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Yaron Brook Talks Ayn Rand’s ATLAS SHRUGGED, FOUNTAINHEAD & Covid-19 On Tom Needham’s SOUNDS OF FILM – Broadway World

Author Yaron Brook is Tom Needham's special guest this Thursday at 6 pm on WUSB's SOUNDS OF FILM. He will be discussing what one can learn from Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED and FOUNTAINHEAD during the Covid-19 Crisis.

Yaron Brook is the host of the Yaron Brook Show, renowned best-selling author, and world class speaker. Brook's podcast can be heard on the Yaron Brook Show at BlogTalk Radio, Spreaker, Spotify and YouTube.

Brook was the Executive Director of The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) for 17 years (2000-2017). He remains Chairman of the Board of ARI and its primary spokesperson.

Brook, an internationally sought speaker, travels extensively promoting Ayn Rand and her philosophy, objectivism.

THE SOUNDS OF FILM is the nation's longest running film and music themed radio show. For the past 30 years, the program has delivered a popular mix of interviews and music to listeners all over Long Island, parts of Connecticut and streaming live worldwide on the internet. Past people interviewed for the show include Rob Reiner, Alec Baldwin, Dionne Warwick, Chuck D, Alexander Payne, Michael Moore, William H. Macy, Billy Joel and Howard Shore.

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Yaron Brook Talks Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED, FOUNTAINHEAD & Covid-19 On Tom Needham's SOUNDS OF FILM - Broadway World

With a glass of wine and a dry joke, Jim Young entertains at Sand Hollow Winery – The Newark Advocate

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Jim Young, vintner and owner of Sand Hollow Winery and Sand Hollow Speakeasy, opened Sand Hollow Winery in 2012.(Photo: Sara C. Tobias/The Advocate)

HEATH Sand Hollow Winery lies nestled on a quiet country lane, tucked in a small valley among 83 mostly wooded acres. Its easy to get that it-hardly-seems-like-Im-in-Licking-County feeling. Its an idyllic setting for wine and nature lovers alike.

Interestingly, however, owner and vintner Jim Young originally had a different idea when he bought the property. I was looking to get away from people, he (sort of) admitted, and ended up entertaining them. Go figure.

Young, by the way, is known for his dry sense of humor. Jims art of telling tales has endeared many a wine customer, noted his wife, Cindy Steen. Hes able to draw people into his stories even if hes talking about paint drying!

Speaking of drying paint, theres another, newer location for Sand Hollow Winery. This one is in downtown Newark, where you can take a step back in time to the prohibition era.Young (aka Mr. Speaks) likes to call it a speakeasy and you need a password to gain entry. (Check his web site to get the password, and dont tell anyone you dont trust!) Its all vintage Jim Young humor and creativity.

Sand Hollow Speakeasy offers whiskey, wine, and beer behind their bar in Newark.(Photo: Sara C. Tobias/The Advocate)

Now 68, Young grew up in Newark, graduated from Newark High School in 1969, went to Ohio State to study finance and then went to work for his father in his construction company.

The construction business, he said, gave me the knowledge that, if you start with a good foundation and build on that, you will have a good chance, not great, to be successful.

He switched gears when he started publishing niche newspapers in Newark 50 Plus and Our Town among them. In the midst of his publishing phase he started making wine. He opened Sand Hollow Winery in 2012.

The winery was just another chapter in my entrepreneurial book, he said, though he did add, A winery was my first foray into a retail business.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?

A. Meeting new customers that were recommended to us by old customers or our social medias 4.8 star rating. Being able to give that new customer an exceptional wine tasting experience that matches up to their expectations. Converting devoted sweet drinkers to our very drinkable dry white and red wines is an added bonus. If they smile or laugh during that process it makes my day.

Q. What are you most proud of about your career?

A. In the 8 years we have been open, definitely the returning customers and their recommendations to others to try us out.

A copy of a prescription for alcohol hangs in Sand Hollow Speakeasy in Newark. (Photo: Sara C. Tobias/The Advocate)

Q. What has been the biggest challenge in leading Sand Hollow Winery?

A. Fortunately the challenges have been few. Keeping up with the growth of the winery and speakeasy is definitely the biggest challenge. The exceptional staff from Andy, Char, Sam, Theresa, Tracie, my creative wife Cindy and one-of-a-kind customers that pitch in at crucial times make it all work!

Q. What would you like people to know about Sand Hollow Winery they may not know?

A. We have the best 5 cheese pizzas west of Italy to go along with our Italian style wines.

Q. How has Sand Hollow Winery changed through the years?

A. The biggest change was the addition of another winery, a 1920s style speakeasy in the newly restored downtown Newark area across from the historic jail. You walk up to a peek hole in the door, give the password and enter into the past, enjoying not only wine on draft, local craft beer and prohibition era whiskey and gin. You can also get your picture taken in a clawfoot gin tub with the appropriate props.

Q. What is your favorite movie?

A. Paint Your Wagon. Its a musical made in the late 60s with Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood singing, not very good I might add, during the California gold rush era. Brainless entertainment but with a strong message about loyalty.

Q. What is your favorite TV show?

A. The Blacklist. Actor James Spader is an immoral criminal that does good. He has the best sense of humor while preparing to kill his victims.

Q. Whats your favorite type of music?

A.All genres.

Q. What is your favorite book, one youd recommend others read? And why?

A. Atlas Shrugged a 1957 novel by Ayn Rand. This fictional story about the struggles between socialism and capitalism could be very easily true today.

Q. What is your favorite sport or activity to participate in?

A. Hiking Just got back from a trip to the Grand Canyon and Red Rocks in Sedona.

Q. What is your favorite sport to watch?

A. OSU football, especially when they win.

Q. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A. Flying

Q. What is your favorite meal?

A. Turkey with homemade noodles piled on top of mash potatoes.

Q. Who is the person you most admire in your life, and why?

A. Gib Reese. He was always doing something to unselfishly help individuals or the residents of Licking County.

Q. Who is a public figure you most admire?

A. Ben Franklin

Q. Whats your dream vacation?

A. Anywhere, but away from a crowd of people.

Q. If you could be in any other job or profession, what would it be?

A. College professor

Sand Hollow Winery is located at 12558 Sand Hollow Road in Heath. The Sand Hollow Winery Speakeasy is located in downtown Newark at 57 S. 3rd St.For more information, call 740-323-3959 or log on http://www.sandhollowwine.com.

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With a glass of wine and a dry joke, Jim Young entertains at Sand Hollow Winery - The Newark Advocate

Self-isolating? Hit the Calgary Public Library’s digital archive and challenge yourself to some long reads – Sarnia and Lambton County This Week

Pictured is the Central Library which along with all public libraries in Calgary has been closed to help limit the spread of COVID-19 on Monday, March 16, 2020. Azin Ghaffari/PostmediaAzin Ghaffari / Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Call it THE LIST.

Presumably, every avid reader has one.

That would be the books you have always meant to get around to but felt you didnt have the time. But as the world self-isolates and leisure activity that requires leaving the house is cancelled, ambitious readers may find themselves with time on their hands to do some serious reading.

The Calgary Public Library has an extensive list of eBooks and audiobooks up for the grabs digitally, including a whole category that has been dubbed Long Books Worth Reading.

So here are a few suggestions for brave bibliophiles looking for the opposite of light reading.

Moby Dick, by Herman MelvilleAvailable as eBook and audiobookMelvilles sprawling opus is renowned, or perhaps infamous, for its droning chapters that entail lengthy ruminations on the colour white or sleep-inducing descriptions of a whales tail. Still, the 1851 American novel is also considered one of the greatest works in English literature, which suggests a number of people have actually made their way through it. The plot follows the obsessive quest of Captain Ahab for revenge against a giant white sperm whale that bit off his leg.

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn RandAvailable as eBook and audiobookIf this whole COVID-19 thing has somehow put you in the mood to read about the wonders of unchecked capitalism or virtues of selfishness, then Ayn Rands 1957 epic is for you. For many, the book is simply a lengthy diatribe wrapped in a multi-character, slightly dystopic tale. Still, many who subscribe to a certain right-leaning philosophy have deemed it life-changing. Even for those who dont, it may offer some interesting insight into the puzzling inner workings of young conservatives.

Ulysses, by James JoyceAvailable as eBook and audiobookAs a young English Literature student, I grumpily arrived at the theory that no one on Earth, including James Joyce himself, had actually read this bewildering 1922 stream-of-consciousness tome from start to finish. As I grew older, however, I discovered that many see it as equivalent to David Foster Wallaces Infinite Jest as the ultimate Ironman marathon of literary challenges. Constructed as a modern take on Homers Odyssey, the book takes place in 1904 Dublin over the course of one day and delves into human consciousness dialogue and is credited with forever disrupting the accepted norms of the novel. Good luck.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John IrvingAvailable as eBookCompared to the above titles, John Irvings 1989 masterpiece is fairly accessible and a good start for anyone curious about how the American author became one of modern literatures most beloved tellers of sprawling, multi-generational dark comedies. Accessible as it may be, its still a long journey. As with most of Irvings novels, it spans decades to tell the tale of two friends forever linked by a freak childhood accident. Dubbed Irvings Vietnam book, its a tragic but often laugh-out-loud epic exploring friendship, fate, faith, war and morality. Any of Irvings books (with the possible exception of the below-par Fourth Hand) are a great investment of your time, but A Prayer for Owen Meany has proven to be a sentimental favourite among the authors many admirers.

The Stand, by Stephen KingAvailable on eBook and audiobookOK, this one may be a little too on the nose given the circumstances and may actually ramp up your anxiety. Still, for fans of sci-fi and horror, Kings 1978 post-apocalyptic book remains one of popular literatures most compelling works that sits alongside It as the prolific authors take on serious literature (whatever that means.) Fear not, that doesnt mean its boring, even if it is lengthy. It tells the story of a virus dubbed Captain Trips that wipes out 99 per cent of mankind. The survivors form two factions that eventually come into conflict, pitting good against ultimate evil in a tale about survival, compassion and community.

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Self-isolating? Hit the Calgary Public Library's digital archive and challenge yourself to some long reads - Sarnia and Lambton County This Week

As Science And Business Go To War With Each Other, President Trump Pours Fuel On The Fire – Andover Leader

By Abram Brown with Chris Helman

In his corner of the Texas oil patch, Bud Brigham has kept things going as much as he can in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the employees at Brigham Minerals, which he founded and currently chairs, are working from home. Brigham is also the chairman of Atlas Sand, whose plants are still going full throttle, he says, processing the sand that gets sold to frackers.

As the name of that company hints, Brigham is a libertarian, and he once financed a movie trilogy of Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged. I do wonder, are we overreacting? he says, doing his best Dagny Taggart imitation. Is the cure worse than the ailment?

That sentiment has spread widely in the last 48 hours. Tweets and email chains, many penned by desperate small-business owners, found their way to the Fox News punditry set. Just as the spread of coronavirus creates a curve of the number of people infected, this economic shutdown is creating a curve of the number of people affectedlosing their jobs, their homes, their businesses, Fox host Steve Hilton said Sunday night, asking viewers if they were familiar with that famous phrase: The cure is worse than the disease. It was then only a matter of time before the Tweeter-in-Chief weighed in. WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM, President Trump, caps lock emphatically on, wrote shortly before midnight Sunday. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO. He doubled down yesterday morning, retweeting those who agreed with himand finished by retweeting his own late-night tweet.

By yesterday, Trumps notion had become a mainstream talking point, as prominent observers including Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Fox News Laura Ingraham and Brit Hume and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis all insisted that an economic crash will kill more people than the virus, and we should therefore let those who are purportedly less at riskthe young and middle-agedgo back to producing and consuming.

All of which has scientists, doctors and other health-care professionals aghast. Their consensus: Stay home and dont go within six feet of anyone. We have to hunker down, says Vincent Racaniello, who teaches microbiology and immunology at Columbia University. He doesnt think its safe to resume normal life until the country reports no more than 10 new cases in a day. (The U.S. is currently reporting thousands per day.) Look at all the people dying in huge numbers on a daily basis in Italy, he adds. We need to prevent that. When Dr. Anthony Fauci, the governments leading expert on infectious diseases, didnt appear at yesterdays circus-like press briefing, Trump was asked if Fauci agreed with him on the need to ease social distancing to speed the reopening of the economy. No, he doesnt not agree, the president responded, his use of a double negative only muddying the waters further.

Does this standoff represent yet another culture war, this one with hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars on the line? This is probably unprecedented, says Greg Wawro, chair of Columbias political science department. It is bleak. Its bleak.

Both sides come armed with statistics. The science-first side argues in terms of sickness and mortality, citing a worst-case scenario that projects 160 million to 214 million Americans infected with COVID-19 and a death toll of 200,000 to 1.7 million. These models factor in the past few weeks in Europemodels that in fact seem optimistic given the pathetic state of testing in the U.S. so far, as well as government mandates far less draconian, even in New York and California, than in Italy and Spain.

The business-first side, meanwhile, cites lost dollars. On the positive end of things, Bank of America thinks the economy will slide 12% in the second quarter; Deutsche Bank predicts 12.9%. This would represent collapse, BofA economists wrote in a recent research report. Goldman Sachs forecasts a 24% drop. Global recession in 2020 is now our base case, Morgan Stanleys chief economist, Chetan Ahya, concluded in a recent report. Those estimates would likely translate to between 5 million and 8 million vaporized jobs. One Federal Reserve official, Mercer Bullard, said yesterday that unemployment could reach 30%, the highest in American history. (During the Great Depression, joblessness peaked at 24.9% in 1933.) These numbers feel like an almost self-inflicted wound given that just four weeks ago, the economy seemed headed to another year of healthy growth amid the longest expansion in American history.

I would love to see life going back to normal, says Luciana Borio, a physician who served on Trumps National Security Council. However, I do not think thats going to be by the end of this week.

To the science side, economic speculation is irrelevant. The most important thing here is to save peoples lives, and there is no value you can put on a persons life, right? says Columbias Racaniello. Especially if its someone who means something to you. Recognizing the potency of this argument, the business-first types have cobbled together dubious estimates of the lives taken by recession and poverty.

Theyre also trying to compare potential coronavirus deaths to those from heart disease (650,000 deaths annually), cancer (600,000) or automobile crashes (1.3 million), knowing that no one would advocate shutting the economy to stop such losses. Negative effects on the economy create lots of misery for people, says Harvard professor Jeffrey Miron, a former fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. Adds David Friedman, a retired Santa Clara University professor and son of free-market apostle Milton Friedman: The government shutting down the economy or freezing the economy or printing $2 trillion to give to people doesnt make a whole lot of sense.

But the winning argument, on economic terms, belongs to the scientists. The idea that economy versus lives is a zero-sum game is false. The most vexing potential problem with COVID-19 isnt the death rate. Its the risk of a surge that collapses the U.S. health-care system, with most cities already preparing for triage and carnage on a scale never seen in peacetime America. That alone would cripple both the biggest player in the American economy and undermine whatever consumer and corporate confidence could be imbued with a business-as-usual attitude. Its why even President Trump was imploring everyone to flatten the curveat least until this weekend.

I would love to see life going back to normal, says Luciana Borio, a physician and the former chief scientist at the FDA, who served on Trumps National Security Council, planning for worst-case scenarios like these until she left when the president dismantled the groups team of health experts. I think we should try to do everything we can to bring it back to normal as soon as is feasible and responsible to do so. We shouldnt sit and wait a second longer than its needed. However, I do not think thats going to be by the end of this week.

Or next Monday. March 30 looms large, as Trump began urging distancing on March 15, for a suggested 15 days. Despite all the friendly PSAs, though, only a handful of states have imposed the kind of stay-at-home mandates that could actually stem this scourge. Most of the country is still congregating, which means most of the country will start getting sick only on or around March 30when the death counts in places like New York, judging by the experience of Europe, will start to become staggering.

Its all a false dichotomy. Business and science arent zero-sum, the same way that solving climate change should be viewed as an extraordinary investment opportunity rather than a cost. Great science blossoms under entrepreneurial capitalism. Great business is based on reason and data.

Data, or lack thereof, is the biggest culprit behind this catastrophe. Americas inability to amass enough test kitsmuch less masks and ventilators to protect health-care workersmeans were flying blind. Thats the biggest difference between the United States and a coronavirus role model like South Korea, which opened 600 testing centers and is now producing 100,000 testing kits per day.

It might be reasonable to gambleand try to restart thingsif you actually understand [the scope of the problem], says Borio. We dont.

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As Science And Business Go To War With Each Other, President Trump Pours Fuel On The Fire - Andover Leader

Sam Ross Jr. | Coronavirus stops the motor of the sporting world – TribDem.com

Many sports fans, bless them, are blissfully disinterested in the world at large, a fact reinforced in the days following Johnstowns 1977 flood.

Remarkably, staff were in this papers newsroom (fortuitously located on the second floor of the building) not that many days after the flood, commuting into an otherwise deserted downtown in a van and the driver often me needed a signed pass from the military commander to get past checkpoints.

It was a monumental moment when a makeshift line was strung from the telephone company, across the alley, and into the newsroom through a window. This was a link to the outside world and a conduit to be used to gather information.

Cell phones werent an option then. Remember, 1977 was the year of the very first cell phone call, but it was a time very far removed from the current proliferation of handheld communication devices.

The cell phones of that time were rare and huge, about the size of those military walkie talkies you see in World War II movies.

Eventually, the newly activated land-line phone rang in the newsroom and, when it was answered, a gravelly voice asked Howd the Dodgers do last night?

Imagine that. Many lives had been lost in Johnstown and surrounding communities. Homes and businesses had been washed away, literally. The economic future of the area was uncertain, and this guys most pressing information need was for a baseball score.

Fast-forward to the present and the COVID-19 coronavirus a disease some conspiracy theorists believe to have been genetically engineered for nefarious reasons has pulled an Atlas Shrugged and stopped the motor of the sporting world.

NHL and NBA seasons have been suspended. March Madness is now March No-Go.

