Campaigns/Elections

Friday Quick Hits

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* One way to beat the TSA watch list.

* A site devoted to breaking down the state-level presidential polls into a more understandable form.

* A list of "Essential Science Fiction and Fantasy for Libertarians." It is intentionally eclectic, has a left-libertarian tilt, and ought to start a bunch of arguments. Have at it.

NEXT: Talking Barr, Paul, and the Libertarian Movement on Berkeley's KPFA

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  1. Good thing the terrorists don’t know how to change their names.

  2. A list of “Essential Science Fiction and Fantasy for Libertarians.”

    Jesus, why don’t you just shoot NutraSweet up with meth instead.

  3. While mentioned in the list of possible inclusion at the bottom, the lack of Vinge in the main list seems a big oversight.

    Also, Kim Stanley Robinson? Really? For some reason, I never considered the Mars series to be libertarian. I never read White Mars 🙂 however.

  4. He should have changed his name to Mario Ocho Cinco.

  5. Also, robc, nowhere is Bradbury.

  6. Ah. Bradbury. He made me want to become a writer. I got to interview him once. As bright and kind and grandfatherly as you’d expect.

  7. So the jihadists can just start following the lead of the tech support guys?

    ‘Elloo? My name ees “Johnny.” We certainly are having…”rainy”…weather in…”Bos-ton” today, eh?”

  8. From this time forward I shall be known as “Ben Dover” whenever I pass through a TSA lack of security checkpoint, because they are going to screw me anyways, so why not prepare for it now.

  9. joe – just so you won’t get surprised, the new frontier in political correctness is sympathizing with the poor 3rd-world tech support guy – who should not be blamed for the jobs their evil corporate overlords assign them to do. I know this from my highly PC cousin who is highly offended by criticism of foreign tech-support persons.

  10. Harry Potter libertarian? Really?!!?

  11. re: Harry Potter

    Not a fan, but I’d like to note that for all the wizards’ cleverness they don’t seem to have yet discovered electricity. What’s with all the candles and oil lamps? That is all.

  12. Vinge deserves more than an honorable mention. And no Margaret Atwood? No William Gibson? (Fun fact: Gibson lives a few blocks from my aunt and uncle in Vancouver. They occasionally chat with him in Safeway, see him working in his yard, etc. This makes my geeky uncle very happy.)

    I can kind of see the libertarian leanings in Harry Potter. The state becomes a very dangerous thing eventually.

  13. I’m not sure if anyone has cited The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress in connection with the notion of Alaskan secession.

    In the book, the Moon provided resources to Earth, and in reality, Alaska provides its resources to the U.S.. Both places are cold, remote colonies with wacky populations, what with multiple spouses and all.

    I don’t know what they could bombard us with, though. Chunks of glacier? Marauding polar bears?

  14. OK, prepare for the sound of my own horn, tooting loudly: There is only one sci-fi novel that’s essential, not to libertarians only, but to everyone, and it’s called “Vorak of Kolnap,” and it’s running on my website right now.

    http://avanneman.blogspot.com/

  15. …the libertarian leanings in Harry Potter. The state becomes a very dangerous thing eventually.

    The wizards’ state, don’t you mean? And yes, it’s dangerous in that the whole purpose of the academy seems to be to kill the students. In that regard it’s more gulag than libertarian utopia. But I’ve only seen the movies. Maybe the novels are better?

  16. Ah. Bradbury. He made me want to become a writer. I got to interview him once.

    I love Death Is a Lonely Business. Made me want to move to Venice (CA) and basically try to reproduce the protagonist’s experience, but I couldn’t find anyone to murder people for me.

  17. But I’ve only seen the movies. Maybe the novels are better?

    The novels are definitely better. And the ones that haven’t been made into movies yet are better still.

  18. The problem with the list at first blush is that it conflates libertarian with anti-authoritarian. While the two go hand in hand in my mind, Anti-authoritarianism does not, in of itself, lead directly to a libertarian constructed theory of government or society.

