Thomas Paine wrote those wordsafter the shooting had already begun at Lexington and Concord, after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a fact that always surprises me. We tend to think that by that time, the game was on, lines were irrevocably crossed, and everybody who was going to take a side and get involved was already committed. But not quite so.
We of course haven’t even had our Lexington moment yet and frankly I pray we never do. Even in the best cases (and the American Revolution was certainly one of those), shooting wars ultimately play into the hands of the most wily statists. Who shoots first, shoots straightest, has the biggest weaponry, or has “God on their side” doesn’t always determine how free people are once the smoke has cleared.
I was thinking this morning about risks — about the chances we take … or don’t take. Not so much risks like whether to shoot for that Xtreme skateboard move or play it safe. But the big, potentially life-changing risks.
Oh, sure, the skateboard move or the jump out of the plane or whatever can also be life-changing. It could squish your ribcage or your pelvis, not to mention your brain. Or it could tell you you have more courage than you knew, courage you could use for good in the rest of your life. But I’m thinking more of the risks where you realize at the time, “If I do this thing, my life will be on a different path.”
So today’s Friday Freedom Question asks What was the biggest risk that you didn’t take (but wish you had) and what was the biggest risk you did take that altered your life?
For me, the biggest risk I didn’t take (and now regret) was that I didn’t drop out of high school and leave home at the earliest opportunity. Sure, it could have ended up as a dead end or with the humiliation of crawling home to “I told you sos.” But looking back, I think it would have shown me I was actually a more courageous and visionary person. It might — who knows? — have led me to opportunities I’d have been confident enough to explore, once I knew I could survive beyond family and prison school.
It’s harder to pin down the biggest risk I did take because the things outside observers told me seemed risky to them never seemed risky to me: leaving a place I was secure and moving across the country to a place where I knew nobody and had no connections — because that place called to me; or quitting corporate communications to be a freedom writer. These seemed less like risky choices than inevitabilities to me (at least once I’d reached the decision-making moment). So it’s hard to say.
But what about you? What was the big risk you turned away from and now regret? What was the big risk you took and what were its results?
Well, yes, that’s almost exactly how it is being a writer. Except they forgot to add smoking three packs a day* and finding clever strategems (like counting the perforations on the acoustic tiles in the ceiling) to avoid actual, you know, work. (H/T jed in comments)
While this article leans anti-Peter Thiel and I’m way more inclined to think the world owes Thiel a debt for his creative thinking and his billionairish backing of it, it’s still a decent look at the man.
This is so cool! Completely fake, mind you. It’s a conceptual art project, not a real thing. But still … so weirdly, imaginatively, creepily cool: The Merrylin Cryptid Museum. (Best viewed by allowing all three scripts, if you happen to be browsing around with NoScript on.)
* No, the smoking and drinking are NOT ME. I have been known to count holes in ceiling tiles, but that was actually in the fifth grade, when I was trapped in class. These days I have more wide-ranging and interesting ways of work avoidance.
It was the premise of the Politico article that drew me in. It was the claim that politics of 2030 would be shaped by the ghastly presidential election of 2016. There would be big changes to come.
Given the tumult of the times, I don’t doubt that one bit. The contest between The Hillary and The Donald, and all the odd and shifting v*ter alignments and policy preferences around it, is bound to reverberate into the future. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about. I wondered if others were coming to similar conclusions. So I read.
The barefoot one didn’t manage to freeze Mama. Reading this article, I’m not sure whether Colton Harris-Moore is a naive young kid or a crass hustler who’s going to head right straight for trouble again when they release him from prison this summer.
“This Bud’s for you, America.” Another one to read mainly because it’s by George Will, who writes like a barbed angel. The whole business with Budweiser’s temporary name change is as pathetic as it is cynical.
Why are house prices soaring across this Great Land of Budweiser? One guess.
Deciding when and whether to give trust is one of those endless dilemmas of the freedom movement. Well, of life, too, of course. But the decision to trust — or not — becomes a lot more vital when you might be doing something Authoritah disapproves of.
On the Internet, you’ll find a lot of pat advice about how to bestow trust — or not. Tell people only what they need to know. Isolate suspected informers. Etc. I’ve written some of that advice myself and read more of it. Some of the advice is sound, some stupid.
