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Category Archives: Atlas Shrugged
Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:41 pm
Dating site OkCupid made the unusual move of announcing that it had given a single member a “lifetime” ban on Thursdayand naming himin order to make a point.
“We were alerted that white supremacist Chris Cantwell was on OkCupid,” the company wrote at its official Twitter account on Thursday. “Within 10 minutes, we banned him for life.”
Cantwell was the subject of a Vice documentary about the white-supremacist Unite The Right marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the past weekend, where he offered numerous racist and threatening comments while acting as a march organizer and riding in a car alongside former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. (“We’re not non-violent,” Cantwelloffered at one point in the documentary. “We’ll fucking kill these people if we fucking have to.”)
In announcing this ban,OKC alsoasked its users to be vigilant about any other active members of hate groups found on the site. “If any OkCupid members come across people involved in hate groups, please report it immediately,” the company wrote on its Twitter page. The tweet linked to the company’s official “feedback” site.
On OkCupid, Cantwell wentby the handle “ItsChris603” where he described himself as “a professional podcaster and writer specializing in controversial political satire” who specifically sought only”white” women. His dating profile did not contain statements anywhere near as sensational as those in the Vice documentary, though in a section titled,”I spend a lot of time thinking about,” Cantwell wrotethe following: “Getting married, and how to stop the Democrat party from destroying Western Civilization.” (A 2015 archiveof his dating profile is different, as it containsa shout-out to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and a declaration that “I will make you laugh at things you might feel guilty laughing about, which is my favorite kind of laughter.”)
Cantwell’s OkCupid profiles look remarkably different fromonewritten by theSouthern Poverty Law Center, which describes him as “an unapologetic fascist who spews white nationalist propaganda with a libertarian spin” (and with many citations).
OkCupid’s media relations team actively approached news outlets at the moment the company announced the ban, including Gizmodo, whichpublished a statement from OKCupid CEOElie Seidma: “We make a lot of decisions every day that are tough. Banning Christopher Cantwell was not one of them.”
In that same report, Gizmodo went to the trouble of rifling through Cantwell’s Internet history to find his own “dating advice for the ladies” post that revolved around his use of OkCupid; this post included a “tip” to women that simply said, “In a photo of you and a friend, I assume you are the ugly one.” Cantwell has since deleted that and similarposts from his personal site.
Posted: at 6:41 pm
Heather Yakin Times Herald-Record @HeatherYakin845
The chaos and horror that erupted in Charlottesville, Va., are not, I fear, a passing thing.
These attitudes of hate, the desire of a certain sort of white person to beat down or extinguish those whom they deem less human, less worthy, have never really gone away.
The hate has been underground, ashamed. In private quarters, they complained about political correctness and how those others just dont know their rightful place. They complained about change, about progress, about their opposition to the rights and beliefs of others.
They refer to us as animals and parasites, as objects and property and above all as inferiors. They worship the false idols of the Confederacy, venerating a flag at its heart that signifies treason.
This culminated Saturday in an act of terror, a car driven into a crowd by a dogmatist, no different than the vile dogmatists who have driven into other crowds in other places in the name of other gods or ideologies.
Our president, two days later: Racism is evil. Thanks. (And then Tuesday he took that back.)
There is bad behavior, lots of it, on both sides. Brawls have broken out at other rallies. These antifa so-called activists are basically vandals looking for an excuse to break things. Smoke bombs and spray-painted slogans do nothing to change minds.
But if you see moral equivalence between these pseudo-anarchist punks who want to punch or pepper-spray people with whom they disagree and Nazis or the KKK, you’ve got problems.
The left needs to deal with its idiots. The right needs to take a long look at its allies, and make a decision. Real conservatives need to take back their movement. Man, do I miss real conservatives.
On Saturday, neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched in the streets of Charlottesville, ostensibly in defense of some Confederate monuments the city wants to remove.
Theyre provocateurs, proudly proclaiming what they view as their own innate superiority. In photos of these angry young men, they look like nothing so much as earnest young converts to objectivism, guys who read “Atlas Shrugged” or “The Fountainhead” and have not yet realized that Ayn Rand was a hypocrite and not a particularly good writer. Theyve immersed themselves in a virtual echo chamber where their every transgressive idea is applauded and reinforced.
Their online mantras of fake news and snowflake and go back to your safe space are kindergarten playground taunts. No, I take that back. In kindergarten, the teacher would have scolded such childishness.
The left needs to remember that these alt-right guys have a right to their speech, however vile it is, under the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court has upheld only the narrowest of exceptions to the First Amendment, and awful, pseudo-intellectual stupidity is not one of them.
Cut off one groups speech rights, and yours could be next. Fight bad ideas with better ideas.
Even white supremacists and the KKK and their sympathizers have a right to speak without government interference. Consider it a form of truth in advertising, with their terrible beliefs revealed by the light. Let decent people everywhere mock and scorn them for their awful speech, and help the marketplace of ideas to relegate their bigotry to museum shelves, as a cautionary tale.
Let us never forget the lessons of the past.
On Twitter @HeatherYakin845
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Cars of the future to be made of wood? THIS peek into future will leave you wonder-struck – Financial Express
Posted: at 6:41 pm
Rearden metal becomes something of a byword for revolution in manufacturing in the course of the novel.
One of the plot points in Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged is the invention of an alloy far stronger, durable and lighter than steel called Rearden metal, named after Hank Rearden, the fictional industrialist who invents it in the novel. Rearden metal becomes something of a byword for a revolution in manufacturing in the course of the novel. Atlas Shrugged came out in 1957, and it spoke of a material that was to steel what steel was to iron. Six decades hence, steel still remains supreme. But the hunt for a substitute has, depending on end-use, variously thrown up plastic, aluminium, titanium, carbon fibre and whatnot. An unlikely candidate is a wood, or more specifically, nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC)nanofibres made of wood pulp. Wood, you would think, is lighter yes, but what about strength? Researchers at Kyoto University and auto-parts suppliers to Japanese car-makers like Toyota are betting their top yen on cellulose nanofibers to substitute steel, and even the popular carbon-fibre, in the decades to come. They say, as per a Reuters report, that it is one-fifth weight of steel and can be upto five times stronger.
