- I know this is last week’s news and it’s already gotten a fair bit of circulation. But I think it’s worth a second read. Or a third: “Warning: Crash dead ahead. Sell. Get liquid. Now.” Paul B. Ferrell. I know that much doom-gloom needs to be taken with a healthy sprinkling of salt. But you do gotta wonder when we’re finally going to teeter over this brink we’ve been wobbling on.
- “The part of me the Watchers couldn’t see.” Encouraging.
- And apropos of nothing except a coincidence of wording (and some evils of government), I’m currently re-reading one of my favorite Dean Koontz novels, called Watchers. Dogs. Triumph of human (and canine) spirit. Hair-raising adventure. And even a terrifying (yet ultimately almost sympathetic) monster. What’s not to like? I was never a fan of Koontz’s early stuff. But since I stumbled onto his Dark Rivers of the Heart back in the ’90s — with its eloquent and outraged description of government abuses of the Randy Weaver family (wrapped up in a gripping thriller of a story, not to mention another dog on the run with its humans from a murderous Orwellian government agency) — I’ve been hooked.
- And apropos of too very sadly much: The The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State by Shane Harris. It’s a good, balanced read about how we got where we are. Yes, the last three links in this blog entry all go to Amazon.com. Buy stuff if you’re so moved. It helps keep my puppies in kibble. :-) I bleg to blog. But I really do have to stop reading so many things with “watchers” in the title. Keeps me awake at night.
- It might be easy to dismiss this idiot legislator as an idiot legislator. But the government really does aim to prop up those “journalists” who do its bidding most faithfully. Yes, indeedy: “Legitimate media sources are critically important to our government.” We know just how critical. And how “legitimate.”
- But then, the idiots have always been with us, even if back in the olden days you had to be a poet to really rise to the ranks of Damnfools.
- And yes, the more researchers look, the more links they find between creativity and insanity. It’s just that creative people organize the weirdness more effectively. If you follow that link and you have some time, check out the related stories in the sidebar. Fascinating stuff for anybody who’s tried to plumb the mysteries and the all-too frequent (if often highly over-dramatized) pains of Art.
Archive for May, 2010
- How wonderful! The federal government is going to pay for Medicaid expansion so we won’t have to. Seriously. If allegedly astute commentators spew stuff like that, it’s no wonder that 24 percent of Americans believe the fedgov has its own money supply, completely independent of taxpayers. (And we’re not talking about the famous printing press here.)
- And hey, while we’re still partying along on other people’s money, how about lifetime mortgages in which the principal is never paid? In the old days, I do believe we’d have called that “rent.” But Aussies are apparently up for it.
- And tell me why, again, do you hate the federal government? (Cartoon: Tip o’ hat to Wendy McElroy)
Plain old informative or thought-provoking weekend reads:
- “Why is the Arab World Frozen in Time?”
- “Women and Body Image: A Man’s Perspective.” (For all you guys who’ve wondered what to say when the woman in your life melts down over seemingly imaginary flaws in her appearance.)
- Top ten reasons people resist change. Though written for sales people, this is also an excellent think piece for anybody hoping to persuade their friends to move toward freedom.
- The inimitable Will Grigg traces the history of the 1964 Civil Rights Act — back to the corruption of Reconstruction and the genocidal march to the sea of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.
- Gold: lucrative? or untrustworthy? The interesting thing about these articles is that they’re written by the same man. First two parts of a three-part series.
And in the good news department:
- Wonder of wonders, Britain really is getting rid of those new national ID cards.
Have a great weekend.
Okay, we all knew the Wall Street regulatory bill wasn’t really going to regulate Wall Street. And we could be sure that the new “consumer protection” bureaucracy the bill proposes wasn’t going to protect consumers, right?
But there was still a shoe that hadn’t dropped. We hadn’t yet heard about the inevitable something in the bill, the teeny, tiny little let’s-not-mention-this provision that would turn out to be the real purpose of the upcoming new law.
