No, not my book and movie. I wish! But while I’m busy deadlining today, here for your perusal are …
The Advisor. A novel being being published in blog form by our own “Jake MacGregor.” You may know this fine gentleman and darned good storyteller from the comment section.
Atlas Shrugged, Part 2: the website! According to Jim B. in the comments, the site has recently gone up. If all those years of Hollywood “development hell” didn’t deter John Aglialoro from producing part i, it appears that disappointing ticket sales and predictable critical slams aren’t going to kill part II. Yay! Whatever its artistic merits, I expect the Atlas trilogy to make a mint in DVD and streaming form. As I said way back, IMHO its artistic merits are far beyond what anybody could have expected, given its budget and production problems. When it comes out on DVD, I want it.
Been a long time since I did a pet portrait. Out of practice again. But I thought I’d share this in-progress pastel. The execution needs work, but I like the concept. This is “Bark,” a boisterous boy who recently died. Like so many Australian shepherd mixes, he had strange, striking eyes.
Is shyness an evolutionary tactic? So asks the New York Times. They’re talking more about introversion than actual shyness, though for sure the two go together. And the answer is — no freaking surprise — of course.
L (who might possibly be on some mind-altering substance) writes:
For some time I have been frustrated with web-based pontificators with memberships/advertisers touting “the end is near.”
I have no objections to the notion that we are headed for calamity, and in fact think we are.
1) Would someone toss me a freaking bone and tell me WHEN … I keep hearing “any day now” and have for the past 12 years … I am getting “survival fatigue.” (NOTE from Claire. Only 12 years, L? Why, you’re just a babe in the woods. “Any day now” has been going on since the Nixon Surprise in August 1971. Or maybe since 999 when millions were sure Jesus was about to arrive in a really, really bad mood …)
2) None describe what to do POST calamity – i.e. pick up pieces, new constitutional convention, coven of witches, aliens abduct us, whatever … (NOTE from Claire: Personally, I’m for the alien abduction thing. The constitutional convention outlook is much scarier.)
Most tell us hide in your:
a) “Geobunker 3000” with your 10,000 MRES conveniently on sale this week with our sponsors
b) Bug out to your unabomber cabin
c) Move to Buenos Aries, Fiji or Antarctica (NOTE from Claire: Why don’t any of them say Tahiti? Tahiti really seems like the place to me.)
Again, no problemo.
But AFTER (and there is always after) what then?
Is it just me?
Maybe i should start a cult or become a web-pontificator, too. BUT have the “Post Apocalypse 3000” game-plan complete with DVD, home version, and hire Wink Martendale to do the infomercial for it. (Note from Claire: Anyone? Anyone? Is Bob Barker still alive and unembalmed? Pat Sajak?)
As re when … i have no idea and am getting to where I not sure I care.
Because I can’t tell the difference between chaos/end of world crap and what I see on the news anyway.
How much worse can Apocalypse be than “Dancing with the Stars” and Snooki? (NOTE from Claire: I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain the Apocalypse can be even worse than Fox News, certainly worse than MSNBC.)
Where is Monty Python when you need them? (NOTE from Claire: They’re recycling old Monte Python material. At least Eric Idle is.)
That is my rant for the day.
And a fine rant it is. So seriously … we can understand why highly paid commentators carefully avoid the “when” question. Might cut into their profits, you know, should they happen to miss. But what happens after? Now that would be fine thing to know. Not “after” as in “while you’re eating dried lentils and fighting off zombies” but as in, okay, the zombies are dead, the lentils are gone, you made it through the crisis with a little ammo left over, all your children and pets uneaten, and life goes on.
I just discovered that Paladin has a very good combo deal on The Freedom Outlaws Handbook and I Am Not a Number!. In case you want to know. Otherwise just move right along …
Farewell, LulzSec. But why do I think you’ll be forgotten (you hope) but not really gone?
Obvious product tampering. Via PhotoShop. (This is the sixth of six cool “tampering” competitions. Cool, time-wasting photos in all six.)
Okay, I know it’s got to be slightly silly to ask on this site if anybody else is having problems accessing this site. I mean, if you are, you probably aren’t even reading this. But I’ve been been getting “403 access forbidden” messages when I try to make posts or edit comments. Then just this week I’ve heard about or from three would-be readers who either can’t read the blog at all or can read it only intermittantly. If you’re one of the intermittant folks, let me know via comment, please. If you’re one of those (usually either outside the U.S. or using a non-U.S. IP) who just can’t get here at all, you may have to petition Oliver-the-webmaster.
