The first night at FreedomFest 2018

The first night at FreedomFest 2018 July 12, 2018


The Paris, etc.
Some academics dream of lecturing at Oxford or Harvard. (I’ve actually done both, on a very small scale and in a very insignificant way.) But I’m about to realize my own personal academic dream yet AGAIN. I’ll be speaking on the Vegas Strip!


Well, we’re finally in Las Vegas for FreedomFest 2018.


In fact, we’re just back from a smallish private dinner (there were about twenty of us) including such folks as John Mackay, Michael Shermer, Mark Skousen, Daniele StruppaDeirdre McCloskey, Grover NorquistSteve Forbes, Lisa SparksLarry Elder, Doug Casey, and George Will.


Needless to say, the conversation was fascinating and spirited.


And, for those who have followed George Will at all closely, it’s scarcely surprising that part of the conversation turned to baseball.  Who, in Will’s opinion, is the greatest baseball player of all time?  (“That’s not even close.  Babe Ruth.”)  Who is the best current player?  (“Mike Trout.”)  What’s his favorite baseball story?  This is the one he told:  A hotshot young pitcher was facing the great Rogers Hornsby in the early 1920s, a period in which, for several years, Hornsby consistently batted about .400.  The pitcher had thrown three times to Hornsby, and each time he believed that he had thrown a strike.  Every time, though, the umpire had called a ball.  Exasperated, the pitcher yelled at the umpire:  “Those were strikes!”  The umpire stood up, calmly removed his facemask, and replied, “Young man, when you throw a strike, Mr. Hornsby will tell you.”


I’ve had some fascinating conversations elsewhere at the conference, too.  And one that was distinctly weird:  An apparently quite wealthy entrepreneur, discovering that I do Islamic studies, asked me whether I was aware that the Qur’an had originally been written in Latin.  I replied that, no, it hadn’t been written in Latin.  Ah, but this fellow has actually seen the original Latin manuscript! He isn’t, he told me, much of a historian — you could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather when I heard that self-disclosure! — but he nonetheless pointed out to me that Latin was the language of intellectuals.  So the Qur’an was written in Latin and then, after considerable fine-tuning, it was translated into Arabic, because that was the language of stupid people.  I confess that I was feeling pretty stupid myself, or stupefied; I literally didn’t know how to react.  He is, apparently, a friend of a friend, and I was wondering just how blunt to be with him when, mercifully, somebody called him away and I no longer had a chance (or an obligation) to reply.  Dang.


Posted from Las Vegas, Nevada



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