Major League Baseballs spring training is on hold and the start of the regular season delayed.

Soccer here and around the world is paused. The PGA, the XFL, theyre not playing. Motorsports such as NASCAR and IndyCar are late arrivals to the postponement crowd, but have joined the club and put a temporary halt to their scheduled events.

This stoppage of big-time sports across the board was a product of momentum, the intangible quality that in a touch of irony so often is credited with deciding sporting contests.

At first there were plans floated to wait and see how the virus infections progressed.

This melted into the possibility of playing games without spectators and, in a sudden rush, games and tournaments were called off and seasons were put on hold.

Speculation in the sporting world now has shifted from trying to identify potential championship teams to wondering when, or if, the whole thing gets going again.

We are left to search for previous experiences as reference points.

One such example was the Spanish Flu outbreak, which hit full-stride in the United States in the fall of 1918.

World War I also ended in November of that year.

Many sporting events were canceled or shortened on a regional basis due to the flu.

Major League Baseball ended a shortened regular season with a World Series contested in September, won by the Boston Red Sox.

As a concession to health concerns, the spitball was banned in that World Series.

Many decades later the NFL and commissioner Pete Rozelle came in for great criticism when the league played on despite the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in late November 1963.

Terror attacks on the United States in September 2001 caused stoppages in sports, but more temporary than what we are facing now.

Uncertainty is rampant now regarding sports and our way of life the near-term future.

If the virus seems to be under control, and if it once again is presumed safe for people to congregate in large numbers to watch events, things could get back to normal in short order perhaps a month.

But what happens if the uncertainty over the spread of the virus still remains months, or even a year, into the future?

This is uncharted territory for sports and for the fans who follow the games and athletes.

And theres not even a Dodgers score to be requested.

Sam Ross Jr. is a freelance journalist who writes a weekly column for The Tribune-Democrat.

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Sam Ross Jr. | Coronavirus stops the motor of the sporting world - TribDem.com

Psychedelic drugs have lost their cool. Blame Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop – The Guardian

On a June evening in 1955, an investment banker and amateur mycologist named Robert Gordon Wasson found himself in an adobe house high in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, encountering the divine. That night, Wasson, his wife, the photographer Allan Richardson and about 20 local indigenous people took part in a Mazatec ritual involving psilocybe mexicana, a species of hallucinogenic mushroom. As Wasson recounted in Seeking the Magic Mushroom, his 1957 Life magazine photoessay: We chewed and swallowed these acrid mushrooms, saw visions, and emerged from the experience awestruck.

In the first episode of The Goop Lab, a new Netflix docuseries tied to actor Gwyneth Paltrows lifestyle and e-commerce enterprise, several of Paltrows employees fly to a Jamaican resort, in search of some modern analogue to Wassons psychedelic ceremony.

The volunteers for Goops psilocybin ritual a hodgepodge of hand-me-down indigenous liturgy, weekend-long Pilates retreat, and hollow self-help blather are all described as being deeply successful people. Gone are Wassons visions of the archetypes, the platonic ideas, that underlie the imperfect images of everyday life. In their place: the clinking of coffee mugs filled with mushroom tea; giggling and group-hugging on yoga mats; tearful sobbing by participants listening to music through wireless Apple AirPods; and people sinking into Patagonia vests repurposed as makeshift pillows.

Back in the Goop headquarters (or lab), Paltrow speaks of psilocybin as the newest, hottest healing modality. Mushrooms, as one researcher tells the Gooper-in-Chief, are back.

And in their current iteration, theyre also totally uncool.

For most people, psychedelic drugs like psilocybin and LSD are singularly associated with the 1960s American youth culture. The English psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond coined the term psychedelic meaning, roughly, mind-manifesting in 1956 to describe the effects of hallucinogenic drugs taken in a clinical context. The word, for Osmond, was clear, euphonious and uncontaminated by other associations.

But the history of psychedelics and psychedelia (that is, the culture that has coalesced around the drugs and their usage) can itself feel somewhat contaminated by certain associations. Even the phrase psychedelic 60s slips so naturally off the tongue, encouraged as much by the pleasing (euphonious, even) sibilance as the cliches conjured in the collective memory: San Francisco, Sgt Pepper, Woodstock, tie-dye, and Timothy Leary urging youngsters to turn on, tune in, and drop out. Beyond these more obvious, ready-made cultural signifiers, psychedelics helped catalyze the 80s British rave scene, facilitate Bob Dylans more introspective lyrical turn, and helped Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis throw a legendary no-hitter.

Whether these things are at all fascinating or cool is, perhaps, a matter of taste dependent on ones tolerance for kaleidoscopic tapestries, all-night dance parties, woolly talk about self-transcendence, and freeform electric guitar jamming. But the so-called psychedelic renaissance that Goop seized upon feels like part of a larger, concerted attempt, to break free of these associations. Its part reset, part rebranding effort.

Recently, Canadian businessman and TV personality Kevin OLeary (the no-nonsense Mr Wonderful from ABCs entrepreneurial cavalcade Shark Tank) announced that he had invested in a neuro-pharmaceutical company dedicated to exploring the clinical benefits of psychedelics in treating addiction. Like Paltrow, who waxes on the potential of psychedelics in a process she calls the optimization of self, OLeary an investor who has spoken to the role Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged played in shaping his business acumen doesnt exactly seem like an avatar of free love, mind-expansion, and other platitudes of the psychedelic sixties. And thats precisely the point. If we are now expected to take psychedelics seriously, they must appear, well, serious.

Parsing Goops sundry claims to pseudoscience and utter quackery feels like low hanging fruit. (Paltrows company had to pay damages in 2018 after a court ruled that the benefits of a $66 jade egg, advertised on the Goop website for its role in supporting vaginal health, were unsupported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.) In the case of magic mushrooms, however, the science seems solid. Researchers at NYU, Londons Imperial College, and Johns Hopkins University, have produced reams of reputable evidence pointing to psilocybins role in easing depression, PTSD, anxiety, and even addiction.

Such research marks a resurgence of these substances in a clinical context a resurgence arguably unseen since the 60s cocktail of hedonistic recreational excess and resulting social panic stripped psychedelics of any lingering reputability. If the current surge of serious interest in psychedelics is, in any meaningful way, a renaissance, then its not reviving the cultural heyday of hippies, Hells Angels, campus protests and free outdoor rock concerts, but an earlier period in these drugs history. Before these powerful substances fell into the hands of hippies, they were largely evangelized by doctors, executives, and academics including the above-mentioned Osmond, and author Aldous Huxley, who firmly believed that the psychedelic experience be made available only to an elite coterie of achievers.

Even Wasson, one of the earliest known white Americans to partake in a psychedelic sacrament, returned to work as a high-level executive of an investment bank. Like Goops Gwyneth Paltrow, Shark Tanks Kevin OLeary, and other current vanguards of the contemporary psychedelic vogue, such early evangelists were very much part of the establishment the 60s cohort opposed: deeply successful people whose minds required, if not perspective-shattering expansion, then just a little optimization.

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Psychedelic drugs have lost their cool. Blame Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop - The Guardian

Threads of 2019 | Adam Lee – Patheos

Its the end of the year and the end of a decade! Before we enter the 2020s, lets take one last look back at the common threads of the year that was.

Right-Wing Atheists

In 2019, I published my first feature article for Political Research Associates. It takes a hard look at how some atheists have whether intentionally or unintentionally given aid and comfort to racists and xenophobes.

The obliviousness and ossified views of atheist white guys was a theme this year, as with Sam Harris, Steven Pinker and the Center for Inquiry. I pondered the question of whether New Atheism is dead.

We also got some comedy from the pratfalls of smug creeps. David Silverman was rehired by Atheist Alliance International, whose board sneered at the complaints against him, and then in a late-breaking update he was fired again after yet another complaint surfaced. Richard Carrier also lost his SLAPP lawsuit for the second and final time.

Racism and White Supremacy

The racist cabal in the White House continues to stain our nation with their evil. I wrote about their attempts to break the law to keep immigrants out, their vile belief that only white people are real Americans, and the white-genocide fantasia of the presidents chief speechwriter and policy adviser.

In July, I took part in the nationwide Lights for Liberty protest. I wrote about whether Trump supporters deserve charity when they fall on hard times.

Climate Change

This year, I discussed the badly-needed Green New Deal, the worldwide kids march against climate change, and the likelihood that well overshoot safe limits and will have to decarbonize our planet.

Theres also some good news, as my home state passed a sweeping Green New Deal of its own, and I wrote about the evidence that humanity has reached peak child.

The Non-Religious Are Booming

Despite the missteps of atheists, more and more people are turning away from organized religion. In April, a poll showed us in a statistical tie for first place. Americans attend church less often than ever and trust churches less than ever. In Europe, the change is even more dramatic.

Religious apologists are deep in denial about this trend. In two posts, I mocked their silly attempt to spin it away, as well as their prediction that well miss them when theyre gone.

The Fountainhead

In 2019, I finished my marathon review of Ayn Rands lesser-known novel, The Fountainhead. Some of my favorite entries were on the sadism of Randian romance, the contradictions in Rands philosophy between this book and Atlas Shrugged, and why humanitys destiny is in the cities.

Reasons for Optimism

Despite the bad news this year, there are reasons to be hopeful about the future. I wrote about why parenting is inherently optimistic, reviewed the evidence for human progress in Factfulness, and did a year-end roundup of overlooked good news.

Commonwealth

Last but not least: This year, I began publishing my novel Commonwealth. Its a tale of utopia, concealed in a hyper-capitalist dystopian future out of an Ayn Rand nightmare. Its a warning of where were headed if we dont change course, and a message of how much greater we could be.

You can read the three prelude posts: on late-stage capitalism, climate despair, and hopepunk dreams. Then check the table of contents to read whats been published so far, and if you like it, consider subscribing on Patreon!

Image credit: See-ming Lee, released under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

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Threads of 2019 | Adam Lee - Patheos

Guns N’ Roses Fan Reveals All the Band’s Leaked Songs From the Axl Rose Solo Era! – Guns N Roses Central

Guns N Roses Fan Summarizes All the Bands Leaked Songs From Last Year and Decade Prior

A fan on the MyGNRForum has summarized all the leaked songs that came out last year from the Chinese Democracy years. Check it out below

Fully leaked discs from The Village Sessions:

Rough Mixes CD #1 (2000-11-08) 01 Madagascar {Drum Adds} (2000-11-05) (5:47)Rough Mixes CD #1 (2000-11-08) 02 T.W.A.T. {#10} (2000-10-12) (5:19)Rough Mixes CD #1 (2000-11-08) 03 Atlas Shrugged {25} (2000-03-27) (4:20)Rough Mixes CD #1 (2000-11-08) 04 Perhaps {19} (2000-03-27) (4:02)Rough Mixes CD #1 (2000-11-08) 05 Prostitue {19} (2000-03-27) (6:19)Rough Mixes CD #1 (2000-11-08) 06 Rhiad {Ver.1} (2000-11-07) (3:40)Rough Mixes CD #1 (2000-11-08) 07 Catcher {30} (2000-03-27) (5:43)Rough Mixes CD #1 (2000-11-08) 08 Chinese Democracy {Ver.1} (2000-11-05) (3:22)Rough Mixes CD #1 (2000-11-08) 09 The Blues {#6} (2000-10-23) (4:52)Rough Mixes CD #1 (2000-11-08) 10 Silkworms {Ver.1} (2000-11-07) (3:42)Rough Mixes CD #2 (2000-11-08) 01 P.R.L. (w/out Thyme) (no gtrs.) (2000-11-08) (4:05)Rough Mixes CD #2 (2000-11-08) 02 Eye On You (Ver.1) (2000-11-07) (3:46)Rough Mixes CD #2 (2000-11-08) 03 If The World (Ver.1) (2000-11-07) (5:16)Rough Mixes CD #2 (2000-11-08) 04 Mustache (Ver.1) (2000-11-07) (4:20)Rough Mixes CD #2 (2000-11-08) 05 Quicksong (10) (2000-03-27) (4:15)Rough Mixes CD #2 (2000-11-08) 06 Zodiac 13 (no vox) (Ver.4) (2000-11-08) (4:46)Rough Mixes CD #2 (2000-11-08) 07 Tonto (BLK/FRG dat (#3)) (2000-07-14) (4:09)Rough Mixes CD #2 (2000-11-08) 08 Real Doll.com (B. Head cd (#2)) (2000-09-14) (4:15)Rough Mixes CD #2 (2000-11-08) 09 Shanklers Revenge (cd (#1)) (2000-09-14) (3:39)Rough Mixes CD #2 (2000-11-08) 10 Im Sorry (B. Head cd (#1)) (2000-10-26) (6:12)Rough Mixes CD #3 (2000-11-08) 01 Billionare (BLK/FRG dat (#2)) (2000-10-15) (1:38)Rough Mixes CD #3 (2000-11-08) 02 Dub Suplex (BLK/FRG dat (#5)) (2000-10-15) (3:10)Rough Mixes CD #3 (2000-11-08) 03 State Of Grace (12) (2000-03-27) (4:09)Rough Mixes CD #3 (2000-11-08) 04 Oklahaoma (10) (2000-03-23) (4:20)Rough Mixes CD #3 (2000-11-08) 05 Devious Bastard (#6) (2000-10-05) (3:35)Rough Mixes CD #3 (2000-11-08) 06 I.R.S. (21) (2000-03-27) (4:23)Rough Mixes CD #3 (2000-11-08) 07 Hardschool (12) (NU AX) (2000-11-08) (4:11)Rough Mixes CD #3 (2000-11-08) 08 Dummy (#8) (2000-10-05) (6:34)Rough Mixes CD #4 (2000-11-08) 01 Me & My Elvis {10} (2000-03-23) (5:48)Rough Mixes CD #4 (2000-11-08) 02 Circus Maximus {Ver.1} (2000-11-07) (4:39)Rough Mixes CD #4 (2000-11-08) 03 D Tune {11} (2000-03-23) (5:25)Rough Mixes CD #4 (2000-11-08) 04 Curly Shuffle {15} (2000-03-23) (3:51)Rough Mixes CD #4 (2000-11-08) 05 Nothing {Ver.1} (2000-11-08) (3:55)Rough Mixes CD #4 (2000-11-08) 06 As It Began {Ver.1} (2000-11-07) (3:55)Rough Mixes CD #4 (2000-11-08) 07 Thyme {P.R.L.} (2000-11-08) (2:04)085 Robin-Tommy Demos (2001-04-03) 01 Inside Out (4:02)085 Robin-Tommy Demos (2001-04-03) 02 3 Dollar Pyramid (4:29)085 Robin-Tommy Demos (2001-04-03) 03 Tommy Demo #1 (3:45)085 Robin-Tommy Demos (2001-04-03) 04 Tommy Demo #2 (4:28)160 Rough Mixes (2001-06-01) 01 Chinese Democracy (Doubled Guitars) (3:30)160 Rough Mixes (2001-06-01) 02 Chinese Democracy (Single Guitars) (3:28)160 Rough Mixes (2001-06-01) 03 Quick Song (4:08)160 Rough Mixes (2001-06-01) 04 Prostitue (Original Drums) (6:12)160 Rough Mixes (2001-06-01) 05 Prostitue (Chopped Drums) (6:18)160 Rough Mixes (2001-06-01) 06 The Blues (4:46)160 Rough Mixes (2001-06-01) 07 Rhiad & The Bediuns (3:43)160 Rough Mixes (2001-06-01) 08 T.W.A.T. (5:16)160 Rough Mixes (2001-06-01) 09 Atlas Shrugged (4:19)160 Rough Mixes (2001-06-01) 10 Zodiac 13 (4:44)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 01 Madagascar (Drums Up (Version Tom Likes)) (5:47)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 02 Madagascar (Drums up Instrumental) (5:49)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 03 Madagascar (Drums down 3 dB) (5:52)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 04 Madagascar (Drums down 3 Db Instrumental) (5:45)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 05 Madagascar (Old Josh Drums) (5:42)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 06 Madagascar (Original Brain Drums) (5:41)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 07 Chinese Democracy (Old Josh Drums) (3:29)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 08 Chinese Democracy (New Brain Drums) (3:33)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 09 The Blues (Old Josh Drums) (4:49)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 10 The Blues (New Brain Drums) (4:49)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 11 Rhiad (Old Josh Drums) (3:39)184 New Brain Drums (2001-06-27) 12 Rhiad (New Brain Drums) (3:41)187 Madagascar (Rough Mixes of New Brain Drum Takes) (2001-07-02) 01 With Vocals (5:50)187 Madagascar (Rough Mixes of New Brain Drum Takes) (2001-07-02) 02 Instrumental (5:47)190 Rhiad (New Brain Drum Take) (2001-07-11) 01 Rhiad (Original Rough Mix) (3:46)190 Rhiad (New Brain Drum Take) (2001-07-11) 02 Rhiad (Final Rough Mix with Compression (Vocals at Regular Level)) (3:49)190 Rhiad (New Brain Drum Take) (2001-07-11) 03 Rhiad (Final Rough Mix with Compression (Vocals Up)) (3:47)190 Rhiad (New Brain Drum Take) (2001-07-11) 04 Rhiad (Final Rough Mix with No Compression (Vocals at Regular Level)) (3:55)190 Rhiad (New Brain Drum Take) (2001-07-11) 05 Rhiad (Final Rough Mix with No Compression (Vocals Up)) (3:45)196 The Blues (New Brain Drum Takes) (2001-07-13) 01 The Blues (Vocal at Regular Level) (4:51)196 The Blues (New Brain Drum Takes) (2001-07-13) 02 The Blues (Vocal Down 1 Db) (4:50)196 The Blues (New Brain Drum Takes) (2001-07-13) 03 The Blues (Instrumental) (5:02)201 Rough Mixes (New Brain Drum Remixes with Axl) (2001-07-19) 01 Rhiad (3:48)201 Rough Mixes (New Brain Drum Remixes with Axl) (2001-07-19) 02 Rhiad (Eqd Toms) (3:49)201 Rough Mixes (New Brain Drum Remixes with Axl) (2001-07-19) 03 Prostitue (6:20)201 Rough Mixes (New Brain Drum Remixes with Axl) (2001-07-19) 04 The Blues (4:49)208 T.W.A.T. (Rough Mixes of New Brain Drums) (2001-08-06) 01 T.W.A.T. (Less Ambience on Drums) (5:21)208 T.W.A.T. (Rough Mixes of New Brain Drums) (2001-08-06) 02 T.W.A.T. (More Ambience on Drums) (5:19)208 T.W.A.T. (Rough Mixes of New Brain Drums) (2001-08-06) 03 T.W.A.T. (Snare Compressed Only) (5:17)208 T.W.A.T. (Rough Mixes of New Brain Drums) (2001-08-06) 04 T.W.A.T. (Strings Up) (5:22)208 T.W.A.T. (Rough Mixes of New Brain Drums) (2001-08-06) 05 T.W.A.T. (Old Beaven Mix) (5:19)219 Atlas Shrugged (New Brain Drums) (2001-08-20) 01 Atlas Shrugged (Drums at regular level) (4:23)219 Atlas Shrugged (New Brain Drums) (2001-08-20) 02 Atlas Shrugged (Drums down 1.5 Db) (4:29)219 Atlas Shrugged (New Brain Drums) (2001-08-20) 03 Atlas Shrugged (Drums up 1.5 Db) (4:16)229 T.W.A.T. (Brain Drum Remix With Snare Sample From Silkworms) (2001-08-27) 01 T.W.A.T. (Ambience Down, Mono Room Off) (5:16)229 T.W.A.T. (Brain Drum Remix With Snare Sample From Silkworms) (2001-08-27) 02 T.W.A.T. (Ambience down with Mono Room) (5:16)229 T.W.A.T. (Brain Drum Remix With Snare Sample From Silkworms) (2001-08-27) 03 T.W.A.T. (Ambience at Original Level) (5:18)229 T.W.A.T. (Brain Drum Remix With Snare Sample From Silkworms) (2001-08-27) 04 T.W.A.T. (Snare Sample during Outro Only) (5:16)229 T.W.A.T. (Brain Drum Remix With Snare Sample From Silkworms) (2001-08-27) 05 T.W.A.T. (First Half with Old Snare, Second Half with Snare Sample Only) (5:13)238 Chinese Democracy (New Brain Drums 3rd Time) (2001-09-06) 01 Chinese Democracy (Drums and Guitars at Regular Level) (3:23)238 Chinese Democracy (New Brain Drums 3rd Time) (2001-09-06) 02 Chinese Democracy (Drums up 1 dB) (3:24)238 Chinese Democracy (New Brain Drums 3rd Time) (2001-09-06) 03 Chinese Democracy (Drums up 2 dB) (3:23)238 Chinese Democracy (New Brain Drums 3rd Time) (2001-09-06) 04 Chinese Democracy (Guitars up 2.5 dB, Drums at Regular Level) (3:23)238 Chinese Democracy (New Brain Drums 3rd Time) (2001-09-06) 05 Chinese Democracy (Guitars up 1.5 dB) (3:23)238 Chinese Democracy (New Brain Drums 3rd Time) (2001-09-06) 06 Chinese Democracy (Guitars up 0.7 dB) (3:29)238 Chinese Democracy (New Brain Drums 3rd Time) (2001-09-06) 07 Chinese Democracy (Instrumental with Drums and Guitars at Regular Lev (3:31)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 01 Quick Song (Full Take Without Vocal) (3:59)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 02 Quick Song (Full Take with Vocal) (3:59)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 03 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 0) (1:06)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 04 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 1) (1:07)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 05 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 2) (1:09)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 06 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 3) (1:07)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 07 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 4) (1:09)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 08 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 5) (1:07)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 09 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 6) (1:09)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 10 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 7) (1:07)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 11 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 8) (1:08)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 12 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 9) (1:09)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 13 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 10) (1:09)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 14 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 11) (1:09)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 15 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 12) (1:07)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 16 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 13) (1:10)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 17 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 14) (1:08)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 18 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 15) (1:08)250 Quick Song (2001-09-29) 19 Quick Song (Starting From Robins Solo Take 16) (1:09)252 Knockin-Jungle (2001-09-29) 01 Knockin on Heavens Door (Acoustic Version) (Axl Take 3) (6:26)252 Knockin-Jungle (2001-09-29) 02 Warmup (1:34)252 Knockin-Jungle (2001-09-29) 03 Knockin on Heavens Door (Electric Version) (6:08)252 Knockin-Jungle (2001-09-29) 04 Welcome to the Jungle (4:59)252 Knockin-Jungle (2001-09-29) 05 Knockin on Heavens Door (Acoustic Version) (Take 3 from 10.8.01) (6:07)277 New Songs (Straight Analog Downloads These Are Not Mixes) (2001-11-13) 01 Prom Violence (Take 2) (2:54)277 New Songs (Straight Analog Downloads These Are Not Mixes) (2001-11-13) 02 Prom Violence (Take 3) (2:55)277 New Songs (Straight Analog Downloads These Are Not Mixes) (2001-11-13) 03 Three Dollar Pyramid (Take 2) (4:23)277 New Songs (Straight Analog Downloads These Are Not Mixes) (2001-11-13) 04 Three Dollar Pyramid (Take 4) (4:32)278 The Rebel (Straight Analog Download This is Not a Mix) (2001-11-15) 01 The Rebel (Take 1) (3:05)

