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A Question to Keep You Occupied, 8/27/12

Because I have lots to do today but don’t want you bored.

YOUR QUESTION:

You have the ability to, for one night, reanimate any two historical personages (“historical” = “not currently alive”) and have them discuss/debate a topic of your own choosing. Which two historical personages do you choose, and what subject do you have them discuss/debate?

My choice: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, on the topic of what is, and how to engage in, a just war.

Your choice?

(And please, do give it some thought and try to avoid the usual suspects; the world doesn’t need three dozen people clamoring for a debate between Jesus and Ayn Rand on any topic, as an obvious example. I thank you in advance.)

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

315 replies on “A Question to Keep You Occupied, 8/27/12”

Quick rules for the thread:

1. Thread is for answers to the question, not commentary on the choices. Comments that are not a direct response to the question will likely get Malleted once I swing back around.

2. Please don’t change the parameters of the question to include a live person; I asked for historical personages for a reason, and one reason is to avoid a whole raft of “Jesus vs. Richard Dawkins” or “Mitt Romney/Obama vs. [whomever]” bits, because that would be tiresome to deal with.

3. As the site’s recently been infested with the sort who confuse trolling with actual discourse, if someone posts an answer here I find to be a thin cover for stating their personal views in an obnoxious, trollacious way, I’ll go ahead and Mallet that, too. This will not affect the large majority of you, I am sure.

Have fun!

William Shakespeare and Bob Anderson (fight choreographer for “The Princess Bride,” among many others) on staging violence–focusing on technique, aesthetics, historical accuracy vs. theatricality, the “story of the fight.”

Thomas Edison vs. Nichola Tesla on AC vs DC for widespread electrical power delivery. (Less about the topic than me just wanting to see the sparks fly.)

Emma Goldman vs Lucy Parsons on anarchism and socialism.

I want to break one rule, sorry. I want all the signers of the Constitution reanimated to debate the cost/benefit ratio of slavery. Holding the debate today would be OK but I’d prefer it be held in Atlanta in 1866

Thomas Jefferson and Mother Theresa, on the proper place of religion in society.

Or Mother Theresa and Mark Twain, same topic.

Heck, forget the nun. Let’s just have Twain, on any topic he chooses.

Topics and debaters that spring to mind:

1. Pierre Trudeau and Jack Layton on what constitutes a just society.

2. Charles I and Oliver Cromwell on the role of the executive in the British States. I’d pick the Charles of 1649 and the Cromwell of 1658 so that they would both have experience as war-leaders and statesmen.

On reflection, Charles would probably refuse to debate Cromwell (he put up no defense at his own trial when this was a major issue) I wouldn’t mind hearing each of them give a lecture on the subject.

3. Teller (of Penn & Teller fame) and Marcel Marceau on comedy.

1) Miles Davis and Frank Zappa on the role of bandleader and general discussion on music as art
2) Admiral Horatio Nelson and Adm Chester Nimitz on naval strategy

Francisco Pizarro and Socrates.
Subject: critical commentary of the Robert Silverberg novella “Enter a soldier. Later, enter another” (Asimov’s magazine, june 1989)

1) Malcolm X and MLK on the state of inner city America, and the status of African-Americans in the big cities.

2) Horace Mann and Thomas Jefferson on the American public education system.

I’d like to hear Charles Darwin and maybe Thomas Henry Huxley discuss the effects of technology on the evolution of species. Not just man’s effect on man, but also nature via animal husbandry up through genetic manipulation.

These are all wonderful and thought-provoking.

I’d like John Lennon and Ludwig von Beethoven on the subject of rhythm and chord changes.

Genghis Khan and Alexander of Macedon on acquiring and administering Empires.

(It was probably before your time, but Steve Allen hosted a show about 20+ years ago called “Meeting of the Minds,” where he did exactly this.)

Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow on the responsibilities of journalists in the modern era.

Alternately, just reanimate them as flesh-eating zombies and toss ’em into the Fox News headquarters.

1) The Dutch East India Company and the British East India Company on the legal definition of a person.
2) Edith Piaf and Marilyn Monroe on happiness.
3) Harpo Marx and Emily Post on socially acceptable reactions to “winds of unknown providence”.
4) Hannibal and Subutai on tactics versus strategy.
5) Buddha and Jesus on identity theft (or brand recognition).

