Archive for February, 2011
… and the VIPs who got invited to a special screening of Atlas Shrugged, Part I in Los Angeles liked what they saw. A lot.
One reviewer, Hans Schantz, shared the very same fears — no, the very same certainty — I had as the movie went into production:
When I heard my favorite novel was being made into a movie, all the available omens boded ill: a “low-budget” production, with “no-name” stars, made independently – without the adult supervision of a real Hollywood studio, and rushed into production at the last minute to avoid loss of rights. It sounded like a recipe for disaster. Scratch that… it WAS a recipe for disaster. I mourned the might-have-been movie I’d been waiting my entire adult life to see. I regretted the lost opportunity. I averted my eyes to avoid the painfully unfolding train wreck.
Then he ended up believing that the low budget and lack of Hollywood backing enhanced the film.
I emailed the Atlas creative team asking about the possibility of a reviewers’ screening here in the Northwest. Didn’t get an answer. Ah well. Never did think of myself as the VIP type. But who knows what could still happen between now and the April 15 opening.
- Plague death in Chicago: A scientific detective story.
- Don’t tell your cat-lady friends, but they’re being manipulated. Oh. I expect they already know that.
- A happier detective story: Finding the lost library of Thomas Jefferson. (NYTimes free subscription link.)
- How Obamacare is already damaging the U.S. medical system in ways that will be hard to undo even if the Rs are sincere about repealing or defunding it.
- How to be the luckiest guy on the planet in four easy steps. By James Altucher. You could nitpick the specifics. (I think his third goal sets him up for a fall, in a way.) But there’s plenty of food for thought here.
- Small quiz. Guess what the lovely babe below did to get her lovely face in the news? Yes, you can see she got arrested. Only cops and DMV workers can take a picture that flattering. But what’s the rest of the story? Here’s the answer. (Tip o’ hat to Radley Balko.)
In December, long-time comrade-in-(non-aggressive)-arms Mac the Knife revealed his latest endeavor: The First Freedom Outlaw Brigade Merchandise Store.
It’s quite a production, with all kinds of goodies (from fridge magnets to mugs to tee-shirts to sweat-shirts to phone and iPad cases to buttons to you-name-its) for Ghosts, Agitators, and Moles. And absolutely terrific professional artwork by Eddy Lee from Gurnee, Illinois (who supposedly has a Facebook page, but if so I can’t discern which of the several Eddy Lees he is, so sorry for no link). Mac keeps adding more all the time — 168 items as of today. I like the ones that combine the Outlaw artwork with Heinlein’s “armed society” quote or promote the ZAP.
Mac has since sent some “Outlaw manna” my way & I thought you’d like to have a look. I have no financial interest in the store. I just get a kick out of my Outlaw items and use them every day. I’m too hermity to get much conversation value out of them, but you guys who attend political events, have jobs where you actually meet real people, or simply like a reason to talk freedom with curious strangers might find these to be great conversation starters. And who knows, maybe wearing a “zero aggression principle” button could save your backside at a townhall meeting or demonstration. Or at least provide evidence in your favor after the police claim you attacked them.
I’ll get on with the photos now and say, “Happy shopping.” :-)
Outlaw Brigade fridge magnets:
Outlaw Brigade Agitator mug and buttons:
From a businessman friend who lives in one of those mega-governed states. He sent the following this morning with permission to blog it:
One of my clients is developing alternative energy technology. They actually have a pretty good idea, one that might work and be profitable.
They built a proof of concept, small-sized version of their product. Now it is time to build a larger one. I suggested they look at a nearby industrial park. It has the power, the space, and a landlord with lots of free space to rent.
Everything looked good until they asked about putting up a temporary metal building in the largely unutilized rear parking lot. They need a fair bit of space for the demonstration.
Landlord’s face fell. “I’m sorry, the town won’t allow that. The town requires 4 parking spaces per thousand square feet. We have less than 1 per thousand square feet. They harass us constantly about this. I’ve been paying my maintenance staff to drive around three times a day counting the empty parking spaces, and showing the town that there is never a problem, but they won’t budge. There’s no way they would let us take even more spaces.”
So this company will go somewhere else. They certainly won’t move to this town, very possibly not anywhere in this state.
This represents the loss of 35 jobs, today. If the demonstration is successful and they grow and prosper, there is literally no telling how big the firm might become.
But one thing we do know is that busybody, unaccountable parking Nazis have driven 35 jobs out of this town, never to return.
