Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Anti-Electorate Manifesto

[Written and first published in 1992.]

We, the Anti-Electorate, do not believe there is a need for “strong leadership” in government.

We are not drawn to “intellectual” authorities and political “heroes.”

We are not impressed with titles, ranks, and pecking orders — politicians, celebrities, and gurus.

We do not struggle for control of organizations, social circles, and government.

We do not lobby the State for favors or permission to control those with whom we disagree.

Rather, we advocate freedom.

By its very nature, the State does not.

Exercise your right to say “No!” to the warfare-welfare system.

Refuse to vote. Then tell your friends why.

"Trick or treat, you bastards!"

Friday, October 27, 2006

Uncle Warren meets Mercury Theatre

Okay, here's the deal. The most laugh-filled and surprise-stuffed podcast around, after just six installments, is old buddy Warren Bluhm's weekly Uncle Warren's Attic. This week, he's gone and stitched together the best audio half-hour I've heard anywhere in the past few months. It's a blast. Go right here and download the damn thing. And for the next few days, stay away from Grovers Mill, if you know what's good for you.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

Attention, Doctor Who fans! Those crazy folks at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, dedicated to "making the world a better place, one Evil Mad Scientist at a time," now offer full instructions on how to build a fully robotic Dalek Pumpkin...just in time for Halloween!

Monday, October 23, 2006

RIP Jane Wyatt, 1910-2006

I most fondly remember Jane Wyatt from Father Knows Best. But this poem, referencing her impact on the Star Trek universe, was posted today on the SciFaiku list by Deborah P Kolodji, and it’s a beautiful tribute. I haven’t reached Deborah for permission to post it here, but I can’t resist. Thanks, Deborah.

(A Cinquain For Jane Wyatt)


The stars
will claim you now.
My human side will mourn
even as I deny it with
raised brow.

- Deborah P Kolodji

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Warning Signs for Tomorrow

Anders Sandberg offers a whole bunch of what he calls Warning Signs for Tomorrow. Here are my two favorites, along with Anders' notations:

Using microdevices, identity technology and pattern recognition software, it is not inconceivable that future environments will be 100% privacy-free. If this is not the standard situation but only occurs in some places, this sign would mark the surveilled area. In the case of total surveillance, the opposite sign, with a crossed over or blindfolded pyramid, would mark the risky non-observed areas.

Chaos control is likely to be very useful in many future applications. But chaos is sensitive, so interfering with such a system might be unadvisable.

Thanks to Brad for the tip.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The psychology of comradeship

There’s been a lot of blogging and e-traffic lately, particularly on the Left Libertarian e-list, about a proper definition of “Left Libertarianism.” Being rather simpleminded, I’ve been content for years with Samuel Edward Konkin III’s explanation of the term, offered in his classic pamphlet Introducing the Movement of the Libertarian Left:

“ ‘Left,’ from earliest political times, has meant ‘anti-establishment.’ Consistent libertarians wish to abolish the State and its parasitic class of bureaucrats, politicians, subsidized businessmen, privileged labor leaders, and military mass murderers. This puts us, in most political lexicons, on the Left; since it is anarchist, it places us on the Far Left.”

But I’ll admit that if libertarians want to build alliances with more traditional Leftists and even someday lead the Left, this perspective isn’t enough. Libertarians must shift their mindset and start darting down new reality tunnels. As Jerome Tuccille wrote 36 years ago in Murray Rothbard’s Libertarian Forum, “On the rapidly changing American scene, the distinction between Left and Right is becoming more and more a question of personal psychology.”

Quoting further from Tuccille’s “The Psychology of Opposites” (LF, February 1, 1970):

“The New Left — the radicals, the revolutionaries, the students who are turning against their social democratic parents — are driven by outrage; they are obsessed with a mania for justice because other human beings are victimized by racism, because fellow human beings are imprisoned in rotting tenements riddled with filth and rats. They see the injustice that exists around them and they are incensed because they have the capacity to identify with the victims of an unyielding and thoroughly unresponsive superstructure, a system controlled and operated by insatiable racketeers and their political puppets who will never give up power until they are smashed out of existence.

“The Left bleeds for people.

