Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2017

While there are a lot of politics surrounding Thanksgiving, the relations between the Europeans and the Natives, who gets to work on Thanksgiving day and so on, I am going to skip all of that for this blog post.  I will, instead, quote one of my favorite parts of Atlas Shrugged.  The scene is at Hank Rearden’s house during Thanksgiving dinner.  After an awkward family Thanksgiving Dinner, he goes to see Dagny, and while with her, says,

“You know, Dagny, Thanksgiving was a holiday established by productive people to celebrate the success of their work.” (1)

May your Thanksgiving be happy!

Thank you for reading my blog!

  1.  Rand, Ayn.  Atlas Shrugged.  Signet Classic, 1996,  pp. 439.

Catching up On Atlas Shrugged

November 3, 2017

I have not written much about rereading Atlas Shrugged.  It is still my favorite book, and I am glad that The Atlas Project has given me an excuse to read it again.

On schedule, I have finished reading Part I, finishing up with Chapter 10:  Wyatt’s Torch.  (SPOILER ALERT)

When I think about Ellis Wyatt, I can really relate to his character.  I used to think that all Ayn Rand characters had the same personality type (and unfortunately, that did not include me).  Then, after much more careful consideration, I find myself aligning more with Ellis Wyatt than any other character.

Granted, I am not the petroleum genius that Ellis Wyatt was in the novel.  However, he occasionally displays his anger in the same ways that I do.  At one point he smashes a glass when he realizes that his success will be ruined by the government soon enough.  Also, when dealing with the looters (and, Dagny Taggart, who he mistakes as a looter), he delivers ultimatums, rather than conversation, as he recognizes there is nothing to discuss.  Finally, when the government finally loots him, he sets all of his assets on fire to keep them from being destroyed by the government.  I hope that I would have such courage.

Anyway, I have been watching this character, and find him to be probably one of my favorites in the book.

Thank you for reading my post.

Atlas Shrugged, Chapters 2 and 3

September 15, 2017

I am a little behind on my posting, so I did not post Chapter 2 last week.

Chapter 2

In this chapter, we get to meet Hank Reardon’s family.  He hurries home with a braclet, made from the first heat of Reardon Metal, to give to his wife.  Considering the labor that he has invested in developing this new metal over the past ten years, a successful pour of the material is a cause for celebration.

When he arrives at his home, he is greeted by a whiny crowd of losers that consist of his mother, his brother, their family friend (Paul Larkin), and a mocking, condesending wife.  He presents her with the bracelet, and she mocks it.  His mother and brother scolded him for giving her such a gaudy, selfish present.  They could not see that this bracelet was the only one of its kind; they only saw it as being made from the same material as rails and bridges.

At one point, he finds out that his brother runs a charity, and needs $10,000 to start a new project.  Hank, who wants to see if he can make his brother happy, even for just a brief time, says he can donate the money.  The brother says that his organization cannot be affiliated with Reardon Steel, and asks for the money in cash, anonymously.

I was left with a bit of hopelessness and disgust at the end of this chapter.


Chapter 3

In Chapter 3, we get to sit in on a meeting held in a barroom between Paul Larkin, Orren Boyle, Wesley Mouch, and James Taggart.  Orren Boyle, who runs a steel mill that competes with Reardon Steel, complained that it was not fair that Reardon Steel owns its own supply lines. This means that he can change the costs and expenses across his organization to undercut competitors.    Meanwhile, James complains about the Phoenix-Durango line, whining that new companies are invading terrain that had formerly been covered by Taggart Transcontinental.

We also get to see some of Dagny’s thoughts.  In this chapter, she talked about the Nat Taggart statue, her relative who founded the company.  She admires him, but not because they are related.  She admires him because he formed the company with nothing but pennies on his houework.

Later, we see a conversation between James Taggart and Dagny Taggart.  Dagny has made a line in Mexico sparse, removing anything expensive or unncessary.  James rants about how the Mexican people need transit, and Dagny knows that a rail line there is a poor business decision.  Even so, Dagy does just that- removes things of value from the train cars and only runs crappy, worn out engines.

Thank you for reading my post.  Hopefully, you are reading,or at least considering reading Atlas Shrugged.

Killing the Rising Sun

March 17, 2017

I finished reading Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.  I will preface this article by stating that I never liked Bill’s TV show, but this book was excellent.

This book was well-researched and entertaining.  The authors were able to tell some of the stories of World War II in a way they have never been told before.

