At twilight one day five or six years ago, a pick-up pulled into the driveway of Cabin Sweet Cabin.
“This your dog?” the driver asked, nodding toward a shadow in the back.
She was a big Lab — yellow, almost white — and obviously already elderly. A blackish tumor, egg-sized, hung from one leg. She shouldn’t have been pretty. But she had the deepest, kindest eyes I’d ever seen.
“Nope, not mine.”
“Damn. She’s been sitting right beyond the edge of your property all day and everybody just figured you must be missing one of yours.” By everybody he meant the loggers, gravel truck drivers, and the couple of neighbors who regularly traveled up and down the road. Apparently a lot of people had seen the dog sitting there beside the road, patiently waiting.
“No,” I said. “But never mind. You’ve brought her to the right place.”
Bonnie made herself at home with my dogs. She was as gentle and loving as her eyes said she’d be. I took her in as a foster and consulted the vet about having the tumor removed. But before I got much of a chance to do anything with or for Bonnie, a friend spied her in the back of my truck.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody fall in love on the spot. But that day, it was clearly love at first sight. She seemed to be drawn straight into Bonnie’s eyes. My friend and her husband adopted Bonnie, who became the calm companion and counterbalance to their boistrous young male.
It still breaks my heart to think of that faithful girl sitting by the dusty roadside waiting for the return of whoever dumped her. (For clearly she was dumped; this dog was no wanderer.) But Bonnie got the happy home she deserved for the rest of her days.
He young canine companion was Bark. He died a few weeks ago, still young.
Bonnie never got over Bark’s death. She became increasingly forlorn and disoriented. On the day my friends were going to pick up a puppy in hopes it would give Bonnie new life, Bonnie had a stroke. The vet came to euthanize her. It had been just a month since she lost her friend Bark.
Bonnie was one of the great dogs.
This isn’t one of the great dog pictures, but it does the best I could do to show Bonnie’s kind soul.
I am a believer in natural living, homebirth, health freedom, homesteading, etc. and my family thinks I am absolutely nuts that I didn’t get my child a social security number at birth. Honestly, I was afraid of my child being monitored for all the so-called vaccines (a higher number every year, and some that are killing kids) that they try to force on children now and I didn’t care so much about the tax write-off. I was asking myself, “Is this going to put my child more into the government database keeping track of all health related records and who knows what else?” As the years go by I feel more pressured to get my child ‘the number’ but don’t want to do something stupid that I will regret. I myself of course have one (that I got only when I was a teenager starting a job) and never understood why a baby would even need one for a system that will not have any money when the child is grown anyway.
My husband is in the process of getting a spousal visa to come here and of course had to do the biometric visa junk and who knows what else. On his paperwork the box is checked for him to receive a social security number as well. I feel like we just have to deal with the fact he will be better off having one to not have any more headache.
I have tried to defend my position (some call it being paranoid, but to me it was nerve-wracking), but honestly I feel like I am about to give in and just go get the child a social security number so I can purchase insurance, open a savings account in the child’s name and so on.
As you said here, “No law requires you to get a Social Security number, even today. But try functioning in the everyday world of work, banking, credit, schooling, home-buying, or even video rental without one.”
Exactly. I went to the bank the other day and was told I could NOT open a minor savings account with the minor’s social security number, period. I was told my only other option was to keep a minimum $300 balance on a regular savings in my name (a minor account has no minimum balance of course) with the child listed as ‘payable on death’ and the child could still never be added without that number.
I plan to homeschool and am generally afraid of losing my freedom more everyday. Do you think I am giving in to a bad system to get the social security number and just quit fighting this particular battle?
As I said, I have no good answers for anybody in Lisa’s position. But the question of picking battles is always a valid one for all of us who give a damn.
Do I think you should quit fighting this particular battle, Lisa?
What I think doesn’t matter. All that matters is what you want vs what you can bear.
