Archive for July, 2010
L. Neil Smith is the First Initial Middle-Name-”Neil” Last-Name-Begins-With-”S” Prometheus-Award-Winning Libertarian-Science-Fiction-Author Gun-Writer Singer/Songwriter” who is not me. Now here’s something else we agree about.
Little Criminals — The Context of Consent
Have you ever noticed — in movies, books, or real life — that when a mugger attacks someone, he never says “Give me your money!” but usually says “Give me the money!” or even “Give me my money!” instead?
There seems to be a basic human drive to justify one’s actions, no matter how heinous they might actually be. Sometimes it’s a matter of self-deception — “I’m doing this for your own good!” — sometimes it’s a matter of propaganda: “We had to destroy the village to save it.” It’s the basis on which millions of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others were stripped of their perceived humanity in the 1940s and
I was probably only eight years old when I realized that socialism is nothing more than a fancied-up excuse for stealing other people’s property and killing them if they resist, that collectivism is just a shabby attempt to make theft and murder appear respectable. Later on, I came to understand that this is true of all “philosophies” of government.
We all live in a kleptocracy.
Lately, we have witnessed the rise of a movement — a thuggish crusade wrapped in the tattered robes of academic “respectability” against “Intellectual Property Rights” — dedicated to stripping creative individuals of whatever they create, to expropriate it for some imagined “greater good,” and to attack the creators viciously and defame them if they should be so gauche as to object to being stolen from.
Their principal “argument” seems to be, now that almost everything is digitized and can be duplicated, manipulated, and transported by means of electronics, that this somehow removes the moral obligation of civilized beings to respect the rights of others and honor their propriety. It’s fundamentally the same argument that victim disarmament advocates make when they claim — ignoring the principle involved — that the authors of the Second Amendment couldn’t possibly anticipate machine guns.
Even more, it’s like a rapist saying afterward, “Hey, if you were a virgin, at least that’s taken care of now. And if you weren’t, then you haven’t really lost anything, have you? True, I have benefited from your sexuality, but you still have it, don’t you? And if you didn’t want to get raped, you had no business going out in public and spraying pheromones all over. In fact, I think I’m the real victim, here.”
I am currently thinking these thoughts, and many more besides, because, when they thought I wasn’t looking, a small handful of literary muggers and rapists have taken something that I am fairly famous for having written — my “Covenant of Unanimous Consent” — inflicted alterations on it which they falsely claim makes it a different document, and then fraudulently passed it off as their own work.
Which means any signatures it gathered were obtained fraudulently, too. They would want me to mention who they are and give you their URL.
I’ve seen plagiarism before. In ninth grade, I won a short story contest because the guy who “beat” me had typed up something by Robert Sheckley or Richard Matheson and passed it off as his own. I’m not the one who turned him in, although I had immediately recognized the story. The idiot had to get on the PA system and confess to his crime. Whether it ruined his life forever or was the making of him, I have no way of knowing. I had no sympathy for him because what he did is a crime, in the legal sense but more importantly, in the moral sense, as well.
Back to the present.
In time, several individuals warned me about what had happened, and I contacted the plagiarists directly, myself. Imagine my surprise when, instead of apologizing humbly and abjectly, as they ought to have done, and sought to make restitution, they became obnoxious and aggressive, so that, in the end, I was considered the villain of the piece, and called names, simply for having defended my own work from theft.
You will be interested to learn — and falling-down amused, if you know me or my work at all well — that I am, officially, a “statist asshole.” In part, this is because I politely informed them I was sharing our correspondence with my attorney, to whom I had started blind-copying everything. My attorney is also among my very closest friends, and I had decided to blind-copy him to keep his Inbox clear of the heady liquid excrement (ever see the uncut final sequence of The Magic Christian?) I was having to wade through to protect my rights.
Never forget that I am a statist asshole.
Please note: I had never said that I was planning to sue this gang of little criminals, only that I was blind-copying my correspondence with them to my attorney. It was they who jumped to the conclusion that I wanted to sue them. Even when I told them that I wasn’t planning to sue them, and instead mentioned private adjudication — a process, I assume, that can legitimately involve attorneys — they childishly went on calling me a statist, not because it was true, but because it was such a swell smelly ball of excrement to smear on the wall.
This is not unlike the way, whenever they sensed dimly that they were losing the argument at hand, my grandmother Mabel and my wife’s grandmother Bertha (no, I am not kidding), both of whom were Roosevelt Democrats with minds so narrow they could look through a keyhole with both eyes, would resort to calling anyone who disagreed with them a communist.
