WolfesBlogArchives: February 2004

Saturday, February 28, 2004

ROBERT HIGGS REWRITES THE 10 COMMANDMENTS to make them more in tune with contemporary America.

Posted by Claire @ 01:44 PM CST [Link]

Friday, February 27, 2004

I'VE JUST BEEN OUT IN A HOT TUB, drinking a glass of wine, and eating California dried apricots. In the middle of the day. If you think this sounds like sheer decadence, you're right. But the most decadent part about it is the apricots.

If you ever want to get on my good side, order me a bulk pack of California dried apricots. (NOT the ones with the chocolate dipping. Eeew, what an awful thought.)

No, no. Now don't really rush out and do it. I'd be embarrassed. But I'd also consider running off to Tahiti with you if you'd keep those apricots coming. The rest of the world can have its nectar and ambrosia. All my women friends can have their Godiva chocolates. You can have your fine, 100-year-old Bordeaus. Just give me those apricots.

NOT the Turkish or Mediteranean apricots you see everywhere, now. Those are okay. Nothing wrong with them. They're the white bread of apricots, uniform, plump and pulpy, slightly sweet, totally routine, and 100 percent unchallenging. The only way they're interesting is when they're glazed with honey. (If you ordered me some glace' Turkish apricots, I'd be grateful. But I wouldn't run off to Tahiti with you.) (And yeah, I know it says those are Australian apricots. They're the Turkish kind, though.)

A good California apricot, as opposed to its predictable, palid cousin, looks shrunken and more dry ("pygmy ears" an old friend always called them). Yet it's a more vibrant, life-filled orange. And when you bite into one, the taste is so tartly sweet that you sometimes just pucker and shudder. You're never quite sure what you're getting when you bite one. They can be so sour that saliva quirts out your ears ... or so sweet and smooth they're like good sex. Only not as messy.

But ... here's the catch. You can find the Turkish apricots on every street corner. They go for maybe $3.25 ... $2.99 for half a pound ... way less if you find them at Wal-Mart or someplace. But California apricots are getting more and more rare. They've just taken a jump hereabouts from $3.59 for 6 oz. to $4.25 for 6 oz. And I can tell you seriously this is cutting into my apricot habit.

They were an insane indulgence before. But now they're beginning to make a heroin habit look budget-minded. Guess I'd better start looking at those bulk packs, myself.

But I don't get it. I mean, Turkey ... well, it's way, way, way over there. They have to practically ship those cheap apricots by space ship to get 'em over here. And California ... well, there it is. Right there. Just look at it. Sitting right there on the borders of America. And it's not exactly lacking in ag lands. So whassup with those prices, anyway? Can any of you economists or orchardists out there explain this to a poor girl who can live without diamonds, fast cars, evenings on the town, or cruises in the Caribbean -- but who'd consider selling her ...well, very valuable things ... to stay in California dried apricots?

Posted by Claire @ 07:08 PM CST [Link]

I'VE BEEN DEADLINING IT SO HARD that I've had to let much of the week's news -- including updates on the inevitable Republican Second Amendment sellout -- flow right over my head. Though I'm sorry to have been somewhat blogless the last few days, I'm glad to have been clueless.

I was aware of the week's bad news, both from my own a.m. news scanning and from items sent by Friends of Liberty like Rick, Sunni, and Katherine Albrecht. But I didn't have time to become paralyzed by the latest horrors or even righteously angry about the latest outrage. They were just ... things happening out there in Somebody Else's World.

The one newsbit that, oddly, stuck in my mind wasn't one of the big ones about RFID chips (whose capabilities and implementations seem to be spreading faster than a Michael Crichton virus) or about plans to renew the Clinton "ugly-gun" ban (the only surprise will be if they don't do it). It was a local story sent from Vetzine about a Missouri doctor named Ramona Miller. She was just sentenced to jail for six months for resisting arrest after a traffic stop, despite a recommendation for probation, and despite being found not-guilty of the speeding and other acts for which she was allegedly stopped.

Miller had earlier blown a whistle on what she perceived as bad medical care at the county jail. She was just returning from visiting a seriously ill prisoner at the jail, and said she feared to cooperate fully with the county deputy during the late-night traffic stop because she suspected retribution. She did stop. And it sounds from some of the news accounts as though she showed her drivers license and did everything else right, but just wouldn't open her window so the cop could take the license and wouldn't get out of her truck when the officer ordered her to. For that, her window was smashed, she was dragged onto the ground, handcuffed for six hours and severely injured.

Although it's been more than a year since the stop, she's still unable to practice her trade due to injuries inflicted on her during her arrest.

What struck me most was the judge's comment when he threw the book at her:

"To live in a civil society, it is necessary to have respect for law enforcement," he said. "To not show respect to authority would lead to chaos."

I just keep wondering why the judge didn't say:

"To live in a civil society, it is necessary for law enforcement and the justice system to respect citizens' rights. To not show respect to rights of citizens will lead to chaos."