One of the things that struck me was seeing the numbers of people that were lost in some of these battles.  It was really a terrible war.

I strongly recommend this book.  If you haven’t read it and you are interested in war history, this book is a necessity.

Thank you for reading my post.

Lone Survivor

February 3, 2017

I just finished reading Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson.  This is a first person account of Operation Redwing, the deadliest of Navy SEAL operations, where 19 SEALs were killed.

Luttrell tells of trying to stay alive in a hostile country, while wounded, with no hope of rescue.  When you think you are having a bad day, read about his time in Afganistan.

The book is very well written; you feel alone as you read about his struggles.  There is no where to go, but staying where he was was not safe, either.

He also comments about his philosophy on war and what problems there are with the way we fight wars today.  He says we don’t fight them anymore.  He says that we are in a place where SEALs are afraid, not of the enemy, but of being tried as war criminals for doing their jobs.  In a confusing place, such as a war zone, is the teenager running towards you a threat or not?   You don’t have long to decide.

I highly recommend this book.

Thank you for reading my post.


August 12, 2016

I have almost no reason to watch television.  Back in 2009, I accidentally pulled the coax connector from the back of the TV.  I intended to fix it, but after several moths of not fixing it, I decided that I didn’t miss the TV all that much.  I cancelled my DirectTV subscription, and have never reactivated it.

At worst, I find myself left out of some water cooler conversations and inside jokes, as I don’t know the current TV shows.  I sometimes miss baseball.   Other than missing baseball and some awkwardness, that’s it.

I also miss out on the 24 hour news shows.  The overhyped, often exaggerated news stories.  The petty squabbling over some celebrity gossip.  The crackpot, poorly constructed and often fictional stories linking unrelated things.  Yeah, I don’t think I am missing out on this either.

Without TV, I’ve spent more time reading.  I’ve learned more from reading than I ever could have from TV.

This piece is not my best work.  I’m trying to write while I am at someone else’s house.  They are watching TV, and it is mind-numbing.

Thank you for reading my post.

A Few Thoughts On War

August 5, 2016

I have been reading, “Rouge Warrior” by Richard Marcinko, a former commander of SEAL TEAM SIX.  He says that,

“A point should be made here about the way Americans tend to regard the act of killing.  Like most of my generation, I grew up on Western movies where the hero- Hopalong, or Roy or Gene–chivalrously tosses his gun aside after the black-hatted villain runs out of bullets and subdues the bad guy with his bare fists.

That may work on celluloid, but not in real life.  In real life, you shoot the m**** and you kill him dead- whether or not he is armed; whether or not he is going for his gun; whether he looks dangerous or appears benign.  That way, you stay alive and your men stay alive.  Many of our senior offices do not believe this.  They would rather that we got killed than our enemies did.  That attitude is stupid and it is wrong.”  (pg 117)

He goes on to say, “so, my philosophy in battle has always been to kill my enemy before he has a chance to kill me and to use whatever it takes.  Never did I give Charlie an even break.  I shot from ambush.  I used superior firepower.  I never engaged in hand-to-hand combat unless there was absolutely no alternative–to me, the combat knife should be a tool, not a weapon.  All of the whiz-bang, knife-fighting, karate/judo/kung-fu b.s. that you see in the Rambo-Jambo shoot-’em up movies is just that:  b.s.

The real-life rules of war are simple and effective:  stay at arm’s length whenever possible and shoot the s*** out of the enemy before he sees you,”  (pg . 118).

Why do I bring this up?  This is to address the ridiculous notion that police should use non-lethal weapons, or that concealed carry holders must flee before fighting.

If someone attacks you, they have violated your right to life.  There is no negotiation, as a negotiation requires rational minds to reach an agreement.  There is no agreement to be made between someone who willfully and intentionally violates your right to life and yourself.  A rational agreement requires that both parties benefit in a  mutual and respectful way.  While the attacker has much to gain from your “compromise,” you have nothing to gain.  Mixing poison and lemonade doesn’t make the poison less deadly- in fact, it hides the fact that there is poison present.

If attacked, the ONLY moral response is to fight for your life.  Quickly, brutally, and using whatever means are necessary.  Hopefully, we will never have to be in such situations, but know that any compromise, or striving for a “fair fight” is the surest way to lose.

Thank you for reading my post.

Marcinko, Richard.  “Rogue Warrior.”  Pocket Books, New York, 1992.  pp 117-118.