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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 September, 2011

Claire Wolfe

Defective dog dilemma and questions of identity

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Yesterday, I wrote about a foster dog who came to us with an extensive birth defect in his urogenital system.

He was supposed to be neutered and partially repaired today, but when she realized how major the problem was, our wonderful vet started making calls. She’s looking either for advice or for a veterinary surgeon who might take the case pro-bono.

The condition — perineal hypospadias — is unusual enough that even a vet from a clinic in the Big City (and in this case, I really mean The Big City, not just the place I laughingly call The Big City) hadn’t performed surgery on this deformity in 20 years. But he did recall the case and its outcome.

His recommendation (ouch): completely remove our boy’s penis, sheath, testicles, and scrotum; leave the opening in the rear from which he pees. So, although he may continue to lift his leg like a boy, to all external appearances and in the way he urinates, he will be female.

As with female dogs, our boy will always have a higher risk of urinary tract infections (in fact, he has one right now). But with “boy parts” removed, he’ll have a lower risk for post-surgical complications.

So the question is: When we put him up for adoption do we list him as a male or female?

This is one of those times I really wish dogs could talk. Of course, maybe if he could he’s just say, “Don’t touch my junk!” Which wouldn’t be terribly helpful.

But since hypospadia is, genetically speaking, associated with hermaphroditism, it’s quite possible that if he could talk, he’d tell us, “I feel more like a female” or “No, I’m a macho boy despite the weird parts.”

Yeah, I know with canines it doesn’t matter as much as with humans. But it might matter to a potential adopter. Of course, we’ll disclose the whole situation and advertise him — or her! — as a special needs dog. But what would you say? Male? Or female?

Funny how the mind works. Our boy came to us with a “gender neutral” name (volunteers learned it from a neighbor of the man who abandoned him). But the name wasn’t an easy one to say, so everybody automatically gravitated to another name — which happened to be very masculine.

Silly, but it’s going to twist my brain a bit if we decide that “he” should be listed as “she.” My mind has already defined him a male. I see him not only as a biological male, but as a — yes, sorry to say — a male in several stereotyped ways. But when I step back, it’s clear that all that definition is in my own mind, not really in his behavior.

Photos (added per request):

Foster dog in need of surgery

Foster dog gnawing a bone

Foster dog tussling with my dog Ava

Claire Wolfe

“It” and other matters

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

A while back we talked about “it” — The Day, The Moment, the trigger event, the one unmistakable signal that the house of cards is really, truly commencing to fall. Will there ever be such a moment? If so, will we recognize it when it happens or only spot it in retrospect? Or will there be no “it” — just be a dreary slide?

Jim B. points out that Rome didn’t collapse in a day. Ellendra asks, apropos of nothing and everything whether politicians joking (?) about suspending elections might qualify as a sign.

I don’t know whether we’ll ever see an “it.” But one thing you can be sure of; the country you live in in wildly overgoverned to the edge of collapse when everything hangs on political whim. When markets soar and collapse more on the word of politicians and policy-makers than on anything to do with underlying reality. When states vie for attention by exaggerating their political importance. When employers don’t hire workers because they can’t calculate what the latest regulatory nightmare is going to cost.

I’m pretty sure it was like that in the old Soviet Union. Every decision political.

Keep your powder dry and your dried lentil recipes handy. And be patient.

Now on to other, miscellaneous matters:

Claire Wolfe

Yogurt maker and a defective dog

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Yes, I know there’s no reasonable connection between a yogurt maker and a defective dog. Except that I got them both today.

Yogurt was never a big part of my diet — except in the “hold my nose and swallow the crap occasionally because it’s good for me” sense. The thin, sour or over-sweetened non-fat yogurt I knew from the grocery store didn’t impress me. But shortly after I went primal, young commentor Winston turned me on to Greek yogurt.

Oh man. HUGE difference. Whole different world. Plain, whole-milk Greek yogurt with a spoonful of raw honey in it is now a daily part of my diet (with fresh berries, mmmmm).

Only problem is, the nearest place that sells it is 90 miles away. Not making that little grocery run too often. So it’s DIY time.

I’m not going to try to make yogurt in the oven or a crock pot because, although I know it’s possible (and I’m sure you kitchen geniuses could do that blindfolded), I also know it’s tricky. If something involves food preparation and can be messed up, rest assured I’ll make a mess of it. Thus the yogurt maker.

I chose the Tribest Yolife Yogurt Maker over the zillion other models on Amazon because it comes with glass jars rather than the usual plastic and comes with this extra (and extra-tall) hood so that you can make yogurt in big jars if you want to (up to 80 ounces at a time).