Douglas Adams and Jack Webb, on radio drama and why it is so awesome. If they wanted to take a little time to dramatize, say, a Dirk Gently story or record a Pat Novak For Hire script, I’d certainly be the last to complain.

Alternatively, Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury, on, well pretty much anything they choose, though I like to think “life in the midwest”, “writing”, “role of fiction in society”, and “Curiosity rover” would probably come up.

Definitely Galileo for one. The only question then is who else. I kind of like the idea of getting Pope Urban VIII as well, so Galileo can show him pix from Hubble and Cassini and the various extraplanetary rovers and shout the Renaissance Italian equivalent of “In your face!”

However, if I’m feeling not so childish, then I would get Galileo and Darwin together. (If we could get Newton in there, even better, but you said only two.) Both of them advanced scientific thought in massive ways, completely changing how people understood the world and opening up whole new areas of research that are the foundation for virtually everything we can do today. I pick Darwin over Newton, because Newton was really following on Galileo’s work, whereas Darwin was in a different area of scientific inquiry. It would be cool to hear if both G and D knew they were coming up with something radical, and what they thought it might mean to go public with it.

The interesting thing for me is that Galileo was tromped on in his own time, while Darwin was lauded. Whereas nowadays, there are relatively few people still stuck on a heliocentric view of the universe, but millions of people who completely ignore or elide the mountains of evidence supporting the idea of evolution.

Really, I’m not so sure I’d need them to have a conversation. I would be happy just to take them to the Smithsonian and the Museum of Natural History and show them what they accomplished. Especially Galileo. Dude got totally screwed by history. He deserves to know he was right and his jailers were wrong.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison: “Given the current technological state of weapons development and the current state of American society, should the Right to Keep and Bear Arms be infringed upon?”

Great Topic.

@ Michael Victorine: Ayn Rand would be interesting on intellectual legacy as well
@ Janet Wayne: Hear hear to Mark Twain on anything he damn well liked. The other personage? Fenimore Cooper could show up, and watch
@ Nicolas: “Enter a Soldier, Later Enter Another” was the first thing I thought of when I read Mr. Scalzi’s post. Awesome story. Pizarro holds his own, does he not?

My own humble contribution: Ben Franklin and Jonathan Edwards on secularism vs religion in the State. They did very well the first time around, but to see it live . . . . One of my greatest memories is seeing my high school English teach do up “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” on a blustery Halloween day. Black cape and everything.

For those of you saying Beethoven… I suggest googling ‘epic rap battle beethoven’ He lays the smack down on Justin Beiber. Has some language so its not work safe.

Let’s see… Socrates and Issac Asimov. Not necessarily debating any one topic and just discussing anything they want while we all sit in awe of two brilliant and entertaining minds.

I originally considered Socrates and someone like Ayn Rand or L Ron Hubbard because knowing how Socrates operated, it would be beautiful seeing one of these creators of failed ideologies get taken to town, but really it would be too short lived and not nearly as satisfying as listening to two amazing people converse.

My first thought was Emmy Noether and Sonia Kovaleskaya on whether it’s more annoying to be considered attractive or not, as a female mathematician. But I guess they would quickly agree that looks would be irrelevant if one could get rid of all the misogynist assholes, and end up quarreling on whether analysis is more or less fascinating than algebra :).

Second choice: Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde on humor in literature. Wodehouse would be a welcome addition, if a third personwere allowed.

James Madison vs. Thomas Jefferson on the appropriate role of the federal government today. Obviously, they’re going to need some tutors to bring them up to speed on the one or two changes since their time, but I think this would be quite fascinating.

John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Hayek on the origins of and solutions to the 2007 financial crisis. (Yes, I’ve seen the Econstories.tv rap battles…)

John Marshall and Earl Warren on the proper role of the courts in America.

Carl Sagan and Werner von Braun on the possibility of colonizing other worlds.

Martin Luther and Thomas Aquinas on faith vs. works in Christianity.

C.S. Lewis and George Orwell on anything they damn well pleased.

And we are reminded why Whatever is awesome.

I’ll go with Dave (@dmaddock1) with slight change: J.R.R. Tolkien and Carl Sagan on the value of religion as myth vs science as myth.

Would love to have been at ancient literature’s greatest smackdown: Moses vs the Pharaoh. Liberty vs tyranny, Jewish magic vs Egyptian magic, and winner looses plagues.

