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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for September, 2010

Claire Wolfe

Good book news; bad book news

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

I have some good book news and some bad book news.

Bad news first: After all the months of waiting, Backwoods Home received two advance copies of Hardyville Tales this week. Uh oh. Something went wrong in the layout that makes the books difficult to read.

The Duffys are considering various options. The book will find its way into all our hands. But there could be further delay. :-(

But … the good news: Carl Bussjaeger, a long-time, hard-working friend of liberty who wrote the SF novel Net Assets has put the sequel online. You can satisfy your good-book jones by purchasing Bargaining Position for just five bucks.

I’ve just begun reading my copy, so all I can tell you so far is that it’s well-written and leaps right in with an interesting premise (though I really do wish it didn’t contain the word “perkies”). Carl’s a good writer.

Here’s the teaser for Bargaining Position from his website:

Deep space manned flight is a long-established reality.

When governments failed to live up to their own hype, and in fact refused to get out of the way, dedicated people set out on their own. They were immediately followed by the damned, the desperate, the hopeful, and the curious;each have their own motivations and methods, but generally speaking, they are out to make a living. They have largely left earth to muddle its way out of its own centuries’ worth of troubles.

But there are a couple of catches. Beyond an environment near-instantly lethal to the careless; beyond back-breakingly hard work; beyond distances that can be computed but are more difficult to imagine; beyond all that is catch number one: Unscrupulous operators were among those motivated to head out.

Catch number two?

Someone else got there first.

What begins as a purely speculative prospecting venture quickly escalates into a multi-sided battle for the ultimate prize for people still learning to live in space.

Carl would also probably tell you that Bargaining Position isn’t actually a sequel. It’s the novel he first set out to write. Net Assets, published a few years back, was actually written to supply background for this story. NA is available in paperback, Kindle, and other ebook formats. BP is in .doc form for now.

You can also preview Carl’s books online for free.

In the more more bad book news department … You know the term “starving writer”? Well, Carl hasn’t been paid by his publisher — not a dime — and he’s in some pretty serious hurt because of that. So please buy a book from Carl if you can; you’ll be doing a good deed for both Carl and yourself. If you can’t afford a book or want to give a bit more, you can also throw a few bucks his way via the “tip jar” on his site.

Oh yeah, and Mr. Publisher Man? You. The guy who took Carl’s books for so-far nothing: Pay up. I don’t care what your problems are. If you’ve got a shred of honor, give the man his due.

Claire Wolfe

Tuesday miscellany

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
  • Good CounterPunch op-ed on why the “peace” president, the “openness” president, and the “dissent is patriotic” president is sending the FBI to terrorize anti-war organizers, calling the peace activists terrorist supporters.
  • Hm. Barry Ritholtz is just discovering that the left-right political divide is bogus. He now sez it’s us vs corporations. Getting closer to the truth there, Barry. But still missing the point. Question (and A Clue) for ya: What’s the biggest corporate body in the whole, entire world?
  • How come, in all the many articles about the CIA’s drone war in Afghanistan, nobody ever, ever, ever, ever, ever asks the fundamental question: What the hell is the CIA doing conducting bombing raids — anywhere, on anybody???
  • I love Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: “I apologise to readers around the world for having defended the emergency stimulus policies of the US Federal Reserve, and for arguing like an imbecile naif that the Fed would not succumb to drug addiction, political abuse, and mad intoxicated debauchery, once it began taking its first shots of quantitative easing. My pathetic assumption was that Ben Bernanke would deploy further QE only to stave off DEFLATION, not to create INFLATION. If the Federal Open Market Committee cannot see the difference, God help America.”
  • How have I been unaware of OK Go for all this time? The The dog video is so awesome I ended up buying a high-res copy of it (proceeds going to animal rescue). But all their music videos are strangely wonderful and such amazing works of precision (thanks, UnReconstructed). And how, with all that speeding up and slowing down, did they synch the lip-synching to the music on this one?
Claire Wolfe

Hardyville Tales — It’s here!

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Okay, I realize I’m posting more blogstuff today than in the average week lately (four so far). But when you click on the link you’ll see why this news simply can’t wait a day longer!