    The list jumps the shark in the second paragraph: libertarian-socialist townships. No one with an understanding of libertarianism could say that with a straight face. Even the situation as described is just socialism, with no libertarianism at all. (Despite it’s use as an insult around here, most understand that socialism doesn’t exclude profit, just the private acquisition of capital.)

    Also cluelessness about libertarianism is evident in the inclusion of Philip K. Dick. Dick was a Red Diaper baby and all of his political thought stayed firmly left his whole life. There is a powerful anti-authoritarianism and anarchic joy that runs through PKDs work, but small government principals that we would recognize as libertarianism is pretty absent. This is why his friendship with Heinlein was considered so odd, and their falling out wasn’t over politics.

  19. No Snow Crash? Some people just won’t listen to Reason.

  20. The novels are definitely better

    I’m going to get slammed for this but I found Harry Potter to be tedious and uninspiring at the least. I read the first book and said “mm’kay, it’s essentially about a privileged legacy case, why do I care?” His friends are the real stars yet it’s all about him. Started the second book and couldn’t continue. Plus, Quiddich is fucking stupid. Yeah, I said it.

  21. Never been interested in Harry Potter. Irritated by his fans, though.

    “Have you read Harry Potter!?!”

    “No, not a big fan of fantasy.”

    “Not much of a reader? I understand.”

    Never has a fiftish librarian gotten so close to being strangled.

    Seen the movies, the one’s not direct by that assbag Chris Columbus are pretty good.

  22. The Potter books vividly demonstrate the perils of concentrating too much power in one place–whether it be an evil wizard or an evil bureaucracy.

    His friends are the real stars yet it’s all about him.

    The books improve dramatically as the series goes along. And yes, it’s all about him.

  23. If I ever met Chris Columbus, I’d have to physically restrain myself from punching him. How do you go from writing Goonies to directing Home Alone?

  24. In Broca’s Brain, Carl Sagan recommends both “And Then There Were None” and “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”:

    “It is my firm view that no society on Earth today is well adapted to the Earth of one or two hundred years from now…. We desperately need an exploration of alternative futures, both experimental and conceptual. The novels and stories of Eric Frank Russell were very much to this point. In them, we were able to see conceivable alternative economic systems or the great efficiency of a unified passive resistance to an occupying power. In modern science fiction, useful suggestions can also be found for making revolution in a computerized technological society, as in Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.”

    As for Harry Potter and libertarianism, I think this rant from Jack Huberman’s 101 People Who Are Really Screwing America about how Harry Potter is screwing America says it all:

    “Despite certain liberal themes (how badly, really, do kids still need lessons in the toleration of diversity-the Potter books’ principle claim to moral and social value?), Potter is packed with morals, character, and, if you scrape a bit, political lessons on which George Dumbledore Bush would gladly stamp his great seal of presidential approval. Potter and his classmates constantly disobey the rules and get in trouble but in the end are winked at or praised by their professors and Headmaster Dumbledore precisely for ignoring all those regulations and the stuffy, broomstick-in-the-mud authorities who try to enforce them, and for using their own, well, entrepreneurial initiative to save the day. In The Order of the Phoenix, Harry spends as much time battling the Ministry of Magic as he does Voldemort. Newt Gingrich would have that ministry shut down before you could say abracadabra. Perhaps the only way to reform this bloated bureaucracy is through privatization, beginning with individual, tax-sheltered magic accounts.

    In short, if kids really need more role models for contempt towards rules and regs (see every movie hero from Sam Space to Dirty Harry to #70, Ahnuld)-and by extension, toward government, the Constitution, and international law-can’t we just direct their attention to the Bush administration?”

  25. “I love Death Is a Lonely Business.”
    A fellow Death Is… fan!
    I love you, guy.

