Atlas Shrugged trailer and Trains that Go Zoom

So I don’t how many people have read Ayn Rand–I have, and I took them very seriously in high school. Though I have to say, I read them with the same spirit with which I watched Guiding Light (alas, gone!) and Dynasty (also, unfortunately, gone.)

But apparently, somebody has decided to make a movie about John Galt and the shiny train that goes zoooooom. We are supposed to love his objectivism and the frail worshipfulness of the radiantly beautiful Woman Who Understands Galt.

The comments around the interwebs are amazing. MAN owes society NOTHING but the honest pursuit of HIMSELF. Okkkkkkkey. Apparently, we are still in the moment of trying to deal with our neoliberal hangover that we need to flail ourselves into relearning love for market and freedom stories like Rand’s.

There’s lots of stomping around, lots of luxury. High drama! “I will destroy you!”

All I can keep thinking when I watch the trailer is:

Will Frodo and John Galt get to Mount Doom in time to destroy the One Ring? Or will Alexis Carrington Dexter Rowan Colby pull them into the faux-villa pool before they can cross Mordor?

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One might ask Ayn why, if the train is such a hotsy-totsy, envy-generating vision, we moochers and freeloaders and average-heads have to keep paying for general revenue bonds to get these money-makers built.

And then there’s just the fact that metal can be used for, oh, I dunno, lots of other stuff that…aren’t trains…and why such a purposeful and ruthless business dude would get so invested in making sure his metals get sold to a particular project.

But, hey, I never got shoulder pads, stirrup pants, or Huey Lewis and The News, either.

What I learned about democracy from Michael Neblo

USC’s Bedrosian Center has sponsored a nice series of Governance Salons, and this time out we had Michael Neblo, from Ohio State, in to discuss his experiments in deliberative democracy.

It was an absolutely wonderful discussion, and I learned a tremendous amount. Here is the deal:

The experiment consists of a control, obviously, and then running an e-town hall meeting with a member of congress. The subject: immigration policy. The team followed the participants from beginning to end and demonstrated that:

a) when subjects knew they were going to be participating in a controlled public debate–where civility was guaranteed–they studied up and learned more about the topic.

b) they stayed more involved politically even after a 4-month lag, being more able to identify mid-term election results after the event.