Nothing heavy-duty today. No depressing politics. No personal adventures. Just a picture to share.
While working on my first illustration job in … well, more years than I care to count, I ran across this drawing I did last year and forgot all about. It’s not Great Art, but I did like the way the blue paper becomes part of the drawing and contributes its tones to the complex colors of the fur.
Anyhow, this is Nadia (aka Nadja, Naja, etc.), my Noble Beast of a dog, who has the thickest, most lush ears, an extraordinary coat, and the demeanor of Rin Tin Tin:
I woke up two hours ago with my trailer jerking in the wind and the moon silver-bright through the window (beautiful but unwelcome to sleepy eyes). The trailer always rocks in high winds, but this is different, sharp and jolting like a series of airy earthquakes.
Every time I start to slip back into sleep another round hits. A couple of times, things have fallen off shelves. Nervous dogs begged for spots on my sleeping bag. So here I am, awake but fog-headed. Covered in canines. And soothing myself with a favorite bit of Shelley:
Rough wind, that moanest loud
Grief too sad for song;
Wild wind, when sullen cloud
Knells all the night long;
Sad storm whose tears are vain,
Bare woods, whose branches strain,
Deep caves and dreary main —
Wail, for the world’s wrong!
Y’know, it just occurred to me that Shelley makes a lot more sense when you’re a romantic 18-year-old than he does when you’re a cynical been-there-done-it-all trying to get back to sleep. Ah well.
Since sleep is impossible, here’s some news (some of which is actually olds, since I’ve been saving it up a few days) …
More on the Obama-Dodd “reform” bill. It’ll not only prop up the biggest of all financial scoundrels; it’ll do so at the expense of the most responsible and well-managed community banks. And I wonder how many millions of Americans go on supporting the bill simply because “We’ve got to DO SOMETHING about Wall Street!”
This is the best explanation I’ve seen of “Why They’re Still Government Motors.” GM’s untruth in advertising is just stunning. Talk about a Big Lie! They could give Goebbels lessons.
Back to more personal stuff … I watched The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus on DVD tonight. Gorgeously weird. Typical Terry Gilliam visual head trip. The acting is mostly very good. Christopher Plummer is super as the wearily immortal Dr. P and so is Tom Waits as his devilish adversary, Mr. Nick. My heartthrob Johnny Depp probably gives the weakest performance in the film — although he, Jude Law, and Colin Ferrel stand in cleverly to fill fragments of the role Heath Ledger left undone.
Unfortunately, the plot’s a mess and there are a few places where you’d really be better off not asking yourself if what just happened is exactly logical (even within the strange logic of the the doctor’s behind-the-mirror world).
But about 3/4 of the way through, there’s an absolutely hysterical bit in which a troop of dancing cops tries to recruit four Russian gangsters, singing about how thuggery is so much more enjoyable when it’s legal.
I swear, the routine could have been written my one of my friends. I looked briefly for a clip of it on You Tube. Didn’t find one. If anybody out there has a link, would you post it in the comments section?
Now, with apologies for any possible misspellings, illogics, or other artifacts of a storm-tossed night, I’m going to attempt to go back to sleep.
On the smaller domestic scale — here at Last-Chance Gulch where there is little money, no influence, and only those bits of big government that come wandering randomly in now and then — house walls went up over the weekend, thanks to the generosity and teamwork of neighbors. A bare foundation became the framework of a house overnight. That’s a wonderful thing. I’ll have more (probably, per Dave’s request, in an upcoming print edition of BHM).
But given that it’s a Monday morning and I’m a bit grouchy (with much more house-work ahead this week), I’ve got a question for you: What is it with guys and women on construction projects? How come we females so often get treated like retarded children?
I’m the first to admit that in most (though certainly not all) cases, the guys are more capable of taking the lead on framing a house, and heavens bless ’em for that. My own participation this weekend was mere manual labor — hauling cut wood from chop saw to house and occasionally helping lift a completed wall into place. I make no claim to doing anything brilliant & I won’t really come into my own on this project until we get to the interior finishing. One of the other women cooked and hosted all the meals. Another, who is quite experienced with construction and even does most of the local small-backhoe work, did some of the sawing and hauling. Yet another — the actual owner of this miniature country palace and knows its specs extremely well — supervised, calculated, and was in the thick of the most important decisions all weekend long. At one key stage, she saved the guys from a very bad math error.
