Archive for April, 2010

Missing the Point

Posted in Doom, GIGO, Politics and Society on April, 2010 by melendwyr

I don’t know that there’s much of anything that any one of us can do to help the environment on Earth Day. Short of curtailing some near-criminal abuses we might be considering, there aren’t many changes in our daily routine that would really make that much of a difference – and if there were, they’d probably need to be implemented for longer than a single day.

But having schoolchildren use markers to decorate paper bags, and then giving those bags to local retail establishments to use – if anyone happens to request a paper bag – is less useful than doing nothing.

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The Best Thing to Say

Posted in Useful Aphorisms on April, 2010 by melendwyr

“Silence is often the best thing to say.” – Bene Gesserit saying

Tax Problems

Posted in Doom on April, 2010 by melendwyr

Well, I took out all my tax stuff to do the work last night… and discovered that I’d never actually received my W2 form. I suspect the payroll department is still sending stuff to my old address.

So I’m filing for an extension and requesting a duplicate.

Combined with spring cleaning issues, this is why there haven’t been any posts.

The Aesthetic Sins of Ayn Rand

Posted in Reviews with tags , on April, 2010 by melendwyr

Yes, yet another post about Ayn Rand and her crazy ideas. I promise this one will be short.

I’ve been thinking about the subject lately, if only because someone on a forum I sometimes visit asked about Objectivism and the flurry of responses (both positive and negative, accurate and inaccurate, mixed in all different ways) made me do a little thinking.

I’ve written previously about what I think the virtues and problems of Rand’s ideas are. But I’ve never discussed her writing, as such.

Basically, her works are uneven. I would recommend The Fountainhead over Atlas Shrugged, if only because the latter reiterates the basic points over and over long past the time when even a minimally aware reader will have grasped them, and the totally oblivious won’t be affected no matter what’s done. She desperately needed an editor, or more precisely, she needed to acknowledge that the way she wrote wasn’t necessarily the best way to say what she wanted to say. (Her non-fiction discussions of her ideas are a lot cleaner, and to my mind, more effective, than her fiction.)

But there’s one big flaw, one which cannot be forgiven: Rand uses associational techniques, which are prerational, to forward ideas that are not only supposed to be rational but which stress rationality. Instead of making arguments, she’s presenting propaganda in the worst sense.

Stupid Marketing Gimmick

Posted in Politics and Society with tags , , , , on April, 2010 by melendwyr

I see quite a lot of marketing in my everyday life. But one bit of inspired marketing psy-ops has always made me smile:

It’s the Food for Life Baking Company’s Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Products, specifically, their sprouted bread. Which contains the electrolytes – your pardon, I meant the assorted sprouted grains and pulses – the Israelites presumably craved. It’s Biblical!

Except if you actually look up the chapter and verse cited, you’ll find that the bread in question was a symbolic punishment ordered by God to demonstrate how Israel would suffer if it did not repent. It was originally supposed to be cooked over a fire of human excrement, but after Ezekiel complained the order was changed to dried animal dung instead. Also, Ezekiel was supposed to eat it while lying on his side continuously for weeks at a time.

It’s also one of the many examples in the Jewish scriptures of a mixing of things or qualities being represented as bad or wrong, or as symbolic of corruption and evil. Similar cases include the prohibition against weaving with more than one type of fiber, plowing with different types of animals yoked together, and planting different crops in the same field. (Having animals of different strength and endurance levels pulling a plow seems a rather bad idea, but the other two examples rule out both modern fabrics and interplanting, which is one of the most effective and powerful low-tech agricultural techniques.)

So this bread is marketing itself on being biblical, when its biblical appearance is as an omen of suffering and a symbolic lesson of the dangers of racial and cultural intermixing.

Nice work, there.