The latter statement is far more true than the former. But just as Patriotic Republican Senators now believe that any and every agency of any and every state, no matter what their purpose should be able to purchase types of ammunition not available any ordinary citizen, no matter what his intention, the judge in the Miller case has turned the very concept of a free country -- the very concept of America -- upside down.

(Here's an advocacy page on the Miller case. Unfortunately, it's not very articulate. But it does give background and numerous links to news stories.)

After I posted this, Simon Jester sent a poem from and about this politically corrupt region of the country that just about says it all.

Posted by Claire @ 03:05 PM CST [Link]

Some soldiers returning from Iraq will be punished for taking drugs before they were deployed in the first place. Debra here. The Iowa National Guard gave its soldiers drug tests before sending them out to Iraq; some soldiers failed, but were sent over anyway. Now that they've served their purpose as cannon fodder, they'll be dishonorably discharged.

Thanks to Jeremy on the Anti-State.Com Forums for this little gem!

Posted by Debra @ 08:34 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, February 26, 2004

MY GOODNESS. And here I thought Star Wars toys were tacky. Little did I know.

Posted by Claire @ 09:42 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

CONGRESS TO "COMPROMISE" AGAIN? It really does look as if the Busheviks are setting up to trade extension of the "ugly-gun" ban for immunity against lawsuits for gun-makers. So the rumors are probably true. It would be such a miracle if they let that damn, useless ban sunset.

Posted by Claire @ 03:22 PM CST [Link]

HARD TO BELIEVE. SAM KONKIN IS DEAD. I didn't know him, except from a few e-mail exchanges. But nearly everybody from the early days of libertarianism did know him. He was a life-force. This has been a bad few months for losing liberty lovers. Now add "SEK3" to the deaths of freedom-loving artists Dick Hafer (who did the Gran'pa Jack booklets for JPFO) and Lux Lucre. All three died way, way, way before their time.

Posted by Claire @ 02:10 PM CST [Link]

SO COOL! I just learned a bit ago that Eric Frank Russell's charming 1951 SF story, "And Then There Were None," is online (with the permission of Russell's estate). Long-time libertarian SF readers mostly know this one. But if you don't, enjoy the treat. This is the tale of what happens when, quite belatedly, a government expedition goes out to collect taxes from the descendants of long-scattered former Earthlings.

They arrive on one planet that was settled by folks who viewed matters of taxation and "authority" in a slightly different light ...

Posted by Claire @ 09:06 AM CST [Link]

Monday, February 23, 2004

SIX MONTHS IN PRISON FOR SELLING DRUG-FREE URINE. The Iron Man groans as he sends this item. Me, too. The urine seller objected to workplace drug testing. The judge says workplace safety outweighs privacy.

Never could understand why anybody would even want to work for an employer who distrusts you so much he starts out the relationship by making you prove you're not a druggie.

Posted by Claire @ 09:34 AM CST [Link]

ICK. This makes me even more glad I'm not a registered voter.

You have to be registered in another sense to access the article through the above link. Or, as helpful reader Mark O. points out, you can get to the article without registration by using this Google link (although it will require you to make one extra click to finally get there).

Posted by Claire @ 09:25 AM CST [Link]

UTAH LP CHAIR FRAN TULLY has entered the blogosphere to write about freedom, the west, and self-sufficiency. He's started off with a spirited defense of self-defense and some very good leads to info on organic gardening in small spaces.

Posted by Claire @ 09:22 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, February 22, 2004

IAN TRIES OUT MOJO SIGHTS FOR LOW-END RIFLES. And I'm trying out something new on the blog today.

Click the "more" link to read a review by Ian McCollum of how Mojo Sights improve inexpensive military rifles. Ian is a remarkable young man, a student at Purdue University whose interests include firearms, the history of insurrections, and playing the highland pipes.

I'm hoping to feature more reviews, commentary, and how-tos by Ian here on Wolfesblog. In fact, I've asked a couple of folks if they'd be willing to contribute occasional action-oriented writings to the blog. News and ranting are fine as far as they go. But news and ranting are what every other political blog is about. I'm always happier when this blog contributes useful, freedom-enhancing information. So I'm asking people whose expertise I respect, but who don't have Web sites of their own, to join in.

We'll run six or seven of these items at irregular intervals (as contributors have time and something to say), and then I'll probably set up a poll to ask if you guys like this feature and want to continue it. Happy reading. And thanks, Ian. [more]

Posted by Claire @ 12:23 PM CST [Link]

OH PITY THE POOR, POOR TAXERS! This news happened last month, but it's so priceless it'll never cease to bring a sparkle to a freedom lover's eye. Remember Rebecca Jemison, the Ohio woman who won the $162 million Mega Millions lottery back in December? (That was the contest that hit the national news not only for the size of the prize, but because a second woman falsely tried to claim it.)

Well, the Cleveland suburb where she lives, South Euclid, has a city income tax. City officials believed they were "entitled" to skim a cool $1.4 million off Ms. Jemison's winnings. But WHOOOPS! When they want to collect, they were so, so very sad.

Friend of Liberty Robert Häler wrote the poor city fathers a sincere letter of condolence, which you'll find here, on his wife Lisa Emerson's site.

