Atlas Shrugged Part II: Amazing

I meant to go and watch Atlas Shrugged Part II on opening night. I had already been invited to multiple Atlas events. Unfortunately I was too busy and have been for the last two weeks. For some reason something just kept coming up and preventing me from going. When I went to the website on Wednesday, only two and a half short weeks after the movie coming out, I was shocked to see that none of the Cincinnati theaters were showing it any more, and that the only theater showing it was 50 miles away! I decided that I must see it before the last day of showing, but unfortunately the showing was at 12:55 and I didn’t get out of work until at least 3pm. So I decided to take a vacation day and make a day out of it.

I woke up around 8:30am Thursday Morning on November 1st and made myself some breakfast, I took the dog out, filled up his water and food bowls and headed out the door. I turned the ignition on my new jeep and stopped by the local gas station to fill her up and grab myself a cup of coffee. I headed from the gas station to the I-275 highway and proceeded toward I-75 making sure to salute the new Gary Johnson sign on the way up. The sun was out, shining brightly over a wind swept landscape which had finally cleared up after a week of Hurricane Sandy. I approached I-675 and drove past all the signs for The Wright Patterson Air Force Base. I approached the theater and saw that it was not open yet for the day as it was only 11am.

I decided to pass the time by going to the mall, I walked around and thought about all the stores, what the value of each one was, and what the current value of our currency is. I thought about the gold standard, I thought about communism, fascism and capitalism. I thought about the show I had watched the night before at my in-laws house. I thought about ‘The Men who built America’ and how the same men who built it, also sowed the seeds for its destruction. I thought about Joseph Campbell’s mythology of ‘the hero as the villain’ . It seems that many of the men who built America decided to convert from value to greed, and squeeze the life out of others instead of continuing to advance it through production of value.

It’s a very tricky thing Capitalism. Unbridled and unshackled it can produce the most amazing inventions, and carry forward the best in living conditions. When it is railroaded, it can be used for vile intentions. The latest Sherlock Holmes movie shows how countries are pitted against each other so that banks and arms manufactures can make massive profits off the bloodshed of others. It appears to have taken hold particularly in the 20th century especially during the first and second world wars.

I love capitalism and I love Ayn Rand’s Objectivism philosophy. There is a huge web of history, philosophy and facts that are left to be untangled, and political struggles to be broken until we can get back to a productive society with value at its core. Perhaps my wife is right, and next month the world won’t end, but perhaps it will have a great awakening instead.

I thought about all this as I ate terriaki chicken from one of the food vendors in the mall. I pondered the meaning of life, and what it meant to stand out alone as an individual. I watched as soldiers from the nearby army base stood in a collective group as they purchased Chick-fil-a. I felt sad that so many people form into a collective and allow others to dictate to them. I felt very alone in that mall, not because I was by myself, but because my thinking is purely individualistic. I do not think in terms of any collective. I think in terms of value. True value includes quality, cost, happiness, productivity and meaning. It is not just the cost of the items I looked at in the stores, it’s what they really mean. I’m not interested in most of the material clothing which only stands to make a statement. I’m more interested in the rugged ‘Columbia’ jackets which will hold out the cold on a freezing winter’s day. The items of value carry meaning to them. Meaning to the individual, not to the collective conscious of a brainwashed majority. I’m not out to impress anyone. I’m out to find happiness in life, and construct a better world for myself while respecting others rights to do the same.

My thoughts continued to flow as I walked outside and headed back to the Theater. At 12:30pm I walked into the recently opened doors and purchased one small individual ticket for ‘Atlas Shrugged Part II’.

I confidently walked by myself in a mostly deserted 20 screen movie theater toward the number five screening room, and took my seat at the very back, to wait and observe the magic of the new movie.

As the credits began rolling, an old couple tottered steadily toward their seats, then another couple, then an individual guy, then a lady, then another older couple. The total number of people in the theater including myself stood at 9. “at least I’m not the only one who showed up” I thought to myself.

The previews began airing, and my anticipation began to rise. Finally the movie began with an amazing airplane chase scene which actually reminded me of the opening of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. My heart rate rose slightly and I was drawn into the unfolding drama.

I was a little surprised to see that different actors played the parts of the main characters, but if anything I liked them even more. You could really see the actors bring the characters to life in a way that reflected exactly what you felt when reading the book. I thought Hank Rearden was bold headed and hard, and delivered his court speech perfectly. I liked how the movie tied in the tea party and occupy wall street movements, as well as the news segment featuring Sean Hannity.