People wonder what is wrong with the economy and why unemployment is so high. This silly little story won’t make any newspapers. The company has better things to do than literally fight city hall. The landlord won’t rent 20,000 square feet of space, but also has no desire to provoke the Nazis still further by pointing out the consequences of their folly.
Unless and until we as a nation start throwing government out of every aspect of industry and commerce, this sort of job-killing insanity will continue. There are reasons plants are going up in China, India, and elsewhere while they are being shuttered here. Take the parking story and multiply it by 100,000 times and you begin to see the magnitude of this problem.
I’m reading The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. The book is about how to recognize and deal with the sort of everyday monster who won’t stab you with a knife but will stab you in the back at work, cut you off at the knees in your endeavors, or be a murderously awful family member or neighbor.
Having gotten close to way too many sociopaths in my younger and dumber years, I’m well armored against the type (knock wood). Still, Stout’s book does have some good information, including reports on recent brain studies of sociopaths.
Perhaps the most useful part is Stout’s “Thirteen Rules for Dealing with Sociopaths in Everyday Life.” As I read her list, it struck me that Stout was giving good advice not just for dealing with conscienceless, empathy-lacking individuals, but with institutions, too. Especially the One Big Institution we all know and love so well.
Here are the 13 rules in Stout’s words with commentary in mine. Nothing here is meant to imply that Stout would agree with my interpretation; she probably wouldn’t. But the rules are still good, no matter what sort of psychopath you’re dealing with.
THIRTEEN RULES FOR DEALING WITH SOCIOPATHS IN EVERYDAY LIFE AND GOVERNMENT
1. The first rule involves the bitter pill of accepting that some people literally have no conscience. ‘Nuff said, yes?
2. In a contest between your instincts and what is implied by the role a person has taken on — educator, doctor, leader, animal lover, humanist, parent — go with your instincts. And need we add police officer, district attorney, judge, legislator, minister, bureaucrat, ATF agent, or general media-annointed “expert”? They want you to see the facade, not the reality. “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you!” — Oh my!
3. When considering a new relationship of any kind, practice the Rule of Threes regarding the claims and promises a person makes, and the responsibilities he or she has. One pile of BS might be an innocent cowflop. Two says there’s a herd of bulls in the vicinity. Three really fresh piles says you’re going to get stampeded if you don’t get out of the way.
4. Question authority.
5. Suspect flattery. Oh, you Glorious Little People, you. They love you so at election time.
6. If necessary, redefine your concept of respect. Being terrified of somebody doesn’t mean you respect them. Or should. On the contrary.
7. Do not join the game. Don’t reduce yourself to the sociopath’s level. Don’t play his headgames. Don’t vote for him. Don’t buy into what he says should be your standards or your values. Don’t waste your life trying to figure out why he does what he does or how to stop him. Just write him off and walk away.
8. The best way to protect yourself from a sociopath is to avoid him, to refuse any kind of contact or communication.
9. Question your tendency to pity too easily. OMG, how they have used that one to get their way!
10. Do not try to redeem the unredeemable.
11. Never agree, out of pity or for any other reason, to help a sociopath conceal his or her true character. The individual psycho says, “Please don’t tell.” The government psycho says he was hiking the Appalachian trail. Or that he found WMDs in Iraq. Or that he honestly, truly believed that waterboarding wasn’t torture. No mercy for those folks. No mercy. At. All.
12. Defend your psyche. Don’t give up on humanity or freedom just because government is so overwhelmingly filled with liars, users, and control freaks. They want you to give up, to become inert, to say, “It’s hopeless.” Because then they rule. But …
13 Living well is the best revenge. Yeah. Let’s do that.
Speaking of creepazoid tactics beloved of governments: I’m not sure why Rolling Stone is so scandalized that the U.S. Army in Afghanistan used PsyOps to try to manipulate senators and other power-mongers into sending more troops and more taxbux.
I mean, seriously now. It’s illegal. It’s a waste of money. It’s a sneaky attempt to gain more power and influence. It’s business as usual! Where exactly is the news here???
Oh. Maybe the idea that government officials actually have brains to be manipulated? Otherwise, can’t imagine …
Ars Technica has a chilling take on how HBGary — the “security” company that sought to expose Anonymous and ended up getting exposed themselves — wrote backdoors for the fedgov. The article is long and technical, but it gives a shudder-inducing glimpse into one tiny corner of the vast paranoid-industrial complex that’s metastasizing around government.