I've also pasted the full text of Robert's letter behind the "more" link. But Lisa's site is worth a look, letter or no. First of all, it's the most playful site I've ever seen that's written partly in Latin and Greek. Second, for you space buffs or folks homeschooling children about astronomy (or classical languages), it's got a great astrolinguistics section that'll help anybody understand and pronounce strange stellar names like Cassiopeia, Boötes, and Melpomene.

Posted by Claire @ 12:19 PM CST [Link]

Friday, February 20, 2004

WTF?????? Noted gun-rights writer, David Codrea is under criminal investigation for writing a letter to several San Francisco officials. The letter was drolly funny, as well as thought provoking. But it appears the SF powers are so irony-challenged (and so convinced of their "right" to break one law while enforcing laws on others) that they sent the cops after Codrea for questioning their misuse of authority. Yuck.

Posted by Claire @ 09:14 AM CST [Link]

I'D NEVER HEARD OF TOM ELPEL until Misfit linked to his web site from The Claire Files forums. His "thing" is primitive living and primitive survival skills. Which isn't my thing, no way.

I lean toward simple living. But I've never leaned that far. I like my turn-a-knob heating and broadband Internet connection too much to want to live in a cave and grub roots, thank you. Not to mention I'd probably grub the wrong roots and die three days later, writhing in agony. So I'm somewhere between folks in a fast-track rat-maze and those who sleep under a shrub but have 24 hours a day of glorious free time. (I picture the shrub-dwellers spending all that time figuring out how to keep warm, dry, and fed, and occasionally picking scorpions out of their knickers.)

Nevertheless, wuss-hermit that I am, I discovered Elpel with delight.

Here. Read this if you're tired of making $100k a year and still never having either money or free time: "Escaping the Job Trap." Elpel's thesis is that if you're willing to spend a mere year or two living primitively while you keep that hot job, you'll be able to save yourself many years of debt and labor later.

And this one ... well, just about nobody wants to live this way in 21st-century America. But it's a great think piece on how we value our time (and even how we driven, work-ethical Americans hilariously blow our own experiments in simple living): "The Art of Nothing."

Twice in my life I've made big changes to simplify living -- in each case, cutting my income but moving toward a much more aesthetically, temperamentally, and spiritually pleasing life. But each time I've also brought along a load of my own self-defeating patterns -- especially work patterns and a few spending patterns. Eventually I feel that, although life is far better than it was back in the days when I was trapped in the outer offices of nasty, demanding clients at 1:00 a.m. still waiting for my 6:00 p.m. appointment or sweating frantically over a drafting board for 24 hours just to help some conglomerate sell soap, my life's still not quite what I've been reaching for.

And so I reach again.

Lately I've realized I'm approaching another of those points. There are things I want to do -- with my writing, with my mind -- that I'm not doing, out of the sheer necessity of maintaining life as it now is. I might be up for some changes. I found Tom Elpel inspirational.

If there's one message I hear from a lot of correspondents, it's a message of frustration: "I'm trapped here and I want to get out." The frustration might be political. It might be economic. (Or in these days when moderate prosperity is punished by immoderate taxation and regulation, probably both.) It might be more personal -- a crappy marriage or such. But the frustration boils. It steams. And it darned near always has some huge bit to do with money, jobs, and costly lifestyles. And our love-hate relationships with them.

A lot of people seem ready to make changes. Or at least ready to look around and see what changes are there to be made. Might be you'd find Tom Elpel inspirational, too. Even if you never hanker to shoo rattlesnakes out of your authentically native primitive bed of dirt and de-spined cactus pads.

Posted by Claire @ 08:42 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, February 19, 2004

We dog-lovers have always known it, but now science is recognizing just how smart our dogs really are. Debra here. According to the article, scientists theorize that Canis Familiaris is "hard wired" to pick up subtle signals and cues from humans, even more accurately than our closest primate cousins, apes.

I think further testing will show that domestic cats also pick up these cues, but choose to ignore them. ;-)

Posted by Debra @ 11:00 AM CST [Link]

You're fat, and they want to help. Debra here. States and cities are getting onto the obesity gravy train with proposals for laws and regulations to help you stop helping yourself to the buffet.

Proposals include:

- Mandating that fast food restaurants warn you that their food may be fattening (ummm...duh!)
- Getting kids exercising (perhaps by having them practice getting up and down on the floor)
- Testing kids' body fat during PE (one more reason to love it)

Louisiana's even paying some state workers to get their stomachs stapled. I'll bet all those Louisianans just love their tax money going for that.

Posted by Debra @ 10:54 AM CST [Link]

Debra here. Kitchen seems to have gotten a little warm for the Washington geniuses who decided to subpoena war protestors. The feds have withdrawn the subpoenas, which were issued last week by the FBI's joint Terrorism Task Force. It involved the names and activities of people who attended a seminar on non-violent civil disobedience tactics for anti-war protestors.

Naturally. Anyone who opposes federal policy is obviously a terrorist. Right?

