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Atlas Shrugged - Week 2: Chapters 3-4

Kak

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These chapters for me were just how I remembered them.

Character development mostly. We see two sides of the argument emerging. The very political and central planning side and the apolitical get it done and frustrated side.

I have to say I often relate so much to the almost depressed way about both Dagny and Hank. Surrounded by way too many people that "don't get it." Both from a business perspective and a political perspective. It is highly frustrating to the point of wanting to refrain from some social encounters.

I am not saying it is right to have elitist reclusive tenancies, but I am saying wisdom is a blessing and a curse. I would argue the ultimate wisdom would be how to be both wise and transcend the frustration with the blissfully ignorant and systemic problems with the world.

The statue paints a picture of a man that built a world class company. Worked hard and did what he could to make it successful as possible... This brought a transportation option to people who needed one, supplies to people that needed them, jobs to people that needed them and profits to people that were a part it. A virtuous endeavor. To the new world, he is a relic, a greedy miser that was out for profits. Profits however are an EFFECT not a CAUSE. The cause of profit is value.

This misunderstanding and unidimensional thinking of the the James Taggart type parallels a lot of what we hear from people like Bernie Sanders when they BRAG about erasing the net worth of billionaires with a wealth tax. A remedy for an effect without even considering the cause. What cause created that billionaire? What cause are you erasing by erasing that profit motive effect?

If we were to accurately argue what he wants to do, it is to get rid of the ability to become a billionaire. Which means getting rid of the profit motive. Which means getting rid of the things we do for profit. Which means dumping an entire enterprise that employs, serves and profits an asking market of people.

This type of thinking helps me sympathize with Dan Conway especially. Why bother trying to do anything else when what you build gets stolen by an imbecilic majority.

I don't really know what else to say. I am ready to read 5 and 6. The parallels of this book to present society are pissing me off.

My new thoughts... Democracy is mob rule and the only reason any of us pay taxes (let them rob us) is that we have less guns than the them.
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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Atlas Shrugged - Week 2: Chapters 3-4

It’s FRIDAY!!!
Ya’ll ready to rumble? Let’s do this thing!!

Chapter 3
The most expensive barroom in New York is just like a cellar. Inside we find James Taggart, Orren Boyle, Wesley Mouch, and Paul Larkin. Orren “appeared from nowhere 5yrs ago and has since made the cover of every national news magazine” His 200 mil dollar loan from the government gives him authority in business. Orren and James come to an understanding.

Dagny was nine when she knew she’d be running Taggart Transcontinental and she has proceeded to lead in every position she’s gotten. She longs for a keen mind to pit herself against or befriend but instead her biggest adversary is ineptitude.

The first policy James began when he took over the presidency was the construction of the San Sebastián line leading into Mexico and more specifically into the mines Francisco d’Anconia found there though they have yet to produce anything.

Eddie Willers chats w/ a worker, confessing things he wouldn’t tell anyone else. We discover that Taggart Transcontinental is doing very poorly and that only by fixing the Rio Norte Line will they be saved.

Chapter 4

McNamara, the main contractor hired by Dagny to repair the Rio Norte Line, has quit. Dagny is tired, goes home to listen to the music of Richard Halley’s 4th Concerto and sobs quietly after spotting news that d’Anconio is in town to witness the farce of his mistress on trial.

James Taggart gloats to his vapid “friend” Betty Pope that today he will meet w/ the board of directors to put his sister in her place but instead, he gets an emergency call from Mexico.

James takes the credit for Dagny’s foresight when he explains to the Board about Mexico nationalizing the property and then suggests firing two ppl who helped implement the San Sebastián Line.

The members of the National Alliance of Railroads pass the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule. “The Rule provided that the members of the NAR were forbidden to engage in practices defined as “destructive competition”. This will ruin Conway.

Dagny visits Dan Conway, owner of the Phoenix-Durango. She insists he fight the Rule. He responds defeatedly, “It’s up to you now.”

Ellis Wyatt visits Dagny and declares that Taggart Transcontinental (TT) must be as good at their business as he is or else.

Dagny visits Hank and asks him if he can deliver the rail in nine months. He says yes.

My Thoughts:
Wtf do you think is going on with the rats in the cellar?!?
Explain in your own words the stupid Dog Eat Dog Rule, please?
Didn’t Dagny do simply great at shifting things around for the railroad?!
Poor Dan Conway..
Rearden is everything sexy about a dangerous man who accomplishes things.. normally I would feel a great deal of compassion towards him because he is so alone (I work with guys like this every week) .. but Rearden .. Rearden reminds me of a samurai blade. Nice to look at but don’t bring it home..

