L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 138, September 10, 2001
Just finished Forge of the Elders and boy do I feel dyslexic! One of the recurring characters has a name that shares every letter of Keith Laumer, another one of my favorite authors.
Then there was a university named after Harrison Ford but without the vowels. It all begins to make sense when Neil identifies his setting: Eris is a minor Greek goddess associated with discord and confusion.
Being a big fan of anagrams and word puzzles, I found the naming convention to be quite a treat. While I don't claim to have solved all the mystery names, I did enjoy stopping every time a new character was introduced to make sure that I didn't miss something.
Neil's book is excellent, as always. Nothing quite like a good novel set in the Probability Broach multiverse to stimulate my desire to buy more guns.
Thanks Neil. And, if you don't mind sharing who Archie Nero Masuto might be, drop me a note.
Nero is detective Nero Wolfe from the Rex Stout series of novels. Archie Goodwin is his legman. Masao Masuto is the chief of detectives in the Hollywood police department in a series of books I can't remember the author of now, after nearly two decades.
And Thoggosh is shoggoth spelled phonetically backwards. A shoggoth is a monster from H.P. Lovecraft novels, a servant of his Elder race, who drowned their enemies in snot. For 20 years I've had a sign on my front door that says, "Beware of the Shoggoth". Seems to keep salesmen and religious prselytes away pretty well.
L. Neil Smith [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Aha! That would explain why Sam is called Oasam at one point. Masao Masuto shows up in Case of the Murdered MacKenzie and several other novels by Howard Fast, writing under the pseudonym of E.V. Cunningham. Cases of Russian Diplomat, Poisoned Eclairs, Sliding Pool, One Penny Orange, and a novel Samantha which became the Case of the Angry Actress are in the series. For me, a single poisoned eclair is plenty, don't know what I'd do with a case of them.
I used to own a VCR with a parking decal for the warded lot of Miskatonic University, but I must have parked it in an unwarded lot, since it has long since given up its ghost to the elders.
As for your sign, it works well, but then they come in through your Internet connection. "Spam, spam, spam, spam...."
[p.s.] And Archie is from the famous comic strip by the same name? <grin>
Thank you for the preliminary work on the Free State notion (refering to your recent articles in TLE.) I, also, have observed the vote totals of the last few elections and have come to some similar conclusions. If all the people in the State of California who voted for a Libertarian for Congress, for example, were to relocate, just within the state, to three or four Congressional Districts, we would have three or four Libertarians in the U.S. House. If all the people in the country who voted for a Libertarian for President were to move to a single state, we'd also have, eventually, two U.S. Senators as well, but more importantly, we'd have a Free State. Your idea has merit, but I think we can do better. It is a rather heavy commitment (particularily for commitment-averse Americans) to leave their jobs and family and friends to move to a strange place in the HOPE that it would be enough to take over the locality (without engendering great resentment from the native population), but if we could be assured that enough fellow-travelers would also show up, it could be well worth the trip.
Actually, I think we can swing two, or possibly three, Free States. Six Libertarian U.S. Senators. A half dozen (or more) Libertarian Congressmembers. Three (or merely two?) unrestricted free markets and pluralistic tolerant societies within the United States.
If you have a great job, or are intimately intertwined with your family and community and environment and you just never see yourself moving... So be it. Be at peace and tell your neighbors about us. If your life is in transition, however, and you think you could use a change of atmosphere, I offer the following "Libertarian Destinations"
My home -- the Island of Hawaii in the Peoples' Republic of Hawaii. The Big Island constitutes two-thirds of the land mass of the state, and is the most sparcely populated of the six available inhabited islands in the state. With a population of about a hundred and twenty thousand, an influx of ten or twenty thousand libertarians would make a huge difference in the political climate. With a free market, natural ports, our central Pacific location, abundant wind and sun power, and tropical locale, we would became the industrial power-house of the Pacific and the Hong Kong of the twenty-first century. Admittedly, we are up against a local ethos that is deeply obliged to the Democrat Party (Hawaii being de facto a one party state), but as you argued so well, just a handful of dedicated partisans can turn a society. Once EVERYONE'S neighbor, or co-worker, or brother-in-law is a Libertarian, we will have reached a critical mass and the tide will turn. I did fairly well (by Libertarian standards) during my last Congressional Campaign, but I would certainly welcome kokua from malahini (help from new-comers),
I ku ka makemake e hele mai, hele no me ka malo'elo'e. (If you wish to come visit, do not hesitate, for you are welcome.)
