Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ayn Rand, Gen. Petraeus and Other Random Thoughts

Mike Barnicle, who used to write for the Boston Globe, would occasionally devote a column to a list of quick observations. If I remember correctly, the columns were always titled "Not That It Matters, But ..."

For your consideration, my own "Not That It Matters, But...":

  1. Ayn Rand, whose "Atlas Shrugged" was published 50 years ago this week, was a pain in the butt. She may have given literary voice to her charmless philosophy of greed, and may have been influential in capitalist circles (as though the profit motive has ever really needed philosophical buttressing) but the ideas she expressed are now commonplace. Furthermore, carried out a few decimal places, they quickly become reprehensible. Yes, Ayn, let's kill all the handicapped people, since they sap society's strength and keep all us productive people from giving ourselves singlemindedly to the pursuit of pleasure and profit. Sometimes, it matters whether an object of veneration was actually a decent person or not. She wasn't. (Check out the 1957 NY Times review of "Atlas," which was brutal.)

  2. This morning, walking on the treadmill at the gym, I flipped back and forth between three Sunday morning news shows: Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and Fox's whatever-they-call-it. Each, predictably, featured panels of politicians talking about Iraq. John Kerry made some reasonable points; John McCain sounded cornered and defensive; Bill Kristol and Juan Williams got testy with one another; and all the Fox moderator wanted to do was make the liberals on his panel admit that was wrong (read: unpatriotic) to call Gen. Petraeus "General Betray Us." And everybody sounded like they'd enjoy talking about something else for a change, because they know as well as anybody that in a time of war, the President will get what he wants, and all their speechifying about it is boring, inconclusive and ineffectual.

  3. Bush shouldn't get what he wants, but like the pope, he seems to view himself as infallible, and apparently that's what counts right now. And that's despite what the rest of the country may think or believe or even ardently desire. So, this, we must acknowledge, is democracy.

  4. It's apple-picking time in New Hampshire, and the orchards are crowded with people giving their little kids the chance to see where fruit really comes from. My part of New Hampshire is so heavily covered with apple trees that the new upscale houses cropping up on every hillside are really just sitting on lawns cut into old orchards. Quaint theme-parks, really, and requiring something only the rich could afford: lawn service companies that specialize in tending trees, picking up fallen apples, and mowing around dozens of precisely spaced, gnarled trunks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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