I can’t wait to talk about this one specific quote Dagny said but I’ll let you guys jump in first.
 

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Bekit

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James Taggart, Orren Boyle, Wesley Mouch, and Paul Larkin. Orren “appeared from nowhere 5yrs ago and has since made the cover of every national news magazine” His 200 mil dollar loan from the government gives him authority in business. Orren and James come to an understanding.
The understanding they came to feels like a sinister plot to use Washington as the lever to take Rearden down.

But Wesley Mouch!?!?! Is REARDEN'S Washington man!?!?!

At that line, I was like, wait, whaaaat?

So is he double crossing Rearden? Or is he spying on the competition?

~

The anti dog eat dog rule basically said that if there is competition between two companies in an area, the company with the most seniority in the area gets the business. Clearly targeted at the Phoenix Durango.

~

So prediction: right when Dagny is desperately trying with all her might to save Taggart Transcontinental by barely getting the Rio Norte line done in 9 months, Washington is going to be conspiring against Rearden to make him unable to deliver the steel. Will he find a way to deliver it anyway? How?

~

I found the section very interesting where Dagny turned on her record of Halley's 4th concerto and it gave more details about Halley. So he reached the pinnacle of his fame and then promptly retired, never to be heard from again. That was 8 years ago. So he would have had plenty of time to write a 5th concerto. Maybe he's in some obscure little town somewhere, and only the locals know who he is, but that young man whistling on the train was exposed to his work. I'm guessing that Halley will come up again. I hope Dagny gets to meet him.

~

It's interesting to observe the gloomy, "everything is breaking down and running out" attitude in the book. Like, I wonder if Ayn Rand actually feared that "natural exhaustion of the mines, you know" (-Orren) would bring national progress and development to a grinding, catastrophic halt. I wonder if many people felt that way in the 50s. I look back on the 50s as a period of such abundance.

It makes me wonder what ways our current attitudes are skewed, and if there are ways that we are acting on unfounded fears that are so ingrained in our culture, we don't bother to question them.
 

broswoodwork

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Not strictly related to ch3&4 but...

Rereading this book is having a peculiar effect on me now that I actually run a small business.

I'm giving contractors and suppliers one word answers, making decisions instantaneously, pushing dates forward on goals, and being almost a little too abrupt with people who intrude on my work.

I better slow my roll a bit. :D
 

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The tension is starting to get to me ha!

Clearly things are building up to a massive breaking point - like the image of the oat tree earlier in the book.

It is clear that something bigger is going on behind the scenes too. There are some "insiders" who are purposely either making sure things fail and/or removing the people who can help.

I think the talk in the canteen area with the "staff" person shows there are spies/informants in the organization and that someone is pulling the strings elsewhere.

I can't see the logic in why James purposely wants things to fail but it is looking like that is the case.

I also wasn't expecting the romance/sex angle - Dagny clearly is yearning for some "real man" action ha.
 

BizyDad

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James Taggart suuuucks.

I know, everyone me else already said it it. Maybe George RR Martin spoiled me, I was really hoping for some grade A level schemer.

Instead he is the giant man baby everyone said he was last time. Just took me a couple chapters to catch up. I hate him. I feel bad for Dagny for being related to him.
 

Kruiser

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I just want you ppl to know that every single person who liked this post is CLEARLY in book discussion trouble!!

Y’all cannot possibly like him unless you’ve already read ahead!
So, @Kak's D'Anconia post was a trap? Ha, ha. Oh, well...

@Primeperiwinkle, what's the matter with reading ahead? Are you trying to hold us back? Trying to make sure that we all have a fair chance? Trying to ensure the Equalization of Opportunity?

I jest...
 

csalvato

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When asked why she made a decision, she always has a thought out reason. She presents research/evidence, not values. In contrast, James Taggart presents values as reasons for his actions. And yet, he's the one we've labelled as indecisive.

What am I missing?

It seems like maybe you are sharing things you've found to work for you, which is cool. Everyone's entitled to their life view. But you're also acting like the book backs you up, so I'm confused.
I never said she doesn't use her experience to make decisions. I asserted that:

1. She has values
2. Those values are very clear.
3. Her values drive her decisions when she is unsure on the outcome.

Her values and decisions that follow are made pretty clear throughout chapters 3 and 4 here, imo. Here's some quotes from Ch 4...