Leaks that have become redundant:

As It Began (2000-11-07 demo, 2019-09-15 leak) Replaced by Rough Mixes 4 (19:26)Atlas Shrugged (2019-09-05 leak) Replaced by 219 Atlas Shrugged (New Brain Drums) (2001-08-20) 01 (4:23)Atlas Shrugged (Drums up 1.5 Db, 2019-09-05 leak) Replaced by 219 Atlas Shrugged (New Brain Drums) (2001-08-20) 02 (4:16)Catcher In The Rye (2000-03-27 demo, 2019-08-28 leak) Replaced by Rough Mixes 1 (5:33)Chinese Democracy (2019-08-28 leak as Chinese Josh) Replaced by Chinese Democracy Old Josh Drums (New Brain Drums) (3:11)Chinese Democracy (2019-08-28 leak as Chinese Stew) Replaced by 238 track 06 Guitars up 0.7 dB (3:29)Eye On You (2019-09-20 leak) Replaced by 2019-09-22 leak (3:36)Eye On You (VER.1) (2000-11-07)(2019-09-22 leak) Replaced by Rough Mixes 2 (3:46)Going Down (2019-08-28 leak) Replaced by 085 Robin-Tommy Demos (2001-04-03) 04 (4:25)Hardschool (2000-11-08 demo, 2019-08-28 leak as Jackie Chan) Replaced by Rough Mixes 3 (3:56)Hardschool (2019-08-24 leak after 2019-07-26 excerpt, same version as the 2006-05-27 DJ Razz snippet) Replaced by 2019-08-28 leak (4:05)I.R.S. (2000-03-27 demo, 2019-08-28 leak) Replaced by Rough Mixes 3 (4:12)Knockin On Heavens Door (acoustic, 2019-09-14 leak as rayraysdoor, 252 Knockin-Jungle track 1) 252 Knockin-Jungle (2001-09-29) 01 (5:41)Madagascar (2017-11-12 leak) Replaced by Rough Mixes 1 (5:46)Me & My Elvis (2000-03-23 demo, 2019-09-22 leak) Replaced by Rough Mixes 4 (5:48)Me & My Elvis (2019-09-21 leak) Replaced by 2019-09-22 leak (5:48)P.R.L. w/out Thyme (no gtrs.) (2000-11-08)(2019-10-03leak) Replaced by Rough Mixes 2 (4:05)Perhaps (2000-03-27 demo, 2019-09-13 leak Replaced by Rough Mixes 1 (3:51)Prostiute (2000-03-27 demo, 2019-08-28 leak as Prostiute v2) Replaced by Rough Mixes 1 (6:17)Prostiute (2019-08-28 leak as Prostiute v3) Replaced by 201 03 Prostiute (6:05)Rhiad And The Bedouins (2019-08-28 leak as Rhiad Josh) Replaced with Rhiad old josh drums from new brain drums (3:33)Silkworms (2000-11-07 demo, 2019-09-07 leak as Isnt That Absurd) Replaced by Rough Mixes 1 (3:31)State Of Grace (2000-03-27 demo, Mix 2, 2019-09-13 leak) Replaced by Rough Mixes 3 (3:59)The Blues (2018-06-10 leak) Replaced by Rough Mixes 1 (4:44)The Blues (2019-08-28 leak) Replaced by 184 New Brain Drums track 09 (old Josh drums) (4:42)There Was A Time (2018-06-10 leak) Replaced by Rough Mixes 1 (5:25)There Was A Time (2019-08-28 leak) Identical to There Was A Time (2018-06-10 leak) and both sourced from Rough Mixes 1 (5:06)Three Dollar Pyramid (2019-09-15 leak) Replaced by Three Dollar Pyramid Take 2 (New Songs Disc) (21:02)

Other Chinese Democracy-era materialthat isnt from The Village Sessions:

01 Sweet Child O Mine (1999 release from the movie Big Daddy) (4:41)02 Oh My God (1999 release from the soundtrack for End Of Days) (3:40)03 Catcher In The Rye (1999-2000 demo, 2006-02-28 darknemus leak) (5:37)04 I.R.S. (1999-2000 demo, 2006-05-27 DJ Razz leak) (4:07)05 There Was A Time (1999-2000 demo, 2006-05-27 DJ Razz leak) (5:01)06 Boston 2002 promo (with studio cuts of Chinese Democracy, Madagascar and The Blues) (1:06)07 I.R.S. (2003-08-30 Piazza-Trunk recording, 2005-04-10 darknemus leak) (3:39)08 I.R.S. (2001-2003 demo, 2006-02-15 darknemus leak, same version as the 2003-08-30 Piazza-Trunk recording) (4:16)09 There Was A Time (2001-2003 demo, short version, 2006-02-17 leak) (6:01)10 There Was A Time (2001-2003 demo, long version, 2006-02-17 leak) (6:43)11 Better (2001-2003 demo, 2006-02-22 darknemus leak) (4:56)12 I.R.S. (2001-2003 demo, instrumental, 2006-03-10 leak) (4:13)13 There Was A Time (2001-2003 demo, instrumental short version, 2006-03-15 leak) (5:58)14 There Was A Time (2001-2003 demo, instrumental long version, 2006-03-14 leak) (6:42)15 Better (2001-2003 demo, instrumental demo, 2006-03-08 leak) (5:00)16 Going Down (2006 Bumblefoot guitar over older demo, 2013-08-16 leak) (4:28)17 Oh My God (2006 Bumblefoot guitar over older demo, 2018-06-07 leak after 2013-12-09 excerpt) (3:40)18 Silkworms (2006 Bumblefoot guitar over older demo, 2018-06-08 leak after 2013-12-09 excerpt) (3:25)19 Better (2006-2007 demo, 2007-02-20 leak, possibly the same as in Harley-Davidson broadcast 2006-10-20) (5:10)20 Madagascar (2006-2007 demo, 2007-03-29 darknemus leak) (5:41)21 Chinese Democracy (2006-2007 demo, 2007-05-05 MSL leak) (4:46)22 The Blues (2006-2007 demo, 2007-05-05 MSL leak) (4:47)23 I.R.S. (2006-2007 demo, 2007-05-05 MSL leak) (4:36)24 There Was A Time (2006-2007 demo, 2007-05-06 MSL leak) (6:46)25 Better (2008-06-18 Antiquiet leak) (5:12)26 Chinese Democracy (2008-06-18 Antiquiet leak) (5:00)27 I.R.S. (2008-06-18 Antiquiet leak) (4:41)28 Madagascar (2008-06-18 Antiquiet leak) (5:52)29 The Blues (2008-06-18 Antiquiet leak) (4:53)30 There Was A Time (2008-06-18 Antiquiet leak) (6:50)31 Rhiad And The Bedouins (2008-06-18 Antiquiet leak as New Song #1) (3:46)32 Prostitue (2008-06-18 Antiquiet leak as New Song #2) (6:24)33 If The World (2008-06-18 Antiquiet leak as New Song #3) (4:59)34 Shacklers Revenge (2008-08-14 MSL leak as Chicken Dinner) (3:34)35 Better (2013-08-16 leak, Bumblefoot acoustic version from Barefoot sessions 2008) (5:05)36 Better (2013-08-16 leak, DJ Ashba version from 2009) (5:46)37 Ballad Of Death (2018-06-26 leak after 2013-12-09 excerpt, DJ Ashba solo from 2009) (3:31)38 Mi Amor (2018-06-26 leak after 2013-12-09 excerpt, DJ Ashba solo from 2009) (4:31)39 Shacklers Revenge (2009-2010 Brain Remix, 2018-06-26 leak after 2013-12-09 excerpt) (4:08)40 If The World (2009-2010 Brain Remix, 2018-06-26 leak after 2013-12-09 excerpt) (4:06)41 Blood in the Water (2009-2010 Brain Remix, 2012-05-07 leak) (4:02)42 Better Gone (2009-2010 Brain Remix, 2012-01-xx leak) (4:19)43 This I Love (2009-2010 Brain Remix, 2018-06-10 leak after 2013-12-09 excerpt) (5:22)44 Silkworms + The General (2018-06-26 leak, cellphone clip from aftershow party at Vienna 2010-09-18, Mindray11 recording) (3:04)

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Guns N' Roses Fan Reveals All the Band's Leaked Songs From the Axl Rose Solo Era! - Guns N Roses Central

Colby Cosh: Improbably sentient cow: The Far Side’s ‘return’ only reminds of its departure – National Post

The cartoonist Gary Larson has finally agreed to create an official online home for his classic one-panel strip The Far Side, setting off a wave of nostalgia among Generation X-ers. These could almost be defined as the people who grew up surrounded by newspaper comics sleeping in bedrooms filled with Garfield paperbacks, then taking their first jobs in offices where every cubicle had Larson favourites or Dilberts tacked to the wall. And then we watched a life-defining artistic medium drop dead with unusual, heartbreaking finality.

Larson, the perfecter of the one-panel form, quit the business at the end of 1994, still at the top of his game. Bill Watterson, a completely different sort of artist, put Calvin & Hobbes to bed for good on Dec. 31, 1995. Other similar things happened at around the same time 1995 was also the year that Berkeley Breathed dropped Outland, giving up the doomed effort to turn his Doonesbury ripoff into an arty weekend strip. But the double blow of Larson and Watterson quitting was the real trauma for readers who could recognize purity of intention in an artist. It almost seemed conspiratorial, like the strike in Atlas Shrugged creators cruelly abandoning a world of consumers who had not recognized their dependence.

The double blow of Larson and Watterson quitting was the real trauma for readers

The people who still make newspaper comics today perhaps look at their legions of fans and their paycheques and tell themselves they are part of a living tradition. Obviously, at their best, they do wonderful work (although Olivia Jaimess Nancy is the only reason for this sentence to be here). But they must know in their innermost hearts that they are metaphorically surrounded, like Anglo-Saxons looking at the Roman ruins in conquered Britain, by irreproducible works of departed giants. No, your one-panel gag strip isnt going to be as consistently devastating as The Far Side; no, your strip about a bratty kid or animal isnt going to be Calvin & Hobbes.

If you work for a newspaper, its illuminating to think about Larson and Watterson as representing distinct sub-media within the comics page, itself a sub-medium of the overall newspaper. Visually, The Far Side could politely be called colloquial, while Calvin & Hobbes is painterly. Yet Larson, as he points out in an introduction to his new website, took great care with his art. His drawings are funny in themselves, which is not true of the great majority of newspaper strips (as you will find pretty quickly if you apply it as a test of them). The quality of modern screens is a big reason, Larson says, that he has been able to make peace with the internet.

Calvin & Hobbes has continuity in the form of running gags, although the characters could not evolve over the life of the strip. Larsons Far Side, which I guess we are bound to think of as existing on a slightly less ambitious artistic level, succeeded in maintaining a fantastic level of quality without having recourse to recurring specific characters (although obviously there were generic ones such as improbably sentient cow.) Every Far Side panel had to build the whole world in which it was set.Which is daunting, if you consider it from the creative side. And while the drawing perhaps only had to be good enough, the captions of Far Side panels reward close study. No writer has to work as hard as Larson did getting the most out of every adjective and comma, every Dang! or Ill be!In short, The Far Side is the ultimate pinnacle of the one-panel form, as Calvin & Hobbes is of the better-crafted imaginative sequential strip. These are the ends of parallel tracks that run back to the beginning of newspaper comics, and indeed past it. That they stopped at almost the same moment is probably not quite a coincidence.

Both comics were produced to the same deadlines, yet they continue to find admirers among those who are perhaps destined to live in a world without any creative media truly produced on deadline at all. Pop musicians, one recalls, used to be positively required to generate a hit single every few months; this fact of life was forgotten long before the year 2000, but would anyone argue that pop music is now the better for it? Similarly, Larson and Watterson could have, in theory, gone on past 1995 issuing new work only between hard covers. But while everyone subject to a deadline despises its torturous distortion of his life, all such people know equally well that there is no replacement for a deadline.

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Colby Cosh: Improbably sentient cow: The Far Side's 'return' only reminds of its departure - National Post

America’s true heroes walk among all of us – BizPac Review

(Getty)

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Heroes dont always fight wars for America and battle terrorists. Sometimes they walk among us daily. Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, knew this when she would look out at an audience of powerful faces and say: You are the true heroes!

Ayn Rand frequently made a spellbinding point in her lectures to business leaders. Rand was a unique philosopher, ranked by many academics as the thinker who had the greatest impact on 20th century America. She would plant her feet and pose the question: Which groups in society contribute most to making the world a better place?

Following quickly, Rand would throw her business audience the next question: What human occupation is the most useful socially?

