WolfesBlogArchives: October 2003
Friday, October 31, 2003
HAPPY (AND VERY AMERICAN) HALLOWEEN.
Posted by Claire @ 07:57 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, October 30, 2003
OUR KNIGHTS IN SHINING COMPUTERS HAVE DONE IT! The Claire Files message boards are back! I don't know who all managed to save them from cyber-oblivion. But I heard that General Elias Alias, ladylearning, Bark, the Hunter, ZooT_ALlures, and Ragnar were all on the quest.
Thank you, all. The boards have been sorely missed these last two weeks by our little family of (mostly) friendly forum members and convivial conspirators.
Posted by Claire @ 08:10 PM CST [Link]
OH HELL, LET'S HAVE SOME GOOD NEWS FOR A CHANGE. It's been such a depressing news month, I haven't even been able to bring myself to blog some of the worst stuff (like the story half a dozen helpful folks have sent about the Pentagon ordering suppliers to put RFID chips into all shipments).
So let's celebrate what little rowdy freedom is still left in the world. Starting with one small thing anybody can do: Evade the stupid speed cameras and speed traps. For you British cousins, here's a succinct little page on how to identify and protect yourself against various sorts of speed cameras now infesting your personal police state.
And for everybody, here's Super Protector and Photo Fog camera defense systems. (The above items courtesy of a post by Steve Schear to the PoliTech list.)
Help yourself and freedom-loving strangers by reporting speed traps or looking up traps others have reported. Join the National Motorists Association and fight the money-raising, unsafe scam of red-light cameras.
And remember that speed cameras that penalize perfectly safe (but fast) driving, and red-light cameras that raise money for their public-private owners (oftenby making yellow lights shorter, thereby increasing the chance of an accident) are superb recruiting tools for the freedom movement. The more that government becomes a faceless petty tyrant, tricking people into surrendering their freedom and their money, the more people quit seeing government as their friend.
Posted by Claire @ 02:10 PM CST [Link]
PROOF THAT THE OVERALL LEVEL OF INTELLECT WILL RISE WHEN COCKROACHES TAKE OVER THE PLANET.
From Augustwest,charmer of the Red Dog, comes this item:EUGENE, Ore. - Roughly 40,000 poor people have been dropped from the Oregon Health Plan this year because of their failure to make monthly premium payments, some as low as $6 a month.
The departure of more than one-third of the 88,000 poor people from the state-subsidized Oregon Health Plan Standard program has far exceeded the expectations of many state officials.
Advocates for the poor say the premiums are too expensive for some people and the government may have overestimated the ability of people to mail a check.
"It's an enormous barrier," said Ellen Pinney, director of the Oregon Health Action Committee. "Let alone the $6, there is the whole issue of writing a check or getting a money order, putting it in an envelope with a stamp and putting it in the mail to this place in Portland that must receive it by the due date." ...
(And there's more, believe it or not. The story actually gets worse from there.)
From Debra, Webmistress of the Dark and secret Simpson's fan comes this one:In an interview this week with National Public Radio, Matt Groening recalled how the news channel had considered legal action, despite the fact that "The Simpsons" is broadcast on sister network, Fox Entertainment.
According to Groening, Fox took exception took a Simpsons' version of the Fox News rolling news ticker which parodied the channel's anti-Democrat stance, with headlines like "Do Democrats Cause Cancer?" ...
While the lawsuit never materialized, Groening said some action was taken.
"Now Fox has a new rule that we can't do those little fake news crawls on the bottom of the screen in a cartoon because it might confuse the viewers into thinking it's real news," he said.
And I'm not even gonna mention the item Sunni sent yesterday about Ohio cops arresting a nine-year-old boy and his mother because the kid was waving a toy gun over his head while waiting for Mom outside a beauty parlor and Mom objected to her little boy being hauled off to jail without anyone even trying to find or notify her. (Not to mention without any use of common sense or reasonableness.)
Posted by Claire @ 01:16 PM CST [Link]
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
SIMON JESTER IN THE AIR? WorldNetDaily linked to these reports from CNN and from the Associated Press about more box cutters being found on airplanes. A passenger in Philadelphia discovered one in a seat-back pouch, and a flight crew found another during a routine inspection of an aircraft that had just flown into Boston.
Hmmm. Is Simon Jester loose in America's skies? Are Americans saying a big "F U" to the Keystone Kops of the TSA? Has the humble box cutter become the burning draft card or the Jarbridge shovel of twenty-first century protest against stupid, brutal authority?
Are crowds of little Hogan's Heroes flitting across American skies, leaving box cutters behind to twit the comico-Nazis who pomp and posture and threaten -- while totally failing to secure the Stalag 13 of our airports?
A box cutter is only a box cutter. Evil minds and disarmed victims made it a weapon. Could clever minds and rowdy Americans be turning it into a freeform, individual, flying protest against Police State Amerika?
Posted by Claire @ 02:19 PM CST [Link]
We're making progress on the Claire Files Forums. Debra here. I just visited the Claire Files forum and found that our Knights in Shining Armor are making progress. The board comes up now (instead of giving you that horrible SQL error message), but won't yet allow one to read the messages and/or login.
I'll let you know as soon as I know more!
Posted by Debra @ 10:24 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
"HOW BIG BROTHER AND BIG MEDIA CAN PUT THE INTERNET GENIE BACK IN THE BOTTLE." John Walker of Fourmilabs Switzerland (inventor of Speak Freely encrypted Internet telephone technology) describes in detail how the Internet will be rendered unfree. His paper, "The Digital Imprimatur," is very long. Read it at your leisure. But read it.
Posted by Claire @ 03:48 PM CST [Link]
HELPLESSNESS. Yesterday I met a warm young man who works as a nurse on an Indian reservation. He told me some of the advantages of working in the federal medical system (you don't get sent home or laid off, even if there's nothing for you to do; and there often is nothing for him to do) and some of the disadvantages.
One problem that most distressed him was the number of amputations performed in the Indian medical service. His patients have high rates of diabetes, which in turn leads to circulatory problems in their limbs. In his view, government doctors were simply saying, "Off with the foot -- whack!" whenever a problem didn't instantly respond to standard medical techniques.
Because these Indians have traditions that require the body to be intact for the journey into the afterlife, losing a limb is more shattering to them than to most European-hyphen-Americans. This very idealistic nurse believed that a more slow and thoughtful treatment, combining modern medicine and traditional Indian ways, could save many limbs and a lot of suffering. He'd seen it work (and certainly plenty of research points to the curative power of "the placebo effect" and of belief). But caught in the government health-care bureaucracy, and tied to outdated treatments, he was powerless to try alternative methods.
For some reason, I found myself responding with a long and not entirely coherent rant about tracking consumers via RFID chips, the Clinton-Bush anti-privacy "medical privacy regulations," and similar stuff. Even as I was going on, I was thinking, "This guy's going to think I'm either nuts or not listening to him, since all this has nothing to do with what he just said."
But it did have to do with it, and even though we couldn't make the connection in a linear way, everybody in the conversation groked that these things were connected. The connection is that the powers that be disregard the individual for the sake of "convenience" or "efficiency" or "collecting aggregate data" or whatever. The individual becomes nothing but a data point, a case study, a unit. And "units" have no rights. Units don't have feelings or hopes or desires -- certainly not any that need to be acknowledged by planners of "efficient" systems. Or so the systemizers appear to believe.
This is where things begin to break down. The system evolves to serve the individual. Then it evolves to where the individual serves the system. That's where we're going now (and where we already are in many terrifying ways). But it can't last. You can manipulate people so far -- incredibly far. You can use and abuse them to a shocking degree. But in the end a system that disregards the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual -- and above all, highly individual -- nature of the individuals within it ... cannot hold.
With apologies for the slam against good old anarchism, I keep hearing the words of William Butler Yeats:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Posted by Claire @ 09:51 AM CST [Link]
DOES ANYBODY GET FLASHBACKS OF 1984 from this report that the White House has prevented indexing or archiving of files on its Web site -- presumably after sharp-eyed folks Googled discrepancies between new and older WH documents about Iraq? There goes Winston Smith, dropping those old "facts" down the memory hole and replacing them with new.
What's perhaps more distressing is that this story came (via FMN) from Australia. The U.S. media, that once pilloried Nixon for his cynical secrecy, and U.S. conservatives, who derided Clinton for his "flexible" way with facts, quietly accept the machinations of what is probably the most secretive administration in American history.
