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The American Individualist



Rational Commentary & Articles on American Culture-Politics



Updated: 2016-05-20T02:20:22.893-07:00

 



Long Beach Speed Skater Races Against the Clocks

2012-04-18T17:23:12.690-07:00

48-year-old Jacki Munzel eyes the 2014 Winter Olympics. By Joseph KellardFifteen seconds stands between Jacki Munzel and the Winter Olympic trials.But the speed skater from Long Beach faces roadblocks: her age and, unlike her dominant Dutch counterparts, the inability to train regularly at a regulation-sized oval.“I’m skating against people that are skating six days a week and I’m not,” said Munzel, who at 48-years-old has returned to the ice after hitting a barrier.Her fastest time in the 3,000 meters is 4:32, but to qualify for the trials possibly as late as one month before the Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February 2014, she must shave her time down to 4:17. Instead of trekking 300 miles to the nearest oval in Lake Placid, Munzel trains daily either at her West End home on a Plexiglas slide board to simulate ice, or she runs the boardwalk and performs non-stop imagination drills along the shoreline from Neptune to Tennessee beaches. She otherwise trains on a short track twice weekly, rollerblades along the Wantagh Parkway, and practices on a regulation-sized oval during three annual trips to Wisconsin and Utah or the day before official races. Each time she hits the ovals she cuts into her time. In March, she competed in the 21st Masters International Allround Games in Germany, placing first in her age group (40-49) in all four races and first overall in two races (30 and over), all on a recently torn tendon in her left knee and with only two years of speed skating experience. Her European competition took instant notice. “They all came up to me and were like ‘who are you?,’” Munzel said laughing.A mother of three children, ages 14 to 25, Munzel’s quest to make the Olympic trials comes after a nearly two decade hiatus from her dream of winning gold in another sport. She was a teenage figure skater who sometimes beat the best, including Katarina Witt, and made the trials for the 1984 Winter Olympics. But she was sidelined by an eating disorder, bulimia, which she developed at 18 and couldn’t find help for it.“It was really secretive then,” said the 5-foot-7 Munzel, who weighed 110 pounds then. “So it was either I quit skating or I was going to be dead because I knew I couldn’t go on doing what I was doing to myself.”It took her many years to recover, she said, and during that time she moved from her native Illinois to Merrick, got married and, at 24, started to teach skating. When she picked up speed skates two years ago, the sport came natural to her since as a figure skater she was known of her speed. Today she teaches youth hockey players to skate faster and with greater control at ice arenas in Long Beach, Bethpage, Freeport and Bellmore. K.J. Tiefenwerth, 20, a hockey player from Bellmore, trains with her regularly. “She’s the real deal,” he said. “She’s always on you. She mixes form with intensity.”Her coaches are Canadian Stephen Gough, an Olympic-level trainer, and Glenn Corso, president of the Flushing Meadows Speed Skating Club. Another top trainer, Dante Cozzi, has taught and advised Munzel from her youth, and he believes firmly that she can make the Olympics and win a gold medal.“I don’t care what her age is,” Cozzi said. “Her technique and her skill level and her determination and work — a lot of people understand what work is but they don’t really know how to apply it. She does.”When entertaining ideas of making the Olympic team at 50, Munzel appears torn. Her rapid development in the sport has inspired cautious optimism. “If my times are great in the Olympic trials and I was one of the better skaters, yes,” she said about the prospect. But other realities, including that she would then compete against 20-somethings who eat and breath the sport, weigh on her. “I’m going to be realistic: there is no chance that I can do it without training every day on the ice,” she said.But Cozzi believes she sells herself short and fears committing to the belief that the Olympics are within reach. Two years ago she didn’t believe she could be in the fav[...]



Kristof and Consensus of 'Experts' Evade Facts about Iranian Regime

2012-03-28T17:55:47.629-07:00

By Joseph Kellard
(image) In a recent op-ed, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof cited an alleged “consensus” of foreign policy “experts” who believe it would be “abominable” at this time for Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities.

Among those whom Kristof quotes is W. Patrick Lang, a former head of Middle East affairs for the Defense Intelligence Agency: “Unless you’re so far over on the neocon side that you’re blind to geopolitical realities, there’s an overwhelming consensus that this is a bad idea.”

Echoing the broader points of these “experts,” Kristof writes that a military attack would set back Iran’s nuclear program no more than three years while escalating Muslims’ anger toward Israel and America and possibly inspiring Iran to sponsor attacks on American targets. He believes we should wait for economic sanctions against Iran to “work” — but toward what ultimate end he does not say.

Kristof concludes:
So as we hear talk about military action against Iran, let’s be clear about one thing. Outside Netanyahu’s aides and a fringe of raptors, just about every expert thinks that a military strike at this time would be a catastrophically bad idea. That’s not a debate, but a consensus.

Observe that while Kristoff treats a consensus of security wonks as akin to an unquestionable axiom that renders all debate on the matter irrelevant, he downplays or evades the essential facts about the Islamist regime that warrant its immediate destruction. While Kristof and company support another round of toothless sanctions, the ruling mullahs and ayatollahs in Iran continue their more than 30-year campaign of terrorizing, maiming, and murdering Americans, hundreds if not thousands, from Beirut to Saudi Arabia to Iraq to Afghanistan. Just this month, security services in Azerbaijan arrested twenty-two people who reportedly were trained and hired by Iran to carry out terrorist attacks against U.S. and Israeli embassies and British oil company BP.

The State Department is aware of decades of such efforts, which is why it annually places Iran on the top of its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

For security experts and politicians in Washington to advocate mere sanctions against the Iranian regime is to relinquish their moral and professional responsibility to protect Americans against a deadly enemy.

By any rational standard, it is time to destroy not only Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities, but also the Iranian regime itself. If the U.S. government is too irrational to do anything about it, the least we can do is not dissuade the Israelis from acting for their survival.



North Korea’s “National Script”: Yet Another Fair Warning

2012-03-17T18:36:32.789-07:00

By Joseph Kellard
(image) While reading an interview with novelist Adam Johnson as he described his experiences in North Korea, I was struck by how closely his characterization of life under the communist dictatorship paralleled that of an Iinternet aquaintance who once told me of the bleak and automoton-like existence of its inhabitants. In my second post for The Objective Standard's blog, I touch on the ideas that lead to this horrible state of being.



Is 'Johnny U' for You?

