Category Archives: cool people

An Open Letter to John Aglialoro

Dear John,

Let me begin by apologizing to you.  I’m sorry I didn’t see Atlas Shrugged when it came to my local theater.


I meant to, of course.  I’m a good libertarian, I promise I am.  I read Lew Rockwell.  I think business owners, not namby-pamby lawmakers, should decide whether people can smoke cigarettes inside their establishments, even though I personally think smoking is disgusting.  The ever-more-omnipresent commingling of government and capitalism makes me feel all icky inside.  I get tired of movies that beat me over the head with messages about how evil capitalism is, but I see them anyway, even though it’s this country’s freedom that drives the money into those capitalist filmmakers’ pockets.

Yet I didn’t see your movie, even though it came to my local theater.  Because the reviews were bad.  The critics hated it.  The populace hated it.  I love Ayn Rand so much, but I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger.  And because of me, and other similarly traitorous free market fanatics, your movie didn’t really do all that well.

Tonight I finally got around to watching it.  And now I can safely say that I agree with you.  I think a large part of the slamming is that America hates capitalism.  As for me….

I was enthralled the entire time.  The acting was phenomenal, especially considering that most everyone in the movie was a relative unknown.  (Except my buddy Snyder.)  The cinematography was quite beautiful.  I loved the rich colors (as opposed to the blue-and-orange palette so favored by basically everybody these days).  The mountain scenery was gorgeous.  And seriously, I could gaze at Taylor Schilling’s sweet face all day long.  She was perfect for the role of tough-as-nails Dagny Taggart.

Most importantly, the movie had a message for anyone willing to listen.  My father and I kept remarking on how eerily accurate Rand’s predictions have been even 50 years later.  Skyrocketing gas prices.  The condition of the economy.  The government’s finger in every pie.  Twentieth Century Motors.  I’m only astonished that so many people could watch this movie and fail to recognize the state of this country, in every industry that has fled the country due to our oppressive regulations and suffocating cronyism.

The final scene of Part I was so well-done, I cheered right there in my living room.  So imagine how thrilled I was to hear that you are still planning on making the second installment, despite the mediocre reception of the first one.  I am delighted you believe in this project enough to keep backing it with your hard-earned money.  And I promise that this time, I will be the first in line for a ticket.




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Mornin’ Milton: Back to 1979

Good morning!  Can you imagine the typical university student today in a debate like this?  (Well, I’ll post one of those later.)

“Is there one of you who is going to say that you don’t want a doctor to treat you for cancer unless he himself has had cancer?”

For all this talk of America’s failures, what Mr. Friedman says at the end here is right on the money.  We are still a relatively wealthy nation.  I don’t understand how so many people around me can continually scream about the failures of the free market while our country is barreling down the same road that Europe was not so long ago.  We are on the fast track to Greecedom.

If free-market capitalism is not the perfect solution, it’s only because there is no perfect solution.  The capitalism we have now is not true free-market capitalism.  If certain private businesses receive favorable treatment or bailouts from the government, the blame rests squarely on that government’s shoulders.  There’s a lot we can fix here, but let’s also realize that we are still one of the wealthiest countries in the world overall, and capitalism is to blame.

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Pensées des Pensées

A little bit on Blaise Pascal.

Okay, you caught me.  French class is over, because that is all the French I know.  Now it’s time for your history lesson.  I think this one will be of particular interest to my law student friends.

“Love or hate alters the aspect of justice. How much greater confidence has an advocate, retained with a large fee, in the justice of his cause! How much better does his bold manner make his case appear to the judges, deceived as they are by appearances! How ludicrous is reason, blown with a breath in every direction!”

Allow me to introduce you to Blaise Pascal: physicist, writer, philosopher.  He was an all-around fascinating dude.  His Pensées (Thoughts) have inspired me so much over the past couple of years that I thought it might be appropriate to ponder his genius a little.  I mean, we named a unit of measure after the guy!

Blaise Pascal

"I set it down as a fact that if all men knew what each said of the other, there would not be four friends in the world."

Pascal was a brilliant man who, like many brilliant men, began as a child prodigy.  His father Étienne was a tax collector; his mother died when he was just three years old.  Étienne never remarried, choosing instead to dedicate his life to teaching Blaise and his two sisters, Jacqueline (younger) and Gilberte (elder).  (Jacqueline herself was also a prodigy.  She wrote a five-act comedy at the age of eleven.)  When Blaise Pascal was only sixteen, he wrote a treatise on what was called the “mystic hexagram.”

At the time, Descartes (yep, totally a friend of  Étienne’s) laughed at the idea that someone so young could produce such prodigious work and attributed the treatise to Blaise’s father.  (I’m not sure, but this could be part of the reason that Pascal slams Descartes so much in his Pensées.)

 “To write against those who made too profound a study of science: Descartes.  I cannot forgive Descartes. In all his philosophy he would have been quite willing to dispense with God. But he had to make Him give a fillip to set the world in motion; beyond this, he has no further need of God.  Descartes useless and uncertain.”

These days, Pascal is mainly known for his awesome triangle, which he didn’t actually invent.  However, he was the first to arrange all the information in a tidy little box as well as develop many applications for it.

Who knew a triangle could be so... so... French?

This existed a while before, but we still give him credit. He deserves it.

Move over, Leonardo da Vinci!  Pascal was also an inventor.  Perhaps the most important thing he helped develop was the syringe.  Not for medical use, more as an application for another one of his wacky theories.

“Thought constitutes the greatness of man.”

My favorite invention of Pascal’s has to be the “Pascaline,” though.

How does this thing work?

The Pascaline.

What is it?

A rudimentary calculator.  That’s right.  It’s the 1640s, people are dying of smallpox left and right, and Blaise Pascal has already conceived of something we didn’t really put into common use until the last century.

For anyone who wants to dip their feet into some interesting philosophy without wading too deep into some theoretical quagmire, I recommend Pascal’s Pensées.  He was a Catholic philosopher, so there is a lot of religious discussion in there, but I think there is truth and relevance for everyone buried within.  If you don’t agree with this, I have nothing more for you…

“Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this.

“All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.”

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