Jim A.

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Everything posted by Jim A.

  1. Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011)

    Well, I finally saw Atlas Shrugged: Part 1. I can't say I was disappointed. I wasn't expecting very much at all. The whole damned thing looked like a TV show. It did not seem like watching a big-budget style Hollywood Romantic epic like Gone With the Wind. Also, it really bothers me that a single, great novel is being split up into three movies. And now I hear that the makers of Part 2 are changing all the actors and actresses! Can this be true? As for the drama and quality of the filmmaking: an adaptation of Ayn Rand's novel deserves a director with the artistic abilities of Fritz Lang or D.W. Griffith, even Victor Fleming (Gone With the Wind) or Robert Wise. And speaking of Wise, The Day the Earth Stood Still, which he directed, has some Atlas Shrugged-like qualities to it (even though that film is, in a way, a liberal plug for the U.N.). Klaatu, in one part of the movie, makes his own statement to the whole world, in words and in action, that changes things forever. And the scene where he quietly enters the boarding house and is suddenly seen in shadow should give a hint as to how the scene in Atlas Shrugged when Dagny is in her temporary office and sees the silhouette of a mysterious figure outside her door, reaching to turn the doorknob and then deciding not to, should be filmed. Another thing that I don't like is that evidently we will not hear Halley's Concerto. Maybe it's because film producers don't believe a concerto could be composed for a film. But as I believe I've said somewhere else on this forum, a concerto has been composed for at least one picture in the past--Dangerous Moonlight, with Anton Walbrook. Richard Adensell wrote his "Warsaw Concerto" specifically for that movie.
  2. Obamacare Upheld

    For years I've wondered what the psychological motivation (most likely subconcious) is for those people who want government to dictate the rules of healthcare insurance or to actually provide it. I'm going to go out on a limb. I'm going to psychologize about this. But after I present my theory I'd also like to know what ideas others have about the deeper motives people who demand governmentally controlled healthcare have. Life/reality does not guarantee that an individual will live out his or her entire potential lifespan. Your life/survival is not guaranteed by reality. So--I believe (but I cannot prove)--that, knowing this, the people who want the government to get involved in healthcare want to wrest such a guarantee from the government (even though they may evade the fact that government-controlled healthcare will actually kill the health field). It is strictly out of an infantile and irrational fear of being helpless that people want the government to take care of them, even if indirectly. I'm very possibly wrong. But I can't think of any other motivation in such people.
  3. In the documentary film Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, there is a clip from an interview that, as I recall, Tom Snyder conducted with Ayn Rand. In it, the interviewer said something about us being simply corpses in the ground when we die, and that he hoped that wasn't going to be the case, that we could hopefully keep on living after we die. Ayn Rand responded back assuring Mr. Snyder that we are not just corpses in the ground when we die, that we are literally "not there". Then she quoted an ancient Greek philosopher (she didn't say who) who said: "I will not die; it is the world that dies," and she said "...that is absolutely true." Now: I don't believe Miss Rand meant that as primacy of consciousness. I truly believe she was coming from the primacy of existence even in that statement. But I am trying to figure out how. Can anyone help me understand exactly what she meant? I'll venture my own guess: If the "world" is the sum total of everything one knows about the universe--everything--and if your "I" has nothing to do with the duration of your physical life but everything to do with your integrity to yourself up until the very end of your physical life, then it could be said that when your body, which fuels your brain and mind and therefore your memory, dies, then the "world"--i.e., everything you know about the universe--dies, too. But--as with Cyrano de Bergerac and his "white plume" or his "panache"--your "I" remains intact.
  4. Epistemology and Current Events (1992, Rodney King case)

    When people across the country were rioting in "response" to the Rodney King situation, I was working the graveyard shift at a Seven-Eleven store in Sacramento. At about 1:30 AM on a Friday or Saturday night, as I recall, the parking lot in front of the store and adjacent establishments was full, and no newly arriving patrons could find a place to park. There was one vehicle with the driver still in it which had been parked in the store spaces for probably an hour. Many cars had had to skip Seven-Eleven and go somewhere else to buy what they needed because of patrons in the store who had parked in front, so this person who was parked without entering the store at all for a very long time wasn't helping. I took a moment to go outside and ask if the gentleman inside the vehicle (there was no one else with him) would like to come in to the store to buy something. He told me he didn't, and I asked him politely if he would please leave so that customers could pull up and enter the store. He then started to pull a club out from between the two front seats of the car, and said something like: "I don't think Rodney King should have been beaten up." My immediate thought was: "What the hell is the (epistemological) connection between the situation with Rodney King and leaving a parking space available for people who wish to shop at Seven-Eleven?" I didn't say this, however; you cannot reason with an animal (and this was someone who was becoming an animal by choice). He ultimately didn't do anything with that club, and I believe I called the police (and in such a way that he could see, inside the store, that I was doing that) and the "gentleman" eventually left. Anyway, the "thinking" of some people is truly "amazing".
  5. Happy Birthday to Jim A.

