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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 October, 2010

Claire Wolfe

Book update

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Copies of The Bad Attitude Guide arrived from Paladin on Friday and Saturday. Orders on which I had autograph instructions went out immediately. Everything else — orders, gift books, contest-winner books — everything goes out on Monday. If you haven’t told me what name you’d like me to sign to, I’ll either autograph to the name on the order or I’ll “go generic” if you’ve got one of those thousand-nickname names. So speak up now if you have a preference!

Now … What would you like for November book specials? Now that you’ve gotten (or are about to get) your personal copies, how about discounts on multiple copies? Christmas gifts? Hannukah gifts? Solstice gifts? Boston Tea Party gifts? Tell me what sort of special would be most special for you.

Books link.

BTW, I’ve given copies of Hardyville Tales to an assortment of local people I never thought would like it (e.g. a Berkeley-San Francisco-lesbian-PETA fan). And to my surprise, it’s going over astonishingly well. Not only has nobody killed me yet, but the most left-wing person I gave a copy to said it reminded her of A Prairie Home Companion. My local conservative-semi-libertarian buddy ended up getting 10 copies. And my totally apolitical friend L. says that even the list of characters makes her laugh.

Okay, so they’re my friends. But I did tell them they didn’t have to be nice to me if they didn’t like it. So what I’m saying is that autographed copies of Hardyville Tales might make inexpensive holiday gifts. Bad Attitude? Well, more expensive. But one reader emailed me today, “[I’m] thinking of how many folks I know would really enjoy this, and how many of those would not have enjoyed it just a couple of years ago. Times are changing, and so are some mighty good folks.” He’s right. And it’s more mainstream than most of my older books. Hardcore and mainstream at the same time, if that makes sense.

Okay. I’ll shut up now. [/self promotion]

Claire Wolfe

Thursday miscellany

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Wow. I received a bedazzlement of comments on the porno-scanners post. That shows the power of, the site that gave me the idea and then linked to the piece. Several other blogistas also wrote good rants on the subject and sent readers this way (thank you).

Within the next few days, I plan to write a follow-up based on the comments (and the many links commenters provided). Right now, two article deadlines are staring me in the face, so expect a day or two of quiet. But as someone more formidable once said, I’ll be back.

Some collected links for you today. But. Before I get to those: HEY, YOU WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO’VE ORDERED BOOKS THIS WEEK! Now that I’ve got your attention, if you haven’t yet told me what name you want me to autograph the books to, please drop me a note (books at and let me know. Most people aren’t including “autograph to” information with their orders, and when I ask, only about half answer. I’ve sent emails to everyone who has placed an order. If you haven’t received yours, please check your spam filter. I should be getting a shipment of books from Paladin Press tomorrow and hope to fill all remaining orders right away.

Okay, on to miscellaneous weirdness …

  • The good guys win one for a change — although in this case the good guy seemed to have quite a bit of money to spend on the legal battle. A treehouse grows in Greenwich Village.
  • Per Radley Balko. A D.A. buys himself a SWAT team. With forfeiture money, naturally. This is one of the problems with civil asset forfeiture that nobody talks about; prosecutors and cops become less accountable to the proverbial “people who pay the bills” and become more inclined to do whatever the hell they please. Heck, it’s “their” money. Or so they believe.
  • The BBC examines some of the most bizarrely memorable moments in the 2010 U.S. political campaigns. I think C^2 sent this for laughs. And it is funny. Well, kinda funny. In the way that watching an entire nation’s brain slip on an intellectual banana peel might be funny. In the way that watching Moe-the-politician poke out Curly-the-citizen’s eyes might be funny. The Rand Paul campaign thuggery is too sad for words.
  • Did you hear about the federal sting that resulted in mass arrests of SHOT show attendees last January? No? Well, me neither. The heroically alert David Codrea was one of the few gun bloggers to raise an alarm at the time it all came down. The news disappeared within days. Strange. Rich Lucibella, esteemed publisher of S.W.A.T. magazine just called my attention to one of the business people who got busted. I’m writing about that now. Look for the column in the March 2011 issue of S.W.A.T. (oh, these long magazine lead times!) It’s really a very creepy case. And most definitely strange. Not strange as in “unusual,” unfortunately. It’s a story of entrapment and hapless victims of the fedgov that’s becoming all too common.
  • But speaking of hapless victims … unlike the fedgov some criminals do show a little heart.
Claire Wolfe

