Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Three PlaysThree Plays by Ayn Rand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book contains three plays written by Rand. They are all basically murder mysteries. The first two stories would have caused me to give the book 3 or 4 stars, but the last one was the best and it is why I gave it a fifth star. The last one, "Think Twice" is more of a classic who done it type of mystery. It is curious that it was the only one that was never produced, but it would actually make a pretty good movie in my opinion. As to why it has never been produced, that likely has more to do with what is said in the final scene.

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AnthemAnthem by Ayn Rand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book about a dystopian future where people are given numbers to mark their identity rather than names, where everyone's life is largely mapped out by society all for the purpose of the same society. It is a good short introduction to Rand's views on collectivism and the dangers they pose. It is a good read.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Review of "We the Living"

We the LivingWe the Living by Ayn Rand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. The fact that she shows the protagonist going for the villain over the hero is interesting. I know Rand's favorite was the villain, Kovalensky, but I could relate more to the hero, Andrei Taganov. I found that I could relate more with him in the end than even the protagonist, Kira. Kovalensky, I found to be a worthless scoundrel. It's defintely worth a read for both the story as well as the view of what life was like in the early Soviet Union by someone who had actually lived there.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

President Indecisive

Is it just me or does it seem like Obama is incredibly indecisive?  For one his dithering on Syria, for two his unwillingness to do much to combat the ISIS threat in Iraq and thirdly to really win in Afghanistan.   What is up with these containment policies?  The goal in Afghanistan seems to be more about containing the Taliban and Al-Qaeda than it is about defeating them.  Does that really work?  Isn't the purpose of war to defeat your enemy rather than to allow them to regroup and keep attacking you?  I don't know.  Of course, it would help if we would take the war to Waziristan, because the Pakistani government has proved to be less than trustworthy in dealing with that region or in stemming the flow of insurgents from that area.  The President doesn't seem to have much of a stomach for long term warfare.  Yet do we really have much choice?  I would argue that there is merit to the argument that we fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here.  Wasn't that the lesson of September 11th? 

With Obama having dithered around on Syria for so long, that has resulted in a largely stalemated situation there.  He didn't want to go around the UN on it because he didn't want to be another Bush, but while I'm not quite sure the original decision to go into Iraq was the best one, I do agree with W in that sometimes you can't wait around on the UN.  The delay in action in Syria also largely contributed to the rise of extremist Islamic groups in Syria and likely contributed to the rise of ISIS which now threatens Iraq.

So the other day, I read that Obama has said there will be no ground troops in Iraq.  Yeah, good job telling the enemy what our limits are.  On top of that, the next day I read about a group of American contractors being surrounded by ISIS.  Hmm.  I would think that would at least call for some limited use of ground forces to rescue them.

I gave Obama kudos for giving the green light on the mission that killed bin Laden and I agreed with his decision to assist in Libya.  However, since then his foreign policy has been inept at best.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Assumptions

I came across this article posted to a Facebook group I belong to:  http://www.salon.com/2014/06/05/forget_christopher_hitchens_atheism_in_america_is_undergoing_a_radical_change_partner/.  My thoughts on it is the author has mixed up secular humanism with atheism.  Although in some ways I can understand why.  Secular humanists are rapidly trying to be the voice of atheism in America.  Yet they don't speak for me as well as many other if not most atheists.   Many atheists will say they are secular humanists without really knowing much about it.  I consider myself a humanist in a general sense and I am secular, but the problems with organized secular humanism is that it is dominated by leftists who are pushing a social justice agenda.  They have little tolerance for dissenting viewpoints.  I am friends with some who identify themselves as secular humanists.  The problem is that social justice as a term doesn't really mean anything or it means a lot of things that I disagree with.  They tend to embrace every naive liberal idea out there like we should do more to help the poor and by more I generally mean through governmental policy, they don't like capitalism, and they tend to be tree hugging environmentalists. 

The atheists the author refers to in the article I mentioned above, I tend to disagree with on many subjects.  I know many other atheists who disagree with them as well.  I've tended as a result of these people imposing themselves on the atheist community to largely avoid organized atheism as a result.  Atheism is simply lack of a belief in a deity.  There are conservative, libertarian, and liberal atheists.  There are also Laveyan Satanists and Objectivists who are both atheistic and yet they don't try to say that their beliefs define what it means to be an atheist.  That is what I find most insulting about the above article in that it uses what some atheists believe and insists that that is what atheists in general believe.  Nothing could be further from the truth.