Monday, February 20, 2017

The Possibilities at Audible for Vacuum County

I was thinking of F.L. Light and how much better his Audible books were faring than his print books, when help came from an unexpected quarter. Kelly Clear, a vocalist who has been singing some of the Debt Collector songs, sent me a very nice reading from Vacuum County. It just happened over this weekend, and voila! here is a short demo.

Vacuum County is my most critically acclaimed novel. However, it is not my best seller. Over the years I have made a few videos about it. There is, of course, this trailer that emphasizes the Phoenician connection.

There is also this short discussion about the Biblical inspiration for the book.

And here is the video in which I discuss how realizing that Cabeza de Vaca had to be Nabal's ancestor led me back to my book report on  Hannibal of Carthage by Mary Dolan. .

And there is also the video in which I discuss the connection to the Branch Davidians in Mt. Carmel, Texas.

There is also one video filmed outdoors in the outer pen in which I am proofing Vacuum County and reading it out loud. but we are interrupted when Leo, who was just a puppy at the time, was whining for attention, and I had to get Bow to agree that I would go help Leo. We also still had chickens at the time. You can hear the rooster crow. But it does not make much of a reading.

I by far prefer Kelly Clear's readings to my own, and I look forward to working with him on a long term project on Audible to produce a full audio version of  Vacuum County. 

Order Vacuum County

If you want to order Vacuum County, I have provided the link above. Because if you just Google it, here is what you are likely to find:

Friday, February 17, 2017

What Happens to His Works When an Author Dies?

I can't help thinking about F.L. Light and what has become of his works. Yesterday, I found another photo of him, and in this one he is not wearing a baseball cap.

If you enlarge the photo, you can see that he has a number of library books on the shelf behind him, and some of the titles are The Scarlet Woman of Wall Street, The Annenbergers, Dark Genius of Wall Street. Other titles are harder to make out. On the screen of his computer, there is part of a play, I think it might be about Henrry Clay Frick.  But it is Carnegie who is speaking here:

Carnegie: I cannot tough inimicality
endure, Unflattering audaciousness

He takes too far. His hostile diffidence
 In me divides us. Now my causeful heart
 He counter-hurts. The freckest rupture... 
The editing software on his screen has underlined two of the words he used as wrong: "causeful" and "freckest", They aren't wrong. They just aren't common.

I don't know who his literary heirs are, or why all his books in print are now not available any longer, except in secondhand form. I noticed that just last month, long after Light had died, someone posted a recording of an excerpt of one of his works on Youtube. It was a translation.

 I am not sure whether this is an authorized edition, but I would not be quick to pursue the person doing it, even if it is not. After an author is dead, if he has no heirs, people who copy his works for their own profit are his biggest helpers. They spread his words and cause them to be disseminated, and this is what authors generally want.

On the screen, the poster comments that listening to an audio recording of a book helps the listener to learn how to properly pronounce words that are new to him. Then we are invited to download a free audio file. I would exercise caution in doing so, because sometimes these free things being offered are a trap -- a Trojan horse that unleashes an army of spammers onto our computers. But you never know -- it could be benign.

I also wonder what happens to reviewers once they die. So far, all of Light's reviews of my books are still up there. But I am taking the precaution of saving screen shots, in case they later disappear.

He found less to praise in Theodosia and the Pirates: The Battle Against Britain than in Vacuum County, but his evaluation of Theodosia and the Pirates: The War Against Spain was quite positive.

I like the way he evaluates loyalty from an ancient perspective. I think there is something about my works that appeals to classicists, because they understand the historical context of the master servant relation better. .Light never read Our Lady of Kaifeng.  The second half did not come out until six days after he died. I can't help but wonder what he would have thought of it.

Light himself preferred audiobooks. He converted Vacuum County to audio before that was common. He had text-to-speech programs that helped him to do this. It is possible that because he was a poet, Light  understood that we need to hear poetry out loud, before we can properly appreciate it. It may be that his works in audible form will outlive his written words.

But I would still like to know: Who is his literary executor and why are all his books suddenly out of print?

Related Links 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Remembering the Poet FL Light

I never met F. L. Light. I would not say that I know him well or that he played a major role in my life. But yesterday I found out that he had died nearly a year ago, and I am sorry. I feel that I will miss him. In fact, I've been missing him for about a year. I just didn't know he was gone for good. Here is his obituary.


The only photos of him that I have seen show him in sharp profile, wearing a baseball cap.

It's not always the same baseball cap and the background varies.

Light first came to my attention when he began submitting poetry to the Inverted-A Horn in the 1990s. At the time, my father was editor-in-chief. We had very strict standards for metrical poetry, and F. L. Light met them.  I felt at the time that his vocabulary was unusual, as he preferred archaic and rarely used words to common vocabulary items. His syntax was also a little archaic. His sentences were not always SVO.