Making NCC starts with the purification of wood. Substances such as lignin, a phenolic polymer that lends wood its rigidity, and hemicellulose, amorphous, randomly arranged heteroplymers that have little strength, are removed. The remainder is pulped and hydrolysed in acid to remove any remaining impurities. After the acid treatment, it is concentrated into a thick paste that can be used to laminate surfaces or is processed into nanofibril strands. The latter are hard, dense and hardy, but can be moulded into different shapes.
NCC has been widely used in the pastby Pioneer Electronics, the Japanese company, to make flexible electronic items, by IBM to make computer parts and by the US army to make lightweight body armour and ballistic glass, among others. The Kyoto University researchers, Denso Corp. (Toyotas largest supplier) and DaikyoNishikawa Corp are melding NCC with plastic to make a material that can some day be used to make entire cars. At the moment, though, the research is focussed on developing a car by 2020 that has cellulose-nanofibre parts.
The focus on lightweight cars stems from the push for electric cars worldwide. Given these will need to have heavier than conventional batteries, the car weight goes up significantly. A lighter car is double-blessingit balances out the weight of the batteries while a lighter car itself will need fewer such batteries to be powered. But, the wunder material cellulose nanofibre is turning out to be, it still is not cost competitive against carbon-fibre. Scientists, though, are optimistic. Plant wastebranches and even twigscould one day be used to make cellulose nanofribres and probably even waste paper. That may bring costs down.
Posted: August 13, 2017 at 2:39 am
Heavy equipment lies idle waiting for construction of a residential building to begin on Jan 27 in Brooklyn, New York.
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
In the early years of the Obama administration, as new taxes on upper-income Americans were enacted as part of Obamacare and the expiry of the Bush tax cut loomed, it was common to hear libertarian types warn that businesspeople and entrepreneurs might just Go Galt. That is to say, if they determined that losing 50 cents of every dollar in taxation wasnt worth their trouble, theyd take a cue from the hero of Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged,fold up their businesses, and quit work altogether. Check out this March 2009 Michelle Malkin column for an exegesis of this, um, idea. Enough, she wrote. While they take to the streets politically, untold numbers of Americas wealth producers are going on strike financially.
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The logic of protesting taxes on income above a certain threshold by forgoing all incomeincluding the income taxed at much higher ratesalways escaped me. But people dont always behave in a rational manner, and they continually do have to weigh the utility of working for what will not be a satisfactory return against the free time or leisure they might enjoy from not working at all. Anyway, the movement fared about as well as the widely panned, hardly seen 2011 film adaptation of Rands book.
Fast-forward eight years, and it seems that a different group of people may be deciding to Go Galt: workers.
Earlier this week, the Department of Labor released the latest Job Opening and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) report, which tallies job openings, hires, and quits. In June, the number of open positions spiked to 6.2 million, up 461,000 from May. Thats slightly more than the entire population of Missouri. Its a record, and its up 11 percent from June 2016.
There are plenty of explanations for the seeming shortage of workers. Baby boomers are exiting the workforce. Many of the undocumented immigrants who fill low-paying service jobs have left the country or have been deported. The economy has been expanding for more than eight years, and the unemployment rate is 4.3 percent. Which means many of the people who can hold down jobsor want to hold down jobsalready have them. In some areas, the need to pass drug tests is disqualifying individuals from the workforce. And in some instances, there just arent enough people with the relevant skills to fill the openings.
But as readers of this column have heard me say before, one of the bigperhaps the biggestproblem in the labor market today is that employers arent willing to pay people enough to fill their open positions. And this is happening even as they must fill a record number of openings. Hiring today means you have to convince someone to leave their job, leave school, or get off the couch. And if the incentive isnt sufficiently large, it is hard to find a new employee.
Now, there are plenty of people without jobs in the U.S., and there are plenty of people who are working part-time but would prefer to work full-time. But the labor market isnt always particularly efficient. People dont always live near where the jobs are plentiful. And even if they do, they may not be willing to do the job at the going rate. Some number of people are essentially telling employers to take their crappy jobs with their crappy wages and shove it.
And so crops are rotting in the fields in Florida and California because farmers cant find people to pick them. (Another way to think about this is that farmers were willing to invest the money to buy seeds, plow the fields, plant the crops, buy water and pesticidesbut arent willing to bring the stuff they grow to market.) Roofers have been forgoing taking on new jobs because they cant hire people to schlep the shingles. Bed and breakfasts and restaurants in Maine were slow to open or have operated with reduced hours this year because they cant find housekeepers and waiters.
Why would anyone take these low paying jobs when you can make $18,974 in just 2 hours a week on the internet? That’s just crazy. More…
Its not just happening in rural areas. At the end of June, there were 225,000 open positions in construction, up 31 percent from 171,000 in June 2016; 723,000 open positions in accommodations and food services (hotels and restaurants), up 12 percent from June 2016, and more than 1 million in trade, transportation, and utilities (which includes retail).
When you operate in a market, you have to keep raising your price until someone is willing to accept your bid. But for the last several years, American employers have steadfastly refused to raise wages. And now their stinginess is catching up with them. In many instances, employers simply arent offering sufficient incentives for people to apply for their jobs, show up to interviews, accept their offers, or show up to work. Some number of people would prefer the low level of income they have, or no income at all, to doing the work on offer at the wages listed.As Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari told a group of businesspeople earlier this week, If youre not raising wages, then it just sounds like whining.
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Posted: at 2:39 am
The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 11
As the construction of his house proceeds, Austen Heller finds that hes becoming fast friends with Howard Roark:
Within a week, Heller knew that he had found the best friend he would ever have; and he knew that the friendship came from Roarks fundamental indifference. In the deeper reality of Roarks existence there was no consciousness of Heller, no need for Heller, no appeal, no demand.
That is not what friendship means.
If youre indifferent to someones presence or absence, dont need them, dont care about them, and in fact arent even really conscious of their existence, then whatever you are to them, youre not their friend. Friendship and indifference are antonyms, however much this book might insist otherwise.
Were told that Heller appreciates it when Roark praises one of his articles the strangely clean joy of a sanction that was neither a bribe nor alms but thats not friendship, that just means that they agree on some aspects of their political ideology. Friendship means that you enjoy a persons company and desire to spend time with them.
Granted, Rand was fuzzy on the difference. She assumed that people who have one thing in common would automatically and naturally agree about everything else too. Because Heller and Roark have the same sense of aesthetics that made Heller prefer Roarks modernist design, it was inevitable that he and Roark would also have the same political leanings. The flip side of this is how all the evil socialists and conformists in the novel like Greek and Roman-inspired houses.