Posted by Claire @ 09:15 AM CST [Link]
Monday, October 27, 2003
INNIT FUNNY HOW SCHOOL & TEACHER GROUPS GO TOTALLY NON-LINEAR when anyone proposes to hold them to any standard? In the latest flap, schools are applying filters and howling foul over an interesting little Web site called RateMyTeachers.com ... even though most of the teachers being rated are getting praise.
Yet teachers spend their whole careers holding other people to standards -- albeit arbitrary, meaningless ones.
Teaching us to work and scramble for "A's," for instance ... What the hell's an "A" and what does it have to do with anything in the real world? Why should anybody want one? Why not, instead strive for something like ... a sense of discovery, a victory over one's own weaknesses, a creative insight, mastery of a new technique, a move to a new level of real-world accomplishment? An "A"? What am I gonna do with that? Guess I could put it in scarlet on my chest. Nah ...
Anyhow, seems the ratings kids give their teachers on that site are more meaningful than the ones teachers give to the students. Ha, maybe that's what the ed-u-crats are so afraid of. An injection of reality into the government schools. Mmmmm ... dangerous!
Posted by Claire @ 10:36 PM CST [Link]
Saturday, October 25, 2003
ALISON BROWN KNOWS WHY THERE ARE SO FEW FEMALE LIBERTARIANS. And challenges you more logical guys to come up with a solution.
Nobody has yet asked the question about female libertarians that most intrigues me. How come, although we're few in numbers, libertarian babes often occupy the most fiercely radical turf? Offhand (and this is definitely no scientific survey), I can think of only one very well-known female "nerf" libertarian. On the other hand, without working up a mental sweat, I can think of five or six prominent radical libwimmins I'd definitely want to be on the barricades with.
Even outside the ranks of us noise-makers, I see it. Although I'd guess that 90-95 percent of my correspondence comes from men (and a terrific lot they are), the few women who write often seem as fierce and uncompromising as mother bears fighting for their cubs when they talk about life and liberty. Typically, women are in the most hardcore "wing" of all my correspondents.
Posted by Claire @ 10:50 AM CST [Link]
CHIVALRY IS NOT DEAD. Nor is good-old American guts:Police seek shooter who saved teen girl
A man was beating a 16-year-old girl with a pipe Wednesday morning on Detroit's west side.
Suddenly, the man was dead, shot several times by a passenger in a passing car.
Police are looking for the driver of the car and the gunman, who might not be a criminal suspect, but a much rarer species -- a drive-by vigilante.
I think we're supposed to cluck our tongues and say these mystery men should have done things differently, should have used their cell phones to call 911, should have used non-lethal force, shouldn't have shot unless they were personally threatened ... something.
But doesn't a Charles Bronson thrill run up your spine when you think about them, saving the girl then vanishing into the night?
"We’re not pioneers anymore."
"What are we, Jack? If we’re not pioneers, what have we become? What do you call people who, when they’re faced with a condition of fear, do nothing about it – they just run and hide?"
-- Dialog from the 1974 movie Death Wish
Posted by Claire @ 12:13 AM CST [Link]
Friday, October 24, 2003
PUT ON YOUR LITTLE BIBBIES, BABIES. The Nanny Staters and the Fat Police are coming to watch you eat.WASHINGTON -- At most restaurants, customers are left to guess how many calories they're consuming. The government soon may try to change that by requiring or encouraging restaurants to display calories on their menus alongside the salads, entrees and desserts.
"Requiring or encouraging." Oh, yeah. "Cooperate real nice-like, toots, or you'll never do business in this town again." Has Edward G. Robinson gone to work for the FDA?
And note -- a sad indicator of our national mindset -- the objections of the restaurant industry appear to be "oh, but it's too hard!," rather than, "Who the (*&%^$#@!! are you to tell us what private businesses hafta print on their menus?" (Funny, I don't recall seeing this particular federal authority anywhere in the Constitution.)
Anyhow, federally mandated calorie counts on restaurant menus would be a culinary abomination worse than "fat-free ice cream." We may live to be 100 if these people have their way. But, forever in the gunsights of the Fat Police, we damn well won't enjoy the process of getting there.
Posted by Claire @ 09:50 AM CST [Link]
OSAMA BIN HEATWOLE. Jane Chastain does a very sharp job, slicing the TSA to bits. Free Nathaniel Heatwole!
Posted by Claire @ 09:17 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, October 23, 2003
THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING, OF COURSE.A research project undertaken by the NSW [New South Wales, Australia] Opposition estimates that a potentially life-threatening firearms incident now takes place somewhere in NSW every 43 hours.
With almost unlimited access to handguns and in some cases, military-styled assault weapons, at least six ethnic-based rival groups have been engaged in tit-for-tat bloodletting across just a handful of Sydney suburbs for the past 18 months.
Australia banned all those icky dangerous guns a few years ago. So now the country is perfectly safe. Everybody loves everybody else and they all sit down and settle their differences amicably. The Sydney Morning Herald must simply be lying when it says this stuff.
And they banned all those icky dangerous drugs, too. Nobody can possibly be buying or selling any. So they're lying when they say these gangs are shooting each other & all those innocent bystanders over drug turf. Shame, shame. Bad journalists.
Posted by Claire @ 09:15 AM CST [Link]
I'M SIGNING A CONTRACT TODAY FOR A NEW BOOK. Tentative title: Self-Liberation 101. This'll be nothing like 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution and Don't Shoot the Bastards (Yet) -- which it replaces. But like 101 Things it will be a sort of primer you can hand to your "ohmigod what do I do NOW?" friends and family members. (I hope it'll have enough amusing or discordian overtones, and enough useful resources, for you Faithful Libertarian Readers, too.)
That's the plan, anyway. But books take on a life of their own as they get written. So for all I know at this point it might end up being a paean of praise to John Ashcroft with a little hagiography of G.W. Bush thrown in.
Well, probably not that. But you know what I mean. Books write themselves. They sometimes say what they want to say, not what the writer intends.
Posted by Claire @ 08:32 AM CST [Link]
THE WORLD IS COMPLETELY MAD! "Medicare spends $600,000 on advertising blimp." Yes, they've got to encourage seniors to use more of your tax money. They don't think enough old people realize Uncle Sam has a monopoly on their health care.
NO, NO, WAIT A MINUTE! THE WORLD IS SANE! "Woman hurls TV out window." Fifth floor, yet! We can hope some TV programming executives were strolling on the sidewalk below.
Mad or sane? You decide. It's all too much for my befuddled, betaxed, bepropagandized, begovernmenteducated, bewildered little girly brain.
(Tks to SM and atek3.)
Posted by Claire @ 08:22 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
DIEBOLD KNEW YEARS AGO THAT ITS ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES WERE FAULTY. It marketed them anyway. Now it's using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to try to prevent Swarthmore students from publishing company memos revealing those facts.
Yeah, the memos were stolen. Just like the Pentgon Papers were stolen. They needed to be stolen -- and revealed. Has there ever been a use of the dreadful DMCA that wasn't some sort of corporate power grab or attempt to silence critics?
Posted by Claire @ 10:06 AM CST [Link]
RETURN TO HARDYVILLE. Why didn't somebody think of this earlier? Hardyville, the little mid-nowhere town of cussed spirits and independent lives, is being "rebuilt" at Backwoods Home magazine online. They've started off with one of the "classic" columns, "Movin' to Hardyville." On November 1, they'll post notice of "The Law in Hardyville." (That was one of the most popular original WorldNetDaily columns, which I wrote with help from Charles "I-Am-Not-a-Lawyer" Curley).
Starting November 15 and continuing twice a month, all-new Hardyville columns will appear. All new, but with the same crotchety souls -- Nat Lyons the old cowboy, Dora-the-Exile-from-Yale, the Young Curmudgeon, Carty the Marine, Bob-the-Nerd, and Grouchy over at the guns-and-liquor store.
Once again, you can eat (if your stomach will handle it) at the Hog Trough Grill and Feed, visit the town's one unattractive tourist attraction, watch the stoplight change, and enjoy the local sport of running politicians and do-gooders out of town with cactus needles in their butts.
If you've never visited Hardyville, you can check out Hardyville politics and culture via Debra's Claire Files archives.