The bill, if it becomes law, would create the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and empower it to “gather information and activities of persons operating in consumer financial markets,” including the names and addresses of account holders, ATM and other transaction records, and the amount of money kept in each customer’s account.
The new bureaucracy is then allowed to “use the data on branches and [individual and personal] deposit accounts … for any purpose” and may keep all records on file for at least three years and these can be made publicly available upon request.
Helllllooooo again, Big Brother. Josef Stalin and Erich Honecker would be so proud.
P.T. reminded me that today is the birthday of the late, great (and sometimes rather quirky) Karl Hess.
She pointed me toward his 1969 Playboy article, “The Death of Politics.” Yeah, bits of it are dated now. But even those parts give an interesting look at the way politics and government never fundamentally change, even as the world shifts around them.
If I have one hero in the ranks of libertarians and market anarchists, it’s Hess. Whatever else the man did, he seriously tried to live by his principles and implement them in the real world.
- A touch of humor on the Euro-debacle. Funny how comedians get what most economists miss.
- Speaking of which, is this a sign of the contagion moving beyond Greece?
- A few mainstream commentators do get it, though. Here’s the sort of vaguely-libertarianish-when-he’s-in-the-mood-to-be Tyler Cowen in the New York Time, telling some truths about Greece.
- And speaking of missing the obvious … Lessee … You note that a particular function of government is bloated, inefficient, and dysfunctional. So you propose adding yet another layer of bureaucracy. The government (no surprise) hastens to follow your recommendations. Then you are shocked, simply shocked that the bloat, inefficiency, and dysfunction get worse. Only government people could possibly think like that. That they invariably do think like that is scary. Pardon me. “Think” might be the wrong word here.
- I admire this man. Oh lord, how I admire and thank him for his gutsy work. But I could never, ever do what Julian Assange does.
- How come the word “earthquake” is never mentioned this op-ed?
- Is the U.S. on the path of Japan? Here’s a graph. The three lines aren’t tracking the same time period. It takes a bit of eyeball-crossing to see what’s being compared with what. But the pattern is intriguing. So, is this a real predictor? Or is it just another example of “I can do anything I want with statistics, as long as I manipulate them cleverly enough”? Along those lines, here’s the Dow in gold.
Apologies to faithful reader Winston, who once praised this blog for not being all about economics. Sorry, Winston, I promise I’ll never go “all Austrian” on you. But watching the western world teeter on the brink of its own self-created catastrophe is fascinating. Can’t take my eyes off it.
This is my first full spring in the desert and I’m not loving it. I knew, from word and brief visits, that it could be windy here in springtime. “Heck, it’s windy anywhere that time of year,” I thought. But wind here is something cosmic — even worse at times than the howling gales that are part of Wyoming’s very identity.
We’re under high-wind warnings two to three days a week right now. And that’s not to say that the other days are calm. Merely that they’re windy enough to be annoying and to make havoc of both your housecleaning and your hair, but not likely to blow large objects or columns of stinging, blinding sand at you.
There was a time when winds like these would have driven me to screaming-mee-meeism. A few days of this and I’d weep and wail and have fits of melodramatics I never knew the adult me was capable of. Now I merely hate them with every fiber of my being and long for brighter latitudes every moment of every endlessly windy day.
And “better” yet — I’m currently living in a friend’s trailer (sans friend) which rocks back and forth in every tiny zephyr. And is as perforated with air-holes as a trespasser’s fanny after an encounter with bird shot. Heavens, what a saint I am for enduring such trials so patiently!
Uh oh. Was that another attack of melodramatics coming on? (Actually, use of the trailer has been a great bounty; I just like to whine sometimes.)
Funny how movies set in these high-desert places never show the perpetual Chinooks. Oh, they’ll show wind if the plot calls for surviving a sand-storm. But daily life in the movies’ desert west will be conducted in the calm — nary a cowboy hat or golden lock out of place. How do they do that, anyhow? They can’t have filmed “High Noon” or “The Outlaw Josie Wales” on a sound stage.