We saw this facet of Rands worldview more jarringly, in Atlas Shrugged, in the secret valley of Galts Gulch. Its populated by the fiercest individualists and most ruthless take-no-prisoners businessmen in the world all of whom, once theyre living in the same place, start behaving with the instinctive unanimity of a school of fish.
Heller asks Roark what it is about this house that makes him like it so much:
A house can have integrity, just like a person, said Roark, and just as seldom.
In what way?
Well, look at it. Every piece of it is there because the house needs it and for no other reason. You see it from here as it is inside. The rooms in which youll live made the shape. The relation of masses was determined by the distribution of space within Your own eyes go through a structural process when you look at the house, you can follow each step, you see it rise, you know what made it and why it stands. But youve seen buildings with columns that support nothing, with purposeless cornices, with pilasters, moldings, false arches, false windows. Youve seen buildings that look as if they contained a single large hall, they have solid columns and single, solid windows six floors high. But you enter and find six stories inside Do you understand the difference? Your house is made by its own needs. Those others are made by the need to impress. The determining motive of your house is in the house. The determining motive of the others is in the audience.
Granted, I share Roarks distaste for houses that are built as a boast. But the distinction between my houses, which have integrity and those other guys houses, which were made to impress the yokels isnt as sharp as he thinks.
Its not as if a house that doesnt have fake columns cant also be braggy. There can be an implied attempt to impress in the sheer size of the house, or if its in a highly desirable location, or if rare and expensive materials are used to build it. And Roark aspires to build skyscrapers; isnt that an inherently boastful type of structure, regardless of how much ornamentation it has?
And, incidentally, thank you for all the thought you seem to have taken about my comfort. There are so many things I notice that had never occurred to me before, but youve planned them as if you knew all my needs. For instance, my study is the room Ill need most and youve given it the dominant spot and, incidentally, I see where youve made it the dominant mass from the outside, too. And then the way it connects with the library, and the living room well out of my way, and the guest rooms where I wont hear too much of them and all that. You were very considerate of me.
Although The Fountainhead is meant to be a work of dramatic realism, with none of the crazy super-science shenanigans of Atlas Shrugged, this is the part where my suspension of disbelief ran aground on the rocks and sank. Even by Ayn Rand standards, I just flatly refuse to believe this.
Howard Roark is good at architecture, but bad at understanding people. He knows that about himself; he says in chapter 13 that he cant handle dealing with people, that he was born without the sense that makes it possible for him to understand others.
But this bears directly on his ability to build houses! Houses, after all, are for people. If you dont understand what people want and why, how could you possibly design a house that meets their needs?
For example, Roark made Hellers study the dominant room because Heller is an author who spends most of his time there. But how would you know that unless you knew something about Heller as a person unless you could picture his typical day?
The list goes on. To know whether a house should have big open spaces and tall picture windows, youd need to know whether its owner enjoys the world and wants to feel connected to nature, or whether they appreciate privacy and a sense of coziness. To know whether a house should have narrow spiral stairways or broad ramps, youd want to know whether the owner had mobility problems. To know whether a row of townhouses need more sound baffles and insulation in the shared walls, you have to understand peoples concerns about noise.
You may have heard of a manifesto written by a bigoted Google engineer who questioned the necessity of employing women (because men like writing code and building stuff, which is what really matters, whereas women have a stronger interest in people rather than things).
Yonatan Zungers response is dead-on, and its relevant here too. Swap houses for devices, and you see the problem with what Rand is claiming:
Engineering is not the art of building devices; its the art of fixing problems. Devices are a means, not an end. Fixing problems means first of all understanding them and since the whole purpose of the things we do is to fix problems in the outside world, problems involving people, that means that understanding people, and the ways in which they will interact with your system, is fundamental to every step of building a system.
The architect Le Corbusier called houses machines for living in. To build a house that solves peoples problems (or answers their needs, if you prefer), you need to know what those problems are; and to understand peoples problems, you need to understand people. Theres just no getting around this.
An architect who doesnt understand people and their needs is likely to build white-elephant houses that might look impressive, but are uncomfortable, drafty, make poor use of space, or are otherwise unpleasant to live in. But not in this novel. In Ayn Rands imagination, you just have to sit and think about the house, and a design emerges thats magically perfect, somehow, for the person who intends to live there.
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Posted: August 8, 2017 at 4:36 am
Who is The Question?
Created in the now-defunct Charlton-verse in 1967 before being absorbed into DC in 1983, the character has been around for the past 50 years, but his status in the overall DC universe remains, well, a big question mark.
Not good enough to get a permanent slot in the Justice League (though he did gain membership in the animated Justice League United series), and nowhere great enough to even be considered for a cinematic version, The Question has, nevertheless, remained one of the more enigmatic and mysterious characters in the DC universe.
What is it about The Question that has made him such a cult figure despite his relative obscurity? Surely there is a niche in which this character with the coolest calling card ever can reside?
Here are the answers to some of the more pressing questions concerning the character.
The Question was created by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko for Charlton Comics Blue Beetle (1967) series, which came four years after Spideys first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15.
Unlike Spidey, however, Charles Victor Szasz aka Victor Vic Sage doesnt have any powers. Instead, he has a highly inquisitive mind and a propensity for violence which, when you put it that way, doesnt really seem very superhero-like.
Vic Sage didnt have any powers. Instead, he had a highly inquisitive mind and a propensity for violence.
Using Russian-American novelist-philosopher Ayn Rands views of objectivism as a focal point, Ditkos original version of the Question leans towards the right of the political spectrum and possesses a stark sense of morality.
(Objectivism is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute to quote from Rands Atlas Shrugged.)
When DC took Charltons characters into its fold, The Question was reintroduced in the pages of Blue Beetle #4 and subsequently got his own regular series, created by none other than the legendary Denny ONeil.
Given carte blanche to redefine The Question, ONeil tested new ground by shifting the character from being an objectivist to adopting a more Zen-like belief system, tackling hard-hitting issues such as politics, poverty, feminism, religion, and racism.
While his origins and subsequent reinvention by ONeil sounds pretty heavy for a comic book character, The Question isnt exactly a superhero in the first place.
Instead, Vic Sage is a television investigative journalist who goes the extra mile by actually solving crimes with his alter-crime-fighting-ego as The Question.
