For the Al: Russ Roberts

October 31, 2017

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(Guest Post by Jason Bedrick)

One of the underlying themes in awarding The Al Copeland Humanitarian Award, particularly in recent years, has been highlighting a virtue or norm that our present society lacks but desperately needs. As Jay wrote, last year’s winner (Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds) demonstrated the “type of courage in the face of illiberalism that we need more of in these times.” In 2015, the winner (Ken M) “reveal[ed] the ridiculousness of people trying to change the world by arguing with people on the internet.”

This year’s nominees have been no exception. Jay’s nominees appear to be using humor and pop culture to restore some sense of morality in a nihilistic age. Greg’s nominee made great sacrifices to honor the truth and expose both the evil of totalitarianism and the corruption of our ruling class. And Matt’s nominee literally saved the world by refusing to follow orders.

My nominee is economist Russ Roberts of the Hoover Institution, host of the popular EconTalk podcast and author of numerous books including How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life. He didn’t save the world (so far as I know), but he exemplifies many virtues and habits that the world needs today.

In an age when talking heads, radio shock jocks, and Twitter twits confidently bloviate about every matter under the sun, and in which self-proclaimed “experts” and technocrats believe they can run your life better than you can, Roberts demonstrates personal and epistemic humility.

In an era in which TV debates consist primarily of shouting over each other while trading insults, and in which college students frequently shout down or even assault speakers with whom they disagree, Roberts consistently engages in civil and reasoned discourse.

In a time when our attention spans seem to be precipitously shortening, when big ideas are expected to be expressed in 140 characters, when “tl;dr” is a supposedly valid excuse for expressing an opinion about something one hasn’t even bothered to read first, Roberts delivers each week a master class in the art of the substantive interview — getting past the talking points’ sizzle and down to the meat of the matter.

In a generation in which social-media navel-gazing has become our nation’s pastime, self-esteem is unearned, and the number of Twitter followers passes as a measure of achievement and influence, Roberts reminds us of Adam Smith’s wise counsel: it is not enough to be loved, we must also strive to be lovely.

And in moment in which we are obsessed with politics and the political has invaded every aspect of our lives, Roberts turns his — and our — attention to the infinitely diverse and fascinating things in this world that we inhabit.

If you don’t already subscribe to his podcast, do yourself a favor and do so right now. (Go ahead, we’ll wait.) Recent topics have included meditation and mindfulness, technological advances and their effect on our lives and culture, income inequality, philanthropy, self-driving cars, the evolution of language, internet bullying, permissionless innovation, and more. He also draws the highest-quality guests, including (to cite a few well-known recent guests in no particular order) John McWhorter, Megan McArdle, Michael Munger, Nassim Taleb, Tyler Cowen, Sally Satel, Martha Nussbaum, Cass Sunstein and many more. He regularly invites guests with whom he disagrees and yet he is never disagreeable. He never asks “gotcha” questions, talks over his guest, or tries to score cheap political points. Instead, he asks insightful questions and gives his guests the space to make their case, pushing back at times but always thoughtfully and respectfully.

Russ Roberts is the teacher and role model we need now. He deserves The Al.

I’ll leave you with two videos he co-created — raps battle between economists John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek:


Remy for The Al Copeland Humanitarian Award

October 16, 2016

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(Guest Post by Jason Bedrick)

If you’ve never heard of Remy Munasifi (a.k.a. GoRemy), I feel sorry for you for two reasons: first, because you have until now been deprived of his comedic genius, and second, because you will get no work done for the rest of the day as you cycle through hilarious music video after even more hilarious music video.

Remy deserves to win the 2016 Al Copeland Humanitarian Award because, like previous winner “Weird Al” Yankovic, he has improved the human condition “by making us laugh at the the absurdity of many who think highly of themselves,” whether corrupt or vacuous politicians, incompetent or abusive government bureaucrats, clueless celebrities, inane media outlets, smug activists or Petty Little Dictators of all stripes.

If ever there were a year when we needed more of that, it’s 2016.