Dagny clearly values others not doing things solely for her sake, even to her own detriment:

“That’s why I’d enjoy trying it—because you’re the only exception. So you think it’s right that I should squeeze every penny of profit I can, out of your emergency?”
“Certainly. I’m not a fool. I don’t think you’re in business for my convenience.”
“Don’t you wish I were?”
“I’m not a moocher, Hank.”
Dagny values creating over leeching/looting:

Oh God, Dan, I don’t want to be a looter!”
Dagny values taking initiative and "making your own luck":

“To hell with that. I intend to make my own chance.”
And here's her in Ch4 using these values to make a values-based decision to complete the railway in 9 months instead of 12, come hell or high water. She's surprised at the outcome (her surprise indicating she didn't know whether or not she would be able to find a way to make the Rio Norte happen):

“That’s the story, Hank. I had worked out an almost impossible schedule to complete the Rio Norte Line in twelve months. Now I’ll have to do it in nine. You were to give us the rail over a period of one year. Can you give it to us within nine months? If there’s any human way to do it, do it. If not, I’ll have to find some other means to finish it.”
Rearden sat behind his desk. His cold, blue eyes made two horizontal cuts across the gaunt planes of his face; they remained horizontal, impassively half-closed; he said evenly, without emphasis:
“I’ll do it.”
Dagny leaned back in her chair. The short sentence was a shock. It was not merely relief: it was the sudden realization that nothing else was necessary to guarantee that it would be done; she needed no proofs, no questions, no explanations; a complex problem could rest safely on three syllables pronounced by a man who knew what he was saying.
I never said that her experience was irrelevant nor that it did not come into play. I'm only stating that it's secondary – considered after she considers her values.

Her values are her North Star.

IMO decisiveness and values-based decision making are a key theme in Atlas Shrugged, and, to me, this jumps off the page within the first few chapters.

Side note... if indecisiveness causes indecision, then does decisiveness cause decision?
Yes, of course.

Indecisiveness causing indecision is a tautology; as is saying that decisiveness causes decisions. This use of a tautology was purposeful rhetoric to get us to start from scratch.

Side side note... Isn't this begging the question?
I don't believe I am begging the question, so if you can highlight how I've done that I would be interested.

I love when I'm caught in a logical fallacy, since that's when I improve.

So far she acts on those predictions first and foremost. She's a total planner.

Her brain is "constantly making calculations".
Being a planner/calculated and being guided by values are not mutually exclusive. I don't believe that was ever said or implied.

He has made decisions based on friendship and loyalty. Also for the good of the Mexican people. I call those values. I understand if you call them emotions. He has definitely made other decisions purely on emotion.

The only other person I think is a "value based decider" is Eddie, who doesn't understand why people don't just do the right thing, but he hasn't really made decisions worth discussing so I brought up James as a more interesting example.
I believe that James (and all characters) are acting strongly on their values. James values other people's opinions of him, and that drives nearly all of his decisions so far:

“I am glad to report, however, that I foresaw the possibility of such a turn of events and took every precaution to protect the interests of Taggart Transcontinental. Some months ago, I instructed our Operating Department to cut the schedule on the San Sebastián Line down to a single train a day, and to remove from it our best motive power and rolling stock, as well as every piece of equipment that could be moved. The Mexican government was able to seize nothing but a few wooden cars and one superannuated locomotive. My decision has saved the company many millions of dollars—I shall have the exact figures computed and submit them to you. I do feel, however, that our stockholders will be justified in expecting that those who bore the major responsibility for this venture should now bear the consequences of their negligence. I would suggest, therefore, that we request the resignation of Mr. Clarence Eddington, our economic consultant, who recommended the construction of the San Sebastián Line, and of Mr. Jules Mott, our representative in Mexico City.”
He takes no accountability for his actions because he doesn't want people to think less of him. That's why he fobs off responsibility, gets upset when he is forced to take responsibility, and blames others when he fails at his task.

Later in Ch4, he gets annoyed that d'Anconia won't meet him and we can only imagine his ego is heavily bruised when he's told that d'Anconia is bored by Taggart.

I don't think this is narrowly focused in Atlas Shrugged. I believe that our values is what drives all of us to make all of our decisions. That's why all my values are listed on my LinkedIn, any jobs I post, are laid out before any partners who approach me, etc.