In his original form, Vic Sage was a television investigative journalist, who is also the vigilante known as The Question.
He does have one of the most unique stylish costumes and calling cards in comics, though. Often seen wearing a (usually blue) suit and tie with a long trench coat and matching fedora, the most unique part of his appearance is his lack of a face.
The Question wears a special mask made from Pseudoderm (the same material that gives the Elongated Man his powers) that he keeps in his belt buckle. The mask makes him look faceless and needs to be bonded onto his face with a gas that also alters his hair and fabric colour.
The Question has a special mask that makes him look faceless and needs to be bonded by a gas that also alters his hair and fabric colour.
He also has a blank calling card that emits a smoky question mark upon being touched.
Frankly, the idea of a masked vigilante detective solving crimes outside the law makes The Question sound like a B-grade Batman. While The Question has superior analytical skills and adequate crime fighting skills, he lacks the financial resources and the connections that Batmans Bruce Wayne has.
Another major difference between The Question and Batman is that the former tends to cross the line, Punisher-style, when questioning or dealing with criminals.
Ironically, it is the Dark Knight who gets him to upgrade his abilities, after a near-death encounter with Lady Shiva and her posse (in 1987s The Question #1).
As part of ONeils major overhaul of the character, The Question was beaten to a pulp and thrown into a river to die. But Shiva had a change of heart and Vic Sage did not end up as fish food. Instead, he lives to hear a stern lecture from the Dark Knight, which leads him to subsequently learn kung fu from the infamous Richard Dragon.
Subsequent upgrades to The Questions abilities include moving from being philosophical to acquiring shamanism techniques, to feeling the ground he operates on, ie Hub City.
In the Himalayan city of Nanda Parbat dead as a doornail!
In the 52 post-Infinite Crisis limited series in 2007, The Question headlined a sub-story where he and former Gotham City Police Department (GCPD) detective Renee Montoya teamed up for a series of adventures. It turned out that Sage was suffering from lung cancer and wasnt looking for a sidekick or partner at all, but rather, successor.
Renee Montoya made her comeback as The Question in Convergence, in which she teamed up with Batwoman and Huntress.
The 20+ issues he shared with Montoya stands out as one of his defining moments, as it really increased interest in the man behind the faceless mask. It also built the foundation for Montoya to assume the mantle and provided more granularity to a character closely connected to the GCPD and fellow detective Harvey Bullock.
Compared to his Ditko-roots, the ONeil days were certainly several notches more interesting both in depth and dimension. However, it was still not good enough to captivate readers minds in the 1980s or even today.
However, a winning blueprint for reinventing The Question exists in the form of Roscharch, Alan Moores protagonist from the Watchmen series.
Initially, Moore wanted to use the Charlton characters for Watchmen but was overruled by DC as he intended to kill off some of them, which didnt jive with DCs plans for its then recent acquisition.
Instead, Moore (and Dave Gibbons) created Roscharch based on The Question and the end result was an instant success!
Which brings us to another, er, question would The Question be an instant success if he were rebranded as Roscharch today? With the ongoing infusion of Watchmen elements into the DC-verse, there are valid reasons to do so, but it would come at the expense of tarnishing Roscharchs contributions to the epic Watchmen series.
Risking Watchmen to promote The Question? It just aint worth it!
To bring this debate to a close: ONeil did do a homage-within-a-homage (The Question #17), where Vic Sage actually reads Watchmen and wonders about being Roscharch but concludes that their methods are just too different.
Despite Vic Sages death in the 52 event, he was later resurrected as a Black Lantern during the Blackest Night event and on an alternate version of Earth. Later, in the 2011-2015 New 52 rebranding exercise, DC tried to ret-con him as one of the Trinity of Sin (together with Pandora and The Phantom Stranger), giving him a supernatural background. But that failed miserably he made his final appearance in Trinity Of Sin #6 and is never seen again.
Frankly, these feeble attempts only serve to soil the mans legacy, especially after his elegant exit in 52.
Reviving Vic Sage aside, theres also the presence of Renee Montoyas Question to contend with. While shes still far from an A-lister, the Montoya version of The Question has, nevertheless, held her own with what limited presence shes had. Having been completely dropped in the New 52, she made her comeback in Convergence with her own limited tie-in series Convergence: The Question in which she teams up with Batwoman and Huntress.
With her established links to the GCPD, Gotham City, and Batwoman, we think it would be better if DC just let Sage stay dead and allow Montoya to embark on an uninterrupted journey to mould her Question persona. But will she ever get her chance to shine? That, my friends, is the million dollar question.
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Posted: August 6, 2017 at 3:32 am
By Chris Bavender
Black Dog Books will host a book signing from 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 12 with Michael Stafford, author of Between the Walls of Time. The historical fiction centers on Cyrus Kohler, who starts an organization called The Front that one day becomes a major third political party in America.
They call themselves The Unbought and have no PACs or lobbyists. Everyone joins for $1, said Stafford, a Hendricks County resident. By books end, The Front has 32 million members. Surrounding the main plot are an ongoing number of other events that make the story come alive.
Stafford spent more than five years working on the 104-chapter book. It is divided into three books within the main book. It is the third full-length novel he has written and the first he has published.
The title came from my understanding of our evolutionary spot in this sea of time we now find ourselves in on Earth. We are a poorly evolved species that still believes violence is a solution to social problems, he said. We live in a time that has not yet committed to peace. We worship unseen gods as all our predecessors have done before us.
Between the Walls of Time was released June 15 by Grey Swan Press, the same publisher of Oprah Winfreys books. Stafford was introduced to the publishing group run by Jim Kelley and his daughter, Jocelyn who worked for Winfrey during her book club years by online blogger Jenn Mattern.
Grey Swan publishes three to four novels yearly and does a wonderful job with emerging writers, Stafford said. Everyone behind the book feels this is a worthy successor to powerful books about our government and society such as Brave New World and Atlas Shrugged. Only time will tell, but our hopes are high. It is quite a story.
Response to the book has been overwhelmingly positive, Stafford said.
I want readers to remember the characters who lead this drama and what they stand for. I want readers to come face-to-face with the reality of social congruence and the Doctrine of Limited Rights. I want people to expand their mental universe, to think bigger about what is possible, he said. I want everyone who reads this book to decide for themselves if The Front, a more empirical, science-based organization, is the way to our future. It would be great for the planet if they acted on their decisions.
