Monthly Archives: June 2006

Independence Day

As Independence Day approaches, I want to focus on the hope that America has always inspired in people like my Eastern European-born mother, myUkrainian-bornpaternal grandmotherand other immigrantsthroughout our history. And further back, the excitement, the thrill that explorers like Lewis and Clark experienced as they embarked on dangerous yet exciting journeys of discovery. To them, exploring the unknown America was the equivalent of our explorations of the far reaches of the solar system. But they didnot send unmannedvehiclesthat sent back photographs. They crossedthe forests and mountains themselves, and brought back images of what they found by drawinginto notebooks by hand.

Butbeyond the thrill of explorationthere was also the emotion of hope forgreat possibilities without limitin this new land. There wasthe desire to establish a great nation,one thatwould respecteveryone’s right to freedom, everyone’s rightto pursue wealth and happiness in his own way, to create and trade products and services freely.

When I first learned in myThird Grade classof the Trading Posts of the old frontier, I loved the idea. Everyone brings what he produces, and trades it foranother man’s product which he needs. The whitesettlers and NativeAmerican Indiansfor the most parttraded with each other benevolently. It’sa microcosm of Capitalism.

Nowhere was the hope for a great future, a great new nation open to all, and”with liberty and justice for all,” greater than within the hearts and minds of the Founding Fathers. They had seen the horrors and errorsof history, the failings of other nations, and they were determined to create a government that corrected themistakes of past nations, and held strong againstthe evils of the past, a government truly by and for the people. They actually succeeded.

Now we only have to beat back the slowlygrowingencroachments on our libertyof the last 100 yearswith the “eternal vigilance” the Founders knew would be necessary, and with a philosophy thatupholds individual rights inviolably. Objectivism, anyone?

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Time In Ayn Rand’s Words/Zigory’s Priorities

Hereare Ayn Rand’s own words about the subject of time, from “Ayn Rand Answers”, edited by Robert Mayhew:

“My view is, in effect, Aristotelian…there is no such thing as independent time or space. The universe is finite, and the concept of time applies to the relationship between entities. Specifically, time is a measurement of motion, which is a change of relationship between entities within the universe. Time cannot exist by itself. It exists only within the universe; it does not apply to the universe as a whole. By ‘universe’ I mean the total of what exists. The universe could have no relationship to anything outside itself: no motion, no change and therefore, no time.”

A couple of thoughts about yesterday’s post: You should know that the situationof cramped apartmentsand the need to have roommates is typical in New York City, unlike some other cities. Also, I forgot to mentionmy move to Florida and back after7 months(because Disney’s salary–and seemingly that of every non-professional job in Florida at the time–was too low to cover expenses).

I don’t regret the priorities I chose over time, and theadventures I’ve had,and now I thoroughly enjoy my new family and home and long-term writing projects (plusthe podcasting and blogging).Parenting and teaching my children, being able to share with them and my wife enjoyment of ahouse and yard in a pleasant park-filled neighborhood,are at the top of my value prioritiesalong with my writing/arts projects. I made the right decision in devoting the time to improving my situation and to searching for the right mate.

Those who start out with parents or uncles able and willing to assist financially do have a great advantage in terms of saving time, but eventually those without such advantages achieve their values as well, in a relatively free society like the United States. But sometimes I imagine how much easier things would be without New York’s rent regulations/controls that effectively keepartificially low-rent spacious apartments off the market (secretly passed along from family member to family member, close friend to closefriend, as if a rare treasure–or keptunused rather than relinquished),and incredibly high taxes that turn decent salaries into poor ones.

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Time: Metaphysical and Personal

I read a fascinating reply Ayn Rand made to a question regarding the nature of time, in the book “Ayn Rand Answers”, which isa collection of her extemporaneous remarks during Question and Answer sessions after her lectures or classes. Among her points (from memory since the book is not in front of me) is that time is a tool man uses to measure motion, and is only relevant within the universe. One cannot discuss time outside of (apart from/ “before”) the universe, it is onlya meaningful concept within the universe. This is an approximation of what she said. She (unlike me, perhaps) madeher ideas very clear, even though she was speaking off the cuff.