2012-03-03T18:24:50.136-08:00

Tom Callahan's biography on a legendary quarterback offers inspiration even for the non-sports fan.By Joseph KellardOn Super Bowl Sunday, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts will once again don the same white helmet with blue horseshoes that another star quarterback wore in a championship game nearly 50 years ago. I draw this timely parallel simply to recommend a biography that matches its hype.Tom Callahan’s Johnny U: The Life and Times of Johnny Unitas is conversational-style account of the legendary Baltimore Colts quarterback, based on interviews with Unitas’s teammates, opponents, friends and relatives, and captures the essence of a man many consider the greatest to ever play his position.Sports fans or anyone eager to encounter an admirable individual should read “Johnny U,” if only for the examples of his famous “cool,” both on and off the field, and particularly while under pressure — a product of his quiet confidence. One of the Hall of Famer’s college coaches from Louisville, on a team that fell to 1-8 one season, said of Unitas: “Losing didn’t kill his self-confidence … He was the most confident person — confident in his own ability — that I ever met, that I think anyone ever met.”In part, Unitas’s confidence and abilities grew out of his dedication to the game, a quality that Callahan highlights. “Every week, John sat and watched both [televised games: the Bears and the Browns],” a Louisville teammate recalled. “‘C’mon, it’s a beautiful day, let’s go out,’ I’d say. ‘No, I have to see the games.’ ‘You mean to tell me that after practicing all week, after sitting through all the meetings, after playing every single down of every single game, you still haven’t had enough football?’ ‘Nope.’ None of the rest of us knew exactly what we wanted to be. He did.”Unitas’s renowned work ethic was embodied best in his relationship with his top receiver, Raymond Berry. Even after team practices the duo routinely worked together on mastering their pass-and-catch precision and on two-minute drills that proved invaluable in big spots.“Johnny U” also shines a light on both Unitas’s exceptional football smarts and leadership, exemplified by an ability to tap his vast memory bank to call plays on his own like no other quarterback before him.“You couldn’t outthink Unitas,” said Sam Huff, a New York Giants defenseman. “When you thought run, he passed. When you thought pass, he ran. When you thought conventional, he was unconventional. When you tried thinking in reverse, he double-reversed. It made me dizzy ... We were one of the greatest defensive teams ever put together ... But we didn’t have a defense for Unitas.”A critique of “Johnny U” that I encountered is that Callahan failed to dig deeper and answer more questions about Unitas’s private and family life. Certainly another outstanding biography, When Pride Still Mattered, David Maraniss’s take on legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, is heavy on such details. Yet that book still managed to detour from a road most modern biographers like to travel. A road on which all sorts of non-essential, often-unsubstantiated claims about a subject are made and blow up in an alleged attempt to make the subject more “human,” or the biography more “balanced.” But dig deeper into the biographer’s motives and you’ll often find he was determined to find feet of clay on his admirable or heroic subject.Instead, Callahan opted to focus on what is most relevant about his subject, or any individual’s life: his productive abilities, his profession, his career. This value primarily drives our purpose in life and can, above all else, reveal a man’s core. In “Johnny U,” Callahan shows us a man who essentially loved his work and performed it exceedingly well and with shining confidence, particularly on the grandest stages.In 1958, Unitas and the Colts defeated Huff and the Giants in the NFL champi[...]



What’s So Super About the Super Bowl?

2012-02-04T13:02:26.428-08:00

By Joseph Kellard
(image) The Objective Standard’s blog posted a commentary I wrote on what makes the Super Bowl so mega-popular. And you think it has to do with the gambling, glitzy commercials and New Year’s party-like atmosphere? Think again. There’s another reason involved and it has to do with the fundamental nature of football.

“On Sunday, restaurants, bars, and pizza-delivery chains across the nation will rake in big bucks thanks to the mass appeal of the big game. That appeal is rooted in the immense value fans derive from watching superlatively honed athletes who demonstrate exceptional determination and ability in a seriously dangerous contest with near equals.

“Is it any wonder the Super Bowl has reached the status of a national holiday?”

Photo by Joel Scott



Book Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

2012-01-10T12:19:51.203-08:00

By Joseph Kellard

(image) Walter Isaacson’s biography Steve Jobs presents Apple’s creator as a passionately driven producer that demanded excellence, both of him and others, and who was beset by intense emotionalist tendencies.

Jobs’ legacy is that he primarily transformed existing systems into innovative products, from the Macintosh to the iPad — which others either couldn’t create or even foresee. As Isaacson writes: “On the day he unveiled the Macintosh, a reporter from Popular Science asked Jobs what type of market research he had done. Jobs responded by scoffing, ‘Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?’” (p.170)

Jobs embedded in Apple’s DNA the premium he put on integration, whether it was software and hardware; aesthetics and engineer/exterior design; or multiple products — computers, phones, music players — into singular devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

While Isaacson lauds and emphasizes Jobs’ masterful work, he paints with a heavy brush when portraying his relationships with others. Here, his motif is Jobs’ “reality distortion field” — a term his colleagues coined to describe what is a basically a package deal that includes examples of putting an “I wish” above a “what is”; pushing his workers to meet seemingly impossible deadlines that they sometimes met; and outright deception, as when he tried to deny fathering his first child. Moreover, to Jobs, there was usually no middle ground between your ideas or work: they were either brilliant or “shit.”

Yet Jobs was also a straight shooter, often harshly so, and so he’s painted sensationally as an insensitive jerk. When asked about this characterization, Jobs basically replied that his honesty was necessary to rid Apple of anyone other than A players.

But in writing his chapter on Jobs’ legacy, Isaacson concludes: “Dozens of the colleagues whom Jobs most abused ended their litany of horror stories by saying that he got them to do things they never dreamed possible.” (p.565)

Unfortunately, Isaacson falls short of truly uncovering the particular philosophic ideas that drove Jobs’ trailblazing work. He mostly writes about them superficially (e.g., Jobs’ love of “simplicity” in his products is attributed to his beliefs in Zen Buddhism), and often Isaacson explains his insights in terms of “instincts”/“intuition,” as did Jobs.

Of course, this is to be expected in our anti-philosophical age, as well as from a biographer who was a former editor at Time and a chairman at CNN, neither news organization of which represents objective journalism. Obviously, like most modern biographers, Isaacson felt compelled to “balance” every prominent personality and character trait.

Ultimately, while Isaacson is incapable of concluding that Jobs was a moral giant for his outstanding innovations, his biography nevertheless manages to evoke a spirit that projects this fundamental truth and makes it a particularly worthy read.