If you want to have a “normal” life, operating within the system, then yes, you probably should quit fighting this particular battle. That’s not to say you should give up, accept defeat, and kowtow to Our Masters. That’s just to say that the sheer exhaustion of trying to raise an un-numbered child within the system (not to mention the stigma that peers and adults might put on your child) might take away energy you need to do something more productive.
Even the one feeble “solution” your bank dangled before you — “payable on death” is piss-poor. Obviously, you shouldn’t have to die for your child to get his or her money. And even if you did, the bank would make a numberless heir beg, threaten, and/or pay penalties on the money before turning it over. (Who knows what new restrictions will be in place at that time? For all we know, a numberless person attempting to claim money years from now might be automatically considered a terrorist; we’re close to that point already. “If you see something, say something!”)
BUT … if you choose to quit this particular battle and put your child “within the system,” be sure to choose to live your freedom and defend your child’s freedom on some other front — which it sounds as if you’re fully prepared to do.
If you truly want to keep your child free of the dangers of citizen tracking numbers, then recognize that there are other options besides the mainstream. Quit banging your head on things like bank accounts. That’s not the only way to save (and in these days of zero interest it’s actually a pathetic way to save). Opening a bank account for an unnumbered person is a nightmare. But you can still buy silver and small amounts of gold — in complete, numberless anonymity if you want to. You can still set up various trusts and small corporations to transact business for your child, especially since you and your husband are already stuck with, and presumably continuing to use, numbers.
Forget what any “establishment” expects of you. Go elsewhere. Options already exist. As conventional financial systems fall, new opportunities and options may crop up. Watch for them. Or create them for yourself.
Even head-banging can be useful. I know. You’ve run up against intractable problems and this is only the beginning. But sometimes trying to do the right thing and failing is useful in itself. Only by testing the limits do we really come to understand just how far tyranny has already reached and how much farther it might go to keep its fearsome hold on power. And of course, people who continue to nudge and prod at seemingly immovable systems sometimes do end up changing systems in the long run.
So you never know. It depends on who you are, what you’re willing to put up with, which battles mean the most to you.
All I can say is, “Good luck” — and whatever choice you make, don’t let it be a defeat.
I wasn’t thinking of those at all when I wrote the above. Again and again they just happen to turn up as very apt profiles for a variety of Freedom Outlaws.*
* That last link is to Mac the Knife’s First Freedom Outlaw Brigade store. NFI on my part. I just think Mac and his artist did a great job and have produced terrific fun stuff for any Outlaw who wants to show his or her colors.
If this post isn’t 100 percent coherent or perfectly spelled, it’s because my friend L and I just celebrated with bloody Marys (and I didn’t make either of them as “lite” as she requested). Work this afternoon is going to be … interesting.
One year ago today, at precisely this hour, I dragged my U-Haul trailer into town after a trip that was more eventful than I might have wished, but ended well with a little help from my friends.
I paused at the title company long enough to sign papers. I popped into the real estate office to pick up keys. I called L to say I’d made it — then I followed her on over to my new-old house. I was seeing the house for the very first time.
Before that, I’d viewed photos and gotten second-hand opinions (thanks to L, who found the place, and the real estate agent; and the home inspector, of course). But that was my first in-person experience. One year ago today.
I think L was extremely brave to have found and done all the legwork on a house purchase for someone else — especially an old house like this one. Very risky behavior there, L!
I loved it from the first moment.
In the year since, I’ve gotten a few surprises. But considering the “interesting” things a 100-year-old house can do, I’ve lucked out. I’ve done a ton and have 10 tons more to do. But I can say (knock wood) that never once have I run into any surprises as “interesting” as this one sent just this morning by a blog reader and fellow old-house adventurer.
At times I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the improvements still needed. L and not a few blogistas keep telling me to remember how far I’ve come in a year. So, in the name of celebrating not only the anniversary but a year’s worth of small, plodding accomplishments, here are a few befores and afters:
Living room before:
Living room after:
(Actually, since taking this photo I’ve torn up the carpet and removed the pellet stove and its surround. Temporarily it looks uglier than this — but it’s still progress!)