Ihave at times in my thinking,wondered, if the universe began at a point in time, then what existed before the universe, and how far back does time go?What could the concept “before time began” possibly mean? (The concept “before” depends on the concept of time, so nothing could occur “before time”). Ayn Rand’s idea that time is simply a conceptual tool used to measure motion within the universe helps to answer these questions.

On a more personally relevant level, time management (within each day, and within a lifetime)is a skill that every productive person needs to address (at times). I have achieved many of my difficult goals over the years, yet some are still ongoing projects. What are the time-users (as opposed to the derogatory phrase time-wasters) that make some projects take longer?

In retrospect, in my life the biggest time-users have been family, romance, illness, moving from home to home,and learning/recreation (books/media/arts). In earlier years of my life, my parents, grandparents, etc. would oftenschedule difficult-to-avoid events (on holidays, for example) or need difficult-to-refuse assistance. As I got olderI becameself-sufficient, living on my own,and more able to refuse many of the time-consuming events.

A big time-user before my marriage and children included the seemingly endless search for a soul mate;going out of the house, meeting people,dating, placing and answering personal ads over and over…Even after I met her and dated her, I didn’t realize she was the one until after spending several years apart,during whichI had a chance to formulate exactly what qualities my ideal mateneeded tohave (honesty, a happy outlook–my sense of life–and strong intelligence)and what qualities were not important (almost everything else).If I had been clear about that earlier, I could have saved a lot of time.

Another enormous time-consuming black hole: Living in New York, as my income grew I kept moving from apartment to apartment. I disliked having to live with a roommate, and disliked living inonlythe smallest rooms or the most inconvenient or unattractive neighborhoods, but by moving frequently, and changing jobsfrequently to increase my income,eventually I was able to live in my own apartment, in a nice and convenient neighborhood. Then, when I became the partner of my soul mate, I moved in with her. Then we made the jump from renting to buying a co-op apartment, which doubled in value very quickly, so wefinally sold it and bought a house. All of this moving around makes one feel uprooted, it requires packing and unpacking which take up months before and after each move. It’s not conducive to the completion of long-term projects. But I am happy that I didn’t settle for the unbearable, since the qualities of my home environmentare very important to me. A certain amount of light, space, security, aesthetics do matter.

Finally, before this blog post gets too long (“before?”), once I hit age 40, it seems that finding and seeing doctors and specialists about the endless series of mostly minor health problems that seem to arise after that age is another major time-consumer. I cannot logically avoid it, yet it is very annoying at times. Not to mention the time taken by the ailments themselves.

I hope that your use of time to read my blog or hear my podcast is time that you find enriching and worthwhile, i.e., a good use of your time. (But if not, please don’t waste your time!) Later!

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Various Topics

Some unrelated thoughts:

It seems the hardest thing about doing a podcast can be getting busy guests, who are experts in their fields,to finalize the date and time when they will sit for the interview. I have three such guests in the works.

Don’t believe the hype about the rock band Arctic Monkeys being the next big thingin the USA. They aretalented in what they do, but what they do is not likely to gain a large following in America. Does the average American know who Oasis or Blur or The Jam was? Even if they do, do they really care? Did Robbie Williams translate his British superstardom to America? They all have limited appeal here because their style is limited to a specific genre.England is a much smaller country with sometimes very different tastes than the US. (I could be proven wrong if the very young Arctic Monkeys become better songwriters, more varied, less noisy and encompassing more styles and subjects as they practice and learn and grow older).

It’s truly amazing how creative my three-year-old twins can be, in their pretending, as they play with toys or any other object in the house. They tell stories, create characters and situations. And the passion with which they want to understand everything, and their abilityto comprehend whenwe explain something clearly,is also thrilling to watch.

