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.
has been ordered to go to Sweden. He has a week to appeal the extradition order.
Way back last summer, when I first experimented with primal nutrition, Winston (in a comment section) mentioned something I’d never heard of at that point: Greek yogurt. Specifically whole milk Greek yogurt. (Primal nutrition means, among other things, kissing all that non-fat nonsense goodbye.)
My first reponse was that I didn’t imagine that the small-town grocery stores within my range would have any such thing. Turned out I was partly wrong: Greek yogurt — but only the non-fat varieties — is readily available in the nearby stores. I’ve been buying the plain stuff ever since and mixing it up with blueberries, strawberries, raw honey, and nuts. All Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt. And tastier, too, I think. (Makes sense; it’s basically just regular yogurt with a lot of the whey strained out, so it’s more intense.) But not until I went to the Big City and was able to get whole-milk Greek yogurt did I really get hooked.
Oh man! Num! Think the richest ice-cream you’ve ever had, only yogurt-flavored. And that’s whole-milk Greek yogurt.
Only problem is, I have to make a 100-mile round trip to the Big City to get it, and have to make a 300-mile round trip the the Really Big City to get it at a great price. Hm. I don’t think the economics of that work out too well. So I’m looking into making my own. Haven’t done it yet, but I found these two good-looking info sources:
Would any of you yogurt-makers out there care to comment on the instructions at either of those sites? Or recommend resources you think might be betters? Thanks!
My deadlines are going better than I thought. Still blogging. (But don’t be surprised if I miss a few days. The hardest part hasn’t hit yet. I’m working up my nerve to be Brilliant. You can only imagine what an effort that requires.)
- Hm. We knew “our representatives” were corrupt, hypocritical, and a lot of other things. But crazy? I mean, crazier than you’d have to be to want to run other people’s lives in the first place.
- LOL! Here’s the tale of a man who foreclosed on Wells Fargo. Seriously. The sheriff was going to auction off the local Wells Fargo office, even.
- They haven’t paid their mortgage in months. By their own description, they’re “one paycheck away from a homeless shelter.” Yet they still spend $275 a month on “beauty products” and celebrate their anniversary at a four-star hotel. Huh. Too bad the article doesn’t give more insight into these folks’ minds. Somebody could win a Nobel Prize in abnormal psychology. Or maybe it’s all-too-normal psychology. These days, who knows?
- We already know blueberries and strawberries are a sort of superfood against Alzheimers. Check. Gobbling those berries daily for that among other reasons. Booze, too. That’s nice. Now comes interesting word that being bilingual protects remarkably against the effects of the disease. Doesn’t prevent it. Just keeps the brain functioning better despite Alzheimers. The article doesn’t say so, but it appears you actually have to speak the language, juggling back and forth between two tongues for this to work.
- Okay, then. Time to buff up the beautiful old Italian I learned in community college. Gorgeous language. But the only use I ever got from it was using my dim memory of it to mangle Spanish down in Panama. So, if you were going to take up a language online, where would you go? Here? Here? Here? Abbandonate ogni speranza voi che entrate!
… That’s the title of a New York Times article about a proposal by Columbia law professor Eben Moglen to “rebuild the Internet” (without government this time) for greater privacy and individual control.
Moglen has created the Freedom Box Foundation to help develop this ideas.
I’d love to hear comment from you tech-oriented readers on how (or whether) you think this would work and how it might change the Netiverse.
I’ve got three article deadlines this week, followed by a very special project. So blogging might be “lite” for the next few weeks. To keep the silence from getting deafening, I’m prepping some blogitude in advance (this one’s being put into the queue on Sunday afternoon, though it won’t appear until Tuesday). I’ll try to keep small bits coming, and might even make time for something “heavier.” But don’t worry if a few days go by without a posting.
If you really need a Claire fix, there’s always DGC (Digital Gold Currency) Magazine, which, if you go back to the 2009 and early 2010 issues, has (among other things of interest to hard-money and alternative-payment folk) a few of my lesser-known articles that might keep you happily occupied.