As soon as I receive my author’s copies, I’ll be paying off a few book debts I incurred last spring.

Claire Wolfe

Uh oh. Here it comes again (only worse)

Monday, September 27th, 2010

According to the New York Times (boldface and sarcastic remarks mine):

Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone. …

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages. …

James X. Dempsey, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet policy group, said the proposal had “huge implications” and challenged “fundamental elements of the Internet revolution” — including its decentralized design. …

But law enforcement officials contend that imposing such a mandate is reasonable and necessary to prevent the erosion of their investigative powers.

“We’re talking about lawfully authorized intercepts,” said Valerie E. Caproni, general counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “We’re not talking expanding authority. [Oh, no, we never talk about expanding our authority. We just do it.] We’re talking about preserving our ability to execute our existing authority in order to protect the public safety and national security.” …

But they want it to apply broadly, including to companies that operate from servers abroad, like Research in Motion, the Canadian maker of BlackBerry devices. In recent months, that company has come into conflict with the governments of Dubai and India over their inability to conduct surveillance of messages sent via its encrypted service. [And the U.S. should never take a backseat to Dubai in its pursuit of “lawfully authorized intercepts,” now should it?]

Going to be real interesting to see how the U.S. fedgov forces “compliance” on servers in Iceland or Sweden. And no mention yet of what to do about encryption not done by the communications company, but by thee and me. Ah, but they tried that one once before …

Claire Wolfe

Monday miscellany

Monday, September 27th, 2010
Claire Wolfe

Need some advice from you woodworkers

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Having gotten the living room of my new (old) house to the point where I can sit in it without itching to paint something, I’m now tearing into the kitchen — a much bigger, more serious job. And a job on which I could use some advice from you more experienced wood-workers.

Although the house is more than 100 years old, it had its last remodel somewhere in the late 1950s. Since then, all anybody has done is paint over the 50s stuff. I’ve decided to keep the 50s look, partly because it makes me laugh and partly because it’s the least expensive option, especially in the kitchen, which is seriously large (37 cabinets and drawers).

So … I’m hoping to strip all the cabinets back to bare wood, then varnish them. Here’s the start I got on the job this weekend:

And here’s where I could use some advice. I’ve got two sanders: a belt sander for the rough work and an orbital sander for the finishing. The belt sander (just by the nature of the beast, as far as I can tell) leaves occasional small gouges and scrapes in the surface. I’ve been counting on the orbital sander to take those marks out. But so far, no luck. I’ve tried a couple of different combinations of grit for the two sanders but haven’t come up yet with a combo that minimizes the marks from the belt sander and maximizes the ability of the orbital sander to take them out.

So first question: what are the ideal grits and best techniques to get those cabinets really smooth?

And second question: What’s the best way to sand the frames? The belt sander works fine in some areas, but please don’t tell me (or do tell, if it’s the truth) that I’ll have to hand sand in all the tricky little areas like up under the counter edge and in the corners).

Third question: Both the doors and frames have quite a bit of surface damage — mostly water stains and burns, but also a few gouges that somebody appears to have tried to fill with … well, it looks like construction-grade bubble-gum to me, but I suppose it’s some sort of spackle. How to I get that goo out of the gouges, and what do I replace it with if I want the cabinets to be just varnished wood? If I get wood filler, should it be the same color as the bare wood? Or more like the color I expect the wood to be after varnishing?

And final question: Some of the surface damage is in really tricky spots, as in the picture below. That dark water stain would come right out if I could take the belt sander to it. But in that spot? Not possible. What’s the best way to get rid of surface damage in tight spots? Should I try wood bleach? Or do I just have to get in there with sand paper and elbow-grease it?

Thanks for the help, you guys who are good at this sort of thing. And thanks for being patient, you who aren’t interested in project stuff.

Once I put the finishing touches on these two doors and their frames, it’ll be two down and only 35 to go …

Claire Wolfe

A Sabbath Manifesto

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Interesting idea. The Sabbath Manifesto is ten simple steps to fulfill one simple, ancient idea: on the seventh day, rest. The specific steps are behind the above link. And here’s more on the whys and whos behind the movement.