My son loves cars and fire engines and tractors. He has seen commercials for the movie “Cars” and he passionately wants to see it. He was saying for weeks, “We forgot to see the movie ‘Cars’!” before it even came out. I said, “No, they didn’t finish making it yet. When it’s in the theater, we’ll go.” Finally, this weekend we plan to go.

About the Ann Coulter controversy: I admire and often agree with her, although I strongly disagree with those of her opinions that are religion-tainted (re stem cells, abortion, the usual conservative Christian issues). My thoughts about her “widows” comments are that I always would rather err on the side of being rude if it’s a choice between rudeness and lack of honest clarity about an important issue. Sometimes the only way to get across what you mean is by using the sharpest words. On the other hand, it’s best to keep an argument focused on the principles and not the personalities. But in the case of the four widows, their personal circumstances is the issue;they (as agents for the DNC) themselves use their personal situation as if it’s an argument that can have no response.

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Never Again?

For those who say about the Nazi concentration camps and thedeadly prisoncamps of Stalin, “never again”, here is some news: it is again, now.

More evidence about North Korea’s concentration camp Haengyong, with its”Killing Compound” known as Camp 22, is detailed in this article from WorldNetDaily. Political prisoners become the subject ofevil experiments here — when they aren’t starved or beaten or killed in gas chambers. Sound familiar?

Yes, it isn’t our job to save everyone, but clearly North Korea is a dangerous enemy of the West and the U.S. in particular, and they have nuclear weapons. The concentration camps make it even more obvious that we need to strike them with no reluctance or restraint. I have heard directly from Auschwitz survivors that while in the camp they welcomed the sound of the bombs getting closer even if it meant they would die too.

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Billy news, X-Men, Jane Russell

Kip Liles emails me that she found convincing evidencefrom an internet sourcethat Billy, the brother of Bradley McGee (see my post about my podcast called “Protecting Children”), is still alive at age 5. But that’s all she knows about Billy.

Meanwhile, I saw “X-Men: The Last Stand” and I thought its plot, while often stretchingone’s ability to suspend disbelief, nonetheless was exciting, suspenseful, and contained surprising and satisfying confrontations between characters, unexpected and dramatic events, and surprising yetbelievable choices made by various characters. I hadn’t read the comic books, I’ve only seen the movies, so it was all new to me. Compared to most fantasy and science fiction films today, this plot was jam-packed with ideas, probably because it was based on many years’ worth of comics written by very talented and imaginative writers who put a lot of thought into the stories (along with their editors). People like Marvel’s Stan Lee and DC’s Carmine Infantino and the late Julius Schwartz are extremely clever and talented people, certainly moreso than many in the film business today.

Speaking of the film business, I see that a star of the golden age of movies, Jane Russell, is performing live on stage in her home town of Santa Maria, California a couple of times a month. Since she wasn’t being hired for film roles, she was bored so she started her own show at the local Radisson. She also long ago created an organization, WAIF, which places foster children into adoptive families. Incidentally, she was and remainsa Republican, and has said on the Larry King show during a remembrance of (GOP) comedian Bob Hope that in her heyday of the 1940s most of Hollywood was Republican.

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Foster Parenting Featured on 20/20

Related to my podcast on and my previous post here, a feature by Bob Brown on kids in the foster care system will be on tonight’s TV Newsmagazine “20/20” (June 2, 2006 on ABC at 10:00 PM ET in the U.S.). See I don’t know whether they will post a transcript there if you missed it, but you can take a look.

And last night, there was a moving program on ABC’s “Primetime” with Diane Sawyer, about foster children, which showed some success stories where a few atrociously abusedand neglected childrenstarted to heal themselveswith the help offoster parents and a private children’s care facility called Maryhurst, and some were even adopted — although many remain in limbo.

There is a lot of information on the subject here:

It seems clear that many of the worst cases occur in households where parents are drug or alcohol abusers.No further proof is neededthat clarity of the mind is the essential value and that drug abuseor any other activity which distortsor halts such clarity are the essential evil.

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