Yogurt maker with extra hood and instruction book

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Winston, who is off on some very serious adventures now, might not get a chance to see this. But if you’re out there, Winston — thank you!


I was too occupied with the defective dog today to either make yogurt or get my work-work done. Spent some time at the vet, then more time observing, and finally some Google (actually StartingPage) time trying to solve a medical mystery.

Fortunately, this isn’t one of my own dogs. This morning an email went out from one of the local rescue coordinators looking for foster care for an abandoned dog who’s going to need surgery.

I met the dog last weekend. A real sweetie. Big young boy. Normal and healthy in (almost) every way. Loves kids, cats, chickens, dogs, llamas, and humans of all sorts. But he’s got a bizarre deformity in his penis — several of them, really. Then after watching him all afternoon and evening, I also realized something nobody had noticed (because who would even think of it): he appears to be peeing out an extra hole in his backside and not through the penis at all.

I won’t put any photos of that on the blog, lucky you. But if you’re curious and fairly strong of stomach, here’s my guess: hypospadias, a rare deformity. One that sometimes goes along with hermaphrodism.

Nature is capable of doing some crazy stuff to an otherwise healthy, happy critter.

Fortunately, the good people of the local rescue group have already agreed to fund the surgery. And just as fortunately, the vet who’s lined up to perform the repairs absolutely loves a challenge.

Well, she’s got one now. Our boy may never be normal, but at least he’s got a chance.

Claire Wolfe

Tuesday miscellany

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
  • They probably hope to save themselves by selling a billion Justin Bieber stamps.
  • Compromise. Ptooey!
  • Y’know, in a free country they’d be in favor of privacy.
  • I agree this is boneheaded. But this is another misuse of the word “mistake.” It’s not like GM did it by accident or anything.
  • I was a little premature when I railed against this 14 years ago when the pilot project was just getting underway. (This is “freedom” as brought to you by “conservatives.” With the help of “liberals.”)
  • I don’t care if they do make them in camo. It’s a dumb idea. Probably make lots of money, though.
  • I’m surprised the U.S. government hasn’t already done something like this.
  • “My Homeschool Story.” Even a little (and not necessarily good) homeschooling can go a long way. Her pre-schooling is similar to what I got from my mother. In those days, nobody would have dreamed of homeschooling. But everything I’ve ever done with words or art is thanks to my mother’s hours with me when I was little.

I prepped this blog entry last night & ended it with a terrific dog photo. Then Radley Balko, that scoundrel, got to it first. Damn.

Oh well, sometimes you just have one of those days.

Dog waking a woman up by pulling her hair

Claire Wolfe

Who rules the world

Monday, September 26th, 2011

… and who’s going to get hurt.

A trader incautiously tells the truth. It’s an inconvenient truth all the way. But the big wallop comes about 2:30 mins in.

Tip o’ hat to S.

Claire Wolfe

Bad Attitude Guide: great review and now on Kindle

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The Bad Attitude Guide to Good Citizenship just got the kind of review authors dream about.

Thank you, Frank DuBois! And thank JF and the good people at Paladin for pointing that out while I was keeping my mouth shut last week.

I must also note that this is probably the first time I’ve ever been mentioned (favorably, at least) by a former Secretary of Anything. He’s got a good blog, too. Very prolific and worth checking out, especially for Westerners and people interested in the kind of land/water/leave-me-alone issues so prominent in the West.

Also: The Bad Attitude Guide is now available on Kindle at half the price of the print edition. Yay!!!

It joins several of my other titles, including at least one otherwise out-of-print book. Thank you, good Paladin people!

Claire Wolfe

The Simplicity Primer:
not exactly a book review

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Patrice Lewis of the Rural Revolution blog sent me a copy of her new book more than a month ago. I’ve been enjoying it since then, but hesitating because I wasn’t sure how best to review it.

I’m still not sure. But since it’s in danger of becoming an old book before I wrap my brain around it, here I am with a few thoughts.

Her book is The Simplicity Primer: 365 ideas for making life more livable. You can get it for $10.85 at Amazon using that link, which gives a portion of the purchase price to me. CHANGE: Our hosts here at BHM have asked me to remove the Amazon link and remind you that you can buy the book from the BHM bookstore.

Right out I’ll tell you that if you’re a Christian libertarian or anarchist — particularly if you’re in a couple or raising a family or planning to be — you should have this book. Don’t hesitate. Just buy it. It’s lovely. And it’s something you’ll want to keep by your bedside for reference on those ragged days when you really, really need to be reminded of what matters. Or on any day, for that matter.