  26. Love that Bester. Just re-read The Demolished Man. Wish he’d written more science fiction novels.

  27. Pro Libertate,

    Stick with Destination and Demolished. Who He? is not bad, but can be hard to get a hold of. And the Virtual Unrealities short story collection. The later novels [shudder]…

    If you’ve never read “Adam and No Eve,” try and find it. TA Last Man On Earth story with no cheating.

  28. Martin: As your president, I would demand a science-fiction library, featuring an ABC of the genre: Asimov, Bester, Clarke!

    Kid: What about Ray Bradbury?

    Martin: (dismissively) I’m aware of his work.

  29. Martin: (dismissively) I’m aware of his work.

    HAHAHAHAHA

  30. I’m not sure if anyone has cited The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress in connection with the notion of Alaskan secession.

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one of the better examples of the “U.S. Revolution in space” subgenre, complete with a plagiarized Declaration of Independence.

    The most libertarian SF novel of all time, Fallen Angels. Niven, Pournelle, Flynn. Also the most sf SF novel.

  31. I see Poul Anderson gets a mention (he often gets overlooked in these lists). I haven’t read the ones they cited, but Harvest of Stars is also a great. With a female lead and libertarian themes, it’s Atlas Shrugged with a better author (or at least a better editor).

  32. I don’t know what they could bombard us with, though. Chunks of glacier? Marauding polar bears?

    Bear Cavalry

  33. I’m going to get slammed for this but I found Harry Potter to be tedious and uninspiring at the least.

    It’s certainly not great literature. I’ve always read them as beach books; fat enough that they take at least a couple days to get through, and you can be sipping cocktails and still follow the plot. For that reason they would work as airplane books as well. Unless you think frikkin’ Swann’s Way is a beach book, genius. 😉

  34. SugarFree,

    Apparently, my library doesn’t have any of the collections with that story, but I did run across an audio reading of it on the Intertubials.

  35. Truly a strange list of books. When I was warned that it leaned “left libertarian”, I assumed jesse meant left-libertarian. Instead it’s left-anarchism. The difference being that left-libertarians are at least marginally propertarian and market oriented, whereas left-anarchists are perfectly willing to use a totalitarian state to stamp out property and markets, gleefully chanting “don’t worry we will whither away in a generation or two” while their boots grind liberty into the dust.

    While I consider anarcho-capitalism to be a fantasy, anarcho-socialism is completely beyond the bend when it comes to nuttiness. While some form of state-like institution is probably necessary for a propertarian legal framework, only the mentally deficient could ever imagine the statist interventions necessary to impose property-less values on society to be anarchism.

  36. Ah, I’m wrong again–my library does have a Bester short story collection with that story: Virtual Unrealities: The Short Fiction of Alfred Bester. It’s now reserved in my name. Excellent.

  37. Unless you think frikkin’ Swann’s Way is a beach book, genius.

    “Good evening, and welcome to the Arthur Ludlow Memorial Baths, Newport, for this year’s finals of the All-England Summarize Proust Competition.”

    Actually, I think these are good beach books. Anything that can give you a chill while you are tanning on the beach deserves respect.

  38. Dagny,

    The first time I read Atlas Shrugged, it was on the Outer Banks of NC.

    Quiddich is fucking stupid

    Its clear Rowling isnt much of a sports fan and definately hasnt spent much time inventing new sports. I havent read the books because I dont think I could get past the first Quiddich bit.

  39. ed,

    I’d like to note that for all the wizards’ cleverness they don’t seem to have yet discovered electricity. What’s with all the candles and oil lamps?

    Electric fields interfer with magic. Duh.

  40. BTW, I finally read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress this summer. The last 1/3 of Stranger in a Strange Land had put me off Heinlein for about 2 decades.

  41. and you can be sipping cocktails and still follow the plot

    And I forgot to note that if I am drinking at the beach, I ain’t readin’. I’m swimming way father out than I should because the alcohol removes that “we actually have great whites off of Watch Hill” fear.

