Thursday, September 20, 2012
Peut-être que l'ex-DG du Cacanadien de Mourial, Pierre Gauthier, en était venu à la seule conclusion possible, quelques semaines avant d'être éjecté de son siège administratif du Centre PouBell... Avant de tirer cette conclusion, l'homme aux oreilles pareilles à celles de monsieur Spock, avait sans doute retourné mille fois la situation dans sa tête afin de trouver une solution viable aux nombreux problèmes des CHieux. Son dilemme : puisque les impôts, la culture francophone, la laideur de la ville, ainsi que la débilité des fefans et des représentants des médias moronréalaids effarouchent les bons joueurs de la NHL et les incitent fortement à ne pas considérer l'option de venir exercer leurs talents dans la métropauvre, il faut bien trouver un autre moyen d'offrir un spectacle divertissant aux idiots qui persistent à vouloir payer le gros prix pour assister aux défaites répétées du torCHon. En se grattant la tête jusqu'au sang, Gauthier a fini par trouver une issue à son questionnement incessant. La seule identité "vendeuse" du CH, l'unique produit qui puisse plaire un tant soit peu à la bande de "losers" qui continuent à envahir les estrades de la grosse taverne des Molson, c'est une sorte de version hockey du roller derby, ce sport dans lequel on s'envoie allègrement en l'air. C'est le meilleur exemple, ou le rapprochement le plus ressemblant, que j'ai pu trouver pour illustrer la nouvelle philosophie du Cacad'CHien.
Car c'est peut-être tragique ou comique - selon que l'on est pro-CH ou Anti-Habs -, mais le nouveau gérant général des CHaudrons, le pince-sans-rire Symphorien Bergevin (même si c'est plutôt son ami Rick Dudley qui, dans l'ombre, tire les ficelles de cette marionnette), a eu beau se creuser la cervelle tout l'été, il en est venu au même constat que son prédécesseur : pour amuser la galerie, faute de pouvoir lui offrir une équipe compétitive, la seule chose à faire c'est de monter un spectacle avec des bouffons acrobates, du genre de ceux du Cirque du Soleil. Bon, disons que le Cirque du Soleil, c'est un peu trop sophistiqué pour les fefans... Parlons plutôt de CHimpanzés acrobates qui feraient des culbutes et des cabrioles sous un grand chapiteau. Où je veux en venir exactement avec toutes ces comparaisons ? C'est que Symphorien Bergevin et son comparse Éphrem Therrien se sont résignés à suivre les traces de Pierre Gauthier, qui en fin de parcours, était allé chercher une grosse bête de cirque (imaginez un gorille avec une chaîne au cou), le très peu subtil Brad Staubitz, pour distraire, par ses esclandres, l'assistance pathétique qui s'entassait toujours au Centre BéBell. À défaut d'avoir du hockey décent, les fefans avaient au moins pu trépigner en voyant Staubitz déclencher quelques foires d'empoigne.
Bien sûr, jusqu'à ce que l'agent libre Shane Doan renouvelle récemment son contrat avec les Coyotes de Phoenix, les fefans avaient rêvé que leurs CHaudrons le mettent sous contrat. Tout comme ils avaient aussi entretenu de vaines chimères au sujet de joueurs autonomes de qualité supérieure comme P.-A. Parenteau, Zach Parize ou Ryan Suter. Ça fait pourtant vingt ans que les châteaux de cartes des fefans s'écroulent avant même d'être complétés. Il faut croire que ces crétins de comprendront jamais : bons joueurs ne riment plus avec Canadiens de MortYial. Encore une fois, tout ce que la CHiasse a pu réussir à récolter sur le marché des agents libres, ce sont des pousseux de puck finis (Colby Armstrong et Francis Bouillon) et un matamore payé à prix d'or, Brandon Prust). Prust, le pugiliste aux mains de ciment, ne serait pas venu dans le bidonville moronréalaid si le Caca n'avait pas triplé son salaire (10 millions de dollars pour un contrat de quatre ans) et si sa blonde aux grosses boules, Marie Pier Morin (photo), n'avait pas travaillé dans ce trou infect. Cet ex-chipie de l'émission de télé OCCUPATION DOUBLE, que l'on a aussi vue parmi les beautés qui ouvrent des valises dans LE BANQUIER, aspire à une carrière de mannequin. Ça ne décolle pas encore très fort, et elle est confinée au marché peu enviable de Morons city. Prust en est à sa quatrième équipe en quatre ans (Phoenix, Calgary, New York Rangers et torCHon town). À 28 ans, il a 24 buts en carrière et il joue une douzaine de minutes par match. Il a terminé au premier rang de la LNH pour les punitions majeures (20) l'an dernier. Il va remplacer Staubitz (dont on a pas retenu les services) comme guignol digne de SLAP SHOT.