Ahem, mine of course is always of the sound variety. But speaking of stupid …
I love my neighborhood. In many ways, it’s like what we think neighborhoods were in the olden days (but probably really weren’t).
I had an “olden days” moment yesterday. Not in the idyllic sense, but in the sense that anybody in the neighborhood can give a troublesome kid what-for and parents will back that up.
I was sitting in the sun room, enjoying the respite after a day of painting and ripping down old siding when — whap! — something thumped the wall next to me.
I knew immediately what it was and who did it. Sure enough, I went outside and there was a baseball in the grass. Looked up and there he was, a tall, blond adolescent boy in the neighbors’ yard. The three boys who live there (all younger and smaller than this kid) were outside, too. But having had my house pelted several times last summer with hardballs, and having seen the tall, blond kid every time, I knew it wasn’t their doing. (They lob balls into my yard frequently, but never get near the house and nearly always use nerf or whiffle balls.)
Without giving it a second thought, I stomped over to the fence, pointed, and called, “You! Blond kid!” And proceeded to give him a piece of my mind and a warning that if he broke a window, hurt an animal, or damaged my property in any way, he’d be in deep yogurt. Then I tossed the baseball over the fence and went home.
A couple minutes later, the father of the three boys was at my gate, full of apologies and concern.
“No, no. Your little boys are so sweet and polite,” I said. “You don’t need to apologize for anything. It’s that other kid. It’s almost as if he’s aiming at my house. He needs a good talking to from his parents.”
“But I’m the dad,” my neighbor said, as if that explained everything that needed to be said about his responsibility.
Later I got to feeling bad about raising a ruckus. Maybe I should have just gone over there and had a quiet talk with everybody. Maybe I should have gone to Dad and let him handle his guest.
This morning I took the family a peace offering of apple pie (storebought, sorry) and ice cream. Dad was off on a volunteer fire call, but Mom and two of the boys were there. I assured the boys I wasn’t upset with them in any way. I apologized to Mom for the undiplomatic way I’d handled the situation and asked her to pass that on to her husband.
She made it clear that she and Dad had had a very serious talk with all the boys and that no peace offering was necessary. “That kid is a good boy,” she said. “But … they’re having some troubles right now.” Not excusing, just explaining.
Only nerf and whiffle balls from now on, she assured me, taking the pie and ice cream that I finally had to force into her hands.
I admit that, because I’m sick unto death of social-justice pecksniffs, ivory-tower radicals, elitists who sneer down their noses at the rest of us while unable to navigate the real world for themselves, and the thuggish Melissa Click types who now personify academia (academia being the major home of rape-culture hysteria), my first reaction was to tune the book out even though everything Wendy writes is always worthwhile. Then I noticed the much more hopeful subtitle: “Fixing the damage done to men and women.”
Yeah, that needs doing. And Wendy is just the person to analyze the problem and suggest sensibly individualist solutions. Turns out the scope of this new book is wider than the title implies.
I’ve mentioned The Wandering Monk. He’s a handyman recently in our area who came well recommended and is living up to his reputation. He’s more skilled, conscientious, and reliable than Handyman Mike and charges substantially less. He makes difficult things simple and is pleasant to have around. Quite full of himself at times. But a really decent 39-year-old guy with a lot of experience behind him.
I plan no big house projects this year, but I’ve been bringing the Monk in on a number of small ones — partly because I can afford him, but partly (alas) because he is a wanderer and it’s been clear to me from the beginning that he’s likely to wander out of the area just as suddenly and capriciously as he wandered in. I want to get as much from his talents as I can before he drifts away.
He’s very religious and talks a lot about God. But being Catholic, and being kind of a happy wanderer, his approach is very different than some I’ve run into (who all too often figuratively slam me against the wall and threaten me with “Jesus or else” — and seem to enjoy the prospect of “or else” far more than a decent person should). I enjoy talking with him. Mostly.
Get businesses freaked out enough about “discriminating against the disabled” and they’ll fall for anything.
12 lessons to learn and hang onto forever. (Especially for business, but plenty have applications in the rest of the world, too.)
Just to cheer you up, here’s the latest report on global-catastrophic risks. I confess not to have read it yet. I don’t need that kind of “cheering up” right now. But just in case you’re interested. (H/T MJR)
Assume your state government is in big trouble if one, single taxpayer saying goodbye could have this much impact.