Remy is a thirty-something, Arab-American comedian who, like Weird Al, satirizes society and culture through parody music videos. His first video to go viral was his 2009 gangsta-rap parody of the lily-white “Whole Foods” culture of the D.C.-suburb, Arlington, Virginia–a video that racked up more than 300,000 views in one day and has now been seen more than 2.3 million times. His series of videos about Arab culture are even more popular–his video “Saudis in Audis” has more than 9.5 million views. However, much of Remy’s work is more explicitly political, although not partisan, particularly the videos he has produced for the libertarian ReasonTV.

For example, Remy’s “Cough Drops-The Mandate” mocks both Republicans and Democrats for the different ways in which they use government to intrude on our lives, and suggests to the viewer that perhaps we can solve many of our problems without getting the government involved.

But politicians and bureaucrats aren’t the only targets of his satire. Remy brutally mocks people who think they are saving the world on Twitter in “I Need a Hashtag!”:

Remy strikes a similar chord in “How to React to Tragedy.” In recent years, but particularly in 2016, we’ve seen a disturbing trend in the wake of tragedies as people rush to exploit them for their own political ends. Remy doesn’t spare either side:

Remy’s videos are striking not only for their clever wordplay and witty pop-culture allusions, but also for offering a taste of the highest form of social criticism. As the great political theorist Michael Walzer described in his seminal work Interpretation and Social Criticism, there are different types of social critics. The type favored in academia idealizes “radical detachment,” the social critic as “dispassionate stranger,” whose freedom from any attachment to the people whom he criticizes allows him the necessary emotional distance to speak painful but necessary truths. This form of criticism can be beneficial, but it can also lead the critic to despise the people whom he is criticizing, and they know it. That reduces the effectiveness of the critic, sometimes reducing the criticism to mere virtue signaling.

Another model is what Walzer calls the “connected critic,” who stands somewhat apart from the community and can therefore see it in ways that the masses often do not, but who is nevertheless “one of us.” As Walzer writes:

Perhaps he has traveled and studied abroad, but his appeal is to local or localized principles; if he has picked up new ideas on his travels, he tries to connect them to the local culture, building on his own intimate knowledge; he is not intellectually detached. Nor is he emotionally detached; he doesn’t wish the natives well, he seeks the success of their common enterprise.

As with blacks and Jews in America, Remy’s status as a native-born American-Arab in the post-9/11 world makes him an insider-outsider, giving him a perspective that is ripe for both comedy and social criticism. He combines them well. His comedy is biting, but not mean-spirited. His videos contain sharp indictments of the American government and society more generally, but you can sense in them a deep love for the ideals of America. He is not a Chomskyite social critic condemning America as irredeemably corrupt and founded upon the wrong values, but rather a connected critic, in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., calling on America to live up to its highest ideals.

Take, for example, “Why They Fought,” in which Remy contrasts the spirit of liberty for which American soldiers have fought and died against today’s domestic surveillance, airport security theater, pervasive and complex taxes, and mountains of micromanaging regulations (which are recurring themes, as the previous links attest).

 

As an Arab-American, he’s also an insider-outsider in relation to Arab society and culture. His satirical takes on Arab culture–from a hip-hop paean to hummus to an ode to grape leaves set to the tune of a Nirvana classic–are humorous and even loving. However, he satirizes institutions like arranged marriage, laws against women driving, niqabs, morality police, etc.–topics that many comedians fear to touch lest they be labeled a racist or Islamophobe. Coming from someone else, these critiques may have been seen as mean-spirited and fallen on deaf ears, but Remy has a following among people with Arab heritage. He even toured with other Arab-American comedians in the “Axis of Evil” tour as his alter ego, Habib Adbul Habib, who is “Baghdad’s worst comedian.”

 

Whether satirizing Arab or American culture, this Arab-American’s comedy holds up a mirror that exposes our worst selves but also calls on us to be our best selves. He is the comedian and social critic that America needs and deserves right now. Remy may not need to win The Al, but he certainly deserves it.

 *          *          *          *          *

BONUS MATERIAL. Here are a couple of Remy’s education-themed music videos that JayBlog readers will enjoy:

“Straight Outta Homeroom” on the absurdity of “zero tolerance” policies (think Pop Tart guns):

“Students United (Tuition Protest Song)” on clueless college students who can’t understand why the tuition at their fully loaded, theme-park campus is so expensive:

 


And “The Al” Goes to…

October 31, 2010

In keeping with our tradition on JPGB, Halloween is the time to announce the winner of the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award.  “The Al” is meant to honor a person who has made a significant contribution to improving the human condition.

