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03/11/2004 Archived Entry: ""

Just for grins: Chan Lowe's "Good Riddance"; Pat Oliphant's "And Still They Come"; and, Tony Auth's "This Hallowed Ground". For non-cartoon chuckles: a news flash from Andy Borowitz: ""Just hours after being convicted of all charges related to the sale of her ImClone stock, domestic diva Martha Stewart attempted to flee the country baked inside an enormous pineapple upside-down cake." And to give people a sense of the ads about which Kerry was complaining when he didn't know that microphone was still on...

Our unofficial co-blogger Gordon P. gives the latest scoop on his corner of the world. "Sec. Transport Mineta came to Chicago today to announce his `plan' to deal with the air traffic congestion problem at O'Hare Airport: He will `ask' United and American Airlines, the two carriers that use Chicago as a hub, to reduce their number of flights by 5% until next October !!! (Why do I hear the Emperor of Austria saying "Too many notes -- take out a few," [re: the movie Amadeus] and Max Headroom saying "Asking is just polite demanding"...) The DoT will evaluate the "effectiveness" of these "voluntary" domestic flight reductions at the end of the "trial period," to determine whether they should be made `permanent.' Anyone feel like a sardine ???"

Updates on Privacy:
---FOX News reports, "Some American allies are expressing anger at the uneven treatment that their citizens are getting when they visit the United States, while Europeans from nations with longer, but now more strained ties to America get no additional scrutiny at the border." Unfortunately, if D.C. listens, it is likely to tighten requirements that are deemed `unfairly lax" and not loosen anything.
---TechWorld advises that "[T]he US government has just bought the world's biggest RAM drive in order to speed up cross-checking across several vast databases...." So where is it and what's it to be used for? Well, the installation site is in "Washington DC and the application involves hosting metadata for large file systems..." No comment necessary.
---this item from Wired: "Even as states retreat from participating in a controversial interstate antiterrorism database that holds billions of records of ordinary Americans' activities, Wisconsin has decided to join the program." This means that WI law enforcers can peek at mass quantities of your data (if that misguided state is your home) - e.g. the names of neighbors and relatives - that is gathered from gov. and commercial databases.
---The Guardian reports that "The Justice Department is dropping its effort to subpoena abortion records from six Planned Parenthood affiliates as part of the government's defense of a new law barring certain late-term abortions."

In my last McBlog, I ranted on about how local and state governments would be - and are! - looking for ever more inventive/bizarre ways to come between you and every thin dime. (E.g. In Indiana, one town is beginning to bill non-residents for police time consumed in traffic accident on highways within 15 miles of the town.) Now Philadelphia has added its Yankee know-how to the project of picking your pocket. Among other measures, the city is proposing to charge people "to rent DVDs at the library and apply for city jobs." Yep. Next year, it may well cost $35 to fill out an employment form. What the heck...anything that discourages people from becoming podlike civil servants has an upside.


J. Neil Schulman has circulated a letter criticizing Jeff Riggenbach's obituary/eulogy of Samuel E. Konkin III on the grounds that it disregarded "SEK3's great contributions to the field of libertarian science fiction and fantasy as being of equal and, perhaps in the long term, even greater importance than his journalism." (The obituary is posted on a previous McBlog). I reproduce the bulk of J.Neil's letter here because 1) it provides the missing information on SEK3; 2) I agree that libertarianism is self-destructive in de facto shunning writers and artists as somehow "non-intellectual"; and, 3) J.Neil's letter is not yet posted AFAIK. [Punctuation has been altered to conserve blog space.]

J.Neil writes, "Certainly no history of the socialist movement could be complete without reference to novels by Edward Bellamy, Upton Sinclair, and H.G. Wells. Nobody would have ever read The Virtue of Selfishness or Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal -- or attended a lecture at NBI, which would never have existed -- if Ayn Rand had not first written Atlas Shrugged. Yet libertarian science-fiction writers are seldom invited to be featured speakers at libertarian conferences. Endowments, prizes, speaking fees, and other funding from libertarian-oriented institutions go to libertarian economists, libertarian journalists, and libertarian historians, but not to libertarian novelists, libertarian playwrights, and libertarian screenwriters ... and this is a mistake that the socialists, left-liberals, communists, and fascists never made.

"Look around you. There's the results of this cancerous neglect of libertarian culture makers?

"SEK3 was the first publisher of my first scence-fiction short stories, in New Libertarian Notes. NLN had a yearly issue devoted to libertarian science fiction, and SEK3 devoted a serious number of pages of New Libertarian Weekly and New Libertarian to science-fiction and fantasy writers. Sam serialized my interview with Robert A. Heinlein across six issues of New Libertarian Notes, which increased its circulation by ten times. His 1990 Heinlein memorial issue of New Libertarian was SEK3's largest circulation magazine issue, period. SEK3 inspired my novel, Alongside Night (Crown, 1979), which I dedicated to him and which went on to win endorsements from Milton Friedman, Thomas S. Szasz, Michael Medved, Anthony Burgess, Robert Anton Wilson ... and the Libertarian Futurist Society's Hall of Fame Prometheus Award. Three-time Prometheus Award winner, Victor Koman, says, 'I am grateful to Sam for inspiring my novel, Solomon's Knife, but what I most will remember him for is his complete, total, and utter fannishness.' Double Prometheus Award winner, Brad Linaweaver, says, 'He was a great cheerleader for the libertarian SF anthology I worked on for Tor Books, Free Space.'

"Sam attended more science-fiction and fantasy conventions than libertarian or other ideological/political conventions -- in fact, he planned his year around them. He served for many years on the Council of the Southern California C.S. Lewis Society, and was active in Mythopoeic Society functions, often devoted to the writings of other of the Inklings such as J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams. And if you're going to consider SEK3 a true Rothbardian, you need to consider that SEK3's favorite part of Rothbard's Libertarian Forum were Murray's 'Mr. First Nighter' columns.

"I could continue, but the point is this: Samuel Edward Konkin III did not consider science fiction and fantasy peripheral to his work as a libertarian, but the centerpiece of it. His fannishness was not his hobby but was the core of his libertarian mission. SEK3 considered that fiction and drama -- in particular science fiction and fantasy -- were more important in changing society than nonfiction, and he made it a point to surround himself with talented novelists, playwrights, and screenwriters.

"It's long overdue for the rest of the libertarian movement to realize that if they direct speaking fees, endowments, scholarships, and prizes only to economists and historians, overlooking novelists, playwrights, screenwriters, and other culture makers -- who often have to abandon their creative work to make a mundane living -- then libertarians have failed to learn the lesson of Atlas Shrugged ... completely miss the point about who Samuel Edward Konkin III was ... and lets the statists in Hollywood and New York keep winning all the important battles in shaping what sort of future we will have."

In the spirit of giving fiction writers the exposure they deserve, here is an excerpt from "Ceres" - a novel by L. Neil Smith. For news on his current novel-in progress, Ares, click here. The preceding link will also lead you to information on how to help privately fund L.Neil's writing.

Best to all,

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