WolfesBlogArchives: February 2005

Monday, February 28, 2005

AN OUTSTANDING ARTICLE ON THE OUTSTANDING MR. JOHN GILMORE and his fight against secret laws and internal passports.

Posted by Claire @ 10:24 PM CST [Link]

Sunday, February 27, 2005

"ABBOTT AND COSTELLO BUY A COMPUTER." "Who's On First" updated for the information age.

From McBlog.

Posted by Claire @ 11:40 PM CST [Link]

HOW THE AMISH WON EXEMPTION FROM SOCIAL SECURITY. This link arrived on Friday from a stranger called Sensei.

I meant to post it Saturday for a leisurely weekend read, then got too deep into a mix of deadlines and computer grumbles. In any case, the story of the independent Amish is well worth reading, even if you must cram it into a very unAmishlike Monday workday.

Sensei called out this quote from the article:

...When the last Amish buggy has disappeared from the dusty by-road, or has been sold like Valentine Byler’s three plow horses, it will mark more than the passing of a sect who were overwhelmed by time and change. It will mark also a milestone in the passing of freedom --- the freedom of people to live their lives undisturbed by their government so long as they lived disturbing no others. It was a freedom the country once thought important.

Valentine Byler's horses were taken by the IRS for non-payment of social security taxes. And therein lies the story ...

Posted by Claire @ 11:31 PM CST [Link]

IT'S NO MORE THAN VAPORWARE AT THE MOMENT, but a new product, RFID Washer, aims to give us the power to search and destroy those pesky RFID tags retailers are so determined to plaster on everything we own.

Nice idea. But right now they just want to collect contact information from people who are interested in wiping out RFID chips. Uh ... yeah, right guys. Name, e-mail address, and country are the only required fields, though.

Posted by Claire @ 11:22 PM CST [Link]

IF YOU THINK CHOICEPOINT SCREWED UP, have a look at what Bank of America did.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Computer tapes containing credit card records of U.S. Senators and more than a million U.S. government employees are missing, Bank of America said on Friday, putting the customers at increased risk of identity theft.

The security breach, which included data on a third of the Pentagon's staff, angered lawmakers already concerned after criminals gained access to thousands of consumer profiles in a database maintained by a data profiling company, ChoicePoint Inc.

Bank of America Corp. did not release details of how the tapes were lost, but Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said he had been informed by the Senate Rules Committee that the data tapes were likely stolen off a commercial plane by baggage handlers. ...

Social security numbers, addresses and account numbers were on the tapes for 1.2 million account holders, of which about 900,000 belonged to Defense Department employees, Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

I especially like this part:

Although the tapes were lost months ago, bank officials were only allowed to notify cardholders when they received permission from federal law enforcement authorities, Bank of America spokeswoman Eloise Hale said.

As with the ChoicePoint mess, delayed notification comes under the "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" department.

Posted by Claire @ 11:09 PM CST [Link]

Friday, February 25, 2005


Jack21221 put this on TCF today. But it's so insane it deserves wider circulation. Pick up your phone and save this poor kid from felony "terrorism" charges. And from the clutches of idiots, as well:


Student writes short stories.
Student writes one about a high school being overrun by zombies.
Grandmother finds said short story.
Grandmother calls the cops.
Cops label student a terrorist, and lock him up with a 1000 dollar bail.
Judge raises bail to 5000 due to the "seriousness of the crime"

Chief of Police W.M.Jackson II
Phone: 1-859-745-7400
Fax: 1-859-745-7404

Never say that it isn't possible for school administrators or police to get any stranger than they already are.

Posted by Claire @ 01:09 PM CST [Link]

THIS WEEK I HEARD THE FIRST LYRICS I EVER WROTE set to rowdy rock music on a CD. It was only a "draft" recording of a song. But there it was, blasting out of the speakers in my truck. Good music, too. Sung by a powerful singer with a sexy rock voice.

I've never been terribly impressed with myself for being a book or article writer. But I played that CD and ... it's silly, but I felt Famous.

Posted by Claire @ 10:04 AM CST [Link]


I was reading a Pew Center analysis of the 2004 presidential election, "Politics and Values in a 51%-48% Nation." It contains a lot that's interesting, a lot that's not happy-making, a lot that shows how similar Ds and Rs really are.

But about halfway down the linked page is a boxed poll question with this result reported:

It IS necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values.
Yes: 51%

Now, in this day and age, I find that both astonishing and disgusting. Some of the most moral people I know are atheists and agnostics, because they have to answer to themselves every day of their lives. They know there's no magical incantation to gain forgiveness and salvation when they do wrong. They don't believe they must behave well merely because some powerfully punishing Other might be watching them. They behave well because it's the right thing to do.

I know some highly moral god-believers, too. But it's a mix. Some individuals probably do need a deity to enforce or inspire good behavior. Others I've seen actually behave worse because they know they're "saved" and expect to be forgiven at their next prayer session or confession. Ditto, some atheists are skunks. But not solely because they're atheists.

The sheer ignorance displayed by that 51% isn't the only problem. If that poll result reflects reality, then 51 percent of Americans are openly, blatantly bigoted against non-believers. They're saying we're inherently not good, decent human beings, every last one of us.

If you said that all blacks, Jews, gays, name-minority-of-your-choice were inherently not good, decent human beings, you'd be rightly nailing yourself as the ignorant, ugly bigot you are. But say it about people who live their lives cleanly because of their own internal ethics ... and apparently that's just dandy.

By this standard, 51% of Americans believe that George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden are both inherently more moral (and presumably more worthy of respect) than H.L. Mencken or Carl Sagan. Or Wendy McElroy. Or me. I'd like to see somebody try to prove that.

Posted by Claire @ 09:50 AM CST [Link]


WASHINGTON - Privacy advocates say a committee set up recently to advise the Homeland Security Department on privacy issues amounts to little more than a fox guarding a chicken coop.

One member works for a high-tech company that distributed software that many computer users complained contained adware.

Another works for a conglomerate whose subsidiary turned over personal records of airline passengers to a government contractor.

