Oliver Stone, Idiot

Instapundit links to an excellent interview with the great artiste. Here’s a representative sample:

[interviewer]: Did you ask him about his relationship with Juanita in Miami?

[Stone]: God, I don’t remember. There were so many women.

[interviewer]: Juanita is his sister.

[Stone]: Juanita’s his sister? … He seemed to be a very straight-shooter, very kind of shy with women.

[interviewer]: I’ve called him the movie star dictator. Did you get that sense about him?

[Stone]: Totally. I think it would be a mistake to see him as a Ceausescu. I would compare him more to Reagan and Clinton. … They were both tall and had great shoulders, and so does Fidel.

[interviewer]: For the second film, you received permission to see the dissidents [Stone]valdo Paya, Vladimiro Roca, and Elizardo Sanchez. They spoke critically of the government. Obviously, that couldn’t have happened unless permission for them to see you was granted, right? What do you make of Castro allowing that to happen?

[Stone]: I don’t think he was happy with it. I don’t think he wants to be in the same film with Paya. In his mind they are faux dissidents.

[interviewer]: He actually calls them faux dissidents? He called them the so-called dissidents?

[Stone]: Yeah, so-called, right. I was in Soviet Russia for a script in 1983, and I interviewed 20 dissidents in 12 cities. I really got an idea of dissidents that was much rougher than here. These people in Cuba were nothing compared to what I saw in Russia.

[interviewer]: Did you ever think to bring up why he doesn’t hold a presidential election?

[Stone]: I did. He said something to the effect, “We have elections.”

If you’re naive it’s easy to conclude that leftist cultural icons like Stone have some special insight. After all, they seem so confident in their views, and so many people in the press treat them deferentially. But it can take nothing more than a few pointed questions to make clear that a famous maker of politically themed movies is an ignorant fool. What’s remarkable is how seldom journalists ask such questions. But once in a while someone does, and once in a while the interviewee lets his guard down and the celebrity balloon deflates. (I give Stone credit for risking a hostile interview. Famous leftists like Barbra Streisand, who issues proclamations on her web site but otherwise shirks open debate, deserve even less respect.)

“Corporate Social Responsibility”

Rob the BusinessPundit has a post on corporate philanthropy that echoes my own sentiments:

I tend to err on the side of business and say that a business is only responsible for major, direct, negative effects of its policies (like pollution). My problem with making companies too concerned with social activities is that the causes they champion aren’t necessarily the causes I, as a shareholder, would prefer they champion. Why should they get to make the decisions about which charities get funding? Shouldn’t they give that money to shareholders and let them decide what to do with it? Ultimately, I wish these people that hate corporate profits so much would form their own non-profit companies. Let them figure out how to produce pharmaceuticals and computers and cars and everything else without using profitability as a guide. If they succeed, then great we will all be better off. But my guess is that they will fail. When companies follow profit, they follow what consumers want. Profit comes from satisfying consumer needs. That is social responsibility. There is a demand for solutions to societal problems. Over time that demand is being met. That is why a poor person today eats better than a king did several generations ago.

It’s worth reading in full.

UPDATE: Lex and I have a long exchange of views in the comments.

Bruce Schneier on Security

Lex pointed me to this thoughtful review of Schneier’s new book. I also noticed this recent column, which summarizes much of what I have learned by reading Schneier’s online newsletter. In a media world which sometimes seems to alternate between complacent ignorance and various hysterical warnings, Schneier’s contrary attitude, and his rational view of security as a series of cost/benefit tradeoffs, make him always worth reading.

Re: The Sociology of Idea Propagation

I now suspect that any body of work will eventually be misunderstood if it attracts attention long enough for the context in which it is read to be markedly different from the context in which it was first presented.

– Daniel Kahneman