The criteria of the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award can be summarized by quoting our original blog post in which we sang the praises of Al Copeland and all that he did for humanity:

Al Copeland may not have done the most to benefit humanity, but he certainly did more than many people who receive such awards.  Chicago gave Bill Ayers their Citizen of the Year award in 1997.  And the Nobel Peace Prize has too often gone to a motley crew including unrepentant terrorist, Yassir Arafat, and fictional autobiography writer, Rigoberta Menchu.   Local humanitarian awards tend to go to hack politicians or community activists.  From all these award recipients you might think that a humanitarian was someone who stopped throwing bombs… or who you hoped would picket, tax, regulate, or imprison someone else.

Al Copeland never threatened to bomb, picket, tax, regulate, or imprison anyone.  By that standard alone he would be much more of a humanitarian.  But Al Copeland did even more — he gave us spicy chicken.”

Last year’s winner was Debrilla M. Ratchford, who significantly improved the human condition by inventing the rollerbag, beating out Steve Henson, who gave us ranch dressing,  Fasi Zaka, who ridiculed the Taliban,  Ralp Teetor, who invented cruise control, and Mary Quant, who popularized the miniskirt.

This year the nominees were The Most Interesting Man in the World, the fictional spokesman for Dos Equis and model of masculine virtue, Stan Honey, the inventor of the yellow first down line in TV football broadcasts, Herbert Dow, the founder of Dow Chemical and subverter of a German chemicals cartel, Wim Nottroth, the man who resisted Rotterdam police efforts to destroy a mural that read “Thou Shall Not Kill” following the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamic extremist, and Marion Donovan and Victor Mills, the developers of the disposable diaper.

These are all worthy nominees.  They all meet the minimum requirements in that none of them threatened to bomb, picket, tax, regulate, or imprison anyone.  And they all have done something to significantly improve the human condition.  But I think we can rule out The Most Interesting Man because I’m not comfortable with the idea of giving the award to a fictional person.  I also think we can rule out Herbert Dow because I’m not sure that he did anything beyond what almost all entrepreneurs have to do — overcome the government-assisted cartels of existing businesses to prevent the entry of new competitors.

Stan Honey’s yellow first down line is an amazing improvement for watching football on TV, but what about those who see the game in the stadium?  I keep expecting there to be a yellow line on the field, which decreases my pleasure from watching the game in person.  As soon as Stan Honey figures out how to install yellow lights to form lines in the turf, I’ll be sure to give him The Al, but until then he will have to be satisfied with a nomination.

Marion Donovan and Victor Mills greatly improved my life and the life of countless million with the invention of the disposable diaper.  I should mention that in addition to their greater convenience, better function, and lower cost, disposable diapers may even be better for the environment.

All of this makes for a compelling case to award The Al to Donovan and Mills.  But there is an even more compelling case to give The Al to Wim Nottroth.  All of the consumer items that improve our lives, whether spicy chicken, roller-bags, or disposable diapers, depend on the existence of liberty for people to choose how they live, including what they make, what they buy, and what they believe.  If the forces of tyranny that Wim Nottroth resisted prevail, we will eventually lose the liberty to enjoy these other benefits.

The tyranny Nottroth directly resisted was the kowtowing of Western governments to radical Muslims who found it offensive to say “Thou Shall not Kill” in the aftermath of the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamic fascist who disliked a film made by van Gogh criticizing Islam. If we allow these restrictions on free speech we are surrendering our liberty bit by bit.

The only way we lose our liberty completely is if we surrender it to the new wave of fascists.  Contrary to the gloomy claims of defeatists during the Cold War and today, freedom is not at a disadvantage in a struggle with tyranny.  Freedom does not make us weaker; it makes us much stronger.  Freedom makes us richer, which gives us the material advantages to defeat the enemies of freedom.  Freedom improves the quality of our information and decision-making.  Under tyranny everyone distorts information to fit the wishes of the tyrants for fear of punishment.  And no one scrutinizes the quality of decision-making.  The competitive market of ideas and the freedom to critique decisions improves the their quality in free societies.

