Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RAW Q and A on conspiracies

R.U. Sirius and Ian Monroe have posted some apparently new audio from a 1988 talk by Robert Anton Wilson. The two pieces can be downloaded as MP3 files. I particularly liked the 20 minutes of questions and answers about conspiracies.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fly Agaric on RAW sharing with his readers

Steven Pratt aka Fly Agaric announced his new piece on Robert Anton Wilson as an "article" for  his Twitter followers, which of course include me (@FlyAgaric2019), but to me his new piece, "RAW Hypersharing Language Vs. the Equation," reads like poetry. Either way, it's a good summary of RAW's intellectual influences.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Robert Anton Wilson podcast

Here is a podcast about Robert Anton Wilson,  using material produced by Joseph Matheny. I think I've heard all of the material it's based on, so I'll probablyh skip it myself, but SatoriGuy recommended it in the comments.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Celebrating Mozart's birthday

There will be plenty of Mozart CDs playing on my stereo this weekend. Friday was Mozart's birthday, so I figure it's appropriate to celebrate over the weekend.

In "Credo," a chapter in Right Where You Are Sitting Now, Robert Anton Wilson wrote, "I believe in Bach, the creator of heaven and earth, and in Mozart, his only begotten son, and in Beethoven, the mediator and comforter ... "

Mozart appears as a character in RAW's "Historical Illuminatus" trilogy and is mentioned as a favorite composer of Sigismundo Celine and Maria Babcock.

For some live Mozart performances, go here. Also here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Italian neofascist homage to Ezra Pound

From the pages of The Guardian, an article about the Italian neofascist group CasaPound, which takes its name from Ezra Pound. Pound's 86 year old daughter is not pleased. (Via Ted Gioia on Twitter.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another book recommendation

If you've read very much of Robert Anton Wilson's writings, you are familiar with his frequent warnings about getting too comfortable with our own opinions and your own assumptions of certainty that  you know what's going on It's a major plot theme of ILLUMINATUS! It's what he's talking about when he refers to reality tunnels, or recommends reading political  magazines that express opinions you disagree with. (For example, in the New Libertarian Notes interview, RAW says, "I also read at least one periodical every month by a political group I dislike -- to keep some sense of balance. The overwhelming stupidity of political movements is caused by the fact that political types never read anything but their own gang's agit-prop.") RAW often talked about how he wanted to persuade people to adopt an agnostic attitude, not only about God but about other dogmas. I could give other examples, but if you're familiar with him, you know what I'm talking about.

I mention all this because I am reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. The book is all about how all of us are much more certain about our opinions than we have any right to be. Mr. Kahneman argues that we often substitute half-baked intuitive judgments for carefully-considered ones. Here is one review of the book, which begins, "There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow." 


Another sentence from the review: "My main problem in doing this review was preventing family members and friends from stealing my copy of the book to read it for themselves."

I strongly recommend the book, too. Kahneman is a winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, although in fact he is a psychologist.

Tyler Cowen, one of my favorite bloggers and authors, put Thinking, Fast and Slow on his list of the best economics books of 2011. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

RAW Week (unexpectedly) continues at BOING BOING

I thought RAW Week at BOING BOING was done, as it's been much more than a week and the postings had stopped for several days, but Mark Frauenfelder has just posted a new essay by David Jay Brown. (A couple of sentences from Brown's piece: "He was incredibly supportive of my writing. He wrote letters to cheer me up when I was down and even sent me money when I couldn't afford to pay my rent.")

Frauenfelder explains, "I received so many wonderful essays about Robert Anton Wilson, that I've extended RAW Week for a few more days!"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Few Blunt Statements About Neuro-Economics by RAW

No Governor Issue 4 includes an essay by Robert Anton Wilson, "A Few Blunt Statements About Neuro-Economics." The article appears to have been written during or after the time he had to go on welfare to support his family, and it appears to give the reasoning behind his advocacy of a basic income guarantee.