It was the major lesson I took from Atlas Shrugged, and think it comes through loud and clear right in Ch 1-4 from all characters.

This is such a strong lesson that I have taken from AS, that when my kid's child care facility was involved in a sexual assault scandal, I enumerated what I knew to be true about that company's values. Then when they told me "it would never happen again", I evaluated their values to assess if I could believe that. I didn't, and we cancelled our membership.
 
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MTEE1985

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I fundamentally disagree with this down to the marrow of my bones and I may end up having an emotional breakdown about it somewhere in the future but until then.. I love your thoughts. Lol.

Are we really rating action over intelligence? This has to be a false dichotomy.. you need both.
For most of my life I disagreed with it as well because that’s not what we were taught. We were taught that the most educated by the system were the future leaders and the world changers. As I’ve advanced in age I see more and more that it’s simply not true.

Do you need intelligence? Certainly. Jim Taggart is very intelligent. Those people don’t move the world though. The critical thinkers, the risk takers and the decisive ones who are confident in their decision do.

This world is filled with people who want to defer any and all decisions to others. It’s also filled with intelligent people. I’d rather hire somebody with the gall to take over my responsibilities than one who waits to be told what to do.

I saw an article not too long ago about a very successful VC who asked one questions of his investments: “What if it works?” That is what Dagny is saying. If Rearden metal is as good as she thinks than she will not only save the company but grow it astronomically.

If it doesn’t work? Doesn’t really matter at that point. The world needs more people asking what if it works. Those people are the producers who leave the world a better place.
 

csalvato

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I’m not dismissing intelligence. Both Taggarts are intelligent, only one is decisive with it. My money is on her 100% of the time.

Ideally they are used together but we just don’t see that often in life. Gun to my head, I’ll take a decisive person over a “smart” one.
Intelligence without action is nothing more than masturbation, imo.

Someone who is a 0/10 in either intelligence or action will always be screwed.

Someone who is a 5/10 on intelligence and a 10/10 on action will beat the person who is 10/10 on intelligence and 5/10 on action...every single day of the week.

Someone who is intelligent and decisive (like Francisco or Dagny), who is a 10/10 on both is an unstoppable force. Real life examples of this include Bezos, Musk and Gates.
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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I can't think of anything where this is not true.

History is rife with examples in every domain, from scientific discovery (Watson & Crick compared to Franklin), manpowered space flight (The Wright Brothers compared to Samuel Pierpont Langley) to space travel (SpaceX/Musk compared to NASA/JPL)....

Micro-examples are all over this forum, as well.

I'd be inclined for you to point out a counter example where the clearly more intelligent person accomplished their goals better than the person with an action bias.
TLDR: Active ppl are like Alexander the Great, Thinkers are like Aristotle. The world needs both.

Ok, I’d like to clarify terms.

You’re talking about ppl who act vs people who sit around doing mental masturbation. The equivalent in my mind is between a person who starts a business selling knickknacks vs a person who takes three months to design their perfect Knick knack business cards.

I have a lot more in common with the business card dreamer. I concur with you. A person who takes action in business will always outperform a person who never acts or a person who takes very little action.

Now, I had a fascinating conversation this evening with an extremely wealthy client (If his job title, car, and mighty girth are any indication) about General Patton and this quote “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

I agree with that quote. I’m relatively sure I agree with everything you’re saying @csalvato

But my brain had already skipped ahead and slid into thinking about just how valuable restfulness truly is. To me, action is the right leg; intelligent thoughtfulness is the left leg. When they work together we have progress. A person who puts no value on deep intellectual work will function but they’ll end up in circles. They might succeed at first but they’ll be outdone by the person who acts and thinks hard and gets restored and tries again.

But then my brain kept on going... I wasn’t thinking about assessment or planning or sitting around developing strategy.. . I was thinking about stuff like this book discussion or fine poetry or the deep calm breathing that happens while sitting in front of the fire. THAT is the other half of Action that is imperative for balance. My friend mentioned yin and yang and I think that’s how I feel. Action and Rest. War and Home.

People talk about action as the end all be all and, I get feisty. Tell me who made the bigger influence Alexander The Great or Aristotle who taught him? You can’t. They’re BOTH important.