Yet when we were trying to lift one of the biggest walls into place, nobody would listen to her when she pointed out that it wasn’t going to work because one of the anchor bolts was was in the way. She had to say it three times and finally yell because everyone was ignoring her. All weekend long, she’d start to do something and one of the guys would push her out of the way so he could do it himself.
My own “retarded child” moment came when several of the guys were trying to make sure a couple of the walls were straight. I was the only one available to pick up a bubble-level at that moment. So I did.
“It’s a half inch off vertical,” I said.
“It’s a half inch off vertical,” one of the guys echoed, peering from his perch on a ladder.
I didn’t mind his duplication at all — you know, “Measure twice …” and all. That was okay. But then another guy had to take the level away from me and check for himself.
On to the next wall. Again, I took up the level.
“It’s leaning 3/16″ to the left,” I said.
The same guy who had taken the level from me a moment earlier looked over my shoulder and said, “It looks perfectly fine to me.”
“That’s because at this moment I’m holding the level exactly straight so I can see exactly how much the wall is off from square.” I nodded toward the 3/16″ gap between wall and the bottom of the level.
“Let me have that!” he barked, grabbing the level out of my hand.
I backed away. He measured.
“It’s leaning 3/16″ to the left,” he told the other guys.
Not, “Yep, she’s right. It’s leaning 3/16″ to the left.” Not, “Sorry, Claire, I just wanted to double check.” But, “It’s leaning 3/16″ to the left” — as though this was a discovery that only a person with sufficient levels of testosterone could possibly make, a discovery that he had newly made for himself. I simply didn’t exist.
“Uh … yeah, that’s just what I said,” I called after him as he retreated with level in hand. But of course, he wasn’t listening to me then, either.
So what is it, anyhow? As I say, I make no pretense of being a construction expert. I was happy simply to carry lumber and stay out of the way of more experienced people for the most part. And I’m far from being some rabid feminist, always looking for “inequality,” real or illusory. On the contrary, I celebrate the skills of my men friends — and my women friends, too.
But what leads otherwise wonderful guys to the conclusion that I’m too stupid to read a level? Why is the house owner herself ignored when she’s pointing out a problem only she can see? And why is this sort of treatment so common on construction sites where men and women are working together?
Couple of us were working in the meadow this afternoon when my youngest, loudest, and most car-chasing dog informed us of somebody coming down the road. Sure enough, along came a car, which went just past our driveway and stopped in a “where the heck am I?” sort of way.
Now, we’re in the middle of nowhere, a good 12 miles from town, six of it on dirt and through washes. And once you’ve gone past our driveway, there is simply nowhere to go. Anyhow, there’s nowhere a stranger has any business going, unless he plans to burgle the neighbor’s house. We can go weeks without seeing anybody except one regular weekender driving in or out. Well, it’s Friday afternoon, and sometimes near the weekend we do get some four-wheelers out here, or some people just roaming around sightseeing. We stand on the ridge and give them our best Deliverance stare and they go away.
This vehicle reversed direction and came up our driveway. My friend climbed up to see what they wanted & came back bemused.
“Harmless,” he said.
“But what did they want?”
“They were looking for children.”
“What?” (I don’t think there’s a child within five miles of here.)
“Yeah. Children. They were from the local Head Start program and they wanted to know if there are any children around here.”
Head Start trolls for children now? In the middle of nowhere? What, they expect to find them left under juniper bushes by the stork?
My friend told them the truth; that he didn’t know of any children in the vicinity. Later he regretted that he didn’t instead send them to the cop’s house about a mile from here. And tell them the guy has six children. Whom he’s probably hiding. And he’s a heavily armed, right-wing, anti-government wacko. And oh, by the way, I think he’s molesting them. (My friend isn’t fond of cops.)
Ah well, that’s hindsight. (Anyhow, I’ve met the cop and his wife and they seem like nice folks to me.)
But Head Start? Trolling for children? In the middle of nowhere? What the heck is that about? Ever happen to anybody else?