Posted by Debra @ 10:43 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

THE COUPLE-OF-THOUSAND MOMS AREN'T THE ONLY ONES MARCHING on Mothers Day. Julian Hale sends a reminder that the Second Amendment Sisters will also be in DC, holding their own Second Amendment Freedoms for Everyone Rally (SAFER).

I usually think marching on Washington is a waste of time (both Washington and the rule of law being long dead). But it'll be fun to watch this War of the Women.

Posted by Claire @ 07:43 AM CST [Link]

I GOT MY FIRST CHANCE TO PLAY THE BODHRAN LAST NIGHT. That's the hand-held frame drum that gives so much Irish music its haunting quality (and can also give some lively energy to contemporary pub music). I've been enchanted with this instrument since I first saw one played, back in the mid-70s.

I'm crazy about drum sounds in general, from Gene Krupa to Bongo Joe Coleman, whose "Innocent Little Doggie" is the best (and perhaps strangest) piece of music ever beat out on a 55-gallon steel barrel.

But the bodhran (bough'-rawn) holds my heart.

Unfortunately, I'm as musical as a rock. Ever since a painful encounter with a violin in the fourth-grade (more painful for my music teacher than for me, I'm sure, though it ranks right up there with dentist visits in my own mind), I've never thought of playing any instrument. But I figured what the heck, surely even I can bang a drum?

Dunno whether I'll ever be able to play one in public without disgracing myself and ruining the rhythm of anybody I might be accompanying. But boy, I'm sure going to add drum-beating to my list of elemental pleasures.

Like hand-working with wood or stone or clay, beating a drum can be good for the soul. For me, there's something particularly powerful about the ancient sound of the bodhran (a sound you can change from emphatically flat to thunderous by varying pressure with your hand on the back of the drum). I could go on and make a fool out of myself about "ancestral memory" or "connectedness to the earth" or something. But I'll refrain. (Go ahead and thank me now.)

The short version is -- Whooo-eee! If you're all tensed up about the state of the world, and if you feel hopeless under the daily assault of bad news, banging a drum can put you in some utterly other -- and far better -- place.

I worked my way through the first four kindergarten-baby exercises on the "Absolute Beginners" CD, learning a simple reel and starting to find my way through the far more difficult rhythm of a jig (and finally "getting" along the way what all you smarter, musical types really mean when you talk about 4/4 and 6/8). But mostly I just felt wallopingly great, and I kept coming back to those exercises all evening. Had a ball.

My puzzled golden retriever disagreed, but I found it all good. Good to learn a new skill. Good to enjoy the many gorgeous sounds of the drum. Good to beat away the troubles of the world. Good to evoke ancestral mem ...

Oh, but I promised I wouldn't go there.

Posted by Claire @ 07:23 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

DEBRA FIXED THE BLOG. I haven't been able to post anything for several days because of a software problem on the site. Thank heaven, SuperDebra just swooped in with cape flying and magic glitch-deflector bracelets flashing to undo it.

Naturally, this glitch had to happen just after several people "voted" their support for clairewolfe.com in the form of donations. I owe you guys a juicy blog entry or two and will do my darnedest to come up with 'em.

Posted by Claire @ 11:43 AM CST [Link]


Posted by Claire @ 11:38 AM CST [Link]

THE NOTE THAT CAME WITH THIS LINK SAID "Reminds me of Spy vs Spy in Mad magazine." And ain't that the truth, TC? Seems a federal prosecutor in Detroit has just filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the Ashcroft Justice Department. The prosecutor, Richard Convertino, won a big case against an alleged terrorist "sleeper cell." Then he had to watch as his victory began to collapse. Seems the JD had neglected to tell anybody it had evidence the case was based on a made-up story. When he protested the JD's "gross mismanagement," they apparently retaliated by outing one of his informants -- who then had to flee the country.

A dirty -- but fascinating -- business all around. Sure shows the fragility & instability that's increasingly typical of court cases in these various "wars on this and that." How often these days do criminal prosecutions rely on misperception, wishful thinking, exaggeration, and dirty tricks for their "success"?

Posted by Claire @ 11:36 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, February 15, 2004

THE HARDYVILLE BEGINNERS GUIDE TO ENCRYPT--N is now up at Backwoods Home magazine. If you've been putting off installing and using PGP, take an hour. Do it. The guide tells pretty much everything Windows users need to know to get started. Besides that, a helpful crew of volunteers at The Claire Files forums is standing by to give PGP coaching to anybody who shows up to ask. Web mom Debra has even set up a new forum dedicated to encryption.

Now's the time. All you need is a free copy of PGP and a partner to get you going exchanging messages.

Posted by Claire @ 10:20 PM CST [Link]

Friday, February 13, 2004

ARE YOUR NETWORKING-MAD FRIENDS COMPROMISING YOUR PRIVACY AND SECURITY? A while back I linked to an article that pointed out that it's really pretty foolish to share vast amounts of information about yourself with "social networking" sites like Friendster.