Here, in reality, the wind blows. And so it goes for weeks and months — ironically those very months that should be the best times of year. Hunching against the unholy blast of the dry blizzard, sand in your hair and grit on your skin (not to mention red dust clogging up the works of every electronic device you own, giving them all an average lifespan of six months), you dread stepping outside — but in a life of living off-grid, you have to because you can’t even take a shower unless you trek to the barn — and when you have to go out, you feel you’re being buffeted by the demons of fate (uh oh, there I go again). (I think that was just a completed sentence, but at the moment I’m not sure, so please pardon me.)
You find yourself almost longing for winter, when days are often as still as a Christmas card. Ten-below? Who cares? When it’s that cold, the wind isn’t blowing. A snowstorm that traps you behind the washes for two days? No big deal. Just let me have some days afterward of calm, still air. That’s how crazy is this place. No sane person would want to be here. It’s miserable when it’s miserable. And it’s even more miserable when it’s supposed to be nice.
And finally — yes, really finally — after all of Deepest Dantean Hell’s unleashed unnatural forces (yeah, there I go again) — the nearest neighbors and we were just having a lunchtime chat yesterday about how many of the rattlesnakes on our respective properties are the dreaded Mojave greens — serpents whose bite would be fatal to any human and to any dog — even if the dog has had a course of rattlesnake immunizations, as my youngest and dearest has. (With my older two, I rely more on their brains to keep them out of the snake’s mouth.)
Nobody was really quite sure about how many of our poisonous snakes are those green killers. But the neighbors do commonly vie with each other for the most dramatic snake-encounter reports, and even your basic garden-variety rattler, of which there seem to be dozens of kinds, will make your life wretched enough. This is a common topic over coffee in these parts.
We’re the Edward Abbey version of garden-club ladies discussing begonia blight. That’s us. Only our blights will kill us.
Yep. Lovely place this is. Drive a body to suicide — or drive a more sensible body OUT. It may eventually beat me. I was not made for this. I was born to green and blue, to water flowing everywhere, all the time. I was born to land where you could come upon a waterfall in any empty acre of the forest — small, humble waterfall, but waterfall nonetheless — and where wild cress grew in stagnant pools and deer peacefully grazed — on actual grass that actually grew without the help of five Mexican gardeners — and I’m not sure whether that was just a full, coherent sentence again, but anyhow, I belong in drippy, wet places where the native joke (every region has one) is that if you stood to long in one place you’d grow moss on your north side. Places where wind, when it rises at all, rises only in conjunction with proper rain or snowstorms, which of course make it a perfectly understandable phenomenon and totally acceptable as a temporary visitor.
And this, do I need to say again, is not my native land?
Yet I may be soon (or not, it’s uncertain) committing to a deeper level of involvement here. It’s not sure yet.
But if I do it will be for one reason: friends. Although I, the hermit, require days of solitude and hours of silence, friends matter more than the double-damned winds.
Well, it’ll be for that one reason and a bit of luck. Also a bit of random choice. Perhaps more on that later.
And beauty. Can’t forget beauty as a motivator. She’s one alluring phantom. And in its grand, dry, sweeping-to-the-horizons way, this place is beautiful.
Oh, and because all that wet only gets warm about 20 days out of the year, the region has the highest suicide rate in the nation due to its perpetual and pervasive gloom, and your entire collection of firearms (already quite feeble) rusts, and there are slugs the size of baby whales slithering all over your lawn. (Salt. It’s both pesticide and extremely morbid entertainment in the Great Northwest.) Not to mention that the first European explorers who sighted the place took one look at its dark, impenetrable forests and declared it “uninhabitable.” I was fond of it. It was my world. And there were (and are) friends there, too.
Yeah, there’s all that.
- I don’t care what their stated intentions are, or how innocent the people involved. To call this tasteless would be like calling the Titanic’s iceberg encounter “a scratch.”
- I’m no particular Rand Paul fan. But the flap over his “racism” is nothing but a nonsensical refusal by the media to recognize that public issues are subject to nuance. What kind of world is it in which “yes” or “no” are the only possible answers to every question? It’s good to see David Weigel of the Washington Post defend Paul on exactly the right grounds.
