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  • Author: Roderick Fitts
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World, Dr. Laura Snyder contrasts the early 19th-century man of science (or “natural philosopher”) with the modern scientist. Yesteryear's men of science were usually wealthy (often from an inheritance), pursuing their scientific interests with no support from a government, university, or corporation. Their discoveries, though long used by kings and governments, were rarely regarded as something that could improve the lives of ordinary men and women. The men of science would hardly ever meet, and they would never debate the merits of their work or papers publicly. Unsurprisingly then, they had reached no consensus as to a proper “scientific method,” and no single process of reaching theories was upheld above any other. The modern scientist, by contrast, is a specialized, credentialed professional who usually works for a government or university while conducting research. This scientist routinely defends his work from contemporaries in the same field, is answerable to the public, and is even seen as a social reformer of sorts, capable of dramatically improving lives politically, economically, or socially. On top of it all, he adheres to a standard account of the scientific method, even as ongoing debates about the specifics of that method emerge and are assessed. Who or what accounts for the transformation of the field of science and of its practitioners? The dominant thesis of Snyder's Philosophical Breakfast Club is that the efforts and achievements of four Cambridge graduates, friends, and men of science—John Herschel, Charles Babbage, Richard Jones, and William Whewell (pronounced “Who-ell”)—are largely responsible for our modern conception of what it means to be a scientist. To support her claim, she presents a biographical account of their lives, discussing their scientific, family, and social lives as well as their goals, personal interests, and the social context surrounding them. Each chapter presents aspects of what the four accomplished (or attempted to accomplish), along with the contextual background necessary to understand the importance of their work. The result is a clear view of the social and scientific atmosphere in which these men lived, and an even clearer understanding of exactly what they wanted to change in the world of science, and why. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Many books on investing begin with complex instructions for analyzing a stock's fundamentals or the blips that its price makes on a screen. Avner Mandelman, however, begins The Sleuth Investor: Uncover the Best Stocks Before They Make Their Move by simply describing what a company is and is not. A company is not its legal charter, nor its annual report, nor its corporate filings . . . nor is it a string of historical prices that can be plotted together and regressed. Rather, a company is a group of people doing work in an office or a plant, so that other people (the customers) will send them checks. A company, in short, is a check-receiving work group. If the work group does good work, the other people (the customers) will send them lots of checks, and then the stock (which is a piece of the company you can buy) will rise. If the work group does bad work (or work that is not as good or as cheap as that done by other work groups), the customers will send fewer checks, and the stock will fall. (pp. 9–10) This essentialized view of a company sets the stage for one of the most unique books on investing ever written. Mandelman emphasizes the importance to investors of having first-hand, exclusive information about a company's people, products, plant, and periphery. A precautionary reason to seek out such information is to avoid investment losses: “If you invest in a company without knowing anything about its own specific drama, or characters, you'll likely end up losing money” (p. 29). A proactive reason is to invest profitably—as Mandelman has done for decades at Giraffe Capital. . . .
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: It's here. Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged finally has come to the silver screen, and in this special, Atlas-themed issue of TOS—which begins our sixth year of publication—we have details on the movie and a whole lot more. As you may have noticed, we have lost our tombstone-like academic look and gained a full-color graphic cover to match the verve you have come to expect from the journal. The artwork on the present cover depicts a scene in the movie from the first run of the John Galt Line. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Harmon Kaslow, coproducer (with John Aglialoro) of Atlas Shrugged: Part I, to discuss the film, how it came together, choice of screenwriter and director, casting, score, and distribution. Dovetailing with this interview are Chris Wolski's concise history of the efforts to adapt Atlas for the screen and his review of the film (he attended a prescreening in February).
  • Topic: Economics, History
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: New York, America
  • Author: Paul J. Beard II
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Matt Sissel is a young entrepreneur who is pursuing the American dream. After returning from military service in Iraq and paying his way through art school, he opened a studio in Iowa City, where he sells his fine art and offers art lessons. Until recently, Matt's entire focus had been on furthering his education and art business. So he made the considered judgment to forgo some luxuries-such as health insurance. In his twenties, Matt is healthy and has no preexisting medical conditions. He is self-insured-paying out of pocket any medical expenses that might arise-and wants to continue to self-insure because he believes the cost of health insurance premiums is excessive and that his money is better devoted to his business. But the federal government couldn't care less about Matt's priorities and choices. Beginning in 2014, it will force Matt, along with almost every other American, to buy a comprehensive, government-approved health-insurance plan from a private insurance company, on pain of stiff civil penalties. This "Individual Mandate" is at the heart of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act-also known as "ObamaCare"-which Congress enacted and the president signed into law in 2010. As a consequence of the Individual Mandate, Matt must act now to make financial plans: either purchase health insurance or pay a hefty annual penalty. Given the financial burden it will impose, he can no longer afford to hone his craft by furthering his education in art. Matt must focus exclusively on the creation and sale of his artwork in order to brace himself for the impending obligations the Individual Mandate imposes. Outraged that he is being forced to divert his hard-earned resources away from his education and career in order to buy a service he neither needs nor wants, Matt has decided to sue the federal government, asking the federal district court in Washington, D.C., to enjoin enforcement of the Individual Mandate on the grounds that it violates the United States Constitution. Other legal challenges to the Individual Mandate are pending in courts across the country, such as the well-known lawsuits brought by various state governments and officials whose purpose is to protect their sovereignty against federal encroachment. But few challenges take up the cause as championed by Matt, who is driven by the explicit desire to have the government recognize his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, exercised in accordance with his own values and goals.1 Let us consider the prospects for Matt's constitutional challenge to the Individual Mandate. ObamaCare's Individual Mandate In brief, here is how the Individual Mandate will work: Beginning in 2014, with few exceptions, all individuals with legal residence in the United States will be forced to purchase a health-insurance plan with "minimum essential coverage," as defined by the government. Exempt individuals include Native Americans, religious objectors, Americans living abroad, and the poor (whose health care will be subsidized). And what the law defines as "minimum essential coverage" is far more than is necessary for young and healthy individuals such as Matt. Thus, a catastrophic health-insurance plan covering only expenses related to medical emergencies-which would make sense for many Americans-would not satisfy the mandate's requirements. Moreover, individuals subject to the Individual Mandate cannot satisfy the "minimum essential coverage" requirement by self-insuring: Under the act, they are prohibited from paying for their medical expenses out of pocket.2 Thus, if Matt fails to buy "minimum essential coverage" by January 1, 2014, the government will assess a financial penalty against him for every month he remains without such coverage. The penalty for failing to purchase approved health insurance is the greater of 2.5 percent of the taxpayer's annual income, or $695 for each uninsured family member per year, up to a maximum of $2,085 per family per year-not an insignificant sum.3 Does the federal government-specifically, Congress-really have the legal power to force Matt and other Americans to buy a product or service, such as health insurance, from a private company? . . .
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: As political uprisings and civil wars rage in the Middle East, and as America's self-crippled efforts to defeat Al-Qaeda and the Taliban limp on, the need to identify and eliminate the primary threats to American security becomes more urgent by the day. As you read these words, the Islamist regime in Iran is sponsoring the slaughter of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan,1 funding Hamas and Hezbollah in their efforts to destroy our vital ally Israel,2 building nuclear bombs to further “Allah's” ends,3 chanting “Death to America! Death to Israel!” in Friday prayers and political parades,4 and declaring: “With the destruction of these two evil countries, the world will become free of oppression.”5 The U.S. government knows all of this (and much more), which is why the State Department has identified the Islamist regime in Iran as “the most active state sponsor of terrorism” in the world.6 Meanwhile, the Islamist regime in Saudi Arabia is funding American-slaughtering terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban,7 building mosques and “cultural centers” across America, and flooding these Islamist outposts not only with hundreds of millions of dollars for “operating expenses” but also with a steady stream of materials calling for all Muslims “to be dissociated from the infidels . . . to hate them for their religion . . . to always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law” and, ultimately, “to abolish all traces of such primitive life (jahiliyya) and to reinforce the understanding and application of the eternal and universal Islamic deen [religion] until it becomes the ruling power throughout the world.” The Saudi-sponsored materials further specify that those who “accept any religion other than Islam, like Judaism or Christianity, which are not acceptable,” have “denied the Koran” and thus “should be killed.”8 None of this is news, at least not to the U.S. government. The Saudis' anti-infidel efforts have been tracked, documented, and reported for years. As the Rand Corporation concluded in a briefing to a top Pentagon advisory board in 2002, “The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader.”9 What is the U.S. government doing about these clear and present dangers? Nothing. Following the atrocities of 9/11, America has gone to war with Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya, but it has done nothing of substance to end the threats posed by the primary enemies of America: the regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Instead, the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, continues the policy of seeking “negotiations” with the Iranian regime and calling the Saudi regime our “friend and ally.” This is insanity. And it is time for American citizens to demand that our politicians put an end to it. The Iranian and Saudi regimes must go. And in order to persuade American politicians to get rid of them, American citizens must make clear that we won't settle for anything less. Of course, the Obama administration is not going to take any pro-American actions against either of these regimes. But Americans can and should demand that any politician—especially any presidential candidate—seeking our support in the 2012 elections provide an explicit statement of his general policy with respect to Iran and Saudi Arabia. And we should demand that the policy be along the following lines . . .
  • Topic: Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, America, Libya, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Craig Biddle: I'm honored to be joined today by Reza Kahlili, author of A Time to Betray, a book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The book is the winner of both best new nonfiction and autobiography/memoirs in the 2011 International Book Awards sponsored by JPX Media Group. Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym used for security reasons. Thank you for joining me, Reza. Reza Kahlili: Thank you so much for having me.
  • Political Geography: America, Iran
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: I recently spoke with Dr. John David Lewis about American foreign policy, the uprisings in the Muslim world, the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the light that history can shed on such matters. Dr. Lewis is visiting associate professor in the philosophy, politics, and economics program at Duke University and he's the author, most recently, of Nothing Less Than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History. —Craig Biddle Craig Biddle: Thank you for joining me, John. John David Lewis: I'm glad to be here. Thank you for having me. CB: Before we dive into some questions about U.S. foreign policy and the situation in the Middle East, would you say a few words about your work at Duke? What courses do you teach and how do they relate to foreign policy and the history of war? JL: The courses I teach all bring the thought of the ancients into the modern day and always dive to the moral level. For example, I teach freshman seminars on ancient political thought. I also teach a course on the justice of market exchange in which I draw upon the thought of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, etcetera, and approach the question from a moral perspective. In regard to foreign policy and the history of war, I just finished a graduate course at Duke University on Thucydides and the Realist tradition in international relations. International relations studies have been dominated by a school of thought called Realism. This course explores the ideas of Thucydides and how they've translated through history into modern international relations studies and ultimately into the formulation of foreign policy in the modern day. I also teach courses at the University of North Carolina on the moral foundations of capitalism, which use Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged as its core text. I've been involved in speaking to Duke University medical students on health care where, again, I approach the issue from a moral perspective, namely, from the principle of individual rights. CB: That's quite an array of courses, and I know you speak at various conferences and events across the country as well, not to mention your book projects. Your productivity is inspiring. Let's turn your historical lights to some recent events. On the second of May, U.S. SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. This is certainly worthy of celebration, but it's also almost ten years after he and his Islamist cohorts murdered nearly three thousand Americans on American soil. In the meantime, America has gone to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, where more than five thousand additional American soldiers have been killed, and now we're at war in Libya as well. In all of this, neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration has so much as touched the regimes that everyone knows are the main sponsors of terrorism, those in Iran and Saudi Arabia. What's more, neither administration has identified the enemy as Islamists and the states that sponsor them. Bush called the enemy “terror” and “evildoers,” and Obama, uncomfortable with such “clarity,” speaks instead of “man-caused disasters” and calls for “overseas contingency operations.” Are there historical precedents for such massive evasions, and whether there are or aren't, what has led America to this level of lunacy? JL: That's a very interesting question, with many levels of answers. . . .