I don’t mean to imply that The Simplicity Primer excludes non-believers. Not at all. I didn’t feel excluded despite Patrice’s gentle barbs at those of us who reach for belief but come back to earth empty handed. Her observations are wise, and her sources are more likely to be Henry David Thoreau and a handful of B.C. Greeks than anybody from the hellfire and damnation crowd. Nor did I feel excluded by virtue of being single or childless.

Even if you’re not in Patrice’s primary audience, there’s plenty in this book to soothe your heart and remind you where your priorities lie if a simple life is your goal.

She also writes with disarming humor and with a clear understanding of life’s complexities. Two adjacent entries, for instance, are headed “Move to the country” and “Don’t move to the country.”

To give you a bit more of a taste, here are Patrice’s major category headings:

  • Getting personal (about self improvement)
  • Getting along (you and your spouse or partner)
  • Teach your children well
  • Amazing grace (living your religion)
  • Home is where the heart is
  • To your health
  • Your daily bread
  • Nine-to-five simplicity
  • It’s easy being green
  • Time off for good behavior (relaxation and recreation)
  • Nothing new under the sun
  • Radical simplicity

Patrice acknowledges a central paradox: getting to simplicity can be complex. And achieving simplicity doesn’t mean you’ll never again have a bad day or never again feel overwhelmed by trials or responsibilities. Simplicity also doesn’t mean you’ll live in the backwoods without electricity (unless you want to) or have 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets (which a certain magazine, which Patrice and I both laugh about, seems to feel is key to the simple life).

Patrice gets right to her one of her key definitions on page 4:

If I had to summarize what it takes to achieve a simpler life in three words or less, it would be these: make good choices

Choices. Don’t choose to marry a person who’s got bad news tattooed all over him (or her). Don’t choose to saturate your girl-children in pre-adolescent sexuality. Don’t let your friends or family dictate your choices in anything that matters. When your gut is trying to tell you something, listen. Be polite. Acknowledge that men and women tend to think differently and have different needs in relationships. Be the first to apologize after an argument. Get a handle on your cravings.

None of this is simple to do. And it’s even harder once you’ve made the Big Mistakes (haven’t we all?) and have to extricate yourself from them or live with the consequences. But Patrice is right: good choices go hand-in-hand with strength and integrity. They lead us and our loved ones on a calmer path through the world’s chaos.

Keeping Patrice Lewis’ Simplicity Primer by bedside or hearthside could definitely help most any of us — but especially couples or parents — keep to the simple path.

Claire Wolfe

Friday data dump

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Some stuff I’ve been collecting while being quiet:

Claire Wolfe

The five stages of freedom

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

“Where is Spartacus?” So asks David A. McElroy, while making himself crazy with political frustration and setting himself up for more.

But Spartacus is … right there in your own mirror. If you can only recognize the reflection.

McElroy’s frustration makes me want to propose the five stages of freedom, to match the famous Kubler-Ross five stages of grief.

Hers are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

For freedomistas I propose:

1. Oblivion: I love my country — which is exactly the same as saying I love my government. Sure, it needs a few tweaks. Yeah, maybe it’s slipped a bit from its glory days. But once a few problems are fixed. Old Glory will deserve everybody’s most heartfelt salutes again. It’s still better than any other country in the world.

2. Anger: Wow, I’ve tried everything my Civics teacher told me and it hasn’t made any difference. In fact, things are getting worse all the time. I know: It’s these damn banksters. Or Democrats. Or Republicans. Or commies. Or non-believers. Or Muslims. Or illegal aliens. It’s all their fault. We need to organize, vote en masse and get rid of that problem. Once we get the right people in office everything will be okay.

3. Reform: Damn, that didn’t work, either. All right. It’s time to get serious. We need a new constitutional amendment. No, maybe a new constitutional convention. We need to force the government to do will of We the People. Let’s march on Washington. Let’s show ’em who’s boss. If the ballot box doesn’t work, then …

4. Implosion: Nothing works. Nobody will join my Surefire, Guaranteed Plan for overthrowing bad government and restoring the nation Our Forefathers built for us. Screw the government. Screw all those loser bums who won’t get off their butts. I give up. From now on, I’m just taking care of Number One.

5. Acceptance: Government is the way it is. The media is the way it is. People are the way they are. I don’t have a lever long enough to move those objects. Now, given that fact, what do I do to build freedom in my own life and my own world? Oh, yeah … There are a thousand ways I never noticed before …

Claire Wolfe

Shifting into neutral

Friday, September 16th, 2011

I woke up yesterday morning at 3:00 bathed in sweat, a headache playing in minor key at the back of my neck. But worse than the headache or the drenched nightshirt was the sense of obligation that crushed me from the moment I got conscious.