Before I posted the PDF, I emailed a copy of it to Arthur Hlavaty, because I noticed the Shea's zine reviewed a zine Arthur had published about 30 years ago. About the RAW essay, Arthur commented, "The Wilson essay greatly enlightened me when I first read it, with its image of money addiction. RAH and RAW turned me on to libertarianism and showed me why it doesn't work, Heinlein with "Man, as a social being, cannot escape government any more than the individual can escape bondage to his bowels" and Wilson with that."

Monday, January 23, 2012

RAW Week at BOING BOING

I've put up a permanent link under "Resources" for BOING BOING's apparently-concluded "Robert Anton Wilson Week."

I tried to link to somebunall of the best articles, but there was a lot of material. BOING BOING's special section featured pieces by Mark Frauenfelder, Paul Krassner, Gareth Branwyn, Antero Alli, Douglas Rushkoff, Jay Kinney, R.U. Sirius, Lewis Shiner, Erik Davis, Ivan Stang, Christina Pearson (in an interview), Richard Metzger, Mark Dery, Propaganda Anonymous and Angus Stocking. Also, some good RAW quotes picked out by Mark, and a "Giant mind-map of Discordianism." Lots of good links in the pieces, too.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

When Michael Johnson met RAW

Michael Johnson has put up a very interesting blog post about the day he met Robert Anton Wilson and interviewed him for several hours. One tantalizing question and answer from the interview is posted; many of us hope the rest will someday become available. (It must be a great interview. Michael filled "maybe eighteen pages of a spiral notebook with questions, being careful not to ask anything anyone had previously asked in the fifty or so interviews I'd read with him.")

When you read Michael's post,  see also the comments, which feature Eric Wagner, author of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson.

The interview took place on Feb. 18, 2003. A photo of the occasion is posted in my interview with Michael.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Can libertarians "claim" RAW?

Richard Metzger's contribution to RAW Week at  BOING BOING has a passage on Robert Anton Wilson's political philosophy:

"There's some confusion about what his political philosophy was like. Wilson is always claimed by the Libertarians because he was against people being arrested for victimless crimes, but the Libertarians won't tell you that RAW also was a strong proponent of the "basic income guarantee" which would make him more of a Socialist than Libertarian, of course, but really he was neither. He wasn't deluded by any political system is perhaps the best way to put it)."

It's true that Wilson favored a basic income guarantee, and later in life he also expressed support for government provided health care for all, something Metzger could have cited to help prove his case. And yes, he broke with mainstream libertarians in certain ways. (See the long interview with New Libertarian Notes, which goes into considerable detail on certain points.)

Still, it feels like a stretch to suggest there's something wrong with libertarians claiming RAW, or to say it's only because "he was against people being arrested for victimless crimes."

Explaining his vote for John Anderson in 1980, Wilson said, "Ideologically, of course, I should have voted for Ed Clark, the Libertarian Party candidate; but I am not that kind of Libertarian, really; I don't hate poor people."

"Ideologically, of course ... " The ILLUMINATUS! trilogy is filled with pages and pages of libertarian and anarchist propaganda. (Simon Moon, one of the main characters, is a left anarchist, but Hagbard Celine, arguably the most important viewpoint character, is a straightforward libertarian).

Wilson wrote many columns for New Libertarian Notes. He was a celebrity within the libertarian movement. When he ran for governor of California, his Guns & Dope Party platform was straightforwardly libertarian (excepting the surrealistic ostriches). For example, the platform called for voluntary taxation, as well as full gun and drug rights. He sometimes referred to himself as a "libertarian" in his writings.

I don't object if a progressive such as Metzger wants to claim RAW, but libertarians have as much right to him as anyone.

Footnote: This seems like a convenient time to recommend Metzger's excellent Dangerous Minds blog. The New Yorker just gave the blog a nice writeup.