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, America, Middle East
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Private-sector colleges and universities, also known as career colleges or for-profit colleges, educate more than three million people annually in the United States. These colleges—which include the University of Phoenix, ITT Technical Institutes, Kaplan University, Strayer University, Capella University, and Monroe College—provide vital services to Americans seeking to improve their lives. Programs in career colleges range from information technology and business administration, to commercial art and interior design, to allied health care and nursing, to accounting and finance, to criminal justice and law. These highly focused, career-specific programs enable people to achieve their occupational goals and to become productive, self-supporting, prosperous, and happy. These colleges are, for many people, pathways to the American dream. Unfortunately, certain individuals and agencies in the U.S. government are seeking to cripple and destroy these schools via an assault that includes fraud, collusion, and defamation. Before turning to the details of this assault, however, let us take a closer look at the enormous life-serving value provided by career colleges.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: I recently read Andy Kessler's latest book Eat People: And Other Unapologetic Rules for Game-Changing Entrepreneurs, and had the pleasure of discussing it with him. Mr. Kessler is a former hedge fund manager who now writes on technology and markets. His other books include Wall Street Meat (2003), Running Money (2004), How We Got Here (2005), The End of Medicine (2006), and Grumby (2010). You can learn more about him and his work at AndyKessler.com. —Daniel Wahl Daniel Wahl: Thank you for joining me, Andy. Andy Kessler: Thanks for having me. DW: I just finished your new book, Eat People, and among other things especially enjoyed your attitude toward technology. Many people today disregard the benefits of technology and long for a world without it—but you think this is nonsense. Why? AK: I don't think anyone really longs for a world without technology per se—no antibiotics? no refrigerators? no Xbox 360? But some long for a world without the technology that disrupts what they believe to be their contented lives. It's change that bothers many, and technology is the vehicle that creates change, often feeling like a runaway freight train. An economy exists to increase the living standards of its participants; productivity—doing more with less—is the only way to create societal wealth. Wealth is not a fixed pie with some getting bigger slices than others; it's an ever-increasing sized pie, increasing because technology drives productivity. That can mean displacing old jobs with newer, better-paying jobs. This can be a huge disruption, but it's inevitable, and my advice is to be on the right side of this change, to create it rather than be run over by it. DW: One of the points you make in the book is that innovations don't just happen; people make them happen. Who are some of the people you respect for having made your life easier and happier? AK: Engineers rule the world. They are the ones creating productivity and innovation. So much of this has been concentrated in software programming, writing clever pieces of code that improve our lives. Today, no one has to drive to the library to look up things in a Funk Wagnalls encyclopedia. Clever code was written enabling people to find the information they need in a great database in the sky. Larry Page and Sergey Brin and the thousands they have hired are great innovators. So are Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs. But there is a shadow crew that deserves credit too. Doug Engelbart invented the mouse and network operating systems and implemented hypertext way back in 1968. He gets credit. So do all the creators of Internet protocols and the World Wide Web and smartphones, let alone stents to prop open coronary arteries and the creators of many life-saving diagnostics and drugs. The list is endless. Some low-level employee in West China right now is perfecting the process of manufacturing glass for iPhones—something that helps the innovation process—and we don't even know who that is. DW: Given the title of your book, people might be surprised at your view that when a businessman such as Steve Jobs gets rich, we all get richer. How did you reach or what substantiates this view? AK: Steve Jobs has created a platform for others to run their businesses and lives on. My productivity has increased because I have my e-mail and a web browser and a stock ticker in my pocket at all times, which do things that in the past might have required a staff back in a home office to track. This saves time and money and resources. The Google boys have done much to increase all of our living standards. Mark Zuckerberg has lowered the cost of communications within large groups. Bill Gates gets grief as a nasty businessman and monopolist, but the reality is that society has created and enjoyed more wealth with his tools than he has personally. That's the kind of innovation that should be embraced; when the creator gets wealthy, it's because society is getting wealthy too. DW: Someone who would obviously disagree with you is Saul Alinsky—and you slam him repeatedly in your book for his view of wealth, one very different from yours. Can you explain why? AK: Saul Alinksy was a community organizer who, in the early 1970s, built a movement based on the disparity of the haves and the have-nots. His process was to organize the have-nots, have them elect someone to office who would then take from the haves and give to the have-nots. But he never considered why someone was a have in the first place . . .
  • Topic: Communications
  • Author: Gideon Reich
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: What is it like to be an American diplomat trying to advance U.S. interests? In Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad, John Bolton recounts his harrowing experiences in the foreign policy establishment of the United States government. The book is an enlightening introduction to the bureaucratic machinations that guide our foreign policy. At the book's start, Bolton describes himself as a “libertarian conservative” (p. 7) and tells why he agreed to join the Agency for International Development (AID) when Reagan offered him the appointment in 1980. I was attracted to AID because it involved both U.S. foreign policy and domestic policy in the recipient countries. Our goal was to make AID's programs more market-driven, to induce recipient countries to foster private enterprise, and to turn AID away from a welfare-oriented approach known as “basic human needs.” This rubric disguised a belief that poverty in developing countries was caused by a lack of resources and that poverty could be overcome by developed countries' transferring the missing resources. I regarded this as essentially backward: The creation of wealth by developing countries was the long term cure to their poverty, which they could accomplish by market-oriented policies that rewarded rather than penalized domestic and foreign trade and investment. (p. 20) While there, Bolton helped return $28 million to the Treasury, by “canceling AID projects around the world that were failing” (p. 20). He also had his first professional contact with the UN, where he says he learned much about the behavior of countries at international bodies—for instance, that “countries with which the United States has close bilateral relations are not always helpful in such bodies” and that “this was just business as usual at the UN” (p. 21). . . .
  • Topic: United Nations, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Joshua Lipana
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Bosch Fawstin's serialized graphic novel The Infidel follows comic book artist Killian Duke and his creation Pigman, a superhero who is best described as a “Jihadist's worst nightmare.” Although Killian is of “Albanian Muslim Descent” (p. 14), he no longer holds any allegiance to Islam. In fact, with his creation of Pigman, in response to the atrocities of 9/11, Killian has become one of Islam's most articulate enemies.1 When asked by a friend why, despite the danger involved, he pursues this line of work, Killian replies: “Because I love it. I love seeing this enemy get what it deserves at the hands of a ruthless hero. And since they'd kill me for no reason anyway, why not give them a good one?” (p. 13) . . .
  • Topic: Islam
  • Author: Jared M. Rhoads
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Turn back the clock for a moment to the months leading up to the March 2010 enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. What do you remember about the president's pitch for health care reform? You may recall the administration's claim that ObamaCare will expand health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans, guaranteeing that nearly all Americans will be covered. You may recall the claim that the new program will reduce waste and overhead, and save the typical American family $2,500 per year. And who could forget Obama's personal promise, delivered time and again: "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what."1 With this and other rhetoric, the president and other supporters of this Act were able to push the program through Congress on a partisan vote despite low popular appeal and indeed amid public furor. But although the bill has been signed, history has yet to be written. Within the more than two thousand pages of legislation are countless provisions and authorizations for additional regulatory changes to be rolled out in the years to come. Thus Americans are left wondering what exactly will change, when it will change, and how. For everyone, the question remains: What does ObamaCare mean for me? Why ObamaCare is Wrong for America summarizes the key provisions of the new law, explaining how this historic piece of legislation fails to achieve the goals so loudly trumpeted by its proponents, and what it will actually do instead. The authors-four health policy experts from four different conservative public policy organizations-largely succeed in making a complex topic comprehensible to a general audience. For starters, they organize their analysis of the legislation into reader-friendly themes such as "Impact on Families and Young Adults," "Impact on Seniors," and "Impact on You and Your Employer." The subsection headings are descriptive and frequent, dividing the chapters into easily digestible segments, many of which are less than a page in length. . . .
  • Topic: Law
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Andrew Brannan
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Oil is crucial to human life, not only as a source of energy that fuels our homes, businesses, cars, airplanes, and hospitals, but also as a key component of countless products on which our lives and prosperity depend—from medical devices and cell phones, to roads and tires, to books, CDs, footballs, and tablecloths. Nonetheless, the oil industry and the men who animate it are widely loathed and frequently maligned. Read any news outlet for examples. In the face of this relentless anti-oil sentiment, Ezra Levant has written Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands. Levant explains that conventional oil fields (such as those in Iran and Saudi Arabia) have been decreasing production at a rate of 6.7 percent per year due to depleted reserves, and that, today, the largest exporter of oil to the United States is Canada (having displaced Saudi Arabia in 2004). Most of the oil produced in Canada, he notes, is extracted in Alberta in a geologically marvelous region called the Athabasca Oil Sands. Unlike conventional liquid oil, the oil sands are a type of bitumen—“oil mixed with sand and clay . . . [that] has the thickness of peanut butter”—that is more difficult and expensive to extract (p. 8). Levant explains that higher oil prices, and hence higher oil company profits, have led to capital investment in new technologies and extraction processes that have made “the oil sands economically viable” (p. 9). The first oil company to work the oil sands region was Suncor, in 1967. The open-pit mines that many people think of when picturing the oil sands are a relic of the early days of oil exploration and extraction. Today, Alberta's oil sands are easily one of the most technologically advanced resource operations in the world. Behind every dump-truck driver are teams of computer modellers, engineers, geologists, and technical operators. For every strong back working a shovel, there are a dozen M.A.s and Ph.D.s somewhere working a computer. (p. 117) Most of the thick bitumen (80 percent) is deep in the ground and must be drilled for and pumped out using steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), whereby steam is injected to reduce the viscosity of the bitumen, which then drains, by force of gravity, into a pipe below the steam and is pumped out. Using this technology, Canadian oil sands companies are able to transform what was once “considered an experimental project” into an oil-generating powerhouse (p. 9). In 2008, Canada shipped 715 million barrels [of oil] to the United States, far more than the 550 million barrels the Saudis sold. From 2003 to 2008, the oil sands had helped cut Saudi imports by 80 million barrels a year. (p. 9) But as Canada has become a larger player in the global oil market, Levant explains, environmentalists and other critics of the oil sands have increasingly condemned this technology and the companies that employ it. The critics claim that the oil sands are “140,000 square kilometers of toxic sludge” and “giant toxic lakes” inhabited by deformed fish, and that “migrating birds sometimes stop to rest” at these toxic sites before dying by the “tens of millions” (p. 1). Critics further claim that because of the high volume of water required to extract oil from these sites, “the mighty Athabasca River is about to become a small, dirty creek” (p. 2). They claim that the oil sands are “poisoning the aboriginals” in the region and “poisoning our very planet” (p. 3). And they claim that Fort McMurray, the urban center of oil sands production, is afflicted with all the “social ills of a boom town—the violence, the mistreatment of women, the addiction problems, and an artificially high cost of living that makes almost anyone with a job part of the working poor” (p. 3). Levant contends that the foregoing criticisms are “false . . . [e]very one of them” and sets out to refute them and others, and to show that the oil sands are ethically superior to the alternatives on multiple fronts (p. 3). . . .