Cole Porter and George Gershwin on the current state of the Broadway musical. Discussion to be moderated by Stephen Sondheim, which I hope isn’t too severe a violation of the “no one living” rule.

I’d like to see any 2 young and talented persons that killed themselves (OD or other). I’d prefer Cobain and Jimi, but would settle for River Phoenix, Heath Ledger, James Dean, Janis Joplin.

Subject: How do you feel about the perception of you now versus what you thought you were. And during the discussion, they should also cover how they think that would be different if they were still alive.

As a bonus third, I’d like to see a 3-way talk with someone who lived a full rewarding career: Sinatra comes to mind, but Lucille Ball would be cool too.

Such a great question, so many excellent choices, and glad to see Steve Allan’s Meeting of the Minds remembered.

Socrates and Gandhi, the ethics of suicide and euthanasia.
H.L.Mencken and Irving Stone, in current American politics, is it worthwhile to vote?
Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Clements, is the experiment of the USA revealed to be a failure?
Robert Heinlein and John W. Campbell, have we passed the golden age of humanity?
Dorothy Parker and Phyllis Diller, the role of women in America.

We know achingly little about the lives of ordinary citizens in Rome. For example, there are zero books by women and only a few words from comic plays on the struggles of the slave in the pasture or the nameless brute in the street. In glaring contrast almost all the words have are from those who could (and I jest here but not by much) afford to “raise Armies” from funds out of their personal pocketbooks. I think we could gain a tremendous sense of the otherness of the Roman World by chatting up the Baker Eurysaces (his monument is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Eurysaces_the_Baker) or if we could talk with the soldier who was smashed face down (all bones broken) in the streets of Herculaneum when Vesuvius blew up on August 24th, 79 AD. (http://bit.ly/Ns8mh9). I’d like to ask him about his missing front teeth over a pale of ale, I would.

P.S. The bit.ly URL points to: http://books.google.com/books?id=ZVgQB0jDIOcC&pg=PA193&lpg=PA193&dq=soldier+at+herculaneum&source=bl&ots=-6ItvzJv-N&sig=OWeKOxvrccwT8xUr78rB9OnRdqs&hl=en#v=onepage&q=soldier%20at%20herculaneum&f=false

I’m withdrawing my suggestion at 11:32 am because one of the people is still alive – my bad! (And I did read the instructions too!) OK, John Woolman and Rachel Carson on the best way to protect the environment. And Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Richard Doll, on problem-solving.

There’s a graduate education in this thread already. I’m impressed.
My contribution is Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov discussing the shape of the future. If Ray Bradbury wanders by, that would be all right.

Robert Heinlein and Richard Feynman on the interrelationship between science and society.
John Lennon and Malcolm X on activism versus pacifism.
Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton on the nature of time.
Thomas Jefferson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on race relations.

There’s an awful lot of Oscar Wildes on the list, but here’s another
Wilde and Andy Warhol on the nature of art, and whether one should be permitted to wear a t-shirt with obscenities on it on an airplane.

Talleyrand and Woodrow Wilson Topic “Is honesty desirable in politics?” or Our Late soverign Lord Henry(VIII) Tudor and Thomas Jefferson on “The correct way to handle the relationship between church and state”

Darwin and George C. Williams to discuss group selection, while (reanimated) Stephen Jay Gould and (living) E. O. Wilson are ball-gagged and made forced stenographers.

Cantor and Ramanujan discuss infinity. Not sure what would come of it – they are wildly different types of mathematicians.

Shakespeare and Mark Twain to discuss tragic fate.

Lincoln and Marcus Aurelius to discuss duty.

Epicurus and Confucius to discuss a live well lived. They would probably talk past each other.

Audra: How about a round table? Abigail Adams, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hatshepsut, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth I, Catherine de Medici, Catherine the Great, Margaret Sanger, Susan B. Anthony and Boudicca on women and government

My personal amusement would be a debate between Hypatia of Alexandria and Melvil Dewey on the selection and curation of library materials.

Orval Faubus and all of his anti-desegregationist cronies versus the people who compelled Native American children to go to boarding schools.

Topic: how to apologize and make amends when you realize you were dead wrong.

