Joseph Kellard

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About Joseph Kellard

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  • Birthday 12/31/1965

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  • Location Long Island, New York
  • Interests Writing (journalism/opinion columns), Reading, Skiing, Travel, Art, Museums, Weightlifting, Pro Football (esp. Miami Dolphins), Hiking, Basketball, Mountain Biking, History, College Football, New York City, browsing Bookstores, Black and Tans, New York Yankees, analyzing Politics and American Culture
  1. Best TV Series Ever

    My all-time favorite TV shows are as follows (and my reasons for liking them): * Cheers (Great writing and acting; good story-lines that kept you watching each week) * The Odd Couple (Loved how Randall and Klugman played off of each others contrasts—a perfect receipt for comedy: Laurel and Hardy, etc.) * Moonlighting (Excellent writing that often played on words with much creativity; Bruce Willis played his obnoxious, fast-talking character perfectly) * Colombo (A sharp-minded detective who appeared absent minded to the murderers who always thought they could outsmart him)
  2. First Ayn Rand Encounters

    I was about 12-years-old when I first encountered the words "Ayn Rand." They were printed in black across this white paperback book entitled "The Fountainhead," and it had a "cool" painting on the cover (that is, Frank O’Connor’s “Man Also Rises.”) Everything about that book, the author’s unique name, the painting, even the word "fountainhead," were all new and very cool to me, a burgeoning subjectivist-leftist. My older sister, about 16 or 17 at the time, was reading the book. I didn't pick it up because I wasn't much interested in reading back then, especially a thick novel. In the immediate years that followed, I, a skinny kid, used to lift weights and buy bodybuilding magazines to learn how to build more muscles. In their pages were articles by Mike Mentzer, a top bodybuilder at the time, who often quoted Ayn Rand, particularly from "The Fountainhead." Mentzer was intriguing to me because he was the un-stereotypical bodybuilder, in that he was highly intelligent, well-read and philosophical. Further, he had his own unique system of working out that challenged conventional routines popularized by the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the sport. Alas, I was not inspired enough to go out and buy Ayn Rand's books. A few years later, I started to read novels voraciously, particularly by 19th century authors such as Dickens and Tolstoy, as well as philosophical books, from Plato to Nietzsche. During those years, when I was in my late teens and early 20s, I remember opening the inside of Rush’s album "2112” and reading the words: "To the genius of Ayn Rand." There again was that author who had written that book my sister once read. Still, I was not inspired to go out and buy "The Fountainhead." By that time, however, “The Fountainhead” was imbedded in my mind as a novel I should read, simply because I’d come across it so much. It was on my mental list of books to read. Then, one day, while browsing through a used book store, I came across a compilation of Playboy interviews. Inside, amongst such famous people as Spike Lee, Yasir Arafat and Muhammad Ali, there was an interview with, you guest it, Ayn Rand. I read it and was inspired enough by parts of it to finally read "The Fountainhead." I can't remember exactly when I read the novel. But it was around the late 1980s or early 1990s, that is, when I was in my early to mid-20s. But I do remember well that first reading. While I was underlining with agreement some of what Toohey preached, I was also blown away by Howard Roark. I'd never come across a character like him in literature before. He was utterly unique and totally "cool." I remember thinking: how can I be like that? Obviously -- having read all of Ayn Rand's works, studying the philosophy rather extensively since then, and immersing myself in all things Objectivist -- "The Fountainhead" certainly changed my life. I honestly don't know where I would be today without having read it. Honestly, there's a good chance I could have ended up in jail or dead. I had been going down the wrong path for a long time before reading Ayn Rand, and, for at least a few years, after reading her as well. But that has changed gradually but, now, completely. I am forever indebt to myself for recognizing the invaluable, life-promoting philosophy that Ayn Rand espoused, and for continuing to integrate it into more and more aspects of my life.
  3. Mom's Invaluable Lesson By Joseph Kellard May 14, 2006 My late mother, Rita, showered lots of love on her children, and she expressed her love to me best in a lesson capsulated by the saying "Be your own person." My individuality sprouted at age 7, when the seeds of my atheism were sown. My Catholic school teacher taught that Jesus walked on a body of water, but I doubted this "truth." Years later, I questioned why the equally unrealistic tales of Greek gods were called "myths," but an immaculate conception and a parted sea were "miracles" to be taken on faith. By 13, I'd rejected religion, refused to make my confirmation and stopped attending church. While my mother voiced her disapproval, she ultimately respected my decisions. She never imposed her beliefs on me. Her unstated yet invaluable lesson was that it's good to think for myself. Nonetheless, my mother wielded a strong influence on me throughout my adolescence. Intellectually, through her example as a voracious reader, she instilled in me a life-long love of learning. Morally, she shrewdly dissected people's beliefs and behavior, and fearlessly criticized them when they acted unjustly. Politically, she was a devout liberal of the FDR variety. Her positions seemed well reasoned, and she exemplified how to passionately stand up for your beliefs. The more experienced and well-read I grew, however, the more the independent, reasoning mind she'd cultivated in me challenged her beliefs. We often had some heated debates. For instance, my mother, a switchboard operator, believed the relatively low wages workers like her made was due to business owners collaborating to pay below what their employees should earn. If true, I asked, then why didn't employers conspire to pay all operators even lower wages? Because, I argued, when employers pay workers below what the free market demands for any labor, other employers will attract those workers with higher salaries, thus raising average wages. During such arguments, my mother often stubbornly repeated her positions. She clung to her beliefs -- her faith. And I'd stood by the truth, just like she'd taught me to do. While we eventually grew apart, my basic love for my mother never ceased. In part, I always admired her for teaching me, as I eulogized at her funeral, "how not to just passively accept what most people hold as true, but to question them to find the logic in their beliefs." Today, this lesson serves as the basis of my philosophy, one of rational inquiry and integrity toward my conclusions. If, instead, my mother had scornfully crushed my independent, individual beliefs early on, I¹d have been robbed of the opportunity to achieve the much greater happiness I've enjoyed since adopting my reason-based ideas. This achievement alone makes a parent's respect for a child's individuality a crucial part of parenting. * Joseph Kellard is a journalist living in New York.
  4. Soulmate