She would explain: mans basic tool of survival is his mind, and the most crucially important occupation the discovery of knowledge, which is the occupation of scientists. But scientists essentially are loners, and not usually concerned with society or social issues. They pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge. And before the 20th century, many scientific and technological facts that could have affected human existence lived and died with the scientists who, for most of the last 2,000 years, had no real connection with the rest of mankind.

Now, Rand asked, suppose that a group of men and women decided to make it their job to bring the results of the achievements of science within the reach of mankind, to apply scientific knowledge to the improvements of life on earth. Wouldnt such men be the greatest social benefactors? Shouldnt the humanitarians (she would ask), those do-gooders who hold social usefulness as their highest value, regard such men as heroes?

Rand might then scowl at the audience and say: Would you believe me if I say that, no, such men and women are not regarded as heroes today- they are the most hated, blamed, denounced men in the humanitarians society? She would say that something is wrong terribly wrong in such a society.

The society about which Rand speaks is not fiction. It exists in the USA today. And the group of achieving men and women walk among us each day.

The heroes of today are the individuals who have devoted themselves to the world of business. Left to pursue their own ends, they automatically make the world a better place, even when they profit personally. Sometimes, they make the world a better place even as they may lose their own fortunes in the doing.

It is the businessperson- not government, not the clergy, not the humanitarians and not the professors who has elevated mankind by bringing the medicines that conquer disease, the higher-yielding crops that combat starvation, the electricity that powers our tools and medical equipment, the refrigeration that keeps food from spoiling, the air-conditioning that lengthens lifespans and saves lives.

After the scientists discovered quantum mechanics, it was business people who brought mankind the fruits of that discovery, in the form of computer chips, lasers, and fiber-optics. Its the business person who creates the jobs that bring security to the worker and the workers family to sustain existence and enjoy life, while the business person risks his/her own capital even as he provides the benefits.

Yet, the voices of the left say business is the predator. The voices say the capitalist demons create wealth on the backs of the poor. The left makes business pay dearly for the benefits business leaders bring to the world, both in the form of confiscatory taxation and smothering regulations, and in the form of contemptible condemnation that they spew as a poison throughout the land. An example of poisonous spin and disregard for truth is what the left has done to drug companies: these companies brought the AIDS drugs to market, yet are criticized for people dying. Thats truth turned inside out in a world turned upside down.

Go to a local city council meeting and watch how the lowly developer or builder is treated by the sanctimonious politicians, who regard him as a necessary evil whose only value is to pay the lions share of taxes. In truth, it is the builder who provides the second most basic need of humankind shelter. Why should he have to slink into the council chambers, head bowed, and beg for the right to provide shelter to citizens? Why should he have to pay exorbitant fees and jump through 50 kinds of hoops for the privilege of jeopardizing his own capital? Politicians forget that business people drive the engine that makes this country go. Nothing happens until something gets built or some service is provided.

Business owners are the true heroes, essential players in creating Americas greatness.

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company. He is a frequent columnist for BizPac Review.

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America's true heroes walk among all of us - BizPac Review

How the right’s radical thinktanks reshaped the Conservative party – The Guardian

When Boris Johnson assumed office as prime minister in July 2019 and proceeded, without the mandate of a general election, to appoint a cabinet that was arguably one of the most rightwing in post-second world war British history, many commentators called it a coup. The free market thinktank the Institute of Economic Affairs felt self-congratulation was more in order, however. This week, liberty-lovers witnessed some exciting developments, the IEA said in an email to its supporters. The organisation, whose mission is to shrink the state, lower taxes and deregulate business, noted that 14 of those around the Downing Street table including the chancellor, Sajid Javid, the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, and the home secretary, Priti Patel were alumni of IEA initiatives.

The IEA had good reason to boast about its influence. Just a few years earlier, on the occasion of its 60th birthday in 2015, Javid had declared that it had reflected and deeply influenced my views, helping to develop the economic and political philosophy that guides me to this day. In a speech to the IEA the same year, Raab also enthused about the organisations effect on his younger self. A few years back, he told the audience, he had been on a beach in Brazil. Hed had a couple of drinks, and had gone in to the sea to mull over an idea: that New Labour had eroded liberty in Britain and created a rights culture that had fostered a nation of idlers. Lost in thought, the tide had dragged him far from his starting point, and back on the beach, he had trouble locating his family among all the scantily clad Brazilians. On stage, he thanked the IEA for helping him develop this idea, which became the starting point for the book Britannia Unchained, an anti-statist tract, co-written with other MPs who would go on to join Johnsons new cabinet Patel; Elizabeth Truss, now trade secretary; Kwasi Kwarteng, business minister; and Chris Skidmore, then health minister.

The authors were also members of a parliamentary faction called the Free Enterprise Group, whose aim was to rebuild confidence in free market capitalism in the wake of the financial crisis, and for which the IEA has organised events, co-authored papers and provided administrative support. Other members included future Johnson ministers Andrea Leadsom, Matt Hancock, Robert Buckland, Julian Smith, Alister Jack, Alun Cairns, Jacob Rees-Mogg, James Cleverly and Brandon Lewis.

Libertarian thinktanks in the US, such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) have had this sort of close relationship with incoming Republican administrations for years, furnishing them with staff and readymade policies. Thinktanks non-governmental organisations that research policies with the aim of shaping government have long been influential in British politics, too, on both left and right, but the sheer number of connections between Johnsons cabinet and ultra free market thinktanks was something new. In the period immediately before the Brexit referendum and in the years since, a stream of prominent British politicians and campaigners, including Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, have flown to the US to meet with thinktanks such as the AEI and the Heritage Foundation, often at the expense of those thinktanks, seeking out ideas, support and networking opportunities. Meanwhile, US thinktanks and their affiliates, which are largely funded by rightwing American billionaires and corporate donations, have teamed up with British politicians and London-based counterparts such as the IEA, the Legatum Institute and the Initiative for Free Trade, to help write detailed proposals for what the UKs departure from the EU, and its future relationships with both the EU and the US, should look like, raising questions about foreign influence on British politics.

The organisations involved in this collaboration between the US and UK radical right are partners in a global coalition of more than 450 thinktanks and campaign groups called the Atlas Network, which has its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Members of the network operate independently but also cooperate closely in fighting for their shared vision of ultra free markets and limited government. They call themselves the worldwide freedom movement, collectively they have multimillion-dollar budgets, and many of their donors, board members, trustees and researchers overlap.

Brad Lips, the chief executive of Atlas, has said that his organisation takes inspiration from monetarist economist Milton Friedmans famous insight that only a crisis actual or perceived produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.

As an umbrella organisation, Atlas took no position on Brexit itself, and many of its European partners were opposed, but directors of UK groups in the network were prominent in the official campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Matthew Elliott, the chief executive of Vote Leave, was founder of the TaxPayers Alliance, a pressure group to cut taxes, which is an Atlas partner. It also won lucrative prizes from Atlas for its work. The Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, a long-term Eurosceptic and also a director of Vote Leave, has been a frequent visitor to the US Atlas partners, and went on to become director of two British thinktanks that were also in the network. The IEA took no position as an institution before the referendum, either, but its director, Mark Littlewood, explained in 2017, in Freedoms Champion, the Atlas Networks quarterly magazine, why the leave victory was so galvanising for the libertarian movement: Brexit provides us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to radically trim the size of the state and cut the regulatory burden.

For many conservatives, Brexit was also an opportunity to revitalise the World Trade Organization and its drive towards unfettered globalised free trade, which had ground to a halt in 2014 as it became increasingly unpopular. Back in 2015, Raab predicted a tectonic struggle over the future of transatlantic trade in which the IEAs strength will be like the warm, irresistible tide on that Brazilian beach, gently, powerfully, sometimes without us even knowing it, shifting the debate to a whole new place.

After the referendum, thinktanks in the US and UK seized the crisis moment. Two UK Atlas partners, the IEA and the Legatum Institute, gained exceptional access to ministers as they advocated for a hard break from the EU and provided constant briefings to the radical Brexiter MPs in the European Research Group (ERG). They had lots of meetings with ministers because politicians like people promising simple answers, but often those answers were not there, Raoul Ruparel, a former special adviser to Theresa May on Europe, told us.

British voters, and even some MPs, are barely aware of the deep influence of these thinktanks, yet with help from members of this network, a once politically impossible kind of Brexit became inevitable. It seemed almost faith-based, a senior Whitehall source said, [the idea that] if only the UK would do a free trade agreement with the US, opening up almost unilaterally, it would be the equivalent of doing one with the whole world prices would drop, wed all be better off. He added: It was staggering, really. Not even Margaret Thatcher or monetarism at its height had contemplated such shock therapy.

Public policy thinktanks fall into different categories: some concentrate on neutral factual research, others have more fixed ideological positions and lobby for particular solutions. Some present themselves as scholarly institutes and call their researchers scholars or fellows, although they are as likely to have come from politics, lobbying, media or the law as from academia. Some thinktanks receive government funding, others depend on donations. They may be registered as private companies, or as not-for-profit charities. The latter status gives them and their donors substantial tax breaks but, in theory, also restricts how directly political their activities can be. In practice, the lines are blurred and are repeatedly the subject of dispute.

The Atlas thinktanks are privately funded. Fossil fuel magnates, hedge fund and finance billionaires, and tobacco and oil companies have been prominent donors to partners in the network. These partners start from a shared ideology, which promotes self-reliance, market freedom and minimal tax and regulation. The EU, as a supranational form of government that favours reasonably strong regulation in areas such as data privacy, tax avoidance, finance, climate and the environment, is viewed by many of them as anathema.

Some leading US thinktanks in the network, such as the Heritage Foundation, also believe the EUs relationship with Britain has weakened the transatlantic alliance. The Heritage Foundation is 100% in favour of Britain leaving the EU, with or without a deal, Nile Gardiner, director of the thinktanks Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, told us. We believe Britain will be an even stronger partner for the US outside of the EU, which is increasingly anti-American.

As an umbrella organisation, Atlas encourages what it calls policy entrepreneurs in thinktanks by offering coaching in fundraising, messaging and marketing. It makes grants, awards financial prizes and connects key figures with potential donors through its regular Liberty Forum gatherings. Partner thinktanks have to share the mission, but the idea isnt that Atlas starts in the middle and tells everyone what to do, explained Linda Whetstone, who is the networks chair and a board member of the IEA. We have a set of beliefs that we think enable human flourishing. Atlas sets up its stand and people come to us and say, thats what we want and then Atlas helps them do it. The Atlas ideology often aligns with its donors financial interests, although its thinktanks claim that donors do not influence what they research. Several of the thinktanks also say that the views they publish are those of their affiliates rather than the official position of the institution.

One key Atlas strategy involves using the media to shape the political debate. By encouraging the creation of more and more thinktanks a never-ending production line of new institutes, centres and foundations, whose acronyms blur into each other the network can generate a constant river of commentary from its experts, says Andrew Simms, a veteran of environmental thinktanks who has often debated against members of Atlas-affiliated organisations. A predominantly rightwing British media have been happy to give them space. This gives the impression of widespread support for what may be minority or fringe points of view. The thinktanks contribution to the post-referendum Brexit debate was a turbo-charged version of what they have long done on issues such as tax and climate, where they have disputed the scientific consensus, argues Simms. Its a belief system. They go very big picture to shift the tide of opinion.

Shahmir Sanni, a former pro-Brexit campaigner who volunteered for BeLeave, a campaign group directed at young voters before the referendum, has given an insiders description of how he believed the British libertarian thinktanks exerted influence on the EU debate. After the referendum, Sanni was given a job at the TaxPayers Alliance, but when he spoke to the press, alleging there had been coordination between BeLeave and Vote Leave, he was sacked, and subsequently won a case against his employer for unfair dismissal in 2018. In his tribunal claim, Sanni described a nexus of organisations, including the TaxPayers Alliance, the IEA, the Adam Smith Institute and two other Atlas network partners, as well as other non-Atlas campaign groups, which, he alleged, met regularly to agree a common line on issues relating to Brexit. By coordinating messaging they could garner more media coverage than a single organisation could achieve. Together they present a lobbying group pursuing the same political agenda, Sanni said. (The organisations he identified have denied they act as lobbyists or as a co-ordinated grouping; they met to agree timings and avoid diary clashes for events, the TaxPayers Alliance said.)

Alongside efforts to shape the media narrative, some Atlas thinktanks in the US have furthered their cause by writing blueprints for legislation for new governments. In 2017, Hannan set up his own new thinktank, the Initiative for Free Trade, which was an Atlas partner, to do something similar. The launch event took place at a Foreign Office venue with Johnsons help. The IFT worked with nine other Atlas partners including the Adam Smith Institute and the IEA in the UK, and the Cato Institute, the Mercatus Center and the Heritage Foundation in the US to draw up a detailed, 239-page draft legal text for a US-UK free trade deal that would radically liberalise the UK economy, including opening up the NHS to foreign competition. The Cato Institute helped with funding, and the focus was not the EU, but liberalising trade with the rest of the world as the best way to alleviate poverty and spread opportunity, Hannan told us. (IFT ceased being an Atlas partner in the summer of this year.)

Atlas thinktanks in the US have become regular stops for key Brexiters. Javid, for example, made six trips in the past eight years to the American Enterprise Institutes World Forum, its annual gathering of the rich and powerful on a private island resort in Georgia. Gove joined him there in 2018. Liam Fox, David Davis, Owen Paterson and Farage have given talks at the Heritage Foundation. Johnson flew to the AEI in 2018 at its expense to accept an award, and has met representatives from Heritage, too. Truss did a grand tour of Atlas US thinktanks for policy discussions last year. These US trips were important to Brexit politicians, Simms believes, because they give you affirmation, they indicate you are part of the same club. It gives you a chance to align strategies and messaging. Its part of nurturing the shared project and rehearsing the script.

We asked Oliver Letwin, the former Conservative minister who helped lead the Tory backbench rebellion against a no-deal Brexit, how influential he thought the free market thinktanks were. He said that occasionally they had shifted the political terrain, but mostly the dynamic worked the other way round. Earlier in his career, he recalled, he had commissioned some of the UK ones to write pamphlets but only to justify what he had already decided to do: One alights magpie-like on these, if they tend to your argument. But 95% of the reports they produce are just junk. He doubted they had played much role in Brexit policy. Why, then, did he think so many Conservative politicians had made trips to the US thinktanks? He seemed baffled by this. Do they? I have no idea.

The ambition to create a network of thinktanks that could drag the political debate to the right was conceived in the aftermath of the second world war. For more than two decades, following the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, the theories of the Cambridge economist John Maynard Keynes had dominated political thinking in the US and UK. Keynes argued that governments should intervene in the market and use state planning and public spending to control booms and busts and unemployment. Challenging this orthodoxy were economists of the Austrian school, including Friedrich Hayek, who believed that state intervention made the market operate less efficiently and thus hampered the creation of wealth. Hayek believed that state planning wasnt just bad economics, but that it was politically disastrous and led to totalitarianism.

One of Hayeks key texts, The Road to Serfdom, was published in abridged form in the Readers Digest in 1945. For the British entrepreneur and former RAF pilot Antony Fisher, discovering Hayek was a life-changing event. Fisher sought out the academic, who was then teaching at the London School of Economics. Hayek advised Fisher not to waste his time taking up politics directly, but instead to set up a scholarly institute with the aim of shifting public opinion. The decisive influence in the battle of ideas, Hayek said, was wielded by intellectuals in universities and by journalists, whom he called second-hand dealers in ideas. If you really wanted to change politics, these were the people to target.

First, Fisher worked to make his fortune, pioneering the factory farming of chicken for supermarket abattoirs. Then, in 1955, he used his money to set up the IEA with his friend, businessman Oliver Smedley. Smedley wrote to Fisher at the time in correspondence unearthed later by BBC film-maker Adam Curtis that they would have to be cagey about what the thinktanks real function was: Imperative that we should give no indication in our literature that we are working to educate the public along certain lines which might be interpreted as having a political bias.

For the next 20 years, the IEA published a steady stream of papers on its free market themes. No one took any notice for years and years, Whetstone, who is Fishers daughter, recalled. But its staff were preparing the ground for an assault on the consensus, firing off what they called shells. When the economic crises of the 1970s hit, these shells were lying around primed for use by politicians. Keith Joseph, the Tory minister and MP, who underwent a radical conversion to free markets and small government after the Conservative defeat in 1974, acknowledged a huge debt to the IEA. He became a close adviser to Thatcher, who went to meet Hayek at the IEAs offices, and she, too, was profoundly influenced by his analysis. Joseph set up his own free market thinktank, the Centre for Policy Studies, which later became an Atlas partner. Thatcherism grew out of the ideas of these two thinktanks.

In the late 60s and early 70s, as his long-term thinktank strategy was finally about to pay off, Fisher invested in a new enterprise in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands: turtle-farming. He also decided to sell his idea of the thinktank as agent of political change to another wealthy proponent of libertarianism, US fossil fuel magnate, Charles Koch. Koch and his brothers had inherited a vast fortune from their father in 1967 and were building up Koch Industries into the behemoth it is today. Fisher went on a mission to Wichita, Kansas, where the company had its headquarters.

Charles Kochs right-hand man, George Pearson, described Kochs meeting with Fisher as one of the more memorable dinners of my life: the two business titans discussed the merits of turtle-farming versus cattle-ranching and talked about how to spread freedom through thinktanks. Koch was already funding a libertarian thinktank and in 1974 he set up a new one, which was later renamed the Cato Institute. It describes itself as dedicated to principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.

By the late 70s, Koch had adopted a three-part strategy to create a movement that aimed, he said, to destroy the prevalent statist paradigm. It would involve lobbying government to repeal regulation of industries and all taxes, educating a new young libertarian cadre and funding politicians directly to win influence. Koch anticipated that bringing about this ideological shift would take decades, and he committed to the long haul. Like Fisher, Koch was an engineer by training, and he saw the libertarian effort as a kind of production line. In the mid-1990s, the president of the Charles Koch Foundation, Richard Fink, wrote an essay that laid out the Koch strategy for change. First, donate to universities in order to produce the necessary intellectual raw material. Second, donate to thinktanks, which then process this raw material into a usable form to be consumed by opinion formers. Third, donate to political advocacy groups, which have been characterised by critics as front groups whose function is to make politicians believe there is strong grassroots pressure for small-state, anti-welfare policies. These synthetic grassroots groups were described by David Koch as their sales force. Other billionaire-endowed thinktanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, adopted similar tactics.