Friday, January 20, 2012

New No Governor posted

Issue No. 4 of Robert Shea's "No Governor" zine has been posted and can be accessed via the link under "Feature Articles and Interviews" on the right side of the page. There's a RAW article in it I'll write about next week.

That issue of "No Governor," dated Spring 1979, has an interesting bit of fannish continuity. In the zine reviews, it lists the zine "The Diagonal Relationship" and says, "Available for $1, letter of comment, trade, artwork or other plausible excuses from Arthur D. Hlavaty ... "

The offer may not still be open, but by coincidence, when I first began reading portions of  "No Governor" on Wednesday, I received, via email, Arthur Hlavaty's latest zine, "Nice Distinctions 22," which says, "The print version is available for $1 ($2 outside the USA), arranged trade, or letter of comment (e-mail counts)."

Mr. Hlavaty has not raised his price in 33 years, but you can get his electronic version for free. Download your copy here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Copyright, censorship and RAW

Yesterday was Robert Anton Wilson's birthday. I managed to miss posting anything about that, but I did notice that the official site was blacked out as part of the protest over SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act which Congress is debating. Its back today.

While it is impossible to predict with total certainty what RAW would have thought of SOPA, given that he's dead and was a contrarian, given his views on censorship and the importance of the Internet, I think there is a good probability he would have approved of blacking out his site.

I do with the same activism that's been used to fight SOPA had been in play when Congress approved an absurd extension of copyright law several years ago at the behest of corporate interests.

Sinclair Lewis, one of my favorite writers, died in 1951, more than 60 year ago, and yet many of his books remain in copyright. It Can't Happen Here, for example, is not available at Project Gutenberg.

I am an advocate of reasonable copyright. I have suggested several times at this blog that fans of RAW should legally purchase any of his books as are actually available, as I do, rather than just stealing them via Torrent or whatever. His family can use the money.

But do I think many of his books should remain under copyright in 2067?

No, I don't.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Interesting RAW interview

More goodies from RAW week at BOING BOING, including Mark Dery's article and interview with RAW, which I couldn't find on rawilsonfans.com.

Excerpt:

Dery: In the final analysis, doesn’t guerrilla ontology crystallize into yet another pinhole view of reality – another ‘reality-tunnel,’ to use your term, equal parts chaos worship and contrarianism?

Wilson: The way I look at it, there are some things which I’m going to continue to support even though they’re unsure because they seem good enough to me, even in this universe of uncertainties. One proposition I hold to very strongly is the general structure of the Bill of Rights, which I think has produced a better type of society than ever existed before.

Dery: You’ve mentioned Nietzsche. In your introduction to Semiotext(e) SF, you wrote, “I, like Bob Black, have a Nietzsche trigger finger.” What did you mean by that?

Wilson: Bob Black used that expression before me; I was giving him credit for it. I don’t know what he meant, but what I meant was that, like Nietzsche, I philosophize with a hammer. Nietzsche gave me the problem I’ve wrestled with all my life, which is: Why do I choose one course as better than another? He undermined all my traditional morality and yet I haven’t become a mass murderer, so I must have a morality, but what’s it based on?

I’ve struggled with that problem all my adult life and although I don’t claim to have solved it, I think I’m beginning to shed some light on it after decades of mulling it over. My morality derives from the world I will to exist. The concept that all men are created equal is obviously not true – some are taller, some write better poetry, etcetera – but that concept represents an affirmation of a certain type of will, the democratic will, which Nietzsche didn’t like, whereas I do. This allows me to be a First Amendment absolutist even though I’m a relativist philosophically; I will a world in which there are no interferences with freedom of expression. I don’t claim I can prove that such a world should exist, just that I wish it existed. That’s how you can be an absolutist and a relativist at the same time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Intimate look at RAW

A  highlight of the ongoing RAW Week at BOING BOING: Mark Fraunfelder and Carla Sinclair interview Christina Pearson, Robert Anton Wilson's daughter (identified as Christina Wilson in the article). It's a very touching look at the day to day Robert Anton Wilson, and his devotion to his wife, Arlen.