As long as we maintain our appreciation for freedom and our desire to struggle for it, both at home and abroad, we are sure to win.  The problem is that it is all too easy forget how wonderful our freedom is relative to the tyranny that exists in many other places.  And it is an even greater danger for us to tire of having to struggle to preserve it, both at home and abroad.  That struggle never ends.  When the challenge from Nazis faded, the threat from the Soviets rose, and when that crumbled the danger has come from radical Islam.  And when we defeat them, as I am confident we eventually will, some other threat will take its place.

There will always be people who prefer to tell other people how to live — what you can say, what you can buy, what you can sell, with whom you can sleep, and what you can think.  In fact, there is nothing natural about freedom.  It’s natural to want your own freedom, but it is equally natural to want to tell everyone else what to do.  Respecting other people’s freedom is something that is acquired and sustained, not something with which we are born.

Clearly some government officials in The Netherlands as well as in other places in the free world are failing to teach and sustain the love of freedom.  They tire of the struggle to preserve freedom and look for compromises with tyrants.  Wim Nottroth resisted his government’s unacceptable surrender to tyranny.  He reminded us how free speech is worth fighting for, even in the face of murderous thugs and their lackey government enablers.  For that he has significantly improved the human condition and is most worthy of this year’s Al Copeland Humanitarian Award.


Donovan and Mills for Al Copeland Humanitarians of the Year

October 6, 2010

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

It’s taken me a week to think of it, but I have come up with what I believe is the ultimate nominee for the Al Copeland Humanitarian of the Year award this year. Or rather, two nominees.

Yes, the most interesting man in the world is . . . very interesting! I love the ads, but does he really represent the spirit of “The Al”? He certainly has done a lot of things – but what has he actually accomplished?

I propose that the true spirit of “The Al” is what you find inside . . . diapers.

Marion Donovan and Victor Mills’ diapers, to be exact.

Just spend a moment thinking about what life was like during the endless centuries when a diaper was nothing but a piece of cloth – one you had to wash and reuse, because manufactured goods couldn’t yet be made cheap enough for disposability. Contemplate, for a moment (but no longer than that!) how many diapers were changed from the first human beings technologically sophisticated enough to make clothing down through the middle of the twentieth century – and what was involved in changing each and every one of those diapers.

When Martin Luther wanted to illustrate the point that joyfully worshipping God was not a special activity that you did by going to church or performing other “religious works,” but something that had to infuse every single solitary human activity, even the most unpleasant, he was shrewd to choose diaper changing as an example:

Now observe that when … our natural reason … takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labour at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? O you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful. carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.”

He went on to focus on diaper-changing as the representative activity encompassing all these unpleasant duties. Luther knew that by sticking up for the honor of the married estate, he was sticking up for getting poop on your hands. Daily.

But having a family doesn’t mean daily poop-scrubbing anymore.

Born in 1917, Donovan spent much of her childhood hanging around the Ft. Wayne factory run by her father and uncle. They were inventors in their own right – having invented, among other things, an industrial lathe for making automotive gears and gun barrels – and she absorbed their entrepreneurial spirit.

Her first invention was a waterproof diaper cover, made out of a shower curtain, to contain the small leaks that were endemic to diapers in the pre-Donovan era. Rubber baby pants were already on the market, but they weren’t widely used because they caused diaper rash and pinched the skin. The plastic “changing pads” we use today are a distant descendant of Donovan’s innovation.

For good measure, she put snaps on her diaper cover instead of using safety pins, which at the time were the universal fastening technology in the diaper sector. Today we use velcro, but the original quantum leap away from the use of dangerous and labor-intensive pins was Donovan’s.

None of the big manufacturers would even consider marketing her invention, so she went into business for herself. Her product was an overnight success, debuting at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1949. After two years she sold it to one of those super-smart manufacturing companies that had been too dumb to give her the time of day back when it would have counted.

Like any good entrepreneur, she didn’t rest on her laurels but plowed her success into the next innovaiton – this time, disposable diapers. The challenge was significant; she needed to make the interior out of paper (so it would be cheap enough to manufacture in large numbers) but make it durable and absorbant.

