Louis XIV's Dinner Vs. Yours


A snazzy little video promoting Matt Ridley's new book, The Rational Optimist, and explaining why your dinner choices are better than Louis XIV's meal plan:

Ridley's The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature and The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation are both great primers on complex, controversial subjects. The Rational Optimist promises to be similarly excellent on the subjects of exchange and innovation.

Stay tuned for an essay adapted from the book in the upcoming issue of Reason. Or ask Ridley for all the details in person this winter on the first-ever Reason cruise!

Via Russ Roberts.

NEXT: Barone: The Election's Winged Chariot Hurries Near Obama

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  1. The narration reminds me of Stephen Fry's narration of the movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    1. That movie was awful. Never speak of it again.

  2. The singularity will kill us all and there is no way to stop it.

    It had to be said.

  3. Did the guys who did "Big Electric Cat" work on this masterpiece?

  4. Ocelots' spleens?

  5. Is Sullum bringing the weed?

    1. Can't smoke even if you upgrade to the "veranda suite"

      Smoking Policy
      For all Celebrity ships, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on any stateroom veranda. Cigarette smoking will only be permitted in designated indoor and outdoor areas of the ship, while cigar and pipe smoking will only be permitted in designated outdoor areas. Smoking will not be permitted in any dining venue, casino, theater, hallway, elevator or corridor. Violations to this smoking policy will result in a $250 cleaning fee being charged to the guest's onboard account and may also be addressed through Celebrity Cruises' Guest Conduct Policy. Cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco must be properly disposed of and never thrown overboard. A guest must be at least 18 years of age to purchase, possess or use tobacco onboard.

      ...and then there is norovirus:

      Almost 80% of all cruise ship voyages that dock at U.S. ports have at least one passenger or crewmember with a confirmed diagnosis of gastrointestinal illness by the ship's medical staff. Several forms of GI Illness including Norovirus are highly contagious and may cause severe diarrhea, headaches and, at times, projectile vomiting. Over the last 8-years, over 147,000 passengers and crew have been diagnosed with some form of gastrointestinal illness.

      1. The norovirus will make you shit until you wish you are dead.

        That is nothing to mess around with.

        1. In at risk patients, particularly the young and elderly (a virus, imagine!), dehydration is the biggest concern, leading to death in immunocompromised patients and though with decreased renal and circulatory function. Renal failure generally follows in these at risk patients.

  6. Louis IV lived a horrific life.

    His house had no TV or electric lights, his food was always cold when it was served to him, he never got to take a shower, and he had to shit in a bucket.

    I would rather have to live in a college dorm again than be the 17th century king of France and live at Versailles.

    1. No, it's good to be the king.

    2. But he got a lot of ass. And that has to be worth something.

      1. OK, so picture you take his place through some kind of "Quantum Leap" style jump, and right as you jump in you're about to get some really good looking French mistress ass.

        But then just as you say, "Oh, sweet!" you all of a sudden see...lice everywhere. Lice jumping around like rice at a wedding. Do you keep celebrating, or do you hurl?

        1. I don't think everyone had lice.

          1. You're right, some people had fleas.

            1. SCABIES!

        2. "French mistress ass"


          You think french people back then had asses any cleaner?

          1. Reminds me of a letter I saw once from Napoleon to Josephine telling her he would be home in a couple of weeks and not to bathe. I guess he liked it rank. I'm gagging just thinking about it.

    3. In Louis' defense, I don't see why his food would have been cold when he got it. While he didn't take showers, he had hot baths. And he never knew our luxury so it didn't bother him the way it would us.

      1. True

        The reason Louis' food was cold was that the kitchens were not considered part of "noble" architecture, so they were placed as far as possible from the Royal Apartments. Also, his food was carried ceremonially through the palace, rather than being rushed to him. In some respects, being a pompous aristocrat does carry its own punishment.

        1. Actually, talking of pompous aristocrat, Matt Ridley (the guy who made the video) is in line to be a viscount when his father dies.

