June 28, 2014

31% of Americans believe the US is a crony capitalist state

Filed under: Economics, Government, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:55

Thirty-one percent of Americans are probably right:

Many Americans remain unconvinced that the United States has a system of free market capitalism and continue to be wary of government involvement in the economy.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 32% of American Adults believe the United States has a system of free market capitalism, while just as many (31%) say it is a system of crony capitalism. Slightly more (37%) are not sure what kind of capitalist system America has.

That’s from a survey conducted at the beginning of April. I suspect the same survey done now would produce a plurality for the crony capitalist side.

H/T to Jesse Walker for the link.

Autism and vaccines infographic

Filed under: Health, Media, Science — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:44

Click to see full infographic

Click to see full infographic

H/T to Nils Werner for the link.

Ayn Rand’s fascination with trains … as killing devices

Filed under: Books, Media, Railways — Tags: — Nicholas @ 10:25

Kevin Baker apparently reads Rand’s Atlas Shrugged purely for the killing porn:

In her major opus, Atlas Shrugged, railroad management exemplifies the sort of endeavor her great heroes of capitalism, the prime movers, love to take on. She claimed to have taken rides in the locomotives of the New York Central while researching the book, and to have driven the 20th Century Limited, boasting that while she was at the controls of that extraordinary train, “nobody touched a lever except me.” Trains are such an indispensable motif in Atlas Shrugged, that, when some of Rand’s acolytes produced a slavishly faithful film adaptation of her book set in the present day, they had to invent a convoluted rationale involving resource shortages and industrial disasters to explain how railroads had once again become the dominant form of long-distance transportation.

Trains were more than just a magnificent obsession for Rand. They also served as a sort of avenging angel. […]

Rand later writes a scene in which, as the nation’s infrastructure is crumbling during what she terms a “strike” by the prime movers, a rail bridge falls apart and a Taggart Transcontinental train tumbles into the Mississippi River — one more vehicle crowded with thinkers of philosophically impure thoughts. And in yet another scene, Eddie Willers, the loyal aide to the book’s heroine, is aboard a train when it breaks down out in the Arizona desert. The other passengers and crew manage to be rescued by a passing wagon train(!), but Eddie refuses and pleads, “Don’t let it go!” while looking up helplessly at the locomotive. The others abandon the train and Eddie, almost certainly to his death.

It was such passages that led Whittaker Chambers, in his 1957 National Review takedown of Rand and her just-released book, to famously write, “From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding, ‘To the gas chambers — go!’ ” By then Rand had lingered so long on her screed that trains, the cutting edge of American technology and design when she began, were about to be all but eliminated by the prime movers.

But reading of her love for trains’ capacity to kill at least allows one to understand her appeal to the modern Republican right. Her extended descriptions of those who will die and why they deserve to die resemble nothing so much as the climactic passages of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’s Left Behind series, in which, after another set of righteous people have been raptured out of harm’s way, the authors dwell in loving detail on the torments to be inflicted by the returning deity of the Apocalypse — in this case, not Jesus Christ, but John Galt. Different god, same gas chamber.

QotD: The dangers of self-publishing

Filed under: Books, Business, Humour, Quotations — Tags: — Nicholas @ 00:01

Call from the project manager on a big, glossy, high-end coffee-table book I recently proofread …

Project Manager: Oh. My. God! We can’t possibly implement all these changes! There’s just red EVERYwhere.

Me: They’re not changes, they’re corrections.

PM: But it’ll take days.

Me: Yes, and because there are so many I suggest you get someone to read it again.

PM: But we go to print on Friiiiiday *wail*

Me: Maybe the editor should look at it again then. Who’s the editor?

PM: The author. And me.

Me: No, who’s the E-D-I-T-O-R?

PM: No, seriously, the author and me.

Me: No frikkin’ kidding. (Okay, that was under my breath…)

Publish Cape Town, Facebook, 2014-06-26.

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