Fisher started his own thinktank proliferation project in the US in the late 70s. By then married to an American and living in California, he launched two more free market thinktanks and developed plans to breed thinktanks wholesale, in the words of Friedman. All these people wanted to know what hed done or how hed done it, Whetstone told us. So, in 1981 he launched the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which would later evolve into the Atlas Network. The name, Whetstone thinks, was not based, as commonly believed, on the novel Atlas Shrugged by the writer and heroine of the libertarian movement Ayn Rand, whom Javid says he reads every year. Instead, it was directly inspired by one of Fishers favourite classical stories and the Greek mathematician Archimedes. In the myth of Atlas, the Greek god is condemned by Zeus to hold the weight of the world on his shoulders, while Archimedes said: Give me a lever ... and I will move the world. Fishers thinktanks, together with those of his US billionaire friends, were to be the levers with which to move the world.

In the years since the referendum, two UK Atlas thinktanks have stood out for their influence over the Brexit debate: the Legatum Institute, a charitable foundation ultimately funded by a Dubai investment group, and Fishers original champion of liberty, the IEA. Both thinktanks have been energetic at different points in pushing Britain towards a hard Brexit.

A key figure in their efforts has been Shanker Singham, a British-American trade lawyer who worked extensively in the US, including as a lobbyist in Washington. He had previously been listed as an expert with the Atlas thinktank partner the Heartland Institute before joining the London-based Legatum in early 2016 as its director of economic policy. A reluctant remainer originally, Singham told us last year that he realised the leave vote was a massive global event that could reboot the whole World Trade Organization. Soon after the referendum, he put together a special trade commission at Legatum to produce a roadmap for a post-Brexit world. His team included fellows from the Heritage Foundation and other Atlas thinktanks.

Singham was an instant hit with the Tory partys hardcore Brexiters. The UKs trade negotiations had long been done through Brussels, and home-grown experts like him were in short supply. In September 2016, he helped to draw up a blueprint for a hard Brexit at a gathering of leading Eurosceptics, including then Brexit secretary David Davis, at Oxford University. That same month in parliament, Steve Baker, then chair of the ERG and himself the founder of an Atlas partner thinktank, the Cobden Centre called on the then trade secretary Liam Fox to make use of the work of Singhams first-class team at the Legatum Institutes special trade commission. In the months that followed, the approach taken by Daviss Brexit department appeared to follow much of what had been proposed at the Oxford meeting.

Over the next year, Singham and Legatums relationship with the Tory Brexiters blossomed. During this period, representatives from Legatum regularly met ministers including Davis, Johnson, Gove, Truss, Raab, Fox and Greg Hands. Referring to Singham, the senior Whitehall source said: He gets about, doesnt he? You certainly have to say at the least that he was very, very good at networking.

Philip Rycroft, the civil servant who was permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU) from 2017 to 2019, who is also recorded in government transparency data as meeting Singham on a number of occasions, explained that ministers were keen for him to understand Singhams views on Brexit. Ministers said he had interesting thoughts. Its perfectly legitimate for them to say: Can you check him out for us?, he said. It wasnt the sole channel to them.

In late 2017, Singhams commission published a Legatum report, The Brexit Inflection Point, which was later found to have breached Charity Commission rules for being too politically partisan. Legatum removed the report from its website and halted its Brexit work altogether in spring 2018. Around this time, Singham left Legatum to set up a new International Trade and Competition Unit at the IEA, keeping his Brexit work in the Atlas family.

In the autumn of 2018, the ERG cranked up the pressure on Theresa May, with ammunition from the free market thinktanks, as Brexit negotiations reached a crunch point. In July, Mays Chequers plan, which included regulatory alignment with the EU and an Irish backstop keeping the UK in a customs union, fell apart just days after ministers had agreed to it. By the time MPs returned from the summer recess in September, they found the political agenda seized by the ERG, which made a series of orchestrated media announcements. Baker coordinated these through a WhatsApp group. What followed looked like a good example of well-worn Atlas strategies at work capture the political narrative through the media, use different groups to maximise coverage, work to shift the overall climate of opinion.

Reports had begun to appear in the media, based on briefings from anonymous sources, that Davis was working with the IEA to deliver a 140-page alternative to Mays plan. Yet it failed to materialise, reportedly after ERG members were unable to agree on some of its wilder ideas, which included a military expeditionary force to defend the Falkland Islands. Instead, on 11 September, a little-known organisation, Economists for Free Trade, launched its vision for Brexit, which involved walking away from an EU trade deal and reverting to WTO rules. The economist speaking on the panel at its launch event was Prof Patrick Minford, trustee of and veteran contributor to the IEA; he was introduced by the then ERG chairman, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was also an adviser to Economists for Free Trade.

The next day, the ERG produced another paper, this time on how to solve the Irish border problem. The ERG held a launch event in London, and a blog founded after the referendum, Brexit Central, which was edited by the former policy director of the TaxPayers Alliance, published the paper online. Separately, a few days later, Hannans Initiative for Free Trade launched his ideal US-UK free trade deal, the collaboration between UK and US Atlas thinktanks. The following week, the IEA launched Plan A+, its own radical proposal for a Canada-style free trade deal, drawn up by Singham and his team. The ERG supported the launch and Johnson took to Twitter to declare it a fine piece of work by @shankerasingham @iealondon.

There was a puzzling circularity to all this activity generated by separate organisations, which, on closer inspection, turned out to be connected. The merits or otherwise of the proposals were almost beside the point. They captured the news agenda day after day, creating a tide of commentary and headlines. Because broadcasters often fail to match Brexiters with trade experts, they get away with their nonsense, Simon Wren-Lewis, professor of economics at Oxford University, has noted. By the time the nonsense is revealed as such, and enough people know why it is nonsense, the discussion has moved on and new nonsense appears.

In November 2018, the Charity Commission told the IEA to take down Singhams Plan A+ for being too politically biased. This year, it was republished, with 3,184 revisions to the original document. Meanwhile, Singham continues to work with ministers and the ERG through his private consultancy, Competere, and another new thinktank.

Ruparel, the former special adviser to the prime minister on Europe, recalled having to analyse all the thinktank proposals with officials that autumn to brief the prime minister on them. He had worked for an Atlas thinktank partner, Open Europe, commenting on the game from the sidelines, before becoming a special adviser to Davis in 2016, and later to May. In government, he told us, actually trying to deliver practical policies was easier said than done. He said the ERG blitz was stressful but that its proposals had zero impact on negotiations under May in the end. It was all stuff wed looked at before and dismissed because it was non-negotiable with the EU, he told us. But did it shift the tide of opinion against the prime minister? Did these ideas start the political pressure on Mrs May or was the pressure there and politicians picked up these thinktank ideas to make their point? Its a judgment call, he said.

According to the senior Whitehall source: It was a pretty unsettling time. We were very conscious some ministers had bought in to this stuff and you were in between two very strongly held ideological positions, one of them supported by thinktank people who had the ability to turn out papers very fast. It didnt make life easy. But despite an awful lot of ink being spilt and lots and lots of meetings, they never came up with an answer that sorted out the Irish border. There was a gap between the ideologically driven wish and the hard reality.

One striking thing, talking to current and former Conservative MPs, is how little they seem to know about the influence of key thinktanks in the Atlas Network. Anna Soubry, the former Conservative minister and advocate of a second referendum, acknowledged to us that the ERGs sustained campaign of media events in autumn 2018 had been hugely significant, but she was not aware of the thinktank work behind it.

The clique that think about Europe and nothing else now dominate every aspect of the party, said Margot James, the former Conservative digital and culture minister. Its just different to the one I joined. When James entered parliament in 2010, she became a member of the Free Enterprise Group and went to IEA events, but eventually found the thinktanks views too rigidly ideological. James now feels that a number of MPs have adopted the IEAs ideas lock, stock and barrel and that Johnson had surrounded himself with dogmatic small-state conservatives. Oh, there are people at No 10 who would honestly make your hair stand on end, she said.

Amid the febrile political atmosphere post-referendum, some remainers have seized upon the personal and organisational connections linking the many Atlas thinktanks. The Labour and Green parties have accused anonymous donors of failing to identify their real agenda, and of using these organisations to undermine British democracy; the Brexit referendum was never presented to the electorate as a way to return to unfettered globalisation, they argue. The thinktanks have also been accused of allowing undeclared donors to influence their research. All of these allegations have been vigorously denied.

After the referendum, Elliott, the former Vote Leave director, became a fellow of the Legatum Institute for a period, researching populism and going on a speaking tour of the US. He visited old friends at the Heritage Foundation and four other Atlas Network thinktanks to share lessons from the victorious campaign and to make the case for Brexit as a great opportunity for the US-UK trade. He also became an Atlas Network mentor. As far as he is concerned, the Atlas Network had nothing to do with the Brexit campaign. He told us he was bemused by the spider diagrams drawn by leftwing campaign groups that link Brexit to the influence of undeclared thinktank funders in the UK and the US. Its verging on conspiracy theory, he said. His view is that the result of the Brexit referendum came as such a shock to many remainers that they are desperate to find any alternative explanation rather than accept the fact that the British public wanted to leave the EU.

Last year, investigators from Greenpeaces Unearthed journalism team covertly recorded the head of yet another US Atlas thinktank, the E Foundation For Oklahoma, saying his group was planning to raise money to give to the IEA to campaign on Brexit. Littlewood, the IEAs director, boasted on film that he was in the Brexit influencing game, and said he had completed a lucrative tour of US donors. When the footage was published, the IEA denied that it had received any cash from US businesses in relation to its work on trade and Brexit, and stated that it did not recognise the sums of money being suggested by the E Foundation.

In recent years, US Atlas partners, under sustained criticism over their funding, have become more transparent in listing many of their donors. By trawling their annual accounts, US tax returns, and grant databases from US foundations, it is possible to identify some of the major donors to US Atlas thinktanks that have hosted prominent British Brexiters or teamed up with them to produce material. Foundations associated with the Koch brothers have been major funders of the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, the Mercatus Center, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. These same thinktanks have also received funding variously from other foundations connected to US plutocrats, including the ultra-conservative Bradley, Scaife and John Templeton foundations. The family foundation of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer has been a major donor to the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute.

The Atlas Network, as an umbrella organisation, has also received multimillion-dollar funding for its worldwide activity in recent years from foundations set up by the Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Earhart and Templeton families. It lists those who give it money in its annual accounts, but only declares its own grants and donations to other organisations in Europe as a whole, making it impossible to see how much it has donated or passed on to specific UK partners. It told us that it had not funded any Brexit-focused projects in the UK.

UK thinktanks in the Atlas Network mostly do not identify their donors. They argue that donors, whether British or foreign, have a right to privacy. It is also the case that some private funders and corporations have declared donations themselves, and these have been acknowledged by the thinktanks on their websites, while some donors have been revealed by journalists. In the past two decades, a series of tax-efficient vehicles for US donors have been developed, which make it possible to route money to Atlas thinktanks in the UK. These have raised more than $6m (4.6m) for rightwing British thinktanks since 2014. New Guardian analysis has identified 11 donors who have given nearly $4m in the past five years.

Hannan and the IEA are unimpressed by the lefts criticism of thinktanks funding and supposed impact. A lot of the critique of these supposedly influential groups is based on the idea that if you establish that a libertarian is speaking in a libertarian thinktank, your work is done, said Hannan. But if you take the view that we should have pluralist debate, whats wrong with that? He pointed out that the Hungarian-American billionaire investor George Soros has funded the pro-EU cause. (Grants awarded by Soross Open Society Foundations are listed on its website.)

Hannans own thinktank, the IFT, does not identify its funders, but he defended the right of the super-rich to use their money to help shape politics. It would be a regressive thing if people who succeeded in life, whether its the Kochs or anyone else, thought they should spend money on themselves rather than on things they believed in. Of course you would expect people to be spreading their ideas, he said. Besides, he argued, in the marketplace of ideas, even vast sums of money cannot magically turn bad ideas into persuasive ones. In the end, he reckoned: The best ideas win. Thats how it works, isnt it?

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Read more from the original source:

How the right's radical thinktanks reshaped the Conservative party - The Guardian

Thanksgiving: A Holiday Inspired by Capitalism – Liberty Nation

Americans learn in school that the Plymouth Colony celebrated its first Thanksgiving in 1621 to break bread and affirm peace with the Native Americans. Was this feast really the celebration of bounty that is so often described these days? After all, the Pilgrims had been getting closer and closer to eradication for some time, so much so that a single successful harvest was cause for a celebration that became legendary over the centuries. Rather than a symbol of success, the first Thanksgiving illustrates how close to failure the first settlers came. It would take a few years and a change in basic economic principles before the colonists had a true reason to give thanks.

Those who traveled on the Mayflower were a hardy lot, so why was setting up camp in the New World such a challenge? What students today do not learn is that the colonys sponsors insisted that farming should be run like a socialist commune. This led to the same result socialism produces everywhere: starvation and death. When the communal system was ousted in 1623, Thanksgiving took on a new dimension for the Pilgrims.

Governor William Bradford said in his records:

The young men did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other mens wives and children without any recompense. This was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors and victuals, clothes, etc thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And the mens wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it.

The effects were like something taken out of Ayn Rands novel Atlas Shrugged. Colonists started behaving in the way a Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) policy might encourage mooching and indulging in sloth, expecting others to do work for them. Predictably, the result was starvation and resentment.

Only after the governor instituted private property for personal gain in the colony during the spring of 1623 did things dramatically change for the better. He reported:

This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability, whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

Members of the Plymouth Colony recognized that something extraordinary had happened. They had been saved by the miracle of capitalism and were eternally grateful but lacked the language to express their gratitude conceptually.

It was not until 1690 that John Locke gave us that language in his Second Treatise on Civil Government. There he formulated his theory of natural rights to life, liberty, and property, which was later echoed in the Declaration of Independence.

We can understand his theory in both religious and secular terms. The Christian interpretation is that the Creator has endowed the individual with certain unalienable rights that are encoded in human nature. To the degree we humans choose to live in accordance with this natural law, we are rewarded with great harvests.

If, however, we choose to violate human nature and live like Bernie Sanders may encourage, nature becomes a cruel punisher.

Sadly, liberty lovers waste an opportunity to use Thanksgiving as an annual reminder of the wonders of private property upon which America is founded. It contains all the elements of a great story: the pain and suffering of socialism, followed by the abundance of capitalism.

In this age of bottomless leftist ingratitude, Americans need to understand the moral foundation of Thanksgiving more than ever.

~

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Thanksgiving: A Holiday Inspired by Capitalism - Liberty Nation

Ayn Rand on the Moral Foundations of the Berlin Wall – New Ideal

When the Berlin Wall was erected in August 1961, to stop the flood of refugees from communist East Germany into capitalist West Germany, Ayn Rand was well positioned to state its true meaning to the world.

A native of Russia, Rand was twelve years old when she first heard the communist slogan that man must live for the state and she immediately condemned it as evil, even as the Russian Revolution established its iron grip on the nation. Her first novel, We the Living, published ten years after she had escaped to America, told a semi-autobiographical story of young lovers whose lives and hopes are crushed by the Soviet state.1 In the 1940s, Rand was an outspoken critic of Russian propaganda in movies and Russian infiltration in Americas government.

In the early 1960s, following on the publishing success of her masterwork, Atlas Shrugged, Rand was in demand on college campuses, lecture halls, and radio and television as an interpreter of culture and current events. When the Los Angeles Times invited her to write a syndicated column starting in June 1962, her first contribution introduced her philosophy, Objectivism, which upholds rational self-interest and condemns altruism the doctrine that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only moral justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty. Using the Berlin Wall and other recent horrors as examples, Rand challenged her readers to see a link between that altruist morality and the disturbing state of the world around them:

You may observe the practical results of altruism and statism all around us in todays world such as the slave-labor camps of Soviet Russia, where twenty-one million political prisoners work on the construction of government projects and die of planned malnutrition, human life being cheaper than food or the gas chambers and mass slaughter of Nazi Germany or the terror and starvation of Red China or the hysteria of Cuba where the government offers men for sale or the wall of East Berlin where human beings leap from roofs or crawl through sewers in order to escape, while guards shoot at fleeing children.

But Rand was just getting warmed up. On August 17, 1962, a young East German bricklayer named Peter Fechter jumped from the window of a building near the wall and into a death strip patrolled by armed East German border guards. Fechter ran across this strip to the main wall, which was over six feet high and topped with barbed wire, and started to climb. But before he could reach the top, guards shot him in the pelvis. He fell back to earth and lay there in the death strip, helpless, screaming, bleeding to death with no medical help from the East German side, and inaccessible to the crowd of West German onlookers and journalists. An hour later, he was dead. The next month, Rand published The Dying Victim of Berlin, in which she used the example of Americas foreign policy to describe the process by which the morality of altruism is destroying the world.

Using the Berlin Wall and other recent horrors as examples, Rand challenged her readers to see a link between that altruist morality and the disturbing state of the world around them.

This is the purpose of shooting an eighteen-year old boy who tried to escape from East Berlin, and letting him bleed to death at the foot of the wall, in the sight and hearing of the Western people.

West Germany is the freest, the most nearly capitalist economy in Europe. The contrast between West and East Berlin is the most eloquent modern evidence of the superiority of capitalism over communism. The evidence is irrefutable. Russia does not intend to refute it. She is staging an ideological showdown: she is spitting in our face and declaring that might is right, that brutality is more powerful than all our principles, our promises, our ideals, our wealth and our incomparable material superiority.