    I must say that I read RobertF's posts in this thread last week, and found myself disturbed when he essentially said that he will go a lifetime without a romantic partner and without having sexual intercourse if he can't find his ideal partner (right down to the fact that she had to be in the same profession as him). I don't mean to offend RobertF, but I must say that I think this is dreadful. It’s on thing to have an ideal; it’s another to approach your values in such a rigid, restrictive fashion. I was reminded of all this when I read this insightful post, and I offer it here for RobertF to read and to seriously consider that it describes him: Go to: Scroll down to: Friday, September 23, 2005 The Unselfish Objectivist: How Intrinsicism Undercuts Values
  5. Rand on American Slavery

    I’d like to recommend an obscure yet insightful reference to the Founding Fathers and slavery. In the taped lecture "The Art of Thinking," Dr. Leonard Peikoff addresses this subject in the section on writing--specifically, while critiquing a letter to the editor, he raises a critical issue: anthropology. If memory serves me well, Dr. Peikoff discusses how the absence or infancy of this science influenced the Founder’s thinking about blacks and slavery. Also, Robert Tracinski, in a late-1990s issue of The Intellectual Activist, wrote a great piece about Thomas Jefferson as the fierce opponent of slavery who nevertheless owned slaves. Both these references shed great light on how to objectively assess historical subjects by using history of ideas and a contextual methodology.
  6. Letter to a Sports Hero