      2. plus, 21st Century French people don't shower or bathe anyway, so it makes no difference.

    4. I would rather have to live in a college dorm again than be the 17th century king of France and live at Versailles.

      Or the E-1 to E-4 barracks eating at the chow hall.

  7. I can't view the video at work, but libertarians have been pointing this out to luddites for decades: We live a hell of a lot better than people did two centuries ago.

  8. I can't view the video at work, but libertarians have been pointing this out to luddites for decades: We live a hell of a lot better than people did two centuries ago.

    1. I swear I only hit the button once, I swear.

      The server squirrels are out to get me!

      1. Heh, it's pseudo-Parkinsonism, you silly Canuck. Those who advocate death by immersion in Bantha poop deserve such a fate.

        1. Star Wars fanatics deserve to be locked in a theater with all the scenes involving Jar-Jar Binks and Ewoks running on an endless loop.

          1. And Canucks named Aresen deserve nights of questionable bliss with transsexual hookers, smeared with lutefisk, resembling Nancy Pelosi and her verminous Sarlaackian taint.

            1. But most Canucks would be into that. NTTAWWT.

      2. [rubbing hands together villainously] Yeeess, just as we planned it...

      3. In an earlier thread, I suggested that the best thing we can do is to maximize our progress in science and technology and work to ensure that that progress benefits as many people as possible. In my mind, that means lots of deregulation and support of free markets. Of course, others may think otherwise.

    2. Libertarians point out we are better off? Could've fooled me. I thought we were worse off because of, you know, the proliferation of horrors of things like the FDA or child labor laws and such.

      1. Being better off in spite of something is not the same as being better off because of something.

        1. Everything good happened in spite of what you decry, everything bad happened because of it. Nice religion you got going there John! Unfalsifiable, comforting. When do we tithe?

          1. I fail to see how FDR or child labor laws contributed to my having a better diet and a more comfortable place to live then my counterparts in the 18th Century. Indeed, thanks to our incredible wealth, we can afford to have things like child labor laws and social welfare programs. The market and human ingenuity has made us so rich, we can afford to forbid our children to work. Previous generations didn't have that luxury. If their children didn't work, they starved.

            1. The market and human ingenuity has made us so rich, we can afford to forbid our children to work.

              One should note that in countries where there are no Child labor laws that as wealth grows parents take their children out of the factories and into schools.

              1. In most of Europe and America, child labor laws were only passed when a significant enough number of parents could afford to not have their children working.

                Fewer children working was the cause of child labor laws, not the result.

                1. And even now, really poor children are working anyway, because they have no other way to get the things they want. Thus, on the better side, 12 year olds collecting cans and recycling them, and on the worse side, 12 year olds dealing drugs.

      2. Libertarians point out we are better off? Could've fooled me. I thought we were worse off because of, you know, the proliferation of horrors of things like the FDA or child labor laws and such.

        It should be pointed out that most under age detention facilities have work release programs and it is not hard to find governments that force conscription of of children into the army.

        Government is not a proven institution for providing "good". In fact governments that wield less power over its citizens generally produce more good then governments that wield large power over its citizens.

        Plenty of kids have been killed and raped and physically abused while under the protection of the government in my State after they have been taken from their parents.

  9. Louis didn't have to have his bodily fluids contaminated by GMO crops, fuckwads. FODD FASCISM!

    1. He also have his hemorrhoids treated by the insertion of a red-hot bulb into his anus.

      (And you think your visit to the proctologist was painful!)

      1. Holy shit!

        1. And now you know the true meaning of "A Royal Pain in the Ass".

          1. Ye gods.

  10. And somehow all this progress happened despite all ever growing TEH SLAVERY...

    1. All this progress happened because the world (Europe at least) became a much more free place between 1700 and 1900.

      1. So the article was comparing the diet of the average man living in 1900 to the Sun-King John? I thought it was the diet of a modern day man.

        Man, one of us misread it!