Thus I am a statist asshole.
I have a small bet with myself that if I had informed these opponents of common, civilized behavior that I consider that what they have done amounts to an act of initiated force against me — with all of the consequences that entails — intervention on their behalf by the State, most likely in the form of badged and uniformed policemen who could prevent me from dealing with them directly, myself, would suddenly, miraculously appear a whole lot more attractive and morally acceptable.
But, statist asshole that I am, I have digressed.
At some point, I realized that the topic of intellectual property rights (about which I have never before been particularly interested) would have to be dealt with in Where We Stand, the volume I’m currently writing on libertarian policy, and that if I were to write an article about this little flapette for my editorial journal The Libertarian Enterprise, it might be suitable for the book. I conveyed that idea to the plagiarists as politely as I could, and put off any further argument with them until the article could be written and published.
The very next thing I knew, I was being defamed, by the leader of these scavengers and parasites, to all sixteen of the listeners to his Internet radio show, and all over the Internet. But, of course, had I decided to sue the guy for libel, slander, and defamation, in addition to his plagiarism, that would have made me a statist asshole all over again.
A double statist asshole.
Ever hear a mugger or rapist complain bitterly when it turns out his victim is armed and can defend him- or herself? I have. He sounds exactly like a left wing anti-gun politician. He also sounds exactly like the second-handers whole stole my work and offered it as their own.
Like many another pack of thieves, the Hole-In-The-Head Gang (to borrow a phrase) had an ideology with which to alibi themselves. The first tenet is that there is a distinction between physical property and what some — especially its creators — claim to be “intellectual property.”
They informed me, loftily, that just because I think of an idea, that doesn’t mean it belongs to me. That if I don’t want something I created stolen, then I shouldn’t communicate it to the world. Fine — and if everybody followed this “advice,” these creeps wouldn’t have any opposition to their thievery, and no stories or books would ever be published, no songs would ever be written, no music would ever be composed.
What a swell world that would be.
Believe it or not, one of these scavengers defended his crime by asserting that the Covenant of Unanimous Consent did not appear on one of the more prominent pages of my website. That’s exactly like ordering me to turn in my Yves Saint Laurent suit (believe it or not, I own one, and a nice Calvin Klein, too) because I don’t wear it very often. True, I had backed off pressing the Covenant as it became more and more obvious to me the movement had deteriorated so badly that the Zero Aggression Principle was now considered controversial, and even oppressive.
“You are a dinosaur and your assertion [presumably of my personal property rights] is invalid,” another of them informed me grandly. He, too, would want me to mention his name. “Innovation is impossible under your worldview.”
As an individualist, I’m not generally interested in Utilitarian arguments. However, it is worth noting that the past 300 years have seen the greatest progress in human history, and it’s exactly the same era in which copyright has been respected and stringently enforced. In this connection it’s worth asking, since there is no actual difference between intellectual property and physical property, when some self-appointed committee of sticky-fingered little rodents will “discover” that fact, and decide that you don’t really need your wallet, your car, your house, or especially your guns. It’s been done everywhere else, during the last couple of centuries, all over the world. Why not here?
Only we’ll call it libertarianism.
As I say, I had pretty much ignored the issue of intellectual property rights, even though arguments about it had been raging all over my blog at BigHeadPress.com, and in the virtual pages of my opinion journal, The Libertarian Enterprise. For the most part, I had been too busy creating more intellectual property, notably my vampire novel, Sweeter Than Wine and the policy guide, Where We Stand. Now I was going to have to think about it and say something coherent.
My first observation is that, in a moral context, there is no discernible difference between physical property and intellectual property. As I first learned at the age of thirteen from the pages of Jack Finney’s 1959 novel Assault on a Queen, virtually everything we have, we have purchased at the price of little bits of our lives which we dedicate to fulfilling some employer’s interests rather than our own. We trade the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and eventually the years of our lives for our homes, cars, and everything else.
Traditionally in civilized property theory, “mingling your labor with the land,” the concepts of “sweat equity,” and of “selling little bits of your life” in order to acquire whatever you need or want, abolishes any meaningful difference between physical and intellectual property. The farmer begins with a tree-covered lot that he must clear and plow and plant, and the writer with a damnedly blank page or screen.