On the other hand, some creatures (and plantlife) cannot exist without snow, wintering over, or just following the march of the seasons. For such folks, a tropical climate would just not do. For them, I offer Libertarian Destination number two:
The Green Mountain State, (the Once and Future Republic of?) Vermont. It also satisfies your basic criteria. It is small, it has an international border, and it also has something of a head start with an existing population that is beginning to get fed up with statism. It is also spectacularily beautiful (in a way quite different from Hawaii's beauty.) Vermont enjoys the additional advantage of being in the thick of New England, so that many Yankee Libertarians could retain their jobs and stay close to their friends and family in neighboring states, and still establish Vermont residency.
I think I (or someone else) should also come up with a Libertarian Destination number three. I think Hawaii and Vermont are excellent starts. They represent the climatic and geographic extremes. They are both small enough to be influenced by us. They are both border states. They both have traditions of Independence. Perhaps the list should be confined to those States that have been independent nations prior to statehood. That is, Hawaii, Vermont, Texas, and (kind of) California. Texas and California may be a little ambitious at this juncture, but we do have strength in northern California and southern Oregon (the proposed State of Jefferson --- but that's a different story.) My destination number three would have to be Northern California, but I'm certainly not wedded to the notion. Also, I can't be real enthusiastic about any place other than my first choice of the Big Island. On the other, the prospect of living in a free country is very inticing, and I may well be persuaded to move to Vermont (or Arizona, or back to Oregon), but I cannot make the commitment at this time (surely not without discussing it with my family and friends first), but will remain in touch.
Again, thank you for your thoughts and for your time. Please feel free to circulate mine at your discretion, and I hope to see you here in the sun someday, unless I'm visiting our Sister Free State of Vermont.
Just finished reading my letter on the void of voting, especially as it relates to the Free State Project. So, naturally, I thought of "Bleeding Kansas." Years ago, not long after there were people, I grew up in Kansas.
Kansas was admitted to the USA (provocatively) in 1861, as a "free" state. Meaning that a bunch of Jayhawkers, many from Massachusetts, and a bunch of "slave staters" many from Missouri, spent a lot of time in Kansas voting on whether the slave state legislature at Lecompton would be the real deal, or that outfit which ended up in Topeka.
The free state folx "won" the last election. They won as crooked and as corrupt and as dirty an election as ever was. You might like to read about it, about the things John Brown did in the name of liberty, about the aftermath with Quantrill's Raiders coming through Lawrence to burn it to the ground seven times or so, and the overall effect of having an election that mattered to the distribution of power in the USA Senate.
Given the amount of attention that was focused on that election, and the really bad results that came of it, there isn't much of a leap to suppose that an election in New Hampshire or South Dakota or Wyoming to create a secessionist legislature wouldn't garner the same sort of unsavory attention. They didn't call it "Bleeding Kansas" because the election process was free of bloodshed.
Walter Williams wrote that Texas and Louisiana might secede peacefully. Just populate the two states with liberty loving people, hire new legislators, and write a really good declaration of independence. No mess, no fuss, no bloodshed. Until that declaration is signed.
If you believe in peaceful secession as a practical thing to expect in the next twenty years anywhere in the USA, then you should read the Warren Commission report on the JFK assassination; they have a theory for you. You might also believe that the eleven bullets fired from an 8-round clip by Sirhan Sirhan must have included the three which hit RFK even though the ballistics didn't match up, even though one round went in behind RFK's ear from point blank range as the powder burns illustrate, a range at which Sirhan never was.
But, hey, don't let me rain on your parade. I look forward to a good Free State Project bringing about a solid majority of citizens in some state voting in a secessionist legislature and governor. I'm eager to see what happens next. And, I've got plenty of ammo.
Keep yer powder dry.
Jim Davidson [email@example.com]
Bob Lallier wrote:
>The same [it's initation of force] holds true in the case of fraud.
Well, I was with you up to that point.
Let's keep this simple: If you sweet talk a woman into bed with lies, are you then guilty of forcible rape?
Sorry. Fraud is bad, but it is not "initiation of force" except in libertarian newspeak. I have a right to reclaim my property by force, but it is still initiation of force. If the villain persuades the police to help him retain possession, that's force, but it's not initiation.
Again, if what we mean is violation of rights, then let's say violation of rights, and get on with the necessary discussion of just what are rights.
