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  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness, by Willard Spiegelman. New York: Picador, 2009. 208 pp. $16 (paperback). In Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness, Willard Spiegelman asks: “In adulthood, what should—what does—one read? No longer having the luxury of youthful promiscuity, knowing that the clock ticks, that every choice of something eliminates something else, what should you do?” (p. 49). Spiegelman suggests rereading “those books that gave pleasure in the past.” He adds: A photographic memory is not necessarily a blessing; there's a charm in forgetting, so if you're not cursed with perfect recall, you'll have the joy of discovering some things as though for the first time, while others will hit you with the refreshing rush of repetition. As an older version of the person you've always been, you can have things two ways at once: something old, something new; something recalled, something revealed. (p. 49) Although Spiegelman does not directly advise going back to what one loves and extracting still more pleasure from it, or learning to convert a declining memory into a source of enjoyment, he nevertheless provides example after example of himself doing just such things. Whereas other books about happiness tell readers how to become happy, in Seven Pleasures Spiegelman simply discusses the activities that have made him happy and shows how he has learned to deeply enjoy his life.
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art, by Roger Kimball. New York: Encounter Books, 2005. 200 pp. $17.95 (paperback). Reviewed by Daniel Wahl Roger Kimball begins The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art by asking why we teach and study art history. “It is a question,” he says, “that elicits a complicated answer.” To learn about art, yes, but also to learn about the cultural setting in which art unfolds; in addition, to learn about—what to call it? “Evolution” is not quite right, neither is “progress.” Possibly “development”: to learn about the development of art, then, about how over the course of history artists “solved problems”—for example, the problem of modeling three-dimensional space on an essentially two-dimensional plane. Those are some of the answers, or some parts of the answer, most of us would give. There are others. We teach and study art history—as we teach and study literary history or political history or the history of science—partly to familiarize ourselves with humanity's adventure in time. We expect an educated person in the West to remember what happened in 1066, to know the plot of Hamlet, to understand (sort of) the law of gravity, to recognize Mona Lisa, Botticelli's Birth of Venus, or Manet's Bar at the Folies-Bergère. These are aspects of a huge common inheritance, episodes that alternately bask in and cast illuminations and shadows, the interlocking illuminations and shadows that delineate mankind's conjuring with the world. All this might be described as the dough, the ambient body of culture. The yeast is supplied by direct acquaintance with the subject of study: the poem or novel or play, the mental itinerary a Galileo or Newton traveled, the actual work of art on the wall. In the case of art history, the raison d'être—the ultimate motive—is supplied by a direct visual encounter with great works of art. Everything else is prolegomenon or afterthought: scaffolding to support the main event, which is not so much learning about art as it is experiencing art first hand. Or so one would have thought. What has happened to the main event? (pp. 1–2) As Kimball makes clear, the main event has changed.
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The Martian, by Andy Weir. New York: Crown, 2014. 384 pp. $24 (hardcover). Reviewed by Ari Armstrong Imagine you're on a mission on Mars. Your space suit, not to mention your body, was punctured by an antenna blown loose by a raging sandstorm. Luckily, although the blow knocked you unconscious, the blood from your wound helped seal the hole, so you didn't die from lack of oxygen. Now that you're awake and moving again, you realize an unfortunate fact: Your entire crew, reasonably thinking you died and facing the dangerous storm, took off in the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle) and left you behind. You are now totally alone on a planet hostile to life. Your food supplies are running low, and you have no obvious way to communicate with Earth, much less to get home. What do you do? If you're Mark Watney, the main character of Andy Weir's near-futuristic, science fiction novel The Martian, you carefully think about what you need to do to stay alive and get rescued, and then you methodically do it. Watney's training as a botanist and a mechanical engineer gives him the skills he needs to survive; and his fierce desire to live, his fortitude, and his quirky sense of humor give him the strength of will to do it. Fortunately, Watney's own mission and various other missions to Mars have left a number of important tools at his disposal. He has a reasonably well-stocked Hab (basically, a giant pressurized tent), some solar cells, several functional space suits, two functional rovers, duct tape, glue, and various other machines and items. Oh, and he has some live potatoes, which his crew was supposed to have cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. Don't forget the potatoes! They become crucially important in Watney's efforts to survive. The story revolves around Watney coming up with clever ways to keep sucking air and consuming calories, then figuring out how to travel some two thousand miles across the cold Martian landscape to the site of a future Mars landing.