Posted by Claire @ 09:28 AM CST [Link]
HAVE YOU SEEN THE VIDEOS OF TERRI SCHINDLER-SCHIAVO? How can anyone honestly claim this woman is in a "persistent vegetative state"? (Or, as her husband's lawyer called her, "a houseplant.") Her life may be bleak beyond all imagining, but it is conscious life. I'd rather die than be in that condition. Nobody can say she'd rather die, though. Her smiles say the opposite.
Posted by Claire @ 09:01 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
TWO QUICK UPDATES ON THE HOLIDAY AUTOGRAPHED BOOK SALE: Debra and I just learned that some mail sent to the ordering address has bounced. If you've place an order or sent an inquiry in the last several days and it comes back at you, please just re-send to the same address. It's fixed now. If you have any doubt about whether your order went through, same thing. Contact the order address, which you'll find here. (LATER: We've located and acknowledged all orders that came via PayPal or e-gold. Thank you all very much!)
Also, as of today, 101 Things is out of stock at the publisher and gone forever. Buy from Debra and me or buy next year from some eager beaver who's trying to sell it used at eBay or Amazon.com for a gazillion bucks. (Copies of the first ed. of I Am Not a Number! have turned up with asking prices near $200. Yikes!)
Talking with the publisher today about an all-new book for next year. Different content but same themes as 101 and Don't Shoot.
Posted by Claire @ 03:54 PM CST [Link]
FREE-MARKET.NET PICKS. I had already blog-ranted at length when these news picks of the day arrived from Free-Market.net. But they're too good to ignore. So ...
- Are you a president worried that pix of soldiers' coffins will make people too aware that war kills? Simple: Ban the photographs. .
- Do you have to identify yourself to the police if they stop you on "suspicion" of anything? The Supreme Court has decided to answer this question.
- Zacarias Moussaoui may not be as innocent as Richard Jewell, but after all this time and propaganda, the FBI now thinks he had nothing to do with 9-11.
- Oh yeah. And The fedgov is $374.22 billion in the red -- a whomping $84 billion above the last record set 11 years ago. See? I told you they couldn't get along on money from those two out of 10 "known tax cheats" they caught.
Posted by Claire @ 09:25 AM CST [Link]
WHAT IS IT WITH THIS "OBESITY" BUSINESS, ANYWAY? The strange, alarmist use of that word has been bugging me for the last couple of years & I've been meaning to blog something about it. Then this morning my blood finally boiled over at this story about Maine school children being given a body-fat test.
There were a lot of things wrong with this test (not least of which were lack of confidentiality and parental consent for what is a medical diagnostic procedure, and the very fact that government schools have authorized themselves to be in the medical business at all). But if the article is correct, then all children given the test were put into one of three categories: underweight, average, or obese.
'Scuse me? Obese? As the dictionary still realizes, "obese" means "extremely fat; grossly overweight". But according to this test (or at least, to this article) -- and all the latest food-Nazi government propaganda -- if you're one pound above "average" you're "obese." And of course, these days you can't pick up a newspaper, turn on a broadcast, or even read the Netly news without hearing about this dangerous "epidemic" of obesity. And we must Do Something about this national horror!
Used to be that twisted, propagandized word definitions were reserved for the big concepts. You know -- "security," "patriotism," "just cause," "the war to end all wars," "making the world safe for democracy," "cleansing the country of vermin." That sort of thing.
Now, the twisters and propagandizers are right down in our Cheerios bowls and in our Big Macs. And the word "obese" is their weapon. What's interesting is that they're using our knowledge of the real definition to promote their false definition. They know that we know that "obese" means really, really gross. The word evokes pictures of blimpoid butts bobbling down the street in stretch pants or flowered muu muus.The word evokes thoughts of dropping dead of heart attacks or wasting away from weight-related conditions. They're aware of that.
So now, if you've got an extra coupla pounds around the middle, or if your neighbor or your child has those coupla of extra pounds, this is not only something you should take care of (or your neighbor should take care of). This makes you gross, icky, bloated, unhealthy, sick, dangerous to yourself and to the taxpayers who'll be forced to take care of the problems you're causing yourself -- and causing All of Society. This makes you a pariah! A reject! An unsightly blob on the bright picture of life! You are UnMutual! Or so they want you to believe.
This propaganda picture is nicely complemented by the fact that, about five years ago, the government -- the infallible standard-setter in all things -- downsized its recommended weight-to-height ratios, instantly and automatically moving millions of Americans from "average" to "overweight" with the flick of the bureaucratic pen. One minute, you were healthy as a huntin' hound by Uncle Sam's Official Standard. The next you were dangerously overweight.
And now ... you're "obese"! Get out those old stirrup stretch pants. Don that stripy tent of a shirt. And prepare to have fingers pointed at you as you wobble down the sidewalk.
Here's an example of how totally ridiculous all this is: I've been skinny as a stick all my life. You see me, you know that. (In fact, the last time we women had a highly publicized "weight crisis" I had to explain to occasional busybodies, "No, no, no, I'm not anorexic, I'm not bulemic. This is just the way I am.") But I looked at the latest government standards the other day and discovered that if I gain just two more pounds, for my fine-boned body type, I'll be overweight. And, according to the new propaganda about our raging "epidemic" (another word twist), I'd be "obese." Oh, gimme a break!
So what's with all this? Why would anybody want to fill you with hatred for yourself and terror that your grossitude will cause you to drop dead decades before your time just because you've gained five pounds since high school? Well, part of the answer is obvious. It's the fat police, of course. The do-gooders teamed up with the regulators, the anti-meat and anti-fat crusaders partnering up with the medical industry. It's the people who have nothing better to do, combined with those who want to do various things to everybody. It's the "we know what's best for you" crowd, as usual, rubbing their boney little bodies up against the belly of the federal bureaucracy. The big climax for them all will be more pill sales, more food regulation, more farm subsidies, more perks for PETA, more money for anti-fat programs in schools and workplaces, yada yada yada.
But the bigger agenda is (just like all the pushing of mental illness lately) is to make you feel inadequate and hopeless and helpless and self-hating so you'll meekly let your betters make all your decisions for you -- in all things.
Faugh! The one truly true example of gross, bloated, disgusting obesity in this country is the federal bureaucracy and the greasy, fatty, globby excrescences of agenda-driven propagandists that cling to it like a Speedo to a cellulite-pocked posterior.
Posted by Claire @ 08:32 AM CST [Link]
AND WHAT ABOUT ALL THE TAX "CHEATS" THEY DON'T KNOW ABOUT? Sez the New York Times:On Tuesday the Senate Finance Committee will hold hearings on tax shelters that, committee aides said, will feature testimony that tax cheating continues unabated and that the numerous crackdowns announced over the past two years by the Internal Revenue Service have had almost no impact. ...
As a result many businesses and individuals are breaking the law because their risk of detection is small and even if they are caught they are unlikely to be punished or even made to pay the taxes. ...
About eight of 10 known tax cheats are let go without having to even pay the taxes, interest or penalties.
Now, this is clearly an outrage, people! All of you who think the government is entitled to more of your earnings should just pay up -- right now! The federal government simply can't survive on the revenue from those two "known tax cheats" who had to fork over their dough. How do you expect it to go on bashing small mid-eastern countries, smashing pot growers, or buying up land for the sake of obscure warty toads and U.N. eco-liberationists if you don't send it your money??? Shame, shame, shame. Positively un-PatriotActic. Grumblegrumble. Downright American.
Posted by Claire @ 07:10 AM CST [Link]
Monday, October 20, 2003
SUNNI MARAVILLOSA REVIEWS "INNOCENTS BETRAYED." JPFO has received dozens of overwhelming endorsements of "Innocents." But Sunni's is the first formal review I've seen on the Net. Bless you, Sunni.
I got my own copy of "Innocents" on DVD last week. I must admit that, despite already knowing every word and image in it, and having seen portions of the film until I thought I couldn't look anymore, I wept uncontrollably. The last several minutes, and (believe it or not) the credits sequence, will rip your heart out of your chest, if the rest of the film hasn't already done that.
Please buy a copy of "Innocents." I receive NO royalties or payments of any kind for sales of the film (except what Debra and I make on the copies we're selling here. But if this movie gets "out there" far enough, we'll literally change the consciousness of the world. And if JPFO sells 5,000 copies or more, we'll get to make another documentary -- on a subject that'll make gun owners grin with glee.
