Friday, November 28, 2008

Lots of books at the Times

The New York Times books section has posted its "100 Notable Books of 2008," with links to the original reviews. I'm afraid the fiction list does nothing for me, but the nonfiction reviews pointed me to several interesting-sounding books that I'd missed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who's our man (or woman) in 2012?

The Libertarian Party desperately needs a good candidate in four years, so perhaps it isn't too early to start talking about who that person should be.

Over at Reason's Hit and Run blog, Nick Gillespie has tried to get the discussion rolling by mentioning two people: Michael Munger, a Duke University political science professor who ran for governor of North Carolina this year, and Angela Keaton, identified as a Libertarian Party activist. Both seem initially more attractive to me than Wayne Allyn Root, who already is running for the nomination.

At first blush, Keaton seems to be kind of a performance artist candidate. I haven't seen any sign of a real organization. Then again, she works for the folks at, so she seems likely to be strong on the peace issue, which will likely be an asset in four years, when the antiwar crowd has had time to become disillusioned with Barack Obama. It's really too early to express an opinion, but I've "friended" her on Facebook. A campaign Web site or blog would be a nice sign of seriousness.

As for Munger, I followed Nick's link to a Reason article about him and found that Munger said he was aiming for a final result of 3 percent to 4 percent of the statewide vote. He finished at 2.85 percent.

This is a big deal, because it bespeaks a Libertarian candidate who actually understands politics -- a 3 percent showing is GOOD for a Libertarian. He's also intelligent and well spoken.

Munger is currently planning to run for the North Carolina state senate in 2010, but his blog seems to refute the idea that he's running for president; in this post, he mentions the Reason post but says Gillespie is "having a little fun." I wrote to Munger, and he confirmed that he's not a candidate for president until at least 2016, and maybe not then. Still, he bears watching.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Libertarian vote up for grabs?

Before I forgot, I wanted to link to this post a few days ago by Cato's David Boaz, which posits (among other interesting points) that the libertarian vote is up for grabs between the two major parties: "A candidate in either party who presented himself as a product of the social freedom of the Sixties and the economic freedom of the Eighties would be tapping into a market that both parties have yet to nail down." (Given the Libertarian Party's latest failure to attract a significant number of votes, I wonder if some libertarians might be searching for an alterative.)

I also like this comment about the Republicans and educated voters: "If conservative Republicans continue to respond to the loss of educated voters by declaring themselves proud to be 'real Americans' who don't care much for book learning and Darwinism and elite stuff, they will only accelerate the process."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We're in Reason!

I joined the Libertarian Futurist Society a little less than a year ago, entitling me to vote for the Prometheus Award and the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award (I've been reading SF like a fiend for months as a result, particularly because, to my surprise, I was allowed to join two different committees, which come up with the nominees for the two awards.)

Reason magazine has just published a rather good article by Katherine Mangu-Ward on Tor books, the five nominees for the Prometheus Award this year (all were Tor books), the LFS and the Prometheus.

Of the five nominees this year, I loved two: Jo Walton's "Ha'Penny" and Ken MacLeod's "The Execution Channel." Harry Turtledove's "The Gladiator" is also very good. "Fleet of Worlds" by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner is a quite readable "Analog" novel. The only one I really didn't like was "Ragamuffin" by Tobias Buckell. Very violent, but little of literary or ideological interest. Obviously, I must have some kind of blind spot, as other LFS members must have really liked it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Another blog on the roll

I've added a link on the blogroll list for Wirkman Netizen, a particularly interesting blog I intend to pay closer attention to from now on. This guy is a left-leaning libertarian AND he loves Stravinsky. I mean, come on, does this guy have perfect taste or what?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Read science fiction, win a Nobel Prize

Want to know how economist Paul Krugman began his march toward fame and a Nobel Prize for economics? Krugman says Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" novel explain "how I got into economics: I wanted to be a psychohistorian when I grew up, and economics was as close as I could get." (Via the November issue of Ansible.)