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Joseph Kellard
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: “[E]ach person shall remain free, especially in his religion, and . . . no one shall be persecuted or investigated because of their religion” (p. 96). Those words evoke America's revolutionary era, but they were penned two centuries earlier. They are part of the Dutch de facto constitution, the Union of Utrecht, drafted in 1579 after thousands of Dutchmen had suffered religious persecution by the Spanish in the form of torture and death. To Russell Shorto, a writer for The New York Times Magazine, these words speak directly to the “tolerance” embodied by the 17th-century Dutch Republic and its colonies, particularly the island colony of Manhattan, or New Amsterdam, after English explorer Henry Hudson claimed the land for the Netherlands in 1609.
  • Political Geography: New York, America, Spain, Netherlands, Island, Dutch
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Simpson, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice. Among Mr. Simpson's many accomplishments, he authored a friend-of-the-court brief in the landmark case Citizens United v. FEC, served as lead counsel in SpeechNow.org v. FEC, helped overturn aspects of Colorado's campaign finance laws that restricted people's ability to fund political speech, and helped overturn New York's ban on direct shipping of wine. Simpson has contributed articles to Legal Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Times, among other outlets. He is also the author of “Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America,” which was published in the Spring 2010 edition of The Objective Standard. —Ari Armstrong
  • Political Geography: New York, America, Washington, Chicago
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: New York, America
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Economics, Education
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: New York: Simon Schuster, 2011. 656 pp. $35 (hardcover). Reviewed by Daniel Wahl With the recent passing of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson's biography of the now-legendary businessman was certain to become a best seller. And it has. But not everything that sells well is worth reading. Is this? In Steve Jobs, Isaacson's focus is on the choices, actions, and value judgments that Jobs made throughout his life—as well as on how Jobs himself evaluated these choices and actions. The result is that you truly get to know Steve Jobs—to see “what made him tick,” what he did, and how it all worked out for him—from his childhood on. As the only biographer with whom Jobs ever cooperated, Isaacson is able to include a lot of new information. For example, Isaacson tells us that Jobs knew from a very early age that he was adopted and gives us a dramatic moment when he realized what other people might think about his being adopted: “My parents were very open with me about that,” [Jobs] recalled. He had a vivid memory of sitting on the lawn of his house, when he was six or seven years old, telling the girl who lived across the street. “So does that mean your real parents didn't want you?” the girl asked. “Lightning bolts went off in my head,” according to Jobs. “I remember running into the house crying. And my parents said, 'No, you have to understand.' They were very serious and looked me straight in the eye. They said, 'We specifically picked you out.' Both of my parents said that and repeated it slowly for me. And they put an emphasis on every word in that sentence.” (p. 4) Owing partly to this event, and partly to another—where Jobs noticed how smart he was in comparison with others—Isaacson shows how Jobs began to regard himself highly. He also quotes Jobs showing how he thought later in life of his being adopted: “There's some notion that because I was abandoned, I worked very hard so I could do well and make my [biological] parents wish they had me back, or some such nonsense, but that's ridiculous,” he insisted. “Knowing I was adopted may have made me feel more independent, but I have never felt abandoned. I've always felt special.” (p. 5) Isaacson shows that Jobs was independent to the core, that he never really cared what others thought on any deep level, a trait that Isaacson says often worked in Jobs's favor, by making him more assertive and less hesitant in going after what he wanted. . . .