Colby Armstrong, lui (ci-dessus avec une belle perruque de clown), a vu son contrat racheté par les Maple Leafs de Toronto. Il était devenu un indésirable parce qu'il ne produisait plus et parce qu'il a les os aussi fragiles que ceux d'un enfant nouveau-né. Un autre restant de table ramassé par le bleu, blanc, merde, une spécialité dans leur cas. Au cours des deux dernières années, Armstrong, un ancien protégé de Michel "t'es rien", a raté l'équivalent d'une saison complète en accumulant une quantité industrielle de blessures de toutes sortes : nez cassé, fracture du pied, cheville étirée, vision embrouillée, doigt amoché, autre problème à un pied, etc. On dit de lui qu'il est bon dans les coins de patinoire et qu'il frappe d'aplomb. Ça c'était avant toutes ces blessures qui l'ont rendu cassant comme une poupée de porcelaine déjà fêlée... Avec un peu de chance, il va pouvoir jouer ses neuf minutes en moyenne par partie durant au moins la moitié du calendrier écourté par le présent lock-out dans la NHL... De toutes façons, Armstrong a déjà commencé à songer à l'éventualité de changer de carrière. Il étudie la possibilité de se recycler dans la coiffure pour femmes, comme en témoigne son air fort intéressé sur le cliché ci-dessous...
Francis Bouillon, 37 ans bientôt, et récupéré de la cour à "scrap" des Predators de Nashville, a un physique aussi hypothéqué que son nouveau coéquipier arrivé de Toronto. Lui également, est un ancien chouchou de Éphrem Therrien. Il a des ennuis de santé récurrents, comme ses douleurs à l'aine, son genou de paillasson, équivalent à celui d'un p'tit vieux de 80 ans. Il traîne également les reliquats d'une commotion cérébrale et il est diminué par de vieilles blessures à une jambe, à une cheville et à une épaule. Un chausson avec ça ? Reste à voir si le nouveau "franco" de service, qui remplace Mathieu Darche comme porte-panier auprès de la faune journalistique moronréalaise, ne sera pas plutôt confiné à la galerie de la presse en raison du surplus de personnel à la ligne bleue du CHicolore. Un peu comme Bouillon, il y a quelques années, Darche s'est vu montrer la porte par les Canassons, après leur avoir pourtant rendu de fiers services. Il y a deux ans, Darche avait marqué des buts importants en toute fin de saison pour permettre à son organisation de broches à foin de sauver la face en entrant de justesse en séries, par la trappe du sous-sol. Cette façon cavalière d'agir rappelle à notre souvenir le traitement que Bob Gainey avait fait subir à Bouillon lors de son premier passage avec les CHieux. Mal pris et menacé d'élimination en séries Stanley, Gainey avait forcé Bouillon à jouer même si ce dernier était encore blessé et qu'il n'était pas en état de revenir au jeu. Peu de temps après son sacrifice dangereux, Bouillon était sacré dehors.
Avec des joueurs décocrissés comme Armstrong et Bouillon, et d'autres du genre de Andrei "jambe de bois" Markov, pourquoi les fefans sont-ils toujours surpris et évoquent la malchance quand leurs petits joueurs "feluettes" et leurs vieilles picouilles finies tombent comme des mouches durant la saison ? Quand tu cours après le trouble, ce dernier a vite fait de te rattraper, plus vite que Scott Gomez peut patiner pour retourner en douce au banc après un demi-shift... Si on fait le compte, on a Travis Moen, Ryan White, Brandon Prust, Colby Armstrong, Pédé Subban, Alexei Emelin et Francis Bouillon qui pratiquent tous le même style de jeu : la mise en échec sous forme de ruade contre les adversaires afin de faire frétiller de plaisir les fefans sur leur banc. Ce faisant, ces triple cornichons renverseront leur verre de bière et leur pop-corn, et ils devront en acheter d'autres pour faire marcher à plein régime la machine à fric des Molson. Ça va ressembler au roller derby quand, à grands coups de coude, de genou, de hanche et de poing un patineur expédie l'opposant dans le décor après l'avoir fait voltiger au-dessus de la piste. Sans oublier le spectaculaire coup de la corde à linge qui peut faire crier de contentement le fefan le plus apathique.
