(I can’t believe I have friends who write for the Wall Street Journal. So respectable! And speaking of respectable, I just learned today that an old acquaintance has a minor planet named after him. He calls it an asteroid, but that’s not what it says online. I don’t actually know the difference. Anyhow, you’ve got to admit that having your name on even an asteroid or a “minor” planet is a bigger deal than most of us will ever earn.)
I wasn’t surprised to see him go. He had interesting things to say and I’m sorry he left. But he was quick to anger, especially over any implication that the U.S. government might be anything but well-meaning and fundamentally decent — bumbling, perhaps, but always benevolent.
Whether I’m vile, you’ll have to judge. It’s possible. In any case, the photo was vile and I’m surprised somebody else didn’t object to it right away. I’d rather it had never been published anywhere. It seems indecent to capture the last seconds of a man’s life that way. Falling Man’s clothes are distinctive. Some wife, some mother, some child probably knows who he is and will live with that image forever. I’ll probably remove it as soon as it rolls off to page two; it feels wrong having it on the blog.
But the caption? It was only the truth. One of many.
Fourteen thousand rounds missing? I wonder why they even bother to report this? From what I’ve heard over the years from National Guardsmen, Army reservists, and other part-time military folk, this is just par for the course. Back in the Clinton gun-banning days, this much regularly disappeared out of armories and into the hands of militiamen without so much as a whisper.
When I first heard Mel Gibson was going to star in a movie about Judah Maccabee, I reacted like most everybody else. WTF? Isn’t that sort of like Alec Baldwin playing Ron Paul? Only after C^2 emailed me about it, did I realize that the very idea of a movie about Judah Maccabee could be an excellent freedomista notion, and Braveheart might be a pretty effective guy to play him.
I wasn’t going to mark today. The tragedy for the 3,000 and their families and friends is beyond unspeakable. But we have to speak of it — ceaselessly — because the horror was delivered with such drama. And with such convenience for those who crave to rule.
We don’t hold week-long “all mourning all the time” media events for the 100,000 who die in the U.S. each year from the effects of prescription drugs. Or the tens of thousands killed in pointless political wars.
Why are we supposed to believe that those are lesser tragedies? Did those victims somehow suffer less? Are their families any less bereaved?
You and I know why our eyes and ears have been assaulted all week with repetitions of scenes and sorrows sane people want to put behind them. Oh no, we can’t mourn the day, pursue the murderers, then wake up and build freedom. No, we must remain in the thrall of fear so we’ll cling to those who pretend to protect us.
You and I know that the biggest tragedy of September 11, 2001 was the theft of our freedom by American politicians. And we knew that was going to happen from the first second we realized that it wasn’t some bozo in a Cessna that hit the first WTC tower.
Anyway, I didn’t even plan to say that much. But as I kept my eye on what others were saying this week, I came across a lot that is worth saying about those horrors that Our Rulers love so well.
I’m leaving out opinion pieces that just list freedoms we’ve lost in the last 10 years. You already have those memorized. Here are just a few of the best words. Please feel free to add your own links in the comments.
I know a lot of people don’t give a hoot that the Swiss central bank chose this week to tie the fate of the Swiss franc to the nosediving, dying euro.
To some, Switzerland’s folly is just another scrap of bad news from muzzy-headed, irresponsible foreigners (at a time when we can’t even keep up with the idiocies perpetrated by our own domestic Irresponsibilistas). To others, who might once have looked to Switzerland as an example of what a country could be, it’s just another step on on that nation’s self-chosen downward path. From gold-backed money and financial privacy to fiat paper and total sellout. Old news.
But to me, watching Switzerland diminish itself is like watching an island of sanity sink under waves of financial madness. Half sad. Half terrifying. The last beacon falls in the storm. Now there’s only rocks and darkness.
I went on The Mental Militia Forums the other day and asked Silver (resident maven in all things to do with sound money) for his take on the subject. Though he was swamped with work, yesterday evening he delivered a long, thoughtful reply.
He agrees it was a sad move. But he seems to think there’s hope — hope that’ll come from those wonders of Swiss governance, the cussedly independent cantons. And Silver’s not the only one who says the Swiss National Bank just may not be able make the franc dive to the bottom along with all the world’s other fiat currencies.
Whatever else Switzerland has or doesn’t, that canton structure is as close to freedomista as it gets these days.
Yeah. Wow. My favorite part is the when they cut the payroll tax in half. “Without negatively impacting the Social Security Trust Fund.”
That’s good. I don’t even think Penn & Teller, Siegfried & Roy, David Copperfield, Doug Henning, David Blaine, and Houdini could match that achievement if they all worked together for a year. And were all alive at the time, of course.
I’m impressed. Really.
I need a topic category for Magical Stupidity. I really do.
Every couple of weeks, all this summer, my post office box has been graced — and the postal clerks and I entertained — by a wild array of packages.
The boxes, sent by ST, a reader and frequent commentor on the blog, are so weirdly charming on the outside I’ve sometimes hesitated to open them. But when I do, they turn out to be just as weird — and entertaining — inside. I mean the insides of the boxes themselves, which are sometimes even more decorated than the exteriors.
Oh yeah. And they contain … well, just what you might imagine such imaginative packages would contain.
But never mind my verbiage. Have a look for yourself. This is just a representative selection.
Many of the items in the boxes have to do with light. Here’s a homemade lamp — a mounted junction box painted and jazzed up with a temporary tattoo — and a decorated flashlight that served as its own mailing container.
