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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 March, 2012

Claire Wolfe

Friday links

Friday, March 30th, 2012
Claire Wolfe

Safety Not Guaranteed

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Here’s the movie based on John Silveira’s famous (or at least semi-famous) Backwoods Home classified. After making a big splash at Sundance, it’s headed for theaters this summer. Yayyyyyy, John!

Claire Wolfe

How tight is the gun-and-ammo situation?

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I haven’t been in the market for either firearms or ammo (other than .22 plinking supplies) in quite a while. I know that the more hysterical reports about the government “ordering companies to stop selling ammo to ‘civilians'” are … well, just that. Hysterical.

But in your experience, how tight is the market actually getting out there? Here’s a report from last week saying Ruger is so backlogged they’ve temporarily stopped taking orders. And even a casual look at local store shelves tells me ammo is in short supply.

But that’s pretty anecdotal. What are you seeing and experiencing, if you don’t mind me asking?


BTW, the “Rise of the Prepper” link in that article is pretty interesting, too.

Claire Wolfe

Thursday links

Thursday, March 29th, 2012
  • One might ask why the FBI had these training materials in the first place, and whether they plan to throw out the attitudes (yeah, riiiiiight) or just the paperwork.
  • You probably already know Tess Pennington’s online series 52 Weeks to Preparedenss. But it’s always worth a link. And soon? A book!
  • Bovard: “First wheat, now health care.”
  • Drone Studies. A new college major. That is &^%$# repulsive.
  • Security: a crypto-nerd’s imagination vs what would actually happen. S, who sent this, noted that these days they’d probably dispense with the drugs.
  • Extremely cool tips for getting the most out of your tiny living spaces.
  • RFID chips move aside. The RFID tattoo is here. (SO much more stylish, don’t you agree?)
  • I have no idea whether John Wayne actually came up with these five rules to remember in life. But if he didn’t, he should have.
  • Carlos Miller notes, “Police can shoot people, tase people, pepper spray people, harass people, steal from people, lie to people and arrest people on unlawful charges and they still get to keep their jobs.” But there are limits, you know.

Smiling, cuddling pit bull

Claire Wolfe

Two on the free economy

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The Tireless Agorist looks at the burgeoning underground economy in Greece.

And Forbes asks if Bitcoin might become the favored currency of an international System D.

I’m as skeptical of Bitcoin as I am of every cyber currency (once burned …). And my first thought on reading the Forbes piece was, “What will the USA fedgov’s 900-pound gorilla do?” But one of these days, the flailing arms of that monster gorilla will be able to do … nothing. Some innovation in free-market money will defeat it. If it’s Bitcoin, good for Bitcoin.

Claire Wolfe

Take the “Freedom Fetish” challenge

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Sometimes you run across a piece of opinionizing so cluelessly arrogant it takes your breath away. Here’s one sent to me by Jim Bovard:

Michael Tomasky challenges us to name a single freedom we’ve lost to the Obama administration.

Oh, except any freedoms that mostly only affect people of Arab descent. Because you see, Tomasky is snootily certain none of us actually care about them. (And he’s blissfully unaware that what can be done to the least popular today can be done to others tomorrow. As in “When they came for the [fill in the blank] …”) So before issuing his challenge he automatically excludes little things like … oh, the NDAA, the continuing horrors of Gitmo, military tribunals. No, none of those count in Tomasky’s eyes because they happen mostly to brown people and/or Muslims. Otherwise? Obama’s been a saint!

So, here’s your challenge, you pathetic “Freedom Fetishists.” Name one, just one freedom the U.S. has lost in the last three + years thanks to the Obama administration.

Hit the comment section … 1 … 2 … 3 …. go!

ADDED: Oh yeah, and if you have a Twitter account, how about carrying the challenge over there, too? Hashtag #FreedomFetish.

Claire Wolfe

Tuesday miscellany

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

And yet another intriguing trailer for Silver Circle. The coins are real; you can buy them from the movie’s store and Ron Paul was photographed last month using one to make a point.

Claire Wolfe

Wow. Two “anti-government” movies
in one week

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

I just watched a 2009 indie called American Violet. If The Hunger Games (as Brian said in the comments on that film) might have been made by “a right-wing splinter group,” this one could have come from an ACLU production company.

But we’re talking about the good side of the ACLU here.

Do you remember the phony drug-war busts in Tulia and Hearne, Texas, a decade or so ago? Mass roundups of innocent blacks based on phony evidence? Cases that eventually fell apart en masse under national scrutiny?

Well, American Violet is a fictionalized version of the case that eventually became Regina Kelly v John Paschall (.pdf). Kelly was one of the innocent people targeted and she had the guts to fight back even though she had a lot to lose.