Between the Walls of Time is available at area bookstores, Amazon, abebooks.com, or Staffords website, johnmichaelstafford.com.
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Posted: August 4, 2017 at 1:40 pm
The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 11
Roark is on the job site in Connecticut, where his vision for Austen Hellers house is taking shape. He doesnt have anything important to do there, he just wants to see the construction in progress:
Roark walked up the path to the top of the cliff where the steel hulk of the Heller house rose into a blue sky. The skeleton was up and the concrete was being poured; the great mats of the terraces hung over the silver sheet of water quivering far below; plumbers and electricians had started laying their conduits.
As Ive mentioned in the previous two posts, Rand handwaves away the realistic obstacles that Roark would be bound to face by going into business for himself. But she always takes the time to insert some unrealistic obstacles, just so we see how unfairly the world treats her hero. In this case, it was finding a construction firm willing to take his money:
He had had trouble in finding a contractor to erect the house. Several of the better firms had refused the commission. We dont do that kinda stuff. One contractor had looked at the plans briefly and thrown them aside, declaring with finality: It wont stand.
It will, said Roark. The contractor drawled indifferently. Yeah? And who are you to tell me, Mister?
He had found a small firm that needed the work and undertook it, charging more than the job warranted on the ground of the chance they were taking with a queer experiment.
Charging more for a job that required different building techniques from the ones theyre familiar with that would be understandable. But from the text, were led to believe that contractors flat-out refused Roarks commission because they disliked the aesthetics of it (We dont do that kinda stuff).
Theres just one objection that makes sense, and thats the firm that thinks Roarks design wont stand up. Although Im sure it was unintentional, this is one way in which The Fountainhead closely echoes real life.
Ive said that all the major characters in this book were based on real people. Howard Roarks inspiration was Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous 20th-century American architect, whom Roark echoes both in his modernist aesthetic and his reputation for arrogance and a short-fuse temper.
You probably know Wrights most famous house, Fallingwater, which was built for the department-store tycoon Edgar Kaufmann. Its been suggested that it was Rands model for the Heller house, since her description bears some similarities to the real building, especially the cantilevered balconies jutting dramatically out over the water.
However, impressive though the balconies are, the contractors that Wright hired to build Fallingwater had doubts about the soundness of his design from the beginning. A structural engineering firm pointed out that the stress on the material was pushing the margin of safety and suggested that extra columns be added to prop the balconies up and keep them from collapsing.
Wright, taking a very Howard Roark-like attitude toward criticism, furiously rejected the suggestion and threatened to quit if his design wasnt followed to the letter:
A note Wright penned to his patron suggests he cowed him: I dont know what kind of architect you are familiar with but it apparently isnt the kind I think I am. You seem not to know how to treat a decent one. I have put so much more into this house than you or any other client has a right to expect that if I havent your confidence to hell with the whole thing. (source)
Problem is, the critics were right. Without consulting Wright, the contractors quietly doubled the amount of reinforcing steel, but even that wasnt enough. As soon as the scaffolding was removed, the balconies began to sag. Beautiful though it might be, Fallingwater was in serious danger of collapsing. Over the years, its successive owners have had to spend millions of dollars bracing and reinforcing it.
Several of Wrights other houses, such as the Pope-Leighey House in Alexandria, Virginia, have also required significant structural repairs. As innovative as his designs were, Wright has acquired a reputation as a bad structural engineer who thought he was a good one.
Meanwhile, in the literary world where physics takes a back seat, Roark is enjoying himself to the point that hes, well, groping the house:
There were moments when something rose within him, not a thought nor a feeling, but a wave of some physical violence, and then he wanted to stop, to lean back, to feel the reality of his person heightened by the frame of steel that rose dimly about the bright, outstanding existence of his body as its center. He did not stop. He went on calmly. But his hands betrayed what he wanted to hide. His hands reached out, ran slowly down the beams and joints. The workers in the house had noticed it. They said: That guys in love with the thing. He cant keep his hands off.
I mean, loving your designs is one thing. But Roark seems to be in love with his designs?
Is it possible this goes deeper than mere aesthetic appreciation? It could be that Roark, though hes only dimly aware of it, is one of the people who form romantic relationships with architecture, like the woman who married the Eiffel Tower. It would explain a lot.
Its not enough for Rand that Roark enjoys his work. As in Atlas Shrugged, she believes that work should be the only genuine source of meaning or purpose in life. Id agree that there are fortunate individuals for whom thats true, but she insists that it should be true for everyone. And people who dont derive fulfillment from their day job or, God forbid, desire leisure time are worthless cattle in her eyes:
Roark stood on the cliff, by the structure, and looked at the countryside, at the long, gray ribbon of the road twisting past along the shore. An open car drove by, fleeing into the country. The car was overfilled with people bound for a picnic. There was a jumble of bright sweaters, and scarves fluttering in the wind; a jumble of voices shrieking without purpose over the roar of the motor, and overstressed hiccoughs of laughter; a girl sat sidewise, her legs flung over the side of the car; she wore a mans straw hat slipping down to her nose and she yanked savagely at the strings of a ukulele, ejecting raucous sounds, yelling Hey! These people were enjoying a day of their existence; they were shrieking to the sky their release from the work and the burdens of the days behind them; they had worked and carried the burdens in order to reach a goal and this was the goal.
He looked at the car as it streaked past. He thought that there was a difference, some important difference, between the consciousness of this day in him and in them. He thought that he should try to grasp it. But he forgot. He was looking at a truck panting up the hill, loaded with a glittering mound of cut granite.
Yeah! Take that, you lazy Millennials!
The difference between Roark and these young people seems to lie mostly in the pejorative language Rand uses to describe them: voices shrieking without purpose, overstressed laughter, yanked savagely, raucous sounds. If you strip that away, all shes describing is a young group of friends going to a picnic in the countryside, singing and playing music along the road. Doesnt sound so bad to me.
I mean, two can play at this game. If the young people in the car glanced in Roarks direction, what must they have thought of him?
It was a beautiful summer Saturday in the Connecticut countryside, and the friends were out for a drive, the wind whipping at their hair, a picnic basket of wine, cheese and French bread at their feet, heading for their favorite spot to sing songs in the grass, play catch in the shade of the trees and watch the fireflies come out as afternoon cooled into evening.