    * Dan Marino, the most productive quarterback in National Football League history, was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday, August 7. The following is a letter I wrote to the football legend prior to the induction ceremony. (Since this isn't a letter to the editor, I decided to post it here, in the essays forum, instead.) August 2, 2005 "[T]he sight of an achievement [is] the greatest gift a human being could offer to others." -- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged Dear Dan Marino, Congratulations on your induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I thought this momentous occasion was the best time to tell you that you are among a select few who have had a particularly positive influence on me. These few include my mother, who sparked in me a love for knowledge, Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance man whose life embodied an impassioned pursuit to know one's world, and philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand, who discovered the knowledge necessary to live by for success and happiness. So where do you, a star athlete, fit into my constellation of stellar role models? Unlike most professions, professional sports put a spotlight on their participants for all to see, and athletics (particularly football, my favorite sport) illustrate in condensed, intensely exciting fashion the virtues and values necessary for success in any field. Further, sport is one of few fields left in our society in which achievement, excellence and even perfection are widely pursued and wildly celebrated. Sports fans can routinely observe all these qualities displayed in concrete action and be inspire to apply them to their own lives and work. So I dismiss the detractors who deride sport as "just a game" that "contributes nothing to society." Instead, I liken the careers of some athletes to works of art, such as novels or movies that project what men should be and can be. At a certain level, an elite athlete stands as a real-life fictional hero, like a Roy Hobbes from The Natural. This is what your Hall of Fame career has stood for me. By faithfully following your play with the Miami Dolphins (my favorite team), I was offered the sight of a man who projected, game in and game out for 17 years, a host of exemplary virtues and values. Your top value was to win every game and, ultimately, a championship. That this singleness of purpose was n ever subordinated to any other goal was made clear by your disappointed demeanor after you had tied or broke NFL career quarterback records in games the Dolphins nevertheless lost. Your brash confidence was an outgrowth of your ability to throw a football with unprecedented laser speed and pinpoint accuracy. This competence fueled your unshakeable belief that at any point in a game you could put your team on your shoulders and single- handedly command a victory. Some of the most memorable games in which these qualities shinned were your defeat of the undefeated Bears in 1985, your five touchdown passes against the Patriots on your return in 1994 from a season-ending Achilles injury, and the come-from-behind victory on your fake-spike play against the Jets later that year. And it was the hope you gave to your fans -- the hope that even with mere seconds left on the clock you could still stage a comeback (something you did a near record number of times) -- that was the most inspirational part of your career. Even in games the Dolphins were almost certain to lose, you still continued to play your heart out. You knew no other way to play. And you would undoubtedly have won many such games if your teammates had suddenly exhibited just half of your exemplary confidence, competence and will to win. That is why it is myopic and unjust that some people highlight that you never won a Super Bowl. In actuality, it was primarily the Dolphins teams around you that never won. When the greatest pure passer, the most productive quarterback, and one of the fiercest competitors in NFL history lead your teams, the fault for never having achieved a championship must lie elsewhere. Add to all the above your study of the game, particularly of the opposing defenses that you famously picked apart, and the thought with which you approached your craft was unquestionable. Your intelligence -- along with your considerable mental and physical toughness that allowed you to play in an outstanding 145 consecutive games and for 17 seasons -- are the keys to why you are the quarterback with the second most victories ever. Considering all that you had to endure around you, it's no wonder you became a fiery leader. Your leadership was captured best by that trademark piercing stare you darted at your teammates who failed to give their all as you always did. That stare said everything about your approach to football: take your work intensely seriously and expect the same in others. And I learned from an interview with your son, Dan Jr., on "Inside the NFL," that your leadership on the field carried over into your everyday life. He stressed that instead of telling him what the right things to do were, you mainly taught by example. And Dan Jr., an aspiring actor, said something that reveals you taught him a crucial lesson. "I don't play a lot of sports," he said. "But my father doesn't really care about that. What he cares about is that you work really hard at what you love to do. And I really learned that from him." This reminds me of a scene from Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead, when Howard Roark, a heroic, innovative architect, sits on a boulder overlooking a valley dotted with summer resort homes created by him. A boy on a bike comes across this view and is awed by Roark's achievement. The scene ends with this inspiring passage: "Roark looked after [the boy who headed down a path toward the houses below]. He had never seen that boy before and he would never see him again. He did not know that he had given someone the courage to face a lifetime." I wrote this letter because I wanted you to know that by offering the sight of an outstanding athletic career, you have played an important part in giving me the inspiration to pursue a lifetime of values. A poor student in school who in early adulthood had one foot on a road to self-destruction, I was able to turn my life around to where I have both feet firmly planted on a path to self-fulfillment. Today, I'm pursuing my passion, a writing career, with the seriousness, singleness of purpose and love of work that, in part, your career illustrated is desirable and possible and that can bring success and happiness to one's life. In closing, Dan Marino, I simply want to say to you what the boy on the bike told Roark before he headed toward his valley of homes: "Thank you." Joseph Kellard
  7. Letter on Obesity in NY Times