  42. The Potter books are teh FAIL in every possible way (1-4 anyway, I quit after that) They are the suckiest suck what ever sucked.

  43. No Terry Pratchett? At all? Didn’t he get some sort of libertarian award?

  44. No Verner Vinge? This list is useless! “A Fire Upon the Deep” and “A Deepness in the Sky” are quite possibly the greatest sci-fi novels of all time! My handle here was almost Pham Nuwen.

  45. Friday Quick Hits

    I have to add this one.

    (As for the execution poll, I chose “roasted on a grill.”)

  46. Electric fields interfer with magic. Duh.

    Hahaha. I should have known that. Though I will note that in one of the later movies there was a band on stage during the Big Dance, and they were playing a crappy pop tune with electric instruments. Maybe the producers thought no one would notice.

  47. The first time I read Atlas Shrugged, it was on the Outer Banks of NC.

    Nice. For me, that’s always a winter book.

    Anything that can give you a chill while you are tanning on the beach deserves respect.

    I just started I Am Legend (my first Matheson) and I really, really like his style.

  48. My VHS of “Omega Man” died. I ordered the DVD the other day.

    This Halloween is all Last Man on Earth.

  49. I just started I Am Legend (my first Matheson) and I really, really like his style.

    Good choice. He is excellent. In his short stories, he masterfully tricks you into not seeing what is often a seemingly obvious finale and then sucker-punches you.

  50. This Halloween is all Last Man on Earth.

    Make sure you include this, NutraSweet. Also this if you haven’t seen it.

  51. First Strangers with Candy and now Mathesonp; I’m finding myself in a disturbing number of points of agreement with you lately Epi. It must be all the alcohol 😉

  52. So this means that Osama Bin Laden can enter the US as long as he changes his name? Just like that American Dad episode where Bin Laden is hiding as an accountant in Philadelphia under the name

  53. Anyone got any news on the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”?

  54. Shit, I love a boy and his dog, both the film and the Ellison story.

    Quilla June indeed!

  55. “Anyone got any news on the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”?”

    Saw the trailer. It looked a bit loud and Jerry Bruckheimerish to me…

  56. Epi,

    Not post-apoc or empty world, but Last Man movies, specifically those descended from M. P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud (1901). So over the Halloween week we are watching:

    The World, The Flesh and The Devil
    Last Woman On Earth
    Omega Man
    Dawn of the Dead
    Night of the Comet
    The Quiet Earth
    28 Days Later

  57. Scott (hey, that’s my name, too. You’re not me, are you?):

    If Harry Potter is on there, then Terry Pratchett deserves to be on the list* just for the following quote alone:

    “You can’t go around building a better world for people. Only people can build a better world for people. Otherwise it’s just a cage.”
    (Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad)

    *Which I can’t read, as the site is blocked by my company’s net filter.

  58. 28 Days Later

    “No, no. No, see this is a really shit idea. You know why? Because it’s really obviously a shit idea.”

    “Oh, great. Valium. Not only will we be able to go to sleep, if we get attacked in the middle of the night, we won’t even care.”

    I was actually pretty disappointed by the movie, funny quotes aside. Too much cobbling together of Day of the Dead and The Crazies.

  59. Did you ever realize that 28 Days Later totally cribs the first few chapters of Day of the Triffids? Think about it, an injury that leaves the protag forgotten in a hospital while the world falls apart outside; when he wakes he finds himself alone, makes his way through deserted London until he’s attacked and discovers scattered pocket of resistance in the city.

  60. Nope, didn’t realize that as I haven’t read it. I did see some similarities to No Blade of Grass.

  61. The internet took away one of my greatest pleasures, the used bookstore. When I finally found my copy of No Blade I squealed like a leetl gurl. Now eBay has them all the time.

    An ocean of porn almost makes up for it.