Now, from the Vetzine e-list comes a much more ominous article. This one points out, among other things, that some networking sites are actually encouraging your foolish friends to "out" you to marketers and other snoops. One, Plaxo, urges its members to upload their entire Outlook or Outlook Express address book to its servers. Yep -- upload your name, e-mail address, physical address, work address, home phone, cell phone, work phone, fax, and whatever other descriptive information your not-so-good friend might keep about you in that versatile little e-book.

I keep nothing but e-mail addresses in my book (and it's not an Outlook book, in any case), but I opened it up just now and noticed there's a big comments section where, if I were even more of an idiot than I occasionally am, I could list your birthday, your tastes in music, the drugs you like, the names of your kids, the license number of your vehicle, your sexual kinks -- or darned near anything else I knew about you.

I'd never heard of Plaxo. When I went there to check out that claim, I discovered that not only does it want your friends to upload and update all their address-book info -- but that seems to be Plaxo's sole reason for existence. Bleah! People you know may be doing this to you without your knowledge or consent!

The news about these networking site gets even worse. Read the article. Then if you find out anybody's done this to you, rip 'em a new one. And rip 'em an extra one for me.

Posted by Claire @ 03:03 PM CST [Link]

Thursday, February 12, 2004

SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE MOLES. Yeah, I do go on about the virtues of dropping out and not paying the effing state to commit foul deeds. And I have no use whatsoever for people who talk the ivory-tower theoretical talk of freedom but don't walk the right-down-here-on-the-gritty-ground walk of freedom. But that's not to say I imagine that everybody out there with a good job and a hefty tax bill ought to be cringing in guilt. Every subversive, underground movement (which freedom is, and must be, these days) needs its moles, too.

A few things that conventionally employed, taxpaying, within-the-system moles can do that "shruggers" often can't:

And these are just the things that popped to the top of my head in five minutes.

Only a handful of people -- maybe six or seven, ever -- have clicked the button to donate to this blog. But of those who have, I believe every one has been within the system. Of those, at least half have given more than once. And one great soul makes a kind donation every single month, receiving no reward for himself, but only wanting to keep the writing going.

Some of these folks talk about how guilty they feel for paying income taxes or prostituting their businesses to the demands of government. But if they didn't do that, then they couldn't offer the kind of help they have.

When the call went out to help Hunter defend himself against &^%$@!! Ohio felony concealed carry charges, the donations poured in. And I'm sure most of the folks who sent donations of $100 or $200 (or even $1,000 or more in a couple of cases) were nice, non-dropout taxpayers. Because for the most part, they're the only ones who have the means -- and the bank accounts, and the credit cards -- to give so much. Every donation, even for $5 or $10, was a statement of support. And it might be that somebody who gave $10 made a harder sacrifice than somebody with more means who gave $50 or $500. But as a purely practical matter the "good taxpayers" paid the biggest part of Hunter's lawyers' bills. And where would we have been without them?

Other non-dropouts, non-shruggers, have offered me all kinds of help over the years, from a plane trip to a place to stay if I'm ever in need. I don't know the backgrounds of all these folks, but many are obviously prosperous enough to co-own airplanes or live in nice homes. With notable exceptions, it's not the dropouts making these offers. If the really bad times ever come, then a whole lot of non-dropouts are suddenly going to be there, in committed and personal ways, to help less stable and secure freedom fighters.

And heck, without a few nice, taxpaying freedom lovers hiring me to write ... I personally don't know how I'd survive from day to day, let alone how I'd manage to go on nattering about the virtues of dropping out!

Yeah, I do believe that dropping out and refusing to fund the growing police state is the most moral individual choice. But it's not necessarily the most practical choice. And if we're really to have a freedom movement and not just a bunch of ragged individuals, we need our "mole" brothers just as much as we need any other sort of freedom partisans.

The only deep sin against freedom is the sin of hypocrisy -- of talking the talk when you don't even make an effort to walk the walk. But the walk can be walked down a lot of different paths.

Posted by Claire @ 10:26 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN RULES OVERRIDE COMMON SENSE: An ordinary American man might be fined $10,000 for going shopping & driving to church If he wants to avoid even more fines, his alternative is to drive hours out of his way.

Yeah, it's "homeland security" again. Combined with mindless law-enforcement-by-camera.

(You'll also find some other news gems at that link.)

Posted by Claire @ 08:40 AM CST [Link]

diogenes (10k image)

THIS IS ALSO FROM DAVE GROSS' SITE. Thanks, Dave, for permission to borrow it.

Posted by Claire @ 07:05 AM CST [Link]

I CHERISH WHAT DAVE GROSS IS DOING, over on his site, The Picket Line. When Bush invaded Iraq, Dave quit his job and commenced a life experiment in legal tax resistance. He has withdrawn his sanction from slaughter and empire in the most personal possible way.

Some of his blog entries focus on the everyday process of living a more simple, less financially prosperous, more conscious existence. Some, like his February 3 entry, are ruminations on individual morality and responsibility.

After a charming story of three guys who know baseball in various ways (but only one of whom has actually played the game), he writes:

The best way to become virtuous is to practice virtue - informed perhaps by ethical theories but never expecting that you will be able to apply these theories algorithmically as a substitute for conscientious (and fuzzy) judgment.