    I had the following letter published in the New York Times on July 7. To the Editor: Paul Krugman, instead of suggesting that food companies are responsible for the food children eat and the health risks their indulgence may cause, should accept that people are responsible for their own eating habits. It is the responsibility of parents to decide what their children eat, and of the children themselves as they grow older and more independent. Obesity is strictly their problem, not the food companies' or any other American's. Food companies should remain free to market their products, including ads targeted at young people, thus exercising their right to free speech (advertising) and their right to free trade (the production of materials that individuals willingly buy). Joseph Kellard Oceanside, N.Y., July 4, 2005
  8. Minors

    mcgwiddles writes: "What I would like to ask is how is pornography so different from a Greek sculpture? What makes you consider it so grossly improper? It can be done in an artistic way and why shouldn't it be completely protected by the first amendment." There is a phenomenon today that I call “the pornography package deal,” and mcgwiddles seems to be employing it here. I write "seems to," because I don't know how the concept pornography stands in his mind, nor do I know what “Greek sculpture” he is referring to. The pornography package deal involves the lumping together the depiction of a person posing nude (or even just scantily-clad) with a person or persons involved in a sexually explicit act. To me, pornography is the depiction, in film, photography, art, etc., of people engaged in sexual intercourse, or a person or persons performing *explicit* acts with their anatomy, that is, their genitals, breasts, orifices, etc., in ways solely meant to sexually excite the viewer. Considering this, I’ve heard the Victoria’s Secret fashion show that once aired on TV described as “soft-core porn,” and even Playboy, a recent issue of which I haven’t seen in years but used to simply show women posing naked, I’ve heard described as “pornography.” Of course, even if the Victoria Secret’s models on TV were naked while walking down the runway, I’d still not refer to this as porn -- yet, thanks to the pornography package deal, some people do. These are usually the neo-Puritans -- the radical feminists and religious conservatives -- who employ this package deal to smear as grossly offensive even the most rational, beautiful forms of nude or naked depictions of women or men. If the Greek sculpture that mcgwiddles refers to is your standard nude -- since ancient Greeks regularly celebrated human beauty in all its undress -- than his comparing it to pornography is a form of washing away these distinctions.
  9. In Praise of Obesity

