copping a lot of flack for licensing a song to restaurant chain Outback Steakhouse (itself a major Republican Party donor), Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes digs in and comes out swinging for the moral defense of capitalism, like some kind of indie-hipster John Galt:
The worst kind of person is the one who sucks the dick of the man during the daytime and then draws pictures of themselves slitting his throat at night. Jesus Christ, make up your mind! The thing is, there is a lack of balance. When capitalism is working on a healthy level, everyone gets their dick sucked from time to time and no one gets their throat slit. It's impossible to be a sell out in a capitalist society. You're only a winner or a loser. Either you've found a way to crack the code or you are struggling to do so. To sell out in capitalism is basically to be too accommodating, to not get what you think you deserve. In capitalism, you don't get what you think you deserve though. You get what someone else thinks you deserve. So the trick is to make them think you are worth what you feel you deserve. You deserve a lot, but you'll only get it when you figure out how to manipulate the system.
The thing is, I like capitalism. I think it's an interesting challenge. It's a system that rewards the imaginative and ambitious adults and punishes the lazy adults. Our generation is insanely lazy. We're just as smart as our parents but we are overwhelmed by contradicting ideas that confuse us into paralysis. Maybe the punk rock ethos made sense for the "no future" generation but it doesn't make sense for me. I like producing and purchasing things. I'd much rather go to IKEA than to stand in some bread line. That's because I don't have to stand in a bread line. Most people who throw around terms like "sellout" don't have to stand in one either. They don't have to stand in one because they are gainfully employed. The term "sellout" only exists in the lexicon of the over-privileged. Almost every non-homeless person in America is over-privileged, at least in a global sense.The devil, of course, is in the details. Capitalism doesn't reward those who make good art per se, but those who can find a niche in the market and fill it. Occasionally these two goals line up, but most market niches are for unchallenging populist fare. If one restricts oneself to making significant art, one will find the pickings relatively lean. (Just ask the members of OMD, who started making songs about nuclear war and, once they had mortgages to pay off, went on to manufacture commercial pop groups like Atomic Kitten.) The most successful capitalists in music aren't the most highly critically appraised artists, but rather the likes of 50 Cent and Simon Cowell.
A children's story for the modern age: I'm a Cloud Factory!, By
Ayn Rand A Smokestack.
I make all kinds of clouds--in all kinds of colors! Sometimes, I make white ones. Sometimes, they're gray. Sometimes, they're as brown as the grass or the trees. And sometimes, they're as green as the river.
I have other friends, too. Like the little birds. I love to watch them swoop and soar. They are so beautiful and graceful, and they bring me great joy. I'm so full of joy! I can barely hold it in! So I give them something beautiful back. Just as they approach, I pop out a great big pink cloud!
And when the birds fly straight into the cloud, they do a "rain dance" down... down... down... to the ground. Like a hundred little feathered raindrops!
Meanwhile, a Google search for "fomalhaut lovecraft" returns, among its top 10 results, the Suicide Girls homepage of someone who's into H.P. Lovecraft and Ayn Rand.
Fountainhead Earth is a twenty-volume philosophical fiction novel by Nobel prizewinning author Ayn Rand. It was Rand's last work of fiction, and all volumes after the first were published posthumously:
Bureaucratic aliens from the planet Stanton have invaded Earth, stifling all rational thought in a mere nine minutes. They enslave all the architects, forcing them to build fashionable and nonfunctional Doric façades in front of every McDonalds. Randroids, huge semi-mechanical creatures, a cross between a cyborg and a public-address system, stride the landscape in Ayn Borg Collectives.
Johnnie "Galtboy" Tyler (played by Keanu Reeves) comes along and meets Dilbert (played by John Travolta) and Wally (played by Forest Whitaker). Disgusted with their office politics and disregard for quality, Johnnie trains his tribe of cavemen in capitalism in one week and achieves a leveraged buyout of perfectly preserved Harrier jumpjets. He then flies these back to the planet Stanton and delivers a 40,000-page speech that bores the aliens literally to death.
Objectivists, psychopaths and believers in the virtues of cruelty and pollution rejoice: there's now an anti-ethical investment fund tailored to your values. The Free Enterprise Action Fund specifically invests in companies who refuse to be intimidated by pressure from "leftists":
"What we're trying to create is a grassroots, investor-based movement to pressure corporations to resist the activists," Milloy said, adding that the Free Enterprise Action Fund is "the first and only" of its kind and "definitely the first to be doing this as shareholders."
Milloy also said the Free Enterprise Action Fund will encourage corporations not to be intimidated by the left and to hire people with the same philosophy. "If you're going to hire these people that can't stand the heat, they shouldn't be in the kitchen. What I can stop is corporate management trying to appease these [activist groups], thinking that it will make the problem go away," he added.
The Free Enterprise Action Fund refuses to disclose which companies they have invested in, but says that some of them are tobacco companies. I imagine that weapons manufacturers would be another profitable sector in today's global environment.
Meanwhile, activist pressure seems to have worked on Nike; the company, once synonymous with labour exploitation, has now become the first major company to disclose its full list of suppliers and contract factories, theoretically allowing them to be held to account more effectively over employment practices. While it's still too early to praise Nike as a model citizen (one would have to see results for that), now one no longer has to feel bad about buying a pair of Converse All-Stars. Unless, of course, one is an Objectivist or similar.
