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About Dismuke

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  • Location Fort Worth, Texas
  • Interests Early 20th century popular music and collecting vintage phonograph records from 1900 - 1939 era. Early 20th century architecture. I also operate a 24 hour Internet radio station, Radio Dismuke, devoted to popular music and jazz from the 1925 - 1935 decade. The station can be accessed at: http://dismuke.org/radio
  1. Stephen's Health

    I met Stephen on Usenet back around 1997 when he and Betsy were one of a very small Objectivist minority on what was then then the only free of charge forum where one could go to allegedly discuss the philosophy. Most of the threads on that forum were devoted to attacking Objectivists - and Stephen's staunch defense of the philosophy and his sense of humor made me smile and laugh many times. Like so many others who he had an impact on, I never met him. I am going to miss him. I wish that it would have been possible for him to read all of the nice things people are saying about him and know how much he meant to so many people. Isn't it sad that people usually wait to say such things until after a person is gone? Betsy - you mean a great deal to a lot of people as well. You and Stephen were very fortunate to have found each other. You have my deepest condolences.
  2. MAM = WOW

    Perhaps we are referring to different usages of the word "style." Sometimes people use the term to mean "faddish" or "popular" - and that is not the sense that I am using it in. When I made my point regarding style, I was thinking of the usage that Ayn Rand mentioned in "Art and Sense of Life" in which she said: "'Style' is a particular, distinctive or characteristic mode of execution." Of it, she said: "Style conveys what may be called a 'psycho-epistemological sense of life,' i.e. an expression of that level of mental functioning on which the artist feels most at home. This is the reason why style is crucially important in art - both to the artist and to the reader or viewer - and why its importance is experienced as a profoundly personal matter." (emphasis Ayn Rand's) In the above mentioned article, Ayn Rand was primarily talking about painting and fiction. However, she also said with regard to the performing arts: "The basic principles which apply to all of the other arts apply to the performing artist as well, particularly stylization, i.e. selectivity: the choice and emphasis of essentials, the structuring of the progressive steps of a performance which lead to an ultimately meaningful sum." In that sense of the term, do you think that it is valid to refer to a truly great architect as having a certain "style" - i.e. a mode of execution that is unique and distinctive to his works? One of my reasons for being interested in the term is because when I was recently skimming through James Valliant's The Passion Of Ayn Rand's Critics I saw several references to the term "stylized universe." Apparently, Branden coined the term - but on page 226 of the book is a passage from Ayn Rand's notes providing a definition: "In regard to a 'stylized" universe.' A stylized person...is a person who lives in reality according to his highest values, who takes nothing less, accepts no substitutes, and struggles to translate his values into reality, no matter what the difficulties." (All emphasis Ayn Rand's) Typically, when I say that something has "lots of style" I mean that it does a very good job at expressing, translating and concretizing certain values into reality - and, if those values reflect mine, then it is a style that I like. I usually don't mean it in the sense of fads or popularity as, for example, when people say that a certain item of clothing is "in style" this year.
  3. MAM = WOW

    This is along the lines of something I said in my previous posting - but I am going to word it here differently. I suspect you might have fallen into the fallacy of equating "adherence to principle" with adherence to dogma. It is an understandable error to make because, in today's culture and in the history of philosophy, most people who uphold principles DO regard them to some degree or another as dogma. But that is NOT the approach that Ayn Rand took - and understanding what her approach is crucial to understanding her philosophy. I can't cover the issue in one posting. The best thing I can suggest is to read what Dr. Peikoff wrote about the intrinsic verses the subjective verses the objective.
  4. MAM = WOW

    But working with a client does not necessarily compromise one's artistic integrity. Ayn Rand worked with her client, Warner Brothers, when it came to the writing of a screenplay for The Fountainhead. Ayn Rand did not have a problem per se with making changes to suite the legitimate needs of her client - i.e. that which was necessary to make a commercially profitable movie. But she did insist SHE be the one to make any changes to her script and she held her ground on suggested changes that she thought undermined her work. If you are some newbie architect just out of architecture school - no, your boss and your boss's clients are not going to give you free reign to design buildings anyway that you want and insist that they be built without change. That is something that has to be earned on the free market. But that doesn't mean that a newbie architect whose designs are revised by the head of the architectural firm has necessarily compromised his artistic integrity and the fact it is necessary for him to work for others in such a manner does not invalidate Ayn Rand's wider points about integrity in general.
  5. MAM = WOW