A third works for a defense contractor from which thieves stole personal information on thousands of employees, making them vulnerable to identity theft.

Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer of Counterpane Internet Security, a Mountain View, Calif., computer security company, and author of "Beyond Fear," said he looked at the 20-member list and laughed.

"It's just plain weird," Schneier said Thursday. "Where are all the privacy people?"

No surprise, unfortunately.

(Once again, from privacy super-sleuth Richard M. Smith.)

Posted by Claire @ 09:30 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, February 24, 2005

"CORPORATISM AND SOCIALISM IN AMERICA." Anthony Gregory is brilliant. This sums it all up: What's gone drastically wrong in the last 100 years in the unholy alliance between big government and big business.

Posted by Claire @ 07:38 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

AD SHOWING SHOTGUN BANNED IN BRITAIN. I think these people need to get a life. And get rid of some government.

Posted by Claire @ 02:25 PM CST [Link]

HE WANTED HIS REMAINS FIRED FROM A CANNON, and it looks as if Johnny Depp, among others, might be trying to make it happen. A number of interesting tributes to Hunter S. Thompson.

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

"The unregistered child is a nonentity. The unregistered child does not exist."
-- Bishop Desmond Tutu

Tutu is merely expressing longstanding United Nations policy. But it's somehow especially chilling to hear an alleged man of faith declare that the individual doesn't even live, breathe, or possess a soul until the state says so. Apparently the individual doesn't have the slightest importance within himself, his family, his friends, his community. Only as a databit in a worldwide registry.

Tutu said that while pushing a new plan to fulfill the UN's dream of control. Of course, it's "for the children" and "for everyone's safety." So it's okay.

(Thanks to CASPIAN and Katherine Albrecht for this one.)

Posted by Claire @ 08:13 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

GOOD EDITORIAL ON THE CHILLING OF SPEECH under the reign of the Busheviks. Warren Bluhm, the author, is also the journalist who earlier praised TCF's own Liberty Lightning's "The Tragedy of History."

(Tks again, SJ.)

Posted by Claire @ 12:52 PM CST [Link]

"AN AMERICAN REFUSENIK." Brian Doherty's Reason article, quoted in the last entry, prompted me to revisit this article of mine from a couple of years ago.

It's becoming more true than ever that, for the simple act of refusing a government number, many of us are becoming exiles within our own land, cut off from many of the basics of life.

I haven't used a Social Security number in years. And if I'm ever forced to take a Beast Number again, I'll take it as a sign that I have lost and that freedom has lost. From that moment on, I'll become exactly what the government seems to consider us all: a piece of property in its inventory. My goal then will be to become the most useless and expensive inventory item I can manage to be.

But hopefully that day will never come.

Until recently, I've lived outside the system in most ways but still kept three or four "ties," such as vehicle registration. But with the uncurbed growth of both government power and surveillance (private, government, and horrible hybrid), I'm finding it insupportable to have even that much contact with the villains who think they own us all.

I don't know whether I'll be able to make myself break those last bonds (though freedom-loving friends have already offered more alternatives than I could have imagined). But as I contemplate doing so, I feel both a lot of apprehension and -- somewhat to my surprise -- a soaring sense of freedom.

If I do this -- still a very, very big if -- I'll be nakedly vulnerable (as some better-than-I folks already are). But I'll also be living as totally true to myself as I can. And the worth of that inspires the greatest of great feelings.

I must stress, once again, the power of "to each his own." Whatever choices I make are just that ... choices I make. Others have gone way beyond me in taking principled actions that have made them American Refuseniks and fellow Ghosts. Others remain entirely within the system as Moles or Agitators. All have a role to play. And right now, I don't have a clue where I'll end up.

I just struggle on what's increasingly beginning to feel like a razor's edge. And that edge also defines a terrible irony: If one acts as a truly free person -- neither asking nor receiving permissions from the government to exercise what once were rights -- then one becomes less "free" to travel, work, save money, own property, etc.

For a writer, it's also a strange situation. Because in the eyes of most readers, it's probably "okay" for me to write about freedom -- as long as I pay my taxes, use my number, hold a drivers license, etc. The moment I step outside these abnormal norms, then I automatically become a wing-nut weirdo fanatic in the eyes of the "normal" world and everything I write is inherently suspect merely because it's coming from me.

Therefore, the more I actually mean what I say, the less trustworthy I'm assumed to be. Yikes!

Very strange. Very, very, very strange days.

Posted by Claire @ 09:43 AM CST [Link]

BRIAN DOHERTY ON THE "REAL ID ACT": Cutting to the rotted core of the matter.

No, Real I.D. only forces states to follow federal guidelines in setting up its driver's licenses by essentially making all that state's citizens exiles in their own land if the states don't go along. ...

The Real I.D. act in effect declares that we can't live in this country anymore without a federally specified biometric I.D.—even though there isn't any act of suicidal terror (remember 9/11!) I can imagine that couldn't be done, if needed, by someone with a perfectly legal passport or domestic I.D. ...

In a nation where federalism is meant to be a founding standard, not a bitter joke, the feds don't even order the states to give up on their former prerogative of running driver's license bureaus—because they don't have to. The feds are so thoroughly in charge in this abusive federal relationship that they know, as with issues like speed limits and drug laws, they are going to win no matter what the states—or, God forbid, citizens—want. ...

But laws like H.R. 418 are designed to severely tighten those gaps in which we can live and do business, with our government or with others, with privacy and dignity intact. Things have changed since 9/11, it's true. Given the paltry amount of verifiable terrorist activity on our shores since then, though, they've mostly changed as a result of the wars waged and laws passed by our leaders who keep assuring us that, hey, things have changed since 9/11, not because of anything inherent in the hideous new age allegedly launched with that evil attack. ...

This beast of a bill must still pass the Senate. But if it does, Our Glorious Leader will sign it with great glee, as he has already indicated.

Posted by Claire @ 09:08 AM CST [Link]

Monday, February 21, 2005

HUNTER S. THOMPSON IS GONE. A few thousand commentators will just have to shout a lot louder to make up for his absence.