Posted by Claire @ 12:25 PM CST [Link]
A SCIENTIST DISCOVERS AN ENTIRELY NEW WAY OF GENERATING ELECTRICITY. Interesting story of how a long-known "problem" becomes a benefit when the right mind looks at it . The new method is useless at the moment ("pathetic," even in the eyes of its inventor). But promising as a means of powering small devices.
On a considerably less cheery note, other scientists have just made a "quantum leap" in military weaponry. They've brought the old SF standby, the solid-state battle laser, to life. Somehow, I doubt it'll make the world a better place.
Posted by Claire @ 08:24 AM CST [Link]
Saturday, October 18, 2003
GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS ON CLAIREFILES MESSAGE BOARDS. Hey, look up there at the top of the page! There's now a tab that says "Forum." It'll take you straight to the Claire Files message boards -- the discussion boards so kindly hosted by Elias Alias's Mental Militia and presided over by Forum Mom Debra Ricketts.
But don't click right now. Alas, the message boards have been down for several days. Nobody knows when they'll be back up; the tech genius who keeps them functioning is very, very ill. I'm hoping all readers will send their best vibes or prayers or whatever they can give for his health.
A crew of cheerful, clean, reverent (well, maybe not reverent) geek Boy Scouts is hoping to gain access to restore the boards. But in the meantime, please be patient. Seriously bad stuff is going on, and the non-functioning boards are nothing compared to what else is at stake.
Posted by Claire @ 10:10 PM CST [Link]
"YES, YOU CAN WORK WITHOUT A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER." And yes, I finally finished one of those Life-Without-SSN articles I've been threatening to write for the last six months. It's up now at Backwoods Home Magazine, nicely formatted by BHM's talented webmaster, Oliver del Signore.
Posted by Claire @ 07:37 PM CST [Link]
JUST READ DEBRA'S BLOG ENTRY FROM YESTERDAY, "Hooray for the Patriot Act!" (Good one, Debra.) Hm. Why do I suddenly keep remembering the big fooraw when we all learned the Clinton administration was paying TV shows to sneak anti-drug messages into their plots? Have the Busheviks taken a lesson from the Clintonistas?
Posted by Claire @ 03:19 PM CST [Link]
Friday, October 17, 2003
IF YOU MISSED THE SHORT BUT POWERFUL SERIES "FIREFLY" that was part of Fox's lineup a few years back, you're in luck.
Debra here. The Firefly DVD - 13 episodes, including 3 that were never broadcast - is coming out in early December. Freedom-lovers, you've GOT to see this series.
A review from "Free-Market.Net" states:
Even in the vast wasteland of network TV shows, occasionally a libertarian-themed show slips under the radar. This years sci-fi hit, Joss Whedon's "Firefly," which airs Fridays on FOX at 8PM (7PM
CST) is set 500 years from now, in a future where the "Alliance" has just been victorious against the "Independents" in a galaxy-wide civil war. Captain Malcolm (Mal) Reynolds, a defeated "Independent" soldier who opposed the unification of the planets by the Alliance, commands a small transport ship, Serenity. Serenity and its crew flies to the border planets, many of which are barely inhabited, because they want to stay away from the Alliance and below its big radar, for legitimate transport and salvage runs, as well as more entrepreneurial endeavors. The title song, "Ballad of Serenity," is unabashedly libertarian.
And Miss Liberty says:
The story line, such as it is, has a broken-down itinerant tramp-steamer spaceship wandering the galaxy on off-the-books commercial runs, harboring fugitives from the evil interworld government, smuggling goods and defying authority on all planets. Not exactly Star Trek -- the federation government is the villain in this one, and the crew of rebels includes a preacher, prostitute, soldier of fortune, and an antihero captain just out to make a legal or illegal buck. It's a real hoot, created by Joss Whedon (Toy Story, Alien, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) -- more in the tradition of 'Have Gun Will Travel' than 'The Prisoner,' but definitely on the side of liberty, individualism, and unfettered free trade."
Posted by Debra @ 10:23 AM CST [Link]
"HOORAY FOR THE PATRIOT ACT!" Or so says nearly every freaking law-and-order television show I've watched over the past week.
Debra here (yes, I watch TV. No, I shouldn't. I shouldn't eat those Doritoes either. Bummer.) In any case, over the last several weeks, I've seen the Patriot Act mentioned on Navy:NCIS, JAG, Jake 2.0, Alias, and just last night on Threat Matrix. It was mentioned in several other shows, but I don't recall offhand which ones they were.
In every case, one of the good guys was saying, "Thank God for the Patriot Act. Now we can put slimeballs like [insert evil terrorist guy] away forever." A character in Threat Matrix specifically states, "Are you kidding? With the Patriot Act, we don't have to get a warrant. If we just suspect they're involved with terrorism we can get phone records, library records, even access their computer."
The kind, generous, and not-overly-bright part of me wants to say that the liberal media is trying to get people to recognize the dangers inherent in the sweeping powers afforded by the Patriot Act.
However, my sensible side points out that if that were the case, why is it always the wildcard good guy who uses the Patriot Act to get around those stodgy and outmoded bureaucratic rules, like the Bill of Rights? By the climax of the show, you're cheering the hero ... and his use of the Patriot Act.
Maybe Claire's right and I should just ditch the TV.
Posted by Debra @ 10:09 AM CST [Link]
THE NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE PUBLISHED DAVE KOPEL'S SCATHING CRITIQUE OF SILVEIRA V. LOCKYER, a few weeks ago. Silveira is the lawsuit hardcore advocates hope will restore the Second Amendment for once and for all. NRO kept promising to print a rebuttal to Kopel, but never did. So here's that rebuttal at Keepandbeararms.com.
I'm not enough of a lawyer to know who's right (though clearly Kopel's wrong on specific points). My heart's with Silveira (for whatever that might be worth!). And Kopel speaks the NRA party line, which is cause enough for suspicion. The Big Bad Gun Group appears not to understand any part of the words "shall not be infringed," but does seem to understand power and how to hang on to it. They call Silveira a threat to the Second Amendment. More like a threat to their dominance. Why are they so anxious to avoid defending the Second Amendment on principles instead of on legalistic technicalities that leave the real questions unanswered?
Posted by Claire @ 06:50 AM CST [Link]
"RUNAWAY JURY" SOUNDS LIKE THE MOVIE TO MISS THIS MONTH. Here's a call from blogger Russell McDonald to boycott this flick, which turns a John Grisham book about big, evil tobacco companies into a film about big, evil firearms manufacturers.
Never did understand the appeal of Grisham, whose plots rely on preposterous leaps of logic and illogic. Rottentomatoes.com rates the movie as ripe, not rotten, but the reviews it links to actually add up to "glossy but stinky" or "suspenseful but gimmicky."
Posted by Claire @ 06:07 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, October 16, 2003
THE "GEE-WHIZ" FACTOR IS A BIG PART OF RFID MANIA. Couple that with "the customer as unwitting guinea pig" and suddenly all good sense flees from commerce."A day in the life of a newspaper ... would be a very interesting study" in terms of location, pass-along, retention, recycling, and other data. "I think on the preprint side for major retailers there'd be a lot of interest," he said, in learning what happens to ads, particularly for specific inserts and zones.
[RFID chips in newspapers] could provide a series of snapshots of customer behavior over time and across space. Where and when do people working in a given location buy papers? Do they bring them home, or do others read them later in other locations? Do home subscribers carry copies to work? Do workplace subscribers take copies home? All sections, or some? Only on some days?
What they seem to forget is that, the moment you pay for that newspaper at a stand or pick it up from your doorstep it becomes none of their f*g business what you do with it.
This story comes courtesy of Rick in Germany, where they're a lot worse off than we Americans, and a lot less inclined to make a fuss about it.
Posted by Claire @ 11:28 AM CST [Link]
GOOD OP-ED BY LEW ROCKWELL TODAY on how so many people on the right get sucked into frenzies over nonsense issues. Freaking out over symbols, they fail to notice liberty being yanked from under their feet.
Posted by Claire @ 10:09 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
TWO NEWSBITS FROM THE WORLD OF BIG BROTHER (and from Declan McCullagh's Politech list) give more evidence that universal surveillance equals nuking a flea -- which of course doesn't merely overkill the flea, but also creates collosal collateral damage.
First, a network of bars and nightclubs in Vancouver, BC, is setting up a BigBro (tm) system in which ALL customers will have to be entered in an ID database, tracked any time they enter a member establishment, and be watched on camera every moment they're inside the business. This is supposed to catch troublemakers. But what percentage of patrons are troublemakers? And why should all patrons be treated as if they were?
