I’m on a couple of listservs for kaleidoscope builders and collectors. Yes, every tiny interest group has a list these days. In fact, the kaleidoscope world even has its own membership society, which holds regular conventions.
As you might guess, it’s been hard times for kaleidoscopes the last few years, as it has for arts and luxuries in general, so the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society has cut its conventions from annual to bi-annual. One of those rare conventions is coming up and people on the lists are talking about whether they’ll be there or not.
“Or not” seems to be a popular choice. Sometimes it’s just a matter of money. But increasingly, it seems that government “security” is the reason not to go. One man wrote of being forced to abandon a newly bought scope in the airport because the Taking Scopes Away people wouldn’t allow it in his carry-on. Another woman said if she couldn’t carry her scopes on the plane to personally insure their safety, she wouldn’t go. (This is a woman who agonizes over her creations and produces only a dozen or so high-quality scopes per year.)
Saddest of all was a comment by a British man, a famous figure in the scope world, noted for encouraging other artists. He wrote, “…[I]t seems that your border security folk are doing their best to make it impossible. … the clearances and checks required for aliens (that’s me), coupled with the physical processes have made visiting USA a real PITA.”
Of course, kaleidoscope devotees are an infinitesimal segment of the economy. But how many other tiny segments is the TSA damaging in similar fashion? And how big a segment do all those tiny segments add up to?
Of course, kaleidoscopes are insignificant in the world. They’re not on par with steel or surgery or Wal-Mart in importance. They’re just … exquisite. And fewer of them will be made, sold, or seen thanks to the TSA. And what will become of the Brewster Society and its creativity-inspiring gatherings?
The cheery news is that, each of these artists and collectors, by refusing to submit, is putting a little more spine into freedom. I have no idea of these folks’ politics (or even if they have any politics at all). But just by saying, “I’ve had it. No more,” they move the world in a better direction, even as the feds do their damnedest to move us all into bankruptcy and tyranny.
Somebody asked me yesterday whether I still write movie reviews for the print version of Backwoods Home. Officially, I do (Dave willing). But as a practical matter, I ran out of family-friendly, English-language films of interest to a rural audience a long time ago.
P.T., the person who asked the question, hoped I would review biopix of inspiring people — particularly women.
Thought that was a great idea. With two reservations. First, most recent biopix (aside from often being about dissolute folk who wouldn’t be welcome on many backwoods homesteads) are just giant mess-blobs. Take movies like “Ray” and “La Vie en Rose.” Oscar-winning star vehicles they may be, but they try to encompass so much of the subject’s life that events, relationships, and incidents whiz by, leaving the audience (or this audience, anyhow) wondering, “Who? What? Why?”
The other problem, particular to inspirational bioflix, is that … well, they’re “inspirational.” Which in Hollywood terms means they’ve had all the juice sucked out of them. They take a complex, multi-faceted, maybe not-particularly-likeable human being and reduce his (or her) accomplishments to ooey-gooey glurge.
So …. I’m asking you: what are the great, inspirational (but not “inspirational”) movies? Tell me some of your favorites in the comments section.
Your picks can be old or new. To open up the field, they can be movies about a real person or a fictional one, as long as they’re about realistic achievement. If they’re about a real person, the events shown should either substantially resemble the facts or at least not be so denatured that they’re icky-gooey-sappy. Let’s see some true grit here.
P.T. suggested one: “The Miracle Worker” — and said she wished there’d also been a movie about later parts of Helen Keller’s life. Another classic comes to my mind — the 1946 Rosalind Russell movie, “Sister Kenny”. It tells of the self-taught Australian nurse who devised successful treatments for polio symptoms when doctors considered disability or death inevitable. How? Simply by observing and acting on her observations, rather than being locked into the wrong-headed paradigm shared by all “medical experts” of her day.
So, dear readers (and especially you, great film buff G.P.), give me some inspiration!
Dr. Katherine Albrecht — who is as beautiful as she is intelligent and (I can personally testify) as kind as she is gorgeous* announces via YouTube a new level of search-engine privacy to debut this [now LAST] Thursday.
The search engine she represents, StartPage (aka IXQuick in Europe), already bills itself as the world’s most privacy-respecting. This week it adds a proxy service to, “… revolutionize the way people surf the web by
allowing completely anonymous access to virtually any page on the web. … We are upping the ante by allowing users to privately visit
the websites they find through our search engine, without having their
personal details revealed to websites they visit.”
In today’s earlier post on the census, I mentioned that, starting last year, census workers have been sent out to record the GPS coordinates of every residence in the U.S. Some people were surprised by that.