Posted by Claire @ 07:38 AM CST [Link]

THE IMPACT OF A SINGLE THEFT OF "PAPERS." Neil Alexander writes chillingly about the impact of a single, up-close-and-personal theft of the items we carry around with us. (And gives yet another familiar example of "I'm from the government; I'm here to help you.")

It seems Neil and his wife are still lucky, four years after the fact. The petty thief who grabbed his wife's purse hasn't yet used their "papers" to destroy their credit and their reputations.

Then there are those criminal gangs of identity thieves. Those ID racketeers. Those conspirators in the pillaging of our identity. Those villains who make purse-snatchers look like towers of civic virtue: ChoicePoint and its ilk. The data warehousers, aggregators, and sellers.

You want to know what they've ripped from you? It goes way beyond your bank account or your auto registration. And they're selling it all. Heck, selling you is the only reason ChoicePoint and its comrades in crime exist.

And Our Glorious Leaders can do nothing but lock the barn door after the horse, all its tack, and the last grain of feed have been stolen. (Never fear, however. Lest you lose all faith in the protection of the State, I can assure you that Congress will eventually show its true worth by spewing forth some incomprehensible, draconian, 2,000-page piece of legislation, establishing a Department of Privacy, setting up an identity czar, and authorizing ninja raids ... against everyone but ChoicePoint and company, who will go on plying their criminal trade exactly as usual, due to large campaign contributions leading to a planet-sized loophole hidden in Clause C, Subclause 1, Paragraph a-32 on Page 1759 of the Trust, Honor, Integrity, Empowerment, and Financial Protection Act of 2006, which no one who voted for it will have actually bothered to read.)

Like those same Glorious Leaders, ChoicePoint hides its own secrets while demanding that we have none.

Still, even in the hell these monsters are preparing for us, there will still be moments of levity and laughter. As ChoicePoint's CEO Derek Smith remained among the missing in the wake of revelations that his company sold us out to identity thieves, privacy maven Richard M. Smith found this choice ChoicePoint quote in a 2002 article:

"ChoicePoint's core competency is verifying and authenticating individuals and their credentials." -- ChoicePoint Chairman and CEO Derek V. Smith

Uh huh.

I've known some con artists in my life and have one outstanding observation about them: con artists -- who devoutly cling to the something-for-nothing mentality, who trade in getting their dirty hands on the unearned -- tend to fall for scams even more easily than some of their marks do. They recognize their own particular scam techniques if someone tries to pull them. But present them with any other chance at unearned dough, and they often tumble for it like any greedy mark.

Thus it appears that after conning us out of the data that determines our ability to function -- or be forbidden to function -- in modern life, ChoicePoint fell for the ploys of a Nigerian scammer.

Posted by Claire @ 07:26 AM CST [Link]

THERE WAS A TIME WHEN SECRETLY RECORDED TAPES OF THE PRESIDENT would have revealed something shocking, yet grimly fascinating. Apparently the new Bush tapes are merely banal, confirming Hannah Arendt's astute observation.

Posted by Claire @ 06:50 AM CST [Link]

Saturday, February 19, 2005


"Like this cop, you mean?"

The officers who arrested the completely blameless "suspect" in this police shooting, BTW, have just been acquitted in the suspect-victim's civil suit.

I know it's a judgment call; they weren't responsible for their colleague's lie. But they did, on one liar's word, arrest an innocent without any investigation.

And why, why, why is it that lying government employees always get the benefit of the doubt over non-government individuals? And what is it with this hooey (pardon me, I'm majorly ticked off at power-abusers today) of doing egregious, deliberate harm to someone else, then blaming your every deed on "stress"? And now it's okay because gee golly, you're praying about it.

Like, praying might help you, pal -- although it might help even more just to say, "I'm responsible. What can I do to undo the harm I caused?" But praying for your own trivial, self-focused little soul hardly helps your victim one bit.

Posted by Claire @ 11:30 AM CST [Link]

GARY NORTH HAS AN EXCELLENT TAKE on the ChoicePoint data disaster. Scathingly apt article -- though obviously written before ChoicePoint admitted that the real scope of their sloppy info gap went far, far beyond the "35,000 Californians" North mentions.

The two most shocking things, though, are that so many aware, intelligent people like North have never heard of ChoicePoint until now, and that Americans blandly accept that firms buy and sell masses of their personal information, including SSNs.

ChoicePoint, BTW, not only sells info to law enforcement, as many news stories have noted. It has such cozy-cozy connections with the feds that several federal agencies, including the FBI, have their own ChoicePoint web sites. To make this relationship even cozier, the firm has in the last several years expanded from merely gathering consumer data into explicitly seeking "security" and "intelligence" data. Yes, "intelligence" data on you and me.

Yes, the law says the feds can't maintain dossiers on innocent Americans. So -- wink, wink, nod, nod -- ChoicePoint does that odious job for them.

I absolutely don't advocate violence, but if I were writing a novel of the resistance, some fictional hero of mine would surely blow ChoicePoint (or at least its tools of its trade) straight off the planet. Even the dreadful Big Brother chipmaker, Applied Digital Solutions, is less of an enemy to privacy, individual sovereignty, and freedom. (Of course, chips and data will ultimately work together to enslave us. Hand-in-hand down the path they'll take us.)

We will never be a sane, decent society again until individuals deal with, and respect, each other as individuals. Institutions must stop considering human lives to be mere data-fields, mere "aggregate information," "demographic units," or "psychographic profiles." Institutions, government, private, or horrible hybrid, must stop considering us as their property to be used and traded willy-nilly as they deem fit.

No doubt the newsmedia and Congress will editorialize about ChoicePoint's unconscionable screwup and call for "reform" and "improved data security." But reform is not what's needed. The fundamental concepts ChoicePoint and other data aggregators work on are outrageous, and the only real solution to their control of our lives is a radical one -- radical meaning a solution that goes to the root.