Tuesday miscellany

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
  • Forty-three percent of likely voters say neither party represents them. That’s progress. Now, if they’ll only realize that no third-party will ever represent them, either …
  • Hoplophobia. It’s curable. We knew that.
  • Former supermodel Paulina Porizkova has some lovely and candid things to say about aging. I get the feeling you could have a great conversation with this woman. Glass of wine, get a little giddy, let hair down. Lots to say.
  • Via a link dropped by Brian into a recent comments section: Hope Bourne. Amazing woman. Sad ending, but definitely an amazing woman. Funny and sad how our strengths become our weaknesses when circumstances change. OTOH, it goes the other way, too. Perceived weaknesses and flaws, given the right circumstances, become strengths.
  • And speaking of amazing women, Jim B. (in another comment) tells me that Dolly Freed’s long-unavailable book Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money is back in print after many years in which it (and any information about its author) were difficult to find. And it’s available on for less than $10. Freed wrote the book when she was just a teenager living a frugal, self-sufficient life with her father. Thirty years later, she adds some notes and an afterword — and it seems that the book is as relevant as ever. Maybe moreso in these interesting times. Don’t expect to agree with every bit of it. Some parts are … well, ick. Still, this young backwoodslady knows her stuff. Years ago someone gifted me with his copy of Possum Living. I left it behind in one of my moves. I’m glad to know I can get another so easily. Welcome back, Dolly Freed!
Claire Wolfe

Book updates

Monday, October 25th, 2010

More good news/bad news on books.

The good news is that I signed, packed, and shipped 52 orders today! Whew. All remaining orders that I received as of yesterday early evening will be shipped tomorrow. (Two exceptions — and those two kind people I’ll contact by email.)

The bad news — though in a way it’s very good news for me! — is that I’ve already run out of copies of The Bad Attitude Guide to Good Citizenship. Ack. Just when I think orders are going to slow down, they put on a burst of speed.

So if I received your order today or very late yesterday, please be just a tad bit patient. I’ve bought more copies from Paladin Press, and their wonderful shipping department takes only two days to get books to me. If they can ship tomorrow, I’ll be sending your books on Thursday.

Oh yeah. And I haven’t forgotten you, Plinker, for guessing where last winter’s travels took me. I owe you a copy of Hardyville Tales, which shall also be on its way this week.

You guys are pretty darned amazing.

UPDATE, Tuesday a.m.: Paladin is sending 36 more books today. Between orders and copies that I’ve promised as gifts, about half of these are spoken for. I’ll be curious to see how long the rest last! But all orders placed so far will surely be sent out on Thursday.

Claire Wolfe

Oppose the porno-scanners. Write a letter (but not to Washington).

Monday, October 25th, 2010

I have a friend — very non-political — who loves to travel. But even she, who basically trusts government to do the right thing, was nervous about the porno-scanners now being deployed for the benefit of the security industry and peeping Toms in the TSA.

Somehow this topic came up while she and I were on a long drive Friday. She said she longed to return to her favorite country in Asia but “didn’t want anybody looking at my boobs hanging halfway down to my waist.” But! Then she recently saw a news item on TV that included video footage of the scans. “Oh. Not so bad!” she thought. “Those don’t show anything too awful. Just vague fuzzy shapes with no details.”

I had to tell her that she was seeing doctored images, and that the real scans were so clear that TSA porno-peepers could, for instance, tell if a man was circumcised. Her face fell as far as the boobs she was so worried about.

On a roll (and having recently written an article on the subject*), I went on about the TSA’s other lies — about the machines not having the capacity to store or transmit images, about possible health problems.I talked about being singled out for extra screening the one and only time I’ve flown in the last 13 years, and how stupid the criteria were. I told her I probably wouldn’t be flying again. Not if I could help it.

Then she asked me one of those put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is questions: “Well, did you speak up when they made you go through extra screening?”

“No,” I said. “I didn’t think it would do any good.” (All I did was make a flippant remark. They chose me for extra screening because I was wearing loose cotton pants with baggy pockets. Baggy pockets are apparently inherently suspicious, even though in my case the fabric was so light that the single mint I carried visibly weighed one of them down.)

“Well have you written letters to people in charge telling them you object to the scanners?”

