Now, it just so happens that tonight’s the debate — and tomorrow’s the airing of that episode of Stossel, which is about Ayn Rand. Watch Fox Business Network tomorrow, Thur., at 8pm Eastern or when it’s repeated Friday at 10 Eastern if you want to see me ask a question from the audience about Rand’s excessively anti-altruistic position — though Andrew Corsello of GQ e-mails to say that he knows I’m still a Rand-lover at heart.
Gerard Perry, by contrast, e-mails to ask if being in the Stossel audience means I have an opinion on the debate raging at Reason.com over whether Stossel should even have a studio audience (Stossel posted an item saying he’s not so sure, but I won’t take it personally — maybe it was a combination of the spirited Young Communist League members in the audience and the confusing instructions the poor communists were given about when it was OK to jeer and boo).
I guess I’m pro-audience, since without the Stossel audience I wouldn’t be on TV tomorrow flashing a Vulcan hand salute as a shout-out to Ali Kokmen — nor am I confident we would be debating deli tonight, for that matter, since I might not have found a second deli expert. G-d works in mysterious ways. You never know when one block away may be the person who will be your salvation or undoing.
Clearly, I’m leaning pro-audience for selfish reasons here, though, and as an Aristotle passage I read this week notes, we are always bad at being objective judges of our own cases. Rand claims that Aristotle was her sole significant philosophical influence (actually, she sounds more like capitalist anti-utilitarian Immanuel Kant sometimes, but she wouldn’t want to hear that), but she definitely didn’t absorb Aristotle’s warning about selfishness and egotism being impediments to objective rationality. Quite the contrary, which is why I have never quite been an Objectivist, except for about the duration of one lunch period at Brown, and that was long enough to permanently alienate the altruistically-inclined Zeba Kimmel (one of my fellow comedy writers), who was so horrified to hear me entertaining anti-altruism arguments that he not only avoided me thereafter, he recommended that other people avoid me and avoid people who knew me. I remained part of the broader fabric of society for the most part, though.
One admitted advantage of outsize egos: they inspired Carly Simon’s song “You’re So Vain,” and I’m amused to see that David Bowie and backmasking make appearances in the Wiki-assembled clues to the real meaning of the song. Howard Stern also makes a cameo as virtually the only guy who knows who really inspired the song. Is it mere coincidence he was a Libertarian candidate for governor of New York? Yes. Yes it is.
P.S. Finally, let me note that Carly Simon is all feminine and emotive and stuff but definitely did the best James Bond theme.