One of the reasons I’m fighting for this SLOW ON PURPOSE book discussion is because I see ridiculously hardworking ACTIVE men and women every day who are miserable. They’re stressed and they don’t take time to restore their hearts or get encouragement or exercise their brains in ANY area BUT work. It’s not healthy. They don’t even know how to think deeply about a topic sometimes. They know how to make tons of money (much more than me) they know how to run companies (they always want to help me) but they don’t enjoy much or notice the smell of Fall or think about adding virtue to the world and they don’t have besties who make them snacks. I feel bad for them. But if they didn’t work their tired butts off the world wouldn’t be half as awesome as it is.

If Rand hadn’t made the connection to lightning for us or written this book with such a foreboding imminent tone of danger.. I would be rooting nonstop for Rearden while feeling immense pity towards him. As it is, I’m already a nervous wreck thinking about Dagny. I want her safe. But she won’t be. She’s an Alexander the Great. As for me, I’d rather be (at least a little) like Aristotle.

Phew! I’m out.
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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Not strictly related to ch3&4 but...

Rereading this book is having a peculiar effect on me now that I actually run a small business.

I'm giving contractors and suppliers one word answers, making decisions instantaneously, pushing dates forward on goals, and being almost a little too abrupt with people who intrude on my work.

I better slow my roll a bit. :D
I put a like on this but it deserves love. This is really cool. I don’t think you should slow it at all! I’ve been reading Straight-Line Leadership by Dusan Djukich and seeing that type of A—>B problem solving “lived”out by these characters is unbelievably fascinating.

It’s sad as well in a way. It makes me realize how very few ppl in my life operate with clear goals. I think this is also why talking to certain ppl on this forum (ESPECIALLY when they’re being serious) feels foreign to me and is so intimidating to many.

I’m not gonna tag them but off the top of my head I can think of at least four members here who, when I first started reading their posts, sounded INCREDIBLY robotic or Spock ish? It fascinates me still. It’s like I’m getting a glimpse into a mind that I can’t connect with at all but because I want to connect (I wanna join the party!! I’m a party person!) I have to change to grasp their train of thought. I’m so thankful for this forum.. it’s a gift.

I’m really glad we’re all reading this book together and bouncing ideas and sharing. Now stop reading ahead!! I’m genuinely worried I’ll be the only one guessing about stuff soon and that would suuuuuuuck.
 

BellaPippin

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What I do notice, when comparing the entrepreneurs in the book to the fast lane mindset, is that the entrepreneurs don't seem to care about creating value first, but really focus on money as their main driver.
Well, if you think about it, Taggart is a well established railroad company Dagny and Jim inherit, the one that looked for value and/or money was dad Taggart, at some point.

Rearden and all the other companies already appear as established, Rearden being the least of them because his steel is an innovation, however I think his reasons to create it in the first place is to make a better steel.

I wouldn't say their drive is money, especially not Dagny's, she wants to see her dad's work prosper since she was a kid (it's mentioned). And with the whole Dog rule thing, I think the only ones with money as a driver are the corrupt people like Jim, Boyle, all the government institutions that just seem to not want anyone to prosper if it doesn't directly benefit them.
 

Bekit

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This is what’s really all topsy turvy in this book. The ppl who ACTUALLY care about ppl are successful enterprising driven individuals but the book is telling us that the world hates them. Meanwhile the ppl who DONT really care proclaim themselves as “caring for the people”.
Is that just topsy turvy in the book? Or also in the real world?

I'd argue that this is just a scarily accurate description of what's going on in society.

So the book is highlighting the plight of successful entrepreneurs who are misunderstood and tired and thirsty for real human interaction where they aren’t condemned.
Hence, the creation of the fastlaneforum.com, where all the successful but lonely entrepreneurs can quench their thirst for real human interaction where they aren't condemned.

28589
 

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I can definitely feel this having this book having some real-life impact already.

I have been thinking a lot more about legacy, leadership, and values over the last few days.

Anyone else on a similar vibe?
 

BizyDad

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Anyone else surprised at the pace of the book? For a book that's 1,600 or something pages, I was expecting some of these events to happen a little later.

I think we are in for a wild wild ride.

And what's with the competent men quitting? McNamara is the latest. Did "they" get to him like they got to Conway? And I am as surprised as Dagny that Conway wouldn't fight back.

Lastly, I don't trust Reardon. I think he all but confirmed @Primeperiwinkle 's theory.
 

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I feel like I know a lot of the negative characters in real life. Mouch, Jim Taggart, but not enough of the positive ones.

