Wrap-up of news and opinion from your not-so-humble correspondent.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday!

I’m now available in all the Heinz varieties. I’m 57 today.

No, this isn’t an applause sign going on. Don’t feel you have to start wishing me a happy birthday. Hey, I’m not dead yet, my senses still pretty much work, I’m not missing limbs or in a wheelchair, I can still think and write, and my memory doesn’t suck yet. My Mom’s still with me and my daughter just wants me to finish reading the first Harry Potter book she gave me last year so I can start on the second she gave me for this birthday. That’s making me damned happy as it is.

The most important thing about this birthday is that I reach it with exactly the same sense of purpose and enthusiasm about my future as I had for my 18th and 21st birthdays. Maybe more, because I’ve developed new skill sets I didn’t have when I was younger.

If I went back in time and told my younger self that later in life I could look back on having written a dozen books — with praise for them from some of my favorite authors and other people I respect — and that I’d write for The Twilight Zone, and that I’d write, produce, direct, act in, and write songs for a movie starring one of the original Bridge Crew from Star Trek, well, assuming I didn’t think I was a damned liar, my younger self would have thought this an unbelievably fantastic future. So it’s that wet-behind-the-ears former me who has to be wishing me the best on a birthday in which I can look back at dreams fulfilled … and to look forward to making more of them come true.


Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck

Brad Linaweaver and I have been analyzing and discussing Beck for months. I only watch Beck on his Fox News show; Brad also checks him out on talk radio.

Brad’s position is that Beck is all over the map, changing his positions daily, and he’s not really for anything — he’s only against Obama and the Democrats, and takes every possible opposition position at one time or another. I think that’s a plausible theory but I’m not yet convinced.

Brad’s harshest judgment on Beck is that he doesn’t give the devil his due. Today President Obama gave a speech in which he argued what should be a Glenn Beck position — that future American space launches need to come from the private sector. But did Glenn Beck have a kind word on today’s Fox News show for the President getting a big one right? No, sir.

Brad’s point is well-taken.

Beck is definitely a moving target for anyone trying to get a handle on him. Brad is correct that Beck is inconsistent. Beck will even admit this, though he spins this as his own learning curve.

But here’s where I think my bottom line comes down.

There are definitely some libertarians in Beck’s earbud. But there are also Palinistas, Neocons, Tea Partyers, and lots of people who just can’t stand Obama.

If I view Glenn Beck not as a pundit but an entertainer I see him as a spokesman for things I believe in. He puts people on his show who express libertarian ideas you won’t get elsewhere on a show with his high ratings. Beck asks questions I want asked. There is some actual investigative journalism that breaks on the Glenn Beck Show — and this has been a rarity for quite some time.

But, Mr. Beck, being against something isn’t enough, and what you’re for can’t be a moving target. You have to know your basic principles and stand by them through thick or thin.

I think we can both agree on the principles of the Declaration of Independence as a rock solid starting part.

(Updated 06092010)


A Valued Critic: Steve Reed

Steve Reed

Steve Reed is a California libertarian I’ve known for some time, mostly through our both attending libertarian functions. He attended the screening of Lady Magdalene’s at the 2008 Cinema City International Film Festival, writing one of the best reviews of my movie. He posted it on IMDb, where it counters a campaign of disinformation about my not-yet-widely-seen indie film.

Both on Facebook, and writing comments here, Steve is more than happy to call me out when he thinks I’m being an asshole. Good for him! Not that I agree with a lot of Steve’s analysis of what’s wrong with what I write — why would I? — but Steve always provides an honest and intelligent analysis. He leaves no doubt where he stands.

One of Steve’s persistent criticisms has been that I reprint my books and other materials here. Steve wishes I spent more of my days writing new and original material.

Okay, Steve, here you go. You won one!

When I interviewed Robert Heinlein back in 1973, Heinlein told me he made a point of seeking out opinions he disagreed with, because “You can’t learn from a man who agrees with you.” In today’s highly politicized, highly dogmatic, highly binary atmosphere, much of discussion today comes down to little more than “Hurray for my team!”

I’m thinking of finding someone to make giant foam hands partisan fans can wave at political rallies — giant foam hands for Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, etc. You think anyone would get the point?

Steve Reed doesn’t come at me with a giant foam hand, and since I know he reads this column, let me say directly to him:

Steve, here’s one opinionated son of a bitch who appreciates that.

Update: February 19, 2012

A short while ago I received a sad phone call from Tim Reed that his brother Steve Reed, a libertarian, Karl Hess Club Speaker and frequent KHC attendee, and a friend of mine, passed away in his sleep on February 4th, apparently due to complications of Diabetes.

Tim will be attending tomorrow (Monday’s) Karl Hess Club meeting to say some words memorializing Steve.

Steve wrote frequently for IMDb and here are his reviews, beginning with a review of Lady Magdalene’s.



The Final Frontier

Eugene Wesley Roddenbery in 1976

President Obama almost got it right today in his speech to NASA. He talked about how commercial byproducts of technology and techniques developed by NASA for the space program have had unintended benefits here on earth — everything from medical monitoring equipment to microminiaturization of electronics.

He also talked about the inspiration factor Americans need to keep looking for new frontiers.

But what the President didn’t state clearly enough for my taste is that it’s not just about manned exploration of space. That’s just phase one, like the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The real point to manned space exploration is making off-world destinations our new homes and industrial parks — a real frontier.

I’m not one who believes in limits to growth, overpopulation, despoiling the earth, or peak oil. Most of my optimism comes from the hard scientific evidence that tells us there is untold living space — unlimited material and energy resources — just waiting for us as soon as we figure out economic ways of regularly breaking free from the earth’s gravity well.

For all of his conventional politics, Gene Roddenberry got this dead right.

Other planets, other solar systems — maybe even other galaxies — are the future home of the human race.

I was 12 when I first saw my first episode of Star Trek. I’d already learned this lesson from reading Heinlein, Clarke, and Bradbury.

Gene Roddenberry also read them. He brought their vision to network television and built an immense fan base that has never let this vision die.

This made it an extra-special privilege for me when I got to work with one of Gene Roddenberry’s spacefarers — Nichelle Nichols — who went from the bridge of the fictional USS Enterprise NCC-1701 to the real-life NASA, where she recruited minority and female astronauts, mission specialists, and even a future head of NASA.


Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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