  • Topic: Oil
  • Political Geography: Iran, Canada, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Burgess Laughlin
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Imagine you are touring America—not its landscapes or buildings, but its intellect and soul. You have two guides. Both are practiced speakers who walk quickly from site to site, dazzle you with their commentary on a variety of subjects, and mix their personal views with statistical profiles. Such an experience awaits those who tour a dark facet of the history of American culture through two books: Richard Hofstadter's Anti-intellectualism in American Life and Susan Jacoby's The Age of American Unreason. Each author focuses on the social and political phenomenon of “anti-intellectualism.” For our purposes, that phenomenon may be defined as social and political opposition to the practice of applying broad abstractions—usually learned from philosophers—to social issues. The two authors maintain that the application of such abstractions by intellectuals poses a threat to the social and political ambitions of some individuals (creationists and populists being classic examples), provoking their antipathy toward both the intellectuals' ideas and the intellectuals themselves. The elder guide in this case is Hofstadter, a history professor writing in the late 1950s. His purpose is “to shed a little light on our cultural problems.” [W]hat I have done is merely to use the idea of anti-intellectualism as a device for looking at various aspects, hardly the most appealing, of American society and culture. Despite the fringes of documentation on many of its pages, this work is by no means a formal history but largely a personal book, whose factual details are organized and dominated by my views. (AAL, p. vii) The heart of Hofstadter's book is parts 2–5, which cover what Hofstadter considers to be the main homes of anti-intellectualism in America: religion, politics, business, and education. The order of the four core parts and of the discussions within each part is generally chronological. In the first of part 2's three chapters, “The Evangelical Spirit,” Hofstadter focuses on what he holds was the anti-intellectualism lurking in the culture at the time of our nation's founding: The American mind was shaped in the mold of early modern Protestantism. Religion was the first arena for American intellectual life, and thus the first arena for an anti-intellectual impulse. Anything that seriously diminished the role of rationality and learning in early American religion would later diminish its role in secular culture. The feeling that ideas should above all be made to work, the disdain for doctrine and for refinement in ideas, the subordination of men of ideas to men of emotional power or manipulative skill are hardly innovations of the twentieth century; they are inheritances from American Protestantism. (AAL, p. 55) This passage is typical of both the virtues and vices of our elder guide's style. It flows well and offers interesting observations, but at the end of the passage the objective reader must stop and ask himself, “What exactly did Hofstadter just say?” For example, readers might not understand (until later in the book) that “made to work” is an oblique reference to the anti-intellectual notion that ideas are acceptable only where they apply immediately to everyday concerns, that is, “practical” in a way that excludes theories and other forms of integration. From that nebulous opening, our tour guide proceeds to do what he does best, which is narrating a flow of events accompanied by specific dates as well as names of persons, places, and publications that conveyed the views of intellectuals and their foes, the anti-intellectuals. The core of the book is not a philosophical analysis of anti-intellectualism or a history of the idea of anti-intellectualism. It is a social history, specifically a history of the struggle between various social and political groups wherein one side attacks the other side's intellectualism—as when Christian fundamentalists rejected Darwin's scientific theory of evolution in favor of a direct reading of the Bible's account in Genesis…
  • Topic: Politics, History
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: C.A. Wolski
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: While religious leaders want to establish the kingdom of heaven on Earth, the heroes of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) seek to overthrow the oppressive “kingdom” of heaven and establish a “republic” in its stead. This is the driving action in Pullman's “young adult” fantasy series. And although the books are marketed to teens, the stories will, like all good literature, reward readers with more years and a few gray hairs as well. The first novel, The Golden Compass (originally published in the United Kingdom as The Northern Lights) opens on a parallel Earth where humans and their daemons—the physical manifestations of their souls—live under the suffocating control of the Church and its security apparatus, the Magisterium. But oppression is furthest from the mind of twelve-year-old Lyra Belacqua and her daemon (pronounced “demon”) Pan: They're too busy getting into trouble and having adolescent adventures in and around Oxford, in particular hassling the children of the Gyptians, wanderers who visit yearly on their barges. The Oxford kids and the Gyptian youngsters engage in a good-natured conflict in which they “gobble” each other, “Gobblers” being this Earth's bogeymen. But things take a decidedly more grown-up turn when Lyra gets wrapped up in the machinations of her uncle, Lord Asriel, an explorer and iconoclast. After saving Asriel from an assassination attempt and learning from him and his colleagues a bit about the mysterious “Dust,” a subject that the other adults avoid discussing at all costs, Lyra is introduced to the malevolent Mrs. Coulter and is subsequently sent to live with her. Before she leaves Oxford, Lyra is given a truth-telling device called an altheiometer—the golden compass of the title. Powered by Dust, it can discern what's hidden in the heart of any man, woman, or beast. While living with Mrs. Coulter—who, naturally, covets the altheiometer—Lyra discovers that Gobblers actually exist and have been kidnapping children for a dark purpose related to Dust. Eventually, Lyra goes north to rescue a kidnapped friend and makes the acquaintance of aeronaut Lee Scoresby and his rabbit daemon Hester, as well as witches and militaristic armored polar bears. The novel ends on a cliffhanger—and a dark revelation about the nature of Lord Asriel's work. .
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The U.S. Memory Championship is an annual event at which contestants compete to memorize a list of 300 random words, 1,000 random digits, and a shuffled deck (or two) of playing cards. In 2005, Joshua Foer went to the event expecting to meet, and write an article about, a group of savants. However, the contestants he interviewed claimed that they were merely average people who started off with average memories, and that anyone could learn to do what they do. These claims were tough for Foer to swallow. But after many there encouraged him, Foer decided to attempt what he thought was impossible. Remarkably, after a year of practice, Foer returned to the competition and won. In Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, Foer tells how he did it and what he learned along the way. It is a fact-filled journey with lessons and characters you will not want to forget. Consider S, a Russian journalist who could remember everything. Unlike most, “When S read through a long series of words, each word would elicit a graphic image,” and “whether he was memorizing Dante's Divine Comedy or mathematical equations [they] were always stored in linear chains.” As Foer explains: When he wanted to commit something to memory, S would simply take a mental stroll down Gorky Street in Moscow . . . or some other place he'd once visited, and install each of his images at a different point along the walk. One image might be placed at the doorway of a house, another near a streetlamp, another on top of a picket fence . . . another on the ledge of a store window. All this happened in his mind's eye as effortlessly as if he were placing real objects along a street. . . . When S wanted to recall that information a day, month, year, or decade later, all he would have to do was rewalk the path where that particular set of memories was stored, and he would see each image in the precise spot where he left it. (pp. 35–36) According to Foer, this is how the Memory Championship contestants—known as “mental athletes”—performed their seeming superhuman feats. By “converting what they were being asked to memorize into images, and distributing those images along familiar spatial journeys,” they had “taught themselves to remember like S” (p. 40). This became Foer's goal as well. . . .
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Moscow
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In 1943, on the coast of Andalusia in southwest Spain, a dead man “washed ashore wearing a fake uniform and the underwear of a dead Oxford don, with a love letter from a girl he had never known pressed to his long-dead heart” (pp. 323–24). It was near the high point of the Third Reich's reign, with Europe effectively under Nazi control; but, owing in part to this dead man, Hitler's days were numbered. Ben Macintyre tells the story of this fantastic ruse in Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory. The book may read like fiction, but remarkably, the story is completely true. It begins during World War II when the Nazi war machine “was at last beginning to stutter and misfire.” The British Eighth Army under Montgomery had vanquished Rommel's invincible Afrika Korps at El Alamein. The Allied invasion of Morocco and Tunisia had fatally weakened Germany's grip, and with the liberation of Tunis, the Allies would control the coast of North Africa, its ports and airfields, from Casablanca to Alexandria. The time had come to lay siege to Hitler's Fortress [across Europe]. But where? Sicily was the logical place from which to deliver the gut punch into what Churchill famously called the soft “underbelly of the Axis.” The island at the toe of Italy's boot commanded the channel linking the two sides of the Mediterranean, just eighty miles from the Tunisian coast. . . . The British in Malta and Allied convoys had been pummeled by Luftwaffe bombers taking off from the island, and . . . “no major operation could be launched, maintained, or supplied until the enemy airfields and other bases in Sicily had been obliterated so as to allow free passage through the Mediterranean.” An invasion of Sicily would open the road to Rome . . . allow for preparations to invade France, and perhaps knock a tottering Italy out of the war. . . . [Thus]: Sicily would be the target, the precursor to the invasion of mainland Europe. (pp. 36–37) There was a major problem, however. Macintyre points out that the strategic importance of Sicily was as clear to the Nazis as it was to the Allies and that, if the Nazis were prepared for it, an invasion would be a bloodbath. So how could the Allies catch their enemy off guard? The solution was to launch what Macintyre calls one of the most extraordinary deception operations ever attempted. The British Secret Service would take a dead man and plant on him fake documents that suggested that the Allies were planning to bomb Sicily only as an initial feint preceding an attack on Nazi forces in Greece and Sardinia. They would then float their man near the Spanish coastline, making it appear as though he drowned at sea, and hope that one of the many Nazi spies in Spain discovered him and the documents and passed their content along to his superiors—convincing them to weaken Sicily by moving forces to Greece and Sardinia. . . .
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Germany, Tunisia, Rome, Alexandria
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Economics, Education
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: C.A. Wolski
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Recently released on DVD, HBO Film's Temple Grandin is the true story of animal behaviorist Temple Grandin, a brilliant scientist and engineer who single-handedly reformed the meatpacking industry by improving both the way cattle are treated and the means by which the animals are led to slaughter. What makes Grandin, currently a professor at Colorado State University, of particular interest as the subject of a docudrama is not only the way she helped the beef and cattle industry become more efficient and profitable, but also the fact that she is autistic. The television film, written by Christopher Monger and Merritt Johnson, is based on several books by Grandin and details her life from the time that she was diagnosed as autistic—when she was a toddler—to her postdoctoral years in the early 1980s. What makes Grandin even more remarkable is her rivetingly powerful self-awareness of her disability; how she compensates for it, by “thinking in pictures”; and how she uses her unique situation and skills to get “into” the minds of the animals she studies. Claire Danes, who plays Grandin, deserves particular kudos for her performance (she justly won an Emmy for the role), which is rich and believable. Grandin is profoundly independent, driven, and self-interested; once she sets her mind to a goal, she never gives up and never backs down—and she always does what is right for herself and the animals she loves. With Danes' portrayal, viewers love and root for Grandin from beginning to end. Though it may be a cliché to describe such a film as “feel-good” or “inspiring,” that is exactly what Temple Grandin is. One cannot help but be mesmerized and energized by the story. . . .
