Anders Monsen

Lost worlds and ports of call

Month: September 2008

A new front runner?

Will Terry Pratchett’s new novel give Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother some competition for the 2009 Prometheus Award? The synopsis certainly sounds intriguing, and I am reserving judgment on Little Brother until I have read all the other nominees. I enjoyed 95% of Doctorow’s novel, but felt rather let down at the end.

Trust us with your data

One more reason I avoid sites like facebook and myspace. In the first place I would not like to be peppered with advertising at my “own” page. There’s the lack of time issue. And then, there’s the fact that your access can be revoked at any time, for unstated reasons. It’s almost like they’re the government, citing “security reasons,” so that users have no idea why they are banned, and can never discover the reason.

A task too important for the government

Law enforcement: seen by 99.99% of intelligent people as the sole prerogative of the state. Why? Because to let private individuals handle the task would mean only rich people received protection, that people with money could break the law with impunity (these days they just get bailed out by the federal government). Example no. 1,423,675 to show the state option is just as ludicrous as the private option. In the real world neither is perfect. Still, the state option is nearly held up as the only option.

On the drive home today this point was hammered home again. In the middle of rush hour just south of Austin I was passed by a motorcycle cop. A few minutes later I saw him parked along the highway with his radar, scoping for violators of the reduced speed segment of the highway due to construction. Not one mile later we chanced upon a car accident, with an overturned car surrounded by private samaritans. No police in sight. There is no money in saving lives. Maybe unfair, as the accident had just happened. Still, with the nearly daily examples from Radley Balko at Reason.com of police mayhem and brutality against innocents, and other mainstream articles on mis-management and fraud from the so-called thin blue line, where are the calls to eliminate the state police? I do not believe you could flip a switch and overnight have a fully private law enforcement paradigm, as the collective consciousness is too firmly wedded to the idea this is a “wild west” scenario (purely inspired by Hollywood and detatched from reality), and that bloodshed in the streets will rule.

Still, when even free-market libertarians keep faith in the holy trinity of the state (police, law, and defense — all nation-state concepts that dovetail nicely with fatherland/motherland/homeland mystical rites of the state), there is no hope for those who view anything free market related as horrible in being open to a market for law enforcement.

The fiction of Garet Garrett

I scoffed with some light-hearted disdain the other day at at certain web site, some of whose writers are associated the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Despite my disagreements with certain aspects of what appears on the lrc site, the LVMI continues to publish some outstanding books in terms of intellectual interest, as well as books historical interest. Several of the early libertarians of the 20th century, while most well-known for essays and non-fiction, also wrote and published fiction prior to Ayn Rand. These include Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Garet Garrett. Bruce Ramsey recently wrote a review of Garrett’s novels for Liberty Magazine, books which the LVMI reprinted in 2007. This review also appears online, and shows the perils of non-fiction writers trying out fiction. Although it’s been nominated a few times for the LFS Hall of Fame, I have rarely read as poor an excuse for fiction as Henry Hazlitt’s Time Will Run Back. Hazlitt’s non-fiction is remarkable for its clarity and economic sense, but fiction is a different genre altogether.

I think this paragraph by Ramsey about Garrett’s reporting relates well to current economic issues in this country.

The nut of wisdom was not to over-borrow. Many farmers had feasted on credit during World War I, when food prices, and therefore the value of farmland, were high. They borrowed to buy more land and equipment. When prices came down, borrowers were in trouble. Garrett had the bad manners to point out that they had done it to themselves.

Amazing

The “libertarian” web site pimping for Ron Paul as a Republican Presidential Candidate, actually runs a political essay that makes sense.

Libertarian science fiction lists

Over at Tor.com, Kathryn Cramer points to a list that Dan Clore maintains, on essential science fiction for libertarians. When I have more time I’ll probably comment on the list. There are some interesting choices as well as omissions.

In the mail


I’m looking forward to starting Brian Francis Slattery’s new novel this week, Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America. I intend to review this in the Fall issue of Prometheus. I enjoyed Slattery’s first novel, which even now remains quite vividly in my memory after reading the book over a year ago. Some books are forgettable the moment you turn the last page, but not so with Spaceman Blues, his debut novel from 2007.

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