Property is property and theft is theft. Or as my wife Cathy, who can be refreshingly straightforward, puts it, unless you can go out in a field somewhere and pee me a bicycle without reflecting on it, all property is intellectual property. Somebody had to think of it. Somebody had to build it. And somebody had to use his mind to earn the money “or other valuable consideration” that was exchanged for the bicycle.
When I first went to college as a freshly-fledged “admirer of Ayn Rand,” I was informed — by leftists deeply involved in what was billed as the “Civil Rights Movement” — that there are human rights and then there are property rights; only the former existed in reality and are legitimate. Some of them asserted mockingly that property couldn’t have rights, others that defending property rights is somehow reprehensible and evil. Doomed never to be popular at school, I disagreed. It had been my experience that those who disparage property rights most vociferously usually do it because they want your property themselves.
Almost to a man (if that’s not giving these poor creatures too much credit; I have noticed that none of these would-be looters seem to be female, perhaps because women are the ultimate creators and the fiercest guardians of that which evolution has put in their charge) these illiterati seem to be very poorly educated where history in general — and the history of the libertarian movement in particular — are concerned. One of them actually quotes one of the original ideological expropriationists for the common good, collectivist anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, in his messages: “Property is theft.”
That’s like a Jew leaning on Adolf Eichmann for support.
They seem a little unendowed in the imagination department, too. I have spent my entire adult life writing novels about how the mechanics of civilization can be re-engineered to exclude the very concept of government.
I hereby sentence them to read The Probability Broach, Pallas, and especially Forge of the Elders. Just because the state has protected intellectual property rights in the past, that doesn’t mean intellectual property rights don’t have to be protected. Just because it’s difficult to imagine how, that doesn’t relieve us of the moral burden.
Copyright © 2010 L. Neil Smith. All rights reserved. Used by permission. For reprint rights email L. Neil Smith.
My own writings on “IP” are in previous columns here on J. Neil Schulman @ Rational Review:
–J. Neil Schulman
J. Neil Schulman (Photo Left)
with L. Neil Smith (Photo Right),
J. Neil Schulman on Concord Bridge holding his James Madison Award
I think there is a kind of litigious evil which can not be permitted without the destruction of law itself: when a thief sues a property owner for defending himself from the thief. I pledge my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor that I will defend law itself from this kind of shameless thief.
My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!
Let’s start with how long I’ve been involved with the NRA.
I got my first NRA shooting certificate when I was 12-years-old and my NRA pistol certification when I was 38.
I’ve been an NRA member for a couple of decades, and I’m currently a Life Member. When I lived in Southern California I was President of the NRA Members Council of West Side Los Angeles.
J. Neil Schulman wearing NRA Cap at 1994 rally
My father, concert violinist Julius Schulman, was also an NRA member — at least as far back as the 1960′s to his passing in 2000 — and I remember American Rifleman mailed to our house in Natick, Mass., and reading the digest of newspaper stories highlighting gun-owner defenses in the “Armed Citizen” column every month. That — and my father’s own personal accounts of how on several occasions he used his CCW-licensed handgun to save his own and others’ lives from criminal attacks — is one of the reasons I eventually wrote my 1994 Charlton-Heston-endorsed book Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns.
Most of what you hear about guns on TV and radio, and most of what you read about guns in prominent magazines and newspapers, is distorted to the point of lying, by writers who have a prejudice against private ownership of guns by the American public.
Most journalists today write as if the NRA–usually lumped in with the Tobacco Institute–represents only the commercial interests of “merchants of death” who don’t care how many lives are lost–particularly the lives of our young people–just so long as they get to keep selling their product.
So let’s get that myth out of the way right now.
The National Rifle Association of America is a 124-year-old organization almost entirely financed by the dues and small contributions of its 3.2 million members, not by money from the gun manufacturers. In addition to the NRA’s other programs, the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action lobbies for the right to keep and bear arms not only of 70 million current American gun owners, but of anyone who might want to exercise that right in the future.
This media hostility to the NRA permeates the entire debate about guns and violence in this country, and allows lie to be piled upon lie. When NRA held a news conference to tell the media that a new Luntz-Weber poll showed that most Americans don’t think gun control will reduce crime or violence, the room was empty. When Handgun Control, Inc., called a news conference around the same time to discuss the results of a Louis Harris poll, the room was jammed with reporters and TV cameras, and the media reported Handgun Control’s interpretation of the poll results as if it were a papal encyclical.
At some point, you just have to ask yourself the following question: who knows more about guns–the millions of NRA members who own them, handle them on a regular basis, and have taken NRA’s safety courses…or journalists who talk and write about guns for television networks and national magazines, but are often afraid even to be in the same room with one?
