Welcome to the Fall 2023 issue of The Objective Standard.
The TOS and Objective Standard Institute (OSI) teams recently returned from our LevelUp 2023 conference in Phoenix, Arizona, where hundreds of people from all over the world gathered to sharpen their minds and improve their lives. James Clear, Bari Weiss, Craig Biddle, Timothy Sandefur, and a dozen more speakers shed light on vital subjects from self-development to freedom of speech to architecture, nutrition, and choosing a philosophy for loving life. Evening activities included live classical music, swing dance lessons, karaoke, and more. A wonderful time was had by all.
This issue of TOS is brimming with goods—including the cover article by my wife, Angelica Walker-Werth, “GMOs: Good, Man-Made Organisms.” The article explains what GMOs are, addresses arguments against their use, and shows that GMO technology and the products it enables are not only safe but an enormous boon to agriculture and human life. But, she adds, GMOs can serve human life only to the extent that governments keep their coercive hands off the scientists, businessmen, and farmers who seek to provide this “biological gold.”
Also on the theme of reason in service of human flourishing is my article “Star Trek Inspires People ‘to Boldly Go'.” My piece examines the pro-science optimism of the series and of its creator, Gene Roddenberry, and shows some of the ways in which this wide-ranging ongoing story has influenced the culture and inspired innovations—from Google to commercial spaceflight. With new Star Trek productions still drawing audiences nearly sixty years after the first episode aired, the show's positive influence continues improving our world. Whether or not you’re a Trekker, I think you’ll appreciate this concise retrospective.
Of course, as people “boldly go,” they need homes and buildings that reflect and accommodate their advancements. Architectural design should reflect technological progress. In “The Flower of Forest Park: Innovation in Architecture,” Seamus Riley profiles a new residential tower in St. Louis, Missouri, called One Hundred Above the Park, which incorporates new design elements made possible by recent developments in construction technology to create beautiful and highly functional living spaces in a breathtaking addition to the St. Louis skyline.
Robert P. McCulloch is best known for his invention of the personal chainsaw. But his innovations went far beyond that. Among other things, he founded a glistening resort city in the middle of the Arizona desert. In “Robert P. McCulloch: The Man Who Bought London Bridge,” I profile the life of this visionary industrialist and his many achievements, which included moving an iconic London landmark halfway around the world.
All such great advancements—GMOs, world-changing TV shows, innovative living spaces, and cities in the desert—require a certain mind-set. They require confidence in the efficacy of one’s mind, in one’s ability to understand the world, to overcome challenges, and to reshape reality in the image of one’s values. Another exemplar of this mind-set was Helen Keller, who, though rendered blind and deaf at nineteen months old, succeeded in life, became a great writer and speaker, and set an example from which we all can learn. In “Helen Keller’s Five Keys to Being Happy,” Craig Biddle examines Keller’s prescriptions for overcoming adversity and loving one’s life.
Another advocate of reason and self-development was Richard Mitchell, also known as “the underground grammarian.” In his speech “Writing against Your Life,” the transcript of which is reprinted in this issue of TOS, Mitchell hilariously addresses a writers’ group, highlighting the power of reason and free will in seeking truth, self-knowledge, and a life of self-generated light. As Biddle notes atop the article, it contains some cynicism, which we normally would not permit in TOS. But the value of the article outweighs this drawback. Read it to the end and see.
Topping off these inspiring feature articles are “Nine Inspiring Poems about the Future,” including works by Edgar Guest, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, D. H. Lawrence, Langston Hughes, and several more.
The shorts in this issue are “George Lucas Gets the Moral Meaning of Star Wars Wrong,” by me; and “On Choosing to Be a Younger Son,” by Craig Biddle. The reviews are of Sound of Freedom, directed by Alejandro Gómez Monteverde (reviewed by Tim White); and Oppenheimer, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (reviewed by Angelica Walker-Werth).
I hope you enjoy the articles, poems, and reviews. Let us know what you think. And be sure to let your friends know about the journal for people of reason. There’s nothing else like it. —Thomas Walker-Werth
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