Here, she’s called Dee Roberts (played very well by first-timer Nicole Beharie), a single mother of four who gets arrested on trumped up charges and is relentlessly pressured to plea bargain — which she will not do.

The movie itself is a straightforward narrative. It’s good but not great — about on par with a decent TV movie, though it has pretty strong acting from the likes of Tim Blake Nelson as an ACLU lawyer and Alfre Woodard as Dee’s mother.

Where it shines is in its unflinching indictment of drug-war and justice-system abuses. It states openly that the feds provide financial incentive to encourage coerced pleas. It talks about the huge percentage of people who give up their rights to jury trials out of fear and pressure. It notes the shameful size of the U.S. prison population. Ultimately, it dwells on the racist aspects of the drug war — appropriate since the busts in Hearne and Tulia were blatantly race-based, as is so much of the awful WoD. Although it uses the 2000 presidential election to establish time and the “tough on crime” rhetoric of the moment, it never goes partisan; it just sticks to its issues.

American Violet never appeared on more than 61 screens during its theatrical release, so it was basically an invisible movie and probably didn’t even make back its production budget. But it’s worth a look.

Especially when you know that the corrupt District Attorney behind the real Hearne busts was so upset by it he tried to suppress it when it showed locally.

That makes it worth something right there. :-)

Claire Wolfe

The plan for Sweetie

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Stickied. Scroll down for newer posts.

Thanks to your generosity, we raised enough overnight to transport Sweetie the deaf heeler from South Carolina to the Pacific Northwest, where she can get care and rehabilitation from an expert in the breed.

Not only that, but you’ve kept on giving so her rescuers will have funds for food, heartworm medicine, and even sessions with a professional behaviorist, should that be needed.

So here’s the plan. Linda, the breed consultant Mary Lou and I have been working with, has agreed to take Sweetie herself. Linda has turned around many dogs judged “hopeless.” I’ve known her work with ACDs for years.

Mary Lou is making the arrangements and we’re expecting Sweetie in the Northwest this weekend. Sweetie will stay with (gulp) me for a couple of weeks until Linda’s current “hard case” has found a home. Then she and Sweetie will get to serious work (and play, and loving).

Linda volunteers with a 501(c)(3) called The Pet Adoption Network. So if you want to donate to Sweetie’s care and rehabilitation, you can send money directly to them via that link. (The PayPal form linked from that page doesn’t allow you to leave a note, so please also send an email to PAN (contactpan at and tell them your contribution is for Linda W. and Sweetie the ACD.)

Anything you’ve already sent above the transport costs will also go to Linda and PAN.

Thank you, everybody, for all your good wishes and the help you’ve given, and continue to give, to Sweetie.

I’ll leave this post stickied for at least a week, then will have an update once Sweetie has officially become a westerner.

Claire Wolfe

Love and freedom

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Have you seen the wonderful animated feature Bolt?

It’s about a dog who has no idea he isn’t the superdog he plays on TV. He dearly loves his girl Penny who stars in the show with him. But because he views himself as her sole protection against ever-threatening evil, he’s forever tense, forever on guard. Never, but ever, does he relax, play, and just enjoy life.

Only when fate leaves him lost on the streets (far from Penny and without his special-effects superpowers) does he learn to be himself, love life — and become a real hero.

Yeah, it’s just a movie and Bolt is just a cartoon dog. But recent blog comments and email exchanges with a reader make me think some of us could learn from him.

Why do we choose — and it is a choice — to be so freaking grim? Why do so many of us feel that if we’re not at some psychological watch-post 24 hours a day we’re somehow failing in our duty to Penny freedom?

Yes, our freedom is imperiled. Every person reading this is well aware of that. We could all list hundreds of threats to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And of course, if we actually cherish freedom, we’ll be doing something(s) to keep it.

But if we actually cherish freedom, we’ll also enjoy what we have of it. And what we have of life. And we’ll balance the “fighting” side of our lives with the “living” side.

Right now. Not in some imaginary future when all the politicians and bureaucrats have gotten out of our way and the handful of remaining laws (if any) are to our personal satisfaction.

But NOW. Because if we can’t embrace our freedom now, when can we?


Saturday the New York Times had a wonderful commentary, “The Brain on Love.” I hope everybody will read it — even those of you who balk at registration.

While the piece focuses on personal relationships, family and romantic, the underlying truth of it is way bigger.