Sigh. I replied, “Writing letters to Washington doesn’t do any good. There’s too much money in airport ‘security.’ I definitely blog about the problem, hoping to raise awareness. But you’re living in the nineteenth century. Nobody in DC politics or bureaucracy pays attention to letters from a few disgruntled citizens.” But. Then I told her about this one letter I’d seen on, not written to the government but to the the Walt Disney company. It asked, politely, please tell me how I can take my children to Walt Disney World when I can’t possibly put them through porno-scanners or allow strangers to grope their crotches. In other words, this is your problem. It’s going to hit your bottom line. It’s for the children. Solve it.

Maybe, I said, if bloggers started printing the addresses of the bosses of the top 10 tourist destinations in the U.S., and if thousands of people said they’d regretfully have to boycott those places because of the scanners and the “enhanced groping” (reportedly to begin at the end of this month for those who refuse scans) it could make a difference. Then money would talk to money and something might get done.

We talked about what the 10 destinations might be. But it quickly became apparent that you didn’t need 10. The original letter writer, Arthur M.M. Krolman, had it right. All you need to do is get a letter-writing campaign going toward the Walt Disney company. Focus on the one big one. Make it for the children. And if enough people get behind it, the media will pick it up. And you won’t need to write to the other 9 destinations because they’ll get the message, loud and clear without a word being written to them.

Now, I’m not an organizer of campaigns. But I would like to see other, bigger blogs pick up this idea. So I’m going to send this link to a few other bloggers and/or online freedomista news sources. I hope you’ll do the same. In the right hands, it could Start A Movement.

If you have children, or if you yourself love an occasional trip to Disney World or Disneyland, use the contact infomation on Mr. Krolman’s original letter to write one of your own expressing regret that, as long as scanners or crotch gropes are part of travel, sorry but you just aren’t going. Then copy that letter to your local media outlets. And USA Today or CNN. Send it to friendly bloggers or to columnists who’ve shown that they care about privacy and/or the Bill of Rights.

Maybe nothing will come of it. Or maybe the only result will be some rule exempting children under 12 from being scanned or some such. But even at that, the public consciousness-raising could still be tremendous, and the long-term impact powerful. We could give people the knowledge and courage to resist.Possibly some lonely soul who’d been afraid to resist or object will suddenly realize he’s not alone. And every individual who asserts his or her own rights is worth having. Worth a try. Let the Walt Disney Company know that if they don’t want to lose customers, they’d better pressure the fedgov to lose the porno-scanners and the groping.


* Which appears in both S.W.A.T. magazine and The Bad Attitude Guide to Good Citizenship.

Claire Wolfe

Non-political strategies for freedom

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Via Wendy McElroy, quoting John Pugsley: 15 non-political strategies for increasing freedom.

While there’s nothing new here for long-time freedomistas, there are some great reminders. And Pugsley puts ’em strongly.

Claire Wolfe

Cozy Baker, RIP

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

A lady named Cozy Baker died this week. “Cozy Who?” you might ask. I doubt that most folks here would ever have heard of her. But to a small universe of artists and appreciators, she was a grande dame, a patron, a saint, a goddess — and even better, a bright, creative, and generous spirit. Cozy Baker founded the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society and is the person most responsible for the modern revival of the kaleidoscope as an artform. She wrote a number of books (including the world’s first-ever book on kaleidoscopes) and encouraged both artists and collectors. Today, ‘scopes are used to treat autistic and hyperactive children, to help cancer patients, and to deepen meditation.

Hazel Cozette Baker died of ovarian cancer in her 80s. I never met her, and that’s my loss.

I mention her here not just because I think kaleidoscopes are works of wonder. She’s worthy of honor even if kaleidoscopes to you are nothing but amusing toys, and even if you think she was nothing but some privileged lady with too much time on her hands. It’s the reason she “got into” kaleidoscopes that matters. Her son was killed by a drunken driver, and eventually she used her grief to transform her own, and others’, lives.

The things we can do with grief, anger, despair, frustration, and depression when we creatively work through them …

Claire Wolfe

Thursday miscellany

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Collected stuff:

  • I want to see this when it hits YouTube. (NY Times free subscription link.)
  • Juan Williams was — was — one of the best on NPR.
  • Via (see, I credit you guys, even if you don’t credit me), the clearest explanation you’re ever likely to get about how the foreclosure mess developed. And — surprise, surprise! — government’s in it every step of the way.
  • I’m glad to see that the actions of this principled and gutsy pilot have left the ghetto of political blogs and are hitting the mainstream. May he start a movement.
  • Via Rational Review News and David Codrea, the sad tale of a gun owner who bent over backwards to do everything legally and got screwed anyhow.
  • Two things about this news: Why should an 11 year old be pressured to “shake her booty”? And why should it be national news when she refuses?
  • News you can use: My Two Dollars is giving away what sounds like a pretty good book on thrifty living. The method for winning it is pretty cool, in itself.