I think I’d get too tied up in the morality of this experiment to actually decide who I’d want to reanimate. What if they’d rather not be alive again just to have it taken away in one day? If you’ve only got one day to catch up with potentially hundreds of years of civilization, do you really want to spend that just sitting in a room debating somebody? If you wanted the people to agree to the debate you might have to bring them back in some limited capacity, so they’re not aware that they’re dead and going to die again quite soon, which has morality issues of its own.

…Yep, I’m definitely missing the point. Is this an interesting angle and valid discussion point or should I not have said anything?

Hank Williams and Elvis on what they would have wanted their legacies to be
Sun Tzu and Osama Ben Laden on how to fight an overwhelming force
Einstein and Jefferson on the morality of womanizing

Mark Twain and Dr. Seuss on the use of humor as social commentary, especially when it features or is geared toward children.

Spartacus and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on violence vs. peaceful methodologies as the mechanism for social change.

Dr. Marie Curie and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin on (a) the role of women in science, (b) whether Nobel recognition makes it easier or harder to continue research in a male-dominated profession, and (c) how best to restructure the current system to encourage and support a greater influx of women into the upper levels of science.

Maria Montessori and Horace Mann on educational styles and how early education affects the development of the electorate.

Also, applause for pretty much every pairing and topic I’ve read about so far. I’m hoping that when John gets back and has some time, he’ll answer his own question!

Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Wolsey debate the role of religion in government and politics and the idea of the separation of church and state.

I would have Julius Caesar and Emperor Xuan meet to discuss maintaining Western and Eastern style empires (almost to acknowledge each others existence).

William Hazlitt and Samuel Taylor Coleridge both c.1817 on the latters Church of England apologia and abandonment of earlier principles. Hazlitt did actually savage Coleridge in several brilliant essays at this time, the poet struggled to respond.

Oscar Wilde and Dorthy Parker, talking about anything, really, but if I had to nail them down, I’d like to hear them talk about the art of a well worded insult. And while I can’t find any evidence to back this up, I feel like Eleanor Roosevelt would be a delightful addition to that particular conversation.

Napoleon and Hannibal on military strategy and tactics. Listen to half an hour of this and I think you’d be qualified to lead an army into battle. Listen for one hour and you’d win that battle.

Bach and Frank Zappa on improvisation in music (finishing with the single greatest performance in music history).

Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker, discussing the balance between humor and earnestness in art and in life. Or anything else, honestly. I’d just like to see them interact.

Archimades and Da Vinci on whatever their little genius hearts like; though I’d be interested in Archimades’ thoughts on Da Vinci’s helicopter.

What CaseyL said: Genghis and Alexander on empire, with specific addenda on infrastructure development, managing family ties, and horsemanship.

Richard Feynman and Alan Turing, discussing nanotechnology. And if we’re allowed to bend the rules a bit, I’d like to have the two of them address questions posed by 3 moderators, namely K. Eric Drexler, Greg Bear, and Neal Stephenson.

Lenny Bruce and George Carlin. I don’t care what they talk about. I’ll make popcorn!
Marshall McLuhan and Hunter Thompson on media and journalism.
(Some of the suggestions above are absolutely BRILLIANT!)

Niccolo Machiavelli and Thomas Jefferson on hagiography, the applicability of modern interpretations of historical “direction,” and the divergence of rule vs autonomy.

Lincoln v Douglas on any topic just to listen. Same for Jefferson v Adams who would always find something to disagree on. Or, going lowbrow, Gilda Radner and Phil Hartman on how to fix SNL.

Charles Darwin and Pjotr Kropotkin on what drives evolution, individual or collective struggle, and whether it’s even a meaningful dichotomy.

Oh my…tough question.
Gandhi and Andrew Jackson, on the role of colonialism/national expansion.

Carl Sagan and Da Vinci, on…really, just about anything.

Marie Curie and Margaret Meade on the challenges of women in science and popular culture (Sally Ride would be a good third for that).

Henry Ford and Charles Dickens on the merits of mechanized business practice.

Several other fun, interersting pairings have already been suggested: Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde, and Mark Twain could probably pair with just about anyone and be worth the effort.

Helen Gurley-Brown (the longstanding editor of Cosmoplitan magazine and author of “Sex and the Single Girl”, who tragically died last week) and John Calvin, on the subject of sex. I expect this would end with Calvin becoming more and more outraged until finally re-expiring in an apoplectic fit. (This would work with Helen G-B and pretty much any other old-time Bible-thumper).