The Sabbath Manifesto is by and for Jews, but there’s nothing in it that would preclude us non-Jews from adopting or adapting it.

I think it’s a great idea. A year or two ago, I even set about to “do” a broader concept of Sabbath — rest and renew every seventh day, every seventh week, and every seventh month. I knew I could never manage every seventh year. But as it turned out, even single days eluded me because of my own inattention — and, I’m sure, because I never did outline specific action principles to follow as they do in The Sabbath Manifesto.

But we need periodic renewal (not just physical rest, but a break that gives perspective).

Tonight at sundown I’m going to shut off the computer and make sure that for the next 24 hours I don’t just engage in ‘Net surfing or DVD watching out of habit or boredom. And I’ll otherwise try to focus on honoring the moment. Don’t know whether I’ll rest (the insides of the kitchen cabinets call out, “Paint me, paint me!”), but I’ll break patterns and spend more time on being where I am rather than being (as writers tend to be) in the imaginary world in my head.

So … If you think The Sabbath Manifesto is a good idea, what 10 points would your particular version of it contain?

Somehow, I’m expecting to hear a lot of things like “spend time at the shooting range” or “clean your guns.” But seriously, what would make a Sabbath a restful and renewing experience for you? If it’s plinking, so be it. OTOH, I’m thinking that the writers of the original manifesto are pretty close. Well, except for the “eat bread” part.

Claire Wolfe

Bad Attitude Guide — DONE!

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

The Bad Attitude Guide to Good Citizenship is DONE! Well, except for the afterword, which I’m going to redo and turn in next week. Other than that — it’s done and submitted to Paladin Press.

Just looked to see when the first email arrived from Donna at Paladin proposing the project.A month ago today. From zero to completed manuscript (about 2/5 new material, 3/5 compiled columns — but even those had to be edited and updated, so still quite a project) in exactly one month. Whew!

(Ulp. I also just realized, in re-reading Donna’s first message, that I didn’t really fulfill Peder Lund’s exact request on the book’s theme. Ah well … Writers. You know how they are. I did show ’em an outline, so hopefully we’re still somewhat in tune.)

Now Paladin gets to perform the real miracles. They’re determined to have the book published and on sale by mid-October. Editing the book, formatting it, and printing it in three weeks? That’ll be interesting.

In further book news, I hear rumors that Hardyville Tales could be appearing any day now. Just rumors, though. Writers are the last to know.

One S.W.A.T. article to write — and then I’m back in the real world.

Anybody have any topic suggestions for the S.W.A.T. piece? I suspect other minds are working better than mine right now. The issue I’m deadlining on will hit mailboxes in early January (though it is not the January issue, so New Years themes are out). Always hard writing something topical with that long a lead time. Your ideas are most welcome …

Claire Wolfe

Tuesday night, fueled by coffee

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Fueled by coffee (which I rarely drink, being a tea wuss), I just spent the evening not working on the Paladin book and am now about to get back to those almost-final polishings.

Meantime I enjoyed an excellent noir thriller which is as much a meditation on love, loss, regret, memory, and obsession as it is a murder mystery. The Secret in Their Eyes. It won this year’s Best Foreign-Language Picture Oscar — one of the few times I think I might agree with the Academy voters on a foreign film (they usually vote too politically correct or two just-plain-sappy for me in that category). A good evening. A good break.

Speaking of good. If you didn’t follow the link that -S left in last night’s comments section, you really gotta see this strange, precise, and hysterically doggy music video by the group Ok Go. Out two days and nearly 2,000,000 views. Whoo. Never heard of ’em until -S posted the link. Now I’m hooked. Almost as good — though lacking the crucial element of dogs — is this one. Fifty-two million views.