This is a private system. The owners have a right to do it. But one of the justifications for it chillingly shows our frog-in-the-pot danger: "Proponents of a similar technology being used in California claim that any invasion of privacy is not alarming because there's not much privacy left to invade." (This quote is from the Politech posting, not from the above article.)
Then from Britain comes the interesting news that roadside "speed cameras" may actually increase accidents and fatality rates -- and certainly don't prevent them. Seems the mass automated ticketing of drivers who are exeeding the speed limit but not driving unsafely (for instance, going 10 kph overlimit on a dry, empty road) is alienating motorists. In response, more and more are motivated to drive unregistered vehicles, or vehicles with false license plates, or to take the attitude that if they're going to get ticketed for a minor infraction with no individual judgment or mercy, they might as well go hell-bent and enjoy themselves.
Furthermore (and boy, do we see this in the U.S., too), it's profitable and easy -- even automatic -- to catch speeders via cameras. It's very hard, drudging, unprofitable work to investigate real crimes like murder and burglary (or even genuinely reckless driving). Besides, law-abiding speeders pay their fines more reliably than actual criminals do. So police and courts appear to be focusing on catching the unwary, rather than the doers of real dirty deeds. And that, of course, further alienates and endangers ordinary citizens.
The one thing it doesn't do is discourage governments and businesses from falling in love with these technologies and policies that treat the innocent as guilty. Weird. Even if the goal of the Control Class is ... well, control and not the "safety" or "security" they claim ... ya gotta wonder how long it'll take before they realize the ultimate outcome will be a total loss of control, as all us little newborn criminals get smart and get mad.
Posted by Claire @ 10:40 AM CST [Link]
STEPHEN HALBROOK HAS RESPONDED TO CRITICS on his statement in court that he and the NRA "are here wanting to register handguns." Here's his answer:Handguns are absolutely banned in the District of Columbia. Before 1976, citizens could possess registered handguns. D.C. law required all firearms to be registered, but that year a law was passed prohibiting the registration of handguns, thereby completely banning them. Our lawsuit, Seegars v. Ashcroft, seeks to allow D.C. residents once again lawfully to possess handguns.
Our clients actually live in the District of Columbia and are confronted by criminals of all kinds in their neighborhoods. For them, it would be major progress to be able to keep a handgun in the home, even if it must be registered. Arm-chair critics may wish to litigate every gun control law on the books in one case, but it's not realistic litigation strategy.
Our strategy is a narrowly-focused effort to encourage the court to recognize the Second Amendment as an individual right and to declare the D.C. handgun ban unconstitutional, so that residents who are daily threatened by criminal violence may keep handguns in their homes to defend themselves. To a defenseless people, the ability merely to possess a handgun would be a giant step forward. But it's just the first step. If we can persuade the court to invalidate the gun ban, the next logical step will be attacking the registration of firearms as a violation of the Second Amendment.
This strategy is similar to that used by the NAACP in the decades leading up to the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. They didn't go into court trying to overturn all Jim Crow laws at once, and instead picked one specific blatantly offensive part of the law for each case that actually had a chance to be struck down, and then they used that decision in subsequent cases to bolster further arguments.
NRA supports this litigation as part of a broader strategy to restore Second Amendment rights to D.C. citizens. Bills have been introduced in both the Senate and the House to repeal not just the handgun ban, but also the requirement that all firearms be registered. The goal is the complete restoration of Second Amendment rights, and NRA will continue vigorously to pursue this objective in the courts and in the Congress.
Well, no, the strategy isn't similar to that used by the NAACP. True, the NAACP tackled one issue at a time. But they didn't ask to have one outrageous law merely replaced with a somewhat less outrageous one. They asked for each individual outrage to be removed, banished, kaput, gone, out of their way, not simply made more palatable. So that's a disingenuous comparison.
The remarks about not going into court to litigate "every gun law on the books in one case" and "trying to overturn all Jim Crow laws at once" are slaps at Silveira v. Lockyer, the broad Second Amendment case being promoted by hard-core gun-rights activists. The NRA's official line is that Silveira is an absurdly all-emcompasing case that will hurt, not help, the Second Amendment. True, the Supremes do favor making judgments on the narrowest possible issues. But OTOH, arguing the virtue of registration in court does not lay the groundwork for going back later and arguing that registration is illegal and unconstitutional. And call me a cynic, but given the NRA's history of going along to get along with government, I don't believe for one minute they'd really fight a hard and principled battle against firearms registration.
Posted by Claire @ 09:00 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
"YOUR HONOR, WE ARE HERE WANTING TO REGISTER HANDGUNS." --NRA attorney Stephen Halbrook in court, Friday, October 8, 2003.
A friend of JPFO, also an attorney, has queried Mr. Halbrook to ask if this remark might have been taken out of context or might be a slip of the tongue. If Halbrook's statement, made on behalf of the NRA, means anything other than what it appears to mean, I'll report back. In any case, the transcript (linked from the article above) shows Halbrook making an astonishingly wimpy Second Amendment defense in court. Or perhaps not astonishing, considering he's representing the National Quisling Association.
Posted by Claire @ 09:09 PM CST [Link]
YESTERDAY'S POST ABOUT INVESTING IN LUNAR REAL ESTATE WAS A JOKE. But it drew a serious response from Kirsten Tynan of the Space Entrepreneurship Network. She pointed out that the U.N. treaty that prohibits governments from claiming the moon or planets probably also applies to individuals. (At least, the guys with the big guns think so, and a cruise missile or a .50 BMG speaks louder than all us anarcho-libertarians protesting, "Hey, I didn't sign the damn treaty!")
Kirsten wasn't writing merely to bust bubbles. She adds:I will say that people with $40 to burn could instead send their cash to Transorbital, Inc. which is very likely to be the first private venture to conduct commercial flights to the moon. See their website at http://www.transorbital.net. They have some specials which will allow you to fly your personal message to the moon for less than $40.
She caveats: "I don't benefit in any way from promoting them, except in the general sense that someone who wants to go to space benefits from the promotion space entrepreneurship efforts."
Posted by Claire @ 09:38 AM CST [Link]
WHAT RUSH WOULD SAY IF BILL CLINTON ADMITTED BEING AN ADDICT. This writer's really been listening. :-)
Posted by Claire @ 09:15 AM CST [Link]
Monday, October 13, 2003
THIS IS A SLOW NEWS DAY! Good. It means Ashcroft, Ridge and the Save-Freedom-by-Destroying it crew are quiet. Schumer, Feinstein and the Our-Armed-Guards-Will-Save-Us-from-You-Icky-Gunowners gang are resting. It's a holiday here in the U.S. -- even if it is only a pseudo holiday for some guy who didn't know where he was going and made slaves out of the people he found when he didn't get there.
So what the heck. Take it easy. Enjoy one activity that's -- believe it or not -- forbidden to governments, but perfectly okay for individuals: Buy yourself some acreage on the moon.
Some news day when it's not so quiet, you're probably going to wish you'd moved there.
Posted by Claire @ 09:45 AM CST [Link]
Sunday, October 12, 2003
WITHIN MINUTES OF MAKING A BLOG ENTRY ABOUT NATIONAL DEPRESSION SCREENING DAY, I received a very thoughtful message from a reader about the nature of depression and an alternative way to deal with it. Anyone who ever suffers depression or lives with someone who does should click "more" to read what he has to say. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 09:05 AM CST [Link]
WELL. NAIL CLIPPERS ARE BACK. And so are knitting needles, corkscrews, cigar cutters and blunt -- mind you, blunt scissors. So says the Transportation Security Administration which will now permit all of the above on airplanes. There's even some good news for those who don't like going barefoot in the terminal. But there's no word on whether nursing mothers will still be required to drink their own bottled breast milk to prove it isn't poisonous or explosive.
Posted by Claire @ 08:54 AM CST [Link]
Saturday, October 11, 2003
BY NOW, YOU'VE HEARD OF THE MATRIX. No, not the movie, but the incredible snoop database that's taking over where the Pentagon's infamous Terrorizing Information Awareness system left off.
