Category Archives: Celebrity Rand Fans

We The Living band on

Regular readers of the Ayn Rand Meta-Blog may remember a singer named John Paul Roney, about whom I’ve blogged before.

John Paul RoneyRoney and his sister, Sarah Saturday, are huge fans of Atlas Shrugged. (In fact, we interviewed Sarah on the subject a few years ago.)

He’s also the remarkably talented lead singer of a new band called We The Living. The band’s name is, of course, a top o’ the hat to their favorite novelist.

I am mid-way through writing a detailed review of their music — including their latest album, the fantastic Heights of the Heavens.

(Their earlier album, from when they still called themselves “The Profits,” is titled Far from You and Your Everyday Noise — and appears to be available only in used copies.)

Today, to my surprise, I learned that the little-known band received a raving plug in — of all places — the celebrity gossip site

If you like Lifehouse or OneRepublic, then you will love this band!

Their name is We The Living and their hail from Los Angeles. [Actually, they're from Wisconsin.]

The song we’ve been obsessing over is this really pretty ballad of theirs called Best Laid Plans.

It should be the theme song to the new Beverly Hills, 90210 spin-off!!!

Such a pretty song.

Enjoy it below!

I would have to agree … together with “75 and 17,” “Best Laid Plans” is one of the finest songs on their new album.

And Wow, what a great break for a great band. I hope this helps bring them the attention they deserve.

Like I said … check it out. If you like music in the vein of John Mayer, U2, David Gray, and the like, this album is a pretty good bet.

And how often do you get to buy music by a fellow admirer of Atlas Shrugged?

Incidentally, be sure to buy the version of Heights of the Heavens with the white cover, which is remastered, rather than the one with the black cover.

I just received my remastered copy in the mail today, and it’s a significant improvement over the original recording.

Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller): “I think I believe in Objectivism”

From Atlasphere member Stuart Hayashi:

Lately the famous humorous magician Penn Jillette, from “Penn & Teller,” has been lauding Ayn Rand quite a bit. He positively alluded to Atlas Shrugged on his Showtime series Bullshit!, for instance. The allusion was humorous, but still sounded sincere.

But most impressive, he says at the end of his interview with Glenn Beck that he thinks he believes in Objectivism.

His remarks begin at the 01:28 mark. He says, “You can go into that Ayn Rand stuff, that Objectivist stuff, and believe in it completely, and I think I do…”

Thanks for the heads-up!

Atlas Shrugged Movie Update: Interview with Executive Producer John Aglialoro

For the latest scoop on the Atlas Shrugged movie, see Susan Paris’s interview with Aglialoro in our new column “John Aglialoro on the Atlas Shrugged Movie.”

Tasty excerpt:

SP: When will filming begin?

Aglialoro: Fourth quarter of 2008 or 1st quarter of 2009.

SP: When would it open in theaters?

Aglialoro: You got to figure an editing process of at least six months. Probably youâ??re talking about the Fall of 2009.

SP: Do you think the final script will adequately convey the message of Rand’s book?

Aglialoro: The essence of the message will be there. We canâ??t include every detail from the book.

We want people to be driven to the book by the movie.

In fact, when we do the DVD we want to include something on the disc to promote the book. I expect to include a feature on the making of the movie.

See the full article for more.

Quotes from Clarence Thomas’s Biography

From Atlasphere member Greg Feirman:

I’ve been reading Clarence Thomas’s autobiograpy and he seems to be a big Rand fan.

I read Sowell’s Atlasphere review of the book.

But Thomas also explicitly references Rand in his book:

“It was around this time that I read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Rand preached a philosophy of radical individualism that she called Objectivism. While I didn’t fully accept its tenets, her vision of the world made more sense to me than that of my left wing friends.”

- pg. 62, when Thomas was approximately the summer before his senior year of college at Holy Cross

“… I also reread The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, whose scathing criticisms of the dangers of centralized government impressed me even more after working in Washington.”

- pg. 187, late 1985 (37 years old), when Thomas was heading up the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Unbelievable story. Great book.

UPDATE: More from Greg:

Also, if you haven’t seen the 60 Minutes episode with Thomas, I recommend watching it.

Clarence Thomas has such a great presence. You can feel it in his writing too. One book about him it titled Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul Of Clarence Thomas.

But the impression given from reading his book and seeing him is the complete opposite: a man of such pure integrity and clear conscience that you can almost feel that his words are perfect expressions of his inner principles and conviction.

In the interview, one of the quotes that really stood out for me was:

“It is always worth it to stand on principle no matter what the ultimate goal is. Wrong is wrong, even if it’s over a penny.”