In Horn #11, which came out January 7. 1993 we published two of F. L. Light's poems, both of them about Bernhard Goetz. The poems were metrical and fit in with our philosophy and worldview, but the vocabulary Light chose to use required us to publish a glossary. For years after that, the word "latrociny" would pop into my head at odd moments, and I could barely restrain myself from using it in ordinary conversation.

We did not know anything about F. L. Light, except that he lived in New York and sent his poetry submissions in on used sheets of paper that had other things completely unrelated printed on the other side. At times I speculated that he was homeless or very poor, but sometimes I thought that he was very wealthy and worked as a stockbroker by day. I think it was what was on the other side of some of the poems that made me think that.

It was only years later that I realized he had been educated in the Classics and could translate Greek to English. Here is a link to an interview with Light that I published on PubWages.

Light gave the impression of a solitary person who was interested primarily in his own poetry and secondarily in free enterprise and the worship of ancient gods. Some of his letters to the editor at the Inverted-A Horn contained unexpected praise for Zeus. Sometimes we laughed when we read his letters, but we always published them, anyway.

I did not understand in the 1990s how involved and interested in many aspects of the real world F.L. Light actually was. He seemed caught in a time warp, living in a world all his own. But after my father's death, he began an email correspondence with me, and some of the things he wrote showed he was much more observant and thoughtful than I had previously believed.

Here is an email he sent me in 2008:

 Sat Jun  7 12:04:41 2008
During the last year I read *The Chimps of Gombe, *by Jane Goodall, works by Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, who has studied for the last decade the bonobos chimps,and books by a Dutchman named Waal or de Waal. Thus I have written a numberof aphoristic couplets on chimpanzees and will send some as an attachment tothis email.
I have seen chimpanzees pointing to lexigrams on monitors. Their speed is somewhat astounding.
Bow's attachment to you reminds me of Flint's to his mother Flo, which isdisplayed in a video with Jane Goodall as the narrator. It is presented in 3or 4 parts, each about twenty minutes.I found it through, butGoogle should have the link.
Your answer to my letter on fanatics is quite well-reasoned, reasonable enough for me to accept. I am a member of the site, which is a forum for those who favor the principles of Ayn Rand. There are promotions in this site I disavow, not caring for all their passions, especially the unnatural ones.  They might wish to read your description of a rational fanatic, as  most of their ideas are grounded on rational objectivism. is one of my sites

*F L Light*

In time, F.L. Light reviewed three of my novels on Amazon. Here is his review of Vacuum County.


We were friends on Facebook. I was one of nine people who were friends with him on Facebook. The last time he posted there was on Feb. 6, 2016. His obituary says that he died on March 4, 2016. But the memorial service was not held until May 17. His obituary does not mention that he is survived by anyone, and he is said to have died in his residence. I cannot help but wonder if he died alone and was found two months later. 

I recently noticed that of his many works available on Amazon, the books that were in print are no longer in print, though available in second hand form. But the Kindle and Audible versions are still available. Does he have a literary executor, I wonder? What becomes of the books of Createspace authors who have died intestate? Does Createspace, which treats our royalties as "earned income", just assume that we stop earning the moment we draw our last breath?

Here at my house, FL Light is not forgotten. Just this morning, Bow and I read some couplets from Shakespeare versus Keynes.

If you know FL Light and want to share some memories about him, please comment. I would love to learn more.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Bicentennial of the Founding of Galveston This April

This April will mark the 200th anniversary of Jean Laffite's founding of his "commune" in Galveston. Neither the city of Galveston nor the County plan to celebrate this momentous event. But for anyone interested in libertarian self-governance and anarcho-capitalism, this is a momentous occasion.

Site of  Laffite's house at Galveston

Laffite called himself a governor, not a president, and the house in which he lived while he governed was La Maison Rouge -- the Red House -- rather than the White House. And he called his colony  a commune, because he was speaking in French and was influenced by the revolution and Napoleonic law and the like. But it wasn't a commune in the sense of pooled resources. Private property ruled in Laffite's world. When people worked for him, they were either paid an agreed wage or, like his privateers, they received a cut of the profits. And unlike other governments that tax their citizens for the income they make, Laffite never took a dime in tax on those who lived with him in the colony he founded. Instead, he preyed on Spanish vessels and shared the booty with his people.

Laffite was at war with the Spanish Empire and supported those who rebelled against it. But he did not finance his war at the expense of his people. He used that war to fund his government and pay those who lived in his colony for their contribution to the war effort.

Who should pay for waging war? Whoever wants to wage war and finds it profitable.