  • Political Geography: Colorado
172. Iranium
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Many Americans are concerned about the Iranian regime's progress in its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon, yet few are demanding that the U.S. government do anything about it. Iranium, a new documentary by Alex Traiman, seeks to change that. Narrated by Shohreh Aghdashloo, and with commentary by (among others) John Bolton, Bernard Lewis, Michael Ledeen, and Reza Kahlili, the documentary begins by looking at both the founding ideology and the constitution of the Iranian regime. It shows the Ayatollah Khomeini following the overthrow of the shah, saying, “When we revolted, we revolted for the sake of Islam.” It shows footage of him calling for a global caliphate: “This movement cannot be limited to one country only. It cannot be limited to Islamic countries either.” And it shows how Iran's constitution codifies those views, establishing a nation “in accordance with Islamic law,” providing “the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the revolution” toward “a universal and holy government” and “the downfall of others.” “From the very beginning, explains Kenneth Timmerman, executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, Iran's leaders “considered terrorism as a tool of policy. . . . Iran set up Hezbollah . . . to have a 'cut-out' [that] could 'independently' carry out terrorist attacks with 'no fingerprints' back to Tehran.” Iranium lines up the facts like a long series of dominoes, enabling viewers to see how the murderous ideology at the foundation of modern Iran led to a constitution demanding its implementation, which, in turn, led to the creation of terrorist proxies and the terrorizing and murdering of Americans and other “infidels” worldwide. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Iran
  • Author: John David Lewis
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Examines the essence of this approach and what it's delivered so far.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Examines the essential aspects of her philosophy that give rise to her theory of rights, as against the theories of God-given, government-granted, and "natural" rights.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Joshua Lipana
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Paul Ryan—U.S. Republican representative for Wisconsin's First District and current chairman of the House Budget Committee—rose to nationwide prominence in April 2011 when he proposed a long-term budget plan called “The Path to Prosperity.” With overwhelming Republican support, Ryan's plan passed the House on April 15, 2011.1 The Democrat-controlled Senate, however, voted down Ryan's plan on May 25, 2011. Despite its defeat in the Senate,2 Ryan's plan remains influential on and the ideal for many in the Republican party. For this reason, it is worth examining. What follows is a critique of key components of Ryan's Path to Prosperity plan, using the principle of individual rights as a standard of reference. Specific provisions, and the plan as a whole, will be graded from A+ to F according to how much they promote or corrode rights-respecting government. Repeal of ObamaCare Perhaps the best element of the Ryan plan is its commitment to repealing President Obama's “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” more popularly known as ObamaCare. In particular, the individual mandate in ObamaCare is an egregious violation of rights. The mandate forces people to buy a government-approved health-insurance plan from a private company or to face a fine.3 The president's health-care law is described in the Path to Prosperity as taking the United States “one step closer to [a] fully government-run system.”4 The country needs to move away from this centralized system, not towards it. This budget starts by repealing the costly new government-run health care law . . . making sure that not a penny goes toward implementing the new law.5 Ryan's plan often mentions the goal of repealing ObamaCare. On the subject of taxes, Ryan notes that ObamaCare contains “roughly $800 billion in new taxes and tax increases—the result of dozens of changes to tax law that added complexity and unfairness to the code.”6 These include a “0.9 percent surtax on wages and a 3.8 percent surtax on interest, dividends, and capital gains” that would “apply to filers in the top two income brackets” and a Cadillac tax that would, “starting in 2018, impose a new tax on high-cost, employer-provided health plans.”7 This aspect of Ryan's plan, which would reverse America's movement toward full-blown socialized medicine, gets a well-deserved A+. Security and the “Global War on Terror” In Ryan's plan, security spending sees no significant change over the course of ten years. During that time, this year's budget of $711 billion will only increase or decrease by $90 billion.8 . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: John R. Bolton is an outspoken advocate of a foreign policy of American self-interest and a domestic policy of free markets and fiscal responsibility. He has spent many years in public service, including a term as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations and a term as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. He is the author of Surrender Is Not an Option (Threshold Editions/Simon Schuster, 2007) and How Barack Obama Is Endangering Our National Sovereignty (Encounter Books, 2010). Mr. Bolton is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on U.S. foreign and national security policy. I spoke with him on August 29, 2011, just before he announced (to my disappointment) that he would not be running in the 2012 presidential election. —Craig Biddle Craig Biddle: Thank you very much for joining me, Ambassador Bolton; it's an honor to speak with you. John Bolton: Thank you. Glad to do it. CB: As a teenager, you found inspiration in Barry Goldwater, whom you praised as “an individualist, not a collectivist.” I take individualism to mean that the individual is sovereign—that he has a right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness—and collectivism to mean that he is not—that he is beholden to the state or society and is not an end in himself. Is that what you mean by these terms? JB: Right, exactly. I think that, in terms of choice of government, what we should look for is a government that enhances the possibility of individual freedom and individual activity and reduces the potential for collective government action. That's just a broad philosophical statement, but I think that's what the political battle has been about for many years and particularly right now. CB: How do individual rights play into that? What is the relation between rights and freedom? JB: I think that the two are closely related. If you look at how mankind comes into civil society, the individuals bring the rights with them—they're inherent in their status as human beings and don't come from the government as a matter of sufferance. So, in a social contract, ideally what you're looking for is benefits that bring mankind together but also maximize individual liberty. That's admittedly easier said than done, but that ought to be the preference—to try and find that balance—rather than to assume that the government is going to take a larger and larger role because some people think, number one, that they're better at making decisions than individual citizens are; and, number two, that it's a politically convenient way to stay in power—to tax and regulate people in order to “spread wealth” and benefit others. CB: So you essentially take the same position as the Founders on rights and freedom: We have inalienable rights, and the purpose of government is to protect them. JB: Exactly, and that, I think, is why they created a government of enumerated powers. We've slipped a long way from that point, but that's not to say that that shouldn't be what we aspire to return to. CB: Why do you think we hear so little in politics today about the proper purpose of government and the principle of individual rights? JB: Well, I think it's been a long slide away from what the intent of the original framers of the Constitution was. And I think it's an important task of political leaders—or should be—to return to that. If the only issues are how much taxation is going to be and what the size of the government is, and as many Republicans learned over the years, so-called “me-too” policies are going to inevitably lead to defeat because the statists can always outbid you. I think that in a time of fiscal crisis, this is the opportune moment to have an adult conversation about what the purpose of government is—a conversation not about how big the size of government programs is going to be, but whether they should exist in the first place. CB: I want to ask some questions about both foreign and domestic policy. Since you turned to domestic policy there, let's begin with that. What do you regard as the fundamental cause of America's economic decline today—crashing markets, skyrocketing unemployment, sheepish investors, and so forth? . . .
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Gary Johnson currently campaigns as a candidate for U.S. president with the same outspoken fidelity to free markets, limited government, and fiscal responsibility that guided his two terms as governor of New Mexico. Aside from making headlines earlier this year with his strong opposition to an antihomosexual Republican-circulated marriage pledge, which he called “offensive” and “un-American,” he has been neglected by the mainstream press and has been excluded from several televised debates. He presses on in a struggle from which higher-polling candidates have already dropped out. Johnson started a one-man handyman company in 1976 and over the next two decades developed it to employing one thousand people. Against the odds, he launched his campaign for governor in 1994 and carried his win to a second term, a governorship marked by his stand for “freedom across the board.” During his eight years in office, his main focus was responsible management of the government pocketbook, and he earned the nickname “Governor Veto” by vetoing more bills than the other forty-nine governors combined. He cut twelve hundred state job positions, cut taxes, reformed Medicaid, promoted school vouchers, privatized prisons, and helped eliminate the state's budget deficit. An unconventional Republican, he supports the right to abortion, the legalization of marijuana, and legal equality for homosexuals. Today he retains popularity among New Mexico's voters. Goal-driven, independent, and with a zest for life, he has competed in multiple Ironman Triathlons, summited Mt. Everest, and personally built his current home in Taos, New Mexico. He's a divorced father of two and lives with his fiancée. I spoke with him just before his strong campaign push in New Hampshire at the end of August. —David Baucom David Baucom: Thank you for speaking with me, Governor Johnson. Gary Johnson: Absolutely. DB: With the decline of the U.S. economy and the emergence of the Tea Party movement, people in America are finally asking questions to the effect of, What is the proper role of government? As a candidate for president of the United States, what do you regard as the proper purpose of government? GJ: The proper purpose of government would be to protect you and me against individuals, groups, corporations that would do us harm, whether that's from a property perspective or physical harm. And that would also apply to other countries. DB: Relating to that, how would you define “rights,” and where would you draw the line for what individuals can properly claim as a right? GJ: You know, my definition of it, I guess, is the whole notion that we have too many laws. And that when it comes to rights, that they really have a basis in common sense, that they really have a basis in natural law, if you will. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. That government gets way, way, way too involved in trying to define that, as opposed to you and me working that out. DB: President Obama calls for “sacrifice” from everyone, but especially from “rich” individuals and corporations, whose taxes he wants to raise. You've said you don't think raising taxes on the rich is the way to deal with the financial crisis. As president, what would be your solution to the crisis? GJ: Well, I'm advocating the FairTax. I think we should scrap the entire tax system that we have and replace it with the FairTax. I'm talking about FairTax.org, for those who aren't aware of this proposal that I think has been around now for about ten years. By all free market economists' reckoning, it is what it is: it's fair, and it simplifies the existing tax system. So, by “simplify [the] existing tax system,” it abolishes the IRS and does away with all existing federal taxes: income tax, Social Security withholding, Medicare withholding, unemployment insurance, business-to-business tax, corporate tax. Replacing the current system would be a one-time federal consumption tax of 23 percent, which is meant to be revenue neutral, so we would still need to cut our spending by 43 percent, believing that part of revitalizing this country is balancing the federal budget and replacing it with the FairTax. . . .
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: On May 1, 1940, a group of highly trained killers was flying through the air on gliders. The gliders were thirty-seven feet long and had wingspans of seventy-two feet. Each was equipped with three machine guns; carried ten combat-ready Nazis; and was soaring as fast as 180 miles per hour toward a fort in Belgium.1 Located just inside the border Belgium shared with Germany, that fort—known as Eben Emael—was seemingly unconquerable. Its walls rose two hundred feet from the banks of the Meuse River, and from that height its Belgian defenders could see for miles into the German countryside, use the fort's arsenal of massive guns to destroy the three bridges any invading Panzer division would have to cross, and then rain bullets on any Nazi foolish enough not to flee.2 The guns themselves poked out of either six-inch-thick steel domes or concrete blockhouses designed to withstand everything from surface artillery to aerial bombardment.3 And, on this day, nearly a thousand untroubled soldiers manned this seemingly unconquerable fort.4 At 4 a.m. the Nazi gliders reached the air above Eben Emael and then, almost as one, the teams dived sharply to avoid antiaircraft fire, landing within close range of the domes and blockhouses protecting the guns.5 They then ran up to the structures, placed specially designed explosives on them, and stood aside as the explosives blew the structures to bits, taking the guns out of service and killing many of the men inside.6 Within just fifteen minutes, this small but fast-moving and well-organized group of Nazis neutralized the fort's massive guns. Soon after, they seized the fort itself, enabling Nazi Panzer divisions to invade France via Belgium.7 And, because the French and the British were compelled to commit forces to the north in response, they were unable to defend against the Führer's primary offensive on France, launched soon after, through Luxembourg.8 Fifty years later, William H. McRaven—the son of a WWII fighter pilot—went looking for the Nazi who planned that infamous operation. Tall, muscular, and brainy, a friend once described McRaven as both “the smartest [Navy SEAL] that ever lived” and someone who “can drive a knife through your ribs in a nanosecond”—not exactly the kind of person you want hunting you down.9 But McRaven did hunt down Rudolf Witzig, the mastermind of the Eben Emael attack, and found him in Munich. McRaven had waited a long time for this moment and had come prepared—to take notes. * * * McRaven wanted to interview the old Nazi so that he might discover why some special operations succeed and others fail. “The assault on Eben Emael,” he held, “was one of the most decisive victories in the history of special operations.”10 But what went into its planning? How did the soldiers prepare for it? What factors enabled them to succeed? McRaven had many such questions, questions he hoped would lead him to a general theory of special operations that he could apply to his work with the SEALs. Witzig, he thought, could help. As Witzig relayed the importance of the intelligence he and the Nazis had gathered on Eben Emael, McRaven listened intently. Witzig said he had acquired not only aerial photos of the fort before the assault but also blueprints from a German subcontractor who helped build it.11 This, Witzig noted, allowed him to know the exact locations of the large guns—which proved crucial to the operation's planning and rehearsal. At the airfield where they practiced, Witzig told McRaven, “everything was laid out as things were at Eben Emael.” We had markers set up with the exact distances between them. This way the pilots and crew leaders could orient themselves. I would go to each man and point out his objectives—“This is yours, this is yours, and this is yours.”12 With that setup, the men practiced with their gliders until each could “take off at night, fly the profile, and land on a grassy surface within fifteen to thirty yards of his target.”13 The men also practiced on similar but “more difficult” forts in Czechoslovakia.14 And then, after returning and practicing even more on each detail of the operation, they put the plan into practice. Although these preparations could hardly guarantee success, McRaven saw how they made success increasingly probable. After the interview, McRaven integrated what he had gathered from Witzig with his own experiences as a special operations commander, and proceeded to study other operations. . . .
