Video Breakdown of Atlas Shrugged

atlasshrugged71Some of you may recall how a few months back, I posted a video from Mr. Jack Collins that provided a breakdown of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. As it turns out, that video was just the tip of the iceberg for what he and others are doing over at Academic Earth, a website dedicated to media literacy and education in an age of evolving technology.

So far, I’ve found several items of interest, but this other video breakdown of another dystopian classic – Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged – was especially eye-catching. Here, Collins breaks down the books plot, themes, characters and message with the same thoroughness and incisive commentary that he brought to Bradbury’s classic tale of a society base on censorship and mindless leisure.

whoisjohngaltOf note is how Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism – which combines individualism, freedom and self-interest – is unapologetically portrayed in this book. Having witnessed the horrors of Soviet Communism firsthand, she had a good deal to say about a society that promoted social equality at the expense of creativity, enterprise and personal merit. Rand’s book has often been criticized as “hateful” and the perfect example of class-antagonism, but to conservative thinkers and fans of dystopia alike, it remains a classic.

Years later, Atlas Shrugged remains a controversial story, due to its stern and at times vitriolic attack on what Rand saw as systems that promoted mediocrity in the name of “social justice”. In contrast to the idea that the wealthy have a social obligation to those less fortunate than themselves, Rand retorts by stating that those with wealth exist by their own merits and are essentially holding up the needy, poor, and working classes of society – a la Atlas.

By urging these people to “shrug” off this burden, Rand was rejecting the idea that the social classes owe each other anything and claimed that society would be made better by enshrining the ideal of self-interest and unfettered rewards for individual effort. And as Mr. Collins notes, by story’s end, it was… for some people.

In short, there’s a reason people like Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity and Rupert Murdoch love this book and its author. Nothing says “go capitalism” or promotes Cold War-era ideology like a Russian emigre who thinks that the free market is the pinnacle of civilization and things like charity, welfare, and social assistance are crutches that need to be kicked out. I’m biased, I know. But then again, so was Rand…

And as usual, I’m looking forward to using this somewhere down the line, should this book ever appear on my student’s reading list. Check out the full video at the link below:

academicearth.org/electives/tldr-atlas-shrugged/

RIP Steve Jobs, You Will Be Missed

What can you say about a man who’s life’s work has led him to be viewed as one of the foremost businessmen, inventors and innovators of the past century? I really don’t know, other than to repeat what everyone else has said already: that he was a titan of high-tech, busines acumen, and that he will be missed. Yes, it was only a few months ago that Jobs announced he’d be stepping down from his post because of an ongoing battle with cancer. And, much like Jack Layton, he departed this world shortly thereafter. And at the still-tender age of 56 no less.

Quite sad, but it reminds us just how precious life really is. The candle that burns half as long burns twice as bright.

I know very little about what he did in life, but I do know that, thanks to him, the world of personal computers and consumer electronics has forever been revolutionized. As one of the three founders, Jobs helped to invent the PC, which in and of itself changed the way the public and private sector does business. One can scarcely imagine an office environment without a personal computer, and today, one can scarcely imagine people going about their business without the help of an iPhone or PDA.

And in addition to bringing Apple to the world, he helped bring it back after years of being marginalized by their biggest competitor, Microsoft. Ultimately, he and his colleagues pushed back against the tide of monopolization that Gates unleashed with the policy that all hardware, software, and accessories should be designed by the same people and built to be compatible. And I don’t need to tell people how successful they were, do I? After a few years of being the underdogs, Apple turned things around and became the guys who’s stuff worked for a change! And with the Vista fiasco and the dominace of the iPod and iPhone (can anyone rememnber the name the Microsoft’s equivalent? Me neither!), it seems like the tables have turned.

Still, can’t help but wonder what Apple will do now. I guess I’m in the majority in that respect because every article and news story I’ve read on the subject so far seems to be tacitly asking this question. Sure, they’ll carry on, as always, but I think it will be many years before another person as innovative and brilliant as Jobs comes along.

P.S. I can recall a few years back when Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch were talking about creating an iPhone app for Newcorps, FoxNews’ flagship and Murdoch’s big weapon in his war on journalism. I’m hopeful that Murdoch’s current legal troubles torpedoed that, because, trust me Apple, you don’t want to get involved with that charlatan!