C'est donc ça la nouvelle identité des Canailliens : puisqu'on ne peut rivaliser au hockey avec les autres clubs, autant s'éclater en faisant du rodéo comme au Stampede de Calgary. D'autant plus que le torCHon compte dans ses rangs un faux cowboy : l'amérindien déguisé Scary Price. Avec sa face de "beu", Therrien est l'homme tout désigné pour diriger cette troupe de bouffons. Certains soirs, ça va être du vaudeville, d'autres soirs ce sera du roller derby ou du cirque d'animaux pas très savants... Des heures de plaisir attendent les Anti-Habs. À condition que la saison finisse par commencer ! C'est la grâce que je nous souhaite. Mais avec le dialogue de sourds qu'ils entretiennent sporadiquement, les frères Fehr, d'un côté, et Bettman et Daly, de leur bord, ne laissent pas présager un règlement rapide du conflit qui opposent les joueurs aux propriétaires. Seule consolation pour nous, Anti-CHieux, c'est que plus le début de la saison sera retardé, plus longtemps le Cacad'CHien conservera la cave du classement de l'Est, acquise en 2011-2012.
I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I was absolutely terrible at science in school which ended any notion of my becoming a doctor. Although truthfully I wanted to play a doctor, preferably on a daytime soap, more than I actually wanted to be one. The smell of formaldehyde still brings back memories of 7thgrade science class when we had to dissect frogs and a fish (my mother had to help me with that one on parent’s day). I took four years of biology in high school more to avoid taking chemistry than from any real interest. Despite my obvious lack of aptitude for both science and mathematics, I find women who choose science or math as careers endlessly intriguing.
As recently as a few years ago, the President of Harvard University got into hot water for implying that the under-representation of women in science and engineering could be due to a "different availability of aptitude at the high end," and less to patterns of discrimination and socialization.. And in the 19th century, for a time, it was thought that higher education would ruin a woman’s ability to conceive. Certainly, women making their way in mathematics and science had a hard fight ahead of them. Pioneers such as Elizabeth Blackwell, Marie Curie, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, and Maria Mitchell are amongst a host of other women who pushed the boundaries which paved the way for Rosalind Franklin in the 20th Century to do the pioneering work that she did with DNA and RNA in the 1950’s.
If you haven’t heard of Rosalind Franklin, don’t worry, you are not alone. I had never heard of her either until I stumbled upon the NOVA program The Secret of Photo 51 a few years ago. The program detailed the race to discover how DNA worked and the role that Rosalind Franklin played. It was Rosalind who painstakingly conceived of and captured "Photo 51" of the "B" form of DNA in 1952 while at King's College in London. This photograph, acquired after 100 hours of X-ray exposure, revealed the structure of DNA. You could say that the discovery of the structure of DNA was the single most important advance of modern biology in the 20th century. Working at Cambridge University, James Watson and Francis Crick used Photo 51 as the basis for their model of DNA that culminated in their Nobel Prize in 1962. But when the time came for them to accept their award, very little mention was made of Rosalind Franklin. She couldn’t have been considered for the prize because she died in 1958 and the Nobel Prize cannot be award posthumously.
It wasn’t until James Watson wrote his book The Double Helix in 1968 that the world at large learned of the important role that Rosalind Franklin had played. The portrait that he painted of Rosalind, who he disdainfully called ‘that dreadful Rosy’, a nickname that her friends never used, was not one that any of her friends or colleagues recognized. He focused on external things; the fact that she didn’t wear make-up, that her hair was not always groomed, but worst of all, he wrote that she had no idea how to interpret her own data (He’s since added a new epilogue to later editions of the book in which he acknowledges her talent as a scientist, his excuse is that the race to discover the structure of DNA clouded his judgment of her). The one good thing to come out of the book was that it inspired Anne Sayre to write the first full-length biography of Rosalind Franklin.