As they sped on down the road, they passed a construction site on the cliffside, a jagged skeleton of cold steel beams and granite blocks. Standing in the midst of it was a grim, joyless man, looking out at the road with a face empty of expression. As soon as they saw him, they could tell that he was spending his weekend enveloped in that choking cloud of grit, oil and smoke because he had no friends, no family and no one who loved him, and it was either that or sit in his unlit office paging through dusty blueprints.
The man glanced at them, and for a second, his lip curled in an expression of unconscious contempt, his hatred for pleasure plain on his face. Then he turned back to the construction, reached out and began lasciviously stroking the dirty steel, staring at the welders and carpenters with a flat, dead-eyed stare of lust.
Image credit: Esther Westerveld, released under CC BY 2.0 license
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Posted: at 1:40 pm
Its the first day of August, and it rained for 30 seconds in L.A., which means were stocking up on canned goods and putting chains on our tires.
Hello from Los Angeles, where were hoping to spot Sean Hannity at the Polo Lounge, pulling out our dog-eared copies of The Glass Castle, and welcoming Carol Burnett back to the tube.
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Welcome to the Hollywood elite, Sean Hannity! On Tuesday nights episode of Hannity, the conservative Fox News host will premiere a trailer for a new film hes executive producing, the faith-based drama Let There Be Light, directed by and starring Kevin Sorbo, per Varietys Dave McNary. The movie, about an atheist who converts to Christianity after a near-death experience, will also star Travis Tritt and Dionne Warwick. Though he regularly rails against liberal Hollywood, Hannity has said hes a big film fan himself, citing Gladiator, Braveheart, and The Passion of the Christ as personal faves. Sorbo is sort of the Tom Cruise of the faith-based genrehis 2014 movie Gods Not Dead grossed a whopping $60 million domestically. Working together, Hannity has said he hopes theyll fill a void in the marketplace. Liberal Hollywood has increasingly moved the bar, making simple and honest films with solid faith and family values harder to find, Hannity said. Let There Be Light will arrive in theaters October 27, courtesy of Atlas Distribution, a company run by John Aglialoro, the former Cybex C.E.O. who bankrolled and distributed the Atlas Shrugged movies. No word yet on whether Hannity will use his pull with the Trump administration to orchestrate the ultimate marketing event for this projecta White House screening.
By Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Redux.
VF.coms Hillary Busis e-mails:
Producer Gil Netter gave Jeannette Walls a warning before she sat down to watch an adaptation of her best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle: He said, People never like movies about themselves. Its just too weird to see your life on screen, Walls told VF.com contributor Christine Champagne. Luckily for both him and Walls, Netter was wrong. Here, Walls opens up about the strange, emotional experience of watching her difficult childhood brought to life by skilled actors including Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, and Woody Harrelsonand whether her own mother will have a similarly positive experience once she finally sees the movie as well. It might be a little weird for her, Walls says. The book was tough on her. But bless her heartshe said, I dont see it quite the way you did, but thats the way you saw it.
VF.coms Yohana Desta e-mails:
Comedy queen Carol Burnett is ready to grace your TV screen once more. Or your laptop screen. Or your iPhone screen. Wherever you stream Netflix, really. The iconic comedian is starring in a new series for the platform titled A Little Help with Carol Burnett. Per Netflix, the unscripted series will feature celebrity guests and everyday people receiving advice to their real-life problems from the straightest-shooters around: little kids. Sounds like the perfect comedy playground for Burnett, who has spent the last few years turning in guest roles on shows like Hawaii Five-0 and generally reveling in her status as a living legend. The series also further solidifies Netflixs reputation for attracting notable actresses of a certain age, from Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin on Grace and Frankie to Dame Julie Andrewss childrens puppet show Julies Greenroom. Has anyone checked Betty Whites availability?
VF.coms Laura Bradley e-mails:
Monday was not kind to Anthony Scaramucci. In the early afternoon, news broke that the freshly appointed White House communications director had been firedand come nightfall, late-night comedians took turns lampooning the Moochs short-lived tenure. Stephen Colbert and his staff even had time to write a brief, Queen-inspired song to sing as a farewell. Scaramouche might no longer get to do the fandango in the White House, but his tenure was a hell of a ride while it lasted. Now all thats left is for him to sign on to the increasingly plausible Donald Trump-themed season of Dancing with the Stars.
VF.coms Hillary Busis e-mails:
Filmmaker Bryan Fogel set out to make a gonzo documentary about dopingand ended up unearthing the largest, most unbelievable sports scandal in recent memory. The entire saga is captured in Icarus, a Sundance darling that made waves this January when Netflix acquired it for $5 millionone of the highest sums a doc has ever fetched at the festival. We have an exclusive look at a pivotal point in the film, the moment that Dr. Grigory Rodchenkovthe docs central character, and the man who masterminded Russias notorious state-sanctioned doping programrealizes that he may know too much to be able to stay in his home nation. See everything that came before and after when Icarus premieres on Netflix August 4.
Thats the news for this overcast day in L.A. What are you seeing out there? Send tips, comments, and a Carol Burnett Tarzan yell to Rebecca_Keegan@condenast.com. Follow me on Twitter @thatrebecca.
Posted: at 1:40 pm
Stand outside any entrance of Los Angeles’ Central Library, look up, and you see only tall buildings, all of them clearly dating from the mid-20th century and later. 611 Place, Aon Center, the twin towers of City National Plaza, and the Citigroup Center all bear the marks of the late 1960s and 70s; in the 1980s and 90s appeared the Gas Company Tower and, tallest of all, the U.S. Bank Tower, commonly known as the Library Tower. That last gets its nickname not from the presence of public library facilities on any of its 73 floors, but from the source of the air rights literally, the legal right to build upward into the air that allowed it rise to 73 floors in the first place. That skyscraper owes its existence to the library, but the library also owes its existence to that skyscraper.
The Los Angeles Public Library had finally arrived in its own permanent home: not just a building in which to store books, but a temple to knowledge itself.
In this context of utilitarian verticality, an aesthetic common to downtowns across America since the time of postwar urban renewal, the Central Library can look like a relic from an era of altogether different values. But when it first opened in 1926, it looked like an arrival from a future of altogether different values, having taken shape, after several revisions, in a style almost avant-garde in its use of hard geometric edges, raw concrete surfaces, abundant allusions to distant places and times Egypt, Rome, Byzantium, the Islamic world and a philosophical foundation in addition to its concrete one. The Los Angeles Public Library, having had to move from rented space to rented space since its founding in 1872, had finally arrived in its own permanent home: not just a building in which to store books, but a temple to knowledge itself.
