It’s the beginning of Part 2 and Dr. Robert Stadler, of cosmic rays and comma misuse fame, has a case of the grumpies. He’s grumpy because it’s raining. He’s also grumpy because he’s just been reading a new book published by professional sycophant Dr. Floyd Ferris, and it’s really, really crappy.
Like, how did this crap get published? crappy. Except Dr. Stadler knows how it got published, because the State Science Institute published it. Even though the crap in it has nothing to do with science and everything to do with being crap. Dr. Stadler weighs the consequences of punching Dr. Floyd Ferris in the face for publishing this crap, versus just punching the book in the face for being crap.
Since Dr. Stadler is a man of
mental masturbation science instead of a man of John Galt-like reflexes action, he lets Dr. Floyd Ferris ramble once Dr. Floyd Ferris actually shows up. Dr. Ferris fills three entire pages with whining, interspsered with complaining and punctuated by the occasional gripe. He then brushes off Dr. Stadler’s complains about his crappy crap crapbook as if Dr. Stadler is an adorable child, rather than a scientician and also HIS BOSS. Screw Dr. Stadler; I’ma punch this asshole myself.
While whinecomplaingriping, Dr. Ferris invokes the name of Wesley Mouch, whom I’ve just realized that we’ve hardly seen in this book at all, and not once in person since Part 1, Chapter 3. In fact, we’ve seen Wesley Mouch in person even less than we’ve seen Creepy Trenchcoat Stalker Dude Who is Obviously John Galt. If I had any faith in Ayn Rand’s abilities as a writer, which I don’t, I’d predict this is some kind of delightfully nuanced hero/anti-hero trope going on here. But I don’t.
* * * * *
Then, we readers are transported via the magic of ASTERISKS! to Taggart Transcontinental, where Dagny Taggart is drawing lines on all the train schedules. She’s remarkably calm for someone whose new career is watching everything she’s ever worked for crumble around her.
But then, she’s pretty much stuck in Delusion Junction these days. Case in point: page 350, in which Dagny Taggart predicts the imminent collapse of the oil business in the United States. LMAO! Lady, the only thing that can break the U.S. of its slavering oil addiction is the near-total depletion of oil supplies worldwide.
In Straw Ayn Rand Land, however, there is no oil, very little coal, and James Taggart is gloating about the “profits” Wesley Mouch is paying him not to run trains or to pay interest on Taggart Transcontinental’s securities. At least that part is totally believeable.
Dagny Taggart refers to looters like her brother as “the men of blood and rust,” which IMSO (in my snarky opinion) would have been a much better title for this tome than Atlas Shrugged.
Then, in a last-ditch effort to fix the perpetual-motion machine she
looted acquired from the ruins of the Twentieth Century Motor Company back in Part 1, Chapter 9, Dagny Taggart calls Dr. Stadler. Never mind that Dagny Taggart is an engineer and Robert Stadler is an astrophysicist – surely any random person with a penis will have to know more about the motor than any “engineer” with a vagina, amirite laydeez? After all, engineering knowledge is actually stored in the penis, isn’t it?
Anyway! Robert Stadler reads the notes on the motor that Dagny Taggart also
looted recovered from the remains of the Twentieth Century Motor Company, and he practically jizzes! in! his! pants! over all the “pure science” involved. (Dr. Stadler doesn’t get out much.)
But even Dr. Stadler’s great cosmic-ray-unraveling mind can’t figure out that the inventor of this motor is OBVIOUSLY JOHN GALT WTF SERIOUSLY COME ON ALREADY?!?!, even though Dr. Stadler was literally thinking about John Galt just before we faded to asterisks eight pages ago.
Instead, Robert Stadler recommends that Dagny Taggart consult Quentin Daniels, of the Utah Institute of Technology. Quentin Daniels has never been mentioned before, but a shiny dime says he goes on strike – oops, I mean “mysteriously vanishes” – just as Dagny Taggart tries to get ahold of him. Meanwhile, MORE ASTERISKS….
….and we’re back with Hank Rearden, who has just been ordered, via urgent priority important essential paramount uppermost top no. 1 mail, to sell 10,000 tons of Rearden Metal to the State Science Institute, for use in the Institute’s ultra mysterious super top secret confidential Project X. That’s X as in “xylophone,” according to Dr. Floyd Ferris. The State Science Institute is planning to build the world’s largest xylophone.
Hank Rearden gives the order slip to his
walking calculator secretary and tells her to punch it in the face with all her usual machinelike efficiency. She’s happy to oblige.
Apparently, the government has ordered Hank Rearden to produce only some limited number of tons of Rearden Metal each year for reasons that Ayn Rand wants you to know are arbitrary, capricious, pointless, stupid, whimsical, frivolous, superficial, meaningless, and also governmental. The government sends Hank Rearden a “boy” (actually an adult male) to handle the orders and such.
Instead, the boy splains literally everything he sees, even if no one else is listening or is even present. A less self-pitying boss would have the guy evaluated for a developmental disorder*, but Hank Rearden, being unable to see beyond his own fists, merely wants to punch the poor kid in the face.
Meanwhile, Hank Rearden has, apparently, been buying ridiculously ostentatious gifts for Dagny Taggart, because he has nothing interesting to do with his money except see what ridiculously ostentatious crap he can get her to wear while they have sex. The newest piece of ridiculously ostentatious crap sexwear: a floor-length fur cape that makes her look like a Muppet.
Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden trash-talk the government for a while, then head for the bedroom. Mercifully, the chapter ends before we’re forced to endure another of The Most Boring Sex Scenes Ever Written(TM).
*ask me about my nasty childhood grammarsplaining habit!