    Thank you, Betsy and John Rgt!! I plan to make it one.
  6. During a move, I misplaced my copy of Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs and I can't find it. I'm trying to remember the exact line from the novel that warns of approaching dictators, something like: "You know a tyrant is about to take power when the state begins to require a license for every kind of service or product." That's what we've been seeing in this country for the last few decades. Does anyone remember the exact line (and where in Hugo's book I can locate it when I get my next copy)? I'd sure like to be able to quote it, since Victor Hugo said it better than anyone else would have.
  7. Hello the Group

    A=A: That's great that Atlas "fired you up"! I think it's a terrific Ayn Rand work to start with. The one that started me off was The Romantic Manifesto; it literally changed the course of my life (some other time maybe I will state the reasons why). But my favorite book--by anyone--is The Fountainhead (I could talk all day about that novel; some other time for that, too!). I hope that, with a fresh mind after reading other works by Ayn Rand, you eventually re-approached The Fountainhead and were not only able to read it all the way through, but to enjoy and love it as much as I did. Good luck on your intellectual journey. It will not be a journey into a rationalistic stratosphere, but one on which you will discover rational ideas which apply to your own life--here on earth--long-range and everyday.
  8. Hello the Group

    Welcome, A=A: I am curious (and maybe others are, too) how you "stumbled" on Ayn Rand, and what the novel, play or non-fiction work by her was that really got you started on studying her view of life and her philosophical system.
  9. Greece

    I was reading today about the current economic troubles in Greece, which, according to the article (and the author is probably correct), could adversely effect the rest of Europe and, eventually, the world. I am a complete ignoramus in the area of economics. But, when reading that article, I wondered: When it comes to the United States, isn't there something wrong--somewhere--when our own economy's condition or fate can be determined by what happens economically in another country? Is there something wrong with this picture? Or is that just the way things are?
  10. As It Is in Heaven (2004)

    So Paul: Would you say that As It is in Heaven is the anti-Ingmar Bergman movie from Sweden?? That would be nice!
  11. Painter Thomas Kinkade has just passed away, as you've probably heard. His work--which I don't admire--can stand for something rather discouraging in the culture. Many people love his paintings. They are representational, and he was a skillful painter (though he was no Michelangelo, Vermeer or Rubens as a creator of art). But what do his paintings represent, ultimately? When I see his paintings of country cottages, I sometimes think: "Yes, I would probably like living in a place like that." But only as long as I wasn't too far from a major city, and I had the same machines, appliances and gadgets that I have in my present home. I suspect the reason so many people love Kinkade's work is that they long to live in some "simpler time" in the past, where they could simply live out their days sitting by the fireplace in a Kinkade style house, drinking hot chocolate, and never have to struggle to keep up with the world or with technology (of course, they would have to struggle to keep up and maintain more immediate things, like food in the kitchen/pantry, firewood in their beloved fireplace, fuel for their car--or hay for their horses--etc., let alone insuring they have access to good medical care, however primitive and non-technological). They would be "safe," warm and comfy in such a house, and would never have to risk anything by stepping out of it into the world. I see Kinkade's work as anti-modern-world and anti-industry.
  12. Atlas Shrugged Part 2 Begins Principal Photography

    This is what I feared would happen when I heard that Atlas would be a three-part movie with only the first part completed when it was first released: at least one of the main characters would be played by a different actor or actress (e.g., Samantha Mathis now plays Dagny Taggart instead of Taylor Schilling). It's not that any new performers of roles from Part I will not be any good. What really grates against me is the prospect that this divided-up film (from a single novel) will be like three different movies. I expect consistency from films, and that they be self-contained. I always wanted Atlas Shrugged to be just one movie, say, about three-and-a-half or four hours long (at the most). I believe you should be able to enjoy a great film in one sitting (maybe with an intermission). Would you be able to include everything in a three- or four-hour film of Atlas? Of course not, and I don't think anyone would expect that. But they would expect the essentials of the story: the essential characters, the essential situations, and, most of all, the essential ideas and sense-of-life of the book. And if you are going to make a three-part movie, then film it all at once and release the three parts in three consecutive years. What would you do if--worst case scenario--one or more of your actors died between movies being made, for instance? And if Peter Jackson can film something all at once first, why can't other people who take on something like Atlas Shrugged? (The ironic thing is that J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is actually three individual books, not one novel, even though they are all connected. That, I believe, is due to the saga-style story of the opus.) Well. we'll see how well Part II of Atlas goes. It may be very good. I just think that anything like the story in Atlas is more profound and has more impact if presented as a unit.
  13. Lynch mob for Zimmerman?