Wtf do you think is going on with the rats in the cellar?!? - what always goes on with rats. They're looking for the next boat to jump onto before the one they're on sinks. The sad part is that they might legitimately be too stupid to realize they're the ones sinking the boat with all their rat crap.
Explain in your own words the stupid Dog Eat Dog Rule, please? Stupid.
Didn’t Dagny do simply great at shifting things around for the railroad?! Yes, but she as a character hasn't accepted that she's only building things that will be stolen by others.
Poor Dan Conway..
Rearden is everything sexy about a dangerous man who accomplishes things.. normally I would feel a great deal of compassion towards him because he is so alone (I work with guys like this every week) .. but Rearden .. Rearden reminds me of a samurai blade. Nice to look at but don’t bring it home.. Hank Rearden is indeed sexy. :rofl:
 

BizyDad

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“If joy is the aim and the core of existence, she thought, and if that which has the power to give one joy is always guarded as one’s deepest secret, then they had seen each other naked in that moment.”
I think most people hide the source of their biggest shame, not the source of their joy.

Since my audiobook doesn't have page numbers, what is the context of these two quotes?

My audiobook seems to be a horribly condensed version where I don't remember either of these quotes appearing, so the lack of context may be causing me to misinterpret something... but just on face value, I'll venture my thoughts...


I don't know about this one. Smacks of pride to me. Ego.

I think the proverb applies here, "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips."



Hahaha maybe I'm not as subtle as some people, but I've never made the LEAST effort to keep it a secret what gives me joy.

From the shallow...
"OH MY GOODNESS THIS CARDAMOM OAT MILK LATTE!!!"
"It's orange! So gorgeous!"

To free-time pleasures...
"Ah! Hiking is so glorious!"
"You've got to read this book/listen to this song/see this video! It's so amazing!"

To deeper, more "core" joys...

I don't feel threatened by letting people knows what gives me joy. I had no idea other people might. Why would this feel threatening to someone?
Imagine growing up in a family, or living in a world, that constantly ridiculed the things that make you happy. Maybe you're a photographer and your family is like oh there he goes taking pictures again. Or maybe you're an aspiring railroad executive, but you're a woman! You might hide your greatest source of joy then.
 

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The moment Dagny and Hank share here seems like it would be an unselfish one since there’s trust but then Hank likens it to selfishness.. materialism.
From where I'm sitting, this scene is one in which Dagny is a beacon is light for Hank. He's not been exposed to many people who are like Dagny; he is surrounded by idiots, buffoons and leeches.

To get exposure to Dagny is like seeing the world as it is for the first time; and as he tries to reconcile the fact that there are other people in the world who share his values, he is conflicted because it's so different to how everyone else he knows thinks about the world where he is the weird one who is materialistic.

Just my take.
 

Andy Black

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Are we really rating action over intelligence?
I’m not even reading the book but had to respond to this.

I like the phrase “Wisdom is earned.”

And the litmus test of a businessman I respect is “Are they street smart?” (Blaise Brosnan)
 

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csalvato

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TLDR: Active ppl are like Alexander the Great, Thinkers are like Aristotle. The world needs both.

Ok, I’d like to clarify terms.

You’re talking about ppl who act vs people who sit around doing mental masturbation. The equivalent in my mind is between a person who starts a business selling knickknacks vs a person who takes three months to design their perfect Knick knack business cards.

I have a lot more in common with the business card dreamer. I concur with you. A person who takes action in business will always outperform a person who never acts or a person who takes very little action.

Now, I had a fascinating conversation this evening with an extremely wealthy client (If his job title, car, and mighty girth are any indication) about General Patton and this quote “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

I agree with that quote. I’m relatively sure I agree with everything you’re saying @csalvato

But my brain had already skipped ahead and slid into thinking about just how valuable restfulness truly is. To me, action is the right leg; intelligent thoughtfulness is the left leg. When they work together we have progress. A person who puts no value on deep intellectual work will function but they’ll end up in circles. They might succeed at first but they’ll be outdone by the person who acts and thinks hard and gets restored and tries again.

But then my brain kept on going... I wasn’t thinking about assessment or planning or sitting around developing strategy.. . I was thinking about stuff like this book discussion or fine poetry or the deep calm breathing that happens while sitting in front of the fire. THAT is the other half of Action that is imperative for balance. My friend mentioned yin and yang and I think that’s how I feel. Action and Rest. War and Home.