(By the way a few libertarians seem to take the oath literally, and say that the state ought not be concerned with contract-breaking and even fraud, but rather let the buyer beware and watch out for your reputation.)
And again, any defense of the "Non-Initiation of Force" theme needs also to address David Friedman's criticism at http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Libertarian/Machinery_of_Freedom/MofF_Chapter_41.html
Derk Benner wrote:
>... the tri-County drug enforcement team that has done so much to make life hell for the Cubby's up in Auburn, CA.
Perhaps this was intended to refer to Steve & Michele Kubby. For more info, See http://www.kubby.com/
>... I'm now saving up to get a pair of shotguns to store around the house, fully loaded with buckshot! ...
Of course if we could choose for ourselves who we would pay to provide police services -- as a competitive business -- we ought to get better service. David Friedman argues that police protection need not be a monopoly -- see "POLICE, COURTS, AND LAWS---ON THE MARKET" at http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Libertarian/Machinery_of_Freedom/MofF_Chapter_29.html Maybe we wouldn't even need our own shotguns.
Bill Bunn [firstname.lastname@example.org]
If we had just laws, we would have no government. You have the best chance of justice with competing structures of justice. There can be no justice when you have a monopoly with guaranteed funding no matter how stupid or counterproductive the product.
Government is a Gun Enforced Monopoly Provider of services. You cannot make a criminal enterprise into something beneficial by asking it real nice. You cannot limit it. You cannot prohibit it.
I suspect you cannot beat it with weapons; but, you certainly have the right. I think it can be competed out of existence and I work toward that end.
Just law and (just) courts did not come from the ruling criminal element. Law came from the people in competing courts of common law. The professional criminal class usurped the rights of the individual and handed out judgeships to accomplices. Then the PCC started the process of creating laws that no one could read, understand or follow to provide themselves autonomy while dishing every injustice under the sun for fun and profit.
To turn to the problem as the source of the solution is a pretzel of logic I cannot follow. Legislatures are about usurping the rights of individuals. If you haven't noticed; central planning doesn't work.
To find the best possible solution for our own unique talents, needs and problems, we need to have competing services to discover what works best. You cannot usurp your way to a system of justice.
I consider these to be the rules of Natural Law. Natural Law is that which is discovered as opposed to being pronounced by some self-serving and arrogant idiot who thinks he is God.
1. Do all you have agreed to do.
The first two are as written in Richard Maybury's "Whatever Happened to Justice?"
The third is my personal observation for one of the necessary foundations for a just society that continues to gain in abundance, harmony, health, happiness and morality.
And to quote, Dennis Miller, "Of course, that's just my opinion and I could be wrong."
Live Long & Free,
All right class, repeat after me: "What's wrong with this picture?" (If they are strong, it's a bitch to keep them limited).
Ward Griffiths [email@example.com]
Dear Editor and Mr. Carville,
The problem with defining an atomic weapon as wrong to own merely because it is dangerous is that the same logic applies to anything and everything. People have been killed by pillows, plastic bags, gasoline (until OKC, the largest mass murder in America was a gasoline fueled fire in a crowded theater), cars, and even political policies.
That does not contradict the fact that atomics are dangerous, just like firearms. I do not equate a pistol and a fusion bomb, I equate intent. The tool has no intent, only acting individuals do.
What is the potential hazard difference between an atomic weapon and a pocket pistol? Very, very great. As such, it is that very hazard that must be addressed, and nothing else.
Someone who walks around with their pistol drawn and finger on the trigger is far more of a threat than their safely stored atomic device. As such, the individual is prosecutable if they continue the irresponsible behavior with the former that threatens others, not their simple posession of the latter.
To resurect an old USENET discussion, I can make a botulin grenade from badly canned tomatos, complete with glass fragmentation encasement and positive pressure for maximum dispersal. Does that justify making home tomato preserving illegal? Or even licensed?
Every gun prohibition on the books is rationalized by the idea that there is no reasonable utility in posession of such things. "Of no use in self defense, has no sporting purpose, is useless in hunting", etc.
There may be no "safe storage method" of atomics, in which case the mere existance of the device creates the threat which can then be prosecuted. There certainly is no use I can think of for an atomic device in self defense, but I certainly can think of some uses in terms of mining.
Someone storing or using gasoline in such a way that threatens their neighbors is prosecutable, without restrictions on ownership or use of gasoline.