Dormer room before:
Dormer room after:
With new wall and closet behind the bed.
… with apologies to those who were expecting to see natural wood. I had good intentions, but the wood wasn’t in decent enough condition. And yes, the pink is ridiculous. But this house just affects me that way.
Lately there’ve been a lot of articles like this one compiling various polls that show that Americans are fed up, ticked off, and righteously furious.
You know the sort I mean: “A new Rasmussen survey has found that 85 percent of Americans believe that members of Congress ‘are more interested in helping their own careers than in helping other people’”; “A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll discovered that 73 percent of the American people believe that the nation is ‘on the wrong track’”; “A recent poll taken by Rasmussen found that 68 percent of Americans believe that we are actually in a recession right now.” (All from the link above.)
That’s supposed to show how shockingly cynical (or discouraged or angry) we’ve become. And … yeah, they’ve got a point.
But don’t you always wonder the same thing I do? Who the blankety-blank are the 15 percent who believe congressthings aren’t strictly out for their own interests? And can 27 percent of Americans (or for that matter Canadians or Frenchmen or Lower Slobovians) possibly believe the U.S. is on the right track? And is it really even remotely conceivable in this universe or any other that there are 32 percent who are so media-sodden and blinded by cooked gov-stats that they believe we’re not in a recession?
Well, of course, pollsters are only counting the folks who accept phone calls from pollsters. So naturally the stats they come up with are absurdly trusting.
Or at least I hope that’s the case. Because if those stats are representative of people’s real state of mind, you’d have to be very nervous around those delusional 15, 27, or 32 percenters.
Next time you think I’m showing too much sunshiny faith in humanity, remind me of this so I’ll get real again.
You may recall that I handle email for a local animal-rescue group. Well, here’s the latest to cross our mailbox. Names changed to protect innocent and guilty alike:
Hi my name is [Moronia] and I adopted two kittens from you about two months ago their names were [Oliver Twist] n [Poor Pitiful Pearl]. I hate to have to ask if I can return them but seems like that is my last option. We started seeing signs of fleas a couple of weeks ago and have tried our best to treat the problem but with no success. I bath them every three days and have given them capstars* but this is only good for a couple of days. We are having a difficult time getting rid of them from our cats to our home, so I really hate to keep [Oliver] and [Pearl] in a home with fleas. I hope you guys will b able to rid them of their fleas. They are wonderful, very loving kittens that I hate to see leave but I know you guys can help them. Thank you and waiting for your response.
Oh yes! Her very, very, very last option. Because you know, calling a vet or even using a search engine to discover one of the dozens of easy, effective methods of flea control would be just too great a sacrifice.
Clearly, we’d be heartless villains to expect her to put herself through such an ordeal! No, no. Instead we must extend our loving hearts to this poor woman who has endured so much and struggled so valiantly. Yes, it’s now our duty to take back the formerly cute kitties who are now less-desirable — and somehow irreversibly flea-ridden — adolescents.**
And then — despite the fact that she has proven through arduous effort that Oliver and Pearl cannot be relieved of their fleas by any means known to humankind — she’s confident that we, being gods of the animal world, will simply use our supernatural powers to render them flealess.
And — as always in these cases — it’s for the good of the kittieeeeees.
* Capstar kills adult fleas super-fast but does nothing to break the flea breeding cycle. It’s not designed to.
** Of course, the fact that they’re no longer uber-adorable baby kitties has nothing whatsoever to do with her sudden wish to be rid of them. Anyone who imagines such a thing must be a mean-spirited brute, not deserving of living in the same world with the tender-hearted Moronia.
