Quick Roundup 163

Friday, March 16, 2007

Giving Teeth to the Term "Mille"

When I saw a news clip about a pizzeria in New York City selling a $1,000.00 pie a day or so ago, two different memories from younger days came to my mind, one of them being of the $15.00 hot dog I once ordered there just so I could say I paid fifteen bucks for a hot dog in New York.

The other memory was of the college semester I spent in Rome, when my classmates and I would frequently order pizza in small shops there by pointing to what we wanted and ordering a slice by specifying how much we were willing to pay. 1,000 lire (about 80 cents at the time) would buy a slice large enough for a decent snack, 2,000 was good for a quick, small meal. You'd simply point and say, "Mille" or "Due mila".

But the similarities end at that last zero. You have to order this pizza a day in advance. It has caviar and lobster as toppings. And wasabi. Read this article for the low-down. It even describes how to make it at home, but be warned: It costs aver 700 smackers just to make it!

Coverage of the Cancelled John Lewis Talk

[Update: In a comment, Michael Caution advises that the talk has been rescheduled for April 24. See his blog for further details.]

Diana Hsieh posts a very good roundup of news pertaining to the talk John Lewis was supposed to give at the school flirting with becoming known as "'Who is that other' George Mason University". Two articles in particular proved useful. The first, which appears in The Chronicle of Higher Education, will apparently expire soon, does a good job of summarizing John Lewis's position, including the following:

"I am opposed to religious law in all forms," Mr. Lewis wrote to The Chronicle. In his e-mail message, he described his speech as condemning "the imposition of Islamic law by the state."

"Such use of state power," he wrote, "harnesses Islam to the service of a totalitarian political ideology. My lecture calls for separation of church and state, and for the defense of that separation by military force if necessary. This is the only way to preserve freedom of individual thought and speech, for people of every philosophic and religious orientation." [bold added]
I fully agree with Dr. Lewis, but I had never formulated the nature of the conflict explicitly in terms of the military being used to defend separation of church and state.

The second article, at SCSUScholars, answers a question I had (and that, I believe someone emailed me with a few days ago): Which technicality did WITO-GMU use as a pretext for placing the demands of Moslem malcontents above fulfilling its obligation to host Dr. Lewis? I quote: "The Objectivist Club at GMU... had someone else to help book the room on campus after it learned of its oversight in letting the club's registration lapse -- not an uncommon occurrence on a university campus, I assure you -- but the faculty member who helped secure the room apparently backed out when it appears the issue got hot."

Three Awesome Posts

Mike over at The Primacy of Awesome ticks off the entire Republican field for the 2008 presidential race and finds all of them wanting. He also links (with appropriate, pithy comments) to two articles, one positive and one negative, that discuss to differing degrees the increasing popularity of Ayn Rand among younger readers.

I find that I have to say something about the second of the articles, which completely misrepresents Ayn Rand's philosophy in order to justify comparing it to Scientology.
Ethical egoism implicitly assumes that every human being will always act rationally in determining what is in their own best interest. Just where exactly in the history of the human race did they come up with that ridiculous idea?
Yeah. And the fact that this ethical egoist spends so much time here talking about why we need government to, say, stop criminals, isn't because he doesn't make this assumption. It's because I'm trying to cover up my belief that people -- especially criminals -- "always act rationally".

And don't even get me started on this bozo's discussion of how slave labor would have been more in Hitler's "self-interest" than mass murder. Anyone who has read me for any amount of time will know what I think of slavery and mass murder. In short, neither is in anyone's self-interest.

But if you want to make Objectivism sound like Scientology, perhaps you do need people to think that it is in man's "self-interest" to engage in irrational behavior ranging from petty crime to the slaughter of millions.

Government Arbitration of Prices

In a very long post, Dismuke, comments on how well a government functionary can determine market prices:
If the judges on the CRB were in a position to know what the exact market rate for copyright music ought be for every year through 2010 - well, I suspect that they might be spending their days doing something other than poring over mundane and boring legal minutiae because each of them would be richer than Bill Gates from playing the commodities market and having been right 100 percent of the time. [minor edits]
I found that to be a very nice common-sense rebuttal to the whole notion of the government determining "fair value".

-- CAV


3-18-07: Added update on John Lewis talk.


Inspector said...

My first thought on reading the Socialist wacko's article on Objectivism, besides the fact that he obviously doesn't have the first clue about egoism, is that they are nervous enough to write negative articles. This is an important change from their previous policy of pretending we don't exist. If many more articles appear like this, then I think that would be a sign we're winning.

Gus Van Horn said...

Quite true, not only is the nervousness a good sign, it's free publicity. Why? Because you have to base even a bad lie on something, meaning you'll have to mention the person who, if read and comprehended, will straighten any misrepresentations out. So articles like those don't "work", at least with people who might be receptive to Ayn Rand's ideas. (Which explains why it is directed at parents, who might be able to make their kids not read Rand.)

As proof of how such articles are a form of free publicity, I present myself as Exhibit A. When I read a jab at Rand, back in college, for holding "selfishness and atheism as virtues" from a religious writer. All that did was make me curious....

Mike said...

The best thing a socialist could do is scold his teenager for reading Ayn Rand.

Don't smoke! Kids smoke.

Don't have sex! Kids have sex.

Don't read Ayn Rand! Kids read Ayn Rand.

She's the ultimate rebel, especially if your parents are authoritarian socialists.

Gus Van Horn said...

You're right!

Anonymous said...

off thread, amit ghate has a post about jim cramer and a video. i'd love to hear your thoughts in a blog post. love your blog.

z in jacksonville, fl

Michael Caution said...

If you check out the "don't read ayn" piece, you'll see I attempted to check his thinking or what little of it there was.

Michael Caution said...

Also forgot, I made mention of a possible scheduled date for the John Lewis talk on my blog here.

Gus Van Horn said...


Thank you for the interesting suggestion, but it is unlikely I will be able to go any farther than to say that due to audio problems on BOTH of my computers and a busy schedule that precludes fixing it/them, I probably won't even get to entertain the idea.


Good comment there. It's incisive, to the point, and outclasses each of the other commenters, who rise no further in terms of intellectual depth or class than the article's author.

And thank you for the heads-up on the rescheduling.