The Seed of My Love of Reading

2012-01-05T18:59:48.518-08:00

By Joseph Kellard Go ahead, you can say it. The image accompanying this blog post looks like a book that’s been through a war. Well, not quite. I salvaged Four Stars from the World of Sports from a flood in my apartment, due to a Calcutta-like downpour a few years ago. I had to keep this book from my childhood. I realized, even if not explicitly until now, that it held a certain significance to me. I believe it is the first sports book, and perhaps the first “real” book after a diet of Green Eggs and Ham and others like Charlotte’s Web, that I had read on my own. I recall my mother buying it for me at my elementary school, P.S. 21 in Flushing. I think I was in third grade and I bought it at a book fair there. It featured some of the great athletes of the day from the four major sports, baseball’s Henry Aaron, football’s Roger Staubach, basketball’s Kareem Abdul Jabbar and hockey’s Bobby Orr. Leafing through its time- and weather-beaten brown pages now, I remember some of its photos and illustrations, but I remember little, if anything, about the stories. One of my problems as a young boy was that I didn’t read very well, and had particular trouble with comprehension. But I do recall enjoying the book and learning about the lives of these sports idols. One of my earliest memories of watching sports was rushing home one summer night to the living room in my parents’ second-floor apartment on 26th Avenue, as I watched on television Henry Aaron hit his historic 715 home run that broke Babe Ruth’s career record. On that same set (probably a Zenith), I vaguely recall watching Joe Namath play football. I had already heard enough about the legendary quarterback to realize I was watching someone special. I remember vaguely that earlier that year I watched my first Super Bowl, when the Miami Dolphins defeated the Minnesota Vikings. That’s when I became a Dolphins' fan. Since I didn’t read well as a young boy, so I didn’t read much. At that time, my interest in watching sports was in its fledgling state, so I don’t recall reading many or any other sports books after Four Stars. Maybe I did; maybe I didn’t—and if I did they didn’t make enough of an impression on me to save them. Four Stars did. Maybe because it was the first book I read in which I was offered (real-life) heroes. My parents thought my reading problems had something to do with poor eyesight, so they bought me reading glasses. I thought this was totally senseless. There was nothing wrong with my eyes. At about that time, my parents brought me to a reading specialist, and she said I had dyslexia. I ditched the eyeglass, but mainly because wearing them wasn’t cool. When I reflect back on this now, I realized my troubles could be traced and reduced to one main issue: motivation. Sure, when reading, I definitely mixed up letters and words, and that certainly made it a struggle; but it actually wasn’t until a few years later, when my parents observed my already intense interest in sports, that they got the bright idea to buy me a subscription to Sports Illustrated.Their thinking was this: why not have him read about a subject that interests him? I remember the days of my mother working with me, having me read story after story in Reader’s Digest. I enjoyed some of the stories, especially one about a captain of a boat who remained calm through a storm that threatened to capsize the vessel and navigated through the squall. But it wasn’t until I started to read about sports that I read consistently and often, and my problems with reading just faded away. That’s really the genesis of my love of reading that has endured to this day. I believe that seed was planted with this one book, Four Stars. [...]



Steve Jobs Interview for The Smithsonian

2011-12-28T06:03:16.203-08:00

By Joseph Kellard
(image) Did you know Steve Jobs thought our government-run public schools were terrible union-driven bureaucracies, not meritocracies (to use his words)? It’s one of the best slices of this interview he did for an Smithsonian Oral History project that was conduced by the Computerworld Information Technology Awards Program in 1995.

Jobs offers his thoughts on a host of issues —from the artistry he believed was integ...ral to making computers, how Apple was coasting and steadily declining while he was out of the company, to hiring A-class producers and firing lesser employees, to Pixar and digitally animated films such as Toy Story, to so-called “social responsibilities.”

In answer to a question about the latter (near the end of the interview), Job’s took issue with the faith that he had any such responsibilities. Instead, he said, “We’re all going to be dead soon. That’s my point of view. Someone once told me: ‘Live each day as if it will be your last, and one day you’ll certainly be right.’ And I do that … I think you have a responsibility to do really good stuff and get it out there for people to use and let them build on the shoulders of it and keep making better stuff.”

In hindsight, after experiencing all the great products that Jobs came to produced in the computer, film, communications and music industries, it’s safe to say he lived by his words that put his love of his work above all else.

While you can, as I did, take issue with some of his views, particularly on monopolies, the government’s roll to protect the Internet as a “public trust,” and Silicon Valley’s innovations as primarily the product of the so-called 1960’s counterculture, there’s a lot to enjoy in this interview. Most of all, he comes across as a thoughtful, articulate, impassioned innovator.

Photo by Joseph Kellard



Photos: Rockefeller Center at Christmas

2011-12-26T06:44:30.737-08:00

“The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics: the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying . . . stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decorations put up by department stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only ‘commercial greed’ could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.” ~ Ayn Rand Photos by Joseph Kellard[...]



Why I'm an Early Bird

2011-12-11T04:23:54.046-08:00

By Joseph Kellard
(image) People ask me how I do it. I get out of bed to start my day at 5 a.m. I've been doing this for many years, and the root of my answer lies in the Olympics.

Yes, my biorhythms are also to blame. Since my youth I've been a deep sleeper, and that certainly plays into why I’m an early riser. When I was younger I used to need, at most, about eight hours of sleep a night, and most of my adult life I've been able to get by on six hours, and sometimes less.

I set my alarm at 4:20 a.m., and occasionally I wake up before the alarm sounds. I have it set to sports talk radio, and I often hit snooze intermittently throughout. Otherwise, I'll either catch more z's or run what I call “word salads” — word association-like, stream-of-consciousness-type sentences — thorough my head, with the sole purpose of seeing what words and phrases I can summon from my vocabulary bank. Once I toss the covers off me, though, I routinely head to my work desk to write or read on my MacBook, after which I drive to the gym, three to four days a week.

I started my early morning activities back during my early 20-something years, when I worked out with weights in my garage in the dark of morning. I was drawn to do this because it made me feel productive while most of America was still sleeping.

My inspiration came years earlier, when I was a kid watching the Olympics on television, specifically the features on athletes — the cross-country skiers, skaters or gymnasts who awoke before dawn to trek to the hills, ice rink or gym to train before heading to school or work. I found this incredibly inspiring.

I knew some night owls, with friends and relatives among them. They were the kind who never appeared to get sleepy while most of us watched late-night television with our eyes half shut from our couches. But they typically slept late the next morning, and that’s why being a night owl never appealed to me. Getting up earl always seemed to me like an accomplishment, something that required a certain effort, whereas staying up late just didn’t.