As a comparison, would you believe a writer who spent his life railing about how dangerous automobiles were, but who had never sat behind the steering wheel of a car? Why on earth would you believe a critic who spent his life telling you how to improve automotive safety but who had never bothered to get an engineering degree–and who dismissed the opinions of real automotive experts who pointed out the critic’s incompetence and bias, sneering that the experts were “just mouthpieces for the automobile manufacturers’ lobby”?
So if I’m now telling the NRA’s political strategists that they’re acting like cowards — acting out of fear of what their enemies might do — understand that it’s said out of love.
The NRA is considering endorsing the solidly anti-gun-owner Nevada Senator Harry Reid — the current Senate Majority Leader — in his run against the solidly pro-gun-owner Sharron Angle.
Now, I’m not a big fan of Sharron Angle, even though the list of areas where we agree is formidable. She believes in the absolute right to keep and bear arms; so do I. She wants to phase out the Department of Education — a massive bureaucracy that doesn’t educate anybody — and Social Security — which given its bankruptcy guarantees the young workers being taxed for it no security whatsoever.
But Sharron Angle also is so opposed to legalizing marijuana that she’d bring back alcohol prohibition if necessary to prevent it; is opposed to legal gambling in her state whose entire economy is based on legal gambling; and is more anti-abortion than the Pope, who isn’t as opposed to saving the life of a mother as Mrs. Angle is.
I just don’t trust anyone who picks and chooses which of the Bill of Rights she likes and which she doesn’t like, and Sharron Angle’s devotion to the State using its police power to enforce her ideas on Christian morality makes me think that if push ever came to shove, she’d sell out the Second Amendment to keep something that offends her church illegal in a Las Vegas minute.
The 2012 election is coming up, and for you Heinlein fans out there, keep a sharp eye out for the crop of Nehemiah Scudders currently infecting the Tea Party movement. Sharron Angle and Sarah Palin give me the willies. But if Sharron Angle is elected, as a first-time senator she’ll be a back-bencher — no seniority, little power. No immediate threat.
There is just no excuse for the NRA considering endorsing Harry Reid to keep his U.S. Senate seat and his position as Senate Majority Leader simply because some election tout at 11250 Waples Mill Road is pissing his pants that if Nevada voters fire Reid New York Senator Charles Schumer might replace him.
So what? Even if the Republicans don’t take back one house or the other, are we so afraid of the outcome of one lousy election that we have to give our sanction of the victim to Harry Reid who is just as opposed to gun-owner rights as Schumer, but has the slight tactical advantage that he’s more retarded?
We’ve got the facts of gun-owner defenses on our side. We’ve got the Constitution on our side. At this fleeting moment in time we even have the Supreme Court on our side. Now’s no time to show the white feather.
The NRA is made up of people who are willing to shoot back when attacked. It’s intolerable that the world’s biggest organization defending the political immunities of gun owners should put up with lobbyists and political tacticians who are afraid of their own shadows.
As I wrote in a song I put on the soundtrack of my movie, Lady Magdalene’s, “I’d rather be tried by twelve than carried by six.”
My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!
For many years my friend Samuel Edward Konkin III –SEK3, for brevity — always celebrated his July 8th birthday in conjunction with Robert A. Heinlein’s July 7th birthday. When both were alive, it was not uncommon for me to put in a phone call to Mr. Heinlein so I could put Sam on the phone with him, and they could wish each other Happy Birthday.
Sam was a nocturnal creature at best, and an alien at worst. I don’t mean in this case a Canadian living in the United States; I mean someone whose home planet had a different circadian than Earth’s 24-hour cycle. Sam’s natural circadian was for a day somewhere between 26 and 27 hours, and there is no planet in our solar system with that circadian. So if Sam’s internal circadian matched some other humanoid species, it was from another star system; or maybe we need to look more closely at some brane in the 11th Dimension.
The point is, I’m writing this at about 11:00 PM on July 7th — and often enough, that’s about when Sam would be downing his first beer for the Heinlein-Konkin Birthday Party, which would be the official start of the party.
Aside from family members, Robert A. Heinlein and Samuel Edward Konkin III were the two most influential men in my life. Heinlein shaped my childhood through his novels and short stories; and he gets this place above other authors who were influential — such as C.S. Lewis — because I eventually met and became friends with Heinlein. C.S. Lewis had passed before I’d read him.