Circa 1935 postcard of the Los Angeles Central Library, courtesy of theWerner von Boltenstern Postcard Collection,Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.
The design, both inside and out, makes that purpose explicit. At the top of one staircase a goddess statue has always stood, flanked by a pair of sphinxes and holding open a book whose pages offer a multilingual selection of quotations: the Bible’s In the beginning was the word, Seneca’s Knowledge extends horizons, Keats’ Beauty is truth, truth beauty. Her body bears images of mankind’s progress from East to West: the Egyptian pyramids, the tablet of the Ten Commandments, the Parthenon, Notre Dame, the Liberty Bell, a procession of covered wagons. Her name is Civilization, and her creator is Lee Lawrie, a sculptor best known for the forcefully symbolic works made for some of the grander American buildings of the early 20th century, especially the bronze Atlas seen in front of Manhattans Rockefeller Center (and on certain editions of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged).
Lawrie came as something of a package deal with Bertram Goodhue, the New York architect hired to design the Central Library. They’d previously worked together on projects like St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York, chapels at West Point and the University of Chicago, and the Central Library’s clearest aesthetic precedent, the Nebraska State Capitol. The blunt, symmetrical podium-and-tower exterior of that monumental structure, designed in 1920, stood in stark contrast to the elaborate Spanish Colonial Revival master plan and building designs Goodhue had come up with earlier, in 1915, for the Panama California Exposition in San Diego, the work that made his name in California and which did much to eventually win him the Central Library commission.
The Central Library’s architect, Bertram Goodhue, became associated with the Spanish Colonial Revival style after his work for San Diego’s 1915 Panama-California Exposition.
Despite having then personally moved on from Spanish Colonial Revival, Goodhue initially managed to come up with a design for the Central Library sufficiently infused with that official style of the Ramona vision of Southern California. This addressed some of the objections aired by officials (including Mayor George Cryer) to hiring a non-local architect much less a high-bidding East Coaster that prolonged the selection process for months. Yet even after Goodhue got the job, his design had a number of rejections still to endure, and with each revision demanded it moved farther away from Spanish Colonial Revival and closer to a strikingly different, almost sui generis modernism.
Some of the Central Library’s unusual qualities arise from its unusual site. Los Angeles’ first major boom, which saw its population grow from around 100,000 at the turn of the 20th century to 1.2 million at the end of the 1920s, coincided with the peak influence of the City Beautiful movement across the English-speaking world. That fashion in city planning, conceiving of urban aesthetics as a tool of moral improvement, emphasized the importance of elegantly landscaped parks and neoclassical monuments. When it became embarrassing that Los Angeles lacked a dedicated public library facility commensurate with the city’s newfound importance, to say the nothing of the far greater importance boosters envisioned ahead, some City Beautifiers argued for putting the monumental public building and the green space (or at least what green space would remain thereafter) together by building it in Pershing Square.
The downtown park fell out of the running as a site, however, when the city came into possession of the old location of the State Normal School, UCLA’s predecessor, unoccupied since the institution moved to its Vermont Avenue campus in 1914. Though much easier to develop, the cramped parcel (first proposed as a library site in a 1907 report by City Beautiful planner Charles Mulford Robinson) at the end of a cul-de-sac between Bunker Hill and the Bible Institute posed serious design challenges. These were somewhat alleviated in 1923 when the library board bought up the properties along adjacent Flower Street, thus allowing the plans to expand a bit farther out to the west, but that only heightened confusion about which side of the building should get its main entrance. Goodhue’s unorthodox solution: simply make the four sides’ entrances stylistically different, each its own separate aesthetic experience.
Circa 1922 photograph of Normal Hill (the former site of the State Normal School) flattened in preparation for construction of the Central Library, courtesy of the Photo Collection – Los Angeles Public Library.
A crowd gathers at the Central Library construction site, circa 1922. Photo courtesy of the California Historical Society Collection, USC Libraries.
Not that the Central Library, when it first opened, offered nothing to catch the eye but four distinct entrances. Lawrie conceived of its extensive sculptural program as a branch grafted on to the architectural trunk, producing forms that portray animated life, emerge from blocks of stone and terminate in historical expression. This accorded with The Light of Learning, the thematic scheme drawn up by Hartley Burr Alexander, the University of Nebraska philosophy professor with whom Goodhue and Lawrie had previously worked on the Nebraska State Capitol. Light and learning are associated together by an impulse so natural that it pervades the great literature of the world, says Alexander’s explanatory text in the 1927 guide to the library. Knowledge is imagined as a lamp, wisdom as a guiding star, and the conscious tradition of mankind as a torch passed from generation to generation.
More than a few visitors have seen, and continue to see, a sinister element in the building’s sculptures, decorations, and inscriptions.
Noble though that may sound, more than a few visitors have seen, and continue to see, a sinister element in the building’s sculptures, decorations, and inscriptions. The Central Library’s mosaics, sphinxes, and especially the pyramid that tops its tower betray to them the deep influence of such much-mythologized secret societies as the Freemasons or even the Illuminati. Despite the Masonic resonances of certain design elements, writes Los Angeles Public Library docent Kenon Breazeale, there is no overt use of the Masons easily recognizable ‘trademark’ of the compass and square anywhere in the building Goodhue designed. To conspiracy buffs, he and Lawrie’s previous work on the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller-sponsored chapel is deemed an adequate demonstration of both mens willingness to take orders from an occult elite bent on world domination.
You could read these features as signs of a buried will to power, but you could also read them as signs of insecurity. In that interpretation, Los Angeles, having lacked the kind of grand downtown public-library building seen in so many of the longer-established great cities of the world, attempted to make up its perceived intellectual credibility deficit a campaign that still hasn’t quite ended with a heartily overt, almost worshipful display of appreciation for learning. Hence, for instance, the sometimes-translated Latin quotations chiseled into the exterior walls; hence the likenesses of Herodotus, Socrates, and Leonardo da Vinci now staring out at their own reflections in the glass of all those skyscrapers.