People talk about action as the end all be all and, I get feisty. Tell me who made the bigger influence Alexander The Great or Aristotle who taught him? You can’t. They’re BOTH important.

One of the reasons I’m fighting for this SLOW ON PURPOSE book discussion is because I see ridiculously hardworking ACTIVE men and women every day who are miserable. They’re stressed and they don’t take time to restore their hearts or get encouragement or exercise their brains in ANY area BUT work. It’s not healthy. They don’t even know how to think deeply about a topic sometimes. They know how to make tons of money (much more than me) they know how to run companies (they always want to help me) but they don’t enjoy much or notice the smell of Fall or think about adding virtue to the world and they don’t have besties who make them snacks. I feel bad for them. But if they didn’t work their tired butts off the world wouldn’t be half as awesome as it is.

If Rand hadn’t made the connection to lightning for us or written this book with such a foreboding imminent tone of danger.. I would be rooting nonstop for Rearden while feeling immense pity towards him. As it is, I’m already a nervous wreck thinking about Dagny. I want her safe. But she won’t be. She’s an Alexander the Great. As for me, I’d rather be (at least a little) like Aristotle.

Phew! I’m out.
At the risk of sounding like a philosophical dickhead: this is a straw man.

A straw man is a form of argument and an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent.
  1. You're refuting the argument that restfulness is a waste. I never said that. I value restfulness.
  2. You're refuting the argument that thoughtfulness is a waste. I never said that. I value thoughtfulness.
  3. You're refuting the argument that intelligence is a waste. I value intellect.
  4. You're refuting the argument that planning is a waste. I never said that. I value planning.

My actual assertion is this: all things being equal, you want to have a bias towards action and decisiveness – even if you're not sure what you're doing is the "right"or "smart" thing.

One who is comfortable making decisions when not having time to properly plan; without knowing if it's the "right" or "smart" choice; will go farther than the person who takes hours, days, weeks or years meticulously thinking about and plans every step of the way.

My assertion is that it's best to make informed decisions, but that's often a luxury. The better way to go is to just make a decision and act with the information you have.

If it is the wrong one, 999/1000 times you can correct that wrong decision with a future correct one.

The greatest minds in history would almost always agree, and if you read their autobiographies, often have direct quotes that state very similarly what I say above.

And this is also the value that Dagny embodies 100% in her character so far.

----------------------------------------

PS - To batter at the straw man for a minute: Aristotle, Salk and Einstein are action takers/leaders/decision makers, just like Bezos, Alexander the Great and Rockfeller.

That is, Aristotle is not the opposite of Alexander the Great. He took action and made decisions daily, and was arguing in the forums daily, teaching people and refining his explanations/methods.

The other side of the "Alexander the Great" spectrum is not Aristotle: it's the the person who is binge watching netflix sitcoms and documentaries all day every day, thoughtlessly growing to 800 lbs by eating Big Macs every day while collecting disability and welfare checks.

----------------------------------------

PPS - Based on everything you've said, it's clear we are in complete agreement. :bullseye: It was still worth pointing out the straw man, though, because it seems like you're working on reconciling the notion of greatness and how it relates to taking action.
 
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reedracer

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Was Dagny's decision spur of the moment or action over well informed and intellectual decision? Not in the slightest. She's a 15 year veteran in the railroad industry after growing up in the business. And she has been working on the problem of the Rio Norte line well over a year and had started down the path of Reardon already. As happens in any project, one or more parameters changed and needed a decision and Dagny delivered one base on her amassed experience and knowledge.

Lack of knowledge leads to indecision. When you are a wantrepeneur, you engage in action faking due to not knowing what will happen if you take a decisive step. This is a form of fear or ignorance because you cannot see the outcome.

I
 

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I think Rand had a lot of fun naming the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Rule". It's very tongue-in-cheek, since the rule itself is Dog-Eat-Dog! When two railroad companies serve the same line, they're not hurting each other through viscous competition, they're helping each other by making the destinations even richer for everyone involved. It's like Dagny said, even if she didn't transport Wyatt's oil directly, there were towns popping up that could use the extra throughput. Of course, by forcing Dan to close that not only hurts Dan's company it hurts Taggart Transcontinental as well.