I wrote about Heinlein when he passed:
Sooner or later we all imagine there’s a set of technical manuals our parents were supposed to give us at birth with instructions on How Life Works.
Not that thick book called The Purpose of Your Life. You get that one later. These are “How To” manuals. Each is called Getting By When You’re Up The Creek Without a Paddle, Fighting Back When You’re Sick of Getting Pushed Around, Love — What It is and How to Survive It, or How to Keep From Going Crazy When Everyone Around You Already Is.
Obviously, sometime before you were born, your parents pawned the manuals for a down payment on a Chevy. Or maybe the tomes went overboard when their parents emigrated to America. Or were they incinerated during the big library fire in Alexandria?
Anyway, people keep fudging up replacements. You’ll find them in the Philosophy section, the Psychology section, the Science section, and (Someone help you) the UFO Abduction/Tarot/Astrology/Numerology section.
Look no further: you’ll find the closest thing to the Lost Manuals in the science fiction section: the author was Robert A. Heinlein.
An engineer by trade, Heinlein knew that while machines can be duplicated, people can’t be: no set of engineering instructions could apply to several billion individuals. He gave basic working diagrams; folks would have to jury-rig things from there.
Heinlein wrote fiction because that’s what non-engineers could understand best — and he set his stories in strange lands because things were changing so fast that any land we encounter was bound to be.
Take the Lost Manual titled Getting By When You’re Up the Creek Without a Paddle. Heinlein wrote several versions, each with a different slant. In Tunnel in the Sky teenagers on a two-week survival test find themselves stranded on a virgin planet, probably for good. In Job: A Comedy of Justice a preacher on vacation finds that while God might not play dice with the universe, it’s only because He prefers other games.
In Citizen of the Galaxy a boy is sold into slavery to a crippled beggar … and eventually concludes this was the best thing that ever happened to him. And in Have Space Suit — Will Travel a high school senior is abducted by a UFO, and ultimately finds himself in a distant courtroom appointed Clarence Darrow for the entire human race; this novel comes close to combining all the Lost Manuals into one.
Love — What It Is and How to Survive It: Heinlein wrote this several times, also. In The Door Into Summer a poor inventor lives through his fiancee turning into as much fun after work as Lucrezia Borgia; cryonics and a time machine give him a second shot at love. Time travel also helps Lazarus Long in Time Enough For Love find love a second time. It takes him 23 centuries to find the woman of his dreams but it turns out to be his own mother. (See previous Manual.)
As for How to Keep from Going Crazy When Everyone Around You Already Is — Heinlein considered most people “candidates for protective restraint.” Stranger in a Strange Land is Heinlein’s best attempt here. But try figuring out which characters aren’t already crazy.
Fighting Back When You’re Sick of Getting Pushed Around was Heinlein’s favorite topic. His early novel If This Goes On –, included in The Past Through Tomorrow, has a preacher combining the worst of Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart, and Orel Roberts elected president; a century later a Masonic Cabal is taking on the American theocracy run by the Prophet Incarnate. Methuselah’s Children (also in TPTT) has Lazarus Long’s tribe fleeing Earth to escape genocide.
Heinlein wrote four other novels of revolution. In Sixth Column super-science drives out the Pan-Asian conquerors of America. In Red Planet colonial rebels on Mars seek Martian help against absentee rulers on Earth. In Between Planets the rebellion stretches from Venus to Mars: this is my nomination for Robert A. Heinlein’s best-written novel.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is Heinlein’s libertarian classic — the Atlas Shrugged of science fiction. The revolution is on the moon; its leaders have read Ayn Rand; and one of them, Professor Bernardo de la Paz, is based on Heinlein’s old buddy, Robert LeFevre of Rampart College.
Robert A. Heinlein, in his half-century career, wrote over 45 books selling forty million copies worldwide. A mindful history will place him alongside Dickens and Twain.
We must cry that his pen has been set down for the last time: we can rejoice at the immense lost legacy he has regained for us.
When SEK3 passed I wrote the following:
I first met Sam in 1971 in New York City, at the first libertarian meeting I ever attended, the New York Libertarian Association, in libertarian attorney Gary Greenberg’s living room. I’d already started a campus libertarian group at the branch of City University of New York I was attending. Sam, a believer in the “libertarian alliance” concept of stringing together libertarian groups, immediately found this naive 18-year-old worth talking to.
