Friday, November 29, 2019

Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, and Ayn Rand

Steve Ditko is Johnstown, PAs most famous author and illustrator.  He co-created Spider Man with Stan Lee in the 1950s.  I admit I had never heard of him until I started my book.  According to his Wikipedia page he was born here in 1927 and died in 2018 in New York City at age 90 which was a few months before Stan Lee passed away.

His page says that he split with Lee in the 1960s and did not speak to him for years.  Ditko seldom did interviews but his page says he was influenced by Ayn Rand's objectivist ideas which he expressed in his comic Dr. A.  She was interviewed by Phil Donahue in 1979.

It seems to me that Spiderman is at odds with Ayn Rand's objectivism.  I confess I'm not an avid reader of Spider-Man but in the movie with Tobey Maguire, Peter Parker (Spider-Man's alter ego) is told that "with great power comes great responsibility" by his uncle.  Spider-man becomes very altruistic leaving a note after his escapades saying "from your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man."  

I don't know Stan Lee's philosophy but many of his other comic book heroes could be thought of as altruistic.  I never read Mr. A but Ditko's page says he embodies Rand's philosophy.  Is Ayn Rand the reason Ditko and Lee parted ways?  Neither of them really ever said or ever will.

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

The 1st Anniversary of My Online Nonfiction Poll

It has been one year since I created the poll for the greatest nonfiction book of all time.  This poll was created in response to the PBS series The Great American Read which was for the greatest novel of all time.  Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird won that one followed by  the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, Jane Austen's Pride and Predjudice, and The Lord of the Rings series by JRR Tolkein.  They do not say how many votes they received.

The six top vote-getters in this poll of the 45 responses received can be seen in the table below.  I went six deep because there are many ties for the lower places.  There is an other option where voters can nominate books that deserve attention.  80 books on the list received at least one vote.  The list expanded from 100 to 116 books over the last year as voters nominated their favorites.  The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin has received the most votes so far.

Number (%)
1.     On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1859)
13 (28.9%)
3.   Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1947)
11 (24.4%)
3.   Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
11 (24.4%)
4.   Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
8   (17.8%)
5.   Night by Elie Wiesel (1956)
7   (15.6%)
6.   A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (1988)
6   (13.3%)

After one year I pruned the list down by 12 books that received no votes such as Roget's Thesaurus and Encyclopedia Britannica.  Other books that are influential but received no votes were left in such as The Souls of Black Folk by WEB DuBois and the Kama Sutra by Vātsyāyana because they are influential.  This is a living breathing list with no deadlines.  Next year I will report on how the list will have changed.

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