In their impossibly good book Money, Markets, and Sovereignty (2009), Benn Steil and Manuel Hinds make the point that over the last four thousand years, the only period in which humanity has not consistently based its currency in metal, specifically gold, is the last forty. That’s right. Ever since President Richard M. Nixon announced forty years ago today, on August 15, 1971, that the U.S. would no longer officially trade dollars for gold, we have been enjoying a new era of human history.
I linked to the history of the Nixon Shock earlier but here it is again to share with all your friends who say, “Well, the people in government are the experts. They have information we don’t and I’m sure they make their decisions wisely based on things you and I simply don’t understand.”
Oh. People don’t say things like that so much any more, do they? Thank God!
First, to assist with your Monday morning work avoidance: Jake MacGregor posted three new chapters last week, beginning with Chapter 25 in which Our Intrepid Hero … dons a dress and discovers why it really isn’t his style.
It feels as if summer has barely begun. But it’s blueberry season already. Here’s my first pickins. We’re blessed to have two organic blueberry farms around here. Nearest one opened this week and I got just enough to keep me in fresh berries for a few breakfasts. Next weekend I’ll go back and pick enough to freeze for the winter.
Since I was five years old, I wanted a house with one of these. On the outside, it’s a door knocker, which nobody these days would ever think to use …
On the inside, it’s a portal that opens to lets the person outside declare themselves friend or foe. You know: “Joe sent me” (I could run a speakeasy!) or, “The eagle flies at midnight” (I could be a spy!) …
I was thrilled when my new-old house came with one in its front door. Alas, after having this brass relic for one year, less three days, my potential careers in bootleggery or selling secrets have ended. The front door had to go and with it my childhood fantasies.
You can see the deplorable condition of the old door. Or part of the deplorable condition. You can’t see that the old door was also two inches too narrow for the opening (cobbled in with an ugly board) and almost 1-1/2 inches too short (cobbled in with nothing; the sunporch became a lake when it rained). It also wouldn’t lock from the outside with its Depression-era (or perhaps even Edwardian-era) hardware.
Last weekend at a garage sale I scored a brand-new, still-in-the-wraps, pre-hung steel door with a pretty window in the top. It’s even the right size and has the correct direction of swing. $80 — Garage sale kismet strikes again. The sellers even delivered it for me. This weekend, out with the old, in with the new.
Will probably post a picture once I’ve finished painting the new door and its frame. It’ll be more attractive — and no more indoor swimming pool. But oh, I’ll miss scaring Mormon missionaries, pamphlet-waving church ladies, and cookie-bearing Girl Scouts by suddenly appearing to them as a shadowy (and I hope sinister!) figure through a hole in the door.
… Americans received word that the Japanese had surrendered. I don’t usually mark government anniversaries, especially military ones.
But I received an email from a friend, a Marine whose family has been through multi-generational hell serving a country that … well, I’ll just let him tell it in his own words, without editing or embellishment. The man he honors is known as “LD, Jr.”