The Maoist International Movement's review of SimCity 3000:
"Sim City" has completely bourgeois assumptions, which is why it is not MIM's favorite economic strategy game. The mayor has the power to set tax rates and this influences the level of development. There is no option to nationalize factories. The whole assumption of the game is that private enterprise will create everything in the zones legally established by the mayor.
An example of the importance of the game designer's analyses or opinions is the mayor's choice to build police stations. In actual fact in the capitalist world, having more or fewer police stations does not affect the crime rate, but in "Sim City 3000," police hiring levels affect the crime rate and thus property values. This is an example why it is important for Maoists also to write computer games. Propaganda and conventional wisdom say that police exist to reduce crime instead of perpetrating it. The truth that there is no effect of police hiring or budget levels on crime is difficult for the public to swallow. "Sim City" reflects the dominant but wrong view.
Meanwhile, Ikea now sells a rug for Objectivists. (via bOING bOING)
Sydney's Anglican Dean, Philip Jensen, has said that the tsunami was a warning from God that judgment is coming, and that society has become too sinful and Godless. Perhaps if we banned pornography and Satanic rock music and indecent language on TV and kissing in movies and unmarried couples going about unchaperoned and started stoning homosexuals, witches and wearers of mixed fabrics to death as the Book of Leviticus commands, God would make all the earthquakes and tsunamis and tornadoes and suicide bombers and email spam and antibiotic-resistant superbugs and killer bees and killer sharks stop. Maybe if we were super-obedient, He would even see fit to bring down petrol prices or something.
Another religious leader, Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, claims that God sent the earthquake to kill 2,000 Swedish tourists because their country prosecuted a fundamentalist preacher for preaching against homosexuality. That would be a lot of collateral damage for a kind, loving God; though I suppose for Rev. Phelps' God, it makes perfect sense.
On a different note, the Ayn Rand Institute says that the US should not help tsunami victims, because (a) taxation is theft, and (b) altruism is evil.
The 10 Least Successful Holiday Specials Of All Time (via substitute):
Ayn Rand's A Selfish Christmas (1951)
In this hour-long radio drama, Santa struggles with the increasing demands of providing gifts for millions of spoiled, ungrateful brats across the world, until a single elf, in the engineering department of his workshop, convinces Santa to go on strike. The special ends with the entropic collapse of the civilization of takers and the spectacle of children trudging across the bitterly cold, dark tundra to offer Santa cash for his services, acknowledging at last that his genius makes the gifts -- and therefore Christmas -- possible.
A Canadian Christmas with David Cronenberg (1986)
Faced with Canadian content requirements but no new programming, the Canadian Broadcasting Company turned to Canadian director David Cronenberg, hot off his success with Scanners and The Fly, to fill the seasonal gap. In this 90-minute event, Santa (Michael Ironside) makes an emergency landing in the Northwest Territories, where he is exposed to a previously unknown virus after being attacked by a violent moose. The virus causes Santa to develop both a large, tooth-bearing orifice in his belly and a lustful hunger for human flesh, which he sates by graphically devouring Canadian celebrities Bryan Adams, Dan Ackroyd and Gordie Howe on national television. Music by Neil Young.
20,000 Libertarians to move to New Hampshire, vote as a bloc, create anarchocapitalist utopia, where Man can smoke dope, fire guns and be free of the depredations of evil collectivist parasites. (via bOING bOING)
Although Jackie Casey had voted for Wyoming, she just moved from Portland, Ore., to Merrimack, between Nashua and Manchester, renting a basement apartment with her cat, Soopa Doopa Hoopa, and her two 9-millimeter handguns. (She wants a machine gun "or at least a rifle" for Christmas.) She has already hung one wall and her bathroom with framed posters of Frank Zappa, who was a libertarian himself.
Dr. Sorens wrote that "within about 10 years after our move, we should have people in the state legislature and we should have entrenched political control of several towns and counties." He added that "once we have control of the county sheriffs' offices, we can order federal law enforcement agents out, or exercise strict supervision of their activities," and "once we have obtained some success in the state legislature, we can start working on the governor's race."
(Why does the name "Clearwater, FL" come to mind at this point?)
Libertarianism, of the American Ayn Rand-influenced Propertarian bent, is weird; in particular, the part about putting property rights above all other concerns. I half suspect that, had Libertarianism as we know it existed during the American Civil War, most Libertarians would have sided with the slave-owners, whose sacred and inalienable property rights were being threatened by the evil statist Abraham Lincoln (the "American Lenin", as some Libertarians call him).
Eternally zealous in the moral defence of capitalism, the Ayn Rand Institute denounce opponents of copyright extension as "Marxists". (Note in particular the prohibition against redistributing the article to media at the bottom of the page.) It's not hard to see how Randism ties in with intellectual-property absolutism, and how short a leap it really is from Ayn Rand to absurdities like Galambosianism. (via Reenhead)
A video game designed to instruct the player in Ayn Rand thought (currently in the proposal stage).