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: I recently sat down with Sandra J. Shaw to ask her about her work, her views on art, and how she became a sculptor. Ms. Shaw's sculptures are owned privately throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in England, Australia, Bermuda, Singapore. Her work can be viewed on her website, www.sandrashaw.com, or by appointment. The interview is accompanied by several images of the works discussed. —Craig Biddle Craig Biddle: Thank you for joining me, Sandra. I know our readers will be delighted to hear from you and get a peek inside your fascinating world. Sandra Shaw: My pleasure. CB: Why did you choose a career in sculpture, how and when did it begin? SS: I didn't set out to become a sculptor; I had no interest in being an artist. I grew up in Canada, which did not have a thriving fine art culture that I was aware of, or a fine arts profession that was promising to me. The art schools where I grew up were preoccupied with anti-art. So I was not attracted to the art world or the lifestyle that I thought artists lived. That being said, I ended up becoming an artist simply because I love making art. I just couldn't get away from it. I tried. I did other things. For instance, I enjoyed writing and pursued a career in journalism for some time, which I thought would be an interesting living. But I never gave up my art. I've always made art from as long ago as I can remember. I drew throughout my childhood—that was my passion—and I knew I was developing a facility for art. So I always knew that I would have art in my life. While in high school I attended night classes at a couple of colleges to explore journalism and commercial art. I even made some headway in the commercial art business, making some album covers and posters for the music industry, of all things. But by the time I'd graduated high school, I knew I didn't want a career in commercial art. Sculpture came to the forefront when I was in my freshman year at university. I'd decided to pursue journalism and went to university so that I could become a knowledgeable writer. I didn't want to have writing skills without knowing something about the world. To pay tuition, I got a summer job working in the art department for the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto. At that time they were making a series of dioramas on the history of North American natives. A museum diorama is a three-dimensional scene that typically has figures and a painted or photographic backdrop. After a while it was apparent to me that the diorama project would be improved if they made better headway making the human figures. I knew the scenarios they wanted for the dioramas, so I drew up designs of the figures and showed these to the head of the art department. That's how I got the job of sculpting nine life-size human figures—my first job in sculpture, and three important years of studio experience in sculpture. I picked the simplest, most fully draped figures to do first, and left the mostly nude figures for last. This way I could master the head and hands in the beginning, and after a couple of years was able to sculpt the full figure. That was great training. It was how I converted my brain from drawing to sculpting in three-dimensional form. At the end of that project, I knew that I loved sculpture so much that it would be terrific if I could do this for a living. The idea of casting a figure into a permanent medium was thrilling to me, so I tried casting some small figures in bronze. And I eventually found that I could sell my bronzes. I continued to study the figure in life drawing classes, and advanced my skills at the National Academy in New York. CB: What have been the greatest influences on your work? SS: The great art of the past and the human figure per se. I think the greatest inspiration and influence began with the drawings of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. I don't remember how I got my hands on them, but for some reason I had access to Renaissance drawings before I was ten. I suspect that they were featured in art books that my parents had. I remember being thrilled by the line work and the kinds of human beings that Michelangelo and Leonardo portrayed. Although I didn't know it at the time, I was responding to the possibilities that those gorgeous, heroic figures suggested—they were god-like human beings with overarching gestures, physiques, demeanors. They captivated me. I examined and copied those master drawings. Later I had the opportunity to draw from Greco-Roman statuary in the ROM antiquities collection. That was long before I'd thought about sculpture, but I found classical form intriguing and pleasing. Those works showed a world of glorious men and women that stayed with me. Anatomical drawings also had a big impact on me—both master drawings and drawings in anatomy books for artists. Around age twelve I started copying anatomical drawings. I also recall drawing a human skull at a natural history museum. The facts of anatomy were core to my understanding of what I was looking at in the Renaissance works, and the structures of the human body fascinated me. Around the same time I became interested in the human face and in how a portrait can convey a kind of soul. I drew from photographs and from life—friends and classmates. The human figure and face have remained inspiring sources that translate for me a certain kind of life. . . .
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada
  • Author: C.A. Wolski
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Although shot in vivid color, Paramount studios' Captain America: The First Avenger embraces a refreshing black-and-white, good versus evil worldview lacking in most of the recent spate of dark, nihilistic superhero films. The picture occurs mostly in flashback—with a very brief framing story set in the present day—during the early days of America's involvement in World War Two. Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans), like most patriotic young men of the day, is itching to enlist and join the fight. However, his motivation is more than patriotism: He does not like bullies and sees the Third Reich as the biggest bully on the planet. Unfortunately, he is too short and underweight to meet the fighting ideal, and finds himself marked “4F” at recruiting station after recruiting station. But although he does not have the physical strength of his friend, strapping U.S. infantryman “Bucky” Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan), he is at least as brave, standing up to bullies with little regard for his personal safety. Soon, the tenacious and brave Rogers comes to the attention of Dr. Erskine (played by Stanley Tucci), who is looking for volunteers to take part in his “Project Rebirth,” an experiment that aims to create an army of U.S. “super soldiers.” Because of his bravery and strong moral code, Rogers is a perfect choice for Dr. Erskine's project and becomes America's first super soldier, thanks to Rebirth Serum. (However, due to an unfortunate turn of events, Rogers remains America's only super soldier.) After capturing the public's imagination with a spectacular display of heroics, the newly minted “Captain America” is relegated to life as a propaganda tool for the U.S. government, contributing to the cause of freedom with a two-bit floor show aimed at selling war bonds. But when Rogers discovers that his old buddy Bucky's squad has been captured by Nazi super soldier Red Skull (played by Hugo Weaving) and his horde of HYDRA agents, Captain America springs into action. . . .
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: At the beginning of Lifting King Kong, a South Korean film based on a true story, a weightlifter readies for his third attempt to lift 195 kilograms (429 pounds). As he walks onstage, viewers see the Seoul crowd waving their flags and cheering. But the man seems unaware. He closes his eyes, takes in a breath, and then—as he opens his eyes—breathes it out. He shakes his arms, appears ready, and with a scream, “Hyaa!,” steps to the barbell. The weightlifter kneels down into a squat, places his hands on the bar around shoulder-width apart, and stops. “Hyaa!” He pushes up, sweeping the barbell as he stands and holding it at his collarbone, parallel with the ground. As he prepares to raise it above his head, the camera pans the crowd roaring their approval. The weightlifter squats a bit, the muscles in his neck drawn tight. Then, with a slight bounce, his left leg comes forward and his arms push the weight up until it balances triumphantly but precariously above his head. Again, we see the crowd cheering like mad and hear his coach shouting, “You've got the gold!” But there's a problem. His right foot seems to want to give. Again, his coach shouts encouragement: “You're almost there Jibong! Just a little more!” But rather than his foot failing, Jibong's left elbow does. The camera shows the barbell as it drops behind him, pulling him backward and onto the ground with it. The weightlifter screams in pain, looking to his left at his deformed elbow. “This,” says a Korean announcer, “is a shocking and unfortunate turn of events.” As viewers watch medics rush the stage, he continues: “Korea's top weightlifter, Lee Jibong, will unfortunately have to settle for bronze because of an injury.” Things do not get much better for Jibong (played by Lee Beom-soo). In fact, they quickly get a lot worse. His elbow requires surgery. But much worse, he learns that his heart is overactive and he will have to give up lifting weights permanently. That means he will not get another chance for a gold medal; he is stuck with the bronze. It is a moving introduction to one of the movie's main characters. After the opening credits that follow, Lifting King Kong introduces the other main character. It is now 2008, twenty years after Jibong's failed attempt at the gold, and another weightlifter lies facedown on a mat, receiving a massage. “You should go to the hospital,” says the masseuse. “You can't just ignore the pain.” The weightlifter responds, “I'd have to give up if I didn't.” Continuing, the masseuse warns, “You could damage your back permanently like this . . . You lost your last competition because of your back. You can't keep hiding this.” At that, the weightlifter swings around, says a few sharp words, and storms out. . . .
  • Political Geography: South Korea
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: At the start of A Time to Betray, Reza Kahlili writes that this is "a true story of my life as a CIA agent in the Revolutionary Guards of Iran." As such, you might expect it to be a fast-paced thriller-and, if so, you'd be partially correct. A Time to Betray involves many intense moments, but its primary focus is on the choices that Kahlili and his two childhood friends made growing up in Iran, along with the sometimes-deadly consequences. One of those friends, Kazem, always took religion seriously, hated the Shah, and, when the Shah was overthrown, became a supporter of Khomeini and a devoted member of the Intelligence Unit of the Revolutionary Guards. Soon after the Shah's overthrow, Kazem asked Kahlili to join the Guards. Having just returned from studying in the United States and being eager to help improve his country, Kahlili joined. Looking back today, he explains that, like many Iranians, he naïvely believed Khomeini and the mullahs would keep their promise not to force their faith on Iranians. Kahlili's other childhood friend, Naser, was not so naïve. Although he, too, was happy to see the Shah overthrown, Naser began speaking out against Khomeini soon after. He explained his reasons to Kahlili: "Look around, Reza. Everything is changing. Banning the opposition parties, shutting down the universities, attacking whoever disagrees with them. They're taking our rights away. They're arresting innocent people for nothing more than reading a flyer." I tried to calm him down, attempting to soothe my own rattled nerves at the same time. "We're in a transition, and change is always difficult. Maybe you should be more careful. Things will get better, you'll see." Naser took a moment before speaking again. When he did, there was pain in his voice. "I wish I felt the same way, Reza. I don't want to argue with you, but if people don't speak up now, it will only get worse." (p. 60) Numerous times, we see the young Kahlili not wanting to take sides, simply wanting everyone, in spite of everything, to get along. Indeed, this approach appears to have been his MO from childhood. Kahlili writes that, as a child, he found it tough just to stand up to his mother and friends. How could he, as an adult, stand up to the government of Iran? Something compelling would have to happen-something that threatened or assaulted his values on a personal level. Unfortunately, something did. . . .
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Joseph Kellard
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Ayaan Hirsi Ali gained international recognition in 2004 after she and Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh made Submission, a documentary about the brutal oppression of women under Islamic law. In response to the film, a radical Muslim savagely murdered van Gogh on the streets of Holland and posted a note on the filmmaker's body in which he threatened Hirsi Ali's life as well. Nevertheless, in 2007 Hirsi Ali wrote Infidel, in which she recounts the horrors of growing up female under the rights-violating Islamic cultures in Somalia and Saudi Arabia; how she fled to and settled in Holland, worked menial jobs, attended university, and collaborated on Submission; and how, in 2003, she ran for and was elected to the Dutch parliament as a candidate with a single issue: to stop the oppression of and violence against Muslim women in Holland. In Infidel, Hirsi Ali championed the Western secularist ideals that she came to adopt as true and right—free inquiry, the equal rights of the sexes, individualism, and personal liberty. Since then, she has moved to the land that she declares in her follow-up book, Nomad, to be her final home: the United States. In this latest book, Hirsi Ali shares the observations and emotional journey she has made since leaving Europe and arriving in America, even as radical Muslims continue to threaten her life for her uncompromising condemnation of Islam. In some respects Nomad demonstrates that Hirsi Ali has not only retained the intellectual independence and moral courage at the heart of her prior book, but that she has also strengthened and developed her thinking on the secular values she came to embrace. For example, in Nomad she elaborates on Enlightenment principles, including free inquiry, individual freedom, and property rights, exercising a thought process that grasps fundamentals: Every important freedom that Western individuals possess rests on free expression. We observe what is wrong, and we say what is wrong, in order that it may be corrected. This is the message of the Enlightenment, the rational process that developed today's Western values: Go. Inquire. Ask. Find out. Dare to know. Don't be afraid of what you'll find. Knowledge is better than superstition, blind faith, and dogma. (p. 214) Hirsi Ali proceeds to correctly identify Enlightenment principles as this-worldly and thus incongruent with Islam: The Enlightenment honors life. It is not about honor after death or honor in the hereafter, as Islam is, but honor in individual life, now. It is about development of the individual will, not the submission of the will. Islam, by contrast, is incompatible with the principles of liberty that are at the heart of the Enlightenment's legacy. (p. 214) She powerfully illustrates her development in the contrasts she draws between herself on the one hand, and, on the other, her relatives and other devout Muslims, both of whom cling unquestioningly to their religion and clannish traditions such as “family honor.” . . .