North is wrong that no media other than MSNBC covered the story. NPR was on it all day yesterday and the reports are spreading. The news stories (and even Gary North's column) are going on -- once again, predictably -- about what you should do in event of identity theft. It can take years to re-establish both your credit and your credibility. In the meantime, you are often treated as a criminal, hounded by collection agencies, and denied such basic "benefits of society" as bank accounts and jobs. You'll discover that you're often disbelieved when you explain that you're not the one who committed all those crimes and financial misdeeds in your own name. By all means, guard against identity theft. And if ChoicePoint or anybody else has made you a victim, get moving. And good luck.

But the real question is: Why should you be forced to go through such hell -- simply because some company to whom your life meant nothing but another dollar in the bank didn't give a bleeping eff about protecting the information it ripped from you?

ChoicePoint ruined your life? ChoicePoint sold your life to creeps? ChoicePoint should go through the hell of reconstructing it. But of course, ChoicePoint can't go through hell. It has no soul. As well as no face, no conscience, and no individual liability. At the very, very least, ChoicePoint should do the one thing it has absolutely refused ever to do for anybody -- remove our records from its databases. Think there's one tiny snowflake's little chance it'll do that?

Consider this: ChoicePoint refuses to remove your data at your request. Then they deliberately sell it, or let it slip -- entirely against your will and even over your objections -- to snitches, snoops, and thieves (who may in turn share it with other snitches, snoops, and thieves). Then they -- and the ohsohelpful news media -- tell you it's your problem to rebuild your life from the ruins.

Once upon a time, identity theft was "retail." You got sloppy with a credit card slip or a discarded bill and some creep pulled a "gotcha." It was your problem -- albeit it was also some creep's fault. Now, identity thieves are wholesale customers of giant data warehouse businesses like ChoicePoint. And ChoicePoint is at least as guilty as the scum with whom they do their dirty, sloppy trade.

May every single creator, executive, administrator, partner, and enabler of ChoicePoint one day reap the cosmic, karmic consequences of the hell they have sown for others.

Posted by Claire @ 10:36 AM CST [Link]

Blog_AnarchSticker2 (11k image)
THIS IS A LEFT-WING ANARCHIST SITE, so consider yourself forewarned and don't come bitching back to me if you find things on the page you disagree with. But it sure has some great bumper stickers.

(Tks, SJ. Excellent find.)

Posted by Claire @ 08:09 AM CST [Link]

Friday, February 18, 2005

ON WEDNESDAY I QUESTIONED WHO ON EARTH WOULD HAVE TIME TO SMOKE 50 joints a day (as some study participants allegedly did).

I must have forgotten my hippie days. Clearly, if you've smoked 50 joints, your senses would tell you that you had aaaaallllll the tiiiiiiimmmmmme in the woooooorrrrrrrldddddd ...

Posted by Claire @ 08:49 AM CST [Link]

DESERT HERMITAGE VS HOME, HOME IN THE WOODS. Somebody asked me yesterday if I were going to blog about the differences now that I've had a few weeks back in Cabin Sweet Cabin. I have to give some thought to that. Mostly been too busy to pay much attention. But I can tell you the #1 big difference is: too little connectivity vs too much connectivity.

Down there, Net access was ironically both a rare treat and a distraction I was thrilled to avoid. Got a lot of work done and had a lot of peace of mind. No temptations to chatter on the TCF forums all day. No barrage of bad news to tug at heart and brain. I felt incredibly centered and focused. Well, when the plumbing wasn't bursting.

Here, Net access is (I hate this expression) 24/7. It takes discipline to avoid its lures and snares -- and I've always been a follower of Oscar Wilde's dictum that the best way to rid yourself of a temptation is to yield to it.

Writing keeps me at the computer a lot, naturally. But with broadband always on, it's so eeeeeasy, every time I'm stuck on a concept of bored with a project to say, "Oh, just gotta go see how that watched item is doing at eBay!" or "Wonder if there's anything new in the Infamous Twinkie Thread at TCF?" And email. Oooooh, email. Then, of course, there's always some thought that wanders through that simply must be lassoed, wrestled to the ground, and blogged.

You know. Really important things. And those things link to other things, which link to other things ...

Cabin Sweet Cabin on its beautiful green hill ought to be a peaceful place. But I make the atmosphere jangly at times with that frenetic energy that seems to emanate from the Net.

SWF seeks happy medium for days of contemplative solitude on hilltop.

Posted by Claire @ 08:37 AM CST [Link]

LOL! WELL, GUESS WHICH FEDERAL AGENCY EARNED AN "F" for its computer security?

But seven of the 24 largest agencies received failing grades, including the departments of Energy and Homeland Security. The Homeland Security Department encompasses dozens of agencies and offices previously elsewhere in government but also includes the National Cyber Security Division, responsible for improving the security of the country's computer networks.

What's really sad is how unsurprising the news is. Did anybody with a brain expect any other result?

(Thank you, Sunni and CASPIAN.)

Posted by Claire @ 08:20 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, February 17, 2005

YESTERDAY AFTERNOON MY WATCH BROKE and I felt as if Western Civilization were collapsing around my head. No, I haven't gone completely nuts. I'm not a drama queen. And I'm not PMSing. The watch's defection culminated a seven-day period in which my mechanic told me, "Time to get a new transmission or a new truck," my just-out-of-warranty TV/DVD player went fatally blitz, and the laptop computer on which all of life depends started heading south.

Et tu, wristwatch?

I briefly (very briefly) contemplated a peaceful and simple life without gas-tank fillups, truck registration, mysterious truck fixes, Netflix subscription, Internet, or the slightest need for keeping track of time other than observing the phases of the moon and the passing of the seasons. Ah, wilderness.

Yeah, I'd take up wood carving for a living. That's what I'd do. (Except, of course, how would I get the wood up my hill with no truck?) I'd ... Um.

I'd ask the Chivalrous Tech Geeks at TCF for [more]

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

WHAT WERE THESE SCIENTISTS SMOKIN'? And where the heck did they find study volunteers who regularly smoked 50 joints a day???

I mean, who would even have the time, let alone the money?

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

THE FIRST SCHOOL IN THE U.S. TO RFID-TAG ITS STUDENTS has finally decided its students are not "inventory" -- for now, anyway.

And well, it wasn't the school-o-crats who actually made the decision, you see ...