    I've only started following the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, and I'm beginning to wonder if there is a nation-wide lynch mob gathering to bring George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., to "justice". Zimmerman, a non-black, shot and killed Martin, a 17-year-old black man, in the community he was patrolling. He suspected Martin might have been a trespasser, and wanted to follow him. But later Martin walked up behind Zimmerman and confronted him. According to Zimmerman, Martin, unprovoked, launched a physical attack on him, punching his nose and slamming his head on the street or sidewalk, drawing blood. He was on top of Zimmerman, who then shot him at close-range (it would be kind of hard to fire from farther away if one was shooting a firearm to defend oneself). Media, political figures and, apparently, celebrities are calling for Zimmerman, who is in hiding, to be arrested. And issue has been made of the fact that Martin is black and Zimmerman is not. President Obama has even said, with his customary profound eloquence, that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. Is a nation-wide lynch mob gathering here? Are people thinking in terms of collectivist (i.e., racist, tribal) judgments, rather than of the sanctity of the rights of the individual, such as with Mr. Zimmerman? And what about acknowledgment of the responsibility of the individual for his own actions, such as with Mr. Martin?
  14. Wow, just. . . wow.

    My favorite line was spoken by Bogey to Conrad Veidt, after Veidt's character asked Bogey's what he would think of Germany invading New York: "There are certain parts of New York, Major, I wouldn't advise you to invade."
  15. John Carter (2012)

    I was bored with it. But I wasn't disappointed. Ever since 2003, when I read the novel John Carter is based on, A Princess of Mars by American pulp writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, I thought that Peter Jackson--the director of the Lord of the Rings films and the recent remake of King Kong--should direct that book; it was perfect material for him. When I learned that someone else had directed it, I knew what to expect. But the thing that was the most sad for me was that a little scene in the novel was not shown in the film. That scene contained a line of dialogue that challenged the very idea of and worship of the idea of "community" and, in another line of dialogue, challenged community ownership of private property, i.e., communism (and remember: the book was published in 1912, in a time when America had a stronger sense of its own values). It even hinted that that kind of social system meant individuals owning each other.
  16. The Artist (2011)

    WARNING: Plot spoilers may follow: For many years I've thought it would be great if someone made a silent movie today, taking advantage of all the artistic possibilities that eliminating audible dialogue would yield to a film, allowing the viewer to focus more on the visual communication of the story and its concepts (kind of in the way the absence of color from a stone sculpture allows the viewer of that work to focus on the three-dimensional and tactile characteristics of it). So, in that sense, I enjoyed The Artist: the fact that a filmmaker did it. But I thought it fell short of its potential. The motivation of at least one main character was not clear to me. I also questioned a basic premise that character accepted that he did not question, a premise regarding his marketibility in a field of entertainment with a new technology. And I thought what made the female lead in the story attracted to him was not made explicit enough. But nevertheless, I enjoyed The Artist to a point, and thought it showed that even today movies can be "silent" and still be entertaining and funny. The music is good, and appropriate--except for a portion that utlizes, without informing young audiences of the source until the final credits, music from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. I am a huge fan of Bernard Herrmann, and want people who hear his music for the first time to know that it was his. The other problem I had with the use of that music from Vertigo is that it is not appropriate for The Artist in any way; it suggests erotic obsession, in the way Tristan and Isolde does, and so, in my view, does not apply to the scenes it is used for. The composer for The Artist apparently wanted something gloomy, and he could have composed his own music for that. But despite the gloom of that portion of the movie, it ends on a very spritely and happy note, and I always like that when it seems to follow at least somewhat logically from the preceding events. See The Artist and judge for yourself.
  17. The Artist

    I wasn't extremely impressed with the new film, The Artist, but I thought it was worth seeing and hints at some new possibilities for movies.
  18. Happy Birthday to mweiss

    Happy Birthday, MWeiss: Open your gifts before Doomsday, but don't accept any "data-processing computers" called OBIT, listen to the "Demon" with a glass hand (even if he doesn't know everything yet), and, most of all, don't bother with a "feasibility study" on having fun: just have it!!
  19. CONTAGION (2011)