When I used to live with others, including night owls who watched TV late, getting up early in the morning was always the only opportunity to take advantage of some quiet in the house, which was a tremendous value when I needed to think, write or read. Today I live alone in a studio apartment in a home that almost seems hermetically sealed to sound. It’s too good to be true.

I continue covet the serenity of early morning, especially its contrast to the hustle and bustle of where I live in the suburbs of New York City, the city that never sleeps. And I make sure to wake up early each morning to capture it.



Conspiracy Theories and Freedom Don't Mix

2011-11-26T05:14:28.239-08:00

By Joseph Kellard A recent commentary piece in The New York Times taps into the corrupted mentality — the faith-based conspiracy mindset — that pervades Egypt and explains why that Muslim nation, as well as the wider Islam-dominated Middle East, will not establish freedom anytime soon. When dictator Hosni Mubarak was forced from power earlier this year, a major development of the so-called Arab Spring, it was widely pronounced that Egyptians were now “free,” or had won their “freedom.” Actually, they were merely freed temporarily from the force imposed by their latest dictator. Political freedom, in fact, depends on each individual’s freedom from government coercion, or, to put it positively and more fundamentally, freedom depends on the establishment of a government that upholds individual rights, including the right to free thought and speech — that is, the freedom to adopt whatever philosophy or religion one chooses and to voice its teachings. Such a government cannot and will not take root in Egypt when the interim government there indiscriminately guns down non-Muslims on the streets of Cairo, nor when the next elected government is likely to be dominated by Muslims that will force their religion on others. In his Times’ commentary on Nov. 20, "After Egypt’s Revolution, Christians Are Living in Fear," Andre Aciman, an Egyptian-born Jew who is a literature professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center, writes that Egypt's interim government failed to take responsibility for its massacre of Christians as they demonstrated in Cairo after their church was burned to the ground. Aciman writes that confusion and conflicting accounts ensued over who instigated the incident, and that the interim prime minister blamed the massacre on “hidden hands.” Aciman explains: Sadly, the phrase “hidden hands” remains a part of Egypt’s political rhetoric more than 50 years later — an invitation for every Egyptian to write in the name of his or her favorite bugaboo. Rather than see things for what they are, Egyptians, from their leaders on down, have always preferred the blame game — and with good reason. Blaming some insidious clandestine villain for anything invariably works in a country where hearsay passes for truth and paranoia for knowledge. Sometimes those hidden hands are called Langley, or the West, or, all else failing, of course, the Mossad. Sometimes “hidden hands” stands for any number of foreign or local conspiracies carried out by corrupt or disgruntled apparatchiks of one stripe or another who are forever eager to tarnish and discredit the public trust. The problem with Egypt is that there is no public trust. There is no trust, period. False rumor, which is the opiate of the Egyptian masses and the bread and butter of political discourse in the Arab world, trumps clarity, reason and the will to tolerate a different opinion, let alone a different religion or the spirit of open discourse. In short, a nation cannot establish freedom when, by and large, its people fundamentally gather what they believe is knowledge and truth based on hearsay, paranoia, false rumor and conspiracy theories at the expense of reason. Reason is man's only means of knowledge, and it is the basis of the only free or semi-free nations in history, all of them Western products of the pro-reason Enlightenment. When reason is the first to go in dealing with other men, so goes freedom. When freedom is at stake and people yearn to possess it, conspiracy theories, particularly those based on faith, won't cut it. Yet they are a product of the Islamic world's basic mental modus operandi: religious faith. As Elan Jurno, author of Winning the Unwinnable War, explains in his essay “Exposing Anti-Mulsim ‘Conspiracies,” publish[...]



America Attacked For Its Values

2011-09-11T03:36:07.295-07:00

By Joseph KellardOne day as I drove down Lexington Avenue, I understood the reverence author-philosopher Ayn Rand had for New York City. From an incline along that avenue, a vantage point from which I'd never seen Manhattan, I was awed by the many tall, stately buildings that lined the perfectly straight street for miles. Finally I had grasped how this view that resembled a canyon, along with the entire metropolis, sprang not from nature, but from the human mind.I was reminded of a passage from Miss Rand's novel The Fountainhead: "I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need?"On Sept. 11, 2001, after I'd watched Islamic terrorists destroy the Twin Towers and the innocents within them, I was reminded of what Miss Rand wrote about evil: "They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to succeed; they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they want you to die; they desire nothing, they hate existence ... You who've never grasped the nature of evil, you who describe them as 'misguided idealists,’ they are the essence of evil." This passage from Atlas Shrugged serves to answer people who are bewildered over how human beings can act so savagely. At root, terrorists are motivated by nihilism, the desire to destroy values and existence. These terrorists understood that the skyscraper is uniquely American.Because of our nation's unprecedented liberty, Americans were free to form independent judgments and act on them. This atmosphere spawned the Industrial Revolution, which saw great technological advances and laborsaving devices, such as the steel girders and elevators that made skyscrapers possible. The Twin Towers specifically embodied capitalism and its foundation: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which spawned America's unsurpassed prosperity. Those gleaming, soaring, stately towers were a proud boast of all these sublime human achievements and values. And this is why the nihilists twice targeted them. They hated them because of their source: the liberated human mind. They don't want America's freedom, its industriousness, its technological advances, its high standard of living — or its skyscrapers.They only want us to lose them through their destructive acts. This upcoming war is between America and religious fundamentalism (of any kind). In essence, Americans use reason to choose their values and actions; the fundamentalists have blind faith in God's dogma. We value freedom; they value theocratic totalitarianism. We value the individual; they sacrifice the individual to supernatural entities (e.g., God and heaven). We pursue and achieve happiness here on earth; they damn this earth and martyr themselves for an afterworld. At root, we want life and they want death. The United States should give the murderous Islamic fundamentalists what they want, in part, as an act of justice for we Americans who want to live.* This column was mildly edited from its original version that was published in the Oceanside/Island Park Herald in September 2001.* The painting, The Sun Also Rises, by Frank O’Conner (Ayn Rand’s husband), appeared on the 25th anniversary editon of The Fountainhead.[...]



9/11 Vignette: Joseph Kellard

2011-09-07T07:13:07.212-07:00

(image) Every patriotic American suffered when Islamic terrorists killed nearly 3,000 innocent people on Sept. 11, 2001. I was a reporter then for the Oceanside/Island Park Herald. Although I was deeply outraged and dispirited by this atrocity, the aftermath provided me with invaluable experiences.