    But wouldn't you say that, in doing so - i.e. by creating a functional beautiful building - he would have expressed a "style" of his own origination? I can't recall exactly where in The Fountainhead it was said or what character said it, but I remember that one of Roark's prospective clients said he wanted his building to have "the Howard Roark look" (quoting here only from memory). Wouldn't that certain "look" which was common and unique to his buildings have constituted a style? In the end, what made me receptive to Howard Roark's position was I finally realized that there need not be a beauty/function dichotomy. As a kid, I was quite disgusted at most modern buildings I saw and considered the older ones to far superior aesthetically. I asked about and debated the issue with grown-ups and all that they could say to defend the new buildings was "they are functional" and "cheaper to operate." On that premise, windowless box made out of concrete pre-fab panels with an asphalt lot instead of landscaping would be the architectural ideal. So when I first read The Fountainhead that was the premise I thought Roark was coming from. And for the first few chapters, I actually kind of disliked Roark - the description of him in the opening scenes struck me that he was kind of a 1920s version of a hippie. Peter Keating, however, struck me as a nice enough fellow. That, of course, didn't last very long. As the novel progressed, Roark became increasingly sympathetic in my view because I admired his struggle and independence - though I was still suspicious of his buildings thinking that he was wanting to inject 1960s culture into the 1920s. What helped me realize that I was wrong about what Roark stood for was the character of Gus Webb who did stand for the kind of architectural ugliness that would become increasingly common after World War II. Plus there was the fact that Roark used a representational sculpture in one of this buildings. One rarely sees sculpture in post World War II buildings - unless it is the so-called "sculptures" which consist of chunks of rusting metal or a bunch of brightly colored geometric objects senselessly fused together.
  6. MAM = WOW

    I think I kind of see your point. In other words, if Howard Roark had been born in the Renaissance, the style of buildings he would have built and which would have been considered innovative and original would have been very different stylistically than the buildings presented in The Fountainhead. And, of course, the Howard Roark of the 1920s and 1930s would have been very much opposed to the Peter Keatings of the world making second hand imitations of the buildings of the Renaissance era Roark. And, in the same way, a contemporary Howard Roark would be opposed to making imitations of the Roark that Ayn Rand wrote about.
  7. MAM = WOW

    Vladimir - I am afraid I disagree. I think Ayn Rand explained her views on architecture very well and in great detail through the character of Howard Roark and the things he argued for. For that reason, I don't think it is correct or fair to label her position "arbitrary." One may perhaps disagree with it - but that does not make it arbitrary. Personally, I think Ayn Rand made a very convincing case for her position - and, trust me, I was a VERY hard sell on something like that. The reason I was a hard sell is because some of the same arguments that Roark made about his buildings were the same arguments that adults all my life had made to defend the bland and ugly 1970s garbage that I so thoroughly despised. But, ultimately, I came around - especially when it became clear that Roark was not opposed to ornamentation and beauty per se. I have no doubt that Ayn Rand and I would have had some big differences of opinion with regard to taste in architecture. My understanding is that she enjoyed a lot of the art deco style architecture that I am very fond of - and on that we would have probably had common ground. On the other hand, I love a lot of the grand and opulent older historically inspired buildings as well. I fell in love with such buildings at an early age and they have always been a great value to me - and Ayn Rand's arguments in The Fountainhead, while I understand and mostly agree with the intellectual point she is making, it certainly did not cause me to fall out of love with the sort of buildings I have enjoyed all my life. As to whether neo-classical styles are inferior - part of that depends on where one is coming from. To the degree that it is a matter of personal aesthetic preference, no, it does not necessarily follow that neo-classical building are inferior. But if one's standard is originality - well, then, yes, it would be simply because the style is NOT very original in today's context.
  8. MAM = WOW

    Ooops. I forgot that Invision Power Board has a default of 10 images per posting - and I picked out 12. Here are the final two - both of them showing ground floor details of the AIG Building in New York City. AIG Building ground floor detail AIG Building ground floor detail
  9. MAM = WOW