    In Praise of Obesity By Joseph Kellard January 17, 2003 Americans are criticized for being the world's most overweight people. Yet our excessive bodyweight reflects on America's highest values and achievements. Being obese is detrimental to one's health, resulting in the risk of stroke, certain cancers and premature death. Some researches estimate that obesity in America contributes to more than 300,000 deaths a year. How then can this problem be considered rational and an achievement? Historically, before the United States existed, obesity was virtually nonexistent. In the West, people were fortunate enough to survive, since famine was common and disease was rampant throughout Europe. In parts of France during the mid-17th century, for example, life expectancy was 20 years, and in early eighteenth-century London, three-quarters of the children died before they turned five. Men, women and children labored for many hours doing some form of backbreaking work simply to feed, clothe and shelter themselves. These dire conditions changed with America's pro-reason philosophy and unprecedented freedom and their consequence -- the Industrial Revolution, with its labor- and time-saving machinery. The 20th century witnessed the transition of an economy dominated by physical labor to one more intellectually driven, along with the continual growth of everyday labor-saving devices, including the automobile, vacuum cleaner, and remote-controlled TV. All of these developments created for the general population a dramatic explosion of wealth, food production and spare time for rest and recreation. For the first time ever, the average man had the opportunity to live a relatively sedentary lifestyle -- including the option to eat in excess. Certain critics of American obesity often indict our productive but less physically demanding lifestyle as the cause of this problem. Curiously, they say we are too fat because we are "lazy," yet these same critics, usually from the political left, cry that Europeans have longer vacation time than "overworked" Americans. When these productive Americans then buy material goods or take vacations in exotic locals with their earnings, the critics decry these as "luxuries" that add to the notches on our belts. We Americans have become too removed from our "primitive origins," they chide, and we must get "back to nature." In reality, the further man progresses from the cave and the generally brutish, short life he has lived up until the West established capitalism, the better he is due to the freedom and opportunities inherent in that economic system. While obesity is an unhealthy, undesirable state, the fact that people can put on many pounds is an historical achievement. It represents what our numerous emaciated and famished ancestors were unable to possess: the option of choosing their bodyweight. When I once leafed through a five-and-dime movie magazine from the 1940s, I found something unseen in contemporary America -- an advertisement for skinny people wanting to gain weight. Observe that today obesity is more common among poorer Americans than with their wealthier countrymen. This fact indicates that America's problem with weight may greatly lie with the Left's "progressive" social and political measures than with our nation's capitalist-inspired lifestyle. American obesity is rooted in attacks on personal responsibility, a virtue undercut by the progressives' expansion of the welfare state during the 1960s, when our waistlines began expanding like never before. With the expansion of a system that discourages people from saving for their own retirement (Social Security) and health care (Medicare/Medicaid), and that pays them for not working (welfare), came the spread of increased anti-personal responsibility in American life. A phenomenon reflected by the many people who fail to keep themselves in good health, which includes their overeating fattening foods. Moreover, a crusade is growing, born of feminism's attack on objective standards of beauty, which asserts that weighing, say, 400 pounds is as "beautiful" as being a Victoria's Secret model; that people who exercise to earn trim or muscular physiques are aesthetically no better than people whose bodies are shaped by their sitting around indulging in sweets. The fat-is-beautiful crusaders criticize Americans for being "obsessed" with thinness. Their criticism, however, is aimed at the same target as the critics of obesity. The fitness movement is also a product of the Industrial Revolution. Only when man's backbreaking labor was eased or eliminated by machinery did he have the energy and time to lift weights to build his muscles as a form of recreation. Thanks to the Western values of reason, capitalism and productive achievement, he now has the choice to gain weight, lose it or develop his body to perfection. From here on out then, let America's fattest people be a reminder of how far we've advanced from the cave. * Joseph Kellard is a journalist and freelance editorialist living in New York. Mr. Kellard hosts a website that feature his editorials and essays, The American Individualist, at Contact Mr. Kellard at
  10. Sleeper (1973)

    ChristopherSchlegel wrote: "I just got ["Sleeper"] on DVD a couple of months ago & it was the first time I've seen it since I was a teenager. It was still funny in parts & it was surprising how many philosophical/political references it contains….” Yes, most of Allen's pre-1990s movies contain many philosophical references, whether implicitly or explicitly. (I haven't seen most of Allen's films since). “Love & Death,” "Hannah & Her Sisters,” and “Crimes and Misdemeanors" come to mind as perhaps his most philosophical films. Allen’s movies make clear that he’s read a lot of philosophy, and also that he’s very philosophically corrupt. As I mentioned in my original post, Allen is obsessed with death. His philosophy is perhaps best captured in a line from “Annie Hall,” in which his character says: “I’ve a very pessimistic view of life…I feel that life is divided up into the horrible and the miserable.” In “Hannah & Her Sisters,” Allen starts off one scene with the following quote from Leo Tolstoy: “The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless.” In that scene, Allen’s character thinks to himself: “Millions of books written on every conceivable subject by all the great minds, and in the end, none of them knows anything more about the big questions of life than I do….Nietzsche with his theory of Eternal Recurrence. He said that the life we live, we’re going to live over and over again the exact same way for eternity. Great. That means I’ll have to sit through the Ice Capades again. It’s not worth it.” This is only the tip of the iceberg of Allen’s philosophical references in his movies. However, they don’t get any brighter than this. I now realized that one of the things that initially intrigued me about Allen was how he could be so funny and yet so depressing. It’s something for me to contemplate more, but thanks to Ayn Rand I now realize that humor can be used for many different purposes. Moreover, as I also mentioned in my original post, the outstanding aspect of Allen’s humor is how he integrates the incongruous. Anyway, since this threat is about “Sleeper” (which I still haven’t re-watched yet), I figured I’d offer this good line from it. The line comes when the Diane Keaton character asks Allen if he believes in God. Allen says no, and she follows: “You mean, you don’t think there is anyone looking over us?” Allen: “I do, unfortunately, it’s the government.”
  11. Sleeper (1973)