While I didn’t lose a loved one that day, through my many talks with 9/11 families I came to empathize more intensely with those who did.

I can still hear the chilling, soulful cries of Amy Haviland, an Oceanside mother of two young children who on 9/11 lost both her husband, Timothy, a vice president at Marsh & McLennan, and her brother, FDNY firefighter Robert Spear.

I remember visiting the Freeport home of Lauraine Marchese after her daughter Laura’s remains at Ground Zero were identified months later, and how this news shattered her mother’s last, desperate hope that somehow, some way she was still alive somewhere.

I learned that it’s horrible enough for a loved one to, say, be murdered by a common street criminal, but to have him perish in a mass slaughter splashed across television screens and newspapers worldwide magnifies the horror dramatically.

As a journalist, I feel honored and privileged that these families willingly shared their raw thoughts, anger and anguish with me. Sometimes their pain brought me to tears. Their suffering further grounded the horror and evil of the terrorist attacks — and thereby solidified my intense conviction that the jihadists and their supporters must be brought to justice.

Unfortunately, over the past decade this sense of justice has faded in many Americans. But thankfully it endured with me, in part because of the vivid memories I have covering the families most directly impacted by that horrific day. They will never forget the wrongs done them. Neither must we.



The Moon Goddess with a Sun-like Presence

2011-07-09T08:51:41.693-07:00

An analysis of Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens By Joseph KellardShe is the center of attention in a room at one of the world’s largest museums. Diana, a reduction of a weathervane that Augustus Saint-Gaudens created for the top of an early Madison Square Garden, is poised atop a pedestal in the middle of the ground floor at the American Wing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. What stands out about this sculpture, other than her brilliant gilt, are her subtly contrasting yet complimentary halves that lend her a certain harmony. First, Diana, the Roman goddess of the moon and the hunt, holds the archer’s standard upright posture — of pointing an arrow and stretching a bow, all the while keeping a steady hand and focus — that denotes tension and intensity. But, unlike archers who also plant their legs evenly apart on the flat earth, Diana assumes a different position that distinguishes her. In contrast to her upper half, she stands decidedly off balance, not only on one foot, but also on her tiptoes while balanced on an orb. This position, combined with her right foot that kicks out slightly behind her, dangling off the pedestal, makes Diana appear, at once and overall, both imbalanced yet stable. Remember, Diana was created as a weathervane, placed high above on a building, so Saint-Gaudens probably created her right leg to stick outward to provide the wind some mass to help turn her, as is the purpose of her bow and her left arm that holds it. But artistically her leg jutting out adds to her lightness of being and harmony, an airy quality also evoked by her streamlined body and nudity.The Met recreates this sense of Diana’s purpose by placing her on a high pedestal, above all the grounded sculptures and art-lovers that gaze up at her, just as her original stood atop a tower at Madison Square Garden. In the American Wing, with its windows-framed roof that allows natural light to flood in, Diana’s height and gold cast effectively give this moon goddess a sun-like presence there.Description of Diana at the base of her pedestal: Diana 1892-93; this cast, 1928By Augustus Saint-Gaudens Aware of Saint-Gauden’s desire to model a female nude, the architect Stanford White (1853 - 1906) gave him the commission for a weathervane for the tower of Madison Square Garden (demolished 1925). The first, eighteen-foot-tall sculpture proved too large and was replaced in 1894 by a streamlined version, five feet shorter. It became one of New York’s most popular landmarks, and the sculptor capitalized on its success by issuing numerous reductions. This cast is a half-sized model of the second version, produced from a cement cast once owned by White. Saint-Gaudens eschewed the traditional full-bodied interpretation of Diana, the Roman goddess of the moon and the hunt, focusing instead on simple, elegant lines and a strong silhouette. [...]



What a Russian Immigrant Taught Me About American Patriotism

2011-07-03T17:24:19.670-07:00

"America is the land of the uncommon man. It is the land where man is free to develop his genius – and to get its just rewards.” ~ Ayn RandBy Joseph Kellard As Independence Day nears and as debates over immigration rage on, I’m reminded of how an atheist émigré from communist Russia taught me what it means to be an American patriot. Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, once wrote: “The United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world.” Rand’s books all evoke this glorification of America. When I first encountered them, though, I was a left-wing ideologue who questioned whether she knew that ours was a racist society that had stolen its land from the Indians, enslaved blacks and exploited the poor. Yet, despite that I believed those claims, a prideful lump always swelled in my throat whenever I heard our national anthem. Looking back, I realize that I at least suspected there was much more to America than these charges of theft, racism and exploitation. For this reason, Rand’s uncompromising praise of our nation struck a chord with me, and I felt compelled to consider and investigate her justification for it. Unlike conservatives who attributed America’s greatness to its being “God’s chosen country,” Rand showed that the United States was the result and crowning achievement of the Enlightenment, the 18th century intellectual movement that championed reason and challenged religion’s dogma and pervasive influence. Our Founding Father’s explicit respect for reason, Rand noted, lead them to create an unprecedented nation, founded on the philosophical principle that each individual has an inalienable right to his own life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. And this moral and political foundation of individual rights, Rand recognized, was what distinguished America from all nations, past and present. America’s Founders intended our nation to be one in which each individual has a right to think for himself and pursue his independent values as he sees fit, while simultaneously respecting that right in others. In America, as our Founders intended, no authority, whether a god, tribal chief, king, pope or bureaucrat, would dictate the course of any individual’s life; he would live for himself, “neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself,” Rand wrote. This new nation would prove to be vastly different from the monarchies, oligarchies and theocracies of the past. Indeed, as Rand demonstrated, its foundation in individual rights (and the corresponding politico-economic system, capitalism) caused America to emerge as a nation of free-thinking, productive individuals, a land of scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs and businessmen who made possible an array of labor- and time-saving advances that dramatically increased prosperity and quality of life. In short, Rand showed that at the root of America’s founding and prosperity is the principle of individual rights. Related to this, she taught me that one should evaluate our Founders (and historical figures in general), not on the basis of how they were like their predecessors and contemporaries, but on the basis of how they fundamentally distinguished themselves. I came to see that our Founders represented a unique bridge between the irrationalities and injustices of the old world and the much greater heights still open to this nation. Although some founders owned slaves, it is crucial to note that some form of slavery existed in virtually all pre-American societies. What’s most significant about Thomas Jefferson and George Wash[...]