The Matrix is a state-level system designed to help cops catch baddies by tracking every possible thing about everybody. (After all, a baddie may visit your house or ride in your car or be related to you by marriage; who knows?) The idea is to be able to find these bad guys by knowing whose house they might go to or whom they might telephone ... or, well, to know anything about anybody. So the owners of the Matrix are trying to get all states to add all kinds of data -- including YOUR social security number, drivers license fingerprint, vehicle make and model, driving history, home address, etc. to their database. Oh, and did we mention your past addresses, neighbors' names and addresses, your current and past telephone numbers, marriage and divorce records, family members' names and addresses, and a few more items, to boot?
After initial interest, five states have backed out of participating in the Matrix. That's good. What's not-so-good is that their decisions have apparently been based largely on the cost of participating, not on principle. (Government? Principle? Sorry to sound so naive.) What's also not-so-good is that more states are still itching to sign on. The above-linked article comes from Georgia, one of the latest to sniff around the tempting database. The online, unscientific poll accompanying the article says 87 percent of readers oppose having their info peddled. But then, people are SO unscientific. Surely their government knows what's best for them.
The Matrix database is private, BTW, owned and operated by a company called Seisint. Seisint was founded by, and the database was the brainchild of, an admitted drug smuggler, Hank Asher. Does this confirm some suspicions you might already have about just how "savory" today's law-enforcement community is? But not to worry. Asher was never actually convicted of anything. It seems he admitted he merely flew five or seven planeloads of cocaine to the U.S. from Columbia, and since that was just a perfectly understandable "error in judgment," it was okay with the authorities.
Anybody who smells any dealmaking between rich cocaine importers and Florida officials (the Matrix originated in Florida) is no doubt just paranoid. Asher left the Matrix project after his background came to light and his Seisint stock is now in a blind trust. So all is cool. Your data will be managed well, with perfect security, and entirely for your own benefit. No police agency will ever misuse it. No hacker will ever crack it. No data error will ever get your house surrounded by ninjas or invaded by goons with flash-bang grenades and MP5 machine guns. And the only aim of law enforcers is to protect us.
But for one, I'd have been happier if Asher had stayed in an honest, free-market trade, rather than getting himself involved with this sort of sleaze.
Zero tolerance for Big Brother? Just say no to surveillance? Now there's a thought.
(Thanks to E.G. for the pointer to the Georgia article. It's important to keep an eye on the Matrix -- and to do so from outside of it!)
Posted by Claire @ 10:31 AM CST [Link]
Friday, October 10, 2003
IF YOU'VE SUPPORTED THE RIAA OVER THE MUSIC PIRATES, Consider this. Glenn Reynolds -- Instapundit.com -- reports that a music industry exec told him the industry's ultimate goal is to require everyone to have a unique ID to be "allowed" to use the Internet. That qualifies as using a hydrogen bomb to kill a flea. But that's how "security" works in these weird times. More proof if anyone needs it that "every corporation (and corporate industry group) wants to be a government when it grows up."
(Later: A spokesperson for the RIAA denied this claim. Let's hope they're telling the truth. Certainly, as Debra has posted here on the blog, there are ominous noises being made for such Internet access ID numbers.)
Posted by Claire @ 09:35 AM CST [Link]
THE MOVE TOWARD A WESTERN FREE STATE IS GROWING. This brand-new Web site links you to discussion groups for six ongoing freedom projects for the mountain west or individual western states (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho). The western move is in flux, with organizations rapidly forming or coalescing. I'd like to think (though I'm not optimistic) that the original Free State Project and these could inspire and feed each other's growth.
Posted by Claire @ 09:18 AM CST [Link]
I'M A COUPLE OF DAYS LATE PICKING UP ON THIS ONE, but a present NRA board member and a former one have joined two of the nation's most rabid anti-gunners to announce their support for a bill that would cost a fortune, gang-rape our privacy, and potentially deny a million more Americans their right to keep and bear arms. Angel Shamaya of KeepandBearArms.com was right on top of things, as usual.
Posted by Claire @ 09:07 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, October 9, 2003
OH! I ALMOST MISSED IT! Today is National Depression Screening Day. There was this flyer on the board down at the P.O. "Do you feel glum? Nervous? Hyper? Excitable? Listless? Hopeless? Have you gained or lost weight lately?"
If you have any of these "symptoms of mental illness," you're supposed to Get Down, Get Tested, and And Get Medicated, Baby!
Guess that means all of us, since who the heck isn't something between hyper and hopeless in this crazy world? Gimme my pills! Drug me, drug me! Make me Instantly Happpeeeee!
Yeah, yeah. This makes such great sense. Ban all the drugs that make us feel good just for the fun of it. Then hype, hype, hype all the drugs that enable us merely to tolerate the hectic, confused, TV-polluted, politician-ridden, overregulated, brand-named, fragmented, propagandized lives we're leading.
These depression-screening events are the brainchild of the phramaceutical makers and the whole mental-illness industry (to call it the mental-health industry is a serious misnomer, since these folks are invested in defining every sorrow or discontent as a "brain disease"). They foster our dependencies and keep us from looking in the right direction when we need to really do something about our lives.
Not to demean anyone's suffering. And suffering is the word. I know; I've dragged my own sorry self through years of crushing depression. I know what it's like to be so miserable you can scarcely move, and so hopeless death beckons like a blessing. And drugs and therapy may carry us through those blackest days.
But if we're miserable as an everyday matter, before we go down to the intersection of Prozac Road and Zoloft Highway to catch a ride, maybe we ought to ask whether we could make life choices that would lift us into happiness, rather than just medicating over whatever bad choices or bad conditions we're living with. And if we feel we have no choices, maybe that in itself is a problem about which ... we should make some choices?
Posted by Claire @ 04:51 PM CST [Link]
THEY'RE MOVING FAST. Before we'd barely marshalled our efforts to fight subdermal RFID chips, the folks who make VeriChips have announced that -- due to customer demand -- they've already got a "VeriGuard" wall-mounted reader ready to market. This reader, the first in a planned series of "secure access control applications," is designed to keep unchipped people out of certain buildings or areas of buildings.
No doubt the initial applications will only be in extreme high-security government or corporate facilities. But here it is. It's already begun. They can now keep you out of buildings if you refuse to accept their mark under your skin. How many years before your child must be chipped before entering a school building or before you must be chipped to be allowed into the county courthouse?
Posted by Claire @ 09:56 AM CST [Link]
LOOKS LIKE RIDGE HAS TAKEN OVER FOR ASHCROFT ON THE PR TRAIL. And "You VILL cooperate," as Sunni said when she sent this one along. "Ridge says every American should be involved in security effort."
Here's another carefully structured meeting with a carefully hand-picked audience. Notice how the alleged journalist reports with a straight face on the percentages of these (mostly) government clones and drones who support various security measures or who asked questions leading straight toward the answers Ridge wanted to give.
Posted by Claire @ 09:48 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, October 8, 2003
AN EXAMPLE OF COURAGE AND INTEGRITY. While doing some research yesterday, I Googled upon this article from an August, 2002, edition of Salon, "Noelle Bush gets rehab, the poor and black get hard time".
The title tells us nothing we don't already know (sigh). But read on and you find something rare. This passage concerns a New York group, the Mothers of the Disappeared. The mothers (and wives, and daughters, and others) are relatives of drug war prisoners. They took their name from Argentinian women whose children had vanished into the power of a ruthless military junta:Given how high the stakes are, the mothers have taken an amazing gamble. At the Albany meeting in June, Pataki told them that if they supported his bill, he could have their loved ones out "in a matter of days." Pataki's carefully crafted bill would have shortened mandatory minimums for A-1 felons. Their sentences are so unjust they -- and their relatives -- have become the poster children for the reform movement. Darryl Best, for example, is said to be a devoted father who never missed his daughters' parent-teacher conferences or basketball games, but his youngest, now 13, will be 28 before he has a chance of getting out. But of all the people doing time in New York on drug charges, only about 590 of them are A-1s, so Pataki's bill wouldn't have remedied the plight of thousands of other prisoners.
Almost all of the women at the meeting were relatives of A-1 felons. Parker told them they'd have their relatives back by the Fourth of July if only they'd pressure the Assembly to pass it.
They said no.
Instead, the group told Pataki, they wanted to see thousands of prisoners freed, to get rid of mandatory minimums, to streamline the process for resentencing, and to expand drug-treatment options. They didn't want to divide what's become the most vital civil rights movement in decades.
