February 07, 2011
Some Brief Impressions From the Reason Cruise
I should really be working, but I thought I'd share a few thoughts before returning to my 70-hour workweek.
Nick Gillespie was very impressive in person, witty and well-read. A better ambassador for libertarianism we couldn't hope for. Contrary to rumor, he does take off the leather jacket when swimming and dining.
Ron Bailey was tall, craggy, and extremely intelligent. There was always an interesting intellectual conversation circling around him at any free moment. On the first night at the hotel we had a very small reception, and I took the opportunity to rant to him a bit about Polywell fusion and the Cathodixx guy (Ron's take on the latter was to the effect of "if he can't get published he should forget the theory and just make money" which is pretty much what we've been telling him at TalkPolywell).
Shikha Dalmia was very attractive and gave a persuasive presentation on the underrated liberalizing "soft power" of culture, with a lovely sort of Hindi trill to her speaking voice. I'm surprised we don't see her on TV more, as telegenic and well-spoken as she is.
The Seasteading guys (Patri Friedman, James Hogan, etc) were considerably more serious than we in the audience expected -- they clearly have put a lot of work into their project and while it may not take off they certainly have their ducks in a row in terms of defining a legal and philosophical framework for the notion of independent floating city-states (which, it turns out, actually has some modern precedents). Their next challenge is to attract industry.
Matt Ridley also gave an excellent presentation on The Rational Optimist, which is on my list of the top 5 books everyone should read.
Those were the people that stuck out, though all the Reason staff were interesting -- had a great dinner conversation with Jacob Sullum, whose presentation on the insanity of liquor laws I unfortunately missed. Oh, and Matt Welch immediately brings to mind Noah Bennett from "Heroes."
Met some very interesting people besides. It's not everywhere you run into someone who can talk about Anathem, the Singularity, the multifarious intricacies of Japanese language, and Drake's equation while flipping between pictures of their scuba dive of Antarctica (including an underwater iceberg pic) and the bright orange mohawk they had a while back.
There was also a trip to the Puerto Rican governor's mansion on the cruise -- he is apparently setting about deregulating, privatizing and generally freeing the island's economy. I took pity on my wife and did not make the trip, but the consensus seemed to be he was very impressive, assuming he wasn't blowing smoke for their benefit.
An unexpected treat: pianist Hyperion Knight, apparently also a libertarian leaner, graced our informal evening receptions with his art and attended seminars when not performing professionally for the ship's passengers.
All in all, the Reason cruise was a great experience, aside from the more mundane pleasures of parasailing and undersea scooters. I definitely recommend trying to make a future Reason cruise if at all possible.
posted by Dave on 02.07.11 at 09:29 PM
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