You’ve probably already spotted the “lite” blogging this week. Unfortunately, expect the same for the next week-plus. We’re about to begin a serious building project here at Last-Chance Gulch and for roughly 10 days, it’ll be nothing but work and visitors around here. (Most of the visitors will be helping in some way with construction, bless their hearts; but we’ll all be busy.) And wouldn’t you know it, a surprise deadline came up at the same time. So much for my peaceful hermitude.
If I can blog along, the way, I surely will. But don’t hold me up to really high expectations, okay? In the meantime, here’s some miscellany to keep you going:
Oh, so that’s what SEC regulators were doing while Wall Streeters were getting away with economic murder! Well, given typical government justice and effectiveness, I suppose it’s better than, you know, actually regulating. (Oh yeah … and the “solution” to this problem will be … wait for it … more regulation and bigger budgets for the SEC. Of course.)
Top Ten Pelosisms. The woman’s a master of the Bushian language-mangle, as well as being a majorly scary b-word. (Thank you, Charles, for the link.)
I mentioned the other day that I feel a book coming on. You guys made interesting suggestions and sparked some good thinking. Where things stand right now: I still feel a book coming on, but my dread of being asked to do interviews and having to explain to a bunch more people why they shouldn’t look to any damn writer (or anybody else) as a freedom guru is so depressing I don’t ever want to face it again. If only I could just write a book, then let it find its way in the world on its own merits while I went on with my life, undisturbed. Now that would be a very okay thing.
This post coincidentally mentions both Wall Street regulation (darling cause of liberal-progressives) and illegal immigration (darling cause of conservatives). Both those issues smack me in the face with what is (IMHO), one of the hugest causes of the loss of freedom: In the belief that “government must DO SOMETHING about THAT,” people will support the most egregious sort of legislation — without reading it, without understanding it, without submitting it to either the Bill of Rights test or the plain old smell test, without a clue about its long-term ramifications. “We have to regulate Wall Street!” “We must DO SOMETHING about the rising cost of health care!” “We must DO SOMETHING about the drug problem!” “DO SOMETHING about illegal immigrants!” Etc., etc. so on, ad infinitum, world without end, amen. And thus, both right and left serve as enablers to the ruthless, scamming, lying, sometimes-just-downright-stupid criminal state. Because, of course, DOING SOMETHING, always means more power and money to government and more opportunities for sneaking both corporatism and police-statism into every new law. Sigh. As the Mogambo says, “We’re so frreaking doomed.”
But individually we can still kick statist butt. Must never forget that …
Last-minute add-on: Bovard does it again with his take on a Tea Party rally he attended. Perfect example of why freedom always fails in groups and institutions despite the best intentions in the world.
If you watch the precious metals markets (and don’t we all, if we’re into preparedness, even if we can’t afford to do much with our observations), you’ve probably been hearing allegations of monstrous frauds festering beneath the surface. But as with so many doings in financial markets, the specifics of metals manipulations are arcane and … well, they hurt the brain.
Terrible news, if true, for people who have invested in gold funds or who are under the illusion that they own actual, physical precious metals that are stored for them in bank vaults. And it’s a sad state of affairs for anybody who would like to be able to trust bankers and brokers and fund salesmen someday (sigh). But it could be red-hot good long-term news for anybody who already owns and hangs onto their own real, verifiable physical store of gold or silver.
(I know we’ve got a few serious metals mavens among Living Freedom blog readers. If I’ve mis-stated or under-stated anything, or if you have deeper insight into what’s going on … let ‘er rip in the comments section.)
Ragnar insisted in a blog comment last week that I’d better darned well come up with a great post on 4/19. Nothing like a little pressure there, eh?
Well, the brain’s not working too well and neither is the cursed up-and-down Internet connection here in the high desert boondocks. And WordPress has also gone cranky on me and twice erased portions of this post. So sorry, Ragnar, there will be no Great Thoughts coming from this direction today. Perhaps you noble readers will leap in and supply some GTs of your own in the comments section.
I’ve just got this little bit to say.
It would be a wonderful thing if more of the people who celebrate 419 (here and here among others) and more of those who celebrate 420 (here and here for instance) could open their eyes to each other, to their common interests, and to the fact that we all face the same utterly ruthless and unprincipled enemy.