Bonus addition if we could have three people: add in Eleanor of Aquitaine!

Julia Child and Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin on how to prepare a dinner party for a group of people with different palates (ie gourmands and culinary scaredy cats).

1963 John Lennon and 1980 John Lennon discussing songwriting.

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison on modern technology and where they might see it go in the future.

Raymond Chandler and Richard S. Prather debating Serious and Comic content in detective stories.

E.E. Smith and Robert Heinlein on super-science vs. hard science as storytelling devices

Rex Stout and Arthur Conan Doyle on writing distinctive characters, or on how to limit the knowledge of POV characters to sustain mystery in a novel.

(With a side topic of how best to sustain a series.)

— Steve

Johannes Gutenberg and Henry Ford about optimization of work processes, as well as output quality vs. production speed. Maybe Ford could convince Gutenberg that his first business plan hadn’t been completely bad (mass production of mirrors with the processes split into simple tasks).

Nikila Tesla and James Cash Penny on the importance of[ or lack thereof] selling jewelry to consumers. I understand that the sight of a woman wearing jewelry repulsed Tesla. Just my image of a fruitful debate. Yeah, i might have a sick sense of humor.

Kassia and Hildegarde of Bingen to discuss the place of women in Christian religious music. It is unfortunately likely that they don’t have a language in common, but since this is about wishful thinking let’s have them able to speak modern english too.

Both are women who wrote significant early Christian music, Kassia in Constantinople around 800AD and Hildegarde in Bingen around 1200AD. It is possible but unlikely that Hildegarde knew of Kassia. They were astonishingly smart women who wrote on philosophical topics as well as music and both pushed the boundaries of what they could do at the time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kassia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hildegard_of_Bingen

The bonus of being able to interrogate them for details of where and when they lived would be considerable.

Since we’re talking about historical figures and looking backwards, it would possibly be sensible to listen to historians from ancient times. That way we get the maximum benefit of their insights and can learn things that they either didn’t write down or we lost the records. So Herodotus (Greece, 500BC) and Sima Qian (China, 150BC) would no doubt be fascinating, especially as they argued about which was the real empire and whose view of what history-the-discipline is, is more useful. I suspect they would also greatly enjoy talking to each other as they were trying to do fairly similar things in very different environments. And both would probably be very, very grumpy at later generations lack of care for important documents.

Again, they didn’t have a language in common so let’s pretend they also speak modern english (even though the cultural assumptions embedded in the language, and the learning required to understand modern concepts would change their worldviews immeasurably. Just teaching them about the language used by modern historians would blow their minds…).

I thought of another one today while I was at work:

Molly Ivins and Dorothy Parker, on the philosophical implications of the Groucho Marx quote “I would never belong to any group that would have me as a member”.

Will Rogers and Molly Ivins on politics (where we would all be ROTFLMAO)
Stan Rogers and Kate Bush on folk singing (hopefully with examples)
Mr. Rogers and Dr. Seuss on teaching children empathy and ethics
(sorry, I was into the second pair when I realized I had a recurring theme going…)

Thomas Jefferson and Antonin Scalia on the “originalist” interpretation of the US Constitution.

Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet on the required nature of the noir hero.

Susan B Anthony and Sally Ride on women’s role in society.

Charles Schultz and Bill Waterson on cartoon humor for adults and what is the difference between what is suitable for adults and what is suitable for children.

Bowdler and Sendack on the value of (or lack there of) of censorship for childrens literature.

Here is an addendum to what I wrote earlier. Da Vinci and Monet: is Warhol’s “Soup Cans” art?

Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. Music, of course. That would probably be cool.

My wife just suggested Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy debating the Vietnam War.

My suggestion, Abraham Lincoln and Confucius debating the importance of modern governments to their societies.

John Calvin vs Germaine Greer on the role of women (admittedly the main attraction of this one is the headsplosions)
Yeshua bin Yosef vs Alexander of Macedon on being the son of god.
A velociraptor vs a dodo on species extinction (assuming that the resurrection machine also grants them human-like intelligence and a common language).
Ghandi vs Ghengis on “what is best in life?”
Nietzsche vs John Calvin on free will vs. divine will.
Mad Jack Churchill vs Sir Isaac Brock on being a badass.

