Friday, July 13, 2007

As promised yesterday morning, here are a few photos from the OCON 2007 bus trip to Ouray, Colorado, whose claim to fame among fans of Ayn Rand is that it inspired the valley hideout known as "Galt's Gulch" in Atlas Shrugged.

The tour started with a trip to the spectacular Box Canyon Falls nearby. After a couple hours taking in the scenery and enjoying good conversation, we went to the Elk Lodge in downtown Ouray for lunch and then spent some time in Ouray itself. The pictures below will follow that chronology. As always, click on the image for a better view.

The park surrounding Box Canyon Falls offers two main trails to the falls. As you might expect, one leads to the top of the falls and the other to the bottom. I took the trail to the top first, and got this nice view of Ouray on the way up.

This shot focuses on the lone house overlooking Canyon Creek that you can spot in the preceding photo.

Okay. Now, climb out of that barrel! We're below the falls now, and looking up at a lone tree I spotted growing in some crag.

There is really no way to do these falls justice in still shots, as you can see here. There is simply no way to get everything in at once.

I thought this pool below the falls was pretty, too. This part of the day was quite hot, but this close to the bottom of the falls, it was almost chilly between the combined effects of shade and mist.

Here's a snapshot of the central business district downtown main drag of Ouray. Not much to see but shops and restaurants that cater to the tourist trade. A few of us settled at a Mexican place down the way to sit for a spell.

Oh yeah. I guess there was this. (Look for in the window's upper right for the sign that reads, "Galt's Gulch\ Elev. 7,706 ft.") Apparently, you could buy a similar sign or order one inside. I heard that this shop had four on hand and rather quickly sold out.

-- CAV


Jim May said...

Aha! It took me a few days to remember OCON was happening... I was wondering why all the Objectivist bloggers had gone on vacation at the same time. I checked but the lights of New York were still on ;)

Here's a couple of things that came up while you were in the Gulch:

A non-Randian blogger, Norm Geras, pointed out the "stolen concept" fallacy underlying the work of Richard Rorty (on his blog and in a book he wrote about Rorty). In an email reply to me, he said that he had never heard it called a "stolen concept" fallacy, so he apparently figured it out on his own. Are you aware of anyone else identifying stolen concepts independently of Rand?

#2: A conservative, Jonah Goldberg, points out the candid confession by Matthew Yglesias that modern "liberalism" is decidedly anti-freedom... while effectively confessing that conservatism is no better! A pale imitator is still an imitator.

Gus Van Horn said...

No, seeing a non-Objectivist all but call something a stolen concept is a new one to me.

Both articles are very interesting. Thanks for pointing them out, thereby helping me as I climb back into the cockpit, as it were.

Dismuke said...

Gee - now you have me really wanting to take a trip out west. The pictures are beautiful. Get rid of all the touristy elements and it looks like my kind of place. Hmmmm. Did you, by chance, see any signs by the local Chamber of Commerce advertising lots of economic incentives in order to attract money-losing Internet radio stations to the region?

Having grown up in flat North Texas, I can never get enough of mountains. And there is a special kind of beauty in the very ruggedness of that scenery. And you got to go to an Objectivist conference to boot! I think it is great that you had an opportunity to do and see all that.

Gus Van Horn said...

Well, at least in the case of Telluride, the culture is saturated with leftist elements from I can see out on the streets and in the local papers.

I came down with an evil cold last night, but if I can muster the energy, I will blog one particularly good example of that today or tomorrow.

Colorado reminds me of California like that. If I could make myself ignore how far to the left the culture is, I'd really like the place for its climate and scenery.

Dismuke said...

Well, there is a connection between the Leftists you see there and California. You see, the Leftists totally screwed up California to the point that nobody can afford to live there or do business there. So when the consequences of their policies catch up with them, the Leftists move to some other state such as Colorado or Nevada so that they can enjoy the benefits of the greater amount of freedom which still exists in those states until they manage to agitate for policies to enslave those states up as well.

I understand the same thing is happening to Florida from Leftists who move down there to escape the mess they created in New York.