some of you knew my Grandfather, most of you did not
he was a ‘card’ – a little stumped up man of 5’4″ smoking his pipe
he drove too fast, too close to people’s bumpers (maybe 2 feet – no kidding) and yes, sadly, was fond of drink
if anyone had reason to drink it was him
he flew in the AVG (American Volunteer Group) – you’d know as “Flying Tigers”
he returned and flew out of the same base in Kungming China (as many did) in 326th combat cargo for the OSS (prelude to CIA)
he flew P51’2 P47′s, C47, C54, P38′s … basically – he flew everything
two of you on this email have 13,000+ hours flying (few in the world do anymore) – you know how perilous flying “The Hump” was (over the Himalayas)
many thought it was many times more dangerous than flying bombers over Germany – from sheer weather and altitude
his instruments froze, he told me, most every time he did so … he would take his watch off and drop it to see what his ‘attitude’ was (angle plane was flying to horizon) I still have the watch
I heard all of his tales lying in bed in the wee hours when I was a tike of 4 to 7
he could not sleep – because of his war, and my Father’s death in Vietnam
I could not sleep because of the loss of my Father
I thought all Papa told me was bull … the ramblings of too much Jack Daniel
in 1999 my father was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star … (35 years late because of typical Army screw-ups)
an Air Force Historian saw the notice, however, in the Washington Post and recognized my name – (I am named for Papa) – he called the Post and asked to be placed in touch with me
he brought me photos and stories of Papa I’d heard but never believed – all true and many wilder
one of the stories Papa had told me was of flying the surrender terms into Japan after the nuclear bombs … he told me this cock & bull story of breaking the officer’s sword over his knee
turns out … it was true … 66 years ago today
my Grandfather was the first ‘white man’ of the Allies to enter Japan and end the War
if you knew him (and some of you did) … you are probably as amazed as I was
he was not the likely image of a War Hero
he had to stand on his tiptoes by my 5’11″ Grandmother, he was quirky funny, smoked a pipe and was … well, near opposite of what one would think compared to John Wayne
but Papa and many of our Grandfathers left their families (often for years) went and ‘did their jobs’ and then came home and built up our Country into the Industrial Super Power we were
in a small way I am glad Papa passed from Alzheimer’s in 1991 … he would not recognize what we have become
I am not sure he would feel like his sacrifice and the death of his only child, my Father, would be worth it
on this anniversary of VJ day please, think of Papa, and think of those still overseas …
“Like A Prairie Home Companion … with grenades!” — Michael W. Dean, filmmaker and gadfly
See below for two ways to order.
ONCE UPON A TIME …
… there was a town called Hardyville. Truth to tell, it wasn’t much of a place. The nearest freeway passed about 200 miles away — and kept right on passing. It didn’t have a single sign of what people in the real world might have called civilization or culture. It was just one dusty intersection with one lone stoplight, a few encircling residential streets, a fair number of surrounding ranches, and a whole lot of nothing, all located in a red-rock valley 600 miles west of the precise geographic middle of nowhere.
Hardyville was also — from 1997 to 2007, on and off — located on the Internet, first on a news site and then on the website of Backwoods Home magazine.
Given the town’s absolute lack of conventional appeal, you might ask, "Why the heck would anybody want to be there?" There are reasons — about 1776 of them.
Hardyville does have one really, really great thing: some of the most smart, cussed, stubborn, independent, clear-headed people you’d ever want to meet. And Hardyville doesn’t have one really, really awful thing most of the rest of the world is saddled with: too damn much government.
Hardyville managed to scrape its way into the twenty-first century almost entirely without politicians, bureaucrats, or any of their Evil Spawn. It is, in other words, what America once had a chance to become — and didn’t.
So what happens when the immovable objects of freedom and sheer, bloody stubbornness are slammed by the (so we are taught to believe) irresistible forces of faux-democracy, bureaucracy, and a whole army of other -ocracies and -isms?
Purchase autographed copies directly from me, Claire Wolfe (otherwise known as Your Humble Author) for $12 postage paid. Get two copies for $20 postpaid. Or indulge and buy five copies for only $35 total (that’s just $7 apiece!). Simply use the PayPal button below.
Use the message box to tell me the name you want the book(s) autographed to.
Have you noticed that companies you deal with online increasingly force you to place symbols, capitals, and numbers in your passwords — under the illusion that their nannying guarantees a password stronger than any you could possibly invent for yourself? In its own inimitable style XKCD notes the folly of that.
Because Pat asked: Nope, you didn’t miss part V of “Responsibilities of a Resident of the Police State.” I haven’t written it yet. Was hoping to get to it last week, but my brain has been overloaded lately. Think pieces are hard, and that one just hasn’t gelled yet.
I usually don’t mention such things until afterward, since the only way I can get through them is to pretend nobody’s listening. But I’m scheduled to be on Brian Wilson’s radio show tomorrow at 4:30 EDT. Brian is so cool I have no worries about the interview going well. We’re going to talk about Hardyville for 15 or 20 minutes (which also explains the book-selling post that’ll go up tomorrow morning).