Finally another word about book orders: It’s turning out that a lot of my order confirmations ended up in people’s spam filters. So if you’re missing your confirmation, please check spam. (I’m not spamming you; really I’m not.)

Claire Wolfe

Yeah. Right. A mind-reading lamp

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

I call BS.

I also predict that knockoffs will be selling like hotcakes for $12.95 by this time next year.

Claire Wolfe

Book update

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Paladin Press will be shipping copies of The Bad Attitude Guide to Good Citizenship to me tomorrow via priority mail. That means I’ll have them Saturday or Monday and will immediately begin shipping your orders to you.

I confess that on several days, between orders and work, I got overwhelmed. Overwhelmed in a good way — but still overwhelmed. If you have sent an order and haven’t gotten an acknowledgment from me, please contact me (books at If you’ve ordered via PayPal, your order information will be there (even though, in a few cases I either didn’t receive, or received very late, the emails PayPal usually sends me). If you’ve received more than one confirmation, shake your head and forgive me, please.

Also, if you haven’t told me the name you want the autographs made out to, please do that now. If an order comes from someone with one of those blessed names that has few or no nicknames (Judy or Todd, for instance), I’ll autograph to that name unless you tell me otherwise. You Williams and Charleses and Elizabeths who have possible nicknames up the wahzoo (some of which I know you just plain hate), please include the preferred version of your name in PayPal instructions or send me an email giving your preference. Ditto if the book or books are to be gifts. If I don’t receive instructions, and I have any doubt, I’ll just skip the personalization of the autographs for that order. Okay?

With your kind help, we’ll get those books on the road in a few days!

P.S. I’m going to have to be ordering more books from Paladin, I’m sure. If anybody’s interested in getting an autographed copy of my earlier Paladin books (The Freedom Outlaws Handbook, $30, or I Am Not a Number!, $25), contact me. I’ll charge the same price Paladin charges, but as with other books, U.S. buyers will get free media mail shipping and everybody will get an autographed copy.

There will be some delay with those books because I’ll order from Paladin only about once a week, as orders come in. I’ll make sure to ship all books in time for the holidays, though.

Any questions? Just ask.

And once again — many, many thanks.

Claire Wolfe

One big dysfunctional family

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Dysfunctional families come in all shapes, sizes, and all manner of chaos. But they all have one thing in common: When some truthteller finally gets fed up enough to name the core problem (whether it be Daddy’s drinking or Mom’s kleptomania or Auntie’s chronic lying or all of the above) — the entire clan will turn on the hapless truthteller, en masse, and blame that person for causing the problem.

A long-ago neighbor woman once came to my house raging because her husband had been caught committing incest with their daughter and her teenage son had been accused of molesting not one but three toddlers. Was she mad at Dad? Mad at the kid? Horrified on behalf of her abused daughter? Nope. She was mad at the cousin (mother of one of the toddlers) who brought the situation to light. And why get mad at Cousin? “Because it was family business and she should have kept it in the family!”

And she fully expected me to share her view. (I never let her in my house again.)

I suspect a lot of people who read this blog have found themselves in the position of being inconvenient truthtellers at one time or another — and have been pounded for it.

Last month Tahn, in the comments section, suggested that I write an article about why whistleblowers in corporations, bureaucracies, the military, etc. are treated so abominably. He offered me a lot of research material and I’ve been gathering more myself. But now Radley Balko has written the absolutely perfect article on that very topic — focusing on police and using several of the examples I’d have used.

And here’s another take on that sorry old tale from the great Will Grigg. That one’s also about police. But they’re hardly alone.

It’s universal. The one person who dares try to set matters to right is precisely the one who gets trampled by his own mob.

What’s almost as depressing is how few people see that injustice and harm to others needs, always and everywhere, to be exposed. And that the act of exposure is not the problem. To wit, here are some credulous quotes from a USA Today article inspired by Diop Kamau, one of the nation’s first and most persistent video cop-watchers:

The videos are so ubiquitous that analysts and police debate whether they are serving the public interest — or undermining public trust in law enforcement and even putting officers’ lives in jeopardy. …

“The proliferation of cheap video equipment is presenting a whole new dynamic for law enforcement,” says Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union. “It has had a chilling effect on some officers who are now afraid to act for fear of retribution by video. This has become a serious safety issue. I’m afraid something terrible will happen.”

