Atlas Revisited

Had a rare interlude of TV available without kids and not needing/wanting to do laundry, dishes, etc., which led me to discover Atlas Shrugged Part 1 was on Netflix. So I watched it again. Went to great lengths to see it when it was in theaters originally. I was surprised at how well it held up for me. The most jarring part remains Hugh Akston, and I found that even more so this time. The current times and economy conspire to make it all the more fascinating to watch.

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Sama on the Aftermath

I couldn’t agree more with Rob Sama and what we have lost. I keep forgetting the Deep Capture angle, which is fascinating and all too plausible. Rolling back the police state is imperative. A pack, not a herd should be the prevailing attitude.

Finally, as I keep thinking I need to blog about, I cannot agree more about Gary Johnson as the candidate who gives us a chance to set everything right. This is why he is so profoundly muted by all aspects of the powers that be.

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Atlas Shrugged Part 1

I went to see Atlas Shrugged in Bellingham Saturday, that being the handiest option, an easy 38 miles away.

In brief, I iked it. I could pick nits, as some have done, but all in all, a good effort and worth seeing. My brother would like the train p0rn aspect.

I was most critical, right at the time I was watching, of the scene with Hugh Akston at the diner. He seemed poorly cast, maybe poorly acted, and the scene seemed poorly written and presented. The gratuitous dollar sign cigarette shot was just that, very in your face. It was well and good that he represented a dead end in her quest for the maker of the motor, but I liked better that he cooked her the best burger ever, in the book, and there was a message about doing the best you can, no job too lowly for that, even while employed in a less substantive job than you could, as a form of strike against a mad society.

Later I realized that something that might bother purists, yet to some degree was necessary for the medium, is the way scenes or dialogue right out of the book are connected by Reader’s Digest stretches of film that convey situation and story without being verbatim, or perhaps… feeling deep.

Rob Sama also has a review, and he noted something I had completely overlooked: Francisco’s speech about money. If money is the root of all evil, well then… what is the root of money, what are you really saying? Perhaps a nod to that would have been good. I don’t, for comparison, expect the films to contain anywhere close to all of “this is John Galt speaking.” That would be absurd! There’s a reason why in three readings of the book I have read that chapter through just once. But then, if you pay attention while reading the rest, it is redundant. Anyway, I absolutely expect a nod to it, a short version, something.

In the “odd details you notice” depatment, there is an emphasis on characters putting a $5 bill on the counter to pay for a coffee in a diner. All the world is not a Starbucks, and last I knew an ordianary cup of coffee was a lot less than that, even with a tip. So it’s giving us a visual of the relative value of money, and where inflation has gone in that world of the near future? If coffee and a tip is double, for instance, then $36 a gallon gasoline is actually $18 a gallon gasoline. Still insane, but less extreme than at first impression.

I could say a lot more. I agree that James seems too intelligent and competent, if differently so than Dagny. Ditto for Mouch, brilliantly played but less the zero at the intersection of various forces than a force in his own right. The world of the film is scarily similar to the world of today, and Mouch has been aptly compared to Barney Frank, who seems intent on competing with Jamie Gorelick for amount of disaster associated with his name. Intent being a key word, as with her it almost feels accidental, whereas with him it feels as if he means to invoke economic ruin.

That the film is not perfect leaves an opening for someone, sometime, to make another attempt. That the film is good leaves production of parts 2 and 3 of this attempt safe, I hope.

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Atlas Shrugged

I’m extremely pleased it will be playing in Bellingham, Massachusetts on opening weekend! That’s not super close, but it’s an easy drive, not utterly absurd for an event movie, and not in the city. I didn’t want to be tempted to go downtown to Boston or Cambridge.

On that note, I like the latest scene that has been released to pique our interest. Yeah, I do worry a little that this is not my reading mind’s Dagny, but it’s also not going to match the book in other ways, and that’s not all bad. It could always have made the point more briefly. As I recall, when I realized Terry Goodkind was channeling Rand in Faith of the Fallen (oddly, the first time it had been obvious to me, however obvious it may be seeing the entire list of Wizard’s rules ), I described it as Rand, in a fantasy novel, but succinctly. Which is funny, since Goodkind is hardly a fountainhead of brevity, overall.

The previously released scene was arguably even better, perhaps more directly from the book, perhaps better cast. Lillian is easy to hate, as cast and acted, much as she was in the book, as written. I fear I have encountered too much, if subtle, Lillian treatment in my life.