How often these days does any tired, hardworking group of activists hold to their long-term goals when some juicy compromise is dangled in front of them? (We can all spell N-R-A.) How much harder it must have been for these people to make such a decision, when offered the choice between having their loved ones back "within days" or facing a bleak unknown for the sake of principle. What an incredible combination of courage, integrity, and vision they showed. True grace under pressure.
What's better yet is that they're not the only people of hopeful integrity in this story.
Posted by Claire @ 12:57 PM CST [Link]
Tuesday, October 7, 2003
GUN NUT ICE CREAM. I thought it was a joke when Sammie posted it to the Claire Files message boards. But yep, Gun Nut Ice Cream's not only for real, it's endorsed by Ted Nugent and benefits Gun Owners of America.
Order it via the Net, receive it packed in dry ice. (Pay a lot for it, ordered that way, though. Be forewarned.)
Posted by Claire @ 09:54 AM CST [Link]
JETBLUE, CAPPS II, AND GEN. WESLEY CLARK, TOO. The story gets stranger, as we stumble into an act of the government-private incest whose malformed progeny is the surveillance state.More information has come to light in the JetBlue/CAPPS II incident regarding the role of data broker Acxiom and its chairman of the board (and now-presidential candidate) Gen. Wesley Clark.
You may recall that the incident involved a strange cross-pollination of executive agency functions as a U.S. Army contractor, Torch Concepts, tested a program purportedly intended for the Transportation Security Administration, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. ...
[T]he test system seemed to flag everyone who wasn't "Young Middle Income Home Owners with Short Length-of-Residence" or "Older Upper Income Home Owners with Longer Length-of-Residence" as a potential terrorist threat worthy of extra airport searches by federal TSA agents. ...
Now, how did Acxiom get this contract? Look toward a story buried on page A9 of the Saturday Sept. 27 Washington Post, where it is reported that Gen. Wesley Clark, who became a member of Acxiom's board after his retirement, went hard to work trying to increase the value of his share of stock in the firm by meeting "on the company's behalf with officials at the Department of Justice, the CIA, the Department of Transportation, the Transportation Security Administration and Lockheed Martin Corp., the defense contractor that is heading up CAPPS II."
That article also reported that back in January 2002, when TSA was still a part of the Department of Transportation, "In a meeting at the [DOT] in January 2002, according to participants, Clark described a system that would combine personal data from Acxiom with information about the reservations and seating records of every U.S. airline passenger."
Clark and Acxiom are this week's Privacy Villains of the Week.
Posted by Claire @ 08:28 AM CST [Link]
Monday, October 6, 2003
THIS CAME FROM LIBERTARIAN RADIO-SHOW HOST ERNIE HANCOCK. If you value the Declaration of Independence, be prepared to be anything from outraged to nauseated to sorrowful. I don't know where I can link to this; it's not on Ernie's Web site. So I hope he doesn't mind if I print it in full here.
Mourn for your country that this is how cynically it exploits one of its greatest treasures.
My wife Donna and I went to see one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence at the Arizona capitol today. From a libertarian's perspective it was not the experience I would choose for young children or the uninformed.
A great deal of space was devoted to the exhibit in at least 4 areas with lots of red, white and blue and bus load after bus load of school children. I was very happy to see so many people interested on Sunday when we stopped by, but the line was hours long so we went this morning at about 10am.
A cynical libertarian wonders why the government would be so supportive of such a tour. With sponsors like Home Depot, you'd think that they would use one of their spacious stores to bring in traffic and keep it a private venture. I remember when Home Depot announced that they wouldn't be accepting any credit card purchases from any government entities or allowing any federal government bills to be invoiced. This was in response to the federal government placing too many restrictions on businesses that do any business with them so Home Depot said we don't need the hassle.... very cool. Well maybe this was to make up for that.
The other sponsors are the US Postal Service and AXA (Mutual Funds, Insurance etc.)
"The goal of the project is to bring the "People's Document" directly to all Americans - to inspire them to see citizenship as an opportunity, to participate in civic life, to exercise their rights, and to above all, to vote."
The Declaration of Independence has as much to do with voting as the 2nd Amendment has to do with duck hunting.
The first piece of paper handed me was a copy of the Declaration on one side with the propaganda on the other, "How Will It Inspire You? 1) Fill out a voter registration form 2) Mail in your voter registration form 3) Learn about the candidates and
Posted by Claire @ 11:45 PM CST [Link]
OH MY. Check out the bumper sticker for election 2004.
Posted by Claire @ 03:03 PM CST [Link]
IT HAD TO HAPPEN. SOMEONE HAS STARTED THE NO-STATE PROJECT. Its aim: to move a group of people into an area and begin abolishing governments, city-to-city, county-to-county, upwards and outwards. I could cheer the aims. But demons will slurp sno-cones in the lowest circles of the Inferno before these folks put together enough of an organization to abolish anything bigger than a village council.
There may be a tongue in someone's cheek here. But if so, I can't quite tell.
Posted by Claire @ 02:53 PM CST [Link]
GOVERNMENT JUST DOESN'T LIKE THE COMPETITION. From Free-Market.net this morning come two seemingly unrelated stories that turn out to be twins separated at birth.
First, an op-ed by Jack McHugh of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy:Thanks to the poisonous atmosphere created by a hostile Detroit public school establishment, philanthropist Robert Thompson has decided, with deep regret, that it is impossible for him to donate a $200 million gift to the city’s school children. ... After seeking legislative authorization for his [gift of 15 charter] schools for almost a year, Thompson threw in the towel after the Detroit teachers union threw what can only be described as a tantrum over the prospect of having to compete with charter schools.
Then a smidge of local news from the south. Seems 75-year-old Tennesseean Harlie Walker did the neighborly thing and flashed his lights to warn fellow drivers that a policeman was nearby. This got him ticketed for "Interfering with the duties of a police officer."The question Walker is asking is, with what duty of the police officer did he interfere? ``If his goal was to slow people down, I was helping him. But that's not what he thought,'' Walker said.
``I think personally policemen should have more to do than chasing people around in high-powered automobiles because he thinks I'm competing with him by flashing my lights.''
So lessee .. The state's goal isn't really the best education "for the children." And it isn't getting drivers to keep their speed down to safe limits. Heavens, whatever could it really be???
Posted by Claire @ 09:49 AM CST [Link]
"THERAPY CULTURE AND COUNTERCULTURE." Thought provoking column by Lee McCracken at Strike-the-Root.com.
Utopia imposed by force? As wrongheaded as that notion always was, it was a vision that appealed to strong people who saw themselves as able to achieve great things. How out of tune with today! Now paradise (for the state!) lies in persuading us of our fragility, emotional as well as physical. The end is the same: control by the masters of the game. Perhaps the best part of McCracken's column comes at the end, when he suggests that we freedom lovers are, or should become, a true counterculture with a independent enough identity to withstand the whimper culture that threatens to engulf us.
Posted by Claire @ 08:07 AM CST [Link]
Sunday, October 5, 2003
HEH HEH HEH. There's a very funny conversation about guns going on at The Claire Files message boards. It was a hoot when Ian started it out with a brand new way of looking at calibers. But I think us grrlz are scaring the heck out of the guys now.
Posted by Claire @ 06:01 PM CST [Link]
YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD THAT THE FEDGOV IS ISSUING SUBPOENAS TO REPORTERS who've written about hacker Adrian Lamo (whose specialty was locating security holes, then publicizing and offering to fix them). The FBI is demanding reporters' notes, e-mails, expense reports, names of sources, and more -- even if they never interviewed, or even met, Lamo himself. AND the feds are ordering the reporters not to tell anyone, including presumably their own editors and innocent sources, about this demand for info.
Bad enough. Unless you've been watching closely, you probably don't know that they law under which Mr. Ashcroft's Justice Department claims the authority to do this was written only to cover Internet service providers. It doesn't apply to reporters at all.
That's only the beginning of the truly scary s**t the federales are doing in this case. Mark Rasch digs deeper in his Security Focus column.
Yes, it's the Patriot Act saving us from liberty again.
Posted by Claire @ 05:54 PM CST [Link]
Saturday, October 4, 2003
JIM BOVARD IS BACK. He's seemed awfully quiet for the last couple of years. But here he is with a scathing critique of the "efficiency" and protective power of Washington's New Improved post-9-11 law enforcement. Jim hasn't lost a bit of his accuity or punch since the days he was Clinton's sharpest critic.