(Tks, AZ)

Posted by Claire @ 09:56 PM CST [Link]

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

THOMAS L. KNAPP, OVER AT RATIONAL REVIEW also raves with joy over The Black Arrow. Vin Suprynowicz has written a freedom blockbuster here.

Posted by Claire @ 03:24 PM CST [Link]

ANYBODY WHO'S EVER DONE ANIMAL RESCUE will get a bitter grin out of this "request" our group recently received. (If you haven't been there, you might just go "HUH?")


Please help!!!! After two long years of being on a waiting list for a cattle dog, we have been notified by the breeder that, at long last, our number has come up and ... WE ARE HAVING A PUPPY!!!

We must get rid of our children IMMEDIATELY because we just know how time consuming our new little puppy is going to be and it just wouldn't be fair to the children. Since our little puppy will be arriving on Monday we MUST place the children into rescue this weekend!

They are described as:

One male - His name is Tommy, Caucasian (English/Irish mix), light blonde hair, blue eyes. Four years old. Excellent disposition. He doesn't bite. Temperament tested. Does have problems with peeing directly in the toilet. Has had chicken Pox and is current on all shots. Tonsils have already been removed. Tommy eats everything, is very clean, house trained & gets along well with others. Does not run with scissors and with a little training he should be able to read soon.

One female - Her name is Lexie, Caucasian (English/Irish mix), strawberry blonde hair, green eyes, quite freckled. Two years old. Can be surly at times. Non-biter, thumb sucker. Has been temperament tested but needs a little attitude adjusting occasionally. She is current on all shots, tonsils out, and is very healthy & can be affectionate. Gets along well with other little girls & little boys but does not like to share her toys and therefore would do best in a one child household. She is a very quick learner and is currently working on her house training-shouldn't take long at all.

We really do LOVE our children so much and want to do what's right for them; that is why we contacted a rescue group. But we simply can no longer keep them. Also, we are afraid that they may hurt our new puppy.

I hope you understand that ours is a UNIQUE situation and we have a real emergency here!!! They MUST be placed into your rescue by Sunday night at the latest or we will be forced to drop them off at the orphanage or along some dark, country road. Our priority now has to be our new puppy.

(Tks K&R for putting up with it all.)

Posted by Claire @ 10:42 AM CST [Link]

ALTHOUGH THUNDER ALREADY BEAT ME TO IT by posting the announcement over at The Claire Files Forums, the new Hardyville column, "The Bug-Out Campout," is now online.

Written more by Bobaloo, Thunder, and Lightning than by me, it tells the story of the cold January campout in which they tested their three-day emergency kits.

When he read the draft, Thunder (goodnaturedly) groused that I hadn't picked on Bobaloo enough. Not until I read the article this morning did I realize indeed I hadn't given equal grief to the co-conspirators. So, Bobaloo, perhaps someday we'll have to tell the full story of the fighting-mouse herd just to even things up.

But really, these guys all did an admirable thing and brought back a lot of lessons about gear and planning that the rest of us won't have to freeze our buns off to learn.

Posted by Claire @ 10:24 AM CST [Link]

Monday, February 14, 2005


By Fran Tully
Chair of the Utah State Libertarian Party

The Black Arrow is a futuristic tale of hope and resistance. Set in the year 2030, it opens in the streets of Gotham. The reader is introduced to a world where homeland security has blossomed and bestowed upon us its wonderful "protection" against terrorism--- not only in our airports, but right off busy sidewalks at impromptu "portals." Passers by are treated to an inspection for weapons, illegal software, drugs, and proper ID. Of course, if they don't find any problems, inspectors often treat themselves to a good grope or other sexual rewards from the defenseless citizens in this new "police state." Ah, but on the rooftops and in the shadows lurks the Black Arrow - a hero along the lines of Batman, or Super Man. While the book may open with an almost comic book feel, we soon learn that it is a serious, believable novel that stirs our souls much like the film, Spartacus does.

With The Black Arrow Vin has given us a real treasure...For example, when was the last time that "Passionate"..."Sexy"..."Stylish"..."Thought-provoking"..."Funny"..."Exhilarating!"..."Action-packed!"...and
"Tear-jerker" were all used to describe the same book---let alone a book about FREEDOM???

The characters are so real, likable, and unique that you believe that you know them. The Black Arrow starts out with a righteous assassination by an archer. The ancient method of attack is chosen to effectively render the

Posted by Claire @ 03:29 PM CST [Link]

Sunday, February 13, 2005

LARRY DODGE AND HIS WIFE HONEY (LANHAM) lead off this New York Times article about Panama's attractiveness to American ex-patriates.

Larry is the founder of the Fully Informed Jury Association (now run by the beautiful Iloilo Marguerite Jones) and Honey was a long-time Texas LP activist. They've resettled in Central America.

Sandy Sandfort, a more-or-less neighbor of the Dodges and author of the special report Panama in a Nutshell, says the Times report is pretty accurate.

Posted by Claire @ 01:07 PM CST [Link]

THE BONUS ARMY: AN AMERICAN EPIC. Sometimes I wonder why I listen to NPR. Then a report like this one answers the question. Do not miss this excellent compendium on the Bonus March. NPR's report includes an on-air interview, photos, and a newsreel showing the U.S. army (under Gen. Douglas MacArthur) attacking fellow citizens.

If you're not already familiar with the 1932 catastrophe of the Bonus March, you'll know it well after listening, watching, and reading here.

From the newsreel: "It's war: The greatest concentration of fighting troops in Washington since 1865." And alas ... "They [the veterans of the Bonus Army] soon find out that it doesn't pay to monkey with a buzz saw."

But don't worry. According to the newsreel and President Herbert Hoover, the entire catastrophe was due to communists and other bad elements.

The interview is with Paul Dickson, co-author of a new book, The Bonus Army: An American Epic. Think I'll go check that one right out ...

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

Saturday, February 12, 2005

SPYDERCO ASSIST KNIVES! Whoohoo! I just received quite a care package from Rich Lucibella.