    WARNING: Possible plot-spoilers to follow. I've been watching the film Contagion on DVD. I had seen it last year when it came out, but I felt I had to re-view it because I couldn't completely follow the story; I don't know how much of that was me or if it was a lack of solid story-telling on the part of the filmmakers. Did anyone else have difficulty following it? I kind of felt the way I did when I first saw Bullitt (from 1968), with Steve McQueen. When I saw that, I thought: What the hell is going on here? And, just like with Contagion, I didn't know if that was my "fault" or if it was poor story-telling on the part of the screenwriter and/or director. But there are some things in Contagion which I could follow and did enjoy. I like the very detailed cause-and-effect presentation of certain events in the story. And I especially like the fact that the film starts off on "Day 2" of a weeks-long biological crisis; you're left wondering: Why don't they start off on "Day 1"? Well, there's a reason which you'll find out. (And I thought that was good story-telling.) One aspect of the story disturbed me a bit: I wondered if the amount of looting and violence that takes place in the film after people get wind of the deadliness and transmissability of the super-virus would actually happen in America among Americans; I sure hope it wouldn't. Anyway, what are your thoughts on the film?
  20. The "evil" rich vs. OWS

    I have my choice for a "Quote of the Month". It comes from Tom Golisano, a billionaire and founder of payroll processor Paychex and a former candidate for governor of New York, who, according to Bloomberg News, said earlier this month: "If I hear a politician use the term 'paying your fair share' one more time, I'm going to vomit." It is so wonderful to finally hear a rich person say something like that, to actually defend their right to their own earned property: their wealth!!
  21. Betsy's Book

    Your book sounds very intriguing, Betsy. This is a cause-and-effect Universe, and most people don't seem to realize that (which is one reason why I enjoy the short stories of Fredric Brown; they remind the reader of causality, even when Brown invents a universe. Existence by its very nature has rules). And regarding causes in general: I like what some ancient Greek philosopher said about knowing causes and long-term effects: "Small mistakes at the beginning are muliplied later a thousandfold." Boy, is that ever true. And I'm curious: will your book deal not only with causality among physical entities, but with cause-and-effect in the human consciousness? In other words: if this is a cause-and-effect Universe, does that not mean that causality exists even in the human soul? For example, if you take such-and-such action, that will be the cause, and a certain emotional experience, the next day or years from now, will be the effect. Or if you accept certain ideas, won't there be certain effects--i.e., psychological consequences--down the road? That's something which was not explored, but should have been, in the film A Beautiful Mind. In that story--based on fact--Professor John Nash chooses to believe in some truly cockamamey ideas in the field of mathematics and in economics (and in ethics). But might those ideas not be the cause of what happened to the rest of his consciousness, causing him to literally lose his mind? Is it no surprise that he became schizophrenic, that is, dissociated from reality?
  22. Happy Birthday to Betsy Speicher

    Treat yourself to your idea of the ideal day, today, Betsy. You deserve it.

    I saw the film Contagion last week. Not a great film, but one worth seeing. What fascinated me the most was it's storytelling structure: the film begins on "Day 2" of a medical crisis, a global pandemic. There's a reason why it begins on "Day 2"; wait till you find out why. It reminded me of something an ancient philosopher (I believe) once said: "Small mistakes at the beginning are multiplied later a thousandfold." Boy, is that ever true. Now if some filmmaker could apply that same logic and story-telling approach to the effect of false philosophical premises on world history and the lives of individuals, just as a virus can infect millions or billions of people, that would be a great film. (I have yet to see Atlas Shrugged: Part I, so I can't comment on that one.)
  24. Descendant of Somebody Famous?

    I have a real problem with people who are seriously interested in researching their genealogy. I don't mean like just finding out a few things about one's origins, I mean people who are almost addicted to learning their genealogy thoroughly. You've probably heard the expression, applied to "inherited characteristics": "You can't take the credit if you can't take the blame." What should you say to people who ask you about your ancestor, Ludwig van Beethoven, when you find you also are descended from Adolf Hitler? Only: "Other than genes, they ultimately have nothing to do with me and who I am. I have everything to do with that." I believe that genealogy addicts--other than those who want medical information about their biological background--want either to elevate their own stature by taking credit for what their ancestors did (to "lean" on "dead kin", in Badger Clark's words from the poem "The Westerner"), or to find an excuse for their own evil by finding some criminal in their lineage, so they can say: "See? My ancestor robbed banks and killed people, so the things I've done are excusable. I can't help being what my genes have made me." P.S. My first roommate after leaving home--practically the first person I came across in ads looking for a roommate--was a descendant of Rudolf Hess. And he was proud of it! Which didn't surprise me; the guy was a complete and total racist jerk, among other things.
  25. Recalling 911

    I love your poem, Rose. "My life!..."; that's what it really comes down to, isn't it? On this tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I want to say that I believe the ultimate target of the terrorists' destructiveness was an idea, implied in that line from your poem, and implicit in the design and size of the Twin Towers: a human being's right to exist for his or her own sake.