To be fair, the article does look at the other side, the point of view of defense lawyers and cop-watchers. But the law-enforcement people quoted in the article don’t look at the other side. Nor does USA Today appear to probe much into the validity of their claims. They don’t ask, “How could video hurt a cop — if the cop’s own actions weren’t already hurtful?” They don’t ask, “Isn’t the public interest served by the truth?” Or “Isn’t it perhaps a good thing for people not to trust law enforcers who act like thugs?”

And you can’t read an article about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange that doesn’t repeat some equally blind-minded claim that they, with their releases of Pentagon information, are somehow going to cause deaths in Afghanistan or Pakistan. THEY are killing people? WikiLeaks and Assange? Even largely favorable articles like this one seldom stop to point out the obvious. It takes an anonymous and unpaid commenter to say it:

Funny how the president and his hand-wringing lackeys have yet to express much angst or outrage over the facts revealed to the world by the Wikileaks documents: atrocities committed in the name of the American people, violations of the Geneva convention, disregard for fundamental human rights, and the obvious failure of the “War on Terror” to do anything but expand the hatred of America. That doesn’t seem to worry them a bit. And isn’t it funny how they don’t seem to have a problem with leaks if they end up in the hands of sufficiently obedient stenographers in the mainstream media who as the helpful fools they are can further the administration’s propaganda goals?

How could WikiLeaks harm anyone — if the U.S. government hadn’t already put them in harm’s way?

No, it’s always the whistleblower, always the honest cop, always the truthtelling child of the family who gets blamed as the “cause” of the harm that any clear-eyed person should be able to see is actually caused by others.

Revealing a terrible wrong isn’t the same as “snitching” — though I grant that there’s a fuzzy line between the snitch and the good citizen, between the rat and the truthteller who’s merely trying to right a wrong. But the line is there. If the aim is personal gain, currying favor with authority, or some such slimy motive, then yes, it’s snitchery, and is the act of the lowest sort of slimeballs. If the end result is to bring trouble down on the head of someone who was doing no harm, then of course it’s damnable. But if the aim is to correct an error, uncover a coverup, empower the powerless, or prevent (or undo) harm to an innocent, then the whistleblower, the good cop, the truthtelling child deserves the highest respect.

And nearly always gets clobbered.

This trait of human organisms, this blaming of the light-bringers, is so bizarre it sometimes makes me feel like a member of an alien species. I don’t understand it. Not. At. All.

But one thing I know for sure: There’s little to no difference between the way blood kin and larger organizations act. It’s all one big dysfunctional family.

I write this not merely to get a very heavy old something off my chest. I write it in hopes that some young would-be truthteller will see it — and not change his or her actions one little bit. But maybe be a little better prepared when he finds himself beaten, rather than honored for bravely doing the right thing. You are not alone, and some of us out here do thank you.

Claire Wolfe

Tasteless in the 50s

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

I’ve yielded to all the commenters who said I should go ahead and paint my old 1950s kitchen cabinets rather than labor to strip them to bare veneer and varnish them. (See, now if I don’t like the result, it’s your fault.)

As I contemplate what colors might go interestingly with pink sparkly formica countertops and faux copper, it occurs to me that the 1950s simply weren’t about good taste. In fact, the whole era was all the more tasteless because it envisioned itself as being so very, very tasteful. Young householders who’d trudged their way through the drear of the Depression and the deprivations of World War II were ready so see the world through pink — or aqua — colored glasses, and all around them, in their optimism, they envisioned, and created, the sleek, clean, flawless lines and pure, glowing colors of the “space age.”

Everybody was scared sh*tless the Russkies were going to blow them to vapor. But other than that, they had a lot to look forward to. They were all The Jetsons.

I think angst makes for better decor.

In any case, yielding to tasteless exuberance, I’ve tentatively decided on a kitchen color scheme of two tones of pink (which together make the formerly screaming countertops look subtle and subdued), white, black and (ulp) chartreuse.

But don’t worry. I have a girlfriend coming over tomorrow morning to try to talk me out of it.

Maybe I’ll give up the chartreuse and go with ecru instead. But damnit, the pinks stay!

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