    I understand what you are saying and I really don't disagree with you. But I enjoy a lot of classical and other historically inspired architecture from the early 20th century, an era one could make an equally valid a case that it did not belong. I grew up in the Fort Worth/Dallas area where most parts of town were built in recent decades. At the time, the influence of the 1960s and 1970s was everywhere, including in architecture. My opinion is that most buildings from that era are bland and tacky at best and very frequently butt ugly. When I was a kid, I discovered the pre-World War II decades through photographs, music and old buildings and completely fell in love with the era. It was so CLEAN, so grand and so utterly different than the slovenly, shoddy and very cheap looking popular culture I grew up in. Go to some big city downtown and try to find an old early 20th century bank lobby that has managed to survive intact and look at the opulence and grandeur. When one went to the bank, everything about the place shouted out: this place is an important and dignified financial institution and by virtue of the fact that you have business here, you too are important and are part of something grand and wonderful. Now go into some modern banking lobby and, if you even notice your surroundings, try not to yawn. Next time you are in New York City, go into Grand Central Station and notice that it is actually GRAND. Compare that experience with the blandness of today's typical airports. The best you can hope for in most airports is that they have at least a little more class and atmosphere than a typical public housing project. The historically inspired architecture of the early 20th century may have been second handed in some respects. On the other hand, however, the craftsmanship, the attention to detail and concern for beauty was just wonderful and something that is all but lost in today's culture. Maybe aspects of it were second handed. But I will take second handed greatness over first hand mediocrity any day of the week. To me, the best architectural movement was the "modernist" movement of the 1920s that we today look back on and call "art deco." The architecture of that era was simply spectacular. It had the all the style, grandeur, craftsmanship and attention to detail that the historically inspired architecture before it had - but it wasn't borrowed. It was highly imaginative and innovative. After World War II, everything in the popular culture started going to pot in a very big way, including architecture and totally jumped into the sewers of nihilism and mediocrity once the 1960s came around. To illustrate what I am talking about with regard to 1920s -early 1930s architecture, here are some photographs I took this past April when I visited New York City for the Ayn Rand Centennial conference and for a couple of Radio Dismuke events. I consider all of these buildings to be outstanding and nothing that has been built since, in my opinion, even comes close. Chrysler Building Chrysler Building detail Chrysler Building detail Chryslier Building detail Empire State Building 11 Madison Park 11 Madison Park detail. Here is a building I only first noticed on my last trip to New York. It is the AIG Building and I fell for it the moment I saw it. Built between 1930 and 1932, it was the last jazz age skyscraper in the Wall Street area. It was originally called the Cities Service Building AIG Building AIG Building
  10. Discussion Without Bitterness.

    I think there are times when it is ok to get angry and to make that anger known. On the other hand, there is a certain point to what you say. Ours is an age culturally dominated by nihilism. There are people out there who will say things to attack people's values for the sole purpose of getting them upset. Observe that a lot of non-Objectivist atheist types will attack religion not so much because they have any intellectual problem with religion but rather because a lot of people value it. These are the types who like to get into the faces of the devout and shout "Jesus sucks." Such types are everywhere. Go to any non-moderated discussion venue purportedly about Objectivism and there will always be a handful who will say the most vicious things about Ayn Rand and Objectivism for no other purpose than to tick off everyone in the group. In the face of such people, the last thing you should do is become upset or angry because that is exactly what they want you to do. The only effective way I have ever found to deal with such people is to turn the tables on them and laugh at or ridicule them. By doing so, you demonstrate that you do NOT take them seriously - which drives them crazy. The smile on your face becomes like a magic mirror that throws them into the same fit of uncontrollable rage that they so desperately wanted to see in you.
  11. Discussion Without Bitterness.

    Why would something like that bother a rational person? Perhaps because he considers what is being said about him and his values to be an injustice. This would especially be the case if the attack in some way involved a distortion of one's position or taking something one said out of context. When evil creeps like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy seek to deliberately undermine this country's foreign policy and would risk our security in the quest of their nihilistic desire to see the United States get the "comeuppance" they think it deserves in the eyes of the rest of the world - well I get really ticked off not because I think their sick and perverted ideology might be right but because they are willing to attack and sell out everything that is good and decent which is, of course, unjust beyond words. In fact, my blood starts to boil the very instant those people open their mouths because I know exactly where they are heading and what they would do if they were allowed to get away with it.
  12. Wireless internet