The factoid mentioned in the WND article — that under Obama the White House has virtually taken the census away from the Commerce Department — is true. And ominous. But the idea that the GPS tagging is an Obamist plot is absurd. The plot, if any, was hatched under “Mr. Small-Government Conservative,” George W. Bush.
Yep. More proof that — as my friend Joel Simon likes to say — the right and left wings are both attached to the same carrion bird.
One way in which civil society breaks down — and social engineering ascends — is by making individuals turn against each other so that the peaceful activities of my neighbor are seen as harmful to me. Most of the current arguments for participation in the American census are based on the idea that my desire for privacy damages society. How?
Last year one of my acquaintances was thrilled to get a job doing preliminary census work (e.g. GPS tagging other people’s homes). She just flat-out did not understand when I told her she was always welcome at my house as a friend, but that if I ever caught her on my property in her official capacity, I would … er, escort her politely to the road and leave her there with a friendly salute of farewell. (I leave it to the astute reader to picture the particular form of salute.)
Saying “no” to intrusive census questions is a nice little act of beginner resistance — and equally good for keeping veteran freedomistas in prime form. :-)
The other day, I noodled about that famous Voltaire quote. While googling the phrase, I came across series of 14 articles on the Get Rich Slowly site. (The ninth article in the series is “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good.”)
Since avoiding unnecessary debt and financial dependency are among the basics of living free, I thought I’d toss the series to you for a read. It’s filled with solid advice even if you don’t aim to get rich, slowly, quickly, or any other way. In fact, the last article in the series is “It’s more important to be happy than rich.”
Amen to that.
But on the other hand … being both rich and happy would be sort of nice. And would it be too much to add good looking while we’re at it?
As my very favorite actor, the magnificently independent and quirky (and rich, happy, and good-looking) Johnny Depp quoted from his private island in the Caribbean: “Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it buys you a big enough yacht to sail right up to it.” (NB: A few bits of non-family-friendly language in the linked Vanity Fair article.)
It’s not very big on how-to. But there’s much food for thought there for anybody who wants to change his — or her! — life, starting from the mind outward. (And doesn’t every author dream of having works in print for more than a century!)
Voltaire, a favorite philosopher, said, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” So did Gustave Flaubert. And apparently also Joseph Addison.
Plagiarism or just “great minds”? No matter. It’s a fine thought, and I try to remind myself of it when I’m otherwise inclined to say, “Oh, to heck with even trying.”
Perfection and procrastination are evil twins. Unfreedom is their kissing cousin.
Because we can’t have perfect results, to heck with it; we just won’t bother. This losing game is as true in self-liberation as it is in learning to draw, building a house, running a marathon, or attempting to lose weight.
For instance …
I’m a libertarian. Specifically, I’m a member of a sub-category of libertarians who call themselves anarcho-capitalists, individualist anarchists, or free-market anarchists. (“Anarchist” doesn’t mean we throw bombs or smash Nike stores while wearing Nikes. It just means we believe peaceable people can govern themselves better than politicians can govern anybody — a proposition whose veracity grows more obvious every day.)
“Ancaps” are often a brilliant bunch. But when it comes to the real world … well, sometimes we’re an idiot breed. We’re often fixated on being “philosophically purer than thou” — to the point of self-destruction. I’ve heard my fellows declare, for instance, and declare loudly, hotly, and with vast self-righteousness, that they will absolutely, under no circumstances, consider themselves free until they can do exactly what they want with their private property with zero interference from governments, neighborhood groups, homeowners associations, laws, rules, regulations, peer pressure, or social convention.
Well, good luck with that, guys.
I’m sure most people hereabouts aren’t so pig-headed. But how often have we assumed that we’re only free if laws and regulations “allow” us to be?
If you’re not going to consider yourself free until you’ve got the whole wide world — or even a majority of its v*ters — or maybe a majority of its paperwork — in agreement with you, you’re never going to be free.
Voltaire said lots of other things I like. Many of them are at that link. Here’s another one: “Man is free at the instant he wants to be.”
Of course, Voltaire also famously said, “Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort.” Which is usually translated these days as, “It’s dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” Yeah. Ain’t that the truth?
So there’s one of our chief balancing acts as freedom seekers: Deciding to be free, proceeding to be free, and hopefully avoiding getting whacked along the way.
But if we demand any form of perfection — including “I won’t be free until I can be completely assured the government won’t hurt me” — then we’ll never be free because we’ll never seriously try.