All this might seem incongruous with the concept of a library laid out like a department store (and indeed formerly housed in one, having occupied part of Hamburger’s Department Store on Broadway and 8th between 1908 and 1914). City Librarian Everett Perry, who pushed for the construction of the Central Library since his 1911 arrival in Los Angeles, had a floor plan in mind which granted each department its own reading room connected, through the stacks, to a central space of card catalogs and circulation desks. (The underlying notion of a large library made of interconnected smaller libraries would come to resonate, decades later, with the widely held perception of midcentury Los Angeles itself as a multi-centered metropolis.)
Circa 1928 postcard featuring an aerial view of the Central Library, courtesy of theWerner von Boltenstern Postcard Collection,Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.
The History Room of the Los Angeles Central Library in 1937. Photocourtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Though the spatial preferences of librarians and architects, the former tending toward the functional and the latter toward the artistic, haven’t always proven compatible, Goodhue could work with Perry’s non-negotiable layout, placing that central space under an ornate rotunda. Into that space arrived, in 1933, a series of murals by artist Dean Cornwell (promoted, with Los Angeles’ usual marketing panache, as the largest work by a single artist since Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel) depicting the history of California. But Goodhue never lived to see those them, nor did even to see the completion of the Central Library itself, which opened in 1926, two years after Goodhue’s sudden death of a heart attack.
The remaining work fell to his longtime associate Carelton Winslow, and though Winslow completed it by all accounts ably, the ensuing decades saw the building become increasingly inadequate to its role. Its publicly accessible stacks held an ever-smaller proportion of the books in the library’s collection, forcing patrons to ask clerks to retrieve most of the books they wanted from the internal stacks, and eventually all the usable storage space in the entire aging structure filled to the bursting point, a situation helped not at all by ever-more-deferred maintenance.
The Central Library is an antiquated firetrap, argued historian and novelist John D. Weaver in a 1975 issue of the Los Angeles Times Book Review. No self-respecting landlord would permit it to be used as a sweatshop and no collector of rare books and manuscripts would suffer it to shelter his treasures for a single hour. As Goodhue’s building huddles in the shadow of the new downtown skyscrapers like the decrepit townhouse of an elderly widow clinging to the home she came to as a bride 50 years ago, and as library use is declining at the Central Library and the branches closest to it, promoters of a new building insist it be located in downtown Los Angeles, where the money is, rather than in the Valley, where the heaviest library usage is, or in the black or brown communities with the greatest need.
Weaver saw Los Angeles as a city that long ago lost its center, and the campaign to keep the Central Library central as a spasm of the same downtown boosterism that flung up a magnificent terminal for trains at the dawn of the air age. Others shared his critical view, thinking that a decentralized city needed an equally decentralized library system. Though proposals to demolish Goodhue’s building had circulated since the 1960s, even some of the plans that retained a prominent downtown branch reflect, to an almost parodic degree, the car-centric suburban urbanism then in fashion: one proposed a kind of drive-in library entered directly from its own ramp off the Harbor Freeway.
The struggle for the architectural and urban soul of the Los Angeles Public Library prompted, in large part, the 1978 formation of the Los Angeles Conservancy, the organization that eventually took the demolition option off the table. Five years later the city settled on an ambitious combination of restoration and expansion, addressing all at once the problems and inadequacies that previous efforts had handled hamfistedly (half of Goodhue and Carleton’s original gardens had been lost in the 1960s, paved over for the noble cause of staff parking) or not at all. The question of how to pay for it brought the idea of selling the library’s air rights into the conversation.
Though quite a tall building by the imposed small-town aesthetic standards of downtown Los Angeles in the 1920s whose 150-foot height limit Goodhue circumvented with the tower-topping pyramid and its 188-foot tip its scale, no matter how radical the latter-day additions, would never match that of the buildings that began to rise around it after the Second World War. And so the Central Library financed its future by, among other deals, selling the verticality it didn’t need to the developers who would go on to build not just the Library Tower but the Gas Company Tower as well, both of them still among the tallest buildings in the city. Even so, nothing had been done by 1986, the year of two still-unsolved arson fires in the Central Library, one in April and one in September, that burned more than 20 percent of its holdings.
Aerial view of the 1986 Los Angeles Central Library fire, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Arson investigators in art and music reading room of Los Angeles Central Library, 1986, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
There is no point now in finding a scapegoat for the downtown library disaster, wrote Los Angeles Times columnist Jack Smith in the aftermath of the first. Even if we catch the person who set the fire, we can’t blame him alone. Smith declared that ultimately the blame must fall on us the citizens of Los Angeles. We have been reluctant to pay for our library; we have rejected bond issues and voted for Proposition 13, which infamously, and severely, limited property tax revenue. One of the reasons for the council’s fateful temporizing was public apathy. The library fires, followed by 1987’s Whittier Narrows earthquake, shook away some of that apathy, which observers of Los Angeles within and without have diagnosed over and over in a wide variety of contexts. Renovation and expansion of the Central Library began in 1989, and by the time of its re-opening in 1993, the city had endured another complacency-shattering disaster in the form of the previous year’s riots.
Both Goodhue’s building and the city surrounding it had made a go of rising from the ashes to a degree literally and the new Central Library, now outfitted with gardens by the prestigious urban landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and an expansive atrium wing named after just-departed Mayor Tom Bradley, stood as the effort’s monument. (Performers at its dedication ceremony included Barney the Dinosaur.) Essentially unchanged since, Los Angeles’ Central Library officially named the Rufus B. von KleinSmid Central Library after the onetime USC president until 2001, when it was renamed after Bradleys successor, Richard Riordan inhabits a downtown unrecognizably different from the one in which it arrived early in the 20th century: the second half of that century saw it grow tall yet strangely empty on the ground, and the early years of this one have begun to fill it in again, not just with built density but with forms of life other than office workers entering in the morning and retreating in the evening.
The city’s presiding opinion on public space, its necessity or lack thereof and how or why to create and maintain it, has shifted with each era, but through all of them the Central Library has almost continuously provided public space itself, and public space of an intellectually and historically robust (if not always ideally spotless and convenient) kind. In the world of affairs, we live in our own age, reads one of the buildings inscriptions Alexander came up with to enlighten the approaching patrons. In books, we live in all ages. The same could well be said of certain kinds of architecture.
The Library Tower, under construction in 1989, dwarfs the Central Library. Photocourtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Circa 1930 postcard of the Los Angeles Central Library, courtesy of theWerner von Boltenstern Postcard Collection,Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.
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