And some stuff I collected while goofing off avoiding work deeply pondering the editing and writing tasks ahead of me:

  • So you go looking for your birth mother and discover that she is a bearded lady in a circus. And a hermaphrodite. You handle the news with aplomb. Good for you.
  • Net neutrality. I know the gospel sez we’re agin’ it because it’s government regulation of the Internet in the name of equal access. I can see that. But I also see the other argument that if corporations have their way and create different levels and priorities for various kinds of traffic, us little guys (not to mention all our glorious dissent and rowdy information exchange) will be pushed into the shadows again and the Internet will become a quasi-TV-like, top-down, we-feed-you-what-we-want-you-to-hear … well, I can see it getting ugly. While poking around Ok Go’s site, I found this Washington Post op-ed by one of the band members, giving a lucid argument on the pro-net neutrality side. Not that I agree. But it’s a thoughtful look at a complex issue.
  • Mona Charen. I don’t usually agree with her, or even read her very often. But I think she’s spot on in her analysis of how the Obama Dems misinterpreted their moment.
  • Since we’re dealing with matters of such vast importance today, you might also be stunned — simply stunned — to learn that Wednesday is not only the first day of National Dog Week. It’s also Elephant Appreciation Day. So go hug an elephant. Or a Republican. Er … on second thought, maybe not.

That’s it. I’m tired. Back to work since the coffee sez no sleeping for the next couple of hours. But it is so past my bedtime …

Claire Wolfe

Monday night miscellany

Monday, September 20th, 2010

The Paladin book is going into final edit before going off to the publisher and a S.W.A.T. magazine deadline looms this week. So the brain is a bit crowded right now (and that’s without … well, other stuff going on that involves three driven-to-distraction dogs and an overwhelmed but surprisingly calm guest kitty; more on that later).

But, with a little help from my friends, here’s a bit of blogitude:

  • Via Sam (thank you): What happens when an American traveler calmly refuses to answer questions upon his reentry into the “homeland.” Bold blogger, that guy.
  • Larken Rose, who last time so eloquently smashed the Libertarian Party, says the Constitution Party is useless, too. Again, you already knew that, right? But again, he says it so very well. And he’s really talking about the Constitution and its ardently hopeful devotees, not really a political party.
  • We’re not anti-government. We just want government to work better. Hm. Have you considered that maybe that’s your problem?
  • Okay, you people who don’t tear up over critters can move right on past this little one-minute YouTube video. But if you animal lovers want to see a thing of beauty, scroll down this page, click, and be sure to watch all the way to the very end of the 60-second spot. I was shopping online for a bed the other day and found that page of support for the Michigan Humane Society on a site that also just happened to have some of the best prices on beds, mattresses, and bedroom furniture. Can’t afford it yet, but boy, I know who I’m buying from when the time’s right …
Claire Wolfe

Yo ho, yo ho, the pirate life for me

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Friday was Constitution Day. But I didn’t blog about it. Given the current state of things, it’s clear which day is the more important one.

Claire Wolfe

Friday Fixin’s

Friday, September 17th, 2010
  • Paul Bonneau tells philosophical libertarians they should “Become Dangerous.”
  • Jim Bovard sez it’s time to get rid of the phony-baloney federal privacy board.
  • I don’t have any advice for anybody, but I do have a question. I’ve found that, when it’s the right time for me to do something (make a decision, write an article, or whatever), suddenly that thing will come easy. In fact, a decision I’ve struggled with or an article I’ve been banging my head on or avoiding will abruptly just fling itself into my face, ready-made. But — even in small things — if the time isn’t right, it’s almost as if a physical force is holding me back. If I attempt to do something “before its time” I may become sleepy, clumsy, angry, stupid, or just generally frustrated. I’ve been experiencing a lot of that as I deal with all the house move-in stuff. I’m used to it on big decisions, but I’m noticing lately that even on the smallest things (e.g. giving people my change of address or new phone number) … when the time’s not right, I just plain can’t do it. But then, a moment comes (usually out of the blue), and it’s easy. Five minutes worth of work. So the question: Does anybody else deal with this kind of mental resistance as a regular thing?
  • Via Joel, a nicely brain-enhancing essay: “Underwear, bleach, and the rise of Sarah Palin.”
  • And finally, here’s another of my favorite (as well as one of the most remarkable and most sad) historic “footnote people”: William James Sidis. The Wikipedia entry doesn’t really convey just how remarkable or how sad his life was. For that, you’d need to read the excellent biography The Prodigy by Amy Wallace. (Here’s a review that also gives a good overview of Sidis’ life.)
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