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Many books have documented horrible details of what happens under dictatorship. The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe presents some of the most horrific. In it, Peter Godwin captures the recent and ongoing struggle of Zimbabweans under a reign of lawlessness and terror. The book begins in 2008, as Godwin is on his way "home to Zimbabwe, to dance on Robert Mugabe's grave" (p. 5). Despite rigging the latest elections and intimidating the voters, as he has for many years, the aging dictator has been rejected so resoundingly that it seems he will have to accept defeat. After flying into Harare, the capital of this formerly rich and now starving country, Godwin says that "[Mugabe's] portrait is everywhere still, staring balefully down at us." From the walls of the airport, as the immigration officer harvests my U.S. dollars, sweeping them across his worn wooden counter, and softly thumping a smudged blue visa into my passport. From the campaign placards pasted to the posts of the broken street lights, during our bumpy ride into the reproachfully silent city. Watched only by the feral packs of hollow-chested dogs, [Mugabe] raises his fist into the sultry dome of night, as though blaming the fates for his mutinous subjects. The Fist of Empowerment, his caption fleetingly promises our insect-flecked beams. (pp. 5-6) As Godwin makes his way into Harare, pickup trucks crowded with armed officers repeatedly pass him by. "The atmosphere," he says, "is tense with anticipation" (p. 8). Something historic is about to happen. Unfortunately, however, Mugabe does not concede defeat, and there is "no political grave upon which to dance"-at least not one belonging to Mugabe (p. 14). But there will be many graves soon, an untold number of them, as Mugabe and his goons "know the places they didn't do well" and plan to ensure they do better by terrorizing the local populace into changing their votes (p. 28). Godwin skillfully shows what led up to the impending massacre. According to him, there was no single point at which Mugabe the "liberation hero" became Mugabe the "tyrannical villain." And that, says Godwin, is because there was no metamorphosis: "Robert Mugabe has been surprisingly consistent in his modus operandi. His reaction to opposition has invariably been a violent one" (p. 30). Referencing the massacre of around twenty thousand civilians in Matabeleland soon after Mugabe first gained power, Godwin goes on to describe the nature and purpose of the latest postelection terror: [T]he murders are accompanied by torture and rape on an industrial scale, committed on a catch-and-release basis. When those who survive, terribly injured, limp home, or are carried or pushed in wheelbarrows, or on the backs of pickup trucks, they act like human billboards, advertising the appalling consequences of opposition to the tyranny, bearing their gruesome political stigmata. And in their home communities, their return causes ripples of anxiety to spread. The people have given this time of violence and suffering its own name, which I hear for the first time tonight. They are calling it chidudu. It means, simply, "The Fear." (p. 109) Although the name is new, Godwin points out that nothing has changed and that fear has always been the base upon which Mugabe's power has rested. If that truth does not always seem real to Zimbabweans, it is-at least according to Godwin-in part because of how so many have chosen to deal with it. In this dictatorship, he says, people use subversive nicknames to mollify the nature of what exists. . . .
  • Political Geography: United States, Zimbabwe
  • Author: Richard M. Salsman
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: As an economic historian sympathetic to free markets, McCloskey knows well that for centuries intellectuals have disdained the moneymaking orientation and commercial ethic of capitalism—and to her credit, she disdains this disdain. Capitalism deserves respect, she argues, for it “has not corrupted our souls” but instead “has improved them” (p. 23). McCloskey seeks to defend capitalism, not mainly by recounting what she acknowledges is its indisputable productive prowess, but by patiently explicating what she considers to be the “bourgeois virtues.” Yet her goal is polemical: to refute leftists who today persist in despising capitalism. She is concerned that her critics will find her case defensive, and justifiably, because McCloskey herself accepts certain anticapitalist premises, even summarizing the theme of her book as “an apology for our bourgeois lives” (p. 56). Yet, why would a political-economic system require an “apology” unless it was presumed guilty? Instead, why would it not be positively and resolutely heralded as a moral ideal? Despite McCloskey's view of the bourgeois life as virtuous, she insists that certain of its crucial motivating elements are decidedly un-Christian, hence suspect. Her hodgepodge of virtues makes for her less-than-emphatic case. McCloskey begins her book by recognizing how both Kantian and utilitarian ethics have been unfriendly (if not hostile) to laissez-faire capitalism, the former by requiring man to subordinate his personal pursuit of happiness to self-sacrificial duty, the latter by condoning hedonism while dismissing man's individual rights. For capitalism to survive and flourish, she contends, the ethics of commercialism must be defended. McCloskey attempts this by drawing on the “virtue ethics” arguments developed in academic philosophic circles since the late-1950s, which seek modernized versions of a more secular Greco-Roman ethics. While much can be said for McCloskey's use of “virtue ethics,” her approach does not ground morality in human nature. McCloskey divides an otherwise rambling and wide-ranging discourse of what she calls the seven main virtues into three main sections (pp. 91–302): the “Christian and Feminine Virtues” (faith, hope, and love), the “Pagan and Masculine Virtues” (courage and temperance), and the “Androgynous Virtues” (prudence and justice). The Christian and feminine virtues she also calls “theological” (p. 152) and pertinent to “the transcendent” and “sacred” (p. 304), while the pagan virtues are said to relate to “the self” and the “profane” (p. 304). Despite lengthy and digressive discussions of these seven virtues, McCloskey does not make clear why they are central to a moral case for capitalism, or why some are derivable from one gender versus another. . . .
  • Topic: Economics
  • Author: John Cerasuolo
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: As a child, Barbara Masin had a favorite bedtime story: her father's retelling of the time he (Pepa), her uncle Radek, and their friend Milan hid under a pile of branches to elude East German troops who were hunting them down. This cliff-hanger of a story, told to her in fragments, never seemed complete. Pepa Masin did not talk much about what came before and after this adventure, and the story he did tell—of a daring escape from Communist Czechoslovakia through East Germany to the freedom of West Berlin—seemed incredible. It was easy to understand the desire to escape to the West, but why were twenty-four thousand East German and Soviet troops deployed to stop five lightly armed young Czechs? And how did her father and his friends survive against such overwhelming odds? Barbara Masin finally found the answers after teaching herself rudimentary Czech and painstakingly researching recently opened secret police archives from Germany and the Czech Republic. The result of Masin's research is Gauntlet, the gripping story of these young Czech freedom fighters determined to escape to the West, join the U.S. military, and return to overthrow the evil Communist regime that was terrorizing their country. Shortly after the Communists seized power in 1948, the Masin brothers and their friends began engaging in small acts of protest against the regime. Convinced that a more-aggressive approach was necessary, the boys advanced to acts of vandalism and then to the formation of an underground resistance group dedicated to sabotaging their new tyrants, the Czech Communists. . .
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: On a sunny spring morning in 1957, three-year-old Mike May and his older sister decided to make mud pies. After finding a glass jar in the family's garage, Mike took it to a cement horse trough nearby and plunged it underwater to wash away the hard, dried powder inside. Soon after, the powder—calcium carbide—reacted with the water to produce the explosive gas acetylene. When Mike's mother, Ori Jean, rushed into the backyard upon hearing a loud bang, she found him whimpering on the ground, drenched in blood, with shards of glass all around. Ori Jean called for an ambulance and then followed it to the nearby hospital. In the emergency room, doctors swarmed around Mike. “He had lost massive amounts of blood from his face, neck, arms, stomach, everywhere. Critical veins in his wrists had been slashed” (p. 19). The doctors told Ori Jean that he was going to die. But Mike was not dead yet, and his doctors kept working on him. They sent him to specialists in El Paso by helicopter, trailed—on the ground—by his mother, driving as fast as she could. When she reached the specialists, they told Ori Jean to expect the worst and say good-bye to her son, whom they pulled into the operating room. Five hours later, Ori Jean learned that it took five hundred stitches to quilt Mike together, but that the doctors had done the seemingly impossible. Although he was blind, Mike was still alive—which, to his mother, was all that mattered. Robert Kurson tells what happened next in Crashing Through: The Extraordinary True Story of the Man Who Dared to See, a book that follows Mike and his many adventures to the present day. Kurson relays how Ori Jean did not prevent Mike from investigating the world, which he found fascinating even though this meant constantly crashing into obstacles. On Mike's childhood, Kurson tells us: The neighborhood children had no idea what to make of a blind kid. Diane [his sister] told them, “He's really good at stuff,” but they still picked him last for their teams. He swung at baseballs and missed wildly. He ran into trees instead of second base. He fell down all the time. But he could also boot a kickball to the clouds and quickly find kids in games of hide-and-seek. He wasn't afraid of blood. Before long, the children didn't much notice when Mike crashed his skateboard or jumped into the bushes with his pogo stick. He was playing and they were playing. . . . Soon enough Mike decided to ride a bicycle. . . .
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: For ten years, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays ambled up to home plate and struck out. They were the worst team in Major League Baseball, averaging ninety-seven losses per season and finishing last in nine out of ten. They were, in short, the laughingstock of the league—not to mention late-night TV. In a 2003 episode of the Late Show with David Letterman, Roger Clemens read from the list of the “Top 10 Things Baseball Has Taught Me.” Checking in at number four: “The best practical joke? Tell a teammate they've been traded to the Devil Rays.” (p. 5) But the problem with the Devil Rays was not just that they always lost or that the entire league laughed at them. The team's owner was a notorious cheapskate with a volatile temper whose antics were so terrible that he turned the team's hometown against them. It would have been hard for things to get worse. Indeed, they got better—and Jonah Keri tells how in The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First. The book starts like a typical Hollywood script, with a businessman playing the role of villain. Keri tells how Vincent J. Naimoli came to own the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and details the ways Naimoli was “the Wrong CEO” for the team. For one, Naimoli was a miser on the order of Ebenezer Scrooge, penny-pinching even at the price of employee productivity and happiness. Naimoli reused paper when writing memos, refused to buy Internet access for the office, and forced staff to bring a satchel of mail with them when traveling to a company branch (owing to the cost of stamps). And, as Keri says, “he was damn proud of it” (p. 34). Further, Naimoli took bids from dozens of vendors for everything, requiring them to purchase season tickets first, and then created enemies by pitting them against each other and negotiating for ever more price cuts without knowing when to quit (p. 36). He received a salvo of negative publicity for inviting the local high school band to play the national anthem and telling the kids at the last minute that “they would have to pay to get into the ballpark” (p. 39). And when attendance dropped in the wake of such actions, Naimoli instituted a crackdown on fans who brought in food from outside—turning gate agents and ushers into “unflinching supercops” and creating a miserable ballpark experience for many. As Keri shows, Naimoli's pursuit of wins on the baseball field was similarly shortsighted. Naimoli was adamant from the start that the Devil Rays make it to the playoffs within five years. “But,” says Keri, “five years was an unrealistic projection for an expansion baseball club in the Devil Rays' position” (p. 51)—even more so given the general manager who Naimoli chose, and kept, despite his poor performance. That general manager, Chuck LaMar, botched a number of important decisions. Keri points out that LaMar overlooked talent, paid too much for expensive veterans in hopes of meeting Naimoli's playoff aspirations, and “threw in preference for players with Florida connections, foolishly surmising that such connections would bring in lots more fans, even when the product on the field remained lousy” (p. 57). After nearly a decade of this sort of management, the Devil Rays had earned their reputations as perennial losers, and the ballclub was almost perfectly set up for a turnaround. In the typical Hollywood movie the Scrooge counterpart might have handed over the reins to someone unconcerned with money, but what happened in Tampa Bay was different and far more interesting. With the Devil Rays having hit rock bottom, three men—Stuart Sternberg, Matthew Silverman, and Andrew Friedman—bought Naimoli's stake. The ball club's new owners, hailing from Wall Street, certainly did not shun profits. In contrast to Naimoli, however, they devised a realistic, long-term plan for gaining them, making decisions along the way with their heads rather than their guts. . . .