“While the Right — even our anarchist friends recently separated from YAF — concern themselves with abstractions. They are more upset over the fact that their free market principles are not given a chance to operate than they are because fellow human beings are trapped in overcrowded schools and ghettos. They seem to be incapable of empathizing with suffering individuals and dismiss all such concern as misguided altruism. Their notion of justice is one which involves only themselves, and they fail to see that they will never enjoy personal freedom until all men are free of injustice.”

In closing his article, Tuccille submitted a “call to arms” that’s as valuable today as it was in 1970 to those of us working to build a synthesis of all libertarian strains, whether Left or Right:

“The philosophical division between free market anarchists and voluntary communists is growing less important in light of the current struggle to free the neighborhoods from outside control. The purist ideals of total communal sharing and a totally free market of individual traders are important in themselves as ideals, as logical ends of different though consistent processes of reasoning. But the most important factor in the rough-and-tumble struggle for survival, the war to secure the right of flesh-and-blood people to control their own affairs, is the psychology of comradeship. It is the ability to identify with the actual victims of injustice that cements the bond uniting revolutionaries on the Left, whether they call themselves anarcho-communists, free market anarchists, or just plain radicals.

“Terminology has ceased to be important. As we enter a period of overt repression, it is this crucial psychological attitude toward our fellow human beings that will determine on which side of the political fence each one of us will stand.”

During his years in the movement, Jerome Tuccille flip-flopped conservative to libertarian to conservative. But I think his article offers a key to bridging differences between all of us in This Movement of Ours.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Save the cheerleader, save the world"


If you're not watching Heroes on NBC, what the hell's wrong with you?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Doctor Who is goddamn magic

I don’t often get misty watching TV. But Friday’s episode of Doctor Who on the SciFi Channel really got to me. Really.

First, though, I gotta finally acknowledge this second season of the new, reinvigorated Who, now four shows along. It rocks, and I feared it wouldn’t. Honestly, I was such a big fan of Christopher Eccleston in season one that I initially dreaded the second season debut of David Tennant as the latest Doctor regeneration — number 10, or is it 11? But I must say that Tennant is so good that he’s almost — and I stress almost — made me forget about Eccleston. Tennant’s enthusiasm for the role is exhilarating. And in this past week’s show, “School Reunion,” he really displayed his acting chops. He’s dynamite. Here’s why (and here’s where I reveal why this episode choked me up)...

“School Reunion” was a landmark Doctor Who episode. It featured the return of Sarah Jane Smith, my all-time favorite of the Doctor’s female companions. Sarah Jane, played by Elisabeth Sladen, traveled with the Doctor for slightly more than three seasons during the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker years in the mid-1970s. And who among us didn’t fall in love with her? She was spunky. She was adorable. She was real. And when she left, I felt the same sadness I did when Emma said bye-bye to Steed in 1968. Well, last Friday night, after some three decades, Elisabeth Sladen was back playing Sarah Jane as fabulously as she did in the old days, this time to David Tennant’s Doctor. And Tennant, only four episodes into the role, created magic. Honest-to-God magic. Despite the fact that he’s 35 and Sladen is now 58, they both made you believe they had a history going back 30 years. When Sarah Jane stumbled upon the TARDIS, then realized that the young schoolteacher she’d met earlier was really the Doctor, I lost my breath along with her.

“Hello, Sarah Jane,” the Doctor says with a wide, sincere grin. He’s delighted to see her.

“Doctor. Oh my God, it’s you, isn’t it? You’ve regenerated.”

“Half a dozen times since we last met.”

“You look...incredible.”

“So do you,” the Doctor says wistfully.

Sarah Jane shakes her head. “I got old.”

This is J.M. Barrie for the 21st century, friends. Later:

“Did I do something wrong?” Sarah Jane asks the Doctor. “Because you never came back for me. You just...dumped me.”

“I told you I was called back home. And in those days, humans weren’t allowed.”

“I waited for you. I missed you.”

“Aw,” the Doctor replies boyishly, “you didn’t need me. You were getting on with your life.”

“You were my life. You could have come back.”


“Why not?”

But we don’t hear the Doctor’s answer then. Rather, he gives the answer to his latest companion, Rose, played winningly by Billie Piper. Rose says to the Doctor, after having met and spoken to Sarah Jane:

“I’ve seen my future. You just leave us behind. Is that what you’re going to do to me?”