Sometimes it bugs me a bit when I see Texas being stereotyped by the legacy media as being some bumpkin backwater where everyone rides around with Confederate flag bumper stikers and gun racks on their pickups. On the other hand, I have heard of Leftists who have been reluctant to even go to Texas on business trips because they have this notion that they will be attacked by roving bands of oil rich rednecks carrying a gun in one hand and a bible in the other.

If that stereotype prevents them from coming here and screwing up Texas the same way California and New York are so tragically messed up - well, that might not be such a bad thing, I guess.

Gus Van Horn said...

In recent years, I've concluded that with the bozos we have in the state legislature, that we don't need outside help to screw our state up.

Dismuke said...

"In recent years, I've concluded that with the bozos we have in the state legislature, that we don't need outside help to screw our state up.

That's certainly true. On the other hand, if one looks at things in a broader perspective compared to both other states and to where Texas was prior to recent years, things aren't as bad or hopeless as they might appear if one were to strictly focus on the bozos of recent years.

Compared with other states, we are very fortunate in that the state government in Texas is very weak constitutionally. For example, the state legislature is limited by the Texas Constitution to meeting only every second year and even then for only 140 days. The legislature is prohibited by the Texas Constitution from meeting more frequently than that on its own initiative. To meet beyond those 140 days every two years requires the Governor to call a special session (which he may do as often as he chooses).

This alone helps minimize the amount of damage the bozos can attempt to do.

Furthermore, our Constitution is wonderful in that it ties the hands of the politicians in so many ways. The Constitution absolutely prohibits the State any authority at all that is not explicitly spelled out in the Constitution. That is why our Constitution is so long and why there are Constitution amendments up for vote nearly every election cycle. In order for the State government to expand its power, the bozos have to successfully push through a constitutional amendment.

Of course, there have been various efforts to "modernize" "reform" and "streamline" the Texas Constitution - which translates to: make it easier for the politicians and bureaucrats to act like they do in other states.

As for stuff from recent years, the worst that I can think of from the very recent past is that bizarre marriage bill that you have blogged about on a few occasions. That's pretty disgusting, granted. But if one puts it into historical perspective, that is pretty mild compared to some of the stuff that those of a similar ideological worldview were able to push through in the past.

One famous example is the old Texas sodomy law which the Supreme Court struck down a few years ago. That had been on the book for many, many decades. The implications of that law in terms of individual rights are far more reaching than raising the tax on a marriage permit to $60 for those who do not wish to subject themselves to state endorsed propaganda in the form of marriage counseling.

Another example I remember very vividly from when I was a kid is the old Blue Laws. When I was a kid, it was next to impossible to go shopping on a Sunday. For the most part, the only stores that were open were grocery stores and convenience stores. The law did not explicitly tell store owners that they could not be open on Sunday. What it did was set forth a long list of items that a store was not allowed to sell on both a Saturday and a Sunday in the same week. The list included things such as clothing, housewares, appliances, furniture, etc. The whole purpose of the law, of course, was to make sure that everyone was in church on Sunday and not out working or shopping. At that time, the churches in Texas were VERY powerful politically. And, oddly enough, the Blue Laws were also strongly supported by most major retailers and retail chains which fought very hard for them to be both enforced and kept on the books whenever the subject of repeal came up. In their mindset, if all stores are forced to close on Sunday, customers will be forced to shop the other days of the week and they will be able to save on labor expenses without a loss in customers. And, of course, the labor unions were all for it too - not that labor unions really count for jack squat in Texas (another thing we are very fortunate in).

Fortunately, those crazy laws were abolished in the mid 1980s. But I remember them being a HUGE pain in the rear. I remember my parents running out of something on the weekend and not being able to get it because all the stores were closed. Today, the last vestige of them in Texas is laws over when liquor and new cars can be sold. Last time I went shopping for a new vehicle, I learned that new car dealerships cannot be open on both a Saturday and a Sunday of the same week - which was a HUGE pain for me because the weekend was the only time I had to shop. To my knowledge that has not been overturned since then.

My point is this: as disgusting as the state legislature has been in recent years, none of that is especially new and it has been much, much worse in the past.