    I just wanted to correct a spelling mistake I noticed in my previous post. I wrote "pealing" instead of "peeling." That's just too terribly simple a mistake to let pass.
  12. October Sky

    What I enjoyed most about "October Sky" was its celebration of individualism. The movie’s main character pursued rocket science despite that his father expected he would go the traditional route and follow in his footsteps into the coal mines. It was inspiring that the boy asserts himself and pursues what he loves despite that his father expects otherwise.
  13. Sleeper (1973)

    If I recall correctly, “Sleeper” is the last of Woody Allen's slapstick comedies -- that is, his earliest films, which include "Take the Money and Run" and "Bananas." It’s been years since I’ve seen this movie, and my philosophy has completely changed since I last saw it, but I recall this being a very funny futuristic movie. (I still consider Allen among the greatest comics mainly because of his keen ability to integrate the totally incongruous, even if his personal philosophy is, to put it mildly, quite depressing and corrupt. He is, or at least was, someone obsessed with death, and this comes out in many of his movies.) Anyway, one funny line I recall from “Sleeper” comes when Allen’s character is asked to comment on famous people from the past that he’s shown through a series of photographs. When Richard Nixon’s mug appears, Allen says something to the effect of: “Whenever he left the White House, the secret service used to count the silverware.” My favorite slapstick scene involved Allen pealing a giant banana. Some men hunting him down spot him pealing the banana and chase after him. Attempting to dash away, Allen repeatedly slips and falls on the banana peals in a very fast, Keystone Cops-type sequence. There’s probably a lot more that I’m forgetting about this movie, but I do recommend it for its humor. As to its philosophy, and his view of technology and the future, I’d have to re-watch it to give a proper review. Maybe I’ll do that soon. Stay tuned….
  14. "The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer -- because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement."~ Ayn Rand What exactly does it mean to "conquer" a woman? I'm not sure exactly what actions would entail conquering a woman in the context of pursuing her romantically/sexually.
  15. Queen Christina

    Scott McConnell's evaluation of both "Queen Christina" and its star, Greta Garbo, in the January 2004 Intellectual Activist prompted me to watch the movie (along with "Ninotchka"). Garbo is wonderful as a 17th century queen of Sweden, and would have been a perfect Dominique in the film version of "The Fountainhead." In "QE," Garbo plays a woman tired by her duty of ruling Sweden. She assumed the throne as a young girl at her father's death, and in adulthood she yearns to take some time off from royalty. So she poses as a man and heads off on horseback to a countryside inn, where she falls in love with a Spanish envoy. According to McConnell's review, there is a wonderful love scene at this setting, but the video I rented cut it out. Nevertheless, Garbo plays a confident and exotically attractive queen, (to borrow wording from McConnell). But, to me, the independent, individualistic, and selfish spirit that Garbo expertly projects climaxes when she entertains thoughts of abdicating the throne to be with the man she loves, the Spanish envoy, instead of dutifully marrying Prince Charles, as her chancellor tells her she must do. Christina: …All my life I've been a symbol. A symbol of eternal change. An abstraction. A human being is mortal and changeable -- with desires and impulses, hopes and despairs. I'm tired of being a symbol. I long to be a human being. This longing I cannot suppress. Chancellor: And yet you must. You will. His hand is upon you, the king's. Christina: I have always listened to you with awe, [chancellor]. I respect no one in the kingdom as much as you. Yet something in me cries out that this cannot be true, but one must live for oneself. After all, chancellor, one's own life is all one has. The Chancellor essentially tells the queen she must give up her selfish desires to do her duty, to which she sighs, "Duty? Duty?" -- as if exhausted by this ethical calling. In "Queen Christina," Garbo projects a supremely confident, independent woman shedding off unwanted duties to pursue her happiness, and she does so in the face of the protestations of her people, who adore and admire her. If not inspiring enough to make you want to watch this movie, then watch it simply to marvel at Garbo's unusual femininity and outstanding beauty -- as I did.