Such is the silent symbol now confronting the world: the steel skyscrapers, the glowing shop windows, the glittering cars, the lights of West Berlin the achievement of capitalism and of capitalisms essence: of free, individual men and, lying on its doorstep, in the outer darkness, the bleeding body of a single, individual man who had wanted to be free.

In the ensuing decades, Rand never stopped reminding the world of Soviet Russias evil and of that evils source in the morality of altruism. During her last public speech, in 1981, the Q&A session featured this exchange:

Interviewer: . . . Is Russia a real threat today?

Ayn Rand: Russia as such was never a threat to anyone. Even little Finland beat Russia twice during World War II. Russia is the weakest and most impotent country on Earth. If they were in a war, most of the miserable Russians would defect. But Russia has one weapon by default which we have surrendered, and that is the morality of altruism. So long as people believe that Russia represents a moral ideal, they will win over us in every encounter. That is one of the reasons for dropping altruism totally, consciously, as the kind of evil which it really is.

When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, Ayn Rand had been dead for seven years. But we know from her many writings on the subject that she would have joined the civilized world in celebrating the demise of that monstrosity.2 However, she would doubtless have reminded us that so long as altruism reigns unchallenged, such evils and worse ones are inevitable in the future.

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Ayn Rand on the Moral Foundations of the Berlin Wall - New Ideal

The Mom Stop: Welcome to the greatest show on earth – Monmouth Daily Review Atlas

It started with a lost soccer cleat.

On a busy morning early one Saturday, our house was in a tornadic disarray as my husband, two older kids and I searched the house thoroughly, looking for said soccer cleat. Under the bed. Behind the couch. In the laundry basket, and even in the backyard (we have two boxers, so you never know what ends up back there). But the search was to no avail; the cleat had disappeared.

Our oldest daughter, age 10, had a soccer game an hour away in exactly 90 minutes. We should have already left. Our middle child, our 8-year-old boy, meanwhile, had another soccer game in town at the exact same time.

As is all too common these days, on this particular morning, my husband and I were having to divide and conquer, as he was taking our two youngest children to our sons soccer game while I drove our oldest daughter to hers. Apparently, the cleats had been missing for quite a while, as my husband admitted that our son had been actually wearing his older sisters soccer cleats for at least a month. But now that they had games at the same time, the missing cleats became an issue.

I shrugged. He can wear his running shoes instead if he has to.

Are we THOSE parents, who are so disorganized he doesnt have his basic gear? my husband replied.

We have three kids and both my husband and I work full time. The fact that our kids are dressed, fed and make it to school and most of their after-school activities somewhat on time is no small feat in my book. Having three kids is like running a three-ring circus. Half the time, I feel like a clown juggling three balls while riding on an elephants back, praying that the loose tiger doesnt try to eat the elephant or that the flying trapeze artist doesnt land on me.

Life with kids is chaotic. Life with three kids is a balancing act and a juggling trick, all-in-one. Occasionally, a ball falls. A shoe drops.

After several minutes of searching, I give up and jumped in the minivan with our oldest daughter, leaving my other two kids and husband still searching at home. Its at that moment that I vowed to become more organized. I promised myself that Ill spend the rest of the weekend de-cluttering our home, cleaning out what we dont need and trying to make things easier to find. I want to be the kind of mom who is on top of everything all the time, a multi-tasker to can juggle and cook at the same time - someone like my mom.

I hurriedly pulled out of the driveway and hit the gas pedal, but only got about halfway to our stop sign when my daughter shouted I see the CLEATS!! There, half-hidden under the front passenger seat, were two dirty, untied, lime-green soccer cleats that reeked like a dead skunk. How we never saw (or smelled) them before is beyond me.

My daughter pulled them out, opened the van door and ran them back to the house, a huge grin on her face. She saved the day.

I did de-clutter the kids rooms and playroom later, at least to where it no longer looks like a bomb went off. But as for the rest of the house - well wait until we eventually move, whenever that may be. For now, at least we have the cleats.

Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com.

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The Mom Stop: Welcome to the greatest show on earth - Monmouth Daily Review Atlas

Review: Joker? I barely know her! – University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News

In the beginning of Todd Phillips Joker, the titular character Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) gets beaten up by a teenage gang so deliberately characterless it couldve been pulled from a 90s morning cartoon. He twirls a furniture store sign on the sidewalk while dressed as a clown for money, dancing joyfully and sinuously, before said teens snatch it from him. They lure him into an alley, smash his face with the sign and kick him while he cries and his fake flower lapel leaks water onto the pavement. The camera pans out. Ominous music sounds. Then the title drops like a cinder block Joker.

I laughed out loud when I saw this. I dont think I was supposed to. But the scene was so self-pitying that it wasnt hard to imagine the director self-righteously nodding as he watched the first cut. You see, its not him thats crazy, Phillips mightve said. Its society.

Jokers origin story has an unlikely counterpart Netflixs recent release Tall Girl, about a 6-foot-1 high school student who finds friendship and love despite being tall. Hows the weather up there? a classmate snidely asks her in one scene. Face it, Jodi. Youre the Tall Girl, a friend self-righteously tells her. Her story is entirely defined by her height. Shes not a character so much as a vector for a single personality trait.

Tall Girls trailer sparked deserved scorn and delight on Twitter. Its a high school oppression tale that couldve been written by algorithm. Its stripped of nuance, complexity and features a main character whose identity consists of nothing more than the way people react to their defining trait. But the internet-fueled hype and fear surrounding Jokers release mask a similar problem its also a movie that couldve been written by an algorithm.

Hey freak! one stranger shouts at Fleck as he walks down the street in his clown outfit. Look at this joker, Robert De Niros Letterman-esque character says to mock Flecks stand-up comedy tape. Hes later nicer to Fleck in person, but even then his tone echoes that of the Netflix film. He might as well have said, Face it, Joker. Youre the Clown Guy.

Fleck becomes a singular vehicle for rage in the way that Tall Girl is a vehicle for being tall. What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that abandons him and treats him like trash? he howls at De Niro in one of the films most cringe-worthy lines. Without spoiling too much, the punchline is less funny and more predictable than youd expect.

Phoenix gives a masterful performance despite the scripts limitations, though. His talent shines when Phillips gives him the least to say. In one scene, Fleck imitates a woman dancing on TV while holding his newly acquired gun. He raises his hands above his head like a belly dancer and twists his hips. He slips into reverie as his gun gives him the confidence to contemplate desiring and being desired in turn. Then he accidentally shoots his wall and jolts back to his repressed adulthood.

Later, he screams at the man who denies being his father in an opera house bathroom. Maybe just a little affection, Dad! Maybe you would have showed up! he simultaneously shouts and sneers. Phoenix delivers a twitching, pained portrayal of a man who craves love so deeply that its denial destroys his psyche.But that same sympathetic portrayal also robs Fleck of any villainous agency. Hes a man who bad things happen to and who the film presents as being forced to do bad things in turn. His motivation seems to be to revenge himself on a city thats unrealistically out to kill him. We learn that he has multiple mental illnesses (I take seven pills) but we never find out what they are. We learn that he was abused as a child but are only told the vaguest contours of what form that abuse took. Three drunk Wall Street guys who know Stephen Sondheim songs by heart beat him up on a subway. And were meant to understand that these inevitably lead to mass murdering psychopathy, despite evidence that many real-life extremists come from very normal homes.

Arthur doesnt even do anything particularly villainous throughout the film. Phillips presents everyone who he kills on screen as having karmically deserved it. The fate of the one innocent character who he mightve killed, which wouldve turned him into an unambiguously evil character, is left deliberately ambiguous. This is where the film most significantly fails. Showing a beaten-down man who willfully decides to kill a woman whos not interested in him mightve actually illuminated something about our time. But a movie about a self-perceived antihero who lashes out against a society that doesnt understand him? Id prefer if wed stopped at Atlas Shrugged.

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Review: Joker? I barely know her! - University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News

Right-wingers finally got their Ayn Rand hero as president and it’s this guy – Salon

When she was young, author Ayn Rand had a schoolgirl crush on a man who murdered, dismembered and disemboweled 12-year-old Marion Parker, before dumping her body on the street, after promising to return her alive to her parents. That 1927 murder was big news, especially in Los Angeles, where the crime had occurred, and it certainly got the attention of Rand, who had just moved to the city after emigrating from the Soviet Union. She immediately began work on a novel, which she called "Little Street,"with a hero based on the murderer, William Hickman.

While Rand's modern-day fans are quick to argue that Rand didn't endorse the murder,it's safe to say she thought highly of Hickman himself and sneered at the people who denounced him, writing that they exhibited "the mobs murderous desire to revenge its hurt vanity against a man who dared to be alone." This champion of individualism said that Hickman's "degeneracy" showed "how society can wreck an exceptional being." She got to work sketching a protagonist based on Hickman, one with a "wonderful, free, light consciousness" resulting from "the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling" and having "no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people."

Rand eventually scrapped the idea for "Little Street," but most historians argue that she reworked her idea of the individualistic, contemptuous hero into her later novels, "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged." These two books, and Rand's writings on her selfishness-oriented philosophy she deemed "Objectivism," have become the backbone of modern conservatism, a pseudo-intellectual rationalization beloved by Republicans such as former House Speaker Paul Ryan or Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky for a reactionary movement that rose up to reject the feminist and antiracist movements of the 20th century.

In her purple prose, Rand romanticized the capitalist predator as a handsome, virile man whose towering intellect justifies his massive ego and disregard for the common masses. It's why conservatives, angry about the election of Barack Obama, started publicly identifying with John Galt, who is the great-man-among-parasites hero of "Atlas Shrugged."

The question that haunts that novel is, "Who is John Galt?" Now we finally have the answer: Donald Trump.

It turns out a philosophy of radical selfishness is not sexy or heroic, but comes in the form of a half-literate narcissist, cheered on by a bunch of sweatpants-clad fascists as he commits crimes in service of conspiracy theories he hopes will trick the ignorant masses into electing him again.

"In the abstract, Rand would have said that her ideal man upholds reason and capitalism. Based on how this plays out in her books, her ideal man is rich, sexually aggressive, sociopathically unconcerned with what others think of him," author Adam Lee, who spent years blogging his close reading of "Atlas Shrugged,"told Salon.

"The real message Rand's works convey is that her protagonists are exempt from the puny standards of law and morality that the common people try to tie them down with," Lee added, noting that the heroes of Rand's bookscommit rape, mock the people who will die in their shoddily built housing and threaten violence to punish wives who disapprove of their adultery.

Trump's time in politics has been a true test of Rand's theory, which has been embraced by modern Republicans, that this kind of sociopathic selfishness is what compels men to greatness of the sorts that we ordinary people, with our plebeian concerns about moral duty to others and the common good, cannot understand. After all, one thing that is certain about Trump is that, like a true Randian hero, he acts only for himself and to satisfy his own ego, and has no concern for others outside of how they serve his interests.

The results, it's safe to say, are underwhelming. Trump's Randian philosophy of pure self-interest is, of course, why he felt it wise to abandon the traditional point of international diplomacy, which is to advance national interests, in favor of viewing other nations merely as resources to be exploited for his own personal and political gain. That's how he ended up on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, extorting the man to pony up manufactured conspiracy theories about a Democratic presidential candidate in exchange for military aid.

The fallout has, needless to say, been a little less John Galt and a little more Richard Nixon ranting pathetically about his enemies. Trump's blatant lies and grasping excuses for his behavior don't cause the heart to soar so much as the eyes to avert in embarrassment. As the outlines of Trump's conspiracy, with the clownish Rudy Giuliani at its center, come into view, the picture is less that of triumphant individualists sticking it to the small-brained masses than of a bunch of idiots who have vastly overrated their own abilities to pull off pointless crimes.

Nor has Trump's Randian attitude towards his henchmen, in which he shows them no weak-minded loyalty or gratitude for their service, worked out quite as well for him as it's supposed to. Trump's firing national security adviser John Bolton, himself no paragon of social virtue, was the move of a classic Randian hero. Bolton, after all, had the temerity to question the great man's judgment regarding matters like the Ukraine extortion, and had to be dispatched with contempt. But now reports that paint Bolton favorably (in itself a remarkable accomplishment) and make Trump look like a blithering idiot are worming their way into the news, suggesting that Trump's unwillingness to keep the good opinion of his henchmen is coming back around to bite him.

Conservatives like Paul Ryan may wrinkle their noses at Trump's uncouth demeanor and petty behavior, but this is what they signed up for in exalting Ayn Rand as some great philosopher. Despite the high-minded rhetoric, the lived reality of selfishness as a philosophy is less like the fictional figures of Howard Roark and John Galt, and more like the incoherent, small-minded sociopathy of Donald Trump. The great man of the Objectivist imagination has always been a silly fantasy. But it's particularly rich and satisfying that now that the Ayn Rand fanboys finally have a leader who lives out their supposed ideals, the result is the comic, pathetic and catastrophic figure now disgracing the White House.

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Right-wingers finally got their Ayn Rand hero as president and it's this guy - Salon

A Mix of Malcolm and Milton: On Corey Robin’s The Enigma of Clarence Thomas – lareviewofbooks

SEPTEMBER 30, 2019

THAT CLARENCE THOMAS is now the longest-serving justice on the US Supreme Court, as Corey Robin tells us at the outset of The Enigma of Clarence Thomas, inspires me to start doing the math on my own age. Anita Hill, jade-suited, sitting alone before the Senate, is among my earliest memories of American politics and what is now called the news cycle.

Since his 52-48 confirmation in October 1991, Thomas has exerted quiet influence on American jurisprudence and politics. The majority of justices now share Thomass politics, if not his unique perspective and reasoning. Neil Gorsuch and freshman Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose own confirmation hearing was a Thomas-like affair, are lockstep with their judicial elder. Among Thomass former clerks are 11 nominees to the federal bench, including seven on the court of appeals, and 10 who are either administration officials or members of the Office of US Attorneys, helping to craft current US immigration and deregulation policy. Just as importantly, Thomas has written more than seven hundred opinions, staking out controversial positions on gun rights, campaign finance, and other issues that have come to command Supreme Court majorities.

But he remains an enigma, particularly to liberal White America whose knowledge of him is often limited to the Anita Hill hearing, his silence during oral arguments, and the mistaken belief that Thomas was merely Antonin Scalias puppet. As a longtime reader of the right from the left, Robin writes, I know how tempting it is for people on one side of the spectrum to dismiss those on the other as unthinking defenders of partisan advantage. To his great credit, Robins aim is to avoid facile critiques from the left of Thomass political and legal philosophies.

He also aims for something other than a biography of the justice who filled the seat of Thurgood Marshall, who was himself too easily dismissed by liberal heavyweights like Archibald Cox and Bob Woodward. He writes,

Because the temptation to dismiss is even greater in Thomass case perversely mimicking the dismissal of Marshall and because its sufficiently difficult to get people to believe that Thomas has a jurisprudence, much less to hear it, the imperative to let him speak without the interruption of easy criticisms is that much more acute.

Instead, Robin engages in a close reading of Thomass writings in the hopes of providing a coherent description of Thomass political and legal philosophies as well as their historical and personal contexts.

Throughout, Robin demonstrates that Thomass worldview is complex, contradictory, and, at times, has plenty in common with far more progressive modes of thought than liberals might think. For one thing, Thomas is a Black nationalist. He can quote Malcolm X, chapter and verse. As the child of Jim Crow, he remains deeply skeptical of the conciliatory, post-racial politics of liberal America. His jurisprudence is almost universally informed by a race-consciousness that stands in stark contrast to the thinking of almost all of his fellow Justices.

Moreover, despite his conservatism, many of his arguments have, over the years, utilized a type of structural analysis of race and class in American society that could rest, if uneasily, next to that of radical left thinkers. Whats most fascinating about the book is watching Thomass thoughts evolve, seeing him move to the right in real time; from the Black Student Union treasurer at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, who chanted, Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh during a rally in Cambridge to free Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins; to the law student at Yale who argued for government regulation with a young John Bolton; to the head of Reagans EEOC who was still relying on the theory of disparate impact when considering affirmative action policies; to the nominee who claimed that the Anita Hill hearings were a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks; to the Justice who has staked out the most conservative position on the Supreme Court.

Robin splits the book into three parts Race, Capitalism, and Constitution, the primary categories of Clarence Thomass jurisprudence and their development corresponds, roughly, to Thomass biography. The parts build off one another as we get closer to the present. His early experiences in Jim Crow Savannah and his chastening experiences as a Yale Law student flow into his post-law-school drift toward political and economic conservatism, thanks in large part to encounters with explicitly pro-capitalist Black thinkers in the mid-to-late 1970s. By the 1980s, with Thomas heading the EEOC under Reagan, there appeared a real chance of being named to the bench; only then did he start thinking seriously about developing a constitutional jurisprudence, of which, as a career politician, he had had little need. Thomas was on the federal bench a mere 16 months before his nomination by George H. W. Bush.

At Holy Cross, Thomas spoke the grammar of 1960s Black Power and was elected secretary-treasurer of the newly formed Black Student Union. The BSUs 11-point manifesto was steeped in the Black nationalism of Marcus Garvey, Kwame Ture, and Malcolm X, whose Autobiography Thomas read as a freshman: 7. The Black man wants [] the right to perpetuate his race; 9. The Black man does not want or need the white woman. Thomas was one of the more radical members of the BSU, remembered for his edgy race consciousness.

But it wasnt all Little Red Books and hard left resistance to The Man, as Robin explains:

Like all ideologies, black nationalism is a contested tradition, whose exponents and analysts seldom agree on its basic tenets. While a stringent definition might entail a belief in the separate cultural identity of African Americans and a commitment to their gaining a sovereign state, black nationalists frequently have taken up one position without the other, larding both with a thick layer of pragmatism.

One evening Thomas might take a hard line on an issue, but by the next morning, he might soften his stance. He was a young man testing the limits of his politics during one of the more incendiary periods in American history.