A bit of news: Toward the end of the interview, Christina mentions that there were be major new RAW projects rolled out in the next year or so. No further details are offered.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Robert Anton Wilson and Philip Jose Farmer

Before I was a Robert Anton Wilson fan, I was a Philip Jose Farmer fan. Farmer was a prolific and energetic science fiction writer with a wide variety of interests.

I knew that RAW was a fan of Farmer's work because Erie Wagner says so in his book, but I didn't realize the two writers had written about each other until I ran across this article  on the essential Rawilsonfans.com web site. I was happy to read that Wilson liked the Riverworld series.

Other key Farmer works include the World of Tiers books and Hugo Award winning novella, "Riders of the Purple Wage," which refers to Finnegans Wake.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

RAW Week at BOING BOING continues with contributions from notables such as Lewis Shiner ("My Strange Evening with Robert Anton Wilson") and the Rev. Ivan Stang (of Church of the Subgenius fame).

Stang lives in the Cleveland area, where I also live; somehow, I still haven't met him. His piece offers a glimpse into Cleveland's counterculture. Shiner gives the story behind his interview with RAW, which I think is one of the best ever done.

Also: A tribute from a fan: "He played his part as a satiric old crank and I played mine of doe-eyed disciple."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Abortion & Logic by Robert Anton Wilson

(Editor's note: Here is another Robert Anton Wilson article recovered from an obscure journal and made available on the Internet, and I rather like this piece. It's from New Libertarian Weekly, No. 87, Aug. 21, 1977. I want to thank Mike Gathers, who made the article available to me, and Jesse Walker, who collected it and made it available to Mr. Gathers. -- Tom)


Abortion and Logic by Robert Anton Wilson

Libertarians, like the citizens of Samuel Butler's Erewhon, are "quick to sacrifice common sense at the altar of reason whenever a logician arises among them." For instance, the unending debate on abortion in NLW has demonstrated a great deal of ernest and turgid logic on both sides, but very little common sense.

Now, I am a great admirer of logic in its proper sphere, as I also admire mathematics in its own sphere, but I refuse to let either of those tools become my master or lead me around by the nose.

Logic and mathematics are both perfect (more perfect than any other arts) because they are entirely abstract. They have no content whatsoever; they refer to nothing. This has been demonstrated very rigorously a variety of times, in a variety of ways. Godel's Proof shows that no system of symbology, mathematical or logical, is ever complete. Russell and Whitehead in their great Principia Mathematica demonstrated that all mathematical systems must rest upon undefined terms. G. Spencer Brown, in Laws of Form, showed us that the content of abstractions is the abstractions themselves and nothing else. Korzybski, in a sense a popularizer of Russell, Whitehead and Godel, proved that there is not one logic but many logics, by simply producing a second logic different from Aristotle's and showing how an indefinite number of similar logics could be manufactured.

As Bertrand Russell said, "Mathematics is the science in which we never know what we're talking about,  nor if what we're saying is true." Mathematics, which includes logic as a subsystem, is formal and has no particular content. This is why Einstein warned us so pointedly, "Insofar as the laws of mathematics are true, they do not refer to the real world; and, insofar as they do not refer to the real world, they are not true."

If you want to solve a gravitational problem involving interstellar distances, you will introduce a large error by using Euclid's geometry. You will find a much smaller error if you use Reimannian geometry. But this does not mean that Reimann's geometry is true and Euclid's is false. Reimann's is truer for large distances, but Euclid's is just as true for small distances. There is a distinct possibility that Lobatchevsky's geometry, or Buckminster Fuller's, may turn out to be better for very small (sub-nuclear) problems.