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In July of 2009, right after celebrating his company's ten-year anniversary, Tony Hsieh stood in a packed room. Seven hundred Zappos employees were cheering, and a “lot of them even had tears of happiness streaming down their faces” (p. 1). Hsieh had just surprised his employees with a special bonus after announcing the sale of Zappos to Amazon for $1.2 billion. Amazingly, this was the second time in just over ten years that Hsieh had sold a company for what amounted to roughly $100 million for each year he ran the business. But this second sale was a far happier occasion. In the autobiographical Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, Hsieh tells how he set out as a kid “to become the number one worm seller in the world,” ran a successful button business (among others) in elementary school, and eventually achieved happiness—while delivering it—through Zappos, an online shoe store. Hsieh starts by recounting a childhood spent searching for different ways to make money, observing what worked, and gaining many important lessons about business—his goal being to make enough money to do whatever he wanted when he grew up. Upon graduating from university, and after a short stint at Oracle, Hsieh put his mounting knowledge to use in a company called Link Exchange, which he started with a friend, Sanjay. “The idea behind Link Exchange,” says Hsieh, “was pretty simple.” If you ran a Web site, then you could sign up for our service for free. Upon signing up, you would insert some special code into your Web pages, which would cause banner ads to start showing up on your web site automatically. Every time a visitor came to your Web site and saw one of the banner ads, you would earn a credit. So, if you had a thousand visitors come to your Web site every day, you would end up earning five hundred credits per day. With those five hundred credits, your Web site would be advertised five hundred times across the Link Exchange network for free, so this was a great way for Web sites that didn't have advertising budgets to gain additional exposure for free. The extra five hundred advertising impressions left over would be for us to keep. The idea was that we would grow the Link Exchange network over time and eventually have enough advertising inventory to hopefully sell to large corporations. (p. 38) The value that Link Exchange offered to websites was immediately recognized, and the network grew at a breathtaking pace. Working around the clock, Hsieh and Sanjay answered e-mails and programmed. Only five months into the business, they were in a position to debate selling their company for $1 million—an offer they ultimately refused. . . .
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: As a kid, I did not know much about Dick Van Dyke. But I certainly knew Bert, the chimney sweep who danced on the rooftops of London, rode through the countryside on a carousel horse with Mary Poppins, and laughed and laughed until he was so light he could do somersaults in the air or have tea on the ceiling. That guy was awesome. So when I heard about My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir, I smiled at what the title suggested: that the actor who gave me and countless others so much joy growing up has had a long life he looks back on with joy. In this new memoir, Van Dyke takes readers through his childhood, his service in World War II, his attempts to make a living doing what he loves, his memories making The Dick Van Dyke Show and Mary Poppins, and the many other things he has done since, including becoming a grandfather. As it turns out, Van Dyke weaves it all together nicely because from the start he loved to do one thing above all else: to entertain his friends, especially by making them laugh. Toward that end, Van Dyke says he “cultivated an arsenal of tricks [as a kid], whether it was a funny face, a pratfall, a joke, or all of the above” (p. 16). Just before Van Dyke turned seventeen, he landed a job as a part-time announcer for the local CBS radio outlet. Although his friends were making eleven bucks per week working at the market when the radio station was offering only eight, the pay disparity did not bother Van Dyke in the least. As he puts it: It was a dream job. In this little station, I did everything: I played records, read the news, gave the weather report, wrote my own commercials, and even sold my own advertising. If a breaking story came in from New York, I patched it in myself. Even if nothing big happened, each night was a thrilling adventure, an experience that made life seem large and important. I felt like I was at the center of the world, and in a town as small as Danville [Illinois], I was. (pp. 19–20) It would not be the last job Van Dyke would consider himself fortunate for getting. In fact, throughout the memoir, Van Dyke views even his worst experiences as fortunate in a way. Although he notes how painful they were—and getting evicted on the same day that your wife has a miscarriage most definitely qualifies—for the most part Van Dyke writes about each as being beneficial for having taught him something important. Notably, he does not let such experiences or the inner pain he felt when they happened steal much of the focus from the good experiences, such as filming The Dick Van Dyke Show and working with Mary Tyler Moore. . . .
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Welcome to the Fall issue of The Objective Standard. Ten years have passed since Islamic barbarians slaughtered thousands of Americans on U.S. soil, and America has yet to name the primary enemies (the Iranian and Saudi regimes), let alone eliminate them. Instead, we have gone to war with lesser enemies, enemies that we could retaliate against without appearing sure of ourselves, without appearing morally certain, without seeming selfish. In his article “9/11 Ten Years Later: The Fruits of the Philosophy of Self-Abnegation,” John David Lewis examines the essence of this approach and what it's delivered so far. The opposite philosophy—that of cognitive clarity, moral certainty, and self-respect—is Ayn Rand's philosophy of rational egoism, the political principles of which should be guiding U.S. policy. In “Ayn Rand's Theory of Rights: The Moral Foundation of a Free Society,” I examine the essential aspects of her philosophy that give rise to her theory of rights, as against the theories of God-given, government-granted, and “natural” rights. Using the principle of rights as his standard of evaluation, Joshua Lipana examines and grades various components of Rep. Paul Ryan's “Path to Prosperity,” which, although rejected in the Senate, is perhaps the best plan put forth by an elected official to date about how to deal with America's financial crisis. The report card is telling. In an exclusive interview with TOS, John R. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, presents his ideas on the proper purpose of government and on various issues facing America today. This discussion will leave many TOS readers disappointed that Mr. Bolton has decided not to run for president. Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, is running for president, and his exclusive interview with TOS sheds important light on his view of the proper role of government and on what he would do if elected commander in chief. Where does he stand on domestic issues? How about foreign policy? Governor Johnson answers the tough questions here. In “The Mastermind behind SEAL Team Six and the End of Osama bin Laden,” Daniel Wahl surveys the history and principles that have given rise to the breathtaking competence of U.S. special operations forces, and finds that one man is primarily responsible. This, to borrow the words of Ragnar Danneskjöld, is a story of what happens when brute force encounters mind and force. Speaking of intelligence, ability, and heroism, sculptor Sandra J. Shaw explains, among other things, how she captures such qualities in the subjects of her works, including her bronze busts of Ayn Rand and Michelangelo. Several images accompany this lengthy interview, and Ms. Shaw's bust of Rand graces the current cover of the journal. Fuel for the soul from beginning to end. In addition to the above articles and interviews are film reviews of Captain America (directed by Joe Johnston) and Lifting King Kong (directed by Park Geon-yong) as well as book reviews of A Time to Betray by Reza Kahlili, Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The Fear by Peter Godwin, The Bourgeois Virtues by Deirdre N. McCloskey, Gauntlet by Barbara Masin, Crashing Through by Robert Kurson, The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, and My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke. Enjoy the articles, interviews, and reviews, and have a wonderful and productive fall. —Craig Biddle
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Is Health Insurance of “Monumental Importance”? To the Editor: I agree with the spirit of Paul J. Beard's article “ObamaCare v. the Constitution” [TOS, Summer 2011], but Matt Sissel's refusal to buy a service (health-care insurance) that “he neither needs nor wants” involves a major flaw. No one, young, middle-aged, or old, can predict when a catastrophic illness will strike. Those in our society who develop cancer, a stroke, or a major heart attack could easily be burdened with a medical bill of $50,000, $100,000, or more. Thus, health-care insurance is of monumental importance. The #1 reason for people filing for bankruptcy in America is that they cannot afford to pay their medical bills. Rade M. Pejic, M.D. Michigan City, Indiana Paul J. Beard II Replies: Catastrophic health insurance can be an important purchase if one wishes to insure against financial insolvency. But individuals face countless alternatives in life and must make their own decisions with respect to their personal contexts, resources, and goals. The government has no right and no constitutional authority to force anyone to purchase health insurance of any kind—nor to force anyone to bail out those who go bankrupt due to medical expenses. Individuals morally are and legally should be responsible for themselves. Paul J. Beard II Sacramento, California Would the Federal Government Permit States to Implement a Tax Credits Program? To the Editor: Although I found Michael A. LaFerrara's proposal in “Toward a Free Market in Education: School Vouchers or Tax Credits?” to be enticing, the article did not explain how such a tax credit program could be implemented by particular states without first being permitted by the federal tax code. Is there already a provision in the code by which a state might provide its citizens a tax-credit plan such as LaFerrara's? If this plan does require new federal legislation, then activists need suggestions as to how to approach legislators to get something started toward enacting such legislation—a prospect, I suspect, that is as distant as initiating Dr. Bernstein's proposal (in “The Educational Bonanza in Privatizing Government Schools,” TOS, Winter 2010–2011) to auction off the public schools. A. James Smith, Jr. Naples, Florida Mike LaFerrara Replies: The federal Department of Education states, “The responsibility for K–12 education rests with the states under the [U.S.] Constitution.”1 Consequently, public K–12 education is primarily funded by local and state taxes—91 percent according to the NEA.2 So a well-funded state program would be possible even without federal funding or congressional action. But there are ways that federal funding could be included. Because education dollars flow from taxpayers through the federal government and then back to the states via myriad programs,3 one possible way would be for state tax agencies simply to ignore the federal income tax outflow from its citizens—and thus avoid any need for federal tax reform—and apportion the inflow of federal dollars according to each taxpayer's Education Tax Liability and Average Attendance Cost. That said, federal dollars often flow to the states with “strings” or conditions attached, and such strings might prohibit apportionment of the monies as called for in my plan. In that case, states could seek exemptions from the conditions. If the federal regulatory agencies involved refused to grant exemptions, then state representatives could fight for them through Congress. Meanwhile, states could simply exclude federal dollars from the mix and still implement viable programs. It is worth noting that a transitional tax-credit program such as mine faces far less-onerous legal obstacles than summary, across-the-board privatization would. For example, New Jersey's constitution mandates that “The Legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free public schools for the instruction of all the children in the State between the ages of five and eighteen years” (Article VIII, Section 4). My plan would likely pass muster under such mandates, because the public schools would remain adequately funded for any child who would attend them. Dr. Bernstein's plan to auction off the government schools would ultimately require a constitutional amendment in New Jersey (and likely in other states), a daunting task in and of itself. Until our culture is philosophically advanced enough to support the summary abolition of government schools, a transitional plan structured to work within the existing legal context—and in conjunction with popular support for parental school choice—is our best bet. Such a program can get the ball rolling politically at the state level and, over time, with proven success, contribute to a cultural/political environment more conducive to complete privatization. It is also worth noting that tax credits or school auctions is not an either-or proposition. The ultimate goal of both proposals is the same. My plan could pave the way for Dr. Bernstein's: The more success Americans saw in transitioning to private education via the tax-credit program, the more open they would become to the idea of auctioning off government schools. Finally, I wish to emphasize that advocates of free markets in education should not balk at a plan just because it might encounter legal obstacles. To get from where we are to where we need to be, we will have to change some laws. The question is: Will we embrace a plan that can move us in the right direction? Michael A. LaFerrara Flemington, NJ Endnotes.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Now that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee is almost certain to be either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich (who, in terms of policy and lack of principle, are practically indistinguishable), many on the right are turning their attention to the 2012 Senate races. And they are wise to do so. In the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans gained control of the House but failed to secure a majority in the Senate, leaving Democrats with 53 of 100 seats. Of the 33 Senate seats up for election in 2012, 21 are held by Democrats, 2 by independents. Republicans are likely to retain control of the House, and if they manage to gain control of the Senate as well, they will have the opportunity to repeal Obama Care, Dodd-Frank, and other disastrous laws and regulations, and to begin cutting federal spending. These are crucial short-term goals. But if we want to return America to the free republic it is supposed to be, we must do more than campaign and vote for Republicans. We must embrace and advocate the only principle that can unify our political efforts and ground them in moral fact. That principle pertains to the purpose of government. Government is an institution with a legal monopoly on the use of physical force in a given geographic area. What is the proper purpose of such an institution? Why, morally speaking, do we need it? The proper purpose of government is, as the Founding Fathers recognized, to protect people's inalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Government fulfills this vital function, as Ayn Rand put it, by banning the use of physical force from social relationships and by using force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. Insofar as an individual respects rights—that is, insofar as he refrains from assault, robbery, rape, fraud, extortion, and the like—a proper government leaves him fully free to act on his own judgment and to keep and use the product of his effort. Insofar as an individual violates rights—whether by direct force (e.g., assault) or indirect force (e.g., fraud)—a proper government employs the police and courts as necessary to stop him, to seek restitution for his victims, and/or to punish him. Likewise for international relations: So long as a foreign country refrains from using (or calling for) physical force against our citizens, our government properly leaves that country alone. But if a foreign country (or gang) attacks or calls for others to attack us, our government properly employs our military to eliminate that threat. As Thomas Jefferson summed up, a proper government “shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”In order to begin moving America toward good government, we must explicitly embrace this principle, and we must demand that politicians who want our support explicitly embrace it as well. To do so, however, we must understand what the principle means in practice, especially with respect to major political issues of the day, such as “entitlement” programs, corporate bailouts, “stimulus” packages, and the Islamist assault on America. . . .