The measuring spoons below are the kind labeled “pinch,” “smidgen,” and “dash.” It happens that I’ve been wanting a set of those. :-) A man after my own heart, ST got them at a garage sale.
Some of the items defy description. I think this one goes well with my 1950s countertops, though.
These packages have made a huge hit with everybody at the post office — and with me, of course.
There’s always a little danger in writing about one person’s gift; I’ve been blessed with a number of gifts for which I can’t express enough gratitude. Some are practical, some life-savers, some make me laugh, some are delicious, all are spirit-lifters. There are people hereabouts who have literally saved my life. Or kept me going through the years when I felt like quitting. I hope I can give proper thanks for every blessed person who has ever reached out to me.
But for sheer oddball originality … the mind boggles. Above all, I envy — or, no, let’s say I’m happily reminded of — the uninhibited creativity ST puts into these treasure boxes.
We (and that most definitely includes me) tend to put “creativity” up on some high shelf. We “allow” writers, artists, actors, poets, composers, and playwrights the exalted designation of “creative” — and in so doing we forget to notice that everyday life is filled with opportunities for creativity, even for those of us who can’t draw a stick figure or play a musical note that wouldn’t cause our neighbors to complain to the police and our cats to think the local tom is challenging them.
ST obviously has the art kind of creativity, too. But what he’s really got in spades is the, “Hey, what if?” “Oh boy, look at this!” “Wow, what I could do …” kind of creativity that’s really a much bigger deal.
I’ve been charmed that ST has expressed that in art and doodads and sent it my way. But that kind of creativity has endless uses.
Among other things — to bring this back to the theme expressed in the name of this blog — that kind of unstoppable creativity is totally, utterly, absolutely subversive of Received Authority. Wild creativity in everyday life is the eternal enemy — and happy bane — of all that’s rigid and stodgy and bureaucratic and predictable and rule-bound.
And ain’t that grand?
P.S. Anybody recognize the flag in the first photo?
This isn’t a post about art. But it begins with bad art because that’s what I produced today. To wit:
I labored on it all afternoon. I thought about what I wanted to do for days before that. And it sucks. Don’t tell me otherwise.
I’m posting it because it’s bad. Because all my life I’ve felt that if I do bad work (especially bad artwork), I’m a bad person — a valueless person that others will simply laugh at. And I need to get over that. So posting a crappy piece of art is therapy for me.
But this also isn’t a post about my personal angst. It’s about failing and going on.
J.D. Roth wrote the other day about failing financially and going on. His post was one of the things that got me going on this topic. He said, “Failure is okay.”
And it is. Besides, he gives good advice that goes well beyond his self-chosen beat of personal finance.
Another inspiration was stumbling across the blog of an artist, Christopher Greco, who has set himself the challenge of doing one painting every day and posting every one of them, good or bad, without censoring himself. I don’t think he’s actually managing a painting a day. But pretty close. And his goal is awesome.
When he misses, he doesn’t give up. He just goes on.
Recently, I gave somebody a plaque that said, “If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving isn’t for you.”
But skydiving is one of the few cases where that’s so.
As freedomistas we fail (and have failed and will fail) over and over again. Sometimes we fail because we’re trying to change a system that’s got more inertia than we realize. Other times our failings are more personal: We don’t believe in the welfare state, but times get so hard we accept food stamps; we want to build a country retreat but the spouse is adamantly against it; we try to organize a community effort, only to feel as if we’re herding the proverbial cats.
None of this means that it’s not worth the effort. Or that it’s impossible. It only means we need to re-evaluate, screw our heads back on, and try again in a different way.
And perhaps fail all over again.
I don’t know why it is, but some failures are easy and some are hard, and the difficulty may have nothing to do with the importance of the goal.
I can produce a mediocre piece of writing occasionally and shrug it off. To create one single piece of bad art horrifies me to the point where I wasn’t able to produce any art at all for decades. I was frozen. Locked up. Paralysed. Until I stumbled upon a copy of The Artist’s Way at a garage sale and followed its program.
Even now, though, it isn’t easy, and I’m petrified every time I try something new. Doing the above pastel painting today I was nearly hyperventilating, I was so terrified of screwing up.
I’ve posted it solely to tell myself, “Look, you can do bad work and nobody’s going to hate you for it. Life will go on. You might even try again and get better. It won’t freakin’ kill you!”
It’s so true that we teach what we need to learn. Tonight I almost feel like a hypocrite for talking about failing and going on.
But when it comes to the pursuit of freedom, I think a lot of us need the reminder: You fail; you get back up; you go on.
It’s just what you do. Art is optional. If you truly love and want freedom there’s no other course.
If half of us are mentally ill (and being sad these days seems to count as a top “illness”), you’ve really gotta wonder: Which freaking half? The half that thinks stuff like this is pernicious nonsense? Or that half that lines up for “treatment” for every little twitch or sorrow?
The half lining up to make Big Bux by persuading us (and Our Beloved Government) that we’re all wackos appear to be pretty darned smart at the moment. And they’ll probably continue patting themselves on the wallet back until one day the public figures out what the “experts” have done to them and rips some heads off.
Half the country being certifiably mentally ill. Mainly because half of normal human feeling and action is now defined as sickness. Is there any limit to the level of BS some people will believe?
Then, the … well, the more interesting news. (I’ve read this info before, but I always love it. This piece reminds me of the “history you never knew” articles the late, great Loompanics used to print in its awesome quarterly catalogs.)