Rosalind Franklin was born on July 25, 1920 in Notting Hill, London. The First World War was over, women had just gotten the vote, and the Roaring Twenties was just about to start. Her parents both came from affluent Jewish families who encouraged their children not only towards academic excellence but also towards being socially conscious. The family was close-knit; evenings were spent in lively debate at which Rosalind excelled. From childhood, Rosalind was strong willed and independent. However, even they were surprised when Rosalind made the decision to become a scientist at the age of 15. She attended the rigorously academic St. Paul’s School for Girls where she became interested in physics and chemistry. She was not just gifted academically but also athletically, one of those girls who were good at practically everything. Although her father had encouraged her academically, when she expressed her desire to go to university, he was opposed. He felt that higher education was useless for women, and that Rosalind should spend her time doing volunteer work. Rosalind was not to be deterred. One of her aunts agreed to pay her tuition, and her mother supported her. Finally her father came around, and agreed to pay for college.
At Newnham College (the second of the two women’s colleges founded in 1871), Cambridge she earned a degree in natural sciences with a speciality in physical chemistry. During the war, Rosalind did graduate work with the British Coal Utilization Research Association. That worked earned her a PhD from Cambridge at the tender age of 25. After the war, Rosalind moved to Paris to work for the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). While in Paris, Rosalind was taught by Jacques Mering the practical aspects of applying X-ray crystallography to amorphous substances which she used in her research with coal, in particular what happens to the atoms when coal is converted to graphite. She spent four years working for CNRS which she loved. She learned the language and the food, but she especially enjoyed the more egalitarian atmosphere in France compared to the solid English middle-class values which she had grown up with. She felt respected as a scientist, and enjoyed the team spirit at the lab.
In 1951, Rosalind was offered a position with the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Biophysics Unit at King’s College in London. The head of the MRC, John Randall, wanted Rosalind to work on mapping the structure of DNA, since Franklin was the only experienced diffraction researcher at King’s. The existence of DNA had been discovered in 1869 by a Swiss scientist named Johann Friedrich Miescher. By the 1940’s, scientists knew that DNA controlled hereditary but they didn’t hadn’t figured out how it worked. Franklin’s work at King’s got off to a rocky beginning. Maurice Wilkins and Raymond Gosling, a PhD student, had already started working on the project. Using crude equipment, they had obtained a diffraction picture of DNA. However, Randall didn’t tell Wilkins that he had asked Rosalind to take over both the DNA diffraction work and guiding Gosling’s thesis. Wilkins was under the impression that Rosalind was going to be working for him. This created a tense atmosphere at work, particularly since Rosalind was very protective of her work and not inclined to share her discoveries until she was ready. There was also a clash of personalities, Maurice Wilkins was rather shy and reticent, while Rosalind was direct, impatient, confrontational to the point of abrasiveness and had a habit of looking people directly in the eye that Wilkins found unnerving. While she ate with colleagues in the lunch room, Rosalind didn’t go in for the morning and afternoon tea breaks that were common, preferring to spend her time focused on her work. This may have given some people the impression that she was anti-social or not a team-player or at least Wilkins.
Meanwhile at Cambridge, an American named James Watson was working with Francis Crick on DNA, but instead of using X-rays, they were trying to the model approach. However, their first attempts were unsuccessful, and their supervisor at Cambridge told them to give it up. Instead of giving it up, they continued to work in secret. In London, Rosalind had discovered that there were two forms of DNA: when wet, DNA was long and thin, and when it dried, it became short and fat. The wet she called “B” and the dry “A.” While Franklin chose to focus on the “A” form, Wilkins began working on “B.” Rosalind was painstaking in her research, and refused to rush to judgment without making sure of her data.
By 1952, Rosalind was convinced that both strains were helical in nature. In the beginning of 1953, James Watson had traveled from Cambridge to London to suggest that both teams collaborate before Linus Pauling who was also working on DNA discovered that his proposal for DNA was wrong. Franklin was unimpressed and then became incensed when Watson dared to suggest that she didn’t know how to interpret her own data. Wilkins, who had been drawn by the commotion, sympathized with Watson. Without her permission or knowledge, Wilkins decided to show Watson Photo 51 and some of her other research. Her photo gave Watson and Crick the information that they needed for their model of DNA. Crick’s thesis advisor, Max Perutz, gave him a copy of a report from the MRC that contained many of Franklin’s crystallographic calculations. Rosalind had also prepared a paper that stated her conclusions that DNA was in the shape of a double helix but her paper ended up being published third in the April 25, 1953 issue of Naturemagazine.