Everything is illegal these days. You know it. You’re lucky if you get through your first cup of coffee without committing a federal felony or three. Your state legislature churns out new offenses targeting you for improper swimming gear or an unlicensed lemonade stand. As we saw yesterday, mere countycrats may already be building a SWAT team to raid your unpermitted garden shed.
That sucks, of course. But the silver lining is that when everything is a crime, everybody is an outlaw — and inevitably a gratifying minority of new-minted enemies of the state embrace their status, don their broad-brimmed hats, and become capital-O Outlaws.
Trust in government turns to puzzlement. Puzzlement turns to skepticism. Skepticism to loathing. Loathing to contempt. Contempt turns, in the best of us, to creative disregard.
Creative disregard shows itself in so many everyday ways that we may not bother to be aware of them. J, for instance, speculates that the plain old ordinary yard sale — which you’ve probably noticed is a growing phenomenon in neighborhoods prosperous and poor — is a nascent (or actual) black market:
I have noticed a very big increase in yard sales, which I am certain are due to the economy of course, but even in the worst of times I can’t imagine them being much more diverse. Yard sales, whether singly, neighborhood, or organized “farmers market” type are the norm down here from the first warm breezes of spring till it’s too cold to stand outside and certainly constitutes a market where you can get everything from guns and tools to food and clothing. I have already seen food, rifles, shotguns and pistols, ammo, over-the-counter meds and vitamins as well as dietary supplements, and every household good and tool imaginable. Other then prescription meds and machine guns (which are probably available if you know the right person), If TEOTWAWKI happens I think a black market would continue on exactly like this.
In fact, ARE these black markets? Certainly no taxes are getting paid. The guns are bought and sold with a handshake. An item may be bartered or cash exchanged. In some areas I understand you have to have a license or permit, but none are necessary down here and I’m pretty sure none would be tolerated. At the very least this constitutes an underground economy, and from what I’ve seen this year, an increasingly vital one. These aren’t people trying to clean out their garage. These are people that are making a living, paying the bills, putting food on the table. These are people trying to survive.
And Christine, whose “Windfall” story graced the blog the other day, shows very much the Outlaw spirit typical of suburban farmers and sustainable foodies. These people are going to grow organic crops, raise non-factory animals, and trade their homefarmed wares and skills regardless of the sputterings of bureaucrats.
Joel meditated on free markets this week. Among other things, he touched on the touchy subject of “illegal” immigrant labor. Now you may love ’em or hate ’em. But large parts of this country run on “illegals.” Look what happened to harvests when the silly state of Georgia revived a dormant federal system to keep “illegals” from working.
No, every outlaw does not become an Outlaw. Some remain so naively ignorant they still imagine they’re law-abiding citizens. Some become furtive — true criminals, the opposite of bold Outlaws. Some get caught, some get killed, some crack under the pressure of always being on the wrong side of the law. (But sometimes, as we saw this week in the revelations of Jose Antonio Vargas, even cracking can be done with Outlaw grace and Outlaw power.)
Still, despite the growing culture of military-style cops and STASI-style informers, we can take comfort in looking around our own towns and neighborhoods. Every organic grower kneeling in her garden, every young immigrant pushing a lawn mower, every family setting up a yard sale, every contractor giving a discount for cash has, in his or her own way declared government irrelevant.
Though I’m trying to move the blog away from knee-jerk reporting of Bad Government News, when S. sent this, I realized it said as much about the resilience of the victims and the obvious fear “their” government feels toward them (armored teams for code violations?) as it says bout the outrageousness of L.A. County bureaucracy.
I’m deadlining this week and into next. So a couple of blog entries I’ve been noodling may have to wait. One was to be about attitudes of independence. Rather than making you wait, then drowning you in prose, I thought it might brighten your day (and seriously compress your reading time!) to have the great links I planned to build the story around.
And I really mean cheers. I aim not to whine too much on this blog. But when I do, you respond most amazingly. You lifted me out of the dumps big time. The variety, speed, creativity, generosity, kindness, and in one notable case the sheer, butt-stubbornness of the help people offered was remarkable.
I admire and shake my head at the brass-balled hackery of LulzSec and Anonymous. I think these guys are gloriously crazy and that they’re either going to save the world or get their asses ignominiously whupped. Or both.
