Posts Tagged ‘atlas shrugged’

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2017

While there are a lot of politics surrounding Thanksgiving, the relations between the Europeans and the Natives, who gets to work on Thanksgiving day and so on, I am going to skip all of that for this blog post.  I will, instead, quote one of my favorite parts of Atlas Shrugged.  The scene is at Hank Rearden’s house during Thanksgiving dinner.  After an awkward family Thanksgiving Dinner, he goes to see Dagny, and while with her, says,

“You know, Dagny, Thanksgiving was a holiday established by productive people to celebrate the success of their work.” (1)

May your Thanksgiving be happy!

Thank you for reading my blog!

  1.  Rand, Ayn.  Atlas Shrugged.  Signet Classic, 1996,  pp. 439.
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Catching up On Atlas Shrugged

November 3, 2017

I have not written much about rereading Atlas Shrugged.  It is still my favorite book, and I am glad that The Atlas Project has given me an excuse to read it again.

On schedule, I have finished reading Part I, finishing up with Chapter 10:  Wyatt’s Torch.  (SPOILER ALERT)

When I think about Ellis Wyatt, I can really relate to his character.  I used to think that all Ayn Rand characters had the same personality type (and unfortunately, that did not include me).  Then, after much more careful consideration, I find myself aligning more with Ellis Wyatt than any other character.

Granted, I am not the petroleum genius that Ellis Wyatt was in the novel.  However, he occasionally displays his anger in the same ways that I do.  At one point he smashes a glass when he realizes that his success will be ruined by the government soon enough.  Also, when dealing with the looters (and, Dagny Taggart, who he mistakes as a looter), he delivers ultimatums, rather than conversation, as he recognizes there is nothing to discuss.  Finally, when the government finally loots him, he sets all of his assets on fire to keep them from being destroyed by the government.  I hope that I would have such courage.

Anyway, I have been watching this character, and find him to be probably one of my favorites in the book.

Thank you for reading my post.

Atlas Shrugged, Ch. 4

September 22, 2017

I finished reading Chapter 4 a few days ago.

In this chapter, we learn about the Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule, where Jim Taggart and his cronies have effectively killed off the Phoenix-Durango railroad, and prevent any newcomer from entering the market.  We see the end of Dan Conway, as he refuses to fight the Rule.

We also learn that Mexico has nationalized the railroad and San Sebastian Mines.  Taggart Transcontinental lost some old equipment and only one wood-burning locomotive, thanks to Dagny’s preparations.  James Taggart took credit for saving the railroad money to the Board of Directors.

Francisco D’Anconia lost 15 million dollars of his own money.  We don’t know much about him yet, but we know that he typically makes money, and this seems out of character.

We meet a wild character, Ellis Wyatt, who comes into Dagny’s office like a hurricane.  He storms in, curses Taggart Transcontinental for ruining the Phoenix-Durango line, then demands trains.  He says that if Wyatt Oil sinks because of the lack of trains, he was going to take Taggart Transcontinental with him.

Finally, we see that, in spite of it all, Dagny Taggart and Hank Reardon are still planning to go through with using Reardon metal for rail in Colorado.

Thank you for reading my post.

Atlas Shrugged, Chapters 2 and 3

September 15, 2017

I am a little behind on my posting, so I did not post Chapter 2 last week.

Chapter 2

In this chapter, we get to meet Hank Reardon’s family.  He hurries home with a braclet, made from the first heat of Reardon Metal, to give to his wife.  Considering the labor that he has invested in developing this new metal over the past ten years, a successful pour of the material is a cause for celebration.

When he arrives at his home, he is greeted by a whiny crowd of losers that consist of his mother, his brother, their family friend (Paul Larkin), and a mocking, condesending wife.  He presents her with the bracelet, and she mocks it.  His mother and brother scolded him for giving her such a gaudy, selfish present.  They could not see that this bracelet was the only one of its kind; they only saw it as being made from the same material as rails and bridges.

At one point, he finds out that his brother runs a charity, and needs $10,000 to start a new project.  Hank, who wants to see if he can make his brother happy, even for just a brief time, says he can donate the money.  The brother says that his organization cannot be affiliated with Reardon Steel, and asks for the money in cash, anonymously.

I was left with a bit of hopelessness and disgust at the end of this chapter.

 

Chapter 3

In Chapter 3, we get to sit in on a meeting held in a barroom between Paul Larkin, Orren Boyle, Wesley Mouch, and James Taggart.  Orren Boyle, who runs a steel mill that competes with Reardon Steel, complained that it was not fair that Reardon Steel owns its own supply lines. This means that he can change the costs and expenses across his organization to undercut competitors.    Meanwhile, James complains about the Phoenix-Durango line, whining that new companies are invading terrain that had formerly been covered by Taggart Transcontinental.

We also get to see some of Dagny’s thoughts.  In this chapter, she talked about the Nat Taggart statue, her relative who founded the company.  She admires him, but not because they are related.  She admires him because he formed the company with nothing but pennies on his houework.