Being virtuous in ordinary, day-to-day situations is a way to prepare for being virtuous when confronted with difficult, unanticipated and critical situations. If you get in the habit of making good, worthy choices this will strengthen your will in difficult times like no theory can.

How do you know which choices are good and worthy of the virtuous life? Well, I think it can help to be informed by ethical philosophy, and I think there's probably plenty to be absorbed from folklore, literature, religion, and the like. But these aren't to be used purely intellectually, or taken on faith, but should be understood as things that have informed and nurtured a larger ethical "sixth sense" - one that almost certainly needs continuing nurturing. ...

If your actual motives do not match some moral theory you'd like to think you hold, one or the other needs to change. Choose carefully, and then silently, wordlessly, but honestly retell the story of who you are and what you believe.

I wish that the anarcho-theorists who know exactly how life "ought" to be conducted in Libertopia -- but whose own daily lives are filled with tax-paying and other forms of going-along-to-get-along with the state -- would take more of a lesson from Dave Gross.

I also wish that folks who seek an iron-bound principle to govern every single action or interaction between people would look around at the real world. Our principles do (and should) underly our choices. But everyday life consists mostly of gray areas. We make hundreds of daily choices based not on our abstract political, economic, or any other sort of philosophy, but on a broader and much more subtle sense of who we are, how we perceive the many shades of our reality, how we regard our fellow creatures, and how we want them to regard us -- abstractions aside. And thank heaven for that!

Fundamentalist anarcho-capitalist rigidity is no better than any other form of fundamentalist rigidity, when it comes to getting along with our fellow humans and conducting our own lives as fully functional, strivingly moral, individuals. Every political or philosophical theory, no matter how noble-sounding in print, is inevitably cruel when imposed rigidly upon the world of real people.

I propose a test. It applies to anarcho-capitalism or any other philosophy: If a philosopher doesn't even try live by his own philosophy -- and especially if he resents having others hold him to his own stated beliefs! -- then we should question whether the philosophy he espouses has real-world value -- or whether it should rightly be relegated forever to the pages of obscure tomes or little-read Web sites.

Posted by Claire @ 06:49 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

HEYYYYY! COOOOL! Coupla months back I bloggily cheered the Guns & Dope Party -- the most sensible political party to come along in decades. But I chided them for linking to the wrong organization under the category of "self defense." Their link was to the wimpy old N*A [shudder].

Today I surfed over to their site again. It's a refreshing antidote to Dem-ugly-can politics here in the midst of primary & caucus season. And by golly, they'd changed their self-defense link to Gun Owners of America!

Does this mean I actually have political influence????? Does this mean "politicians" actually listen to somebody who doesn't give them $100,000 donations???? Wow. Maybe there's hope for America yet. ;-)

Posted by Claire @ 05:53 PM CST [Link]


Debra here. A Chancellor, VA student has been suspended for possessing two Tylenol on school grounds. During a recent school drug bust ("... a normal event in almost every high school across America"), student Rachel Warrick was found to have two Tylenol tablets in her possession. Thanks to the miracle of "No Tolerance", she was suspended for 5 days.

One anonymous teacher is quoted as saying:

Golly, no, teach. It's much better to suspend students willy-nilly.

Posted by Debra @ 10:03 AM CST [Link]


Debra here again. A judge in Santa Cruz, CA ordered cops to to return a stash of weed to two men.

Ya gotta wonder why cops needed "evidence" for a case that was dropped.

Posted by Debra @ 09:53 AM CST [Link]


Debra here. The Ninth Circuit Court - which has lately shown itself to be a bit of a rogue for the feds - rejected the DEA hemp foods ban. The decision permanently blocks DEA attempts to regulate food items containing hemp, such as waffles, salad dressing, snack bars, and similar products.

Posted by Debra @ 09:38 AM CST [Link]

Monday, February 9, 2004

THE NEW YORK TIMES NOW CONFIRMS what illegal immigrants and undergrounders have known for years: the best fake ID is real ID obtained by bribing DMV workers.

Absurdly, the motor-vehicle bureaucrats are using this as (yet another) justification of "tighter ID standards" -- aka biometric national ID. But that's goofy. For the same $350 bucks as you get your current barcoded "fake" license, you'll still be able to get your "fake" biometric license. Okay, so maybe it'll cost $400. But it'll still be better than the real deal.

Posted by Claire @ 07:37 PM CST [Link]

WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE BARCODE SAYS ABOUT YOU? After all, we should be entitled to know as much as the cops. A new toolkit from the Swipe Project can help you decipher your own code. All you need is a scanner to get the image of your bar-code into your computer.

The Swipe Project is fascinating. Privacy awareness as performance art.

Posted by Claire @ 08:53 AM CST [Link]

AMERICANS TURNING AGAINST BUSH? The other day I wrote about a formerly pro-Bush friend turned rabidly anti-Bush in mere months. Could she be part of a trend? So Eric Margolis writes in the Toronto Sun.