After I agreed to write a column for S.W.A.T. magazine, Rich (the publisher) sent back issues for me to take a look at. I opened the first one with the attitude of Doing My Duty -- and was quickly sucked in. S.W.A.T. is a first-class 'zine with a healthy dose of irreverence, plenty of tips for real shooters in the real world, and .... ooooooh, gear reviews.

I'm (alas) a neglectful shooter and not much of a gun gearhead. I get lost when a writer delves into the complexities of gas systems, guide rods, or glass bedding. But S.W.A.T. also reviews knives. To me a great knife is a work of art. Useful knives, elegantly crafted knives, even -- I guiltily confess -- cheap little knives that are cleverly made (like my Philippine balisong) make my eyes light up.

I salute the usefulness of guns as a self-defense and freedom-defense tool. But knives appeal more to my sense of aesthetics and my imagination.

In the first back issue of S.W.A.T., two knives switched on my glow: The Spyderco Assist I and Assist II. These, I could see, shine in the usefulness category. They're clever, too. And well thought-out and well-constructed. My kinda knife.

I mentioned to Rich how I admired the Assist II ... and I learned that I'm definitely working for a man of action. Yesterday I received a Box of Mystery with no return address. When I opened it, out slid both beautiful Spyderco Assist models.

I need to menton upfront that Rich has an ironclad policy for S.W.A.T. writers. They're forbidden to accept free gear from [more]

Posted by Claire @ 10:19 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A RURAL CALIFORNIA SCHOOL, WITHOUT STUDENT OR PARENT INPUT, has decided to monitor every move every student makes while at school. The means: a radio-frequency ID tag worn on a cord around the neck. The stated reason: to "simplify attendance taking" and cut down on vandalism.

'Course, since would-be vandals can covertly remove the tag and leave it behind while they scrawl their grafitti, you know what the next step has to be ...

(Tks, Debra. Yuch.)

Posted by Claire @ 12:33 PM CST [Link]

ARE YOU (LIKE ME) GUILTY OF "FAILURE TO BACK UP"? Back up data, that is. Brad at McBlog has an array of easy or low-cost options. I'd have never thought of some of these.

I've been much better about data backup since the Linux Fairy delivered a 512MB Mini-Cruzer USB flash drive on Linuxmas Day. (Thank you, Linux Fairy!) But I still need to work on system backup and recovery.

One good habit: My data is on partitions separate from the operating system. So if the OS crashes so hard it has to be reinstalled, I don't end up overriding any earning-a-living work or personal stuff.

Not an infallible method, however. In December, while configuring a new Linux, I managed to blitz one of those personal partitions on this machine through a blindingly simple Stupid User Trick. Lost more than a year of e-mails and a lot of sentimental stuff, though no work files. Entirely my own fault. One of the drawbacks to using Linux: You can't blame Bill Gates for your screwups. Damn!

Posted by Claire @ 09:44 AM CST [Link]

THE HOUSE IS EXPECTED TO VOTE TODAY on Jim Sensenbrenner's "Real ID" bill", a bill that has King George's enthusiastic support. Among other things -- many very bad other things -- the bill gives Homeland Security ("Achtung!") authority to suspend certain laws, and forbids courts from having any say or offering any redress in the matter.

The link above is to a "left-wing" editorial against the bill. And here's the Ron Paul/Gun Owners of America opposition. This article also contains more detail about the bill, and about last year's ID bill, which is supplants.

Posted by Claire @ 09:21 AM CST [Link]

I guess now that Mr. Gonzalez has been confirmed, it's safe to admit that yep, we've been torturing prisoners overseas.

Debra here. According to BBC News, a former CIA official has confirmed suspicions that dozens of terror suspects have been flown to jails in Middle Eastern countries where torture is routinely practiced. Michael Scheuer, who once headed the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, said the operation was authorised at the highest levels of the CIA and the White House and was approved by their lawyers.

Some quotes by the inestimable Mr. Scheuer:

" I personally have no problem with doing any operation as long as it's justified legal by my superiors."

"Human rights is a very flexible concept... It depends how hypocritical you want to be on a particular day."

Nice, eh?

Posted by Debra @ 09:03 AM CST [Link]

FOLKS WHO ORDERED HARDBOUNDS OF THE BLACK ARROW are starting to receive their numbered, autographed copies. Seems a lot of freedom lovers are sitting up all night these days, racing through the 700 pages. Haven't seen the published version yet, but I got an advance look at this futuristic superhero tale by Vin Suprynowicz last year, and even with the typical rough edges of an early draft, it was a good one. Hope Vin sells a million of 'em.

Posted by Claire @ 12:22 AM CST [Link]

DON'T YOU LOVE HAPPY ENDINGS? Quiznos does right by their young manager who resourcefully ran a store for two months after the franchise owners flaked out and disappeared.

Here's the earlier story.

Posted by Claire @ 12:09 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, February 8, 2005


PHILADELPHIA (KYW) Money that has been contaminated with a virus; it’s a whole new possible direction for bioterrorism. It is a case that the FBI terrorism unit has taken over from state police that involves several cities, including Philadelphia. ...

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania State Troopers intercepted $250,000 dollars during a routine traffic stop. The alleged drug money, which had been sealed in plastic, was being driven from Columbus, Ohio to Northeast Philadelphia.

According to law enforcement sources, after counting the seized cash, troopers began feeling ill and one trooper was even hospitalized with flu-like symptoms.

(Tks, SJ)

Posted by Claire @ 09:46 PM CST [Link]

HOW HEALTH INSURANCE (with the usual government assistance) is screwing up health care.

Found via Freedom News Daily.

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

THE LONG TAIL OF THE BLOGOSPHERE and how it's changing the culture.

Posted by Claire @ 08:31 AM CST [Link]

Monday, February 7, 2005

I'VE BEEN WANTING TO PUBLICIZE LIGHTNING'S NEW BLOG, The Freedom Outlaw, for a month. It's one of the best new blogs coming around, and Lightning is the young woman I spoke of a while back whose name I think the libertarian world will someday know. But Lightning tells me it's too early. Don't write about her blog yet.