Later, we see a conversation between James Taggart and Dagny Taggart.  Dagny has made a line in Mexico sparse, removing anything expensive or unncessary.  James rants about how the Mexican people need transit, and Dagny knows that a rail line there is a poor business decision.  Even so, Dagy does just that- removes things of value from the train cars and only runs crappy, worn out engines.

Thank you for reading my post.  Hopefully, you are reading,or at least considering reading Atlas Shrugged.

The Atlas Project

September 8, 2017

I started participating in the Atlas Project, or rather the Ayn Rand Institute Atlas Project. This project involves reading Atlas Shrugged, one chapter at a time.  In addition to reading the book, there is a series of discussion questions on Facebook each week, as well as a lecture by a few folks at the Ayn Rand Institute.

The first chapter of Atlas is where we first meet  Dagny Taggart, the vice president of Taggart Transcontinental, and our first hero of the book.  In this chapter, we see a crumbling New York City.  We get a glimpse of a disturbing trauma of his childhood- he loves a strong oak tree in the Taggart property, only to later learn that the tree has been dead inside for a long time.  We learn of the disintegrating Rio Norte Line of Taggart Transcontinental, and that no new steel rail can be found.  We learn that Dagny Taggart has instead ordered some experimental rail from a new material called “Reardon Metal”, which angers James Taggart.  There was also a curious bit about a musical score that was clearly written by Richard Halley, except he stopped writing music years earlier.

I’ll let you read the details.  It’s not too late to start.

More information can be found here:  Atlas Project Facebook Group

Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged Part II

October 17, 2012

Atlas Shrugged Part II

As I am likely the school’s only Objectivist (follower of the philosophies of Ayn Rand), I felt inspired to write a review of Atlas Shrugged Part II, which was released in theaters on Friday.
Let me first state that, as with most movie reviews, the book is much better. Subtle details are sprinkled throughout the book to support the main theme, and the reader must work to piece together the big picture. In the movie, the viewer is beat over the head with the important concepts. Having stated that, I recommend this movie to anyone who is familiar with Atlas Shrugged or the works of Ayn Rand.
In terms of acting, the viewer might be confused by the changes in actors from Atlas Shrugged Part I. Many of the original actors were not in the second movie, though the producers did a very good job of picking new actors that were similar in appearance. Also, the dialog included names frequently at the beginning of the movie so that within a few minutes, the viewer had forgotten that there were new actors.
One strong acting upgrade from Atlas Shrugged Part I was Hank Reardon was played by Grant Bowler, who was a bit too clean cut to work at a foundry. He appeared out of place. In Part II, Hank Reardon was played by Jason Beghe, with a deeper, raspier voice, likely a firm handshake, and a no-nonsense attitude. He could wear a suit during a business meeting, but throw on a hard hat and fire retardant clothing at a minutes’ notice and assist on the melt deck.
Another strong acting upgrade was Francisco D’Antonia. Francisco’s part calls for him to be a genius, but intentionally sleezy as part of a scheme to hide his virtues. He also was a teenage lover with Dagny Taggart, the heroine of the story. In Atlas Shrugged Part I, this part is played by Jsu Garcia, who has the sleezy part perfectly executed. He appears drunk and downright dirty in every scene. Rather than being the classy playboy, heir to a giant copper company as depicted in the book, he is portrayed as being the town drunk. In Part I, the viewer would never believe that Dagny, at any point, under the influence of any substance, had anything to do with this louse. In Part II, Francisco was played by Esai Morales. He appears much older, but has a certain classiness.
The worst acting decision has consistently been James Taggart. In Part I, he was played by Matthew Marsden, and in Part II by Patrick Fabian, and neither of them fit the part at all. In the book, James is the slimy, scared president of a railroad who, unable to make any decisions on his own, leaves the decision making to Dagny or nobody at all. If the decision was good, he takes credit; if it was bad, he blames anyone else. He is one of the more evil villains in the book. However, these two actors come across as being nothing more evil than a slightly dishonest used car salesmen.
The plot was mostly consistent with the book, though there was, in my opinion, a major ‘miss’ when it came to the trial of Hank Reardon. In the book, Hank Reardon is on trial for selling his product (Reardon Metal) to another person (Ken Dannager), which is a violation of a law stating that each customer Is to receive an equal amount of his product. This law interferes with free, voluntary trade, and Hank Reardon willingly violates it on principle. At his trial, Hank gives a speech where he states that is right for him to sell to whomever he wants, that it is right for him to make as much money as he can with his abilities. He gives a nod to trickle-down economics, by saying that if he does make money, he can hire more people, and the world is a better place with his product. However, in his speech, he clearly states that this is NOT the reason he makes money, and the “good of humanity” is not a driving force in his productivity.
In the movie, Hank Reardon instead resorts to the utilitarian philosophy of business, which states that he exists and is productive for the good of the community, rather than for his own enjoyment. He goes on about jobs created, tax revenue created, etc, all of which are not the underlying principle of the book (since when would a hero in an Ayn Rand book justify existing because of tax revenue generated?), and I considered this to be a major flaw.
Overall, I do recommend this movie in spite of that major miss. I believe that a writer used some artistic license to say what he or she thought was an equivalent statement; but did not realize that utilitarianism and Objectivism are incompatible philosophies.