She produced what she thought was a workable solution, but once again she couldn’t get the manufacturers interested. They were already working on the same idea – and Victor Mills, a chemical engineer at Proctor & Gamble, had a better solution than hers. (Those are the breaks! “The Al” celebrates the tough life of entrepreneurial struggle.)

 In 1956, P&G had acquired a new paper pulp plant, and it asked Mills and his team what they could do with it. Lots of companies were working on disposable diapers, but nobody had solved the problem yet. Mills, a grandfather at the time, had a pretty strongly vested interest in coming up with a solution. And the new plant yeilded just enough durability and absorbancy to solve the problem. Using his grandchild to test the prototypes, Mills developed the disposable diaper that ultimately became Pampers in 1961.

Well earned

So if you have kids, thank Donovan and Mills for their contribution to your well-being – and vote for them for Al Copeland Humanitarians of the Year.

HT Thomas Frey, Women Inventers and Chemical Engineering World for images, Famous Women Inventors and Jon Marmor for info


Nominees for the 2010 Al Copeland Humanitarian Award

September 21, 2010

It’s time again to consider nominees for the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award.  The award is meant to honor a person who has made a significant contribution to improving the human condition.

The criteria of the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award can be summarized by quoting our original blog post in which we sang the praises of Al Copeland and all that he did for humanity:

Al Copeland may not have done the most to benefit humanity, but he certainly did more than many people who receive such awards.  Chicago gave Bill Ayers their Citizen of the Year award in 1997.  And the Nobel Peace Prize has too often gone to a motley crew including unrepentant terrorist, Yassir Arafat, and fictional autobiography writer, Rigoberta Menchu.   Local humanitarian awards tend to go to hack politicians or community activists.  From all these award recipients you might think that a humanitarian was someone who stopped throwing bombs… or who you hoped would picket, tax, regulate, or imprison someone else.

Al Copeland never threatened to bomb, picket, tax, regulate, or imprison anyone.  By that standard alone he would be much more of a humanitarian.  But Al Copeland did even more — he gave us spicy chicken.”

Last year’s winner was Debrilla M. Ratchford, who significantly improved the human condition by inventing the rollerbag, beating out Steve Henson, who gave us ranch dressing,  Fasi Zaka, who ridiculed the Taliban,  Ralp Teetor, who invented cruise control, and Mary Quant, who popularized the miniskirt.

This year I would like to nominate The Most Interesting Man in the World.

The Most Interesting Man has improved the human condition by modeling “the good life.”  In an age that lionizes anti-heroes, slackers, and losers, it is nice to be reminded of what masculine virtue can look like (even if Harvey Mansfield would find that redundant).

Yes, The Most Interesting Man is fictional, but the award is for a “person,” which I believe could include a fictional person.  In the past we have focused on entrepreneurs as nominees for the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award, with the purpose of emphasizing how inventors and business people can improve the human condition much more than the politicians and activists who more typically receive such awards.

But I think we should expand our set to include the idea of a person.  The creation of that idea — whoever developed the ad campaign — could be at least as important for improving the human condition as the creation of a business or product.

The floor is now open for other nominations.


Adios to An American Legend

January 18, 2010
 
Another giant has fallen.  Glen Bell, the founder of Taco Bell, passed away yesterday at the age of 86
 
After serving in World War II, including fighting in the battles of Guadalcanal and Guam, Glen Bell returned to southern California to operate a series of hot dog stands.  He then graduated to taco stands, eventually launching Taco Bell in 1962 and then selling the franchised chain to Pepsico in 1978 from which it was ultimately spun out as part of Yum Brands.
 
Bell’s great innovation was the development of the hard-shelled pre-fried tortilla shell.  By cooking the shell in advance in its curved shape, stuffing the taco with ingredients could be mass-produced. 
 
Like Al Copeland, Glen Bell was a great humanitarian.  He’s not a great humanitarian because he served in World War II, or that he remained married for 54 years, or that he created Bell Gardens as a model farm for teaching “the importance of agriculture and how to preserve our natural resource.”  No, Glen Bell was a great humanitarian because he developed a company that delivers a tasty and very inexpensive food that millions upon millions of people have enjoyed.  As I’ve said before, humanitarians are people who actually do things to improve the human condition, such as offering tasty tacos, rather than the blowhard politician, activist, or former terrorist who more typically receives such honors.
 
