•The first thought to cross my mind is that this past Wednesday’s Debate at Lolita Bar (after which the audience voted for the view that ObamaCare spells doom) wasn’t such a bad transition between a science-oriented and a market-oriented phase of my life, as I move from working for a science-promoting health non-profit (ACSH, which you should admire and support) to a major cable news channel well-positioned to chronicle and criticize creeping socialism, just as healthcare becomes the locus of debate about that problem.
•Speaking of mixing markets and skepticism, last weekend I read aloud a speech from Rand, and next weekend I’ll hear a speech by Randi. In one week, on Friday the 16th, I’ll bid ACSH farewell, see the libertarian documentary The Cartel (7:10 show at the Quad Cinema), then join the skeptics of Drinking Skeptically at Dewey’s Flatiron — and the next day (Saturday the 17th from 10am-6pm), I’ll see superstition-debunker James Randi and numerous likeminded speakers at NECSS (the NothEastern Conference on Science and Skepticism), then for good measure party with some NYT alums who’ll be delighted to hear I’m starting work at an esteemed cable news organization, I’m sure.
•In another science/market intersection — specifically, at the northwest corner of Fifth and 57th (very close to the French Institute, where NECSS is being held) — LeapForPatientSafety.org is organizing an anti-ObamaCare rally, at 2pm on Saturday the 17th, the same day as NECSS. If I can ever get all of these people to work as one instead of so frequently being at odds, my work here will be done.
•Speaking of protests, the fact that the Tea Party movement’s influence is being felt by the mainstream GOP is good, good news — and a Gore advisor’s comment in this article that Republicans will have to mix Tea Party appeasement (as he puts it) with Wall Street appeasement only makes it sweeter. A half-Tea-Party, half-Wall-Street party is almost exactly what I’ve always wanted the GOP to become. Indeed, the party serves little useful purpose in any other form.
•I think that goes double for libertarianism, of course, despite that recent spat I was in over whether property rights are the whole philosophy. Let’s (briefly and unsubtly) put it this way: No one can pretend that property rights-adherence isn’t how you predict what libertarians will say. We can wrap that basic abstract formula in all sorts of other highly subjective mush about “individual flourishing” and “tolerance” until the cows come home, but at the end of the day how do libertarians almost always know what other libertarians’ positions will be (in almost all cases except precisely those in which property lines are unclear)? By all using the property rights test.
Any libertarian who pretends that there’s no common underlying property-based reason that they keep unanimously opposing taxes, disliking government spending, wanting the government’s hands off your pot stash, etc., etc., etc. is lying or obfuscating for reasons not fully clear to me — but perhaps rooted in an irrational desire to avoid being mistaken for an economist. There’s not a lot left over policywise when you finish settling all the issues that libertarians settle with this property-rights rubric. And I think that’s a good thing — you don’t want people to think every issue can be solved with one simple formula, but you do want them (even the simple, uneducated ones) to have in mind some easily “portable” mental guide to right and wrong. Otherwise, all is chaos or rule by “wiser” elites who claim they know and you don’t.
•Here, I’m largely dodging all culture wars, but if anyone tries to tell you capitalism and materialism are bad for art and high culture, sling this one on them (noted by Don Boudreaux): “Believe me, my sole purpose is to make as much money as possible; for after good health it is the best thing to have.” — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
•I only just realized that the skinny libertarian yoga instructor with the bikini-displaying biz card who I once met in Stossel’s studio audience has a name I keep re-hearing not merely because it’s a common name but because she actually is a fitness celebrity — Kristin McGee — and now has a recurring role on 30 Rock as the annoyingly hot new fiancee of Tina Fey’s character’s ex. I kept getting spam e-mails about her latest workout vids and mounting fame and only gradually realized it was the same person. Welcome to New York City.
•In other TV-related news, I mentioned last month that retiring New York congressman Eric Massa described his lewd comment to an associate as a remark about “frakking,” prompting me to wonder if he was using the slang term from Battlestar Galactica. Now one of my ACSH co-workers informs me that “hydro-fracking” (pipes breaking due to massive fluid influx) has been a huge problem after recent flooding in the Northeast, and a memo to medical personnel in the area even warned that the threat of hydro-fracking looms “over New Yorkers like a sword of Damocles,” prompting one of my friends to ask if Damocles was a Caprican or a Cylon and another to theorize that hydro-fracking is Galactica-speak for sex in the shower.
And since sci-fi is the fourth leg of the Seavey philosophical table, now I’ve touched on everything. Or to put it all in a form resembling the Serenity Prayer:
Hypothetical SCI-FI-like entity, grant me…
The CONSERVATISM to accept the things I cannot change…
The PUNK intensity to change the things I can…
And the SKEPTICISM needed to tell the difference.