  62. The upcoming movie “Blindness” sounds to me exactly like the first few chapters of Day of the Triffids.

  63. I am a huge PKD fan, and I never considered him very libertarian. Anti-authoritarian, for sure, but I never really felt like he disliked government unless it got out of control. I would have guessed he would be a pretty middle of the road democrat nowadays.

  64. I’m still waiting for a film adaptation of “A Fire Upon the Deep” and “A Deepness in the Sky”. I have a feeling my wait will be long. (sigh)

  65. I’ve always wanted to see The War For Eternity filmed. Rowley’s ability to create cinematic-like action in writing is incredible, and it approaches the immortality drug concept very intelligently. Plus, genetically modified Space Marines in powered suits = cool.

  66. only the mentally deficient could ever imagine the statist interventions necessary to impose property-less values on society to be anarchism.

    Agreed. The Marxist, “The state will get bigger until it withers away.” Riiight!

    Night of the Comet

    One of my favorites, too.

    Regina Belmont: “C’mon Hector, the MAC-10 submachine gun was practically designed for housewives.”

    Now that’s libertarian.

  67. I’d wish for a Caves of Steel movie, but, given the track record of Hollywood in interpreting Asimov, maybe that’s a bad idea.

  68. I am happy that the illuminatus! trilogy was included. Anarchism can lead to minarchist libertarianism – it’s what got me started.

  69. An ocean of porn almost makes up for it

    I do not want to swim in that ocean.

  70. Naga Sadow,

    There is a lot of great sci-fi that wont be adapted to the screen until I become a big-time producer/director who can get funding for any damn project he wants. Since Im not even trying, you probably do have a long wait.

    Personally, instead of trying to cut novels down to 2 hours, they need to be made as “single season series”. An hour a week for 12-22 weeks, with no second season coming. For some reason, the miniseries seems to be a dead form, it would work too. However, I prefer the other approach. HBO/Showtime come run them. Or Sci-Fi network. Or even a major network needing a midseason filler.

  71. Naga,

    What I feel could be made into a movie and needs to be is The Integral Trees. It wouldnt be unreasonable to film the entire movie in front of a blue screen. Probably cheaper than building sets/going on location.

  72. Yes, on location would be difficult. Same problem with the Ringworld.

  73. Pro Lib,

    But, with the weak gravity in Integral Trees, you cant do on location anyway, so just put the actors in harnesses and computer generate all the backgrounds.

  74. Also, The Integral Trees is light enough to be cut into standard movie length. Im sure something cool would be cut, but I wouldnt have to do any Tom Bombadil type rants.

  75. Yeah, let’s cut out old Tom so that we can include stuff that wasn’t in the book. I don’t care if the whole planet disagrees–I was disappointed in the LOTR films, esp. the latter two. [Shakes fist in air defiantly.]

  76. I wasn’t disappointed in the films, but I wasn’t impressed either.

  77. Dan Clore’s list of “libertarian” science fiction and fantasy sucks. It seems to bend over backwards to avoid anything written in the last 10 years or that has too much icky “pro-capitalist” stuff in it.

    It egregiously leaves out Ken MacLeod’s “Fall Revolution” series, even though it also has plenty of lefty/socialist/left-anarchist stuff in it that Clore would presumably find acceptable:

    The Star Fraction: A Trotskyite mercenary gets caught up in a lefty revolution in Britain, but a lot of the action takes place in a sympathetically portrayed anarcho-capitalist enclave in the London area. One of the characters is also a libertarian-leaning atheist teen who escapes a fundamentalist enclave.

    The Stone Canal: Most of the action takes place on a planet with an anarcho-capitalist society; although about half also takes place in the present/near future and includes two friends debating libertarian ideas, and describes the founding of the British anarcho-capitalist enclave.

    The Sky Road: About half is set in a future society that is kind of left-anarchist, and half in the 21st century, with an anarcho-capitalist from the previous books as a major character, and a look at a potential way to sell nuclear deterrence on the open market.

