Objectivist dating

Yes, the above does happen, at least in theory. Yes, The Atlasphere, a dating site for Ayn Rand followers, is real. New York has highlights

[I am] short, stark, and mansome.

You should contact me if you are a skinny woman. If your words are a meaningful progression of concepts rather than a series of vocalizations induced by your spinal cord for the purpose of complementing my tone of voice. If you’ve seen the meatbot, the walking automaton, the pod-people, the dense, glazy-eyed substrate through which living organisms such as myself must escape to reach air and sunlight. If you’ve realized that if speech is to be regarded as a cognitive function, technically they aren’t speaking, and you don’t have to listen.

I love intelligent, sassy girls, particularly those working in consulting or investment banking (but other fields are great too). Really, nothing is hotter than an accomplished girl in a suit, as long as she is willing to settle down and have my children. I want a girl who will support my ambitions against the naysayers in society.

Yeah, those will go over real well.

Whittaker Chambers had the bitch’s number back in 1957.

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Sing Those Blues, Sita!

My piece on the brilliant movie Sita Sings the Blues, including an interview with animatrix/writer/director Nina Paley is up on Coilhouse:

Sita’s magnificence is a testament to the tireless hard work and innovative vision of Paley, a longtime alternative cartoonist, who made the whole film on her home computer over five years. The ideas for the movie stem from a particularly harsh break-up (that story’s also told in the movie). Her struggle still isn’t over either: her creation still faces numerous hurdles, both from Hindu fundamentalists and corporate music juggernauts. This thankfully hasn’t stopped it from tearing up the festival circuit across several continents, getting much acclaim at big name fests like Berlin and Tribeca.

So how did something like this come about? Paley was kind enough to talk about the movie’s genesis, its challenges and why audiences these days are doing more than just buying tickets.

Monks build beer bottle temple

Buddhist monks build temple from beer bottles:

Fifty years ago the Heineken Beer company looked at reshaping its beer bottle to be useful as a building block. It never happened, so Buddhist monks from Thailand’s Sisaket province took matters into their own hands and collected a million bottles to build the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple. It puts every other bottle building we have shown to shame.

Now that’s innovation.

Yes, exactly

We are so often told by opponents of marriage equality that they do not oppose our right to have basic legal protections. What they do not understand, because they have never had to understand, is that without legal marriage, gay couples are always subject to the veto of family members who have more say over our spouses under the law than we do.
I remember a story told me during the AIDS epidemic. A man was visiting a friend dying in hospital. It was a grim scene, as it often was in those days. The next bed in the ward had a curtain drawn around it. And from behind that curtain, you could hear someone quietly singing. The man told his friend, “Well, at least that dude is keeping his spirits up, however sick he is.” And the friend replied:
“Oh, that’s not the patient singing. He died this morning. And his family came to collect the body. That voice you hear is the man’s partner. The family didn’t approve of his relationship and they have barred him from coming to the funeral and kicked him out of their shared home. That song he’s singing is the song they called their own. It was playing when they met. He used to sing it to him all the time when he was dying.”
“He’s still singing it even though they’ve taken the body away. He’s singing it to an empty bed. I guess it’s the last time he feels he’ll ever be close to the man he loved. They were together twenty years. The hospital staff don’t have the heart to ask him to leave yet.”
Until you have been treated as sub-human, it’s hard to appreciate how it feels. We will not give up. And we will win in part for the sake of those who never made it to see this day.
This is what my faith teaches me, whatever the Vatican insists. Our love really is stronger than their fear.

Andrew Sullivan

11/11 — It all happened again and again and again


Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under I green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, —
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen, 1893-1918

Yes, the Green Fields of France still gets me.

Heavy Metal East: “Music is the weapon of the future”


Moe Hamzeh of The Kordz during the Cedar Revolution, photo by Lynsey Addario

My piece on the growing heavy metal culture in the Middle East is up on Coilhouse:

In 2007, the documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad chronicled the trials of Acrassicauda, dubbed “Iraq’s only heavy metal band.” No doubt many did a double take at trying to reconcile visions of headbangers with environs like Iraq or Lebanon.

Part of that surprise comes from the tremendous heaping pile of bullshit out there about the Middle East. This is, in mass-media world, the land of They. Here is one teeming mass of zealots, driven as by incomprehensible creeds towards destroying you, dear viewer. Fear! Cower!

This is a lie. Growing from the very real repression and devastation faced in these lands, metal of all varieties is thriving from North Africa to Pakistan. As Moroccan metal founding father Reda Zine proclaimed: “we play heavy metal because our lives are heavy metal.”

The resulting fusion sounds both old and new. Middle Eastern metalheads have gathered in the hundreds of thousands, rivaling the Islamist rallies that induce so much hand-wringing in the West. In defense of the most basic freedoms they’ve had showdowns with dictators and fundamentalists. Sometimes, they win.

A Better Way

This has been playing in my head all week. Last night it just got louder.