Arguably, Laffite paying his privateers to wage war against Spain is not so different from the US government paying those in the military for their services. But here is the meaningful difference: when the Federal government pays the military, it uses taxes levied from farmers, factory workers, manufacturers and every other productive individual to fund the war effort. The war effort itself shows no profit and brings in no income.  Our war effort is parasitic of everything that every other citizen does to make a living. But when Laffite paid his privateers, he did it with profits from the war effort. No farmers, shopkeepers or manufacturers were taxed to pay for the venture.

It is true that freedom isn't free. It is true that the best defense is a good offense. But what is not right is to constantly engage in wars that do no one any good, subsidizing them at the public's expense. Let him who profits from war pay for any war he profits from.

This April, think of Jean Laffite's Galveston and why the US government drove him away.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year, New Goals and a Video on Burr

In 2017, my goal is to refrain from writing new books, but to spend more time promoting the books I have already written or published. I also plan to support and promote the work of other writers, dead or alive, whose contributions I value.

With that in mind, I would like to share this video from the year 2000 of  Roger G. Kennedy talking about his book  Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson: A Study in Character.

The video takes an hour to watch, and I hope you will set aside that time to watch it. For me, highlights from Kennedy's talk include his mention of the following points:

  • at the time when Burr was successfully campaigning as an abolitionist, free blacks and women who owned property could vote in the state where Burr was soliciting their vote.
  • when Burr suggested to Jefferson that women should be allowed to hold high office, Jefferson wrote back that this was something for which neither the public nor he himself were prepared.
  • while Burr was promiscuous and insolvent -- vices he shared with Hamilton and Jefferson -- he was never mean or cruel to anyone. 
  • Hamilton projected onto Burr all his own issues, and he used Burr as a means to commit suicide.
  • Burr was a war hero as soon as the war began and preferred to serve in active combat than on George Washington's staff -- for which Washington never forgave him.
  • Thomas Jefferson personally indicted Aaron Burr of treason. There was no grand jury. There was no inquiry or investigation. It was the one and only presidential indictment in American history.
  • Burr was tried for treason three times, and all three juries acquitted him. One of those juries also indicted Jefferson for even bringing such baseless charges against Burr.
  • People remember the charges leveled at Burr more than they remember the outcome of the cases brought against him
  • The second historian was a revisionist. Any true historian looks for the truth, rather than repeating what someone else has written about the past.
Roger G. Kennedy was a great and engaging speaker, as well as a persuasive and scholarly writer. He died in 2011. When asked in the year  2000 what contemporary politician reminded him of Burr, he said "Adlai Stevenson." This rather startled me. For one thing, I don't even think of Adlai Stevenson as contemporary. For another, the man was a progressive Democrat  -- not my cup of tea. But Roger Kennedy was on Dwight D. Eisenhauer's campaign staff, so Stevenson was a contemporary of his. And Kennedy also worked for Bill Clinton, so he seems to have been quite versatile, ideologically speaking.

Realizing that I am well out of my depth in evaluating Kennedy's life and politics, I nevertheless submit that he has made a meaningful contribution to Aaron Burr scholarship. For this I commend him. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Internet is like Quicksand

I'm a big believer in Immortality. No, not the kind where you go to heaven or Valhalla or Nirvana. I mean the kind where your works and your name outlive your body. I even believed for a while that the internet would help me get there. But every day now, with reminders from Facebook of things that I posted a year, three years or five years ago, I am forced to face my own mortality and the mortality of others on the web. Links that I posted lead to dead ends. Articles that I edited with care thinking they would be there for people to read long after I am gone, are full of holes where I linked to images instead of copying them into my own site. The internet is like quicksand!

Today, I was reminded by Facebook of an article about Mary Dolan that I published four years ago and then shared on social media three years ago. The images had all disappeared! Why? Because respecting the work that another person put into copying pages from Marie Dolan's passport onto the web, I linked to that site for the images, rather than copying them outright. Now that site is no longer there, and the only image I was able to save was the one I had copied onto Pinterest.

Mary Dolan's passport

Why? What ever happened to that thing that they told us on Hubpages: that we would get residual income forever off the work we did today? Was that all a scam?

I look at my books on Amazon, and whereas they were supposed to be just like any other books, now they are showing a delay of four days to order them. What will happen when Amazon goes bankrupt someday in the not so near future, after I am dead? Can I seriously expect that my books will not be permanently out of print?

By all means trust the internet for the short term, but in the long run, you want to have a hard copy of everything. Hardcopies outlive the publishers and the civilizations that spawned them. The internet is way too flimsy to trust our immortality to.

While my new year's resolution is to write and publish less and publicize more, I do plan to publish more of my articles and other minor contributions, so there is a hardcopy to refer to in the future, even as the internet fails us. If you want immortality, you do the same!