So one of the reasons I’m tight-lipped this week is that – well, you’d think it’s that I’m doing my taxes, but that’s a laugh; I’m doing my 4868, to postpone my taxes. No, it’s that I’m reading Atlas Shrugged. On my iPod as I walk – unabridged.

Even with the iPod set to ‘fast,’ so it’s read 20% faster than it was recorded . . . and even with my brisk and purposeful stride and the ability to face down oncoming traffic rather than stop for red lights – call me a modern day Hank Rearden or Ellis Wyatt or Francisco d’Antonio . . . it will take me 120 miles to read the whole thing.

A walk any one of those characters could make without food or water or sleep for the ideal of the free market and individual achievement.

But I’m about 75 miles into it and can tell you it is truly awful – and truly wonderful – at the same time.

Has it made me a libertarian? No. Is it a comic book filled with straw men for Ayn Rand’s superhero industrialists to mock and destroy? Totally. But it sure is fun.

Not least because I can’t stop thinking that maybe the Borealis folks read it and decided to make it into – not a movie, as is done with most classic mega-novels (oh, look, 50 years later, someone’s doing that, too) – but into a company.

You’ve got your massive mining operation (albeit copper, not iron ore) – think BOREF subsidiary Roche Bay . . . your miracle metal (Rearden metal, named after its inventor) – think BOREF subsidiary Avto Metals (named after its inventor) . . . and your miracle electric motor (Ayn Rand’s pulled static electricity from the air) – think BOREF subsidiaries Chorus Motors, WheelTug, and (because Rand’s motor would run without fossil fuel) Powerchips and Coolchips as well.

I haven’t gotten to the part of the book where the nature of ‘Project X’ will be revealed. It’s some kind of world-changing technology. But neither am I clear on what BOREF subsidiary Photon Power does, so that could be it.

Meanwhile, the author’s heroes know they are superior human beings surrounded by fools. For example: No one would be first to place an order for Rearden metal, even though it was demonstrably a third the weight of steel and twice the strength.

No one, that is, except heroine Dagny Taggart.

So I’m thinking . . . could Borealis all be some kind of conscious or unconscious homage to – or delusion based on – Atlas Shrugged? The world’s most elaborate practical joke based on the world’s longest novel?

And then I’m reminded, as in this article from Flight International, Tuesday, that Delta Airlines really does seem to have made a deal to develop WheelTug – so who knows?

It’s too early to know whether there will be a happy ending. I have about 45 miles more to read, and I do stop to sleep. (BOREF closed yesterday at $9 on volume of 500 shares, for a total market cap about half what a hedge fund manager recently paid for a Jasper Johns.)

 

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