We found out almost immediately that we shared an interest in science fiction (particularly Robert A. Heinlein) and the works of C.S. Lewis, whose Narnian chronicles I’d read as a child. Sam was only the second other person in my life I’d met who had read Heinlein, and the first other person I’d met who’d read Lewis. It was Sam who told me that Lewis had written more than the Narnian children’s books, introduced me to Lewis’s nonfiction and adult fiction, and took me to my first meeting of the C.S. Lewis Society of New York, which we attended together regularly. Sam also took me to my first science-fiction convention, 1971′s Lunacon, in New York City, to my first world science-fiction convention, Torcon, in Toronto, ON, in 1973, and to my first meeting of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS). We joined the just-formed Southern California C.S. Lewis Society together in 1975, and Sam and I each served on its governing council for a number of terms.
In New York, Sam took me to lectures where I met Murray Rothbard, introduced me to the writings of Ludwig von Mises, took me to my first libertarian conference at Hunter College in New York City, where I first met Robert LeFevre, and we audited recorded playings of the Brandens’ Basic Principles of Objectivism lectures together, also at Hunter College.
And, Sam and I tooled around New York City, searching out “underground gourmet” restaurants, and always (on the first day when possible) catching the latest Woody Allen movie or the latest James Bond movie.
Sam was a speaker at both of the libertarian CounterCon conferences on countereconomics I organized in 1974 and 1975.
We left New York together to come out to the promised land, Southern California, where he lived the rest of his life, except for two years in Las Vegas. Our automobile journey west with two other libertarians (Bob “Kedar” Cohen and Andy Thornton), in July and August 1975, took us to the Rivercon science fiction convention in Louisville,KY, and to the home of science-fiction magazine publisher Richard E. Geis in Portland, before we arrived in Los Angeles on August 10, 1975, where we spent our first night sleeping on the apartment floor of Dana Rohrabacher, Sam’s libertarian mentor, and now U.S. Congressman from Orange County, CA. Even today Congressman Rohrabacher still speaks fondly of Sam’s genius and imagination.
Dana introduced us to independent filmmaker Chris Schaefer, who managed an apartment complex in Long Beach. This became the AnarchoVillage (named after Sam’s recent six-floor walk-up apartment on East 11th Street in NYC which he’d dubbed the AnarchoSlum) and we lived two apartments away from each other until 1984. Many, many days were spent collating, folding, stapling, and mailing out magazines (many with articles of mine) with eating and drinking afterwards. When I was broke in those days, Sam was always happy to pick up the check and lay a “meal ob” on me, a concept we got from Eric Frank Russell’s libertarian SF novel, The Great Explosion.
A few years later I returned the favor when I set Sam up in an apartment he dubbed the AnarchoVilla, on Overland Avenue in Culver City. That apartment was production central for my book publishing. Sam was the production backbone and book designer for every book that came out from Pulpless.Com, and a talented graphic artist for many of the covers.
So, continue the tradition. Heinlein probably wouldn’t care what’s in your glass if you’re making a toast to them; but Sam had a firm belief that any beer you could see through wasn’t worth drinking.
Unless, of course that’s all that’s left in the bathtub.
My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!
The Unanimous Declaration
of the Thirteen United States of America
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Source: The Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776 And just so some wise-acre doesn’t give me grief about it — no, I’m not trying to claim a copyright on this document, which is freakingly obvious in the public domain.
Enough already about the Southern border with Mexico. The Mexicans are no threat to our way of life. Drug gangs? Please. Arizona just added legalized concealed carry of firearms without any licensing requirement to its already-existing policy of legal open carry of firearms without any licensing requirement. Any Mexican drug gangs mix it up with us Wild West types we’ll kick their asses all the way back to Mexico City just like we did in the 1840′s.
Mexicans come here, they sell me cheap oranges, they’ll do first-rate plumbing, electrical work, construction, and landscaping for a fraction of the cost I’d have to pay a licensed union worker, and Mexican food rocks. So what if I have to learn a little Spanish to understand their gibberish? Their women are hot and it’s all natural — no Beverly Hills surgery required.
No, as usual everybody’s looking the wrong direction. The danger to the American Way of Life is all these damned Canadians.
To start with, how dumb and weak-assed do you have to have been to have a shot at joining in with a revolution put together by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine, Sam Adams, and John Adams … and say, “No, thank you. We’re perfectly happy continuing to pay our taxes to some German king in London?” I mean, WTF?
Look, I like bangers and mashed as much as the next fellow, but I can’t recall seeing any drive-up windows with a clown logo where after putting in an order for bland sausages I’m asked by a pimply electronic voice, “You want mashed with that?”
