You know I do this once or twice a year or all of the time in my mind; decide who I'd like to keep company with in a holodeck. There's the live version, the dead version, and the never was alive or dead version.
I'm pretty sure that after last night's episode of House, Hugh Laurie tops the one list this week or month or something. But anyway, this isn't about that. I mean, well, yes, it is, but also.
Here's my current Top Five on the dead guy list, in semi-random order:
A. François-Marie Arouet, aka Voltaire
Voltaire was a happening guy. He wasn't just part of the Enlightenment, he kind of was the enlightenment. He used a jillion pen names, and seems to have come up with them in much the same way I think of mine, meaningful yet slightly tangential. Anyway, I'm aware there's an ongoing view of how much French people didn't used to bathe, but a man who says plain truth like this to me, en francais, is worth the price of a bar of soap.
Put two men on the globe, and they will only call good, right, just, what will be good for them both. Put four, and they will only consider virtuous what suits them all: and if one of the four eats his neighbour's supper, or fights or kills him, he will certainly raise the others against him. And what is true of these four men is true of the universe.
(Mettez deux hommes sur la terre, ils n'appelleront bon, vertueux et juste, que ce qui sera bon pour eux deux. Mettez-en quatre, il n'y aura de vertueux que co qui conviendra à tous les quatre ; et si l'un des quatre mange le souper de son compagnon, ou lo bat, ou le tue, il soulève sûrement les autres. Ce que je dis de ces quatre hommes, il lo faut dire do tout l'univers.)
Being French means examining society, its contracts and your role in them. He understood that, too, pointing out that each society chooses its rules based on who its people are. What tastes good to the French does not necessarily taste good to the Germans. I've been thinking a lot about that lately, so I'd let him pour me some wine and tell me these things, and then whatever.
B. Thomas Jefferson
I'm not really into the ginger thing, like the lost dwarf, but Jefferson has to be an exception. I think it's pretty clear he knew what it was all about, when it came to women. Also, nature, liberty, and the cultivation and preparation of good food. That's sexy, my friend.
I bet Jefferson and Voltaire would have an interesting holodeck discussion of this statement:
All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.
And these two, as well:
Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.
A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned—this is the sum of good government.
C. Dean Martin
D. Carl Sagan
You can see more of that at YouTube, here.
E. James Clerk Maxwell
I know you're thinking Michael Faraday was a hotter-looking 19th century physicist, but it's my contention that Maxwell had a lot more going on where it counts. I mean, I don't even know what I mean by that, but anyway. Maxwell was Scottish. At some point in his career he started growing this manky beard and just let the thing go, all willy-nilly, but before that, he was a handsome young man.
I'd happily bore you with actual facts, but I won't, so if you are interested, you can start here for a light overview.
Basically, he invented what became modern physics. Maxwell led to Einstein, Planck, and the fictional invention of the holodeck, which is not 100% fiction anymore.
Plus, he was Scottish.