Although Thomas has since denied being a Black nationalist, Robin points out that he has never completely disavowed the movements grammar as the formative base upon which he built his subsequent politics. Black nationalist theory continues to pepper his court opinions. Thomas is the only justice to frequently quote W. E. B. Du Bois and Frederick Douglass. Hes even lifted from James Baldwin, without attribution.

At Yale Law chosen because it had a more liberal reputation than Harvard Thomas first questioned the welfare states intervention on behalf of African Americans. He began to view such liberal political programs as both perpetuating and masking the deep racism at the heart of the American project. In Thomass mind, to a White student, a Black student at Yale Law could only ever be the result of White largesse, thereby undermining any sense of achievement the Black student might derive from having gained admission.

His position on the court, undermining affirmative action programs, was an irony lost on no one, with Rosa Parks once quipping, He had all the advantages of affirmative action and went against it. Yet, unlike fellow conservatives who decry affirmative action as simply reverse racism, Thomass beliefs rest on the notion that affirmative action further marks already marked bodies. For Thomas, Robin explains, the most important form that racism takes is the stigma or mark it puts on black people, designating them as less worthy or capable than white people. Thomas has said as much in the 1995 decision Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pea:

So called benign discrimination teaches many that because of chronic and apparently immutable handicaps, minorities cannot compete with them without their patronizing indulgence. Inevitably, such programs engender attitudes of superiority or, alternatively, provoke resentment among those who believe that they have been wronged by the governments use of race. These programs stamp minorities with a badge of inferiority and may cause them to develop dependencies or to adopt an attitude that they are entitled to preferences.

Yet Robin astutely notes that Thomass form of race-consciousness doesnt extend to all classes: The victim of racial stigmas Thomas has most in mind is not a poor black person racially profiled by the police but the ambitious black striver condescended to by liberal whites. The victim he has in mind is someone like him.

Thomass feelings about affirmative action were still inchoate in the early 1970s. And even several years into his appointment, Thomas was conflicted about completely giving up on such political measures. It makes sense that, as Thomas struggled with the racial politics of the welfare state, he became receptive to the radical free-market ideology that had started creeping into the mainstream from the fringes, while faith in Keynesianism on both the center right and left disintegrated under the weight of the Vietnam War and domestic civil unrest.

Free markets promised solutions to Black self-sufficiency in a still utterly racist landscape. After Yale, Thomas went west, where he found himself working in the Missouri Attorney Generals office, headed by the Republican John Danforth. At this point, according to Thomas, the most conservative thing hed done was vote for George McGovern in 1972, but philosophically he was in transit, writes Robin, moving away from a black left that disquieted him and white liberals who looked down on him.

In 1976, he had his first important encounter with conservative Black politics when a friend recommended the University of Chicagotrained economist Thomas Sowells Race and Economics, which Robin calls a mix of Malcolm and Milton. Through an analysis of urban and rural slavery and the varying economic experiences of immigrant groups in the United States, Sowell lays out an argument that politics is the domain of White power and that the market is the key to Black survival. Even in the antebellum South, argues Sowell, market logic constrained the masters cruelty more than morality. A slave was, after all, an investment and an asset; to harm a slave was to work against the goals of capital accumulation. This contention had an immense impact on Thomass politics and, later, his jurisprudence. He registered as an independent in 1976, voted for Gerald Ford, and became the most conservative attorney in an office that included John Ashcroft.

Though Thomas claims a Pauline conversion to conservatism, Robin is skeptical. Sowell may have been the final straw, but in the summer of 1971 Thomas read Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead (he still requires all his clerks attend a judicial term-opening screening of King Vidors 1949 film version of The Fountainhead), and was increasingly disenchanted by his own participation in tear-gassy demonstrations as an undergraduate, which never seemed to put a dent in state power.

Thomass personal path in the 70s also reflected larger currents in Black politics at the time, which were increasingly shot through with pessimism and fatigue and the belief that, for all its achievements such as 1964s Civil Rights Act and 1965s Voting Rights Act the movement had done little to improve the daily life of African Americans and left a bloody trail in its wake. Black nationalism often gains traction, Robin writes, when conditions for African Americans are getting worse, as was the case with the Garvey movement in the 1920s, or when the movement for multiracial democracy comes up against the hard limits of white supremacy.

Under these conditions, Black leaders, like Thomas, turned to the markets, recalling Adam Clayton Powells initial use of the phrase Black Power to suggest Black business ownership. This is not to say that Black Power in the 70s was simply co-opted by capitalism, but there was significant discussion and disagreement within the movement about the direction in which it should head. And the discussion remains relevant today, as the recently slain Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle is eulogized for encouraging Black business ownership and entrepreneurship as a means of empowerment.

Capitalism resonated with Thomas on a personal level as well. His own father, M. C. Thomas, or simply C, abandoned his family when Thomas was one, and the boy and his siblings were raised primarily by Myers Anderson, their grandfather, to whom Thomas refers as Daddy. In Thomass memory, Myers represented what capitalism could accomplish for African Americans. As a young man, Myers owned his own fuel oil business, supplied ice, and had several rental properties. In Myers, Thomas saw the archetype of a strong, independent Black man living on his own terms; he contrasted his grandfather with his mother and sisters, whom he viewed as weak and incapable of providing for their family. This valorization of Black masculinity, which was also deeply informed by the vernacular of Black Power, remains a core feature of Thomass worldview.

Memories of his grandfather and Sowells writing confirmed to Thomas that there was a surer route to Black emancipation than politics. On the court, he has gone out of his way to deemphasize, even discourage Black political participation, in the hope that African Americans would turn to the markets something of a rehash of Marcus Garveys declaration:

[The Negro] cannot resort to the government for protection for government will be in the hands of the majority of the people who are prejudiced against him, hence for the Negro to depend on the ballot and his industrial progress alone, will be hopeless as it does not help him when he is lynched, burned, jim-crowed, and segregated.

While Thomass jurisprudence regarding ballot access hews mainly to the conservative line on federalism, when it comes to the question of electoral power, or the ability of a group to elect representatives of its choosing, he diverges from the general consensus of the court as well as from conservative politics at large.

Since the 80s, when Thomas briefly tried to convince Blacks that they should be Republicans either to influence Republican politics or to signal to Democrats that the Black vote could not be taken for granted, Thomas has largely abandoned the belief that there is any constitutional solution for incorporating Blacks into a political process that Sowell and others argued was forever rigged against them. Thomas sees the Courts attempt to address Black disenfranchisement and voter dilution as just more liberal White paternalism, which allows Whites to maintain symbolic and real power over Blacks.

Robin identifies this as an argument of despair, which resembles the social theorist Albert O. Hirschmans futility thesis. According to Hirschman, futility is a common tool for conservatives, who argue that attempting broad political action results in largely superficial changes, leaving structural inequities in place. And Hirschman notes that thinkers on the left may also be daunted by the difficulty of structural change and fall into the trap of futility thinking. Futility arguments, along with the concomitant arguments of perversity (that a policy will have the opposite effect) or jeopardy (that a policy will undo some previous achievement), are convenient for Thomas; he uses them frequently to demonstrate the failure of state intervention and regulation.

Another important aspect of Thomass project to steer African Americans away from politics is his contention that they do not constitute a stable, collective political class. They may share a collective stigma and experiences vis--vis racism, but for Thomas that doesnt necessarily translate into a coherent collective Black politics. Its hard to argue with the notion that individuals hold wildly different perspectives on a great number of things, or that there is an obvious class hierarchy within Black life. Still, when Thomas argues for a Black capitalism at the expense of politics he fails to take into account how capitalism and race are inextricably tied. If American politics is rigged against Blacks, capitalism is doubly so. As Huey Newton warned on the pages of Ebony in 1969, Black capitalism would merely be trading one master for another. A small group of blacks with control our destiny if this development came to pass. People like Thomass grandfather entered the rentier class, extracting labor value and rents from the Black community.

While Thomass views on capitalism and race are unique among his peers on the court, they often fit, without too much effort, into the arc of contemporary conservative politics. His justifications may be different, but the result is the same. However, Thomass conception of the Constitution, to which Robin devotes the last third of his book, resides in a wholly different sphere. This section of Robins book may represent his most interesting break with the conventional reading of Thomass thought.

While many legal scholars brand him a constitutional literalist, often to fit the Scalias puppet narrative, Robin argues that Thomass originalism is at best episodic, and of greater import is his conception of two separate versions of the Constitution. This conception supports his belief that a strong moral authority is necessary for keeping African Americans on the straight and narrow. One version is the Constitution of Reconstruction, with its signal achievements, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, since undermined by liberal paternalism and a misapplication of their content. The other is the original Constitution of three-fifths and states rights, which, after the failure of Reconstruction, was revitalized as Jim Crow.

At no time does Thomas argue that United States should return to forced segregation or chattel slavery. Rather, he looks to those times as exemplary moments when African Americans developed virtues of independence and habits of responsibility, practices of self-control and institutions of patriarchal self-help, that enabled them to survive and sometimes flourish. During Jim Crow, in other words, authority was clearly marked out; it offered a framework within which Black men could protect and provide for their families and communities. That framework was obscured and undermined by the welfare state.

Both Thomass Black and White Constitutions work to create a stark form of authority meant to order Black political and social life. For Thomas, the most important part of the Black Constitution is its extension of the Bill of Rights to all citizens after the Civil War, most notably, the right to bear arms. This Constitution granted Black men the means to physically confront White terror, a means that was with notable exceptions like the Nat Turner Rebellion in 1831 absent in the antebellum United States. Thomass Black Constitution allows [him] to tell a version of American history from the revolution against slavery to the counterrevolution of Jim Crow in which racial violence has been the motor of change [and] black actors and black violence are central both to the making of freedom and to its unmaking.

However, in order for Thomass Black Constitution to exist, society must remain in a permanent state of tension, and its in the last chapter, The White Constitution, that Robin presents the Justices logic at its most perverse. Only an antagonistic White Constitution of states rights can re-create the conditions that made for black survival[,] undo the culture of rights and replace it with a state of exigency. That exigency is to be found in the harsh rules of the penal state. All the better if these harsh rules are implemented in a racist fashion, because only then will the necessary tension rescue Black patriarchal authority.

How could a Justice who spends so much of his energy arguing that affirmative action and welfare are the tools of White domination give a pass to the carceral state? Here, Robin reads between the lines, surmising that the carceral state

serves a vital function: it provides African Americans with every reason they need to steer clear of trouble. That is a foundation not only for law-abiding behavior but also for the market-based activity [] Thomas regards as critical to the African American community. The carceral state re-creates the kind of adversity African Americans once suffered under Jim Crow.

Unless the state enacts carceral violence there is no hope, in Thomass mind, of bringing about his ideal of the strong Black patriarch, who will protect his race from the forces of White supremacy. This is the disturbing core of Thomass constitutional jurisprudence a nostalgic project that aims to return us to the idealized life of his childhood, where men were patriarchs, women wore their finery to church, and boys never strayed from the lines that authority had laid out for them.

Corey Robin has done all US citizens a great service by reading Thomas with such care, and by providing a fascinating and original interpretation of the man who, in many cases, quietly determines the direction we are taking. Thomas now wields significantly more power on the Court than he did even a decade ago, and his acolytes are in step with him on deregulation, the expansion of the state monopoly on violence, and the project to erode hard-won rights. Even if they dont share his unique views, the results are the same: the vote is 5-4.

John W. W. Zeiser is a poet, journalist, and critic. He no longer lives in Los Angeles.

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A Mix of Malcolm and Milton: On Corey Robin's The Enigma of Clarence Thomas - lareviewofbooks

Noteworthy: Notes from our business community and everywhere else – The Sylva Herald

THE FIRST FRIDAY BOOK GROUP will meet at 10 a.m. Oct. 4 in room 129 of the Jackson County Senior Center. The book to be discussed is The Traveling Cat by Hiro Arikawa. The November selection is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. For more information, call 586-4940.

Cullowhee Valley School is having its annual yard sale from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Oct. 12. The yard sale helps middle school students earn money to go towards their annual trips to Camp Greenville and Charleston, South Carolina. Community members can reserve a table for $30 by visiting the front office staff by Wednesday, Oct 2.

The CommUnity Square Dance is 7-9 p.m. Saturday at Reid Gym at Western Carolina University. The caller will teach and call all dances to live old-time music. No experience or partner is necessary. For more information contact Pammanottus@gmail.com.

Harris Regional Hospital will host a reception and dedication ceremony for anyone affected by breast cancer. The event will take place at noon Thursday, Oct. 3 at Harris Medical Park, 98 Doctors Drive, Sylva. Attendees will be allowed a time to place a card on the tree of hope in celebration and/or memory of a breast cancer patient. Refreshments will be served.

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Noteworthy: Notes from our business community and everywhere else - The Sylva Herald

Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand: 9780451191144: Amazon.com: Books

