Christian Praise for Ayn Rand Novels

(p. A13) Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE restaurants and a practicing Roman Catholic, finds nothing worrisome in that fact: “I encouraged my six children to read both ‘Fountainhead’ and ‘Mere Christianity’ by C.S. Lewis,” he told me. Each child later read “Atlas Shrugged.” Mr. Puzder argued that “there’s no contradiction between raising my children in the church, and urging them to lead the kind of lives of achievement, integrity and independence that Ayn Rand celebrated in her novels.”
Randall Wallace, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of 1995’s “Braveheart,” and the director of 2014’s “Heaven Is for Real,” is such an admirer of Rand’s work that he wrote a screen adaptation of “Atlas Shrugged.” Mr. Wallace, a Southern Baptist, said, “My faith isn’t contradicted by her beliefs. We live in a world of labels, but God surely cares less about the labels we give ourselves than about how we live because of them.” Rand, Mr. Wallace feels, wrote fiercely and fearlessly about bold and brave characters. “I think it would contradictory to my own beliefs not to admire her.”

For the full commentary, see:
JENNIFER ANJU GROSSMAN. “Can You Love God and Ayn Rand?; A friend claims the atheist philosopher at one point saw the appeal of spirituality.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Nov. 11, 2016): A13.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Nov. 10, 2016.)

The Ayn Rand novels praised above, are:
Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House, 1957.
Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1943.

David Sokol Worries that in Over-Regulated America, Free Enterprise Is Under Attack

(p. C1) David Sokol, once widely expected to succeed Mr. Buffett as chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has kept a fairly low profile since leaving the conglomerate amid a stock-trading controversy five years ago.
. . .
In addition to becoming a more-vocal investor, Mr. Sokol, 59 years old, is becoming increasingly vocal about politics. He is an avowed fan of “Atlas Shrugged,” the 1957 novel by Ayn Rand that made a moral case for capitalism and self interest. In public speeches and columns, Mr. Sokol has drawn comparisons between the dystopian, over-regulated America portrayed in the book and the present day, saying (p. C2) that free enterprise is increasingly under attack.

For the full story, see:
SERENA NG and ANUPREETA DAS. “From Buffett Protege to Activist.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., April 25, 2016): C1-C2.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 24, 2016, and has the title “Warren Buffett’s Former Heir-Apparent Resurfaces as Activist Investor.”)

The Ayn Rand novel that Sokol admires, is:
Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House, 1957.

Producer of “The Godfather” to Make Six Hour TV Version of Atlas Shrugged

(p. D1) LOS ANGELES — It took a while — more than 40 years, actually.
But Albert S. Ruddy, a movie and television producer who does not like to quit, has landed rights to make his passion project: a screen version of “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s Objectivist bible.
Mr. Ruddy, whose canon includes films as varied as “The Godfather” and “The Cannonball Run,” almost had a deal back in the early 1970s, when he wooed Ms. Rand personally while sitting on a small couch in New York.
But Ms. Rand, who had left the Soviet Union in the 1920s and feared the Russians might acquire Paramount Pictures to subvert the project, wanted script approval; Mr. Ruddy, as adamant as she was, declined. “Then I’ll put in my will, the one person who can’t get it is you,” Mr. Ruddy recalls being told by Ms. Rand, who died in 1982.
. . .
The main thing, Mr. Ruddy said, is to honor Ms. Rand’s insistence on making a film for the future. That means redrawing its capitalists and creators, who go on strike against creeping collectivism, as figures more familiar than the railroad heiress and industrial titans who figured in a book that was first published in 1957.
“When you look at guys like Jeff Bezos, he’s not only doing Amazon, he wants to colonize Mars,” Mr. Ruddy said. He spoke by telephone last week of his plan for a mini-series in which an Internet blackout led by Bezos-like figures might shut down cellphones, banks and almost everything else.

For the full story, see:
MICHAEL CIEPLY. “Film Producer Lands Rights to ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Novel.” The New York Times (Mon., NOV. 2, 2015): B8.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date NOV. 1, 2015, and has the title “Producer of ‘The Godfather’ Lands Rights to ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Novel.”)

Should You Care How Other People Perceive You?

(p. B2) Sadly, it does appear that being flawed in one area may help in others. In an article in The Atlantic titled “Why It Pays to Be a Jerk,” the author Jerry Useem quotes several studies that show that nice guys don’t usually win. Donald Hambrick, a management professor at Penn State, told the magazine, “To the extent that innovation and risk-taking are in short supply in the corporate world, narcissists are the ones who are going to step up to the plate.”
Not everyone thinks Jobs was a jerk. Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for Internet software and services, wrote on Twitter that he felt the Gibney film was “an inaccurate and meanspirited view of my friend. It’s not a reflection of the Steve I knew.”
But the black hat-white hat version of Jobs may be too confining.
In a fascinating interview last year with Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s famed designer and longtime friend of Jobs, recounted a telling story. He remembered a time when Jobs had been tough — too tough, in Mr. Ive’s estimation — on his team. Mr. Ive pulled him aside and told him to be bit nicer. “Well, why?” Jobs replied. “Because I care about the team,” Mr. Ive responded. “And he said this brutally, brilliantly insightful thing, which was, ‘No, Jony, you’re just really vain,’ ” Mr. Ive recalled. “He said, ‘You just want people to like you, and I’m surprised at you because I thought you really held the work up as the most important, not how you believed you were perceived by other people.’ ”
That story and the documentary left me with me with two questions: Would you rather do something extraordinary that benefits the lives of millions of people? Or be liked by several hundred? And does it have to be an either-or question?
The answer, like Jobs, is complicated.

