Antior wrote:I wonder what a Randall number generator would be like.
Anyway, can someone explain in simple terms who Ayn Rand was, what she did, and why it's funny to make fun of her?
Wikipedia isn't very enlightening to me on this subject, but I did find out she was apparently a big influence in America, ignored by academics, and way less known in Europe.
She wrote some books and started a movement. She seems to have had rightist views without the Republican crazy extremist Christian stuff, so way closer to European Right (liberalism). Which doesn't sound that bad to me.
Is that about right? So why is it funny?
I was surprised at how many anti-Rand people were in the XKCD crowd. I read Fountainhead and/or Atlas Shrugged (two of her most famous novels) at least every couple of years or so and enjoy the read every time.
"Objectivism", which is the Ayn Rand philosophy, is a little on the cooky side, but her books are anti-entitlement, pro strong decision making, pro personal boundaries and personal responsibility, anti crowd mentality, pro rationality as a basis for making decisions, pro integrity, anti bureaucracy... etc.
Those are all things that resonate with me. Her writing is pretty two-dimensional--i.e. the characters are all archetypes of whatever they represent, especially in Fountainhead--but once you come to read it as symbolic it's quite enjoyable. It's about the interaction between known quantities, not a more typical read about character development.
In any case, her books indicate that certain attributes are intrinsically good--such as those I listed above. People, on the other hand, can choose to assume those attributes or not.
I think you could usefully divide people into five groups:
1. Ayn Rand Fans (politically/philosophically)
2. Ayn Rand Fans (literature)
4. Ayn Rand Detractors (literature)
5. Ayn Rand Detractors (politically/philosophically)
I tend to think of 1 & 4 as cooky, 2 & 5 as rational and 3 as... well, indifferent.