Accepting the fact of symbolic relativism -- the fact that the human mind can, as has, generated several mathematics, several geometries, several logics and semantics, several physical models for quantum behavior, etc. -- need not cast us adrift in omni-undifferentiated agnosticism, as Objectivists seem to fear. The important thinkers in mathematics and scientific philosophy of the past hundred years have all accepted this epistemological revolution (or helped to produce it); and they were scarcely paralyzed by their new freedom. On the contrary, this has been the most productive century in the history of science.

Mathematics and symbolic logic are perfect because they do not refer to anything but themselves. When one uses these tools to refer to the events in the sensory-sensual universe of experience -- the existential  universe -- one obtains the best results by skeptical detachment, checking how well the model sheds new light (reveals the hitherto unsuspected), how often it merely leads to confusion (generated paradoxes) and where and when it breaks down. (All models break down somewhere or other, sooner or later.)

The quark model shed a great deal of new light several years ago, resolved a few paradoxes without introducing new ones, and definitely contributed to our understanding of sub-nuclear forces. Now, some think the quark model is breaking down, or will need to be revised. Models (symbol systems) come and go faster in modern science than ever before.

Models come and go so fast these days because scientists have learned to use them only as long as they yield operational results, and to modify or revise them as soon as more successful predictions can be obtained from a newer model.

In ethics and politics, alas, most people, including libertarians, are still attached to one model, which they consider the only possible model. Thus, most debate comes down to, "My model yields this consequence, logically." "Yeah? Well, my model, just as logically, yields this consequence." "Well, there must be something wrong with your model." "The hell  you say. There's something wrong with your model." Neither side is interested in experimental results, since the point is not to obtain such results but to "prove" a pre-existing prejudice.

The scientist uses logical and mathematical systems to obtain predictions which will be confirmed or refuted. The ideologist uses logic to prove that you should do what he or she thinks is right. The scientific use of formal symbolism produces eventual agreement, when experimental results are obtained. The ideological use of formal symbolism merely perpetuates disagreement.

Thus, by picking the right logical structure, one can "prove" that a fetus is a human being. (By the same logic, one can "prove" that a caterpillar is a butterfly, or a live man is a corpse; this is a static logic that ignores change and time; but let that pass.) Such logic will never convince anybody who doesn't already think the fetus is a human being, since it rests ultimately on multi-ordinal terms.

To an anthropologist, a human being is a tool-using mammal. The fetus, not being a tool-user, is not human in this model. To a biologist, a human being is a member of the species, h. sapiens, of any age. The fetus is a human being in that model. Pick three other social sciences, and see for yourself if the fetus is, or is not, a human being by the current models in these sciences. Scientists can communicate with each other, despite these differing models, because they recognize that models are without content and take content only from the field to which they are applied. Ideologists cannot communicate with each other, because each thinks his or her model is the only possible model.

The scientific method uses logical systems creatively, to seek new discoveries. The ideological method uses logical systems fallaciously, pretending they prove something when all they do is offer models to be tested by experience.

Am I saying that logic should never be applied to ethical-political questions? Not at all; I am saying that it should be applied very gingerly, pragmatically and undogmatically. What a person's logical system demonstrates is never a truth but rather the structure of that person's reality-model. By contemplating other people's reality-models, we can learns ways to make our own models bigger, wider, more inclusive, hopefully more empirical. That way we can learn from those who disagree with us; and, as Benjamin Tucker said, "In all intellectual dispute, he is the real victor who gains the most light."

In that connection, I once learned an important lesson from the granddaddy of Conservatism, Edmund Burke, who gave an unforgettable answer when somebody else in the Parliament of the time proved logically that the American colonists had no rights to rebel against their legitimate king. I no longer own my edition of Burke's speeches, but he said, in effect, "They will throw your logic in your teeth. Nobody will be reasoned into submission; drive the boar too hard and he will always turn on the hunter." People will live by their own reality-models, not by those of any logician; the American colonists created their own logic in which the term "legitimate king" denoted a null-class.