Canadian politics? Their idea of a conservative is Leon Trotsky. They yammer all the time about how civilized they are and Americans aren’t but I seem to recall them sending troops to just about every stupid war we have. They may not pay their taxes to the Germans anymore but they still tax themselves half to death and brag about a socialized health care system that relies on private-sector American companies selling them drugs cheaper there than we can buy them here and Canadians running to American ER’s every time they actually need quality health care.
And I find it easier to mail a book or a DVD to London, Tokyo, or the Philippines than to get one past Canadian customs. I’ve had books and DVD’s that I paid overnight rates for sit in Canadian customs for a week or two before they finally deigned to allow their subjects to be allowed to receive them.
Then, of course, every time I run across some science-fiction novel that portrays America as some Jerry Falwell/Sarah Palin right-wing nightmare, by some coincidence it’s always some writer living in Toronto who never would dream of writing a 1984 dystopia set in their own country — it’s always set in mine. Like Canada has had a Bill of Rights going back over two centuries. Oh, wait. They didn’t get one that meant anything until after I’d published my first novel.
I have to admit that I harbored a Canadian illegal for decades. But you have you ask yourself: why is it that Canadians bitch so much about America but they don’t consider themselves a success at anything until they can make a go of it here?
Come on, I’m feeling feisty! You want a little one-on-one, Canada?
We had Frank Sinatra. Your answer was Michael Bublé.
We gave you Barbra Streisand. You gave us Céline Dion.
We gave you Elvis. You gave us Paul Anka.
I might be able to put up with Alanis Morissette if she could stop whining about her exes for five minutes.
We gave you Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, Danny Kaye, Mel Brooks, and Eddie Murphy. And, okay, you got something going with Mike Myers and Jim Carrey — but wait … aren’t they both naturalized U.S. citizens now?
And Alanis Morissette, too?
The point is, every time you get something going that might rightly be claimed as Canadian culture, you send it here and it becomes American culture.
Then you bitch about what barbarians we are.
Enough already. Eat your damned bangers and mashed.
I’m heading for Taco Bell.
(OPENPRESS) July 1, 2010 — International movie & TV star, Kevin Sorbo — Meet the Spartans, Andromeda, and whose TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was the #1 rated show worldwide — has joined the film production of Alongside Night as an executive producer as well as accepting the lead role of Nobel-prize-winning economist, Dr. Martin Vreeland.
Alongside Night, based on the highly-acclaimed 1979 novel adapted and to be directed by its author, J. Neil Schulman (writer/director of Lady Magdalene’s, writer of Twilight Zone: “Profile in Silver”) is the story of the final economic collapse of the United States as seen through the eyes of 18-year-old Elliot Vreeland, searching for his missing Nobel-laureate-economist father, and the mysterious 18-year-old “Lorimer” whom Elliot meets in a black-market underground, whose own father might be the reason Elliot’s father is missing.
The novel was published in hardcover by Crown Publishers on October 16, 1979, with an endorsement on the dust jacket from A Clockwork Orange author, Anthony Burgess, who wrote, “I received Alongside Night at noon today. It is now eight in the evening and I just finished it. I think I am entitled to some dinner now as I had no lunch. The unputdownability of the book ensured that. It is a remarkable and original story, and the picture it presents of an inflation- crippled America on the verge of revolution is all too acceptable. I wish, and so will many novelists, that I, or they, had thought of the idea first. A thrilling novel, crisply written, that fires the imagination as effectively as it stimulates the feelings.”
Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman
Cover of 1979 Crown Hardcover
An endorsement from Milton Friedman, 1976 Nobel laureate in Economics, also appeared on the first-edition dust jacket: “An absorbing novel–science fiction, yet also a cautionary tale with a disturbing resemblance to past history and future possibilities.”
More recently, Congressman Ron Paul endorsed the 2009 30th Anniversary Edition of Alongside Night, writing, “Alongside Night may be even more relevant today than it was in 1979. Hopefully this landmark work of libertarian science fiction will inspire a new generation of readers to learn more about the ideas of liberty and become active in the freedom movement.”
On June 2, 2010, Glenn Beck told the three-million listeners to his syndicated radio program, “It reads exactly like my show … written in 1979! Phenomenal! Phenomenal!”
1989 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award
for Alongside Night
In 1989 Alongside Night was entered into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, the first year of its eligibility, along with previous years’ Hall of Fame winners George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
Alongside Night was also voted Freedom Book of the Month for May 2009 by the Freedom Book Club.