Posted by Claire @ 02:21 PM CST [Link]
LIBERTY AT WORK. Here's Free State Ads, a brand-new online market where liberty lovers can offer their services or seek to contract for services. It's set up for Free State porcupines (I believe only FSP members and friends can place no-cost ads). But somehow I don't think anybody would mind if non-FSPers wanted to purchase offered services or extend work to the willing. There's not a lot on the site yet, but the setup is good and obviously designed with respect for privacy.
Here's a hope: That as many freedom lovers as possible will think in terms of entrepreneurship or small, independent businesses, rather than job-jobs. The expression "wage slavery" is painfully true, entangling us automatically in all kinds of unwholesome dependencies on, and obligations to, government and government's partners.
Posted by Claire @ 09:34 AM CST [Link]
Friday, October 3, 2003
WHOTTA HOOT. All my life I've heard, "You've got to learn to compromise." "Your expectations are too high." "You're too radical."
Now, because I support the Free State Project, I'm being accused, along with a whole lot of anarcho-pals, of abandoning my principles in order to compromise with, legitimize, and even strengthen, the state. I keep insisting I'm not actually going to move to New Hampshire so I can take up v*ting -- that I will continue my commitment to non-coercive cultural change, redoubled and put into local action. But who'd listen to such a debauched and compromised soul as I?
All this proves is that libertarians haven't yet settled such pressing quesions as how many Ayn Rands can dance on the head of a cigarette or who built the canals of Mars.
I have a challenge for the 100-percent principled among us. Here are the specs:
- Design a workable, real-world plan to found a freedom-oriented community.
- It doesn't have to be as big as the FSP, as long as it involves a large and diverse enough group to offer reasonable self-sufficiency.
- Describe how you will recruit only totally committed libertarian participants, with no stain of statism in their views.
- Describe how you will ensure that, in carrying out the plan, no participant will ever compromise on any hardcore libertarian principle at any time.
- No organizer or participant should ever support, or compromise with, or submit to any government at any stage of the plan, from inception to execution.
- All activities at all times in the organization and the resulting community must be 100 percent voluntary, right down to second, third, and n-generation descendents of the original participants.
- Make sure this plan is fully feasible to carry out in the present world (no colonizing the asteroids -- yet -- please).
- Include a brief description of your leadership/organizing team, their qualifications, and how they intend to bring this plan to fruition.
Submit your plan on The Claire Files message boards, General Discussion forum, topic header "The Uncompromising Community."
Posted by Claire @ 07:58 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, October 2, 2003
EARLIER TODAY I MENTIONED THE WESTERN FREE STATE PROJECT. Some folks took that to mean I was wavering in my support of the original FSP. For the record: NO WAY. If I had my druthers, I'd ask every other group to hold off for a while, to give the FSP a chance to succeed before they begin recruiting. Despite claims that they're not competing, they are. And that could be catastrophic, not only for the FSP, but for the FSP wannabes, and for everyone who wants to see freedom restored in our lifetimes.
As long as FSP members remain committed to liberty for all and to *serious* reductions in the size and scope of government (even if those reductions aren't as deep as I'd prefer), and as long as they continue on track toward the 20,000 goal, then I support the one, the only, the original FSP.
For other people, who never joined the FSP, never would join, or never would go east, then the WFSP may be an option. That's why I mentioned the WFSP and will probably mention them again. I realize the FSP isn't for everyone, and that there are a lot of reasons many principled libertarians haven't joined it and will never join it.
But this is a key moment in history -- both America's and the FSP's. Jason Sorens and company have already worked wonders as cat herders. Now the job of getting 15,000 more libertarian supporters will be far harder than getting the first 5,000. The FSP needs -- and deserves -- more, not less, support now that the state has been chosen.
We libertarians have a sorry history of shattering every hopeful group effort by proclaiming that the other participants aren't "pure" enough to associate with, or by going off in a snit to "do our own thing" the moment any decision goes against us. That old, unproductive pattern is in danger of repeating in the wake of yesterday's state announcement.
But what's more important? Do "do our own thing" or to do freedom on a big scale?
We need the FSP as our best hope of freedom -- even if neither the state nor the people who chose it are "perfect" enough for some of us. Yes, we can have our lonely little circles of "purity" -- and we can smugly enjoy our own solitary principled perfection until the bulldozer of the state rolls over us. Or we can fragment into two or three or four separate FSPs, each competing for members from the same tiny pool of freedom lovers, so that NO project ends up getting enough people to make a difference in any state. Or we can make some god forbid compromises on tactics (not principles) and maybe, just maybe, restore one state to the American dream.
Should the FSP ever be taken over by people who don't love liberty (white separatists, perhaps, or moralists who want freedom for themselves but restrictions on everyone they disagree with), then I'd leave the FSP and shout that fact to the heavens. In that case, I'd be glad if a viable WFSP were around. But unless that happens, I will stick with the FSP and urge other freedom lovers to do so.
Posted by Claire @ 07:40 PM CST [Link]
DETAIILED RESULTS OF THE FSP VOTING are available now in the porcupines' newsletter, The Quill. Very complex table of results -- but no question New Hampshire whomped everybody.
Had western supporters structured their ballots somewhat differently, Wyoming might narrowly have triumphed. Ah well, once New Hampshire has shown the way, the next Free State Project might choose the Rockies.
In fact westerners yesterday announced their own FSP. Here's contact info:To get involved with the Western Free State Project go to Yahoo Groups and join, or contact Mykl Meagher at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact me [Ben Irvin] at email@example.com. This project's success and direction will depend on the commitment and energy of members.
Ben Irvin stresses that the WFSP isn't meant to be competition for the original; the new group hopes only to recruit those who opted out of New Hampshire or who never wanted to leave the west. The half of me that would love to see two (or 50!) free states wars with the half that says oh please let's not do the typical libertarian fragmentation act and end up with no free state at all. We do have a terrible history of self-destructing organizations, thanks to our innate curse-blessing of "doing our own thing."
Hang together or hang separately.
Posted by Claire @ 03:23 PM CST [Link]
RUSH LIMBAUGH, DOPE FIEND. So says the woman who was his supplier for four years. So now we know what made him such a numb-brained supporter of all things Republican.
This is even better than William Bennett's slot-machine jones.
Posted by Claire @ 01:43 PM CST [Link]
Wednesday, October 1, 2003
AND THE WINNER IS ...
The official announcement came from the Free State Project at 11:00 a.m. EDT today. But the news was scooped by the British publication The Guardian hours earlier. (Apparently the fedgov isn't the only leak-prone organization.) Free-Market.net carries a less sensationalized version of the voting results.
Congrats New Hampshire backers. You did an excellent job of promoting your state of choice. Those who favored the west split their votes between Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska. So there we have it.
Regrets, regrets, regrets that the state of the free won't be beautiful, wide-open Montana, where there's room -- and the inclination -- for freedom to spread throughout the U.S. and Canadian west. Or even Alaska (always a long shot) or Wyoming (which came in second). I fear feeling cramped and surrounded by statism in tiny New Hampshire, despite assurances by friendly New Hampshirites that vast stretches of the state are as empty as any hermit could wish.
More troubling still is the disdain some eastern FSP backers have shown for those of us in the west who, it seems, express too much of a desire for freedom. One New Hampshirite posted publicly that he thought the well-known membership of people like me, Vin Suprynowicz, J.J. Johnson, and Boston T. Party did the FSP "irreparable damage." Another said the FSP should not speak publicly of Boston's concept of a "rifle culture."
Wow. I feel so free around folks like that. Well, let's hope those aren't typical sentiments. Or if they are, let's hope us anarchic and scruffy westerners can be a really baaaaaad (good) influence on the east. The FSP remains the greatest pro-freedom effort to come along in decades. And without doubt New Hampshire is a great and stubborn American state whose supporters deserve their victory. I'm eager to be proven wrong in all my fears about the east. (A few hours after I posted this, one free soul from NH invited me for a home-grown rabbit dinner. So I'm already starting to see a brighter picture.)
Next FSP goal: Get 20,000 members by September 2006. It's at the 20,000 goal where we're all required to fulfill our pledges to migrate.
Meantime, I'll be reading up on how to tap maple trees. And when the FSP gets its 20,000, I'll gladly go (along with the other "glasseaters" who said they would move to any chosen state -- that they'd eat glass if that's what it took to live in greater freedom). Until then, I'm staying put.
Posted by Claire @ 09:59 AM CST [Link]
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