Frustrated by the old boy’s network atmosphere at King’s, Rosalind decided to move on to Birkbeck College to work on RNA structure (a molecule that constitutes the genome of many viruses) and the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). However she was not allowed to take her research on DNA with her, it had to stay with King’s College. Rosalind Franklin went on to perform exceptional research at Birkbeck College, publishing 17 papers on her findings between 1953 and 1958. She was a senior scientist with her own research group, including Aaron Klug with whom she began a successful collaboration. She died in 1958 of ovarian cancer, at age 37, perhaps from radiation exposure from her work.
After her death, there were those who felt that Rosalind’s contributions were downplayed because she was a woman. While sexism may have played a slight role, (Francis Crick admits that they displayed a patronizing attitude towards her) other factors were at play. The race to discover the structure of DNA was quite intense and competitive, a great deal was at stake. There was also the clash of personalities, particularly between Rosalind and Maurice Wilkins. There are others who believe that Rosalind Franklin missed several chances to solve DNA first. Lynne Elkins, a former professor at California State University at East Bay, has made a detailed study of Rosalind and the other participants involved in the quest to solve DNA in the post-war period. Franklin had consulted with another scientist, Dorothy Hodgkin, who was at Oxford University. Unfortunately Hodgkin brushed off Franklin, and sent her to talk to a post-doctoral student at the University. At another point, Wilkins frustrated with Franklin, complained about her to John Randall. He claimed that Franklin had no data because she was no good at making models of molecules. Randall offered to employ another crystallographer, a young woman named Pauline Cowan, to help Franklin out, but in his usual undiplomatic way, he did it behind Franklin’s back. When Franklin found out, she was furious, and rejected the young woman. Elkin believes that Cowan would have been able to interpret Franklin’s data, and predicted the right backbone structure for DNA. Franklin would have been the first to admit that there were gaps in her knowledge, given that most of her work had been with goal.
Since her death, Rosalind’s contributions to science as her part in the discovery of the DNA have slowly become better known. In 2003, the Royal Society in the U.K. established the Rosalind Franklin Award for an outstanding contribution to any area of natural science, engineering or technology. In 2004, the Finch University of Health Sciences changed its name to the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.
Further Reading:Super Women in Science – Kelly Di Domenico, Second Story Press, Toronto, 2002
Rosalind Franklin and DNA – Anne Sayre, Norton, 1978
Rosalind Franklin, the Dark Lady of DNA – Brenda Maddox, Harper Collins, 2002
Dignifying Science: Stories about Women Scientists – GT Labs, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2003
Nova Program – The Secret of Photo 51 - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/photo51/
Monday, September 17, 2012
Ever since Paul Ryan was announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate, the press has made note of his long time devotion to novelist, screenwriter and philosopher Ayn Rand. In a 2005 speech, Ryan said that he grew up reading Rand’s works “and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and why value systems are, and what my beliefs are.” He added, “There is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through her writings and works.” He also claimed that he got involved in public service because of her, and that Atlas Shrugged still informs his views on monetary policy. Well he was a disciple of Ayn Rand; he began to backpedal when his name was thrown began to be bandied about as a possible running mate. Now he says that because of her atheism, and no doubt her stance on abortion, he is no longer such a big fan. Which is kind of funny because it’s not like that’s been a big secret, if you know anything about Ayn Rand.
I’ve been meaning to write about Ayn Rand for a long time, but she’s one of those women that were sort of on my bucket list until now. Quite a fascinating and complicated creature is Ayn. According to a recent article in the New York Observer, when Rand was alive she was condemned by intellectuals across the spectrum. “To the left, she was a reactionary, a fascist, a capitalist pig who advocated for a complete separation between government and economics, limitless individualism and the virtue of selfishness. To the right, she was an atheist, to moderates, an absolutist. Her books are often dismissed as over-the-top, Nietzschean (she studied Nietzsche in college) romance novels for alienated adolescents, and her philosophy – which Rand described as ‘the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute,’ is ridiculed to this day.” (New York Observer, 8/21/2012)
Just a few quick facts about Ayn Rand: Her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged have been in continuous print since they were published. As of 2007, 25 million copies had been sold (Take that E.L. James!), and continue to sell more than 800,000 a year. Not bad for a woman who has been deceased for 30 years. Her novel Atlas Shrugged was voted the second most influential book after the Bible in a survey by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club. In 2009, GQ’s columnist Tom Carson described her books as “capitalism’s version of middlebrow religious novels” in the same vein as Ben-Hur and the Left Behind Series. Another book critic, Leslie Clark, called her novels “romance fiction with a patina of pseudo-philosophy.” I have a confession to make, I have never read either of Rand’s novels The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged. Frankly they are not my cup of tea; I prefer more story and less philosophizing or moralizing when I read fiction. I have however tried to watch the first 20 minutes of the most recent film of Atlas Shrugged but gave up.
