April 29th, 2004

Dinner with friends

I had dinner with a bunch of friends last night at a Weber Grill restaurant, a counterintuitive place where chefs use Weber grills to cook indoors. Don't try this at home, because charcoal fires give off hideous amounts of odorless and deadly carbon monoxide. They must have one powerful ventilation system since none of us passed out and died last night.

We had a special guest, Edward Hudgins, an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, and Senior Fellow and Washington director at The Objectivist Center. Ed is a charming, highly knowledgeable man, and always has his own slant on things. He has a PhD in Political Philosophy, but underplays his scholarly background, and is always thinking about ways to communicate with the American people at large.

In this respect, he reminds me a bit of Tom Wolfe, the best selling novelist, who has a doctorate in American Studies from Yale, but hardly ever mentions it.

It's possible you have seen Ed as a talking head on TV. Here is a brief bio with some links to some of his articles:

Rhyme of the day:

You'll be worse than ill
If you indoor-grill,
Unless your ventilation
Is a hurricane sensation.

Lying to protect privacy

I came into the world of Ayn Rand fandom after her famous split with Nathaniel Branden had already taken place. When I got involved, in the fall of 1969, the split was a year old.

I learned about it kind of late. Having read all the books available at the time, I was reading through the Objectivist Newsletter and then the Objectivist in chronological order. The Objectivist back issues were expensive for a high school student relying on his allowance, so I was buying a year's worth at a time, and it took me quite a while to get to the big intellectual break-up.

I never had the "child of divorced parents" trauma that a lot of Objectivists did, and the whole "choose sides" thing was a bit confusing. I was just 17 and did not guess ANYTHING about their affair, which was secret from the world but openly discussed with their spouses.

However, I did hear someone outright ask Ayn Rand about whether it was true she had had an affair with Branden. It was during a question and answer period. I think it was at Ford Hall Forum. She said no, she had not, and besides he was not her type.

Well, that "no" was a lie. It sure fooled me. I don't mind, exactly. It really wasn't my business. But I bought the lie, and thought the question had finally been answered, now that she gave a definite answer.

In Leonard Peikoff's book, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, he specifically says that it IS OKAY to lie in order to protect your privacy from snoopers.

I guess she thought so too.

Of course, once you tell me "I lie to protect my privacy," the next time you tell me anything about your private life, I am going to take it with some extra grains of salt.