Scientists now know that the brain not only re-programs itself constantly, but physically changes in response to information and emotions we “feed” it. Years ago, the Mankato Nun Study revealed that old ladies who had lively minds and set themselves new challenges went right on functioning, even when autopsies eventually showed they had Alzheimers. Their brains were actually growing around the damage. Their Alzheimer-afflicted counterparts who didn’t “grow their brains” showed more effects of the disease. It was big psychological and physiological news.

Today we know much more — including the fact that our emotions shape our brain, which in turn shapes our emotions.

In other words, if we keep ourselves bundled up in anxiety and watchfulness, anxiety and watchfulness is what we reinforce. It’s what we program — and build — our brains to do. And you know what? If we’re like that, we’d just continue being like that even if freedom dropped on us from outer space.

On the other hand, even if we have a negative tendency born or programmed into us by our past, we have the power not only to change it, but in doing so, to reinforce and “grow” the new positive.

Thousands of activists have discovered that their best, most effective activism comes only after they’re forced to be idle for a while (e.g. they’re sent to jail or prison). Millions of creative people have had the experience of getting the Big Great Idea only after they stop beating their brains on something and take a walk or go to sleep or play with the dog. They change the pattern, begin the rebuild. By turning away.

Enjoying life is not a sin. Blowing off the responsibilities of freedom now and then is not a crime. Ignoring the news is not a dereliction of duty. Failing to duck and cover every time some Internet ranter screams that the sky is falling is not irresponsible or foolish.

Very, very much to the contrary, loving life, keeping a balanced perspective, and enjoying what we have is a means of cherishing freedom, understanding freedom — and building our brains to be better “freedom machines.”

Can it be overdone? Of course, there are millions who live in a rosy oblivion, never seeing the scary stuff and never doing anything to preserve the good they have. Maybe they need to reprogram for the opposite traits.

But we’re not them. If you’re here reading this, you’re not them.

Too many of us are more like Bolt. If we don’t reprogram ourselves to be less grim, less reactive, and lighter in our lives, we’ll go to our graves as nervous — and unfree — wrecks.

Claire Wolfe

So there I was at Walmart again …

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Now they’ve moved all those storage foods to their own spot in the grocery aisles. Added a couple more items, too.

I’m standing there choosing this week’s purchases and making notes on what to get on future trips. While I’m scribbling, the section turns, once again, into Walmart’s own little social center. I’m not doing any talking this time. But so many people are standing there chatting with each other about freeze-dried and dehydrated foods as they load up their carts that I’m thinking Walmart should install a Starbucks right there to take advantage of all the friendly idling.

This time it begins with a husband and wife judiciously discussing and choosing items. Another woman carts up the aisle and soon the three of them are chatting about favorite ways of using their storage foods. While they’re going on about best tips for serving cheese powder and broccoli florets, another man does the “pardon me, pardon me” routine through the crowd, and he, too, pops a couple #10 cans into his cart and pauses for a few words before moving on. Me, I’m speechless.

This evening one of my friends will probably be making her storage-food Walmart run.

Hm. I get the impression this idea is working out pretty well. These foods might be appearing at a Walmart near you — even if your Walmart is farther from Mormon country than mine is.

Claire Wolfe

The Hunger Games (mini-review)

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

The Hunger Games is good. It hits you in the gut. It’s well-acted. It ought to get Oscar nominations for costume, art direction, and sound editing, as well as another best actress nomination for Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence is Katniss Everdeen. Woody Harrelson is a perfect Haymitch Abernathy. Josh Hutcherson (once I got past him being noticeably shorter than Lawrence) is an appealing and believable Peeta Mellark. The young actresses playing Prim and Rue are spot on.

It’s a really very, very good movie — but not great. I have to agree with the reviewers who’ve noted there’s something missing — a little passion, a lot of outrage that it doesn’t quite have. After all, this is a about a decadent, tyrannical government that forces teenagers to slaughter each other for its own entertainment and to cow the populace. We should be leaving the theater burning with a “tear down the wall, m———r!” spirit.

I didn’t see that. Except in Katniss’s eyes.

Also (particularly in the beginning) there’s a lot of “shaky-cam” work and a dizzying number of cuts that don’t add anything but vertigo and annoyance.

Still, I was engaged and never bored through its entire 2-1/2-hour length. I think this is a “see it in theaters” movie, as opposed to a “wait for the DVD” movie simply because (as water lily wrote in a comment) even if you don’t go to theaters, you make exceptions for anti-government movies. And this is surely that.

There is one scene, where a lovable young character dies and Katniss raises a hand in defiance to the cameras she knows are observing the games — and an entire district goes mad with rage.

There should have been more moments on that level. I suspect there will be in movie two. In the meantime, though, this movie will do. It lays the groundwork. And if it can’t be called great, it’s surely worth an afternoon or evening of your time.

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