It reminds me of the great scene in The Fountainhead:

“Everybody would say you’re a fool….. Everybody would say I’m getting everything….”

“You’ll get everything society can give a man. You’ll keep all the money. You’ll take any fame or honor anyone might want to grant. You’ll accept such gratitude as the tenants might feel. And I – I’ll take what nobody can give a man, except himself. I will have built Cortlandt.”

Clarence Thomas is a modern day Roark in public life.

He is truly a great American.

I would have to agree.

Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif) gives all his interns a copy of Atlas Shrugged

Reason Magazine has an excellent new article about Rep. John Campbell, who — as we noted when he replaced Rand fan Christopher Cox who was picked to head the SEC — is himself an admirer of Ayn Rand’s writings.

Author David Weigel notes that Campbell may be in a position to help lead the Republican Congress in a few years.

The article is titled “This is John Campbell Speaking” and begins:

If Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) said his book shelf was a time capsule, a memorial to the modern GOP, youâ??d believe him. Here is Ste­phen Slivinskiâ??s Buck Wild, a jeremiad against the Bush-era big-spending Republicans. Here is Bruce Bawerâ??s While Europe Slept, the terrifying tale of how â??radical Islam is destroying the West from within.â? Here is one of Watergate felon Chuck Colsonâ??s bestsellers on how Christ can save your life.

Less predictable are the tomes bookending the collection: not one but two hardbound cop­ies of Ayn Randâ??s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, a favorite among many supporters of free markets and limited government. â??Those arenâ??t my only two copies,â? Campbell says, laughing. â??Atlas Shrugged is the book I give to our interns after they spend a summer here, working for free. I consider it to be the authoritative work on the power of the individual.â?

It is late September in Washington, D.C. Another Rand disciple is in the news: Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, is on the talk shows promoting his autobiography. Like Greenspan, Campbell is upset that the Repub­lican Party has been growing the government, hiking spending with funds that donâ??t exist. But Greenspan is out of public life. The 52-year-old Campbell, an Orange County, California, car salesman who arrived in D.C. just two years ago, is one of his partyâ??s fastest-rising stars.

â??Heâ??s an absolutely fantastic member of the Republican conference,â? says a senior GOP aide. â??I think heâ??s become the heir apparent to lead the Republican Study Committee,â? the anti-tax, anti-spending caucus founded in 1973 by then-insurgent proto-Reaganite Republicans. Campbell currently heads the RSCâ??s Budget and Spending Taskforce.

Here’s a great anecdote from later in the article:

During the floor debate over the defense appropriations bill, Campbell honed in on a $2 million earmark for Sherwin-Williams, a paint company that is developing a â??paint shieldâ? for military vehicles. In the process, he locked horns with the fearsome chair­man of the Defense Appropriations Committee, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.). To everyoneâ??s surprise, Campbell cleaned the 33-year congressmanâ??s clock.

After Murtha rambled about how the military probably wanted the paint shield earmark even though it wasnâ??t on its â??priority list,â? Campbell pounced. â??Mr. Chairman,â? he said, â??you said youâ??re â??sureâ?? the military [wants it]. So youâ??re not aware if, in fact, the military has asked for this kind of technology?â?

Campbell kept his eyes trained on the Democrat. Murtha didnâ??t have anything to say.

â??I guess the answer to that is no,â? Campbell said.

Of course, the House isnâ??t a debat­ing club. The earmark survived any­way.

See the full article for much more about Campbell and his excellent work.

Tim Sykes up 14% for November, despite S&P

Greg Feirman just alerted me that Star stock trader (and Ayn Rand enthusiast) Timothy Sykes is up 14% with his TIM Project for the month of November, while the S&P was down 4%.

For background about Sykes and his TIM Project — wherein he vows to once again take $12,415 and turn it into a million dollars, while allowing other investors to watch each trade he makes along the way — see Feirman’s recent Atlasphere article “The Odyssey of Star Stock Trader Tim Sykes.”

Celebrity Ayn Rand Fan: Grammy-winning R&B artist Van Hunt

From The Examiner‘s article “The philosophy of Van Hunt”:

For Grammy-winning R&B artist Van Hunt, it all started back in high school.

â??I can still remember coming out of class one day in 10th grade, when a friend of mine stopped me and said, â??Man, if you could only see all the girls who wanna get with you,â?? but I didnâ??t have any idea,â? says the former nerd, who had a fondness for Izod polo shirts at the time.

Thatâ??s when things took a turn for the worse. Once he possessed this arcane chick-magnet knowledge, he says, he instantly abused it.