  • Topic: Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ari Armstrong, Diana Hsieh
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Surveys the expanding efforts to outlaw abortion in America, examines the facts that give rise to a woman's right to abortion, and shows why the assault on this right is an assault on all our rights
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In 1997, John Lilly went to hear Steve Jobs speak in Building 4 of Apple's headquarters, taking a seat in the auditorium among many of his colleagues. Credit: Matthew Yohe “It was a tough time at Apple,” he remembers. “[W]e were trading below book value on the market—our enterprise value was actually less than our cash on hand. And the rumors were everywhere that we were going to be acquired.” But Jobs seemed excited. He told the employees gathered there that they were going to turn around the company. He told them why he thought the company “sucked” and why in the future it would be great. Then someone asked about Michael Dell's suggestion that Apple shut down and return its cash to shareholders. “Fuck Michael Dell,” replied Jobs. Lilly was flabbergasted. Jobs continued: “If you want to make Apple great again, let's get going. If not, get the hell out.” While Jobs was alive, few people thought of him as a patient man. Indeed, his own biographer concluded that “patience was never one of his virtues,” and there were understandable grounds for this view. Lilly recalls, for example, that soon after Jobs returned to Apple he made clear that he would not put up with any employee who was not with him and his vision for the company. One of the struggles we were going through when he came back was that Apple was about the leakiest organization in history—it had gotten so bad that people were cavalier about it. In the face of all those leaks, I remember the first all-company email that Steve sent around after becoming interim CEO . . . [H]e talked in it about how Apple would release a few things in the coming week, and a desire to tighten up communications so that employees could know more about what was going on—and how that required respect for confidentiality. That mail was sent on a Thursday; I remember all of us getting to work on Monday morning and reading mail from Fred Anderson, our then-CFO, who said basically: “Steve sent [an email] last week, he told you not to leak, we were tracking everyone's mail, and [four] people sent the details to outsiders. They've all been terminated and are no longer with the company.” This was just a single instance of Jobs showing an “intolerance or irritability with anything that impedes or delays”—the dictionary definition of impatience. But there were countless others, and although Jobs's intolerance may have shocked employees new to Apple, it didn't surprise those who remembered how Jobs had acted in earlier years. Back then, Jobs was also famously unwilling to put up with anyone who was not actively adding to the creation of products he envisioned and wanted to use. Then, too, he didn't want to waste his time on anything that was of secondary importance to him—and he didn't want people on his payroll wasting their time on such things either. . . .
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: I recently spoke with Linda Mann about how she became a painter, the nature of still lifes, and how she makes pumpkins so intriguing. This interview includes images of several of her paintings. Her full portfolio, including details of the paintings found herein, can be seen at her website, www.lindamann.com, or by appointment. —Craig Biddle Craig Biddle: Linda, thank you for taking time away from the canvas to chat with me about your work. Linda Mann: It's my pleasure. CB: Having tried my hand at painting, I've concluded that great painters fall into the same category as great pianists. They're superhuman. LM: [Laughing] CB: Seriously, though, creating beautiful, engaging, fascinating works on canvas is an extremely difficult process, and I have several questions about it in relation to your work. But let me begin with a few preliminaries. How and when did you become an artist? LM: In some ways, I've always been an artist. Ever since I can remember, I've been drawing and painting—before I even really knew what being an artist meant. I took great pleasure in drawing everything around me—there were never enough paper and pencils for me! In school, I took all the art classes I could and thought I would pursue a career as an artist. But in high school I became discouraged, because what was being taught was largely modern or abstract art. I didn't understand the point of it and began to think that if that was art, that wasn't what I had in mind. When it came time for me to decide what to study in college, after much debating, I chose industrial design instead of art. It seemed to combine aesthetics and the rationality that I found utterly lacking in modern art. Soon after I got my degree, however, I discovered that I actually wasn't that good at it because my heart wasn't really in it. Over the years, I went from one design field to another—from industrial design to interior design to graphic design. I was always dissatisfied. Finally, I ended up in fashion design. While I was sketching costumes at a museum exhibit one afternoon, it struck me how much I'd always loved to draw. That was where my heart was. At that moment I decided to pursue fine arts again. I thought I could figure out a way to avoid the modern art that so discouraged me. I took some classes at the San Francisco Academy of Art and then, after I moved to Seattle, at The Academy of Realist Art. I studied off and on there, taking classes in traditional drawing and painting techniques, anatomy, and portraiture. Most of my learning was actually done studying old art technique books from the turn of the last century. I found that the majority of recent art textbooks were emphasizing modern art and not the classical methods that I wanted to learn. CB: So before you turned back to fine art, you designed fashion? Did you create any designs that went to market? LM: No, I didn't get that far. I was studying pattern-making, draping, sewing, and illustration. I had not gotten so far as to actually produce anything. CB: So that was school only, not a career spell. LM: Exactly. CB: Given the various kinds of paintings that an artist might choose to create—portraits, figures, landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, and so on—why have you chosen to focus on still lifes? What's so great about still lifes, as it were? LM: Something about still lifes is very intimate. Everybody is familiar with a tabletop with things on it—it's right in front of you. Landscapes are the world at large, out there; a portrait is involved with a person's character, and complex issues of psychology, which aren't what I'm mostly interested in. In a still life, the focus is on light and how we see. In this way, still-life painting seems to be more about epistemology than any other kind of painting. It says, “The world exists and I can know it.” A still life is like a little world more than any other kind of painting. It suits me to be able to contemplate this piece of my world in front of me—and it's available for study because it's up close and personal. . . .
  • Author: Lee Sandstead
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Author's note: An extensive gallery of original photography of the National Gallery of Art and its superb collection can be found here. If, like me, you hold that art is a necessity of ardent living, then experiencing art is one of the most crucial aspects of your life. And just as food is not meant only to be looked at in magazines but eaten—so too paintings and sculptures are not meant merely to be looked at in books, but devoured in person. This requires visiting museums, where most great art is housed. Photo credit: Lee Sandstead My favorite museum, after years of travel and thousands of hours spent in museums, is the West Building of the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, D.C. Although there are larger museums with bigger collections—most notably the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City—the NGA has a first-rate collection, a top-notch preservation policy, and a spectacular architectural setting. In America, museums on the East Coast have the strongest collections. Those such as the NGA, Met, and Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston—recipients of the generosity of America's 19th- and early-20th-century collector-industrialists—contain the largest, most-diverse group of masters and masterpieces. Museum collections in the western and southern parts of the country tend to consist more of second-tier artists and artworks. The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, for instance, is a well-endowed museum with a large but relatively weak collection. It has no original Vermeers, merely a copy of one. Likewise, its A Young Girl Defending Herself Against Eros is not the original by 19th-century master William Bouguereau, but rather a much smaller reproduction done mostly by his assistants. Although the Getty does have a Raphael, it is a minor, early portrait, rather than one of his celebrated Madonnas. The museum's Canaletto is not one of his giant panoramas of Venice, but a minor painting of the Arch of Constantine. By contrast, the NGA has four Vermeers, five Raphaels, and nine paintings by Sir Peter Paul Rubens; no West-Coast museum comes close to having masterworks on this scale. Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de' Benci, ca. 1474/1478. Housed at the NGA, this is the only painting by da Vinci in the United States. Although only in his early twenties when he painted Ginevra de' Benci, Leonardo was at his innovative best in this painting, placing the sitter in an outdoor setting, positioning the body in a three-quarter pose, and using a new medium—oil painting. Photo credit: Lee Sandstead. Created by an act of Congress in 1937, the NGA was formed largely from the donated collections of Andrew Mellon and Samuel Kress, and it features a robust collection of Renaissance, Baroque, rococo, neoclassical, Romantic, and American art. It houses the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the United States and important works of several masters, including Rembrandt, Boucher, Fragonard, David, and Bierstadt. . . .
  • Political Geography: Uganda, United States, Washington
  • Author: Antonio Puglielli
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Responds to the prompt: In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand dramatizes the principle that "there are no conflicts of interest among rational men, men who do not desire the unearned . . . men who neither make sacrifices nor accept them." Elucidate and concretize this principle using examples from both Atlas and real life.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: C.A. Wolski
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Only a handful of fictional films-among them, To Kill a Mockingbird and In the Heat of the Night-have successfully addressed the ugly realities of racism in 20th-century America in compelling, dramatic ways. Tate Taylor's The Help can be added to this list. Set in the deeply segregated Mississippi of 1963, The Help is, on one level, about a young, privileged white woman's attempts to become a professional writer. Skeeter Phelan, played by Emma Stone, is the daughter of an old, wealthy, socially connected white family in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from Ole Miss with an English degree, Skeeter has come home, hoping to pursue her dream of writing literature, taking her first step by writing the housekeeping column for the local paper. Skeeter's career choice is diametrically opposed to those of her lifelong friends and the rest of the Junior League who, at twenty-three, have already settled down and begun having babies. Led by Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard), these would-be Scarlett O'Haras are supported by "the help" of the title, black housekeepers who do the cleaning, shopping, cooking, and, most critically, raising generation after generation of white children, yet are not even allowed to use their employers' bathrooms. While writing her column, Skeeter seeks the assistance of Abileen Clark (Viola Davis), the black maid of one of her friends. In so doing, she sees for the first time the ugliness that underlies the system in which she has lived her entire life. Here the story turns to deeper matters and the theme of independence versus conformity. . . .
  • Political Geography: America
200. Steve Jobs
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: New York: Simon Schuster, 2011. 656 pp. $35 (hardcover). Reviewed by Daniel Wahl With the recent passing of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson's biography of the now-legendary businessman was certain to become a best seller. And it has. But not everything that sells well is worth reading. Is this? In Steve Jobs, Isaacson's focus is on the choices, actions, and value judgments that Jobs made throughout his life—as well as on how Jobs himself evaluated these choices and actions. The result is that you truly get to know Steve Jobs—to see “what made him tick,” what he did, and how it all worked out for him—from his childhood on. As the only biographer with whom Jobs ever cooperated, Isaacson is able to include a lot of new information. For example, Isaacson tells us that Jobs knew from a very early age that he was adopted and gives us a dramatic moment when he realized what other people might think about his being adopted: “My parents were very open with me about that,” [Jobs] recalled. He had a vivid memory of sitting on the lawn of his house, when he was six or seven years old, telling the girl who lived across the street. “So does that mean your real parents didn't want you?” the girl asked. “Lightning bolts went off in my head,” according to Jobs. “I remember running into the house crying. And my parents said, 'No, you have to understand.' They were very serious and looked me straight in the eye. They said, 'We specifically picked you out.' Both of my parents said that and repeated it slowly for me. And they put an emphasis on every word in that sentence.” (p. 4) Owing partly to this event, and partly to another—where Jobs noticed how smart he was in comparison with others—Isaacson shows how Jobs began to regard himself highly. He also quotes Jobs showing how he thought later in life of his being adopted: “There's some notion that because I was abandoned, I worked very hard so I could do well and make my [biological] parents wish they had me back, or some such nonsense, but that's ridiculous,” he insisted. “Knowing I was adopted may have made me feel more independent, but I have never felt abandoned. I've always felt special.” (p. 5) Isaacson shows that Jobs was independent to the core, that he never really cared what others thought on any deep level, a trait that Isaacson says often worked in Jobs's favor, by making him more assertive and less hesitant in going after what he wanted. . . .
  • Political Geography: New York