"personal, individual superiority - against the mass of the species as a whole."
This response will probably never be read. I tend to get sucked into debates when I have more important things to do so I usually post and disappear. But as I have nothing better to do this particular moment here it goes.
You misunderstood the intention of the book. Rand was exploring the philosophical ideas of individualism pitted against collectivism, and Atlas Shrugged was fiction. The ideas were there to motivate her characters. You need to read her non-fiction for an application of objectivism to the real world.
But individualism vs. collectivism is not the individual vs. society or the species as a whole. You misunderstood her definitions of individualism, altruism and collectivism. Collectivism is the idea that the individual belongs to society, that society is an organism unto itself and that the interests of the human race as a whole supersede the interests of the individual; that the individual has a moral obligation to dedicate his life to the service of society, and if that means giving his life in sacrifice then such demands are occasionally made. Spock actually had the most eloquent way to summarize collectivism: "The interests of the many outweigh the interests of the few."
Rand posited that such an ideology is morally wrong. That's why she chose the word "selfish", to pit her ideas directly in opposition to mainstream altruism. She never cared to demonstrate how rational self interest could appease altruists. She would have shuddered at the notion that any of her ideas were akin to "rational self-interest masquerading as altruism." To Rand, altruism was as close to pure evil as you could get.
For the sake of completeness: individualism is the idea that the individual has the right to exist for his own sake and has no moral obligation or duty to sacrifice himself for the sake of others.
That's really all Rand had to say, in a nutshell. She spent an awful lot of time trying to prove, logically, why individualism is objectively moral (and by extension how a system of morality and ethics could be objectively defined which was something entirely new and, even if you come out disagreeing with her, worth reading for that alone). But all she really had to say is that people are not property, that there's nothing wrong with helping others if you so choose but it's a not a moral duty, and there's a lot wrong with subordinating an individual to the level of a sacrifice in the name of "greater good" or "society." That doesn't mean the individual is necessarily pitted against society or even that society has different interests than the individual (in fact Rand pointed out that all society is is a collection of individuals choosing to coexist, and therefore society can have no interests other than the interests of each and every individual individually).
Anyway my comment was to point out that your examples of "altruistic acts" were not at all examples of what Rand called "altruism." I never meant to equivocate Rand's ideas of rational self-interest as a form of altruism and I'm rather surprised that I was interpreted that way.
Altruism, as far as Rand defined it, was about personal sacrifice for the sake of others. And she defined "sacrifice" as a surrender of a value for a lesser value. It's the difference between spending your life savings to treat your wife's cancer (preserving a personal value) vs. spending your life savings on building a homeless shelter for strangers while your sick wife dies.
Since others responded to the other points raised in your comment I'll leave them.