For the full commentary, see:
Andrew Ross Sorkin. “Decoding Steve Jobs, in Life and on Film.” The New York Times (Tues., SEPT. 8, 2015): B1-B2.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date SEPT. 7, 2015.)

Greenspan’s Epiphany: As Entitlements Rise, Savings Fall

TheMapAndTheTerritoryBK2013-10-24.jpg

Source of book image: http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/BN-AB661_bkrvgr_GV_20131021130523.jpg

(p. C11) In his new book “The Map and the Territory,” to be released on Tuesday, Mr. Greenspan, 87, goes on a hunt for what has gone wrong in American politics and in the U.S. economy.
. . .
Mr. Greenspan’s biggest revelation came one day about a year ago when he was playing with gross domestic savings numbers. What he found, to his surprise and initial skepticism, was that an increase in entitlements has closely corresponded to a decline in the country’s savings. “We had this extraordinary increase in benefits, with each party trying to outbid the other,” he says. “That practice has been eroding the country’s flow of savings that’s so critical in financing our capital investment.” The decline in savings has been partly offset by borrowing from abroad, which brings us to our current foreign debt: “$5 trillion and counting,” he says.
. . .
Studying the minutiae of the events leading to the financial crisis brought to mind some lessons from his famous friendship, from the 1950s on, with the late Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand.
. . .
Mr. Greenspan then believed in analysis based mainly on hard science and empirical facts. Rand told him that unless he considered human nature and its irrational side, he would “miss a very large part of how human beings behaved.” At the time they weren’t discussing economics, but today he realizes the full impact of emotions and instincts on markets. He also has come to admire psychologist and Princeton University professor emeritus Daniel Kahneman’s work applying psychological insights to economic theory, for which he won a Nobel Prize in 2002.
. . .
With his new book, Mr. Greenspan hopes to provide politicians and the public with a road map to avoid making the same mistakes again. His suggestions include reducing entitlements, embracing “creative destruction” by letting facilities with cutting-edge technology displace those with low productivity, and fixing the political system by encouraging bipartisanship.

For the full interview/review, see:
ALEXANDRA WOLFE, interviewer/reviewer. “WEEKEND CONFIDENTIAL; Alan Greenspan.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Oct. 19, 2013): C11.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the interview/review has the date Oct. 18, 2013, and has the title “WEEKEND CONFIDENTIAL; Alan Greenspan: What Went Wrong; The former Fed chairman on where the economy went wrong, where he went wrong–and Ayn Rand.”)

The book discussed is:
Greenspan, Alan. The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting. New York: Penguin Press, 2013.

Steve Jobs Channels Ellis Wyatt

(p. 260) In 2007 Forbes magazine named Steve Jobs the highest-paid exec-(p. 261)utive of any of America’s five hundred largest companies, based on gains in the value of stock granted to him at Apple. He was on the board of directors of the Walt Disney Co. Yet his former residence in Woodside, where he had once met with Catmull and Smith and mused about buying Lucasfilm’s Computer Division, was now in a state of decay under his ownership.
He had wanted to demolish it; after a group of neighborhood residents opposed his plan to do so, he left the house open to the elements. The interior suffered damage from water and mold. Vines crept up the stucco walls and wandered inside.
The memories that haunted its hallways were those of Jobs’s darkest times. He had bought the house only months before the humiliation of his firing from Apple; he lived in it through that firing and through the hard, money-hemorrhaging years of Pixar and NeXT. He left it as his fortunes were about to change, as he was sending Microsoft away from Pixar, convinced that he had something he should hold on to.
When a judge ruled against his quest for a demolition permit, Jobs appealed in 2006 and 2007 all the way to the California Supreme Court, but he lost at every stage. He received proposals from property owners offering to cart the house away in sections and restore it elsewhere; he rejected them. One way or another, it seemed, he meant for the house to be destroyed.

Source:
Price, David A. The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.
(Note: italics in original.)
(Note: The passage above is from the Epilogue and the pages given above are from the hardback edition (pp. 260-261). The identical passage also appears in the 2009 paperback edition, but on p. 265.

Impressions of the Movie Atlas Shrugged, Part 1

Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was the most important book of my youth. I still believe that it is an important, and mainly good, novel.
My brother Eric asked me what I thought of the Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 movie that my family went to see on Saturday afternoon (4/16/11). I sent him these first impressions:

I think some of the people making the movie probably meant well—but it turned out pretty wooden.

Rearden is the main male character in the movie, and the range of his facial expressions is between mildly annoyed and mildly amused.
There isn’t anger or passion or joy or fear in the movie, although all of those were in the first part of the book. Watching the movie is like watching a set of dramatized homilies.
The hokey scenes of a shadowy John Galt, kill some of the suspense. (And dressing him in a 1940s fedora seems awkwardly atavistic, given that the movie is supposed to be taking place in 2016.)
It wasn’t all bad. There are some nice scenes of a fast train traveling through Colorado and over a sleek bridge of Rearden metal. And I agree with many of the homilies.
Overall, I wasn’t appalled, but I was disappointed.