And not that the polls count for much, but the latest look as if folks would like to take the pruning shears to Bush.

'Course, you can't tell it by reading FreeRepublic.com, which (fallen far from its glory days as a vast townhall meeting protesting government abuses) has largely turned into a Bush cheerleading squad, specializing in fancy knee-jerks. But something's moving out there, under the surface.

So watch for some huge terrorist scare shortly before the elections to remind everybody to keep shuffling along behind the boss.

Posted by Claire @ 08:12 AM CST [Link]

YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD ABOUT THE PLAN TO EMBED CIA OPERATIVES WITH LOCAL POLICE. News about this foul little bill (H.R. 3439) flashed around the Net this weekend. Carolyn Maloney, the bill's perverse progenitor, is now under heated assault by The Campaign to Demilitarize the Police.

The bill's only got two sponsors and it's been sitting in committee for months, so it doesn't look like an immediate threat. But it does have the feel of a trial balloon. This is exactly the sort of legislative dreck that goes nowhere on its own but later makes its way into one of those 1,000-page appropriations bills that none of our "representatives" read before voting yes on.

I'd never heard of the Campaign to Demilitarize the Police until Eric Garris blogged it at AntiWar.com. Looks like a "left-wing" and very New Yorky organization. Yet the rest of us can thank our lucky stars that one noisy group is already geared up to oppose this BS.

The government controls the general population through fear. (Not to mention bread and circuses.) But it controls us -- the watchers, the activists -- by assaulting us with so many horrors that our efforts are scattered or diluted, or we freeze because we don't know in which direction we should throw our rocks.

There's a lot of bad stuff you can say about "the left." But when they get roused, they're far more effective than libertarians or conservatives. Watch them go after this bit of news (uncovered by Debra) that the feds are, for the first time in decades, subpoenaing information on a peaceful activist group -- in this case, anti-war organizers.

Posted by Claire @ 07:57 AM CST [Link]

Friday, February 6, 2004

BOHICA. Own your own domain name? Be very afraid of this:

If you don’t tell the world your email, home address and telephone number you could face a seven-year jail sentence and a $150,000 fine under new legislation that the US Congress is trying to push past today.

Senator Lamar Smith of Texas - chairman of the Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee - yesterday produced from nowhere extensions to the 1946 Trademark Act that would make giving false contact information for a domain name a civil and criminal offence.

Of course it's sheer idiocy. But that never stopped any piece of legislation from passing before.

There'd always be ways to get around a requirement to give every spammer, stalker, and LEO goon on the planet your personal information. But it would be one more damn thing to have to dream up evasive, Outlawish tactics for.

These people are beginning to piss me off.

Oh, wait. I forgot. They already piss me off ...

Posted by Claire @ 07:52 AM CST [Link]

ONCE IN A WHILE, EVEN THE 9TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS does something sensible. They just okayed scientific study of the Kennewick Man. That's the 9,000 year old Caucasian-seeming guy so embarrassingly found in Washington state. Five Indian tribes claimed him as their own and succeeded in getting him taken off limits to researchers as "sacred." But he isn't theirs, obviously. Unless Jean-Luc Picard (whom this old man so famously resembles) is theirs. Now, it'll be exciting to see what scientists can learn about Mr. Historic Anomaly. The world expands ...

Posted by Claire @ 07:40 AM CST [Link]

LAST SPRING I DISCOVERED THAT ONE OF MY DOG-RESCUE COHORTS WAS ALSO PRETTY LIBERTARIAN though she didn't even know the word. We were talking happily away about gun rights and government limits. But the minute I dissed Bush, she got her back up. Nope. Bush might not be perfect, but he was the best president we'd had in years.

Now, with the monster deficit and expansions of government spending that make Clinton look like Calvin Coolidge ... suddenly she loathes Bush. Yesterday she was practically foaming at the mouth over his "spend now, pay later" ways. If more R's believe as she does, then maybe Jim Grichar's one and only hope of cutting "Porkus Federalus" will come true. (Not counting on it, though.)

Posted by Claire @ 07:32 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, February 5, 2004

IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO NEEDS AN EASY OVERVIEW OF THE RFID ISSUE -- from what RFID tags are to their beneficial uses to the serious privacy problems they impose, refer that person to this article by the admirable Simson Garfinkel. Garfinkel explains it all, dispassionately and in very few words.

(If there's anything to laugh at in the awful imposition of RFIDs upon the unwilling, it surely must be that Gillette -- one of the most aggressive pioneers of customer-tracking -- ordered 500 million chips from a company called Alien Technology. As planned for our future, the technology is alien, all right. Alien to freedom. Alien to privacy. Alien to voluntary association between businesses and their customers.)

Thanks to privacy maven Richard W. Smith for finding the Garfinkel piece, and so many other good articles, and sharing them with the CASPIAN crew.

Posted by Claire @ 12:43 PM CST [Link]

A FEW YEARS AGO, I STEPPED IN QUICKSAND. Weird experience. Until that moment, I had half doubted the stuff existed. Was it just a gimmick from old Tarzan movies, or what? Or what. I stepped in a place I had stepped a dozen times before, on ordinary wet sand (so I thought), and -- SUUUUUUUUUCK! I was in trouble!