“No. Not to you.”

“But Sarah Jane...you were that close to her once, and now you never even mention her. Why not?”

“I don’t age,” the Doctor tells Rose. “I regenerate. But humans decay. You wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone you —“

“What, Doctor?”

“You can spend the rest of your life with me. But I can’t spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on. Alone. That’s the curse of the Time Lords.”

Goddamn magic. The people behind this series have brilliantly launched an all-new Doctor Who for a new generation, but it’s still marvelously tied to the past.

Incidentally, a new series starring Lis Sladen is spinning off from this one, and I understand K9 the robot dog will also appear. The Sarah Jane Adventures is now in production in England.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A bit of moral clarity

Gene Callahan has experienced a moment of moral clarity. He writes:

"After Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle crashed his plane into a Manhattan apartment building today, nothing could be clearer than this: Manhattan should now bomb the Bronx until it is reduced to a pile of burning rubble. Anything less would show a lack of 'resolve' on the part of Manhattan."

Nukes: trust no one

The report this week of an underground nuclear test in North Korea has upset a few of my coffee-swilling buddies at Mesa Café. But I’m having trouble getting worked up over it. After all, just last spring, I spent a full day on a tour bus at the Nevada Test Site, maneuvering around nuclear relics and some 400 subsidence craters created by 40 years’ worth of similar U.S. testing. Of course, the U.S. is “good.” Kim Jong-Il and his cronies are “bad.” There lies the difference, even if the U.S. is still the only nation in history to use nukes against civilian populations.

In a piece written for the new Center for a Stateless Society, Per Bylund looks at Monday’s North Korean nuclear revelation and asks the right questions: “Can we trust political power with weapons to destroy us and our earth? Can government be trusted?” Then he quickly answers those questions: “No, we cannot trust government. Perhaps we should abolish it altogether and get rid of the danger once and for all.” You can find the full text of Bylund’s article right here.

The Center for a Stateless Society was launched just this week by the Molinari Institute to “publish and distribute news commentary written by anarchists with radically free-market oriented views on economics.” In a press release, MI President Roderick Long said: “It’s time to put market anarchism front and center in our educational efforts, time to start making it a familiar and recognizable position. The Center for a Stateless Society aims to bring a market anarchist perspective to the popular press, rather than leaving it confined to scholarly studies and movement periodicals.” Hear, hear!

The Center operates under the direction of Brad Spangler, who is surely the busiest (and possibly most exhausted) activist now working in our Movement of the Libertarian Left.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

SciFaiku for Election 2006

fall’s ritual
i adjust my borgface
then cast a pointless ballot

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Too close to home

Gee, why not make the Bill of Rights more accessible to today's busy U.S. citizens? And what better way than by paring it down from ten to just six simple amendments? Check out this old Onion "story."

This would be really funny if it weren't so damn close to the truth.

Hat tip to Lew Rockwell.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I’d never heard of Cypher until someone on a film panel recommended it at Worldcon in August. I jotted down the title, added it to my Netflix queue, and took a look at it this week. If you’re a fan of the Philip K. Dick style of paranoid sci-fi cyber-thriller, drop whatever you’re doing right now and track down a copy of this movie. You will enjoy it. I promise.

Cypher was directed by Vincenzo Natali, who made a nifty little film called Cube about a decade ago. This is smarter, more stylish, and more savvy than Cube, which is saying a lot. Cypher was filmed in 2002, was released in Japan and the U.K. in 2003, and had an extremely limited release in the U.S. last year. Thank God for Netflix. Very quickly, here’s Cypher’s plotline:

Suburban corporate schlub Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Notham of Gosford Park) nabs a freelance job at high-tech Digicorp. His assignment: attend conventions under a manufactured identity (“Jack Thursby”), secretly tape speeches, and transmit the content of those speeches to his superiors. In very short time, Morgan is enjoying the freedom of his new character; “Thursby” gives him the freedom to drink more than ginger ale, and he’s certainly more the ladies’ man than Morgan ever was. But there’s something weird going on. With the help of a mystery woman named Rita (Lucy Liu of Kill Bill and Charlie’s Angels), Morgan/Jack discovers that these mundane convention lectures about processed cheese and shaving cream distribution are really fronts for elaborate brainwashing sessions. But to what end? And if Jack Thursby is a phony, might not Morgan Sullivan be an artificial identity, too? Morgan has a wife, but so does the fictitious “Thursby,” who owns his own home miles away. What’s real? Who’s Rita...if there really is a Rita at all?