Book Review: Gulag by Anne Applebaum

2011-06-27T15:49:55.796-07:00

By Joseph KellardWhen published in 2003, Anne Applebaum’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag: A History was touted as the most authoritative, comprehensive book on the Soviet labor camps.Applebaum, a Washington Post columnist, recounts the many facets of this decades-long slave system. Among her topics are the gulag's origin and expansion, the living conditions and distinctive work at the various camps, and how prisoners survived, rebelled, escaped and died.While Gulag presents what were, to me, some surprising details, including that numerous prisoners were actually released, Applebaum routinely returns, whether implicitly or explicitly, to the evil purpose of the camps. One example comes in her comparison of Nazi and Soviet camps. She notes that the Soviet camps focused more on exploiting labor than on deliberately killing "enemies of the people," whereas in Nazi concentration camps, where a Jew's death was virtually assured, the reverse was true. Gulag prisoners usually died not by being deliberately killed, but by the system's "gross inefficiency and neglect,” Applebaum writes. Yet she demonstrates that certain labor camp projects, such as useless grand canals, reflected the communists' desire to kill for killing's sake:"A propaganda slogan declared that the ‘Danube-Black Sea Canal is the tomb of the Romanian bourgeoisie!' Given that up to 200,000 people may have died building it, that may have indeed been the canal's real purpose."In the epilogue to her primarily fact-finding, journalist book, Applebaum properly touches on the realities of the post-Soviet population's widespread evasion of this important part of Russia’s history, and points to its harmful consequences, such as Putin's authoritarian rule. Yet, for a book on this subject and its scope, she draws virtually no cause-and-effect relationship between communist ideology and the gulag. Worse, her deeper, conclusive commentary on her subject is actually anti-philosophical:"Only our ability to debase and destroy and dehumanize our fellow man has been — and will be — repeated again and again”; and: "The more we know of the specific circumstances which led to each episode of mass torture and mass murder, the better we will understand the darker side of our own human nature."In other words, Applebaum believes not in fundamental philosophic ideas — chief among them being communism’s glorification of self-sacrifice to the state — as the underlying cause of the gulag, but rather man’s “ability,” that is, his (alleged) innate evil, to destroy his fellow man, and certain unspecified “circumstances.” One of Gulag’s merits, however, is that it offers many concretizations of communism’s inevitable results: mass privations, disease, starvation and death. As I read the various injustices that Soviet citizens suffered under this slave system (within a slave state), I was reminded of accusations that communists and their apologists had leveled against capitalism and the United States. Recall that they claimed that capitalists “exploit” their workers, and asserted that Soviet Russia held the most promise for the “common man,” the promise of unprecedented prosperity and equality of results. All of this came to mind as I read this passage:"Ivan Nikishov, who became the boss of Dalstroi in 1939, in the wake of the purges, and held the post until 1948, became infamous for accumulating riches in the middle of desperate poverty. [Prison bosses] even began to compete with one another, in a fantastic version of keeping up with the Jonses."While Applebaum fails to provide a deeper, philosophic understanding of how communism led to the gulag, her b[...]



Jesus vs. Howard Roark

2011-06-23T15:27:24.513-07:00

By Joseph Kellard
(image) While talk continues in Objectivist circles about a Christian organization's comparison of Ayn Rand to Jesus, I'd like to remind or enlighten HBLers [subscribers to the Harry Binswanger List], as I did when Mel Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ” was all the rage, about an excellent letter Miss Rand wrote that contrasts Jesus and Howard Roark. You'll find it in “Letters of Any Rand” (p. 287, hardcover), under the title: “To Sylvia Austin, a fan.”

Among the ideas Ayn Rand addresses are the contradiction between individualism (in regard to Christianity's reverence for the sanctity of the individual soul) and Jesus' morality of altruism, the demeaning implication that what is noble in man is strictly divine and not human, “bearing each other's burdens,” and “loving one another.”

About the latter she wrote: “Since all men are not virtuous, to love them for their vices would be a monstrous conception and a vicious injustice. One can not love such men as Stalin or Hitler. One can not love both a man like Roark and a man like Toohey. If one says one does, it merely means that one does not love at all.”

Stick that in your pipe, American Values Network!



Color Breathes Life Into an Ordinary Painting

2011-06-11T17:34:36.170-07:00

By Joseph Kellard
(image) Why did I take a photo of this painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you ask?

It should be obvious: the colors are brilliant and complimentary. They are used to make the central subjects stand out boldly in an otherwise nondescript scene that is as simple as its title suggests: Arabs Crossing the Desert (early 1870s).

The rich reds, yellows and green in the horsemen’s robes are set against and complimented by the expanse of cloudless blue sky, and the varieties of color used also comes across in the three different-colored horses: chestnut brown, gray and white.

The artist, Jean-Léon Gérôme, a French painter and sculpture (1824-1904), could have painted all the horses the same color, just as he could have given all the horsemen uniform clothes (perhaps their different-colored robes denote something about their status?). But then the painting would not stand out in anyway, since the action it depicts is slow and subdued, and the subjects are mostly hidden under their clothes.

Arabs Crossing the Desert is a great example of how color can carry a painting, making a rather routines scene “pop” and come alive.



The Vine

2011-06-06T17:18:56.766-07:00

By Joseph Kellard Whenever I trek to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I always try to pass through the American Wing to catch even just a glimpse of The Vine, by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880-1980). During my most recent visit there, with my new Nikon D90 in hand, I took several snapshots of this beautiful sculpture from a variety of angles. The Vine is one of my two favorite sculptures, competing only with Joy by Sam Axton. As I did with Joy, I eventually want to break down and analyze why exactly I find The Vine so special, why it strikes a particularly powerful chord with me, and perhaps put to rest which of the two sculptures I can definitively call my top favorite — that is, if I decided this is really necessary or even possible. Today, I simply want to show a few shots of this beautiful sculpture that evokes a similarly elative spirit as Joy. Which of the two works of art more effectively evokes that spirit — and why? These are questions to be answered perhaps another day. The following is a description of The Vine that accompanies the sculpture at the Met: In the early twentieth century, sculptures of dancing women were produced in great numbers, inspired in part by the popularity of Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller, and Anna Pavlova. Frishmuth often turned to dancers for her sculptural themes and employed them to pose for her with musical accompaniment. Show stretching upward and outward in imitation of a living vine, this lyrical nude balances on tiptoe in the ecstasy of performance, a grapevine suspended in her hands. The first version of the work, a statuette eleven and a quarter inches high, was enormously popular, cast in an edition of 396. In 1923, Frishmuth enlarged the sculpture to monumental scale, using Desha Delteil of the Fokine Ballet as her model. [...]