Still one can’t deny the influence that Rand has had over the years. Parents have named their kids after her characters. Ronald Reagan, Steve Jobs, Billie Jean King, Clarence Thomas, Frank Lloyd Wright, Hugh Hefner, Barry Goldwater and Ted Turner are just a few celebrities and politicians who are fans. Jerry Lewis claims that he carries a copy of The Fountainhead wherever he goes, and the band Rush based a concept album on her novel Anthem (one of her lesser known works). Even Hilary Clinton has said that she went through an Ayn Rand phase in college (no doubt when she was supporting Goldwater for President). Alan Greenspan was part of her inner circle during the 1950’s.
Rand was born Alisa Rosenbaum in St. Petersburg, Russia on February 2nd, 1905 which makes her an Aquarius, a sign notorious for unique individuals who go against the grain (she called herself “the most creative thinker alive” so she also wasn’t short on ego either). Her parents were largely non-observant Jews. Her father was a successful pharmacist, who eventually owned his own business. Young Alisa was bored by school, not finding it challenging enough for her. Instead, she began writing screenplays at the age of 8 and novels by the age of 10. Life as she knew it was interrupted by the Russian Revolution when she was 12. The pharmacy was confiscated by the Bolsheviks, and the family fled to the Crimea which was under control of the White Army. During this time, Alisa became an atheist. After her high school graduation, the family moved back to what was now known as Petrograd and later Leningrad. But life was difficult for the Rosenbaum family who were living on the edge of poverty.
One of the few benefits of the Russian Revolution as far as Rand was concerned was that women were now allowed to attend universities. She enrolled at the Petrograd State University where she majored in history. While at college, she studied the works of Aristotle and Plato as well as the work of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. By the time she graduated in 1924, she had changed her name to Ayn Rand. She traveled to the US in 1925 to visit relatives in Chicago, but her intention from the beginning was to stay to become a screenwriter. After a few months, she was on her way to Hollywood. Her first few months were a struggle as she had to take odd jobs to make a living, but she soon met film director Cecil B. DeMille which led to a job as an extra on one of his films. Subsequently she moved up to a position as a junior scriptwriter. The job with DeMille led to her meeting her husband, an actor named Frank O’Connor who she married in 1929. As a sign of her devotion to her new country, she became an American citizen in 1931. She also tried to bring her family to the US but they were unable to get permission to emigrate.
During the 1930’s, Rand worked not just as a screenwriter, but at one point she was also the head of the costume department at RKO! She sold one screenplay Red Pawn but it was never produced. She had more success as a playwright with the courtroom drama Night of January 16th which ran on Broadway in 1935. Each night the ‘jury’ was chose from members of the audience who voted whether or not the defendant was guilty or innocent. She also wrote an autobiographical novel set in Soviet Russia called We the Living which was published in 1936.
It was during the 1940’s that Rand became politically active and started to develop her philosophy of objectivism. She supported candidate Wendell Wilkie who ran against FDR in 1940. She began to meet other intellectuals who were sympathetic to free-market capitalism, and who had opposed the government programs that FDR had put into place during the Great Depression. She also became friends with libertarian writer Isabel Patterson. Vehemently anti-Communist, Rand testified as a ‘friendly witness’ before the House Un-American Activities committee, testifying to her experiences in the Soviet Union. Her novel The Fountainhead, after being rejected by 12 publishers, was finally published in 1943. It also led to her dependence on the amphetamine Benzedrine which she started taking to fight fatigue.