Thus, the best the anti-abortion logician can achieve is show in more detail the structure of the reality model which causes him or her to oppose abortion. Ms. X will decide in her own case, on the basis of her own reality-model, whether or not to give birth to a given fetus. Pass a law to make your model binding upon her, and she will violate that law.

My wife and I had to decide on abortion twice, when there were economic reasons against another child. We decided against abortion each time; and we were glad afterwards. But we would never tell Ms. X that she must live in our reality-model; we will always grant her the dreadful existential loneliness of living in her own reality-model and making her own decisions.

-- Robert Anton Wilson

Friday, January 13, 2012

More mark RAW anniversary

As RAW Week continues on BOING BOING (check out the Douglas Rushkoff video), other people also are marking the five-year anniversary since Robert Anton Wilson's death. At A Building Roam, PQ has a really good "Remembering R.A.W." post (and thanks for the link.) PQ quite properly emphasizes Steve "Fly Agaric" Pratt's work.

Speaking of Pratt, here's his radio show -- in collaboration with counterculture legend John Sinclair -- that's a tribute to Wilson, featuring audio from Wilson and jazz music Wilson enjoyed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Robert Anton Wilson week at BOING BOING

BOING BOING is celebrating Robert Anton Wilson Week with a series of posts, all collected here. 

BOING BOING founder Mark Frauenfelder was first up, followed by Paul Krassner and Gareth Branwyn. BOING BOING is a very popular blog (and arguably the best blog out there -- if you aren't familiar with it, take your chance to get to know it). So the exposure is very good opportunity to expose a new generation of fans to Wilson's writings.

BOING BOING was a fanzine/magazine before it was a Web site, and the very first issue included an interview with RAW (which you can read via Mark's free anthology). PDF is here.

Meanwhile, Wednesday marked the fifth anniversary of RAW's death, as I noted earlier, and other RAW fans are taking note. Steven 'Fly' Pratt, on Twitter as @FLYAGARIC2019, has posted audio. Vincent Murphy Tweeted, "I was so privileged to study with Robert Anton Wilson before he died. Here he is amongst his favs Joyce &; Welles." (He's @ImVincentMurphy on Twitter).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A sad anniversary

Today, Jan. 11, marks five  years since the death of Robert Anton Wilson. I did not realize half a decade had passed until I received an email about the matter over the weekend.

I launched this blog with the intention of doing my own little bit to help preserve and promote RAW's literary legacy, so perhaps five years after his death, we should take stock of how our efforts to make him part of the literary canon.

Well, he certainly remains a presence. Almost all of his books remain in print. Only a few can be purchased as electronic editions, but this must surely change; there's no point for his family to leave money on the table.

On the other hand, I don't sense a big revival. If a prominent critic or the reading public at large has "rediscovered" him, it has escaped my attention.

I have noticed a hopeful sign. There seems to be many people on the Internet who love his writing and continue to talk about it. I've particularly noticed, lately, that many people on Twitter are RAW fans. (Many are easy to detect because they include the number "23" in their handle). It will be interesting to see if this decentralized, grassroots movement can keep his work alive.

Hail Eris!

UPDATE: Michael Johnson beat me to it in the comments, but it's Robert Anton Wilson Week at Boing Boing. The week kicks off with a nice posting by the Web site's founder, Mark Frauenfelder.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sigismundo Celine vs. Timothy Leary

There was an interesting thread recently on alt.fan.rawilson suggesting that Timothy Leary's escape from prison may have inspired Sigismundo's escape from the Bastille (in The Widow's Son, one of the best novels). The general feeling from the RAW experts seems to be that Wilson must have had Leary in his thoughts.

One additional point: I haven't posted many uncovered RAW articles lately, but plan to resume doing so soon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New insight into Aleister Crowley

Oz Fritz recommends a new biography of Aleister Crowley, Aleister Crowley: The Biography by Tobias Churton. "Quite a few very interesting and insightful details about his life and work get revealed in this book," he writes.