Why is Jim happy about it then? I'm guessing it's because it's partly because he has limiting beliefs and a scarcity mindset. He thinks there's only room for one railroad, so it might as well be Taggart. I also sense he resents Dan for being so successful. Maybe he thinks he put him in his place.

I read the Bernie Sanders discussion earlier in this thread. Anyone else feel like part of the mainstream narrative is about punishing the rich and successful?
 

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Let's talk about some real-life examples that are happening now - on top of my head I thought of the 5G technology. This technology would completely change the world and accelerate the advancement of various technological fields. I know it's kind of a sensitive issue because we're talking about China, but imagine the impact it would have if everything goes smoothly?

Some countries are trying to sabotage the deployment of the technology because they wanted to protect their own self-interests, and their claims that the technology is harmful and is a security threat have so far been unproven. I'm keeping my fingers crossed to see how things would turn up.

I'm also pretty sure such scenarios have happened in other fields as well:
- a highly effective and almost free treatment of a disease is sealed away by pharmaceutical companies

- Oil companies / power plants sabotage the development of clean energy so they could continue to profit from their existing ways

- Thomas Edison tried to persuade the public that Nikola Tesla’s Alternate Current is dangerous by electrocuting an elephant to prove his point (this really happened, and thank God he didn’t get his way, otherwise our only choice would be Direct Current, which is much less effective)



P/s: These are just my point of view and I’m bringing them up to see what you guys think. So if you disagree with me please share your point of view
 
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Well, if you think about it, Taggart is a well established railroad company Dagny and Jim inherit, the one that looked for value and/or money was dad Taggart, at some point.

Rearden and all the other companies already appear as established, Rearden being the least of them because his steel is an innovation, however I think his reasons to create it in the first place is to make a better steel.

I wouldn't say their drive is money, especially not Dagny's, she wants to see her dad's work prosper since she was a kid (it's mentioned). And with the whole Dog rule thing, I think the only ones with money as a driver are the corrupt people like Jim, Boyle, all the government institutions that just seem to not want anyone to prosper if it doesn't directly benefit them.
This is what’s really all topsy turvy in this book. The ppl who ACTUALLY care about ppl are successful enterprising driven individuals but the book is telling us that the world hates them. Meanwhile the ppl who DONT really care proclaim themselves as “caring for the people”.

So the book is highlighting the plight of successful entrepreneurs who are misunderstood and tired and thirsty for real human interaction where they aren’t condemned.
 

reedracer

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I can definitely feel this having this book having some real-life impact already.

I have been thinking a lot more about legacy, leadership, and values over the last few days.

Anyone else on a similar vibe?
Oh, yeah, I work for a Taggert Trancontinental whose CEO just got 'promoted' to the EU commission. The reality of these archetypes is insane.

I'm loving reading this book!
 

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I have more stuff to talk about and I’ve had my coffee..

I really want to talk about the Commandment of Control.

It’s sooo easy to demonize James Taggart because he’s such a sniveling weak rat type of person but Dagny is about to make the same damn mistake!!

Taggart broke this commandment when trusted Orren Boyle for rail and invested so heavily in d’Anconio for profits. He put the welfare of the entire company in those peoples hands.

Now Dagny is resting her ENTIRE company in Reardens hands?!?!

According to Eddie, who I think we can trust even though he’s apparently pouring his heart out to a guy (I THINK ITS THE SAME BRAKEMAN who was humming the fifth concerto!!! I’m weirdly obsessed with minor characters like the newspaper seller and the bartender..but I digress) he barely knows.. the company is doing really really badly.

I’m genuinely curious to compare this type of situation to a modern day equivalent. Who here would bet the fate of their entire company on an untried substance??

Rearden’s “yes” is glorious. He is quite literally being Dagny’s salvation. #swoon

BUT IS SHE BEING SMART?!?
The difference is Dagny has "no choice". She can't make the steel herself. His is clearly better. No one else has it. No choice probably isn't correct, but his is clearly the best option. She'd have to put her order in with someone, and he's also the only one that can deliver in that time frame. Oren Boyle wasn't delivering the steel.

She also wouldn't take credit for someone else's idea.

James has a frequently made the lesser choice when he actually had options. He doesn't make the best financial decision for the business, he is swayed by many factors. I haven't completely figured out what his motivations are, but they're obviously very different than Dagny's.

Besides it's not untested, Dagny looked at the science that Reardon had produced. She read his studies. It just hasn't been approved by outside people.

So yes, obviously I think she's being smart.
 

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