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Gideon Reich
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: New York: Threshold Editions, 2011. 223 pp. $25 (hardcover). Reviewed by Gideon Reich In This is Herman Cain, Herman Cain attempts to convince the reader to support him in his run for president of the United States by telling the story of his life, with emphasis on his amazing business accomplishments. Although the impressive story is somewhat undercut by Cain's mixed politics and religious (even superstitious) beliefs, this self-confident, ambitious, and capable business leader appears to be an admirable man. Cain recounts his early childhood, growing up in segregated Atlanta “po', which is even worse than being poor” (p. 1). His father “worked three jobs: as a barber, as a janitor at the Pillsbury Company, and as a chauffeur at the Coca-Cola Company”; and his mother worked as a maid (p. 15). Nevertheless, thanks to his father's influence, Cain had a positive attitude: My attitude then—as it is to this very day—was that you take a seemingly impossible goal and you make it happen. That was one of the many lessons I learned from Dad: He never allowed his lack of formal education to be a barrier to his success. And he never allowed his starting point in life or the racial conditions of his time to be excuses for failing to pursue his dreams. Dad taught me the value of having dreams, the motivation to pursue them, and the determination to achieve them. (p. 14) According to Cain, he was ambitious from a young age, pursuing a series of ever more-challenging goals. He studied mathematics in college, then went to work in the U.S. Navy as a mathematician. When he learned that he was being passed over for promotions because he had only a bachelor's degree, he studied computer science at Purdue University and earned his master's degree in “one intense, demanding year” (p. 42). He did get promoted, and, at twenty-seven, achieved his first goal—a job that earned more than $20,000 a year (p. 44). . . .
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: United States, New York
  • Author: Loribeth Kowalski
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Cato Institute, 2010. 376 pp. $25.95 (hardcover). Reviewed by Loribeth Kowalski Parents in America typically tell their children that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up, and children tend to believe it and explore the countless possibilities. I recall my own childhood aspirations: imagining myself as an archaeologist, wearing a khaki hat and digging in the desert sun; as a veterinarian, talking to the animals like Dr. Doolittle; as a writer, alone at my desk, fingers poised over a typewriter keyboard. Recently I found an old note in a drawer. It said, “When I grow up, I want to be a doctor. I want to save people. When I grow up, I WILL be a doctor.” Underneath my signature I had written “age 10.” Unfortunately, in today's America, a child cannot be whatever he wants to be. Leave aside for the time being the difficulties involved in entering a profession such as medicine. Consider the more man-on-the-street jobs through which millions of Americans seek to earn a living, support their families, and better themselves. Suppose a person wants to drive a taxi in New York City. To do so, he will first have to come up with a million dollars to buy a “medallion.” If he wants to create and sell flower arrangements, and lives in Louisiana, he'll have to pass a “highly subjective, State-mandated licensing exam.” If he wants to sell tacos or the like from a “food truck,” and lives in Chicago, he had better keep his business away from competing restaurants, or else face a ticket and fine. And a child doesn't have to wait until he's an adult to directly experience such limitations on his freedom. Last summer, authorities in various states shut down children's lemonade stands because they didn't have vending permits or meet other local regulations. In today's America, it is increasingly difficult to enter various professions, near impossible to enter some, and, whatever one's profession, it is likely saddled with regulations that severely limit the ways in which one can produce and trade. Timothy Sandefur explores and explains these developments in The Right to Earn a Living: Economic Freedom and the Law. Sandefur addresses this subject in the most comprehensive manner I've seen, surveying the history of economic liberty from 17th-century England through the Progressive era in America and up to the present day. He shows how the freedom to earn a living has been eroded in multiple ways throughout the legal system, from unreasonable rules, to licensing schemes, to limitations on advertising, to restrictions on contracts. In The Right to Earn a Living, we see how these and other factors combine to create a system in which it is more and more difficult to support oneself and one's family in the manner one chooses.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: New York, America