Over the weekend — between Friday’s S&P downgrade and Monday’s 630-point oopsie on the Dow — I had a couple of conversations with world-watching friends.
They went like this:
FRIEND: Hang onto your carbine and check your dried lentils. Here it comes!
ME: Yeah. Uh huh. Well. Maybe.
“It,” of course, is the financial apocalypse. The long-fabled, eagerly dreaded financial apocalypse. The Big Event that’s finally going to implode the established systems and either a) allow freedom to arise phoenix-like from the ashes or b) bring about Zombie War III, from which only the hardest and most savage will ever recover. Or a) following b).
You already know my opinions on the “George Romero Scenario.” Could happen. Will happen in some places (London seems ripe for a zombie attack right about now, and Detroit is overdue). But it’s not what most of us are likely to face.
But what about the “it”? What about the trigger event that will finally (after some of us have been expecting it for 40 years) tell us that “it” has arrived — the day, the moment, the fall of the domino that will collapse all the other financial dominoes?
Will there ever actually be a trigger event? Or are we just in for a slow, slow fall that culminates in … more slow falling? A downgrade here. A panicky day on the exchanges there … followed (as Tuesday followed Monday on the Dow this week) by desperate bursts of exuberance .. followed by slightly deeper depression, slightly more desperate panic next time? World without end, amen.
Without a doubt, this summer or early fall look like trigger time. The dollar is shaky (and being shaken to pieces by its masters). Even the “strong” countries of the Eurozone are looking clay-footed. World alleged leaders fiddle while economies burn. And even too-big-to-fail bankers are finally getting their comeuppance.
It’s obvious, finally, that the Keynesian systems of the West have reached the inevitable point where they have nothing to fall back on. Europe can’t bail out Europe. The U.S. can’t bail out the U.S. They can’t bail out each other. And China is looking down its nose at both — from its own precarious vantage point. We know this, you and I. But how many think there are still political “solutions”? OMG, please. Not more political “solutions.” And oh, please, let’s not hear any more tsk-tsking talk from pundits about whether we “might” slide back into another “recession” — as if they believe anything ever actually got better following the mess of 2008.
All that’s left is more money printing. We already know that scenario.
In Zimbabwe and in the Weimar Republic when their governments turned their money to toilet paper, people did a lot of creative things to keep going — from bartering to burning bricks of money to heat their houses. But they also relied on the U.S. dollar.
Us … yeah, good luck with that.
If politicians and money men manage to keep Keynes’ Frankenstein monster sewn together through the winter, another likely trigger point seems early in 2013, after the elections.
But what if there’s never a recognizable trigger point? What if we just go on like this — until perhaps we realize the “it” we’ve been waiting for actually happened a long time ago and nobody even saw it until long after the fact?
My friends and I couldn’t agree on exactly what was likely to happen or when. But the one thing we agreed on is that we long for the “it.” We want to be able to say, “Okay. That’s that. The old is over. Now it’s just a matter of burying the (hopefully figurative) dead and cleaning up the streets.”
We long for the day when politicians finally shrug and say what sensible people already know, “Look, we’ve made a botch of things and we don’t have any tools to fix this.” Oh when politicians can’t say anything because they’re too busy running from the people they screwed. We long for the day when all the “too big to fails” have met their well-deserved demise — and better business people are rebuilding. We long for the day that Joe and Josie Average quit looking for a Glorious Leader to haul our asses out of the mess that previous Glorious Leaders have made of the world.
No matter how painful it is to We the Victims, it needs to happen. “It” needs to happen. Right now, as Matthew Norman said so well, it’s like the “phony war” in Britain at the beginning of WWI.
Unbearably unreal. All looks “normal.” When it’s anything but.
My greatest fear is that that day — the day of “it” — will never come.