A Positive Voice for 100 Voices

2011-04-26T17:40:49.883-07:00

My informal review of a compelling book By Joseph KellardI recently finished reading 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand. I’m about to embark on writing a book review for a publication, so I’m not going to write nearly as much as I would like to about this great book. But I do have a few things to say about it that I think you'll find interesting, if not compelling. First and foremost, I learned about Ayn Rand more in depth, not only about matters I already knew about her, but many new factors I never knew, both minor and major. When you admire a person as much as I do Ayn Rand, this is the type of book you devour. I, at least, like to learn as much as I can about my heroes. What’s interesting about this book is that Ayn Rand’s life, character and personality are told through interviews with various people who knew Ayn Rand, from acquaintances to relatives to fans to the most ardent studiers and adherents of her philosophy. The opinions and perspectives are wide ranging, from those who found her and her philosophy unfavorable to those who were in complete awe of her intelligence, honesty and original ideas. From John Ridpath: “She had available at her mental fingertips a hug integrated body of knowledge. Once she understood any question put to her clearly, she would have no difficulty in answering it completely, including brining her questioner to see other implications of the question, and even to answering, in advance, ramifications of the discussion she knew the questioner would arrive at later.” Scott McConnell, the interviewer and creator of this book, established the media department and oral history program at the Ayn Rand Institute. And when reading his various interviews, it’s important to keep in mind that you must, of course, judge the accuracy of what people say — what you should take with a grain (or much more) of salt, and what is probably true since so many of those who were interviewed mentioned it.With this in mind, the reader must recognize that what some people say about Ayn Rand may reflect more on them than it does her. For example, the book starts with an interview with Rand’s sister, Nora, translated from Russian, and she shows contempt for her sister and her philosophy. Here, I recognized that Nora left the Soviet Union and visited her sister in America, and even though Ayn Rand offered her the opportunity to remain in freedom, Nora chose to return to the communist slave pen. That’s certainly something to keep in mind when considering Nora’s comments about her sister. One observation that was often mentioned among the people interviewed was that Ayn Rand and her husband, Frank O’Connor, were deeply in love with one another and cared greatly for one another through their 50-plus year marriage.Another reoccurring observation was that Ayn Rand had a commanding, forceful personality when it came to intellectual matters and was always especially intense when discussing philosophical ideas and their life and death implications, and yet her more casual side (if that’s even a proper way to describe her in repose) revealed a woman of extraordinary patience, graciousness, warmth and benevolence. There are some real gems in the book. One of my favorites is an interview with Marcella Rabwin. She was a former coworker of Ayn Rand’s, and Rand based her conformist character, Peter Keating in The Fountainhead, on her. Rabwin tells McConnell that she enjoyed reading the The Fountainhead, and that she had met Rand again after she had read it. Rand asked her about the phi[...]



My Long Road to Objectivism

2011-04-17T10:17:54.787-07:00

A looked back at my years-long introduction to Ayn Rand and her books that changed my life. By Joseph KellardIt all began unceremoniously enough, on a routine summer afternoon when I was about 12. I noticed a book in the grass next to my teenage sister, Maureen, as she sunbathed in our yard. It was a white paperback, a novel that, certainly unbeknownst to me then, would come to dramatically change my life — unfortunately, not for many years. I picked it up and liked the interesting painting on the cover, with its spotlight-like bars of sunrays that pierced dark clouds onto a city of skyscrapers. The novel’s title, The Fountainhead, in black, bold letters, piqued my curiosity, and I thought it was cool how the author, Ayn Rand, spelled her first name, which I (mistakenly) thought was pronounced “Ann.” I don’t recall asking my sister anything about the book, perhaps because I had no interest in reading much beyond my next issue of Sports Illustrated. And although that moment was fleeting, it made an impression, bared out in years to come, as I would recall that moment when I periodically came across that author's name and her book throughout my youth. My second encounter came a few years later, when I switched to reading Muscle & Fitness and Muscle Mag, two magazines that fed my teenage hopes of building a Mr. America-type physique. They featured articles by Mike Mentzer, a top bodybuilder who occasionally quoted passages from a character in The Fountainhead that evoked the virtues of individualism and independent thought. Mentzer used Rand’s words to buttress his unorthodoxed philosophy of high-intensity training, a system that challenged the sport’s conventional views on how to build eye-popping muscles. Thanks to Mentzer, I got a tantalizing taste of the ideas from that novel my sister once read. Around this time, I too was starting to pick up novels on my own, reading mostly 19th century classics, especially by Dickens and Tolstoy. But for some unknown reason, I was not yet inspired enough to pick up The Fountainhead. Instead, I put it with others on my imaginary “must read” list. A few more years would pass before I came across the unusual name of its author. I was likely in my late teens or early 20s when I opened 2112, an album by Rush, a progressive rock band, and read this dedication inside: “Lyrics by Neil Peart, with acknowledgement to the genius of Ayn Rand.”Meanwhile, a college philosophy class had inspired me to read the works of different thinkers and I found I was partial to Nietzsche’s Anti-Christ, as well as Dostoyevsky’s novels, especially Notes from Underground, a book with a protagonist who believes that 2+2 can equal 5. Still, I was not reaching for Ayn Rand’s novels or non-fiction at bookstores, but my next encounter with her words would prove decisive. On the dusty, overstocked shelves at a used bookstore, I came across a newly published compilation of Playboy interviews, entitled The Playboy Interview: The Best of Three Decades 1962-1992. It featured interviews with everyone from Muhammad Ali to Yassir Arafat to Bob Dylan, as well as that novelist that my sister had read, Mike Mentzer quoted and a lyricist-drummer considered a genius. By then I was in mid-20s and writing shorts stories with aspirations to become the next Joyce Carol Oates or the young Truman Capote. Philosophically, I was a subjectivist; politically a liberal. I recall that the issues I was grappling with most then were my agnosticism and growing di[...]



Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged

2011-04-16T04:12:39.164-07:00

(image)

By Joseph Kellard


The Atlas Shrugged movie is a shell of the novel.



The scripted dialogue was too off-base to allow me to excuse it as the best we can expect, given the state of our corrupt (moving-making) culture. It should have and could have been better, especially since this was as an independent film. Moreover, there was virtually no explicitly stated philosophy, except for a passing comment here or there (I think Dagny uttered the words: “stupid altruists,” which sums up perfectly my two points here).



