Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Atlas Shrugged

My favorite page from Ayn Rand's novel so far, page 127:

"Man? What is man? He's just a collection of chemicals with delusions of grandeur," said Dr. Pritchett to a group of guests across the room.
"Man's metaphysical pretensions," he said, "are preposterous. A miserable bit of protoplasm, full of ugly little concepts and mean little emotions--and it imagines itself important! Really, you know, that is the root of all the troubles in the world."
"But which concepts are not ugly or mean, Professor?" asked an earnest matron whose husband owned an automobile factory.
"None," said Dr. Pritchett, "None within the range of man's capacity."
A young man asked hesitantly, "But if we haven't any good concepts how do we know that the ones we've got are ugly? I mean, by what standard?"
"There aren't any standards."
This silenced his audience.
"The philosophers of the past were superficial," Dr. Pritchett went on. "It remained for our century to redefine the purpose of philosophy. The purpose of philosophy is not to help men find the meaning of life, but to prove to them that there isn't any."
An attractive young woman whose father owned a coal mine, asked indignantly, "Who can tell us that?"
"I am trying to," said Dr. Pritchett. For the last three years, he had been head of the Department of Philosophy at the Patrick Henry University.
Lillian Rearden approached, her jewels glittering under the lights. The expression on her face was held to the soft hint of a smile, set and faintly suggested, like the waves of her hair.
"It is this insistence of man upon meaning that makes him so difficult," said Dr. Pritchett, "Once he realizes that he is of no importance whatever in the vast scheme of the universe, that no possible significance can be attached to his activities, that is does not matter whether he lives or dies, he will become much more . . . tractable."
He shrugged and reached for another canape. A businessman said uneasily, "What i asked you about, Professor, was what you thought about the Equalization of Opportunity Bill."
"Oh, that?" said Dr. Pritchett, "But I believe I made it clear that I am in favor of it, because I am in favor of a free economy. A free economy cannot exist without competition. Therefore, men must be forced to compete. Therefore, we must control men in order to force them to be free."
"But, look . . . isn't that sort of a contradiction?"
"Not in the higher philosophical sense. You must learn to see beyond the static definitions of old-fashioned thinking. Nothing is static in the universe. Everything is fluid."
"But it stands to reason that if--"
"Reason, my dear fellow, is the most naive of all superstitions. That, at least, has been generally conceded in our age."
"But I don't quite understand how we can--"
"You suffer from the popular delusion of believing things can be understood. You do not grasp the fact that the universe is a solid contradiction."
"A contradiction of what?" asked the matron.
"Of itself."
"How ... how's that?"
"My dear madam, the duty of thinkers is not to explain, but to demonstrate that nothing can be explained."
"Yes, of course . . . only . . ."
"The purpose of philosophy is not to seek knowledge, but to prove that knowledge is impossible to man."
"But when we prove it, asked the young woman, what's going to be left?"
"Instinct," said Dr. Pritchett reverently.

Props to Morgan Jamison for forcing me to read this, I'm only about 150 pages in but so far this book is one of the most well written novels I have ever read. It is amazingly applicable to today's current society and economical situations, which is ironic since it was written in 1957. It is quite lengthy, but I would encourage anyone feeling up to the task to try and read this giant.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

27 Reasons I Love Spring

27 because I ran out of good reasons around 20:

1. It's not February.
2. Christmas is far away and Valentine's is in the past.
3. Spring weather.
4. St. Patrick's Day.
5. Definition of multi-tasking at work becomes: the ability to balance researching for your fantasy baseball draft and filling out your brackets.
6. My birthday.
7. 12's over 5's
8. Hiking, campining, running, biking.
9. Frisbee, grilling, golfing, sand volleyball. (basically any excuse to be outside)
10. SXSW
11. College Football's Spring Practice .
12. Spring Break. Oh wait, I don't get one of those anymore. Damnit.
13. The person leading your bracket pool is a girl. No wait a minute, that sucks. Bad.
14. Collectively hating Duke. Wait, I love Duke. F you guys!
15. Trying to guess where the play-in game schools are located and missing by a mere 1,000 miles.
16. Seeing everyone you haven't seen in a year at church on Easter.
17. Beautifully executed back door passes.
18. Watching the offense torch the defense in Spring Practice and thinking that's a very good sign.
19. Eating and drinking outside.
20. Your national championship team losing in the Second Round. You hate it, but really it's more fun to enjoy March with your bracket torn up.
21. Deciding that St. Patrick's Day is technically St. Patrick's Week.
22. The BCS has nothing to do with deciding national championships.
23. Crying when Duke, Texas, and whatever random low seeded team I picked to go far all lose early.
24. A tradition like no other... The Masters on CBS
25. April 5, 2010: MLB opening day.
26. Knowing that no matter how ridiculous it is, that whoever is down 3 with 4 seconds left is going to make a 3-pointer to send it to OT. Happens everytime.
27. MARCH MADNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Bucket List

This is a list of things I want to do before I die. Some of these things I've already accomplished (in bold), others, I plan to in the very near future, and still others may take me a lifetime to achieve. Granted this is a work in progess, so other things will be added, as I'm sure some things I will lose interest in doing and take off at some point. Anyways, here you go... my bucket list:

See a World Cup Final in person
See UT win a National Championship in person
Graduate college
Move out of Tyler
Live in Austin
Fire a pistol
Learn to surf
Live outside of Texas for at least a year
Run a marathon
Smoke with someone famous
Live outside of America for at least a year
Write a novel
Learn sign language
Learn Spanish
Relearn Tae Kwon Do
Learn to play an instrument (piano, drums, and/or guitar)
Take dance lessons (Hip hop, ballroom, salsa)
Dive in a submarine
Tour the Coliseum in Rome
Ride a gondola in Venice
See the Acropolis and Athens, Greece
Watch a soccer game in London, England / See Stonehenge, United Kingdom
Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef and see the Sydney Opera House, Australia
Party at Oktober Fest in Germany / drive a car on the autobahn
See the Louvre & Eifel Tower in Paris, France / see the Tour de France in person
Visit Amsterdam, Holland
Walk on The Great Wall of China
Tour the Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Do a canopy zip line tour in the Amazon rainforest
Go to a beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
See St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican, Rome
See the Kremlin in Russia
See Spain
Visit the Taj Mahal, India
Hike around the Statues of Easter Island, Chile
Visit Las Vegas
Camp at the Grand Canyon, watch a sunrise there
See the monuments in Washington DC (again)
Visit Portland, Oregon (again)
Participate in Mardi Gras in New Orleans
See a Red Sox game at Fenway in Boston
Visit Los Angeles
Take a train trip to Chicago, see the Great Lakes
See the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Empire State Building, Ice Skate at Rockefeller center, spend NYE, climb the Statue of Liberty, see US Open (tennis) in New York City
See Niagara Falls
See a Duke game at Cameron Indoor
Visit Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal
See Alaska (dog-sled or fly-fish depending on season)
Visit San Diego
See the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA
Go to the Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA
See Mount Rushmore
Ride a helicopter in Hawaii
Camp in Redwood, Yellowstone, and Joshua Tree National Parks
Go to the College World Series in Omaha
See a PGA Major (Masters, US Open, PGA)
See a Final Four
Eat BBQ and listen to blues on Beale Street in Memphis
Visit SeaWorld
Go to the horse races
Go rock climbing
Go jet skiing in the ocean
Witness a solar eclipse
Go canoeing or kayaking
Learn to water ski
Try fencing