Rand moved to New York from LA in 1951, where she gathered a group of acolytes around her including the future head of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan. Her last novel Atlas Shrugged (which clocks in at over 1,000 pages) was published in 1957. At the heart of the novel are Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and her concept of human achievement. Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge, rejecting all forms of faith and religion. She also didn’t believe in ethical altruism. No doubt, she was alive today and riding the subways in New York, she’d spend her time lecturing the panhandlers instead of giving them change! Or perhaps she’d consider them a part of free market capitalism? The reviews this time were savage, even the New York Times which had praised her previous work The Fountainhead had nothing good to say about the book. After it was published, Rand fell into a deep depression. She never published another work of fiction, but it marked the beginning of a new career as a popular philosopher.
She became friendly with a young psychology student named Nathaniel Branden and his wife Barbara. She and Branden began an affair which was depicted in the Showtime film The Passion of Ayn Rand starring Helen Mirren as Rand and Eric Stoltz as Branden (if you can rent this, it is totally worth it, especially for Mirren’s performance as Rand). This affair was apparently with the consent of their spouses, but apparently it was like Branden and Rand told them they were having an affair and their spouses just had to deal with it. Rand’s professional relationship with Branden ended when she discovered that he was having an affair with another woman.
Ayn Rand often took controversial or contradictory stands on hot button issues during the 1960’s and 1970’s. She thought homosexuality was ‘immoral’ and ‘disgusting’ yet she also advocated repealing laws against it (one wonders what she would make of gay-marriage!), she opposed the Vietnam War and the military draft but condemned draft dodgers. However she supported Israel in the Arab-Israeli war. She also believed that Europeans had the right to take land from the Native Americans.
Rand died at the age of 80 from heart failure in 1982. Her funeral was attended by many of her prominent followers. A six-foot flower arrangement of a dollar sign was placed near her casket, a fitting memorial for the woman who promoted free-market capitalism. Since her death, the Ayn Rand Institute was founded in 1985 to promote her works and philosophy. Interest in her work has only increased not decreased, especially after the economy went into the toilet in 2008, although few colleges or universities include Rand or Objectivism as a part of literature courses or philosophy. She’s considered to be more of a pop cultural phenomenon. The political figures who cite Rand most often are of course members of both The Republican Party and the Libertarian Party (she’s also a favorite of the Tea Party).
I’ve included the above video from YouTube, so that you can see the woman in action and draw your own conclusions.
Female Force - Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand for Beginners
Ayn Rand Institute - www.aynrand.org
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
C'est toujours comique de surveiller tout ce qui s'écrit et se dit au sujet du Super Cacad'CHien de Morverial. En publicité, on emploie souvent le truc des comparaisons. Que ce soit, par exemple, pour faire la promotion de produits de beauté ou d'un régime d'amaigrissement, on utilise des photos montrant une personne AVANT et APRÈS le traitement, pour montrer l'efficacité de la camelote que l'on désire vendre. Si on applique le même procédé pour analyser le dernier repêchage des CHieux, en juin dernier, on se rend compte que l'AVANT et l'APRÈS sont très révélateurs en ce qui concerne le choix des joueurs repêchés. D'abord, avant le repêchage, histoire de ne pas avoir l'air trop fou s'il se fourvoie dans ses prédictions, l'expert ou le ti-joe connaissant qui se prononce sur les choix que le Caca devaient faire, prendra soin de souligner que le processus de sélection des joueurs amateurs n'est pas une science exacte. Puis, en considérant les besoins de l'équipe, il avancera quels joueurs devraient avoir la préférence des décideurs en place, chez les CHaudrons. Après le repêchage, en comparant les choix des experts et ceux du grand manitou du CH, Trevor "Tim bits" Timmins, on pouvait relever des différences notoires.
C'est ainsi que, pour ne parler que du premier choix du torCHon, plusieurs connaisseurs penchaient en faveur de Filip Forsberg, un joueur dont le style est plus physique et plus rude que celui de Alex Galchenyuk, sur qui le club monronréalaid a finalement jeté son dévolu. Vers la toute fin de son règne, l'ex-DG Pierre Spock Gauthier, avait fini par reconnaître, après à peu près tout le monde, qu'il y avait trop de schtroumfs dans sa formation. On aurait pu tenté de remédier à ce manque de robustesse en repêchant des jeunes au physique plus imposant, du genre "power forward". Au lieu de cela, Timmins le cabochon, a sélectionné Sebastian Collberg en deuxième ronde. Ce dernier fait 5 pieds 11 pouces et pèse 175 livres, lorsque son équipement est bien détrempé...