- Let me get this straight. Priests who molest children are entitled to years of defense (and even given new pastoral ministries) before the Church will even think about thinking about defrocking them. And church officials never even entertain a ghost of a notion of excommunicating even the worst serial offenders. But a nun who allows an abortion to save a mother’s life …?
- You and I already know we’re chronic lawbreakers. Some other folks are just waking up to the fact.
- From A.G. comes this creepy speculation about a military coup against Obama. What’s scary is that the writer mentions the Constitution as a partial excuse for booting the Big O — then goes on to detail a grotesquely unconstitutional military-intelligence-security state far worse than anything the dreadful Obama is likely to come up with. And he (wink-wink-nod-nod) approves! Urk. And what’s with that line about Obama “waging war” on the “intelligence community”? And when in all hell did that “community” ever perform “rigorous and independent functions”? Um … aren’t those the folks who lied us into Vietnam and Iraq? The folks who totally missed 9/11? The folks who haven’t found Osama bin Laden after a decade of looking? And yet who’ve recently been given the power to blast anybody into oblivion with their unmanned drones? From A.G. also comes a brilliant and well-researched, if kinda boring, 1992 analysis (pdf) of just what a military coup in the U.S. might look like.
- Oh yes, Obama is horrified, simply horrified that big oil might have a cozy relationship with government. (Cartoon. Hat tip to Wendy McElroy.)
- Bucharest: 1987. We can be glad we’re not quite that bad yet.
- Politicians as children. Yep, you nailed that one, Ruth Marcus.
- From P.T. — and from the man who gave us Arizona’s new we-really-won’t-racially-profile-those-brown-people law (aka the we-really-won’t-ever-ask-you-white-folks-for-your-papers-please-only-those-other-folks–for-now law) — a proposal to eliminate citizenship-by-birth. I hate to say it, but I sort of agree. And on the other hand don’t. Part of me thinks the whole notion of citizenship is absurd — all that should ever count when it comes to our place of residence is personal choice and merit, neither of which can be conferred by any government. But given that we have the institution of citizenship, accident of birth seems a poor grounds for granting it. I expect I’ll get in trouble for this one. Ah well.
Okay. It’s Friday. It’s May. The weekend is coming. The sun in shining. It’s a good day for being naughty here at the blog. Don’t tell Dave Duffy (aka The Boss), but today let’s cover things strictly illegal and fattening. To wit:
- You just know cannabis is finally out of the Reefer Madness days and inching toward the mainstream when the New York Times runs a straightfaced article on how chefs’ and other staffers’ personal use of the herb is influencing both food and atmosphere at restaurants. Well, makes sense. Cannabis. Munchies. Yeah.
- And along those lines: Dan D. Lyon, you are no longer alone. Two pages of results at Amazon.com for books on cannabis cookery!
I don’t personally indulge in cannabis cookery. Partly because cookery of any sort is against my religion. (Except, naturally, whipping up the occasional pan of fried Cheerios; we all have our vices.) Partly because — long ago and far away — a friend once gave me a “special” brownie formulated with enough herb to make me unable to walk. I darned near threw up on my friend’s shoes, besides. Not cool. Until then, I had no idea that innocent old “marijuana” could, anywhere in this universe or any other, produce results more impairing than alcohol or acid. Since that day, I’ve once or twice experienced more normal Alice B. Toklas brownies — and they’re still just not for me.
Nevertheless, a bit of shrimp sautéed in butter with a few drops of special oil added, or nice fresh salad with a touch of enhanced oilve oil could make a delightful dinner. And oh. Hey. Maybe a little extra something would make those fried Cheerios even better, too. No toking and choking.
But mainly, just for freedom’s sake (and the sake of common sense), regardless of personal tastes (or lack thereof), I can’t wait for the day when Backwoods Home feels free to print articles on fresh and nourishing cooking with cannabis, how to tend your very special herb garden, and various ways to improve your health with homegrown herb.