Atomic weapons and pistols are not equal. Responsibility for ones own actions extended to all things does emcompass both atomics and pistols, and I believe it is in our best interests to demonstrate the qualities of responsibility, not bicker about mere "things". We are then reduced to justifying A vs. B in terms of utility, and that argument does not succeeded in overturning prohibitions.
Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]
Dear Editor and Mr. Carville,
Kevin Crady [firstname.lastname@example.org] wrote:
If a divine power intervenes in our universe, there are a few different possibilities:
Either way, science incorporates God without needing to acknowledge him, so divine intervention cannot invalidate science.
If God should offer us his guidance, together with persuasive evidence that it IS authoritative divine guidance, then we have something. Absent that, what relevance to human life does God have?
(These thoughts were prompted by a suggestion in a private e-mail from John Sebastian.)
In another venue, Wes Bunn (yes, my brother) wrote:
(More writings at http://www.reninet.com/maile/billbunn/Bits_and_barnacles.htm
Delighted to see your long exposition on Locke's review. My brief contrapoint didn't even grant his integrity, so I didn't bother to expose each fallacious assertion ... but I'm glad you did!
Particularly valuable was your discussion of falsification and the axioms of existence and consciousness. It reminded me of Rand's "Objectivist Epistemology".
Congratulations on a thorough and precise debunking.
Since I obviously agree with all your points, my secondary motive in writing is to query you on the distinction between a "species" and a "breed". It's always puzzled me why a "horny spotted owl" was considered an "endangered species", rather than a quirky variation of "owl". If the distinction between wolves and dogs is arbitrary, then certainly this distinction is capricious.
Bill Westmiller [Westmiller@aol.com]
Just a comment to counter the "nay-sayers", I think it's wonderful to publish un-popular points of view. Either a theory stands or falls on its own merits, but only in an environment where said theory, and its counter theories, can be openly debated.
I, for one, while feeling the tendons in my horses leg that lead back to the now redundant individual manipulator mussels for the horses now nonexistent individual toes, remarked to myself how wonderful it would be to travel back in time and meet the little 5-toed 4-legged animal which passed on such strengths to survive to such a diverse group as "mammals" have come to be.
Others may remark to themselves how wonderful it would be to meet the artist.
Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]
Found this on "The Objective American" web site http://www.objectiveamerican.com/ for Thursday September 6, 2001. One of those "why didn't I think of that" moments:
Ken L. Holder [email@example.com]
Bill Bunn wrote:
Since "intervention," by definition, is an alteration in the otherwise natural course of events, it would presumably be detectible as such, unless the intervention was constant, e.g. if in "reality" there were no gravity, but Goddess holds things together by magic for some inscrutible purpose of her own. The difference between this and a scientific view of gravity is that Goddess could decide to say "Oh, screw it! I'm tired of holding the cosmos together!" and let the "law of antigravity" reassert itself. It's not hard to imagine a religion built up around appeasing the Goddess O' Gravity to keep her holding things together. Such a belief, if valid, would certainly eliminate relativity theory!
But if we take out the possibility of divine caprice, and suggest that Goddess is somehow permanently constrained to keep holding Universe together, say by the other Gods of the Pantheon or by some quirk of her own perfectly "holy" nature, then there is no operational difference between gravity as a natural property of mass/curved spacetime and gravity as magic. There are logical differences. "Magic" is still not an explanation for how she would actually hold Universe together. The notion of a Goddess (and perhaps other "divine" beings) violates Occam's Razor. Unless some positive evidence that something "extra" is at work besides Universe and the entities within it behaving according to their nature, there is no need to posit additional "things" like deities and heavenly dimensions. In addition, the term "God" (or "Goddess") requires a non-contradictory definition before it can be proposed as the solution for any cosmic mystery. As of yet, theists have failed to provide such a definition. For a thorough discussion, see Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith.
However, if Universe was "random" in this way--so that men could (occasionally) walk on water, or move mountains by "faith," then a scientific endeavor would be impossible even if there was not "divine intervention" behind the randomness. The repeated experiments and observations that are the basis of the scientific method could not occur since the same causes would not lead to the same results.
Perhaps what you're getting at here is that there's no way to distinguish between a Universe with "divine intervention" and one without, whether the proposed intervention is predictable or random, no way to say "Yep, that's divine intervention, not just cosmic randomness (or predictability)." If so, then I agree. It's up to the theist to define the term "God" and provide some way for us to detect its existence.