    I think that point will arrive relatively soon. Right now, if I am not mistaken, there is a charge by the provider of the hotspot for Starbuck's wireless access. But every time I go inside one, the places are usually full of people with laptops. The cost of a T-1 runs about $500 per month anymore and the equipment to create a hot spot is not all that expensive - which means that, in the context of running a business, it does not cost very much to provide free wireless access as a courtesy to customers. I wouldn't be at all surprised that not very far into the future any coffee shop, fast food joint, shopping mall and travel center/truck stop that does not offer a free public hotspot for their patrons will pretty much be regarded in the same light as restaurants that do not accept credit cards (and I have actually run into a few of these over the years, which I discovered AFTER the fact and without sufficient cash in my wallet to cover the ticket!) Personally, I can't wait until they find a way to get cheap, unlimited highspeed access into people's cars - so they can listen to Radio Dismuke, of course! That will revolutionize the world of popular music in so many ways. There are literally tens of thousands of Internet radio stations out there with any type of format conceivable. No longer will motorists (who are always the largest segment of the radio audience) be confined to their own private music collections or the lowest common denominator bilge that is currently spewed out by AM/FM stations. One's choices will be virtually unlimited. Right now Verizon is offering high speed cellular Internet access for about $70 per month in certain markets. It is nowhere near as fast as a good dsl or cable connection - but it is sufficient to stream audio and do most of the other normal tasks people do on the Internet. That is pretty expensive compared with other highspeed options - but, in time, I am sure it will come down. If it catches on, perhaps hotspots will become as obsolete as floppy drives.
  13. Wireless internet

    Actually, the person in my example isn't a friend - it is the brother of someone I know from work. The way that the story was presented to me, I have no doubt that the person is aware that the signals are not always intended as a public service as he is supposed to be rather tech savvy. My guess is his thought process on the subject is limited to something along the lines of: If I pick up a signal, I'll surf. If not, not.
  14. Wireless internet

    That's just great. And when Google giving out free highspeed Internet access in San Francisco causes all other ISPs to pull put of the market, perhaps Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Leftist nutcases that infest that part of the world will persuade Google to filter its search engines and blog sites to disregard offensive content that contains certain unacceptable words - such as "capitalism" or "freedom" or "liberty" or "hamburger" etc. By then Google certainly will have gained plenty of practice from its experience in China. Not only that, San Francisco has a very large Chinese community. Perhaps Google could take a cue from Yahoo and report to the thugs in Beijing the names of people of Chinese origin who reside in San Francisco whose online activities brand them as "trouble makers" so Beijing's agents here in America can "deal with them." I am only being partially facetious here. One of the things that really sends shivers down my spine is when city governments start talking about giving away free wireless Internet. The thought of the GOVERNMENT being everyone's ISP - which is what will happen if this catches on and the regular ISPs fold - ought to be VERY frightening. After all, we can't have people using the "public Internet connections" for doing things such as looking at dirty pictures or engaging in Forum discussions in ways that might violate the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. Beyond concerns about government access to people's surfing habits and the potential for censorship of content, one should simply ask what would things be like today if governments a decade ago decided to make dial up access "free" for everyone and killed off the ISPs. I suspect we would have Algore running around complaining about how unfair it is that only the wealthy suburbs have access to those newfangled "high speed" 56k dial-up connections while the governments of the less wealthy cities have a hard enough time trying to provide 28k service for everyone else.
  15. Wireless internet

    Vladimir, I think the above is a good example of why the point I suspect you are trying to make might have a certain degree of validity. From a strictly legal standpoint, it may very well not be theft. But that is an entirely different issue as to whether it is theft from a moral standpoint. Now, one major difference between the TV station and wireless Internet signals is that the broadcasts on the channels 2 - 69 frequencies are presumed to be for public consumption and if the owners wish for them to be otherwise, it is their responsibility to scramble the signals. (As an historical aside, many may not realize that there was a brief period during the early 1980s when exactly that was done in certain major cities that did not yet have cable television. Certain UHF channels with scrambled signals existed for the purpose of showing premium content that was made available to subscribers who had special descrambling devices on their rooftops. Once cable television, and later satellite television arrived, such channels became obsolete and most of the channels ended up becoming independent broadcast stations. ) With wireless Internet signals, however, there is definitely NOT an expectation of intent that others will intercept and use those signals. But I don't know whether that is sufficient to make it illegal. There are other types of radio transmissions that are also not intended for public consumption either such as police and airline communications but there is nothing illegal about eavesdropping in on them. If you were to set up some sort of wireless intercom or video camera network inside your house, there would be nothing illegal about your nosy next door neighbor who was able to passively receive those signals tuning in and gossiping about it later. But your neighbor would be a rather creep person to say the least. Whether or not the same principle applies from a legal standpoint with regard to wireless Internet access, I am not sure. But I am not aware of any other type of situation where it is illegal to merely access the radio signals that are transmitted to one's property as they are transmitted. Where it usually becomes illegal is to descramble those signals. Now, with regard to the moral issue, I would say that mooching off one's next door neighbor's wireless Internet connection without permission his is definitely freeloading and inappropriate. To use a different example to make the same point, if you were to place some sort of amplification device between your ear and the wall dividing your apartment from your neighbor's in order to snoop in on his private conversations, what you are doing might not be illegal but it is highly unethical.