The movie represented the world that Ayn Rand projected perfectly, and it was chilling to find a resemblance between the movie and today’s economic and moral plight. I sat at the edge of my seat through the entire film, and was flabbergasted at how well it had been made. You could really tell that the production company had put everything they had into the film, and had spent extra money on fine tuning it to deliver the message of the book.

I loved watching the first movie when it came out last year, and thought they did a good job for a low budget film, but the difference between part one and part two is night and day. Congratulations to the producers of the movie. You have my thanks. I wish I could have seen it sooner, and I will be sure to buy a copy when it is released on DVD. I am an active member of galts gulch online, and I will do whatever I can to help out with obtaining funding and promoting the third and final installment of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus.

Before I left the theater I sat through all the credits and read Ayn Rand’s warning at the end:

“When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – When you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – You may know that your society is doomed.” — Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”, 1957

I walked out into the cool fresh air and fired up the jeep once more to return home, full of thoughts and ideas, concerned about the future, but glad that the diamonds are finally starting to shine through the rough.

Jet lag

It’s 3am UK time. I am wide awake. It seems that my body clock has been spun completely off-center. It’s funny, I always used to sleep fairly well on my return trips to England when living here, but now that I am more of a visitor than a resident, my body can’t seem to adjust, at least not yet anyway.

Today Brooke and I will be heading up to London on the train to see The Phantom of the Opera. There are three things that I wanted to do with Brooke on her first visit to the UK, which I didn’t get a chance to do last time. One was to eat at the Punch Tavern, which we did yesterday. The second was to go to a theatre production in London, which we’re doing today. And thirdly to head to Paris for a day or two, which we’re planning on doing next week before we leave.

Whenever I used to travel to the US; I used to compare prices between products and services in the Canterbury area, and in the Cincinnati area. Now, after having lived in the US for 4 1/2 years I find myself doing the same in reverse. What I remembered is the high cost of housing and petrol/gasoline, but what surprised me was the day to day cost of food, clothes and various home products. I remember thinking how cheap everything was in the US when I used to visit, but lately it seems that everything is so expensive. It is true, many items have gone up in price in the US, inflation it seems, is far higher than you’ll hear about in the media.

I can see now why both the UK and US governments behave the way that they do when it comes toward oil and gasoline/petrol. The UK has made it practice to restrict its citizens usage of the resource since it needs to import more of it. Whereas the US economy is built off cheap oil, and the US government builds its blunderous foreign policy off retaining its dominance on the purchase of cheap oil. Of course, both governments are wrong in their policies, since there are alternative energy resources readily and cheaply available. But it does explain why prices and inflation are higher than ever, and why energy prices are so high.

I was amazed at the cost of a meal at the Punch Tavern; £5.79 for a meal with a pint of beer. That’s amazing! Brooke and I would easily drop $40 – $50 for the same meal each back home, and yet my dad only paid about £22 for himself, my mum, Brooke and I.

On recollection. There really isn’t a ‘better place’ to live in the world, your home is where you make it, and what you enjoy out of it. Sure, there are better places, and I enjoy the 28C/86F warm sunny weather back home in Cincinnati compared to the 9C/50F cloudy drizzly weather in Canterbury right now. But the walk that Brooke and I took yesterday evening along the back woods where I used to jog as a teenager were so quite and so peaceful. The wooded areas were full of bluebells, something that I’ve wanted to show Brooke since I first met her. And the fields were quiet and rolling. There wasn’t a sound in the air, except a few rumbles of cars in the distance and the chirp of birds in the air.

I think life is meant to be lived, and it doesn’t matter where you are, nor too much what you’re doing. But how you’re doing it, what you’re doing it for, and whether you’re enjoying it or not. Life really is too short. I grew up in this country, I’ve lived here 4/5 of my life, and yet I feel more like a stranger now than anything, even though I am used to the customs and find myself easily able to blend in and get around.

I’ve grown up a lot since I left England. America is the land of opportunity, though not all Americans, perhaps even the majority don’t use the opportunity. I think England has as many opportunities as America, but perhaps not in the same context. You can get a good education in England far cheaper than in the states, but to buy a place to live here in Canterbury you’d need to be practically a millionaire, whereas in Cincinnati they’ll pretty much give you any mortgage you want, and you can buy a house for not much more than a car in certain places.

I feel bigger now than when I left England, bigger in mind body and soul. I left the old country with many ideas, expectations and dreams. I have achieved many of them, and am proud of myself for doing them. I owe all my successes in life to my wife and my parents, without their support, I doubt I would have achieved half of them. It makes me very happy to be spending the next week and a half with all of them in the place where I grew up. I shall make the most of this, and enjoy eating my favorite meals and seeing old sights, friends and family.

Now to try and grab a couple extra hours sleep, so that I don’t feel like a zombie while walking around London!