This story would only be better if it were Alan Greenspan (or maybe Sarah Palin?) in the driver's seat.
An Ayn Rand fan named Nick Newcomen recently drove 12,328 miles around the United States, carefully charting his route so that, when viewed from space--with the help of Google Earth--it would spell out the sentence "Read Ayn Rand" at near-continental scale. He accomplished this task of Randian ambition with, in addition to Google Earth, a GPS device, and, of course, an awful lot of time behind the wheel. It took him about 10 days to trace each word, he reports. (To create spaces between the letters he turned off GPS tracking, so that portions of his journey would not be recorded.)
The final results are available for viewing on the website Worldsbiggestwriting.com. It looks as though a toddler reached down and scribbled the words across the U.S. (But who would be so petty as to quibble about a few squiggles in the letters?)
To prove that he did, in fact, make the journey, Newcomen has posted videos of himself at various spots along his route. He also offers a Top 10 list of reasons why you should, in fact, Read Ayn Rand. Among them are "Truth" ("Her ideas in essence are true") and "Vision" ("Ayn Rand provides a glimpse of a radiant future for all humanity").
Sales of Rand's novels have risen sharply over the past year: Her ferociously anti-statist and anti-regulatory views have found new fans as controversy swirls around the expansion of health care and the federal rescue of banks.
The author is solely responsible for the content.
Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.