If you haven’t seen it, check out the Atlas Shrugged trailer. I know I embedded it here and there when it came out, but why risk anyone missing it…

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Debtor’s Prison?

I had no idea that debtor’s prison still existed! It always struck me as counter-productive. A strategic pound of flesh, as it were, appropriate when a creditor has crossed over from caring about collecting to caring mainly about punishing in retaliation for what may never be collected. Can you imagine if we still had that in all states and for debts of all kinds? It might be worse than the ridiculous overstuffing of prisons via the drug war.

That aside, the big issue here is the lack of representation, which is so blatently wrong it’s amazing it’s taken this long to show up before the Supremes.

On the plus side, each year the deadbeat spends in prison is a year of supporting himself he doesn’t have to do, so in that sense he benefits…

(I really need to add some categories if I am going to post regularly.)

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Civic Literacy

I got 100%, 33 right out of 33 questions, on this test. That’s better than typical people average, which in turn is better than elected officials average. I thought I’d miss one, as it looked like a trick question, but what probably happened is it was and I just answered opposite that.

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No Second Term

I think this is exactly right. He is out of place, over his head, not happy, knows it, most of the world knows it, and everyone would be better off, including Obama.

Then there could be an honest battle for the office by new contenders. We wouldn’t have to vote for a stupid primary victor just because he wasn’t Obama, nor would we risk Obama winning because of an absurd nomination winner.

If the song and dance that got Obama elected was ever more than song and dance, he’s lost that, much as can happen when someone goes from normal (or brilliantly manic) to deeply depressed.

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Nixon, Wilson, One of Those…

Don Surber notes just how Nixonian Obama seems, and rightly so, among others. I’ve compared him in the past to Wilson, Johnson, Nixon and Carter.

Thing is, he’s not as politcally savvy as Johnson, even if he’s wrecking the economy and ensuring things get really bad down the road, while trying to do big things that buy votes.

He’s not as natively intelligent as Carter, misguided and wrong though Carter was most of the time. Carter suffered in part being at the point when something had to be done about the fallout from Johnson and Nixon’s economic damage (and longer term, FDR’s), and from being too intellectual and micromanagerial. As much contempt as I have for Carter, having come of age then, and for the foreign policy problems dating back in large part to him, he nominated Volcker and he go the needed deregulation process rolling. Further, I doubt Carter ever had a malicious bone in his body, which I can’t say for the guy who’s now making him look almost… good.

Nixon, though… misguided on the economy, in ways almost as big as Johnson, and perhaps more directly. I mean, price controls? From a Republican? From anyone? Come on! Master of dirty tricks. If not subtle and masterful enough, obviously. Yeah, Nixonian for sure.

But the intellectual heir to Wilson, not caring about the Constitution, since it’s sooo outdated. Progressive nanny stater. Tinpot wannabe because he’s smarter and knows better than us. But was Wilson into crony “capitalism” like the rest? Maybe that’s something he has on Obama, but probably doesn’t count for much.

No doubt Obama would prefer to be compared favorably to Lincoln or Roosevelt, but those are the breaks. You have to lead, and at least want to be President once you’re in office.

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This is Brilliantly Funny

And yet sad, in that it sounds so realistic. The results of the 2008 election were always patently absurd, but then it helps to have a viable candidate on the other side. Not without reason did I once have an entire blog category devoted to McCain named Senator Control Freak, and how many people were unable to hold their noses in the face of a rorschachly blank slate and the thought “after all, how bad could it be?”

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Fear the Media Meltdown

Not the nuclear one! Great and detailed sense and information on what is actually happening, what dosages mean, and the media and anti-nuke industry reaction have been. It’s not nothing, but it’s not Chernobyl and can’t be, nor is it Three Mile Island. But then, from what I understood, seemingly refuted by all the references to it, is that Three Mile Island wasn’t even “Three Mile Island.” In the sense of an “OMG we’re all gonna die and let’s no never again build plants” event that, hey look, the media and the anti-nuke industry again, wanted us to believe. Yes, I said “industry,” since any such reasonably organized and financed cadre of people for a cause, non-profit or not, amount to an industry, and will tenaciously cling to and attempt to expand upon their mission. Witness the MADD rush from drunk driving awareness to neo-prohibitionism.

I fear for the nuclear renaissance and the pending explosion (poor choice of word!) of new and vastly improved reactors, leading us away from our excess dependence on wood coal whale oil petroleum.

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