Both 419 and 420 have worked some miracles lately. Who would ever have thought, just a few years ago that gun-rights activists would be winning the day in state after state? And anybody who ever watched the drug war worsen over the decades has just got to be in awe that 420 is pushing back so hard. Both gun owners and cannabis advocates are overcoming hostile government and unjust image problems. And in those two areas (if few others), both common sense and uncommon justice are beginning to prevail.
Powerful voices try to drown out those who are doing nothing more than trying to restore the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The shrillest voices actually cry for we, the disrespectful minority, to be charged with sedition or treason, or even rounded up and shoved into torture camps. (And, as Kevin Wilmeth points out behind one of the above hyperlinks, many of these demands for our heads are coming from people who claimed to believe, just a few years ago that “dissent is patriotic.”)
If I were to put on my optimism hat (and I’m sure it must be around here someplace, perhaps under that pile of dusty old newspapers in the corner), I could think that the shrillness of all that public loathing is in a weird way an encouraging sign. I mean, Bill Clinton actually knows that Stewart Rhodes’ OathKeepers and Mike Vanderboegh’s Three Percenters exist. That’s pretty darned remarkable in itself.
(I can’t seem to find my optimism hat, unfortunately. Should we ever actually put “the establishment” on the run on any large scale, I have no doubt they’ll concoct yet another Reichstag fire to suppress dissent and go after dissenters.)
I find I’m leaning more to the 419 side of things as I hyperlink. But I don’t mean to neglect the prejudices against the 420 advocates. While the 419s are suffering loud, hysterical name-calling in the media, the 420s … well, far too many of them are still being busted. So which is worse? To be screeched at hysterically in the media or be raided and brutalized by thugs?
Thing is, those two perils go together. And we’re all in this together. We need 419 + 420 and all the other numbers of good people — people who know that torture is immoral and corrosive, people who know that warrantless wiretapping violates the Bill of Rights, people who value free speech, fair trials, freedom of association, freedom both of and from religion, people who want the government out of their faces enough to realize (finally!) that it should stay out of other people’s faces, as well — to come together and know that, when it gets right down to it, we’re all agitating for the same fundamental thing and all being threatened and bullied by the same irrational, self-serving, self-perpetuating, and utterly ruthless force.
419 is good. 420 is good. But 419 + 420 (you will no doubt have noticed, even if you’re as math-challenged as I) is about twice as much. Add a few more numbers … like 1 and 4 and 5 and 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 … and pretty soon … we’ve got a movement.
First thing … don’t forget: The eBay auctions for souvenir copies of Don’t Shoot the Bastards (Yet) and 101 Things to Do ‘Til the Revolution end Monday morning. Thank you for all the bidding so far, and cheers to the charming young bidder who’s been leading the pack most of the week. Ah, but those last hours can be interesting …
Whatever else he may or may not be, Steve Wynn is a classy guy. (The headline isn’t the real story.)
Last week we had really, really good lawmaking news out of Arizona: That state will become the third in the union to go to Vermont carry. Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into law. Then came the bad. You’ve probably heard that the legislature passed and sent to the gov an alleged anti-illegal-immigrant bill that will make “Your papers, please!” a daily reality for anybody of the tan persuasion. Here’s a very balanced L.A. Times editorial on the pitfalls of the law, and an article explaining why even some cops don’t like — and might refuse to enforce — the measure if it becomes law.
Finally, a couple of weeks back, 7,500 online shoppers unknowingly sold their souls to the devil. Not to worry; in this case he won’t be collecting. But really, that might teach us to read those dreary product-licensing agreements.
Ding-dong, the Wicked Witch is dead. Daryl Gates, the man who created the modern SWAT team, invented the Big Brotherish D.A.R.E. program, and who said that casual drug users should be shot as “traitors” in the war on drugs, has died at 83.
Too bad it wasn’t decades sooner, before he had a chance to do so much damage, and too bad he left so many like-minded thugs to carry out his sick vision of law enforcement.
The SWAT team was a good concept for handling extreme emergencies. But being born in the mind of a violent, lying, racist, piggish man who saw innocent citizens as enemies to be slaughtered without benefit of due process, its catastrophic misuse was inevitable.
Gates is as responsible as any other individual for the police-state ruination of the country that once was the U.S.A.