Les analystes qui militaient en faveur de Forsberg faisaient remarquer, à juste titre, que prendre Galchenyuk à sa place, représentait un choix risqué. Galchenyuk a raté presque toute la saison dernière à cause de ligaments déchirés à un genou. Le même genre de blessure qui a ruiné la carrière d'un certain Andrei Markov... Encore là, la CHiasse ne semble avoir rien appris de ses bévues du passé. Non seulement le premier choix du Caca a un genou fragilisé, mais il a une année complète de développement (ou d'expérience) en moins, par rapport aux autres prospects de son âge. Ça aussi c'est un facteur à ne pas négliger pour un club pourri comme le CH, qui a besoin d'aide immédiatement. Certes, avant sa blessure, Galchenyuk avait connu une bonne saison en profitant de la présence de Nail Yakupov à ses côtés, dans son club junior. Yakupov, un prodige, a été le tout premier choix du repêchage de 2012. S'il n'avait pas été là pour compléter ses jeux, Galchenyuk aurait sûrement eu moins de succès dans la Ligue junior de l'Ontario. Ce qui amène à poser une autre question brûlante : comment Galchenyuk se débrouillera avec le Caca quand il jouera avec des deux de pique sur sa ligne d'attaque ?
Bon, ici au Canada, on connaît le phénomène de surenchère qui caractérise tout ce qui touche à la CHiasse. L'évaluation que font les fefans concernant les futurs porte-couleurs du bleu, blanc, merde défonce toujours tous les plafonds, et même la stratosphère.... Galchenyuk devrait être un bon joueur de centre de 2e trio. Ce qui, ironiquement, devrait lui garantir un poste de centre no 1 dans une équipe aussi démunie et poche que les Canailliens ! Mais, il ne sera pas un super man, comme le croit tellement tous les fefans. Mais cette fièvre des fefans à l'égard de tout ce qui tourne autour de leur club minable, affecte aussi les journalistes. C'est drôle, avant le repêchage, les avis étaient partagés au sujet des juniors que le Caca devait sélectionner. Après, quand les choix ont été connus, c'était pourtant l'unanimité chez les scribes, qui criaient au génie en affirmant que Timmins avait volé tous ses semblables en réalisant le meilleur repêchage durant cet encan des joueurs amateurs de juin 2012 à Pittsburgh. Curieux tout de même : chez les scribouilleux de la presse, on sera passé de la prudence au doute; et du doute à la certitude... La plus élémentaire sagesse a pourtant établi depuis longtemps, qu'il n'y a que deux certitudes en ce bas monde : la mort et l'impôt !!! Mais allez donc tenter d'expliquer cette vérité à des vendus qui ne voient que ce qu'ils veulent bien voir...
Monday, September 3, 2012
Author: Michelle Moran
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
What it's about: After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.
Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen—a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise.
As Pauline’s insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline’s jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire’s peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life.
Based on primary resources from the time, The Second Empress takes readers back to Napoleon’s empire, where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies.
What others are saying:
“Stunning in form, theme, and plot. . . Don’t hesitate to purchase this beautifully written gem, which is certain to shoot to the top of the charts, if not start a craze for everything Moran.” —Library Journal
“Colorful… [a] nicely crafted work of historical fiction.” —Romantic Times
Red Hot Book of the Week, SheKnows.com: “Michelle Moran is beloved by readers of historical fiction for her lively and well-researched novels. . . Marie-Louise may be the character that readers will love, but it is Pauline they will love to hate. . . Moran describes the end of Napoleon's empire in vivid, realistic terms. She wastes no time attempting to make the reader sympathetic for the megalomaniac Napoleon, instead providing compelling -- if not always entirely likable -- characters who must make difficult choices: What is the best way to be loyal to one's family? When does self-respect and self-worth require giving up the person you love?” —SheKnows.com
“Compelling fiction. . . Ostensibly the portrait of Marie-Louise of Austria, who became Napoleon’s second wife, the novel’s title could as easily apply to the emperor’s sister, Pauline. . . Another enjoyable historical from Moran.” —Publishers Weekly
Why you should buy it: Well if you weren't convinced by the reviews, about the fact that Moran has serious chops as a writer? Or the fact that she looks like a supermodel? Which would should make one hate her if it weren't for the fact that she's a total sweetheart who has been very supportive of historical fiction bloggers. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year at the Historical Novel Society conference last year and she's a total delight.