For sure, they’re getting into the pit with the biggest and most ruthless of Big Dogs, breezily unaware that they’re likely to get their throats torn out.
The world needs people like that. It’s so good not to be one of them.
Watching them got me wondering: Whatever happened to the glorious and not-so-grand tradition of monkeywrenching? Sure, those guys of LulzSec are champion monkeywrenchers — high tech in choice of weapons, but traditionalists in spirit. Still … with governments at war with individuals all over the world, wouldn’t you expect all manner of monkeywrenches to be tossed into all manner of works in all manner of ways?
After all, the monkeywrench is the little guy’s weapon of personal guerrilla warfare. It doesn’t require an army or even a gun. You don’t have to have a team or expensive equipment. Just opportunity, will, and whatever tool might be at hand. You can monkeywrench on as small or large a scale as you wish, as violently or non-violently, with humor or with deadly seriousness. It’s been this way since the word “sabotage” was coined hundreds of years ago. While nobody’s quite sure of the etymology of that term, everybody agrees it has something to do with those very humble objects of very humble people — a peasant’s wooden shoes.
Similarly with the monkeywrench, which replaced the sabot as a tool for screwing up the works. What could be more commonplace?
Yet these days when you Google (or when you more privately StartingPage) “monkeywrenching,” what you find is pretty feeble.
There’s plenty about “ecotage” (with which monkeywrenching has been identified since the days of Edward Abbey and EarthFirst!). But even that info is getting pretty hoary, dating back decades. More commonly you’ll find flat-out misuses of the term. Like this account and this one — which are both perfectly charming tales but don’t have a lot to do with real monkeywrenching.
Wussy misuses. C’mon, guys. LulzSec and EarthFirst! (love ’em or hate ’em) mastered the monkeywrench. But a senator “monkeywrenching” Obama’s plans? Ohgimmeabreak.
The Web, bless its useless little soul, is also rife with pompous and humorless definitions of monkeywrenching. But seriously now, let’s not be so serious! Monkeywrenching at its best is neither pompous (being the tool of the little guy) nor humorless (requiring Outlaw panache, style, and flair).
And while every monkeywrencher will pick his own target or for her own reasons, there is no more diabolical machinery, no Rube Goldberg device more in need of sabotaging than the machinery of Authoritah. The machinery of domination. The machinery of “shut up peasants and let your betters do what’s best for you.”
And wow, is there a lot of that machinery around.
So … it’s time for some good, old-fashioned monkeywrench appreciation. Time to put the shoes, the wrenches, the superglue, and the Attitude back into the works. We don’t have to throw ourselves bodily into the Big Dog pit with the LulzSec guys, bless ’em. It can be done on the quiet and on any scale.
The main thing is that, though all modern history, plenty of angry individuals have tossed their monkeywrenches — physical, verbal, electronic, and above all Attitudinal, into the works of those who would be their masters. I say let’s be traditionalists.
I just got my semi-annual royalty check from Paladin Press this morning. It was … not good.
To say that sales of the newest book are abysmal would be charitable. I feel horrible because the book was done at (Paladin boss) Peder Lund’s special request and I hate the thought of letting him or anybody at Paladin down. Maybe it’s that the book is political and Paladin is fundamentally an action-oriented publisher. Maybe it’s timing. But then, too, the book hasn’t gotten much, if any, promotion aside from a few radio appearances and some kind comments on Amazon.com. So perhaps there’s new opportunity to give it a boost as the 2012 political season rushes (OMG) upon us.
Do you like what I write? I guess you do or you wouldn’t be here. If so, I’m asking you to do two of these three things. Okay, any one will be helpful, but two is better:
Suggest a writer or media person with a good following who might like to review it. Use the comments section. Paladin will send a review copy to bloggers, magazine writers, whoever. Also, other marketing or PR ideas much appreciated. Comment away. Provide contact information if you can.
Donate. Keep me going and keep the dogs in kibble. You great people who gave last month when I briefly had a book offer online are very specifically and gratefully exempted from this. You’ve been more than generous — as have many others in the past. I know times are tough for just about everybody. But if my writing brings value to your life and you can send even a little monetary courage my way right now, that would be wonderful.
Here’s a PayPal donation button, just below this paragraph. I tried to include a GPal.net button for those who object to PayPal, but it appears that GPal is currently in depressing condition — using an expired security certificate and not accepting credit card payments. So it’s either PayPal or contact me (special e-ddress for this: cheermeup @ hermit dot cotse dot net) for a snailing address.