We in Texas have, for the most part, been pretty lucky about the sort of people who move here. They are mostly here looking for the economic opportunity the state is able to offer verses other states. They tend to be more "conservative" on economic issues but much, much more urban in their outlook and "liberal" on social issues than the old timers from the days when the state was more rural in its outlook.

Inspector said...

Don't forget Arizona, Dismuke. The rats off the sinking ship are coming here in droves, too.

Jim May said...

Well, at least in the case of Telluride, the culture is saturated with leftist elements from I can see out on the streets and in the local papers.

I remember the sharp contrast, almost palpable, between the Granlibakken resort where the 1999 conference was held, and being in town (Tahoe City). There wasn't even anything particularly leftist about the place, it just wasn't the same. It really makes you notice the adjustments you make in the "real world".

BTW, a note FYI: in an email to me, Harry Binswanger said that Norm Geras' argument wasn't quite the "stolen concept" fallacy, but was close. I need to take a closer look to see just what he meant.

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for elaborating on your point, not that I disagreed with it.... (That *^%*% of a cold I had just come down with made it burdensome even to check email and reply to comments.

I'd say that in the last 48 hours, I've slept at least 24. I am feeling better now, though.

Dismuke and Inspector,

WRT Colorado, Arizona, and other states bearing the burden of immigration from California, I have heard that the problem is or is becoming especially acute in small states like Nevada and Montana.


And I'd need to review the Geras article again more slowly myself to figure out what HB probably meant. Off the cuff, it might be that Rorty's using a "stolen concept" type of argument, but that he is "stealing" an invalid concept.


Adrian Hester said...

Yo, Gus, you write: "As promised yesterday morning, here are a few photos from the OCON 2007 bus trip to Ouray, Colorado, whose claim to fame among fans of Ayn Rand is that it inspired the valley hideout known as 'Galt's Gulch' in Atlas Shrugged." For shame--you should at least have included a spoiler alert!

And on a slightly more serious note: "WRT Colorado, Arizona, and other states bearing the burden of immigration from California, I have heard that the problem is or is becoming especially acute in small states like Nevada and Montana." Almost makes you wish the loony Libertarians would swarm into those states so's to try to establish their own paradise on earth--there's a charming steel-cage death match. But then you have to pity the poor chaps already there who'd have to live with two unsavory floods.

Gus Van Horn said...


They'd elect Arnold Kling Governor, pass socialized medicine to prove a point, and then keep it since everyone honest enough to judge the "experiment" a failure also just happened to be a victim -- er, datum.

Monica said...

That little store actually sold all 5 Galt's Gulch signs for approx $140 each, made orders for THIRTY more (!!), and then ARI asked them if they could handle the sale of more beyond that. lol

My boyfriend went to Ouray last fall to preview the town. While there he spoke with various people in the town about Atlas Shrugged and the connection with Ouray. When we got there before the bus on Wednesday, we went into the store and told the cashier (who was not the owner and did not really understand the significance of the sign apart from it was the 50th anniversary of something) that she would be completely sold out by morning.

I bet that's the most money that little store has made in one day in its lifetime! hahahaha!

Gus Van Horn said...

Wow! 35 x 140 is a cool 4900 clams!

Thanks for stopping by with that tidbit.

Monica said...

As for the left in Telluride, it's that way with almost any rich, trendy town where the people live there just for the prestige of it all. I live in Colorado, and if you think Telluride is bad you should visit Boulder. But in general, CO has no more leftists than most states.

The last day there, I noticed that some town organization was going to issue some edict saying Bush and Cheney should be impeached. Typical leftist grandstanding - I've seen it in many places. Also while walking around, we spotted a huge sign on an abandoned building that said, "Your civil liberties are safe in Telluride." Underneath in black magic marker was written, (b)"But not your property rights."(/b)

Apparently at least one person in the town has their head screwed on straight... assuming the graffiti was not put there by an OCON attendee. ;)

Gus Van Horn said...

I saw both the newspaper story and the sign you mentioned. The town council was deciding, I believe, whether to demand that bushitler be impeached on its own or put it to a town-wide vote.