1. I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh much anymore. Conservative talk radio bores me now because it’s the same old thing over and over. When they focus only on the inadequacies of the liberals, they miss a story that is at least as important: the failure of conservatism. I’m glad to hear from Dithyramb that Rush has finally read Atlas Shrugged and is promoting it. I heard him mention the book twice back in the ‘90s, both times commenting with some reservations on how small the print was. I got the impression he’s not one who reads hard books; he picked up his conservative knowledge from his father, life experience and National Review. I hope for his sake he bought a large-sized copy instead of the little mass market paperback and a nice pair of reading glasses.
This is great news because Rush has a huge audience, far bigger than anyone on cable TV news channels.
2. Harry Binswanger commented on his private email group that plastics have become so strong that it’s hard to open wrappers even with your teeth. I keep a steak knife on the kitchen counter at all times; between packages that come in the mail and plastic wrappers, I use that knife daily. It seems kind of stupid to make wrappers that you have to fight to open.
3. The Dougout has lots of bloggy goodness, such as an astonishing comparison of the sizes of celestial objects. Antares is one big mutha. Also he discusses Just War Theory as applied to the Civil War.
By the way, you can easily see Betelgeuse in our northern hemisphere sky; it is the lower armpit of Orion. You can actually see its red color compared to the white of other stars.
4. My guard goes up whenever I hear the words “the community,” and I hear them every day. They are always said in hushed, pious tones, for here is the altruists’ moral ideal: other people. Altruism distorts what is important in life. A man can work like a slave educating himself, starting a business and putting in 70-hour weeks producing wealth, but none of that is of moral worth because it is selfish. But if this same man wastes his valuable time picking up scraps of trash on the roadside, simple work that would bore a retarded teenager, that is held as moral and important because it is for “the community.”
Is it any wonder people give up to cynicism and passivity when everything that is colorful and interesting and productive is ignored or even sneered at and doing relatively unimportant community service is glorified?
5. In a recent post I said things were getting better. In a subsequent post I said that only the spread of a rational philosophy can turn around the downward course of civilization. Isn’t this a contradiction? If we are on a downward course, how can things be getting better?
Let me clarify. I think Objectivism is in the process of spreading throughout our culture right now. If America continues in our current welfare state without crises, then the economy should continue to grow and reason should continue to spread. I think Objectivism is spreading faster than Aristotelianism did in the Middle Ages because of the speed of modern communications and the Information Revolution. In the 13th century monks were still copying books by hand.
At the same time, both the nihilist left and the religious right are getting worse. And the state will continue to grow as it has for over a century. I am not optimistic about how our mixed economy will respond to any crises in the near term. (Within 10 years? 20 years?)
I see civilization in a kind of philosophical horse race. (If you knew my luck at the race track, you wouldn’t have much confidence in my bets.) This is the best I can do in assessing how our culture is changing. I don’t have a crystal ball.