And except for an opening montage about the terrible state of the nation/world, the movie throughout failed miserably to project that a national collapse is looming.



Of all the miscast characters, Francisco was the worst — my sister summed it up best when she commented that he looked like a Mexican drug dealer (think Al Pacino as Scarface — not the character you want his appearance to project). The acting was too often flat; the actors failed to capture the spirit of their characters. But given their script, you can half excuse them. The actor who played Rearden was probably the best. He did a good but not a great job.



Yes, the movie had some good moments, such as when Rearden is offered to sell his innovative metal to the government and he rejects the bribe, insisting, when asked why not, “Because it’s mine," and when earlier he shows no care about the "public perception" of him and admits that his only goal is "to make money." All good. But those moments seemed too few and far between, including the love scene between Rearden and Dagny, which came and went in a flash. (I hated that he prefaced their sex with: “I want to kiss you.” I can’t believe that line, in that moment, is in the novel.) Also, the visuals were sometimes spectacular, especially the trains riding through the Colorado landscape. But that’s the most excited I can get about this movie. 



It was a not terrible, and I would recommend that you see it if you are a fan of the book. And to those who have not yet read it, I think it will give you just enough to pique your curiosity to finally pick it up to find out what it's really all about. The shell of a great novel is there, and that’s a much better shell than most novels can provide. But I’ll chalk this one up as another example of a movie that falls far short of living up to the novel, and just hope that the filmmakers do a much better work with parts 2 and 3. In the meantime, go read the novel!



Bridge Renaming Ceremony Attracts Hundreds

2011-03-28T18:12:41.841-07:00

They honored Michael Valente, Long Beach's only Medal of Honor recipient, at City Hall on March 25. By JOSEPH KELLARDRalph Madalena wrote one letter last spring and that was all it took. Madalena requested the renaming of the Nassau County-owned Long Beach Bridge in honor of his grandfather, World War I veteran Michael Valente, and mailed the letter to County Executive Ed Mangano and County Legislator Denise Ford, as well as other government officials and local veterans groups.On Friday, less than a year later, Long Beach City Hall played host to the official bridge re-naming ceremony, with hundreds of people packed into the sixth-floor chambers, after the County Legislature last July voted unanimously to rename the bridge to Michael Valente Memorial Bridge.“Many cultures believe that you never die, so long as you are remembered, and people like my grandfather live on,” said Madalena with his wife, Francesca Capitano, a former Long Beach City Council member, and his daughter, Katherine Madalena, by his side.Private Valente, an infantryman, rescued his regiment from disaster in France on Sept. 29, 1918, and for his heroic acts he became Long Beach's lone recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor — the highest award for valor given to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces for actions against an enemy force. More than 3,440 medals have been awarded since its inception in 1861.Friday’s ceremony featured several speakers, including former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg and Long Beach City Manager Charles Theofan, as well as Joe Sciame, chairman of Conference of Presidents, David Laskin, author of the book The Long Way Home, which features a passage on Valente, and Stella Grillo from the New York State Order Sons of Italy in America. Everyone from local to national veterans groups to Long Beach students to Valente’s family, who travelled from as far as Florida to California, attended the morning event.The formal ceremony for the renaming was originally planned for Sept. 29, a date the city council designated Michael Valente Day in Long Beach in 2008. It was postponed to March 25, which is designated Medal of Honor Day nationwide. Ford was instrumental in spearheading and organizing the event.“He put himself in great danger to save so many,” Ford said about Valente in her opening remarks.The legislator and other speakers, some of who were friends with Valente, remembered and honored a man whose courageous acts came when his regiment, Company D of the 107th Infantry, was suffering heavy casualties during operations against German forces at the Hindenburg line near Ronssoy, France. Alongside a fellow soldier, Valente rushed forward through intense machine gun fire directly on an enemy nest, killing two gunners and capturing five enemy soldiers.Discovering another machine gun nest nearby that rained heavy fire on American forces, Valente and his companion charged it, killed the gunner, jumped into the enemy trench, killed two more soldiers and captured 21 others. Valente's actions represent the first penetration of the Hindenburg line, Madalena said. Nearly 11 years later to the day, on Sept. 27, 1929, President Herbert Hoover decorated Valente, then a retired sergeant, with the medal in Washington. "It's the proudest moment of my life," Valente said, according to a New York Times account dated the day after. On Friday, Sciame, who chairs an Italian organization, said it was not just a proud da[...]



There's No Denying, State and Science Don't Mix

2011-02-28T20:11:33.206-08:00

In "Fact-Free Science," Judith Warner of the New York Times praises President Obama’s request for budgetary increases for scientific research, particularly of “alternative energy,” but she then goes on to decry the so-called “politicization of science” of those pesky global warming “deniers.”

But what is government financing of scientific research if not the marriage of science and state, that is, the politicization of science? Government dollars are political dollars, and their injection into science, ultimately, is the injection of those whose political ideology rules the day. This is the corruption of science.

There’s much more not to like about this Time’s piece, particularly in that Warner tries to paint so-called global warming “deniers” (who are akin to Holocaust deniers) as taking a page from leftists of decades past, who explicitly denied reality’s existence as a way to undercut the very idea of scientific truth. But the reality Warner denies is that leftists still do this, that is, their global warming/climate change scaremongering entirely rest on those corrupt underlying premises that deny reality and thus (scientific) truths.

For now, let’s just stick to the idea that there should and must be a wall of separation between science and state. To deny that truth is to invite the corruption that makes up the state of climate science.



Russia's Slide Back into Statism Rolls On

2011-01-01T12:11:27.230-08:00

By Joseph Kellard

Surprisingly, the New York Times reports, as objectively as it can, on a successful oil businessman whose life, property and riches an authoritarian government — i.e., Putin’s Russia, has destroyed. The article, “Guilty Verdict for a Tycoon, and Russia,” is a great snapshot of how this outcome for Mikhail Khodorkovsky — “who had built and presided over Yukos, the biggest and best-run company in the country” —is the result of a government run primarily by arbitrary laws/regulations, political favors and pull and, of course, a complete disregard for the rights of man.

“Even since the Yukos affair, corrupt Russian politicians and businessmen have routinely used arbitrary laws and regulations to grab assets that didn’t belong to them. Royal Dutch Shell was the majority partner in a group that included the state-owned monopoly Gazprom to develop a giant oil and natural gas field. Suddenly, in 2006, it ran into severe environmental and regulatory problems — problems that disappeared as soon as Shell ceded majority ownership to Gazprom.”