INTRODUCTION: Ayn Rand held that art is a re-creation of reality according to an artist s metaphysical value judgments. By its nature, therefore, a novel (like a statue or a symphony) does not require or tolerate an explanatory preface; it is a self-contained universe, aloof from commentary, beckoning the reader to enter, perceive, respond. Ayn Rand would never have approved of a didactic (or laudatory) introduction to her book, and I have no intention of flouting her wishes. Instead, I am going to give her the floor. I am going to let you in on some of the thinking she did as she was preparing to write Atlas Shrugged. Before starting a novel, Ayn Rand wrote voluminously in her journals about its theme, plot, and characters. She wrote not for any audience, but strictly for herself that is, for the clarity of her own understanding. The journals dealing with Atlas Shrugged are powerful examples of her mind in action, confident even when groping, purposeful even when stymied, luminously eloquent even though wholly unedited. These journals are also a fascinating record of the step-by-step birth of an immortal work of art. In due course, all of Ayn Rand s writings will be published. For this 35th anniversary edition of Atlas Shrugged, however, I have selected, as a kind of advance bonus for her fans, four typical journal entries. Let me warn new readers that the passages reveal the plot and will spoil the book for anyone who reads them before knowing the story. As I recall, Atlas Shrugged did not become the novel s title until Miss Rand s husband made the suggestion in 1956. The working title throughout the writing was The Strike. The earliest of Miss Rand s notes for The Strike are dated January 1, 1945, about a year after the publication of The Fountainhead. Naturally enough, the subject on her mind was how to differentiate the present novel from its predecessor. Theme. What happens to the world when the Prime Movers go on strike. This means a picture of the world with its motor cut off. Show: what, how, why. The specific steps and incidents in terms of persons, their spirits, motives, psychology and actions and, secondarily, proceeding from persons, in terms of history, society and the world. The theme requires: to show who are the prime movers and why, how they function. Who are their enemies and why, what are the motives behind the hatred for and the enslavement of the prime movers; the nature of the obstacles placed in their way, and the reasons for it. This last paragraph is contained entirely in The Fountainhead. Roark and Toohey are the complete statement of it. Therefore, this is not the direct theme of The Strike but it is part of the theme and must be kept in mind, stated again (though briefly) to have the theme clear and complete. First question to decide is on whom the emphasis must be placed on the prime movers, the parasites or the world. The answer is: The world. The story must be primarily a picture of the whole. In this sense, The Strike is to be much more a social novel than The Fountainhead. The Fountainhead was about individualism and collectivism within man s soul ; it showed the nature and function of the creator and the second-hander. The primary concern there was with Roark and Toohey showing what they are. The rest of the characters were variations of the theme of the relation of the ego to others mixtures of the two extremes, the two poles: Roark and Toohey. The primary concern of the story was the characters, the people as such their natures. Their relations to each other which is society, men in relation to men were secondary, an unavoidable, direct consequence of Roark set against Toohey. But it was not the theme. Now, it is this relation that must be the theme. Therefore, the personal becomes secondary. That is, the personal is necessary only to the extent needed to make the relationships clear. In The Fountainhead I showed that Roark moves the world that the Keatings feed upon him and hate him for it, while the Tooheys are out consciously to destroy him. But the theme was Roark not Roark s relation to the world. Now it will be the relation. In other words, I must show in what concrete, specific way the world is moved by the creators. Exactly how do the second-handers live on the creators. Both in spiritual matters and (most particularly) in concrete, physical events. (Concentrate on the concrete, physical events but don t forget to keep in mind at all times how the physical proceeds from the spiritual.). However, for the purpose of this story, I do not start by showing how the second-handers live on the prime movers in actual, everyday reality nor do I start by showing a normal world. (That comes in only in necessary retrospect, or flashback, or by implication in the events themselves.) I start with the fantastic premise of the prime movers going on strike. This is the actual heart and center of the novel. A distinction carefully to be observed here: I do not set out to glorify the prime mover ( that was The Fountainhead ). I set out to show how desperately the world needs prime movers, and how viciously it treats them. And I show it on a hypothetical case what happens to the world without them. In The Fountainhead I did not show how desperately the world needed Roark except by implication. I did show how viciously the world treated him, and why. I showed mainly what he is. It was Roark s story. This must be the world s story in relation to its prime movers. (Almost the story of a body in relation to its heart a body dying of anemia.) I don t show directly what the prime movers do that s shown only by implication. I show what happens when they don t do it. (Through that, you see the picture of what they do, their place and their role.) (This is an important guide for the construction of the story.) In order to work out the story, Ayn Rand had to understand fully why the prime movers allowed the second-handers to live on them why the creators had not gone on strike throughout history what errors even the best of them made that kept them in thrall to the worst. Part of the answer is dramatized in the character of Dagny Taggart, the railroad heiress who declares war on the strikers. Here is a note on her psychology, dated April 18, 1946: Her error and the cause of her refusal to join the strike is over-optimism and over-confidence (particularly this last). Over-optimism in that she thinks men are better than they are, she doesn t really understand them and is generous about it. Over-confidence in that she thinks she can do more than an individual actually can. She thinks she can run a railroad (or the world) single-handed, she can make people do what she wants or needs, what is right, by the sheer force of her own talent; not by forcing them, of course, not by enslaving them and giving orders but by the sheer over-abundance of her own energy; she will show them how, she can teach them and persuade them, she is so able that they ll catch it from her. (This is still faith in their rationality, in the omnipotence of reason. The mistake? Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.) On these two points, Dagny is committing an important (but excusable and understandable) error in thinking, the kind of error individualists and creators often make. It is an error proceeding from the best in their nature and from a proper principle, but this principle is misapplied. The error is this: it is proper for a creator to be optimistic, in the deepest, most basic sense, since the creator believes in a benevolent universe and functions on that premise. But it is an error to extend that optimism to other specific men. First, it s not necessary, the creator s life and the nature of the universe do not require it, his life does not depend on others. Second, man is a being with free will; therefore, each man is potentially good or evil, and it s up to him and only to him (through his reasoning mind) to decide which he wants to be. The decision will affect only him; it is not (and cannot and should not be) the primary concern of any other human being. Therefore, while a creator does and must worship Man (which means his own highest potentiality; which is his natural self-reverence), he must not make the mistake of thinking that this means the necessity to worship Mankind (as a collective). These are two entirely different conceptions, with entirely (immensely and diametrically opposed) different consequences. Man, at his highest potentiality, is realized and fulfilled within each creator himself. Whether the creator is alone, or finds only a handful of others like him, or is among the majority of mankind, is of no importance or consequence whatever; numbers have nothing to do with it. He alone or he and a few others like him are mankind, in the proper sense of being the proof of what man actually is, man at his best, the essential man, man at his highest possibility. (The rational being, who acts according to his nature.) It should not matter to a creator whether anyone or a million or all the men around him fall short of the ideal of Man; let him live up to that ideal himself; this is all the optimism about Man that he needs. But this is a hard and subtle thing to realize and it would be natural for Dagny always to make the mistake of believing others are better than they really are (or will become better, or she will teach them to become better or, actually, she so desperately wants them to be better) and to be tied to the world by that hope. It is proper for a creator to have an unlimited confidence in himself and his ability, to feel certain that he can get anything he wishes out of life, that he can accomplish anything he decides to accomplish, and that it s up to him to do it. (He feels it because he is a man of reason. But here is what he must keep clearly in mind: it is true that a creator can accomplish anything he wishes if he functions according to the nature of man, the universe and his own proper morality, that is, if he does not place his wish primarily within others and does not attempt or desire anything that is of a collective nature, anything that concerns others primarily or requires primarily the exercise of the will of others. (This would be an immoral desire or attempt, contrary to his nature as a creator.) If he attempts that, he is out of a creator s province and in that of the collectivist and the second-hander. Therefore, he must never feel confident that he can do anything whatever to, by or through others. (He can t and he shouldn t even wish to try it and the mere attempt is improper.) He must not think that he can. somehow transfer his energy and his intelligence to them and make them fit for his purposes in that way. He must face other men as they are, recognizing them as essentially independent entities, by nature, and beyond his primary influence; [he must] deal with them only on his own, independent terms, deal with such as he judges can fit his purpose or live up to his standards (by themselves and of their own will, independently of him) and expect nothing from the others. Now, in Dagny s case, her desperate desire is to run Taggart Transcontinental. She sees that there are no men suited to her purpose around her, no men of ability, independence and competence. She thinks she can run it with others, with the incompetent and the parasites, either by training them or merely by treating them as robots who will take her orders and function without personal initiative or responsibility; with herself, in effect, being the spark of initiative, the bearer of responsibility for a whole collective. This can t be done. This is her crucial error. This is where she fails. Ayn Rand s basic purpose as a novelist was to present not villains or even heroes with errors, but the ideal man the consistent, the fully integrated, the perfect. In Atlas Shrugged, this is John Galt, the towering figure who moves the world and the novel, yet does not appear onstage until Part III. By his nature (and that of the story) Galt is necessarily central to the lives of all the characters. In one note, Galt s relation to the others, dated June 27, 1946, Miss Rand defines succinctly what Galt represents to each of them: For Dagny the ideal. The answer to her two quests: the man of genius and the man she loves. The first quest is expressed in her search for the inventor of the engine. The second her growing conviction that she will never be in love For Rearden the friend. The kind of understanding and appreciation he has always wanted and did not know he wanted (or he thought he had it he tried to find it in those around him, to get it from his wife, his mother, brother and sister). For Francisco d Anconia the aristocrat. The only man who represents a challenge and a stimulant almost the proper kind of audience, worthy of stunning for the sheer joy and color of life. For Danneskjld the anchor. The only man who represents land and roots to a restless, reckless wanderer, like the goal of a struggle, the port at the end of a fierce sea-voyage the only man he can respect. For the Composer the inspiration and the perfect audience. For the Philosopher the embodiment of his abstractions. For Father Amadeus the source of his conflict. The uneasy realization that Galt is the end of his endeavors, the man of virtue, the perfect man and that his means do not fit this end (and that he is destroying this, his ideal, for the sake of those who are evil). To James Taggart the eternal threat. The secret dread. The reproach. The guilt (his own guilt). He has no specific tie-in with Galt but he has that constant, causeless, unnamed, hysterical fear. And he recognizes it when he hears Galt s broadcast and when he sees Galt in person for the first time. To the Professor his conscience. The reproach and reminder. The ghost that haunts him through everything he does, without a moment s peace. The thing that says: No to his whole life. Some notes on the above: Rearden s sister, Stacy, was a minor character later cut from the novel. Francisco was spelled Francesco in these early years, while Danneskld s first name at this point was Ivar, presumably after Ivar Kreuger, the Swedish match king, who was the real-life model of Bjorn Faulkner in Night of January 16th. Father Amadeus was Taggart s priest, to whom he confessed his sins. The priest was supposed to be a positive character, honestly devoted to the good but practicing consistently the morality of mercy. Miss Rand dropped him, she told me, when she found that it was impossible to make such a character convincing. The Professor is Robert Stadler. This brings me to a final excerpt. Because of her passion for ideas, Miss Rand was often asked whether she was primarily a philosopher or a novelist. In later years, she was impatient with this question, but she gave her own answer, to and for herself, in a note dated May 4, 1946. The broader context was a discussion of the nature of creativity. I seem to be both a theoretical philosopher and a fiction writer. But it is the last that interests me most; the first is only the means to the last; the absolutely necessary means, but only the means; the fiction story is the end. Without an understanding and statement of the right philosophical principle, I cannot create the right story; but the discovery of the principle interests me only as the discovery of the proper knowledge to be used for my life purpose; and my life purpose is the creation of the kind of world (people and events) that I like that is, that represents human perfection. Philosophical knowledge is necessary in order to define human perfection. But I do not care to stop at the definition. I want to use it, to apply it in my work (in my personal life, too but the core, center and purpose of my personal life, of my whole life, is my work). This is why, I think, the idea of writing a philosophical nonfiction book bored me. In such a book, the purpose would actually be to teach others, to present my idea to them. In a book of fiction the purpose is to create, for myself, the kind of world I want and to live in it while I am creating it; then, as a secondary consequence, to let others enjoy this world, if, and to the extent that they can. It may be said that the first purpose of a philosophical book is the clarification or statement of your new knowledge to and for yourself; and then, as a secondary step, the offering of your knowledge to others. But here is the difference, as far as I am concerned: I have to acquire and state to myself the new philosophical knowledge or principle I used in order to write a fiction story as its embodiment and illustration; I do not care to write a story on a theme or thesis of old knowledge, knowledge stated or discovered by someone else, that is, someone else s philosophy (because those philosophies are wrong). To this extent, I am an abstract philosopher (I want to present the perfect man and his perfect life and I must also discover my own philosophical statement and definition of this perfection). But when and if I have discovered such new knowledge, I am not interested in stating it in its abstract, general form, that is, as knowledge. I am interested in using it, in applying it that is, in stating it in the concrete form of men and events, in the form of a fiction story. This last is my final purpose, my end; the philosophical knowledge or discovery is only the means to it. For my purpose, the non-fiction form of abstract knowledge doesn t interest me; the final, applied form of fiction, of story, does. (I state the knowledge to myself, anyway; but I choose the final form of it, the expression, in the completed cycle that leads back to man.) I wonder to what extent I represent a peculiar phenomenon in this respect. I think I represent the proper integration of a complete human being. Anyway, this should be my lead for the character of John Galt. He, too , is a combination of an abstract philosopher and a practical inventor; the thinker and the man of action together In learning, we draw an abstraction from concrete objects and events. In creating, we make our own concrete objects and events out of the abstraction; we bring the abstraction down and back to its specific meaning, to the concrete; but the abstraction has helped us to make the kind of concrete we want the concrete to be. It has helped us to create to reshape the world as we wish it to be for our purposes. I cannot resist quoting one further paragraph. It comes a few pages later in the same discussion. Incidentally, as a sideline observation: if creative fiction writing is a process of translating an abstraction into the concrete, there are three possible grades of such writing: translating an old (known) abstraction (theme or thesis) through the medium of old fiction means (that is, characters, events or situations used before for that same purpose, that same translation) this is most of the popular trash; translating an old abstraction through new, original fiction means this is most of the good literature; creating a new, original abstraction and translating it through new, original means. This, as far as I know, is only me my kind of fiction writing. May God forgive me (Metaphor!) if this is mistaken conceit! As near as I can now see it, it isn t. (A fourth possibility translating a new abstraction through old means is impossible, by definition: if the abstraction is new, there can be no means used by anybody else before to translate it.) Is her conclusion mistaken conceit ? It is now forty-five years since she wrote this note, and you are holding Ayn Rand s master-work in your hands. You decide. Leonard Peikoff September 1991. Chapter 1: THE THEME Who is John Galt? The light was ebbing, and Eddie Willers could not distinguish the bum s face. The bum had said it simply, without expression. But from the sunset far at the end of the street, yellow glints caught his eyes, and the eyes looked straight at Eddie Willers, mocking and still as if the question had been addressed to the causeless uneasiness within him. Why did you say that? asked Eddie Willers, his voice tense. The bum leaned against the side of the doorway; a wedge of broken glass behind him reflected the metal yellow of the sky. Why does it bother you? he asked. It doesn t, snapped Eddie Willers. He reached hastily into his pocket. The bum had stopped him and asked for a dime, then had gone on talking, as if to kill that moment and postpone the problem of the next. Pleas for dimes were so frequent in the streets these days that it was not necessary to listen to explanations and he had no desire to hear the details of this bum s particular despair. Go get your cup of coffee, he said, handing the dime to the shadow that had no face. Thank you, sir, said the voice, without interest, and the face leaned forward for a moment. The face was wind-browned, cut by lines of weariness and cynical resignation; the eyes were intelligent. Eddie Willers walked on, wondering why he always felt it at this time of day, this sense of dread without reason. No, he thought, not dread, there s nothing to fear: just an immense, diffused apprehension, with no source or object. He had become accustomed to the feeling, but he could find no explanation for it; yet the bum had spoken as if he knew that Eddie felt it, as if he thought that one should feel it, and more: as if he knew the reason. Eddie Willers pulled his shoulders straight, in conscientious self-discipline. He had to stop this, he thought; he was beginning to imagine things. Had he always felt it? He was thirty-two years old. He tried to think back. No, he hadn t; but he could not remember when it had started. The feeling came to him suddenly, at random intervals, and now it was coming more often than ever. It s the twilight, he thought; I hate the twilight. The clouds and the shafts of skyscrapers against them were turning brown, like an old painting in oil, the color of a fading masterpiece. Long streaks of grime ran from under the pinnacles down the slender, soot-eaten walls. High on the side of a tower there was a crack in the shape of a motionless lightning, the length of ten stories. A jagged object cut the sky above the roofs; it was half a spire, still holding the glow of the sunset; the gold leaf had long since peeled off the other half. The glow was red and still, like the reflection of a fire: not an active fire, but a dying one which it is too late to stop. No, thought Eddie Willers, there was nothing disturbing in the sight of the city. It looked as it had always looked. He walked on, reminding himself that he was late in returning to the office. He did not like the task which he had to perform on his return, but it had to be done. So he did not attempt to delay it, but made himself walk faster. He turned a corner. In the narrow space between the dark silhouettes of two buildings, as in the crack of a door, he saw the page of a gigantic calendar suspended in the sky. It was the calendar that the mayor of New York had erected last year on the top of a building, so that citizens might tell the day of the month as they told the hours of the day, by glancing up at a public tower. A white rectangle hung over the city, imparting the date to the men in the streets below. In the rusty light of this evening s sunset, the rectangle said: September 2. Eddie Willers looked away. He had never liked the sight of that calendar. It disturbed him, in a manner he could not explain or define. The feeling seemed to blend with his sense of uneasiness; it had the same quality. He thought suddenly that there was some phrase, a kind of quotation, that expressed what the calendar seemed to suggest. But he could not recall it. He walked, groping for a sentence that hung in his mind as an empty shape. He could neither fill it nor dismiss it. He glanced back. The white rectangle stood above the roofs, saying in immovable finality: September 2. Eddie Willers shifted his glance down to the street, to a vegetable pushcart at the stoop of a brownstone house. He saw a pile of bright gold carrots and the fresh green of onions. He saw a clean white curtain blowing at an open window. He saw a bus turning a corner, expertly steered. He wondered why he felt reassured and then, why he felt the sudden, inexplicable wish that these things were not left in the open, unprotected against the empty space above. When he came to Fifth Avenue, he kept his eyes on the windows of the stores he passed. There was nothing he needed or wished to buy; but he liked to see the display of goods, any goods, objects made by men, to be used by men. He enjoyed the sight of a prosperous street; not more than every fourth one of the stores was out of business, its windows dark and empty. He did not know why he suddenly thought of the oak tree. Nothing had recalled it. But he thought of it and of his childhood summers on the Taggart estate. He had spent most of his childhood with the Taggart children, and now he worked for them, as his father and grandfather had worked for their father and grandfather. The great oak tree had stood on a hill over the Hudson, in a lonely spot on the Taggart estate. Eddie Willers, aged seven, liked to come and look at that tree. It had stood there for hundreds of years, and he thought it would always stand there. Its roots clutched the hill like a fist with fingers sunk into the soil, and he thought that if a giant were to seize it by the top, he would not be able to uproot it, but would swing the hill and the whole of the earth with it, like a ball at the end of a string. He felt safe in the oak tree s presence; it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten; it was his greatest symbol of strength. One night, lightning struck the oak tree. Eddie saw it the next morning. It lay broken in half, and he looked into its trunk as into the mouth of a black tunnel. The trunk was only an empty shell; its heart had rotted away long ago; there was nothing inside just a thin gray dust that was being dispersed by the whim of the faintest wind. The living power had gone, and the shape it left had not been able to stand without it. Years later, he heard it said that children should be protected from shock, from their first knowledge of death, pain or fear. But these had never scarred him; his shock came when he stood very quietly, looking into the black hole of the trunk. It was an immense betrayal the more terrible because he could not grasp what it was that had been betrayed. It was not himself, he knew, nor his trust; it was something else. He stood there for a while, making no sound, then he walked back to the house. He never spoke about it to anyone, then or since. Eddie Willers shook his head, as the screech of a rusty mechanism changing a traffic light stopped him on the edge of a curb. He felt anger at himself. There was no reason that he had to remember the oak tree tonight. It meant nothing to him any longer, only a faint tinge of sadness and somewhere within him, a drop of pain moving briefly and vanishing, like a raindrop on the glass of a window, its course in the shape of a question mark. He wanted no sadness attached to his childhood; he loved its memories: any day of it he remembered now seemed flooded by a still, brilliant sunlight. It seemed to him as if a few rays from it reached into his present: not rays, more like pinpoint spotlights that gave an occasional moment s glitter to his job, to his lonely apartment, to the quiet, scrupulous progression of his existence. He thought of a summer day when he was ten years old. That day, in a clearing of the woods, the one precious companion of his childhood told him what they would do when they grew up. The words were harsh and glowing, like the sunlight. He listened in admiration and in wonder. When he was asked what he would want to do, he answered at once, Whatever is right, and added, You ought to do something great. I mean, the two of us together. What? she asked. He said, I don t know. That s what we ought to find out. Not just what you said. Not just business and earning a living. Things like winning battles, or saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains. What for? she asked. He said, The minister said last Sunday that we must always reach for the best within us. What do you suppose is the best within us? I don t know. We ll have to find out. She did not answer; she was looking away, up the railroad track. Eddie Willers smiled. He had said, Whatever is right, twenty-two years ago. He had kept that statement unchallenged ever since; the other questions had faded in his mind; he had been too busy to ask them. But he still thought it self-evident that one had to do what was right; he had never learned how people could want to do otherwise; he had learned only that they did. It still seemed simple and incomprehensible to him: simple that things should be right, and incomprehensible that they weren t. He knew that they weren t. He thought of that, as he turned a corner and came to the great building of Taggart Transcontinental. The building stood over the street as its tallest and proudest structure. Eddie Willers always smiled at his first sight of it. Its long bands of windows were unbroken, in contrast to those of its neighbors. Its rising lines cut the sky, with no crumbling corners or worn edges. It seemed to stand above the years, untouched. It would always stand there, thought Eddie Willers. Whenever he entered the Taggart Building, he felt relief and a sense of security. This was a place of competence and power. The floors of its hallways were mirrors made of marble. The frosted rectangles of its electric fixtures were chips of solid light. Behind sheets of glass, rows of girls sat at typewriters,

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Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand: 9780451191144: Amazon.com: Books

Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011) – IMDb

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It was great to be alive, once, but the world was perishing. Factories were shutting down, transportation was grinding to a halt, granaries were empty--and key people who had once kept it running were disappearing all over the country. As the lights winked out and the cities went cold, nothing was left to anyone but misery. No one knew how to stop it, no one understood why it was happening - except one woman, the operating executive of a once mighty transcontinental railroad, who suspects the answer may rest with a remarkable invention and the man who created it - a man who once said he would stop the motor of the world. Everything now depends on finding him and discovering the answer to the question on the lips of everyone as they whisper it in fear: Who *is* John Galt? Written byRobb

Taglines:Who is John Galt?

Budget:$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA: $1,686,347,17 April 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA: $4,752,353

Runtime: 97 min

Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1

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Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011) - IMDb


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