        1. God you are stupid. It doesn't matter whether it is 1900 or 2010. We have a better diet because the world opened up. We have access to fresh fruits year around because we have a global market. We don't starve when the weather is bad because we have a global market that allows us to import food from places where the weather is good. We have a global market because we threw off the yoke of feudalism (the middle ages form of central planning) and created free markets.

          1. Yes John a heavily regulated global market (regulated at the global level [WTO etc] and at each national level has been doing wonders for us all. And these goods get to us via government built, maintained and policed roads, canals, etc. The goods themselves are made possible by government created systems of property rights, contract law, tort law, etc..

            1. The good themselves are made possible by people. Yes, law and order, property rights and a stable government are essential as well. But, seeing how I am not an anarchist, I don't see why you would think that would be news to me.

              But, the fact that property rights and a stable rule of law are essential says nothing whatsoever about the value of the rest of government.

              1. A big chunk of regulations aer simply preventative versions of tort law. Transportation spending and regulation help make the distribution of goods and services easier. Things that were created largely with government support like the internet have make a huge difference in modern coordination.

                It's a long list of ways government has fostered this imo.

                1. World trade exploded long before the invention of any of those things. The greatest percentage rise in world trade occurred in the 19th Century not the 20th Century. Regulation is generally parasitical to the system. If all of that were necessary, the explosion in world trade would have never happened in the 19th Century.

                2. Governments see needs and they're often the first to have the resources to go after them. That doesn't mean they did the best job. There are plenty of examples of government fucked up and a private company succeeded. The private company would have succeeded even if the government hadn't been involved.

                  1. "Governments see needs and they're often the first to have the resources to go after them."


        2. Even if it had been an American living in 1900, the diet was still better, due to inventions like canning and pasteurization. Eletrification was coming along nicely as well. Mass refrigeration did not come along until a few years later.

          All of them preceded the era of regulation and did much more for general health than all the laws passed since.

          1. Life expectancy in 1900 in the US was 49. It's 77 or so now.

            I'm betting at least some of that mortality had to do with the lack of regulations such as found through HHS and the FDA.

            1. No I think it has something to do with the invention of Antibiotics, modern child birth and the development of effective vaccines for childhood diseases. All of which long pre-dated HHS.

              Jesus MNG, did you take a stupid pill this morning?

              1. MNG went from being a relatively thoughtful liberal to being nothing but an obnoxious troll a while ago. I don't know why you bother with him anymore, John.

                1. He really has.

                2. MNG went from being a relatively thoughtful liberal to being nothing but an obnoxious troll a while ago.

                  "Thoughtful liberal" I pick this as the oxymoron of the day.

              2. No I think it has something to do with the invention of Antibiotics, modern child birth and the development of effective vaccines for childhood diseases. All of which long pre-dated HHS.

                Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner! Alexander Fleming's discovery fo the penicllin mold and resultant decrease of bacerial colonies led to the biggest discovery to medicine, considering ,even with Pasteur's and Lister's contributions to medical hygienic and sterility standards (particularly Post-Op), antibiotics have been the single most effective means of curative medicine for infection, the culprit of mortality and morbidity in almost all diseases.

                And MNG, shouldn't you be busy coveting your neighbor's livestock and wishing it dead?

                1. The leading cause of death used to be the flu. We really have no idea how different the world used to be.

                  1. It's true that cytokines released from apoptosis of infected cells overwhelms the the body John. Part of the shutdown that result from toxicities of the proteins of the cytokines, is secondary infection from a depressed immune system, since in an uninnoculated person antibodies are not present to recognize the invading viral pathogen. However, most viruses are very very fragile and do not survive outside a host for a long period of time. Viral infections are seasonal and immunizations have helped immensely in stopping their spread.

                    However, I would bet good money that bacterial infections, which are generally more hardy than virii, particularly staph infections as they are part of normal dermal flora.

