Free Lunch Studios

Tom Gordon

Arts & Entertainment | Computers & Technology | Philosophy & Politics

Laissez-Faire BooksI'm neither Libertarian, Objectivist, Brandenian or anarcho-capitalist; it gives me a headache trying to decipher the differences between the labels (apparently there are a lot) and it's quite clear they all hate each other. But politick-lee speaking, I support the core ideas running through all four groups. Laissez Faire Books (based in Manhattan; nice shop) is a bookstore dealing in literature sympathetic to those ideas: rational individualism, unfettered free markets and scientific/ technological freedom. Give 'em a try.

Lady in GreenBe forewarned, the home page of SF writer, Libertarian bombthrower, politician, musician and gun-rights advocate L. Neil Smith is not for the timid or the perpetually pragmatic; his long and well-established presence on the Internet serves as a formidable platform for his unrelenting and uncompromising cyber-essays on what's right and wrong (mostly the latter) with the world today. I stumbled upon his stuff when I cross-referenced two of my favorite authors... and reading HIS work was a similar experience: somewhat akin to having an ice-cold bucket of water tossed in ones' face. Since my initial encounter with LNS, I have checked in on a regular basis for his beacon-like deposits of intellect: atheism aside, sometimes I truly wonder if Ayn Rand and Robert Heinlein ARE "up there" somewhere, looking down upon Smith's antics... and high-fiving.

RandiWith the ever-increasing popularity of superstitious, unproven nonsense such as astrology, UFOs, Tarot card-reading, faith-healers and those who attribute mystical powers to quartz crystals, the home page of James Randi is a wonderful, if only temporary, oasis of hard-headed common sense. Randi, a professional magician (who knows how this game REALLY works) has made a career out of scientifically debunking alleged "unexplainable" phenomena in the United States and abroad; exposing contemptible shams like Uri Geller's 'telekinetic' spoon-bending, police-employed psychics, and witch-doctors who utilize chicken guts and slight-of-hand to convince cancer victims that their tumors are gone. Sometimes I wonder if the gullible types who fork over thousands of dollars for this BS are just better off getting what they deserve... but it's nice to know there is SOMEONE out there trying to avert yet another Dark Ages.

Cthulhu Lives!And while you're at it, you might want to also read up on the ever-expanding industry of New Religions and Cults, if for no other reason than to keep up to date on the latest and greatest in organized irrationalism; when groups like MEAM (from "Duet") start banging down your door, you'll at least be prepared. This page provides detailed information on all the big players in the indoctrination biz, testimonials from former cultists... and "equal time" by those outfits who stopped chanting long enough to put together Web sites of THEIR own (gee, ain't technology grand?) From the pioneering Hairy Krishnoids to the highly-influential Church of Scientology to newly-formed Gaia-worshipping MEAM-wannabes, you will definitely become "enlightened" by this material (and without forking over your life's savings or contemplating whether emotional music DOES have quite an effect on you.)

What if?If you enjoy Harry Turtledove's fine books, watch "Sliders" religiously or found the convolutions of the "Back to the Future" movies your cup of tea, then the soc.history.what-if newsgroup is definitely for you: a cornicopia of historical divergences, paradoxes and alternate realities. What would the world have been like if John Hinckley's bullet had cleared that extra fraction of an inch? Or if Napoleon had been victorious at Waterloo? Or if Apple Computer had allowed other companies to make Macintosh clones back in 1984? Or... well, you name it. Here you will find the rerouted probablility lines and delta streams of consequence, spelled out in no uncertain terms and freed from the shackles of pesky scientific impossibility. You'll never look at 'cause and effect' the same way again.

Mighty KC"Oh geez, not ANOTHER kooky conspiracy theory. Call Sculley and Mulder, here's another one for the X-Files." That too was my ever-skeptical state of mind when I stumbled upon the Kurt Cobain Murder Investigation page, put together by the same private-investigator Courtney Love hired to find her missing husband (the frontman for musical group Nirvana) a week before his much-publicized 'suicide'. But after perusing through the page, it began to dawn on me that this was definitely NOT the work of a media-hungry vulture; Tom Grant comes across as an extremely rational man, determined to find out the truth about what happened. And what he has exhaustively documented, through his continuing investigation, contacts with the Seattle police department, and his dealings with Cobain's family and friends is very, VERY eye-opening.

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