Yesterday I was all set to go with fractal-man, following Zbicyclist’s comment:
Why go with a guy whose most famous for something he didn’t say? Let’s go with a guy who can give a short, pithy lecture that can blossom into a whole structure of knowledge as we repeat it!
But then I was persuaded by Phil’s list of Voltaire’s admirers. This French philosopher and wit seems to have influenced just about everybody. From wikipedia (as quoted by Phil):
Jorge Luis Borges stated that “not to admire Voltaire is one of the many forms of stupidity” . . . According to Will Durant: “Italy had a Renaissance, and Germany had a Reformation, but France had Voltaire; he was for his country both Renaissance and Reformation, and half the Revolution.”
So let’s go with the Great Tolerator.
Today’s bracket features the top-ranked mathematician, vs. an unseeded, but still very funny, wit. My favorite of Nora Ephron’s works is Heartburn (both book and movie), but her early essays are great too. I think either of today’s choices would be fine, as long as we don’t have to see Nora trying to prove a theorem or Carl complaining about his neck.
Again, the full bracket is here, and here are the rules:
We’re trying to pick the ultimate seminar speaker. I’m not asking for the most popular speaker, or the most relevant, or the best speaker, or the deepest, or even the coolest, but rather some combination of the above.
I’ll decide each day’s winner not based on a popular vote but based on the strength and amusingness of the arguments given by advocates on both sides. So give it your best!