Van Hunt

â??I fancied myself a player, and it was a disgrace to my character,â? he says. â??And I behaved that way until recently, when I found that my integrity was worth polishing up and I decided to be the man that I knew I could be.â?

What brought about the transformation? Oddly, it was the objectivist ideals of author Ayn Rand, whose cornerstone man-living-for-his-own-happiness axiom moved Hunt forward into maturity.

â??Now, Iâ??m not a big follower of people or movements,â? says the 30-year-old, who plays the Independent in San Francisco on Thursday. â??But a big transition in my life was reading â??The Fountainheadâ?? â?? I identified with not only the story, but Randâ??s whole philosophy of objectivism.

â??It was the key to my own freedom, to recognizing that my manhood was the only responsibility I had in this world. And â??manhoodâ?? meaning the expression of my creativity, and not anything self-indulgent.â?

The singer and multi-instrumentalist put that tenet to work on his new third effort, the ironically-titled â??Popular,â? out this January on Blue Note. His smooth-talking former self had accomplished much on the retro-soul scene â?? once heâ??d moved from Ohio to Atlanta, he began writing for renowned vocalists like Dionne Farris and Cree Summer, picked up â??American Idolâ??sâ? Randy Jackson as manager, signed to Blue Note parent imprint Capitol, and wound up nailing a 2007 Grammy â?? with Joss Stone and John Legend â?? for their cover of Sly and the Family Stoneâ??s â??Family Affair.â?

But â??Popularâ? finds him blazing bold new trails, from country-gospel rave-ups such as â??In the Southern Shadeâ? to jazz-funk experiments such as â??Ur A Monsterâ? and kickoff single â??Turn My TV On.â?

Now Hunt can freely reference artier influences including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Charlie Parker. All thanks to objectivism, which he breaks down: â??To articulate the ideas in your head, you need formal education, so you study music theory to do that. And thatâ??s the only responsibility that you have â?? to make that process work for you and express yourself. In this life, nothing is more important.â?

Heâ??s now firing on so many creative cylinders, heâ??s just completed his own book, a short story collection heâ??ll publish next year.

At, you can listen to samples from his Grammy-winning first album, Van Hunt.

Kind words for Ayn Rand in Greenspan’s memoir

From Jordan Zimmerman:

I just got Alan Greenspan’s memoir, The Age of Turbulence. A quick check of the index and I find some very nice comments about Ayn Rand and Objectivism. In particular:

“It did not go without notice that Ayn Rand stood beside me as I took the oath of office in the presence of President Ford in the Oval Office. Ayn Rand and I remained close until she died in 1982, and I’m grateful for the influence she had on my life. I was intellectually limited until I met her.”

Big Atlas Shrugged Movie Update from Bidinotto

UPDATE (13 Oct) – We have now published a slightly modified version of Bidinotto’s post as a feature column at the Atlasphere: “Major Atlas Shrugged Movie Updates.”

Robert Bidinotto has just published a long and excellent post on the upcoming Atlas Shrugged movie, drawing upon his experiences and observations at the recent Atlas Shrugged 50th Anniversary Celebration in Washington, D.C.

After reviewing some key aspects of the movie’s likely format (it’s likely to be one movie rather than a series), new director (Vadim Perelman, who Bidinotto says is unlikely to “shrug”), and some tantalizing plot details (strikes, gulches, and lovers), Bidinotto concludes:

[L]et me say that my longstanding worries about this film project were very much allayed during the movie panel discussion and the subsequent conversation with Perelman. I want to emphasize this as strongly as I can: These people are all absolutely committed to doing a great film, faithful to Rand’s story, characters, and ideas.

Michael Burns, vice president of Lionsgate, read Atlas at age 17 and even attended Ayn Rand’s funeral in 1982. John Aglialoro, the businessman who bought the film rights, is a committed Objectivist and a trustee of The Atlas Society; he has fought for fifteen long years to make this project a reality.

Co-producers Howard and Karen Baldwin are devoted to this project and have worked on it with John for years. David Kelley’s credibility, credentials, and commitment regarding Atlas Shrugged need no further discussion.

Co-executive producer Geyer Kosinski, who is also Angelina Jolie’s representative, is a long-time enthusiastic Rand fan. Angelina herself loves the novel and the lead character, and has insisted that she wants to “get it right.” And I’ve just told you my impressions of Vadim Perelman.

Folks, I really think this film will be made — and in a way that Ayn Rand would have liked.

See Robert’s full post for much, much more information.

If you only read one thing this month about the Atlas Shrugged movie, read this.