    The Cassini Division: Further in the future, the Solar System is now an anarcho-syndicalist society, but it makes contact with the (long-separated) anarcho-capitalist planet first seen in The Stone Canal. The two societies are compared through the culture shock of the respective parties.

    The deliberate snubbing of Atlas Shrugged I can understand, as a kind of smarmy pissyness, but I can’t understand the exclusion of this MacLeod series.

  78. You know, I mentioned Caves of Steel above, and I started thinking, “Are the Spacers libertarians?” Seems like maybe they are, though Asimov certainly wasn’t.

  79. Pro Lib,

    I wasnt disappointed in the LOTR films only because I went into the 1st with exceedingly lowered expectations.

    The 2nd one was the one that didnt do it for me. They added in totally unnecessary stuff.

    The biggest problem was that it is clearly a 6 film story, not 3. Make them 2:15 each instead of 3 hours, but make each “book” a movie. Then, you can leave in Tom and the scouring of the shire.

  80. You know, I mentioned Caves of Steel above, and I started thinking, “Are the Spacers libertarians?”

    An excellent question and an interesting topic I have thought about before. I suggest you raise the question some other time instead of on a thread that is almost dead. Plus, NutraSweet would be pissed that he wasn’t here.

  81. I know this from my highly PC cousin who is highly offended by criticism of foreign tech-support persons.

    Isn’t it wise to always stay on the good side of tech support, secretaries, cooks and waiters?

  82. But what if I’m not in a thread that’s ready for the topic? I give you my proxy.

  83. You know, I mentioned Caves of Steel above, and I started thinking, “Are the Spacers libertarians?”

    Anyone whom Asimov makes as bad guys, are, almost by default, libertarians.

    And LOTR II was the best of the bunch, and one of the best films ever made in any genre.

  84. I’m surprised by the love for Tom Bombadil. I haven’t read LOTR yet, but I listened to a portion of it on CD while on a road trip. I thought Tom Bombadil was an annoying character, probably retarded, always making up stupid songs to sing about himself like a four-year-old.

    I thought he was an excellent character for Peter Jackson to leave out.

    Stevo didn’t like Tom Bombadil. He didn’t like him, he didn’t.

    Bom bom-ba-dom bom
    Bom bom-ba doo
    Stevo hated Tom Bombadil
    He thinks that you should too

  85. I would add Cities in Flight by James Blish, a four novel compendium. Excerpt:

    “All right, that doesn’t greatly alter my argument. Maybe you’ll also agree that the essence of a vital culter is its ability to defend itself. The West has beaten the Soviets for half a century now – the Bridge is the West’s “Diagram of Power”, its pyramids or what have you. It shows that we’re mighty, but mighty in a non-survival sort of way. All the money and the resources that went into the Bridge are going to be badly needed, and won’t be there, when the next Soviet attack comes.”

    “Correction: it has already come,” Wagoner said. “And it has already won. The USSR played the greatest of all von Neumann games far better than we did, because the didn’t assume that each side would always choose the best strategy; the played also to wear down the players. In fifty years of unrelenting pressure, they succeeded in converting the West into a system so like Soviet’s as to make direct military action unnecessary; we Sovietized ourselves and our moves are now exactly predictable.”

  86. What, no Sword of Truth? You know, best-selling 11 book fantasy series that about a fantasy Objectivist using magic to kill commies? Sold gajillions of copies? Hm.

  87. “The deliberate snubbing of Atlas Shrugged I can understand, as a kind of smarmy pissyness, but I can’t understand the exclusion of this MacLeod series.”

    There’s an enormous amount of material out there, so I could either keep reading forever or put out the list based on what I’ve gotten through.

    I can edit the column at Nolan Chart at any time, so I might well make additions to it in the future.

    Ken Macleod looks like a likely candidate, for instance.

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