The sweat dried. The headache quickly faded. But the feeling of unmeetable obligations oppressed me for hours and left me tired all day.

I get this way once in a while, even though I realize that by the usual measures my life contains fewer obligations than most — no heavy-duty job, no kids, no doddering parents to care for, no monster schedule of appointments, no nasty commute. But I acutely feel obligations to you guys — to people who’ve given me much. I feel tremendous obligation to meet your expectations, to respond to what you need from me, or live up to what you give me. Add to that things like deadlines and the drive to get the house in order for fall … and yesterday morning it was all too much.

I knew something was coming on earlier this week when a friend invited me to a tiny birthday celebration and I felt as overwhelmed as if I’d been asked to plan the next inaugural ball. I knew it was coming on when my dogs, poking for attention with their noses or dropping tennis balls at my feet, made me want to cry from the weight of their needs.

Ah well. Life gets that way sometimes. I expect we’ve all been there, one way or another. Unlike many, I have the luxury of taking a step back now and then.

And I must, because creativity goes south when I get into this kind of a frazzle.

So taking a step back is what I’m going to do for the next week.

I may or may not be posting for the next seven days. Chances are that once I feel free of the obligation of thinking up something brilliant … I’ll think up something and post it. But if I don’t, I don’t.

I need to disengage briefly.

I need to re-balance.

To remind myself of my priorities.

To re-set some of those priorities.

To slip out of traps I’ve set for myself.

To stop trying to multi-task.

To restore inner silence.

To generate more productive time.

To consider that I’ve got only a finite number of sunsets and moonrises — and dog days — left to cherish.

Claire Wolfe

For your reading, watching, and listening pleasure

Friday, September 16th, 2011

With Jake MacGregor on hiatus, what’s to read, what’s to read? Well, until Jake’s adventures re-commence (and even afterward), there’s Sandy Sandfort’s The Resurrections of Robert Heinlein.

This is a Smashwords book, available in every conceivable electronic format. You can buy. But you can read the first 75 percent for free in most formats.

Definitely a good read for Heinlein fans.


For watching, here’s Jim Bovard doing his dissing of federal job-training programs on MSNBC.

Jeez, Jim looks more like a surly eccentric hermit than I do. (I am neither balding nor bearded, thank the fates.) But he talks reel gud.

Wall Street Journal and MSNBC in one week. Jim, don’t go getting a big head about this now …


For your listening pleasure, there’s Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi’s latest podcast, “Moderates Are People Who Think Everything Should Be a Little Bit Illegal” (good point there, guys).

The podcast is an hour long, which I admit taxes my patience for ‘Net based media. But the 15 minutes I listened to were fun — even if they do speak of me as though I were some ancient and crumbling monument of freedomista culture.

What I like best about Michael and Neema is that they have absolutely no reverence for anybody or anything.

Their logo for the podcast is pretty good (and irreverent), too:

Handicapped symbol revised to show cop bashing medical cannabis patient

Claire Wolfe

Unchain my heart …

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

“Chained CPI.” Whotta concept.

You may have heard of this. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has apparently been tallying it for nine years, right along with CPI-U, CPI-W and all the other variations of the Consumer Price Index, including that perennial favorite, “core CPI,” which considers food, fuel, and shelter to be outside of the core costs of our lives.

Anyhow, “chained CPI” isn’t a new concept. But it’s new to me. I’ve just heard of it because there’s talk of shifting to it to determine cost of living increases for social security, federal pensions, veterans programs and such. Now, much as we all might wish to see those expenses go down, is this really an honest way to do it? Especially when you’re talking about little old ladies and disabled vets?

Here’s how chained CPI works, according to a favorite explanation:

The regular CPI measures the costs each month of a market basket of items that average Americans may purchase each month and so it tells us how much prices are rising, what the inflation rate is. The chained CPI is identical, really, to the regular CPI in all respects except one. It includes an adjustment so that if, for example, beef prices rise much faster than chicken prices, and consumers, as a result, buy less beef and more chicken, it picks up the switching from the beef to the chicken, which makes their total costs for the month rise a little less quickly than if you assumed they continued to buy the same amount of beef and the same amount of chicken as before.

Uh huh. And when chicken gets too expensive, the index adjusts your cost of living for lima beans. And when lima beans get too expensive, the index adjusts your cost of living for cat food. Presumably. When you can’t afford cat food, maybe the index goes up again to pay for the cost of a coffin. Who knows?

But from beef you can’t afford to kitty kibble — no inflation! Hey, ain’t it grand?

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