Of course, this brings up the question of what a "God" is and what would qualify as persuasive evidence of its existence. For example, how could we tell the difference between a "God" and an alien with highly-advanced technology posing as one?
Are the cane and crutch here metaphors for religion? If so, considering how many people have been clubbed to death by the canes and crutches of the faithful, that alone is a good reason to take them away in favor of enlightenment.
However, the metaphors are fundamentally inaccurate. A blind man's cane or a cripple's crutch are adaptations to deal with inherent physical limitations. To claim that religious people are inherently impaired somehow and should be allowed to lean on their myths and falsehoods is IMO hardly an inspiring defense of religion. The situation is more like people who have blindfolds tied on and grope about with canes instead of using perfectly good eyes, or people whose legs are tied up so they need crutches to walk/hop along clumsily. With this metaphor, freeing people of the artificial impediments of religion in favor of unhindered sight and movement would indeed be "enlightenment" and not a state of despair.
Having been a student of Bob LeFevre's in the early 1960s, I don't know which works he's read, but Keith might be interested to know that LeFevre was a pacifist who would atempt to reason with an aggressor and never attempt to defend himself, the one position I could not agree with much as I otherwise admired the man and his brilliant concepts.
It would be a great pleasure to hear from any other former students, and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cordially (the closing Bob always used in his letters),
Brian Monahan [email@example.com]
I had a very disturbing conversation with a member of local law enforcement the other day. It was during a break while we were volunteering at car seat safety check. With over 99% of child car seats installed incorrectly, itís probably the best way to not have to deal with dead or dying kids during my day job working for an ambulance service.
I have no recollection of how we started about talking about the Constitution, but one remark shook me. He said, "We need to rewrite the Constitution. As it was written in the 1870ís, it really doesnít work any more."
Trying to keep my voice even, and not even correcting his obvious gaff, I said, "Oh, really? What parts in particular?"
"Like the 4th Amendment. If you have nothing to hide, you shouldnít have any problem with letting the police search your car or your house. The only people who are protected by the 4th are criminals with something to hide."
I was stunned. Didnít they teach him Constitutional Law when he was in the law enforcement academy? Or even history while he was in high school?
Just to keep the conversation moving, I asked, "Anything else?"
"Yeah, the First Amendment needs some work too. The press has entirely too much power."
Tentatively, I said, "I canít say that Iíll agree with you there as I write a weekly column for a local arts and entertainment newspaper."
I hoped he wouldnít recognize me from my column as it looks at news from a different bent. Itís also as Libertarian as I can push past my editor--I go out of my way chronicling the folly of the war on drugs, push a pro-2nd Amendment agenda as hard as I can, sarcastically point out the misuses of our civil rights destroying bloated and mismanaged government on all levels from city to state to federal and much more.
Thankfully, he didnít recognize me as I had skewered some local law enforcement practices just the week before and had no desire for a body cavity search. He seemed a bit uncomfortable as we talked about some of the left leaning reporters in the other media for a few minutes.
Then I asked him if there was anything else wrong with the Constitution as it was written.
He rolled his eyes and said, "Donít even get me started on the 2nd Amendment." He then went on a long-winded discourse on how only police and military were Ďqualifiedí to have guns. He stopped as my eyes glazed over with the effort it took to bite my tongue.
I wish that I could say that I was able to convince him of the error of his ways. To tell you the truth, I didnít even try as I knew a hopeless cause when I saw one. I took a couple of deep breaths, nodded and then went to find some more car seats to check. Crawling through backseats infested with moldering french fries was much better than having to deal with this example of our cityís finest.
Afterwards, and while replaying back the conversation in my head, I did resolve that I would more fully learn my rights and exercise them. I have a concealed weapons permit from a previous job and intend to keep it and will exercise it by carrying my evil high capacity Glock 9mm as often as I can. If pulled over, I will not allow the police to search my car for any reason unless they go to the trouble of getting a search warrant. My children have been instructed to never allow a police officer into the house without a search warrant. I will make more effort in pointing out civil rights violations to the readers of my column. Most importantly, I will work to see that my children are free thinkers who wonít follow the crowd and that they should question governmental authority.
In the course of my work, I spend a lot of time with local law enforcement and Iím finding the attitudes displayed by this officer are more and more the norm most particularly with younger officers. I donít know if itís from the dumbing down of the educational system, the slant of media, pressures from command staff or the quality of people being hired into law enforcement, but it looks like itís going to be a dark future.
Joe Collins [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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