And then the woman goes and posts an entry so tragically beautiful that ... well, sorry Lightning, but you can't expect to get away with hiding a piece of writing like this.

Anyway, she dropped a note about it at TCF asking for a critique. So I'm guessing she won't mind too much if I bring the word over here. The Freedom Outlaw is a blog to watch and someday I expect Lightning's name to be up there with Wendy McElroy or Nancy Lord or Mary Lou Seymour, or perhaps even higher among freedom-loving ladies.

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

"THE ONLY V8 POWERFUL ENOUGH TO SEND YOU TO SPACE." Volvo is sponsoring a contest -- and the winner will leave Earth on a Virgin Galactic commercial flight.

You have to give address-and-phone type info, be at least 21 years old, and (as they so charmingly put it), a "legal resident of the U.S. or District of Columbia." (I always knew DC wasn't actually part of the USA.). You also have to check off some, like really, really, really lame questions to which the answer is always (I don't think I'm helping anyone cheat too badly here) "The New Volvo XC90 V8."

Good luck. Star Trek fans will enjoy the URL even if they don't win the contest. (And thanks S.S. for the info.)

Posted by Claire @ 07:51 PM CST [Link]

DUMB CORPORATE TRICKS. Speaking of repeating mistakes (as I was the other day), here's one that businesses regularly do.

I've been re-filling the cartridges on my HP printer with a kit I bought at Costco for, oh I think it was 17 bucks. This kit has enough ink in it to supply me for a year or more. The printer makers all hate these kits, of course, and issue Dire Warnings that using them will void your warranty, yada yada.

I came home from the Desert Hermitage and found that the cartridges I'd left in the printer (oops) had dried up beyond all my efforts at refilling and cleaning, so I had to go shopping for new ones and found that it was going to be a $50-some investment for the two cartridges. Slightly down from the price of a year ago, but still no fun.

If HP doesn't want to lose business to refill-kit makers or cartridge-knockoff producers -- why don't they just price their cartridges reasonably in the first place? I mean, these are not expensive items to manufacture (though they are little wonders of design). $10 apiece? $12? Dandy. I'd forego the messy business of refilling for that.

Similar thing with those $5.00 boxes of popcorn and $2.50 candy bars at the movie theaters. [more]

Posted by Claire @ 09:31 AM CST [Link]

AS 2005 OPENED, MICROSOFT HALTED TECH SUPPORT FOR WINDOWS NT. Novell responded with this hoot of a public service announcement to help IT staffers deal with their withdrawal symptoms. (Found via McBlog)

Posted by Claire @ 08:57 AM CST [Link]

PODCASTING. This is interesting for them what wants to talk mainly to the choir. OTOH, if anybody's doing a regular podcast of Celtic music, I'll subscribe.

Posted by Claire @ 08:46 AM CST [Link]

Saturday, February 5, 2005

EVER NOTICE HOW OTHER PEOPLE KEEP REPEATING THE SAME MISTAKES? Like that best friend of yours who gets caught in every financial scam that comes along, each time convinced that this one will bring prosperity. Or your sister who keeps getting into catastrophic relationships with interchangeably dreadful men. We're so much smarter than they are.

Yeah, like we never repeat our own mistakes.

Here's my big repeater. I know -- I know -- that if my gut is telling me one thing and my head is telling me another that my gut is always right. I should never listen to my head when there's a conflict. Maybe it's different for you; some of us are head people and some of us are instinct-runners. But for me: gut over brain, every time.

Except that time and again, I make the mistake of letting my head talk my gut out of what it knows.

Did it just last week. Got an email that set off at least five separate gut alarms. Wrongness just screamed out of this e-mail. But there were good elements in it, too. The person writing it seemed smart, reasonable, good humored, friendly. A regular Boy Scout yada yada. I held the mail for a few days while I checked around to see if any of my friends knew the writer or knew anything about him. Nobody did. So, based on the good, I gave this person a little wedge into my life. Bad news. Turned out to be the dumbest thing I've done so far this year. I shoulda known. I coulda stopped it. But I listened to my head saying "Boy Scout" instead of my gut saying "NO!"

I've told myself before I'm not gonna make that mistake again. Gut, not head, woman. But then the soft side of my brain gives people the benefit of the doubt. Brain says my gut perceptions must be wrong. My mother's voice lectures that I should be polite and not arbitrarily reject anybody. And so I do the same stupid damn dumb thing again.

No more "benefit of the doubt." I still haven't quite figured out how to enforce the gut-rules-brain rule infallibly. But no individual gets benefit of the doubt from me any more unless that person has earned it. If somebody smells, then I'm gonna assume it's because they're rotten meat. And no matter what the polite-Mom voice in my head says, I owe no courtesy or consideration to something crawling with maggots.

Posted by Claire @ 10:47 PM CST [Link]

NOW HERE'S A BLOG I SHOULD HAVE ADDED to the blogroll a long time ago: Wendy McElroy's McBlog. Wendy and her husband Brad cover everything from feminism to technology with wit, insight, and style.

Posted by Claire @ 05:26 PM CST [Link]

LOL! SJ sent me to read an article linked from Ideas for Liberty. I didn't spot a space that had crept into the URL. So instead of ending up at this page I ended up at this page. And :-) I think I got the better read.

Posted by Claire @ 02:15 PM CST [Link]

ADDED TWO NEW ENTRIES TO THE BLOGROLL TODAY. David Codrea's excellent War on Guns and Unstructured's Privacy and Liberty Blog, which focuses on practical action and updates about the surveillance state.

If I promised to add your blog and haven't done so, kick me, okay? I recently lost 1-1/2 years of e-mails in a Stupid Computer User's Trick and am sure I lost some promises I've made.

Not a blog, but another activist forum (with even more interesting things planned for its future): Ideas for Liberty.

Posted by Claire @ 10:07 AM CST [Link]

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE A VERY YOUNG MANAGER of a fast-food franchise whose owners take off on you -- leaving you with unpaid employees, dwindling supplies, vendors who refuse to deliver, and customers screaming about your incompentence? If you're 25-year-old Dawna Lentz, you gather your spirit, think creatively, and hold the world together. This is the kind of person who made America. Wish we had more of her -- and hope the Quiznos corporate office appreciates her. As PT wrote, she deserves to own the store.