That real experience makes a nicely unreal metaphor for a day when my allegedly broadband Internet connection has unaccountably reverted to 300 baud. Okay, maybe 2400 baud, tops. I click on a link and suuuuuuuck. So I'm not sure how successful I'll be in getting this entry uploaded.

But for reasons my unconscious mind hasn't decided to tell the rest of me, that quicksand experience has been on my mind the last couple of days, long before my Net connection got sucky.

If you believe benevolent Gaia rules (or is) the world, I'm sure you're wrong. Only Loki or Coyote could think of quicksand. Quicksand is an illusion. If you want to get personal, quicksand is a betrayal. What is, isn't. What was, was -- but is no more. And there's no sign to signal the change until you're on your ass in sucking glop.

Posted by Claire @ 09:34 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

NOT SURE ABOUT THE REST OF THE ARTICLE, but in this one remark, Sean Corrigan might have the greatest idea since "question authority":

"... it might be possible to outsource our government and our civil service to a call centre in Uttar Pradesh, along with all the real jobs we send there ..."

Posted by Claire @ 08:05 AM CST [Link]

MAYBE I REALLY WILL HAVE TO RECONSIDER THAT NO-TV THING. Dogs, dogs, dogs tonight on NOVA. The show's about how dogs evolved from wolves and why they're such an amazingly diverse species today. For the Un-TV'd there's some pretty good stuff on the Web site, too -- including an article about dogs as social parasites. Wince. (But it's true. Mine are. "Working dogs?" they scoff, "We're welfare dogs. So where's our handout!?")

Thank you to Karen De Coster for pointing the show out and for starting a Dog-o-Rama on her Web site. If you've got cute pix of your favorite pups, send 'em to Karen. Oh yeah, add a description about your critters' anarcho-libertarian tendencies, too. And if they don't have any, make something up!

Posted by Claire @ 07:35 AM CST [Link]

GRANNY PACKIN' HEAT. Is it true? "[F]or the first time in history Americans 65 years old and up are more likely to own a gun than any other age group -- 37 percent, irrespective of race and income." And those are just the ones who'll admit it. They know what it's like to be a vulnerable (but not helpless!) target.

Posted by Claire @ 07:14 AM CST [Link]

Monday, February 2, 2004

AMAZING. First the CIA and FBI fail to see terrorists who were actually there. Then the CIA sees weapons of mass destruction that weren't there. And now Dubya's appointing a commission to see the obvious. Bet they miss it.

Posted by Claire @ 09:05 PM CST [Link]

MY GOODNESS. A REALLY EXCITING SUPER BOWL, AT LAST. Breathtaking game, fabulous commercials, and even Janet Jackson with a bare breast. (Though that last sounds tacky; shame on you, Justin and Janet.)

And I missed it. If this keeps up, I might have to re-consider that TV thing. I didn't even know there was an NFL team called the Panthers until a week or two ago; haven't been paying attention. But my secret vice: I used to adore pro football. And on dreary winter weekends, I still miss it. And I always miss commercials. They were my favorite part of watching television. At least I can still log on for those fabulously inventive BMW films.

Posted by Claire @ 10:00 AM CST [Link]

ONE GOVERNOR SECRETLY SIGNS HIS STATE UP FOR THE MATRIX DATABASE without even bothering to mention it to the legislature (Utah). Another (in Georgia) swears his state has stopped selling its citizens -- then is discovered four months later to still be doing so. It's always interesting that so many of these things that are "for our own good" have to be foisted upon us via secrecy and deception.

Still, the MATRIX datamining project continues to march jackbootedly on -- aided by politicians and entrepreneurs who try to wrap those bootheels in cotton fog so we won't hear them coming.

Posted by Claire @ 09:51 AM CST [Link]

OH LORD. PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS TELLS WHY you don't want to be a columnist. This is so true. And on top of it all, most columnists either aren't paid at all or merely get some token sum for the privilege of being out there in public. That's entertainment ...

Posted by Claire @ 09:35 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, February 1, 2004

DEBRA, BLESS HER GORGEOUS RED HEAD, just created a new forum at The Claire Files message boards dedicated to "gulching" and intentional communities. Yay! Let's DO it.

Every day, I get more grateful to General Elias Alias, Bark, Ladylearning, and the other soldiers of The Mental Militia for coming up with the idea for those forums and making them happen.

We're nearly up to 300 members now and yet we haven't lost any of the friendly, almost-familial, activist orientation we started with. Yeah, there's an occasional yammerhead or troll. But they're the definite exception in what's becoming one of the best (and most action-oriented) general libertarian discussions on the Net.

Something else new online today: "It Came From the Junk Drawer" -- my latest column on Backwoods Home. If you get bored with today's Stupor Bowl (between those great commercials, that is), check out this list of winter projects for peace of mind and security. Good stuff to do on snowbound afternoons and dark winter evenings.

Posted by Claire @ 11:53 AM CST [Link]

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