If you don’t believe me that Taco Bell offers something that improves the human condition check out this blog post from last year by a Taco Bell enthusiast commenting on Glen Bell’s “recipes” for success:
 
#36) Control your growth or it will control you.

If there were a Taco Bell everywhere Taco Bell consumers wanted a Taco Bell, there would be Taco Bells everywhere. All retail space would be occupied by Taco Bell because all matter would be made up of Taco Bell, and the only thought would be Taco Bell because the entire universe, all of existence, would only be Taco Bell. So yeah, for the sake of life on Earth, it’s probably best that Taco Bell’s growth be controlled. Not for the sake of me getting some goddamned Taco Bell in Brooklyn, though.


Debrilla M. Ratchford — Winner of the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award

October 30, 2009

We had several excellent nominees this year for the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award.  Each one of them has made a significant contribution to improving the human condition.  Steve Henson gave us ranch dressing,  Fasi Zaka ridiculed the Taliban,  Ralp Teetor invented cruise control, and Mary Quant popularized the miniskirt.  But this year’s winner is Debrilla M. Ratchford, the inventor of the rollerbag.

Ms. Ratchford was a flight attendant who realized that if you attached wheels and a handle to a suitcase, it would be much easier to transport baggage through airports.  She obtained a patent in 1978 for this invention, but it took almost a decade before the rollerbag became standard airport equipment.

Prior to the rollerbag people had to carry their suitcases or pay attendants with carts to get their luggage from the car to the check-in counter.  Dragging heavy bags to and from the car and around airports was a pain.  And having to wait for (or lose) checked bags was as much of a pain.  The rollerbag allows us to zip through airports and avoid checking bags.

This invention didn’t just ease our aching backs and save us time, it facilitates commerce.  Making it easier to travel, all things equal, means that there will be more travel.  More travel means more business transactions, which adds to our wealth.  Debrilla M. Ratchford didn’t just invent a handy device and make some money for herself.  She also benefited others by reducing the hassle of carrying around luggage and contributing to economic growth.  That makes someone a great humanitarian.

A central purpose of the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award is to highlight the fact that a humanitarian can be someone who benefits him or herself while also benefiting others.  There is no necessary tension between self-gain and improving the human condition.  On the contrary, when people are monetarily rewarded for their efforts, they are more likely to do things that benefit humanity.  The entrepreneur and inventor isn’t a necessary evil, he or she has a morally positive role in society.

This is what Al Copeland did, which is why this award is named in his honor.  As I wrote:

Al Copeland  may not have done the most to benefit humanity, but he certainly did more than many people who receive such awards.  Chicago gave Bill Ayers their Citizen of the Year award in 1997.  And the Nobel Peace Prize has too often gone to a motley crew including unrepentant terrorist, Yassir Arafat, and fictional autobiography writer, Rigoberta Menchu.   Local humanitarian awards tend to go to hack politicians or community activists.  From all these award recipients you might think that a humanitarian was someone who stopped throwing bombs… or who you hoped would picket, tax, regulate, or imprison someone else.

Al Copeland never threatened to bomb, picket, tax, regulate, or imprison anyone.  By that standard alone he would be much more of a humanitarian.  But Al Copeland did even more — he gave us spicy chicken.”

I decided against Steve Henson because I didn’t want to give the impression that only gastronomic innovation improves the human condition (although cool ranch Dorritos are pretty awesome).  I decided against Fasi Zaka because he has not yet achieved the improvement in the human condition he is seeking — making the Muslim extremists seem uncool in the Muslim world.  We wouldn’t want to give an award just for the hope of future accomplishment.  I decided against Ralph Teetor because I personally almost never use cruise control, so the improvement in the human condition seems less impressive to me.  And while Mary Quant was a close second, I decided against selecting her because, like my concerns with making this award too gastronomic, I didn’t want to suggest that improving the human condition was primarily sensual (although Quant also added to freedom — particularly the freedom to run for a bus more easily).

Congratulations to Debrilla M. Ratchford and Happy Halloween!