            2. If you ignore the development of numerous vaccines and antibiotics, the improvements in housing and transportation, the universal expansion of indoor plumbing (new in the cities at the time and virtually unknown in the country, but the cities were still home to only about half the population), the banishment of horses from the cities (horse crap was a major vector for tetanus), the development of refrigeration, the control of infant mortality, I suppose there might be room to attribute some improvement to FDA.

              Which assumes, of course, that the HHS and FDA have not slowed health developments by discouraging innovation the way the FCC undeniably has with TV and radio.

              1. Good point about the banishment of horses. One of the more ignorant things put out by the modern liberal is the idea that the coming of the car made the world dirtier.

                1. Even though I disagree with MNG's reflexive State boosterism, the installation of effective sewer systems and clean water distribution is another major way in which conditions in cities have improved since the Sun King's time.

                  Building codes, sewer systems and clean water mains have really made modern cities livable.

  11. Libertarians don't deny that modern life has major material advantages over the days of yore.

    This is, of course, completely consistent with libertarians pointing out that our government confiscates too much of our wealth and intrudes on too much of our life.

    1. What was different during the last two hundred years compared with previous human history? More or less, it was two things: freer markets and less authoritarian governments. This allowed for all of the technological and other progress that was largely stymied in previous centuries.

      The fact that the government can continue to meddle a little more and a little more each year and suck away the abundance without entirely killing the Golden Goose proves what, exactly?

      Even friggin' Karl Marx acknowledged the massive benefits of capitalism.

  12. It isn't how much we're willing to do for each other that's important; it's how much we're willing to sacrifice.

    ...the willingness to sacrifice, that should determine who gets to make the choices. Everything else is just greed.

  13. Why can't the Reason cruise be to, I don't know, Alaska? I really don't want to see this lot lounging on the lido deck.

    1. Why can't the Reason cruise be, like, affordable?

      1. There ought to at least be a free lunch.

        1. Are you a hyde parker?

  14. ...with the constant videos. If I wanted to watch television, I would watch television. Most of us catch up on the news here during work-breaks, and do not have the time, inclination nor server capabilities to watch all these goddamned videos.

    1. Wow, those videos are running off of your lawn now, baby!

      Wait, what am I saying? I can't watch the videos either, actually. Damn you videos! I want all postings to be text only!

    2. Jesus, dudes, it's 2010. It's time to stop using Lynx already.

      1. More like videos are blocked at work.

        And yes, Fluffy, a brief textual post with the highlights would work just fine.

        1. Ding! My work has streaming media locked down six ways from sunday. Hell, I'd be forced to use IE6 if I weren't smarter than my IT department.

          1. Also, the videos are almost always a very short script with very little information and useless background imagery. If I hated reading, maybe they would be informative and useful.

      2. For some reason I read that to say "stop using Latex already" the first time I saw it.

        1. LaTeX is still highly useful. I wish more people would use it for their documents.


            1. Yes, that is annoying. Someone needs to write a decent TeX GUI.

              1. LyX is nice, but I don't think it can help me with this.

  15. "The Rational Optimist"

    When ayn_randian finally objects to Objectivism???

    [keed keed]

    1. Never! My faith burns hotter than the fat of 1000 leeches.

      1. This must be a spoof TAO. Haven't seen you around here in a while.

        1. No spoof, my Shnegro. I am just busy futilely jamming my fingers in leaky dams "bringing peace and democracy to Afghanistan".

          1. I am glad you are still in one piece and I thank you for your service, your insights have been missed.

  16. Latex is still highly useful. I wish more women would use it for clothing

    1. Bianca Beauchamp would be so much hotter without the boltons. She looks like she cut a basketball in half and glued it on top of her tits.

      1. You'd still hit it.

        1. I would also like to have a pot of gold and a pony.

          1. Dream big, Warty.

      2. The worst thing is Bianca had a nice natural set to begin with then she lost weight and they deflated so she got a custom job.If you look at her earliest pics it's all real.

        1. As in economics, deflation in breasts is something to be avoided at all costs.

          Whether you're the owner or just the operator.

  17. There ought to at least be a free lunch.

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