Posted by Claire @ 07:53 AM CST [Link]

A MAUSER RIFLE DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR? Before the 1968 Gun Control Act, no big deal. Today, very big deal. But still possible, as Simon Jester wrote to point out. The rifles in question are officially antique.

Posted by Claire @ 07:46 AM CST [Link]

Friday, February 4, 2005

MOBILE PHONES FOR DOGS. Yes, really. With cameras so you can watch to see whether your pooch is misbehaving while you're away. If he's been a bad dog, you can call him up and bark, "Bad dog!" This story arrived from Sandy Sandfort with the comment, "No comment."

Ah, can you see it used next on your kidlets? On employees? "Bad baby! Hand out of that cookie jar!" "Bad driver! No donut stops!"

(Undated article linked, but the BBC reported the same development on January 31.)

Posted by Claire @ 09:37 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, February 3, 2005

SO WHY SHOULD IT MAKE WORLDWIDE NEWS under the heading of "Odd" for one policeman to ticket another? When did cops get elevated above the law?

(German correspondent Rick (who found this item) says, "Vat do ve haff orrder forrr in zis kantry?" Damn, I can't even choke out a coherent sentence in either of the foreign languages I've studied and this guy writes slang, puns, and wordplay in English. Intimidating ...)

Posted by Claire @ 12:51 PM CST [Link]

"BIG BROTHER ON BOARD." My very first graphical article, adapted and illustrated by R.L. Crabb, is now online at Loompanics.com. The talented Mr. Crabb turned an immense, immoderate article (I think I went on for something like 7,000 words!) into a masterpiece of brevity and visual wit. In one or two places, his condensation blitzed the accuracy of a statement. But overall, it's a charmer.

Bill St. Clair nearly always finds my articles online before I do. He spotted two this morning, including "Dark, Satanic Cubicles: It's time to smash the job culture." I read the quotes Bill excerpted and said, "Did I write that?" Oh yeah, I guess I did.

Posted by Claire @ 07:59 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

FLAT TIRE: A HUMBLING EXPERIENCE. Here comes that old adage about "the best laid plans" again. Sigh.

Came out of the house yesterday morning to find a flat tire on my truck. Well, no problem, right? A flat is a small thing and I'm prepared for it. Not only prepared, but redundantly prepared.

First thing, I decide to try that can of Fix-a-Flat I bought before I headed for the Desert Hermitage. Whoosh ... fizzle. Whoo ... fizzle. W ... fizzle. The instructions say the foamy, pressurized stuff won't work below 32 degrees. Well, it's 45 and hasn't been below freezing in days. And still nada.

I take the can in the house and after 15 minutes of room temperature, get a slightly larger whoo before the fizzle, but it becomes obvious that this method of flat fixing could take all day.

So out from behind the truck seat comes the trusty old jack -- Toyota's very good, cleverly designed jack, which I know well how to use. I assemble the parts needed to lower the spare tire from where it hangs under the bed of the truck, insert the hook into the mechanism that drops the spare to the ground. And ... push, push. Nothing. Nudge, nudge. Nothing. Turn, turn. Nothing. That spare ain't goin' nowhere.

Humiliated and assuming this is some "girl" problem, I finally give in and call the local garage. I've blessed myself a dozen times that the little town at the bottom of my hill has this garage. Its owners and mechanics are modern-day Knights of the Round Table, far as I'm concerned. And I truly felt like the stereotypical damsel in distress as I waited for the garage owner, who came dashing up the hill on his white charger ... er, red SUV, but you know what I mean. What a frickin' girly I must be, not even able to detach a spare tire. But he was nice enough not to mention that.

Good thing, too. Because when he stuck the hook thingy into the tire-release thingy ... push, nudge, twist ... he didn't get any further than I did. He ended up simply removing the flat, driving it back to the shop, fixing it, and driving back up to put it back on -- all for $15 "and pay me next time you come in."

I'll come in soon to have his mechanics de-rustify the release thingy -- although in the meantime I've attacked it with as much WD40 as I could squoosh into the narrow opening that gives access to the device.

I maintain that old truck very well, knowing it's got to last me many more years. But who'd have ever though to check for that particular problem? Toyota is a damn good running truck, but it has a few unfortunate design features -- like putting the spare on the underside and outside where every bit of road salt and grit pelt it year in and year out.

No harm done this time (and what a boon that the flat happened in my own front yard on a sunny day), but what if I'd have been where I often am, 12 miles up a deserted complex of logging roads? Then I guess I'd just have to hope I'd kept a good charge on my cellphone batteries -- and that the Knights of the Garage were once again ready to ride to the rescue. If not, I'd have a long, long walk.

Posted by Claire @ 09:52 AM CST [Link]

MY GOD. What the rest of the world was looking at the night GWB extolled his brand of "freedom."

Posted by Claire @ 09:10 AM CST [Link]

FINALLY UNLOADED ALL THAT MENTAL LEAD and finished the February 1 column for Backwoods Home. Webmaster Oliver then put it up faster than I deserved.

If you've ever wondered how Hardyville ended up with a statue of a drunken cowboy as its major civic monument (or even if you haven't), this column tells the tale.

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

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

NO BACKWOODS HOME COLUMN TODAY. Some damn writer didn't make her deadline. :-(

Normally, the pressure of the due date combines with fear of starvation to bust past any writer's block I may suffer. I've always thought dramatically blocked writers were a buncha lily-livered, cowardly, self-indulgent wimps. [Whip cracks] Quit whining and work, woman! But this time the words just wouldn't flow, even though the concept was there, and even though I made myself sit at the computer with the document open in front of me.

Working on it, though. So gimme a few days and the column will be there. The good news: Thanks to a little help from my friends, the column for February 15 is already under way. And as I keep promising Dave-the-editor and Oliver-the-webmaster, one of these days, I'm going to put a spare column or two in the can so words will be there when there are none in my brain.

Posted by Claire @ 05:59 AM CST [Link]

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