Cypher is complex and filled with turns everywhichway. All of which makes it very rewatchable. This is a “lost” movie that deserves to be found by a big audience.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"And I learned the truth from Lenny Bruce"

It occurred to me last night that 2006 marks 40 years since the death of Lenny Bruce. Forty years! I was 12 at the time and didn’t know about Lenny. Never heard of him until, oh, four years later or so, when I was in high school. My friend Bob and I would sit in his bedroom after school and listen to his old man’s Bruce comedy LPs and laugh our damnfool heads off. I got a good chunk of my political education from Lenny Bruce.

Communism doesn’t make it at all. Not for me. Cause it’s complete government control. The capitalist system is the best, cause we can barter, we can go somewhere else. Communism is one big phone company. That’s it, man. Can’t go nowhere else, Jim. Tell the phone company,

“I want a phone put in Monday at 9:30.”

“You’ll have it at the end of the week.”

“I want it at 9:30!”

“Alright, schmuck! Go to the May Company for a phone.”

That’s right, I’m screwed. Where’m I going to go? There’s one desk to go to. That’s what communism is. But a capitalist system is beautiful, man, cause we can go here, there, and that’s the barter system, you know. And I want to keep my system.

It thinks, therefore it is!

During an otherwise crappy week, which was launched Monday with a surprise molar-extraction, my second movie shipment arrived from the unfortunately-named William Shatner DVD Club, and it’s a doozy. Just the thing I needed to push away those gloomy clouds. I know, I know — it’s probably too early to make a judgment about the Shatner Club. But so far, these guys are doing a bang-up job of making good on their promise to offer “the best underground Sci-Fi, Horror & Fantasy movies available.”

This month’s movie — a 40-minute short, really — is titled it2i2. A direct-to-video product, it was first released in Europe last March as a Region 2 PAL DVD and available only through mail order. The Shatner Club now offers it exclusively (i.e., you gotta join the club to get it).

it2i2 poses as a BBC documentary in which reporter Robert Llewellyn investigates rumors that an artificial consciousness called it2i2 (“It Thinks, Therefore It Is”) lives on the Internet and might be screwing with us, even (gasp!) playing with air traffic control systems. To unravel The Truth, Llewellyn interviews tech-nerds, government bureaucrats, corporate suckfish, and assorted conspiracy theorists, all of them committed to keeping him in the dark. The fellow who seems to really know all the answers is the mysterious John Silverstine (Llewellyn in a “fat suit,” ala Martin Short’s Jiminy Glick), and watching Llewellyn interrogate himself is a riot. Filmed on a shoestring budget, it2i2 is engaging and fall-down funny, even if you’re in a Vicodin haze like I’ve been.

This brief film is thoroughly Robert Llewellyn’s baby. He wrote it, directed it, and acts in it (twice, as I mentioned before). You might recall Llewellyn as the actor, writer, and producer from the BBC sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf. I didn’t, having only seen a couple of Dwarf episodes years ago, but I’m adding Red Dwarf to my Netflix queue right now.

Oh, and the it2i2 DVD contains some great extras, including outtakes, a “making of” featurette, footage of Llewellyn getting made up as Silverstine, and an interview with Kevin Warwick, a real professor of cybernetics and artificial intelligence. At the risk of sounding like a shill, last month’s excellent Immortel and this month’s it2i2 prompt me to recommend you sci-fi buffs seriously consider subscribing to the Shatner DVD Club.

Monday, October 02, 2006

My day so far...in haiku

root canal a bust
fissured left molar must go
extraction -- oh shit!

Ibuprofen sucks
greater painkiller needed
love that Vicodin!

[OK, these aren't technically haiku. A real haiku poem contains only one "cutting word." Each of these poems use "cutting words" at the end of both the first and second lines, making them phrase lists instead of haiku poems. So sue me. I'm strung out on Vicodin!]