Monday, January 31, 2011

Atlas Shrugged (the novel), Part 3

This is the third of a three part series (plus two "auxiliary" shows) in which we review the struggle between individualism and collectivism with the help of the richness and clarity that Ayn Rand set forth in her magnum opus.

This show covers the final section of the book, Part 3, the part called "A is A", named after Aristotle's law of identity. It begins with the main Individualist characters in Galt's Gulch, and covers the return of Dagny to the real world, its downward spiral into chaos, the climactic shrugging out of Hank Reardon, the capture of John Galt by the government, and the final scenes in which the folly of collectivism drags the whole of American society to the abyss from which it can finally be saved by the triumphant return of logic, reason, and Individualism.

Again, my purpose for doing this is not to review the book as literature, it's to consider what happens in the novel in light of what's happening today, and to enjoy the absolutely delicious failures of collectivism and the eventual triumph of individualism in specific, memorable passages of the book.

Thank you so much for all the comments you've e-mailed me regarding Parts 1 and 2, and the podcast in general. Always welcome, and I welcome corresponding to you individually (after all, we're all about Individualism, aren't we? ;-) ).

I will return to regular news-oriented podcasts very shortly, though I will at some point work in a fifth and final show about Atlas Shrugged devoted to the famous three-hour speech on Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism delivered by John Galt in the final stages of Part 3.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Atlas Shrugged (the novel), Two readings from Part 2


This is the third of a multi-part series in which we review the struggle between individualism and collectivism with the help of the richness and clarity that Ayn Rand set forth in her magnum opus.

This show covers two special passages in Part 2 of the book, a couple of monologues (yes, Rand was famous for them) by two characters. They are absolutely delicious to those of us who despise the immoral illogic of collectivism.

The first passage is Francisco d'Anconia's famous speech about money. In answer to the weary challenge that, "Money is the root of all evil," he rises to ask, and then answer, the question, "What is the root of money?" Although we all know that nobody, even someone uncommonly brilliant, can speak extemporaneously in this way, it is nonetheless an inspiring reminder of what it is that creates value in the first place, and how the simple genius of free trade not only makes the world go 'round, it is also inherently virtuous.

The second passage is the "train hobo's" monologue (a bit more believable as a speech) recounting the immorality and illogic of the Twentieth Century Motor Company as it is taken over by the collectivist descendants of its original founder. The seemingly idealistic precepts of this crew, that "We're all in this together," are revealed in this speech to have done nothing less than to loose the darkest impulses of mankind, a would-be Midas touch that emerges as a malevolent leprosy of the mind and spirit.

Yummy reading to those of us who respect the morality of individualism and despise the moral corruption and fiscal failure of collectivism.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Shout Out to "The Survivalist Blog"

I've referenced a number of survival blogs over the past year, but my favorite is the simply but aptly-named The Survivalist Blog by M.D. Creekmore (pictured). I've been linking to it for some time now, and I recommend it highly to listeners of The Shrugging Out Podcast.

M.D.'s blog has been, to me, the most practical and readable blog when it comes to the "shrugging out" philosophy that I have found. He "shrugged out" years ago, to a modest patch of land in the Appalachian Mountains, from which he has been showing thousands of people how to live, and thrive, off the grid.

What I like most about The Survivalist Blog is the sheer, unbeatable, been-there, done-that practicality of his posts, week in, week out. If he's done it, it's relevant. If a random survivalist topic occurs to you while pulling weeds in the raised bed garden he inspired you to plant, or while cleaning the "best SHTF gun" he recommended (no, it is not a specific firearm), you'll probably find it addressed in depth somewhere on his blog. The blog is also well-organized by category, and by popularity of posts.

M.D.'s info on practical survivalism ranges from a comprehensive set of step-by-step get-started posts to a host of in-depth treatments of food storage, gardening, homesteading, medicine, trapping, finding rural property and other topics. It is, in my view, the definitive website for the person who's serious about getting on with life while getting off the grid.

I think my favorite repeat feature is, "What Did You Do To Prep This Week?" which almost always inspires me to take some kind of action, or at least to take stock of what I need to do next.

What I don't like about The Survivalist Blog is how much it reminds me that my thinking about survivalism tends more toward the theoretical end of the spectrum. For example, I enjoy thinking (and talking!) about how the government shouldn't be doing X, whereas M.D. has made whatever X happens to be irrelevant, at least to himself and how he lives. Curse you, M.D. Creekmore, for practicing what you preach. And thank you for reminding all of us that the difficult process of "shrugging out" is imminently possible.
- - -

Episode 52. The Shooting of Congresswoman Giffords

Jared Loughner is either insane or evil for what he did. Why precisely did he target a U.S. Congresswoman? Why didn't he just open fire on a random crowd of people? It's an interesting question, I think.

In his warped or evil mind, he targeted her because he saw her as important. But what makes a Congresswoman important to citizens, more important than numerous other people who arguably have, or should have, much more influence upon their lives? Is the inflated importance, and power, of the federal government in part to blame? IN PART?

Collectivist commentators have used this incident to blame "right wing media" for inciting Loughner to commit this monstrous crime. And others bring up their tiresome arguments against the 2nd Amendment, ignoring the facts that punitive gun regulations are obeyed only by the law-abiding. Some even ridicule those who cite the 2nd Amendment as the peoples' last resort in the case of a tyrannical government. They're barking up the wrong tree. They attack a bedrock American principle. The 2nd Amendment isn't about hunting, or even self-defense. It's about protecting our liberties.

It's all explained in the Declaration of Independence. To quote Annie Savoy, "You could look it up!"

-----

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Atlas Shrugged (the novel), Part 2

This is the second of a three part series in which we review the struggle between individualism and collectivism with the help of the richness and clarity that Ayn Rand set forth in her magnum opus.

This show covers Part 2 of the book, the section called "Either-Or". It takes place in the middle of the full decline of the American economy, the enactment of the disastrous "Directive 10-289", and the continuing disappearance of the key industrialists and producers. It ends with Dagny Taggart crash-landing her plane in what turns out to be Galt's Gulch.

Again, my purpose for doing this is not to review the book as literature, it's to consider what happens in the novel in light of what's happening today, and to enjoy the absolutely delicious failures of collectivism and the eventual triumph of individualism in specific, memorable passages of the book.

I've received many comments on Part 1 of the Atlas Shrugged series. I obviously should have done this sooner, but better late than never. I hope you enjoy this episode, and please send me your comments either way.

By the way, my brother Jack, who suffered a very serious stroke on the morning of Christmas Eve, has begun speaking again, so he continues to make progress. Many thanks for your concerns and wishes for his recovery.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Episode 50. Health Care and the Government

With my brother still in the hospital recovering from a serious stroke, I decided to do a show about health care, centered around what the government should do, given its Constitutional mandate to protect our rights.

Covered in this episode:
- Health care in the U.S.--where are we, and how did we get here?
- Where is American health care heading?
- Why does the debate on health care boil down to emotion vs. logic?
- What should be government's role when it comes to health care?
- How should health care work in the United States?

Plenty to talk about on this subject.

Incidentally my brother is doing well. We expect to hear him speaking soon, and walking, and whatever shape his recovery takes, time will tell. Many thanks for your concerns and comments. Our prayers are being answered. He is coming back to us.