@ Fletcher: Awesome call on bringing in Jack Churchill. The guy was unbelievable. Forget having him argue with someone, I want to talk to him myself.

@ Scott: Yeah, I had trouble finding an appropriate badass to pair him with; Sir Isaac Brock is pretty crazy fearless, but I’m sure someone could name a more badass badass. Chuck Norris doesn’t count on account of being a) alive and b) a washed-up hasbeen whose reputation is overinflated by Internet fanboys.

1) Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton and Gertrude Bell on the Middle East (to be attended by Presidents Obama and Putin, Prime Ministers Cameron and Netanyahu, and any other heads of state who care to attend).

2) (Bending the rules) Sir Isaac Newton, Richard Feynman, and Stephen Hawking on physics.

3) Samuel Pepys and Mark Twain on anything they want to talk about. And I’d really like to be invited to the H.L. Mencken/Hunter S. Thompson dinner.

Thoreau & Wittgenstein on any of the following:
The self and society. Corporal punishment in primary education. Engineering & design.

@htom – “OK, who died that I thought was Hal Holbrook?”

Mark Felt?

Jeremiah (author of Lamentations) and Jesus on “modern Israel: Yahweh’s reward or Allah’s punishment?”. Jeremiah was a big fan of the “god is punishing us for being sinful” approach to disaster, while Jesus is more into peace, love and mung beans. Both are influential prophets of all the Abrahamic religions that followed them.

I like the idea of putting Jesus in the position of being both the new prophet who overwrote chunks on the old religion, and the old prophet being overwritten by the new one (Mohammed), while in theory having no real horse in the race (jews vs islamists). Hearing Jeremiah on the role of institutionalised religion would be interesting (he was one of the early Abrahamic enthusiasts for the primacy of an individual relationship with god) and what he has to say on the idea of using military force to contest god’s will would be interesting.

(note that the above is written as though I accept the existence and claimed actions of two possibly fictional characters as real when that’s not the case. But putting in all the caveats made the paragraph three times as long and even more unreadable)

The one thought that seems to be missing from many of the posts is the idea of a ‘debate’. To me, that suggests two individuals who hold opposing (or at least perpendicular) views. While I have no doubt that many fascinating discussions would result from these talks (and I would love to attend any of them), I find myself thinking of something like:

J.S. Bach (with his emphasis on formality) and W.A. Mozart (a freer musical spirit) debating the merits of the Black Eyed Peas
L. Olivier (Have you ever tried acting, dear boy?) vs M. Brando (method man) debating ‘reality’ television performers

though I find myself somewhat stymied because virtually all of the historical personages I’d be interested in seeing reanimated have generally similar viewpoints.

The wealthiest person and the smartest person of the year 2200 AD* on what could’ve been done better and how in the 21st century.

* I hasten to point out that neither are likely alive right now and both will almost certainly make it into the history books.

Hendrick Van Loon and Steve Allen, on which of them did a better job with this topic.
(Suggested point of debate: Why do all the famous women of history look like Jayne Meadows?)

Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller, Steve Allen, Groucho Marx, Bob Hope, George Carlin, John Belushi, Milton Berle, George Burns, Graham Chapman, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore on Comedy – to be moderated & guided by Johnny Carson with occasional laughter and comments from Ed McMahon.

I’ve been around professional funny people when they start talking comedy – they cannot not riffing & make jokes. This would be true ROFLMAO material, as well as food for thought on the nature of what is funny & why.

I totally love this thread – thank you so much John for the carry-in feast for thought. I totally heart with a hearty heartness TheMadLibrarian’s epic suggestion, & would pay good money to listen & take notes at ULTRAGOTHA’s talk between the two 9th century ladies, being a historical textile geek myownself.

Freud and Rousseau on human nature.
Karl Marx and Martin Luther King Jr on the place of religion in oppression. (I would pay so much money to see that one.)

So much awesomeness: I vote Christopher Hitchens and Mark Twain, discussing the modern political landscape and whether or not it is more toxic than that of years past.

And by the way, when you think someone is dead, but they are still alive, that’s a phenomenon called “premorse”.

Bert Jansch, Davy Graham, John Martyn, Syd Barrett, Alexis Korner, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny, Jackson C. Frank on 1960’s London, in particular the Soho after hours folk/blues/jazz/psychedelia scenes. Hosted by John Peel, and scheduled to run well into the night.

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