Oz also recommends this review of the book.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Nick Herbert's telepathic contact with the aliens

Everyone who enjoyed Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger 1: The Final Secret of the Illuminati should read "hippie physicist" Nick  Herbert's account of the time he believed he had been contacted by aliens who telepathed their thoughts into his brain. (They invited him into their cosmic conspiracy. He turned them down out of loyalty to the human race!)

Here is a good sentence from Dr. Herbert's blog post: "For me legal LSD and peyote acted as gateway drugs to the illegal use of marijuana."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Another band cites RAW as an influence

An excerpt from an interview with Josh Hodges, from a band called STRFKR: (which at one point called itself Pyramid, and which uses Alan Watts samples in its music):

"Good mental exercise" is a smart way to put it.

Lately we've been doing stuff just to get a rise out of people, like using Illuminati symbols. I just read this book, Illuminatus, by Robert Anton Wilson, who was an intellectual. He was friends with Timothy Leary, and he and this friend wrote this book called Illuminatus and its kind of similar [to what we do]; they're making fun of stuff, but at the same time, a lot of what they are talking about they've experienced first hand, with the government framing Timothy Leary. Some people believe that Anton Wilson was a CIA agent, that he had been killed and replaced by a robot. Really insane shit. We've been using symbols on our Facebook. Some people freak out, and think we're a part of the conspiracy. Some kid put a comment like, "To be in the music business, you have to be in the Illuminati."

You think he was being serious?

He was totally serious. There's this theory that Jay Z and the Kanye are put in power by the Illuminati to distract because the subject matter is so trite, to keep people caught up on the wrong thing.

Friday, January 6, 2012

'Sci-Fi Brothel to Open in Nevada'

When science fiction fans dreamed of taking over, I'm not sure that the Alien Cathouse is what they had in mind. (Hat tip, Jesse Walker on Twitter).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Washington, Jefferson and pot

Reason Magazine's Hit and Run blog is on the case.

Bonus link: Too cool not to mention — Alan Turing to be honored by new British stamp.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A book of possible interest

I've just finished reading a book that might interest some of you: Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt, about the rediscovery of Lucretius' poem, "On the Nature of Things." The book describes how a "lost" book was found by a book collector, Poggio Bracciolini, and became influential on the Renaissance. "On the Nature of Things" is the longest surviving exposition of Epicureanism, which turns out to be very modern: It said the world consists of atoms in a void, for example, and doubted that gods intervened in the day to day affairs of men. Notably, Swerve discusses how Lucretius influenced Giordano Bruno and Thomas Jefferson.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hail Eris!

Here's a photo of a statue of the goddess Eris, clutching her golden apple. The Rev. Dr. Narot (@narot23 on Twitter) tells me it's a photo of a statue at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. I don't have any other information. Original link here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Prometheus Hall of Fame 2012 nominations

Here are the books nominated for consideration this year for the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. The judges on our committee (including me) will whittle that down to about five nominees for a ballot to be presented to our general membership, which could include you, if you with to join.


Poul Anderson, "Sam Hall"
Isaac Asimov, The End of Eternity
Lois McMaster Bujold, Falling Free
Harlan Ellison, "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman"
E. M. Forster, "The Machine Stops"
Donald M. Kingsbury, Courtship Rite
Rudyard Kipling, "As Easy as A.B.C."
C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength.
Edgar Pangborn, A Mirror for Observers
Rush, 2112
Robert Silverberg, A Time of Changes
Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Jack Vance, Emphyrio
T. H. White, The Book of Merlyn

My nominees are the Ellison, the Stevenson and the Vance.

The list of past winners is here.  It probably won't shock you that my favorite past winner is ILLUMINATUS! Robert Shea's acceptance speech is here.