The 30th Anniversary Edition of Alongside Night was first offered as a download from http://www.alongsidenight.net/ on June 13, 2009, and 203,136 copies were downloaded in the following year — over 100,000 copies within five days in May 2010.
Alongside Night 30th Anniversary Edition
Alongside Night will be the second feature film written and directed by J. Neil Schulman, following his suspense-comedy, Lady Magdalene’s, starring the original Star Trek‘s Lt. Uhura, Nichelle Nichols. Lady Magdalene’s has won two film-festival awards: “Best Cutting Edge Film” at the 2008 San Diego Black Film Festival, and “Audience Choice” at the 2008 Cinema City International Film Festival adjacent to Universal Studios, Hollywood.
J. Neil Schulman was introduced to Kevin Sorbo by Nichelle Nichols on a flight in 2007 when both were flying from Los Angeles to Atlanta for the DragonCon Convention where Sorbo was a featured guest and Lady Magdalene’s was being screened. They got back in touch through Facebook, where Schulman proceeded to familiarize Sorbo with his new production. Schulman is also an executive producer on Alongside Night.
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Kevin Sorbo is one of the most popular actors in the world today because of the immense and enduring popularity as Hercules in five TV movies in 1994, which led to the continuing series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999) and guest appearances on its spin-off series, Xena: Warrior Princess. (1995-2000)
Kevin Sorbo gained another large fan base from his starring role of Captain Dylan Hunt on the 2001-2005 series Andromeda.
He has made frequent guest appearances on other popular series including Cheers, Murder She Wrote, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, The O,C., and Psych, and has appeared as himself on Celebrity Jeopardy, Celebrity Poker Showdown, Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, MADTv, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, Live with Regis, and Howard Stern.
In addition to Meet the Spartans Kevin Sorbo’s movie work includes roles in Kull the Conquerer, and An American Carol.
He currently has six features listed as “in production” on IMDb and four more listed as “in development.”
J. Neil Schulman is the author of twelve books including two other novels, The Rainbow Cadenza (Simon & Schuster, 1983), which won the Prometheus Award, and 2002′s Escape from Heaven, a Prometheus-award finalist. He’s also written frequently for magazines and newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Reason, Liberty, and National Review, as well as having hosted and co-hosted radio shows. Admirers of his writing have included Charlton Heston, Robert A. Heinlein, Colin Wlson, Robert Anton Wilson, Piers Anthony, Dennis Prager, David Brin, Walter Williams, Gregory Benford, and Nathaniel Branden.
Alongside Night Plot Synopsis:
The American economy is in freefall. Markets are crashing. Inflation is soaring. Bankruptcies, foreclosures and unemployment are up, and even defense contracts are going overseas. The United States military is threatening to go on strike. Foreigners are buying up everything in America at firesale prices while gloating over the fall of a once great nation. Homeless people and gangs own the streets. Smugglers use the latest technology to operate bold enterprises that the government is powerless to stop, even with totalitarian spying on private communications. Anyone declared a terrorist by the administration is being sent to a secret federal prison where constitutional rights don’t exist.
And caught in the middle of it all are the brilliant teenage son of a missing Nobel-prizewinning economist, his best friend from prep school whose uncle was once an Israeli commando, and the beautiful but mysterious teenage girl he meets in a secret underground … a girl who carries a pistol with a silencer.
The setting could be next week. But this novel was written three decades ago.
“One of the most widely hailed libertarian novels since the classic works of Ayn Rand.”
Science Fiction Review:
“Probably the best libertarian novel since Atlas Shrugged.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review:
“High Drama … A story of high adventure, close escapes, mistaken identities, and thrilling rescues. … A fast-moving tale of a future which is uncomfortably close at hand.”
“As the seventies ended … the time seemed ripe for a great libertarian novel to appear, and so it did. The novel was Alongside Night…”
“An unabashedly polemical, libertarian novel which packages its message in a fast, effectively told action adventure.”
Sunday Detroit News:
“Let me begin with a disclaimer: I don’t really agree with many of J. Neil Schulman’s ideas about society or politics or money. But his first book, Alongside Night, is as enjoyable piece of cautionary fiction as I have read in some years … Like Ayn Rand and Robert A. Heinlein, Schulman can tell a good story!”
Alongside Night is listed as in development on IMDb Pro and its official website is http://www.alongsidenightmovie.com/. It’s for sale on Amazon.com as both a trade paperback and as a Kindle download.
Jesulu Productions may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.