This post brought to you by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan – or, as the 23rd century calls them, Gul Dukat and Weyoun:
When we last left our heroes, Dagny Taggart had quit her job even though she’s totes going to be fined in perpetuity throughout the universe for doing so, and Hank Rearden had just given the patent for Rearden Metal to the government through some total borking of patent law only Ayn Rand could love.
Chapter 7, “The Moratorium on Brains,” opens on a moratorium in full swing as Eddie Willers rambles for two three pages about how his world is crumbling about his ears without Dagny Taggart and there is no one left he can cry to except his mysterious imaginary cafeteria friend who is TOTALLY NOT JOHN GALT DON’T YOU EVEN THINK IT. Totally-Not-John-Galt questions Eddie six ways from Sunday about Dagny Taggart, so much it actually makes Eddie suspicious.
For about five seconds.
Then Eddie sees a shiny object and launches into an equally rambling tale in which Ragnar Dannesköjld, Umlaut Pirate Extraordinaire, sends messages through Orren Boyle’s teeth warning him not to make Rearden Metal or his foundry will be DOOOOMED. Orren Boyle doesn’t listen. The Umlaut Pirate bombs Boyle’s beach house steel mills to the ground.
(What, you don’t vacation at your beach steel mill? Mitt Romney does! He has a gold-plated beach steel mill! On the moon!)
Meanwhile, Hank Rearden bribes a lawyer to get him a divorce “on any grounds and at any cost.” Shame Pennsylvania didn’t get no-fault divorce until 1980. Then Hank goes on one of his late-night fog walks.
Then things get weird.
A Jhonka pops out from behind a tree. He gives Hank Rearden a bar of solid gold and an invitation to tour his mad scientist mansion in order to rescue Penelope, who accidentally wandered off with a group of lemmings in search of rocketship parts and/or the secret Nazi war plans.
(I’ll stop showing my age now.)
The Jhonka, who is actually Ragnar “The Umlaut Pirate” Dannesköjld (gasp!), then gives us an exhaustive tour of Ayn Rand’s personal ethical philosobabble, of which these are the highlights:
- Robbery is okay, because income taxes.
- Robin Hood is the worst children’s story ever. Except the Kevin Costner version, which I’m pretty sure had pirates in it or something. So that’s cool.
- I do too have a
girlfriendsecret übermensch BFF! His name is Alberta! He lives in Vancouver!
- In order to operate a Galtian paradise in which everyone succeeds solely on their own labor and on no one else’s ever, it is necessary to loot supplies from non-Galtian developed societi- I mean, bootstraps! BOOOTSTRAAAPS!
Hank’s not so sure that Ragnar’s “make other people unwilling accessories to capital felonies” method of saving the world is all that right or just (or sane), but he takes his bar of delicious
chocolate gold and goes home anyway.
And that’s all we see of Hank. Instead, things get…weirder.
Part Two of Part II, Chapter 7: RAILROAD GOAT RODEO!
(I tried to find an 8-bit video game called “Railroad Goat Rodeo.” There isn’t one. Can you believe this? Really!)
Out in Colorado, Kip Chalmers (who? I don’t remember either) is throwing a hissy fit in his private train car because the Taggart Comet isn’t moving fast enough for His Highness’s liking. Kip “Pwecious Snowflake” Chalmers threatens to nationalize the railroad and dramatically under-fund it in order to make it run faster. That’ll show ‘em!
(Show who? Kip Chalmers doesn’t know either.)
Then, bang! The train crashes! TT’s last precious Diesel locomotive is a-done for! Kip Chalmers throws an even bigger fit. But his fit pales in comparison to the fit thrown by railroad superintendent and local incompetent Dave Mitchum, whose name I cannot stop confusing with “Mitch Daniels.”
Dave “Mitch Daniels” Mitchum’s problem is this: the Taggart Comet has to go through an eight-mile-long tunnel. On a Diesel engine, this is no problem. But the closest Diesel engine Dave “Mitch Daniels” Mitchum can get is eighteen hours away, and Kip Chalmers will almost certainly explode into a puddle of impotently furious bodily organs long before then.
Or! Dave “Mitch Daniels” Mitchum could send the Comet through the tunnel on a coal-fired locomotive. This would get Kip “Get Me to the Church on Time” Chalmers to the church San Francisco on time, but he probably wouldn’t care, because by the time the coal-fired engine got through an eight-mile-long tunnel, Kip Chalmers and everyone else aboard would be DEAD.
Pfft. Oxygen is for pansies.
Then a whole lot of nothing happens very quickly. It kind of sucks to read, so I’ve re-imagined it as a video-game walkthrough from the point of view of Dave “I’m About to Commit Negligent Homicide WHOOPS WAS THAT A SPOILER?” Mitchum. You’re welcome.
- Go into the office (left-left-down-right-right). There is a telegraph machine on the desk (the weird-looking thingy on the right).
- Walk up to the telegraph machine. Choose “SEND TELEGRAPH” from menu.
- Wait for the telephone on the desk (the weird-looking thingy on the left) to ring. When it does, walk up to the telephone. Choose “ANSWER TELEPHONE” from menu.
- Scroll through dialog screens. It’s a lot of yelling and name-calling, and it doesn’t matter to the rest of the game, so don’t bother reading it.
- Walk up to telephone again and choose “MAKE CALL” from menu. Your character will call the engineer and the fireman. (This is actually two calls, but you only have to choose the menu option once.)
- Here is the tricky part. Walk out of the office through the door on the back wall. You’ll come into another office, where there is a man sitting behind a desk to your left. Walk up to the desk and choose “ORDER COAL-FIRED LOCOMOTIVE” from the menu. SAVE YOUR GAME at this point.
- The man behind the desk will refuse, then get up and try to leave. Quickly, push down-down-left-star-A-A-smileyface-B-pound-send to punch him in the face. DO NOT LET HIM GET OUT THE DOOR. If he leaves the office, you lose the game. This takes a few tries to get right, so if you fail, re-load your game from the last save point and try again.
- Once you’ve punched the man in the face, the engineer and fireman will come into the office through the door on the right and ask for orders. Choose “SEND TO COAL LOCOMOTIVE” from the menu. The engineer and fireman will go out the door on the right. Follow them out this door.
- Once you’ve walked out the door, you’ll find yourself in another office, with another boy sitting behind a desk. SAVE YOUR GAME.
- Walk up to the desk and choose “ORDER TO SEND LOCOMOTIVE” from this menu. Then, immediately run out the door at the top of the screen. YOU MUST GET OUT BEFORE THE BOY STARTS CRYING. If he starts crying, all your menu options change to “PREVENT 300 DEATHS,” which is of course the opposite of your character’s objective at this stage.
- Once you are out the door, you will find yourself in front of the building. There is a car in front of the building. Walk up to the car and choose “GET IN” from the menu. Get in the car, then choose “LEAVE” from the menu.
- Enjoy watching your character drive into the 8-bit sunset. (You may want to turn your volume down at this point to drown out the screams of 300 Taggart Comet passengers as they choke to death on the coal locomotive fumes in the Taggart Tunnel. Remember, it’s okay that they died, because they were all looters anyway.*)
*Yes, this is the moral on which Part II, Chapter 7 ends. Don’t you feel warm and fuzzy now?